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LadyX
Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 5:34:07 PM

Rank: Artistic Tart
Moderator

Joined: 9/25/2009
Posts: 4,813
Not long ago I watched this documentary on HBO called Gasland, which talks about what's happening to the land and the people around the places where energy companies are drilling for natural gas. Apparently, the new thing is 'fracking', where they drill deep into rock called 'shale', and they detonate down there to shake the gas loose. They do it up to 18 times over the life of a well, and there are thousands and thousands of them, with at least as many others planned. There are over 2,000 wells in the city of Forth Worth, TX alone.

There are about five companies that do the vast majority of it, and thanks to Dick Cheney and other congressmen loyal to lobbyists' urging, oil and gas exploration is EXEMPT from the Clean Air and Water Act. The gas is seeping into drinking water sources, so people can literally light their water on fire, but there's nothing they can do, their complaints go nowhere. These companies pump a mixture of 300 toxic chemicals into the ground to assist with the 'fracking' and extraction, most of which does not come back up, and there's nothing the EPA can do- they're prohibited by federal law from monitoring these activities, since they are exempt from environmental laws. Plus the tanks you see are not sealed- they off-gas constantly. Between that and the off-gassing from the drilling, the emissions in Forth Worth every day equal the emissions from car traffic in the whole metroplex (Dallas/Arlington/Fort Worth). Animals are dying in the streams and on land shared by drilling. People are getting very ill, and they get the run-around from the government due to the massive influence that energy companies' lobbyists have in Washington.

I don't just post this for the sake of sharing, even though I think it's definitely worth seeing- very scary and very sad. My questions for discussion are:

Is this deepwater drilling, and frack-extraction gas drilling just part of an increasingly one-sided deal with the devil that we as a country agree to in order to keep our life rolling along just as it always has?

At what point is there enough outrage that the government is forced into action against situations like this, where companies can just completely pollute in ways deadly and long-term, in pursuit of almighty dollars? Is that point ever going to come? I think it won't, but I'd love to be wrong. Yes they are providing affordable energy, but at what other costs?

Or- do we just accept the environmental and health costs associated with this and accept our fates?

Maybe these companies should be forced to pay premium money outright for land they want to use, as opposed to land lease, where governments just cave to eminent domain claims anyway, and the landowners are just helpless tools. At the very least, is it too much to ask that they be subject to the environmental laws already in place? This seems like common sense, or maybe I'm missing something.

I'd love to hear from anyone that lives in "Gasland" so to speak. Maybe you think it's no problem, haven't heard any bad stories, etc. Or maybe you have. Either way, all opinions welcome. I think this is one issue that will only get bigger.

FYI- here are two other links. One is the industry response to Gasland: http://www.energyindepth.org/2010/06/debunking-gasland/
The other is the movie maker's response to that:
http://www.damascuscitizens.org/Affirming-GASLAND.pdf








Rembacher
Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 5:44:08 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 10/16/2008
Posts: 1,107
I think this is a situation where it's seen as a necessary evil. Until we find a more efficient way of making clean energy, or a new energy source, there are enough people who are willing to trade the cost of environmental damage, for the lifestyle, and comfort they know now.

As long as there is no viable alternative, I don't think the government will stop this. But I do think that if someone were to come up with a new technology that made oil and natural gas obsolete, then the government would bow to the new money, and get rid of the old. Much like they did with coal power before.
MrNudiePants
Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 6:30:39 PM

Rank: Forum Guru

Joined: 8/10/2009
Posts: 2,190
Location: United States
I haven't seen the documentary yet, but I believe you - I believe things are as bad as it shows them to be. You've already explained the reason why things are the way they are. The "almighty dollar". The cost for deriving energy from petroleum is steadily rising. It's still cheaper than the cost for deriving energy from "clean" energy sources. As technology improves, and alternative energy costs slowly ease lower, and petroleum costs trend higher, eventually they'll meet somewhere in the middle. Eventually, alternative energy costs will become cheaper than oil and the problem will solve itself.

There are always tradeoffs, though. Take CFL lightbulbs, for instance. They do save buttloads of energy, but each one has enough mercury in it to (allegedly) poison several thousand gallons of drinking water. So one question will be - how safe do these new alternative energy sources have to be in order for us to use them and like it?
WellMadeMale
Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 8:01:49 PM

Rank: Constant Gardener

Joined: 9/30/2009
Posts: 10,451
Location: Cakeland, United States
MrNudiePants wrote:
I haven't seen the documentary yet, but I believe you - I believe things are as bad as it shows them to be.

There are always tradeoffs, though. Take CFL lightbulbs, for instance. They do save buttloads of energy, but each one has enough mercury in it to (allegedly) poison several thousand gallons of drinking water. So one question will be - how safe do these new alternative energy sources have to be in order for us to use them and like it?


That is a brutally honest and maddening HBO program, Xuani.

This from 2007: http://www.energy.gs/2007/05/cfl-mercury-myths.html

Mercury is found in many rocks including coal. When coal is burned, mercury is released into the environment. Coal-burning power plants are the largest human-caused source of mercury emissions to the air in the United States, accounting for over 50 percent of all domestic human-caused mercury emissions (Source: 2005 National Emissions Inventory).

And this from the EPA: http://www.epa.gov/mercury/about.htm

So, the electricity to power our homes in America creates a really bad mercury poisoning problem, and we Americans love our electricity, so we burn the shit out of the dirt that comes out of Wyoming and the Appalachians.

Of course it only contaminates our water, air, livestock and vegetables.

We're kind of dumb, huh?

If ya can't beat 'em... pay someone to do it for you.
Magical_felix
Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 4:58:48 PM

Rank: Wild at Heart

Joined: 4/3/2010
Posts: 5,196
Location: California
I switched over to the old HBO on dmand and saw this documentary. I remebered this thread so I decided to watch it before going to bed. It made me so pissed that I couldn't go to sleep after seeing it. They are so blatantly destroying the land and just denying that anything is wrong. The way that the natural gas extraction companies just pretend that everything is ok is so unfair to these people. The way that they say the water is ok to drink but they won't let a drop touch their lips is frustrating.

The worst part, like jebru stated, is that it's a cycle we can't get out of. We need the energy. I think we are really far off from some new miracle energy source that will put an end to this too.



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