Carrying the Water for ‘Fracking’

January 22nd, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Denise Tessier

Journal letter writer Richard Cook on Nov. 17 urged New Mexicans to read “The Truth About Fracking,” an article that ran in the October issue of Scientific American, “before issuing any permits or rights to this type of drilling/exploration. Please!”

Two days later, New Mexico regulators ruled that drillers must disclose what they inject when fracking. As the Journal reported in an Associeted Press story at the time, “hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been used for decades to enhance well production, but federal regulators have been investigating whether the practice is contaminating drinking water supplies.”

Final language for the regulation are expected to be released at the end of this month.

But while a number of stories have surfaced about the potential hazards caused by fracturing rock to release oil and gas reserves – most notably “The Fracturing of Pennsylvania” in the New York Times Magazine — I’d urge readers to read an article that appeared Jan. 16 in the  independent Texas Tribune, which talks about another aspect of fracking: its tremendous use of water.

According to the Texas Tribune:

Most fracked wells use 1 million to 5 million gallons of water over three to five days, said Justin Furnace, the president of the Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association.

Apparently, the oil industry views these numbers as insignificant:

Analysis from a June study prepared for the Texas Water Development Board suggested that less than 1 percent of the water used statewide went into fracking. Oil and gas groups say such numbers show their usage lags well behind that of cities.

Dan Hardin, the water board’s resource planning director, said fracking is not expected to exceed 2 percent of Texas water use.

The study comes at a time when the Texas Water Board reports that the drought-stricken state simply does not have enough water, period, to “meet the needs of its people, and its businesses, and its agricultural enterprises” over the next five years.

Water use is being publicized in Texas because starting Feb. 1, Texas well drillers not only have to report what chemicals they shoot into a well, but how much water goes into the process.

Meanwhile, back at the Journal, “coverage” has appeared in the form of a column by yet another Rio Grande Foundation contributor, this one extolling the virtues of fracking.

’Fracking’ Essential To Future” is the headline on the Dec. 28 column by Thomas Molitar, listed as an “adjunct scholar” with the industry-promoting RGF.

A group of Mora County citizens calling themselves the Mora Democracy School Committee did get a chance to counter Molitar’s claims with “Clean Air, Water Essential for Future” (Jan. 11), but it ran only in the Journal’s North edition.

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  • Susan Clair

    Thank you for helping me understand fracking and the huge volumes of water needed.

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