Louisiana’s Future Is Right Under Our Feet, But At What Cost?
Could the next big oil boom in Louisiana be right beneath your feet? If you are in the northern listening area of 97.3 The Dawg, I suggest you be very wary of anyone wanting to secure mineral rights on your property in the very near future. What is the source of this whispered buzz being spoken about in lunch meetings and conversations? 7-BILLION BARRELS of oil and natural gas that can be pumped to the surface using new technology! Sounds like a no brainer, huh? Weeeeellllll
Here’s where the story gets REALLY interesting, so read carefully and let us know how YOU feel!
First, where is it? It’s an area referred to as Tuscaloosa Marine Shale Area. It extends like a big band across the middle of Louisiana, from the western border with Texas, through CenLa, and into a few counties in southwestern Mississippi.
And that oil has BEEN there. We just couldn’t get to it before. According to an article on rigzone.com, companies tried in the 70s to do it but they were drilling vertically and using old single-stage fracturing technology that limited how deep they could go. Fast forward to today and you have something called “horizontal drilling” and something else called “hydraulic fracturing,” otherwise known as “fracking.”
So what is “fracking?” This process uses the force of water and chemicals that are pumped into the shale at great pressure. This mixture fractures the shale allowing it to release any oil or natural gas deposits which might be contained within the shale. Oil producers point to successful fracking operations in North Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas as proof the process works, and works safely.
Environmental vs. Financial Concerns
And therein lies the problem. Critics and environmental groups are concerned about the “fracking.” Those opposed to fracking point to "secret" proprietary chemical agents that the oil producers use in the process. Because of the proprietary nature of these chemical agents, oil producers aren't willing to disclose their formulas. The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Commissioner of Conservation says a draft rule is being written to require companies to disclose and report the components and chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing in the state. But will that be enough? Environmental protection groups also point to the track record of similar technology in injection wells which have leaked causing contamination to ground water. The E.P.A is currently studying the effects of fracking and is expected to release a detailed report in early 2012.
This poses quite a quandary for the oil industry, state leaders, the federal government and, most importantly, you and I. Since drilling in the offshore waters has been very slow to return to pre-oil spill levels (thanks to Federal red tape), could this be the shining salvation of Louisiana's oil and gas industry? Does the prospect of injecting billions of dollars in cash flow, taxes and wages outweigh any potential risks? We all want to protect our environment and leave the legacy of The Sportsman’s Paradise to our future generations. We also need to be able to earn a living wage to provide food, shelter, education and opportunities to these future generations.
What do YOU think?:
If the choice was yours what would you say? ”Frack baby Frack,” ”Protect baby Protect,” or (my personal favorite) “Vote baby Vote.” Eventually, our alleged leaders in Washington, D.C., and Baton Rouge will have to listen to us. I hope that we will all learn to shout with our outside voices and let them know what we want when the time comes to be heard as we close the curtain in the voting booth.
Comment and let us know exactly what you think should happen below. Do you think the process is too harmful to our environment or do you think that this could be the blessing Louisiana needs?