The Election

Today is a pretty big day if you haven’t heard. As I type this blog (in a coffee shop no less), the TV is turned to the latest election news. Reports from every state are flashing across the screen, and I have to ask myself, “How does fracking relate to this?”

As I have mentioned before, both presidential candidates are behind fracking, albeit at different rates. Romney wants to strip the industry of its regulations so that it will become a big part of the economy, and uses this as an attacking point against Obama. However, Obama has supported fracking and avoids aligning himself with the anti-fracking sentiment of the left. 

So if fracking is a big deal do you, it can be confusing on who to vote for. You could vote for for the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, but the odds are that you won’t make much of a difference (no offense to any greeners out there).

But even though Romney isn’t quite right about Obama being anti-cracking, he is a little bit right. Obama has said that he wants the government “work with industry to establish best practices… in a way that protects the public health.” 

Romney, however, wants the regulation to be minimal and for states to have the regulating power. He thinks that without heavy regulation, fracking will become better on its own in a more efficient manner. 

So there you have it: fracking in relation to the election. I’m sure you’ve already made up your mind on who your voting for, if you haven’t it may be late. It will be interesting to see who the frack wins.

 

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More!

If you aren’t content with the information I’ve given you on fracking and you want more infromation(as you very well should), here is some extended reading for you:

http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/is-fracking-a-good-idea

US News hosts a “Debate Club” on their website for different issues, including fracking. This page gives basic information about fracking, and then has people on both side of the issue argue for or against. The people posting arguements are very knowledgeable on the subject; there are politicians, university professors, and people high up in the energy industry. This is an excellent site if you want to learn some of the specifics of the fracking debate.

http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2011121600

This is a report put together by independent journalist Daniel McGlynn. It’s the perfect place to get started learning about fracking because of all the information he has compiled. In addition to basic information, he reports on how fracking is affecting the US on a local and federal level. This website helped me to understand the issue as whole while I found specific aspects of fracking to research further.

Your local news

Depending on where you live, fracking may have already happened or it could be coming. Whether or not you think it is a good idea, you need to be informed about how it can affect you community. Your local news should be the best place to turn to to find out the specifics of fracking in your area. They know your area better than more national news outlets and can give you the best information as it relates to your area.

Improvement

When I first started this blog it was tough. Finding the right information is hard even with Google. Tack on determining if the information is relevant or trustworthy, and it’s a real challenge. But I became a better blogger I got better as it went along.

In the beginning, I have to admit I didn’t go in depth as I should have.  Many of my links were more directed to information that helped me say what I wanted to say, rather than a way to present information to be discussed.

While I think this shortchanged much of what I said in the beginning, I think there’s a reason I did it. I didn’t know much about fracking when I started. Such earlier links were to sites that gave information that helped me understand what I was talking about. At the same time, I was trying to say relevant things about the topic. Doing both of these things at once ended up in weak posts.

Looking over my blog I have also noticed that I referenced websites with agendas. For example, I talked about a study that showed how Methane’s presence in water wasn’t linked to fracking but poorly built wells. The site I used for that post is a pro fracking blog by the Marcellus Shale Initiative. I even used a second article from that blog to illustrate my case. 

This changed over time though. Lately in my blog, I have been using news sources, both local and national, and more unbiased sites to make my arguments. I still use opinionated pieces, but now that I have a better understanding of fracking I can analyze them better. I think the transition of my links is another way in which I’ve grown in my blogging ability. Now that I’m more knowledgeable about fracking, I can use and analyze the news and opinions about it.

What led me to get better in these ways is one particular article from the New York Times I found. In this article, I found references to the study Duke study that I used the Marcellus Shale Initiative blog to talk about. In addition to making me better able to see connections among what I was reading, it made me want to find better sources. The Times’ article quoted the Duke professor saying things that seemed contradictory to what the Marcellus Shale Initiative blog concluded about the study.

This article helped me to turn the page from blogging information, to trying to really analyze the information I found about tracking. That is what led to me becoming a better blogger.

Back to the Economy

Many studies make it clear that fracking has the ability to produce jobs. But there are also negative impacts that it has, which studies often leave out as the economist Jannette M. Barth points out.

Industries that depend on land will be crowded out because of the pollution and large scale drilling that occur from fracking. These industries include tourism, hunting and fishing, and all forms of agriculture.

I showed last week how Gubernatorial Candidate Pat McCrory says fracking is key to North Carolina’s economy. It may be true that fracking has the potential to help the economy, but as Barth points out it would hurt agriculture in North Carolina. Agriculture has always been crucial to North Carolina’s economy, and seeing as NC ranks 12 among states in terms of exports, NC’s agriculture is important for other places around the world as well. Agriculture is also a job supporter that will last, whereas once there’s no more oil in the ground, there’ll be no more jobs for fracking.

Agriculture is an industry that has been a job supporter in NC for many years. Introducing fracking would do more economic harm than good in this state. 

Furthermore, fracking creates expensive damage to infrastructure and decreases property values. This is substantiated by a letter from former Mayor of Dish, Texas in a letter to NC Governor Beverly Perdue. Fracking causes sticky situations about landowning rights, and hurts infrastructure. Barth points out that in Arkansas, damage to road by the fracking industry cost 400 million dollars to repair.

So not only does fracking impede on other valuable industries, it creates expensive problems that taxpayers have to pay for. The net economic benefit of fracking turns out to be much less than expected.

My Colleagues

I’ve got some colleagues who blog, and I thought y’all might want to check them out.

 

http://tyeates.wordpress.com

Save the Energy is an interesting blog because it looks at energy from an atypical side. Instead of talking about the science of climate change or renewable energy, it discusses the way politicians talk about these issues. The author points out different words or attitudes that show up in the political rhetoric, and then breaks down the purpose behind their use. This is done for energy in general, but also for specific issues, such as the Keystone Pipeline. If you want to know what the politicians really think about energy, I’d recommend you check this site out.

 

http://commonsarcasm.wordpress.com

If you’ve got any queries (pun intended) about gay marriage I’d turn to this site.  It’s sassy at times and is clearly a proponent of gay marriage, but it gets down to the facts when it needs to. Plus it has videos for when you get tired of reading. What more could you ask for?

 

http://immigrationstation2012.wordpress.com

If you need help deciding what to think about immigration, this is the place to go. Immigration Station 2012 supplies background information on the topic that dates back to the beginning of the United States. From here, the author discusses the social and economic issues that surround immigration. It also looks at both sides and takes into consideration what people are saying about immigration this election season.

The Future of Fracking

Despite protests against fracking, I’d have to say it’s probably going to continue happening. Both men running for president consider it part of reviving the economy. Romney wants to deregulate the process, and uses it as an attacking point. However, his claims aren’t exactly true. Though Obama hasn’t really stripped fracking of it’s regulations, he has allowed it to grow under his administration and supported natural-gas development in his State of the Union address.

I think this support at the top ensures that fracking will continue to happen. Whether Obama or Romney wins the election, the white house will support fracking either way. And when you consider the amount of lobbying oil companies do in Washington, it’s hard not to imagine fracking happening.

That being said, I do think that people can make a difference. Creedmoor, NC is an example I’ve mentioned before where a city has acted on its own to prevent fracking. There are other grassroots efforts fighting fracking too; such as Don’t Frack with New York.

It’ll be interesting to see if grassroots efforts such as these can make a difference in either stopping or regulating fracking. That said, I think fracking will probably win out.

 

Good Economics

The two candidates for Governor in North Carolina had their final televised debate last night, and fracking was on the menu.  Both candidates stuck with the arguments that they’ve been using. McCrory touted fracking as the way for NC to lower its unemployment rate, while Dalton still wants to hold off on it. This got me wondering how good fracking could be for the economy and who was right.

According to a study cited by Bloomberg Business week, fracking could support 1.17 million jobs in the US. And these aren’t just jobs within the energy industry, jobs like waiters and shop owners would be supported through the wealth created from fracking. Furthermore, tax revenues will increase in these states would increase by billions of dollars. This could be just the thing to start for NC as its unemployment rate is currently above 9 percent.

Furthermore, this can benefit the nation according to Daniel Simmons, the Director of State Affairs at the Institute of Energy Research. Since 2008, prices of natural gas has gone down by over half, $8 per thousand cubic feet to $3.67 per thousand cubic feet. This has kept prices low for Americans, of whom 24% use natural gas for their energy. Not only has fracking made natural gas cheaper, it could supply the US for 100 years. 

This could be just what we need in this economy. Not only will it support jobs, it will make energy cheaper for a long time to come.

But then again, these are just projections. Next time I’ll look at what fracking has done already for some real cities and states.

When I was writing my last post I found some interesting connections among some of the sources I used. They gave me a unique perspective on what I’ve been reading. If you explored every link, you probably picked up on it too. But in case you didn’t here it is:

The final quote in my last post was came from the same Duke professor who was in charge of the research of methane’s presence in Dimock, Pennsylvania’s water wells. That study, when summarized by the Northeast Marcellus Initiative(NMI) blog, made it pretty clear that fracking had nothing to do with poisoned wells in the area. It even called out some popular antifrackers in its last paragraph to help make its point. (Which, looking back, sounds a bit like a red herring to me.)

For the NMI blog to so succinctly conclude that fracking had nothing to with methane in the water of Dimock, and for the man who headed that research to say that “We don’t know much about fracking.” Is fishy to me. Going through the NIM’s other blog posts (and just by looking at their name), it’s clear that they are every profracking. They probably just used this specific study to argue their case because it hit definitely helped their case. The jab on environmentalists at the end was just icing on the cake.

The fact that the scientist who headed the research says there’s too little information on fracking says a lot to me. Before we dismiss fracking we need to do some more research.

On top of that, the NY Times article (where the professor’s quote came from) gave a conclusion to the Laura Amos story I’ve mentioned. Her case was settled with a multimillion dollar payout by the gas company she blamed her cancer on. I’m not trying to use this as red herring conclusion, but it is a bit fishy. 

Hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, is more or less simple. A hole is drilled far beneath the ground to pump a chemical mixture into shale to make natural gas readily available(here’s an illustration).  There’s gas fields in the Northeast and more will continue to be opened as the practice’s popularity increases.

But, as you’ve read, there’s a lot more to fracking. (I’ve gone into detail in earlier posts so I’ll be a bit brief here.) The EPA is regulating many parts of fracking, and for good reason. There are cases where fracking has contaminated water in Wyoming, people have gotten cancer. Also, there’s few ways for the water used in fracking to be reused, and it’s reinjection into the earth is linked to earthquakes.

To all these reasons of why fracking should be stopped, however, there are many that reject these claims. Contamination of wells has been shown to be natural and caused by faulty well building. Popular antifracking film “Gasland” was hid such facts when claiming fracking caused flammable water. Even the EPA’s findings in Wyoming are being seriously questioned.  It’s also interesting to note that natural gas is greener than other fuels; which makes it seem like concerned environmentalists would are cutting off their nose, to spite their face in a way.

There’s a lot of information about fracking out there. But a lot of it can contradict each other. Even the seemingly clear economic benefits of energy independence for over 100 years, for example, would be moot when you consider the health risks that fracking imposes.

As environmental geologist Rick Kolb says, “Science has been politicized”. This seems to be the problem with the fracking issue. The scary stories about it are anecdotal, and often caused by things other than fracking. And for all the cases where the contamination is not caused by fracking, there a real contaminations and earthquakes linked directly to fracking. There’s a lot of stuff to sift through. 

And it needs to be sifted through. With so much upside to fracking many states are looking to allow it. But with so much that could be at risk, I’m personally not too eager to jump right in.

This is happening in my home state of North Carolina. A bill to allow fracking was passed with a mistaken vote to override a veto. Further illustrating the contentiousness of fracking, towns are passing ordinances that ban the practice in response to this bill. And both men running for governor support the fracking bill. (Though, to be fair, Walter Dalton (D) is much more hesitant than Pat McCrory (R) about it.)

Before I started blogging, I was an anti-fracker. But I’ve found that I’d have to agree with Duke researcher Robert Jackson when he says, “We don’t know much about the fracking.” So I think I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing: trying to figure out what’s fracked up about it. I think that’s something we all should be doing.