Fracking

The hydraulic fracturing (fracking) water cycle.
Environmental Protection Agency

North Carolina environmental officials have said "no" to a federal grant to check water quality in areas where fracking may occur.  The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources says the money from the EPA would only pay for salaries of people brought in to do testing. 

Division of Water Resources director Tom Reeder says DENR doesn't need them.

One of two wooden tripods built by protesters in front of an entrance to a chemical plant in Morganton, NC. A person was perched at the top of the contraption for several hours, preventing vehicles from entering or leaving the plant.
Croatan Earth First

Members of an environmental group protested Monday morning at the site of a chemical plant in Morgantown about 80 miles northwest of Charlotte. Members of the group Croatan Earth First! demonstrated at the Momentive plant. The company makes chemicals, one of which is used in hydraulic fracturing, the controversial process of extracting natural gas from underground rock.

Protestors set up two large tripods in front of the main entrances in an effort to shut down the plant for the day.

Fracking the Marcellus Shale: a rig and gas well operation.
wcn 247 / Flickr

New samples of drinking water near hydraulic fracturing sites in Pennsylvania show more evidence of natural gas contamination. 

A report released today from Duke University says researchers found ethane and propane in addition to methane in water near fracking sites in the Marcellus shale basin.  The same team of scientists first found elevated levels of methane in Pennsylvania drinking water in 2011.

A Marcellus Shale drill rig in Pennsylvania used in the fracking process.
Ken Skipper, USGS

New tests near hydraulic fracturing sites in Arkansas show no evidence of methane leaking into groundwater supplies. A study released Wednesday from Duke University found no negative effects on drinking water near fracking operations. 

A drill rig on a fracking site.
EPA

The natural gas extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has been a source of debate and contention in the state for quite some time now. It involves drilling horizontally through thousands of feet of shale and blasting the shale with water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas. Several states allow the process, some are in the process of figuring out how to regulate it, and some, like New York, have placed a moratorium on the process due to environmental concerns.

A Marcellus Shale drill rig in Pennsylvania used in the fracking process.
Ken Skipper, USGS

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a relatively new technology. It involves drilling horizontally through thousands of feet of shale and blasting the shale with water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas. The state’s Mining and Energy Commission is coming up with new regulations for the gas industry, and revisiting some old ones. Among the most contentious regulations are those for what’s called forced or compulsory pooling.

Fracking North Carolina: What Do We Do With The Waste?

Apr 23, 2013
Ed Harris on his farm in Lee County.
Richard Ziglar

The price of natural gas has fallen to all time lows and is replacing dirtier fuels like coal.  So why are environmentalists so concerned about drilling for natural gas here in North Carolina?  The process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, used to release the gas from the surrounding shale rock brings with it its own environmental problems including massive amounts of wastewater. This is the second story in our “Fracking North Carolina” series.

Fracking North Carolina: Why Now?

Apr 22, 2013
Butler #3 natural gas well in Lee County.
Ray Covington

North Carolina has never been a player in natural gas production, but that could change thanks to a new extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Fracking involves cracking shale rock to release natural gas so that it can be pumped out of the ground. This story is the first in a special “Fracking North Carolina” series. 

There’s a North Carolina sound that only a few dozen people have ever heard: gas escaping from a well in Lee County.

Standing in front of a well called Butler #3, you can see that it’s a shut-in well, which means it’s been capped with something called a “Christmas tree.” The Christmas tree is only about five feet tall; it’s painted green and it has three shut-off valves coming out of it. It’s set up this way so people can come back and attach pipes to it, but it has been shut off since the 1990s.

Construction workers monitor the a solar farm in Fuquay Varina
http://www.stratasolar.com / Strata Solar

North Carolina companies are in the midst of a sustainable energy boom. Solar farms have bloomed, wind farms could be on their way, and local entrepreneurs are experimenting with biofuels and solar power. But cheap natural gas and new legislation could slow sustainable energy growth.

Experts are discussing these advancements at the North Carolina Department of Commerce's 10th Annual Sustainable Energy Conference in Raleigh today. Keynote speaker Marilyn Brown is a professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She said today on The State of Things that many people are looking to fracking for natural gas to solve our energy needs.

When workplace safety expert Eric Esswein got a chance to see fracking in action not too long ago, what he noticed was all the dust.

It was coming off big machines used to haul around huge loads of sand. The sand is a critical part of the hydraulic fracturing method of oil and gas extraction. After workers drill down into rock, they create fractures in that rock by pumping in a mixture of water, chemicals and sand. The sand keeps the cracks propped open so that oil and gas are released.

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