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No Fracking Way: The Natural Gas Boom Is Doing More Harm Than Good

The BriefGet Up To Speed

Natural gas, touted for its environmental, economic, and national security benefits, is often thought of as the fuel that will '€œbridge'€ our transition from oil and coal to renewables. The ability to extract natural gas from shale formations through a method called hydraulic fracturing has unleashed vast, untapped sources'€”by some estimates, the U.S. now sits on a 100-year supply. But contamination from toxic chemicals used in the fracking process has been the source of increasing health and environmental concerns. Can natural gas be part of a clean energy solution, or is it a dangerous roadblock to a fossil-free future? *Panelists subject to change

  • Joe Nocera

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    • Columnist, Bloomberg View & Co-Author, "Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA"
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  • Sue Tierney

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    • Managing Principal at Analysis Group; Former Assistant Secretary for Policy at U.S. Dept. of Energy.
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ProPublica’s Fracking Coverage

ProPublica has provided award-winning coverage of natural gas drilling

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Multiple Authors

A collection of some of the can’t-miss watchdog journalism on fracking.

Friday, April 6, 2012
Blair Hickman and Cora Currier
New York Times Coverage

Articles in the Drilling Down series from The New York Times examine the risks of natural gas drilling and efforts to regulate this rapidly growing industry.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Multiple Authors

Earthworks believes the process of fracturing a well is far from benign. Hydraulic Fracturing 101 provides an overview of some of the issues and impacts related to this well stimulation technique.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Earthworks October 26

Dispelling myths and exposing the health and environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing

Thursday, April 23, 2009
Jennifer Goldman

The website for the Sundance award-winning documentary Gasland. Filmmaker Josh Fox exposes the hazards of domestic natural gas drilling

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Josh Fox

As we work to increase renewable and more efficient energy, more damaging energy sources—including fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas—will continue to play a role in our energy mix. Sound policies must be in place to make certain that natural gas is used to replace coal and minimize methane emissions and does not displace investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Energy Facts

This report combines an evaluation of federal and state laws regulating fracking wastewater with a thorough review, compiled for NRDC by an independent scientist, of the health and environmental risks posed by this high-volume waste stream and the currently available treatment and disposal methods. It finds that the currently available options are inadequate to protect human health and the environment, but that stronger safeguards at the state and federal levels could better protect against the risks associated with this waste.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Rebecca Hammer
Obama Administration

Domestic oil and natural gas production has increased every year President Obama has been in office. In 2011, American oil production reached the highest level in nearly a decade and natural gas production reached an all-time high.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

The President is committed to an all-of-the-above strategy that expands production of American energy resources, like oil and natural gas; increases energy efficiency to save families and businesses money at the pump; and develops cleaner, alternative fuels to reduce our oil dependence.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

The President’s three-part energy strategy: develop and secure America’s energy supplies, provide consumers with choices to reduce costs and save energy, and innovate our way to a clean energy future

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The White House March 30
U.S. Energy Information Administration

Shale gas refers to natural gas that is trapped within shale formations. Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich sources of petroleum and natural gas. The production of natural gas from shale formations has rejuvenated the natural gas industry in the U.S.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
U.S. Energy Information Administration April 11

In 2011, the United States consumed approximately 24.37 Tcf (trillion cubic feet) of natural gas in seven end-uses. Electric power generation: 7.60 Tcf (31%), Industrial: 6.77 Tcf (28%), Residential: 4.73 Tcf (19%), Commercial: 3.16 Tcf (13%), Lease and plant fuel consumption: 1.38 Tcf (6%), Pipeline and distribution: 0.69 Bcf (3%), Vehicle fuel: 0.03 Bcf (<1%).

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
U.S. Energy Information Administration March 1

The difficulty and uncertainty in predicting natural gas resources was underscored last week when the Energy Information Administration released a report containing sharply lower estimates.

Saturday, January 28, 2012
Ian Urbina

The EPA’s work on hydraulic fracturing.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency March 30

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced for the first time that fracking might be to blame for causing groundwater pollution.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
AP December 9

The Environmental Protection Agency has dropped its claim that an energy company contaminated drinking water in Texas, the third time in recent months that the agency has backtracked on high-profile local allegations linking natural-gas drilling and water pollution.

Sunday, April 1, 2012
Daniel Gilbert and Russell Gold
Gas Industry Resources

Hydraulic fracturing will account for nearly 70 percent of natural gas development in the future. Find out more in this Q&A from the American Petroleum Institute.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

A listing of the American Petroleum Institute’s documents on the industry’s best practice work.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
American Petroleum Institute March 30

The recent success of shale gas and oil production in the United States coupled with only modest demand growth has resulted in measurable declines in domestic natural gas prices, which has benefitted both gas customers as well as the overall economy.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Energy Analysis

Click through the menu in the left-hand column to read about the natural gas production processes.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Frac Focus

FracFocus is the hydraulic fracturing chemical registry website. This website is a joint project of the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. On this site you can search for information about the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells. You can also find links to <a href="">regulations by state</a> and search for <a href="">well information by state</a>.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
The White House March 30
Studies & Reports

"Methane concentrations in drinking water were much higher if the homeowner was near an active gas well," explains environmental scientist Robert Jackson of Duke University, who led the study published online May 9 in&nbsp;<a title="Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences" href="">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>. "We wanted to try and separate fact from emotion."&nbsp;

Monday, May 9, 2011
David Biello

The authors find that compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Robert W. Howarth

The authors argue that the report by Howarth e al. that suggests shale gas has a larger greenhouse gas footprint than coal is deeply flawed.

Friday, October 21, 2011
Lawrence M. Cathles III

The authors’ response to challenges to their April 2011 analysis of greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing from Lawrence Cathles.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Robert W. Howarth

The study authors find that natural gas from the Marcellus shale has generally lower life cycle greenhouse gas emissions than coal for production of electricity in the absence of any effective carbon capture and storage processes. There is significant uncertainty in their Marcellus shale GHG emission estimates due to eventual production volumes and variability in flaring, construction and transportation.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Mohan Jiang

This report features two new cases: a Golden Rules Case, in which the highest practicable standards are adopted, gaining industry a "social license to operate"; and its counterpart, in which the tide turns against unconventional gas as constraints prove too difficult to overcome.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012
World Energy Outlook Special Report on Unconventional Gas

In a report written and produced for the Marcellus Shale Coalition, the authors that the development of the Pennsylvania Marcellus increases domestic energy production, creates jobs, and reduces government deficits.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Timothy Considine

The MIT study of The Future of Natural Gas seeks to inform the discussion around natural gas by addressing a fundamental question: what is the role of natural gas in a carbon-constrained economy? In exploring this question, the Initiative examines a number of specific issues. How much natural gas is there in the world, how expensive is it to develop, and at what rate can it be produced?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
MIT Energy Initiative June 9

The USGS answers frequently asked questions regarding the link between fluid injection and earthquakes. Wastewater from the fracking process is frequently disposed of by injection into deep wells—the injection of fluids into the subsurface can cause earthquakes that are large enough to be felt and may cause damage.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012
U.S. Geological Survey Ohio Earthquake Likely Caused by Fracking Wastewater Mark Fischetti

Probably not, as the gas drilling practice tends to be associated with minor quakes, not big ones, seismologists say.

Monday, November 14, 2011
Charles Q. Choi

The strong correlation in time and space as well as a reasonable fit to a physical model suggest there is a possibility earthquakes felt in Garvin County, Oklahoma, were induced by hydraulic fracturing. However, the uncertainties in the data make it impossible to say with a high degree of certainty whether or not these earthquakes were triggered by natural means or by the nearby hydraulic fracturing operation.

Monday, August 1, 2011
Austin A. Holland
Energy Independence

Much of Wall Street and Washington is seized by the hope that the U.S.'s energy future will be as bright as Williamsport, PA’s. As Americans heave a sigh of relief at gasoline prices falling back from near $4 a gallon, big new discoveries of domestic oil and natural gas hold the promise of more substantial benefits for the U.S. economy for decades to come — even the possibility of energy independence.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Tim Mullaney

Rising gas prices have been the big energy story of the past several weeks. But many energy experts say that's a sideshow compared with the really big energy event — the huge boom in oil and natural gas production in the U.S. that could help the nation reach the elusive goal of energy independence.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
John Ydstie

Thanks to new technology, the U.S. has become less dependent on petroleum imports from unstable countries.

Monday, December 12, 2011
Daniel Yergin

By using more electricity, natural gas and biofuels in our transportation fleet, we can quickly reduce our dependence on OPEC.

Thursday, April 15, 2010
R. James Woolsey

Energy analyst Robert Bryce explains why trying to make all our own power is foolish idea.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Robert Bryce Interview

America's reliance on fuel imports has sucked vigor from its economy for decades. Now an oil and natural gas boom holds out the prospect for a new era of stronger U.S. economic growth.

Thursday, May 24, 2012
Jason Lange

Two new studies predict the repair of two of America’s greatest economic vulnerabilities in recent times — dependence on foreign energy, with the threat of supply disruption, and the decline of the manufacturing sector in the face of lower-cost foreign competition.

Friday, May 4, 2012
David Ignatius

The boom in U.S. oil and gas production has spawned another gusher of increasingly hyperbolic claims about its revolutionary consequences. These are not just musings from the fringe; they’re increasingly becoming conventional wisdom, and not just among people who usually pay attention to oil and gas.

Monday, May 7, 2012
Michael Levi

The natural gas "shale gale" that has dramatically transformed the outlook for U.S. energy supplies is also having profound economic impacts -- creating jobs, reducing consumer costs of natural gas and electricity, stimulating economic growth and bolstering federal, state and local tax revenue, according to a new IHS Global Insight study. The study found that shale gas production supported more than 600,000 jobs in 2010, a number that is projected to grow to nearly 870,000 by 2015.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
IHS December 6
More Articles & Background

Fracturing a deep shale layer one time to release natural gas might pose little risk to drinking-water supplies, but doing so repeatedly could be problematic.<br />

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Chris Mooney

The battle over hydraulic fracturing in the state of New York pits farmers against environmentalists, neighbor vs. neighbor, as gas companies wait to find out if they'll be able to unlock the natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale formation thousands of feet below the earth's surface.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Steve Kastenbaum
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
This American Life July 8

FT interview with Terry Engelder, professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University, credited with discovering the second largest natural gas field in the world in the Marcellus.

Monday, July 12, 2010
Kate Mackenzie

A proposal to expand a major local pipeline could bring cheap, plentiful supplies of natural gas to New England from Northeast shale formations, but it also thrusts the region into a raging debate that pits economics against environment, industry against community, and sometimes neighbor against neighbor.

Sunday, April 29, 2012
Erin Ailworth

As the controversial oil and gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing continues to spread, governments around the world are grappling with how to regulate it. One regulatory trend is becoming well-established: requirements that drilling companies disclose information about the chemicals used in fracking.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Kate Galbraith

A new law in Pennsylvania has doctors nervous. The law grants physicians access to information about trade-secret chemicals used in natural gas drilling. But the new law also says that doctors can't tell anyone else — not even other doctors — what's in those formulas.

Saturday, March 17, 2012
Susan Phillips

Vermont became the first state in the nation to ban hydraulic fracturing. The ban may be largely symbolic, though, because there is believed to be little to no natural gas or oil beneath the surface in Vermont.<br /><br /><a href=" Clubs Natural Gas</a>

Wednesday, May 16, 2012