In light of the fact that we are starting our discussion on minerals, I figured what better, and more contemporary a topic to blog about than hydraulic fracturing the Marcellus Shale deposits in New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia.
The phrase hydraulic fracturing, or as it’s commonly known “fracking,” is undoubtedly a sensitive issue and one that many of you are very passionate about one way or another. For those of you that are unfamiliar with hydraulic fracturing (which I’d be very surprised if you were), the process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals, to make shale deposits deep underground more permeable.
Why is this important?
Well advances in technology have made the production of previously inaccessible reservoirs of natural gas economically viable.
So what’s the issue?
On one side of the debate, you have environmental activists and organizations who advocate against the use of the technique for a multitude of health and safety reasons. The most prominent reason asserted is that the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process have the potential to enter and contaminate our water supply. A very serious issue that could touch all of us. For the specific chemical compositions, I recommend your check out: http://hydraulicfracturing.aitrk.com/Fracturing-Ingredients/Pages/information.aspx
On the other side, you have individuals and businesses that assert the economic boom that drilling the shale formation will provide the region will be extraordinary. In this “rust belt” area, where the relics of our industrial past take the form of shuttered factories, a boom in mining would bring jobs to the region, bring unemployment down, and revenue to state coffers.
As a soon-to-be-attorney who is interested in this field of litigation, I try to stay on top of the media coverage of the Marcellus Shale formation. What I’ve found is that I am inundated in reports of the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, until this past summer as I was reading the news paper. I came across the following editorial that rose above the din.
The following is the link. For the sake of space I didn’t include the text of the editorial in this posting. I highly recommend that you read the editorial and compare it to what you have already heard in the media.
Whether you are for the development and exploration of the Marcellus Shale formation or against it, I think what we all can agree on is the fact that neither side should demonize the process without a sufficient scientific basis. Personally, I am for the exploration and production of the formation, so long as it can be done SAFELY. If the claims of water contamination materialize, then I believe we need to take a step back and figure out how we can solve that problem. Whether it is through better water or well casings, changing the chemical composition of the fracturing fluid, different disposal techniques etc., safety must remain a priority.
In a time when many people are struggling to get by or are unemployed (Unemployment Rates: NY 8%, Ohio 9.1%, PA 8.3%, and WV 8.2% from http://www.bls.gov/lau/), Marcellus Shale will add jobs, significant new tax revenue to the states as well as helping to make domestic energy abundant and affordable. These deposits have the potential to rejuvenate the region, but it is important to remember the enormous responsibility that those seeking to produce the formation must bear.