Thursday, June 2, 2011

My View From Here

Hello Fellow South Texans,

This is my first blog entry.  I call my blog Texas Toast because, well, the state is slowly but surely drying up and burning.  In my 44 years, I have never seen the types of serious issues we are facing as a species today... climate change, over-development, and now, the natural gas hydraulic fracturing (fracking) boom. 

I spent every summer as a child on the Texas gulf coast.  To get there from San Antonio, we drove highway 181 which meanders through farmland, ranch land, prairies, and sleepy little one-horse enclaves.  My dad would espouse the history of the area as we drove past the dusty storefronts and quaint little eateries.  He too traveled this area heavily, as a salesman first, and then sometimes as a hunter.  He knew the area well.  If he was still alive, he would be appalled to see what is happening to it in the name of greed, the economy, and "progress."

For those of you new to the subject, hydraulic fracturing is a controversial method used to extract natural gas deposits from deeply embedded shale deposits.  There is a huge shale formation that sits below the parched lands of south Texas.  It is called Eagle Ford Shale.  The shale itself is very brittle and not much gas can be extracted conventionally with vertical wells.

Hydraulic, or horizontal, fracturing involves process of initiating, and subsequently propagating a fracture in a rock layer, employing the pressure of a fluid as the source of energy. The fracturing is done from a well drilled into reservoir rock formations, in order to increase the extraction and ultimate recovery rates of oil and natural gas. Hydraulic fractures are mostly man-made and are extended by internal fluid pressure which opens the fracture and causes it to extend through the rock.  Man-made fluid-driven fractures are formed at depth in a borehole and extend into targeted formations. The fracture width is typically maintained after the injection by introducing a proppant into the injected fluid. Proppant is a material, such as grains of sand, ceramic, or other particulates, that prevent the fractures from closing when the injection is stopped.

Considerable controversy surrounds the current implementation of hydraulic fracturing technology in the United States. Environmental safety and health concerns have emerged and are being debated at the state and national levels.  There is a vast amount of water needed (and pulled from drinking water reservoirs) to perform the fracturing, and many known and unknown chemicals are used to assist the drilling and pumping activity.  The waste water and chemicals are then either left in the ground or pumped back to the surface and stored in open pits until (and if) the waste can be treated.

In future posts, I will discuss more details about the process and its effects on people, wildlife, and the environment.  One thing I know for sure is that Texas will live to regret the day it ever heard the phrase "fracking."  I love south Texas and I am going to do whatever I can to help it survive.


  1. This could be my story, as well, from the trips to the coast to what I am sure would be my father's reaction. Thank you for writing it in such an evocative and cogent manner. I'd like to link to it for my work--I'm the Executive Director of the Texas Drought Project. We're going to be handing out information packets and I'd like your blog to be in it.

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