Energy Companies Try New Methods To Address Hydraulic Fracturing ComplaintsSource: The Wall Street Journal | 19 May 2014
Thanks to hydraulic fracturing—a technology that uses water, chemicals and sand to unlock oil and gas trapped in dense underground rocks—communities from Pennsylvania to North Dakota are experiencing a boom in energy production. But the industry is facing more intense pressure from communities and environmentalists over its role in increased air and water pollution.
In response, energy companies are pioneering new technologies to curb some of hydraulic fracturing’s worst offenses. They are coming up with ways to cut methane seepage from their equipment, use excess gas that previously had been burned as waste to fuel drilling rigs, and put huge volumes of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing to work on new wells.
The efforts have even won some tentative plaudits from environmentalists. Mark Brownstein, who leads the Environmental Defense Fund’s efforts on natural gas, says companies should be required to do more to keep air and water clean. But he says there are some promising signs that companies are trying new things and revising certain processes, if only because they’ve realized it’s in their best interest.
“With the right technology, the right management practices, and the right regulations properly enforced,” he said, “there are things we can do to reduce the risks that are associated with unconventional oil and gas development.”