Oil and gas companies have never been concerned about people or the environment. Although they spend millions of dollars attempted to convince the people of the United States otherwise, the truth is there for all to see. What they do care about are profits. One of their most destructive practices causes more pollution than drilling. Many are saying, ‘fracking; not in my neighborhood.
Fracking is the process of drilling underground and injecting thousands of gallons of water at high pressure to shatter the shale and release natural gas. There are over 500 gas wells in the United States. The first thing one notices in an area where fracking is taking place is increased truck traffic. Each well requires more than 400 trucks to take supplies to and from the area. Each fracking effort involves 1.8 million gallons of water. When the water arrives at the site, it is mixed with sand and chemicals to produce the necessary fluid. 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used. The fluid, which contains 600 different chemicals, (many are well-known carcinogens and toxins), is injected 10,000 feet underground. As the shale is cracked and the gas rises, this toxic fluid seeps into the ground water, polluting wells.
Just one of many complaints was made in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection granted a permit for an oil company to operate fracking wells near an elementary school before protests could be heard. The company drilled six wells. The pollution from diesel trucks and the caustic chemicals contaminate the air surrounding the school which is less than one mile away. The local waste company is building three solid-waste disposal pits for the residue from the fracking process. They are also less than a mile from the school and will occupy an area of nine city blocks.
Now for some good news. With oil prices falling, fracking is becoming less profitable. On this day, a barrel of oil is selling for 80 to 85 dollars per barrel; and prices continue to fall. The cost of fracking to obtain a single barrel is about 62 dollars.
For capitalism to actually work, competition is key. U.S. oil companies compete with other nations for petroleum sales. In the Middle East, a barrel of oil can be produced for about 30 dollars. In the artic, the cost is 78 dollars, and Canada’s tar sands oil is 74 dollars per barrel.
Because of the competition, American oil companies continue to explore new locations to drill.
Fracking is as dangerous to our drinking water as an oil leak is to marine life. Why is it allowed by our government? The same explanation exists for every other company which pollutes our atmosphere and water; lobbyists. The petroleum companies spend millions of dollars donating to the campaigns of Senators and Congressmen who support them. In this situation, they want to ensure that their tax breaks are not removed, and that no bills are passed restricting where and how they drill for oil.
So, like it or not, there could soon be a fracking well near you.
By James Turnage