Friday, December 28, 2012

A Fractured Process

The Journal Sentinel reports, "A new study funded by the petroleum industry says Wisconsin firms employ 20,000 people supporting the unconventional oil and gas business - meaning sand mines, largely. The sand from western Wisconsin is used by drilling companies in North Dakota and other states to unlock underground natural gas and oil supplies in a controversial practice called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking."

Go figure. The industry that gains from fracking has released a study showing how wonderful it is.

Walmart employs people. Sport stadiums employ people. Yet, these are low-wage jobs, usually lacking health care and retirement plans. The mantra of "It creates jobs!" is short-sighted and overblown. Regarding fracking, if those jobs destroy land, water, and leave behind a barren wasteland, it's not really a long-term jobs plan. It's a short-term money grab for the parent company pillaging and plundering the land. Not to mention the negative public health consequences for residents. So yeah, again, not really a good nor sustainable jobs plan. And, definitely not a good plan for a state that prides itself on the natural environment and the beauty and purity of the land.

“Every year, large areas are continually becoming unfertile in spite of efforts to grow vegetation on the degraded mined land.” wrote Mrinal Ghose in the Journal of Scientific and Industrial Research.

As Ellen Cantarow reports, "Boom times for hydraulic fracturing began in 2008 when new horizontal-drilling methods transformed an industry formerly dependent on strictly vertical boring. Frac-sand mining took off in tandem with this development. “It’s huge,” said a U.S. Geological Survey mineral commodity specialist in 2009. “I’ve never seen anything like it, the growth. It makes my head spin.” That year, from all U.S. sources, frac-sand producers used or sold over 6.5 million metric tons of sand — about what the Great Pyramid of Giza weighs. Last month, Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources Senior Manager and Special Projects Coordinator Tom Woletz said corporations were hauling at least 15 million metric tons a year from the state’s hills. By July 2011, between 22 and 36 frac-sand facilities in Wisconsin were either operating or approved. Seven months later, said Woletz, there were over 60 mines and 45 processing (refinement) plants in operation. “By the time your article appears, these figures will be obsolete,” claims Pat Popple, who in 2008 founded the first group to oppose frac-sand mining, Concerned Chippewa Citizens (now part of The Save the Hills Alliance)."

There are better ways to grow an economy. Much better ways than destroying the land around you. Let's move toward a sustainable, equitable, and safe future for Wisconsin and it's residents. Let's tell the hydraulic fracturers to frack off.

For Further Reading:
Clintonville Booms Caused By Fracking?
The Evolving Truth About Fracking For Natural Gas
How Rural American Got Fracked
In The Name Of Fracking

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