It should tell us that fracking pollutes, that it's risky business, and that without the official blessing to violate federal law, the method would not be widespread.
But fracking is already widespread and we're likely to see much more of it. Over the next quarter-century, frack gas is projected to be a $250 to $500 billion gold mine, if the only those pesky enviro-nerds would just shut up. That's why the industry will continue pummeling us with PR and spin ads -- to persuade us that what's dirty is clean, what's dangerous is safe.
Ohio, led by John "The Wonder Guv" Kasich, is hell-bent on getting its slice of the pie. After a brief informal moratorium for study of the relationship between earthquakes and deep injection wells for disposal of fracking waste water (the official, industry-assisted finding is "no correlation"), the ODNR is again issuing drilling permits, and plenty of them.
This fracking thing is a "hole-y" process -- you need a hole for your gas well, into which you pump pressurized water, sand and chemicals. Then you need another hole for a disposal well to hold your contaminated waste water. And now it seems you may need yet another hole, a plain old water well to extract more fresh water so you can keep shooting it into your ever-increasing number of gas wells and keep the process rolling along. Soon, we'll be thoroughly perforated.
|Nat-gas fracking wells|
If nothing else, fracking is wet -- a very water-intensive method. An article is today's Dispatch described the problem, using Carroll County as an example. In 2010, Carrol County residents used 378 million gallons of water. The county's mineral extraction businesses used 3.5 million gallons. Today, if every fracking well in Carroll County is drilled, the industry will use 805 million gallons -- more than double the current level. You can't just magically increase the water supply, so the industry is lining up every water source imaginable, from Lake Erie to rivers to ground water to your kid's backyard baby pool.
What if we run dry? An ODNR spokesperson helpfully explains that "30 trillion gallons of precipitation falls on Ohio each year." So you're telling us that it rains? Does all that rain fall directly into these friggin' frackin' wells? I didn't think so.
Property owners are entitled to "reasonable" use of water running across their land. What if a fracking company's insatiable thirst leads it to syphon off a bunch of upstream water, and leave just a trickle downstream? Another helpful ODNR spokesperson offers this suggestion: "If companies damage someone downstream, they can be sued." So they can't be stopped, just sued. How convenient!
The same spokesperson wants us to know "There's enough water to go around."
Water for whom, he did not say. I'm so comforted that the State of Ohio is on top of this issue.
We need energy. That's a fact that will never change. Big picture, we're gonna need new sources of energy, and soon, and preferably renewable sources. That's not fracked natural gas. Fracking is a gold rush. It prolongs our fossil fuel fantasy. It's an inefficient Rube Goldberg method that may give us a cheap price in the short run, while it also generates hazardous waste byproducts for us to deal with in the long run. It's a classic case of ends justify the means.
The industry geniuses tell us to trust them, it's all good, it's all safe. I hope they're right. But we've never fracked to this extent before. So really, how would they know? How would anyone?