| Business

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

Fracking transforms fortunes, land

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

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.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Business Headlines

  1. CMU showcases its lengthy list of fledgling companies at venture event
  2. Other segments nudge Alcoa to slim profit
  3. Fed insight gives stocks room to run; S&P 500 regains 2,000 mark
  4. Rice, Gulfport team on Utica shale pipeline system
  5. Alcoa supplying parts for military jets under $1.1B pact with Lockheed Martin
  6. Energy efficiency goes mainstream with help of regulations, demand
  7. ZeroFossil Energy Outfitters powers up with renewable sources
  8. Bear sharpens claws on ‘old Pittsburgh’
  9. Finding balance key to PNC Capital Markets chief’s success
  10. PNC fined for paperwork errors on municipal bond offerings
  11. Eat’n Park sells Cura division that serves hospitals and senior living