Answering Aunt Edna

Hydraulic Fracturing

It’s time once again to take a look at the questions being asked by each of our Aunt Ednas across the country.

Unsurprisingly, Aunt Edna has a lot of questions about hydraulic fracturing. It’s a big subject and we can’t tackle all of these questions in a single email. Instead, we’ll introduce the topic by taking a slightly higher-level view today and then address some of the more specific questions and concerns over the next few months.

What is hydraulic fracturing and is it safe?

Hydraulic fracturing is American-made technology that unlocks oil and natural gas trapped in rocks far below the earth’s surface.

Here are seven quick-hitting facts about hydraulic fracturing that every Aunt Edna should know:

  1. It’s been around for a long time.
    Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for more than 60 years in over 1 million wells.1
  2. It is a finite process that takes very little time in the overall lifecycle of a well.
    The process of hydraulic fracturing typically only takes 1 to 3 weeks for a well that will produce for decades.
  3. It is critical to U.S. energy development.
    More than 90 percent of new oil and gas wells in the U.S. undergo hydraulic fracturing.
  4. It has helped reduce our reliance on energy imports.
    In less than ten years, U.S. energy imports dropped from 30 percent to 13 percent of total energy consumption.2
  5. It poses no risk to America’s drinking water system.
    This is according to a 1,300-page study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that was released in June 2015.3
  6. It saves Americans money.
    ♦ The average U.S. household saves $800 per year in electricity and heating thanks to natural gas developed through hydraulic fracturing.4
    ♦ The recent fall in oil prices, due largely to increased U.S. production, will save the average household $750 per year in 2015 compared to 2014.5
  7. It has helped reduce carbon emissions.
    ♦ U.S. carbon emissions have decreased by 10 percent since 2005. This is due, in part, to the fact that we are producing more electricity from natural gas that has been produced through hydraulic fracturing.6
    ♦ Since 2005, coal has declined from 50 percent of the fuel mix in the U.S. power sector to less than 40 percent in 2014, and natural gas has grown, from 19 percent to over 28 percent.7

Finally, if Aunt Edna has three minutes to spare, I encourage you to share this video with her. The video shows how the process works – and how the combination of two established technologies, hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, has unlocked a vast resource of dependable, homegrown energy that can fuel our country for decades to come.

Share this video on your social networks today by clicking here.


  1. FracFocus,
  2. U.S. Energy Information Administration,
  3. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,

‘Answering Aunt Edna’ is a recurring series that is designed to help CAN members answer tough questions from their friends, family and neighbors.

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