TribLIVE

| Business


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

Fracking transforms fortunes, land

Daily Photo Galleries

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. Tech giants lead rush for profits in foreign countries
  2. Fed to keep cards close to the vest
  3. China investigates Microsoft in monopoly case
  4. Jimmy Dean moves beyond breakfast
  5. Home price gains slow for 6th-straight month
  6. Market in neutral, awaiting economic news
  7. Consumer confidence jumps to 90.9 in July
  8. GNC revenue, sales drop, but vitamin retailer says plan in place
  9. Hotels, restaurants lead job additions in Pittsburgh region
  10. EPA hearings to bring coal debate to Pittsburgh streets
  11. Hiring in shale industry shifts to engineering, construction workers
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.