[UPDATE: For a comprehensive list of fracking FAQs, visit this site.]
Thinking of learning more about fracking? Want to know what all the hype is about? If you have the opportunity to ask questions, then here are some good ones for starters…
Question #1. For how long have the Marcellus Shale fracking operations been going on in PA? (Ask this because the gas industry states “hydraulic fracturing” has been going on at least 50-60 years, but they don’t mention that this is a different type of fracking that is now happening in PA.)
Answer to #1: “Range Resources – Appalachia, LLC may have started the Marcellus Shale gas play. In 2003 they drilled a Marcellus well in Washington County, Pennsylvania and found a promising flow of natural gas. They experimented with horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods that worked in the Barnett Shale of Texas. Their first Marcellus gas production from the well began in 2005. Between then and the end of 2007 more than 375 gas wells with suspected Marcellus intent had been permitted in Pennsylvania.” http://geology.com/articles/marcellus-shale.shtml
Question #2. What is slickwater? (Ask this because they NEVER mention slick water in their advertisements.)
Answer to #2: If you think about what they are doing when they frack, then it becomes apparent to you that you can’t get gas to flow up through a column of water. The water is too heavy, and it holds down the gas. So, they have to lubricate the water– make it “slick” so the gas can flow up through it. How to you lubricate water? You add chemicals. Not a lot of them, percentage-wise per well, but that doesn’t matter because there are millions of gallons of chemicals overall being used to frack our state. Much of this remains in the ground… and what goes down must come up…. eventually. Read more here: http://www.earthworksaction.org/fracfluidslarge.cfm
Question#3. What about air quality? How will it change, and who monitors it? (Ask this because air quality is the elephant in the room when it comes to pollution…)
Answer to #3: There is literally not one single air quality specialist in the DEP’s Oil & Gas Program. The gas companies may do some readings, and there are some regulations about air quality, but the fact of the matter is that unless a private citizen files a complaint, there is nothing much that will be done. And, even when complaints are filed, it often takes a very long time to follow-up and to prove what has gone on. Air quality is hard to monitor– especially when there are no Oil & Gas Program staff to monitor it. There has been a short term study done by the DEP, which said both something and nothing. It was not designed to look at long-term impacts in air quality.