The only thing deeper than a natural-gas well is the ignorance of the anti-fracking crowd.
Fracking -- formally called hydraulic fracturing -- involves briefly pumping water, sand and chemicals into shale formations far below Earth’s surface and the aquifers that irrigate crops and quench human thirst. The process cracks these rocks and liberates the gas within. Though the technology has been employed for decades with seemingly no verified contamination of groundwater, anti-fracking activists behave as if it were invented specifically to poison Americans.
“Fracking makes all water dirty,” declares a poster that Yoko Ono recently exhibited at a Manhattan carpet store. According to another: “Pretty soon there will be no more water to drink.”
Matt Damon’s 2012 film, “Promised Land,” dramatizes fracking’s supposed dangers by showing a toy farm devoured by flames.
In contrast to this hyperventilation, Lisa Jackson, former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration, told the House Government Reform Committee in 2011: “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.”
Frackophobes would be astonished to see how much Anadarko, America’s third-largest natural gas producer, obsesses over the environment in its Marcellus shale operations. Anadarko and the American Petroleum Institute discussed these practices during a late-June fact-finding tour they sponsored for opinion writers and other media. (I purchased my own train ticket there and bought gas for a colleague who drove us back to New York.)
Among the things Anadarko showed us is that it identifies flora and fauna near production sites. In Pennsylvania, it uses outdoor cameras to determine which animals traverse the area. This helps Anadarko work with landowners to restore their property, post-production, or enhance it with vegetation that will attract desired species.
A large pond on a small hill belonging to the Elbow Fish and Game Club temporarily holds production-related water for an adjacent development site. After 50 to 100 days of drilling and well construction, and two to five days of fracking, about six to 12 wells quietly will begin to collect natural gas from this field. The soil excavated for the pond will be removed from storage and returned from whence it came. Anadarko will plant local grasses and flowers, and the place will look largely untouched as the wells yield gas for 20 to 40 years.