Monday, December 20, 2010

Mizeur Calls for Moratorium . . .

. . . on Natural Gas Extraction from Marcellus Shale. Apparently, some families near the site can now light their tap water on fire:

A flood of natural gas companies has swept into Appalachia, bringing the promise of both economic development and an American energy revolution. New technologies now allow them to extract gas from deposits long thought untappable.

And yet at least a few of these same companies have had to provide bottled water to whole neighborhoods. Why? Because in the shadow of new drilling operations, some families have discovered that their tap water is now flammable.
The problem is with the process, not the gas. It's a real fracking problem (and not in the Battlestar Galactica sense):
But while the risks are real, so is the promise. The Marcellus Shale is an underground rock formation that spans from western New York to Virginia by way of Pennsylvania, eastern Ohio, western Maryland and West Virginia. Geologists tell us that deposits within the Marcellus Shale and other similar rock formations around the country would make us the Saudi Arabia of natural gas.

That could be a game changer. Natural gas produces only about half the carbon emissions of coal, and it is cheaper than oil. Businessman T. Boone Pickens and the environmental powerhouse Sierra Club agree that it could help us transition to a clean energy economy while improving our energy independence.

But it is the method of extraction — not the fuel — that has raised red flags. When combined with advances in deep drilling techniques, hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has enabled companies to extract these once untappable natural gas deposits. Wells are drilled into the shale first vertically, and then horizontally, at a depth between 5,000 and 20,000 feet. To release the gas, the rock is injected with a highly pressurized mixture containing at least 2 million gallons of water, 200,000 pounds of sand and 80,000 pounds of chemicals.