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Page added on October 22, 2013

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Peak Oil Denial: Skimming Over Facts

General Ideas

What is that mysterious concoction being shot underground into the shale rock, and how can it not be dangerous? Fears over pollution and contamination of drinking water and the environment from fracking fluid seem to stem from a lack of  information about what this rock-shattering mixture actually is. The secret to fracking fluid is water and sand. Those two components make up about 98% of the fluid mix. The remaining 2% is composed of ingredients that are familiar to many of us, such as citric acid, guar gum (a common food additive, used to suspend the sand in the fluid), and even common table salt….
Certainly not all of these chemicals are harmless to the environment or to drinking water. But, the fracking industry has a habit of recovering most of its fluid and recycling it. This does not prevent every drop of fluid from being spilled, but it certainly means that most of the material is recovered. This saves the company doing the drilling money as well as improving its environmental impact. [1]

If you want to argue for one side of a contentious debate, I suppose there’s some merit in glossing over some of the messier facts which might otherwise spoil the point one is trying to make. What benefit that too-popular approach has for the uninformed public is another story.

This author is not the only fracking-proponent who plays a bit loose with the chemical composition side of the fracking process. I’ve mentioned that “strategy” on prior occasions.

Just a few weeks before the quoted article above was written, this almost-identical “just water and sand” comment (bold/italic mine) got my attention:

Horizontal drilling is not new but the widespread application of it is. When combined with fracking, which uses highly pressurized water and sand to break through rock formations, usually shale, and ‘stimulate’ the movement of hydrocarbons, it has made recoverable billions of more barrels of oil and vast stores of natural gas.

I added an observation which has no doubt been shared by others possessing a few more facts about fracking’s chemical components than “… ingredients that are familiar to many of us, such as citric acid, guar gum (a common food additive, used to suspend the sand in the fluid), and even common table salt….”

‘Water and sand’ … that’s it?! That observation was one of those rare times when I actually uttered an out-loud ‘What the fuck?!’
Upon what theory does the omission of ‘and chemicals’ from that description of fracking seem okay? Any citizen new to the topic would surely read the ‘water and sand’ comment and utter their own ‘WTF?’ in reply. ‘All the liberal-wacko-enviros are making all this noise about a process involving water and sand? Are they kidding?!’
How can one suggest that that very response and belief was anything other than precisely the reaction intended? Who cares if it’s misleading and a gross misrepresentation of this oil production process, Right?

But I’ll be the first to admit that fracking “ingredients” has a nicer ring than “chemicals” or “carcinogens.”

I hear “ingredients” and think of Mom’s recipe for blueberry muffins. But “chemicals” has a different follow-through:

Frack fluid that is injected into the wells contains a toxic soup of hundreds of chemicals, including carcinogens and volatile organic compounds like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Companies aren’t required to disclose what chemicals they’re using either — so it makes it difficult to test for leaks and spills, and for people to be treated for health problems that may arise from exposure.
Oh yeah, and fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act — thanks Dick Cheney! [2]

Call me crazy, but I think that matters affecting the health and well-being of millions of fellow citizens deserves a bit more content than equating environmentally-questionable industrial practices with images of baked goods.

Someone benefits from cherry-picking the facts about fracking, and almost always it’s not you and me.

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8 Comments on "Peak Oil Denial: Skimming Over Facts"

  1. Mike on Tue, 22nd Oct 2013 12:09 pm 

    Also nuclear is SAFE! this is the line we are being smashed in the face with here in the UK now. NUCLEAR! CLEAN SAFE ENERGY!! of course if anything goes wrong, that energy source has the ability to wipe out the majority of life in the country….BUT OTHERWISE IT IS SAFE!

  2. simonr on Tue, 22nd Oct 2013 1:02 pm 

    Dont forget it will somehow supply us with ‘energy independence’, as there seems to be a blank spot about nuclear fuel (That is glossed over)

  3. mo on Tue, 22nd Oct 2013 1:19 pm 

    And they will keep getting away with this. Most people will read or hear what some reporter will write or say (and he dosnt really know a damn thing hes talking about) and this will become the common knowledge. As long as people can drive up to the pump and fill their tanks they wont look any deeper. Until one day they drive up to the pump and find they cant afford the fuel or its not there. Someone once told me there’s two ways to get someones attention, either get into their wallet or hit them over the head with something

  4. simonr on Tue, 22nd Oct 2013 2:01 pm 

    I guess they havent seen this coming

    in the given timeframes, this could get awkward !!

  5. Dave Thompson on Tue, 22nd Oct 2013 8:17 pm 

    We all need to get it. The life of modern industrial society is going to get a lot more difficult. For my personal life and view, living a minimalist life of non- compliance of consumerism is my starting point. I avoid driving my car. I try to buy used or make due with what I have. I grow a garden. Small as it is, my efforts have begun to reap rewards. Some of my friends and family are taking notice and making changes of their own. Many others are snickering and labeling me looney fringe. I am very comfortable in my life spending less making less money. What I am doing and living will be the new normal for most. Sooner then we think.

  6. mo on Tue, 22nd Oct 2013 11:59 pm 

    Great Dave I aplaud you and people like you. I don’t consider my self poor by any means, but were very fruguile. We’ve built our own house make our own furniture and heat with wood and also grow a garden.There’s just something about being self sustaining that’s so satisfying. Most people ( in the us anyway) cant comprehend this idea. Its the simple things in life that make us most happy

  7. BillT on Wed, 23rd Oct 2013 2:49 am 

    When they have to WALK up to a pump for drinkable water, at $20 per gallon, it will be too late. But then, most Americans are too uneducated to even question the bullshit the energy industry is putting out. After all, they were raised to believe everything they see and hear on TV.

    The US in particular, and the West in general has lost the propaganda war. Hitler would be proud of today’s propaganda ministry the MSM, or the electronic Police State we live in.

  8. simonr on Wed, 23rd Oct 2013 11:47 am 

    We have chickens for eggs, woodland for wood heating, two horses for transport (if necessary), they are also learning to pull wood/plough and generally work around the place.
    This year we are installing a wood cooker that powers our radiators.
    Next year (all things being even) we are doing photo voltaic stuff and a battery bank.
    We have a well, so hopefully we are fine

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