The term "fracking" is an abbreviation of "hydraulic fracturing", which is the process of injecting a solution of water, sand, and chemicals by force into an underground shale formation. The resulting affect is that the rock layers are split and thereby release the oil and gas deposits that are caught between them. One of the most actively drilled targets for oil and gas in the United States is the Eagle Ford Shale rock formation.
Located in South Texas, this formation contains vase, rich concentrations of energy deposits and is approximately 250 feet thick on average. This massive formation runs approximately 50 miles wide by 400 miles long, starting in East Texas and continuing southwesterly to the Mexican border. Shale is the perfect type of rock for fracking because it is formed from hardened clay and can easily be fractured into thin sheets.
Upon the discovery of the Eagle Ford Shale rock formation, the fracking industry has descended on the land, towns and cities located above the formation, bringing new jobs and commerce to a previously economically depressed region. Fracking brought the promise of new life to regions that were previously plagued by the worst drought in decades, and the yearly natural gas production in the Eagle Ford Shale went from almost nothing in 2008 to over 220 billion cubic feet in 2011. According to the Railroad Commission of Texas, the oil production during that time period also increased from about 140,000 barrels annually to 22 million barrels.
Many politicians in Texas enthusiastically endorse fracking because of the great potential it has to improve the United States' energy independence and create new jobs. On the other hand, however, there are numerous environmentalists and people who live in the fracking areas who disagree. Fracking brings with it the possibility of dangerous pollution of water and health problems. For example, there have been countless stories about strange phenomena that are blamed on fracking, such as earthquakes in Ohio and flammable tap water. Those who live close to fracking wells have also reported that their residential tap water smells like chemicals and is dirty.
In fact, on January 9, 2012, Bloomberg reported that a group of doctors recommended a moratorium on fracking in densely populated vicinities until the potentially dangerous health effects of fracking are known. While the jury is still out as to whether fracking activity can contaminate the surrounding water supply or not, fracking has been linked to countless reports of drinking water contamination. In Pennsylvania, Cabot Oil & Gas reported having spent $109,000 on systems to remove methane from well water for 14 local households, and they also reported spending at least $193,000 on replacement water for homes with contaminated water.
In response to residents' complaints about stinky water, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted a study that made a tentative conclusion that fracking in the Wyoming Pavilion shale probably caused groundwater contamination. This study was surrounded by political criticism and industry-related criticism, and so the EPA emphasized that their findings were preliminary and subject to peer review. Congress has ordered the EPA to start a three-year study of the danger to water caused by fracking.
The toxic substances that are found in fracking fluid and wastewater have also been linked to a variety of negative health effects, such as the risk of contracting the lung disease silicosis, headaches, eye irritation, respiratory problems, and nausea. In a major recent development, a new Texas state fracking regulation took effect on Jan. 2, 2012, that requires fracking operators to disclose on a public website for each well the identity of chemicals mixed with water to make that particular fracking fluid, as well as the total volume of water used. Fracking has broad economic impacts and can affect the value of nearby homes and farms, including the loss of livestock due to exposure to spills of fracking water.
While there are existing rules in place to protect the public from the costs imposed by fracking, these rules are inadequate to cover the full economic costs of fracking on the public. Current laws do little to protect from the impacts of fracking that appear after a long period of time, and those who are involved with fracking in Eagle Ford are likely already suffering some negative effects. Fracking in Eagle Ford consumes millions of gallons of clean water that is laced with dangerous chemicals after the fracking process is finished. The companies that conduct fracking activities in the Eagle Ford Shale must be conscious of protecting local water sources and should be subject to government monitoring to ensure that they use the most current water-friendly technology and methodology.
If you live on or own land in the area and suspect your water supply may be affected by fracking, be sure to discuss the situation with a personal injury lawyer experienced in toxic tort lawsuits. Here at The Law Offices of David McQuade Leibowitz, P.C., we are prepared to stand up for you and the compensation you deserve. Call now!