Science. Not Hype.

American Council on Science and Health
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Water, Health and the Environment
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1ames E. Enstrom, Ph.D., M.P.H.
University oI CaliIornia, Los Angeles
Thom Golab
Media Research Center
Herbert I. London, Ph.D.
London Center Ior Policy Research
Stephen Modzelewski
Maple Engine LLC
Paul A. Offit, M.D.
Children`s Hospital oI Philadelphia
Fred L. Smith, 1r.
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Daniel T. Stein, M.D.
Albert Einstein College oI Medicine
37890.8:
Robert L. Brent, M.D., Ph.D., D.Sc. (Hon)
Thomas JeIIerson University / A. I.
duPontHospital Ior Children
;9<- 37890.8:
Nigel Bark, M.D.
Albert Einstein College oI Medicine
=0-19>-:?
Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H.
President, ACSH
1osh Bloom, Ph.D.
Director oI Chemical and Pharmaceutical
Sciences
Ruth Kava, Ph.D., R.D.
Senior Fellow in Nutrition
Erik Lief
Director oI Communications
Ana Marcelo
Executive Assistant to the President
Cheryl Martin
Associate Director and Director oI
Development
William McCain
Development Associate
Gilbert Ross, M.D.
Executive and Medical Director
Ariel Savransky
Associate Director oI Public Health
Ana Simovska
Director oI Video Productions
Richard Weeks, CPA
Accountant
Elizabeth M. Whelan, Sc.D., M.P.H.
President, ACSH
Norman E. Borlaug, Ph.D.
(1914-2009)
(Years oI Service to ACSH: 1978-2009)
Father oI the 'Green Revolution¨
Nobel Laureate
Fredrick 1. Stare, M.D., Ph.D.
(1910-2002)
(Years oI Service to ACSH: 1978-2002)
Founder, Harvard Department
oI Nutrition
This publication was adapted by Dr. Josh Bloom, Director oI Chemical
and Pharmaceutical Sciences, ACSH. It is based on the peer-reviewed
book Hvdraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale. Water and Health,
Facts vs. Fiction (ISBN, 978-0-9910055-1-2) written Ior ACSH by Dr.
Theodore F. Them and the respective annotated summary book,
Fracking and Health. Facts vs. Fiction (ISBN 978-0-9910055-2-9)
edited by William Kucewicz.
To purchase copies oI the related books visit Amazon.com; To view them
online visit ACSH.org. For more general inIormation contact ACSH.
ê|I Ik| 1IêkI
|kêM Ik| /M|kl|/N |êJN|l| êN 1|l|N|| /NJ k|/|Ik
Wk/I l1 |k/|KlNê!
Short Ior hydraulic Iracturing (HF), Iracking is a method oI
using a Iluid mixture at high pressures to release natural
gas95 percent oI which is methanethat is trapped deep in
underground shale deposits. Shale is a type oI rock that
contains mud, clay, quartz, and other minerals. Depending on
its exact composition, shale has diIIering degrees oI hardness
and porosity, and these properties determine the particular
Iracking method used to extract the gas.
The U.S. has enormous quantities oI 'shale gas¨ trapped in
deposits throughout the country. Not only would obtaining this
gas minimize our dependence on oilIoreign or otherwise
but it also provides an opportunity to signiIicantly reduce air
pollution. Natural gas is easily the cleanest burning Iuel
available. The combustion products oI methane gaswhich
itselI is colorless and odorlessare water and carbon dioxide.
No soot, Iumes, or smog are Iormed.
Although some minor technical and logistical issues could be
improved (Ior example, more eIIicient recovery oI Iracking
Iluid, managing unrecovered Iluid, and minimizing the disrup-
tion in drilling localities), these obstacles can be overcome, and
they pale in comparison to the enormous beneIits oI harnessing
and utilizing these valuable natural gas resources. In Iact, the
industry has employed enormous scientiIic and engineering
resources to overcome these important challenges, since saIety
is proIoundly important to the HF process.
/ Jkl|| kl1IêkI
Although Iracking has received a huge amount oI news
coverage in recent years, the concept oI exploring Ior natural
gas itselI is hardly new. The Iirst well intended to speciIically
provide natural gas was built in Fredonia, NY in 1821.
Drilling in Pennsylvania and Ohio began shortly thereaIter,
and by the 1920s West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky, where
the largest gas deposits in the world are Iound, Iollowed.
By the mid-1930s it became apparent that enormous amounts
oI gas were trapped in shale; however, Iracturing the shale was
required to liberate the gas. This was done primarily by use oI
explosives, which was Iar Irom an ideal method. By the late
1940s, explosives were gradually phased out and replaced by
the use oI high-pressure liquids. This set the stage Ior the
large-scale production oI natural gas that continues today.
kêW Jê|1 lI WêkK!
The concept behind Iracking is rather simple. A vertical well
is drilled down, The average depth oI a deep shale gas well is
about 7,500 Ieet. As drilling progresses, steel casings are
cemented to the sides oI the well to prevent the Iracking Iluid
and natural gas Irom entering groundwater. Then horizontal
underground drilling begins, which greatly increases the
amount oI gas than can be obtained. Following drilling, a
mixture oI water, 'proppants¨ (usually sand), and certain
chemicals is injected under high pressure into the rock. This
causes Iractures in the rock and allows the gas to escape. The
Iunction oI the proppants is to keep the Iractures open.
WkI l1 lI 1ê |êNIkê\|k1l/| NêW!
It is ironic that some oI the same environmental groups that
were calling Ior a wider use oI natural gas not that long ago
are now leading the Iight against it. Yet, while their concerns
are primarily based on the theoretical adverse health eIIects
Irom contamination oI groundwater, virtually all oI their
claims are baseless.
Additionally, as is so oIten true in the United States, celebrities,
despite having little or no knowledge oI subjects they become
involved with, nonetheless have a lot to say and attract a large
audience oI listeners. Moreover, it is not uncommon Ior their
protestations to be based on selI-interest. For instance, Yoko Ono
and her son Sean Lennon Iormed a group called Artists Against
Fracking when she became concerned that Iracking might impact
her Iarm in upstate New York. At the time, Ms. Ono said,
'Fracking kills, and it doesn`t just kill us. It kills the land, nature,
and, eventually, the whole world.¨
Artists Against Fracking now has over 200 celebrity members
and is partially responsible Ior exerting pressure on New
York`s Governor Cuomo to ban Iracking in New York State,
which contains huge shale gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale
near the Pennsylvania border.
Propaganda, which is easily spread on the Internet, also plays
a big role in inIluencing public opinion. There is no better
example than the 2010 documentary 'Gasland¨ by Josh Fox,
which contains a scene in which tap water in a home is ignited
with a match. Ingenious, but grossly misleading, it created an
indelible image oI water pollution and hidden health hazards. It
was later revealed that the methane in question came Irom a
private well and was biogenic (Iormed Irom decomposition oI
organic matter) and had nothing to do with Iracking whatsoever.
The presence oI methane in water wells is common and
widespread. For example, methane is Iound in 15 percent oI
water wells in upstate New York where no Iracking is being done.
Scare tactics are a highly eIIective method oI inIluencing and
manipulating public opinion, and this case is no exception.
Jê|1 |k/|KlNê |ê1| /NI J/Nê|k Iê kJM/N k|/|Ik!
II one looks beyond the hype and scare tactics, there is no
credible evidence that there has been any adverse impact oI
Iracking on human health.
Both the Iederal EPA and its counterpart agencies in individual
states where Iracking is employed have extensively studied
this issue. Many oI the reports, investigations, and studies on
the health impact oI Iracking arise Irom reported incidents in
the Marcellus Shalean enormous sedimentary basin that
spans nine states in the eastern US. Active drilling is currently
ongoing in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. There have
been no oIIicially documented adverse human-health events in
Ohio and West Virginia, even with hundreds oI wells already
having been drilled there.
In Pennsylvania, more than 10,000 wells have been drilled
since 2008, and while there have been 40 reported environ-
mental incidents that triggered an EPA review, none oI these
has risen to the level oI adverse impact on human health.
Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Department oI Environmental
Protection has been actively investigating claims oI alleged
contamination oI water supplies Irom Iracking. OI the 973
complaints that were investigated, none were Iound to be a
result oI the Iracturing oI the shale. However, 156 incidents,
such as surIace spills were veriIied, but these types oI
problems may occur during any gas or oil drilling operation,
and were not related to the Iracking process itselI.
It is important to note that the diIIerence in depth oI water and
Iracking wells provides a natural saIety barrier. While aquiIers are
Iound no more than 300 Ieet Irom the surIace, Iracking wells are
between one and two miles below this, making the possibility oI
intermingling oI Iracking Iluid and ground water very unlikely.
It is impossible to say that anything is completely saIe,
however, to-date, there is still not one conIirmed case oI
contaminated water due to Iracking.
Wk/I /k| Ik| J|N||lI1 ê| |k/|KlNê!
The beneIits oI Iracking are economic, and paradoxically
environmental.
In the past decade, the US has increased its production oI all
natural gas by 34 percent, and is now the leading producer in
the world. Much oI this can be attributed to the quadrupling oI
shale gas produced by Iracking between 2004 and 2009.
Consequently, since 2007, US imports oI natural gas have
been cut by halI, and account Ior only 8 percent oI all natural
gas usage in the country.
Virtually overnight, exploitation oI our natural gas resources
has radically transIormed America`s tenuous position Irom
being alarmingly dependent on imported Ioreign oil to being
the world`s largest producer oI natural gas. As such, the US is
predicted to pass Saudi Arabia as the top-producing petroleum
and gas producer in the world by 2017, and is predicted to
become energy independent by 2020.
As a result, natural gas prices have dropped, saving America
an estimated $100 billion in 2011 alone. More than halI oI the
states in the nation have joined the 'Iracking revolution.¨ The
resulting eIIect on the economy is predictable: approximately
900,000 jobs (both directly and indirectly attributed to
Iracking) were created in 2012, and this number is predicted to
rise to 1.5 million by 2020.
Environmentally, the use oI natural gas is enormously beneIi-
cial. Replacing combustible energy sources such as coal and
oil with natural gas will have a proIound eIIect on air quality.
While anti-Iracking groups Iocus only on theoretical health
risks oI water contamination, they Iail to take into account the
beneIits oI a much more cleanly burning Iuel. All Iorms oI
energy have risks and beneIits, so the Iailure to consider both
can only lead to Ilawed conclusions and bad public policy.
Jê|1 |k/|KlNê k/kM Ik| |N\lkêNM|NI!
By Iar, the greatest concern oI those who Iear and oppose
Iracking is that it will lead to widespread water pollution. Yet
the Iacts reveal that there is no documentation that Iracking
causes water pollution.
OI the components used in the Iracking process, 90 percent is
water. OI the remainder, 9 percent is proppant, and about one
percent oI the mixture consists oI chemical additives (see
illustration). These Iunction in important ways, Ior example as
Iriction reducers, biocides to prevent bacterial development,
and scale inhibitors.
Almost all oI these chemicals are Iound in commonly used
household and consumer products. Some examples include:
isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), borates (in laundry
detergents), ammonium persulIate (bleaching agent used in
detergents and hair coloring), citric acid (Irom Iruit), and mineral
oil (Iound in candy, laxatives, and makeup removers).
Recycling oI Iracking Iluid is a major Iocus oI the
industry. The current recovery rate ranges Irom 20 to 90
percent, depending on location. The industry goal is to
recover and reuse 90 percent oI all Iluid.
The possibility oI earthquakes resulting Irom Iracking has
also generated many Ialse scares. However, the data do
not support this Iear. In Iact, other human activities, such
as building dams and mining, have resulted in virtually all
oI the quakes. OI the 198 reported man-made quakes
since 1929, only three were attributed to Iracking and
these were barely strong enough to be Ielt by humans.
Even the seismic activity is largely a consequence oI deep
disposal oI waste water, not a direct result oI the Iracking
process per se. More recycling oI waste water would help
reduce any such problems; improved methods Ior this are
being developed.
Ik| |JIJk| ê| |k/|KlNê - Wk/I'1 Ik| JêIIêM |lN|!
In 1973, in response to the Yom Kippur War, OPEC
retaliated by announcing an embargo against the US and
several allies, resulting in the quadrupling oI oil prices
within a six-month period.
And anyone who owned a car in 1979 will no doubt recall
the gasoline shortagea result oI the Iranian
revolutionthat resulted in rationing, long lines, and a
spike in the price oI gasoline. It became clear that America
was highly vulnerable to geopolitical events because oI its
reliance on other countries to meet its energy needs.
But by the early 2000s, the tide began to turn as America
began to harvest its own Iuel in suIIicient quantities. We
are on our way to being energy independentsomething
that was unimaginable a Iew decades ago.
Fracking has provided the means to saIely harvest huge
amounts oI natural gas, a key source oI energy Ior the
Iuture. The U.S. will beneIit in multiple ways, both
economically and environmentally Irom this previously
underused, inexpensive, clean source oI energy.
It would be quite unIortunate to let unIounded health scares
propagated by anti-Iracking groups derail this important
advance toward energy independence in the United States.
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Wk/I l1 |k/|KlNê!
Short Ior hydraulic Iracturing (HF), Iracking is a method oI
using a Iluid mixture at high pressures to release natural
gas95 percent oI which is methanethat is trapped deep in
underground shale deposits. Shale is a type oI rock that
contains mud, clay, quartz, and other minerals. Depending on
its exact composition, shale has diIIering degrees oI hardness
and porosity, and these properties determine the particular
Iracking method used to extract the gas.
The U.S. has enormous quantities oI 'shale gas¨ trapped in
deposits throughout the country. Not only would obtaining this
gas minimize our dependence on oilIoreign or otherwise
but it also provides an opportunity to signiIicantly reduce air
pollution. Natural gas is easily the cleanest burning Iuel
available. The combustion products oI methane gaswhich
itselI is colorless and odorlessare water and carbon dioxide.
No soot, Iumes, or smog are Iormed.
Although some minor technical and logistical issues could be
improved (Ior example, more eIIicient recovery oI Iracking
Iluid, managing unrecovered Iluid, and minimizing the disrup-
tion in drilling localities), these obstacles can be overcome, and
they pale in comparison to the enormous beneIits oI harnessing
and utilizing these valuable natural gas resources. In Iact, the
industry has employed enormous scientiIic and engineering
resources to overcome these important challenges, since saIety
is proIoundly important to the HF process.
/ Jkl|| kl1IêkI
Although Iracking has received a huge amount oI news
coverage in recent years, the concept oI exploring Ior natural
gas itselI is hardly new. The Iirst well intended to speciIically
provide natural gas was built in Fredonia, NY in 1821.
Drilling in Pennsylvania and Ohio began shortly thereaIter,
and by the 1920s West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky, where
the largest gas deposits in the world are Iound, Iollowed.
By the mid-1930s it became apparent that enormous amounts
oI gas were trapped in shale; however, Iracturing the shale was
required to liberate the gas. This was done primarily by use oI
explosives, which was Iar Irom an ideal method. By the late
1940s, explosives were gradually phased out and replaced by
the use oI high-pressure liquids. This set the stage Ior the
large-scale production oI natural gas that continues today.
kêW Jê|1 lI WêkK!
The concept behind Iracking is rather simple. A vertical well
is drilled down, The average depth oI a deep shale gas well is
about 7,500 Ieet. As drilling progresses, steel casings are
cemented to the sides oI the well to prevent the Iracking Iluid
and natural gas Irom entering groundwater. Then horizontal
underground drilling begins, which greatly increases the
amount oI gas than can be obtained. Following drilling, a
mixture oI water, 'proppants¨ (usually sand), and certain
chemicals is injected under high pressure into the rock. This
causes Iractures in the rock and allows the gas to escape. The
Iunction oI the proppants is to keep the Iractures open.
WkI l1 lI 1ê |êNIkê\|k1l/| NêW!
It is ironic that some oI the same environmental groups that
were calling Ior a wider use oI natural gas not that long ago
are now leading the Iight against it. Yet, while their concerns
are primarily based on the theoretical adverse health eIIects
Irom contamination oI groundwater, virtually all oI their
claims are baseless.
Additionally, as is so oIten true in the United States, celebrities,
despite having little or no knowledge oI subjects they become
involved with, nonetheless have a lot to say and attract a large
audience oI listeners. Moreover, it is not uncommon Ior their
protestations to be based on selI-interest. For instance, Yoko Ono
and her son Sean Lennon Iormed a group called Artists Against
Fracking when she became concerned that Iracking might impact
her Iarm in upstate New York. At the time, Ms. Ono said,
'Fracking kills, and it doesn`t just kill us. It kills the land, nature,
and, eventually, the whole world.¨
Artists Against Fracking now has over 200 celebrity members
and is partially responsible Ior exerting pressure on New
York`s Governor Cuomo to ban Iracking in New York State,
which contains huge shale gas reserves in the Marcellus Shale
near the Pennsylvania border.
Propaganda, which is easily spread on the Internet, also plays
a big role in inIluencing public opinion. There is no better
example than the 2010 documentary 'Gasland¨ by Josh Fox,
which contains a scene in which tap water in a home is ignited
with a match. Ingenious, but grossly misleading, it created an
indelible image oI water pollution and hidden health hazards. It
was later revealed that the methane in question came Irom a
private well and was biogenic (Iormed Irom decomposition oI
organic matter) and had nothing to do with Iracking whatsoever.
The presence oI methane in water wells is common and
widespread. For example, methane is Iound in 15 percent oI
water wells in upstate New York where no Iracking is being done.
Scare tactics are a highly eIIective method oI inIluencing and
manipulating public opinion, and this case is no exception.
Jê|1 |k/|KlNê |ê1| /NI J/Nê|k Iê kJM/N k|/|Ik!
II one looks beyond the hype and scare tactics, there is no
credible evidence that there has been any adverse impact oI
Iracking on human health.
Both the Iederal EPA and its counterpart agencies in individual
states where Iracking is employed have extensively studied
this issue. Many oI the reports, investigations, and studies on
the health impact oI Iracking arise Irom reported incidents in
the Marcellus Shalean enormous sedimentary basin that
spans nine states in the eastern US. Active drilling is currently
ongoing in Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. There have
been no oIIicially documented adverse human-health events in
Ohio and West Virginia, even with hundreds oI wells already
having been drilled there.
In Pennsylvania, more than 10,000 wells have been drilled
since 2008, and while there have been 40 reported environ-
mental incidents that triggered an EPA review, none oI these
has risen to the level oI adverse impact on human health.
Furthermore, the Pennsylvania Department oI Environmental
Protection has been actively investigating claims oI alleged
contamination oI water supplies Irom Iracking. OI the 973
complaints that were investigated, none were Iound to be a
result oI the Iracturing oI the shale. However, 156 incidents,
such as surIace spills were veriIied, but these types oI
problems may occur during any gas or oil drilling operation,
and were not related to the Iracking process itselI.
It is important to note that the diIIerence in depth oI water and
Iracking wells provides a natural saIety barrier. While aquiIers are
Iound no more than 300 Ieet Irom the surIace, Iracking wells are
between one and two miles below this, making the possibility oI
intermingling oI Iracking Iluid and ground water very unlikely.
It is impossible to say that anything is completely saIe,
however, to-date, there is still not one conIirmed case oI
contaminated water due to Iracking.
Wk/I /k| Ik| J|N||lI1 ê| |k/|KlNê!
The beneIits oI Iracking are economic, and paradoxically
environmental.
In the past decade, the US has increased its production oI all
natural gas by 34 percent, and is now the leading producer in
the world. Much oI this can be attributed to the quadrupling oI
shale gas produced by Iracking between 2004 and 2009.
Consequently, since 2007, US imports oI natural gas have
been cut by halI, and account Ior only 8 percent oI all natural
gas usage in the country.
Virtually overnight, exploitation oI our natural gas resources
has radically transIormed America`s tenuous position Irom
being alarmingly dependent on imported Ioreign oil to being
the world`s largest producer oI natural gas. As such, the US is
predicted to pass Saudi Arabia as the top-producing petroleum
and gas producer in the world by 2017, and is predicted to
become energy independent by 2020.
As a result, natural gas prices have dropped, saving America
an estimated $100 billion in 2011 alone. More than halI oI the
states in the nation have joined the 'Iracking revolution.¨ The
resulting eIIect on the economy is predictable: approximately
900,000 jobs (both directly and indirectly attributed to
Iracking) were created in 2012, and this number is predicted to
rise to 1.5 million by 2020.
Environmentally, the use oI natural gas is enormously beneIi-
cial. Replacing combustible energy sources such as coal and
oil with natural gas will have a proIound eIIect on air quality.
While anti-Iracking groups Iocus only on theoretical health
risks oI water contamination, they Iail to take into account the
beneIits oI a much more cleanly burning Iuel. All Iorms oI
energy have risks and beneIits, so the Iailure to consider both
can only lead to Ilawed conclusions and bad public policy.
Jê|1 |k/|KlNê k/kM Ik| |N\lkêNM|NI!
By Iar, the greatest concern oI those who Iear and oppose
Iracking is that it will lead to widespread water pollution. Yet
the Iacts reveal that there is no documentation that Iracking
causes water pollution.
OI the components used in the Iracking process, 90 percent is
water. OI the remainder, 9 percent is proppant, and about one
percent oI the mixture consists oI chemical additives (see
illustration). These Iunction in important ways, Ior example as
Iriction reducers, biocides to prevent bacterial development,
and scale inhibitors.
Almost all oI these chemicals are Iound in commonly used
household and consumer products. Some examples include:
isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), borates (in laundry
detergents), ammonium persulIate (bleaching agent used in
detergents and hair coloring), citric acid (Irom Iruit), and mineral
oil (Iound in candy, laxatives, and makeup removers).
Recycling oI Iracking Iluid is a major Iocus oI the
industry. The current recovery rate ranges Irom 20 to 90
percent, depending on location. The industry goal is to
recover and reuse 90 percent oI all Iluid.
The possibility oI earthquakes resulting Irom Iracking has
also generated many Ialse scares. However, the data do
not support this Iear. In Iact, other human activities, such
as building dams and mining, have resulted in virtually all
oI the quakes. OI the 198 reported man-made quakes
since 1929, only three were attributed to Iracking and
these were barely strong enough to be Ielt by humans.
Even the seismic activity is largely a consequence oI deep
disposal oI waste water, not a direct result oI the Iracking
process per se. More recycling oI waste water would help
reduce any such problems; improved methods Ior this are
being developed.
Ik| |JIJk| ê| |k/|KlNê - Wk/I'1 Ik| JêIIêM |lN|!
In 1973, in response to the Yom Kippur War, OPEC
retaliated by announcing an embargo against the US and
several allies, resulting in the quadrupling oI oil prices
within a six-month period.
And anyone who owned a car in 1979 will no doubt recall
the gasoline shortagea result oI the Iranian
revolutionthat resulted in rationing, long lines, and a
spike in the price oI gasoline. It became clear that America
was highly vulnerable to geopolitical events because oI its
reliance on other countries to meet its energy needs.
But by the early 2000s, the tide began to turn as America
began to harvest its own Iuel in suIIicient quantities. We
are on our way to being energy independentsomething
that was unimaginable a Iew decades ago.
Fracking has provided the means to saIely harvest huge
amounts oI natural gas, a key source oI energy Ior the
Iuture. The U.S. will beneIit in multiple ways, both
economically and environmentally Irom this previously
underused, inexpensive, clean source oI energy.
It would be quite unIortunate to let unIounded health scares
propagated by anti-Iracking groups derail this important
advance toward energy independence in the United States.
been cut by halI, and account Ior only 8 percent oI all natural
gas usage in the country.
Virtually overnight, exploitation oI our natural gas resources
has radically transIormed America`s tenuous position Irom
being alarmingly dependent on imported Ioreign oil to being
the world`s largest producer oI natural gas. As such, the US is
predicted to pass Saudi Arabia as the top-producing petroleum
and gas producer in the world by 2017, and is predicted to
become energy independent by 2020.
As a result, natural gas prices have dropped, saving America
an estimated $100 billion in 2011 alone. More than halI oI the
states in the nation have joined the 'Iracking revolution.¨ The
resulting eIIect on the economy is predictable: approximately
900,000 jobs (both directly and indirectly attributed to
Iracking) were created in 2012, and this number is predicted to
rise to 1.5 million by 2020.
Environmentally, the use oI natural gas is enormously beneIi-
cial. Replacing combustible energy sources such as coal and
oil with natural gas will have a proIound eIIect on air quality.
While anti-Iracking groups Iocus only on theoretical health
risks oI water contamination, they Iail to take into account the
beneIits oI a much more cleanly burning Iuel. All Iorms oI
energy have risks and beneIits, so the Iailure to consider both
can only lead to Ilawed conclusions and bad public policy.
%"+* '$#3@42A 6#$, (6+ +2;4$"2,+2(B
By Iar, the greatest concern oI those who Iear and oppose
Iracking is that it will lead to widespread water pollution. Yet
the Iacts reveal that there is no documentation that Iracking
causes water pollution.
OI the components used in the Iracking process, 90 percent is
water. OI the remainder, 9 percent is proppant, and about one
percent oI the mixture consists oI chemical additives (see
illustration). These Iunction in important ways, Ior example as
Iriction reducers, biocides to prevent bacterial development,
and scale inhibitors.
Almost all oI these chemicals are Iound in commonly used
household and consumer products. Some examples include:
isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), borates (in laundry
detergents), ammonium persulIate (bleaching agent used in
detergents and hair coloring), citric acid (Irom Iruit), and mineral
oil (Iound in candy, laxatives, and makeup removers).
Recycling oI Iracking Iluid is a major Iocus oI the
industry. The current recovery rate ranges Irom 20 to 90
percent, depending on location. The industry goal is to
recover and reuse 90 percent oI all Iluid.
The possibility oI earthquakes resulting Irom Iracking has
also generated many Ialse scares. However, the data do
not support this Iear. In Iact, other human activities, such
as building dams and mining, have resulted in virtually all
oI the quakes. OI the 198 reported man-made quakes
since 1929, only three were attributed to Iracking and
these were barely strong enough to be Ielt by humans.
Even the seismic activity is largely a consequence oI deep
disposal oI waste water, not a direct result oI the Iracking
process per se. More recycling oI waste water would help
reduce any such problems; improved methods Ior this are
being developed.
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In 1973, in response to the Yom Kippur War, OPEC
retaliated by announcing an embargo against the US and
several allies, resulting in the quadrupling oI oil prices
within a six-month period.
And anyone who owned a car in 1979 will no doubt recall
the gasoline shortagea result oI the Iranian
revolutionthat resulted in rationing, long lines, and a
spike in the price oI gasoline. It became clear that America
was highly vulnerable to geopolitical events because oI its
reliance on other countries to meet its energy needs.
But by the early 2000s, the tide began to turn as America
began to harvest its own Iuel in suIIicient quantities. We
are on our way to being energy independentsomething
that was unimaginable a Iew decades ago.
Fracking has provided the means to saIely harvest huge
amounts oI natural gas, a key source oI energy Ior the
Iuture. The U.S. will beneIit in multiple ways, both
economically and environmentally Irom this previously
underused, inexpensive, clean source oI energy.
It would be quite unIortunate to let unIounded health scares
propagated by anti-Iracking groups derail this important
advance toward energy independence in the United States.

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