What is hydraulic fracturing or fracking? It is the process of releasing natural gas or oil from shale rock formations by producing fractures within the formation. These fractures are created by using massive amounts of pressurized water, sand, and assorted chemicals to break-up the rock and bring gas to the surface.
For me, it was difficult to find positive articles about hydraulic fracturing on the internet. I know the industry is working hard to meet our country’s energy needs, and they provide much-needed jobs. But as the industry expands, so grows the list of issues.
For this post, I will present the issues regarding hydraulic fracturing so you might think about and discuss this topic in your conversations. Who knows, perhaps you may uncover some detail that could possibly help this industry. If not this industry, then perhaps some future source of energy. I will start with the lyrics below as I hope they course through your mind as you read this post. The lyrics are presented by one of my favorite singer/song writers from the Eagles Band, Don Henley. In the third verse of his song “Goodbye to a River”, he sings these lyrics:
The dirty water washes down
Poisoning the common ground
Taking sins of farm and town
And bearing them away
And the captains of industry
And their tools on the hill
They’re killing everything divine
What will I tell this child of mine
The lyrics are just as relevant today as they were when published in 2000, and could describe any river or watershed that has been poisoned by human neglect. Unfortunately, here are some examples: the Mud River watershed poisoned by coal mining in West Virginia (suit filed April 6, 2015), the Fraser River from the tailings dam break at the Mount Polley Mine in British Columbia (August 4, 2014), the Yellowstone River poisoned by 63,000 gallons of oil from a ruptured ExxonMobil pipeline near Billings, Montana (July 1, 2011), the Big Blue River watershed in Nebraska poisoned by the pesticide atrazine (detected in May 2008), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s analysis stating that “the majority of Ohio’s rivers, streams and lakes are considered “impaired” because of high concentrations of bacteria from raw sewage and heavy metals” (January, 2004), or the Fly River from the tailings dam break at the Ok Tedi Mine in Papua New Guinea (1984). Are these just mere exceptions? No!
Going back to an earlier post, Tom Collier or John Shively from the Pebble Mine Project (these “captains of industry”) will try to reassure the public that safeguards will be made to protect the environment surrounding Bristol Bay, Alaska. But how’s that possible, when “tools on the hill”, like Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia, Senator David Vitter from Louisiana, Congressman Nick Rahall from West Virginia, and Congressman Bob Gibbs from Ohio have introduced legislation to strip power away from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a regulatory body tasked with keeping our water safe to drink. How does this make sense, and who will keep us safe if not the EPA?
If you have not seen the movie “The Breach” by Mark Titus, then I would strongly urge you to do so. It’s best that we all are informed and begin doing something to bring about positive change.
Now for the real cost of hydraulic fracturing:
• Texas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia studies conclude that methane gas (a contributor to climate change) leaks uncontrollably from fracturing well pads. The natural gas reserves found in the Marcellus shale region is located under much of Pennsylvania.
• In September 2009, 8,000 gallons of fracturing fluid polluted a creek and local wetlands in Dimock Township, Pennsylvania.
• Additional studies conclude that private drinking water wells are at risk due to methane-migration. The cause? Faulty construction of fracturing wells.
• Earthquakes can be induced during the actual fracturing process as pointed out by Ohio and Oklahoma studies. In 2011, a 5.7 magnitude earthquake struck Oklahoma and a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit Colorado. Scientists believe both are related to fracking operations.
• Water resources are strained as millions of gallons are used in a fracking operation.
• Pennsylvania reports that in counties where fracking occurs, there is a higher rate of automobile to truck traffic-related accidents. There are over 600 active natural gas wells in Washington County, Pennsylvania alone.
• Residents living near fracking operations are experiencing skin rashes, abdominal pain, nausea, breathing difficulties, nosebleeds, headaches, eye and throat irritations.
• “Oil and gas production have been linked to increased risk of cancer and birth defects in neighboring areas”.
• Federal investigators found that workers are exposed to crystalline silica emissions. “Occupational exposure to silica is a risk factor for lung cancer”.
• Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is analyzing wastewater recycling, treatment sludges, and radioactivity exposure to workers and the public.
As of February 2015, New York follows Vermont’s lead and bans hydraulic fracturing within the state. The state wants to fully evaluate environmental impacts that could lead to human exposures and their resulting health effects.
According to the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air, 16,220 individuals and families have been harmed by fracking. Click here to view the website.
Let’s keep our nation strong, but not at the detriment of our people or our collective environments. Each of us can help bring about positive change through our conversations, our purchases, our votes, and in which companies we invest. Please help all of us by sharing this message with those you meet. Thank you!
Click here to view post references.
Click here to listen to Oklahoma’s rate of earthquakes by Michael Corey.
Click here to view the number of fracking wells in each state since 2005.
Click here to view the chemicals used in fracking fluids at perhaps a well near you.
Click here to learn why fracking is a breast cancer issue.
Click here to view a list of communities who have passed measures against fracking.
Click here to view “Gas Rush Stories: Life above Marcellus Shale 2011- 2012” from Kirsi Jansa.
Click here to read one man’s story of holdout to an energy company.
Click here to view Dr. Ingraffea’s Facts on Fracking.
Click here to watch“Faith Against Fracking”
G20 countries are still paying subsides on fossil fuel. Click here to learn more.
Oct. 3-5, 2015: Stop the Frack Attack National Summit. Location – Denver, CO. Contact: https://org.salsalabs.com/o/676/p/salsa/event/common/public/?event_KEY=84537
For my next post, we will look at wind power as an alternative energy source.
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