What the Frack is All the Fuss About?

  • “I know of people whose kids leave their lights on and they’re not even in the house.”

    Shell's experimental in-situ oil shale facilit...

    Shell's experimental in-situ oil shale facility, Piceance Basin, Colorado. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey Department of the Interior/USGS http://energy.cr.usgs.gov/images/other/oil_shale/shell_insitu.gif (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • “People are getting asthma and COPD.”
  • “Sick! People are just getting…sick!”
  • “More people are getting Autism. Why are you laughing?”
  • “I am offended by the language in the resolution.”
  • “You need to take CO2 levels in the atmosphere seriously.”
  • “When the last drop of oil runs out, you’ll be sorry.”
  • “I don’t trust the scientific studies you cited.”

No, these are not the notes from a group therapy session with chronically depressed people. These are quotes from testimonies at a Mesa County hearing regarding the development of Oil Shale on the Western Slope of Colorado. These are quotes from the brainiacs opposed to Oil Shale development on the grounds that, well, it just isn’t good for people or the earth or children or anything for that matter.

Granted, the Oil Shale nut has not been as neatly cracked as Natural Gas and regular Oil.  Granted, it is tricky to extract oil from rock-hard muck hundreds of feet underground. But it wasn’t easy to get to the moon either, and we did that 43 years ago. And nobody got Autism because we went to the moon.  Oil Shale is an evolving industry, but the rock-hard muck has been recovered and used as a fuel as long ago as the 10th Century, way before Dustin Hoffman won his Oscar for Rainman. Oil Shale exploration and recovery is going great guns in Wyoming, Utah and far countries who never put a man on the moon.  Oil Shale is extracted through drilling in a process that heats the shale in situ, which means way down under the earth where nobody can see the muck and no one will contract Autism. The process called “retorting” is not the art of being a smart aleck, it is where the fossil fuel trapped within the shale separates from the rock hard stuff and is then pumped to the surface–sort of like the last agonizing swig of your Slurpee where your suck really, really hard just to get the last little drop of blue raspberry diabetes juice down your gullet. Same idea, only you can’t make synthetic oil from blue raspberry Slurpee like you can from oil shale.

One of the sane participants at the hearing said, “Western Colorado is the Saudi Arabia of Oil Shale.” Except for the bloated guys with greasy beards, wearing night gowns and wedding veils, who eat all day and herd harems of put-upon wives at night, he’s right about that.  There is a century’s worth of oil-soaked rock-hard muck right under my tidy size eight stilettos.  In fact, there is a couple century’s worth of Natural Gas in the Mountain West. And you know what else, there is more oil out here in America than anybody ever dreamed of. We are the Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico, Canada and George Clooney’s hair of oil in the 21st Century.

So what the frack is fracking and why is it scarier than Godzilla? Fracking, or Hydraulic Fracturing for you egg heads, is another process that takes place way down deep under the earth where no one can contract Autism or have an asthma attack. Pressurized water, or a similar fluid like Diet Coke, is forced into rocks which contain natural gas or oil, fracturing the “source rocks” so the fossil fuel can then travel to “reservoir rocks” where it is then pumped to the surface.  Getting fracked sounds dramatic, but on the surface what you feel it is the equivalent of a cow fart, or a flea slipping on George Clooney’s hair.

So why the frack do people line up at County Commission hearings to whine about how fossil fuel exploration and development causes Autism, and makes people sick, and causes kids to leave the lights on? Because they think oil derricks and natural gas well heads and oil shale operations are ugly.  It is the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome on steroids. IDIOT (I Deem It Obnoxious, so There) is the syndrome suffered by these Western Liberals who hate any kind of development. They simply don’t like ugly things cluttering up their view.  The funny thing is, all these boobs that lined up to whine at the Court House drove ugly, gas-guzzling, CO2 emitting, planet killing, polar bear murdering, habitat raping cars to get to the hearing.  I can say unequivocally that a natural gas well head, an oil derrick, and an oil shale Slurpee machine are all a heck of a lot easier on the eyes than any Liberal’s “COEXIST” bumper sticker covered abomination.

Let’s get serious for a minute about environmental impact. I love the earth. It is one of God’s crowning creations. I love children, I have four. I love animals, on a spit. I love blue sky and tall trees and a healthy ecosystem where nature creates the proper balance.  Renewable energy such as solar, if developed to the point that it actually made a large scale difference, would destroy major swaths of the earth.  For New York City to be electrified by solar energy would require an area the size of Arizona to be covered with solar cells.  Wind turbines are killing bats and some species of endangered birds in alarming numbers. I did not hear one person at the oil shale hearing whine about wind farms murdering animals. How do they know that solar panels don’t cause Autism in bats, or asthma in Golden Eagles?  Where’s the outcry? And you talk about ugly! The environmental footprints of solar and wind farms are like Godzilla; huge, ugly, and they kill innocent creatures!  The environmental footprint of a natural gas well head is about the same as your patio. An oil derrick takes up about a McDonald’s worth of vertical space, and a Weinerschnitzel’s worth of square footage on the surface. And because the Energy Sector is largely Capitalistic and Conservative, they clean up after themselves and take their stuff when they leave.

So what, really, is all the bellyaching about coming from the Environmental curmudgeon army? They are people who simply aren’t happy. There always has to be a crisis. There always has to be a victim. There always has to be a transmitter of learning disabilities and illnesses to the helpless. And, they drive ugly cars.

In my opinion there are few things more beautiful than an oil rig, happily swaying up and down like a Drinking Dippy Bird, bringing up from deep in the Autism-free zone of the earth, the wonderful substance that can hurl my 1,500 lb car over three mountain passes to Denver and back, over 500 miles, on little more than a fill up.  And I am a happy person. I enjoy my freedom, and the best standard of living the world has ever known in Capitalist America. And if certain bitter curmudgeons, Commie pinkos, and Enviro-Nazis will back off and let the brilliant energy sector do its job, we will all be more free and more happy.















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