How Hydraulic Fracturing Can Help Save The Planet

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There has been an incredible amount of hysteria surrounding the subject of fracing in recent months. Also spelled  as “fraccing” or  “fracking,”  the word has become synonymous in some circles with the very destruction of the planet itself. Opponents see it as injecting poison straight into the heart of mother earth or Gaia,  with no benefits to nature or humankind whatsoever. Rallies were recently held around the world on “Global Frackdown” day to protest the practice. Sadly, those well meaning, Birkenstock wearing,  earth – lovers (many of whom undoubtedly arrived at the rallies in gasoline powered cars,)  have got it all wrong. Unfortunately many of them know little or nothing about how the procedure is actually done, nor do they know about the many levels of safeguards and government regulatory processes involved. Most fracing opponents aren’t aware that there are thousands of feet of solid rock between where the procedure is applied and where fresh water aquifers are located, nor are they aware of the potential for natural gas to help reduce CO2 output and therefore slow global warming.

Hydraulic Fracturing And Shale Gas Are Good News For The Planet

Hydraulic fracturing is the best thing to happen to the earth since the ban on CFC’s and DDT.  How can this be you may ask? Without the technology of hydraulic fracturing, shale gas would be impossible to obtain. The Unites States is now the world’s largest producer of shale gas. Soon we will be exporting natural gas to countries overseas from LNG terminals such as those currently being built by Cheniere Energy along the Gulf Coast.  It was only a few years ago that LNG or liquefied natural gas terminals were being built to import natural gas from the Middle East. Now we have a surplus of it, thanks to hydraulic fracturing. The US is poised to become the world’s largest natural gas exporter, which also will help to reduce our massive trade deficit.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel, yet burning it produces less than half of the CO2 that coal does, and with almost zero particulate emissions. While coal plants in the US scrub much of the particulate emissions out of exhaust, plants in third world countries such as Mexico and China do not. Technology to remove CO2 from coal plant emissions exists, but is still years away from being widely implemented in the West, much less in undeveloped countries such as China.  According to the UN, China accounts for nearly a quarter of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. In addition to CO2, coal fired power plants in China are responsible for air pollution that travels in vast clouds around the world.  The next time that you visit Big Bend National Park in Texas, or the Grand Canyon, take a look at the displays in the park headquarters about pollution. Park rangers will be happy to explain how pollution not just from the US, but from China and other faraway places has reduced visibility in the parks.

Below is a photo of modern day China. The reason that you do not see bicycles on the streets anymore is that the air is too polluted for riders to breathe.

China Holds 20% Of The World’s Shale Gas Reserves

World governments, (including the Obama administration,) have acknowledged the need for countries such as China to switch from coal to natural gas. Even the most liberal world leaders know that here are no alternatives that can replace coal as easily as natural gas can. They know that a switch to natural gas instead of coal will result in a drastic reduction of global pollution levels.  In an effort to expedite the switch, the Unites States plans to help China and other third world countries acquire horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology. According to a recent article in the New York Times:  “the State Department has launched the “Global Shale Gas Initiative” to facilitate the transfer of technical expertise to other countries to ensure safe development of this new resource.”  According to the EIA, China may hold more than twenty percent of the word’s shale gas reserves, enough to power their homes and industries for decades.

The plan is to establish a series of “Shale Gas Trusts” around the world, to disseminate information on how to produce shale gas, regulate the drilling process, and also offer governments advice on how to switch from coal to natural gas.

This is good news for the planet, but possibly very bad news for the natural gas industry in the United States, which was looking forward to exporting gas abroad. On the flip – side, a widespread conversion to natural gas in China could eventually drive down the cost of the things that we need to convert our economy to run on gas, including NGV vehicle conversion technology, fueling station equipment, etc.

We Need Objective Reporting About The Natural Gas Industry.    Fracking With Explosives: What The Frack?

You can blame “liberal media bias” or whatever you want for the lack of objective media coverage about the subject of hydraulic fracturing. You can blame the poorly researched and blatantly biased movie “Gasland” or Dick Cheney himself for the way that hydraulic fracturing is viewed. The fact is, reporters and environmental activists love terms that they can turn into loaded verbs, such as “frack,” (which slightly resembles a swear word.) Sensational stories and web pages denouncing hydraulic fracturing, helps to gain more viewers  and raise more contributions than factual stories do, period.  The media and the “Anti Fracking” crowd loves to drum up more viewers or contributions to their causes by using illustrations of how hydraulic fracturing is causing well water around the country to ignite or how it causes earthquakes. They love to show images of drilling locations where heavy equipment is operating during a fracing operation, yet they never seem to show viewers what the well might look like for the next 20 years as it sits quietly producing natural gas with a minimal amount of maintenance and with a small footprint on the environment. If you Google the words “fracking” and “explosives” together, you will most likely  find articles on environmental websites that explain that “in addition to toxic chemicals, explosives are set off underground.” Images of workers dropping sticks of lit dynamite down wells must surely come to mind for some people.  What they don’t tell you is that the “explosives” are small, directed charges used inside the steel casing as part of a “perforating gun”, which is used to create perforations or holes to allow oil and gas to enter the wellbore, not to blow up the earth.

As for the “toxic chemicals,” these account for less than 1% of the total frac fluid and include common acids and stabilizers found in many household products and foods. See Frac Facts for more info. It is true that oil and gas industry workers don’t arrive at a well location to perform a fracing operation in their electric cars, nor do they hold hands together while they sprinkle fairy dust on the earth, or do yoga before going to work. It’s noisy and hectic looking around a well site for a few days, but then it’s over and done with. Compared to a coal mine, gas wells produce large quantities of valuable energy, with a very small footprint on the land, and with a minimum amount of labor required.  So far, in the forty – plus years that hydraulic fracturing has been used in the oil and gas industry, (with literally thousands of horizontal wells successfully stimulated using the technique,) there has been only ONE confirmed incident where well water contamination resulted from a frac job done in a shallow formation. Since that time, fracing has only been used in deep shale reservoirs which are typically located around a mile or more vertically below fresh water aquifers.

Aren’t  Wind Turbines And Solar Panels Made From Flower Petals And Sunshine?

 There is clearly a need for renewable energy, but one thing that is never shown in the media is how much energy from oil and natural gas goes into making each wind turbine or solar panel. Wind turbines and solar panels are made from aluminum, fiberglass, plastic, steel, copper and other raw materials that are mined or extracted from the earth. Those materials are created in smelters or factories which are powered primarily by natural gas and crude oil.   Without the energy supplied from oil and natural gas, there would be no way to produce  renewable energy sources such as these, a fact that is rarely mentioned. Wind and solar are not without their own set of issues. For one thing, they are both unreliable, intermittent sources of energy. Something, such as natural gas, has to provide energy when the sun is not shining or when the wind quits blowing.  For now our choices  are either coal or natural gas. Many of those who are concerned about global warming are embracing the latter, which also means accepting hydraulic fracturing as part of the solution rather than something to protest against.

Want more info on hydraulic fracturing in Texas Visit the Texas RRC’s Website Here