Friday, October 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Undesirable environmental consequences don’t prevent denial

crisp column sig

By
From page A11 | January 29, 2014 |

So, I’m talking to a young truck driver. He’s a kid, really, but old enough to have a bachelor’s degree in something. He’s postponed his career for a temporary but lucrative sojourn in the oil field.

The Eagle Ford Shale, a major oil and gas play in south Texas, is thriving on improved fracking technologies that extract previously unavailable hydrocarbons and contribute significantly to our nation’s production boom. Fracking requires truckloads of water and plenty of drivers to service the new wells that pop up across the landscape every week. This young driver wasn’t making much per hour, but he was putting in a lot of overtime.

He seemed proud to be about this manly task – the oil patch is a world of husky young guys in pickup trucks and newly constructed trailer parks dotted with satellite dishes. In fact, his assertion that a fracking operation that he was involved in actually caused an earthquake was a modest boast.

Whatever his college major, it probably wasn’t seismology. But peculiar geological events have been occurring in Texas, as well as in other parts of the country where fracking is being deployed to tease from the substratum whatever hydrocarbons remain.

Texas is generally an earthquake-free zone, but CNNMoney’s website recently reported 30 small earthquakes since Nov. 1 in a rural area outside Fort Worth, a place where ordinarily the earthquake count would be close to zero.

Local residents are blaming deep injection wells that are used to dispose of the noxious wastewater produced by fracking. They made enough noise to persuade the Texas Railroad Commission – a generally industry-friendly entity – to hold a town hall meeting in Azle, where 900 residents showed up to demand an end to the injection of fracking wastewater.

This issue isn’t confined to a few small towns in Texas. A web search of “earthquakes and fracking” will produce reports of concerns in Pennsylvania, New York, Arkansas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Kansas, among others. In fact, just about everywhere fracking is being used, reports are accumulating of earthquakes and the contamination of underground water supplies by the foul chemicals required to break the embedded oil and gas out of the rock.

The evidence is impressive. U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist William Ellsworth recently noted in “Science” that the rate of earthquakes in the central and eastern United States rose from about 20 to about 100 per year between 2010 and 2013, in correlation with the increased use of fracking.

On the other hand, a petroleum engineer with decades of experience making a small fortune from oil and gas tells me that fracking is harmless and emphatically rejects the notion that it could possibly cause earthquakes or release enough gas into underground aquifers to make tap water burn.

Of course, a column like this doesn’t have the scope to say much that’s definitive about the impact that fracking has on the environment. And despite all the evidence, even Ellsworth suggests scientific caution, saying, “correlation is not causation.”

Certainly. But whenever I encounter skepticism about our capacity to affect our environment, I think of Jared Diamond’s “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed,” a hefty and impressive chronicle of communities, large and small, ancient and modern, that have risen and declined because they pushed up against and then exceeded the capacity of their environments.

Does fracking cause earthquakes and water pollution? I’m not prepared to say. But we shouldn’t be at all surprised that it might. And the underestimation of the effect of our activities on the global environment is always a dangerous mistake.

The Incan and Mayan civilizations collapsed in isolation. But the scale of our communities is much larger, and our capacity for collapse is global. The only thing that’s growing faster than the evidence of our global culture’s effect on the environment is our capacity to deny it.

John M. Crisp, an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune, teaches in the English Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi, Texas. Readers may send him email at jcrisp@delmar.edu.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • The MisterJanuary 28, 2014 - 7:19 am

    So do you suppose the answer, Mr Crisp, to "our global culture's effect on the environment" is to do what other great conservationists, like Ted Turner, Bill Gates, Jacques Cousteau, Prince Charles, etc., have called for? The extermination of 4/5ths of the worlds population? Or did you have a more politically correct number of people you'd like to see dead? I would certainly invite you to go first.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Puddin TaneJanuary 28, 2014 - 12:07 pm

    Wow, hyperbole, conjecture, and a dash of paranioa so that you can completely make up a postition and attribute it to all environmentalists. Congratulations, you've officially written the most fact-free comment of the day! Hope you didn't hurt your hand pulling it out...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
‘The Rocky Horror Show’ finds a home on stage

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
For sale: Solano home with Nike missile bunkers

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
 
Salvation Army debuts giant kettle for holidays campaign

By Robinson Kuntz | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

.

US / World

New survey details vast scope of teen dating abuse

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Boosters seek to keep Bay Bridge light display

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Driver attacked after ice cream truck kills boy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 5 Comments | Gallery

 
$50,000 reward to find killer of Anaheim girl, 9

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

Video shows bikers taunting California officer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
California man guilty in wife’s stabbing death

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Brown opens up spending in campaign’s final month

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Suspect in girl’s 1984 killing was police employee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

PTSD argued in case of Marine jailed in Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
US tech firm fined for underpaying Indian workers

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Paintings in national parks spark probe, furor

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Prisoner in Afghanistan to be tried in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

US, SKorea agree to delay wartime control transfer

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
US officials: Iraqi army regrouping slowly

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Gary killings put spotlight on abandoned buildings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Lawmakers seek to end benefits to former Nazis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

For teen with passport, Syria trip can be seamless

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Border deaths drop to 15-year low

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

Cremation fears leave empty Ebola beds in Liberia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Ex-Mountie hero of shooting at Canada’s Parliament

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Canada gunman wanted a passport to go to Mideast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
NYC mayor: Don’t be alarmed by doctor’s Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

NK experts: US must apologize to free detainees

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola: A crash course in fear and how it hurts us

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 4 Comments

NY doctor back from Guinea has Ebola, 1st in city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

Opinion

 
Planning Commission not listening to the people

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 8 Comments

Not sure I trust government on Ebola

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 7 Comments

 
Is America prepared for Ebola or is threat overhyped?

By Ben Boychuk and Joel Mathis | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

My husband and I don’t share anything anymore, including a bedroom

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Oct. 24-30, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Review: ‘John Wick’ delivers non-stop action

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘Rocky Horror’ a participatory treat

By Tony Wade | From Page: B3

Entertainment calendar Oct. 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B4

 
Burns’ series gives PBS a ratings milestone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Q&A: Mick Jagger, the film producer, heads to work

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6, 1 Comment

.

Sports

 
At 1-all, World Series moves to quirky Giants park

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Giants’ Hudson to face Royals’ Guthrie in Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
College notebook: Cordes chosen to try out for USA national team

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Homecoming still on but no game for VCS

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B8

 
Compton among PGA leaders at Sea Island

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Steve Nash ruled out for season with back injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Judge questions $75M NCAA concussion settlement

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Arizona men near-unanimous pick by media to win Pac-12

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Raiders may lose Woodley to biceps injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

No. 6 Oregon looks to extend streak against Cal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
The Write Way: KC coach’s lineup cards are artful

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Prep football capsules: Week 8

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B9

 
Manning, Sanders lead Broncos past Chargers, 35-21

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

Sports on TV/Local sports for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Oct. 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

.

Business

Honda Fit becomes even more intriguing small car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
Letting your car find a spot and park itself

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
A blue Christmas for Amazon?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

Zuckerberg speaks Chinese, Beijing students cheer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Mark Dean Lindsay

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9