Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 9:00 AM Updated: Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 10:25 AM
By Jackson Citizen Patriot staff Michigan Live
In response to a letter, “Fracking is a new process, and it's unsafe,” I feel compelled to respond to the misinformation and scare campaigns of those against hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing, the process of creating hairline cracks in tight rock formations so oil and gas can flow to a well, has been used to enhance oil and gas recovery since 1947. More than 1 million wells in the U.S. have used the process, including more than 12,000 in Michigan. No cases have been documented where hydraulic fracturing has contaminated groundwater. Yes, there have been isolated cases of contamination from improper well design but none in Michigan.
The most important area of protecting water resources is from the wellhead down through the freshwater zone along with extra depth for added safety. This is accomplished by using multiple layers of steel pipe and cement through the freshwater zone. Michigan requires a minimum of two layers of pipe and cement at least 100 feet below this zone and many times farther if the state deems necessary.
Regarding the “toxic” chemicals used deep in the well, these are the same “toxic” chemicals we use in our homes every day. The industry is required to provide Material Safety Data Sheets to the Department of Environmental Quality of all materials used in the process.
What is new in the energy debate is the greens have latched on to hydraulic fracturing as the new attack against fossil fuels. The shale gas revolution has helped unlock more than 100 years worth of U.S. natural gas resources and driven prices from more than $10 per thousand cubic feet in 2008 to just more than $2 today. God forbid the public realize the benefits of gas production, how can they then attain their goal of ending the use of fossil fuels?
The Sierra Club recently announced its “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign. I don’t know how we get beyond next winter without gas. Eighty percent of Michigan homes use natural gas for heat. Many more wish they had access to it. “Fracking” is used to maximize natural gas recovery in 80 percent of Michigan wells. It has been for more than 50 years with a stellar safety record. Our job is to keep producing oil and gas safely and provide the energy we need every day.
— JOHN M. GRIFFIN, executive director
Associated Petroleum Industries of Michigan/Summit Township