Friday, December 7, 2012

What the Frack?!

It's not very often when I open the morning Las Vegas Sun and discover something truly shocking. Today is an exception. I nearly leaped out of bed when I saw this.

State regulators typically issue three or four permits each year for oil and gas drilling, but this year, they issued 13 by late September. With fracking growing more popular throughout the country, some companies have started to turn their attention to Nevada, said Alan Coyner, administrator of the state’s Division of Minerals.

No company has used hydraulic fracturing in Nevada, but some now want that option in their permits, he said.

Oil and gas producer Noble Energy plans to explore for crude oil on 350,000 acres it is leasing in northeast Nevada. The company, which gave the project a 55 percent chance of success, aims to start production in 2014.

Noble has not received a drilling permit but likely will seek permission for hydraulic fracturing, Coyner said.

So the fossil fuel industry is now looking to bring fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) to Nevada. So what is fracking? And why should we care?

Fracking is short for hydraulic fracturing. It’s an extremely water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluid – typically a mix of water, sand, and chemicals, including ones known to cause cancer – are injected underground at high pressure to fracture the rock surrounding an oil or gas well. This fracking releases extra oil and/or gas from the rock, so it can flow into the well.

But the process of fracking introduces additional industrial activity into communities beyond the well. Clearing land to build new access roads and new well sites, drilling and encasing the well, fracking the well and generating the waste, trucking in heavy equipment and materials and trucking out the vast amounts of toxic waste — all of these steps contribute to air and water pollution risks and devaluation of land that is turning our communities into sacrifice zones. Fracking threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we all depend. That’s why over 250 communities in the U.S. have passed resolutions to stop fracking, and why Vermont, France and Bulgaria have stopped it.

Still wondering why fracking is so "controversial"? Watch this and cringe.

Believe it or not, this is the reality of fracking. It really isn't pretty. And it definitely isn't safe. So why are Nevada officials even considering allowing this frightening practice to take root here?

Do we really want this here?

Contrary to the spin you hear from the fossil fuel industry, remember that fracking is extremely dangerous. And because then President George W. Bush exempted fracking from federal environmental regulations in 2005, there's no turning back if Nevada allows for fracking as there's no federal protection from the kind of devastation it brings.

What makes this even more insane is that fracking is a very water intensive practice. And remember that especially Northern Nevada has been hit quite hard by extended drought. Do we really have the water to waste on this?

Why is anyone even talking about doing this? There's just no good reason for Nevada to even consider allowing fracking within our borders.

On top of everything else, fracking means more fossil fuels extracted. And that means more greenhouse gas emissions exactly when we can least afford them. With climate change already starting to wreak havoc on our planet, we just can't afford to continue our gruesome addiction to fossil fuels.

Just this week, a deal was announced for the City of Los Angeles to purchase 460 megawatts of solar energy from solar power plants slated to be built in the Moapa Valley and Boulder City. Nevada has the potential to truly shine with the development of a mean, green, clean economy. So why lose sight of this? And especially why forget this and look at allowing something as dangerous and devastating as fracking?

What the frack?!

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