Fricken Fracking

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.

19 thoughts on “Fricken Fracking

  1. Patrick says:

    Very real! Happened to my grandfathers ranch. Contaminated the ground water, couldnt water the cows or crops (hydrogen sulfide?). Oil company settled, after making threats and even breaking into his home, for pennies on the dollar.

    • tournoir says:

      The biggest chemical company on this planet has a corn that doesn’t look normal in the field. They have introduced into its DNA a molecule that is resistant to Round UP. Don’t know what that’s all about. I’m not opposed to genetics by any mean–I think it will create lots of jobs down the road. But I wonder what is being introduced. I saw a documentary where a farmer (my roots!) got into a legal battle because this company said that his corn got tainted witht heir seeds! Turns out his corn was across the road, down the street, someplace, where cross pollination occurred! It was their fault, not his. But they wanted him to plant their corn. There’s a saying out there (I have them plastered all over my kitchen cupboards), that if you can’t control the masses by force, then do it economically. Wow…we live in strange times. We gotta eat, and eat healthily!!!!

  2. Sarah L. says:

    We are facing this very issue in NY state and we have quite a few people really fighting it tooth and nail since they realize the mess it has made in Pennsylvania. They have not started FRACKing yet… but I’m sure it is not too far off in the future they will begin.
    What are the thoughts about switching to a rain water collection and storage for alternatives on lands with contamination? Also is it feasible to put in a concrete slab with a 2 to 3 foot cinder block wall with non-contaminated soil for a garden,sorta like a raised bed garden but something that would keep contamination out of the food source. I know thinking about these things we just say we will move away, but eventually there will be nowhere to live and we need to think of alternative ways of living with the problems since it almost inevitably is going to happen.

    • tournoir says:

      Your ideas are sound. It will start with one, then two, then ten, then a hundred, then a thousand people. At that stage, it’s no longer a group–it’s a grass roots movement. We must implement new ideas for farming, because the old ideas will not work in the soil, water, and air of the future. Paying freight for shipping food is a thing of the past, at least a big chunk of it. People should start their own gardens, create soil, mulch, stop watering grass (!!!!!), many, many other practices. We must provide for our children and grandchildren. They won’t be in a position in thirty years to do anything about the horrors we have committed–it’ll be too late. We’ve been dumping waste into the air, land, and water for five hundred years. Our children and grandchildren don’t have a chance. They’ll be hunkering down….or running. We must act. All of the scientists say so, and I absolutely believe them, without a doubt. I am an old farm girl. I have watched as the birds become less and less (echoes of Rachel Carlson); I remember the deep snows of Ohio that no longer come except in blizzards. I refuse to stick my head in the sand and hope for better days, and nature is my church. I am going to protect it.

  3. alice says:

    A similar process called Hydrofracturing is done to improve water well flow in some areas and this can really mess up the water table or other people’s wells. It could potentially dry up somebody’s water source in the process of improving someone else’s. If the well is close to the ocean there can be salt water intrusion as well. It’s scary how something can affect your land even though it’s not happening right next to you and you have no say in it.

  4. Timaree says:

    Looking at gray water solutions the other day I came across a site mentioning algae as a real source for power in the future – much better than corn even as it cleans the water for re-use! Let’s hope this takes off before too much groundwater is polluted. Halliburton again huh?

    • tournoir says:

      i read something similar. They were hoping to use the phytoplankton bloom they were creating to help sink carbon dioxide. It didn’t work. However, since phytoplankton produce 50 percent of the oxygen we breathe, there are obviously other uses!

      The algae bloom of which you speak happened to a man-made lake here in Ohio called Grand Lake St. Mary’s. It has brought a 222 million dollar tourist industry to its knees. The cause. Pesticide and chemical runoff from froming. While this is horrible, a positive result is that all or most of the farmers in the area are joining together in an organization headed by an organization (whose name I forget!) to not only provide for the necessary needs of farmers (who feed us!), but also to implement change to keep it from happening in the future. Many are realizing the opportunities ahead. We’d better do something–the future will not be very pretty.

      • Sarah L. says:

        Scientists are discovering that mold, fungus, algae, ect. are taking over to recycle our earth… It just does not seem appealing to us because we are not used to it.
        This video is really interesting information about fungus.
        http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/paul_stamets_on_6_ways_mushrooms_can_save_the_world.html

        Several years ago I bought a movie called “Nausica: of the Valley of the Wind” just thinking it was a cute anime movie I never realized the implications of it. In Nausica the earth is mostly covered in the “toxic” jungle which is full of fungus that is deadly to humans, but Nausica finds out that that fungus had an important part in helping recycle the earth from the terrible devastation humans had created on it. It is interesting to find that is the direction we are really going towards.

  5. downs says:

    Remember when the government used to protect us from stuff like this without having to launch a massive media campaign against it? We live in a very corrupt country, I’m afraid. If we had publicly financed elections, politicians would give a damn about people’s interests over that of corporations. But it may be too late. Corporations don’t want public campaign financing, and they have more power than us. I figure it’s gonna get a lot worse from here.

  6. tournoir says:

    I’ve been following global warming for about two years. This “fricken fracking” denigrates the soil, water, and air. We are allowing our desire, not our need, for oil to overwhelm our decision making. This process is absolutely untenable and continues due to the intertwining of major corporations (and their business interests) with government. There’s a saying out there in certain circles: do not bring government into business; bring business into government, and thereby control everything. This is scary stuff….

  7. seth says:

    Michael, sounds like you need to read a good book…. (i’m sure re-read). Edward Abbey’s ‘Monkey Wrench gang.’ Just sayin….

  8. Sam says:

    Start testing your water now if you can figure out what chemicals to test for so you can clearly document any negative outcomes in a legal case, get the paper trail going. Trying times, best of luck.

    • Sarah L. says:

      That is a great idea, probably something someone should do regularly anyways if they own property with their own well. I mean you never know when something will happen and someone does something stupid to contaminate the water source. I remember when I was a kid some of the neighbors had trash in their yards and it would wash down through my families creek… it was disgusting. Then when one of the neighbors subdivided and put new houses on the properties a couple years ago they ended up with sulfur water coming up from their well which they had never had before.

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