Tahlequah Daily Press

December 31, 2013

Safety key to energy’s future


TAHLEQUAH — Editor, Daily Press:

“Energy Innovator,” by Sean Rowley, Tahlequah Daily Press, Dec. 22, 2013, featuring an interview with Dr. Kirk Boatright concerning oil fracking was a very timely article. Dr. Boatright is a world-class authority on oil engineering, and Tahlequah is fortunate to count him as one of our own.

There is literally a war going on all over the world over the fracturing issue, and we need all the information we can get on the subject. Several movies and TV documentaries dealing with fracturing have been released, and regular news reports keep the issue alive everywhere.

At the same time, crowds of ordinary citizens determined to stop fracturing are seen clashing with oil companies and the police, so it isn’t surprising that the public is wondering what is going on.

The protesters claim that their aquifers (ground waters) are being polluted, and the oil companies claim it isn’t so.

In response, faucets are turned on and the running water is set on fire to prove gas contaminants have leaked into the ground water and dead cattle supposedly killed by drinking the contaminants are shown laying around.

Endlessly aggravating the issues are the constant, incredible oil industry accidents that occur with unbelievable frequency all over the world. Oil industry carelessness and indifference causes staggering damage to both the environment and the world economy.

Wrecked and leaking ships, pipeline breaks, oil well explosions, gas line explosions, train wrecks, fatal well-head accidents, and offshore drilling accidents that release millions (billions?) of gallons of oil into the ocean have devastating effects that can’t be reasonably ignored keep everybody upset and busy.

Personally, I believe fracturing is necessary and could be safe if our oil companies would exercise reasonable care in the work they do.

Unfortunately, the only apparent time the oil companies seem to try to be good citizens is when the courts force them to. It is cheaper to act with abandon than it is to act responsibly, so indifference prevails. To heck with consequences.

The whole conflict could be easily settled if four conditions were met.

If the oil companies would simply prove to the protesters that fracturing is consistently safe to a reasonable degree, if preventable accidents were significantly reduced, if the courts would increase the penalties for damages done to the degree that it would be unprofitable for the oil companies to act irresponsibly or negligently, and if the oil companies would not contest the courts’ uninfluenced decisions, there would be little left to fight about.

The love of money to an unhealthy degree is the root of all evil.

Fred Gibson