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Myths Versus Facts

While there may be two sides to a story, there is only one set of facts. Instead of presenting a well-
documented, objective assessment of the impact U.S. natural gas production has on local communities, the
producers of GasLand have amassed an array of advocacy, conjecture and misinformation contrived to further
their agenda.

Myth 1: In three interrelated segments of GasLand, Colorado residents claim that natural gas wells
located near their property have caused their tap water to explode. In one scene that has gone viral in
an online trailer, Mike Markham of Fort Lupton, Colo., demonstrates this by lighting his tap water on

Fact 1: The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) devoted significant staff and
financial resources to thoroughly investigate these cases, and specifically excluded natural gas
drilling as a cause of flammable water in each. The commission determined that, in reality, the source
was naturally occurring methane. Specific documentation for Markham’s case includes the following:

According to COGCC: “Dissolved methane in well water appears to be biogenic [naturally occurring] in
origin. … There are no indications of oil and gas related impacts to water well.” (complaint resolved
9/30/08, signed by John Axelson of COGCC)
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), natural sources of methane include
wetlands, gas hydrates, permafrost, termites, oceans, freshwater bodies, non-wetland soils and other
sources, such as wildfires.

Myth 2: The 2005 energy bill exempts the oil and natural gas industry from the Clean Water Act (CWA),
the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Superfund law and other regulations.

Fact 2: The oil and natural gas industry is regulated by every single one of these laws under provisions
relevant to its operations. There are multiple federal, state and local government rules addressing
environmental protection and worker safety during oil and gas operations, including the protection of
water resources. By design, the EPA looks to the states to enforce these regulations.

For example, well construction is regulated under the CWA for water resource protection and by the
Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) for workplace safety and health; hydraulic
fracturing is regulated by OSHA and under Superfund and the Emergency Planning & Community
Right-to-Know Act (EPRCA). Moreover, water production and disposal are regulated under the CWA
and the SDWA. See this fact sheet for a full explanation.

The SDWA was established to ensure that municipal drinking water systems and source aquifers are
safe and clean. Oil and natural gas operations, including hydraulic fracturing, have never been a part
of the SDWA, and are regulated by the states, which have compiled an impressive record of
enforcement and oversight over the past 60 years.

Myth 3: Hydraulic fracturing involves blasting a mix of water and 596 chemicals 8,000 feet into the
ground. Due to legal exemptions and loopholes, fracking chemicals are considered proprietary. In
order to obtain information, activists have literally had to chase down trucks and collect their own

Fact 3: State regulators require the disclosure of information on the materials used in the hydraulic
fracturing process. The fluids commonly used in fracturing consist almost exclusively of water and

In accordance with federal law, the oil and natural gas industry provides detailed information about
hydraulic fracturing fluid at each job site to employees, first responders and authorities. In addition,

1220 L Street, NW | Washington, DC 20005-4070 www.api.org

material safety data sheets with basic information about hydraulic fracturing components are available
on the websites of individual companies, the environmental departments of the states in which the
industry operates and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). For examples, please click here to visit
the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, here to visit the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Mineral Resources (page 130),here for the
West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and here for information maintained by the
Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the DOE (page 63).

As it relates to the composition of fluids commonly used in the fracturing process, less than half a
percent is fracturing fluid; the rest consists of water and sand. Fracturing fluid materials are typically
components found and used around the house. The most prominent of these, a substance known as
guar gum, is an emulsifier more commonly found in ice cream.

From the DOE/GWPC report: “Although the hydraulic fracturing industry may have a number of
compounds that can be used in a hydraulic fracturing fluid, any single fracturing job would only use a
few of the available additives.”(page 62)

Myth 4: Natural gas development is responsible for toxins in the air, contaminants in water and
benzene in blood.

Fact 4: Claims of toxins in the air and benzene in blood have been thoroughly investigated and
debunked by state health and environmental officials in Texas. Further, federal officials have
confirmed no link between hydraulic fracturing and contamination of groundwater drinking supplies.

Hydraulic fracturing has been used in more than one million wells in the United States, and studies by
the EPA and GWPC have confirmed no direct link between hydraulic fracturing operations and
groundwater impacts.

In Texas, the state’s Department of State Health Services (DSHS) and Commission on Environmental
Quality (TCEQ) have found no indication of health effects related to natural gas development.
o In a recent editorial, air quality scientist and TCEQ chairman Bryan W. Shaw wrote, “The
TCEQ can state, without hesitation, that benzene levels in Fort Worth pose no immediate
health risk, and here is why: because the highest benzene measurement taken in the city of
Fort Worth is less than 4 percent of the level at which a short-term health effect might occur.”

o “Biological test results from a Texas DSHS investigation in Dish, Texas, indicate that residents'
exposure to certain contaminants was not greater than that of the general U.S. population…
[Further,] the only residents who had higher levels of benzene in their blood were smokers.”
(DSHS report, May 12, 2010)

1220 L Street, NW | Washington, DC 20005-4070 www.api.org

About Natural Gas

Natural gas is a clean-burning, domestically abundant fuel source that meets 24 percent of U.S. energy
requirements. The exploration, production and delivery of this resource accounts for 655,000 direct
and 2.2 million indirect American jobs.
Natural gas is clean-burning—it produces fewer emissions than any other fossil fuel—and
domestically abundant—nearly 90 percent of the natural gas we consume is found here in the United
o The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates there are 1,748 TCF of technically recoverable
natural gas in the United States. In 2008, more than 20 TCF was produced.

o Natural gas meets 24 percent of U.S. energy requirements. It heats more than 60 million
homes and even powers nearly 120,000 vehicles operating on American roads. In total,
natural gas accounts for more than 50 percent of the fuel used to heat U.S. homes.

o Natural gas companies directly employed roughly 622,000 Americans and indirectly
sustained almost 2.2 million additional jobs in 2008, contributing more than $172 billion to
the U.S. economy.
 A Pennsylvania State University study, sponsored by the Marcellus Shale Coalition
and released in May 2010, projects that development of Pennsylvania’s portion of the
Marcellus Shale could create more than 211,000 new jobs for Pennsylvania over the
next 10 years. That’s on top of the tens of thousands of direct and indirect jobs that
have been created across the state already.
 Another study sponsored by the Business Council of New York projects that New York
State will experience an annual economic uplift between $92 and $123 billion from the
development of the Marcellus and Utica Shales.

According to the DOE, U.S. proven natural gas reserves rose 3 percent in 2008, and shale gas
reserves an astonishing 51 percent over 2007.
o Thanks to the combination of hydraulic fracturing and directional drilling technologies, the oil
and natural gas industry is able to unlock these vast deposits from areas that were previously

o This proven technology has contributed to an 8 percent increase in U.S. natural gas
production between 2007 and 2008, and more natural gas is discovered every day.

o A government-industry study found that up to 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next
decade will require hydraulic fracturing technology.

o Production of unconventional gas, including gas from shale, is forecast to increase 22 percent
by 2020.

o Fracturing occurs deep below where usable groundwater is likely to be found. When a well is
drilled, steel casing and surrounding layers of concrete are installed to provide a safe barrier
to protect usable groundwater.
 As hydraulic fracturing becomes more widely used, API is updating its standards for
well integrity, environmental and reclamation practices and cradle-to-grave water

o Hydraulic fracturing is a proven technology that involves pumping a water mixture into
underground rock layers where oil or gas is trapped.
 This mixture is 99 percent water and contains a small amount of fracturing fluid and
sand. The pressure of the water creates tiny fissures in the rock. The sand holds open
the fissures, allowing the oil or gas to flow up the well. Hydraulic fracturing is well
regulated and has been used since the 1940s in more than 1 million wells in the
United States.

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o Studies by the U.S. EPA and the Ground Water Protection Council have confirmed no direct
link between hydraulic fracturing operations and groundwater impacts.

o Natural gas is found in the Rocky Mountain West area and in tight rock formations called shale
in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and New York.
 A study from Penn State University suggests that the Marcellus Shale could be the
second largest natural gas field in the world if fully developed, providing an amount of
energy to American consumers equivalent to the energy content of 87 billion barrels of
 The Barnett Shale near Fort Worth, Texas, produces enough natural gas to power 20
million homes per year.

1220 L Street, NW | Washington, DC 20005-4070 www.api.org