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Opinion Chemical fracking formulas and water don’t mix

I am a fracking agnostic. Fracking as in “hydraulic fracturing” and agnostic in the sense that I haven't studied much about this hot-button topic and have no strong feelings either way on the merits of the actual technique.

All right, to the Bat Cave of knowledge I go. According to Merriam-Webster online, fracking is “the injection of fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources such as oil or natural gas.” I have a hunch that the “fluid” and “high pressure” part of the definition might be what many folks have an issue with.

Sure, 99% plus of the fluid is water (with sand added) but it's the other stuff added to the water that makes the fracking chemical cocktail of interest. Most of those chemicals fail to pass my computer's spell check such as carboxymethylhydroxypropyl. Even though I have no idea what it is, I'm sure carbo-whatever is perfectly safe when used as directed. In all fairness, I had some chocolate-covered snack donuts for breakfast the other day and there are a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients on the label as well. Maybe there is fracking going on in my belly.

George HasaraI am a fracking agnostic. Fracking as in “hydraulic fracturing” and agnostic in the sense that I haven't studied much about this hot-button topic and have no strong feelings either way on the merits of the actual technique.

All right, to the Bat Cave of knowledge I go. According to Merriam-Webster online, fracking is “the injection of fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources such as oil or natural gas.” I have a hunch that the “fluid” and “high pressure” part of the definition might be what many folks have an issue with.

Sure, 99% plus of the fluid is water (with sand added) but it's the other stuff added to the water that makes the fracking chemical cocktail of interest. Most of those chemicals fail to pass my computer's spell check such as carboxymethylhydroxypropyl. Even though I have no idea what it is, I'm sure carbo-whatever is perfectly safe when used as directed. In all fairness, I had some chocolate-covered snack donuts for breakfast the other day and there are a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients on the label as well. Maybe there is fracking going on in my belly.

Apparently, the government of North Carolina has an issue with those chemicals as well. It's not that they think the chemicals are dangerous to the environment but rather that the danger lies with the public knowing what those chemicals are. It's now a crime to publicize what any company is injecting into the ground for their fracking operations. It was to be a felony offense, but under public pressure, was reduced to a misdemeanor punishable by community service. Those who try to perform a community service by informing people of what is being pumped into the ground are now deemed criminals in need of performing community service. This conjures up imagery of a dog chasing its tail.

The fracking chemical confidentiality law was first passed by the 15-member North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission after what was reported as “three hours of intense debate.” Since the vote was 15-0, maybe they only debated how long the show discussion should go on. This wasn't a vote to name the pickaxe as the official state mining tool where you might expect a unanimous vote. The fact that no single member of that board dissented is peculiar to say the least. It appears like stacking or “fracking the deck” is going on.

It's one thing to approve a drilling practice that has been in existence in some form since the 1940's but it's another to have the state serve as muscle to protect corporations' “proprietary” secrets. It's easy to be a conspiracy nut when there is a conspiracy to keep information hidden. We're not talking about Colonel Sanders' secret mix of 11 herbs and spices here. One can choose what restaurants to patronize but it's a bit more problematic with water. Being secretive, especially with a government enforced gag order is a poor way to foster public confidence. We need clean H20 with our body roughly made up of 65% water and the other 35% being fried chicken and other solids.

Perhaps more pressing is the question of liability with a potential link between fracking and earthquakes. I'm from California and I know because of the active fault lines in the region there are supposed to be earthquakes in that state. However, when places with increased fracking such as Ohio and Oklahoma top the seismic charts it does raise the obvious question. Correlation may not be causation, but I've yet to hear a plausible non-fracking explanation.

Our governor signed the fracking bill, stating he is “pro business.” As a born-again capitalist, I take no issue with folks earning a good living, but I'm also an advocate of accountability and owning up to liability even for those who manage to gain unanimous support and cover from regulatory boards.

Contact George at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .





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