Posted by: Dr Churchill | April 19, 2012

Fracking Crazy

‎”The deterioration of every government begins with the decay of the principles on which it was founded.”
Charles De Montesquieu.

Fully two thirds of people worldwide, are already facing water shortages of varying intensity, as we move towards the decade of water wars and severest fresh water scarcity. Our drought century isn’t starting in 2020 or beyond. It has already started since last century and will be felt dramatically by all this very decade. What goes on in the Horn of Africa is just a prelude to what we will all have to go through in the pursuit of our lives while trying to maintain the fecundity of the earth to provide for our food.

But our Public Policy isn’t addressing the challenges facing us in our present future, but rather occupies itself with solving the non-problems of the past, and thus pushing our lives on the brink and threatening our civilization and our very way of life.

And this is nowhere more evident now than in America. Because public policy is failing us, just when Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, Colorado, and even large parts of the Midwest are experiencing severe water shortages, gas fracking has arrived with the government’s blessing, to claim the little fresh water remaining unspoken for. Further in the US laws of the land turn a blind eye to greenhouse gases released by fracking. And this comes at a time, when the EPA admits that fracking accounts for more than 40 percent of the nation’s overall methane emitted into the atmosphere. Methane being a far stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, its emissions contribute mightily to the greenhouse global warming effect, which in turn causes more drought. And when the global warming effects are further augmented by the burning of all that “cheap” gas, we are going down the vicious cycle farther and faster. And repeating this cycle ad infinitum, will surely pose a grave threat to our civilization, now that we aren’t able to stop global warming to the prescribed two to three degrees Celsius. But we digress and we should return to the effects of fracking on water.
Constant droughts are a fact of Life for most.
Yet the kind of severe droughts that have become endemic in large parts of the world and especially in Africa, Latin America, Asia and now in places we didn’t think it possible before is terrifying. It’s really scary because even in the strongest economies of the world, in countries like China and the US, water scarcity is already putting strong pressures on the population.  And it is under this dry spell, that the Department of Energy has given the go-ahead for an industrial process that will deprive us of water, more than any industrial process, we’ve tried before. And in the process, it will pollute our aquifers throughout the land and make vastly more water than it consumes unusable for human consumption.  I am of course talking about hydraulic fracturing, or fracking for gas exploration and gas mining.
Because high-volume fracking needs between 1.6m and 2.5 million gallons per borehole. That is an astonishing amount of water. Between seven and eleven million liters of water for a single well. And 7-11 gets a new meaning for water now. Judging by the number of wells throughout the US that reaches to hundreds of thousands, we are stunned. The water needed to keep the fracking gas flowing exceeds the surface water available in the USA. And all that water is used for, is in smashing rock under intense pressure and toxic pollution to extract gas from shale rock formations deep underground. All those Billions of liters of water are giving the shale rock a BTEX injection that is so highly toxic, any aquifer that comes in contact with it is doomed. BTEX is a potent cocktail of benzene,toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
The fracking industry use this process that threatens to poison our drinking water by setting off depth charges near subterranean faultlines, and then further pumping in nuclear radioactive isotopes, and many deadly chemical toxins, as part of their daily activities, before they start pumping in heavily pressurized water and toxifying the whole mix for ever. It is a bizarre industrial process in the way it pollutes with reckless abandon and gives nary a consideration for the water, the people and the environment.
Not to mention all the volatile organic compounds contaminating our aquifers, nor counting all the earthquake damage caused by fracking since we have identified that fracking poses grave risks of a chain reaction of seismic tremors and full on earthquakes.
Terrible seismic tremors you can feel beneath your feet are caused by fracking along seismic fault lines. Because that is where the shale rock formations are situated. All along seismic fault lines and we go an stir them up with explosives. Smart eh? Of course the industry claims that these are controlled small seismic reaction earthquakes to the depth charges they explode under your feet… Yet small earthquakes are earthquakes all the same, and some times trigger and lead to massive ones too. Earthquakes by definition, are massive releases of unsettled energy and when you stir this particular hornet’s nest, you are in for a treat. Anyone who has opened a fizzy cola after shaking it up knows this. Because, fracking works by detonating shale rock thousands of feet underground, and although the shale gas industry says these are controlled explosions, there is, however, no such thing as a controlled earthquake.
And the giant loss of clean water is a crime of the first magnitude.
Because even in the best-case scenario, the frackers will simply rupture aquifers and pollute our drinking water, as it happened many times in communities of Pennsylvania and Wyoming and elsewhere across America. This is so because the process of fracking itself — by design pollutes our fragile aquifers — same as it has done in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Texas.
And now in a very dry 2012 in Colorado. Colorado  — where a whooping 98% of Colorado state is already in a severe drought — fracking gas energy companies are outbidding farmers for all the unallocated water in the state’s water auctions.

The average price for an acre-foot of water provided by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District is up to $28 per acre-foot, $6 more per acre-foot than just two years ago. Northern Water, as it is also known, provides supplemental water for farm and ranch land and about 850,000 people in Northeastern Colorado via the Colorado-Big Thompson Project, a trans-basin water infrastructure that pumps water from the west side of the Continental Divide to Colorado’s eastern cities on the other side of the Divide.

Oil and gas development has been going on in both the eastern and western parts of the state for many years but the recent discovery of commercially viable hydrocarbons in the Niobrara Formation in the Denver Basin has renewed energy firms’ interest in Eastern Colorado as a hotspot for development.

But that sudden interest in oil and gas from the Niobrara Shale also means a sudden increase in competition for the water needed for the fracking gas wells. And the 28 percent price spike for unallocated water at the recent Northern Water auction is causing concern among farmers and environmentalists alike.

“How do we continue to sustain agriculture when there’s just more and more demand on our water resources in this state?” said Bill Midcap, director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, in an article in Sunday’s Denver Post.

 Add to that the severe pollution on the aquifers and the underground water tables and you have a really explosive situation.
And with the financial crisis upon us; we are in for a treat. Because we can never afford to fix the damage the Frackers have wrought on the land and our treasured water supply…
The words of the US governments’ Environmental Protection Agency give me the chills, when I hear them say that ground water contaminated by fracking is “typically too expensive to remediate or restore”.
Joe Logan, director of agricultural programs for the Ohio Council, spoke to farmers and property owners in Medina county of Pennsylvania about the fracking caused pollution damage to the fresh water aquifer and underground water. He said:  “drilling can dramatically affect a community because when the big rigs start drilling for oil and gas using millions of gallons of chemically laced toxic brine to force out the oil and gas it is already too late. He showed a photograph of a dead cow that drank the salty brew from a spill from a holding pond near a fracked well in Louisiana.

He went on to state: “Any of you in the audience who happen to be livestock owners know it’s always a really bad thing when you see a cow with its feet pointed up into the air. The chemicals used in the process typically remain a trade secret and can include heavy metals, solvents and volatile organic compounds such as benzene and toluene, Logan said.

“The industry will tell you, ‘Don’t worry, there is only 1 percent of chemicals in the mixture that we’re pumping down the well,’ ” Logan said.

“If you do the math — 5 million gallons times 1 percent — you’re talking about 100,000 pounds of material and the sorts of materials being used are kind of worrisome,” Logan said. “Fourteen oil and gas companies use 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products or compounds using 750 different chemicals or compounds,” Logan said.

Research still is being done on environmental damage, but Logan said that studies by Professor Anthony Ingraffia at Cornell University shows that concrete used in the wells is subject to failure.

“Professor Ingraffia said one quarter of those concrete jobs will fail almost immediately; three quarters will fail eventually,” Logan said.

Dubanevich, an attorney, who represents plaintiffs whose water supplies are contaminated because of natural gas exploration, said some of his clients in Pennsylvania needed to vent their water wells to disperse “extremely high” levels of methane around their homes.

“You can’t smoke, and there can be no spark near that well, near that vent, because there could be trapped gas in there that could blow up the house,” Dubanevich said.

“They never had a problem before, but the gas industry is saying this is a naturally occurring phenomenon because your area is known to have high levels of gas,” Dubanevich said.

“Well, recent tests by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection also identified ethane in their water,” Dubanevich said.

“That gives us a clue that maybe it’s coming from deep within the earth or a pocket way below ground level and that could mean it probably came from drilling,” he said. “It can cause migration of gas into that aquifer.”

He said “shoddy drilling” can create a preferential pathway through the drill pipe “for contaminants that otherwise were trapped beneath the surface of the earth” and allow them to enter the aquifer.

Dubanevich said people have a fundamental right to clean water, but laws are weak in Ohio and Pennsylvania just as drilling is moving into high gear.

“Ohio and Pennsylvania are ground zero for fracking. North Dakota is hot. Texas has kind of peaked out. Wyoming has been devastated, but right now things are hot in Pennsylvania and Ohio,” Dubanevich said.

And the battleground of independence from fracking is now again the Delaware river basin. The headwaters and the tributaries are in the same river where the American Independence was won in the historic and desparate battle where George Washington crossed the Delaware and fought for America with thousands of patriots the battle of Trenton. History repeats itself. And the current threat are not the redcoats of King George, but the soldiers of the mighty fracking industry and their bought and paid for politicians. Yet another crossing of the Delaware is planned and another battle of Trenton is going to be fought this November 21st in order to stop British Petroleum, their American counterparts and their subsidiaries from fracking the Delaware. Because the river of Independence is still the Delaware. A river that forms the interconnected system of  headwaters, tributaries and water shed water ways, providing drinking water for the people of New York and New Jersey amongst others. Delaware is the biggest battleground where the future of the drinking water for New York City and fifteen other million people will be decided again this November 21st. In Trenton New Jersey. Come join us and protest, in the anniversary from last year’s battle, because the fight has not been won. The war against fracking in the Delaware is still on — this pivotal election year — in order to stop the more than 20,000 gas wells already drilled, and still permitted and still scheduled for fracking — in the Delaware river headwaters basin. Make no mistake that a Republican win this November, will most certainly open up the road to fracking the Delaware. American and British big energy company sources, bankrolling the Republican party with corporate cash, have told the Environmental Parliament’s Ruddy Wallace, of their hopes that the American nation’s energy production could be transformed by fracking shale formations in order to release American oil and gas and thus make the US the number one producer of fossil fuels again in the world…

There are bigger interests at hand here too. All fossil fuels are ready for fracking if the gas fracking succeeds as it appears to be doing now… Pipe dreams? You decide. Because where gas fracking goes — oil fracking follows soonest.

Please don’t forget the desperate gamble of George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware and his resulting victory in the battle of Trenton back in 1776. Your turn now to cross the Delaware and come to Trenton New Jersey, to fight this battle all over again in 2012, same as we did in 2011. Remember the morning of November 21st, is our meeting time again, in Trenton New Jersey to gather to fight and save the Delaware on the anniversary of last year’s clarion call and temporary moratorium to fracking the Delaware. And for the New Yorkers its important to remember that the Delaware river basin is also the headwaters for the Hudson river running through New York City and providing most all its’ fresh water.

And here finally comes the EPA to confirm that fracking’s deadly toxins make their way into our drinking water supply. The EPA confirmed last week, that chemicals found in a Wyoming town’s drinking water are directly associated with hydraulic fracturing have made the water supply unfit and dangerous for human, animal livestock, or agricultural purposes use. Remember, this is the drinking water supply of a whole town — we are speaking of. The Environmental Protection Agency is now raising the stakes in a debate over fracking, a drilling technique that has created a boom in natural-gas production and is the bane for fresh water supplies. The agency’s draft findings are among the first by the government to link the technique, dubbed “fracking,” with groundwater contamination. The Environmental Parliament has also objected to the fracking method of gas production since the early days when this method was developed. Fracking works by injecting large volumes of water, sand and chemicals to dislodge natural gas or oil from shale rocks and this technique has been criticized by the Environmental Parliament for its directly harming of the water supplies and polluting the aquifers. We fought this battle for the Delaware, since day one, but more is needed and your participation is necessary, because this is a citizen’s “Call to Arms” and you need to defend your water rights come November. After all the right to clean water is a basic human right as enshrined in the Carta of Human Rights since July 2010, through the general assembly of the UN in New York. This was accomplished in large part due to the efforts of the Environmental Parliament and people like you. So on November 21st, come out and play with us across the Delaware, in Trenton New Jersey…

 In Europe, meanwhile, France, Germany and Bulgaria have became the first EU countries to ban fracking with Austria, Italy and Spain to follow soonest. The European countries’ indefinite moratorium followed a serious political pressure campaign by the Environmental Parliament, which ranged across the whole political spectrum and above the ideological divide. A truly Bipartisan and fully conservative campaign was launched, fought and won. The Environmental Parliament chalked up a victory in a campaign that won the hearts and minds of the European public, across nationalities and across political ideology and changed the people in power too. A truly simple Environmental Parliament campaign that changed national energy and public policies overnight for most of Europe. Some political leaders and responsible people went so far as calling the fracking industry’s toxic water pollution; the new Black Death…
All in all the Environmental Parliament still works to make fracking illegal in all of Europe under the EU commission’s mandate. Yet now we are working to bring the lesson across the Atlantic to the US.
Because in America things are not that different. Even though here the fracking shale gas glut is mistakenly reported as pushing America towards Energy security — in fact the opposite is true.  Grave insecurtity on many levels is what fracking gas represents for America.
 And all electoral constituencies — wherever fracking is proposed — are going to see the issue become a political hot potato. A political earthquake waiting to happen, just as much as it did in Europe. Because fracking is a truly bipartisan issue. It is an issue that transcends the political divide and the people will vote against the good old boys, against the type of ideology, and against any party loyalty — each and every time — when their health and safety are concerned. When they see no clean fresh water available for their children, people revolt. Simple as that. And after the BP mega-death oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and this being America, they don’t up stakes to move to another country but they stay and fight like another day Alamo. People here fight like mad when you pollute their water supply. They aren’t going to take it lightly laying down. No Congressman or Congresswoman who supports fracking is safe this November. No senator who supports fracking can sleep safe at night. None at all. And no one will dare follow the party whips in the teeth of righteous constituency anger. A popular revolt that will ignite like methylated tap water in a Pennsylvania kitchen, is in the offing — come this fall. Popular outrage against fracking is justified…
And the US political landscape will surely shake this Fall, because no American politician can defy, the righteous anger of the American public affected by the gas fracking. And this is a red hot anger, which even the gas firms’ PR teams, the American political lobbies and the seemingly deaf US legislators; will not be able to extinguish. Because in each and every Red or Blue constituency, state and county, where fracking is proposed, you can forget about ideology or party loyalty. Fracking will not just undermine the shale geology of America but it will alter the recognisable political landscape in the process.
So if you are a voter, or a politician wooing voters, this is a good post to remember.
Because the forgetful gas bag, store bought and fossilized politicians, will surely disappear in a cloud of gas this Fall.
Yours,
Pano
PS:

And even though at times, politics seems to be a bargain between beggars, the reason why this election cycle is important for the Republic is for all of our Energy choices.

And now the decision to proceed with fracking, above and beyond ideology, showcases the powerlessness of the communities outside of the beltway money buying influence, when the democratic process isn’t observed and the citizens aren’t involved. Because when the citizens aren’t voting, nothing remains to protect the interests of their family, of their lives, or their destiny and their future. Yet that too is changing. And all the pent up anger of the voters, will be released this November, and what may happen is entirely up to them.

Since communities cannot compete with the gas fracking industry for access to clean fresh water and they cannot bend the ear of money bought politicians, this election cycle is their only chance to vent their frustration and maybe even alter the course of their doomsday fracking scenario.

Because the people are not powerless when they exercise their political will. And if you want a glimpse of the appalling powerlessness of fracking-afflicted communities in the United States outside the election democratic process, then please watch the Sundance-award documentary film, “Gasland” telling the tale of fracking the Delaware and the public hearings to stop fracking:

Please don’t see this, if you don’t care, as it is a life changing experience. Watching this short film, will change your life. Am certain of it. It will at least motivate you to go out and vote. It will drive you out to organize your community’s democratic response for this pivotal election for the nation’s future.

For as our friend Montesquieu said:

” It is not chance that rules the world. Ask the Romans, who had a continuous sequence of successes when they were guided by a certain plan, and an uninterrupted sequence of reverses when they followed another.

There are general causes, moral and physical, which act in every republic, elevating it, maintaining it, or hurling it to the ground.

All accidents are controlled by these causes.

And if the chance of one battle — that is, a particular cause — has brought a state to ruin, some general cause made it necessary for that state to perish from a single battle.

In a word, the main trend draws with it all particular accidents.”


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