This Week in Fracking: The Gas Industry has a Pipedream
By Rich Bindell
What’s most newsworthy about fracking these days is the amount of bad news that keeps surfacing about it. The shale gas industry has been aggressive in its insistence that natural gas is the way to go for energy independence. They have talked a big game for the last few years, promising that fracking for shale gas would not harm the environment and that , given the large amounts of available gas hidden deep within shale formations, it would be profitable for shareholders and local economies. But we keep finding out that industry claims just aren’t true — they have overstated the amount of gas reserves and the number of jobs created, as well as the environmental damage inflicted. We make this case in our new issue brief, Pipe Dreams: What the Gas Industry Doesn’t Want you to Know about Fracking and U.S. Energy Independence.
Even since we wrote our issue brief, more news is casting doubts on the shale gas pipedream. Here are other items of note this week:
• On July 29, Ian Urbina reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission has been investigating whether or not shale gas companies are exaggerating the existing amount of gas reserves.
• Pennsylvania’s Dailyreview.com reported that Chesapeake Energy Corp., the company behind the gas well that blew out in Bradford County, has been mortgaging mineral rights on properties where they have been drilling. Unfortunately, they haven’t been informing the landowners, thus preventing some of them from taking mortgages out on their own homes in tough economic times.
• Over in New York, a federal court might overrule the Empire State over whether or not State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman can sue federal agencies for the lack of a proper environmental assessment of fracking. According to Ian Urbina, the U.S. government is requesting a dismissal of Schneiderman’s lawsuit. This is just further evidence that the government is helping to rush fracking into environmentally sensitive areas.
• Don’t believe that fracking can contaminate water? Industry disputes that fracking has ever contaminated any water supplies. But Ian Urbina (again) uncovered an EPA report — and interviewed its author — documenting at least one case of contamination and possibly several more. Of course, we haven’t heard much about it because the details of the related court cases have been sealed.
It’s hard to believe that Marcellus Shale states like New York and Pennsylvania would expose their residents to the potential risks associated with fracking. As the public learns more and more about the potential for environmental destruction and about the misleading nature of the gas industry, we continue build a stronger movement against it.