Proposed fracking ban sent to U.S. Congress

Proposed fracking ban sent to U.S. Congress Proposed fracking ban sent to U.S. Congress

February 4, 20202 min read

If passed, bills introduced to the U.S. Legislature could prevent federal agencies from issuing permits for expanded and new fracking in the U.S.

Fracking is the use of a high-pressure fluid being forced into a well to fracture or pulverize the rock next to the well bore, providing a pathway for oil and natural gas to flow into the well bore.

“It’s important for people to understand what fracking is and what it is not. And having an informed public is paramount in a democratic society,” says the College of Engineering’s Scott Jackson, visiting assistant professor of chemical engineering.  "There is a way to assure that oil and gas wells can be safely drilled and fracked with minimal impact on the environment."

Fracking -- a step in completing the installation of a gas or oil well -- was first done in the 1940’s as part of well stimulation in ‘tight’ rock formations, but initially fracking was done only in sandstone, not the shale that most people have heard about. “It has been used for more than 70 years prior to the shale revolution, without controversy,” Jackson says.

Fracking and directional drilling are key technologies that have made the shale revolution possible, the ability to economically extract it has only come to fruition because of fracking and directional drilling. "The U.S. is now the world's largest producer of oil and natural gas. The shale revolution has driven the switch of electricity production from coal to a more environmentally friendly natural gas," says Jackson.

Fracking has been controversial, and phrases such as ‘cariogenic chemicals are injected into our fresh water’ have been spoken often and loudly by environmentalists, activists and the general public. Jackson says there is some basis for strong words, such as that water used in fracking has mostly undisclosed chemicals in it, and some of those chemicals may be carcinogenic.

Because of this, Jackson says relaxing government oversight cannot be allowed. "Enforcing existing regulations and implementing and enforcing new regulations can only assure that oil and gas wells can be drilled and fracked safely with minimal impact on the environment.”

To speak with Jackson, email or call 610-519-5152.

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