Hydraulic fracturing is a process of busting up layers of rock to increase oil and gas well production. All around the family farm, where I’ve been slowing building the Tiny Free House, are dozens of natural gas wells. Actually there have been gas wells in the area for decades but within the last few years hydraulic fracturing seems to have become the norm. Pictured below is the Tiny Free House with a new gas well being drilled in the background.
I had no idea what fracking was until I saw the documentary GasLand. The movie exposes a major potential side effect of this gas drilling technique, water contamination. It seems that the chemicals they inject into the wells that speed up the rock fracturing will sometimes foul ground water. To make matters worse it seems the hydraulic fracturing process is not regulated by the Clean Water Act.
The movie is certainly controversial and no movie should be taken at face value. But I’ve seen the convoys of tanker trucks and the massive drilling efforts first hand, so for me the whole thing is very real and causes me great concern. But then again so does the whole issue of cheap fossil fuel and the dire catch-22 it represents for us all. Without hydraulic fracturing and off-shore drilling fossil fuels would undoubtedly be much more expensive and the impacts to our economy more stressful. But I can’t even begin to imagine how any of that could ever offset the true cost of these extreme mining methods.
How does all this relate to tiny houses?
- For me personally it means that the family farm’s future may include dealing with irreversable ground water contamination.
- For folks looking for land to live on, things like fracking should probably factor into the decision making process. Why choose to live in a place that could potentially be the target of profiteers?
- For all of us, tiny houses should continue to serve as icons of freedom, in this particular case icons of energy freedom. The less energy we consume the more freedom we can obtain.
I’ve been away from the family farm for months, so seeing that drilling rig and the Halliburton trucks parked so close reminded me of the larger situation we all face.
Here’s the Gassland movie trailer.