LETTER: Frac sand, but at what price?
Tuesday, February 05, 2013 4:07 AM
As a concerned citizen, I am writing to share what I have learned about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and its implications for the environment. Wisconsin and Minnesota are rich in the resources of silica sand used in this process.
Before communities even know what is happening, sand mining projects are setup. Community laws and CVPs are not prepared to deal with this boom legally, and then the damage is already done.
Activity on these sand sites drastically increases dust pollution, damages the roadways via increased truck traffic and depletes water resources.
Communities have no guarantees that companies will recycle water, use dust control or apply heavy-use taxes to repair roads.
There also can be conflicts of interest as evident in Whitehall, Wis. Two members of the County Board of Supervisors were owners of silica sand mining companies, this is happening in other counties as well.
Fracking to extract shale gas is already under way in 28 states including the Marcellus shale area, which covers seven states. Many problems have been cited in these communities including leaks of thousands of gallons of chemically-laced water.
What is the process?
In order to extract gas, drillers inject millions of gallons of fracking fluids (water, chemicals, sand) into underground rock formations. This creates pressure that cracks the rocks allowing gas to escape and flow into wells.
It takes millions of gallons of water to frack a well, which can draw down local surface and ground water resources. This also occurs with silica sand mining as stated.
The wastewater produces high levels of radioactivity that treatment plants are not equipped to treat.
Food and Water Watch, a monitoring organization, states that fracking chemicals used are kept secret. Companies don't have to disclose under a loophole in the Safe Drinking and the Clear Air Act.
Independent analysts have identified 41 known toxic chemicals in fracking fluids. Federal regulations are seriously lacking.
Most of us have heard about the toxic leaks that occur in household wells where one well can literally start a tap water fire due to high levels of gas in the in the water.
The race to drill is growing at an exponential rate. Natural gas produced from fracking creates a fifth of energy related carbon emissions. Its productions emit large quantities of methane.
What about the future?
Short term, the allure of financial gain is appealing to struggling farmland owners. Companies promise job creation but are not specific.
Energy independent must be achievable by safe product means, which does create jobs. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must develop long-term strategies.
Drilling regulations must be based upon objectives and science, and not emotion or quick financial gains.
Gerrie J. Frost