Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is making possible an increase in U.S. oil production that...
- is working in tandem with energy-efficiency policy and technology to lead us toward energy self-sufficiency;
- made us a net exporter of petro-products in 2011 (tell me again: who's going to use Keystone XL's oil?); and
- shows the private sector is doing enough with available resources to eliminate the need for the federal government to intervene by opening up more public land to be Swiss-cheesed for petro -profit (contrary to the trend under the Obama Administration to increase oil production on federal land).
Fracking also appears to kill cows and sicken ranchers:
Jacki Schilke and her sixty cattle live in the top left corner of North Dakota, a windswept, golden-hued landscape in the heart of the Bakken Shale. Schilke’s neighbors love her black Angus beef, but she’s no longer sharing or eating it—not since fracking began on thirty-two oil and gas wells within three miles of her 160-acre ranch and five of her cows dropped dead. Schilke herself is in poor health. A handsome 53-year-old with a faded blond ponytail and direct blue eyes, she often feels lightheaded when she ventures outside. She limps and has chronic pain in her lungs, as well as rashes that have lingered for a year. Once, a visit to the barn ended with respiratory distress and a trip to the emergency room. Schilke also has back pain linked with overworked kidneys, and on some mornings she urinates a stream of blood.
Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene and xylene—compounds associated with drilling and fracking, and also with cancers, birth defects and organ damage. Her well tested high for sulfates, chromium, chloride and strontium; her blood tested positive for acetone, plus the heavy metals arsenic (linked with skin lesions, cancers and cardiovascular disease) and germanium (linked with muscle weakness and skin rashes). Both she and her husband, who works in oilfield services, have recently lost crowns and fillings from their teeth; tooth loss is associated with radiation poisoning and high selenium levels, also found in the Schilkes’ water [Elizabeth Royte, "Fracking Our Food Supply," The Nation, 2012.11.28].
The public science on fracking's effects on bovine and human health are incomplete, in part because the oil companies are keeping their fracking formulas secret. And when oil companies offer some compensation to the ranchers whose herds they've harmed, the lawyers impose non-disclosure agreements that keep the ranchers from sharing their information with researchers and the press.
Boy, I hope the experts who came up with fracking are now working on a formula to make burgers out of oil.
Related: The American Petroleum Institute, the biggest oil lobbying group in the country, spent big money to run political ads against Democrats and for Republicans. API's board includes Saudi national and oil exec Tofiq Al-Gabsani. Saudi Arabia's dwindling water supply has led the country to back off growing its own wheat and barley and rely on food imports and investments in farms in Sudan and elsewhere.