Letter: It is unfair to demonize fracking

To the editor of THE EAGLE:

The Eagle's July 17 editorial ("Fracking on shaky ground:) made some pretty strong claims against fracking, but your readers would have benefited from some additional clarity and context.

For example, you claimed "four wells used for fracking" caused one out of every five quakes from Colorado to the Atlantic Coast. That is not true. The wells studied were disposal wells, which are not " used for fracking." Interestingly, your editorial later acknowledged the culprit was disposal wells, but not before presenting a demonstrable falsehood to your readers.

You also asserted, without basis, that " no one" knows what happens to wastewater after it is injected. That's an interesting claim, considering the fact that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been monitoring and regulating disposal wells (categorized as Class II under the Safe Drinking Water Act) for decades. The EPA calls wastewater disposal a "safe" process.

Science supports EPA's position. The National Research Council, part of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded recently that "very few [seismic] events have been documented over the past several decades relative to the large number of disposal wells in operation." The Cornell study cited in your editorial also noted that "thousands" of disposal operate " a seismically." As for claiming "the burden is on industry" to prove disposal doesn't cause earthquakes: How can you prove a negative? Leaving aside the fact that the vast majority of disposal wells do not and have not caused seismic events, suggesting an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Americans is " guilty until proven innocent" is a dangerous road.

Moreover, why should anti-fracking groups, whose agenda is so extreme that it has been rejected by the Obama administration and Democratic governors across the country, get a free pass to accuse the industry of whatever it likes without scrutiny? Facts and evidence should trump convenient scapegoats.

The industry supports additional research on this issue, and both scientists and industry have acknowledged that there are straightforward fixes for problematic wells, including reducing flow rates. In the meantime, while it's easy to score search engine hits from articles that demonize "fracking," we don't solve any problems by leaving out context and key facts purely to support a predetermined narrative.


Washington, DC

The writer is team lead for Energy In Depth. According to its website, Energy In Depth is a research, energy and outreach campaign launched in 2009 by the Independent Petroleum Association of America.


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