Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fracking under the Ohio

The state of West Virginia recently opened bids from companies that want to extract natural gas under the Ohio River from processes known as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

I have done a few stories on fracking, but I am nowhere near confident enough to say whether West Virginia's proposal is a good one or a bad one. What I do know is that from what I have seen, heard and read, most of the problems from fracking are not from groundwater contamination. The big problems are above ground: trucks on roads to narrow for them; noise pollution; light pollution; disregard for regulations; social problems from an influx of labor; and many, many more.

Fracking is well-established in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. It's not going away. Extracting gas and natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Marcellus and Utica shales has revived some industries.

The concern here is that a drilling accident up in the hills could result in pollution or contamination in a small stream. Along the Ohio River, it could contaminate the drinking water supply of hundreds of thousands of people. Thus we'll have to see whether this is regulated more closely than other operations.

No comments: