-Fracking vs agriculture: water battles escalate in the western US-
Due to the development of hydraulic fracturing in combination with horizontal drilling, shale gas extraction has become increasingly efficient and economical leading to rapidly growing interest in the numerous shale reserves across the United States. Since the discovery of vast amounts of natural gas in the formation in 2007, the Marcellus Shale has been a consistent feature in news headlines. However, production in the Marcellus formation has been hampered by the largely private ownership of mineral rights on the east coast as well as by restrictions such as the fracking moratorium imposed by the state of New York.
As a result, companies have begun to focus production efforts on states west of the Mississippi. As many western states enter another summer of drought conditions, the water demands placed on these areas by hydraulic fracturing are drawing protests from the agricultural community. While fracking generally uses less water than the agricultural industry as a whole, when resources are limited, fracking operations may use just enough to seriously damage the industry. The fact of the matter is that oil and gas companies can afford to pay much more for water than can most farmers and ranchers. As such, many farmers are protesting the fact that they are rapidly being out-competed.
Centers of conflict and protest include Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and California. While not currently widely used, solutions being explored include alternative, waterless fracking methods and produced water recycling. Many states are also considering requiring disclosure of fracking chemicals and water use (see FracFocus).click to read more
California poll shows citizens favor fracking regulation
A recent poll conducted by the University of Southern California College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences shows that 70% of California residents support restricting hydraulic fracturing in their state in some way—either by enhancing state regulations or by banning the process altogether. This study represents the first comprehensive poll investigating public opinion of fracking in California.
The poll shows that fracking opposition is not evenly bipartisan. Although neither party shows an overwhelming level of either support or opposition, Republicans were slightly more supportive while Democrats were slightly more opposed to the practice. The poll also shows that the possible economic benefits of the process were a serious consideration to most citizens. In a state that has seen considerable financial troubles in recent years, many citizens reported to being more open to hydraulic fracturing if its economic benefits could be enumerated and proven.
As the natural gas race moves west, California’s Monterey Shale is generating increasing interest, opening the state up to the prospect of increased hydraulic fracturing. Currently, California does not impose any regulations on fracking beyond those set for standard drilling. However, it is clear that as the fracking issue looms larger on the horizon, many Californians are also concerned about possible effects on their water resources. According to the recent USC poll, this concern could translate into increased regulation sometime in the near future.click to read more
Irish farmers protest fracking at the G8 Summit
On Sunday June 16, 2013, a group of Irish farmers organized a protest with the aim of bringing their views of fracking to the world stage. Around 60 farmers gathered to participate in a “slow drive” of their tractors from Love in Leitrim County to the historic Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne. The protest was strategically staged just as delegates to the G8 Summit have begun to gather in nearby Enniskillen. While currently most apparent in the American west, conflict over water has led to worldwide protest of fracking by the agricultural industry.
While water supplies in Ireland are not as severely limited as those in western US states, the food and beverage industry makes up a large portion of the nation’s economy. The industry is estimated to be worth around 24 billion euros in the south of Ireland and close to 30 billion in the north, making it a major pillar of national income and GDP. As such, farmers involved in the protest emphasized the potential nationwide effects of a localized issue. Similar to western US residents, Irish citizens are concerned about the potential two-fold effects of hydraulic fracturing in rural areas. Among farming communities, there is concern about potential water pollution by fracking processes. However, the more pressing issue is the certainty that, without regulation, oil and gas companies are capable of out-competing framers for limited local water supplies.click to read more