What is fracking? High volume hydraulic fracturing, HVHF-fracking, involves injecting chemicals, sand and water into shale formations through a drilled horizontal well to fracture rock. Industry claims the process is safe and necessary for economic growth and energy independence. Environmentalists, health professionals, scientists and many concerned citizens tend to view HVHF in a much broader scope. Fracking is about political power, corruption, wealth, citizen vs. corporate rights, human health, animal health, home rule, states’ rights, money environment and more! Here are a few examples.
Fracking creates a quagmire for regulations. Most early scientific data comes from the industry itself, and was unchallenged. The gas industry lobbied successfully to be exempt from Federal Clean Water and Clean Air Acts and other environmental protections. States are left to regulate an industry that is complex, changing and growing at an unprecedented pace. Since production is not contained within one state’s border, the interstate commerce operations fall under regulations established by the Federal Government. It is a monumental task for financially strapped state governments to draft effective regulations protecting citizens and fostering economic growth.
Land rights for gas mining are established by lease agreements. Many Marcellus/Utica Shale leases were executed in the early development years before the general population knew about potential ramifications. Mortgages, insurance, use rights, and home sales are all affected by a gas lease. Aside from gas production, the practice of selling the leases is another financial instrument for the industry. Recently Chesapeake Energy Corp. sold 619,000 acres of land assets in the Ohio region for over $2B to Total SA, France. America has become a patchwork of land that is “controlled” by national and foreign corporations. Land leases are creating a potential house of cards for America’s economy.
Although natural gas is promoted as clean energy, the process by which it is obtained is far from clean or healthy. The physical impacts of heavy industrialized operations are taking a toll. Air pollution from methane and increased diesel fumes has no boundaries. Sand mining fosters erosion and produces unhealthy silica dust. Chemical leaks or spills release toxins with long lasting devastating effects. Industry operations disrupt natural habitats and farmlands. Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORMs) are being brought to Earth’s surface. No one wants permanent toxic waste storage injection wells nearby!
Another major topic around fracking is the considerable use of fresh water. Around 5M gallons of fresh water are used every time a well is fracked. The water issue is critical because 1) fresh water is removed from the natural ecosystem; and 2) the impact across the nation is cumulative. Earth’s water supply contains less than 3% fresh water. It is not a commodity to exhaust.
Fracking touches every fiber of our society’s fabric. Even if drilling technology improves, we still lose overall. This massive corporate industrialization of our regions and devastation of our planet must stop. Fracking fosters damaging fossil fuel energy dependence and obscures alternative sustainable energy developments. Fracking is more than a drilling process. Become aware.