Emerging Fracking Threat?

A new fracking threat may be emerging in Kentucky.  KWA has been keeping tabs on fracking in Kentucky over the last couple years, trying to ensure that citizens have knowledge of where it is occurring, the types, the threats to citizens and the environment, and how citizens can be proactive and protect the land and their health.  We’ve been participating in a email listserve with other concerned citizens and organizations about fracking problems, including transport of fracking-related products, like Natural Gas Liquids and fracking wastewater, via pipelines and barges, as well as the disposal of the wastewater.

Just this morning, we were informed about a group, “Frack Free Foothills,” that has come together to keep residents informed about a somewhat new fracking threat to parts of the state.  According to the group, there have been recent land men buying up mineral leases in Madison, Rockcastle, and Jackson counties.  Why?  Portions of those counties are within the “Rogersville shale” formation that underlies a swath of eastern and southeastern Kentucky.

According to Kentucky Geological Survey (KGS), the Rogersville formation is anywhere from 8,000-10,000 feet deep.  The interesting aspect of this formation is that because it’s so deep, it overlaps with other shale plays in the state.  For example, a relatively new shale play in eastern Kentucky is the Berea formation, but it is much shallower than the Rogersville formation.  Average depths of wells drilled thus far range from 1100-1500 feet for the Berea shale formation.



Alternatively, test wells in the Rogersville shale play during the past year have been up to 15,000 feet deep.



This could be a disturbing development for Kentucky.  Thus far, hydraulic fracking has been very limited in the state because our “reachable” shale had clay content that reduced the efficacy of hydraulic methods.  As a result, nitrogen fracking and nitrogen foam fracking have been the norm.  While these are not foolproof, and certainly have inherent concerns, including a wastewater byproduct, they do use substantially less water than hydraulic fracking operations.  If this formation provides economic return, we could be looking at substantial concerns for water quality and quantity in the state.

If you live in and/or own land in any of the counties shown in the first map and have concerns about fracking’s impact to your health and the environment (see: your health), make sure to go to Frack Free Foothills’ website and contact the group to get involved.