Dear Concerned Scientist: You ask why I called these fracking tragedies and state that these problems would occur if the wells were not being fracked. While I agree that some problems would occur even if the wells were not fracked, I do not agree that all would occur. Take truck traffic. A conventional well does not come close to requiring the hundreds or thousands of truck trips required to haul fracking water and chemicals and then haul the wastewater. And while open pits might be required for conventional wells, there would not be nearly as many pits, pits as large as these are, or as much toxic waste without fracking. Fumes come from the flaring, as well as from pits. Fracking leads to emissions of hundreds of times the amount of toxic air pollutants when compared to wells that are not fracked during completion.
While North Dakota law provides for payments to a surface owner if there are damages, the amount of damages have to be agreed upon by the oil company. As you might imagine, surface owners are rarely if ever truly fully compensated for the harms they endure and cannot control on their own property.