By Greg Kozera -
“What the frack?!”
Popularized by the “Battlestar Galactica” sci-fi program, “what the frack?!” has become a common refrain among Americans with regard to the practice of drilling for natural gas. But the controversy in the media surrounding hydraulic fracturing – fracking – is overblown and unjustified, says engineer and environmentalist Greg Kozera.
“It’s remarkable how vehement so many people are in their opposition to fracking, despite widespread ignorance of what the practice entails and its history,” says Kozera, an expert in domestic energy and author of “Just the Fracks, Ma’am.”
“First, it’s not a new means of drilling. It’s a method to improve oil and gas production from a well after it’s drilled. Second, it’s been around since 1947, when the oil and gas industry discovered it improves production of oil wells. In fact, more than 90 percent of the wells drilled in the United States have required fracking for gas and oil.”
Kozera reviews the five big-picture benefits fracking provides for Americans.
• Decreases risk of entanglement in Middle Eastern conflicts: If we didn’t need oil from the Middle East, would Americans allow our government to send our young men and women to war there? With the gift of shale, we have the resources in our own backyard to free ourselves from imported oil. Fracking can begin to end the social costs of war. Under strict state regulations, fracking can develop a 200-plus year supply with minimal environmental impact.
• Lowers energy costs: In 2011 alone, the average American family saved $1,000 on their annual natural gas bill, a result, in part, of fracking. This savings is significant for senior citizens, struggling poor families and even middle-class families. Natural gas is more abundant, cheaper and cleaner than old and inefficient coal-fired power plants.
• Creates jobs: Natural gas produced with fracking will not only create high-paying jobs in the natural gas industry, it will also create jobs in peripheral industries, such as railroads, trucking, sand and gravel, steel, machining, engineering, accounting, the law, hotels and restaurants, education and more. It takes more than 200 people onsite to frack one well, which doesn’t count the supporting people offsite.
• Saves the planet: If fracking were banned in this country, it would not stop pollution. In fact, a fracking ban would increase pollution on a planetary scale. Solar, wind and biomass energy sources simply cannot replace natural gas and coal. The Environmental Protection Agency is more focused on politics when it should be more concerned with science. Many of our pollution regulations require more and more cleanup of trace amounts of pollutants, which hurts business in significant ways.
• Helps the poor: Natural gas produced by fracking has the potential to help the 2 billion overseas women and children who have lung problems from breathing fumes produced from the biomass they use to cook. It’s worth mentioning again that fracking produces jobs, and will continue to do so as long as it is allowed to flourish. We still have a problem in this country with unemployment, including Americans laid off during the recession who still haven’t found jobs or are chronically under-employed. The fracking industry can solve a major chunk of this problem.
Greg Kozera is an engineer with a master’s degree in environmental engineering and an environmentalist with more than 35 years of experience in the natural gas and oil industry. He is the immediate past president of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association and the author of “Just the Fracks, Ma’am,” (http://www.justthefracksbook.com/). Kozera has worked in the field on frack crews, done the engineering designs for fracks and has managed facilities with more than 200 employees. Kozera has a comprehensive understanding of the fracturing process and how important it is to our children, grandchildren and the security of our nation.