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Over Easy: Flaring and Fracking

Directional drilling and hydraulic fracturing led World Energy Outlook 2012 to project the United States to become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020. With the boom comes a host of environmental problems, and apparently, a good deal of waste. The video above explains the practice of flaring in Pennsylvania, and is called Gas Well Flaring – Marcellus Shale Reality Tour Part 4 – Fracking.

In 2012, North Dakota moved into second position after Alaska (and before Texas) to become the second largest oil-producing state. Yesterday in an article titled SkyTruth Tracks Fracking From the Edge of Space, EcoWatch explained:

A recent study concluded that 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is being wasted by a process called flaring, and the carbon dioxide emissions alone are equivalent to the annual emissions of 1 million automobiles.This does not even touch the unknown air quality impacts from burning fracked gas in large, open flames at ground-level.

The article includes a video from SkyTruth that shows the visible flaring activity in North Dakota, as well as in other places. Notably, the flaring is visible from a balloon, placed at the edge of space, at an altitude of 100,000 feet.

EcoWatch posted an additional article yesterday titled PA Public Health Assessment Finds Fracking Makes People Sick . A group of PA physicians have been seeing acute illnesses and health problems related to the practice of fracking, and they anticipate chronic illnesses as well. The article states, in pertinent part:

In the Associate Press story, the gas industry argues that lives are saved by cleaner burning natural gas. Even if there is any truth in that claim, saving U.S. lives from emissions from shamefully antiquated coal plants should not require sacrificing unconsenting children and families to contaminated air and water from fracked wells and the transportation of gas. Creating new health hazards to replace the old is unethical when clean, safe, renewable forms of energy exist.

Author Richard Heinberg’s recent book titled Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future describes how extracting is expensive and finite. From the overview article on the book:

The heart of Snake Oil is directed at countering the optimistic projections for production of oil and gas by hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Fracked oil and gas production is simply another, albeit expensive, resource that will climb to a peak and then deplete away just like all the others.

As always, other topics are welcome at Over Easy. We can discuss the practices of fracking and flaring and associated problems, or discuss other issues.

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