Much has been made of the recent Duke University study results on fracking in Pennsylvania and Texas which shows the cement casings around the fracking wells are the primary cause of the leaking of the chemically toxic fracking water into the ground water supply. Yet, fracking supporters have seized upon the phrasing that the fracking process itself is not causing the leakage, saying it is proof the process is safe.
Let me set aside the fact this study did not address the air pollution, the significant use of water, the earthquakes and environmental degradation. Let’s focus on the study findings. The fracking industry has said for a long time this process is safe, The Chairman of the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission (which is charged with setting the rules for fracking) even said that we stand a better chance of being hit by a meteor than for the wells to leak.
As noted by the Duke study, the wells do leak through the cement casings. Yet, the comment that the fracking process itself does not cause leakage being seized upon as documentation that leakage is not occurring is ludicrous. So, let me ask two simple questions, the second of which I have asked before.
First, if we are not currently fracking an area of land, there are no cement casings beneath the ground, as there is no fracking piping to encase. So, to say that the fracking process does not include the cement casings, which is a last line of defense for leakage escapes me. It would be akin to saying the oil gaskets in your car, designed to prevent leaking between joints, are not part of the lubrication process. So, the simple question is how can you not consider the cement casings part of the fracking process? No fracking, no cement casings, no leaking.
Second, in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, then Vice President Dick Cheney, who had been CEO of Halliburton, a company involved with fracking, inserted language that exempted fracking companies from the EPA requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Air Act. My simple question, which I have asked before and never received an answer from anyone, is if fracking is so safe, why would Mr. Cheney feel the need to insert that language?
If you have watched the two Gasland movies, a former fracking engineer made two important observations. He said 1 out of 20 cement casings around fracking piping “fail immediately.” That means out of 10,000 wells in an area, 500 fail immediately. He also noted that statistic gets worse over time and does not factor in the new way that fracking is being done, which is both horizontally as well as vertically. He said the pressure on the joints is much greater than ever before, so more failures will occur.
So, I would encourage you to reread the above two simple questions and ask your political leaders to provide answers. Please hold them accountable. If you have not seen the Gasland movies, I would encourage you to watch them.