I attended the Steamboat Institute’s forum on fracking Tuesday evening. Actually, it was more of a pep rally than forum. Missing were the pompoms and megaphones, but the spirit was there for fracking. John Lamb, of Steamboat Energy Group, was one of the speakers. He gave a good presentation about what fracking involves. And according to Mr. Lamb, there is almost nothing that is harmful in any way to people or the environment. The other speaker was Bob Beauprez, of various offices from the GOP and public domain. In his talk, he was able to include a few times the ever-popular “United States of America,” in case we forgot where we were.
Two points I would like to mention that were discussed that night are the water issue and earthquakes. A fracked well can use 1 million to 4 million gallons of water and other chemicals. In a handout available at the door, there was a pie chart showing the amount of water used in various industries. Lamb was proud of the fact that fracking used so “little” compared to agriculture and other industries. A failure to mention one fact was telling, I thought. About 70 to 80 percent of the millions of gallons are never retrieved, being forced underground with tremendous pressure. So with, say, 2 million gallons per well, that means we permanently lose approximately 1.5 million gallons, never to be seen or used again. The other 500,000 gallons or so are “retrieved” but are extremely toxic and dirty with sand and chemicals.
Various ways are used to dispose of this slime. Probably the most common is to truck it off in hundreds of diesel-burning, noisy, air-fouling, road-wearing trips from the well to the disposal tanks many miles away. There, it eventually is forced down into holes drilled into the ground never, hopefully, to resurface. So we forever lose millions of gallons of precious water per well that is not replenished by nature. Gone. Adios. Let me remind you that we live in a high-mountain desert. The water that agricultural operations and most industries use is not lost and comes back to be used over and over and over again.
The other point regarding earthquakes was a point that Lamb and others laughed off. Earthquakes, apparently, never are caused by fracking. They happen instead where there are disposal sites where extreme pressure is used to force the toxins down holes in the earth. Excuse me? Fracking is doing the very same thing the disposal wells are doing, yet that doesn’t cause quakes? And because of fracking, millions of gallons of horrible sludge is created that is disposed in those quake-producing holes in the ground. So it seems that fracking has two ways to cause earthquakes.
Routt County has to be wary of oil people that tell us how safe fracking is when they are the ones standing to make lots of money. This is the industry that gave us the Exxon Valdez, the Gulf of Mexico BP disaster, the Mackinaw River spill and countless others. Our Routt County water is a precious asset that once lost is gone forever.