So here I am, buzzing around the internet like a majestic dragonfly looking for breaking news and topics to write about. Okay, maybe dragonfly is a stretch. It’s more like a horsefly circling some dung, but you get the idea. Either way you see it, I keep coming across a word that is in just about every environmental conversation on the web; fracking. “So what is fracking?”, I asked myself, “some kind of new fancy dance that the kids are doing these days? Does that Cyrus girl have something to do with this?”
Thankfully … no!
Fracking is the process of hydraulically fracturing rock, namely shale, to extract natural gas. Fracking is also one of the most significant environmental issues we are facing as a country right now as I type. It’s not a theoretical threat like the potential for a nuclear plant to melt down or the North Koreans building a rocket that can reach farther than an oil-coated Galveston seagull. People reading this article are affected by it right this minute.
So let’s start the fracking conversation with how fracking works. Once the land is secured, a drill is brought in that digs a shaft to an average depth of about 7 thousand feet. The shaft is lined with steel and concrete to construct a pipe. At the desired depth, the pipe takes a 90-degree bend to extend out from the main shaft horizontally. Once this pipeline is established, the real fun begins. Water, sand and a chemical soup (that is largely proprietary and undisclosed) is then pumped at high pressure into the shale beds. The water cracks the shale and releases natural gas back into the pipeline where it is collected topside.