Paula Dallacqua Contributor
I’ve got a little riddle for you: What word begins with “f” and ends with “ing”?
Here’s the correct answer: fracking. Apparently not yet recognized by Microsoft Word as a legitimate word, fracking is cool-kids’ slang for hydraulic fracturing. And I don’t know how to put this, but it is kind of a big deal.
Even as you read this, there is a campaign going on to eradicate fracking in Michigan. Yes, right now! “Ban Fracking in Michigan Amendment” is a three-sentence proposal calling for a statewide ban on horizontal fracking, as well as disposal of frack waste.
Here’s what it all means: fracking is a method used to get gas that’s trapped in tight shale rock formations below the water table. An operator pumps a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into an oil or gas formation deep underground and applies pressure. Once the rock is forced open, the oil or gas is extracted. Fracking has been used for more than 50 years in Michigan and the state regulates the industry.
What’s the big deal then? Well, as it goes with capitalism, drillers want to increase the productivity of the well sites. In order to do this, they want to turn their drills and dig horizontally along the shale rock.
The problem with horizontal fracking is that it calls for using a much greater amount of chemicals and water — we’re talking more than 500 kinds of chemicals and anywhere from three to eight million gallons of water. Some of these chemicals include known carcinogens and neurotoxins, such as crystalline silica ,found in concrete, brick mortar and construction sands. Other chemicals include ethylene glycol, found in de-icing agents, automotive antifreeze and household cleaners.
And after the water is used, it is usually disposed of in deep injection wells.
Currently, two wells formed by horizontal fracking are operating in Michigan. But mineral rights are incredibly inexpensive at $10 per acre. Companies are buying immense acreage and horizontal fracking is expected to boom in Michigan. The next mineral rights auction will take place in Lansing on Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2012.
The campaign to end fracking in Michigan needs 400,000 signatures by November 6. EnvOrg members have been tabling during meal times to get signatures for the petition.
You must be a Michigan registered voter to sign. Please make sure that you know the information on your voter registration card before signing. Any false information nullifies the other signatories on the petition sheet. If you don’t frequent Hicks often, visit the online petition on the The Index website.
Be informed voters. Protect Mother Earth. And stay classy, Kalamazoo.