17 June 2010

environment - Hydrofracking

     The technique of hydraulic fracturing is used to increase or restore the rate at which fluids, such as oil, gas or water, can be produced from a reservoir, including unconventional reservoirs such as shale rock or coal beds. Environmental concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing techniques include potential for contamination of aquifers with fracturing chemicals or waste fluids. On the other hand, hydraulic fracturing is applied to remediation of environmental waste spills.

     While international attention is focused on British Petroleum and it's part in the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, little is done about either monitoring or holding accountable gas extracting companies who are aggressively promoting this extraction technique in New York,Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.
     The Commonwealth of Virginia is facing its first Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling with a recent application in Rockingham County. This process requires a technique called hydrofracturing which involves the injection of high volumes of water, sand, and chemicals. Marcellus Drill deep into the ground to breakdown rock formations and release natural gas. There are unknown and unintended consequences of this technology, including potential contamination of ground and surface water.
     It is true that the state of Pennsylvania fined Cabot Oil + Gas Corp $240,000 and ordered the company to plug gas wells that have contaminated residential water supplies, but citizens should not have to be subjected to corporate incompetence or indifference.
     Moreover, thanks to a 2005 Congressional relaxation of government oversight about these kinds of operations, the damages that can be done by other sociopathic corporate "citizens" hasn't even begun to [pardon the bad pun] bubble to the earth's surface.
     Read the thoughtful letter that two disinterested individuals (R. Brooke Lewis and Kathryn M. Zunich, M.D.) sent to the Rockingham County (Virginia) Board of Supervisors asking they move cautiously before permitting profit-motivated absentee corporations from permitting drilling to take place there. For more about the specific application before that Board of Supervisors, read the Shenandoah Valley Network website.
     Finally, while this note focuses on the Marcellus Shale formation in western Virginia, similar geological strata and conditions can be found elsewhere. Learn more about whether this can affect you.

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