Fracking in Nevada.
It’s finally here. I’ve been curious as to when those blinking and stinking spires would begin to pop up in my backyard. It took some time and now the first test wells, pending a few more minor hoops to jump, will be drilled in the near future close to the sleepy dwellings of Deeth, Wells, and Beverly Hills (I know what you’re thinking, and if it were Beverly Hills, California I’d sign the petition to drill through all of those stolen water swimming pools and hidden coke dungeons, and fill them with La Brea tar). They already have fracking in California, beating Nevada to the punch with Jerry Brown’s pro-fracking agenda that is meeting some tumultuous opposition, as is the California way.
Today the Texas energy company Noble grinned and nodded with presumingly sweaty and twitching hands as they approved “some of the most stringent rules in the United States” that were passed to them by the Nevada Division of Minerals. When a resource extraction company doesn’t bat an eye as to proposed regulations, you have to get nervous.
This will be the first round of hydraulic fracking in my beloved home state, which has an economy backboned by a mining industry dating back to Nevada’s days as part of the Utah Territory. Gambling may have been the cash cow for the past 70 years, but with the growth of tribal gambling in California the revenues have been stagnant at best. The most recent mining boom has made towns like Elko brim like an overfilled balloon with miners, equipment, and the promise of short-term prosperity. Boom and Bust cycles are the norm for our state, and it’s accepted like a puppy left in a basket on the doorstep. And with our usually nation leading unemployment, this fracking business is sure to take off if they successfully find some Clampett in the Big Empty.
Let me clear this up: I am not anti-mining. I realize where the tools of my everyday existence come from and it’s a necessary part of our world. I am against mining and resource extraction in environmentally sensitive areas, such as the Pebble Mine, and fracking away the precious and ephemeral water of my devastatingly dry home state.
If you haven’t noticed the West is in the throws of a record drought, and using a water heavy extraction technique that also has the tendency to poison millions of gallons of water in the driest state in the union sets off alarm bells. The old adage that whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting never struck such a chord as I imagine the fracking boom turning towns like Wells and Elko into full blown frontier towns, complete with redneck smokestack trucks “ROLLIN’ COAL, BRO!” and perpetuating the problem that got us here in the first place.
Did I mention that they are drilling these test wells near the head of the Humboldt River? It’s the longest river inside Nevada and supplies water to ranches, towns, and water tables for 300+ miles downstream of the drilling site. There is already much quarreling and finger pointing happening in this watershed without the added pressure of fracking (no pun intended), as all the water is allocated and has been for quite some time. There already isn’t enough to go around, so we might as well poison it and use it in the least responsible way we can aside from sending it all to Las Vegas for golf courses, fountains, and swimming pools.
I can only imagine the speculative fiction of farmers near Winnemucca and Golconda complaining of a further lack of water, and the water that they do get is tainted with hundreds of chemicals known to be caustic to livestock, crops, and humans alike. To add insult to injury the water they try to pump from their aquifer is mostly recharged by the now poisoned and/or dry Humboldt River. It’s not going to be pretty when they have to sell the farm to fracking interests (for further
exploitation exploration of course). Then they’ll have to get a job at a Walmart near the new fracking field, selling Chinese made crap emblazoned with redneck Americana slogans to those responsible for the demise of their way of life. A speculative fiction for now, but it could be all too real.
Let me state the obvious: Our current way of life is unsustainable, wasteful, short-sided, economically crippling to us in the majority, ecologically damning to all of us regardless of stature or lack there of, and will only lead us down the path of the Romans. Only the Romans didn’t have such a massive hand in destroying the Earth we live upon in such a vicious and efficient manner.
I hope that they find 100% of fuck-all 14,000 feet below the sagebrush and high-tail it out of here.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed and our eyes sharp. This could get ugly.