Weekly column by Barbara Hirsch
Steadily increasing attention on fracking, and regulation thereof, can ONLY be a good thing. This “less conventional” method and associated ones for extracting oil and natural gas was employed for many years with little notice. In the last 15 years, the amount of gas obtained here in the U.S. from fracking has gone from 1% to 25%, much higher by some estimates. Of oil, the increase has been similarly astronomic. The coming election will see initiatives around the country to regulate these methods, including Measure P in Santa Barbara.
Arguments in favor of these methods are energy independence and jobs/economy. However, the funders of the campaigns for fracking are primarily oil/energy companies, not citizens. it is clear that profits are the first and foremost argument in favor, unless you believe these companies are working above all for the greater good.
Arguments against fracking are entirely environmental and health oriented, and include the tremendous amounts of clean water used and polluted, hundreds of chemicals used - many of which are carcenogenic, energy used (lots) and emissions (also lots, including methane leaks from operations which are much higher than previously estimated) from these activities, potential geological instability resulting from high pressure liquids injected into cracks and fissures underground, thousands of tons of waste from these operations being left in open pits, injected underground. Some is processed. Nature will be the judge of its quality.
Many other parts of the world have the same struggle going on, between oil/energy companies and concerned citizens. In Germany where there is far more water than in California, the government is weighing revenues from oil vs. beer. The giant beer companies rely on lots of clean water to make their product and are vocal against fracking. Currently it is looking like beer has the government’s ear.
This eco-nut is hoping for beer to win in Germany, and for YES on Measure P to win in Santa Barbara!