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Is Shale Gas Extraction Environmentally Safe?

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Shale Gas is the newest Fossil Fuel Technology which would greatly help extend the world’s fast depleting oil and gas reserves.Shale gas has boomed in the US recently with improvements in hydraulic technology.Shale Gas is a “unconventional” Gas form like coalbed methane which was not usually available in commercial quantities.However the ability to fracture shale formation to allow gas to be extracted with advancements in Technology has allowed the ability for large scale Shale Gas Production.Despite higher costs,the high prices of Natural Gas makes this process economically viable.Huge investments are being planned in Shale Gas production in the US with Big Oil already making significant acquisitions in this space.

While it Shale Gas could be an Energy Panacea ,is it Environmentally Safe?

There have been concerns raised about the environmental degradation resulting from Shale Gas Production.Recent incidents of water and soil contamination from Pennsylvania has led to voices being raised in protest.Note all Fossil Fuel extraction leads to some extend of Environmental Pollution both during extraction and during usage.Shale Gas in no exception.However some unique types of Pollution being reported by Farmers has led to more focus on this still nascent technology.Pennsylvania has quarantined cattle which have fallen sick after drinking toxic waste water.Shale Gas Extraction requires injecting Water mixed with Chemicals at High Pressure to fracture Shale Rock formations.This results in contamination of water with chemicals that can lead to human and animal sickness.The problem arises from “Fracking” that involves mixing of water and toxic chemicals.Reports from US indicate that tap and toilet water in houses near these gas wells have been severely contaminated.Their have also been reports about Gas Leakages.Federal Regulators have tentatively started investigating  Shale Gas Technology.But the Oil Industry in typical fashion is opposing the scope of the study.Reminds me of Saudi Arabia blocking the study of climate change on rising seal levels.The Oil and Gas companies currently don’t even have to reveal the chemicals they are using during the Fracking process.Lets hope that this Regulators do their job otherwise it could lead to another BP Oil Spill type of disaster in the future.The laxness of the Oil Drilling Regulator was a major factor in one of the world’s biggest environmental disasters.

Pennsylvania quarantine cattle over gas drilling fluid – Reuters

Officials have quarantined 28 cows that may have drunk toxic waste water from natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, adding to concerns about health risks arising from exploiting the state’s vast shale deposits.The cows had access for at least three days to a pool that formed from a leaking waste water holding pond on a farm in Tioga County, north-central Pennsylvania, where East Resources Inc is drilling into the Marcellus Shale formation.

Face-Off Over ‘Fracking': Water Battle Brews On Hill – NPR

Steve Harris believes that pressure also ruined his well. He lives on 14 acres south of Dallas. Shortly after a driller fracked a nearby well, he and his neighbors noticed a change in water pressure.”When you’d flush the toilet — in the back where the bowl is — water would shoot out the top of the bowl,” says Harris.When he took a shower, there was a foul odor, and the water left rashes on his grandson’s skin. His horses stopped drinking from their trough, and there was an oily film on top of the water.

Similar stories are popping up around the country. In Ohio, a couple’s house blew up when gas from their water well filled their basement. A woman in Colorado blames her health problems on the chemicals used for fracking.For the most part, people nearby don’t even know what chemicals are being injected into the ground — companies don’t have to report that.

Broad Scope of EPA’s Fracturing Study Raises Ire of Gas Industry – ProPublica

A federal study of hydraulic fracturing set to begin this spring is expected to provide the most expansive look yet at how the natural gas drilling process can affect drinking water supplies, according to interviews with EPA officials and a set of documents outlining the scope of the project. The research will take a substantial step beyond previous studies and focus on how a broad range of ancillary activity – not just the act of injecting fluids under pressure – may affect drinking water quality.The oil and gas industry strongly opposes this new approach. The agency’s intended research “goes well beyond relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water,” said Lee Fuller, vice president of government affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of America in comments (PDF) he submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.The “lifecycle” approach will allow the agency to take into account hundreds of reports of water contamination in gas drilling fields across the country. Although the agency hasn’t settled on the exact details, researchers could examine both underground and surface water supplies, gas well construction errors, liquid waste disposal issues and chemical storage plans as part of its assessment.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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