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Ft. Myers News Press: Fracking a safe route for energy production

Friday, June 23, 2017

Many veterans of war, including myself, have concerns with foreign products being purchased from countries at war, namely the Middle East.

We have come a long way in recent years to obtain our own oil and natural gas within the U.S.; however, we can’t lift our feet off of the proverbial pedal. Our country must use all forms of energy to become energy independent for the good of all. There is a direct correlation between energy reliability on the Middle East affecting matters of national security. Many American veterans agree in order to improve our quality of life at home, it’s imperative we continue safely improving all energy infrastructure on our home land.

One safe and viable option for domestic oil and natural gas production is through hydraulic fracturing. Contrary to popular belief, this process has been used in the United States for nearly 70 years. It’s not a new technology; the practice has been tested and refined for decades. Another important point to remember is fracking falls under at least eight different federal regulations, not to mention state and local laws.

Fracking serves to enhance the flow of energy from a well. Many people who are nervous about the concept just don’t understand how it works – it’s actually quite simple. First, a hole is drilled vertically to form a well that is thousands of meters underground, and then drilled horizontally into an oil or gas deposit. The hole is cased with a steel pipe cemented into place, which isolates the area of the rock to protect our water supply. Then, a special perforation gun is lowered through the pipe, and forms holes through small, quick charges. Once the holes are formed, fracking fluid is pumped through with pressurized bursts. This creates small cracks throughout the rock so that trapped oil or gas can easily flow through.

The fracking fluid is a mixture of 99.5 percent water and sand, combined with chemical additives which control bacteria growth and prevent corrosion. These chemicals make up less than 1 percent of the fracking fluid and are significantly below the maximum levels required by the EPA. Any water or fluid that is released through fracking is stored in a safe treatment facility. And once the process is complete – which can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days – a well can produce energy for years, even decades.

Currently, there is inaccurate information circulating the media about fracking’s effect on our drinking water. I want to be clear: there have been no confirmed cases of groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing in the two million wells fracked since the 1940s. Before fracking even begins, casings are placed into the well and the space between the casings and the drill hole is filled with cement. This ensures neither the water and sand mixture that is pumped through the well, nor the oil and gas eventually produced, will enter the water supply.

In fact, a 2015 study conducted by Yale University found that fracking fluids do not contaminate aquifers. The researchers also found that contamination to drinking water does not occur because of casing failures, which has been an argument by those opposed to the practice.

Here in the sunshine state, scientists are currently considering using deep injection wells, a form of fracking, to restore Lake Okeechobee. The South Florida Water Management District has stated that this process would not affect Florida’s drinking water supply.

Fracking is one of the ways we can obtain reliable, homegrown energy to power our homes, buildings, phones, cars – you name it.

Oil and natural gas production keeps our everyday conveniences – ones that many countries do not have – at our fingertips. Let’s avoid national security risk and ensure progress for our beloved U.S.A. by continuing processes like fracking within our borders and keep things moving, literally.

Lt. Col. Dennis Freytes, United States Army (Ret.), is a member of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, is co-chair of Florida Vets4Energy, a group of volunteer veterans who continue to serve America as advocates for energy policies to sustain our national security.

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