by Terry Anderson, Carson Bruno
Hoover Institution
April 16, 2014
The nation is experiencing a natural gas and oil boom due in no small part to hydraulic fracturing. In many states, hydraulic fracturing has been the driver behind economic growth. But the process is among the environmentalist movement’s top targets. It is important to note that drilling a hydraulically fractured well is basically identical to drilling a conventional well. The main difference stems from the horizontal drilling component coupled with the fracturing process. Three environmental concerns stand out—water use, water contamination, and induced seismic activity. There is little doubt that the risks associated with these concerns are real; however, their occurrences are rare. Although even rare risks need to be addressed, addressing them does not require oppressive regulation or production moratoriums. It requires balancing the risks against the benefits and getting the incentives right so that those making decisions are accountable.

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