Fracking operation set to break ground after the state of Tennessee passes new regulation on Hydraulic Fracturing


The relatively untapped Chattanooga shale field—which runs from southern Kentucky through central Tennessee—will soon see a long awaited incursion of major gas and oil companies such as CONSOL Energy, CNX Gas and GeoMet and Atlas Energy. Tennessee’s General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Government Operations passed a series of rules on hydraulic fracking on May 22st, set to go into effect June 18th.

CONSOL Energy—which has gas leases in on rough 240,000 acres in the state–already is preparing to begin horizontal drilling in Anderson County which borders Kentucky. Soon workers will shoot gallons of water and nitrogen into the shale rock in order to release and collect the natural gas within. Some of the most glaring issues regard the notably high bar on when the rules actually apply—of which most operations will not meet due to low demand and the state’s geography.

Unlike the Marcellus shale field in Pennsylvania, Tennessee’s’ Chattanooga field is significantly shallower, which warrants less water to be used. Part of the controversy with the new rules is that public notice only applies when operations exceed 200,000 gallons of water, which is unlikely in the case of Chattanooga as significantly less water is necessary. In addition general notice of the operations themselves only is required for those living half of a mile from the site, which would excludes many.

In September local environmental groups pushed for a ban on fracking operations that would use water exceeding 200,000, the board dismissed the ban but kept 200,000 gallons as a marker for public notification. The board, at that time called the Oil and Gas Board—now merged with the Water Quality Control Board making the Board of Water Quality, Oil and Gas—ignored the cries of the groups for tighter regulations.

Serious questions have arisen about the effectiveness of the new set of rules, in assuring proper safety of local population and environment. Groups such as the Tennessee Clean Water Network and the Sierra Club’s Tennessee Chapter were less enthused. Concerns were raised by the safety of local ground water, as fracking produces significant quantities of waste water—also known as “flowback”—which contains salt, oil, grease and occasionally radioactive material depending on the location and method of fracking.

Meg Lockhart of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation contends, “Wastewater disposal is a significant issue in the Northeast where fracking occurs.  The amounts of liquid we’re dealing with in Tennessee are much, much smaller, if liquid is used at all.  But, if water in any significant quantity is used, some of it would come back up the well”. Renee Hoyos, Excecutive Director of the Tennessee Clean Water Network

It is a bit hyperbolic at this stage to assume that fracking operations in Tennessee will reach the level that of Ohio or Pennsylvania, but if gas prices resume to increase in the near future we can expect to see more and more companies expanding into previously ignored areas of the country.

  • Brent Ritzel

    Attached is a
    comprehensive piece on Fracking Industrialization & Induced Earthquakes
    (new link that does not require you to create a logon for researchgate) that I
    am hoping that you will read and SHARE far and wide. It utilizes more than 50
    years of scientific studies and research from seismologists and geophysicists
    to reveal the reality of fracking wastewater disposal and how it induces
    earthquakes. This paper explains the exact mechanisms involved in
    wastewater-triggered seismicity, the science of which has been around since
    plate tectonic theory received wide acceptance in the mid 1960s.

    From the conclusion
    to Fracking Industrialization & Induced Earthquakes:

    study conducted by the University of Illinois Mid-America Earthquake Center in
    2008 projected that if an earthquake the magnitude of the quakes that hit near
    New Madrid during 1811-1812 were to strike today, “there would be 3,500
    fatalities, 2.6 million people without electricity and $300 billion in direct
    economic losses. Bridges, docks, highways and water infrastructure would be in
    shambles” (IEMA, 2013).

    mass fracking industrialization is to take hold of Southern Illinois, a land
    amidst two active seismic zones, then higher intelligence must be allowed to
    govern this process, its regulations, and their application.”

    As someone
    born, raised and currently living in Southern Illinois, a land amidst two
    active seismic zones, the reality of the proven problematic connection between
    oil & gas drilling wastewater disposal and induced earthquakes as large as
    5.7 in magnitude is a deal breaker for Southern Illinois, due to the completely
    unacceptable risks. This is especially true, given that the Illinois Draft
    Regulations for Fracking did not utilize a single scientific study as a
    resource in drafting the regulations. Additionally, industry plans include
    fracking 50,000 to 100,000 wells in a 12 county region over the next thirty
    years, forcing mass industrialization with a voluminous toxic and radioactive
    waste stream upon the unsuspecting residents of Southern Illinois.

    This paper is
    organized into 26 separate sections with headings, for easy topic searching and
    readability. Thanks much for your time and consideration, please SHARE FAR AND



    piece is also available at: