Tag Archives: externalization

The Ethics of Fracking

By Bernhard Debatin

As controversial as it is, fracking is not often discussed in terms of its ethics. The 37 minute-long video The Ethics of Fracking, by the Scott Cannon and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, provides a good discussion of the various ethical issues of fracking. It shows that fracking leads to a number of ethical problems and serious side-effects, ranging from the contamination of drinking water, to air and noise pollution, to increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and to disrupting communities and creating long-term risks and costs for our society.

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Economic Benefits and Risks of Fracking

Presentation given at the Watershed Summit in Athens, Ohio, on September 7, 2013


By Bernhard Debatin

When oil and gas industry, lobbyists, or politicians talk about fracking, they usually show us an economic wonderland. Fracking, we hear, does not only solve our energy problems, it also creates an economic boom of unheard of dimensions. And we hear it is clean, easy to recover, and has almost no negative side effects.

New technologies in oil and natural gas drilling do indeed make possible to extract huge amounts of non-conventional oil and gas from shale formations at a profitable rate, which is why fracking is celebrated as a “game changer” for the U.S. energy supply and the economic revival. Large areas in the U.S. have become the location of an ever-accelerating fracking boom. In addition to the Marcellus Formation, which covers most Appalachian states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, fracking is also taking place at a large scale in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, Texas, and recently California. Continue reading

Fracking, Security, and Global Warming

We’re fracking our way to a warmer and less stable world

By Bob Sheak

Oil and gas corporations, their trade associations, mass media outlets like the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine, and numerous pundits continue to report there is a new day unfolding in the energy future of the U.S. Indeed, they sometimes say it’s a revolution in the making. It’s now feasible to mine hitherto unreachable or unprofitable sources of “unconventional” oil and gas. As a result, massive, environmentally devastating mining of tar sands in Canada expands, with a proposed and controversial pipeline to carry the partly processed oil from Alberto to Texas. Drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, the Arctic, multiple off-shore locations drill ever-more deeply into the ocean floor and beneath it. As far as mining for shale gas and oil goes, the situation is described with words such as gushers, or bonanzas, or energy independence.

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The Shale Gas Myth — Part 2: Five Fracking Myths Revisited

A Response to Robert W. Chase’s article “Five Myths About ‘Fracking’” in the Akron Beacon Journal, Jan 26, 2012

Part 2: Five Fracking Myths Revisited — Illusion and Reality of the Fracking Industry

By Bernhard Debatin

As we have seen in Part 1:  Unquestioned assumptions about Shale Gas Extraction, Robert Chase, who recently appeared on a local WOUB Newswatch show on fracking, starts his professed debunking of fracking myths with an introduction that heavily relies  on the unquestioned and unsubstantiated mythology of “more than 100 years’ worth inexpensive, environmentally attractive energy.”

How bad the situation actually is — overestimated recoverable gas resources, a financial Ponzi scheme, and an environmentally devastating record of the fracking industry — has recently been reported in an in-depth  article by Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal, that was published in the March 1, 2012, edition of the Rolling Stone. The piece, titled The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom  also uncovers the autocratic rule and political entanglements of Chesapeake CEO A. McClendon, whom Goodell calls an “influential right-wing power broker” like the “Tea Party-financing Koch brothers.” Incidentally, this makes Chesapeake’s $26 million donation to and its acceptance by the Sierra Club even more despicable.

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The Shale Gas Myth — Part 1: Unquestioned Assumptions

A Response to Robert W. Chase’s article “Five Myths About ‘Fracking'” in the Akron Beacon Journal, Jan 26, 2012

Part 1: Unquestioned assumptions about Shale Gas Extraction

By Bernhard Debatin

In his recent article, Robert W.  Chase claims that those who oppose fracking have presented “at least five fallacies … to the public as truths.” He then goes on to state that these “untruths” could be used as an “excuse for foot dragging” on extracting what he praises as “more than 100 years’ worth inexpensive, environmentally attractive energy.”

Before examining his attempts to demonstrate these “untruths,” it is noteworthy that Chase himself employs three popular, yet unfounded myths in this opening statement. These myths have become widely accepted ideological assumptions in the discussion about fracking. Therefore, it is necessary to take a closer look at them: Continue reading

Concerned About Fracking? — Part 3: Community Disruption — Who Pays the Bill?

By Bernhard Debatin

The fracking frenzy comes, as we have seen, in waves. First, there’s the leasing frenzy with landmen going from door to door, and lawyers and gas companies trying to make their leases palatable to the landowners. Second, the drilling operation with an invasion of workers and the installation of drilling pads and rigs, freshwater reservoirs, waste-water impoundments, and other construction. Third, the actual fracking and the ensuing gas or oil production, which can stretch over some years. Another wave, running parallel to the fracking activities and literally creating its own shockwave, is the disposal of the fracking fluids into injection wells, or — by way of the surface application loophole (see also ORC 1509.226) — as dust and ice control on public roads.

Whose Benefits and whose Costs?

While fracking obviously has some economic benefits for involved individuals, companies, and communities, critics have pointed out that the expected benefits are vastly overstated by the industry and the Ohio government. Continue reading