Fracking spills are worse than they want you to know


One fact has remained pretty constant since the fracking boom in America began back in the 2000s: Almost any environmental problem has turned out to be worse than the oil-and-gas industry and government regulators want the public to know. When it comes to polluting the wells of people who live near fracking rigs, the industry clings to its story line that fracking can’t possibly pollute the...

Even earthquakes don’t kill the dream of extreme oil


The last decade — ever since it became clear in the mid-2000s that conventional oil fields around the planet were running low — has been the era of “extreme oil.” Big Oil promised the world that the wonder of new technologies — most notably hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as well as other advances in drilling capabilities — would make it possible to tap rich...

The most damning indictment of fracking yet


There has been a wave of scientific research lately on fracking and its environmental risks. Some of that work has emerged from the governmental agencies that regulate unconventional drilling for oil and gas, including the recent, highly publicized report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on the effects of fracking on drinking-water safety. The problem, of course, with government...

Remind me again why there’s fracking in California


By this point, we’re all pretty familiar with the touchstones of the debate over fracking for oil and natural gas. During the early days of this unconventional drilling practice, the best argument in favor of fracking did have something going for it: Natural gas is a much cleaner burning power source than the fuels that it typically replaces, especially coal. Crude oil isn’t very...

How much proof do we need on fracking and earthquakes?


Remember a few weeks ago, when I wrote about earthquakes in Irving, Texas — a stone’s throw from the headquarters of the world’s largest energy company, ExxonMobil? I thought the irony was huge: Texas is just one corner of America where earthquakes had once been rare but are now commonplace — coinciding with the rise of fracking in those regions. Here’s the thing:...

Score 1 for Planet Earth: NY bans fracking


I’ve noted several times over the last year that the tide is turning against fracking for oil and natural gas. The general public has increasingly decided that the often overhyped claims from Big Oil and Gas about job creation aren’t worth the costs to the environment in terms of foul air and polluted water — not to mention an increased risk of earthquakes. This November, even...

Quakes rattle ExxonMobil “Death Star”: Is fracking to blame?


One thing has become increasingly clear over the last decade: Earthquakes in America aren’t just for California anymore. Regions that were long considered seismically stable — especially in the prairie regions of the American Southwest, but also far-flung areas such as Ohio — have been rocked by a series of tremors. These new waves of earthquakes can cause structural damage to...

When will fracking’s other shoe drop? Cancer


The process of fracking is a relatively new one. In fact, sometimes I think we forget just how new it is. It was just mid-2000s that word spread among industry officials about a new technology to affordably free up oil and natural gas trapped in tiny pockets within shale formations — and Congress and the Bush administration enacted favorable energy legislation. In those early years...

The most damning evidence against fracking yet!


It’s hard to imagine how the news about fracking could get any worse. On any given day, my news feed is filled with reports from all across America, and sometimes from outside our borders, about the unintended environmental consequences of this extreme method of extracting natural gas from the shale formations under the earth. Just today, there was yet another report of an earthquake in...

Clear-eyed look at fracking shows how ugly it is


One point that I’ve strived to make about fracking from Day One is quite simply this: There was a rush without judgment — a race by Big Oil and Gas to get as many holes in the ground before the public, and the officials they elect, had any sense at all of the real impact. In Pennsylvania, for example, at the epicenter of the Marcellus Shale drilling boom, landmen raced to sign leases...

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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