Several years back, the U.S. Congress urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) to study the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. I have read the “draft” report, as well as many commentaries. It must be underscored that it is still a draft report awaiting comments and further steps before finalization.
It only makes sense to supplement this draft with knowledge gained from additional published texts on this subject. This post synthesizes available scientific literature and data to assess the potential for hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas to change the quality or quantity of drinking water resources, and identifies factors affecting the frequency or severity of any “potential” changes.
One notable passage, which has been held up as dispositive evidence by folks of highly varying positions reads as follows: “We conclude there are above and below ground mechanisms by which hydraulic fracturing activities have the potential to impact drinking water resources.” The report went on to note, “We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources.”
I have read and am currently reading again four excellent texts regarding the technical, technological, legal and sociological aspects related to hydraulic fracturing and related technologies. This is an effort to understand what will be the most likely application of the study’s conclusions in policy at the local, state, regional, national levels and ultimately in the final determinative cauldron of the marketplace. I hope to write extensively about the continued deployment of hydraulic fracturing, in tandem with other key technologies and continued process improvements and unforeseen new disruptive technologies. Below is a quick summary of these texts.
“Just the Fracks, Ma’am: The TRUTH About Hydrofracking and the Next Great American Boom” – 2012
By Greg Kozera
Just the Fracks, Ma’am does exactly what its title suggest – explaining the fracking process in non-technical terms so a person with limited knowledge or experience with hydraulic fracturing and its complementary technologies can easily understand the process. It’s an ideal starter piece to understanding what can be a very technical process.
“Lobbying, Business, Law and Public Policy” – 2015
By Mark Fagan, an Adjunct Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School and also a founding partner of the strategic consulting firm Norbridge.
In a deep literature search on federal lobbying compliance, I came across this interesting book. Most notably, in pursuit of the efficacy associated with “active learning” employed in the classroom, the book has students seek a deeper understanding of lobbying registration, reporting and compliance by completing a number of assignments applied to the subject of hydraulic fracturing. The end goal is for students and readers of the book to better understand public policy development, especially the role of lobbying.
“Beyond the Fracking Wars” – 2013
By The American Bar Association
This is a guide for lawyers, public officials, planners, and citizens to meet a need for information about unconventional hydrocarbon development. This is less focused on the technical rigors of the regulatory process or operational procedures and is more about the macro understanding of hydraulic fracturing held by the lay public.
“Wastewater and Shale Formation Development: Risk, Mitigation and Regulation” – 2015
Edited by Sheila Olmstead, Ph.D.
This is a carefully selected collection of independent essays, brought together in book format. With the goal of providing a highly detailed and nuanced review of the most critical technical issues surrounding hydraulic fracturing, this is very poignant and timely, especially as to handling the associated waste streams and allegations of induced seismicity from the use of the EPA sanctioned Class II Underground Injection Control Wells (“UIC”), but often attributed to drilling and hydraulic fracturing instead.
I expect to post much more frequently now that a core body of information has been reviewed. I look to make a contribution to the discussion by mixing what I am learning through deep study along with the insights to come from responses from you the reader.
Have you read anything of interest that brings a richer understanding of the industry and the challenges and opportunities?
By Scott Rotruck