Tag Archives: Hydraulic fracturing

What the Frack?: Hydraulic Fracturing 101

Remember reading about the new fracking disclosure bill that was signed or have heard about it, but don’t quite understand what fracking is? Here is a quick and easy visual explanation of the fracking process and how it affects us and our environment.

Fracking is another name for hydraulic fracturing, which is the process of extracting natural gas from the ground. What’s so bad about that? Natural gas is green, right? Well, yes and no. While natural gas may burn slightly cleaner than coal, the extraction process is just as, if not more, harmful to human and environmental health as the extraction and burning of coal.

Why is natural gas extraction so harmful, you ask? Does your tap water do this?

The flaming water is a result of gases and fracking fluids seeping into the water shelf during the process of extracting the natural gas from underground, effectively making its way into the local water systems.

So how does the gas get into the water? Good question.

Source: checksandbalancesproject.org

Beside water being flammable, there are multiple health effects caused by the gases chemicals from the fracking fluids. Theses chemicals and gases are causing  ADHD, autism, diabetes, obesity, early testicular cancer, endometriosis, to name a few.

So, how does this new legislation forcing the gas companies to disclose chemicals contained in the fracking fluids have in impact? For years now, these companies have been able to deny that there are any chemicals that would be harmful to those living in close proximity to the drilling sites. Now that these chemicals are to be exposed, it will be much harder to deny that all of the aforementioned health issues were not a direct result of their extraction practices.

For more in-depth and explicit information about the impact of fracking:

-Jessica Olson, Sierra Club Beyond Coal/ Communications Intern

Fracking in the Eagle Ford: A Town Hall by the Tweets

On Saturday at 3pm, the Texas Drought Project and the Oil and Gas Accountability project hosted a town hall in Cuero. There were about 40-50 people in attendance. Check out our livetweets below. More information to come- stay tuned!

(Start from the bottom and work your way up! Sorry, Twitter’s timeline is by the most recent update.)

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Texas Legislators Consider Gas Fracking Disclosure

Natural Gas Fracking Bill Set for Debate in Texas State House Today

 (Austin) The Texas House of Representatives is set to consider a major bill today on the House Floor which, for the first time, would require operators of natural gas wells in Texas to disclose the chemicals, hydro-fracking fluids and additives they use when “fracking” a gas well. House Bill 3328 by State Representative Jim Keffer – a Republican from Eastland whose district near Fort Worth has experienced heavy Barnett Shale gas drilling activity — would be a major change in regulation of the oil and gas industry in Texas.  Texas would become one of a handful of states now requiring that companies disclose what they are injecting underground, and make that information available on a public website, on a well-by-well basis.

The bill could include an amendment promoted by the Texas Oil and Gas Association that would limit full disclosure of all chemicals by only requiring full disclosure on a publicly-available website of “MSDS” chemicals – those regulated by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) – and not all chemicals. Instead, the “other chemicals” will be on a separate list given to the state agency as part of their well completion reports, and those chemicals will not include the actual volume or concentration.

“Under a proposal being advocated by the Texas Oil and Gas Association, Texas would have an “MSDS plus” system, certainly better than nothing, but a bill that is far short of the much stronger bill originally introduced by Rep. Keffer,” said Cyrus Reed, Conservation Director with the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club. “We hope the House and Senate will consider strengthening the bill to make it a true model bill for the nation.”

Among the changes Sierra Club is seeking in order to fully support the bill are:

  • Full well-by-well website disclosure of all chemicals, including those regulated by OSHA and those not regulated by OSHA;
  • A more inclusive list of who can actually challenge any chemicals claimed as trade secrets, including those landowners living within a mile of any well shaft;
  • A process for the agency to determine if any trade secret claims are meritorious and not give a blanket protection to trade secrets claimed by the industry.

“Even as gas companies continue to drill the Barnett Shale in North Texas, new shale finds like the Eagle Ford in South Texas are being developed at a breakneck speed, without any disclosure of the chemicals being injected underground.  The injected fracking fluids are impacting the water and land of thousands of individuals in Texas,” Reed noted further.

“What happens in Texas is important because Texas is the leading gas producer in the country and the state where hydro-fracking technology got its start,” said Deb Nardone with Sierra Club’s Natural Gas Campaign.  “Getting disclosure regulations right in Texas could help bolster disclosure in other states.  Weaker disclosure in Texas would provide dangerous traction for the industry to seek limited disclosure in other states.”       #   #   #

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Teleconference with Gasland’s Josh Fox

Dear Texas:

As natural gas production grows across the country, we are increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts and lack of safeguards to protect human health and our communities. The movie “Gasland”, which depicts what life is like in gas communities across the country, has generated a movement.

Please join us for an hour-long teleconference with Academy Award nominated filmmaker Josh Fox to discuss the movie and how gas activists across the country are organizing for change.

Event Details

WHO: You, your family and friends

Discuss the Academy Award nominated documentary, Gasland, with filmmaker Josh Fox

Wednesday, April 13th. Please note your time zone: 5-6 pm PT / 6-7 pm MT / 7-8 pm CT / 8-9 pm ET

RSVP by April 12: http://action.sierraclub.org/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=151861&autologin=true&211CNGEN01

This event has been organized on behalf of the Sierra Club’s Hydrofracking Activist Network, a resource with information and a forum for discussing natural gas issues across the country.

Thank you,

Deborah Nardone
Natural Gas Reform Campaign
Sierra Club

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What the Frack?

Michael Brune
Image by The Sierra Club via Flickr

Michael Brune, Executive Director of Sierra Club, talks about fracking…

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Stopping the Frack Attack

From our national offices, we bring you the latest on fracking and the national effort to find out what exactly is in those chemical cocktails…

Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, (512) 289-8618
Gwen Lachelt, EARTHWORKS, (505) 469-0380

Americans Call For Tighter Regulation of Hydraulic ‘Fracking’ in Oil and Gas Drilling

Overflow Crowds of Concerned Residents Attend EPA Public Meetings across the Country

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – Thousands of Americans are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a comprehensive study of the environmental and health threats of natural gas fracturing. Pollution from this drilling technique – commonly known as fracking – has been the focus of three heavily attended public meetings in Texas, Colorado and Pennsylvania this summer. The final meetings, next week in Binghamton, N.Y., drew so much interest that the EPA was initially forced to reschedule them.

“Natural gas companies should welcome additional scrutiny and embrace regulation that will protect public health and the environment,” said Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton. “Indeed some of them have already called for greater disclosure. EPA’s proposed scope of study is a good first step but it can and should go much further. This hydraulic fracturing study must be fully funded to allow an in-depth analysis of the data. We also need changes in federal and state regulations requiring this industry to protect our air, water, and communities.”

Fracking involves the high pressure injection of enormous amounts of water, sand and chemicals into drilling sites to force gas deposits to the surface. Estimates vary, but anywhere from 30% to 85% of fracking fluids remain underground and could potentially harm underground water resources.  Most wells are fracked several times over the life of the well. The EPA should also study threats to geological formations from drilling and fracking to identify ground fractures that have the potential to carry fracking fluids to domestic drinking water supplies.

“Oil and gas drilling is spreading across the American landscape with little regulation, putting our air, water and health at risk,” says Gwen Lachelt, Director of EARTHWORKS’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project. “This industry is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act and most other environmental laws. Hopefully this new EPA study will provide a scientifically reliable, independent analysis of the impacts of fracking.”

Improperly sealed drilling wells can also contaminate groundwater. The industry claims that less than 1 percent of fracking fluids are comprised of chemical agents but EARTHWORKS’ research shows that companies can use as much as 40 tons of chemicals for every million gallons of water used in fracking.  There are no requirements at the federal level to compel industry to disclose what chemicals it is injecting into the ground, although just this week the EPA announced that it is asking natural gas companies to voluntarily disclose this information.

The EPA proposes to study the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and its potential drinking water pollution. The EPA’s Science Advisory Board — an independent, external federal advisory committee — recently recommended that EPA’s study look at the entire life cycle of fracturing operations.

Oil and gas is produced in 34 states from an estimated 800,000 wells, according to the Energy Information Agency. Under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Oil and gas producers are also exempted from part of the Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) governing hazardous waste, the federal Superfund law, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (which requires companies to report their toxic releases), and part of the Clean Air Act. These exemptions threaten the air, water and health of communities affected by natural gas.

The final public meetings on the proposed EPA study are September 13 and 15, 2010 in Binghamton, NY, in the heart of the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation. For more information on these meetings, contact Roger Downs at roger.downs@sierraclub.org or Nadia Steinzor at nsteinzor@earthworksaction.org.

For more information visit


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