Jay Ambrose: Fracking is hardly a public health threat we need to worry about

By Jay Ambrose

Scripps Howard News Services

Published: Sunday, Aug. 21 2011 12:00 a.m. MDT

The misinformation was so great in a recent guest op-ed in the Denver Post that it could not have been manufactured by one person alone. It took a consumer group organizer, a member of the Sierra Club and a trouper from George Soros's MoveOn.org to misrepresent a salvational technology known as fracking as a weapon of mass destruction.

You better have a cardiologist standing by, for what this committee said was that fracking has "caused livestock and crops to die from tainted water, people in small towns to black out and develop headaches from foul air and flames to explode from kitchen taps."

My apologies to those of you already reeling in terror, but there is more. The chemicals used in fracking can cause cancer and heart disease.

Or maybe not. Maybe, by now, you have grown accustomed to the evangelical, fundamentalist faith of radical environmentalism. Maybe you would like to visit with science and actual experience before you go into 911 mode, screaming into the phone that the cops had better, by heavens, get to those fracking sites with guns drawn.

Let's set the record straight by first talking about what fracking is, namely, hydraulic fracturing, a means of forcing fissures in hard rock to let oil or natural gas seep its way to a well. The 64-year-old vertical technique using mostly water and sand under high pressure has been employed in about a million wells with no hullabaloo.

Something just a decade old has been added — similarly safe horizontal fracking. It allows vast reaching out in a bunch of different directions while taking up hardly any space above ground. What we get is the inexpensive, environmentally sound snatching of enough energy from deep-down solid stone to make us free at last, free at last.

It's hard to overstate what's happened. Especially with the new access to U.S. mother lodes of natural gas that is now a cheaper source of energy than anything else, we have taken a giant step toward energy independence. By itself, one fracking area in the East is said to have as much energy as Saudi Arabia. Tons more jobs are being created nationally. A truly significant reduction in greenhouse gases should result, along with a significant reduction in what it costs to make this industrialized, motorized nation go.

So does fracking murder cows? Bogus claim. For that to happen, you can learn from several articles, much diluted chemicals used in tiny amounts would have to rise thousands of feet and pass through solid rock without benefit of fracking to reach aquifers above. And if you say that sounds easy, listen to an EPA administrator quoted as saying fracking has never been shown to poison water. The EPA also concluded in a study that the chemicals pose no threat to human health.

And even before fracking was a fact, kitchen taps have exploded from methane gas tucked in spots close to homes by nature herself, no help needed. Fracking has never been shown to be responsible.

The Denver Post op-ed is a tiny part of the campaign now being waged nationally by large numbers of other eco-religionists and those they've influenced, but then there is actual research refuting the shock-and-awe assault on the civic psyche.

Review activist assertions, but then if you have time, do what I did — chat with an experienced geologist, check with a couple of other experts, find out through reading a dozen and more articles what the data truly reveal and tune in on some sane comment, such as a Denver Post staff columnist citing hard evidence of alert regulation in Colorado.

From varied written testimony, it appears alert in the rest of the nation, too, and should be because experts do agree such matters as well coverings can be and have been an issue. Care is obviously needed, but don't feel you need to call the cops.

Jay Ambrose's email is SpeaktoJay@aol.com.

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