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Monday, April 18, 2011

What the Frack?

You may have heard about it on the news recently: Fracking. The long term for it is Hydraulic Fracturing. Its a process by which millions of gallons of chemicals and water are pumped deep into gas-containing shale rock to fracture it and let the gas seep to the surface for collection. Its the biggest boon to the Natural Gas industry in decades, and is helping to drive down energy prices across the USA, which happens to be one of the largest sources of natural gas energy in the world. Heres a neat diagram showing how fracking works

On the surface, the process seems innovative and safe, but deep below the ground the chemicals, such as Methanol, are seeping into water tables and contaminating important aquifers in the northeast and Rocky Mountain west states, where the largest reserves of natural gas lie. Many gas companies claim the water stays deep underground, but natural capillary forces move the chemicals and contaminated water upward into looser surface layers where aquifers lie. Such chemicals are often highly poisonous and toxic to both the environment and to us Humans. These normally shouldn't be used in these instances, but thanks to a loophole in an energy bill passed by the Bush Administration and hurried through congress by Dick Cheney and Halliburton, these chemicals are not monitored by the E.P.A. and thus can be used without regulation, polluting the environment without any liability to the natural gas companies.

To make matters worse, since the recession hit 3 years ago, gas companies have been baiting landowners with high-paying contracts to use their land for fracking. A one-time installation of a fracking well can pay off in a short amount of time to the company while leaving the landowner with slowly degrading well water and hazardous chemicals. In the popular documentary Gasland, one homeowner in Pennsylvania is able to light his faucet tap water on fire simply due to the high concentration of gas and methanol seeping into his wellwater. Its disgusting, and people don't yet know how hazardous fracking really is. We urgently need to spread awareness of this problem and combat this situation before it gets out of hand and we're left with poisoned citizens and degraded watersheds across the U.S., simply because we wanted cheap gas.

11 comments:

Xuian said...

fracking is an ecological disaster. it should be banned immediately. I saw a documentary about it poisoning entire water supplies. Go corporations!!

Kingmush said...

This is terrible, among the issues you posted. This process has known to cause and increase probability of earthquakes in areas which aren't usually prepared for them. Potentially causing massive damage.

Grafted said...

This is horrible

Jesper said...

This wasent nice to read..

mac-and-me said...

insane

Danny Murphy said...

We are just asking for trouble with this.

Piets said...

Jebus!

Corridor said...

informative as always~ I always enjoy reading the snippets you have for the world.

I never knew that the contamination was such a huge problem...

SirJohnBear said...

Fracking has lead to so many deaths in the US, and we have strict laws. I can't begin to imagine what it has done to other countries throughout the world.

Jellybro said...

If fracking lowers prices for consumers, I'm all for it.

metaphysicalfarms said...

It really is pretty horrible for the consumers in the long run. They will spend more money for health coverage than they will on the amount of money they save for the gas. Not a good cost-benefit analysis.

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