When I first read about the large underground deposits of gas in shale deposits being mined with new technology and that enough had already been located to supply the world for another hundred years I thought “how great!”
Later, when I read about the process called “fracking” (fracturing), in a periodical that still does investigative reporting (The Hightower Lowdown) and actually reports it (July 2010), I had to think again. (Of course, the major media, owned mostly by the 1 percent, have little or no incentive to print the truth.)
What’s involved is drilling a hole down from 5,000-20,000 feet, cementing a pipe into the hole, then forcing millions of gallons of water and sand slurry, laced with hundreds of chemicals down the pipe to fracture the layers of shale and let the gas out into the pipe. However, not all of the gas goes up the pipe. Some escapes into the soil and eventually reaches the surface, often entering aquifers and water wells from which many communities get their drinking water. (Not everyone in our country lives on a river.) Some is absorbed in the water and comes out of the faucets of some people’s homes, sometimes as flames! (This is no joke, it really happens!)
Methane releases from drilling add to the global increase in climate change and pollute the air with asthma causing smog. “For example, a six-county region of Texas with heavy fracking has a startling 25 percent asthma rate for young children,” the Lowdown reported. In heavily fracked locations, the EPA has put up “No Drink” warnings.
Also, some of the chemical-filled slurry escapes into the aquifers and wells that supply drinking water carrying such things as benzene, naphthalene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. It may then bring up deep-earth contaminates with it such as arsenic, lead, chromium, barium and strontium. (Approximately 632 chemicals are involved all together: 25 percent can cause cancer, 40 percent can affect the brain and most are toxic in other ways).
But, “how do they get away with this you might ask?”
A past vice president named Cheney who was the CEO of Halliburton before becoming VP convened fellow Halliburton employees to help him rewrite the national energy policy. The result has been called “The Halliburton Loophole”:
“Paragraph (1) of section 1421 (d) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (U.S. C 300h (d) is amended … [to exclude] the underground injection of fluids or prepping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities.”
It was not for nothing that VP Cheney was paid by Halliburton a total of $1 million while he was serving our country as VP! Halliburton is the leading “fracking” corporation, doing $1.5 billion/year of fracking business. Overall, more than 90 percent of gas wells in our country are being fracked. So far, only a small portion of the northwest of our state is in the gun sights of the frackers.
My wife has always said, “If it is possible to destroy our planet, we human beings will find the way!” It looks to me like fracking might just be one of the ways to do that.