NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Debunking Fracking Myths

February 10, 2015

While fracking has sent oil and gas prices falling and created high-wage jobs for Americans across resource-rich states, the practice has garnered its fair share of critics, with detractors insisting fracking dirties water and causes earthquakes. Is that really the case?

Arthur Herman of the Hudson Institute says criticisms of fracking are overblown. While opponents argue that fracking can contaminate groundwater, Herman says fracking takes place thousands of feet below the aquifer (a body of rock from which water can be extracted), posing no risk to drinking water. Additionally, he notes that there are no documented cases of groundwater contamination, yet there are thousands of fracking wells in the United States and its neighbor Canada.

Similarly, opponents contend fracking exposes people to dangerous chemicals such as benzene. In fact, Herman says the fluid used to fracture rock is more than 99 percent sand and water -- the risks associated with contact with chemicals such as benzene or methane, for example, is not any higher than in other industrial jobs.

Does fracking send methane into our drinking water? According to a Duke University study, it does. But Herman says the study was wildly flawed -- not only did it look at just 68 wells in an area that had 20,000 water wells, but it did not look to see whether there were concentrations of methane prior to fracking (which, Herman notes, there were).

Lastly, Herman cites another benefit of fracking -- the natural gas derived from fracking will reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, emissions in the United States have fallen by almost 20 percent since the fracking boom.

Source: Arthur Herman, "The Liberal War on American Energy Independence," Hudson Institute, January 29, 2015. 


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