- Education and Science»
"Fracking" the U.S.
Fracking the U.S.
Fracking is a relatively new process that oil companies are using in an attempt to retrieve more natural gas for U.S. consumption, but not without some controversy
What is “Fracking”?
Fracking is a process of using hydraulic- fracturing by pumping a pressurized, sand/water/chemical mixture against imbedded shale rock, creating cracks, or “fissures” that release the natural gasses trapped within the shale. In order to do the hydro-fracture process wells are drilled 1000’s (some up to 8,000 feet) of feet deep and generally go through and under our drinking water sources or aquifers’ in order to reach the shale and gas sources. This is where the controversy begins.
According to a November 13, 2010, interview, on 60 Minutes with CEO Aubry McClendon, of Chesapeake Energy, Inc., claims that America contains, “two times the amount of natural gas than two Saudi Arabia’s,” (60 Minutes, 2011). There are 30 states that contain the shale rock formations that create the gas and northwest Louisiana has become a boomtown for these natural gas wells, creating “shaleionaires” out of one of the most depressed areas in the U.S. The drilling sites created over 7,000 jobs for the area in 2010 while the rest of the country was struggling with a 9.1% unemployment rate; they were thriving on their newfound “gold rush”. The natural gas has proven to create less carbon emissions than coal and petroleum based fuels. This could not have come at a better time for our country when we are adamant about our independence in the energy industry.
It never seems to fail that where there is something good, that something bad is soon to follow. Even though some people are seeing their dreams come true over night from sale of their land to these companies, maybe we should ask some of the people who live in Ohio, or one of the most affected areas, Dimock, Pennsylvania, where Marcellus Shale and Cabot Oil and Gas began buying up land to start the drilling process. Because of faulty underground cement well casings, gases escaped into the local drinking water and water wells of the community. In several instances, so much gas built up in personal drinking water well houses that when their pumps turned on, they literally blew-up. People were told to open there windows if taking showers or baths to keep the gases from building up in their homes. In one instance the gases leached into a basement of a Cleveland Ohio residence and created an explosion, leveling the home. People in some of these areas cannot use their water at all. The gas companies are supplying them with bottled water for drinking and cooking, but this does not help from the illness it is causing from bathing in this water. In a demonstration on the 60 Minutes episode, one of the Dimock residences, fills a jug of water from his garden hose and lights it on fire. This only mentions two of the areas affected by this type of natural gas extraction, the rest were too numerous to mention.
The Safe Drinking Water Act and Halliburton
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974, “was established to protect the quality of drinking water in the U.S. This law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above ground or underground sources,” (Summary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, 2011). In 1996 one of the revisions to the amendment was to,” establish minimum standards for state programs to protect underground sources of drinking water from endangerment by underground injection of fluids,” (¶ 2, pg. 1). This is all fine and dandy until we encounter what is known as the Hilliburton Loop Hole. Just to fill you in on who Halliburton is, they are one of the largest construction and oil drilling companies in the world. They are best known for the helping rebuild in Iraq, but on the home front, are known as the main drilling and fracking company for the oil companies. In 2005, under the Busch administration, Dick Cheney passed, The Energy Polocy Act of 2005. This Act,
“Exempts from the Safe Drinking Water Act a coal bed methane drilling technique called “hydraulic fracturing”, a potential polluter of underground drinking water. One of the largest companies employing this technique is Halliburton, for which Vice President Richard Cheney acted as chief executive officer in the 1990s.” (Key paragraphs from the ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005).
Wow, how convenient was this act? What is better than having the Vice President, in your back pocket? Well just to let you know, since all of the controversy and complaints, The EPA and several other government organizations have started looking into this matter deeply. Most all of the oil companies are willing to comply with the EPA on whatever regulations that need to be set in place to protect our drinking water. Well, with the exception of Halliburton.
I know that we are in need to try to relieve ourselves of dependency of foreign energies, but to what price. I believe that we have developed and encountered on some of the most efficient energy sources known to man. We have solar energy provided by the sun, we have windmill farms utilizing our wind sources, and we have aqua based energy sources in dams and waterways and even the ocean. Our land is providing corn, sorghum, wheat, rice, potatoes, and sugar canes, that are used to make ethanol based blends of fuel. Why would we want to jeopardize something as precious as our water supply when we have so many other resources? Is it greed? Or just pure ignorance?
Key paragraphs from the ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2005. (n.d.). Retrieved from Marcellus-shale.us: http://www.marcellus-shale.us/2005-Energy-Act.htm
60 Minutes, NBC News. (Director). (2011). Shaleionaire [Motion Picture].
Summary of the Safe Drinking Water Act. (2011, August 11). Retrieved from EPA: United States Enviromental protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/lawsregs/laws/sdwa.html