I stumbled across an opinion piece printed in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram titled, Oh, yes, we need the hole thing. This piece, written by a political science professor at UT-Arlington, was long on rhetoric and short on fact. So much so, that I felt compelled to respond and since it is unlikely that the Star-Telegram will publish my rebuttal, I’ll publish it here.
His piece starts off with some basic cheerleading for the drilling companies then tells us that we must let drilling proceed and he lists his reasons why. He seems to be suggesting that we will barely notice the drilling activity.
Many people in East and West Texas have long resided next to drilling equipment. As a child, I would visit my aunt, who lived in eastern Oklahoma City near the Capitol. Behind her home stood an old rig that pumped continually, but she was used to the sound.
Perhaps the $15 a month she received from the oil company served as a monetary barrier to the noise.
Natural gas drilling in this area is good for many reasons.
Mr. Saxe, your premise is false and you compare apples to oranges in your opinion piece, “Oh, yes, we need the hole thing.”
Comparing the East and West TX wells in your childhood memories to a Barnett Shale well is like comparing a bb gun to an assault weapon. The highly invasive practice of facturing shale was developed only very recently. It requires pumping millions of gallons of fresh water loaded with chemicals under high pressure into the drilling hole with enough force to fracture the limestone shale and release the gas trapped there. Fracing removes billions of gallons of water from our water cycle and It’s noisy. No matter what the drilling companies may say, wells are fractured more than once. In fact, they are fractured often and I know this because I live by wells in Wise County.
You are correct that Barnett Shale drilling will bring a lot of money into the area but sadly most of that money won’t land in the bank accounts of average Texans who will suffer the bulk of the invasions by drilling.
His main point is where he really stepped in it:
Perhaps the most important reason for allowing drilling is that it will be a step, though understandably a small one, toward energy independence.
There has been much criticism that the general population has done little in the wars we are fighting. Making our country a bit more independent of nations that wish us no good is a worthy enterprise. Can we not put up with a little noise and some big trucks for a while to help us toward our long-held goal of energy independence?
Your main point about the current wars and that we should endure the drilling noise and big trucks in an effort to make “our country a bit more [energy] independent,” is certainly a “worthy endeavor.” However, we don’t get any natural gas from Iraq or Afghanistan. Most of our imported gas comes from Canada. In addition, any energy independence we gain from drilling in the Barnett Shale area will be only temporary because there simply is not enough gas to keep up with our insatiable consumption.
The only answer to our energy problems is to develop clean, renewable, energy sources and we should do that sooner, not later
What kind of political science are they teaching at UT-Arlington?
Edit: Additional information sent by a reader:
Gas imports from Canada are 3.5 billion cubic feet a day. That means that the entire reserves in the Barnett Shale are equivalent to about two years of Canadian imports. Also, 3.5 billion cubic feet is about 12 percent of the projected US annual gas demand in 2020, and only about 3 times the annual import capacity of LNG terminals now operating in the US.
I don’t think that’s [The Barnett Shale] the key to the Mideast problem.