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Beyond renewable energies, natural gas is one of the cleaner energy sources out there for those wishing to leave a green footprint. However, the techniques being used to obtain this gas are starting to make some worry.

Fossil Fuels

Fracking Concerns Dim Excitement About Natural Gas Production

Beyond renewable energies, natural gas is one of the cleaner energy sources out there for those wishing to leave a green footprint. However, the techniques being used to obtain this gas are starting to make some worry.

Chemical tanks at hydraulic fracturing site Source: Swarthmore.edu

Beyond renewable energies, natural gas is one of the cleaner energy sources out there for those wishing to leave a green footprint. However, the techniques being used to obtain this gas are starting to make some worry.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, an innovative method for obtaining natural gas that exists in shale, has proven so successful, along with horizontal drilling technology, it has created a modern day gold rush for natural gas companies and utilities trying to steer away from burning coal. But it may also be potentially polluting underground water tables with a scary mixture of chemicals and carcinogens that are used in the process.

During the last Congress, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce launched an investigation to examine the practice of hydraulic fracturing in the United States.  The committee asked the 14 leading oil and gas service companies to disclose the types and volumes of the hydraulic fracturing products they used in their fluids between 2005 and 2009 and the chemical contents of those products.

The report shows: “Between 2005 and 2009, these 14 oil and gas service companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 chemicals and other components.  Overall, these companies used 780 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products – not including water added at the well site – between 2005 and 2009.

“Some of the components used in the hydraulic fracturing products were common and generally harmless, such as salt and citric acid.   Some were unexpected, such as instant coffee and walnut hulls.  And some were extremely toxic, such as benzene and lead.  Appendix A lists each of the 750 chemicals and other components used in hydraulic fracturing products between 2005 and 2009.”

This past weekend, the Wall Street Journal Online saw fit to publish this story on the findings, its lead reading: “The drilling fluids used to recover natural gas and oil from deep shale formations contain substances identified as human carcinogens, or listed as hazardous under federal clean air or water rules, according to a report issued late Saturday by senior House Democrats.”

So much for a clean footprint.

Fracking, and the horizontal drilling techniques that accompany it, have experts calculating the United States now has enough in obtainable natural gas deposits to last for more than a century.

For those interested in knowing more, visit FracFocus – a chemical disclosure registry operated by the Groundwater Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission.

The details are here for all lookers wanting to search for information about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells.


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Written By

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

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