Whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on


Stephen Harris

They’re hot and bothered over in Stokes County about fracking.

Oh, don’t get offended. I didn’t write anything dirty.

Fracking is the new way to drill for gas and oil. It’s what’s made America the world’s top energy producer, putting us ahead of Saudi Arabia.

But fracking, which is sometimes called hydraulic fracturing, is still rather new and controversial. It involves shooting water and/or chemicals into underground shale rock to flush out oil and natural gas. Fracking has been accused of everything from polluting drinking water to causing earthquakes.

But we do love our oil. And fracking did lower gas prices from nearly $4 a gallon to almost $2 back in the winter.

So they’re testing on a piece of town-owned land near Walnut Cove. It’s just 35 miles from the environmental disaster site in February 2014 when millions of gallons of coal ash spilled from a broken pipe at a Duke Energy power plant near Eden and into the Dan River, water source for Danville, Va.

So if we start feeling earthquakes from over in Stokes, remember you heard it here first.

Oklahoma has been shaken by an increasing number of earthquakes in recent years, and some blame them on fracking there.

Since Jan. 1, for instance, at last check, Oklahoma has had 303 earthquakes with a magnitude of 3.0 or greater, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. As a result, the state legislature there on May 29 prohibited Oklahoma’s towns and cities from preventing fracking.

We do love our oil.

The Walnut Cove operation will be small and may not amount to much, they say. But then again, you never know. Remember Jed Clampett in the opening of “The Beverly Hillbillies” TV show.

They say there may be oil/gas in the Dan River Basin and in the Deep River and Cumberland-Marlboro basins down east.

They do not suspect the Yadkin River basin. Yet.

There’s a challenge in the state courts that may stop fracking plans. The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on a case June 30.

“Our state has not done its due diligence on health risks stemming from fracking,” said Elkin resident Bill Blackley, who testified at a state fracking hearing and presented a program on it at Elkin Presbyterian Church. “This for me is about being a good steward of earth.”

I’m surprised we don’t hear more about this. There is a protest group, No Fracking in Stokes, that has a web site up and is making some noise over there.

And there is a fuss up in Virginia about a proposed gas pipeline that Duke Energy has a hand in. The pipeline would run through the picturesque mountains near Roanoke, Va. And there’s talk of a second pipeline.

They also want to begin offshore oil and gas drilling near the Outer Banks, Wilmington and elsewhere offshore in the Southeast.

That vacation at Myrtle Beach in the future may be getting more interesting.

I mention offshore drilling as they have just cleaned up a mess in Santa Barbara, Calif., where a comparatively minor pipe leak spilled 105,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean and fouled nearly nine miles of beaches north of Los Angeles.

You just don’t hear as much about such environmental topics as you do about politics, the Middle East or sports. As a result, we don’t know as much about them.

We know more about deflated footballs than we do about deflated shale rock.

Let’s change that. Starting now.

Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.

Elkin Tribune
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