The following is a rebuttal to many common arguments that the oil and gas industry uses to "educate" the public about hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing and its associated drilling operations are not exempt from environmental regulations -The Energy Policy Act of 2005 reduced energy regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act, which allows the EPA to regulate “underground injection.” [Title III - Oil and Gas, Subtitle C - Production, Section 322 - Hydraulic fracturing] amends paragraph 1 of Section 1421(d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act to exclude “hydraulic fracturing operations” from the EPA’s definition of “underground injection.” Opponents of hydraulic fracturing have cited this as an example of inadequate regulation because no regulations exist for drinking water contamination, specifically. Other exemptions include the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Conservation, and Liability Act (Superfund).
Methane in well water occurs naturally in areas where hydraulic fracturing is occurring - The study, “Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing”, Osborn et al. Nicholas School of the Environment - Duke University, sampled water from wells near where hydraulic fracturing was and was not occurring. It draws a direct correlation between the distance from the drilling operation and methane concentration in the water. Of the active extraction areas, nearly all had water samples with methane concentrations above the “Action Level for Hazard Mitigation”. By measuring the degree of carbon isotopes in the methane, Osborn showed that methane in the water samples matched methane from the gas wells exactly and was not related at all to naturally occurring methane. This results in a causal link between the drilling and water contamination. The methodology corrected for error by taking samples from geologically identical areas.
We can create 200,000 new jobs from hydraulic fracturing - Economic benefits of hydraulic fracturing actually are largely short-lived. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, over 70% of the jobs related to hydraulic fracturing are out of state hires. The highest paying jobs are transient; they move from state to state, depending on where drilling is occurring. As a result, the Department concluded, the jobs that are created when drilling occurs are low-paying and last only as long as drilling progresses. The Department reported that Pennsylvania gas development created 10,600 total jobs, roughly 70% being from out of state. There is no factual information to even suggest that 200,000 jobs could be created.
Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for decades - In fact, it has not been industrialized to the degree it is now until after the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted the process from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Chemicals used now number in the thousands; the previous process used mainly explosives without large amounts of fracturing fluid.
Water supplies are protected by thousands of feet of rock/wells are encased in concrete - In fact, water contamination has been documented in six states thousands of times. Without regulations, industry will cut corners, leading to major consequences, as seen by many studies that have proven hydraulic fracturing's contamination of water.
Shale gas from hydraulic fracturing is cleaner than coal/oil/gas - Actually, shale gas is DIRTIER than coal, oil, and conventional gas. This is due to several factors discussed in our summary of the Cornell University study on the scientific conclusions page.
Shale gas is a bridge/transitional fuel - The conclusions of the Cornell study on our scientific conclusions page say otherwise. Shale gas is in fact the dirtiest fuel we could use in the coming decades.
ODNR provides adequate regulation of the process - The 2011 Ohio energy law actually reduces regulations at the state level. In their report on Ohio, Common Cause writes, “Companies engaged in fracking contributed $2.8 million to state candidates, political committees, and parties in Ohio from 2001 through June 2011, helping the natural gas industry preserve what are some of the nation’s most lenient fracking regulations.” Bill Batchelder (Speaker of the Ohio House, Representative from Medina County) specifically received $71,195 from hydraulic fracturing interests over that period. Also note that Ohio does not require full disclosure, so the number may be much higher. With lenient regulations, Ohio is not in a position to safely exploit oil and gas.
States are better suited to regulate drilling - However, the reason that the Safe Drinking Water Act was called for in the 1970s, was precisely because hydrologic features do not stop at state boundaries. This means that federal regulations are important; but currently, they are inadequate.