• Jessica Colarossi

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    Jessica Colarossi

    Jessica Colarossi is a science writer for The Brink. She graduated with a BS in journalism from Emerson College in 2016, with focuses on environmental studies and publishing. While a student, she interned at ThinkProgress in Washington, D.C., where she wrote over 30 stories, most of them relating to climate change, coral reefs, and women’s health. Profile

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There is 1 comment on What Is Biden’s Stance on Fracking?

  1. Permits to drill a well on Federal Land already cost $10,000 per well. Federal leases in places like New Mexico sell for as much as $90,000 an acre at Federal lease sales. The oil industry contributes 12 1/2% royalties on the gross production and sales of oil on Federal leases, and pays a nominal annual rental for the term of the lease. The amount of revenue from oil and gas on Federal lands is around $4 Billion per year, and roughly half of that is contributed to State governments. Also included under Federal jurisdiction is the leasing and royalty collection from Tribal lands, This revenue supports some of the largest Indian Tribes, quite a few of which own and operate their own oil companies. Some of these tribal owned oil companies have even participated in drilling offshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico (also Federal lands that employ fracking technology).

    Hydraulic fracturing now is used in over 69% of all wells drilled, and accounts for more than 80% of the total footage of wells drilled. It has been used since the 1950’s, replacing nitro-glycerine as a fracturing tool, and is used in both vertical and horizontal wells. Hydraulic fracturing takes place thousands of feet below any fresh water aquifers, within reservoir rock that still contains salt water from the ancient ocean where the rock was deposited. There is no methane leaking from a hydraulically fractured well that could not be leaking from any other type of well, including fresh water wells which often intersect methane bearing coal beds. In testing I have done in Colorado, 90% of fresh water wells in areas where there has been no drilling or fracking already contained methane, as they were drilling through shallow thin layers of coal, and by allowing air into these zones, were being populated by methanogenic bacteria that generate methane. Most surface soil contains up to 10% methane if it has enough organic matter. In some places offshore California, natural methane seeps make miles-square areas boil from the bubbling methane coming up from gas reservoirs leaking below the seafloor. Without drilling and fracing on Federal lands, these natural seeps will actually get larger.

    What Biden may propose, and we have yet to hear anything concrete, will most certainly cause economic harm to minority and low income populations of the US, by reducing tax revenue available for local services, by reducing income from jobs related to oil and gas, and by reducing income to Tribal organizations that depend on fracking to generate major parts of the Tribal revenue. And yet, reduction of pollution will unlikely be a benefit of this action. Natural leakage of methane will actually increase in areas where drilling does not remove methane from pressured reservoirs, contributions of carbon dioxide from oil and gas will simply be replaced by using oil and gas from imports, and local economies that depend on the wages spent by highly paid oil field workers will be decimated.

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