THIS is why I blog.
THIS is why Citizen Journalism is so important.
August 27, 2007, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran an opinion piece titled, Oh yes, we need the whole thing. This op-ed was written by Allan Saxe, Professor of Political Science, UT-Arlington. In his op-ed, Professor Saxe tried to make the case for natural gas drilling in the middle of neighborhoods in Fort Worth, Texas.
His comparisons to the oil wells in East and West Texas and the one from his childhood memories near his aunt’s house cannot, through any amount of stretching, be compared to natural gas wells in the Barnett Shale. However that’s not the most offending part of his letter. He tried to make the case for drilling in neighborhoods by attempting to claim it will make us safer. Professor Saxe, who teaches political science, should know better!
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?
I agree that we need to be more independent of those who wish us harm. However, the Barnett Shale natural gas is not going to achieve independence because, 1) none of our imported natural gas comes from the Middle East and 2) it doesn’t contain anywhere nearly enough. Most of our imported natural gas comes from Canada and none comes from what Bush likes to call the “Axes of Evil!”
As the self-proclaimed Barnett Shale drilling blogger, I had some strong feelings about Professor Saxe misusing his position and stature to cheerlead for the drilling companies by throwing out that all too familiar fear hook on which I no longer bite. I wrote a letter of rebuttal and sent it to the Star-Telegram.
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.
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
I was pleasantly surprised when I got a call to verify that the letter was mine. That usually means they intend to publish the letter. Today, it was published and it got quite a haircut. Now, rather than disputing Professor Saxe’s false claim that the danger, noise, pollution and noise of drilling in neighborhoods is worth it because it will make us safer, I appears that I am agreeing with him.
Allan Saxe’s Aug. 27 column equated the Texas and Oklahoma oil wells of his childhood memories to the Barnett Shale gas wells. That’s like comparing a BB gun to an assault weapon.
The highly invasive practice of fracturing shale was developed only recently. It requires pumping millions of gallons of water loaded with chemicals under high pressure into the drilling hole with enough force to fracture the shale and release the gas.
Saxe was correct in saying that that the 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.
Saxe’s argument that we should endure the drilling noise and big trucks in an effort to make our country “a bit more independent of nations that wish us no good” had merit. But the only real solution to our energy problems is to develop clean, renewable sources, and we should do that sooner rather than later.
The curious thing about all this is that lately the Star-Telegram has been sending the drilling companies lots of Valentines in their editorials. My curiosity peaked when I got the following in my email inbox:
It’s important to remember that Fort Worth’s only daily newspaper probably has significant mineral rights under their own properties. There is reason to believe that a gas well planned for the heart of downtown, near Lancaster @ Lamar, will be on S-T property. MOST importantly, a significant part of S-T advertising income is now derived from the gas companies, including Chesapeake.
Today I called David House, Reader Advocate, Star-Telegram. As yet, he has not returned my call. Even if they print an apology or corrected letter, the damage is done. I’m beyond angry that my words will forever be linked in agreement with a political science professor who should be ashamed.