Do you know the drill?

DECEMBER 7, 2010 | by KATRINA ANDERSON

When it comes to hydraulic fracturing, Pennsylvanians are being bombarded with misleading information. Citizens informed with this inaccurate information, largely stemming from the disingenuous film Gasland, are rallying against drilling in the name of "protecting the environment."

The reality is hydraulic fracturing is not a threat to the environment as often misstated. Here are a few of the most common fracking myths corrected:

Myth #1: Fracking requires massive amounts of water.

  • In perspective to other industries, the quantity of watered used for drilling is not significant. According to Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), the gas industry uses about 2 million gallons of water per day from the Susquehanna watershed. In comparison, the recreation industry, such as ski resorts and golf clubs, use 50 million gallons a day.
  • While a single well takes approximately 3 million gallons of water to fracture, the majority of drilling companies are reusing the wastewater produced from hydraulic fracturing, reducing the amount of water used.

Myth #2:  Water withdrawals have serious negative consequences on our waterways.

  • The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) requires with the drilling application a water management plan, which identifies where water would be withdrawn and the volume of water. This ensures water consumption does not exceed water supply.
  • DEP works closely with SRBC. SRBC tightly regulates water use within the watershed by; water withdrawal permits can take up to a year.

Myth #3: Groundwater is in danger of contamination caused by fracking chemicals.

  • Since the 1950s, thousands of wells have been hydraulic fractured in Pennsylvania, and according to the DEP the process has never led to groundwater contamination. This is because the laws of physics prevent fracking fluids from migrating upwards into aquifers.
  • Additionally, the chemicals used in fracking aren't a secret. The DEP's Web site lists the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. In addition, the gas companies are required to have a Material Safety Data Sheets, toxicology data, waste chemical characteristics, and clean up protocols in case of an accident at every drilling site.

The drilling industry is heavily regulated in Pennsylvania. In fact, it is held to a higher standard than other industries in the state when it comes to effluents and Total Dissolved Solid standards. In addition, the drilling industry is also looking at ways to use water contaminated with acid mine drainage for fracking.

For more, check out Know the Drill: The Truth About Natural Gas.



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