On the July 12th episode of “A Watershed Moment,” Cyndi Roper, Michigan’s State Director, Clean Water Action, speaks about “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing, a method to retrieve natural gas, and the dangers it poses for Michigan.
While hydraulic fracturing is currently allowed in Michigan, its safety is being questioned, especially in the northern part of our state. Clean Water Action is trying to educate the public about the negative environmental impacts it causes.
Fracking consists of sending high volumes of fresh water (5-7 million gallons per well), mixed with chemicals, sand and other unknown substances into the ground at very high pressures. This cracks the rocks to release natural gas. The now contaminated water is pulled back up to the surface, where the natural gas is collected. But not all the water makes its way back up; 30-60% is not retrieved, which means it is stuck below the surface in the water supply.
The resultant water is injected into underground wells for disposal/storage. There are some questions as to the long-term structure of these wells. This could further pollute our water supply. Earlier this year, a containment well burst, contaminating a Pennsylvania farm.
The water cannot be used again, as the chemicals used in fracking turn it into wastewater. This is detrimental for Michigan water systems. Taking away large amounts of fresh water and not replacing it puts waterways at risk for “drying down” or a reduction of water available for streams/lakes/rivers and drinking water.
Besides being an issue about conserving water, discontinuing the use of fracking allows alternative energy to be considered as an alternative to fossil fuel use. Roper suggests putting Michigan back to work at renewable energy plants, as our state could be the premier state to showcase our resistance to the continued use of fossil fuels.
“We could move the economy forward while protecting the environment,” Roper states.
To learn more, please visit Clean Water Action’s website.
“A Watershed Moment” is a weekly radio program focused on environmental news and happenings in West Michigan, plus solutions for living a greener life. Broadcast on WYCE-FM 88.1 on Tuesdays at 8:30am and 5:30pm, this program is produced by Grand Rapids Community Media Center and West Michigan Environmental Action Council.