It Just Might Work: Not fracking

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by Brian Clarey

Last week Gov. Pat McCrory signed into law a bill that not only allows fracking — the release of natural gas deposits from subterranean shale using water, pressure and chemicals — all over our state, but which also kicks in about half a million dollars to get the thing going. It also makes illegal the disclosure of what sorts of chemicals go into the fracking cocktail.

At some personal risk, I’ll disclose that common fracking chemicals include hydrochloric acid, a biocide called glutaraldehyde, the corrosion inhibitor acetaldehyde, petroleum distillate, acetic acid… you can see a full list of the most common ones at fracfocus.org, which I suppose will somehow be blocked within our state’s borders.

But how about this: How about we don’t do this fracking thing?

The natural gas we’re looking for surrounds the Triad on two sides, both upriver in Rockingham and Stokes counties and further down in Lee County. And we don’t expect to find all that much — enough to supply North Carolina’s needs for almost six years. That means if we lifted the state’s fracking moratorium when the debate over its safety began in the legislature, we’d only have about two years worth of gas left.

I’d prefer we focus our energy policy on more renewable resources like wind, solar and biofuels because it’s pretty obvious that’s the way the rest of the world is heading. It would be nice for NC to be near the head of the pack on something besides declaring English as an official language and making Sharia law illegal.

But perhaps the best reason not to frack is that we’re looking to make a short-term gain at a long-term expense. Six years’ worth of natural gas is a nice thing, don’t get me wrong. But we can live without it. The only liquid that humans cannot live without is water. And fracking seriously jeopardizes our water. In Parker County, Texas, scientists discovered fracking, and the methane used and released in the process, caused the water wells to shoot flames for the past two years.

And as cool as that sounds, it’s probably not so good for the water.