Like most authors, I have a day job.
Most days I like my job. Some days, like today, I wish I could rage quit and write full time and have more time to garden. (OK, that’s most days regarding the writing and gardening, not the rage quitting.)
I look at a lot of aerial imagery for my job. It’s pretty cool most of the time. Until I come across areas where oil and gas developement is happening. I recently listened to a very balanced podcast on fracking, and while it didn’t sway me from my “fracking is a bad thing” opinion, I did learn more about it.
So here’s why I still don’t like fracking. I don’t like what it does to the immediate environment. Check out the picture on the right. This is an area where fracking wells are being installed. All those little pale dots in all these pictures are well pads. Every one of them affect the environment around them in some fashion or another. Acres of land are impacted either by roads, the well pads, storage areas, or waste water holding ponds. Not to mention that private land owners are inconvenienced by the gas companies who have rights to the resources under the land.
I did learn that most fracking spills happen above ground. That doesn’t make me feel any better about it. Would you want the contaminated water in the ponds in the picture on the left near your home? What about the wildlife who may encounter this water? And what are the impacts when these ponds are flooded, as many were during the major flooding in the South Platte River basin in 2013? The oil and gas companies don’t want you to think about that.
I get that natural gas is technically cleaner than coal. Until you factor in the methane leaks and intentional burn off. (See this article in National Geographic.)
I’ve been working with this issue for nearly twenty years now in different ways. Back when I worked for the Division of Wildlife, I had to write letters to the oil companies advising them about critical wildlife areas and how to manage it when they put in a new well in one of those areas.
It’s time to wean ourselves from oil and gas. Not just to prevent global warming, but to protect our local environments and the creatures and people that rely on it.