How fracking transforms fortunes, land; See photos

2013-04-11T16:07:00Z 2013-11-18T17:08:34Z How fracking transforms fortunes, land; See photosThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 11, 2013 4:07 pm  • 

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.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. helenwise
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    helenwise - April 12, 2013 9:13 am
    My family lives in williston so I know exactly how fracking "transforms fortunes". Costs for everything has gone up. There is simply not the infastructure to support the amount of people and trucks going in and out. Traffic jams, housing crisis, oh the list goes on. My entire family is looking to get out. Seems to me the only ones having their fortunes changed for the better is the oil company heads. Also, there is plenty of research demonstrating how inefficient and destructive fracking is to the land and surrounding natural resources. Of course the heads of these companies are going to deny it and point to their own privately funded research.
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