It’s time for America to start using her natural resources to benefit those at home. The price of oil in this country has become astronomical and shows no sign of abating. In case you haven’t heard, our country actually has huge reserves of untapped crude oil. Plus with fairly recent advances in technology it is now possible to use horizontal drilling to reach a depth far past the water table and then use a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract the crude from the ground. By using this type of process more crude oil is produced per well, so the number of wells being constructed has decreased.
As with all issues there is criticism and there are those who agree with the process. And just like in any job, there will be companies who do an excellent job and others who don’t. The main criticism is the fear that the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing will leak into the water supply. In his State of the Union address earlier this year, President Obama backed hydraulic fracturing on federal lands as long as there is disclosure of the chemicals used and there must be a plan for safely disposing of each well’s wastewater. These are important stipulations that work to ensure everyone performs the process correctly. Advocates of hydraulic fracturing, tend to focus on the multitude of jobs being created and cheaper, cleaner power that’s a result of this process.
More than 99% of any fracking mixture is water and sand. The amount of water used can be anywhere from 65,000 gallons to 600,000 gallons. During the lifetime of the average well it may use an additional 5 million gallons of water. Yep, that’s a lot of water. However, if you put it in perspective, the amount of water used in manufacturing, agriculture and municipal water supplies far outnumbers that. It is estimated that 3.9 trillion gallons of water are consumed in the United States every month. And here’s an odd yet interesting statistic – the amount of water used per day to irrigate the world’s golf courses is 2.5 billion gallons. So think about that the next time you tee up.
Newer treatment technologies have made it possible to recycle water recovered from hydraulic fracturing. Some operators in a few states are already reusing treated flowback fluids from fracking. This is important news especially for those who worry about earthquakes caused by fracking. Technically it isn’t the fracking that may cause the quakes but the deep injection wells that hold the recovered fracking chemicals. Any earthquakes have been small enough that they didn’t hurt anyone and it is fairly unlikely that they ever would. But no one wants to volunteer to find out, do they?
Once President Obama’s plan is put into effect, companies will be responsible for properly disposing of the used fluid in an environmentally responsible way so we won’t have to choose between our environment and our economy.