State the primary legal issue raised by hydraulic fracturing; state the primary environmental issues raised by hydraulic fracturing; and state what part of hydraulic fracturing plays or will play in meeting U. S. energy needs.
Finding more energy sources including oil and natural gas will help to meet the energy demand and help provide our country with reliable fuel supplies. The prediction is that oil and natural gas will continue to provide more than half of the energy needs for American consumers even as alternative and renewable energy sources expand. We have been drilling for years but the discovery of different methods to get gas out of the ground such as hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is enabling the development of unconventional domestic oil resources.
Rapid expansion of fracturing with the growing complaints of well water contamination and water quality problems given to this process has requests for more state and federal regulations over hydraulic fracturing. According to the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Energy Information (EIA) reports that natural gas from tight sand formations is the largest source of unconventional production, while production from shale formations is the fastest growing source
According to the Hydraulic Fracturing and Safe Water Act Issues state, the process of developing a shale gas well by drilling through an overlying aquifer, completing and casing the well, stimulating the well by hydraulic fracturing and producing the gas is an issue for increasing the risk of groundwater contamination. Another concern with the potential contamination of drinking water wells from surface activities.
Leaky surface impoundments, accidental spills, or careless surface disposal of drilling fluids at the natural gas production site could increase the risk of contaminating the nearby water well. Still more concerns involve the management of storage, treatment, and disposal of water produced in the fracturing process. Broader environmental issues associated with geographically expanding development of unconventional gas resources include water withdrawals from streams, lakes and aquifer; potential air quality impacts; and land use changes.
Until recently, the oil and gas industry has not been required to disclose what chemicals they were using in their fracking fluids. Oil and gas extraction activities are generally exempt from the disclosure requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) Thus, a movement has come for disclosure as part of the state permitting processes. The growing opinion has been that laws should require detailed reporting and broad public disclosure. It is undisputed the need for sources in natural gas and oil to enable us to be less dependent on outside sources.
According to the EPA, “Natural gas plays a key role in our nation’s clean energy future. The U.S. has vast reserves of natural gas that are commercially viable as a result of advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies enabling greater access to gas in shale formations “The task at hand is to perform hydraulic fracturing within safe environmental methods to protect our water sources from contamination and protect the quality of air that we breathe. The push for legislative laws to govern the companies who perform hydraulic fracturing lend to accountability and the expectation of safe air and water.
Natural gas extraction – hydraulic fracturing. (n.d.). Retrieved 09/22/2013 from http://www2.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing
Orford, A. (2011). Hydraulic fracturing: legislative and regulatory trends. Retrieved 09/21/2013 from http://www.martenlaw.com/newletter/20111004-fracking-roundup
Vann, A. Congressional Research Service, (2011). Hydraulic fracturing and safe water act issues (7-5700). Retrieved 09/22/2013 from website: http://www.arcticgas.gov/sites/default/files/documents/hydraulic-fracturing-and-safe-drinking-water-act-issues.pdf