Monday, May 18, 2015

Done: "Hydrofracking" by Alex Prud'homme

Done: Hydrofracking: what everyone needs to know by Alex Prud'Homme, 2014, 9780199311255.

Part of the What Everyone Needs to Know Series by Oxford Uni. Press. A good book. Sections include what, how and where to explain the process and two sections covering the case for and against the process.

Prud'Homme is as thorough as his name is difficult to type. His work is balanced as well, he's not grinding an ax.  Prud'Homme has an extensive bib at the end and has notes throughout. I tell ya, it's nice to see notes and references that are not all bullshit political references.

I'm kinda split on the fracking process myself. I have a 1st cousin who started an oil services company for the pumps used in fracking. He's been quite successful and the company works in oil fields around the country. There has been a lot of job growth and plenty of money for a lot of communities.

The downsides to fracking are in the news all the time: earthquakes, massive water use, polluted water after the process, ground water contamination, etc.  Some of those - earthquakes and ground water contamination - need to be scientifically proven but sure look clear.

A major issue with any major industry is: Who writes the rules? Oil industry concerns lobby a lot of more effectively than small cities and towns spread across the continent.  The chemicals used in fracking fluid are trade secrets - hey, it is a very competitive industry and I can understand some secrecy. But, if the used water is not treated and cleaned where does it go? Used water can be pumped way below the level of aquifers but not everyone does that, and is that causing tremors?

It's a fast changing industry that seems to follow the usual cycle where 1) a new opportunity comes up, 2) people rush in and many companies cut corners for money and time, 3) citizens react to abuses, 4) government and the courts get involved, 5) hopefully things settle down with realistic rules and regulations.

Those rules and regulations can rapidly change, too. The industry is overseen by both federal and state laws. A change in government administration can rapidly change things for the better or worse. Or, you get a guy like this jerk who tries to have people fired for doing research.

1. The earthquake issue. I've no time to check but the geological studies look to be conclusive that fracking is to blame. The issue, as always, is proving it decisively enough to influence change. Better yet, prove it so assholes won't say "This needs more study."

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