Dark Cloud logo

 

Home

Columns

Commentary

Dark Endeavors

Fracking and Facebook, or Fracking Facebook, perhaps Frack You, Facebook, or maybe........

Also? Toilet Overflowed. Metaphor alert..........

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 13, 2013.

I was trying, today, to restrain my hatred of Facebook and people who participate without any hesitation. I've never recovered from the initial presentation of the 'like' button. There'd be a reference to a movie or show and the opportunity to show some support. So, I'd click 'like.' What I did not know is that set you up in a sort of fan club for the band or act or presentation and you are used as a reference to your other friends to get them to do so as if you had approved of the use of your half-assed opinion made in a moment of ennui. In the Glossary of Terminology used in Facebook Land, the word 'like' means passionate affection, a fervor like religious zealotry that never, ever, ends. And, actually, it's easier to change religion through proper channels than to go through the excruciating process of getting yourself removed from these lists, during which you might logically but incorrectly express approval of, and obtain lifelong membership in, yet another group. Lest error be easy to correct, Facebook changes how to navigate its terrain seemingly about every four days, so you're always a newbie.

I was, annoyingly, on Facebook today talking to someone about fracking by personal messaging because....well, just because. Fracking in general references the use of high pressure water and fluids to crack open rock deep below to obtain natural gas and/or oil. My correspondent inundated me with links to pages in Facebook about both not supporting and condemning fracking, but I knew if I visited one site on a whim I'd be listed as a Fracking Friend or Fracking Fiend depending upon the orientation of the site and would be called up before Congress at a later date to defend my irrational, near insane support or hatred of the oil and gas industry, because I liked Friends of Bunnies or Petroleum Patriots.

This is what I do not get about fracking. It's a child's view, I have, so forgive me.

For the point, the earth is a sequence of globes within each other like a Russian doll, only with gravity at the center pulling everything in. In one of the interior globes is the item, say natural gas, that you want. To get it you have to drill down, puncturing each globe and allowing whatever gas or fluid that structure was containing to surge out under immense pressure of the sort that provided gushers in movies about early oil wells. But while that pressure was huge back then, it was the result of much shallower depths and not in the same ball park as the pressure and released by the much deeper and more dangerous drilling today.

When you drill into rock at exquisitely difficult depths and the rock beneath the drill is suppressing the gas or fluid trying to expand with less and less. It likely breaks and shatters before the drill actually punctures the remaining rock, and the exit hole is something of a mess of shattered rock. Further, because of the traumatic change in pressure, cracks can appear and stretch a long way and rather than a clean hole nestled within a collar of tight piping and connections, it spews out under pressure laterally as well as upward at various junctures and weaknesses in the drill hole and within the strata of geological material above it. But always the pressure seeks to push it up.

Up, includes into water tables and aquifers fracking enthusiasts assure us are safely above and not in the same region as object of fracking's desire. My question is: so what? Given the laws of nature and pressure, how in the world can we assure ourselves that, say, the Ogallalah aquifer won't be corrupted by only one passing pipe through it, or a nearby pipe allowing lateral seepage or high pressure flow?
In short, isn't this exactly the same issue that made Deepwater Horizon so dangerous and expensive to temporarily fix in the Gulf of Mexico? Isn't this almost worse, since very small natural fissures in rock can carry a lot of gas and fluid to where it ain't wanted fast and forever as we can't maneuver plugs in solid rock as we can even at 10k feet of ocean, itself a horror or probabilities? Isn't this an entirely predictable disaster for which we know there is no possible solution once things are flowing under huge pressure into the aquifers upon which we depend?

I don't know why the companies involved are not pressured to assure us they have the equipment and the skill to immediately fix what will be needed. I understand how people, even like Governor Hickenlooper, can be convinced that it is safe. I just want the drillers to prove it.