Monday, March 9, 2015

Executive Emails and Oil Fields Fracking: New Considerations in the run for 2106 White House

Keywords and Terms: Secretary Hillary Clinton; Governor Jeb Bush; Emails; Presidential Campaigns; Fracking; Super-fracking; Gulf-Coast States; ABCTV News program, THIS WEEK; General Colin Powell; Keystone XL pipeline project; Environmental, Social and Financial impacts; Republican Aspirants: Senator Marco Rubio; Senator Tom Cruz; Governor Rick Perry
During Ms. Hillary Clinton’s service to the nation as the Secretary of State, it was hard to understand why a remote server and personal account would not be ideal for official email traffic, just like some previous US Secretaries of State had done. There is an inherent indifference and probably a conflict of interest as we watch former Governor of the State of Florida make available email addresses of presidential campaign benefactors or prospective donors on the WEB, recently. The focus today is neither why a former US Secretary of State or the Governor of the State of Florida fell into doldrums or miscalculations of executive actions; or, why some citizens feel both actions of front runners for the 2016 Presidential Campaign for the White House are misgiven; however, it is to explore why fracking, a modern means of exploring oil and gas may be the key issue in the race for the 2016 White House.  It is a huge issue because the Democratic Party front runner, Secretary Hillary Clinton, has not shown her obvious opposition; but her probable opponent, Governor Jeb Bush, has affirmatively blessed and accepted the process as a viable technology to increase the source of carbon-based energy source.
In case you are wondering why not pay attention to exploring the former US Secretary of State action regarding personal emails for official duties, there is a current US House Committee seeking the secretary’s personal account and looking at the possibility of some error of judgment.  Meanwhile, for the records, it is not the place of this blog to look at issues under investigation; we always default to waiting until all the facts are in before looking at the merits or demerits of past actions of politicians.
In case you missed the news over the weekend, Former US Secretary of State under President Bush (43rd), Republican General Colin Powell, informed George Stephanopoulos, on ABCTV News Program, THIS WEEK, that he conducted public affairs on a personal email account while US Secretary of State; and, unless State Department server kept records of such emails, he does not have a hard copy of most of those emails. Discussing further politics on ABC Good Morning America on Sunday, March 8, 2015, Mr. Stephanopoulos believes critics of Ms. Clinton probably overacted on the email issue and he can hardly fathom why this rabble rouser issue is likely to fold up the 2016 Presidential Campaign of the former US Secretary of State under President Obama. However, since past actions seem to predict future actions, it is not out of place to re-visit this issue at a future date, if necessary. For now, we have chosen to explore a burning issue in the hearts of many environmentalists, scientists, oil and gas explorers, and our neighbors to the north, not to exclude one thing many Republicans are miffed about: The rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline project and the failure of Congressional House Republicans to override a sitting Democratic President’s veto on the project.
What is fracking? This is a process for drilling down into the heart of the earth until a high-pressure water mixture is used to release or loosen gas and oil from shale rock. Water, sand and chemicals are used under high pressure to accomplish these processes that allow gas and oil to pass through a head well. The vertical or horizontal process through rock layers create pathways for gas and oil to move through extended channels to a head well storage for harvesting. In a 2005 journal article published in Volume 27 of Ore Geology Reviews, Dr. Blundell, D. defines hydro-fracking as a well-simulation technique in which rock is fractured by hydraulically pressurized liquid made of water, sand and chemicals. A new technology in the exploration of gas and oil, very controversial if you ask farmers who are at odds with fracking that runs them off their lands, including their herds, as their farmlands are gradually being dominated by oil and gas wells employing fracking.
Fracking is gradually becoming an issue on the 2016 White House Presidential campaigns because some visionaries and skeptical environmentalists have raised grave concerns regarding the associated risks of fracking for the water table in many states with increased fracking activities. Like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Tom Cruz and Rick Perry, all Republican aspirants for the 2016 White House, each will likely inform you he has a policy statement regarding fracking vis-à-vis his Presidential Campaign; but is probably not ready to give it away. However, no one will be surprised, if each of these 2016 White House aspirants catty-up to fracking as another option to look at in harvesting carbon-based fuel. Candidly, in support of these aspirants, many voters in their constituencies hardly a bad word for fracking because, it has provided some level of financial security for them and their families, especially in the deprived and desperate South Eastern and Gulf Coast States, North and, South Dakotas.
Unfortunately, the environmental, social and financial impacts of fracking as a drilling technology make it a subject of controversy; and, when a probable Presidential front-runner of a major political party is in complete support of the technology, it is important to look closely at the issues raised by scientists as well as skeptics, even if only for information sake. Environmentalists’ complaints about the risks associated with fracking as drilling technology, including: 1) release of hazardous pollutants and emissions of methane and diesel fumes to the environment from the process; 2) fugitive emissions from several stages of natural gas production and methane leakage from shale gas during fracking make the environment unsafe; 3) water used in hydraulic fracturing are diverted from other uses, municipal and industrial purposes; 4) induced seismicity from fracking trigger large quakes that impacts people’s life; 5) disposal of hydraulic fracturing wastewater has been a difficulty; and, 6) noise pollution from the fracturing activities and moving equipment, have been of concern by some residents of the US; and, are well documented by geological scientists researching this new technology in the field.
It is widely believed in some oil-producing Gulf States, and probably enthusiastically supported throughout majority of those state governments, where fracking is the new norm of harvesting oil and gas from the bowels of the earth, that there are no other safer means of dislodging oil and gas that remain imbedded in the rocks for ages and were unavailable for harvesting before the arrival of the technology. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth; the assumption that fracking is safer for dislodging oil and gas from shale, is a mistaken assumption, driven by opportunities for added profits and extra revenue from taxes to State government coffers. Yes, fracking may bring huge supplies of oil and gas to the market; yes, the US has been a global leader in the use of the technology, with companies as Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes leading the way; however, the choice to stretch this technology, including what is referred to as “super fracking” has led to increased tremors and earthquakes in some states where there have been increased activities of oil and gas exploration.
Should the nation have reasons to worry that this activity may lead to other increased pressure on the horizontal and vertical stability of the earth surface? Should our politicians have their say regarding this new technology? Should we question the position of each candidate for the 2016 White House regarding this technology? Majority of the political campaigns may have some talking points regarding this technology and its place in increasing the supply of US petroleum supplies and bi-products; however, it is probably impossible to say each of them have other innovative ideas regarding how to increase carbon-based fuel. A few may even subscribe to the use of the technology just as Jeb Bush, the leading Republican candidate for the 2016 White House race; however, none of them could place an argument for cutting back on the use of the technology because of the identified associated risks and daringness of the technology in exploring for oil and gas.
This technology opens not only doors for increased oil and gas production; however, it comes with associated risks that may bring more problems in the future. Oil producers may see profits and states may see energy security from the expansion of use of the technology; however, can any Presidential aspirant ask pragmatic questions regarding the unsettledness of the earth and earthquakes in many states with increased fracking activities? Leaders, especially Presidential office aspirants, are expected to be visionaries. The conventional view today of fracking is that the technology is bringing unprecedented volume of oil and gas to the market and has increased US exports of gas. While helping cut back on oil and gas prices and making US a new net exporter of carbon-based fuel, the question to ask maybe is: at what trade-offs?  We have had wild swings in oil and gas prices lately; however, no one has been able to explain to the public, why this is so; or, whether the increased use of fracking had helped soften the world market spot prices.
2016 Presidential aspirants have opportunity to recognize the trade-offs here; and lift up concerns for increased use of the technology. There are reported use of the technology in Canada, Mexico, Poland, Russia and other Middle- East State. However, how can we put associated problems of this new technology in focus as we enjoy the extra oil and gas that it has afforded on the market? If the technology is already internationalized, should there be an international conscience and cautiousness of the repercussion of the use of the technology for harvesting oil and gas? Obama’s administration’s displeasure with the Canadian Keystone XL project seems to have miffed Republicans – it has even grown to what some Republicans describe to as a full-blown threat to American Energy Security – however, none of the 2016 presidential aspirants have offered a clue as regard what they would do, except, once we vote a Republican into the White House, the project is a certainty. Have any of the current Republican aspirants considered why the president of the United States vetoes the project in the first place? Could it be as recognition of the level of output from fracking that has emboldened or advised the White House to say no to the project? These are plausible issues that need to be explored by the Presidential aspirants.
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