Fracking for Natural Gas and Oil

Definition. Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” refers to the process of extracting natural gas and/or oil from tight rock formations below the surface using fluids, gases, chemicals, and proppants at high pressure to break apart and release hydrocarbons present in the rock. This includes activities ancillary to this process such as lateral or non-linear drilling, wastewater storage, and other well stimulation methods such as acidization.

Statement of Policy.  The Sierra Club opposes the use of hydraulic fracturing (fracking).To limit the damage from fracking until it can be ended entirely, the Club calls for prompt closure of loopholes that effectively exempt fracking from important aspects of major national environmental laws.

Rationale. There are no “clean” fossil fuels. The Sierra Club is committed to eliminating the use of fossil fuels, including coal, natural gas and oil, as soon as possible. We must replace all fossil fuels with clean renewable energy, efficiency and conservation.Fracking poses unacceptable risks to our communities, our environment and our climate. There is clear evidence that natural gas and oil extracted by fracking are major greenhouse gas contributors. Methane released via extraction and transport is 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 over a 20-year time frame. The climate-disruption impacts from methane and carbon dioxide emitted by extraction, transport and burning clearly point to the urgent need of keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Fracking has contaminated the drinking water of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Fracking’s physical impacts have devastated thousands of neighborhoods and thousands of square miles of landscapes that are important to people and/or wildlife. Fracking has negative impacts on air and water quality and frequently necessitates unacceptable drawdowns on surface water and groundwater. Fracking and its associated waste disposal can cause seismic events; mining for fracking sand causes air contamination and public-health impacts.Guidance for Chapters: The Board of Directors finds that Sierra Club Chapters are the best judge of the most strategic way at the state and local level to end fracking and limit the damage from fracking until it can be ended. Chapters are authorized to decide whether the best course of action at the state and local levels is to advocate for bans, moratoria and/or stronger regulations on fracking.  


Board of Directors, January 22, 2015.