What the Frack…?

Cidu Bill on Jan 15th 2013


Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, Cornered, Mike Baldwin, comic strips, comics, humor | 19 responses so far

19 Responses to “What the Frack…?”

  1. mitch4 Jan 15th 2013 at 12:28 am 1

    Overdose of cliff metaphor meets desire for second topical idea in a misunderstanding of fracking.

  2. James Pollock Jan 15th 2013 at 01:47 am 2

    Well, fracking CAN cause subsidence, although not generally on this level.

  3. Proginoskes Jan 15th 2013 at 01:51 am 3

    Hydraulic fracturing is the propagation of fractures in a rock layer, by a pressurized fluid. Induced hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracturing, commonly known as fracing, fraccing, or fracking, is a technique used to release petroleum, natural gas (including shale gas, tight gas, and coal seam gas), or other substances for extraction.

    The fluid can range anywhere from water to more toxic compounds. Fracking has, as of this moment, poisoned the drinking water in six states in the USA.

  4. Carl Jan 15th 2013 at 06:26 am 4

    Fracking has, as of this moment, poisoned no water anywhere in any state in the USA.

    However, it has been incorrectly blamed for all manner of things.

    Note that I’m not saying that fracking chemicals haven’t been illegally dumped into surface waters or aquiders.

  5. zookeeper Jan 15th 2013 at 07:29 am 5

    Pretty bold statement there, Carl. Might want to prepare yourself.

  6. The Bad Seed Jan 15th 2013 at 08:06 am 6

    As someone who worked for an environmental company contracted to work for a fracking company for the previous 2 years, I can attest that everywhere you find fracking, you find private wells that have been ruined since the drilling started, and the owners are now supplied with home water by the fracking company. Sometimes it’s chemicals, sometimes it’s methane at explosive concentrations you can’t have in your house (whether restricted within the pressure tank, water heater, and pipes, or infiltrating into the air), and sometimes it’s mysterious discoloration and particulates. Maybe you can’t call it exactly “poison”, but we’ve negatively affected the water over a large area of our country.

  7. The Bad Seed Jan 15th 2013 at 08:11 am 7

    Oh, and some of the tainted return water has leaked into surface waters, and some states allow it to be released with too-minimal treatment. And the fracking companies have argued, on at least one occasion I can attest to, that it was ok that an inland freshwater pond was now saline due to infiltration of drilling brine, because salt was a natural compound. Tell that to the dead fish and other creatures who used to live in and near it, and drink it.

  8. Jeff S. Jan 15th 2013 at 08:23 am 8

    There’s nothing quite like seeing your water explode when a flame gets near enough to ignite it. As the Bad Seed mentioned, fracking forces methane into private wells. I saw a report on the Today Show over the weekend where the reporter ignited water straight out of the faucet.

    I would hate to think what would happen if you were taking a bath with candles around the tub.

  9. Blinky the Wonder Wombat Jan 15th 2013 at 08:36 am 9

    Jeff S-

    To be fair, methane has been in some drinking water wells prior to fracking, perhaps even to ignitable levels.

    The key to safe fracking, like most mining/drilling operations, is environmental controls and procedures. I suspect that the rapid growth of fracking has overwhelmed the state environmental agencies ability to establish and enforce procedures.

  10. The Bad Seed Jan 15th 2013 at 10:03 am 10

    Yes, in some areas the water has always been ignitable out of some of the faucets, and one man claimed that he and his friends used to light the creek on fire when they were kids (well before fracking). But what is an acceptable level of making things worse? And didn’t we learn from Hanford, WA (and many other now-Superfund sites) that crud you inject into the ground just doesn’t magically go away? I know that if I lived in the poor areas where fracking is concentrated, the lure of money to improve the lives of me, my family, and our descendents would be very tempting, especially when I see all of my neighbors signing up. I’m glad that they have a way to have a more secure financial life in these hard economic times and, thankfully, when you drive around those areas, you don’t see many people blowing the money of bigger houses, swimming pools, and fancy cars. But having grown up hearing about Love Canal and rivers so full of chemicals that they burn, it all makes me pretty queasy and I’m glad to not be working on that project anymore.

  11. The Bad Seed Jan 15th 2013 at 10:38 am 11

    Lastly, it’s hard to NOT be cynical about an industry that’s run and “regulated” like this: http://www.philly.com/philly/news/politics/state/20130115_Money__politics_and_pollution_in_fracking_country.html

  12. Blinky the Wonder Wombat Jan 15th 2013 at 10:49 am 12

    Bad Seed-

    Not saying you are wrong at all, but I think the lure of easy money has stampeded the legislators and regulators into issuing permits without studying how to ensure fracking is done safely. The technology exists so that hydraulic fracturing can be done safely.

    Ironically, after the frantic rush to tap into the Marcellus shale, the natural gas market is depressed to the point that many well heads have been capped for future use.

  13. Frosted Donut Jan 15th 2013 at 11:58 am 13

    a) I would PAY to have water that I could ignite out of the faucet. That would be an awesome special effect. Sadly, we have some of the purest, softest water in the country (Seattle area).

    b) I’m sorry, but I watched WAY too many episodes of Battlestar Galactica (old and new). In the show, “frack” was the F-bomb–a safe-to-air swear word. Every time I hear about a “fracking operation,” it takes me a moment to realize what they are talking about. And a fracking zone is just fracked up. Why the frack would you want one of those?

  14. Jeff S. Jan 15th 2013 at 01:24 pm 14

    The family who was featured in the report said their water was not flammable prior to the fracking. It occurred after the energy company started their work near their home.

  15. Judge Mental Jan 15th 2013 at 03:35 pm 15

    I actually thought that perhaps the Battlestar Gallactica etymology did factor into the joke. I thought the artist was trying to make a point that if a tract of land has been (over-) abused by fracking, one may totally be fracked.

  16. Cidu Bill Jan 15th 2013 at 03:53 pm 16

    Judge, I’ve always been convinced (but could never prove) that the fracking controversy took off because so many geeks just wanted an excuse to say “frack.”

  17. The Bad Seed Jan 15th 2013 at 09:56 pm 17

    Yes, my favorite projects at work have been the fracking project and the “damn dam” (I even have the senior VPs and the CEO calling it that), although I still enjoy talking about how air sampling is fun because it sucks and blows at the same time. And yes, I think the reason I enjoyed playing pool so much was all the jokes possible about sticks and balls. Lastly, as for the lousy market for natural gas… the energy company we worked for built the well pads with the intention of and layout for up to 8 wells, but the latest aerial photos show most of them only have 1 or 2 operating wells at most (you can see the above ground piping). The investment per well is staggering: building the well pads (300′ by 400′ and must be perfectly flat, in very hilly country, with very specific containment structure for spills) as well as the pipelines between them and the auxiliary ponds and such, as well as all the clean water that must be procured and transported, and return water that must be transported and cleaned, and the required improvements to the public roads that all the heavy trucks tear up. I definitely see both sides of the situation, and hopefully now that the greed is dying down, the whole issue will be approached more sanely.

  18. Carl Jan 15th 2013 at 11:19 pm 18

    Fracking itself can’t do any of the damage listed, because the fracking fluids are way, way below the aquifer. Unscrupulous fracking contractors can certainly dump toxic chemical into ponds, disposal wells, etc.

    In all investigated cases, methane in surface or near-surface water had nothing to do with fracking and had been present before the drilling started. All. (Don’t take a journalist’s word for anything.) (Note that our host is a journalist–no insult intended, it’s just experience speaking. Note further that I’ve done journalism in my life.)

  19. pepperjackcandy Jan 16th 2013 at 02:03 pm 19

    Jeff S. (14): I don’t doubt that family’s story at all, but I have to admit that I have never considered the possibility that my water may be flammable*. Do most people test their water for flammability? If so, how?

    *I’m pretty sure it isn’t flammable, since I live in a relatively large city, but you never know, do you?

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