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Nonprofit president: Water a major concern for fracking

In a piece for the Huffington Post, Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick attempts to cut through some of the extreme rhetoric on both sides of the fracking debate, and provide a clearer picture of what’s at stake with the controversial natural gas extraction method.

Gleick argues that fracking, the common name for hydraulic fracturing, isn’t inherently good or bad.

“But good or bad things can happen as a result of fracking, depending on how it is implemented, where it is pursued, the technologies used, and the actions taken to increase its benefits and reduce its impacts,” Gleick writes. “And whether or not you support or oppose fracking depends on how those benefits and impacts are perceived, distributed, addressed, and valued — and whether it is in your backyard.”

Fracking is a method of natural gas extraction that involves pumping chemically treated water underground and breaking up rock formations to release natural gas. Fracking water contains toxic chemicals including the carcinogen benzene, and much of the controversy centers on its potential contamination of drinking water.

Gleick writes that the Pacific Institute has just released a new study on the issues associated with fracking, especially risks to the nation’s water resources. The study was based on extensive interviews with a diverse group of stakeholders, including the industry itself, representatives from state and federal agencies, academia, environmental groups, and community-based organizations from across the United States.

According to Gleick, the top six key concerns associated with fracking were:

  • Spills or leaks of contaminated water or fracking fluids into the surrounding environment.
  • Storing, transporting, treating, and appropriately treating or disposing of wastewater.
  • Water requirements for fracking competing with other water needs in water-scarce regions.
  • Truck traffic and impacts on air quality in rural communities.
  • Lack of comprehensive and credible data and information to clearly assess the risks and develop sound policies to minimize those risks.
  • The failure to clarify terms and definitions about the hydraulic fracturing process.

Gleick concludes by pointing out that a good deal of misinformation, some of it intentional, has characterized the fracking debate.

He writes: “A more fruitful and informed debate is the only thing likely to lead to appropriate energy, water, and environmental policies. But the current debate is rarely well-informed, and even less frequently, fruitful. Can we figure out how to reap the benefits of fracking without suffering, unnecessarily, the adverse costs? If not, opposition will continue to grow, and it will be deserved.”

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale – a rock formation that extends into parts of Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

See the piece here: