What have natural gas companies been doing to reduce the pollution caused by fracking?
Reviewing the Science
- Why is hydraulic fracturing technology used for extracting natural gas in some regions of the province?
- Outline the steps involved in extracting natural gas out of shale rock (through the process of hydraulic fracturing).
- Hydraulic fracturing uses a lot of water
- Some water is contaminated in the process & can’t be reused
- Freshwater is a valuable resource
- Using too much water threatens lakes, rivers, streams, and wildlife/ecosystems
- Hydraulic fracturing uses a lot of energy
- Global warming contributes to climate change (shale gas has a higher carbon footprint than conventional natural gas)
- Less incentives to develop renewable resources
**Each landowner can have different viewpoint
- Extra income helps keep farm economically viable
- Develops a relationship between farming and other local industries (oil & gas)
- Concerns because horizontal fracturing is new (vertical drilling is a well-established technology)
- Companies can’t ensure 100 % safety
- Potential for groundwater contamination – does hydraulic fracturing put well water at risk?
- Concerns about amount of water used, the chemicals in the hydraulic fracturing fluids and the potential for contamination & spills
- Running out of conventional natural gas
- Future: most natural gas will come from shale rock
- Great economic potential
- Oil and gas major driver of Alberta economy
- 1000s of jobs, directly and indirectly
- Royalties pay for public programs and keep taxes low
- Hydraulic fracturing is safe if done properly
- Potential environmental cost
- Governments regulate industries
- Strict environmental standards, almost impossible for groundwater to be contaminated
- 167000 wells over the past 50 years, ERCB hasn’t documented any groundwater contamination
- Big role in Alberta’s economic future
- Economic prosperity will have benefits to all Albertans
- What’s bad for the environment is bad for business in the long run
- Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely in AB for decades
- New horizontal drilling 100s – 1000s of metres below the surface
- Steel and cement in casing is enough to prevent leaks
- Accidents and spills happen, but serious actions are taken, because of regulations and because they are bad for business
- Methane gas can naturally occur in groundwater – not necessarily related to hydraulic fracturing
- Natural gas used for electricity and heating
- In order to keep using natural gas, will have to continue fracturing the rock
Exploring the Issues
- The video explored four stakeholder groups that have an interest in hydraulic fracturing. What other groups might be impacted by hydraulic fracturing and which perspectives could be included in this discussion?
- After hearing the multiple perspectives around hydraulic fracturing, where do you fit in?
- List three points that support the perspective you agree with most.
- List one or two messages that stick out to you as being the most important when exploring the issues around hydraulic fracturing?
- Ten years into the future, do you think the same conversations about hydraulic fracturing will be taking place? What might be different?