ELKO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) -- Environmental concern is one big reason hydraulic fracturing, also known as "fracking", is controversial. It's a technique used to extract oil and gas from tight rock deposits in the earth.
It could be coming to Nevada, but the state wants your input first. Elko County might be the first place where "fracking" is used in Nevada.
Noble Energy, based in Houston, Texas, is exploring for oil in three Elko County locations. If the company moves forward, it might use the fracking technique to extract the oil.
The State Division of Minerals has been holding a series of public meetings, one being in Elko last week.
The process includes drilling a deep hole with vertical shafts where sand, water and chemical additives are injected at a high pressure fracturing the rock. This frees up gas or petroleum trapped in tight rock formations.
One of the problems that can occur with drilling, in general, is displacing gas, which can show up in underground water supplies. But this problem can be associated with fracking for natural gas, and UNR Professor Dr. Glenn Miller does not believe that will be an issue in Nevada.
"It will be oil they're drilling for in Nevada, because I'm told, and with some reasonable certainty, there not much gas that's going to be produced in Nevada," said Miller.
But he says there could be other environmental concerns involving our water. "The big problems you're going to have with hydraulic fractures, especially in Nevada, is how you're going to manage the tremendous amount, or millions of gallons of water that comes up."
That's because this process can also free up radioactive particles. "There's (also) high salinity, a whole variety of hydrocarbons," added Miller.
Miller believes there is really only one way to deal with this contaminated water. "The only option is deep drill injection and that sends it down to where there have been previous oil and gas drillings."
Among the new regulations proposed is water monitoring, both before and after fracking. Nevada is also only one of ten states that will require public disclosure of the chemicals used in the fracking process.
The Division of Minerals is taking public comment through Friday. There will be a series of talks at UNR to explain fracking, and look at some of the controversy behind it.
The first series is from 2:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, in the Knowledge Center Rotunda.