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Frack, Frack Away!

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I’m sure that plunging ahead with fracking will have no unintended consequences or deleterious effects on the environment. Going forward with the procedure without proper testing, oversight, or regulation is a brilliant idea.

A study released Monday on a rural Pennsylvania county’s drinking water found traces of toxic fluids used in the controversial oil and gas drilling technique, fracking. The study, published in the science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tackles head on the fear that fracking could contaminate the water supply. “‘This is the first documented and published demonstration of toxic compounds escaping from uncased boreholes in shale gas wells and moving long distances’ into drinking water,” Susan Brantley, one of the study’s authors, told the Associated Press.

The researchers collected drinking water samples in 2012 that contained traces of a chemical commonly used in fracking, as well as in paint, cosmetics, and cleaners. “The industry has long maintained that because fracking occurs thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers, the drilling chemicals that are injected to break up rocks and release the gas trapped there pose no risk,” according to the New York Times. “In this study, the researchers note that the contamination may have stemmed from a lack of integrity in the drill wells and not from the actual fracking process far below.”

Of course, defenders of fracking will cling to the uncertainty expressed by the researchers as to precisely how these chemicals got in the water supply. On one level, that’s fine because the question clearly calls for additional research. That’s what scientific research does. But on the other hand, the very people who might say that are also those absolutely don’t want to see any restrictions on fracking no matter what scientific research says, such as the overwhelming evidence that fracking causes earthquakes. Scientific research should not be a one-way street, but in a nation that both fetishizes technology and capitalists and in a nation that needs jobs and has not put nearly enough resources into non-fossil fuel energy, it’s hardly surprising.

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  • Juicy_Joel

    How fitting that the ad on this page was encouraging me to invest in oil and gas drilling.

    “American Oil From American Soil!”

  • trollhattan

    On the uh, plus side Kern County, CA irrigates 10% of their crops with fracking water that’s been partially treated and nobody’s testing the water for fracking chemicals, so enjoy those oranges.

  • MeDrewNotYou

    According to the New Yorker article, the big quakes are caused by pumping wastewater from all kinds of drilling back in to the ground, not fracking. Since you’ve been proven wrong on this minor technical point, I expect a full retraction and apology to the Koch brothers. /Heartland Institute

    But yeah, the oil industry has a real life earthquake machine like all the super villains want. Taking stuff out of and putting stuff in to the ground makes it move. Who would’ve ever guessed an outlandish outcome like that?

    Also, and more importantly, the post title sounds off. It needs another ‘Frack’ in there, like “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” So yes, I am asking for more fracking. Drill Baby Drill! for a euphonious title!

    • DrDick

      They have pretty conclusively been proven to have caused a massive spike in seismic activity in my native state of Oklahoma.

      • MeDrewNotYou

        Both sources say fracking quakes are usually magnitude 3 or below. Presumably, though, fracking produces plenty of wastewater that combined with other oil industry leftovers produces the big quakes. Does disposal of fracking water alone produce large quakes?

        Regardless of the precise causes, I find it pretty scary that we’re creating any man-made earthquakes, much less by corporations that are uncontrollable since they’re in deep red states. That we’re doing it in the pursuit of fossil fuels is just the icing.

        • DrDick

          They say that fracking usually produces magnitude 3 or below quakes in area with little or no previous seismic activity. Consider, if you will, the massive expansion of fracking in California.

          • MeDrewNotYou

            I would be a little worried that fracking in California might be even more dangerous in earthquake prone parts of the state by triggering bigger ones. Maybe the fear is misplaced, though, and the minor quakes could relieve the stress and prevent big ones. Then we can thank the oil companies for saving us while still dooming us all.

  • stryx

    Don’t forget the greenhouse gas drifting over D.C. and Baltimore

    “While there’s been an overall decline in non-methane organic carbons and improvement in air quality since 1996, the atmospheric concentration of ethane, one of the components of natural gas, rose 30 percent between 2010 and 2013,”

  • joe from Lowell

    Water leaks from drill wells. Wastewater disposal. Gas releases during the drilling process.

    That’s a very slopping industry, and it needs to be made to clean up its act.

    • DrDick

      Speaking as someone who grew up in the oil field, that is the way they have always done business.

  • Rob in CT

    I wonder how many claims will end up on my desk because of this stuff. I mean, hey, job security I guess…

    Wastewater containment, treatment and disposal was my #1 concern from day 1 with this.

    Even with reasonable precautions, leaks happen. If you consider reasonable precautions to be tyrannical governmental buggering of Job Creators ™, oy. Let Freedom (Industries) Reign!

    • MeDrewNotYou

      Places that cause too many/too destructive earthquakes will end up destroying the homes and businesses of the surrounding area and maybe killing a few folk. The depopulation will make it more expensive to produce the oil so that the earthquake-making companies are driven out of business. No burdensome government regulation needed! It’s the miracle of the invisible hand!

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