Earth Doctor / Climate Troubadour

Fracking & Pipelines

Fracking is a method for obtaining natural gas and oil by drilling through our water table into shale layers far below the surface.  It involves numerous toxic chemicals pumped down under pressure, as well as heavy metals and radioactive materials that are brought back up from below. Studies show around 6% of the drill casings leak from the start, and up to 50% of them leak by 15 years. Contamination has been demonstrated repeatedly. There is an easily searchable, large and growing literature on the dangers of fracking, including causing earthquakes, prenatal harm, cancer and heart disease, air and water pollution. Most fracked material is transported by pipeline. There have been thousands of pipeline leaks in the US in the past several years. People working to stop pipelines deserve our support. Physicians reject natural gas, considering it “too dirty and too dangerous”. As NASA has confirmed, the natural gas industry releases so much methane into the atmosphere that it is just as bad for global warming as coal, and possibly worse.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the fracking industry story is that it has been losing money for investors for ten years! It has given investors the false promise of profits ever since it started ramping up in scale in 2009. Fracking wells are typically drilled with borrowed money, and lots of very low-interest loans were available after the 2008 financial melt-down. But it looks like these days are over. Here is a 2/24/19 “Quote of the Week” from the Wall Street Journal:

“The once-powerful partnership between fracking companies and Wall Street is fraying as the industry struggles to attract investors after nearly a decade of losing money.  Frequent infusions of Wall Street capital have sustained the US shale boom. But that largess is running out. New bond and equity deals have dwindled to the lowest level since 2007. Companies raised about $22 billion from equity and debt financing in 2018, less than half the total in 2016 and almost one-third of what they raised in 2012.
                                     Bradley Olson and Rebecca Elliott, Wall Street Journal, 2/24/19