Letter: Hydrofracking piece was a wake-up call

To the editor:

Margaret Dillon’s Nov. 27 “Beyond Green” op-ed is an excellent, well-balanced essay regarding hydrofracking. Placing the subject in its historical 20th-century context illustrating ecological impacts intrinsic to advancing technologies is refreshingly insightful. Her piece is a wake-up call and prompts this reply.

The nascent fracking process has already transformed billions of gallons of potable water into toxic waste. Huge plastic-lined lagoons often serve as waste pits left behind when nearby rural or municipal wastewater treatment facilities lack toxin-cleaning capabilities. Benzine, brine, heavy metals and radioactive elements number among those embedded in shale. These join about 250 man-made extraction chemicals in a toxic stew withdrawn to obtain the lucrative energy trapped for eons a mile or two underground. Be advised, current plans call for drilling 32,000 wells in the United States alone.

When citizens of France learned each hydrofracked well uses, on average, two million fresh water gallons (about as much as used daily by 100,000 people), the Paris-based international Energy Agency quickly undertook steps to avoid a backlash.

Today, half the world’s population lives where water tables are rapidly falling. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) predicts they will experience severe “water stress” by 2030, a condition wherein their reliable water supply is being used up more quickly than its replenishment.

Twin NASA satellites, orbiting 300 miles above Earth, feed data to a World Resources Institute computer featuring online interactive hydrological modeling software sponsored by charitable foundations, governments and private businesses. Underground water dynamics, socio-economic factors and climate variables are assimilated to project future water stress scenarios worldwide in geographic detail. A color-coded “Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas” (courtesy of Coca-Cola Company) is a dazzling, informative product of the model. Access www.wri.org/aqueduct to learn more.

Laurance Foley

Dublin

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