Other than toxic air, earthquakes and explosive oil, what’s so bad about fracking?


There are reports that the federal government is thinking about allowing the export of American oil again. The U.S. used to be a large oil exporter, decades ago, but that stopped in 1973 as crude production on domestic soil reached a peak and an Arab oil embargo threatened our economy. But then came fracking, which has been a game changer for producing oil and natural gas, from Pennsylvania to...

Pa. shocker: State health workers muzzled on fracking


In January 2011, Republican Gov. Tom Corbett took office in Pennsylvania, heavily indebted to the fracking industry (in fact, he’d received more than $1 million in campaign contributions from oil and gas interests, and those numbers have continued to grow). Since then, he has run one of the most pro-fracking governments in America. He has blocked efforts for a severance tax — every...

Regulators can’t keep up with the many dangers of fracking


Over the last five years or so, the average citizen has learned a lot about the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for the shale oil and gas that’s trapped deep under the American soil. Thanks to Josh Fox and his “Gasland” documentaries — and the indelible image of a rural homeowner lighting his kitchen tap on fire — a lot of the focus has been...

Confirmed: State regulators in Pa. in the tank for Big Oil and Gas


Every day, new evidence emerges that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas or oil is not the environmentally safe procedure that industry officials keep insisting that it is. Whether it’s swarms of earthquakes in fracking zones, the massive amounts of drinkable water that is wasted in the drilling process, or the toxic air invading rural communities, the huge risks of the...

Fracking and radioactivity: It’s worse than you think


I built the foundation of my career as an environmental lawyer upon the issue of fighting the radioactivity that results from oil and gas production. It was the end of the 1980s, and workers and pipe-cleaning yard owners in the Gulf Coast oil patch were just learning that the water that’s produced in oil wells is laced with radium-226 and — highly concentrated as it builds up...

Pa. is getting tired of being the fracking capital of the world


There hadn’t been a ton of oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania for more than a century — not since the days of John D. Rockefeller — but that started to change about seven or eight years ago. That’s when companies like Halliburton had advanced the technology known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to remove large quantities of natural gas trapped in geologic...

Is the Obama administration looking the other way on fracking?


Nearly five years into the Obama administration, we’ve watched with great frustration as Washington so often says the right things on the environment — then goes off and does something else. That was certainly the case after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, as federal regulators seemed much more likely to side with BP in trying to make the issue disappear, rather than undertake a...

One more reason to hate fracking: It wastes water


You don’t need to be a rocket scientist — or a top geologist, or that matter — to understand that fracking for natural gas is not only a highly risky but a poorly thought-out process. In the half-dozen years since the boom in drilling for shale gas spread from the oil belt of Texas to new regions like the Marcellus Shale underneath Pennsylvania, we’ve watched poorly...

The world is figuring out the truth about fracking


Nobody likes being a guinea pig. But apparently that’s what happened in Pennsylvania and some of the other places where the boom in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, first hit in the late 2000s. Thousands of acres were leased — often by farmers and other property owners in economically depressed areas — and then rigs began to dot the rolling hillsides, But all of this happened...

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