Wednesday, March 19, 2014

National Geographic promotes "Green Fracking". My response.

National Geographic is promoting "green fracking". Here is my response.

 I live in NY where we have a de facto ban on fracking. However, this could end at any time if the Governor decides to move forward. Just 30 min. to the south of Binghamton, is Susquehanna County, and to the west Bradford County, the most heavily fracked areas in Pennsylvania. This is where my family is from for many generations.

The impacts very close to here are grave. I understand if you can't see this from wherever you are reading this, because the news media is structurally impaired, and biased to serve an industrial agenda.

We have many people who are sick and dying. We have farmers who are dying. We have farmers with sick animals. We have farmers who have contaminated water. The milk and meat from these animals are entering the food supply.

We have air quality impacts, as there are dozens of foul, fire-breathing compressor stations, which frequently explode and/or catch fire.

The full list of impacts, including heavy truck traffic are so staggering. Our virgin, pastoral, farming communities have been transformed overnight. These rolling hills, the homeland of my ancestors for generations, have been transformed in just 5 years into a heavy industrial zone. The gas companies move in and take over. We are losing democratic control of our local governments. It is as if we are living in a third world nation. You simply MUST come here to experience it.

I am very saddened that such a prestigious journal such as this has joined on to the fossil fuel gang-bang. It is completely untenable for many reasons.

1: While there do seem to be some advantages to Propane fracking, it is not practical for many reasons. First, you still have to poke a hole through the aquifer whether you are fracking with water or propane. Most of the impacts in Dimock PA were due to hitting shallow gas, or failed casing, which are common to both. Propane fracking is very expensive, and carries special risks, since propane is flammable and explosive under certain conditions. It also does not seem to be suitable to the geology of the Marcellus Shale.  There are also the same problems: What do you do with NORMS? (Radioactive drill cuttings and radon gas). etc.

2: Using Recycled Water: Seems like a good idea, however, they claim to be recycling water in PA, but the numbers don't add up. If they were recycling water, we would expect to see a decrease in the water withdrawal applications. But we do not. Every quater the SRBC meets (Susquehanna River Basin Commission) they approve another 50-60 million gallons per day. They treat this water upon which life depends as if it were a limitless quantity. They use dynamic, open-ended models, based on daily rates of flow, and refuse to consider static models which might show basin-wide cumulative impacts, e.g., desertification or toxification with brine and other contaminants. They are still building massive waste pits and evaporators where the contaminants are sent into the are. Recycled water is a pipe-dream. It is just not happening, yet industry keeps claiming that it is. Fracking is just fracking insane technology which is literally killing us.

3: Plugging Methane Leaks. The study of climate change impacts of "natural" gas (fracked methane) vs. coal by R. Howarth, A. Ingraffea, and R. Santoro (Cornell) found that methane leakage of more than 1% (due to methane being up to 105x greater as a greenhouse gas then CO2) would mean that fracked gas is WORSE than coal for climate change impacts. The NOAA/Colorado study found Methane Leakage Rate Up To 9% From Gas Fields, and a recent Duke study found up to 4% additional leakage from major cities aging distribution systems. It would take countless billions of dollars to patch every aging transmission line and pipeline in the county, a project of unimaginable scale.

4. Any attempts at regulating the oil and gas industry is futile. First, there is NO EVIDENCE that even the best regulations can prevent prevent pollution. Quite the contrary. Regulations PERMIT pollution by definition. Also the Oil and Gas industry, as I have seen with my own eyes, are lawless rogues which follow no civil law or moral authority, other than to serve the profits of their investors.

Lastly I want to mention Climate Change and Peak Oil. We simply MUST get off fossil fuels QUICKLY or else we will have a global catastrophe on our hands. First, as Richard Manning says in this video, since we presently have 10 calories of petroleum in each calorie of food, when we find ourselves on the backside of Hubbert's Peak, we will have global food shortages.

And if that doesn't kill us, then climate change might. Scientists predict that a 5'C temp increase could (due to positive feedback effects such as melting methane hydrates), this could trigger another 5'C increase, for a total of 10'C. This is not unprecedented, and was found in the geological record. It's called the Permian Extinction Event. 95% of all life on earth was wiped out. This is the very real possible consequence of climate change.  GAME OVER with extreme prejudice.

So I hope National Geographic will take me up on my offer to arrange a tour of the GasFields of Pennsylvania, and reconsider promoting this "bridge fuel to extinction". It's time for humanity to get on sustainable energy future. If we don't, we very likely may be doomed.

William Huston, Binghamton NY.

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