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 November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

What is 'vape?' The Oxford Dictionary proclaims it the new word for 2014 Watch

Image of Even while media outlets, health organizations and scientific studies continue to debate the benefits and pitfalls of e-cigarettes,

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What does the word "vape" mean? Before anyone jumps to negative conclusions and think that it means something untoward - rest assured: vape is both a noun and verb, according to the Oxford Dictionary. They've gone as far as to proclaim vape as their new word of ... continue reading


Meet the doll that's flipping the world upside down! Watch

Image of Lammily, is a new doll that is proportioned just like the average American 19-year old woman.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A simple art project by a graphic designer has become the most coveted toy for the 2014 Christmas season following its November 19 release. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Nickolay Lamm made a doll he named Lammily, who is what Barbie would look like if she was ... continue reading


The Bloody Battle of Tarawa in 20 extraordinary photos Watch

Image of U.S. Marines advance while under fire from Japanese defensive positions.

By Robert Mullen (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Battle of Tarawa was one of the bloodiest and costliest battles to the U.S. in WWII in terms of men lost per time spent in combat. During the 76 hour battle from November 20-23, 1943, on that small Pacific Island, about 1,700 U.S. personnel were killed, and ... continue reading


What's the biggest danger to America? It's not nukes and it isn't terrorism Watch

Image of China is well known to have an extensive cyberwarfare program, and often utilizes civilian hackers as well as its own military personnel.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The head of the National Security Agency revealed to a Congressional panel that China and "probably one or two other" countries have the ability to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructures through cyberwarfare. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Massive collection of Catholic artifacts leave Italy for the first time in 700 years: Their destination? The Big Apple! Watch

Image of For the first time in 700 years, artifacts of St. Francis of Assisi will be removed from Italy. They will be put on display in New York during November, December and January.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An exhibit of medieval manuscripts and papal documents that have close ties with St. Francis of Assisi will be held at the United Nations in New York from November 17 to the 28. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The exhibition is titled "Friar Francis: Traces, ... continue reading


Obama gives amnesty while bracing for next 'surge' of illegals in 2015 Watch

Image of Children in holding facilities during 2014, a year where the surge of illegal children occurred.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

While President Obama has revealed his plans to shield about five million illegal immigrants from deportation, he has federal agencies getting ready for another mass surge of illegal immigrants during the spring of 2015. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As ... continue reading


Obama declares all out war on Republicans over immigration reform Watch

Image of President Obama is expected to give a speech on November 20, outlining his plans to execute immigration reform via executive action.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Even after warnings from sitting and incoming House and Senate Republicans that unilateral action on immigration reform from President Barack Obama would not be tolerated, the president has gone ahead and outlined a plan to relax the rules and regulations of U.S. ... continue reading


The Marriage Meme of Francis: What Did the Pope Just Say about Marriage and Family? Watch

Image of Pope Francis presiding at a marriage Liturgy at St Peters.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Pope Francis embraces the unchangeable truth about marriage as solely between one man and one woman, intended for life, open to life and formative of family as the sole Meme - using the word properly.  That is why you will not read much about the crystal ... continue reading


Another black eye for Democrats: Obamacare architect makes off with $6 million in taxpayer money Watch

Image of New videos released in November show that the architect behind the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, holds nothing but contempt for the American people.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The architect of the fiasco that has been the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Jonathan Gruber, was paid about $6 million in taxpayer money between 2009 and 2014. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - This is about 24 times what an average, full-time American worker would ... continue reading


See the list of MOST FREE countries in the world, the results will surprise you! Watch

Image of Land of the Free no more, Americans report a significant decline in personal freedom under the Obama administration.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

America is supposed to be the land of the free, so Americans themselves might be surprised to see that the United States actually ranks fairly low on the index of personal freedom when compared to other nations. Instead of occupying the number 1 spot, the USA has ... 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, Revelation 11:4-12
4 These are the two olive trees and the two lamps in ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 144:1, 2, 9-10
1 [Of David] Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 20:27-40
27 Some Sadducees -- those who argue that there is no ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Cecilia
November 22: In the fourth century appeared a Greek religious romance on the ... 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