Fracking…

Ever heard of “Fracking”..? I hadn’t before yesterday.

In this video from The Daily Show, “Gasland” director Josh Fox talks with Jon Stewart about the toxic materials from hydraulic fracturing that are turning up in people’s water supplies.

The process is called hydraulic fracturing, or “Fracking”.

It is a process of pumping more than a million gallons of water along with a mix of sand and fluids [pdf] deep into the Earth to break apart the rock below and free the gas locked inside it.

It’s a technique that’s been used for decades to extract oil and natural gas from shale, but it has seen a growth spurt in recent years, thanks to technological advances, like hydrofracking, that have made it more competitive economically.

This article from “Speakeasy” (WSJ) goes into more detail on this new documentary “Gasland”:

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The director of the experimental theater group the International WOW Company, Fox first became interested in the subject of natural gas after the Pennsylvania native was asked to lease his land for drilling. The inquiry led Fox to embark on a multi-state investigation of the natural gas companies, and their use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process involves pumping large amounts of water deep underground, fracturing rock to release natural gas.

When asked about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, Fox says he sees definite parallels to the natural gas industry. “It’s the same sort of situation in terms of the regulation atmosphere,” he said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “We’ve seen natural gas blowouts all over the country, and people are abandoning their homes because the industry won’t take responsibility for their actions.” Fox added that oftentimes individuals who either invest in natural gas or middle-managers who work at natural gas companies are shocked by what they see in his film.

Fox’s documentary has ruffled a few feathers and several natural gas-affiliated organizations are claiming that Fox has his facts wrong. But Fox says all the facts speak for themselves and can be looked up. “The natural gas industry’s PR system is so great, many people believe that natural gas is a good solution to climate change,” he said. “But it’s a dirty polluting fossil just like the others.”

The documentary film “Gasland” premieres on HBO this coming Monday. (Wish I got HBO..)

For more detailed on the process of “Fracking” (Hydraulic fracturing), go here.

NPR did an interview with director Josh Fox on this “Fracking”  and his new film. Here’s a segment of the discussion that caught my eye (the entire interview is quite interesting):

[...]

FLATOW: And the chemical they inject underground, the formula for that is secret…

Mr. FOX: Yeah, highly proprietary. Well, not everything is secret. Their – the fracking fluid is something – there are many different chemicals in the process that they use over time. At first, they thicken the fluid with gelants and then they turn it around and turn it into a liquid. And it’s very, very – there’s no friction at all. So they’re injecting all these different chemicals down on the wellbore – about 596 that we know about – a lot of which are proprietary. We don’t know the chemical compositions.

The industry is not releasing what those chemical compositions are. They’re saying it’s like the special formula for Coca-Cola. But this is, you know, being injected underground and left there by the millions of gallons. And we know that most of the stuff is toxic: carcinogens, neurotoxins, other – endocrine disruptors, things that are – can – that can really be very harmful in small, small quantities.

FLATOW: The FRAC Act, which is lying in committee in Congress, would force them to release all the information about what’s actually in that…

Mr. FOX: Yeah. It would force the disclosure of the chemicals and reregulate the industry under the Safe Drinking Water Act. They were exempted from Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 by the 2005 energy bill which was a baby of Dick Cheney and their energy taskforce. And, you know, in fact, hydraulic fracturing is exempted from most of our most basic environmental laws…

FLATOW: It shows it right there in the legislature?

Mr. FOX: In the 2005 energy bills, it says right there. Yes. This is the Halliburton loophole. It is the exemption for hydraulic fracturing to the Safe Drinking Water Act. But they’re also exempt from the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, which controls storm water runoff and the Superfund Act. So they don’t have – they’re not liable to clean up their mess. And also, the Community Right to Know Provisions. I mean, the list goes on and on.

[..]

Seriously, read the entire interview. Cheney… Halliburton… Brother..

There was a discussion on “Fracking” on Democracy Now! Want more information?

An excellent graphic on the “Fracking” process from Pro Publica:

Try reading more in-depth at Huffington Post. This is a very good article on “Gasland” by Bill Chameides who is Dean of Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment. He talks lots of details and history on this drilling process for natural gas, and then ends with this:

For me one of the most compelling moments of the movie comes near the end. Josh [the director of the documentary] is in the office of an official from a state environmental protection agency asking him to do something to stop fracking in his backyard. Even though he will not allow drilling on his property, others likely will.

The official says there’s nothing he can do — it’s the price we have to pay to get the energy we need. When pressed further, the official gives Josh his business card. “Call me if you have any problems,” he advises — in other words, the industry is going to be allowed to frack, but after the creek you live on is polluted and once your drinking water becomes unhealthy to drink, let us know and we’ll be there for you. “And then what? Build me another creek in my backyard,” asks Josh. The official shrugs his shoulders and walks out of the room.

This is a map showing where in the USA “Fracking has been and continues to be used:

Do we as the people who LIVE in this country have any say at all about what happens TO this country and our environment? Corporations seem hell-bent on destroying the land in their race to get wealthy (wealthier). They have bought and paid for our country’s lawmakers in order to ensure their success and cover their asses, with no consideration to the land, water, air, or the people. They fight any attempt at rules and regulations. What can we do? Is this really the price we must pay for energy?

The timing couldn’t be better for this film to come out. Perhaps we are really close to finally doing something to stop the wanton destruction of our environment, of our world. One can hope..

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5 thoughts on “Fracking…

  1. Agreed, Zooey. Muse, this is an excellent post. Gas drilling is the top conservation priority here in the PA Chapter Sierra Club this year. We have to continue to explain to folks how their energy consumption and consumer choices impact the Earth. Your post does that – Well Done :)

  2. Unfortunately, I’ve heard about fracking. This is something that is beginning to take place in western Pennsylvania and into New York State in the Marcelus shale. The mess that is created is horrible. Just two weeks ago, there was an accident in western PA at one of these “fracking” sites (or should I say f*cking sites). Fortunately, no one was hurt. It occurred on private property owned by a “rod and gun club”, a place where stupids gather.

  3. The Pennsylvania legislature is writing a bill that will require the gas industry to disclose the chemicals that are used in fracking.

    Our next war will be for clean drinking water.

  4. Excellent post.

    It’s like all those stories popping up all over the world, I can’t keep track. Good you did it for us, muse. Thanks.

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