To the Editor,
In a recent Carbon County News there was a letter to the editor that looked like it could have come right out of a natural gas producer’s PR department. The letter minimized the hazards of natural gas production. The letter was dangerously misleading. Let’s set the record straight on a very real threat to Carbon County.
The “fracking” used to start natural gas wells has been associated with contamination of aquifers and wells with both natural gas (of which methane is the chief component) and carcinogens. Fracking involves drilling horizontally or “sideways”, utilizing explosives and generating tremendous pressures underground, so that cracks in the ground are created. Fracking, not surprisingly, has been associated with earthquakes. Of special concern to the Red Lodge and Bear Creek area is the possible extension of gases and water generated by fracking into old mineshafts, which allows fracked gases and contaminated water to reach the surface. The history of mining in Carbon County has left a legacy of mineshafts that could result in very unpleasant consequences miles from where natural gas production in taking place. Fracking not only involves tremendous amounts of water (which will come from where?), but also involves the injection of a variety of unknown chemicals into the ground. If those chemicals are safe why are natural gas producers afraid to tell us what they are.
The tremendous amounts of water utilized in fracking AND the ongoing production of natural gas from established wells takes the constant use of large trucks to take water to the wells and remove the contaminated water (which will go where?). The traffic increases in areas with natural gas wells are significant. Water is not the only contaminated materials coming out of natural gas wells on an ongoing basis. Carcinogenic gases are also being vented. You’d better hope the wind is blowing in the right direction if you live anywhere near natural gas production.
The traffic increases, water needs and air pollution of a single natural gas well are significant. But most areas of natural gas production have dozens or hundreds of wells, and the impacts are staggering. Residents in some areas of Colorado, for example, are now fighting tooth and nail to stop natural gas production in their area, since they’ve witnessed firsthand the negative impacts of natural gas production. Some areas in Wyoming and Colorado now have worse air quality than many major cities due to natural gas production.
We don’t need a headlong, irresponsible rush to drill everywhere. Carbon County is already being negatively impacted by climate change, and we don’t need to make matters worse by being apathetic about natural gas production. By emphasizing increased energy efficiency, conservation and alternative energy sources (and the jobs that go with them) our current natural gas production will meet most of our needs, especially if we don’t ship our subsidized fossil fuels overseas. Ignore the propaganda. Investigate fracking and natural gas production for yourself. If you become concerned for Carbon County you’re on the right path.