January 01, 2014

What Is Fracking Wastewater and How Should We Manage It?

Michael N. Mills and Robin B. Seifried

Today, one cannot browse through the environmental news without finding an article touting the environmental hazards arising from, or the economic benefits derived from, hydraulic fracturing (commonly known as “fracking”). On the hazards side, concerns relating to fracking are as broad and diverse as the potential for contamination of drinking water by oil, gas, or fracking fluids; earthquakes induced by fracking activities; and livestock ailments induced by nearby fracking operations. On the benefits side, there are increases in domestic oil and gas production and a reduced reliance on foreign sources of hydrocarbons and energy. This article will not provide a definitive answer as to whether fracking is ultimately “good” or bad” for our society considering all the potential economic and environmental impacts that technology may create. Rather, this article addresses more specific, tangible questions: what are the potential environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing specifically relating to the wastewater that results from fracking operations, and how should those impacts be addressed under current and developing laws?


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