Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science

Link: (via

Why does fracking provoke so much opposition? Some call it the “GasLand” effect, after a 2010 film by Josh Fox about America’s shale-gas industry in which an old man puts a match to his water tap (a popular party trick in shale-gas areas) and then reels back from the dramatic gas explosion. The film blames fracking for such incidents. In reality a host of regulations are in place to prevent gas from getting into the groundwater, and it very rarely does. But the damage has been done.

....A report from America’s National Research Council on energy and seismic activity, due to be published later this year, records only two incidents of minor tremors associated with fracking—the one in Britain and just one in America, depite the scale of activity there.

Water is a more serious problem, both because a lot of it is needed to frack wells and because local groundwater is seen to be at risk of pollution. A recent report from MIT says that in America shale gas has a good environmental record. With over 20,000 wells drilled in the past decade there have been only a few instances of groundwater contamination, all of them due to breaches of existing regulations. There does not appear to be any systemic risk. Fracking takes place thousands of feet below the water table, and fracking zones are typically separated from groundwater by fairly impermeable rocks.

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