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Published on April 24th, 2013 | by Atlanta Editorial Team

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Fracking Comes to Georgia

The hills of Northwest Georgia are now believed to harbor trillions of cubic feet of natural gas that have remained untouched until now. Shale gas drilling is slowing across the country, but a handful of companies are poking around this corner of the state. If they succeed, Georgia could join the ranks of states reaping jobs, revenue and fears of environmental damage from energy production.

An Oklahoma-based company that leased 7,500 acres of land outside Dalton has two test wells in place and plans another nearby. Seventy miles away, near Cave Spring, a Texas oil, gas and development conglomerate plans a deeper well. At least three other companies have recently researched the so-called Conasauga shale field, a 20-by-100-mile corridor of farm and forest that runs from Alabama across Georgia and into Tennessee.

Speculation over unproven deposits may seem premature with a gas glut and low prices making extraction economically unfeasible in many parts of the country. Production has throttled down in Pennsylvania, Texas and Kentucky. Plus, Georgia doesn’t have the infrastructure —the trucks, tanks, pipes and refineries— needed to transform a liquid into a fuel to heat homes and cook food.

The ultimate stakes though, will be high, because all fossil fuels comprise a limited, non-renewable resource. In Alabama, the Conasauga shale field contains 625 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to Bill Thomas, a geologist who taught at the University of Kentucky and Georgia State. A similar amount could be underground in Northwest Georgia, he adds.

Drilling for oil and gas has proved unproductive in the past, but new hydraulic fracturing techniques, or “fracking”, promises to extract natural gas trapped in underground geological structures beneath the water table by means of injecting a mix of solvents and other caustic chemicals under intense pressure.

It is that process, which has reportedly spoiled fresh drinking water supplies and even caused small earthquakes, that has environmentalists and some landowners to become alarmed. The lease money that has started to flow from the gas companies is bringing some people a windfall, but the potential drawbacks are just beginning to be discovered, with no long-term studies to illuminate the way ahead.

Regulators in nearby Tennessee and North Carolina are updating drilling and fracking rules. A natural gas industry in Georgia could also bring the state jobs and tax revenue. A major public debate is underway about an issue that could affect our state for centuries.

Source: AP

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2 Responses to Fracking Comes to Georgia

  1. Joseph Zarr says:

    It is troubling this article was posted in late April and there are no comments here. On the topic, 625 trillion cubic feet of gas means nothing in terms of long-term resiliency and regenerative energy. It is a figure posted for a profit-driven exponential growth dinosaur of a model. Fracking is an energy extraction method derived from an egregious and diseased mode of living that believes natural gas is an essential component of ‘modern’ life. Somehow, culturally, we’ve assumed the mentality If we lose out on a convenient ability to turn on a stove or heat a house, for example, we have gone back in time. As we feebly grasp at the last straws of exponential growth, we suddenly find ourselves fathoming and rationalizing the injection of toxic chemical slurries into and near our groundwater, with little to no regulations! This is a dire moment where we either change our mentality as a culture or we officially give up hope as a culture worth descending from – truly. Beyond the naivete and arrogance of popular corporatized culture, there exists rising ocean levels, a plague of tornadoes in the heart of this continent and a sudden danger of superstorm hurricanes in places like New York City and the greater East Coast (and, perhaps, in time, the Georgia coast). These are warning shots that this indeed a time of climate crisis where storms are increasing in size and power and where we will continue to experience increasing weather extremes (be they drought or punctuated deluges). GMO crops won’t save us and last-ditch energy grabs won’t help us in this sudden transition. As we continue to see the precious resources of our planet being consumed negligently by our overpopulated and growing population – a direct contributor to this climate crisis – it is even more important now than ever that we think anew about what we truly need and how we can actually co-exist and co-create an abundant and diverse world. We need the humility and forethought to adjust our thinking and beliefs. I suggest we start from systems thinking design platforms like permaculture for our core survival needs. And, I also suggest we start looking inward for the nurturing of a calm presence and strength we will need to cooperate and collaborate during this absolutely inevitable time of change.

  2. Don Martinez says:

    hope georgia doesn’t let them in. they’re destorying my hometown. endless trucks and slow traffic. polluting thousands of gallons of water to frack and wastewater that is polluted being run through treament plants that aren’t meant for this polluted water. the water radiation levels are way over save. I love Cumming, Ga I lived there almost 5 years. just like I loved Cambra, PA where I grew up where it’s being ruined by this gasholes. Do your reasearch and read the stories it’s not worth their lies. They’re straight liars!

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