Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/26/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Economic benefits always tend to outweigh moral implications.

America is on track to become a great producer of oil in the decades to come. Within the next ten years, we will likely export oil, rather than import. This is made possible by the practice of fracking, which allows drillers to extract untapped energy reserves deep beneath the crust. Yet the question remains, will it lower prices at the pump? More importantly, is it the right thing to do?

These days are coming back sooner than you think.

These days are coming back sooner than you think.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

2/26/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Fracking, oil, gas, energy, independence, future, harms, danger, water, pollution, jobs, economy, fossil fuels


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Fracking is the process of injecting high pressure chemicals and steam into the earth for the purpose of cracking rocks beneath the crust. When those rocks fracture, they can release pockets of natural gas and oil that are pumped to the surface.

The amount of energy waiting for extraction is so great that with the rapid, planned expansion that is now ongoing, the United States is just years away from becoming a net exporter of oil and gas, rather than an importer.

This bodes well for our economy and our foreign policy. No longer will we be inexorably linked to political developments in the Middle East, and the influx of cash could help to ease our national deficit.

However, fracking has its detractors and many claim the practice can pollute water supplies as well as cause earthquakes. Furthermore, it leads the country down the road of future oil dependency rather than towards alternatives, which some say are necessary to offset the advance of global warming.

There's also the question of profits, and if in a tight refining market, will increased supplies in raw materials lead to lower costs?

Proponents of fracking say the practice is safe, although they acknowledge that small earthquakes have been caused by the it. Fortunately, the quakes are too small to be felt over a wide area and have done no significant damage. Of greater concern is if fracking damages water supplies.

Several viral videos filmed in areas where fracking is prevalent show flaming water coming out of faucets, the product of natural gas contamination and a flame. That these water supplies are contaminated is beyond question. What remains unresolved is if fracking is to blame.

Proponents of fracking say the procedure is done far deeper than most people realize, so deep that it is actually impossible for groundwater supplies to be contaminated. However, they do acknowledge that if mistakes are made and if equipment fails, pollution can occur. Air pollution can also occur at the site of the well.

As for scientific studies, they conflict. Some studies say yes, fracking pollutes, including one done by the EPA, and still others say no.

Despite the inconclusive answers, the nation seems to be barreling ahead into fracking regardless. Our insatiable demand for energy and high prices at the pump have oil producers scrambling to drill. It does not seem to matter that the same water we give to our ranch animals and use to water our crops, could be polluted.

Once extracted, the oil we take will need to be refined into gasoline. This is the great bottleneck in the supply chain. Most refineries are old and must make do with aging infrastructure. New refineries are very difficult to build because of tight environmental regulations. This means that even in times of ample oil supply, a disruption in refining capacity will cause a spike in prices.

These spikes do occur. In states like California, home to less than two dozen refineries and requiring a special summer blend, the state is susceptible to supply disruptions.

Refineries have been enjoying good times. Profits at Texas-based Valero were up 22 percent in the last quarter of 2012. They were not alone in posting records. With such tremendous profits, it's difficult to imagine an incentive to do anything different.

Still, the basic economic laws apply. As prices remain high, there also remains an incentive to increase production. That's what's leading the dive into fracking, and the eventual stockpiling and export of massive oil reserves that will someday soon occur.

Beyond the world of supply and demand, there are other considerations. The cost of gasoline is not the same as its price. Eventually, as supplies increase prices will trend downwards. Another era of cheap gas is approaching. That means bigger cars, a return of gas guzzlers, and more pollution. It happened in the 1990's as increased prosperity caused Americans to ditch their fuel-efficient economy cars for the iconic Hummers and other sport utility vehicles that became popular over the last twenty years.

Now, a trend towards hybrid and electric cars will probably reverse as gas become cheap once again.

Of course, hybrids and electrics stand little chance of catching on since they are priced at a premium. Most consumers realize that buying a fuel efficient all-gas car is cheaper over the long run than paying the premium on a hybrid.

However, the cost of this reversal is great. Although a few Americans still insist that global warming is a myth, scientific data from around the world confirms the climate is trending warmer. As it does, extreme weather becomes increasingly common. That includes both severe storms, droughts in some areas, flooding in others, and even more severe snowstorms colder places. Global warming doesn't just mean hotter average temperatures, it means wilder weather.

It does not matter what people believe in this case. Science is true whether you believe it or not. What is up for debate is how much humans are contributing to global warming as a result of their love for fossil fuels.

Rather than decreasing our use of fossil fuels, which unquestionably belch tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, we are about to increase it in a big way. Is this moral? If humans are contributing to dangerous climate change, should we then engage in behavior that will exacerbate problems rather than alleviate them? Are we not charged with being stewards of the Earth?

Still, this is a difficult sell when most religious conservatives continue to doubt global warming and see liberal machinations behind the banner. The left's hijacking of the issue does us no favors when the topic is both real and serious and must be addressed with open eyes.

Unfortunately, the profits and jobs to be derived from an oil boom are almost too good to pass up. Weaning ourselves from foreign energy also means less likelihood for foreign involvement. That means less conflict, less war, and more peace. It's hard to leave such a morsel on the table. The economic benefits are also very desirable. The revenues and the jobs are enough to return our nation to prosperity, something we all yearn to see after five years of deep recession on Main Street.

Wall Street, which suffered a much shorter recession, is also keen on the development. Oil is a fantastic investment opportunity for the future.

Ultimately, we are presented with a significant moral question. Do we engage in behavior that could be harmful to the environment, in exchange for substantial economic benefits? History predicts that our answer will be yes. Yet, history is replete with cautionary tales about those who did not learn to live in harmony with their environment.

Mesopotamia was once fertile and green, but climate change which occurred thousands of years ago, turning the region into desert. Great civilizations failed to cope and collapsed. The Maya expanded rapidly, and filled the jungles of Central America, but persistent drought exacerbated by intensive agricultural practices brought about collapse of their city states. Easter Island, became so overpopulated that the people denuded the landscape, to the point of cutting down the last tree on the island for food. They failed to find a sustainable manner of living and were reduced to cannibalism.

What will we do?

I think we know the answer already. Tragically, its status as a moral question matters to few, but hey, mental gymnastics, record profits, and cheap gas will assuage our collective conscience for at least a generation or more -- so why worry?

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports:
That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.



Comments


More U.S.

Thousands of Christians Flee Under Death Threat From Tyrannical Caliph and ISIS Jihadists Watch

Image of (Pictured: Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim) At first, Christians were ordered to gather in a central place to receive the directive from the self appointed Caliph. Understandably, given the track record of this maniacal tyrant, few did. So, the text of the statement was issued as a formal declaration to all Christians - We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

By now, everyone who is in anyway concerned about what is happening to Christians in Iraq has heard the horrific news. The madman who claims to be a descendant of Mohammed, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi - who in his delusion and grandiosity has taken to calling himself ... continue reading


Bridget of Sweden, Marriage and Family, and the Need for Canonized Married Saints Watch

Image of St Bridget of Sweden, her husband Ulf, and all the modern Popes call Christian married couples to become the 'Sweet and Smiling Face of the Church' in this age. This is an age which is desperately in need of all kinds of saints. I suggest we particularly need examples of married, canonized Saints. That is precisely because this is an age where faithful marriage is now counter-cultural. We need examples of men and women who not only embraced it in Christ, but lived it as a but a path to heroic virtue.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The clear teaching of the Bible, the Christian tradition and the re-emphasis of the last Council in the Catholic Church, the Second Vatican Council, make clear - we are ALL called to holiness in life. That  is what the Catholic Church regularly refers to as ... continue reading


Deacon Keith Fournier: The Courage of the Catholic Bishops, Religious Liberty, Hobby Lobby and ENDA Watch

Image of Deacon Keith Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate. Deacon Fournier is a graduate of the Franciscan University of Steubenville (Theology and Philosophy, BA), the John Paul II Institute of the Lateran University (Theology of Marriage and Family, MTS), and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law (JD). He has completed requirements for the PhD in Moral Theology at the Catholic University of America and is writing the PhD dissertation on the teaching of St. John Paul II.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Catholic Bishops are doing an excellent job standing up for Religious liberty as a fundamental human right. One of my growing concerns is that many Catholics do not even read what they are saying. Sadly, in a propagandized media where sound bites substitute ... continue reading


Obama demands that illegals be allowed to enter U.S. Watch

Image of Tens of thousands of illegal, unaccompanied minors have flooded into the United States since 2014 began, often escaping violence in war torn Central American countries.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Barack Obama's administration is considering whether or not it will allow hundreds of minors and young adults from Honduras and other war-torn Central American states to enter into the United States illegally and without crossing into the country ... continue reading


Are you ready for the next dust bowl? California is! Watch

Image of A new study suggests that the Colorado River Basin is rapidly running out of water, which may be disastrous for the seven states it supplies.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

According to a report published by the American space agency and the University of California, the water crisis that is punishing the southwestern United States is likely to worsen. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The report found that the prime source of water ... continue reading


PLAGUE OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS: Mayflies descend on Wisconsin Watch

Image of When summer arrives, Mayflies take flight and proceed to mate before immediately going back to the water to lay eggs and die.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It's a plague of Biblical proportions. Ugly mayflies have descended on the state of Wisconsin, covering up exterior services like so much black, metallic dust. Photos coming out of Wisconsin is sure to send viewers itching - so beware of some of the sights in ... continue reading


Catholic Bishops Decry Obama's LGBT executive order as imprudent act of religious discrimination Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The chairmen of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth have been strong in their condemnation of President Obama's legislation on LGBT employees. "Today's ... continue reading


A Tribute to Protestant Bishop Tony Palmer, Friend of Francis and Champion of Christian Unity Watch

Image of The late Bishop Tony Palmer with Pope Francis- He was catapulted into prominence in the broader Christian community when, while meeting with his friend the Pope in January, he was given a recorded message from Francis to deliver to a large group of charismatic, evangelical protestant leaders who gathered in the United States. The video went viral. It moved millions to sincere prayer for the healing of the divisions in the broken Body of Christ and is prompting a renewed commitment to common apostolic action between Christians.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

I never personally met Bishop Tony Palmer. However, I look forward to spending an eternity in the full communion of God's love with him. I appreciated his Christian courage and felt that his efforts were prophetic. He wrote his life - and lived his ministry - ... continue reading


Exclusive: Tribute to Bishop Tony Palmer, A Life Dedicated to Unity Watch

Image of (Pictured: Left to Right - Dirk West, Matteo Callisi, Bishop Tony Palmer, and Deacon Darrell Wentworth) - Faith to Bishop Tony Palmer was a dynamic, lived experience and, as a result, his life built up the whole Body of Christ and tore down the walls some have built to separate us from each other! What a legacy! A true example of living Jesus' prayer in John 17! (Deacon Darrell Wentworth)

By Deacon Darrell Wentworth

Monday, July 21, 2014, was supposed to be like most Mondays - the start of a work week. But Deacon Keith Fournier sent me a text informing me that my friend, Bishop Tony Palmer, had died. Shock went through my body as I processed that news; then disbelief as I ... continue reading


Anarchy in Chicago! Weekend of crime tears city apart Watch

Image of The weekend of July 18 saw the death of five people and the wounding of 47 in Chicago.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There were 47 shooting victims in Chicago this weekend, five of which ended up being fatal, statistics from the Chicago Police Department report. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chicago officials met on July 21 to discuss the city's recent surge in gun ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 3:5, 7-12
5 At Gibeon Yahweh appeared to Solomon in a dream ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 119:57, 72, 76-77, 127-128, 129-130
57 My task, I have said, Yahweh, is to keep your ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:44-52
44 'The kingdom of Heaven is like treasure hidden in ... Read More

Reading 2, Romans 8:28-30
28 We are well aware that God works with those who ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 27th, 2014 Image

St. Pantaleon
July 27: St Pantaleon came from Nicomedia, near the Black Sea, in Asia. ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter