Duke hosts fracking, gas drilling workshop

Posted January 9, 2012

— Duke University hosted a workshop Monday about the environmental and social effects of hydraulic fracturing and shale gas drilling in the U.S.

The workshop, held in Reynolds Theater, focused on environmental, legal and socio-economic components of the debate.

Academic experts from Duke, Cornell, Carnegie Melon and Pennsylvania State universities worked to decipher conflicting data on the environmental challenges.

"In a perfect world, I would slow it down, yes," said Rob Jackson, a biology professor at Duke.

Representatives from the Sierra Club and Exxon Mobile were also on hand, among others.

Judith Ferster, with the Sierra Club, said fracking seems like "sacrilege for someone who cares about nature."

"It's very dangerous, because once you wreck the place, it's very hard to go back," she said.

Landowners weigh pros, cons of fracking Experts weigh in on impact of fracking

In some states, fracking is in widespread use and has resulted in new sources of energy, jobs and profits for landowners.

In other states, however, lawmakers are considering bans on the process because of worries that the chemicals used in the liquid that splits rocks and releases natural gas could leak into and contaminate groundwater.

"(It's) just standard supply and demand. You have a lot of resources available. Demand is down. We've had a relatively mild winter so far," said Michael Parker, with Exxon Mobile.

Although North Carolina currently has no natural gas production, geologists say six North Carolina counties have the potential for it, with the best prospects in Lee County. Shale rock in the Deep River basin also runs through parts of Chatham, Durham, Granville, Moore and Wake counties.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources is studying the issue of fracking and whether it should be allowed under state law. Its report is scheduled to be ready when the Legislature resumes its work in May.


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  • westernwake1 Jan 10, 2012

    I believe that everyone needs to go watch the documentary "Gasland". Fracking has destroyed the wells in many communities and forced people to either move or use bottled water. It has now been proven to cause earth quakes in Ohio.

    The cost to society is not worth the economic benefits of Fracking. The citizens of North Carolina need to stand up and demand that the legislature soundly reject allowing Fracking to occur in our state.

  • JimW Jan 10, 2012

    Just so no people. If fracking ever came to this area and the issues start with the drinking water, people and businesses will leave in droves. I'd much rather move than know I'm killing myself and my family.

  • prodigalrn Jan 10, 2012

    Ok, so I'm going to play devil's advocate here, (pun intended) and suppose you are the landowner of some land where a gas company wants to lease it and do some 'fracking'. They're going to use a "secret" list of ingredients (i.e., won't tell the EPA what it is) and pump said chemicals into the ground, and then derive natural gas from the process. What happens when the area's groundwater starts to have gas bubbling out of it, and you can't even take a shower without running fans in the bathroom and opening windows to lessen the chance of explosion? (google it, I've seen the videos of people having to do that) I agree with an earlier post that big money will probably win out, but in the end, the regular folks that live near the leased land will have non-potable water, and will have to bear the costs of bringing in their own water, while the gas company simply packs up it's equipment once all the gas is gone, and leaves us all to clean up the mess. Am I the only one that sees this ha

  • tmcenally Jan 10, 2012

    As I write this, there are total four comments (not counting mine). It appears this is just not a big deal for the readership. Let's all agree to count the comments when WRAL does a story on the folks whose well water has been turned to flammable gas-infused swill (see "Gasland" documentary, Josh Fox) over the next few years. Say no to fracking. Say yes to sustainable energy production. For all fracking's proponents, they must agree to drink and bathe using water from the affected wells.

  • bigal02282 Jan 10, 2012

    Since it now seems that we have an overabundance of gas, prices dropping and becoming more costly to frack, what do you want to bet that all of the urgency suddenly dries up once the money flowing into the politicians pockets starts to dry up as well?

  • davido Jan 9, 2012

    So here we have fracking proponents getting together to laud the benefits and so on. On the other hand I hear opponents with very convincing horror stories. So the question is: can it be done safely? "Of course it can!" vs. "Of course not!" I don't think I could trust either side to give an unbiased view of the technology. The problem is you cannot tell what the outcome will be ahead of time when you start the process. How many people aren't going to have drinkable water once this is done? Would you want it in your county/city? Once the damage is done, it is done for quite a long time.

  • cwmllc1952 Jan 9, 2012

    Common sense tells you that Fracking ( cracking the rocks on which we stand ) is not one of our most intelligent ideas.MONEY WILL PROBABLY WIN OUT

  • davework Jan 9, 2012

    Anyone want to wager that the outcome of this "workshop" is already predetermined?