EPA Says Fracking Is Safe But an Internal Report Says Different
Hydraulic fracturing -- the process of shooting sand, water and chemicals into an oil well to get the oil and natural gas trapped in the formation flowing -- is a drilling technique that has been around since the 1950s, but it rose to new prominence in recent years as the key to unlocking shale plays.
Since famed oilman George Mitchell figured out how to use fracking and horizontal drilling to unlock the Barnett Shale in North Texas, touching off a drilling boom and an increase in oil and natural gas production it was thought this country would never see again, fracking has become a household word.
However, in the wake of the Barnett, the Marcellus in Pennsylvania, the Eagle Ford in South Texas, the resurgence of the Permian Basic in West Texas and the Bakken in North Dakota, it's been a new world for oil production, but there have also been questions about the fracking process.
We've all seen the footage of the water coming out of the tap and being lit on fire in "Gasland." People living on top of these plays started complaining about their water, that the drilling may have contaminated their water wells.
The EPA came in and started investigating, and the activists in the area who had pushed for just this to happen got all excited. But the federal regulatory agency followed the same pattern each time. In the Barnett, the Marcellus and the Bakken, EPA investigators waded into the investigation, and early reports came out that they had found gas in the water and traced it back to drilling.