While fracking has reversed the growth of imported oil and natural gas, created many American jobs, and dramatically cut natural gas prices, it has also raised a huge debate in Kansas. Fracking isn’t new or unusual – which is why many in the industry in Kansas are disgruntled by the fact that there is a controversy. To them, there is only a debate because gas drilling is growing rapidly in other states.
Environmentalists are saying the new wells in Kansas require thousands of gallons of hazardous chemicals and will contaminate groundwater near drilling areas. No matter the prior record of the gas company, accidents are inevitable. In some areas of western Pennsylvania, some of the producers have been sloppy, cutting corners.
Joe Spease, chairman of the Kansas Sierra Club’s hydraulic fracturing committee, said the record of drillers in Pennsylvania makes him worry about Kansas. “We have to take a hard look at this,” he said. “If these chemicals get into the groundwater, it’s ruined forever. This is a major threat to the water supply.”
Kansas doesn’t have shale oil, but has Mississippian limestone and uses techniques perfected in the last few years. It has become a significant proportion of all natural gas production – which is why gas companies are not backing down.
Tom Ward, CEO of Oklahoma City’s SandRidge Energy, the biggest player in the new Kansas oil boom, says there are many more jobs coming to the area because of the drilling. “We believe there will be 100,000 jobs added to the Kansas economy over the next four years,” he said.
While there is ongoing controversy, it looks like the debate will continue until concrete evidence is provided against the gas companies. Drilling will continue to commence in Kansas and continue to be the talk of local residents across the state.