Fracking: Expert Opinions

New York State Water Resources Institute, Cornell University, and New York State Water Resources Institute , NYS.WRI, (2010)


NYS Water Resources Institute at Cornell

The Mission of the New York State Water Resources Institute (WRI) is to improve the management of water resources in New York State and the nation. As a federally and state mandated institution located at Cornell University, we are uniquely situated to access scientific and technical resources that are relevant to New York State's and the nation's water management needs. We collaborate with regional, state, and national partners to increase awareness of emerging water resources issues and to develop and assess new water management technologies and policies. WRI connects the water research and water management communities.

See Gas Wells: Waste Management of Cuttings, Drilling Fluids, Hydrofrack Water and Produced Water

See MarcellusShaleReport-6-12-08

….Drilling muds that circulate through the well and return to the surface may contain dissolved and suspended contaminants including cadmium, arsenic, and metals such as mercury, copper and lead; hydrocarbons; hydrogen sulfide and natural gas, as well as drilling mud additives, many of which contain potentially harmful chemicals (e.g., chromate, barite).”

Poisoned profits : the toxic assault on our children, Shabecoff, Philip, and Shabecoff Alice , New York, (2008)

 The Toxic Assault on Our Children

Read the Appendix if you are concerned about what you can do to protect your children's health from our toxic environment.

Philip Shabecoff is an environmental writer based in Massachusetts. He was a reporter for the New York Times for more than 30 years, and founded the online environmental news service Greenwire in 1991 and served as its publisher until 1996.

Alice Shabecoff served in the 1970s as executive director of the National Consumers League, the country’s oldest consumer organization, and in the 1980s as founder and executive director of the national nonprofit Community Information Exchange, an information service for the community development sector.  As a freelance journalist focusing on family and consumer topics, her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, among other publications. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Birth Defects Research Center.

Review From Booklist:

There is a country in which nearly one in three children suffers from some type of chronic disease and whose childhood cancer rates have risen some 67 percent in the last 50 years. What is this country doing wrong to cause so many of its children such suffering?

The country is the U.S., and the Shabecoffs, nationally known journalists, believe they know exactly what is causing our children so much illness. Sure, they say, lifestyle choices (bad diet, secondhand smoke, etc.) can account for a certain amount of ill health.

The real malefactor, however, is greedy American industry, aided and abetted by a shortsighted economic system and a government that turns a blind eye when faced with damning scientific evidence of true crime—the crime of knowingly poisoning children, beginning when they are the most vulnerable: in utero.

See: What is the National Children's Study?

See: Drilling Around The Law

See: Fracking: Implications for Human and Environmental Health

See: EPA in the crosshairs

See: Tox Town - Home Page - Environmental health concerns and toxic chemicals where you live, work and play.

See: The Case for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Toxic Hazards

Potential Gas Committee reports unprecedented increase in magnitude of U.S. natural gas resource base, Colorado School of Mines , Colorado School of Mines: Earth - Energy - Environment, (2009)

Colorado School of Mines has estimated the amount of gas that might be developed in the U.S. Golden, Colorado, June 18, 2009. See also: U.S Energy Information Administration. (2009). Annual Energy Outlook Early Release Overview.

Probe Earth's Interior with Advanced Radiation Sources, Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences(COMPRES) , Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences (COMPRES), (2010)



The Consortium for Materials Properties Research in Earth Sciences (COMPRES) is a community-based consortium whose goal is to enable Earth Science researchers to conduct the next generation of high-pressure science on world-class equipment and facilities.

COMPRES is charged with the oversight and guidance of important high-pressure laboratories at several national facilities, such as synchrotrons and neutron sources.

COMPRES is supported by the Division of Earth Sciences at the National Science Foundation.



Goncharov, Alexander. “Unanswered Questions in Deep Carbon Research” presented at the 2009 Annual Meeting keynote | Sloan Deep Carbon Cycle Workshop, Carnegie Institution, Geophysical Laboratory | Washington, D.C., May 15, 2008.



A. Kolesnikov, et al., "Methane-derived hydrocarbons produced under upper-mantle conditions". Nature Geosci., 2, 566-570 (2009).

"Our results support the suggestion that hydrocarbons heavier than methane can be produced by abiogenic processes in the upper mantle."

Recent work carried out at Carnegie/DOE Alliance Center (CDAC) suggests that substantial amounts of the hydrocarbon material could exist in the deep Earth and be formed by inorganic (or abiogenic) processes. These hydrocarbons, which include natural gas and petroleum, could migrate from the mantle to the near-surface region and contribute to 'fossil fuel' reserves. Read more about the work of Alexander Goncharov and colleagues from Sweden and Russia here.

A number of chemical reactions have previously been considered as a potential mechanism for hydrocarbon genesis, but they were not verified experimentally under conditions relevant to the Earth’s interior.

See: Sloan - Carnegie Institution for Science. 2008. Deep Carbon Observatory Founders Committee Meets: Needs and Opportunities in Deep Carbon Cycle Research.

To date, consideration of the global carbon cycle has focused primarily on near-surface (i.e., relatively low-pressure and temperature) phenomena, with the tacit assumption that oceans, atmosphere and shallow surface environments represent an essentially closed system with respect to biologically available carbon.

However, recent data and theoretical analyses from a variety of sources suggest that this assumption may be false.

See: Sloan - Carnegie Institution for Science. 2009. Hydrocarbons in Deep Earth?

The oil and gas that fuels our homes and cars started out as living organisms that died, were compressed, and heated under heavy layers of sediments in the Earth’s crust. Scientists have debated for years whether some of these hydrocarbons could also have been created deeper in the Earth and formed without organic matter. Now for the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle —the layer of Earth under the crust and on top of the core. The research was conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues from Russia and Sweden, and is published in the July 26, advanced on-line issue of Nature Geoscience.


Directed Energy Drilling (from MIT)

Mechanical drilling technologies are fully mature. New approaches are needed to make future major advances in increasing access to and reducing costs for underground energy resources...

...There may be other paths to open well stabilization, unimaginable by current mechanical drilling experience that could make possible record penetration into the Earth’s crust with directed energy sources.

The technology that has been developed by DOE and the world wide fusion energy research community to heat plasmas to 300 million degrees Centigrade opens up new possibilities for drilling that should be explored. (Woskov,Cohn 2009)

See: Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI)

Gold, Thomas. 1998. The Deep Hot Biosphere : The Myth of Fossil Fuels. New York: Springer | Copernicus, November 6.

Woskov, P., and D. Cohn. Millimeter Wave Deep Drilling For Geothermal Energy, Natural Gas and Oil. Annual Report 2009. Plasma Science and Fusion Center: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, September 2009.

Public Supports Consumer and Environmental Protections, Polls Show, OMB Watch , OMB Watch, (2010)


Americans overwhelmingly support government protection of the environment and consumers, a series of new polls shows. The findings come as efforts to enforce and expand regulation face increasingly hostile rhetoric from conservatives and industry representatives in Washington.

A new Society for Human Resource Management/National Journal Congressional Connection Poll (National Journal poll) found wide public support for legislation intended to limit climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions and to reform U.S. energy policy.

Sixty-five percent of poll respondents said they would support a bill that would cap greenhouse gas emissions. The same poll, conducted from July 29 to Aug. 1, found that 78 percent favor requiring utilities to produce more energy from renewable sources.

The House passed a climate and energy bill in June 2009. Senators have introduced several climate bills, but prospects for passage in 2010 appear dim.

See: Climate Science Watch

See: Food and Water Watch

Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, Steingraber, Sandra , (2011)


In the absence of federal policies that are protective of child development and the ecology of the planet on which our children's lives depend, we serve as our own regulatory agencies and departments of the interior...

Thoughtful but overwhelmed parents correctly perceive a disconnect between the enormity of the problem and the ability of individual acts of vigilance and self-sacrifice to fix it.

Environmental awareness without corresponding political changes leads to paralyzing despair...We feel helpless in our knowledge, and we're not sure we want any more knowledge.

You could call this well-informed futility syndrome. And soon enough, we are retreating into silent resignation rather than standing up for abolition now.

--Sandra Steingraber. Raising Elijah. 2011.

"We shouldn't wreck this place down, right, Mom?"

--Elijah, age six,the author's son.

“Eco-biologist, cancer survivor, activist, mother of two, and author of books about environmental hazards and their effects (including Living Downstream and Having Faith), Steingraber applies her knowledge and philosophy to the challenge of raising children in our toxic, climate-threatened world. She connects many child health issues, including asthma, behavioral problems, intellectual impairments, and pre-term birth to hormone-disrupting, brain-damaging, and otherwise dangerous environmental factors. Chapters tackle weighty problems–diminished fertility; how chemicals infiltrate mothers’ milk; air quality and the ozone hole; neurotoxicology; hydraulic fracturing–and how they affect children and families. Two major themes emerge: first, current environmental policies must change to safeguard and support the health of children and, second, we must end our dependence on toxic fossil fuels. Less a guidebook for conscientious parents than an alarming and sobering human rights polemic, the book’s narrative is nevertheless a persuasive, personal call to action.” —Publisher’s Weekly

See: Living Downstream: An Ecologist's Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment

See: Mira's Story: My Amazing Daughter's Fight Against Cancer

See: Poisoned profits : the toxic assault on our children

See: The Case for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Toxic Hazards

See: Fracking: Implications for Human and Environmental Health

See: Food and Water Watch

See: What is the National Children's Study?

Scientific Study Links Flammable Drinking Water to Fracking, Lustgarten, Abrahm , OnEarth Magazine, (2011)


For the first time, a scientific study,  has linked natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing with a pattern of drinking water contamination so severe that some faucets can be lit on fire.

The peer-reviewed study, published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, stands to shape the contentious debate over whether drilling is safe and begins to fill an information gap that has made it difficult for lawmakers and the public to understand the risks...

They were alarmed by what they described as a clear correlation between drilling activity and the seepage of gas contaminants underground, a danger in itself and evidence that pathways do exist for contaminants to migrate deep within the earth.

"We certainly didn't expect to see such a strong relationship between the concentration of methane in water and the nearest gas wells. That was a real surprise," said Robert Jackson, a biology professor at Duke and one of the report's authors.

See: U.S. Congress. Committee on Space, Science, and Technology. "Hearing Highlights Lack of Objectivity in Draft EPA Fracking Study--No Evidence of Drinking Water Contamination from Fracking, Witnesses Say"May 11, 2011


Methane Fouls Water

See also:  Ritter, Stephen K., and Glenn Hess. “Methane Fouls Well Water.” Chemical & Engineering News, May 16, 2011.



A study by Duke University researchers provides the first scientific confirmation of a link between natural gas drilling in organic-rich shale deposits and methane-contaminated residential well water. The study’s release has rekindled the debate among the oil and gas industry, environmental advocacy groups, and lawmakers over health and safety concerns about natural gas drilling methods, which are largely unregulated.

When environmental chemist Robert B. Jackson and coworkers at Duke University sampled 68 residential wells in south central New York and northeastern Pennsylvania, they found no evidence that chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing—or fracking, the most widely used drilling method to extract methane from shale beds—had percolated into drinking water, as some fear.

The scientists instead found that water wells within 1 km of active gas extraction sites had methane levels of 19.2 mg/L on average, compared with 1.1 mg/L on average in wells in inactive areas farther from drilling sites (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1100682108). The federal methane action level is 10 mg/L, above which ventilation is recommended for safety...

Full Text:


Osborn, Stephen G., Avner Vengosh, Nathaniel R. Warner, and Robert B. Jackson. “Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 108, no. 20 (May 17, 2011): 8172 -8176.

Shale Gas Shenanigans, Cohen, Dave , Energy Bulletin, (2010)

Home is a clearinghouse for information regarding the peak in global energy supply.  It is published by Post Carbon Institute whose goal is to provide a roadmap for a transition to a resilient, equitable, and sustainable world by arming individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the information and resources they need to understand and take action.

Shale Gas Shenanigans

...These shale gas producers are an asset play. And this outcome obviously benefits the Wall Street banks who lend them money. Indeed, this is their exit strategy from the unprofitable drilling treadmill they are currently on. If shale gas production can be said to be in a bubble, this is where that bubble lies. And the strategy is working! Rigzone reports on the acquisition frenzy...

Energy Bulletin is maintained by three editors, Simone Osborn, Kristin Sponsler, and Bart Anderson, based respectively in Bristol, UK, and California USA. Adam Grubb (writing as Adam Fenderson) and Liam Cranley of Melbourne, Australia, founded Energy Bulletin in 2004.

On January 14, 2009, Energy Bulletin was adopted as a core program by the Post Carbon Institute. Except for PCI, Energy Bulletin is unaffiliated with any private, government, or institutional body.

Sixty Lame Minutes, Kunstler, James Howard , Post Carbon Institute | Leading the transition to a resilient world, (2010)


Good job Mr. Kunstler!

If you're offended by salty language, he may not be for you, but the tricks of Big Gas should offend you a whole helluva lot more.

The real story of what happened to the family in Texas that Ms. Stahl did not go into nearly enough. Fracking also reduced their land value from $257,330 on the 2010 tax rolls to its current value of $75,340.

--Vincent Alabama Confidential, outspoken Alabama political bloggers.


So, last night [2010-11-14] CBS hauled Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, on board their flagship Sunday infotainment vehicle, 60 Minutes, to blow a mighty wind up America's ass (as they say in professional PR circles). America is lately addicted to lying to itself, and 60 Minutes has become the "go-to" patsy for funneling disinformation into an already hopelessly confused, wishful, delusional, US public.


McClendon told the credulous Leslie Stahl and the huge viewing audience that America "has two Saudi Arabia's of gas." Now, you know immediately that at least half the viewers misconstrued this statement to mean that we have two Saudi Arabia's of gasoline.

Translation: don't worry none about driving anywhere you like, or having to get some tiny little pansy-ass hybrid whatchamacallit car to do it in, and especially don't pay no attention to them "green" sumbitches on the sidelines trying to sell you some kind of peak oil story.... It also prepared the public to support whatever Mr. McClendon's company wants to do, because he says his company will free America from its slavery to OPEC. By the way, CBS never clarified these parts of the story by the end of the show.

Fossil fuels have powered human growth and ingenuity for centuries. Now that we're reaching the end of cheap and abundant oil and coal supplies, we're in for an exciting ride. While there's a real risk that we'll fall off a cliff, there's still time to control our transition to a post-carbon future.

See:Heinberg, Richard, and Daniel Lerch. The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises. 1st ed. University of California Press, 2010. 

Music clip used in video below: Reed, Lou. Walk On The Wild Side (1972). RCA/BMG Heritage, 2002.

Post Carbon Institute provides individuals, communities, businesses, and governments with the resources needed to understand and respond to the interrelated economic, energy, and environmental crises that define the 21st century. We envision a world of resilient communities and re-localized economies that thrive within ecological bounds.

Climate change, the end of cheap fossil fuels, and our growth-dependent global economy are creating challenges of a scale and complexity never before seen. These unprecedented challenges call for wholly new approaches.

Post Carbon Institute has gathered 29 of the world's leading experts to point the way forward through a systems oriented, interdisciplinary, and collaborative approach. Through strong partnerships with the Transition Initiative movement and other leading innovators, we work to transform lives and communities through a powerful combination of integrated thinking and replicable direct action. These symbiotic relationships among on-the-ground leaders and grassroots organizers provide the opportunity to immediately implement and test generated ideas and strategies.

The Institute has developed a number of programs and initiatives that further its mission. Visit our program page to learn more.

See: Paul Tolme. 2010-05-14. National Wildlife Federation. "The Dirty Truth Behind Clean Natural Gas".

Flavin, C., and S. Kitasei. The Role of Natural Gas in a Low-Carbon Energy Economy. Briefing paper. Natural Gas and Sustainable Energy Initiative. Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 2010. (PDF, 617kb)

Read this assessment by Robert W. Howarth, of Cornell University, who writes, "natural gas is far less attractive than other fossil fuels in terms of the consequences for global warming."

See: Natural Gas Drillers Protest Nomination of Fracking Critics for EPA Review Panel

Smoke Signals, Opar, Alisa , Audubon Magazine, (2010)



There’s more carbon locked up in the high north’s permafrost than the combined total released into the atmosphere by humans. The big melt going on right now in the Arctic could trigger a train of catastrophic events across the world.

The Arctic’s soil and permafrost hold nearly twice as much carbon as the earth’s atmosphere, dwarfing the amount of carbon emitted to date by burning fossil fuels. Since the industrial revolution our dependence on coal and oil has ratcheted up the atmosphere’s carbon content, from 560 to 760 gigatons. Permafrost holds an estimated 1,400 gigatons of carbon.

In addition to carbon dioxide, the frozen source is releasing methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent, though it stays in the atmosphere for only a decade rather than for millennia. The gas is bubbling up from land and also from a large, previously overlooked source: permafrost submerged beneath the Arctic Ocean. It’s too early to say whether this is a newly observed steady leak, or if it signals the beginning of a flood of methane.

See: Arctic Thaw May Release Greenhouse Gases from Siberian Peat Bogs

See: Arctic Tundra is Being Lost As Far North Quickly Warms