Lessons Learned from a Decade of Fracking in Pennsylvania">Lessons Learned from a Decade of Fracking in Pennsylvania
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The extraction of oil and gas from tight shale reservoirs through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) has led to a resurgence of the fossil fuel industry across the country. The boom has resulted in a precipitous drop in natural gas prices and a decrease in use of coal fired power plants. Fracking involves a plethora of chemicals and “proppant” (fine grained silica sand), while the shales themselves contain a variety of salts (e.g., chloride, bromide), metals (e.g., barium, strontium), and radioactive materials (NORMs). Waste water disposal has presented challenges, such as the generation of trihalomethanes in municipal water. Operations include condensate tanks, open impoundments, and compressor stations, as well as processing facilities, each of which can be a source of volatile organics. The decade’s worth of activity in southwestern Pennsylvania has provided the opportunity to assess the environmental, health, and economic impacts.
John Stolz is a Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and Director of the Center for Environmental Research and Education at Duquesne University. He has degrees from Fordham University and Boston University, and has done post-doctoral work at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has studied microbial evolution, the microbial metabolism of toxic metals, and the environmental impacts of unconventional shale gas extraction. Dr. Stolz has published 82 journal articles and 34 book chapters and author-edited two books.
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