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ENERGY, FRACKING, INSIGHTS, WATER

Trading Water for Fuel is Fracking Crazy


Dr. David Suzuki | February 18, 2014 7:30 pm | Comments
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INSIGHTS
Dr. David Suzuki
Trading Water for Fuel is Fracking Crazy

It would be difficult to live without oil and gas. But it would be impossible to live Your Email without water. Yet, in our mad rush to extract and sell every drop of gas and oil as quickly as possible, were trading precious water for fossil fuels. Sign Me Up A recent report, Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress, shows the severity of the problem. Alberta and B.C. are among eight North American regions examined in the study by Ceres, a U.S.-based nonprofit advocating for sustainability leadership.

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One of the most disturbing findings is that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is using enormous amounts of water in areas that can scarcely afford it. The report notes that close to half the oil and gas wells recently fracked in the U.S. are in regions with high or extremely high water stress and more than 55 percent are in areas experiencing drought. In Colorado and California, almost all wells 97 and 96 percent, respectivelyare in regions with high or extremely high water stress, meaning more than 80 percent of available surface and groundwater has already been allocated for municipalities, industry and agriculture. A quarter of Alberta wells are in areas with medium to high water stress. Drought and fracking have already caused some small communities in Texas to run out of water altogether, and parts of California are headed for the same fate. As we continue to extract and burn ever greater amounts of oil, gas and coal, climate change is getting worse, which will likely lead to more droughts in some areas and flooding in others. Californias drought may be the worst in 500 years, according to B. Lynn Ingram, an earth and planetary sciences professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Thats causing a shortage of water for drinking and agriculture, and for salmon and other fish that spawn in streams and rivers. With no rain to scrub the air, pollution in the Los Angeles area has returned to dangerous levels of decades past. Because of lack of information from industry and inconsistencies in water volume reporting, Ceres Western Canada data analysis represents a very small proportion of the overall activity taking

place. Researchers determined, though, that Alberta fracking operations have started using more brackish/saline groundwater instead of freshwater. The report cautions that this practice needs more study given the potential for brackish water to be used in the future for drinking water and the fact that withdrawing salty groundwater can also adversely impact interconnected freshwater resources. Although B.C. fracking operations are now mainly in low water stress regions, reduced precipitation and snowpack, low river levels and even drought conditions in some areaslikely because of climate changeraise concerns about the governments plan to rapidly expand the industry. The report cites a lack of regulation around groundwater withdrawals and cumulative impacts on First Nations lands as issues with current fracking. Ceres study only looks at fracking impacts on freshwater supplies, and offers recommendations to reduce those, including recycling water, using brackish or wastewater, strengthening regulations and finding better ways to dispose of fracking wastewater. But the drilling method comes with other environmental problems, from groundwater contamination to massive ecosystem and habitat disruptioneven small earth tremorsall done in the name of short-term gain. Its important to heed the conclusions and recommendations of this study and others, but given the problems with fracking, and other forms of extraction, we must find ways to control our insatiable fossil fuel demand. That burning theseoften wastefullycontributes to climate change, and our methods of extraction exacerbate the problems, should make us take a good look at how were treating this planet and everything on it, including ourselves and generations to come. Its a reminder that we need to conserve energy in every way possible. In the short term, we must realize that we have better ways to create jobs and build the economy than holding an everything must go sale on our precious resources. In the longer term, we must rethink our outdated economic systems, which were devised for times when resources were plentiful and infrastructure was scarce. Our highest priorities must be the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that provides food and the biodiversity that keeps us alive and healthy. Visit EcoWatchs FRACKING and WATER pages for more related news on this topic.

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Name RHytonen
10 hours ago

END fracking now. We were getting fuels fine by less dangerous methods, the WHOLE thing is about driving ALL prices UP by exporting for higher PROFITS. The only "energy crisis" touted was one of DESIRED PROFIT GROWTH! Justifying it as a "national security issue" was a TOTAL SCAM, and a well know component of FASCISM - appealing to nationalism to profit a government/business coalition. We need to start NATIONALIZING all these "high profit /universal need" industries and cutting out ALL profiting levels of middle management and greedy, do-nothing investor/gambler/speculators.
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Linda
Welton 2

11 hours ago

hemp bio fuel! real clean green energy, no carbon footprint


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rickw

Linda Welton 3 hours ago

really? you need to grow hemp, water hemp, transport and process the hemp and the land use impact??
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B
Lee 2

18 hours ago
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Will someone tell Gov Brown to read this article PLEASE!

Johnny
Racer 1 rucyrious

B Lee 5 hours ago

tweet it to him directly :>)


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B Lee 3 hours ago

B Lee --YOU tell the governor. YOU get a group together and petition your state and local legislators. This water/ drought/ fracking issue is your problem as well. What are YOU going to do about it?
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VALERIE
MARTIN

19 hours ago

It really is so stupid. And when we go into space looking for planets with signs of....... WATER!!!! SMH
2
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Tandalayo.....

4 hours ago

Farewell....nuclear (covert nuclear war), fracking...(covert end to humanity)....it's all for a reason....Agenda 21....see it...outside of Atlanta, GA...in plain sight....Enjoy each day..as if it were your last...There is no way to stop big money, bit profiteers...they get into fascistic governments (which are most)...and that's it..it's over...
1 FredPierre
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42 minutes ago

I have been reading that it can take upwards of 3 million gallons of water to frack a horizontal well, and after fracking that water is polluted with toxic fracking chemicals and radioactivity, rendering it unusable for drinking or irrigation. It's shameful that the Federal Government is not stepping in to protect our vital resources.
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rickw

3 hours ago

water is indeed precious. But to frame water use only by one use( hydraulic fracking) when agriculture and energy production by power plants use orders of magnitude more water is mis-information. It would be nice to see what % of water used by oil and gas is reused today versus 2-3 years ago.
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Lance
McCulloch

4 hours ago

Maybe the governments should start taxing the big oil companies huge and use that money to fund alternate clean energy sources? HMMM.i guess the problem is finding a nation whose lobbyists don't actual control the governments agenda , so i guess logically first abolish and make illegal lobbying then get to the business of redistributing the wealth. The path the USA is currently on without changes will lead to revolution and destroy the planet for decades or perhaps for all time
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rucyrious

Lance McCulloch 3 hours ago

I agree but how does 'one' do that? Are you politically active trying to "abolish and make illegal lobbying"? How's that going for you? What tips can you pass on to the rest of us?
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cs

19 hours ago
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Well said.

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