(Thomas Mitchell, 4TH ST8) – Luddite.
A Las Vegas assemblyman has introduced a bill to ban fracking in Nevada.
According to media accounts, Democratic Assemblyman Justin Watkins has stated fracking causes earthquakes, contaminates water, pollutes the air and basically creates an eyesore.
His Senate Bill 159 would amend state law by adding: “A person shall not engage in hydraulic fracturing in this State. As used in this section, ‘hydraulic fracturing’ means the process of pumping fluid into or under the surface of the ground to create fractures in the rock to facilitate the production or recovery of oil or gas.”
First, any earthquakes associated with fracking were not caused by fracking but by pumping fracking waste into injection wells, because the enviros objected to leaving what is mostly water and sand on the surface.
As for contaminating groundwater, even the EPA had to stretch to conclude there is a “chance” of pollution. In its report on the topic the EPA scientists said fracking “can impact drinking water resources under some circumstances,” but “the scientific evidence is insufficient to support estimates of the frequency of contamination.” They said the instances of contamination were small in comparison to the vast number of fracked wells across the nation.
Oil and gas wells, with or without fracking, produce oil and gas, the burning of which releases some carbon, OK.
As for being an eyesore, modern fracking techniques eliminate the need to drilling hundreds of wells in close proximity to hit pockets of oil, as can be seen in Bakersfield, Calif. Instead, these pockets are tapped by drilling one well and then drilling out horizontally.
Watkins seems to be under the misconception that fracking is some sort of recent untested technique.
The first fracking patent was issued in 1866. It used nitroglycerin explosions to fracture formations. The first commercial application of hydraulic fracking took place in 1949. In many oil and gas fields, a majority of wells are fracked at one time or another, either initially or later to prolong the productive life of the well.
In the 1980s, oilman George Mitchell combined the techniques of fracking and horizontal drilling to develop the Barnett Shale formation in North Texas, according to a history of his company’s development. It has resulted in a boom in natural gas production and a decline in oil prices, creating countless jobs and growing the economy. It also has cut the nation’s carbon output since gas burns cleaner than coal.
In 2014, the Nevada Division of Minerals Administrator Rich Perry released Nevada’s 20-page revised rules on fracking that require groundwater testing before and after drilling, pressure testing of equipment, notifications to landowners before fracking begins and abiding by strict engineering standards. More than adequate precautions.
Though there have been a few fracked wells in the Elko vicinity in recent years, there reportedly are none at this time.
But there is potential with the Chainman Shale formation, which lies largely in an 80- to 100-mile radius around Duckwater — including almost all of White Pine County, major portions of Nye, Lincoln, Elko, Eureka and Lander counties, as well as parts of a couple of counties in Utah.
The formation is believed to be rich in oil, though most lies 2 to 5 miles underground, making drilling expensive when oil prices are fairly low.
A fracking ban just might kill a number of potential jobs and deprive the state economy and the state tax coffers of revenue. All for no reason.
Mr. Mitchell publishes the 4TH ST8 Blog at www.4thst8.wordpress.com.
Column originally published at 4TH ST8.