Sunday, July 1, 2012

So what is "fracking" and why is it important?

In case you were wondering why fracking is so important and why we are suggesting that fracking be banned, I thought we'd go over some issues as well as what exactly fracking is. "Fracking", otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing, is a procedure to extract natural gas from the earth. While the procedure has been around for a while, there have been increasing concerns about fracking. Not only does fracking contaminate the environment around the fracking wells but it also contaminates the neighborhood's water supply. We have seen commercials and banners on buses that talk about clean natural gas, there is very little that is clean about how that gas is extracted. Fracking requires thousands of gallons of water mixed with hundreds of chemicals, many that are carcinogenic. This water mixed with chemicals does not disappear after fracking has occurred. It can evaporate into the atmosphere later falling down as acid rain; it can seep into the ground around it, contaminating the environment; it can spill into any rivers or streams nearby killing all manner of life that utilize it as a source of water and nourishment; and it can also seep into the drinking water system, contaminating tap water in unnatural ways, leading to health hazards for families in a variety of ways - either directly or through any livestock that are sold to the markets for food.

We watched the documentary called "Gasland" and it follows the journey of Josh Fox as he attempts to discover more about fracking and its consequences; his discovery is instigated by an offer from the oil and gas companies to lease his land in Pennsylvania because it is sitting above a large shale formation containing tons of natural gas. In the documentary, he interviews families around the U.S. who have had fracking wells installed on their properties and discovered dangerous consequences. Gas has so contaminated drinking water supplies that you can light your tap-water on fire by holding a match to the stream of water coming from the pipe.

Fracking in the state of New York will not only contaminate the environment but it will affect the New York watershed which supplies drinking water to approximately 9 million people in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware. As such, it is a pressing and urgent issue so I suggest you take a look at the previous blog entry about ways to voice your concern against fracking. I'm sure you would be distressed if you could not use the tap water to shower, wash dishes, and cook let alone drink.

I believe in reducing our dependence on foreign oil but I believe in doing it in a manner that is more sustainable and responsible. Natural gas is not the answer. And for those people who are concerned about "aesthetics", fracking wells certainly do not look attractive. We need to look into more sustainable solutions such as wind and solar energy -- solutions that do not harm the environment or the people who live in it. So if you don't care about what fracking does to your drinking water and the environment, then don't take any action; but if you do, read the other blog entry and take action. Please.