Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Cost of Natural Gas

Water is undoubtedly one of the most precious commodities on our Earth, but I don’t need to tell you that. Still, in both water rich and water poor societies we continue to put our limited freshwater supplies in danger during our quest for new sources of fossil fuels, even here in Ohio.

Hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ is a process of extracting natural gas from shale located hundreds, even thousands, of feet below the earth. It involves shooting a mixture of water, gravel, sand, and undisclosed toxic chemicals into deep wells to fracture the shale in attempts to bring the gas to the surface. Thanks to advancements in technology fracking is now an economically feasible way to get at these resources. In Ohio landowners as near as Yellow Springs have been approached about leasing the minerals rights under their property for fracking.

Fracking has been seen as a potential threat for three reasons: the possibility of aquifer and water table contamination, water depletion, and waste water disposal. Across the nation wells have been contaminated with the fracking water used by energy companies, making it impossible to drink. The process uses 3-6 million gallons of water per well, with only a small portion recoverable and none suitable for human consumption. With hundreds of wells in a given area, it quickly becomes a drain on the region’s aquifer and water resources. Finally, recent articles and studies suggest that most waste water facilities do not have the capacity to adequately treat this by-product, releasing a toxic and radioactive water back into our river systems.

What can we do about it? During Power Shift 2011 Ohio students will have the opportunity to join together to discuss how we can organize and influence change to stop fracking from spreading in our state. The Ohio Student Environmental Coalition is generously offering to help subsidize costs for up to 10 UD students interested in attending Power Shift in Washington D.C April 15-18th. If you or any student you may know is interested in more information about this amazing opportunity, please contact me at If left unchecked, fracking could cause serious problems across Ohio and to all of our watersheds.

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