It’s no secret that America’s oil consumption is soaring with no slowdown seen in the near future. In 2015, for example, Americans consumed 7.08 billion barrels of petroleum products, which breaks down to an average of 19.4 million barrels per day. These staggering numbers mirror ramped up exploration and production by North American oil and gas companies, who spend a whole one quarter more than their counterparts. This appetite for fuel has led such companies to begin trying new methods, like fracking, to obtain more oil and meet the demand of consumers.
Beyond the widely discussed potential dangers of fracking, such as a contamination of groundwater and methane pollution, the influx of crews and their equipment alone can greatly affect the surrounding area. In a story by Mary Green of the Environmental Integrity Project that was run on the Huffington Post(Organic Farmers Don?t Want Drilling on Their Doorstep), farmers in rural Maryland tell of the type of changes that have or will come to their lands once oil and gas companies move in. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Disruption of the Natural Landscape
- Increased Traffic Into Small Towns
- Wastewater Byproducts Take Space and Resources
The presence of oil and gas companies can be seen overtly littering the land across farm lands in particular. From above ground water tanks and bolted storage tanks, to field erected tanks and quick-assemble tanks for rental, companies install a myriad of equipment to go through the fracking process. This results in large metal tanks, pipelines and impediments jetting out of the earth regardless of the surroundings. This type of infrastructure can at the very least destroy the natural beauty of he landscape, and at worst critically disrupt the surrounding ecosystem.
Once gas and oil companies begin working on land in a small rural town, the transportation necessary to feed the manufacturing soon follows. These areas can often become overrun with railcars and lines of trucks carrying explosive natural gas liquids. This constant influx can completely interrupt the normal flow of business and even the entire general sense of community.
Besides the presence of intrusive equipment like tanks for rent, the process of fracking also leaves leftover waste water, which must be handled locally. During fracking, companies pump water or solid particulates called proppants into a drill hole, which then opens or fractures a layer of earth, from which oil can then be extracted. That liquid has to live somewhere in order to be drawn from for drilling. This is where something like a waste water holding tank or general tanks for rent come into play. These massive pieces, which are often just referred to as frac tanks, can hold and dispense about 20,000 gallons of water and can also store the resulting wastewater. For perspective, around 70% of the water in the Marcellus Shale gas country in PA is recycled, but the other 30% needs to be disposed of. In the interim of the process and disposal, temporary water tanks are necessary. But these tanks also come at a cost for the surrounding area. Their sheer size alone not only has the potential to take up valuable farm land, for example, but they also require additional local transport, accompanying chemical runoff, and disruption of wildlife habitats.
Infrastructure like piping and storage tanks associated with fracking can result in serious consequences for surrounding areas. From the destruction of local landscapes to he influx of associated traffic into small towns, the process can greatly impact those in close proximity.