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Posted Wed Apr 28 2010: from GOOD:
On Fracking and Human Folly
The [Columbia Natural Gas] man described how they would get through the Devonian shale beneath Ingraffea's 70 acres using a method called hydraulic fracturing, and that it was very safe and the impact on the surface of his land would be minimal. Ingraffea didn't buy the woods with the small trout stream for the Devonian shale or natural gas reserves, so he was surprised--but not for the reasons the man at his door that day might have thought. Ingraffea has his Ph.D. in rock fracture mechanics and knows all about Devonion shale. He also knows all about hydraulic fracturing: He's been teaching courses on fracture mechanics at Cornell since 1977.... When fracking knocked on his front door that day, he knew it was also coming to his neighbors' doors, to his whole community around Ithaca. "I looked at my situation and said: Crap, I know a lot about what's going on here and I know that what's being told to the public is not the complete story. If I don't say something, I'm just like one of my bad examples." So, like a true professor, he made a PowerPoint lecture about it. In fracking, the actual splitting of the rock is only one part of a very large, very complex process. Ingraffea uses that word throughout his lecture: "large" (also "big," "huge," "immense," "giant"). Focusing on the fracking itself to determine the safety of a given mining operation, he says, is like looking at a generator to find out if an engine is good or bad. Yeah, it's a key part of the process, but it's also just that: one part of a very (you guessed it) big process. In order to hydraulically fracture, a company has to use certain chemicals--hydrochloric and citric acid, ammonium persulfate, dimethylformamide, petroleum distillate, potassium chloride..... Rather, Ingraffea suggests we use natural gas as a way to wean ourselves off coal, the dirtiest fuel we burn. But this, he says, points to the largest myth of all, the myth that "somebody's in control." We have, he says, "No national energy strategy, no oversight to maintain the standard of living while decreasing our impact on the environment, which should be the cornerstone of any energy policy."
[Read more stories about: toxic water, unintended consequences, short-term thinking, fracking]

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'Doc Jim says:
I'm reasonably sure the Holy Ghost of the Invisible Hand is "in control."

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