Opinion is a flitting thing,
But Truth, outlasts the Sun —
If then we cannot own them both —
Possess the oldest one.
What do President Barack Obama, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, and California Governor Jerry Brown, and former North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue all have in common?
They’re all liberal Democrats. But what might surprise you to learn is that they’re all enthusiastic advocates of fracking.
This past June, our own governor, Pat McCrory, signed historic legislation that will turn the key on energy production here in North Carolina by ending a decades-old ban on fracking.
“North Carolina has been sitting on the sidelines for too long,” said Governor McCrory when he signed the legislation into law. “We have watched and waited as other states moved forward with energy exploration, and it is finally our turn. This legislation will spur economic development at all levels of our economy, not just the energy sector. And the expansion of our energy sector will not come at a cost to our precious environment. This legislation has the safeguards to protect the high quality of life we cherish.”
North Carolinians agree. A 2013 Harris Interactive poll showed that 79 percent of North Carolina voters favor increased production of domestic sources of oil and natural gas, including a majority who support fracking. And a July 2014 Harris Poll found that 77 percent support increased production of America’s oil and natural gas resources, including 92 percent of Republicans, 80 percent of Independents and 66 percent of Democrats.
And advancing energy exploration figures to be an important voting issue come November, a new Harris Poll indicates. 70 percent (or more) of likely voters in several key states said that they were more likely to favor candidates who support increasing oil and natural gas production and energy infrastructure.
But perhaps no other single issue is more misunderstood (especially where the practice is unfamiliar to people) than is fracking. It’s no wonder. A seemingly relentless, one-sided and highly effective propaganda campaign by a legion of activist groups and Hollywood stars designed to stop fracking has been going now for the last five years. People are understandably concerned about what they’re hearing and in some cases, seeing on TV and in the movies.
Activists and community organizers have blamed fracking for everything from cancer to traffic accidents to drug use to an increase in violence against women — and yes, even syphilis. Just the word “fracking” sounds a little scary. But as you’ll see, their arguments are based on emotion — not on science. And there’s far more to the story than the likes of songstress Yoko Ono, actor Matt Damon, the Raging Grannies or even 30-second political ads would have you believe.
Let’s drill below the surface and look at the facts. This is not a short article — but we hope you’ll take the time to read it in its entirety and decide for yourself that, at the very least, there’s another side to the fracking story.
What Is Fracking?
Fracking (shorthand for hydraulic fracturing) is a high-tech way of extracting natural gas from shale deposits buried very deep within the earth — usually at depths of between 5,000 and 8,000 feet below the surface (that’s the equivalent distance of more than five Empire State Buildings). It involves seven basic steps: 1) vertical drilling, 2) horizontal drilling, 3) cracking apart (fracturing) the shale rock, 4) high-pressure injection of fluid (mostly sand and water) to open fissures in the rock (that’s the hydraulic part), 5) removal of the fluid, 6) release of natural gas to the surface, and 7) the containment of the natural gas and the disposal or recycling of the fracking fluid.