According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, “In 2015, about 140.43 billion gallons (or about 3.34 billion barrels) of gasoline were consumed in the United States, a daily average of about 384.74 million gallons (or about 9.16 million barrels per day).”
The point is this: as Americans we have a voracious appetite for gasoline, and a wide variety of other consumables. Economies far and near depend largely on the American appetite for the product that they produce, process and/or transport.
And it’s always been a reasonable dream to one day see the United States be the producer of a higher percentage of the things that we consume. Who wouldn’t prefer to fill their car with nothing but American gasoline.
But in the pursuit of this dream we’ve went a little too far. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, is a process in which we literally use high powered water streams to crack and drill through the giant rocks that lay deep below our feet. Sure, it’s an efficient way to get at the liquid offerings of the Earth, but we’re also literally cracking the foundations of our communities in the pursuit of profit.
And when you introduce destructive elements into the bedrock you’re going to see an increase in errant geologic activity. Because of fracking and the disposal of materials used in the process people in the heartland of America, Oklahoma especially, are experiencing earthquakes at frequency comparable to Calfornia. The biggest Earthquake in Oklahoma history recently led to the government shutting fracking down altogether.
But it might be too late – who knows if the highly destructive side effects of fracking can be fixed. Maybe we need to adjust the fracking machines so that they can deliver payloads of super glue and caulk. We probably shouldn’t wait until each state and country has experienced their own record quake to stop this.
No good or service is worth destabilizing the land we live and work on and creating an increased capacity for earthquakes where there was once very little if any at all. They’re not metaphorically destroying the Earth, they are literally destroying it, cracking and smashing it and making it more dangerous for the things trying to live on top of it.
Imagine a series of increasingly more dangerous earthquakes, affecting more and more of the square footage of the United States. If we continue to frack with the Earth they’re going to get worse and more widespread and we will soon find it difficult to even maintain a society when we never know which vital institutions or individuals are going to get hit next.
You probably read Sedalia Democrat reporter Nicole Cooke’s recent story about record low summer gas prices in Sedalia and throughout the country but even if you haven’t had the chance you probably noticed that the pumps were significantly less painful during the summer travel season this year.
And yes, part of the reason we are seeing those prices is because there are interesting new ways to extract resources from the Earth. But there are methods that just aren’t worth it and extremes we shouldn’t be willing to resort to. And that’s not even mentioning the destruction or potential for disaster that can occur just when attempting to move oil over long distances. Our Native American friends in North and South Dakota and their supporters all over the country are fighting to keep their ancestral lands pipeline and contaminant free.
Even though the summer travel season is technically over it’s still good for the economy for us to travel and the gas prices will probably be reasonable for the foreseeable future you should consider just what had to happen to get that raw material out of the ground and into your gas tank.
Travis McMullen is a longtime Sedalia resident who shares his views on the city through his weekly Democrat column.