New Cracks in the Frack

Pesky little complaints like pollution, flaming water and abandoned homes continue to cast doubt on the argument that drilling into shale will benefit all.

Worse, Pennsylvania has opted not to tax fracking ventures, buying the industry's claim that the state is the most expensive area to drill and a tax could make fracking economically unfeasible. As a result, the state has lost more than $300 million in potential revenue — while simultaneously slashing funding for everything from education to hospital trauma centers.

Critics note that Governor Tom Corbett has received more than $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the gas industry. Rogers says the same has been true in Texas and every other state where fracking has appeared.

"We've been experiencing the shale gas boom since 2005 and we are in horrible shape economically," she says. "Shale gas was supposed to be this economic powerhouse for the next 40 years, they said. It didn't even work out in the past seven. And it's the same story in every other state. Unfortunately, that's just how the game is played."

Fred Mayer of Newark Valley, New York, got a $58,200 check from Fortuna Energy — and a kitchen faucet he could light on fire.
Mark Hewko
Fred Mayer of Newark Valley, New York, got a $58,200 check from Fortuna Energy — and a kitchen faucet he could light on fire.
Sharon Wilson moved to rural Wise County, Texas, so her "children would enjoy clean air and clean living." Instead, she ran into Mitchell Energy's fracking operations.
Danny Fulgencio
Sharon Wilson moved to rural Wise County, Texas, so her "children would enjoy clean air and clean living." Instead, she ran into Mitchell Energy's fracking operations.

If you don't live in Dimock, Pennsylvania, or Wise County, Texas, it's easy to ignore the fallout. But few parts of America remain untouched.

They aren't drilling in Wisconsin or Minnesota, yet the industry's effects are certainly being felt. Both offer rich supplies of fine sand called silica, used in fracking. In the last four years, sand mining in both states has doubled — along with the rates of respiratory problems associated with it. At least nine Minnesota cities have enacted moratoriums on mining, since treatment plants use toxic chemicals, presenting a threat to water supplies.

The U.S. Geological Survey further believes that an uncharacteristic surge of earthquakes throughout the Midwest is "almost certainly" related to gas companies disposing wastewater in deep-injection wells.

In 2008, there were just 29 earthquakes in the Midwest. Three years later, after fracking became widespread, the figure had more than quadrupled to 134. Most of them were clustered close to wells.

After a series of earthquakes occurred in Youngstown, Ohio, earlier this year, the state banned gas companies from using deep-­injection wells for water disposal.

The problem is that homes outside natural earthquake areas aren't built to withstand even the smallest of tremors. Nor do insurers offer earthquake coverage in these regions.

Even the Pacific West isn't immune. Since 1924, the Baldwin Hills Oil Field in Los Angeles has been a source of tension between residents and the Plains Exploration & Production Company, which runs the 1,000-acre plot. Last year, the company settled a class-action lawsuit filed by neighbors who claimed that wells contaminated their air and increased the rate of earthquakes.

Now the company, which has largely relied on conventional drilling techniques, plans to frack in the same area. California doesn't regulate or track fracking, giving gas companies free rein to do as they please.

As regards fracking, America's politicians have decided to look the other way. On June 12, an anonymous source in New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration told The New York Times that Cuomo was set to lift the ban in his state, one of the final fracking battlegrounds in the country. (Cuomo's office did not respond to interview requests.)

Less than an hour south of the border, near the town of Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania, former residents of the Riverdale Mobile Home Park can be found camping at the edge of Route 220, holding signs that read "Save Riverdale!" and "No Fracking!"

In February, they learned that Richard Leonard, who owns the Riverdale land, had sold it to Aqua America, which supplies fracking companies with water. Residents were ordered to vacate the park by the end of May. Some had lived there for more than 30 years.

In a joint venture with Range Resources, Aqua America plans to spend $12 million turning the land into a pump station, taking three million gallons of water a day from the Susquehanna River. Residents have written and called the company but have yet to receive a single response. The only contact they had came when a Range security guard showed up to take photos of them setting up camp outside the trailer park.

Nor has the state been any more receptive. Aqua America just happens to be owned by Nicholas DeBenedictis, former head of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources.

"We just want it all to stop," resident Gerlinda Trimble says. Riverdale is located in Lycoming County, home to more than 667 wells, which have been cited for environmental violations 474 times. One toxic spill dumped 13,000 gallons of fracking fluid into a stream. "It's enough now. They've poisoned our land and now they're taking our homes."

When told that Cuomo might lift the moratorium in New York, Trimble simply shakes her head. "I'll pray for them," she says.

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"Though hydraulic fracturing has been used for over 50 years in Texas, our records do not indicate a single documented contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing." (Texas Railroad Commission’s Victor Carrillo, 5/29/2009)


You obviously did not do your homework on this one.  First, the additives in fracking fluids are all listed on material data sheets at all drilling locations.  Also, you can go to to see where drilling companies voluntarily post the additives in the drilling fluid. Had you done any research at all you would have also seen Texas Bill HB3328 that REQUIRES A WELL BY WELL POSTING OF ALL FLUIDS USED IN THE FRACKING PROCESS AT EACH AND EVERY WELL. Since you are unable to do proper research before posting an article his is a link to said bill.

Again if you did any research at all you would find that in Pennsylvania The Marcellus Shale falls under eight federal and eleven Pennsylvania acts or laws which regulate the impacts of drilling. Before a well is even drilled, thousands of pages of documentation must be filed and all locations are regularly examined by industry and regulatory inspectors. Again do a little bit of research instead of watching a flawed documentary . Hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Moreover, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 earned the support of nearly three-quarters of the U.S. Senate (74 "yea" votes), including Ken Salazar and then-senator Barack Obama. The safety of hydraulic fracturing is well documented, with zero confirmed cases of groundwater contamination in 1 million applications over 60 years. According to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection's Bureau of Oil and Gas Management director, we’ve never seen an impact to fresh groundwater directly from fracking.



The water being lit is old news. It's happened before fracking was even incorporated and in non-fracking states and towns. I highly suggest watching so we can put this all to rest. This article is obviously slanted.


 @RealFacts You obviously dismiss the possibility of any collusion between government and business on this one. What can I say? If you believe that thousands of pages are produced, read, digested and then acted upon by an objective government regulator (who just might be influenced by campaign contributions and higher-ups), well if you believe that, I guess you can also dismiss the dead fish, flaming faucets and other documented effects of fracking.


 @nervouslaughter Yes, methane has always been present to some degree; I recall some people in KY where I visited attributing occasional fireballs in the holler to divine or malicious spirits. However, I don't recall the gas coming from plumbing inside homes. I guess you could claim too that ice melted before global warming, therefore it's not happening now at more alarming rates.

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