Other than renewable energy solutions, natural gas has stood out as one of the cleaner energy sources for those wishing to leave a greener footprint. Unfortunately, the horizontal drilling techniques used to obtain this gas, accompanied by toxic hydraulic fracturing chemicals, are now causing great alarm concerning the long-term consequences on our water and environment.
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is the predominant method used for obtaining most natural gas in Colorado. This dangerous technique has been so “successful” when used with horizontal drilling technology that a modern-day gold rush now exists among natural gas companies, fueled by demand from utilities trying to steer away from burning coal.
So Many Secret Deadly Chemicals
A growing number of individuals now contend that fracking chemicals are polluting underground water tables with a scary mixture of carcinogens that natural gas drillers are reluctant to disclose to the public, citing proprietary concerns.
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 that:
“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.”
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, green footprint.
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 wanting to search for information about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells.Photo: Tony the Misfit