Could Using Propane Instead of Water Clean Up Fracking?

fracking protest photoProgress Ohio/CC BY 2.0

I've got a not-so-great idea: Instead of fracking using water mixed with chemicals, let's use liquid propane. That way we can get around the New York state moratorium on hydraulic fracturing!

You see the current ban, the review of which (and, if the industry has its way, lifting on which) is expected to be completed by the end of this year, is worded such that using propane instead of water would bypass it—though it would still require an additional environmental impact statement according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

At first glance it all seems like money-grubbing lunacy to me, but according to a rather extensive article in Inside Climate News there are some major wastewater advantages to using propane instead of water:

While LPG fracking still faces skepticism and comes with its own risks, it has several environmental benefits. By forgoing the use of water, it eliminates an entire waste stream—the toxic "flowback" water...LPG requires 75 percent fewer truck trips and a smaller well-pad than hydraulic fracturing.

Check out that article for more detail on all this, but for now I'll stick with the opinion offered by Deb Nardone from the Sierra Club, quoted in that article: "It is clear that propane fracking just substitutes one set of problems for another set of even more dangerous problems."

Tags: Fracking | Natural Gas | New York State


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