GVSU forum examines hazards of fracking and tar sands pipeline

April 6, 2012

By Jeff Smith
Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy

On March 27, there was a forum on fracking, organized by a student socialist group at GVSU on the Allendale Campus of Grand Valley State University. The group invited two speakers to present, a GVSU professor and Chris Williams, author of the book Ecology and Socialism.
Professor Peter Wampler, who presented first, works in the geology department at GVSU. His presentation was very clinical in that he showed slides and presented information that provided those in attendance with basics around where natural gas is and how it is being extracted around the US.
Wampler made some distinctions between shale-based natural gas and other forms of methane gas, such as the gas from human or animal waste or the methane created at landfills where organic material are breaking down.
The GVSU Professor then presented some basic aspects of what is fracking? and how the industry extracts it natural gas from shale. He stated that most shale is found at least 1000 feet below the surface.
Wampler then shifted his presentation to why there is such a big push for fracking now. He stated that this is a “trend” that really began in 2009. You can see from the graph here the current and projected trends with natural gas extracted from fracking.
Wampler continued with more information on how the industry extracts the gas from shale. He then identified consequences of fracking, such as micro-earthquakes, groundwater contamination, surface water contamination and increased dependence on fossil fuels. One thing he mentioned about contamination in groundwater is because of the chemicals that are pumped in with water to create the fracking necessary to extract the natural gas.

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