Hydraulic Fracturing – Concern Over Chemicals

What chemicals are used for hydraulic fracturing and what happens to the used water and chemicals after the fracking process is complete? The Interior Department will soon require that chemicals be identified and each well must guarantee that no fluids escape during the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing processes.

Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing are two fairly new technologies that will allow the United States to extract crude oil trapped in shale and other non-porous rock. These breakthroughs can help our country become less dependent on outside sources for our energy. Of course any extraction process is going to have its critics and hydraulic fracturing is no exception. However, if done properly this is a fairly safe process, which starts with a vertical drill that drills past the water table into the earth below. A cement “sleeve” inside the wellbore keeps fluids and oil from leaking into the water table while work is being done.

Referencing President Obama’s State of the Union address a couple weeks ago, his backing of hydraulic fracturing comes with the requirement that drillers disclose the chemicals they’re injecting into each well. This requirement is for safety purposes and should appease environmentalists. Also, the Interior Department will require businesses to guarantee that no fluids will escape during the underground process and each well must have a plan for properly disposing its used water.

More tomorrow on the water issue with a look at the results of a Wyoming drinking water study.

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