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Shale gas extraction has become a reality.
If this source is put to use properly and responsibly, it will reduce U.S.
dependence on oil and coal. Oil will still have its domain but chiefly for petrochemicals,
road tar and gasoline.
The market for fuel oil for home heating will be vastly reduced. The need for coal would also be reduced as coal-fired power stations convert to gas. Imports of liquid propane gas would virtually disappear.
The price of natural gas is plummeting as supplies are coming online. All this must eventually bring the price of oil and coal down with it as demand slackens. Distributing gas by pipeline saves fuel now used to transport oil and coal by land and sea from source to user.
The issue of water pollution has to be addressed. It turns out that there is at least 1,000 feet of solid rock between the fractionation process and surface domestic water wells. The pollution of surface wells is more likely to be caused by naturally occurring gas near the surface leaking into wells than by “fracking.”
Monitoring wells by taking samples before, during and after drilling nearby can identify any water quality problems. Most people take water samples from their wells all the time. As for water used in the extraction process itself, this is either recycled or injected into deep cavities where it can be safely stored. The percentage of water recycled, currently about 75 percent, is likely to increase as the science advances.
The Marcellus Shale extends almost to the New York-Vermont state border, so the price should be way low compared with some other locations.
This is cost effective when compared to windmills and solar arrays. As far as I am aware, shale gas operations receive little subsidy compared with that received by these inefficient machines. The gas wells are well nigh invisible once the drilling rig and equipment is removed upon completion. Lateral drilling techniques reduce the number of wells that have to be drilled.
These wells will be on the flatlands of New York state, not on our mountaintops or next to Route 100. From what I’ve read many farmers in New York cannot wait to lease drilling rights on their land, so NIMBY doesn’t apply. Whatever we might think of nuclear energy, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami have put that issue to bed for at least a decade.
Daniell lives in Waitsfield and Shelton, CT.