Ban Fracking on Historical Land

For the final unit I have chosen to revolve my message around banning fracking on historical and national land. In the first three units I wrote about the convenience or inconvenience of fracking over all, but thought for this final unit that this poster needed to be a bit more unique. After a little tampering with the posters and peoples suggestions from class I have chosen the first poster to be my final digital version.  In the poster I have tried to convey the explicit message so that voters vote against fracking on historical land, and the implied message is conveys that it would bring negative consequences.

Throughout my poster there are overwhelming points of emphasis on the aspect of things being clean which should help the voters of America realize the messages. To start, the background is a sky blue to demonstrate it’s important in relativity to the foreground to build a base for the viewer.  In the top picture of the poster the scenery is pristine, with a captivating overall look this is easy on the eyes to capture the audience’s attention. The colors are all natural earth toned colors that bring the image together by means of cool colors to emphasize what clean is. The voters will notice a clear sky to signify a clean air clean living environment for all inhabitants of the area. Looking at the grass it is a lushes green color that shows health in nature when things are clean, as they were intended to be. The mountains in the picture are colossal with a little bit of snow on the left, this is a shift in the natural cycle from winter to spring and will maintain that course in its clean environmental state. While all of that is going on in the picture there is also clear water for wildlife to enjoy as it appears to be a clean source of water. Moving on to the font under the first picture I chose a sharp and clean font to convey my explicit message. Moreover the explicit message is short and sweet to help keep the feeling of cleanliness because in our busy society short is cleaner. Finally in the bottom text I chose a clean, but bold text to emphasize the implicit message to leave a final stamp in the mind of the voters.

At the same time there are also visuals of ugliness that help bring balance of consequences for fracking on the historical land of America. From the top text of the poster, one can gather that the bold blocky font is ugly and may bring in some voters. Uniquely the question in the top text implies that what happens on your public land should be the same on public land. Going into the picture the overall feeling from it is ugly, with the bland colors such as tans and browns. Firstly the woman in the photo seems to be quite unhappy with her scowl and implies a form of ugliness in the poster. Secondly the posture of the lady with her hands in her pockets is off-putting because she appears either uncomfortable or disappointed with what she has encountered. Thirdly going back to colors the woman is wearing tan which isn’t flattering and blends in with her surrounding ugly colors. Next the colors of the background appear to be dead trees which have the color brown which is ugly because it doesn’t look to be fall. This could be a negative consequence of fracking because if there is a leak in the well it could leak out into the groundwater causing such a site. The gate is not a natural sight in the wilderness making it an eye sore to everyone that witnesses it. Additionally the well seems to be out of place as well because in public land nature doesn’t have anything to gain from the well. While the well is a water source it appears to have murky water which is not appealing to inhabitants of the land. If animals from the wilderness were to drink from that tainted water they could either get sick or die from that well water.

As can be seen there are ugly and clean aspects of the consequences for fracking on national treasures that weigh in on the voters decision. I have tried to convey my messages in the poster as best as I could through means of both explicit and implicit messages. Again my research was based mainly on fracking on private owned land, so I thought it would be a good twist to appeal to the voters to take a stance on what happens to all of our public land.

For the New Fracking Rules

In the United States there is a major raw material that we can’t go without and because of fracking we can be a major producer of said raw material. Oil is that raw material and we use it in everyday life to power our vehicles, generate heat, and to create common items throughout our homes. We are becoming self-sufficient by fracking our own oil and by having thousands of drilling locations the rules across the country have been scrutinized. After analyzing both sides of the debate of the new fracking rules, I have deduced that the regulations in place aren’t as restrictive, so the new fracking rules make a significant base for federal regulations.

Fracking’s new rules are a step in the right direction but can be viewed as a one step forward, two steps back method. For in the eyes of the Sierra Club the rules are toothless, even though fracking on federal lands makes up 10 percent of fracking, green groups like this rather see fracking on federal lands eliminated. Because of drilling on federal lands it creates new jobs and economic growth, so to monitor fracking has a dual purpose.The rules have been in the works for four years and the Bureau of Land Management received comments for the standards by individuals and groups amount to 1.5 million people.It seems that the new rules only total three rules because to move forward you can’t push too much on an existing action such as fracking. If more than a handful of rules would have been suggested the new rules would have been shot down before the end of its announcement.

Adopting the new fracking rules can create a structure for industry standards and especially fracking states that lack rules for drilling. Out of 36 states that have fracking only three have detailed databases so you can see what current rules have been violated. A group against the industry A group against the industryThe three states where public data is available is Colorado, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia where the NRDC has identified hundreds of violations and alleged violations issued to dozens of companies. If the other 33 states don’t act accordingly these numbers could go up tremendously but because the new rules for fracking, states can base their rules around it and might save many home owners in the process. A key rule for transparency is that the oil and gas companies have to list all the chemicals that they use on fracfocus which will help the states in their search for detailed analyses. In the past rules haven’t been strongly enforced so it is up to the states to use the new fracking rules and their own fracking rules to become swift in this manner. An example of this is back in 2011 in Texas the oil and gas companies had 96 percent of infractions that resulted in no punitive action.

Since fracking won’t be eliminated the new rules are the next best thing to hold on to until the nation decides otherwise. In my earlier debate about the new fracking rules big oil companies said that the new rules were pointless and disregard the already elaborate regulations already in place. If that were true the NRDC who have identified multiple violations by the oil companies of the current laws, hope that with the new rules change will go into effect. With that being said the government needs to maintain a swift and orderly oversight as to not miss any violations committed by the industry. Possibly in the future the new president’s administration could advise more regulations to be mandated in the course that they find some mal practice in the industries fracking ways.

Against the New Rules

In light of the new rules proposed on March 20th by the Obama administration, in regards to regulating hydraulic fracturing on the federal level, there are groups of people that find the rules to be unsatisfactory. I have discovered two arguments on the matter in the eyes of the environmentalists and the gas and oil companies who are against the rules. The proposed arguments of environmentalists was that the rules give the oil and gas industry concession, while the industry oppose the rules for it is just adding another unneeded regulatory layer.

big oil companies

As before the environmentalists believe that the new rules are still in high favor for the gas and oil industry when they should limit the industry. A key example of the rules favoring the industry is they have up to 30 days after completing drilling to disclose the chemicals used, and the environmentalists want the list of chemicals prior drilling. So by waiting up to 30 days until releasing the fracking fluid chemicals, and if a public health problem or if there were a chemical emergency develops near a site emergency responders don’t know how to diagnosis the problem properly . Bruce Hill a Clean Air Task Force geologist announced that “the rule does not make sensitive areas or communities off-limits to fracking, or even protect them with buffer or setback rules.”  In that case the industry isn’t limited to where they can hydraulic fracturing while some environmentalist’s such as Hill believe that should have been inserted in the rules to go into effect in June.

On the other side of opposition of the new hydraulic fracturing rules the industry shared frustration because they believe the rules didn’t accurately recognize the expansive regulations already in place across the nation. In the industry’s argument they accounted that with the new rules in place, the cost of drilling will go up $5,500 per well, to what is already averaged at $5.4 million

in total projects. The new additional amount of money to be allotted in future drilling expenses will create a shortage in return on investment and cause the need for more assets to attain the new approved regulations. A proposition of a bill was brought forth shortly after the industry’s argument to block the new rules from going into effect. And 27republicans are behind the bill; these conservatives are under the impression that the new rules are unnecessary, because the industry has regulations put into place that are working all across the country.

It is possible that the new rules could be dissolved before they go into effect, but quite possibly the motion of the rules will not be brought down by the bill. Simultaneously, the Environmental Protection Agency has been diligently attempting to test their own hypothesis to acquire a conclusion to lessen methane leaks from oil and gas including fracking wells. Considering the measures the EPA are taking, the oil and gas industry should attempt to do the same and come up with some way to lessen methane emissions to please multiple communities.

The Affirmative of New Fracking Regulations

   The hydraulic fracturing echoing over America is on path to shortly ensure that the greatest producer of gas and oil will be the United States. As the rise of the fracking method, arguments over regulations on hydraulic fracturing from across the United States have manifested. The states manage overseeing drilling on state owned land and private owned land, where the great amount of hydraulic fracturing takes place in the nation. Interior Secretary  Sally Jewell said “Current federal well-drilling regulations are more than 30 years old, and they simply have not kept pace with the technical complexities of today’s hydraulic fracturing operations,”
 In light of the current mandated regulations, the Obama administration has declared new federal rules set for hydraulic fracturing to go into effect in June. These federal rules are in place to minimize safety and health risks of the energy production known as hydraulic fracturing.

The new rules only apply to federal lands, which provide a template for the states and have a total of 3 rules. The first rule is in transparency, drillers will have to disclose all the chemicals they use in fracking within 30 days of finishing fracking operations for the public on a website called FracFocus. Uniquely, in prior years the Halliburton Loophole established in 2005 ensured the oil companies of not having to disclose a single chemical used. The second rule that follows is well integrity tests to deduce the concrete barriers that line fracking wells are holding up and nothing can leak out to nearby groundwater. These tests are to be handled by government workers, so not all the work is handled by the industry to create some cross check examinations. The final rule states that companies will have to store waste water flow back out after Hydraulic fracturing in tanks. In the past the oil and gas industry was able to dispose of the flow back in pits and from that poor conscience decision ground water would get contaminated from seeping of the flow back.

Equally important the argument that the regulations put in place are indeed a positive outlook into the future stand in the eyes of some environmentalists and government officials alike. Ms. Jewell who I have mentioned said something on the lines of while standards for drilling on public lands have been created, statehouses and boardrooms across the nation need to create further rules. So not to limit the states to the federal regulations but to impose the regulations as a backbone and build on top of it shall create less wiggle room for the industry. Likewise the legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters, Madelenie Foote, recounted “This is an important step forward in regulating fracking, a process which has concerned communities across the country,”  For those who haven’t had a voice or haven’t been heard are concerned, something is being done on a small scale and will continue to cut risks for safety and health. Another statement by Foote “many aspects of these rules, such as stricter requirements for well construction and disposal of flow back water, reflect urgent need to minimize the risks posed by fracking.”  Of course with the boom of fracking there are risks and our goal alongside boosting our economy should be to reduce as much of the risks as possible in fracking.

Finally the new rules are pivotal, although the industry manage FracFocus for disclosure of the chemicals used, and the shortfall of prohibiting fracking in our most precious lands are concerning. Following the new rules are expected to be series of regulations monitoring hydraulic fracturing safety to come shortly. Additionally the next set of rules aims to limit green house gas, and the release of methane gas from hydraulic fracturing wells.

controversy

Documentaries tend not to have a follow up, but in illuminating hydraulic fracturing in “Gasland”, Josh Fox was urged to do a sequel as to address new discoveries about fracking. The new findings in “Gasland Part II” were composed of earthquakes, methane leaks, well failures, and could have caused hurricane Irene due to climate change. Although Fox’s has a narrow view on fracking, the oil industry opposes his outlook and view him and people like him speaking out as ecoterrorists.

Consequence?

From the documentary residents of Dimock spoke up about their wells being drilled, the wells casing braking due to drilling and in turn wanted action as reciprocation. Equally important to drilling, well casing is crucial to note because well casing is formed by cement and if that ruptures, the chemicals seep into ground water. Because of all the limelight the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) responded by taking water samples to study and give the residence of Dimock clean water until the EPA could conclude their findings. Despite the EPA’s efforts the support was quickly stagnant after the state of the union address in 2012, due to gas companies’ manipulating members of congress who had a hand in motives of the EPA. In fact, the method EPA was able to pull out of Dimock was to pacify the residents with money, make them sign non-disclosure agreements and EPA spoke out to say the water wasn’t contaminated. While findings of EPA tests Fox secured, showed the water was contaminated 50 times over the legal limit with methane. In the eyes of Fox the Gas industry had the power and manipulated the government.

Alternatively the gas industry supposedly debunked Fox’s findings with science that is credited to energy in depth. Cabot a gas company and EPA have come to a conclusion that the water in the 11 cases of Dimock were found clean and safe for human consumption across the board. The casings in the wells were cemented and couldn’t have ruptured in the Marcellus shale fracking. So this supposedly cleared fracking in the news by discrediting findings from “Gasland part II”.

Then again though there are the two sides of the debate, but who has control over the topic? The people seemed empowered in the documentary, but ultimately the side that has control is the economic elite who are also known as the gas industry. Whatever side it appears I look into may modify their science to appeal to the target audience based on the research I find. With that being said, author Steve Everley of the Debunking “Gasland part II”, the article is backed by the gas companies who can afford to hire any scientist to stimulate a positive platform for fracking.

Worth mentioning in the documentary Fox discloses a scene on Cabots conference on how to handle residents having a voice.  Firstly, the platform intended to get across that fracking will promote energy independence, make jobs, and show that it’s safe now and improving daily. “The winning strategy over landowners for Cabot was to define a future that resolves fundamental societal fears by means of Psychological Operations (PSYOPS).” PSYOPS is a method used to destabilize a population from an uncertain invading army that is practiced in the military or in this case gas companies. However this method is not to be used on the American people according to the Defense Department. Following that Cabot was teaching their employees about counter insurgencies which means to use strategies to manage outrage and labeling the people who act against them ecoterrorists, implying Josh Fox could very well be labeled one.

  Whereas Everley did not mention the PYSOPS until someone commented on the matter which was alarming in the article. Steve Everley stated “that the companies were not using that method and are trying to achieve less emissions and help consumers save money while creating jobs.”  Sounds like a reoccurring strategy that Cabot had from “Gasland Part II”. It seems as if both sides, like a political campaign will stretch the truth, but in the end you can be on one side.

Gasland

Consider that in the mail you receive a letter from a natural Documentary by: Josh Foxgas company to lease your land for $4750 per acre to drill for gas. Do you jump for joy and sign, or take a step back and analyze what exactly it is the natural gas company wants? In the documentary titled “Gasland” the narrator and writer Josh Fox from Milanville, Pennsylvania was asked that same very question, so Fox took it upon himself to visit neighboring communities, speak to scientists, politicians, and gas industry executives. In doing this Fox was curious of the effects that fracking had in the past decade, whether it was environmental or physiological and what can be done from this point on.

To illustrate the effects on communities by hydraulic fracturing the journey goes from as far as Utah and as close as Dimock Pennsylvania to display what the contamination of the water has done. Many physiological changes occurred after fracking; the most common of symptoms were headaches, ringing ears, disorientation, and no taste and no sense of smell. On the other end of the spectrum there was “peripheral neuropathy”, which is nerve damage that can cause tumors and is deadly.

Similarly the effects in the environment communities have to endure from the contaminated wells are negative consequences found in the documentary. There are 596 traceable chemicals used in the act of drilling, the water that gets contaminated produces glycol ether and that is a liquid chemical component of plastic. Dumping takes place in a flow back water pit and evaporation sprayers are put in the pit to spray the water in direct sunlight to evaporate, while some of that contaminated water seeps back into the ground. Due to the evaporation sprayers toxins are released into the air to create ozone hazardous air pollutants and in cycle precipitation goes into grasslands. A major contamination spill occurred in the divide creek Colorado that killed of wildlife in the water, and any inhabitants that drank from the creek.

Granted the community can only understand so much so Fox found some scientists to ask questions he thought that could be concrete for the side of the people. Firstly, we owe it to Dr. Colborn for unveiling 596 chemicals that have been found in fracking fluid. Fox then traveled to Texas on his way back home to Fort Worth where the Environmental Defense Fund disclosed that 200 tons of natural gas emissions a day where occurring from, and is higher than car emissions.

Initially politicians and gas industry executives were evading Josh Fox but with persistence Fox broke the seal. Fox spoke to the president at the Department of the Environment Protection (DEP) who stated that there had been four cases in Dimock that the water was contaminated and so they were reciprocated by means of water tanks. Fox visited eleven residents that have experienced contaminated water due to well drilling with one resident that received help. Later Fox was asked to be part of the subcommittee for a proposed bill titled FRAC act which would eliminate fracking in wells with consumable water. Based on the politicians that were being asked questions on the matter of fracking, the politicians disclosed how there had been no contaminations in the 6 states they got their statics from and one politician even added a packet that had a list of what they said were all the chemicals used in the fracking fluid. Based on Fox’s findings it seemed that the cases noted by the politicians may have not been randomly selected but handpicked.

In the end I would really hope that the FRAC act is passed so that the more people that are proposed to lease their lands don’t have to worry about their drinkable water. I’m really looking forward to the second installment to “Gasland” that has been released in 2014.

Inbetween

Revaluating hydraulic fracturing is an ongoing experience, while learning about it and comparing articles on the topic matter have shown me. Before, I gathered material on how bad for the environment hydraulic fracturing was, comparatively I brought up the question of analyzing shale gas to its counterpart coal or as I put it; another natural gas. This question lead me to two articles that addressed the two points previously stated, meanwhile touched on the positive consequences fracking can be for the environment on a global scale, and proposed the topic of the economic benefits of shale gas drilling.

Before considering the positive consequences of fracking it is important to note the negative consequences of fracking. Congress passed a law in 2005 that’s commonly known as the “Halliburton loophole” which exempts the gas companies from federal regulations involving disclosure and monitoring of shale gas chemicals. Hydraulic fracturing cocktails include detergents, acids, and poisons that are not regulated by the United States federal law and can be a major problem if it seeps into drinking water and or soil. Accidents in hydraulic fracturing regions include storage and trucking spills of fracking fluids and brines, leading to contaminated water and soil that handlers had to clean up. From these finding it is apparent that there are still factors to not overlook and it may have changed since 2005 as it has been 10 years down the line.

Adversely on the other side of the coin there may be a light at the end of the tunnel by the shale gas drilling method. In one study of private wells amounting to 200 wells in a fracking region in Pennsylvania, only one well had different water quality after being drilled. This geological formation in Pennsylvania called Marcellus shale may contain 500 trillion cubic feet of gas, which could be enough to power all homes in America for 50 years at recent rates of residential use. Nationally speaking if that is one state that can amount for all of that energy, imagine if more followed in its footsteps.

Evidently, the natural gas produced by hydraulic fracturing does cause green house gases to be released into the atmosphere via leakage and carbon dioxide released while burning, but when compared to coal, fracking has a substantial environmental advantage. Shale gas emits half the carbon dioxide its natural gas beneficiary coal does, and coal burning also emits mercury into our atmosphere that full circles into our water and soil once more.

National economics has plenty to gain from fracking and economic interests have already seen some short term benefits. Natural gas prices fell due to hydraulic fracturing, also creating jobs in the process in the gas industry and indirectly as with low energy costs national and regional economies can benefit.

Yet the reliance of the natural gas of coal seems to increase worldwide, while shale gas the more environmental friendly one seems to be the one that many are protesting and banning. But if shale gas displaces efforts to develop cleaner energy sources without reducing dependence on coal, the world could face more rapid climate change globally shall be manifested.