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Multiple studies have been done to disprove the idea that fracking contaminates groundwater. Oil companies apply stringent measures to ensure oil and fracking fluid never permeate a groundwater aquifer. Wells are drilled much deeper than the groundwater tables, usually 8000ft to 10000ft below ground. Groundwater levels typically range from 200-500 ft below ground. When a well is fracked it is practically impossible for any fracture to reach a groundwater table. Today’s technology allows for each fracture made during the fracking process to be mapped and modeled. Since the use of this technology no occurrences have been observed where a fracture has reached a groundwater source.
There is a porting of the well bore that passes through the groundwater table. This portion of the well is sealed by multiple layers of casing made of steel and cement. Before a well is ever fracked the casing is integrity tested to ensure there will be no leaching of pollutants into a groundwater source.
The Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have never found a case of underground water contamination due to fracking. Yet, if the right steps to seal cement wells are not taken it can adversely impact water quality and pressure. Thankfully, Colorado has some of the toughest and most stringent environmental rules and regulations in the country and the industry continues to invest in new technology to further improve the process and keep Colorado safe.
Question: In your opinion is it good or bad that fracking has led to less reliance on OPEC by the US?
I am defiantly not an expert of global economics or geopolitical issues, however in my option it is for the better. The oil and gas industry in the US is helping our economy and reducing our reliance on foreign oil. When we were buying oil through OPEC we were stimulating economies in other countries some in which we were at war with or who threatened our security.
One other thing I think is a plus is that oil and gas being extracted in the US has some of the most stringent regulations for health, safety and the environment. I think most people would rather use oil and gas that is extracted in a way to reduce its environmental and safety impacts.
Before America’s Fracking Boom, the U.S. was dependent on energy-rich nations like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Russia to meet its energy needs. But throughout history instability in these regions, coupled with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and their monopoly over oil supplies, caused global energy prices to skyrocket without warning. Today, the U.S. is no longer susceptible to energy scarcity and price manipulations. In comparison, Europe, who hasn’t invested significantly in fracking, continues to rely on Russia for 30% of its natural gas.
Question: What is the effect of fracking on our alternative energy development? Is this good or bad and why?
I think you can look at this in two ways. On one hand, the increase of oil and gas production is meeting our demand as our primary energy source and therefore not pushing us to pursue alternative energy at an accelerated rate. On the other hand what fracking is, is an enhanced oil and gas extraction method and increasing production rates exponentially. Oil and gas are nonrenewable resources, the faster we use up those resources the more imperative it will be to find alternatives.
However, one thing that most people don’t understand is that petroleum is used in the manufacturing of some of our most common sources of alternative energy today. Both solar panels and wind turbines rely on petroleum based products to function.
Without fracking, the newfound energy abundance in America and all of the benefits it provides would cease to exist. Natural gas is a clean, abundant source of energy in Colorado that provides a complement to other forms of clean, alternative energy like renewables needed for times when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Our best option right now is natural gas. Fracking is putting Colorado on the path to responsible energy development.
Question: If you could educate the opposing side on one fracking-related thing, what would it be?
I think there has been a lot of hype around fracking fluid and its potential hazards. The hype started when big fracking companies claimed their formulas as proprietary. This was based on business strategy not trying to mislead people on what was in the fluid. Fracking fluid is 99.5% water and sand, mostly water. The water is used as the pressure agent to break open the rock and the sand is used as a proponent to enter the tiny fractures and keep them open after the pressure is reduced. The other 0.5% is used for various purposes, these chemicals increase the water viscosity and allow the sand to stay suspended, adjust the pH, and eliminate bacteria in the water. Most of the chemicals used in fracking fluid can be found in everyday household items.
Probably the positive economic impact that fracking has had. The oil and natural gas industry has helped drive Colorado’s economy for over 60 years. According to the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder, in 2012 alone, Colorado’s oil and natural gas industry supported:
-$29.6 billion in economic activity in Colorado.
-$1.6 billion in tax revenues for things like schools, law enforcement, first responders, parks, roads, bridges and infrastructure.
-110,000 Colorado jobs to the state.
-$81.5 million in severance tax revenue to the Department of Natural Resources to help protect wildlife and forestry and conserve water.
In the UK fracking has started to be used more commonly. In the north west of England it has been a revival of industry. There is so much money involved that the politics and misinformation are everywhere. Tough call.