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Reader's view: More information is needed about the effects of 'fracking'

It is called "fracking," the process whereby a host of chemicals mixed with water and other assorted ingredients is pumped into our underground shale deposits to release enormous amounts of trapped natural gas and oil deposits.

It is called "fracking," the process whereby a host of chemicals mixed with water and other assorted ingredients is pumped into our underground shale deposits to release enormous amounts of trapped natural gas and oil deposits.

Hydrofracking is not a new process but has recently become more popular and expanded to depths unheard of before. Is it safe? Probably, if done correctly; and, of course, probably not, if done incorrectly.

But how can you tell? By what process or measurements will give us the needed data to answer the many unanswered questions concerning this process. There have been some isolated cases that lead one to speculate on potentially serious environmental dangers, but as yet no conclusive scientific recommendations have been formed -- for a very good (oops, lousy) reason.

During the last Bush administration, under the guidance of then-Vice President Dick Cheney, when government regulations were an absolute no-no, energy companies were given exemptions to key environmental regulations. What these exemptions amounted to was to say to our regulators, scientists and the public, "You do not need to know what chemicals are being pumped into the Earth." But if we do not know what chemicals are going in, how can we determine whether they are contaminates or benign? Must we wait to see whether another Love Canal is in the making?

The concern has become serious enough that the Obama administration at least has required fracking companies to disclose what liquids are being used on public lands. This still leaves an enormous hole in desired information because of various state regulations and private nondisclosure agreements.

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Besides two unpaid-for wars, a massive budget deficit, and a major recession, is this another GOP/ Bush/Cheney legacy?

There absolutely is a right to know.

Burleigh K. Rapp

Hermantown

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