Journalism in the Public Interest

The Perils and Promise of Fracking

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On Monday, April 9, ProPublica and the Tenement Museum will co-sponsor an in-depth conversation about fracking.  A panel featuring representatives from the media, the drilling industry, a former state regulator and an environmental lawyer will discuss whether the process is the answer to America’s energy needs, or whether we should slow down and learn more about the potential environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing.

Steve Curwood, the host and executive producer of Public Radio International’s Living on Earth, will moderate the panel, which will include:

Abrahm Lustgarten – reporter for ProPublica and author of the forthcoming “Run to Failure: BP and the Making of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster;”

Mark Boling – executive vice president, general counsel & secretary at Southwestern Energy;

Stu Gruskin – former executive deputy commissioner of New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation and currently an environmental consultant; and

Deborah Goldberg – managing attorney for Earthjustice.

The Investigate This Tenement Talk will take place at 6:30pm Eastern at the Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard Street (at Delancey).  The event is free and open to the public, but please RSVP on our Facebook page if you plan to join us. 

If you can’t make it in person, the conversation will be live streamed on U-Stream and you can ask questions via Twitter using the hashtag #pttalks or emailing them to

As fracking continues to be met with cheers and jeers as its use expands across the country, we hope you’ll join us for this important discussion.

This panel description looks like it will be against fracking regardless of what proponents say.

I believe the only reason we are getting a shot at energy production in the U.S. right now is because the Bakken oil field is privately owned.  If the government regulators could stop the fracking for oil there, they would.

If you haven’t made a trip to the NW part of North Dakota recently, you should.  I rode Amtrak through the area coincidentally twice this past winter and met countless people on board who were working and living in the area… some were long time residents and some were new.  Fascinating stories.  I’m not sure there is any other place in the U.S. that is experiencing this type of boom.

Where will our drinking water be in 10 years. My greatest fear is that there will be contamination everywhere. Water, underground, travels everywhere but we cannot see it. Many people may become sickened and die. Of course, the guys making the billions (like Halliburton) will be long gone and never held accountable under the law of the Halliburton Loophole.  Perhaps fracking could be done safely, without chemicals but why hasn’t it been done already? The oil and gas companies do fracking as cheaply as possible and we, the people will suffer from their greed and ignorance. Whereever fracking is done there will be nothing left but a barren wasteland for generations to come.

The reason the corporations are spending so much money to advertise that facking is so, so, so good for this country, is because anyone with half a brain, and any concern for future generations can see this will be a disaster for anyplace it is allowed.

How long will a steel tube last when exposed to salty water(and other chemicals)?? 
What is the future of all these boreholes which are protecting our drinking waters from the poison of the fracking chemicals, even if everything is initially done as perfectly as possible??  And we are not even talking about the Boom Bust cycle, the truck traffic, the screwing up of rural atmosphere and all the industrialization of some really fine areas of the U.S.A.

If you don’t care for future generations, and don’t mind selling your soul, selling your morals, selling your integrity for forty gilders, then support fracking and the corporate take over of yours and others lives.
As you know, the most important quality is acquiring money and power.  Frack, frack, frack, frack…

Safety first.  When unconventional gas drilling can be proven safe, then and only then should it be allowed.  In Pennsylvania, the let-it-rip philosophy will lead to environmental damage that will make the coal cleanup seem mild by comparison.

Elizabeth Hovey

March 19, 2012, 8:07 p.m.

Having spent recent hours with a frustrated environmental research supervisor who says almost all research on climate change is being driven by advocacy, I’m hoping that this panel is a rare opportunity for people to hear both sides of the debate and learn something.  Kudos to the Tenement Museum.

I’ve been against fracking since it was first described to me, particularly because it is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act.  How can anyone feel comfortable without its protections?  If that were applied and appropriate enforcement permanently funded, I’d be interested in the possibilities.

Money always wins. 
Just read ayn rand—the seven deadly sins are just fine, so long as they insure the flow of money into the pockets of the rich.

Just to add a wrinkle to this, it seems to me that this brute force approach to energy harvest is backwards.

Consider that natural gas is always found with other fossil fuels, sometimes not found there.  Fair?

Now, consider that natural gas is almost entirely methane.  Where does methane usually come from in your daily life?  If you’re giggling at the question, you have the answer.

Third, you know those black arched markings on city buildings near intersections?  That’s not soot.  It’s a fungus that eats soot.

Add two and two, and we’ll get somewhere in the neighborhood of five.

If we can stop blowing these reserves apart and take a good look inside, obviously we’ll find some critter (bacteria or fungus) that eats coal and/or crude oil and, well, farts a lot.  And from there, we have all the natural gas we can possibly want non-destructively from abandoned strip mines and “empty” oil wells.

Consider it a stepping stone:  With enough natural gas, someone can run the factories that’ll produce those high-density solar cells at a reasonable cost.

(As a side benefit, this organism will probably be a good way to clean up existing oil spills and—potentially—that Pacific Ocean garbage patch, since most of that is processed petroleum.  And it gets reclaimed as energy.)

But no.  We need to frame this argument as “frack or nothing,” because without extremism of “industry versus environment,” we might all win…

@Kathy Bergman

You are misinformed.  The majority of shale plays in this country are on private lands and are being leased by private land owners.  I’m not particularly familiar with the water issues in the Bakken, but you should consider that the population of North Dakota is less than most US cities.  Water issues for ND are not as pressing as for other growing population centers, such as in Texas, Pennsylvania, or NYC. 

The EPA has only stepped in intermittently to address concerns about drinking water safety, and, hopefully, that is something that we all should be able to get behind.  Once the drinking water is contaminated, it is gone, and who cares whether the lights work in your house if you don’t have a drop of water to drink?

joanna underwood

March 23, 2012, 2:25 p.m.

While New Yorkers are doing battle against the strategy of hydrofracking to generate natural gas in the State, they should know that there is another way to produce natural gas—no fracking needed! And they should get behind it!! We can produce it from the organic wastes thrown out by households and businesses, and generated on farms and dairies across the State. By collecting and refining the biogases that are created as such organic wastes break down, you have a fuel that is just the same as conventional natural gas. It can be transported through the same pipelines, stored in the same storage facilities and used to generate power, heat homes or to fuel vehicles. In many European countries, renewable natural gas, called “RNG” or “biomethane” is powering hundreds of trucks and buses right now. RNG production is just starting in the U.S. For example: gases created at a large Waste Management landfill in California are being made into fuel that is powering more than 300 refuse trucks. This fuel is virtually soot-free and is the lowest carbon fuel available. New York State sends millions of dollars a day abroad now to buy the oil we need mainly for vehicle fuel. Let’s bring that money home, create jobs here, and invest in extracting the gases from wastes in the State’s landfills, sewage plants and thousands of dairies. What are we waiting for?

The panel looks interesting but could use someone with technical knowledge, i.e. a person with expertise on the entire process of fracturing.

The radical ‘Regressives’ obscene and fraudulent efforts against Fracing is simply part of their degenerate political agenda, has no basis in fact and is completely without merit or any redeeming social value.
The current ingredients in frac compounds is virtually water and sand with a small amount of coagulant to hold the compound together. The binder is similar chemically to food compounds and is no danger to water, minerals, man, or animal.

Any argument suggesting otherwise - exists only in the fertilizer minds of the intellectually impotent. No scientific facts suggests Fracing endangers anything.

Oh, why be such a worry-wart Sam in Texas, I’m quite certain that once they’ve poisoned your water, a subsidiary of Haliburton will sell you all the water you need at a good price.

The problem with those ideas Joanna Underwood, is that the Haliburtons haven’t figured out any way to singularily benefit from such systems as you propose, so they will pay off your congressmen to make certain alternative ideas such as you and others’ similar ideas are never discussed in a public sphere.

LEL, go back to Dick Cheney’s groin where you belong and get back to studying your spelling books, you’re not ready yet.  As far as your attempts at disinformation go, the mass media are wwwaaayyy ahead of you, and have been at it, and will be at it a whole lot longer than yourself, your efforts are not needed.

Don’t fall for LEL and his ilk people, watch the full movie Gasland, see the destruction of people’s lives:

That link is only a trailer of the Gasland documentary, notice how Cheney and the other non-human monsters are never held accountable for the damage they do to thousands of people’s lives (millions of people’s lives destroyed soon enough if those bastards are not controlled).  Resist fracking before you also become its victims.

Richard, always interesting to see the useful idiots, and fellow travelers!! Unfortunately, our sorry education system produces some gems!

Gasland, is an environmental joke - not one legitimate scientific fact.
Not one legitimate conclusion. This is a ‘lefty’ propaganda film only!! 

The bastards we must control are the radical - intellectual impotent and incompetents running our current government. And the ideological degenerates that support their garbage and deceit!

It’s neither a philosophical or regulatory debate. It’s a humanitarian debate.


FACT #1 : The film GASLAND documents many people who have had the corporate intrusion of the gas fracking companies enter their lives. Does the shill for the gas companies want to claim that these people made up their stories? If so then go ahead and claim this, rather than hide behind claiming that this movie is inaccurate. The corporate shill will find few people to agree with him. It is blatant that these people in GASLAND are NOT ACTORS and that this is THEIR LIVES which this movie is documenting.

FACT #2: The specific comments which are made regarding this industry in the film GASLAND, were downplayed by the corporate gas industry, and they have tried to smear the director of the film, Josh Fox. In defending himself, Josh Fox has initiated a refutation of these smears ON LINE. Go to <> and see the 39 pages of documented, footnoted, FACTS which show the corporate shills, for the gas companies, to be the liars that they are.

FACT #3: No amount of money will make up for the emptiness a person absorbs by selling their soul, their ethics, their morality, for some gilder. Deep inside, no matter how they rant and rave about their right to pollute, and destroy their part of the earth for present and future generations—- deep inside they know this is wrong, is immoral, is a SELL OUT of the best parts of themselves. They may bluster and be so loud as to how they have these rights, but this quality is the seen over and over again by observing people in their daily lives:

a) How many times have we seen those most loud about fidelity in marriage to be the very people who were
betraying their mate?

b) How many times have we seen politicians where were most against gay and lesbians in their public, and
political lives, turn out to be gay themselves and to be having hidden affairs with same sex persons?

c) The Idea of Money, and of never having enough of it, is an IDEA FIXED IN THE MINDS of some of the worst
of mankind, as well as some rather mediocre and average people living in the U.S.A. And this is a denial
to being truly ALIVE. Too bad, too, too bad…

An idea worth a google: OURS IS A SIMPLE FAITH

Chorus:  Ours is a simple faith
          Life is a short embrace
          Heaven is in this place
          Every day

          Hope is the ground we till
          Make each day what you will
          Thankful for dreams fulfilled
          Every day

No room in this heart for fear
No judgement day drawing near
Trust that inner voice you hear
Every day

Life’s not a goal or race
Its about heart and faith
And living a life of grace
Every day

Chorus:  Ours is a simple faith
          Life is a short embrace
          Heaven is in this place
          Every day

          Hope is the ground we till
          Make each day what you will
          Thankful for dreams fulfilled
          Every day

Trust is an open hand
Making an honest stand
Rooted here in the land
Every day

Living the mystery
Seeking the harmony
Here between you and me
Every day

Chorus:  Ours is a simple faith
          Life is a short embrace
          Heaven is in this place
          Every day

          Hope is the ground we till
          Make each day what you will
          Thankful for dreams fulfilled
          Every day

                                        by David Tamulevich of
                                            MUSTARD’S RETREAT


                                      sincerely,  David Kauber