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August 3, 2012

Water use another strike against fracking


Daily Star

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Water, water everywhere?

Well, no, not even remotely true.

And for that reason, as drought conditions are prevalent in more than 60 percent of the counties in the United States, everybody should take a deep breath and consider whether fracking is such a good idea for our area.

We didn't get much snow this past winter, so there was less of the stuff melting to replenish our water supplies. Compound that with two straight months of above-average heat causing increased evaporation, and things might be getting kind of thirsty around here.

The mean temperature was 71.6 degrees in July, said David Mattice, National Weather Service observer at Emmons. The normal is 68.4 degrees.

While it did not set a record, Mattice said, "The difference is significant."

The rainfall for the month was 1.54 inches, Mattice said. The normal is 3.93 inches.

"The lack of rainfall in July compounds a June shortfall of 1.64 inches, Mattice said, adding that in his 30 years of weather observing, he doesn't recall two months in a row of less than two inches of rainfall.

Folks can argue about global warming. We have stated before that there is a big difference between weather and climate. An especially hot couple of summer months or a huge snowstorm in the winter are merely weather events.

However, a long-term pattern, such as has been the case over the last decade or more, makes a pretty convincing case that the planet is getting hotter, and fresh water has become more and more of a precious commodity.

Fracking uses between 2 million and 12 million gallons of water for each well, along with large amounts of chemicals and sand.

Yes, water is still plentiful in upstate New York. But climate change is a wild card that most certainly bears watching.

"We're having difficulty acquiring water," Chris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas, told CNN.com.

Breitling has operations in Pennsylvania that include the same Marcellus shale deposit that is in our area.

Faulkner told CNN.com that officials in two Pennsylvania counties have stopped issuing permits for oil companies to draw water from rivers.

So, what's to be done?

One solution could be a gas industry report in May that focused on using a thick gel made from propane to extract natural gas from deep shale formations.

Not only does it save water, say its proponents, it doesn't employ the chemicals that scare so many of us about water-based fracking.

The propane method may wind up costing more, and for all we know may have its own problems.

But with our climate getting so scary, fracking using huge amounts of water is an idea that is all wet.