Williamsport, Pa. — A constant, mild hiss.
That was my chief observation when I returned to Anadarko Petroleum’s Landon Pad A, a natural-gas site in Lycoming County, Pa. October’s quietude was totally unlike the cyclone of equipment, personnel, and activity that dominated this spot last June, when Anadarko and the American Petroleum Institute hosted journalists and policy analysts here.
Back then, engineers used a pressurized blend of 90 percent water, 9.5 percent sand, and 0.5 percent chemicals to shake subterranean shale deposits and awaken natural gas that has slumbered since the dinosaurs died. This hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” occurs some 6,000 feet underground. This is 5,000 feet beneath the water table — deep enough to bury three Empire State Buildings.
Anadarko’s Landon Pad A during fracking operations last June. Photo: Deroy Murdock.
This spot now resembles the scene of a once-raging party that has been cleared out and cleaned up. The trucks have driven off. Dozens of workers have moved on. The cranes are gone. What remains are three acres of gravel-covered farmland, five completed wells, and a steady, low-volume whoosh. This is the sound of natural gas being captured; counted by a “cash register” gauge that measures output and, thus, royalties; and conveyed via yellow pipes into the broader natural-gas market. The result? Warm bedrooms on crisp nights and hot showers on cold mornings.
Despite the shrill complaints of fracking foes, this productive but tranquil patch demonstrates how much greener fracking is than other power sources — even “green” ones.
Fracking should soothe those who fret about CO2.
Since 2002, carbon dioxide output has grown 32 percent globally, Manhattan Institute senior fellow Robert Bryce wrote for Bloomberg View in September. “In the U.S., meanwhile, carbon dioxide emissions were 8 percent lower in 2012 than they were in 2002, largely due to a surge in shale gas production, which has reduced coal use.” Indeed, fracking has helped America keep its unratified Kyoto Protocol commitments while other countries decry so-called global warming and yet continue boosting CO2.
New York City, home of über-frackophobe Yoko Ono, is benefiting enormously from fracking.