Monday, December 19, 2011

The Fracking Fakts About The Fracking Frackers

Well, fracking is a dirty business, no matter how you try to frame it. Now I'm getting sleazy ads on my gmail page telling me how to get in on the ground floor of the investment game that is gonna make me a bundle. You know if they have sunk that low in the marketing strategy, it's like Newt Gingrich's presidential was a real bull market a few weeks ago, but now?
But the deals have been made and the machines are in motion and the frack now pay later racket is in full swing in America. 
You know what fracking is, I'm sure.  Basically, it is a technique of gas extraction used in layers of sandstone or limesttone, but more commonly now in rock layers such as shale reservoirs that contain hydrocarbine resources, such as oil and natural gas, trapped in the layers. Fracking fluid is a usually a slurry of water and other chemicals. Chemical additives used in fracturing fluids typically make up less than 2% by weight of the total fluid. Over the life of a typical well, this may amount to 100,000 gallons of chemical additives. They are biocides, surfactants, adjusting viscosity, and emulsifiers. Many are used in household products such as cosmetics, lotions, soaps, detergents, furniture polishes, floor waxes, and paints. Some are also used in food products. A list of the chemicals that have been used was published in a U.S. House of Representatives Report. Some of the chemicals pose no known health hazards, some others are known carcinogens, some are toxic, some are neurotoxins. For example: benzene (causes cancer, bone marrow failure), lead (damages the nervous system and causes brain disorders), ethylene glycol (antifreeze, causes death), methanol (highly toxic), boric acid (kidney damage, death), 2-butoxyethanol (causes hemolysis).
The fracking fluid is forced injected into well bores and the pressure fractures the rock layers and the results are an amount of gas or oil which is recovered, but in the case of gas, much escapes and contributes to the Greenhouse emissions the fracking gas recovery methods are supposed to help eliminate.
Fracking is a short term profit making process which causes long term ecological damage. Some of the problems are increase in radioactivity in rivers where the waste water is dumped. This was found in the Monongahela River in Pennsylvania and there is not consistent monitoring being done so we do not know the full extent of this problem.
Groundwater and well contamination is being documented as an ongoing problem. See this recent AP News Article and this one in The Virginian documenting the pollution of wells and ground water in Wyoming. The waste water contains the toxic chemicals used in fracking and the hydrocarbons migrate to wells. 
Recently, the evidence has become undeniable that Fracking is the source of earth tremors. In a recent Cuadrilla Resources industry report, they admit that fracking has caused magnitude 3 earthquakes in England.
 I think it's safe to assume that by the time an energy company is admitting problems, it's generally much worse than they admit.But a recent Cornell University report is absolutely damning in its assessment to the long term environmental damage caused by fracking. There bottom line is:

We should not proceed to view shale gas as a 'transitional fuel' to be used over the next few decades to replace other fossil fuels, but rather work harder to move towards truly green renewable fuels as quickly as possible, such as wind and solar."
I am compelled to write this piece after hearing from my buddy who lives in South Western Pennsylvania, smack dab on top of the Marcellus Shale Formation. A shelf of shale that runs from  central New York State through Appalachia. This is the prime area of Fracking exploitation in the Eastern USA. My friend has a small rural property which has been his home for many years. He relies on well water. Many of his neighbors have much larger properties so he seems to have been the last one to have been contacted by the Williams Resources Co. who offered him $2500.00 an acre for the mineral rights and the rights to frack under his property. He was told that it didn't matter, because all of his neighbors have signed already. The fracking contract gives the developers the rights to build roads and pipelines through his property. Already there is a history of shady workmanship and intimidation in the region. Here's a NY Times article from last week documenting the fight of South Fayette residents against the State's Republican Government Fracking Free for All Give Away...and the article documents the night mare the residents are facing.
I would like to ask any readers with knowledge of dealing with this reality if they have any ideas I can pass on to my buddy. He is getting his groundwater tested at his own expense so he can use that as evidence if he has to in the future.  To lean more, try to see the movie by Josh Fox, Gasland the Movie. It is available on YouTube...I posted part one above.
My buddy hasn't signed anything yet and he thinks the landsman, the guy representing Williams (Rick) has given up on him after the guy said, "I can't believe you are not interested in this." My buddy told him, 
"Rick would you pimp out your kids to a ped for 2500 bucks?"


J.O.B. said...

Not only would they pimp their kids, they would make a delivery.

MRMacrum said...

I had my deep water well fracked about ten years ago. All the guy used was pond water from the local lake. I wonder why they need to use all those chemicals? I am assuming the chemicals help to break down the shale in small enough bits and pieces so they can eek out every cubic centimeter of gas available.

Regardless, this country is so desperate to hang onto it's addiction to a diminishing resource, we will ignore almost anything to keep the gas flowing.

squatlo said...

Watching the gas industry and their merchants of evil in Congress protect their investments ought to be all any rational person needs to see to know which party protects people and which party would strip mine and flatten the Smokies if they could make a dime on the deal... When fracking is absolutely connected to the contaminated wells and health issues of those affected (as it will be) you'll see a ton of class action lawsuits battling through the courts for years. At the core of every case will be the waivers signed by the idiots who leased out their land, and the untold victims whose water and land were ruined even though they had nothing to do with the drilling. Pollution and contamination are equal opportunity afflictions, so it won't just be the folks who whored out their land who lose.

There should be criminal charges brought against these assholes.

microdot said...

I find it very interesting that I have been inundated with spam type emails and now one stop stuff on my gmail advising me about the "misleading" facts in the gasland documentary and pointing me in the direction of "alternative" opinions that when I go and look at them, are all of a generalized glossy pastiche genre of misrepresentation and deliberate ignorance of the real environmental concerns in an attempt to paint any one who would dare to stand in the way of their sanely patented corporate opinion as a tree hugging eco terrorist...meanwhile they address none of the real problems or concerns raised in the articles I quote or the movie gasland....pure propaganda for the masses...

Serge said...

While there are some benefits to fracking as it provides oil as an end product, one just can't deny that the means to get it might pose a threat to the environment as well as to those individuals who live near the area where the drilling takes place.

microdot said...

The profits from fracking are immediate booty...fracking of course represents a finite energy source. The ecological and human costs are ignored by the politicians who are paid to pass the protective laws and steal land rights.
Yes, a lot of people are getting rich off of fracking, but then what, while you are living in your energy fantasy land, we are neglecting our real future!If you support fracking, your grandchildren will learn to curse your legacy. The philosophy of the energy industry is buy now, die later. If you opened your eyes to the real advances made by the rest of the world in renewable energy, you would understand easily that if we invested a small amount into catching up and jumpstarting renewable energy technology we would have been there already....but then, that would cut into the profit potential projections of ....oh shit.