Sunday, November 6, 2011

Looking for Answers: The Search for Renewable Energy and the Effects of Hydraulic Fracturing

    I am an Athens County, Ohio resident and my home is on an environmentally pristine rural farm nestled in the Appalachian foothills.  During the past year, I have watched our community become increasingly united in concern for the pending changes coming to our area, regarding the hydraulic fracturing boom that rapidly approaches the land surrounding our homes and our way of life.  In order to better understand what may be coming our way, I began researching the method of hydraulic fracturing, the results of the process, and the accounts of the people who are involved. Ohio is sinking in an 8 billion dollar deficit, the economy is in dire need of a boost, people are in desperate need of work, and like the rest of the nation, our dependency on foreign oil is bringing us further and further away from where we need to be.  In the quest for alternative energies, we must always coincide with only that which is renewable and sustainable for our environment, and it is clear that change toward this path is essential for survival. Could this process of tapping into one of our great resources of natural gas be the solution to all this?

Fracking Site in Carroll County, Ohio
   Hydraulic fracturing, referred to as “fracking”, is a method of releasing natural gas from underground shale by deep drilling with a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals.  In the 1940’s the Halliburton Corporation led the way in this method of extracting gas and oil from the vertical drilling of wells by causing the rock to shatter from the fluid injection mix and catching the released natural gas upon pumping out the injection fluid (Bank 64).  In the 1990’s this original method was improved by creating a drill that would turn 90 degrees to bore in a horizontal direction for up to two miles. Today, from one drilling pad, companies are able to drill multiple wells in all directions, making miles of underground paths across hundreds of acres to collect gas (Bank 65).  Forty acres are needed for modern drilling platforms, and drilling goes down as far as 8,000 feet underground.    
         The gas and oil industry is massively growing from fracking, and thousands of jobs are predicted to be created in the near future.  Our nation is rich with shale that contains natural gas, and now we have the means to extract it, which of course will bring in a huge revenue.   Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department is in charge of mineral rights for 700 million U.S. acres, says that hydraulic fracturing “can be done in a safe way, in an environmentally responsible way, and in a way that doesn’t create all of the concerns that it is creating across the country right now” (Cook 1).  So there is concern across the country, and  Mr. Salazar is saying that while fracking could be safe and responsible, the country’s concern is because this is not currently the situation.                                                                 
Marcellus Shale Wastewater Sludge Ponds in New York
         In 2011, according to House Energy and Commerce Committee, SEVEN HUNDRED FIFTY CHEMICALS are used in the fracking injection fluid, some being extremely hazardous to human health, such as benzene, lead, and diesel fuel.  For the drilling of one well, four million gallons of this chemical solution is needed.   And of course, what goes in will inevitably come out, and this is what is called wastewater. In 2011, the New York Times released an investigative report of the severity of environmental risks, one being “the radioactivity in drilling wastewater that is sometimes hundreds to thousands of times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water standard".  As geochemist Tracy Banks explains it, along with natural gas, this chemical injection also releases radioactive compounds such as uranium flowing along with the toxic chemical fluid.  She states, “the current methods for cleaning wastewater generated by fracking are woefully inadequate….this water needs to be treated like industrial waste” (Bank 63).  So where is this industrial waste going, and how is it making its way to drinking water?  A review from the Associated Press in January 2011 exposed that “Pennsylvania’s fracking water treatment revealed the state could not account for the disposal method of 1.28 million barrels of wastewater (one-fifth of the annual total) due to faulty reporting.  Some drinking water utilities downstream from fracking wastewater facilities have struggled to sufficiently treat or remove trihalomethanes, which can cause cancer with chronic exposure.  A lack of adequate oversight has allowed wastewater from fracking to contaminate the Delaware River Basin, which supplies drinking water for 15 million people in four states”.                                                                                    How can this be allowed to continue?  A ProPublica 2011 report states “An ongoing investigation into fracking since 2008 found court and government documentation of more than 1,000 cases of water contamination in Colorado, New Mexico, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Reporters have unearthed gas and oil company campaign donations to members of Congress opposed to fracking disclosure requirements and catalogued individual and community case studies on the dangers of fracking, including environmental violations and contamination”.  Remember Halliburton?  That’s the big gas company who continues to pioneer the road for fracking methods, including  necessary loopholes.  The Halliburton company was previously led by former vice-president Dick Cheney.  In 2005, at the request of Cheney, the Halliburton Loophole was created by the federal government as a way for fracking fluids to be legally exempted from the Clean Water Act.  Otherwise the entire chemical composition of the fluids would have to be revealed.  As far as contaminated drinking water due to fracking, there are many, many examples from which to chose where the tap water is actually flammable due to so much methane mixed with the water. Here is one example:  

    This seems scary, right? Try watching video after video of footage from homes across the United States, all near monstrous drilling sites, all the residents explaining that before the drilling company came in, their water was fine.  Now it smells bad, its often murky brown, and IT LIGHTS ON FIRE.
Arkansas Shale Gas Production Related Earthquake 2011
    Another issue to be noted regarding hydraulic fracturing is the rising number of earthquakes resulting from the extreme pressure of the injection of fracking fluid.  Even Texas, never before experiencing seismic activity, is now reporting earthquakes near some injection sites for the fracking waste.  In Arkansas it is reported, “Last fall a swarm of about 500 mini-quakes rocked central Arkansas near the Fayetteville Shale, and a 4.7-magnitude earthquake in February prompted the Arkansas oil and Gas Commission  to order two drilling companies to temporarily suspend operations” (Bank 66).  Do we really need a more clear sign of environmental disruption taking place?  

         Aside from flammable tap water and earthquakes, are the residents whose land is leased to the drilling companies and those living nearby reporting of the profit and benefits of their experience?    Ms. Banks, author of  “Fracking Nation” visits the area where gas drilling first started happening on a big scale, the Barnett Shale of Fort Worth, Texas.  Now with about 14,000 gas wells in this region, “residents have complained for years of contaminated water, poor air quality, and unexplained health problems such as headaches, dizziness, blackouts, and muscle contractions” (Bank 65).  In some towns drilling is set up within one mile of schools where children are suffering with chronic nosebleeds, dizziness, and nausea (Bank 65).  The PennEnvironment Research and Policy Center reports that in Pennsylvania more than 3,000 gas fracking wells were within two miles of 320 day care centers, 67 schools, and nine hospitals. 
The Marcellus Shale
     It begins to feel all too close to home when I look at Ohio’s involvement with fracking.  Our fair state sits atop the massive Marcellus Shale, which also underlies parts of West Virginia, New York, and Pennsylvania. This 95,000 square mile slab could supply the entire nation’s natural gas need for two years (Bank 63).  What a treasure!  And so the profit for Ohio begins like this. As Pennsylvania has been heavily drilling their portion of the Marcellus Shale, the Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection  agency stopped allowing the previous means of disposing of the fracking wastewater in the rivers.  Then, the wastewater was sent to treatment plants, but eventually the agency found even this to be an ineffective means of disposal.  So what is there to do with all this chemical waste?  Send it to Ohio!  In the last six months of 2010 there were 14.8 million gallons of highly concentrated fracking injection fluid sent to the state of Ohio, who has banked almost 1 million dollars in hazardous fluid dumping fees this past year alone.  Also, since the state of New York has no facilities to treat the millions of gallons of wastewater that their wells generate, the oil companies have stated that their plan is to haul all the wastewater to Ohio just like Pennsylvania.  As far as the drilling taking place in Ohio, we could look at an example of one of many disgruntled residents, Harry Boyd, landowner in Monroe County, who by his own admission is no “green tree hugger”.  In an interview by Amy Mall, Natural Resources Defense Council staff, Mr.Boyd explains that he leased his mineral rights to an oil company and the fracking began in 2007.  Mr.Boyd stated that he happened on the company “blowing all of the used fracturing fluid…out into the air and the woods on his land”. State inspectors visited the site and told the company to stop, but they continued disposing of the fluid in the same way.  Boyd states that the fluid then flowed out to three streams which lead to the Ohio River, and he estimates that up to 500,000 gallons of fluid waste were ejected out over his land.  Harry Boyd has given up all his plans of using his land for farming or anything else.   Ohio has just passed Bill 133 that legalizes drilling on all state land, even including state parks.  Local Athens County environmental attorney and activist  Don Wirtshafter reports, “On September 6, the Forest Service and Federal Bureau of Land Management put up for bid the right to drill 3000 acres of the Wayne (National Forest), most of this directly upstream of the Athens drinking water intake”. 
Sign a petition to keep Wayne National Forest safe from fracking.

    The earth is our greatest resource, and the search for clean energy must be made with good intention, and our vision will need to look far beyond the two years that can be made from the Marcellus Shale.  With this industry of hydraulic fracturing, there may be an enormous amount of money to be made, but when our land is ruined, our people are sick, and we have no more clean water to drink, the economy will surely reflect that as well.  And if we have dug a hole that deep, there may be no way out. Hydraulic fracturing is extremely detrimental to our environment and our people; we must do everything possible to stop fracking before it is too late. Follow the situation and let our congressmen here from you by signing a petition to ban all hydraulic fracturing in the United States at this site:
     What would happen if we could all focus our energy toward a path that is truly sustainable?  A recent study for a Green State Park Initiative offers invaluable advice, "Embracing methods to conserve energy through green building design or policy changes, such as wind and solar projects, also have the added benefit of saving scarce budget dollars" (Esprit and Smith 86).  I believe this is the real solution for Ohio, our nation, and beyond.
Ohio wind power

Green Grants are available to Ohio residents and corporations for solar energy systems

Works Cited

Cook, Dave.  "Interior Secretary: 'Fracking' Can Be Safe and Responsible."  Christian Science Monitor                  5 Oct. 2011.  Academic Search Complete. Web. 15 Oct. 2011.
Esprit, Cory St. and Langdon Smith.  "The Green State Parks Initiative:  Utilizing Pennsylvania State Park             as a Case Study". Journal of Park and Recreation Administration 29.3 (2011): 86-100. 
            Academic Search Complete. Web. 1 Nov 2011.
Marsa, Linda.  "Fracking Nation."  Discover.  32.4 (2011): 62-70.  Academic Search Complete. Web.
            15 Oct. 2011.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Guinevere's Blog #15

   I chose my topic to be about the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing in Ohio.  The first blog is "Thanks Athens for telling Forest Service no fracking way" by Don E. Wirtshafter; J.D., a local attorney and environmental activist.  In his post, he exposes the sneaky attempt of the Wayne National Forest officials to avoid making any type of public announcement about the recent bid they opened up to the gas-oil industry for the right to drill 3000 acres of the Wayne forest.  He explains this land is directly above the Athens drinking watershed, and he also explains the dangers of extreme pollution to the land and water brought on by fracking. This article appeals to me as it tells of the particular land that I live very near to, and he offers info. of an upcoming protest, as well as the link for a way to send in written protest to our politicians.
   The next blog I chose is "Fracking in Ohio" by Jonnatha Mayberry.  This article is about the senate's approval of Bill 133, allowing for oil and gas drilling to occur in the state's forests, parks and other state lands.  I liked how the author explains both sides of the argument regarding this issue, saying those for drilling claim that it will get Ohio out of its 8 billion dollar deficit, creating jobs, and that the parks will get 30% of the drilling profit. Mayberry also goes into why fracking is such an environmental concern, contaminating ground water to the point where people can light their tap water into plumes of fire.  He offers his opinion that if this drilling is going to happen, the oil companies should be responsible for any spills, and all clean-up.
     "Toxic fracking chemicals intentionally spewed onto private property in Ohio" by Amy Mall is a Natural Resources Defense Council Staff Blog.  Ms.Mall interviews a Monroe County, Ohio landowner who is not opposed to oil and gas extraction.  However, he is against the irresponsible actions taken by the oil company that took place on his land. He claims, with photo proof, that the chemical laden fracturing fluid was spewed all over his land, and eventually ran into the creeks with go to the Ohio and Mississippi River, estimated at 350,000 to 500,000 gallons.  He learned that the chemicals involved were extremely dangerous and cancer-causing. Mr.Boyd feel that his land is a total loss, no longer usable for any reason.  This article was persuasive in telling of a particular example from an outraged landowner who even describes himself as "not a green tree hugger" (Boyd). 
    The last blog I use is "Pennsylvania fracking water being disposed in Ohio" by Timothy Puko.  This article differs from the other blogs I read in that it discusses another aspect of the new nation-wide drilling process that is affecting Ohio.  It begins with "Pennsylvania's waste is becoming Ohio's million-dollar treasure" (Puko Mr.Puko explains that the extensive drilling happening in Pensylvania's  portion of the Marcellus Shale.  The state has been relying completely on Ohio to take the toxic waste fluid from drilling, amounting to 14.8 million gallons just in the last half yr. of 2010.   Ohio charges top dollar for "storing" this waste, thus making a huge profit while ruining the land.  The author of this blog did not portray bias, but simply provided the factual information regarding this ugly business.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Guinevere's Blog #14

     From Everything's a Text, in describing blogs and their meaning, Meg Hourihan says, "They can be characterized by their conversational tone and unlike a more formal essay or speech, a blog post is often an opening to a discussion, rather than a full-fledged argument already arrived at" (Hourihan 295).    This class has been my first introduction to blogs, and I like the idea of an entire genre devoted to open-ended conversations that are meant to explore the unknown.  I am wondering if this idea is supposed to be followed in our upcoming  blog essay, although it sounds like a more formative argument might be in order for writing about our topic. To me,however, any essay assignment on any topic that is to be completed within a few fly-by weeks is going to be inherently open for more formed thought rather than "full-fledged" in argument.
     In writing about the way of organizing blogs, Hourihan explains, "What we write about does not define us as bloggers;  it's how we write about it (frequently , ad nauseam, peppered with links)" (Huourihan 297). This makes me wonder how easily identifiable a blogger's personality might be by way of analyzing their blogging style. Or can blogs be used as just another form of fiction, allowing the author of the blog to mask their true identity by assuming a style completely irrelevant to their own self?   I think I will prefer those bloggers who have a cause and a message to put out for the benefit of others, going beyond conversation and hopefully not to the point of 'ad naueam'.   If we take the time to spread word to the world, doesn't it really make sense to do it in a selfless style?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guinevere's Blog #13

     "Let your own argument determine your use of sources" (Ramage, Bean and Johnson 199) stood out to me, since our exploratory essay employed the opposite idea regarding our sources. In that type of work, it is our task to let what we discover in our various sources lead the way to provoking more ideas, more differing opinions. In the essay using Bodie as an example about crime, the author had a specific already decided agenda, and so it was logical to then allow her own direction to guide her in deciding on the sources.
     Patchwriting is explained to be "a form of academic dishonesty because you aren't fully composing your own sentences and thus misrepresent both your own work and that of the source writer" (Ramage, Bean and Johnson 204).  I had never before heard the term "patchwriting" and while I understand the idea of "academic dishonesty", I thought back to my exploratory essay, and remembered how difficult it was to paraphrase some of the information I wanted to use for my writing.  When the information I wanted to transfer was of a data-type or explanation of an experiment, it seemed like there were instances where direct quotes didn't make sense to use, but when paraphrasing, it also seemed extra tricky to state things in my own words without patchwriting. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Guinevere's Blog #11 Rhetoric

        1.   Photograph by Dorothea Lange, pg 101 Pearson Reader-  "Migrant Mother"- destitute pea pickers in Dust Bowl/Depression era, California, a 32 yr. old mother of severn children. I first saw this picture when reading a book about the Dust Bowl era-  this picture is an ex. of powerful rhetoric, and sums up the times.

         2. Poetry of e.e.cummings- a subtle rhetoric of communicating with disconnected words that together create images.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Blog #10

      My original idea for my essay topic led to frustrating research,  too broad for me to assimilate.  So I am choosing a new topic, regarding music therapy practice.   I recently read an article from the 1964, a review of an experimental music making among mental health patients, which has led me to my topic questions.  
    Is group music for patients an established practice in today's music therapy profession?
    If so, what are some of the effects on patients from group music in therapy?

Double Entry Research Log-

SOURCE 1- Oct.1

Pavlicevic, Mercedes.  "Music Therapy Improvisation Groups with Adults: Towards De-Stressing in South
       Africa".  South African Journal of Psychology; June 1999, Vol. 29 Issue 2, p94, 6p. Web. 1 Oct.

Journal Article

-Begins with quote "Improvisation in music therapy is                 -possible quote to use
non-verbal communication"

-Paper is on 4 aspects of group music therapy in an
experiment to alleviate stress in South African adults.

-3 paragraphs defining music therapy and explaining                  -might be good way to start essay
that music effects all people.

-Explains the method of improvising on various instruments        -important to talk about emotional
and tells us that creating spontaneous music addresses the           aspect
emotions of the participants.

-Section on South African context, tells about common              -college audience can easily identify with
violence and societal instability which makes for an extremely      stress
stressful environment.
-Next section describes the activities of sessions                        -while this is very interesting to me, I
                                                                                                think too much detail on particular
                                                                                                  activities takes away from the overall
                                                                                                  topic of my research questions.
                                                                                                  Need to summarize.

-There is a following discussion on group pulse- the                   -not sure if this is relavent
 basic rhythm made by everyone together.

-Conclusion- members felt emotionally positive from this           -Conclusion really affirms the positivity
music-making. It allows for expressing strong feeling of               of group music therapy
the current tragedies of violence in the country, and provides
great relief of tension and anxiety during this time of South
African instability and transformation.

SUMMARY- good article to use as source. The author uses group music to affect change during a current situation, and stress is a common factor my reading audience shares, so I feel like the positive results not only answer my question, but also bring hope for others to use making music as a stress relief.

Longhofer, Jeffrey.  Floersch, Jerry.  "African Drumming and Psychiatric Rehabilitation".  Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal; April 1993, Vol.16 Issue 4, p3, 8p.  Web. Oct.1. 2011.

-Begins with the doubtful executive director of  a Kansas        -good way to point out the skepticism side,
City mental health center,  "African drumming at the mental       maybe I could learn more about the
health center?  How will that serve our clients in the                  possibilities of  negative aspects
community support program?" 

-This program attempts to turn patients in psychiatric
rehabilitation into an African polyrhythmic drum

-Dagbama music is the specific type of African drumming        -probably not relevant to essay
used in program and the authors tell its history and meaning.

-Method is described- weekly sessions for 6 mo. and
performances at mental health centers.  Program includes
drumming, dancing, and singing.  The participants "become       -quote illustrates success of program
hooked not only on the music but also on the group process"(p3).

-Describes patients with severe mental illness- schizophrenia,
manic depression, multiple-personality disorder

-Conclusion- program obtained a fundamental goal of the
International Association of Psychosocial Rehabilitation,
"An effective...program offers group experiences that are
designed to enhance individuals' skills and to foster a sense
of community and healthy participation in normalizing adult
activities" (p 4). The focus was on integration, skill building,
social interaction, and provided patients with a meaningful
group role, increasing their self-esteem.

SUMMARY-This article showed another example of group ensemble music being used today and having a
positive effect.  It differed from the other source in that this program focused on helping non-functioning adults move toward higher functioning.  The initial skepticism of the director might be an angle I should focus more on in order to provide the other side of looking at my questions.  Is doubt and resistance frequently encountered for music therapists trying to break through the healthcare institutions  with this group music programs?  Is there cause for this doubt?