Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is a technique that takes chemically treated water and sand to open rock and release natural gas. The rock (shale) layers are more than a mile deep below the surface, and the process takes two to four million gallons of water and up to 60,000 gallons of chemicals to obtain the release of natural gas. Up to 75% of water blasted down comes back up in a toxic cocktail of water, chemicals, salts, and radioactive materials from underground layers. And critics of the practice say these drilling practices contaminate local water supplies by creating unexpected pathways for gas or liquid to travel between deep shale.
Advocates for fracking argue that it is a better alternative to coal and nuclear energy. They defend the process saying that it is a safe way of extracting energy. One of the largest companies supporting hydraulic fracturing is Exxon Mobil. They have released an advertisement narrated by Erik Oswald who is described as a “geologist” in the ad. Yet he is actually the VP of Business Development at Exxon Mobil. Should we trust companies that offer such clear misrepresentations?
The Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting a preliminary study to be released in late 2012 about fracking. Meanwhile Exxon Mobil and other companies can continue to contaminate community water aquifers. In 2000, America’s energy supply contained only 1% of natural gas from shale beds, today it’s close to 25%.
“Corporate Greenwashing And Other Questionable ‘Green’ Ads (VIDEOS).” The Huffington Post, October 3, 2011. www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/03/corporate-greenwashing-ads_n_989274.html?ref=email_share
“Frack on.” The Economist, Nov. 26, 2011, http://www.economist.com/node/21540275
“The Truth About Fracking,” Chris Mooney, Scientific American, October 19. 2011. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-truth-about-fracking
“Shareholders Step Up Pressure on Fracking at Chevron, ExxonMobil,” Robert Kropp, GreenBiz.com. June 2, 2011, www.greenbiz.com/news/2011/06/02/shareholders-step-pressure-fracking-chevron-exxonmobil
ExxonMobil Hydraulic Fracturing Advertisement – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDfVycbnaBc
Student Researcher: Peter Duke, San Francisco State University
Faculty Evaluator: Kenn Burrows, San Francisco State University