This Is Your 'Fracking' Opportunity
Proclaimed “the biggest wildcard for the future of oil and gas” by The New York Times, shale gas and the controversial process by which it is extracted from the ground, called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” has captivated a worldwide audience.
Whether you are watching to see if shale gas will, in fact, change the energy economy and become the future of clean energy, or monitoring the war being waged by environmentalists who believe that fracking will contaminate and deplete clean drinking water resources and increase our carbon footprint, you are tuned in to what is likely to be one of the most significant environmental conversations of our time. As green marketers and CSR advocates, I encourage you not to choose sides but, rather, to become the vehicle that drives this conversation in an effective and meaningful direction.
First, let’s explore the facts. The EPA estimated that in 2010, 70 to 140 billion gallons of water were used to fracture 35,000 wells in the U.S. That is equivalent to the annual water usage of 40 to 80 cities of 50,000 people. That’s a lot of water! And that amount will rise exponentially if fracking, as it exists today, becomes commonplace. Add to that the carbon costs of transporting fracking wastewater – called frac water – across the country to be treated, and the fact that frac water contains carcinogens and salts that traditional wastewater treatment plants can’t process and you have a recipe for disaster, right? Wrong. Behind the scenes, creators of innovative water filtration technologies are partnering once competitive products to create closed-treatment systems with the capacity to effectively process frac water on site. This treated frac water can be recycled back into the process, greatly reducing the overall water resources required.
Now I don’t know about you, but as a green marketer I see more potential gain for the green economy in helping to promote the solutions that could make sustainable fracking a reality, than trying to stop this revolution from happening. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 1.8 trillion barrels of recoverable shale gas reside within our boarders – that is more than half of the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia, the world’s second largest oil exporter. That is too large an amount to ignore. On the contrary, President Obama has pointed to natural gas from shale as a key to our energy independence and the future of clean energy in the U.S. The EPA, meanwhile, has made clear its intention to enforce tighter regulation of fracking with the goal of protecting the environment and the shale gas industry’s viability as a growth sector.
With its potential to create a major source of revenue for our nation’s ailing economy and energy independence during a time of worldwide turmoil, there is no question that shale gas is here to stay. So, the question for green marketers to consider is not if fracking should continue but how we can ensure it continues sustainably.
There are many players hard at work behind the scenes striving to find sustainable solutions – from green technology and energy companies to environmental engineers and scientists. Let’s be their voice.