What is Fracking and Why is NDP Leader Earle McCurdy Calling for An Outright Ban?

Fracking is both a health and environmental disaster; If you're against that, get behind politicians who oppose it too.

“Fracking” or hydraulic fracturing, involves drilling deep into bedrock, and injecting a nasty fluid into the bedrock at such a high pressure it fractures the rock (typically shale). The goal is to release natural gas contained in these rocks.

It wastes upwards of 8 million gallons of water to frack just one site: the water is mixed with sand and about 40 gallons of gross chemicals to create a “fracking fluid.” There are over 600 chemicals used in the process, including carcinogens and toxic fluids, like radium and formaldehyde.

This gunk is flushed down a drilled pipeline — a 10,000 foot pipeline — that usually runs through water tables and drinking supplies. In North America, we’re pumping hundreds of billions of gallons of this chemical nightmare into the earth. And again, we’re wasting trillions and trillions of gallons of water to do so.

Once the fracking fluid reaches the end of the pipeline, pressure builds, cracking shale rockbeds, and releasing the natural gas up into the well. Methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from this system, contaminating groundwater. Also, methane concentrations are 17 times higher near a fracking operation.

In The States alone, there have been over 1,000 cases of water contamination, and naturally, people have gotten ill and suffered sensory, respiratory, and neurological health issues.

50-70% of the toxic  fracking fluid is left in the ground. Worse still, as it evaporates, it releases harmful volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere, leading to acid rain, air contamination, and ground level ozone.

NDP Leader Earle McCurdy Wants the Practice Banned in NL

The NL NDP is calling for a complete ban on fracking. Two years ago, the NDP made the news for demanding a moratorium on fracking in the province. “We wanted government to wait until fracking could be proven safe and properly regulated,” party leader Earle McCurdy said.

“Since that time, there has been an explosion of research on fracking, and the evidence shows that it is even more hazardous and harder to control than people thought.” He’s referring to a comprehensive compendium of studies put together by health professionals in New York State.

The only reason to support fracking is job creation, right? But McCurdy says the promise of local jobs from fracking operations is misleading. “The track record elsewhere shows that fracking creates short-term, low-paid jobs locally. Skilled workers are brought in from away.”

Also, the equipment is built elsewhere and maintained by non-local technicians. McCurdy, concerned about how fracking could affect local water supplies, air quality, and community health, wants an outright ban on the practice. And if you agree, then get behind the politicians, like him, who share your view.

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    • Frank,

      That article is almost three years old. This was a time when a lot of states were in the process of disclosing chemicals. The reason for the pushback on certain proprietary chemicals is, like any other industry, once these ‘key ingredients’ get out to other companies, they lose their edge on effective competition in the market. If you look at the website now, nearly all chemicals are disclosed, while the exact formula for an effective hydraulic fracture fluid is still considered the intellectual property of the company.

      I don’t see why you’d call this a shady website. It seems quite transparent to me.



  • It would be nice to see the media or any press on the actually facts surrounding the industry. I worked in the industry and I’m sure it’s not great for the environment the whole drilling process probably isn’t but the reality is we live in a world that is very dependent on fossil fuels. The industry strives to continue to improve these processes and is severely regulated especially in Canada even more so in Newfoundland.
    So please educated yourself fracfocus.org is a great website created by the evirnomental protection agency in the U.S.
    But please present an educated article so the public can choose to make their own opinion rather than having yours.

  • Being someone in this industry, here’s my rebuttal.

    I would like to direct your attention to the following site:


    Facts on water usage, groundwater protection and chemical usage are all there. A much different and unbiased story than what you present.

    Here you will find that water usage in O&G (and Mining) accounts for 1% of total water usage (compared to 37% farming, etc.). As well, most operators are recycling water to make the impact even less.

    The chemical makeup of the “gross gunk” you speak of is 0.5% of what is put down miles below the surface, to help reduce friction and efficiently transport sand into the reservoir to ‘prop’ it open. Of course, not all of the fluid is returned back to surface during ‘flowback’, as some fractures close and trap what has been pumped down. That being said, I have monitored these operations seismically and can assure you that everything is well contained, miles below any sort of potable water source.

    There are endless amounts of ‘fractivists’ down here. Most are uneducated on the matter. Of course it’s easy to blow things out of proportion when, like any other industry, injuries, spills and accidents can happen. It’s up to regulatory and upstanding operators to keep things in line and prove that this industry does not deserve more flack than any other.

    I am a proud Newfoundlander that lives in Colorado, a state that heavily regulates this industry. It is most definitely responsible for high paid careers, research, development and energy independence. I would invite the NDP to investigate these allegations further before banning an industry that could possibly bring NL above water again.

  • But “fracking is bad” IS a fact? Or at least a stance verified here by facts. It was a piece meant to inform people why McCurdy is making the banning of fracking part of his platform, and it succeeds in explaining why’d he’d ban it: It’s environmentally horrendous, and it doesn’t generate much in the way of local employment any way. Besides, remember high school papers? You start off with a position, then explain it, lol.

  • I am fine with banning it but at least start your story with a non-biased definition, then introduce the opinion afterwards.

    • Why, Mark? I miss the days when journalists had opinions, and knew their role was to start conversation, share sobering truths. Modern news is so dull. Who cares about what happened in town today? I’d take a piece on why I should care over the latter, any day.

      • Honestly, I think it undermines the writers arguement and credibility. I have no problem with opinion, as I stated, I just think the story should start with the facts.

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