We often hear stories about fracking that go like this: a gas company comes to a small town, starts drilling wells, and then terrible things start to happen. People get sick. Water burns from taps. Earthquakes ruin houses. And the climate will soon be destroyed. But, is fracking really a disaster unfolding? To find out, Science Vs speaks to Prof. Robert Jackson, Assoc. Prof. Peter Rabinowitz and Prof. Bob Howarth. We’re also joined by Pennsylvanian resident James Hughes and Seneca Resources’ Rob Boulware and Doug Kepler.
This episode has been produced by Caitlin Kenney, Heather Rogers, and Kaitlyn Sawrey. Edited by Annie-Rose Strasser and Alex Blumberg. Production assistance by Austin Mitchell. Fact checking by Michelle Harris.
Recordings from the Town Hall meeting in 2014 are from NPR’s WHYY reporter Katie Colaneri, and the team at NPR’s StateImpact Pennsylvania. Thank you.
Big thanks to the Gimlet hive mind for comments, plus the Zukerman family.
Music written by Bobby Lord. Sound design and music by Matthew Boll. Engineered by Austin Thompson.
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- Letters from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection addressing complaints that private water supplies were contaminated by fracking activity
- Fracking fluids kill intestinal cells — but become nontoxic once diluted
- Payne et al, “In vitro cytotoxicity assessment of a hydraulic fracturing fluid”, Environ. Chem. 2014
- Health survey of people living near fracking sites
- Rabinowitz et al, “Proximity to Natural Gas Wells and Reported Health Status: Results of a Household Survey in Washington County, Pennsylvania” Environ Health Perspect., 2015
- Does living near a fracking site affect the health of pets? Possibly in dogs
- Slizovskiy et al, “Reported health conditions in animals residing near natural gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania”, J. Enviro. Sci. and Health, Part A., 2015
- Wastewater injection can cause earthquakes
- Weingarten et al, “High-rate injection is associated with the increase in U.S. mid-continent seismicity”, Science, 2015
- Estimates of fugitive methane emissions
- Howarth et al, “Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations”, Climatic Change, 2011
- 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report assessing emissions from shale gas