A follow-up to yesterday's post...
I've recently learned that fracking is a terrible name, something that isn't helped by the way it's spelled. F-R-A-C-K-I-N-G. What does that remind you of, hmmm? Nothing polite, that's for sure. It's short for hydraulic fracturing - note: there's no "k" in fracturing; where did the "k" come from? Fracing or fracting would probably have been better names, or at least had less vulgar connotations.
But, that aside, Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, an engineering professor at Cornell University, explained to me that we're also using the term inaccurately (guilty as charged - see previous post). People use fracking to refer to both the technical action of hydraulic fracturing (injecting chemicals and water into drilled areas) and everything else (the drilling process, the industrial operations on the ground, the wastewater wells). That only serves to confuse the issue and make it harder to talk about.
It also allows oil and gas industries to dodge the question, "Are there any cases of fracking that have caused contamination?" Based on their definition - the technical one - the answer is no. There are very few proven cases of the actual hydraulic fracturing process tainting people's water. BUT if we're talking about all those other parts of the oil and gas development - what is also included in the larger definition of fracking - then yes, there are thousands and thousands of examples. To get around the fossil fuel industry's dodge, the better question is, "Is there any case of oil and gas development that have caused contamination?"
Using "fracking" as a catch-all makes it hard to know exactly what we're talking about. We need to be much more specific and use precise terminology to define and discuss each stage of the process. Otherwise, it makes it all that much harder to communicate about what's already a difficult issue.