There is always news about the natural gas industry and the progress, surrounding the development of the Marcellus gas play in the area. I have written about it in the past, but am drawn to the topic because of how much it may mean to our region and the nation, and there are always so many new things to learn about it.
Did you know that there are nearly 300,000 miles of gas pipelines crisscrossing the country? Few people think about just what it takes to light that fire when they turn on their stoves or furnaces. The gas you use may have been piped in from Texas.
I think about this whenever I see people protesting drilling. They seem oblivious to gas being pumped at a thousand pounds per square inch virtually everywhere in the country and instead worry about gas that is a mile beneath our feet encased in rock formations.
As you're driving to work, look at all the houses that you pass, and consider that every one of them has an underground pipe delivering gas. It sure seems to me that there are a lot of ways for a calamity to strike other than gas leaking up from where it's resided for a few hundred million years a mile beneath us.
I've often thought that if we didn't already have gas stoves in our houses, we could never get them approved with all the bureaucratic worry warts looking after us. I can hear them now. ''Let's see Mr. Moadus, your application says that you want to run a gas pipe right into your house, and attach it to a device that anyone can just turn a knob and it will light a fire? And you won't have a lock on the knob? Mr. Moadus, do realize that a child could operate this dangerous device?''
If you drive on I-76 heading toward Akron, just after you pass over Meander Reservoir, you might notice a large pipe crossing the highway. It is at least a yard in diameter. It emerges from a bank of land on the north side of the highway and reenters the earth on the south side.
It's a gas collection pipe. The gas in it could be pressurized to a thousand pounds per square inch. It's one of the few places that you could actually see the pipes, and if the perpetually worried need anything more to fret about, it is only as high as an overpass. We could be only one raised dump truck bed away from a disaster.
I really have to chuckle when I listen to the anti-fracking crowd talk about the wastewater from fracking. One would think it's a mixture of radioactive plutonium and black plague spores mixed in heavy water. They never refer to this water without the word "toxic" attached to it.
Google ''fracking water'' and once you get past all the doomsday sites you can find a table of the chemicals used. Most of them are used in common household items. Some 98 to 99.5 percent of fracking fluid is water; the bulk of the remaining one half to two percent is sand with minute amounts of chemicals which are used as a lubricant and corrosion protector.
Are some of these chemicals toxic? Sure, but so are many of the products we use daily. Chlorine for instance. It's a highly toxic substance; one whiff and you could assume room temperature. I don't want to be responsible for the anti fracking people chaining themselves together outside your water treatment plant, but I have to tell you that as we speak somewhere in this Valley, hidden away from prying eyes, workers are mixing this toxic chemical into your drinking water.
This also brings to mind a few thoughts on the recent dumping of fracking wastewater into the Mahoning. I hope the people who did it get a severe enough punishment to discourage the practice, but I must say, I really didn't understand all the boats and booms in the river trying to corral water that was probably long past East Liverpool. Maybe someone would be kind enough to give me a call and explain the process.
Moadus is a Girard resident. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.