Las Vegas Sun

April 27, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Fracking benefits not worth the cost

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The U.S. Energy Information Administration knows the location of the country’s natural gas shale deposits, which are targeted for exploration. The drilling companies show up offering property owners leases at prices from $15 per acre to $6,000 per acre. Some property owners take less money and let their neighbor have the drilling site put on their land. This type of well can go down and fractures the rock sideways.

Fracking is injecting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into a well. The mix cracks the shale and fills the cracks with sandy grit, allowing natural gas to flow up the well.

Any water well within 1,100 feet is in danger from carcinogenic chemical contamination. Fracking retrieves the wastewater used and deposits it in deeper wastewater wells, which presents a risk of minor earthquakes.

The drilling sites offer a temporary energy boom and improved economy, but at what price? Sites go dry and everyone moves on. There are ghost towns still left from the gold mining strikes in the 1800s. How does a small community respond to a mix of new wealth, environmental concerns, crime spikes, noise, trucks and other disruptions?

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  1. Nice & warm this winter, Debbie? It's most likely because you use natural gas or the electricity generated by it to heat your abode and you have benefited greatly by new ways to access it. While the cost of most things have consistently risen, natural gas prices at the well have plummeted because of new and better technology and you're ungrateful? You must be very wealthy not to care what you have to shell out for energy to operate your car, your appliances and to pay your utility bills. I, on the other hand, pinch pennies to meet my financial obligations.

  2. Fracking is a hot button issue especially with the recent release of "Promised Land" starring Matt Damon. Here's an MIT December 2011 study with findings on the process:

    "What can be reliably said of fracking comes from MIT's Energy Initiative study. The study was a multidisciplinary effort carried out by a team of Institute faculty, staff and graduate students with advice from a board of 18 leaders from industry, government and environmental groups.

    The study found:

    "".. only 42 documented incidents of such problems (water contamination), out of tens of thousands of wells drilled."

    "".. the environmental impacts of shale development are challenging but manageable,"

    "".. the small number of cases where there has been contamination, the problem has stemmed from improper cementing of the well casings."

    "".. "The quality of that cementing is the area where the industry has to do a better job,"

    Fracking wells are between 5,000-10,000 feet deep and uses between 3-5 million gallons of water per well. The fracking fluid is a proprietary slurry mixture consisting of no less than 98% water and sand. The remaining 2% or less includes 3--12 chemical additives most of which are commonly used with little or no health risks. Though several are classified as toxic or hazardous, only one -- ethylene glycol (automotive antifreeze) can be harmful or fatal if swallowed."

    It appears the economic benefits of fracking which are incontrovertible even among the staunchest
    anti-fracking critics, and countries like France, far outweigh the environmental risks. IF the fracking process is done correctly.


  3. Debbie Starr seems unwilling to recognize some facts about energy.

    Fact One: All energy development, even wind and solar, bring with them, environmental concerns and possible environmental damage when implemented on a scale large enough for them to be effective.

    Fact Two: The world population increases every second; third world nations are modernizing and using more energy. If we don't keep developing a 'mix' of energy resources, while taking into account, environmental concerns, we will not have enough energy for everyone wanting and needing it.

    It's wise to want to look out for our environment but we need to be 'reasonable' about it. We are going to need a 'mix' of energy resources for the future and fracking to get natural gas is probably going to have to be part of the 'mix', with appropriate environmental controls.


  4. "Watch Gasland: A film by Josh Fox and tell me you want to live next to one of these operations. Then I'll believe you support this crazy, silly, stupid idea." @ MotorSports

    "Josh Fox's 2010 film Gasland became a center of opposition to hydraulic fracturing of shale. The movie presented problems with ground water contamination near well sites in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, and Colorado. Energy in Depth, an oil and gas industry group, called the film's facts into question. In response, a detailed rebuttal of the claims of inaccuracy was posted on Gasland's website. The Independent Petroleum Association of America later produced its own documentary, Truthland. Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corporation and ConocoPhillips have have also aired advertisements during 2011 and 2012 that describe the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas and defend fracking as safe. In anticipation of the December 2012 release of the movie Promised Land, which stars Matt Damon as a gas-company salesman trying to lease natural-gas drilling rights, the gas industry made plans to counter the film's anticipated negative messages with informational flyers, and Twitter and Facebook posts."


  5. "I do not know what chemicals are being used in the mixture, but, for example, if ethylene glycol is being used (as Carmine said)," @notacon

    Not me. I excerpted from MIT's Energy Initiative Study on the pros and cons of fracking. It is widely viewed [the MIT study], because of the multi-disciplined backgrounds of the team of researchers and writers, as the most reliable study of fracking that has been written to date.


  6. Quit watching Hollywood movies and base your opinions on them.

    Fracking can be done well and with minimal negatives. It certainly needs to be regulated so irresponsible companies can be roped in. There are many many fracking sites that are well run and offer a benefit to everyone.