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Fracking: America’s Path to True And Final Energy Independence [OP-ED]

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

All one has to do is count the number of operational pump jacks right here in Texas to know: oil is still king. For all the strides that have been made in wind energy, solar energy and experimentation with hydrogen fuel cells for cars and trucks, oil is still the top dog and looks to remain that way for a long time to come. Hydraulic well fracturing, or fracking as it’s commonly referred to, has opened vast oil and natural gas resources that were untouchable just six decades ago.

The process of fracturing rock as means of extracting oil goes back to the 1860’s, but the modern methods were pioneered by Floyd Farris and Stanolind Oil and Gas in 1947. Halliburton was the first to apply the fracking to commercial well services in 1949 right here in Texoma, in Stephens County, Oklahoma and Archer County, Texas. Since then, over 1 million such fracking operations have occurred in the United States alone and the process is used worldwide with great success.

So why so much opposition to fracking? Some environmentalists and geologists believe that earthquakes of late, particularly in Oklahoma, could be the result of well fracking.  Proponents say there’s little evidence to really back that up. The fissures created in the rock to allow oil and gas to seep into the well are usually small, around 1 mm. Could such small fractures really trigger earthquakes? Sometimes I think we humans flatter ourselves with our perceived ability to alter the earth so much.

Environmentalists groups who are crying earthquake will also argue that ground water contamination and other environmental tragedies are directly related to fracking. But some of the same opponents to fracking openly endorse natural gas as a clean alternative to coal. But they conveniently ignore the role fracking has played in opening vast natural gas supplies in the Barnett Shale, Marcellus Shale and others.

Business Insider reported in 2012 on 10 of the ‘scariest’ chemicals used in well fracturing.  The article makes it sound as though oil field workers the world over should be dropping dead by the dozens from even the most miniscule exposure.  They are not.  In fact, oil and gas exploration is probably safer today than ever. It’s still a dangerous job, no question.  But the risks from physical injury caused by equipment are far more likely than exposure to a chemical.  I’d argue you’re at greater risk from your GMO corn on the cob than well fracturing.

The industry is always working on alternatives to improve production, lessen environmental impact and, yes, boost profits. That’s what companies do. As long as precautions are taken and proper procedures followed, exploration for oil and gas is safe and absolutely essential. America’s oil and gas industry is not populated by stupid, vicious, evil people bent on killing you and your family. They know the benefits to protecting the water and air far outweigh the risks of being stupid.  And fracking is opening the door to billions in new energy resources, jobs and a very vigorous economy.

America should never have to import a single drop of oil or even one cubic foot of gas from any foreign nation.  We have the resources to be 100 percent energy independent.  We should be a net exporter for the next two centuries, not an importer. It’s there and it’s ours for the taking. And fracking is making that possible today. Next move: tell Washington to get out of our way. The Keystone pipeline needs to move forward.

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