Why Anti-Fracking Groups Are Shifting Their Story From Water To Air Quality

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Mark Twain said “never let the truth stand in the way of a good
story.” A common hydraulic fracturing narrative is that the technology
pollutes water supplies. The story goes that fracturing is a mysterious
and untested practice, that fracturing fluids are a secret, “chemical
cocktail,” that there are innumerable incidents of aquifer and drinking
water contamination, resulting even in tap water catching fire, and that
“Big Oil” has pressured Congress into exempting the technology from any
environmental laws.

The truth is not as exciting. Hydraulic fracturing involves
the injection of fluid consisting of approximately 99.5% water and sand
(the rest consists of common industrial or even household chemicals or
materials) through wells constructed with protective casing and cement,
into producing shale formations. The formations are thousands of feet
below drinking water aquifers, separated by impervious rock. While the
technology has evolved and is used more frequently, fracturing is not
new, is heavily regulated at the state level, and enjoys no blanket
exemption from environmental laws. There is no credible data indicating
that fracturing of shale formations has ever contaminated drinking
water.

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