Drilling down on natural gas fracking concerns

The potential and peril of hydraulic fracturing


Tom Kenworthy, Daniel J. Weiss, Lisbeth Kaufman, and Christina C. DiPasquale, in a CAP cross-post. The AP photo is a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site.

A widely used oil-and-gas drilling technique, hydraulic fracturing, is spreading rapidly to develop vast reserves of natural gas trapped in deep underground shale formations. Hydraulic fracking, however, is coming under more rigorous oversight by the press and state and federal agencies because of its contribution to air and water pollution. This attention is welcome, both to ensure that health and safety will be protected if gas is to be more widely used as a cleaner replacement for coal in electric plants and foreign oil as a transportation fuel. We must also more accurately measure carbon dioxide and other pollution from the combustion of gas compared to coal and oil.

This issue brief explores the ecological and economic issues of “fracking,” as it is increasingly coming to be known in the areas of the country where natural gas is tapped due to the technology. Cutting to the chase, our conclusion is this””hydraulic fracturing needs to be done carefully and be well-monitored, with particular attention paid to the full scope of carbon dioxide released into our atmosphere to gauge accurately the consequences of global warming due to the expanded use of natural gas.

What is fracking and what does it do and cause?

Not so long ago, the subject of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells to stimulate production from deep rock formations was largely the province of petroleum engineers, drilling companies, and a small number of environmental activists.

No more. The rapid expansion of shale gas wells because of hydraulic fracturing is now the subject of widespread nationwide attention. Combined with advanced horizontal drilling techniques, which open up new ways to tap natural gas reserves, hydraulic fracturing (also called hydrofracking, or simply fracking) opens up vast new natural gas reserves from the Barnett Shale formation in Texas to the Marcellus Shale that runs from the northeast tip of Tennessee to upstate New York. With the inclusion of newly accessible shale gas plays, the United States now boasts estimated reserves of gas that could last a century or more.

As a result, natural gas is becoming an increasingly important component of the U.S. electricity generation and energy mix, sometimes touted as a potential magic bullet for moving us to a lower-carbon future. But the environmental consequences of the surge in gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing mean we should be cautious””we should continue to push for a diverse portfolio of cleaner energy while also exploring the safest ways to tap these new reserves using hydraulic fracturing.

The process, which involves injecting huge volumes of water mixed with sand and chemicals deep underground to fracture rock formations and release trapped gas, is becoming increasingly controversial, with concerns about possible contamination of underground drinking water supplies alongside revelations of surface water contamination by the wastewater that is a byproduct of drilling.

Concerns about this technique led late last year to a partial moratorium in New York state on new drilling permits that allow fracking. Nationally, advocates want to repeal a 2005 congressional exemption of fracking from oversight under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Many activists also want to require drilling companies to publicly disclose the chemicals it uses, as other industries do under the Community Right to Know law. Industry historically resists such calls, though a number of companies have recently dropped their opposition, saying they will publicize the chemicals they use.

These natural gas operations also produce smog-forming pollutants, contributing to air pollution problems in places such as western Wyoming and the Fort Worth area. Indeed, natural gas wells produce so much air pollution that smog in the area around Pinedale, Wyoming is sometimes as bad as in Los Angeles. And these shale gas wells can release fugitive methane, which is a potent global warming pollutant.

In a recent investigation, for example, The New York Times reported on rivers and waterways that serve public water systems in Pennsylvania being contaminated with naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as radium, as a result of drilling activities. The series has also raised serious questions about the adequacy of oversight by state and federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency. In its first story, the newspaper reported:

With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself. While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.

In its second story, the newspaper reported that even though the industry is moving toward more recycling of drilling wastewater, public health dangers remain:

Nor has recycling eliminated environmental and health risks. Some methods can leave behind salts or sludge highly concentrated with radioactive material and other contaminants that can be dangerous to people and aquatic life if they get into waterways.

Some well operators are also selling their waste, rather than paying to dispose of it. Because it is so salty, they have found ready buyers in communities that spread it on roads for de-icing in the winter and for dust suppression in the summer. When ice melts or rain falls, the waste can run off roads and end up in the drinking supply.

And in its final report, the newspaper was highly critical of EPA investigations into the possible environmental harms from fracking:

More than a quarter-century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as E.P.A. studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope and important findings have been removed.

Responding to the revelations by The New York Times series, Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Natural Resources, called for EPA to conduct an investigation.

These disturbing revelations raise the prospect that natural gas production could pollute our rivers and streams. The natural gas industry has repeatedly claimed that fracking can be done safely. We now know we need a full investigation into exactly how fracking is done and what it does to our drinking water and our environment. Americans should not have to consume radioactive materials from their drinking water as a byproduct of natural gas production.

In response, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson told Congress she would travel to Pennsylvania to prod EPA officials there about the charges. “We intend to do our jobs,” she said. The EPA is currently designing a two-year study of fracking’s effects on the environment and health, but The New York Times reported in its third article that some areas of inquiry had been dropped because of pressure from the oil and gas industry.

Separately, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released the results of 2010 testing of seven rivers for radioactivity, reporting that “all samples showed levels at or below the normal naturally occurring background levels of radioactivity.” The EPA has asked the agency to conduct more tests.

Lessons from Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is an excellent example of the promise and peril of fracking. The size and extent of the natural gas development boom in Pennsylvania””57,469 producing wells at the end of 2010, up by more than 8,000 in four years””poses new challenges and necessitates new safeguards to protect public health and the environment.

Examples of the problems stemming from the boom in hydraulic fracturing include the contamination of drinking water in Dimock Township, a mud spill in Sproul State Forest, and a 32-mile fish kill in Dunkard Creek that wiped out at least 16 species of freshwater mussels and 18 species of fish.

Total dissolved solids, or TDS, a measure of all elements dissolved in water including carbonates, sulfates, and nitrates are found in high concentrations in fracturing wastewater. Pennsylvania’s waterways cannot dilute all of these pollutants. In 2008 and 2009, TDS levels exceeded drinking water standards in the Monongahela River, the source of drinking water for some residents of Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania’s water treatment plants are not equipped to remove them from the water supplied to residents.

Recognizing this problem, the state imposed more stringent TDS discharge limitations in 2009 to end the practice of unlimited discharges of drilling waste to rivers and streams. An even higher standard was applied specifically to the natural gas sector that took effect in August 2010. It seeks to ensure that TDS in streams in Pennsylvania do not exceed the safe drinking water standard of 500 milligrams per liter.

Still needed, however, is a requirement that drillers track their wastewater from the time it is withdrawn to the time it is disposed. There should be full public transparency, including the disclosure of chemicals used, and their amounts. As The New York Times detailed, there is also inadequate testing for radium and most of the municipal and industrial plants that treat drilling wastewater are not designed to remove such pollution.

In 2009, ProPublica, a nonprofit investigative journalism group, found similar problems in New York. ProPublica reported that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation tested 13 samples of drilling wastewater and found “they contain levels of radium-226, a derivative of uranium, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink.”

Clearly, water testing needs to be done on a more regular and thorough basis. Similarly, we must conduct rigorous pre-drilling testing near well sites and inspections of well sites at every phase of the drilling process. In addition, regular testing of drinking water needs to be done not just for radium and dissolved solids but also for methane, chlorides, and metals.

With the right technology, fracking can be cleaner

Fracking requires enormous amounts of water, up to 5 million gallons of water for a single well. After the fracturing procedure completes, 15 to 80 percent of the fluid returns to the surface as waste water, often contaminated by fracturing chemicals and subsurface contaminants including toxic organic compounds, heavy metals, and naturally occurring radioactive materials. Untreated, this wastewater can have detrimental environmental and health effects.

While studies find that natural gas drilling releases dangerous pollutants into air and water, drilling and fracking do not have to be so dirty. Advanced technologies to scrub air of emissions and purify water produced at the well-head are available and ready to deploy. Working with energy companies, the EPA’s Natural Gas Star Program supports techniques to capture and reuse methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat at 23 times the rate of carbon dioxide. And despite the claims of some in the gas industry, those technologies can be employed at little or no cost.

Currently, the most common practice for disposing of wastewater is to inject untreated water back into empty wells. Some drilling companies evaporate wastewater in large ponds, leaving condensed waste products that must then be trucked to treatment plants or to other states that have less stringent waste treatment rules. Wastewater is also often reused or just dumped into waterways. All those methods have environmental risks and costs.

But a number of companies are developing and deploying cost-effective water purification systems to make “flow back” waste water clean and reusable. 212resources Corp., headquartered in Salt Lake City, provides water recovery services with a patented vapor compression, turbulent flow, and flash evaporation systems to purify a variety of wastewater constituents.

Another company, Purestream Technology, also in Salt Lake City, offers a technology that sits at the well head and treats massive volumes of wastewater, scrubbing out hydrocarbons, toxic organic compounds, heavy metals, excess oil and gas, and naturally occurring radioactive materials, leaving water that is more pure than standard EPA approved drinking water. The waste product from this method is a fraction of that of evaporation ponds, and can be easily and more cheaply trucked to a treatment plant. The pure water resulting from this process can be evaporated back into the environment or can be safely used again in additional fracking processes, saving millions of gallons of water for more sustainable uses.

Purestream’s system is now deployed by West Virginia-based PDC Mountaineer LLC, at the Marcellus Shale in Taylor County, West Virginia. The system will evaporate and purify waste water at the site of drilling. The company has also contracted with SM Energy Co. to deploy at their second Marcellus Shale site in McKean County, Pennsylvania.

Natural gas drilling can also release damaging air pollution, including volatile organic compounds such as the potent greenhouse gas methane, along with nitrogen oxides. Current practices to dispose of such air pollutants involve flaring volatile organic compounds, which only adds pollution and wastes precious fuel sources.

Purestream’s system uses water and controlled exhaust pressure to reduce air pollution. This system scrubs and destroys 99 percent of smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen-oxide gases. It also reduces soot, or particulate matter. These pollutants can spark asthma attacks and other respiratory ailments.

Instead of releasing the methane and other volatile organic compounds into the air, Purestream’s system mines them as a power source, using the heat generated from their combustion to power the air and water purification systems. Another company, Anguil Environmental Systems Inc., headquartered in Milwaukee, offers a similar technology, the Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer, which destroys air pollution through a process of high temperature thermal oxidation, using a mix of temperature, residence time, turbulence, and oxygen. It also reuses the thermal energy to generate itself.

The search for answers

Policymakers need to get to the bottom of the many questions relating to hydraulic fracturing, ensuring that the public health and environment are well protected from the production of shale gas. Also, a better understanding of whether switching to natural gas will produce significant reductions in carbon dioxide pollution is essential before we commit to a massive expansion of natural gas use.

The Center for American Progress advised such a cautious approach in an August 2009 report about the potential for natural gas to serve as a “bridge fuel” to a lowercarbon economy written by CAP president and CEO John Podesta and United Nations Foundation president Timothy E. Wirth. While advocating the expansion of natural gas to replace dirty coal and foreign oil, they also detailed their concerns about the toxic chemicals that fracking can employ, the release of the potent greenhouse gas methane associated with natural gas production, and air pollution problems:

There are other legitimate public health and global warming concerns about the impacts from natural gas production. Adjacent communities are concerned about the public health impacts from the use and release of toxic substances, both naturally occurring and those used in the natural gas production process such as benzene, formaldehyde, or radioactive materials. The process also yields significant amounts of air pollution. The gas production from the Barnett Shale in the five counties near Dallas-Fort Worth creates more emissions of smog-forming compounds than motor vehicles.

Any proposal to incentivize the development of natural gas must also address the potential health and global warming impacts of developing this resource. It makes little sense to encourage natural gas use as a lower greenhouse gas alternative to coal or oil combustion if natural gas production yields sizeable amounts of toxic, air, or global warming pollution.

In the 2009 report, Podesta and Wirth recommend a comprehensive EPA analysis, after which state governments””or the federal government in the absence of state action”” can determine appropriate measures to protect public health and the environment:

As a first step, the EPA must undertake a comprehensive scientific analysis of the air, land, water, and global warming impacts from natural gas production, including a lifecycle greenhouse gas analysis. It should review the effectiveness of federal and state programs at protecting people, air, land, and water from gas production side effects. The EPA should also review new and emerging technologies to reduce this pollution. Based on the science, the analysis should recommend best management practices for companies and additional government safeguards that require pollution reductions.

The issue of the total carbon pollution resulting from natural gas production is a critical one. Resolving questions about it could well determine whether natural gas becomes, as Exelon Corporation CEO John W. Rowe said recently, “a genuine elixir that will deliver the cleaner energy we need to compete in the world.”

But previous assumptions that gas yields half or less carbon pollution than coal are coming under new scrutiny. What is needed is a definitive new EPA study of the so-called lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions””from extraction to distribution, to use to release into the atmosphere””from natural gas, one that takes into account changing industry practices as shale gas becomes more important and better estimates of fugitive methane emissions from sources such as leaky pipes and valves.

The United States and other nations face an urgent need to reduce carbon dioxide and other global warming pollution. Already the abundance of inexpensive natural gas has led the Energy Information Administration to project that gas will be the fastest growing source for electricity generation between now and 2035. Ample, inexpensive supplies of natural gas could reduce pollution by replacing dirty coal plants, and powering trucks and buses by gas. But it is imperative to ensure that we don’t exacerbate one major public health threat while trying to solve another one.

Actions to achieve more certainty on that point include:

  • Giving EPA the authority to oversee hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and requiring full public disclosure of the chemicals used in the process under the Community Right to Know law
  • Requiring drillers to track and disclose what happens to wastewater from withdrawal from wells to its disposal
  • Mandating adequate tests for radioactive elements and other contaminants in wastewater and regular testing of water supplies near drill sites before, during, and after drilling, to detect contaminants
  • EPA shall develop air and water emission limits based on best management practices, and the states shall enforce them. To pay for enforcement and wastewater treatment costs, gas producers should pay a very small fee per tcf
  • EPA’s voluntary Natural Gas Star program to capture fugitive methane should be made mandatory for wells above a certain size. EPA reports that current participants turn a profit from selling the methane, so this will not add to producers costs
  • Making a comprehensive and credible study of the lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from the production and use of natural gas

— Tom Kenworthy is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress who focuses on energy and environmental issues. Daniel J. Weiss is a Senior Fellow and Director of Climate Strategy at the Center. Lisbeth Kaufman is a Special Assistant with the Center’s Energy team, and Christine C. DiPasquale is Associate Director of Press Relations at the Center.

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11 Responses to Drilling down on natural gas fracking concerns

  1. Prokaryotes says:

    ” in the areas of the country where natural gas is tapped due to the technology.”

    … in the areas of the country and other parts of the world, especially europe region and australia “Queensland”, where natural gas is tapped due to the technology.

  2. Aaron Lewis says:

    A water sampling program to detect damage Fracking waste water does to rivers is relatively inexpensive. And, ultimately a river will flush that pollution into our oceans. When Fracking pushes that waste water up into an aquifer, the damage if very hard to detect, and the aquifer remains polluted for a very long time.

    Given “cheap gas” or drinking water, I would rather have the drinking water.

  3. dbmetzger says:

    Gas Test Wells Threaten Australian Water Supply
    Residents are concerned that the New South Wales Government’s approval of gas exploration sites in Sydney’s south may put the city’s water supply at risk of contamination.

  4. johne says:

    Gas wells, in this case for coal bed methane, are threatening the Hunter Valley wine growing area in Australia. That should get the attention of the cab sav set.

  5. Jeff Huggins says:

    Well …

    Although I appreciate the post, and the info it contains, as well as the several very good recommendations regarding better understanding the global warming implications of more gas use and the possible hazards (to water and air) of fracking, the article leaves me with the following question, which is a big one:

    If you consider basic responsible and wise principles — such as the precautionary principle (when it comes to important things like drinking water!) and the idea that FULL COSTS should be reflected in the prices of different resources (so, for example, a substantial carbon price should attach to natural gas, not to mention the costs that should be charged to the natural gas industry for all these tests and precautions that will need to be taken by community facilities and governments) — the idea of “proceeding cautiously” (in the way that phrase is often used in situations like this) already violates these principles in ways that have not failed to bite us, and backfire, in the long run.

    In other words, it seems to me that the tone of the post, even as it is very careful to TRY to be cautious, analytical, and (in places) critical, is basically very, very soft and sympathetic to the idea that we need natural gas as a growing part of the battle against global warming, at least “transitionally” (although can anyone provide an example of such a big industry ever being used as a “transition” to something better, with such transition planned in advance, and without the industry fighting to continue when the “transition” could and should be over?). The post seems to take as a “given” — and indeed even supports this “given” — that we will and (by its tone) should proceed into this (as yet unknown) territory of increasing fracking and increasing use of natural gas. Put another way, although the post recommends the sorts of good “precautions” that one should adopt if one has already decided to embark on an unknown, risky, and potentially problematic path, it largely sets aside the actual idea of the precautionary principle (as I understand it) — i.e., to avoid embarking on a risky and (most likely) hazardous path until we are darn sure that it won’t be risky and hazardous.

    That stance may make sense, practically speaking (although I question whether it does), but the question of whether or not it does involves political and economic considerations and an attempt at “balancing all things considered”. And those considerations are not made very explicit in the post. (That, in a nutshell, is my concern.) In other words (to put it in a not-very-clear way, but the best way I can presently think of), this post sounds like it is trying to be entirely scientific, fact-based, analytic, un-biased, and so forth, and yet its stance and tone DO reflect someone’s consideration of the political situation, what would be “realistic” and what wouldn’t be, and so forth. Thus the net result, even as we are risking the quality of our drinking water and streams and so forth, is that the post does not suggest, or even hint, that we should STOP expanding fracking, and perhaps stop it altogether, until we are in a situation where we know it is entirely safe or in which we can determine (and put a halt to) specific cases when they are becoming unsafe. Again: a true implementation of the precautionary principle.

    The CAP stance is, it seems, to endorse this “progress”. To be clear, it’s not my point here to disagree with that stance. (I’m tempted to do so, but I don’t have the full expertise that CAP has, nor have I given this particular issue much focus.) Instead, my point is this: that the post doesn’t make clear (or at least not very clear) that it makes assumptions and is, all in all, adopting what one might call a political stance based on someone’s preference for the growing use of gas and someone’s willingness to accept the risks (to ground water) inherent in fracking, for the time being, rather than backing a position that would call for a “halt” until we know more.

    Why do I even question this otherwise very-well-thought-out post? Here’s why:

    There is a big danger, in my view, of backing down and backing down, and backing down again, into non-solutions. We are expanding the use of natural gas, and (quickly) of fracking, at the great risk of harming our ground water and marring the environment too, even as we don’t REALLY have an understanding of the true FULL GHG implications of natural gas, considering all steps of the process. (Have people considered the energy usage and GHG implications of the waste-water monitoring and processing when they are done adequately?) And we seem to be “accepting” the growing use of natural gas, along with the fracking, as if we’ve all but given up on insisting that there should be a cost for carbon. What it feels like from here is that we keep backing down, compromising, and so forth, and thus it’s not clear to me that we are making any real progress whatsoever. Or rather, perhaps we are making “just enough progress” to keep us “hoping” even as the actual problem keeps getting worse and worse. And that’s a danger. Are we getting to a point where there is a danger of what might be called an (unintended) institutionalized pattern of acceptance of so-called solutions that are nowhere near sufficient and that are likely to cause other problems that are just as problematic, if not more so, than the problems we are trying to avert? Don’t ask me to choose, please, between having healthy water and a stable climate. I want BOTH. Period. I don’t sense that the present post is presenting that as an option or that it’s willing to “fight for” that as the necessary outcome. I fear that there is a good chance, if we keep doing what we’re doing, that we will foul our water, mar our environment with wells, have coal AND oil AND gas ALL booming as never before, increase energy usage, emit increasing amounts of GHGs, not find the will to adopt a serious price for carbon, make far-too-slow progress on truly clean and renewable sources of energy, and find out (after all is said and done) that the notion of using natural gas as a very helpful “transition” was more of a side-track that proved unfruitful. Are we on a slippery-slidey slope to “nowhere” when it comes to solutions that will actually be sufficient and will not make bad messes out of our environment and to our water supplies?



  6. ToddInNorway says:

    Ethical and professional operators of shale gas drilling and fracking rigs obey the law- and the law requires protection of groundwater and surface water resources. The problem is that not all operators are ethical and professional. The only way to protect our resources from them is by rigorous application of effective regulatory oversight. This is the case for every industry with any emissions.

    Except for one.

    The coal industry wants nothing more than to ruin the reputation of natural gas. They will laugh all the way to the bank if society rejects natural gas due to an irrational presentation of the risks involved. My suggestion: Examine the evidence in the city of Fort Worth, Texas, which already has several thousand shale gas wells underneath its city limits, drilled the last 10 years, and all of them fracked extensively. Please go find a scandal there and report back.

    Having said that, emissions from the diesel engines used in drilling and fracking are horrible. There is reference to this in the text above. There is undoubtably a serious air quality problem is some areas with intense operations from many rigs in close proximity. The other problem is with gas compression equipment required to produce after the wells have depleted reservoir pressure. The gas compressors are noisy and can produce some nasty local emissions from the required lubrication systems.

    Note: I have worked as a petroleum engineer in industry for 17 years before I quit to other more productive things.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    You’ve got to hand it to the greed-heads. Nothing will ever stop them, until they stop us all by totally destroying the life-sustaining biosphere. I mean, benzene, really, totally harmless stuff, and radium-well I saw FoxNews and they said radiation is GOOD for you. All the alarmists want to do is introduce a Communist dictatorship and compulsory Gaia worship. You’ll only get the keys to my 4WD (SUV) from outa my cold, dead, hand!

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    “… occurring radioactive materials, such as radium, as a result of drilling activities”

    Phase out of nuclear plants is med-long term planing but action now to ban fracking up our groundwater is something which should be mandatory, immediately.

  9. Joan Savage says:

    In New York, a decision is pending regarding a draft supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (sGEIS) on slick-water fracturing (fracking).

    The draft provided for public review did not include details of radionuclide disposition.

    This is a good example, to my mind, why the EIS should have to be site-specific to each well, and not generic.

    One onerous feature of gas drilling in New York is that the land owners by default will get stuck with the comprehensive liability for environmental clean up, while the gas-companies who leased the mineral rights have a more limited liability, like renters. Some leases protect land owners better than others, so there is some variety in how this looks.

    Imagine if a coal company leased a mountain and then left the land owner with the tailings.

  10. Mike#22 says:

    The Dunkard Creek fish kill has been something of a mystery. Most investigators have blamed coal mine discharges from Consol Energy, and indeed, last Thursday saw a 5.5 million fine agreed to and a further 200 million in required treatement equipment installations.

    Then on Friday, Pa State AG charged Allans Waster Water Hauling Company for the illegal disposal of fracking waste water:

    “Notable in the nine-page presentment from the grand jury is the mention of Dunkard Creek, site of a massive 2009 fish kill over a 30-mile stretch along the Pennsylvania-West Virginia border.

    Drivers for Mr. Shipman’s company testified that they and their boss emptied tanker trucks with drilling waste into a floor drain that led to Tom’s Run which, according to the presentment, empties into to Dunkard Creek.

    Drivers also testified they disposed of some waste by “cocktailing,” or mixing a variety of wastes, in a variety of locations, including Morris Run air shaft in Consol Energy’s abandoned Blacksville No. 2 mine.

    The shaft leads to a mine pool, “which ultimately discharges into Dunkard Creek,” the presentment said.”

  11. T.J. Karns says:

    Hi. I just saw “Gasland” on Sunday here in NJ at Kean University’s first Garden State Green Festival. Out of all the wrong doing and corruption that’s out there, the mess that we have to triage every day, “fracking” and its consequences to our water, our population, our eco-system is right up there at the top of the horribles. My advice: Publicize “Gasland” and make sure it shown frequently in as many places as possible. Sound the alarm in the public media. Lobby a ban on “fracking” with the politicians in NY, NJ and WashDC.
    “Gasland” informs us that oil and gas companies are exempt from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. How can this go on????
    Oil and Gas Companies like Halliburton, of course, claim repeatedly in “Gasland” in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, etc. that there is no relationship between their “fracking” and the dire consequences that plague people living in “fracking” areas – black water, water that catches fire, cancer, etc. Those oil companies just would do that, wouldn’t they!!! Any moron with half a brain knows they are lying through their teeth. When offered water in “Gasland” from those contaminated taps, those gas and oil guys definitely will not drink it. That’s proof enough for me that they are guilty, guilty, guilty.
    But now I understand. First they want us to let them ruin our water supply; after all, there’s big money in it for them; then, when everything is contaminated, they can make even more profit selling us clean water (if they can find it, that is). Meanwhle, we’ve all got cancer and won’t survive anyway, so what’s the point.
    I knew next to nothing about the dangers of “fracking” prior to seeing this movie. Everyone should see it, especially on the East Coast, then take action before the damage is done.
    Sincerely yours, T.J. Karns, Union, NJ