Vortex Tools looks at the implications of Vermont being the first state to ban the controversial hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process, even if they don’t have much fracking activity to ban in the first place.
On May 16th, 2012, Vermont became the first state to ban fracking (the high-pressure injection of water, sand, and 0.5% chemicals to fracture/crack shale rock to release valuable oil and gas production).
While other states worked to better regulate the controversial practice (Wyoming was one of the first states to disclose fracking chemical contents and Colorado ruled to make public all fracking chemical contents, even those considered trade secrets), Vermont has banned fracking outright, citing potential injuries and the need for safety. The law also bans the importation/storage of associated wastewater.
Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin stated, “This bill will ensure that we do not inject chemicals into groundwater in a desperate pursuit for energy.” He continued, “The science on fracking is uncertain at best.”
Despite the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reporting that fracking might cause groundwater contamination (both before and after their official 2012 report came out), critics stated the report was flawed. Regardless of what vocal members of both sides of the debate say, evidence for the flaws of fracking is, thus far, inconclusive.
The debate on fracking is rarely neutral, and Governor Shumlin’s stance is pretty clear when he’s stated his hopes that other states will join Vermont in the ban. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry continues to dispute the allegations of the scientific flaws of fracking (see here for more on the pro-fracking stance). In addition, the American Petroleum Institute (API) already wrote to Governor Shumlin, stating that Vermont’s bill may be subject to constitutional challenge.
Here’s the main problem: Vermont doesn’t have much shale rock to frack in the first place, so they’ve banned a practice that doesn’t really affect them. It’d be like a land-locked state passing a law that affects how people treat the ocean. Even if it’s right, it still winds up feeling more political than anything else.
As the face of fracking continues to change in 2012, there are actually applicable states that could be swayed by Vermont’s decision. Upstate New York has a lot of shale rock, and while there’s already a moratorium on fracking there, environmentalists are pushing for an outright ban, In the end, while Vermont may be the first state to ban fracking, we’re still waiting to see which state will be the first meaningful one to enforce the ban.
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Colin McKay Miller is the Marketing Manager for the SpiroFlo Holdings group of companies:
-SpiroFlo for residential hot water savings (delivered 35% faster with up to a 5% volume savings on every hot water outlet in the home) and industrial water purification (biofilm removal).
-Vortex Tools for extending the life of oil and gas wells (recovering up to 10 times more NGLs, reducing flowback startup times, replacing VRUs, eliminating paraffin and freezing in winter, etc.).
-Ecotech for cost-effective non-thermal drying (for biosolids, sugar beets, etc.) and safe movement of materials (including potash and soda ash).