Fouled Forever by Fracking

This is a typical well

Fracking leaves scars, above and below the surface.

I have very strong misgivings about the XL pipeline proposal.  Governor Brownback tells us that it will bring “good times” to Kansas but I have good reasons to doubt it.

When I was a child, some seventy years ago, we moved to a farm about ten miles north of the little town where I now reside.  In an area adjoining our barn lot, there was a small pond of blue water.  The clay for several yards around it was also blue and I questioned about it.  I learned that it was a “sluice pond” from a gas well that had been attempted there many years before.  Gas and oil occupy the same underground areas and one cannot drill for one without finding at least small quantities of the other. In that case, the water and oil had been drained off into this little pond in that unsuccessful search for gas.  That same small piece of ground will still be blue and totally barren of vegetation, but that was a small operation.  Periodically, some drillers will go back to old wells and try low-pressure “fracking” in order to salvage a bit more gas from that well.  It was done a mile from our little lake house where we had a well of potable water.  After the fracking, the well was hopelessly fouled…. forever!

In traveling the length of Kansas in order to visit your lovely state, I was struck by how green western Kansas has become with the assistance of the gigantic irrigation systems which allow the growth of many crops that are not thought to be indigenous to the climate.  This cropland that spreads throughout the whole of western Kansas and Nebraska is the reason for the sobriquet of “Breadbasket to the World.”  The fresh water which nourishes those fields as well as all the large cities west of Wichita is a large underground deposit, called the Oglalla Aquifer, dating back to the melting glaciers from the last Ice Age.  We are aware that it will not last forever and so conservation practices have been instituted for its maximum protection.

Can one even imagine the disaster, not only to Kansas and Nebraska but to the world as a whole, should this precious water deposit become fouled by a massive leak of crude oil into its midst?  A huge share of the wheat-producing land in the world would be instantly removed from availability, world famine would be increased exponentially and the entire region returned to empty desert.  There is nobody who can guarantee that such a leak would never happen and there is not enough money in the world to compensate humanity for its loss.

Than, again, why should we tolerate it?  This is Canada’s oil, bound for re-sale all over the world.  There are refineries closer than Houston and no reason why Canada should not build their own refineries closer to the source of the product, and there must be routes for its disposal that do not endanger such a precious resource of an equally-precious deposit.  I applaud the President for his courageous demand to wait for further investigation of the environmental impact before giving further consideration to tis potentially-disastrous project.

  4 comments for “Fouled Forever by Fracking

    January 21, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I wonder what could possibly induce any sort of “happy days are here again” reality, let alone feeling, in Kansas (!) or anywhere. You’ve all been to or through Kansas, I trust. If Chicago is the “windy city,” then Kansas is the gale-ic state. And not much exciting happens there in any case, except I note the citizens growing fatter each year. People have somehow got to come to terms with the fact that “investment” in or through a place drops few crumbs along the way, and nearly all the gravy stays on the train, straight into the platinum pockets of the 1%. And folks need to understand that constructing a pipeline brings in a few hundreds of people who move WITH the right-of-way, north or south, and then leave. So the “extra” business at the hash slingers goes back down to Depression levels very soon. Remember when a “job” meant something lasting? My father had one of those. That’s when America truly was “number one.” No more.

  2. Mary Pitt
    January 21, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    You see the picture, Fred, but, like most, you base your opinion of Kansas on what you see from the highway. Western Kansas looks pretty desolate but the eastern section is entirely different. I love the rolling hills, though I miss the Pacific mountains, and the grasslands are like a sea in the summer where I live. There are large cities within driving range but small-town living is less expensive than anything I have seen. There are also some beautiful people, and not all are fat. However, Kansas men will tell you that they prefer women who are “corn bread and bean fed.”

    January 21, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    That’s all well and good. I have relatives in Wamego, just east of Manhattan. And I recall (and would remind) that Toto went back because he had no choice. Dorothy held all the cards.

  4. January 23, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    You’re a funny man. Maybe the next time, Toto should be given the ruby slippers. Having grown up on the prairie, my babysitter were a pair of border collies and I learned very early that they have a lot more sense than I.

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