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Just the facts about fracking and the Marcellus Shale formation

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posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:00 AM
News was made this week when the NY Times reported that Gov. Cuomo is prepared to relax a moratorium on the controversial drilling technique called hyrdarulic fracturing (fracking for short) in order to get at the monstrous amounts of natural gas buried beneath 4 states on the East Coast.

The gas is located in the Marcellus Shale formation. Marcellus lies primarly underneath parts of New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Some new government estimates suggest there may be up to 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Marcellus. How much gas is that? Conservatively,hundreds of years worth.

The U.S. has quite a few shale formations like Marcellus; more than any other part of the world. There is enough natural gas in them to keep the lights on well into the future.

So, those are the facts. And on the face of it that's the reason why energy companies and speculators are making Marcellus the new darling of the 'drill baby, drill' crowd. The natural gas in Marcellus has the potential make a fair number of somebody's very, very rich, and a quick search found some prominently placed internet ads trolling for investors to pump money into development of the Formation.

And that's the end of the good news. Now on to context. The key to gauging any deposits worth is based, not on the amount of oil, but how much of it is accessible, or recoverable to use oil company terms. In the case of the Marcellus shale and most other shale formations current technology will allow us to get at about 10 percent of the oil in the formation. That means instead of decades of energy indepence, in practical terms we're looking at about 2 years. Enough to make plenty of people quite rich, but unfortunately, not enough to declare an end to our energy problem.

The other issue is that getting at that oil requires a controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing (fracking for short). In simple terms that involves pushing chemically enhanced water down into the formation and literally pressuring the gas out to the surface. The leftover water is the pumped into regulated deep water deposits or processed through wastewater treatment plants before being released back into the water supply.

So why is it controversial? Environmentalists argue and are trying to prove that contaminated fracking water (with hundreds of chemical additives) is leaking into the water we drink. Government regulators and some government studies haven't found any instances of polluted fracking water leaking out of our faucets. But by this time the public has seen enough video of home faucets on fire (made famous in the documentary Gasland) to make that a dubious claim. The Obama administration is concerned enough to ask the EPA to study the issue again. According to news reports they have chosen 7 sites to study, and are hoping to shed some light on the subject.

And then there are the kinds of things that make enviromentalists heads explode. Oil companies, for instance are exempt from regulation under the Clean Water Act. And they do not have to disclose the chemical makeup of the water they are pumping into the ground. That speaks volumes about the power of the energy lobby up on Capitol Hill and just feels... wrong. Too many are people are left scratching their heads saying "if not this, what is the Clean Water Act for?"

But wait, there's more. A recent report published in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences did find significantly higher than normal levels of methane contamination in homes less than 1 km away from a fracking site. But the PNAS suggestion is that the problem has more to do with leaky wells than the chemical soup being forcing the natural gas to the surface.

So for the average citizen: what do do? Depends on where you fall on the spectrum of energy independence. Even the states are confused. While Governor Cuomo considers lifting New York's fracking moratorium, the New Jersey legislature just banned the whoe process. And the politicization of the process makes it hard to separate fact from fiction. Hope this helps you figure out where you stand.

What do you think? is it too risky? Is it worth any potential problems? Let me know.

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:06 AM
reply to post by kenochs

Search "fracking" on the ATS search feature. This is the subject of many threads. Also look at USGS quake maps of areas that have had fracking.

I have been through numerous tiny earthquakes allegedly due to fracking that occurred hundreds of miles away.

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:07 AM
I was just up in North PA (Mckean, Potter, Cameron, Clinton & Lycoming).

For me. It has ruined the area. It has turned rural PA into the Texas of the East.

Now, for society. Good. I will say that the technique to accuire the gas is NOT GOOD. If can be IF DONE RIGHT. That is the problem. It isn't being done right in many instances. Many people are signing their mineral rights away without properly understanding what is at stake when they sign their name to the Land Lease agreements.

The bigger problem is that the state of PA, and I assume the others, are NOT prepared to do the need regulating, inspecting, monitoring etc etc. And that is where the people will take it in the shorts. Heck, the PA State Game Commission, Fish Commission, Dept of Natural Resources and Parks are ALL IN ON IT. The companies will be long gone before the problems are dealt with. IMO.

The Biggest problems is that the states ARE NOT taxing these companies enough. More to the People.

edit on 7/15/2011 by anon72 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:12 AM
reply to post by kenochs

I was trying to think of a way to put this "nicely", since I`m normally a very polite person.

If the area is seismically "sensitive" at all, it will run the risk of what we in Arkansas are going thru. And its no fun at all.

I think that the risks outweigh the benefit, at least to the population around the fracking.

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:12 AM
reply to post by katfish

Yeah, this is definitely a hot topic.

I was just hoping to get an objective primer out there to stimulate discussion.

I definitely have opinions and understand the trade offs between keeping the water/air/us clean and the need to keep the lights on, but likely won't push my own thoughts out there.

Thanks for the thoughts.

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:13 AM
reply to post by dragonlover12

I would be very interested in getting general feedback on evidence of seismic activity related to 'fracking' and mapping it (which I'm happy to do).
If you feel like it toss it out there, and I'll pop in an update.

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:21 AM
reply to post by kenochs

You could gather lots of info on the activity in Arkansas in that thread.

I hope it helps.

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 10:46 AM
You need to search the fracking sites and see for yourself....In PA the sites are normally so far off the beaten path, normal people who live here would have no idea anything is even going on!! 10 miles into state gamelands or out in the middle of the woods in nowhereville PA is the normal sites.

As for the fracking water, people get under my skin about this.....The EPA and other government agencies are following this to make sure this is safe......Does this not make sense to you people?? If fracking is still going on, that means that there are no adverse effects.....

The fracking water is not used to pollute your water supply either....On most fracking jobs, the water is clean enough coming back out of the well to reuse as clean water....The reason for all the chemicals is to balance out the PH level of water and get it back to clean again after the chemicals are added....If you live in PA there is much knowledge to frack jobs....

I on one hand would much rather stop actual disaster sites and jobs like nuclear power plants, not fracking....We need this gas and oil to help with our energy crisis and there are no adverse effects that show as of now, with government agencies all over the sites, I don't know how someone can still claim what people do.....

Rant over....Sorry

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 11:47 AM
reply to post by Chrisfishenstein

I expected and hoped for some pro-fracking replies but the argument "The Govt. and the EPA are looking into it so it must be safe" isn't one I expected, especially on this site.
The NRC says our nuclear power plants are safe, yet AP just did a huge expose' on how safety the NRC has been lowering safety standards year after year to make sure the plants make code. So, I'm sorry I just don't buy that argument. The FDA approved Monsanto soy, yet I believe in regards to long term human and agricultural impact the just is still very much out on that issue.
Not to mention that the EPA has re-opened the issue in regards to fracking. So, Mr. Fishenstein I'm not trying to discount your argument but just trying to point out that a rant is just that.
So rant away, but don't expect anyone to buy into the rant.

posted on Jul, 15 2011 @ 12:48 PM
reply to post by kenochs

I for one live in PA, where the terrible fracking is taking place....

I am safe and no chemically enhanced water or disease or family with these issues either.....There is a fracking site literally a couple miles from my house, and one was done on my property in the past!! I am still here with no adverse effects.....

First hand I can honestly tell you, believe what you want in the news and people's beliefs on this site....But take it first hand from someone who not only witnessed on their property but also multiple sites nearby, there is no community outcry or a strain of chemically enhanced, radioactive, transformed, mutated, people or animals near me....

I am as healthy as a horse bud......But the doom and gloom people who argue their stupid false articles all day because of something they heard or read on the internet are just insane!!!

We need fracking, we need oil, we need natural gas.....At least I do because I love my electricity....If you don't want electricity, move somewhere else in the world and buy up all the solar panels possible my friend, because us who love electric don't want you here anyways.....

By the way, I will continue on ATS while you try to get some sunlight......

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