Thursday, January 10, 2013

Frack You

There was a protest in Albany, NY yesterday to voice displeasure against hydrofracking which as we all know or should is the practice of pumping chemicals and water into a natural gas well in order to extract gas locked in the rock below. 

Main stream media reported that "hundreds of land owners and business people  also turned out to voice there support for natural gas development walking through the concourse carrying "friends of natural gas NY" placards. But that's not exactly the case after a reality check and a livestream verification. Turns out that only a handful of supporters were there and their chants were drowned out by the overwhelming anti fracking crowd.

So what's wrong with fracking one might ask? They're only trying to increase our quantity of natural gas and this will provide much needed jobs. First off the chemicals used are considered a trade secret therefore it's nearly impossible to determine their toxicity. Even the MSDS sheet gives only vague information as to their health effects. These chemicals forced into the ground under very high pressure tend to seep into the ground water ending up in the local folks' tap water.
One man at the protest brought a sample of his tap water. It was yellow and had the smell of gasoline. In addition to the chemicals there is a vast amount of water used in the process which is then pumped out to holding ponds at the drill site. These ponds are also toxic and are often left unattended and not well protected from animals or curious children.

In Montana it's a different story. Years ago it was common practice to drill a gas well without the use of bentonite a common inert mud like material used to seal a well to prevent seepage. It's used because it binds to toxic compounds, seals the well like cement and can actually be found as one of the primary ingredients of Pepto Bismol (termed barclays of bentonite). You can actually buy the stuff in most health food stores as a remedy. See you learn something new here every day. Unfortunately the fly by nighters in Montana were too cheap to do the job correctly so there's quit a bit of contaminated ground water.  This is not to mention all the nasties from the many mines like Anaconda copper near Butte or as the locals call it Butt.

As I realize that no system is perfect but it sure makes one wonder if there aren't better ways of doing things. Even "green" technology has it's draw backs but it seems a better alternative than what we're doing to ourselves at the moment. And one last issue. While you may see the likes of these corporate giants paste their names to "clean energy" signs at those well sites, the truth is that they're subcontracted to smaller companies who have a greater interest in profits than public safety or doing the job right.     


BBC said...

I used natural gas in Montana, it was cheap, and I didn't know about all this crap. And I see little point in getting worked up about any of it now cuz it just drags me down and I have no control over anything.

They dropped natural gas in this area years ago, got tired of blowing their buildings up.

Roger Owen Green said...

Albany, NY - heard of that place. If I worked downtown, I would have been there, too.

Randal Graves said...

At least the Job Creators will still have clean water.

BBC said...

Rain water, even though it also has some crap in it, may be about the cleanest water we have in the future, and we get plenty of it here.

S.W. Anderson said...

Molly Ivins wrote about fracking in Wyoming and what it did to the land and landowners there about 10 years ago. Of course there ought to be a law requiring frackers to disclose what chemicals they're using. The law should prohibit toxic chemicals that can contaminate the groundwater and require secured holding ponds and remediation of those ponds afterward.

The energy industry's massive lobbying and deep pockets that can pay high-powered lawyers to fight regulation on the courts indefinitely make that a tough proposition. It should be done anyway. We don't need more ruined land, water supplies and cancer clusters.

Maybe the answer is to shift money from the Defense Department to agencies fighting corporate and personal greed. The greedy in our midst seem to pose the greatest threat to us these days.

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