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The Frac’ing Debate’s Faulty Foundation

January 13, 2012

Hydraulic Fracturing is a polarizing issue. We, the industry stand firmly in one corner while the Fractivists stand staunchly in the other, while yelling.

There is no discussion. There is a whole lot of yelling but there is no discussion between us.

“Yeah, yeah.” you say. You are well aware that this debate is polarizing.

But have you ever considered why? Ever consider why Fractivists show up in droves to scream over meetings in Pennsylvania or why those same Fractivists hop a bus to New York to walk around with signs?

Ever wonder why the Oil and Gas Industry, without pulling any punches, thinks they are completely ignorant? Ever wonder why that bugs us?

I have given a lot of thought to this and have realized why Dr. Charles Groat, a university geology professor and Energy Institute associate director, said “Our goal is to inject science into what has become an emotional debate and provide policymakers a foundation to develop sound rules and regulations…”?

Why is the debate emotional?

We are talking about an Industrial Practice, aren’t we?

No, we are not.

The reason the debate is emotional is because of the faulty foundation on which the debate is built.

Fractivists have to keep this debate in the realm of “right” or “wrong”.

As long as they can argue that Hydraulic Fracturing and the Natural Gas Industry is a crime against humanity and therefore “wrong”, they will.

Hydraulic Fracturing, just like any other industrial practice is not about “right” or “wrong”.

This is like trying to frame a house with a maul. Wrong tool for the job.

It’s not an issue of “right” or “wrong” nor can it ever be so.

There are Fractivist poster children, with water sources they claim have been tainted by Hydraulic Fracturing, currently suing the companies they feel are to blame and Pro-Frac people longing to benefit from the practice living across the street from one another.

This is one of the most complicated issues in townships/towns like Dimock, PA because neighbors disagree on something because of the pros and cons.

If an issue like murder is still “justifiable” under certain circumstances, how can Frac’ing be released from a similar debate…unless we understand that the practice is not inherently “right” or “wrong”?

The question we should be asking is one that Dr. Tony Ingraffea (of whom I am not a fan) asks: “Is it worth it?”

“Is it worth it?” is a question framed that concerns both the pros and cons. The problem here is that even this question is open to interpreted conclusions.

This is where it gets sticky.

Is a farmer in danger of losing his fifth generation farm due to high state taxes (because farmers usually own a lot of land) a villain because he loves his farm and sees the profit from Natural Gas as the means to continue living in the memoried place he loves? Or is he a money grubbing greed monster?

Is the man who believes his water was contaminated, and that the company responsible was irresponsible, a villain because he is suing the company for what he believes was an unjust crime against his quality of life?

What if these men live down the block from one another? What if their kids grew up playing ball together? What’s their interpretation?

Well, I can tell you this. The corrective prescription is to consider the opinions of the individuals involved.

Let them determine what is best for themselves instead of steamrolling.

It’s not a matter of “right” or “wrong”. It is a matter of “Is it worth it?”

To some it is, to others, it is not. But treating this issue as an ethical or moral issue won’t work. It isn’t working.

As long as the issue is about “right” or “wrong” it will be emotional and science will gain little ground.



Categories: Frac
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