Hydro Fracturing, aka Fracking, Dirty & Ugly, but What Choice do we Have?

by L J Furman, MBA on March 12, 2013

in Hydraulic Fracturing

Satellite photo of US at night. Flares from Bakken shale wells in North Dakota

Satellite photo of US at night. Flares from Bakken shale wells in North Dakota

We have large deposits of shale oil – in the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, and in the Bakken formation in North Dakota and Canada.  Estimates vary. USGS, 2008 estimated 3.0 to 4.3 Billion Barrels of recoverable oil.  Today, the North Dakota Geological Survey (PDF) estimates 18 Billions Barrels of recoverable oil.  It also states

“the Bakken play on the North Dakota side of the basin is still early in the learning curve. Technology and the price of oil will dictate what is recoverable from this formation.”

Here in the US, according to the US Energy Information Agency, we consumed about 7.0 Billion barrels of refined petroleum products in 2010, slightly less, 6.7 Billion barrels, in 2011.  This is roughly 22% of world demand.  (here)

The Bakken formation holds Five Months to Two and One Half Years of US Oil needs.

Fracking, short for hydro-fracturing, is a technology for mining oil and methane from rock formations. It requires large amounts of clean water, large amounts of toxic chemicals, and generates, along with carbon, of dirty water, heavy metals, radon.

The proponents say that it is better to use this domestic energy source than to buy oil from the Middle East, Nigeria, Venezuela, etc.  They have a point.  They would probably also say that if we are going to destroy an ecosystem it is probably better to destroy a less productive land based ecosystem like that of North Dakota than the rain forests of Ecuador or the marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic.  But I doubt that they would say that publicly. Many of the proponents don’t talk about “Global Warming” or “Climate Change.”

Bill McKibben, of 350.org, R. P. Siegel, who co-wrote Vapor Trails and writes for Triple Pundit, Al Gore, who won the popular vote for US President in 2000, and many others, including myself, who think about global warming and climate change and see the challenges presented by our need for energy and the potential  suggest that it would be better to use wind, solar, geothermal, and other fuel free systems, and to manufacture fuel from sewage, garbage, agricultural waste and algae than to dig fossil fuels – and heavy metals – out of the ground – and in so doing severely damage the biosphere.

Part 1 in a Series.

Image courtesy of NASA and Loren Steffy of the Houston Chronicle, here.

An analyst with Popular Logistics, Lawrence J. Furman holds a Bachelor’s in Biology, an MBA in “Managing for Sustainability” from Marlboro College, experience with information technology. He can be reached at ‘L Furman 97” @ G Mail.



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