11. Fracking Mining Threatens Western Wisconsin, our Country and World
Flattening The Hilltoppers? Frac Sand Mine is Proposed Near Wisconsin School. More than 100 frac sand mines and processing facilities, like this one outside of Bloomer, Wis., have cropped up across the state over the last few years.
Everyone who used natural gas (methane) to warm their home or place of business last year in the county should also read this excellent series on the wide-reaching impacts of the “fracking” (fracturing) industry in Wisconsin. The facts are clear: while the increasingly plentiful supplies natural gas and oil from newly fractured drilling well sites in North Dakota have been a boon of sorts especially to the nearby communities, the large quantities of sand excavated in Wisconsin and shipped to North Dakota for fracturing the drilling wells (sand is injected into the wells with mining fluids, adding pressure, resulting in fracturing the surrounding shale rock, which then frees up the methane from the surrounding shale) is creating havoc in many Western Wisconsin communities. The money that is ultimately made from selling the natural gas and oil produced by the North Dakota wells and sold throughout the U.S. often results in a windfall to the oil and natural gas industry and to the land owners. However, the operations from this industry also often result in the creation of many different kinds of effects, mainly negative, both to Western Wisconsin communities and the country and world as a whole.
The effects on the local communities and the environment in general come in the form of noise and air pollution at the drilling and sand mining sites, the permanent scarring and loss of habitat on the land, bluff, or mountain tops altered by the mining of the sand; and the air pollution emissions and noise created along the trucking routes, as well as the ground and surface water pollution at the drilling well sites, the sand mining sites, the sand processing sites, and the used frac sand disposal sites.
Of course there are also much broader negative effects of the continued growth of the fracing industry in the U.S. and elsewhere. The addition fuel mined and ultimately burned for heat or energy production is adding millions more tons of greenhouse gases to our atmosphere and oceans. Every cubit foot of natural gas that is burned releases .12 cubic tons carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, where it will remain upwards of one hundred years. This is adding to the mounting billions of tons more greenhouse (heat trapping) gases in that are present in our atmosphere, above and beyond the amounts that were present in the atmosphere when humans first began burning huge quantities of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) in a big way during the Industrial Revolution. The level of greenhouse gas concentrations in our atmosphere have presently reached historically high levels, which reputable global warming scientists the world over say poses a very real and dangerous threat to all of humanity.
For example, the most voluminous of the greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide – reached the milestone of 400 parts per million twice in the past three weeks. That level is already too high, say the overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists, and the result has been grave consequences, including injury or death to millions of people, especially families and individuals living within the world’s coastal cities where strong hurricanes come ashore. They have been impacted as the result of increased storm activities associated with warming and rising seas (ocean levels are rising from the expanding warmer water in the ocean and from new sources of ocean water, such as the water originating on lands from previously year-round-frozen glaciers – for example ice packs in Greenland, high mountain tops, and melt waters from Antarctica. Moreover, the oceans are also 30% more acidic than pre-Industrial Revolution times, which has adversely impacted some ocean species with significant fishing losses, losses of marine life and coral reefing destruction. Scientists predict that, by the end of this century, this will have a devastating impact on our plant, with many more deadly heat waves, higher humidity, massive coastal as well as inland flooding, more powerful storms, everywhere, more rain in the off season but longer and more widespread drought during the growing season, and more widespread insect infestations, due to fewer cold snaps that formerly limited the poleward movement of such species.
These broader effects are the likely impacts of higher than natural emissions of greenhouse gases from human-caused activities, which are proven to be resulting from historically high burning of fossil fuels (most notably coal, oil and natural gas). In the frac sand mining processes, greenhouse gases are emitted in using energy to excavate and deliver large volumes of sand from Western Wisconsin to the North Dakota drilling well sites, delivering the gas and ultimately resulting from emissions from burning the final product in the form of carbon dioxide, the most abundant og the greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The concentration level in the atmosphere hit 400 parts per million twice in the last three weeks and is the highest concentration level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in over 2,5 million years, which occurred when the oceans were 60-80 feet higher than they are now.