Running head: FRACKING AND THE ENVIRONMENT The Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing and the Potential for Solutions Mark Hatcher ITT Technical Institute Full of beauty and bounty, for all who seek it, the dream of that new discovery or the find of a lifetime, awaits us whose desire is to have the plan that will fulfill a destiny, if we only work together and are determined to rise above the challenges to meet the aspiration.
Those who believe and are willing to reach beyond normal capacity are most of the time able to accomplish the needs of the many, which in turn help further the cause for our existence and the anticipation of things to come. In doing so, many resources have been revealed fitting and useful over the course of time to assist us in our daily needs and social settings, allowing us the ability to sustain ourselves throughout history. However, as those resources grow smaller and our economy demands grow greater, we recognize the need to expand the search for other means of reconciliation to survive.
In today’s economic struggle and political upheavals, we are ever so more seeking out new ways to take care of our own and retrieve new ways of self-dependence upon resources known to exist; only the means to extract are at hand. As most of us know, one of our most precious and well utilized resources to date is oil, black gold, which found far beneath the earth’s layers, in turn sent the Beverly Hillbillies to stardom. The need for oil and the byproducts that come from it are in great need and the costs are rising daily.
Our requirement to ascertain this product has caused some concern and revealed the necessity to seek out new ways of locating this liquid assurance, for meeting our future demands. Although, there may be many ways of retrieving this from beneath the many depths of the earth, there has only been one way, truly effective for reaching areas untouched by normal means, which has become the center cause of debate in recent years. I will, through the use of various reports and studies bring forth analysis and discovery that highlights the use of hydraulic fracturing and the effects hat seem to shadow over this seemingly burdened tactic of extraction. Before immersing ourselves in the myriad of reports, studies, and personal accounts concerning the results of this approach, we should understand what hydraulic fracturing is and the process it takes. Understanding the process, through which this approach is considered, we will be able to seize what the issues are and the potential for ushering in an agreement to a solution. We must first recognize what shale is and what it offers. Is this the answer to our economic future and interdependence on oil?
Shale is a very compacted rock with fine sediment that is found to be with a large amount of minerals and other resources. “Shales are fine-grained sedimentary rocks that can be rich resources of petroleum and natural gas. Sedimentary rocks are rocks formed by the accumulation of sediments at the Earth's surface and within bodies of water. Common sedimentary rocks include sandstone, limestone, and shale” (ShaleTech Shale Training and Education Center, 1995). We know that there are many resources we can extract from this area and the plays will require a unique technique to draw the required material out.
Plays are noted to be spread out, throughout the United States and furthermore, the other side of the great pond is known to have several locations found to be worthy of the dig. “Shale gas maps show "plays" are found throughout the Mountain West, the South and throughout the Northeast's Appalachian Basin. The Barnett shale play in Texas, for example, is 5,000 square miles and provides 6 percent of U. S. natural gas. The Marcellus shale play that stretches across Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia covers ten times the square miles of the Barnett, but has only recently started to be developed” (EnergyFromShale, 2012).
There is much to do, in order to gain access to much of the plays that have yet to be discovered. As we progress in the direction of needed acceptance, we must consider the reasoning behind the need for access and what implications it may bring. “The U. S. Energy and Information Administration (EIA) reports that over 750 trillion cubic feet of technically recoverable shale gas and 24 billion barrels of technically recoverable shale oil resources in discovered shale plays exist” (EnergyFromShale, 2012). This knowledge should propel us to continue to esearch necessary ways of extracting such a rich resource. However, within the last 50 years, there has been a means of retrieving this valuable resource for our future existence and economic progress. This activity has been possible through the actions of many drilling companies by the use of hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing is a unique way to obtain the oil reserves by drilling in a horizontal pattern and gaining access to those many billion barrels of oil and natural gas waiting to be released.
First, we must completely understand what hydraulic fracturing is and what it represents to the public. “Hydraulic fracturing is the process of drilling for natural gas and oil underneath the ground. Water mixed with other components is pumped into the ground to create cracks (also referred to as fissures or fractures) to release the gas into wells that have been built for collection” (WhatIsFracking, 2013). As the fog of understanding is slowly starting to lift, we again have to understand that there is a process, in which this occurs and will be noted in later pages, as to the affects of this procedure.
Note that this has not gone on for such a period, as to not be studied and time given to organizing the pros and cons of this operation. In order to gain access to the far reaches of the plays that holds the resource, the utilization of various fluids and sand is used in the process. It is vital to comprehend the need for monitoring the steps, as they occur and the overall engagement of the wells development. Steps are established, for this must have a great deal of regulatory involvement, while the entire flood of activity occurs. Water, sand and additives are mixed at the surface and pumped at high pressures down the wellbore. The fracturing fluid flows through the perforated sections of the wellbore and into the surrounding formation, fracturing it while carrying sand or proppants into the cracks to hold them open. Experts continually monitor pressures and fluid properties during the process, and adjust operations as necessary. This process is typically completed in multiple sections of the wellbore, commonly referred to as stages.
Typically stages are isolated using a plug to allow energy or pressure to be applied to a smaller portion of the formation to help maximize the fractures created in the target formation. The plugs are removed from the wellbore and the well’s pressure is reduced during the flowback process, leaving the sand in place to prop open the cracks and allow natural gas and oil to flow. Naturally occurring produced water, collected during the flowback process and throughout the life of the well, is properly disposed of or treated and re-used in the next hydraulic fracturing operation” (Chesapeake Energy, 2013).
As the process dictates, it is very in-depth and must have an enormous amount of oversight, in order to accommodate the issues that may arise during any given point. Now that we have a clearer picture of the process, we should learn of the historical track that played out, in the early days. The first recorded effort to gain access to the plays that hold the natural gas and oil deposits was in the year 1947 by Pan American Petroleum Corp. This was noted as being a test platform, in which there was to be hydraulic fracturing compared directly with acidizing.
This well, located in Grant County, Kansas, home of the Hugoton field Kelpper Well No. 1, was used as a tool for simulation productivity of oil and natural gas wells (Society of Petroleum Engineers, 2012). As time progressed, it became more and more popular, as a greater amount of drilling companies began to see the possibilities and growth potential in this process. Now we find ourselves faced with several years of activity and lessons learned to cope with, from various issues that have found their way to the open public.
After many years of hydraulic fracturing and the horizontal drilling effort, there have been noted disruptions by what has been occurring through the need to extract methane from the shale rock. Therefore, further analysis is necessary to investigate the potential cause of all the reports being tethered through local, state, and the federal governments. The impact of this drilling weighs heavily on the residents that are local to the drilling process.
The concerns stem from the possibility of contamination that may be chiefly caused by the various fluids that are transferred through the well system, in order for the fracturing process to transpire. There is great concern that life threatening incidents may be a great risk to the area being fracked. With this issue and many others on the horizon, the Environmental Protection Agency has been very inclusive in all the debate. Through many regulatory policies and formal laws, there have been continued discussions, in regards to hydraulic fracturing.
Before we discuss the major policies that have been implemented, it is necessary to bring about the detailed issues that have raised such awareness. An astronomical amount of reports had perforated the airways and given some reason for there to be fear in most of the residents’ eyes, when it could affect their very living conditions and livelihoods. "Areas of concern include perceived lack of transparency, potential chemical contamination, water availability, waste water disposal, and impacts on ecosystems, human health and surrounding areas” (University of Michigan, 2012).
The potential for there to be a complete downfall of an industry that had found an answer to locating and retrieving the well needed resource was now at the forefront of controversy and having to prove its place in this progressive economy. The report would continue to show the prospects of being an enormous loss to the residents of Michigan. "Hydraulic fracturing has the potential to touch issues that virtually all Michigan residents care about: drinking water, air quality, Great Lakes health, water supply, local land use, energy security, economic growth, tourism and natural resource protection," Hoffman said. In the end, our goal is to provide valuable insights and information to help address these important and legitimate concerns here in the Great Lakes State” (University of Michigan, 2012). The reports would not stop here, they would continue around the nation. “A U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) report found traces of methane, ethane and phenol in a monitoring well in rural Pavillion, Wyo. , where residents say fracking has contaminated their drinking water” (Colman, 2012). As noted, this was going to be a continual issue, needing mitigation and regulation by an appropriate authority.
Along with this report came other stories, following the same circumstances and leading to the same conclusions. At this point there needed to be an in-depth study to completely comprehend the issues that have drawn so much limelight and bring about a report that would lead to the needed answers and come to some final conclusions. This is where the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Interior (DOI) came together in an multi-agency agreement to work toward efforts to engage this potential problem. In March 2011, the White House released a "Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future" (Blueprint) –a comprehensive plan to reduce America's oil dependence, save consumers money, and make our country the leader in clean energy industries. The Blueprint supports the responsible development of the Nation's oil and natural gas, with the specific goals of promoting safe practices and reducing energy imports. The Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of the Interior (DOL), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) each will have a critical role to play in this mission” (Majumdar, A. Hayes, D. J. , Perciasepe, B. , 2012). Marching orders were therefore given to the multi-agency force and each would take measures, as to not go into redundancy and use each other’s fields of expertise and resolve conflicts, as they arose. As the EPA will continue to work in a multi-agency capacity to continue learning answers from their in-depth study, it is important to know that they did do an earlier study in 2004 on underground sources of drinking water, as it referred to hydraulic fracturing.
While the main portion of the fracturing is conducted in a particular place, many of the other sections of vertical and horizontal well sections may be set up over several thousands of feet away. “Fluids, commonly made up of water and chemical additives, are pumped into a geologic formation at high pressure during hydraulic fracturing. When the pressure exceeds the rock strength, the fluids open or enlarge fractures that can extend several hundred feet away from the well.
After the fractures are created, a propping agent is pumped into the fractures to keep them from closing when the pumping pressure is released. After fracturing is completed, the internal pressure of the geologic formation cause the injected fracturing fluids to rise to the surface where it may be stored in tanks or pits prior to disposal or recycling. Recovered fracturing fluids are referred to as flowback. Disposal options for flowback include discharge into surface water or underground injection.
Surface water discharges of the flowback are regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, which requires flowback to be treated prior to discharge into surface water or underground injection prior to discharge. Treatment is typically performed by wastewater treatment facilities. Underground injection of flowback is regulated by either EPA Underground Injection Control (UIC) program or a state with primary UIC enforcement authority. Injection of natural gas production wastes would be considered a Class II injection well” (Environmental Protection Agency, 2012).
As seen, there are restrictions in place to prevent any issues with contaminants from ground water penetration. Even with these restrictions in place, there are clear indicators that there is a more graphic understanding what is coming out, as a result of fluids being pressurized through the system. “Along with the introduced chemicals, hydrofrac water is in close contact with the rock during the course of the stimulation treatment, and when recovered may contain a variety of formation materials, including brines, heavy metals, radionuclides, and organics that can make wastewater treatment difficult and expensive.
The formation brines often contain relatively high concentrations of sodium, chloride, bromide, and other inorganic constituents, such as arsenic, barium, other heavy metals, and radionuclides that significantly exceed drinking water standards” (danps, 2011). There needs to be a very serious conversation of how this is cleaned up and an answer, as to whether it is enough. There is clearly a lot of work put into the actual cleaning of the ground water, prior to the actual point, in which we, as citizens are able to partake of the needed substance for consumption. No matter how clean it is when you actually consume it, the process of getting to it is unbelievably dirty. Even the USGS acknowledges as much: “While the technology of drilling directional boreholes and the use of sophisticated hydraulic fracturing processes to extract gas resources from tight rock have improved over the past few decades, the knowledge of how this extraction might affect water resources has not kept pace” (danps, 2011). This is only one aspect of where this all goes.
So many other areas of research are in need, to better understand the process, in which the fracturing is utilized. Further research was conducted and it was through the use of several interviews and questioning of a myriad of employees from various locations, concerning the extraction of Coal Bed Methane” (CBM). EPA researched more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, interviewed approximately 50 employees from industry and state or local government agencies, and communicated with approximately 40 citizens and groups who are concerned that CBM production ffected their drinking water wells” (United States Environmental Agency, 2004). After the many reviews and interviews conducted, the EPA came to some conclusions and presented them in chapter 7 of this current report. “Hydraulic fracturing may have increased or have the potential to increase the communication between coal seams and adjacent formations in some instances. For example, in the Raton Basin, some fracturing treatments resulted in higher than expected withdrawal rates for production water.
Those increases, according to literature published by the Colorado Geologic Survey, may be due to well stimulations creating a connection between targeted coal seams and an adjacent sandstone aquifer (Hemborg, 1998). In the Powder River Basin, concerns over the creation of such a hydraulic connection are cited as one reason why hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane reservoirs is not widely practiced in the region. Some studies that allow direct observation of fractures (i. . , mined-through studies) also provided evidence that fractures move through interbedded layers, sometimes taking a stair-step path way through complex fracture systems, and sometimes enter or propagate through geologic strata above the coal” (United States Environmental Agency, 2004). The EPA finished out their report with concluding comments that were found to be not as alerting than what might have been expected. Based on the information collected and reviewed, EPA has concluded that the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into coalbed methane wells poses little or no threat to USDWs and does not justify additional study at this time. Although potentially hazardous chemicals may be introduced into USDWs when fracturing fluids are injected into coal seams that lie within USDWs, the risk posed to USDWs by introduction of these chemicals is reduced significantly by groundwater production and injected fluid recovery, combined with the mitigating effects of dilution and dispersion, adsorption, and potentially biodegradation.
Additionally, EPA has reached an agreement with the major service companies to voluntarily eliminate diesel fuel from hydraulic fracturing fluids that are injected directly into USDWs for coalbed methane production” (United States Environmental Agency, 2004). Several other reports came into sight, throughout the country concerning the use of hydraulic fracking and the potential for impacting, not only the land, but the economy for a given area, as well. Reports stemming from a community that namely has an array of vineyards for the production of wine, have thrown a red flag of concern over the entire region.
This rise of apprehension over their displeasure of drilling companies simply ushering themselves in and going to work on their well, without concern for the nearby residents and their land. The mounting anxiety over this issue has occurred from the noticeable problematic reports of events that literally sprang up in the area. “This past June, a methane geyser was found in Pennsylvania’s Tioga County. Yes, a geyser — shooting methane-infused water 30 feet up in the air.
Once the geyser was discovered, the county immediately turned to Shell, which was drilling in three nearby locations. Shell and the Department of Environmental Protection began investigating, and it was correctly suspected that an abandoned well from the 1930s contributed to the problem” (Figueroa, 2012). This, being an erroneous event was later found to be an old existing well from the 1030s, where the fluid from a nearby well, being hydraulically fractured, leaked over near the old well and burst up through it, creating the 30 foot geyser.
There too, have been issues regarding the location of the wells near vineyards and the potential for disruption in the soil content and an economical impact, for the soil is worked to contain the right content for growing the vines for the fine wine. As well, if the land soil is tainted, there is a possibility of an economic suffering from the loss of profit if tastes change and are possibly contaminated. “Vineyard owners in California are growing increasingly wary of fracking as gas companies begin preliminary operations. Venoco has started exploring Monterey Shale for both oil and gas drilling.
Last year, the company filed an application for drilling permits in Monterey County, according to Simon Salinas, a member of the county’s Board of Supervisors, and it already holds hundreds of thousands of acres in the formation has drilled more than 20 wells and has invested $100 million in oil exploration. With vineyards and farmlands covering 200,000 acres of Monterey that help make up an $8 billion agricultural business, Salinas told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Anything that can taint our water and food supply could be devastating to our economy” (Figueroa, 2012).
Reports even go deeper than this, where there are believed to be detrimental damage and even death to animals that are near any wells in the area. It may be a reality as more and more livestock are raised near fracking sites. Hundreds of animals have already been affected after coming into contact with fracking fluid. “Last year, 28 beef cattle in Pennsylvania were exposed to the fluid. Only three of the 11 calves these cattle gave birth to survived. In Louisiana a few years ago, 16 cows dropped dead after drinking fracking fluid” (Figueroa, 2012).
These are all alarming reports and individuals that are in the area have every reason to be upset and concerned over the events taking place. The question is, does this warrant further investigation or simply better legislation to control the problem or the potential, there of? As all of this sounds incredibly scary and one may ask the whereabouts of such legislation, it is understood that all the problems that have come about, are those that have mostly to do with water and how it affects surrounding land and the owners.
This, being the case is under the written regulations of the Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. The UIC program has developed certain guidelines for all involved with the use of a fluid injection process to extract the shale oil and natural gas that is so plentiful, throughout our region. The guideline begins the use of diesel fuel for the injection process, in the following statement: “EPA has developed draft Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II permitting guidance for oil and gas hydraulic fracturing activities using diesel fuels.
This document describes information useful in permitting the underground injection of oil- and gas-related hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuels where EPA is the permitting authority. EPA's goal is to improve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements and strengthen environmental protections consistent with existing law” (United States Environmental Agency, 2012). There is further guidance, in regards to the injection of possible contaminants that may affect ground water supplies, as dictated by the process from hydraulic fracturing.
Through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which is authorized by the Clean Water Act, the following claim states, “industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters” (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). Until further guidance comes out of the primary study, presently occurring, there seems to be a number of statutes in place to maintain a great deal of oversight and must be used to maintain what has continued to draw an enormous amount of controversy and surely will continue throughout the course of the process.
The new study is to take a look at the vastness of what water goes through, during the hydraulic fracturing process. This being the call from congress, for the EPA to utilize its resources to read deep into the full cycle, in which the water passes, as it is used in the extraction of oil and natural gas from the shale plays. “At the request of Congress, EPA is conducting a study to better understand any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water and ground water.
The scope of the research includes the full lifespan of water in hydraulic fracturing, in regards to five primary points; the plan to study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, an approach to the science, quality assurance ; integrity, a peer review, and the transparency of the practice” (United States Environmental Protection Agency, 2012). The complete final report will not be made available until 2014, where it will be made public for review and comment.
Before this final report makes its way to the public, the EPA has issued an official progress report and has detailed the path that the study will go, as far as, how it will attain complete understanding of the process that water takes through the lifespan of hydraulic fracturing. The EPA is using computer model to match the conditions, in which the water travels through hydraulic fracturing. It will be identified through hypothetical and realistic scenarios, by which water acquisition, well injection, and wastewater treatment and waste disposal stages of the water cycle are identified and given fair study and representation.
All of this is being addressed as it relates to the Upper Colorado River Basin in the west and the Susquehanna River Basin in the east (US Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development Washington, DC, 2012). While it has been thoroughly discussed, as to the potential causes of awareness and a reason for alert, it is paramount that we discuss the hopeful answer to the issues that have been raised. There may be a possible olution, regarding the practice of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling; it may simply be an overall acceptance, until regulations can be the agreeable key to a solid outcome of this environmental squeeze on reality. Before we get to a proposed solution to the mind raking issues that have plagued this storyline, there is a cost to all of this and a place to put the responsibility on the shoulders of the bearers to this environmental struggle for clarity.
With fracking, being a well spread operation and bringing with it a toll of polluted areas, such as water, air, and torn up land across the nation, we are faced with the need to not only find resolution to this growing land grievance, but we need to recognize that there must be a means of restoration to the areas effected and the costs associated, dealt with during the process. Let it be known there is a high price tag in pursuing a cleanup and hopeful reversal of the damage done by the fracturing. Methane contamination of well water poses a risk of explosion and is often addressed by removing it from water at the point of use. In Dimock, Pennsylvania, Cabot Oil ; Gas reported having spent $109,000 on methane removal systems for 14 local households in the wake of drilling-related ethane contamination of local groundwater supplies. In addition, the company spent $10,000 on new or extended vent stacks to prevent the build-up of methane gas in 17 residents’ homes.
Such measures do not remove methane from groundwater supplies, but merely eliminate the immediate threat to residents’ homes” (Tony Dutzik and Elizabeth Ridlington, Frontier Group John Rumpler, Environment America Research ; Policy Center, 2012). However, water is not the only issue that is under the gun, there is also the effect that each fracking site has on the air surrounding it. The air we breathe highly contributes to the health of all those associated with residency in the area of drilling. A 2004 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) document, referring to the work of a Federal roundtable on environmental cleanup technologies, estimated the cost of air sparging at $150,000 to $350,000 per acre. Adjusting for inflation, and assuming that the extent of the seep was correctly estimated by Encana at 1. 3 acres, one could estimate the cost of the sparging operation in 2012 dollars at $248,000 to $579,000. In addition, as of May 2012, Encana and its contractors had collected more than 1,300 water samples since the seep began. Again, the cost of this sampling and testing is unknown, but could e conservatively estimated to be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Cabot Oil ; Gas, for example, incurred $700,000 in water testing expenses in the wake of concerns about groundwater contamination from a fracking well in Dimock, Pennsylvania” (Tony Dutzik and Elizabeth Ridlington, Frontier Group John Rumpler, Environment America Research ; Policy Center, 2012). In order for the companies out there that are working toward reducing the amount of pollution coming from fracking, they are looking at a high rate of dollars to keep it at a minimum. The clearance of forest land in Pennsylvania for fracking is projected to lead to increased delivery of nutrient pollution to the Chesapeake Bay, which already suffers from a vast nutrient-generated dead zone. The cost of reducing the same amount of pollution as could be generated by fracking would be approximately $1. 5 million to $4 million per year” (PennEnvironment Research ; Policy Center, 2012). It is important, not only to understand what it takes to cleanup at an actual location, but the cost incurred through repairing the lanes to the site, because of the variety equipment and how it damages the roadways. The truck traffic needed to deliver water to a single fracking well causes as much damage to local roads as nearly 3. 5 million car trips. The state of Texas has approved $40 million in funding for road repairs in the Barnett Shale region, while Pennsylvania estimated in 2010 that $265 million would be needed to repair damaged roads in the Marcellus Shale region” (PennEnvironment Research ; Policy Center, 2012). Infrastructure is important to have an ability to get to the site and out of the site safely, however there is a cost, when it comes to the other friends of our environment. Fracking has several negative impacts on farms, including the loss of livestock due to exposure to spills of fracking wastewater, increased difficulty in obtaining water supplies for farming, and potential conflicts with organic agriculture. In Pennsylvania, the five counties with the heaviest Marcellus Shale drilling activity saw an 18. 5 percent reduction in milk production between 2007 and 2010” (PennEnvironment Research ; Policy Center, 2012). This, being only one part of the issue, we also must consider the other end of the animal kingdom, our wildlife in the wilderness. Gas operations in Wyoming have fragmented key habitat for mule deer and pronghorn, which are important draws for the state’s $340 million hunting and wildlife watching industries. The mule deer population in one area undergoing extensive gas extraction dropped by 56 percent between 2001 and 2010” (PennEnvironment Research ; Policy Center, 2012). In this great land of ours, we are living in a generation that now must deal with a new healthcare system and be able to still afford the normal living expenses that come our way.
With healthcare cost rising and now the fight for the issues that have been rising over the industrialization of our resource gathering techniques, we are at the foothills and must climb up and rise above the extraneous costs that come from this means of extraction. “Drinking water contamination: In Dimock, Pennsylvania, permanently replacing residents’ contaminated drinking water with a new source was estimated at more than $11 million and health costs from air pollution: in Arkansas’ Fayetteville Shale region, air pollution from fracking operations impose health costs estimated at $9. million in one year. In Texas’ Barnett Shale region, those costs reach $270,000 per day during the summer smog season” (Environment America, 2012). This now seems, as though it is not going anywhere anytime soon, so where is a possible solution to this environmental peril we find ourselves in? Is there an answer? Or are we destined to sit and wait for an answer that may never come. Now, we find ourselves staring at a withering wilderness without any better days likely to come over this industrialized beat down.
Now that there is a more comprehensive understanding of what fracking is all about and the impact it has on the environment directly and indirectly, through the social health issues, we must be able to curtail what is being identified as hazardous and stop it in its tracks. In order for this to occur, shouldn’t there be a means of determining the location of where the fracking fluid is mostly traveling, so we can diffuse the situation and potentially protect the surrounding regions from contamination and the spread of this devastating spiral of events.
Having a way to track where the fluid travels is one of the possible solutions to keeping the public safe from the probability of causing more harm among our citizens. “Currently, there is little courts can do to determine the truth of claims that fracking contaminates waterways. One popular suggestion, proposed by many stakeholders and creative scientists, is to include some type of tracer device, such as a color or a chemical, to follow fracking fluids through the environment.
This solution wouldn’t track the leaching of natural gas through old mines or fissures, but it would help companies, overseers, and policy-makers understand how chemicals flow deep underground, especially when multiple companies are drilling in one area. Such tracers would hold companies accountable to the environment, to landowners, and to stakeholders” (Lamers, 2012). The question is, would this continue to add to the already polluted scene, or would it meet a solution to have a better understanding, as to the route this fluid seems to take to contaminate our groundwater systems?
We also may have an opportunity to set stricter laws, as to the actual location of these wells, in relation to it being positioned within residential areas. “Policies and recommendations vary widely about how close shale gas sites should be to lakes, rivers, ponds, houses, wetlands and protected areas. As many counties and states begin to lease or sell land, drill sites are beginning to cross into state or county parks and pass into or through rivers and streams” (Lamers, 2012).
Having the ability to force drilling companies to be at a particular range from any residential or other protected area would be a promising solution to creating safer barriers for the general population and individual wildlife areas to be safe from the untidiness of a fracking site. While we look for the government to come up with more legalistic approaches to this devastating thorn under the environments skin, maybe the answer is more profound and can be drawn from unique sources, rather than a traditional loom. “Most of the water used to free the gas and oil is trapped underground.
But a new option is to swap water for propane gas, which is then recaptured as it escapes from the earth. Canadian company GasFrac Energy Services is already employing propane instead of water. A single fracking job can use between two million and six million gallons of water while most of that water remains underground, the fluid that does return to the surface has to be disposed of as contaminated wastewater” (Stone, 2011). Another approach is found to be one of the greenest found, to date. Not only is the amount of water being reduced, but the solution involves utilizing a biodegradable source to accomplish a safe means of eusing this product. “Houston-based oil field supplier Flotek Industries has found another solution that replaces traditional chemicals with extract from orange peels, turning the conventional mixture of water and toxins into a biodegradable blend” (Stone, 2011). This idea opens up a whole new scheme in the desire to continue our search for self sustainment and future drilling opportunities. However, it is not the only solution to hit the community, as there has been something stirred up in the Halliburton camp with the utilization of solar panels and electricity making its way to the oil fields. Halliburton calls its two-year-old solar-powered invention the SandCastle. It has rolled out dozens of SandCastles in the U. S. By replacing diesel engines to move sand from the trailers, Halliburton estimates the devices have saved 950,000 gallons of diesel and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 20 million pounds in the first nine months of 2012. Halliburton and the other three largest oil-field service providers spent $2. 04 billion on research and development in 2011, up 32 percent from two years earlier. Some of that went to finding ways to make fracking more eco-friendly.
Other green-leaning players include Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and General Electric (GE), as well as oil-patch interlopers such as Verenium (VRNM), a biotech concern, and Ecologix Environmental Systems, which makes wastewater-treatment systems” (Wethe, 2012). What does all of this mean? It simply means that drilling companies are seeing the need to make changes to the way they conduct business, so as it does not interfere with our environment anymore. It means that we can no longer stand by, as residents of this great land of ours and simply be good with how they conduct their business.
It means that, we the people of this beautiful landscape we call planet earth, have a voice and will be heard. It means, as long as we celebrate our land together as citizens, we have the aptitude to develop the means necessary, to guide the direction, in which we will continue to move forward. As mentioned at the beginning of this paper, we will continue to dream of that new discovery, launching us into a new direction. We are a people of continuous change and workmanship; we will find a way forward. We’re a people that will come together and meet the need of our mother earth. References Chesapeake Energy. 2013). Hydraulic fracturing facts. Retrieved from http://www. hydraulicfracturing. com/Process/Pages/information. aspx danps, (2011, April 30). The high cost of fracking – and the movement against it. Retrieved from http://my. firedoglake. com/danps/2011/04/30/the-high-cost-of- fracking-and-the-movement-against-it/ EnergyFromShale, (2012, ). Shale gas economics: Extracting from domestic oil reserves. Retrieved from http://www. energyfromshale. org/hydraulic- fracturing/shale-gas Environment America, (2012, September 20). The costs of fracking—the true price tag of dirty energy. Retrieved from http://ecowatch. rg/2012/costs-of-fracking/ Lamers, V. (2012, September 17). Solutions from the gas fields. Retrieved from http://sagemagazine. org/solutions-from-the-gas-fields/ Majumdar, A. , Hayes, D. J. , Perciasepe, B. , (2012, April 13). Memorandum. Retrieved from http://epa. gov/hydraulicfracture/oil_and_gas_research_mou. pdf PennEnvironment Research ; Policy Center, (2012, September 20). The costs of fracking. Retrieved from http://northcentralpa. com/feeditem/2012-09-20_costs- fracking ShaleTech Shale Training and Education Center, (1995, ). What is shale gas and why is it important?. Retrieved from http://www. shaletec. rg/whatis. htm Society of Petroleum Engineers, (2012, November 29). Hydraulic fracturing. Retrieved from http://petrowiki. org/Hydraulic_fracturing Stone, J. (2011, August 19). Green solutions to fracking debate. Retrieved from http://www. propane. pro/alternative-fuel/green-solutions-fracking-debate-0819/ Tony Dutzik and Elizabeth Ridlington, Frontier Group John Rumpler, Environment America Research ; Policy Center, (2012, Fall ). The costs of fracking the price tag of dirty drilling’s environmental damage. Retrieved from http://www. environmentamerica. org/sites/environment/files/reports/The Costs of Fracking vUS. pdf
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