Tuesday, 2 August 2011

What the frack?

Hydraulic Fracturing or “fracking” is a technique for extracting gas from deep within shale rock and coal beds. It looks set to become big oil’s newest gold rush and, as usual, their desperation for profit makes them blind to the environmental costs of their folly.

The process of fracking involves using high pressure to inject massive volumes of water, plus sand and chemicals into dense rock formations. This breaks the rock and natural gas is released and captured. The basic technique has existed for several decades but recent advances in technology have made it possible to frack the gas out of deeper and denser rock.

Gas and oil companies are looking to buy or lease land in countries throughout the globe where they can exploit this gas. However, the pace at which this land grab is taking place is out of keeping with the continuously emerging evidence that fracking is unacceptably environmentally destructive.

In the recent film “Gasland”, about fracking in the US, there is a scene where a resident living near where the practice is taking place sets the water from their kitchen tap on fire. It’s a stark and symbolic illustration of how dangerous and destructive fracking is.

The water can be set alight because a nearby aquifer has been so contaminated by chemicals which have escaped during the fracking process.

The main issue with water though, is that it takes billions of gallons of it to carry out the process of fracking. If the process begins to extend throughout the globe, hundreds of billions of gallons of water will effectively be wasted on a dangerous and unsustainable process because it suits the interests of some of the most powerful companies in the world.

What we need, is not to indulge the folly and greed of the oil companies who will do anything to get further profit out of the ground, but to invest in clean, safe and sustainable energy that can provide for people’s needs and protect the environment.

Written by Socialist Party Australia - our Australian sister party

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