Fracking – Links & Notes

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Fracking well - tioga-seneca  well pad

Fracking well – tioga-seneca well pad

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Starting Point

For our region in western NC, the fracking issue dramatically ramped up in late May.

The shale gas fracking issue became real for western NC counties in May when The Sylva Herald (Jackson Co.) published two articles.

  •  Geologists to survey Jackson, WNC counties for natural gas  SH 2014 05 23.
  • State to test for natural gas deposits in Jackson County; fracking debates comes home  SH 2014 05 22.

A search of the Smoky Mountain Times(Bryson City, Swain County) indicates that their first article was June 12 with the article:

  •  Commissioners agree with public: say “No to fracking”  SMT 2014 06 12 (you must subscribe to the SMT to get links).

As for the regional (free) tabloid Smoky Mountain News –after the “starting date” of May 22 they ran the following story:

  •  Drilling, fracking bill speeds through legislature  SMN 2014 06 04.  The same issue contained the letter to the editor by Doug Woodard (6/4/2014).  He objected to NC Bill 786 “which opens the door to fracking.”

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As for organization, Swain Chapter of the NC Coalition Against Fracking was one of the first in the  Swain/Jackson.  See WNC 2014 07 09.  There is now a Macon Chapter.  Other lead organizations include the Western North Carolina Alliance, Clean Water for NC and its spin off

We have no knowledge of pro-fracking groups in our region.
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WATR got involved on June 1.  That’s when Roger (exec. Director) and Ken Brown (WATR Board and chair, Tuckseigee Chapter of the WNCA) attended River Rally – the annual convention for River Network.   Roger and Ken saw the documentary film Triple Point and immediately worked to get the film’s authors to visit Swain, Jackson and Asheville.

The widespread concern about fracking was evident at the WATR Summer Picnic, June 14, when everyone was talking about it.  Candice Day, a native Swain woman who just graduated from the University of West Virginia — where fracking is a big deal — quickly formed the Swain Chapter of the Coalition Against Fracking.
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WATR got involved on June 1.  That’s when Roger (exec. director) and Ken Brown (WATR Board and chair, Tuckseigee Chapter of the WNCA)

Fracking well drilling at night

Fracking well drilling at night

attended River Rally – the annual convention for RiverNetwork, the umbrella nonprofit comprised of groups working to protect American streams and rivers.   Roger and Ken saw the documentary film Triple Divide and immediately worked to get the film’s authors to visit Swain and Jackson.


****Invitation.   Pleasejoin us for any of three showings of


Triple Divide

Shale Gas Fracking: Pennsylvania Personal Experiences


These showings are part of the nationwide tour by the investigative reporters and film authors Melissa Troutman and Josh Pribanic.

Melissa Troutman & Josh Pribanic - Investigative Reporters

Melissa Troutman & Josh Pribanic – Investigative Reporters

 *** Tuesday, June 29, 7:00pm at the Swain Marianna Black Library (free)

*** Wednesday, June 30, 6:30 pm AND AGAIN at (about) 8:30      at the Mad Batter in Sylva (free)

***Thursday, July 31, 7:00 pm at the Fine Arts Theater ($8.00)


For more information:

Check the press release:  PSA from WATR re Triple Divide Film

Go to the Triple Divide website:  TripleDivide
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Recent news – Local response

On July 22, Swain Commissioners voted to ban fracking  SMT 2014 07 24

On July 17, Sylva aldermen voted to ban fracking SH 2014 07 23.  Sylva joined Webster in officially condemning fracking.  The article also stated that Dillsboro aldermen and Jackson Commissioners are not moving in the direction of condemning fracking.

Information for the Technically Inclined

“Give me the science so I can make up my own mind”  — Books & Articles



Hydrofracking: What Everyone Needs to Know   by Alex Prod’homme (2013)

Review of reviews

Pro: Starts from the basics, explains the science

Con: Sometimes an even-handed book does not pursue consequences to anyone’s satisfaction

(I have read other books by Prod’homme.  He writes well.  I have this book on order, RBC)


The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World by Russell Gold

Review of reviews:

Pro:  Comprehensive  about energy/economics

Con: Not enough discussion of the environmental hazards except global greenhouse gases.

Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale  by Tom Wilber (2012)

Review of reviews

Pro: ranges in scale from individual landowners to stakeholders, drillers, policy makers, activists, and more.  Praised as explaining the science better.  Better than what?  Well written.

Con: None found as of this writing.


Shale Gas: The Promise and the Peril by Vikram Rao 2012

From Amazon review: Tailored for a nontechnical audience—with technical chemistry and geology information couched in sidebars—the book culminates in suggestions for research and guidance for policymaking.


The Frackers by Gregory Zuckerman

Review of reviews:

Pro: Stories of the cowboy drillers who made this technology into the gold-laying goose

Con: No real discussion of the environmental pitfalls.



The Truth about Fracking by Chris Moody (Oct 2011)  (Link goes directly to article)

Quick review:

Reassuring references to reputable geologists.  Author askes if fracking (breaking up rocks deep underground) is the problem or if it is the drilling to get down there.  Published before the connection to earthquakes was identified.