Oil and gas well fracturing has been around for more than 60 years. We have heard of no major environmental problems from "fracking" - yet it has become a subject of controversy during the past few years.
Most major players in the gas drilling boom in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania are involved in an initiative that should lessen criticism about fracking. Their policy of transparency should be adopted by everyone drilling wells in our region.
Some environmentalists question whether chemicals used in fracking can get into ground water and contaminate it. Drillers point out nearly all the fluid used to frack a well is water (99 percent or more). Most chemicals used are not dangerous and, because wells are cased securely, fracking fluid does not mix with ground water, according to the industry.
Still, industry critics say they would like to know more about chemicals used in the process.
Some companies already make available lists of chemicals they use. But on Friday, an industry coalition announced its members will provide much more specific information.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition revealed its members will provide information about fracking chemicals used at individual drilling sites. The information will be available through the coalition's www.FracFocus.com website.
Most companies drilling in this area, including Chesapeake Operating Inc., Consol Energy and Range Resources, are members of the coalition.
Companies participating in the coalition have made a wise decision. Those not involved should follow suit. If not, legislators in West Virginia and Ohio should consider making disclosures such as that agreed to by industry leaders mandatory.