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Fracking 101

Hydraulic fracturing appears to be as controversial as it is confusing.

Since we’ll be talking about the process in some detail during the show, we’ve put together a brief cheat-sheet for listeners to learn more about this technology.

Here’s the Environmental Protection Agency’s run-down on hydraulic fracturing and how it is used to extract a variety of resources including, gas, oil, geothermal energy, and water.

“The process of hydraulic fracturing begins with building the necessary site infrastructure including well construction. Production wells may be drilled in the vertical direction only or paired with horizontal or directional sections. Vertical well sections may be drilled hundreds to thousands of feet below the land surface and lateral sections may extend 1000 to 6000 feet away from the well.”

Here’s a gas industry video, Chesapeake Energy in this case, with an animation showing how the process works.

In 2004, the EPA conducted a study on the impacts of fracking on drinking water. You can read the study here.

It concluded, in part:

“Although potentially hazardous chemicals may be introduced into USDWs [underground source of drinking water] when fracturing fluids are injected into coal seams that lie within USDWs, the risk posed to USDWs by introduction of these chemicals is reduced significantly by groundwater production and injected fluid recovery, combined with the mitigating effects of dilution and dispersion, adsorption, and potentially biodegradation.”

For more information about the controversies surrounding natural gas and fracking, check out this 60 Minutes piece that digs deeper into the “ugly stepchild” of American energy debate.

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Sep 19, 2014
No campaigners celebrate as results come in at the Scottish independence referendum count at the Royal Highland Centre in Edinburgh,Scotland,Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Scottish voters have rejected independence and decided that Scotland will remain part of the United Kingdom. The result announced early Friday was the one favored by Britain's political leaders, who had campaigned hard in recent weeks to convince Scottish voters to stay. It dashed many Scots' hopes of breaking free and building their own nation. (AP Photo/David Cheskin)

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