Jul 25 2011

A Crack on “Fracking”

Published by under Student blog entries

The United States and countries around the world are frantically searching for new methods of harvesting energy as the world’s demand for energy is on the rise. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” started its commercial appearance when first used by Halliburton in 1949. Before I delve into the environmental impacts of this extensive method of harvesting resources from underground rock, it is necessary to explain the process, which as explained by Halliburton, can be found here. Generally, hydraulic fracturing is used to extract oil, natural gas, geothermal energy, and even water, but in this post, I’ll be talking about the use of fracking to obtain natural gas.

Hydraulic Fracturing

A recent viewing of the documentary, Gasland, was the only eye-opening experience I needed to understand that fracking is bad and it’s about to get worse. This film exposed the possible environment impacts that hydraulic fracturing can cause and documents people who have been negatively affected by the drilling for natural gas in their area. The biggest effect is the contamination of ground water; people from cities across the country have had natural gas and the chemicals used for fracking leach into their only source of natural water. The movie disturbingly showcases people whose tap water can be lit on fire because of the high amounts of methane seeping into the water table. Some of the affected people are suffering severe health problems and share this information and their concern with the film’s producer Josh Fox. The film informs viewers that fracking will soon become a widespread practice without the support of citizens and government officials to help regulate it. I heard Fox’s call to action. After watching Gasland, and subsequently doing some of my own research, I found that a recent study completed by four Duke scientists indicates that there is a link between hydraulic fracturing and contaminated ground water in the areas where fracking is taking place. This study, found here, may begin to shape the controversial debate over whether the drilling is safe. While it is safe to say that there will be a long battle between regulatory agencies, companies who use hydraulic fracturing, and concerned citizens, it is clear that there is a need for truly clean energy… not the use of “clean” natural gas obtained by hydraulic fracturing.

 

[New]: This map represents where fracking would take place in North Carolina.

North Carolina Fracking Map -- http://www.southernenvironment.org//uploads/fck/Hydrofraking_Potential_NC_Map_web.jpg

4 responses so far




4 Responses to “A Crack on “Fracking””

  1.   alorentzon 25 Jul 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I also found Gasland to be a very moving documentary. I had known about fracking and had talked about it during my environmental studies class, but I hadn’t realized the extent of the problem. While looking up more information about fracking and the movie, I found that the movie had been nominated for an academy award. The executive director of Energy in Depth wrote a letter trying to keep the movie from winning. In it he talks about how the movie is a great fictional piece but that he did not do enough research for it to be considered scientific. It also talks about how the victims of fracking in the video were too biased to offer any real incite. I find it funny that one of Josh Fox’s facts that they prove wrong is that fracking wasn’t cleared from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005. In fact they have never had that law applied to fracking. I’m not exactly sure why that would make anyone feel better about hydraulic fracking, because either way it isn’t regulated. They also refute the number of trucks that must be utilized in each well installation saying that there is no way that every well in America requires the same number of trucks. It may be true that Josh Fox has a strong bias, but I think that it is safe to assume that the gas companies do as well and that the gas companies will seem to do almost anything to prove themselves. Josh of course writes to reaffirm Gasland, and I am sure that the argument as to which view is correct will continue.
    I think that it is important to remember how persistent the gas companies and lobbyists can be when it comes to their fracking techniques. Currently gas companies are pushing for fracking in North Carolina, but the practice is currently illegal in the state. Despite the risks and concerns, many North Carolina legislators seem to be for fracking and are claiming the same safe extracting techniques as the gas companies. They are also claiming that it will increase revenues for the state, but scientists are concerned that the risks will outweigh the benefits. The triangle area is the main region of interest for fracking in North Carolina. Since this is such a populated area in comparison to the small communities in Gasland we may see the true impacts of fracking on a much larger scale. Freshwater supply is the main concern because so much water is needed during the fracking process. Some of these regions already suffer from summer drought and any more water loss could be devastating. I think that the environmental and human health concerns must be addressed before any politicians begin to support fracking. The link below shows an image of where fracking may take place.
    http://www.cwfnc.org/what-we-do/current-campaigns/hydraulic-fracturing/

    http://www.cwfnc.org/documents/Energy-in-Depth.pdf

    http://1trickpony.cachefly.net/gas/pdf/Affirming_Gasland_Sept_2010.pdf

    http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/despite-the-dangers-of-fracking-north-carolina-lawmakers-want-to-legalize-it/Content?oid=2454484

  2.   dsplunkeon 25 Jul 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Amazingly, I too have seen this documentary, but I would like to focus on something slightly different. Once the knowledge of the detrimental effects to the environment and human health are known, the next step is action. Too often government is referred to as if it is emotionless forces, walking around and changing things unchecked. We must realize that government is made up of people; people we elected to serve our interests. And it is our job to let our interests be known. We cannot expect legislatures to do what we want without letting them know what we want.
    The true outrage that I have about fracking is that in 2005 Vice President Cheney (who was CEO of Haliburton) along with huge gas and oil companies crafted a way to exempt these companies from the Clean Air and Water Act. It still astounds me that this Act got through Congress. Pieces of legislation that were designed to protect the health of the American people are being completely ignored in a greedy attempt to save money. And now, instead of the companies proving that their chemicals are not dangerous, the EPA is having to pry the “recipe” for the fracking fluid out of the companies to test independently. It should be the companies job to prove what they are doing will not hurt people instead of the people’s job to prove they are being hurt. It just feels heartless and fundamentally Un-American.
    The reason it is currently illegal in North Carolina to practice hydraulic fracturing is simply because of a old law that requires all wells to be drilled straight down. This footnote of legislation will not stop the powerhouse of energy corporations for long. So we must take it upon ourselves as citizens to demand legislation be implemented that prevents fracking unless it can be shown to be environmentally benign and not harmful to human health. Watching the documentary, it really does seem like there are simple things that could be done to make this a safer practice. Recover more of the fracking fluid, line holding tanks to prevent leakage and stop using evaporators are just a few changes I can think of. But none of these things will get done if we don’t voice our concern as a people.
    http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/
    This is the link to the NC General Assembly. It contains contact information for all of the members of the House and Senate of North Carolina. Contacting our state government is a priority because of the strong desire to drill here. There are already plans in place to push fracking through the legislature. We must act quickly to try and prevent this.
    http://www.govtrack.us/congress/findyourreps.xpd?state=NC
    This is a link to the Congressional District Map for North Carolina. From the top it is also easy to change states. From there it isn’t difficult to find an e-mail and contact your Representative or Senators. The Federal level is just as important as the state level, although it may take longer to get a verdict from that high up. There is something very simple to ask your Senator or Representative. Require these companies to abide by the Clean Air and Water Acts. They must be held to a standard.

    I believe we can stand up as a people and prevent these companies from destroying peoples lives. So, I urge everyone to speak up. Tell your family, friends and neighbors and we can stop this from happening and fix the damage that has been done before it is too late.

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