Developed over six decades ago, fracing is a process that involves pumping millions of gallons of highly pressurized water combined with sand and small amounts of chemicals into deep shale formations. This water going into the ground cracks the shale or widens existing cracks, freeing hydrocarbons to flow toward the well. It is estimated that shale gas will account for nearly half of the natural gas produced in the United States by 2035. However, this bonanza of natural gas is highly controversial, as disputes over fracing have been heating up over the past few years.
Here are some common myths about fracing and the realities behind them that ought to help clear up any misunderstanding about fracing – and there’s plenty of that to go around!
Myth: Fracing contaminates drinking water with dangerous chemicals.
Truth: This is one of the favorite arguments used by anti-fracing lobbyists. According to testimony delivered to Congress by Lisa Jackson, the former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, there have been no reported cases of water contamination due to fracing. In other words, with well over one million fraced wells and counting in the US, there is not one example of contaminated water anywhere.
Myth: Fracing makes tap water flammable.
Reality: This fracing myth is one that’s widely believed and which was made popular by the HBO documentary “Gasland.” In the film, a man is shown lighting his tap water on fire, supposedly due to fracing. The problem with this is that some people could light their water decades before fracing even started due to shallow coal seams and associated methane. There are three locations in the United States called Burning Springs where combustible water has been documented since the 1600s.
Myth: Fracing uses a lot of dangerous chemicals.
Reality: The fluid used in fracing is made up of 98.5 percent water, 1 percent sand and 0.5 percent chemical additives – some of which are also use to make ice cream! While there are hundreds of chemicals (many of which are biodegradable) that can be used in the process, the most common chemicals used in fracing can be found in most households. Fracing opponents claim the industry is hiding what chemicals they use when fracing. However, there is a national fracing chemical registry available online (FracFocus) that allows anyone to easily see what chemicals are used and why.
Myth: Due to emissions from fracing, air quality and the environment suffer.
Reality: The EPA works with the fracing industry to reduce the already acceptable emission levels. The agency also has conducted investigations in several states regarding claims made against fracing and has yet to find the process dangerous to the environment. One study found that the measured and estimated air pollution levels did not reach levels associated with causing adverse health effects. What anti-fracing groups fail to mention is that carbon dioxide emissions are at their lowest level since 1992 even as the US has increased its consumption of natural gas. No other country has cut their emissions faster than the United States in the past six or seven years.
Fracing is done on more than 90 percent of wells drilled today. The practice is beneficial to the economy, has kept natural gas prices down and reduces the US reliance of foreign energy supplies. Of course, oil and gas development does pose risks to the environment that must be addressed and carefully managed. However, fracing has been the target of false blame and unsubstantiated allegations that have led to a dearth of understanding on its real, demonstrable effects.
To find out more about fracing and how it’s done, feel free to check out our products page and the newly released Silver Bullet Frac Plug. At Torquato Drilling Accessories, our mission is to provide you with the best drilling bits and accessories around – period! To place an order or get more information, contact us online or call us at (800) 500-2487.