Fracking. Part 1.

English: A poster for drinking water security ...
English: A poster for drinking water security from the EPA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Posted August 16, 2013

by Jerry Alatalo

Fracking is a subject that I have spent next to no time researching but, after finding interviews which described the poisoning of people’s water supplies and wells, decided to look into it. Not only are citizen’s water wells and aquifers being harmed by the chemicals released during the fracking process, but some communities in Texas are going dry as fracking is using up the available water.

Probably many of you were first alerted to fracking from seeing videos of people lighting fire to the water coming directly out of their kitchen faucet. Those images are of the type that an immediate, lasting impression is created.

Looking at the posts of men and women which appeared after searching for “fracking” related articles in the reader quickly led me to a story which had to do with the situation in New York. This article included an interview by Ellen Cantarow of retired Mobil executive Louis W. Allstadt, which was originally posted at Truthout. You may be interested in going to Truthout to read the entire interview.

I had never been to the truth-out.org website, but perhaps some of you are familiar with the journalism there. The video in this post is an interview of Ellen Cantarow.

For those who will not read the interview, I will try to give you an idea what Mr. Allstadt focused on. Keep in mind that he was an executive at Mobil. He first pointed out that the earliest conventional oil and gas production began in Pennsylvania many years ago and has continued to this day with the offshore extraction/drilling now occurring.

The conventional oil and gas reservoirs have become exploited to the extent that in the US, Europe and the Middle East, new sources have become difficult to find. Because of this situation oil and gas companies are searching for new supplies through non-conventional shale or tight-sand drilling, and exploration in even deeper water than the Gulf of Mexico, where the worst environmental disaster in history occurred.

Another option for oil and gas companies is to explore in the hostile Arctic or Antarctic regions.

Mr. Allstadt says that fracking is part of the “race for what is left.” Fracking is not new as it has been around for 60 years. The difference now is that fracking needs to use 50 to 100 times the fluids (water, chemicals) as in the past, while there is much more flow-back that needs to be considered and dealt with.

He notes that the biggest issue surrounding the fracking phenomenon is the release of methane, which is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. There are already cases where methane has entered into aquifers supplying people with drinking water, as well as releases of methane into the atmosphere.

What got Mr. Allstadt concerned enough to alter his retirement routine was when he discovered an EPA study which showed that fracking fissures progress in unexpected patterns, and in greater lengths than was previously thought, was removed from an important document in New York. The document had to do with state guidelines for the gas industry, compiled by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. He said that the industry was trying to hide the fact that methane, and chemicals used in the fracking process could reach drinking water supplies.

One more concern Mr. Allstadt alluded to was the breakdown of plugs in wells, plugs to prevent methane leakage into water supplies and the atmosphere. Steel pipes will rust out, cement will inevitably crumble in 100 years, for many wells this deterioration will happen sooner.

Mr. Allstadt went on to talk about the tremendous amount of time which was wasted, time which should have been used for consideration and development of alternative energy solutions. He said that oil and gas executives state that they are building the bridge to alternative energy, but that nobody is building the bridge: the solar panels, wind energy generators, biofuels etc., etc., etc.

Finally, Mr. Allstadt simply stated, and we must listen to this former Mobil top-level manager, that it is time to get on with it.

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