Re: This Fracking problem: Chasing the solution to this controversial mining issue

The informative post This Fracking problem: Chasing the solution to this controversial mining issue by Jonathan R. Matias of Poseidon Sciences is closed to comments, so I am opening up a place for people to discuss the issues it raises.

I live in Western PA, where the issue of drilling into the Marcellus Shale is especially important. No doubt there is economic opportunity, but the downside goes beyond the environmental problems that Poseidon Sciences mentions. We have also had some fairly serious explosions and fires. Those are bad enough in rural areas, but imagine if they happened in an open lot in Pittsburgh or its suburbs.

Matias writes:

Poseidon’s position on this matter? I am neither pro nor con to fracking. I think fracking is essential to our country’s energy independence and the continued employment of a whole lot of people during these dire economic times; the industry estimates 280,000 are employed or will be employed. But, I also think the industry must allay the legitimate fears of the public quickly by solving the issue and finding an alternative option to improve the system. I am sure you are thinking that sitting on the fence on this fracking problem is not a healthy thing to do. I neither relish the ire of the Pennsylvanians nor like being at the very bottom of the list in an oil industry event (not that I have ever been on any invitation list; not yet anyway).

I think he hits the nail on the head here. There’s plenty of money to be made from the Marcellus Shale, and a healthy economy is important to society. But those who extract the resources have an obligation to treat the concerns of their fellow citizens with respect, even when those concerns are voiced in anger. When important sources of fresh water are threatened and questions of public and workplace safety are illuminated by explosions, those issues need to be addressed with diligence.

Whether Poseidon Science’s solution is the best one has yet to be shown, but I like the company’s attitude. I hope the other companies in the industry look to Mr. Matias as a leader rather than placing him at “the bottom of the list in an oil industry event.”

Fred Bortz

3 thoughts on “Re: This Fracking problem: Chasing the solution to this controversial mining issue

  1. Thanks for your comments on my blog entry. The issues are broader than I can cover in a blog article and glad you touched on the other problems of explosions associated with natural gas extraction. Mining is among the most dangerous of non-military vocations and a constant source of catastrophic failures. Human error in combination with insufficient fail safe systems acts in concert to bring about tragic results. Preventing or lessening those occurrences is only possible through vigilance and refining the protocols during mining operations. These efforts need to be a continuous process because new technologies are being created to improve the mining operation, sometimes with unforeseen consequences. This can only be done at the industry and government regulatory level. Given the inadequate resources of the government to maintain oversight in the million plus wells in existence now, the industry itself has to make serious and substantial investments to support research on better operating systems and better instrumentation to create a fool-proof system. This investment, which can be done through a consortium of mining companies, each throwing in funds to create such an R&D effort, benefits the industry as whole and sways the public opinion more and more to their favor as time goes by. For all I know, this might already be happening now.

    I think miners, whether owners or workers are especially adventurous, hard working and maverick type of characters. Those same characteristics created this industry and will continue to do so. Making the industry safer benefits the worker and their families. For the corporations running this risky business, at least they can keep the hordes of lawyers away—and that in turn translates to more profit for the company and much less headaches for management.

    (Some bean counter somewhere must have calculated the legal cost of lawsuits each year in the mining industry. The tab must run to the hundreds of millions. Only the lawyers and the news media are happy about it. If each company donates 15% of that legal cost in a “SAFE SCIENCE” research consortium, it may be possible to eventually cut those lawsuit costs down by 80%. Profit is the “energy drink” that fuels the industry. If safety saves money, then it makes more profit. It should make sense to make this happen in my opinion.)

  2. i have worked in the oil field industry. i worked for Dowell a division of Dow chemical. the same company that has given me 3 different types of cancer thanks to agent orange. i operated a frac truck on a frac crew out of commerce city Colorado. fracing is basically using a fluid and sand mixture under pressure to create cracks in rock formation. as the rock fractures sand flows in and keeps these formations open allowing the gas and oil that is trapped to flow freely to the production casing pipe. if done properly it is a safe and viable option. fracing a well above the foxhill formation is criminally negligent. the foxhill formations are the water producing and storage zones these usually are found very close to the surface. before we fraced a well we logged it so that there was no possibility of contaminating the water table. this step is essential as usually a well is acidized first doing this job properly precludes any environmental damage.. the frac fluid is usually water with potassium chloride added to it. this decreases the surface tension of water and aids in the flow of sand into the fractures. sometimes condensate is added with the water to further add lubrosity to the sand. condensate is a petrolium product with a very low flash point. the depths of the wells we were dong was at an average depth of 6000 ft. very well below any water bearing or filtrating formations.

  3. in reading the previous posts i have noticed a very disturbing trend. demonizing an industry does nothing to promote an environment of cooperation. neither side has all the answers and true responsible stewardship of our environment lacks sense. endangered species are just that. where i see the failure in organizations like the sierra club is that there is very little science done to see if the species in question has just reached a level where they are incapable of adapting to change. i also believe that there has been a massive hijacking of the environmental movement by those who wish to control the direction of our government by using environmental laws. living in the west you see the results of attempts to control the ecology by both sides. one prime example was ranchers killing off coyotes because of alleged high attack rates on sheep even though university studies showed the culprit to be mainly poor ranch management. led to coyotes almost coming extinct. resulting in action that outlawed coyote hunting. several years later the native ecology was decimated by an overgrowth of species usually kept in control by the coyote which is an apex hunter. the resulting damage by the jack rabbit and other small species led to at first explosive populations with increased outbreaks of dangerous diseases and vast populations of genetically trait ed inferior breeding stock. this lead to mass depopulation’s that lead to starvation of apex hunter animals. responsible stewardship doesn’t allow extreme solutions from either side. the evidence of social engineering failures is seen even in our society. the lack of personal responsibility and the acceptance of victimology has left the country with a generation of people who now depend on the government for their existence rather than self sufficiency. it would be very easy to blame it all on corporate greed but in the end corporations are made up of individuals just like you and i. the fault lies in our constant behavior of over consumption . we need only to look at behaviors or grandparents possessed and model ourselves after them. i have done this. it was a 6yr trip but i am at the destination i chose. i am debt free. . i was 290 thousand dollars in debt. i had 8 credit cards and no savings. i now live in my 200 thousand dollar home that has no mortgage. i drive a 2yr old truck with no car payment and i have 15 thousand in savings. in a years time i will probably give away 2 to 3 thousand to deserving charities. that is above and beyond my giving to the church and community agencies. as a nation we need to get away from the right /left argument. rather we should embrace the the right solution.just as it is disingenuous of companies like dow chemical to deny the dangerous products they produce it is just as bad as the junk science involved in global warming. and renewable energy. such as the statement made by john haldron in past years crying wolf and declaring that we were on the verge of an ice age. fast forward to today and this same guy is touting the coming demise due to global warming. as an older and wiser citizen i question why those that spout global warming are the same people who are positioning themselves to gain the most from the so called remediation economy. rather i live by the principle of thinking globally and acting locally. i do this by growing as much as i can and reducing unnecessary consumption. i am extremely curious why a device called the jelly fish created by clarion electronics cannot get on the market despite its user friendly installation and cost. the broadscale production of this device could decrease the amount of hydrocarbons released by power plants. it would save the homeowner and renter large sums of money. yet the only solutions being given serious funding are those that require vast sums of tax payer subsidies that have very dubious success. maybe one day we will have an honest discussion on such worthless endeavors like ethanol from corn.

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