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Separate the Hype From the Facts in the Fracking Fight

Less than a month away from a pivotal vote in the Colorado elections, the campaign to denigrate hydraulic fracturing is in full swing. As the press parades anecdotal evidence of discontent Coloradans and dubious scientific evidence in voters’ faces, it’s important to remember the facts behind hydraulic fracturing, because this energy extraction process is nowhere near as harmful as its opponents would have you believe. 

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United States Leads the World in Reducing Carbon Emissions

When Donald Trump led the United States out of the Paris climate agreement last June, he was lambasted by the left for putting the national and global environment in peril. A little over a year later, however, it would appear that the numbers are skewing the other direction.

The U.S.A. Is #1

Over the course of 2017, the United States economy grew by three percent. Specifically, the oil and gas sector ramped up production after a multi-year slump. The red alerts splashed across the front page, and the (apparent) crowds of protestors clustering around drilling and fracking projects might have you thinking that this growth is also triggering a huge jump in hazardous pollution.

If that’s what you thought, you’d be wrong. Over the course of 2017, the United States reduced the emissions of carbon gas by half a percent. In the grand scheme of things, that’s a massive drop in the output of pollution.

It’s not a fluke, either. Since 2005, the United States has reduced carbon emissions by an astonishing 758 million metric tons. To put that in perspective, America eliminated nearly as much carbon emissions as the entire European Union (770 million metric tons in reduced carbon emissions).

Meanwhile, On the Other Side of the Planet …

Let’s speak plainly: every single one of the countries who entered the Paris Accord has failed to meet their goal for reduced carbon emissions. In fact, only 5 of the nations — Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Portugal, and Sweden — have come within 50 percent of their planned goals.

The worst offenders are China and India, manufacturing nations who are pumping 10 tons of greenhouse gas for every ton that the United States eliminates.

The Solution Is Action, Not Signatures

When it comes down to it, exiting the Paris climate agreement didn’t really change the course charted a decade ago by corporations operating in the United States. Motivated not by federal regulation, but a sense of community, America’s companies have reduced carbon emissions of their own accord.

The numbers will tell you that no amount of government posturing can fix the environment. It doesn’t take regulation, it takes a collective desire to change.

fat man

So, Apparently, Fracking Makes You Fat Now

According to a new study from Duke University, living near an active fracking project has the potential to make people gain weight uncontrollably. The research is just another assault from a university that is actively taking the fight to frackers … and that’s a bad thing, folks.

Does Fracking Really Unlock Evil Fat Cells?

Okay, folks, get ready to feel the brunt of some scaremongering. A study released on Thursday from Duke University’s Nicholas School for the Environment claims that mysterious fracking chemicals can sneakily infiltrate your drinking water and “trigger cells that are sitting in your body, [waiting] to be recruited to become fat cells for energy storage.”

In layman’s terms, that means fracking can turn you into a chunk. The news would be pretty terrifying if these results remotely approached scientific feasibility, but they don’t.

To begin with, the science behind the results is very likely sound. Inevitably, the method applied at one of the nation’s most excellent schools is textbook — and as much snark as you’ll find in the ensuing piece, you shouldn’t read any into the previous statement.

Some Duke lab coats injected fracking chemicals into drinking water and watched a bunch of mice plump up after drinking them. That’s typically how things get done in the academic field, so there’s no point in criticizing the legitimacy of the findings. In other words, when these Duke scientists began their experiment, they likely did absolutely nothing wrong between hypothesis in conclusion.

They just forgot one crucial, experiment-breaking fact.

There Is No Proof That Fracking Contaminates Drinking Water

Okay, one more time, because it seems to bear mentioning: fracking does not contaminate drinking water. Over the last few years, several studies have released highlighting the supposed nightmares that occur when fracking chemicals invade drinking water. Whether it’s attacking immune systems, lowering fertility, causing migraines, or giving your kids a cookie after you told them “no,” current academic studies will stop at nothing to convince you that fracking chemicals are terrible in drinking water. That might be true, but the truth is that — and say it with me now — fracking chemicals do not get into the drinking water.

The USGS did an extensive study that indicated that very fact in June of 2017. Two years earlier, the EPA concluded a five-year investigation that stated fracking might infest drinking water but only in the event of some inane extenuating circumstances.

One of the EPA’s studies, for example, said fracking chemicals could absolutely contaminate drinking water if they were injected directly into the water supply. Uh … duh.

The Problem With Activist Science

In their mission statement, Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment is proud of their quest to “restore and preserve the world’s environmental resources while adapting to a changing climate and a growing population with aspirations for rising standards of living.”

That’s a noble calling on the surface, but to an average person, something is amiss. Pursuing environmental experiments is well and good, but when you begin your project with the understanding that the results should further some pre-stated goal, then things have gotten off on the wrong foot.

It would seem that the purpose of science was the acquisition of knowledge and not the pursuit of an agenda. When your experiment is based on a scenario that is wildly unlikely to happen, you’re not serving humanity by spreading knowledge, anymore, you’re just grabbing headlines.

fracking derricks on the plain

Fracking, By the Numbers

Whether you realize it or not, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been benefitting your everyday life for the past seventy years. As fracking has grown in prominence, it has drawn controversy every step of the way.

If you listen to the handful of people who plant themselves outside otherwise productive fracking sites throughout the United States, you might believe that hydraulic fracturing is the worst thing to happen to planet Earth since the last Ice Age. For all their dogged protesting and legal battling, anti-fracking protestors have been unable to provide substantial numbers on quite the same scale as the oil and gas industry.

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Four Advances in Technology That Are Making Hydraulic Fracturing Safer and More Efficient

At every turn, new minds are working to find ways to make the process of extracting shale through fracking safer and more efficient. In a world where the only certainty in the oil and gas industry seems to be the increasing demand, companies have been forced to adapt new technologies month after month. This necessity has made the fracking industry one of the more technologically exciting in the world.

Here are some of the ways that the energy industry is supplying the world with shale thanks to a boost from new technology.

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New Oil and Gas Technology Advances Could Be Industry Game Changers

In Maryland, they’re proposing a ban on fracking throughout certain counties. In Florida, the entire state is considering an outright ban on the practice. All this in spite of the fact that technological advancements in hydraulic fracturing are making the practice safer and more efficient with each passing day. While protestors decry the fracking as a threat to the environment, scientists and researchers are improving the process to help ensure a future for the planet itself.Continue reading

A Brief History of Hydraulic Fracturing

Though the fracking industry has fallen on somewhat hard times over the last few years, a new Presidency and a Cabinet filled with friends of the oil and gas industry indicate that the next few years are going to be very good for the industry. Whether you love it or you don’t know all the facts, hydraulic fracturing has become a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. Some protest its proliferation; others tout its value as a means of lessening the toll that energy extraction takes on the environment. Whatever you think about the process, fracking is here to stay. What you may not realize, though, is that hydraulic fracturing has been around for more than a hundred and fifty years.

The first implementation of fracking came in 1862 when a Civil War veteran named Edward Roberts who devised a theory for superincumbent fluid tamping during the battle of Fredericksburg. Roberts wasn’t able to implement his design until four years later. The morning after the first successful test, the Titusville Morning Herald described the process:

“The torpedo, which is an iron case, containing an amount of powder varying from fifteen to twenty pounds, is lowered into the well, down to the spot, as near as can be ascertained, where it is necessary to explode it. It is then exploded by means of a cap on the torpedo, connected with the top of the shell by a wire.”

Roberts’ Torpedo, as it became known, increased the efficiency of oil drilling by 1200 percent. For nearly the next century, Roberts’ Torpedo went largely unchanged. In fact, most companies who drilled to the shale layer were more inclined to think of it as a nuisance preventing them from getting to the oil deposits. It wasn’t until 1948 that oil company Stanolind discovered the economic benefits of a predecessor to hydraulic fracturing. Using a form of jellied napalm, Stanolind figureed out how to blast grains of sand into the shale later, creating fractures that poured out oil and gas. Of course, the company wasn’t one hundred percent sure of the physics behind the process.

Then, in 1954, Shell gasoline tasked a geologist named M. King Hubbert with doing the math of hydraulic fracturing. Known as “the father of peak oil,” Hubbert had previously been one of the first people to forecast the eventual peak and decline of crude oil. Along with an assistant named David Willis, Hubbert’s work on the physics behind fracking helped revolutionize the practice by explaining exactly what was going on in an oil well.

Once engineers had some accurate idea of how fracking worked, the ideas on how to improve both the efficiency and, more importantly, the safety of the process began to flow in like a tidal wave.

Alternative Uses for Petroleum Products You May Not Have Known

Obviously, the entire world knows that the shale oil we extract through fracking and the oil we pull from the bowels of the earth are the world’s number one sources for heating our homes and fueling our cars. That gets explained to children in grade one. However, the oil products that light our homes are actually used to support and innovate an incredible number of industries you’d never expect.

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The Oil and Gas Industry Goes Green

In spite of very public comments to the contrary, the oil and gas industry is consistently making strides to ensure that mother Earth keeps spinning. Not only is the industry constantly providing brand new technological advancements that enable projects to extract shale gas responsibly, but several big name companies have actually banded together to put their money where their mouth is and fight climate change.

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