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Michigan sets new rules for natural gas fracking.
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Environmental regulators in Michigan have approved new rules for energy companies that produce natural gas by cracking open underground rock formations.
The regulations announced Wednesday by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would require the companies to meet additional requirements for public disclosure and protecting water resources.
The new rules involve the gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." It pumps sand, water and chemicals under high pressure into underground wells to open fissures in rock through which the gas can escape and be extracted.
The process has drawn criticism in Texas and other states, where opponents say it contaminates the soil and ground and surface waters.
The DEQ says the method has been used on nearly 12,000 wells around Michigan since the 1960s without damaging the environment.
Hydraulic fracturing (called "frac jobs," "frac'ing," "fracking," fraccing or "hydrofracking") is the process of initiating, and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy. The fracturing is done from a wellbore drilled into reservoir rock formations, in order to increase the extraction and ultimate recovery rates of oil and natural gas.
Hydraulic fractures may be natural or man-made and are extended by internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to extend through the rock. Natural hydraulic fractures include volcanic dikes, sills and fracturing by ice as in frost weathering. Man-made fluid-driven fractures are formed at depth in a borehole and extend into targeted formations. The fracture width is typically maintained after the injection by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid. Proppant is a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped.
Considerable controversy surrounds the current implementation of hydraulic fracturing technology in the United States. Environmental safety and health concerns have emerged and are being debated at the state and national levels..
To frack it, or not to frack it???