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Blogger calls for more study of fracking impact

In a piece for Mother Jones, blogger Kevin Drum weighs in on predictions that the shale gas boom will be around for decades, along with the controversial natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing.

Drum cites a study that the Wall Street Journal recently described as “the most exhaustive study to date of a key natural-gas field in Texas, combined with related research under way elsewhere.” The study concludes that shale-rock formations in the United States will serve as a growing source of moderately priced natural gas through 2040, and decline only slowly after that.

Companies are now extracting natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” which involves pumping millions of water underground to break up the shale and release natural gas deposits. The method is employed along the Marcellus Shale, a gas-rich underground rock formation that also extends into New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and West Virginia.

Public health advocates are concerned about a number of potential environmental hazards. For example, the fracking water contains toxic chemicals including the carcinogen benzene, and critics worry that those chemicals might seep into drinking water supplies.

Drum implies that the study’s findings are questionable in the first place. A press release from the University of Texas, which conducted the study, includes a chart suggesting that the field that was studied, indicating that it peaked last year, is now in decline, and in 15 years will be producing at half its peak rate.

He acknowledges that the projections still suggest a lot of the natural gas will be available through 2050. And since individual wells tend to produce for only a short time, it will require the drilling of many more.

“Given this, it sure would be nice to work out the possible environmental damage of shale fracking on air and groundwater now, instead of waiting until 2030 or so, when it will be too late,” Drum writes.

Lopez McHugh is investigating injuries related to natural gas extraction in the Marcellus Shale natural gas reserve. If you have significant injuries, contact a Lopez McHugh attorney for a free evaluation.

See the editorial here: