TribLIVE

| Business


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Fracking transforms fortunes, land

On the Grid

From the shale fields to the cooling towers, Trib Total Media covers the energy industry in Western Pennsylvania and beyond. For the latest news and views on gas, coal, electricity and more, check out On the Grid today.

By The Associated Press
Friday, April 12, 2013, 2:21 a.m.
 

RIFLE, Colo. — Three hours west of Denver, across the Continental Divide, the Rocky Mountains begin the long transition into high desert plateaus.

This sparsely populated land is dotted with ranches and small towns that were once local hubs for mining the rich minerals found under the earth.

But over the past few years, this town and others have become increasingly a local center for the hydraulic fracturing industry. Off the highway outside town in all directions, one can see evidence, large and small, of the latest local energy boom, from natural gas extraction all the way up the chain to refining.

Hydraulic fracturing — “fracking,” for short — pumps millions of gallons of water mixed with fine sand and chemicals deep into oil and gas wells.

The water splits open oil- and gas-bearing rock. Specially formulated fracking fluids help carry the sand into the newly formed fissures and keep the cracks propped open.

The rapid growth of the oil industry in the region has brought opposition from those who warn of environmental costs. Fracking can release hydrocarbons into groundwater and the chemically tainted water can cause air pollution, they say.

Industry officials say a dearth of documented contamination out of 1 million fracking jobs in the U.S. since the 1940s proves the process is safe.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. PPG Industries to buy Westmoreland Supply paint store chain
  2. Large-scale batteries are integral in shift to renewable energy
  3. Open enrollment puts varied impact of health care law back in focus
  4. Energy Spotlight: Steve Anthos
  5. Hackers rip into heart of open-source software
  6. Student loan debt presents paradox
  7. Value, convenience are top priorities of Highmark, new CEO Holmberg says
  8. Plastics, tech sectors crucial to cracker plants
  9. BNY Mellon profits up in third quarter
  10. EDMC loses $664M; executives receive six-figure bonuses
  11. ‘Foodies’ get fill in Western Pa. as groceries hire chefs to offer tips
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.