To Frack or Not to Frack- A Question Not Asked

To Frack or Not to FrackA Question Not Asked
Challenges in Water Pollution Control
Engineering – Bethel - 1963
• Bethel outlines engineering challenges brought
on by innovation in knowledge, technology, and
financial change:
Familiarity with new methods
Obtaining information form operating personnel
Recognizing the importance of additional design
Maintaining good public relations
Participation in the legal and financial aspects of the
new processes
• Fracking – challenges the regulator/engineer on
all these fronts
Water Pollution Issues
Sources of Water Pollution in
• 2-4 Million gallons of water per well – estimates
are that annual water use is in range of 70 – 140
Billion gallons (about what 5,000,000 people
need annually)
• Out of 2500 chemicals used in fracturing 650 are
know to be carcinogenic.
• Produced water – the water that flows back up is
25- 100% of what is injected into the ground –
needs to be stored and treated
• Dissolved Methane (biggest component of NG) is
a pollutant.
The Good News!
Production from the Barnett Field
Since 1997 More Than 13,500 Wells
Since 1997, more than 13,500 gas wells completed in the
in the Barnett Shale
Richard Newell, Paris June 2011
But- We’re OK Because This Is
Regulated, Right?
• Clean Air Act – most oil and gas production sites are
not required to obtain a Title V permit – because their
emissions are below the size limit – thus not regulated
• Clean Water Act – exploration, production, processing
of oil and gas, process, or treatment operations –
exempt (the so called Halliburton Loophole)
• Safe Drinking Water Act – the underground injection of
fluids…other than diesel oil…are not considered
regulated underground injection for the purposes of
this act
• RCRA, CERCLA, EPCRA – all the have some form of
• Fracking is growing very rapidly and will continue to do so
• It is largely unregulated – at the Federal level
• Most new techno advances made by industry – regulator needs to
run to catch up
• Information is tightly held- “intellectual property” – end result is
that regulator and people need sites don’t know what is being put
in the environment
• Technical improvement is possible – but not without regulation
(supposition on my part)
• Public Relations – poor – see Gasland
• The companies are in the forefront of the legal and financial
implications of fracking – regulator needs to catch up
• Personal comment – I don’t want to kill the golden goose – I do
want to keep it from drowning in its own waste.