Fracking-Energy Independence/Great Economy or Eco Disaster?
Hong Kong (CNN) — If there’s been one consistent thread running through the U.S. economic story since 2008, it’s been the steady drumbeat of gloom.
Outright recession or sub-standard growth, stubbornly high unemployment and fiscal crises have been the topics du jour when it comes to the world’s biggest economy.
Ferguson, who is also an author and commentator, believes the production of natural gas and oil from shale formations via a process known as “fracking” — forcing open rocks by injecting fluid into cracks — will be a game changer. “This is an absolutely huge phenomenon with massive implications for the U.S. economy, and I think most people are still a little bit slow to appreciate just how big this is,” he said in Hong Kong this week.
“Conceivably it does mean a new golden age.”
Or Not So Much?
(CNN) — The use of hydraulic fracturing to open underground natural gas formations has a low risk of triggering earthquakes, experts reported Friday, but some scientists say the debate is far from over.
“Fracking,” as the process is commonly known, involves injecting a mixture of water and chemicals deep into the Earth. The pressure causes shale rock formations to fracture, and natural gas is released. The fluid is extracted, and the natural gas is mined through the well.
There’s a higher risk of man-made seismic events when wastewater from the fracking process is injected back into the ground, according to a report by the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences. But out of about 30,000 disposal wells nationwide, only a handful of noticeable tremors have been reported, with the strongest equivalent to a magnitude-4.8 earthquake, the panel of engineers and scientists concluded.
Congress requested the study in 2010, as hydraulic fracturing triggered a natural gas production boom that has driven down the price of the fuel by 45% in the past year. Although the boom has fattened landowners’ wallets, it has been accompanied by concerns that the practice can harm the environment by contaminating groundwater — and by triggering quakes.
Great risk either way IMO. I suspect the energy/economic reality is we will frack a great deal. Our executive and legislative branches must monitor and regulate strongly, perhaps as intrusively ans the NRC is on nuclear power.