Hydraulic fracturing is an energy- and water-intensive, highly toxic process whereby methane trapped in impermeable rock (shale and tight sands) might now be mined. Because of this technology, previously inaccessible methane deposits can now be mined.
In the northeast U.S.’s Marcellus Shale, the gas industry’s promise of easy money is attracting some landowners. Many landowners, concerned about the impacts of hydrofracking on their way of life, their water and air, and rural economy, are holding out . A nationwide movement is building to stop the caustic legacy of natural gas extraction from poisoning New York State before more land and water tables are laid to waste.
Hydraulic fracturing, as used for natural gas extraction, is the process by which water, frequently mixed with proppants and chemicals, is forced down a well bore at extremely high pressure in order to create or expand fractures to release gas from the rock formation in which it is trapped. Proppants are small particles such as sand or synthetic beads, that hold open the newly-created fractures so that released gas can flow towards the well. The process is also known as fracking, hydrofracking, or any of several other variants.
Various forms of hydraulic fracturing have been developed for differing circumstances. The one now causing intense concern here in New York is known as ‘high-volume hydraulic fracturing’ (HVHF), and ‘slick water fracturing.’ In this method, millions of gallons of initially clean water per well are intentionally contaminated with the addition of a wide range and large volume of very toxic chemical additives. This technique combines “water with a friction-reducing chemical additive which allows the water to be pumped faster into the formation.
For more in-depth explanation of hydrofracking, consider the review at www.un-naturalgas.org here.