Freeing Natural Gas with Hydraulic Fracturing

Published December 1, 2016

Editor’s Note: The following is a review of The Heartland Institute’s Fracking Facts video series.

Have you ever wondered just what hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” of oil and gas wells is?

Do arguments for and against this technology make sense? In a recently produced video series called Fracking Facts, Heartland Institute Research Fellow Isaac Orr answers those questions and others about the interesting and sometimes controversial world of fracking.

The series, is composed of eight short video tutorials covering a variety of questions about fracking: “What is Fracking?,” “Benefits of Fracking,” “Fracking and Global Warming,” “Ban Fracking?,” “The Environmental Impact of Fracking,” “Not in My Backyard,” “Health Effects of Fracking,” and “Benefits of Frac Sand Mining.”

“What is Fracking?” explains the fracking process and provides useful graphics to help the viewer understand the health and safety concerns often cited by fracking opponents are overblown. As the video points out, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency—not generally a friend to any energy industry—has studied fracking extensively and found no evidence of systemic problems.

Orr argues  the people who own the land and mineral rights, those most likely to be most directly affected by the activity, should be the ones who ultimately decide whether fracking takes place.

The “Fracking Benefits” video documents the tremendous positive effects fracking has had and continues to have on the U.S. economy. According to Orr, fracking creates, directly and indirectly, millions of jobs, including more than 30,000 in Pennsylvania and more than double that in Texas. It also reduces energy costs for millions of Americans across the country. Orr says those savings amount to an average of $675 on gasoline per year per household in the United States and up to $432 per person annually in natural gas costs, even for those who oppose fracking.

Global Warming and Public Health

The “Fracking and Global Warming” video examines whether the effect of the process on anthropogenic global warming. The video notes natural gas is one of the cleanest-burning fuels we have, and as it has replaced other fuels, greenhouse-gas emissions have fallen. That is a good thing if you are worried about human-caused climate change.

The video also explains so-called “green” energy sources, such as wind and solar power, can’t supply sufficient amounts of energy to maintain Americans’ high standard of living, and despite the praise these forms of energy receive from environmentalists, they cause environmental harms of their own. For instance, wind farms require massive amounts of land and kill millions of birds every year.

The “Ban Fracking?” video discusses the myths and misinformation surrounding efforts to ban fracking. As Orr explains, studies indicating fracking is harming public health are “deeply flawed.” The video also provides a great case study revealing the differing economic situations in New York, a state that has banned fracking, and neighboring Pennsylvania, which is experiencing an economic boom in areas where fracking is occurring.

The Fracking Facts video series is an informative, powerful primer for industry insiders and the general public alike.

Mark Ramsey ([email protected]) writes from Houston, Texas.


Isaac Orr, Fracking Facts, The Heartland Institute, 2016: