The Real Reason Many Fracking Critics Will Never be Silenced

Fracking critics point to a number of potential environmental and health risks in arguing the practice must be stopped. But the reason many oppose fracking hits much closer to home.

Mar 3, 2014 at 10:20AM

Drilling Rig Wyoming Encana

Photo credit: Copyright © Encana. All rights reserved. 

From deep in the heart of Texas comes a story that reminds us why so many people oppose fracking. The Wall Street Journal reported that a water utility is being sued in Denton County because it is building a 15-story water tower. Some oppose the fact that a portion of the tower's water will be solid to energy companies to be used in fracking, though that's not the core cause for the dispute. The main reasoning behind the lawsuit is that a 160-foot-tall water tower is being built in the backyard, so to speak, of a handful of families that don't want that eyesore and its associated noise near their land.

Not in my backyard strikes again
The most fascinating part of the story is knowing the names of the families involved in the suit. One of the lead plaintiffs is former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey. Another of the families suing is that of Rex Tillerson, CEO of (NYSE:XOM)ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM). Tillerson's company just happens to be America's top natural gas supplier and his company fracks hundreds of shale wells each year.

Tillerson doesn't want the large tower built adjacent to his family's 83-acre horse ranch. The CEO, like many Americans living in rural areas, simply wants to enjoy the rural lifestyle and not see the door open to runaway development and noise that the tower has the potential to bring.

The threat of new eyesores and increased noise levels are the real reasons so many oppose fracking. Who can blame them? In a world filled with noise and an increasingly faster pace of life, the rural lifestyle is one of the few places where many can still find peace and quiet. It truly is a precious gift, and those who possess it don't want to see that lost forever.

Why the industry can't silence its critics
While fracking's critics point to groundwater contamination and health risks, if done responsibly the process has proved to be safe. That said, what no study or evidence can deny is that fracking for oil and gas is a noisy process. The sound of trucks carrying millions of gallons of water, as well as equipment, to the fracking site is just one of the many problems those living nearby must endure. Rumbling trucks are just the start, as the 24/7 drilling and fracking operations that can run for months bring constant noise. That racket has been known to keep many up at night and quite frankly is one of the biggest reasons that the industry will never silence its critics.

For example, a story in Colorado involving energy company Encana (NYSE:ECA) noted that drilling operations there were impacting local residents. Encana built a sound mitigation barrier, but it didn't keep noise levels down enough for some residents. There are many similar accounts from around the country.

Colorado Landscape With Drilling Rig

Photo credit: Copyright © Encana. All rights reserved. 

For those living outside of bustling cities, noise is something to be avoided. However, a study from New York's Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement estimated that even at a distance of 2,000 feet (less than half a mile) from the fracking site the noise level could be up to 72 decibels. For perspective, a rock concert can produce more than 110 decibels and diesel truck traffic about 84 decibels. Needless to say, noise at that level 24 hours a day, seven days per week is enough to annoy anyone. It also provides critics a big reason to speak up against the process. 

Final thoughts
The oil and gas industry has done a lot to prove that the hydraulic fracturing process is safe and getting safer by the day. As true as that might be, the industry will never silence its critics until it figures out a way to make the process quieter. Those who live the country lifestyle do so because it is peaceful; they don't want a drilling rig or water tower erected in their backyard that will disrupt that. So until the industry figures out a way to get its noise levels down, it won't be able to keep its critics quiet, either.

A challenge to OPEC
Imagine a company that rents a very specific and valuable piece of machinery for $41,000… per hour (that’s almost as much as the average American makes in a year!). And Warren Buffett is so confident in this company’s can’t-live-without-it business model, he just loaded up on 8.8 million shares. An exclusive, brand-new Motley Fool report reveals the company we’re calling OPEC’s Worst Nightmare. Just click HERE to uncover the name of this industry-leading stock… and join Buffett in his quest for a veritable LANDSLIDE of profits!

Matt DiLallo has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

1 Key Step to Get Rich

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better. Whether that’s helping people overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we can help.

Feb 1, 2016 at 4:54PM

To be perfectly clear, this is not a get-rich action that my Foolish colleagues and I came up with. But we wouldn't argue with the approach.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich" rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

"The Motley Fool aims to build a strong investment community, which it does by providing a variety of resources: the website, books, a newspaper column, a radio [show], and [newsletters]," wrote (the clearly insightful and talented) money reporter Kathleen Elkins. "This site has something for every type of investor, from basic lessons for beginners to investing commentary on mutual funds, stock sectors, and value for the more advanced."

Our mission at The Motley Fool is to help the world invest better, so it's nice to receive that kind of recognition. It lets us know we're doing our job.

Whether that's helping the entirely uninitiated overcome their fear of stocks all the way to offering clear and successful guidance on complicated-sounding options trades, we want to provide our readers with a boost to the next step on their journey to financial independence.

Articles and beyond

As Business Insider wrote, there are a number of resources available from the Fool for investors of all levels and styles.

In addition to the dozens of free articles we publish every day on our website, I want to highlight two must-see spots in your tour of

For the beginning investor

Investing can seem like a Big Deal to those who have yet to buy their first stock. Many investment professionals try to infuse the conversation with jargon in order to deter individual investors from tackling it on their own (and to justify their often sky-high fees).

But the individual investor can beat the market. The real secret to investing is that it doesn't take tons of money, endless hours, or super-secret formulas that only experts possess.

That's why we created a best-selling guide that walks investors-to-be through everything they need to know to get started. And because we're so dedicated to our mission, we've made that available for free.

If you're just starting out (or want to help out someone who is), go to, drop in your email address, and you'll be able to instantly access the quick-read guide ... for free.

For the listener

Whether it's on the stationary exercise bike or during my daily commute, I spend a lot of time going nowhere. But I've found a way to make that time benefit me.

The Motley Fool offers five podcasts that I refer to as "binge-worthy financial information."

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. It's also featured on several dozen radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable ... and I don't say that simply because the hosts all sit within a Nerf-gun shot of my desk. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers contain timeless advice, so you might want to go back to the beginning with those. The other three take their cues from the market, so you'll want to listen to the most recent first. All are available at

But wait, there's more

The book and the podcasts – both free ... both awesome – also come with an ongoing benefit. If you download the book, or if you enter your email address in the magical box at the podcasts page, you'll get ongoing market coverage sent straight to your inbox.

Investor Insights is valuable and enjoyable coverage of everything from macroeconomic events to investing strategies to our analyst's travels around the world to find the next big thing. Also free.

Get the book. Listen to a podcast. Sign up for Investor Insights. I'm not saying that any of those things will make you rich ... but Business Insider seems to think so.

Compare Brokers