Just Down the Road From Me

Another fire and explosion at a gas site:

nvestigators from FTS International are still working to confirm what caused a fire that destroyed five tractor-trailers at a well site in Brooke County, but officials at the Franklin Community Volunteer Fire Department say it may have been caused by a broken hydraulic line.

“In our initial interview, and investigation with FTS International, we found that witnesses on the scene thought they saw a hydraulic line fracture from one of their pumps, which in return hit a hot exhaust causing sparks and the piece of equipment to combust with the hydraulic tool,” said Franklin Community Volunteer Fire Department Chief Larry Palmer.

That’s about 3-4 miles away as the crow flies. You can’t drive a half mile in any direction without running into another area of the woods that has been clearcut for either pipeline or well site access. In just a few years the gas companies have basically turned the landscape into something out of Mordor.

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67 replies
  1. 1
    RaflW says:

    Wow, how about posting something once in a while, JC.

  2. 2
    Redshirt says:

    Orcs need a place to live too.

  3. 3
    Hill Dweller says:

    FREEDOM!

  4. 4
    muddy says:

    Move to the socialist paradise of Vermont. They don’t allow that sort of thing here.

  5. 5
    YellowJournalism says:

    Is it affecting the air quality? Maybe best to keep the furry babies inside for a bit.

  6. 6
    Violet says:

    You can’t drive a half mile in any direction without running into another area of the woods that has been clearcut for either pipeline or well site access. In just a few years the gas companies have basically turned the landscape into something out of Mordor.

    That’s the way it’s always looked where I grew up. What the oil companies want, the oil companies take. A few years ago when I was more regularly bicycling out in the country, I’d show up one week and discover the oil companies had moved in to someone’s property, cut a road, brought in drilling equipment and set up shop. Too bad for the house sitting next to the equipment. And the people living in the house.

  7. 7
    taylormattd says:

    You needs some ents apparently.

  8. 8
  9. 9
    pokeyblow says:

    I’ll forget your tea bag, if you forgive my tote bag!

    Not really

  10. 10
    cleek says:

    here’s NC fracking map. guess who’s house is right in the middle of that yellow streak?

    hint: it’s not the governor’s house!

  11. 11
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    Ted Sandyman should have gone into the clean coal business.

  12. 12
    Mnemosyne says:

    Here’s a photo of Huntington Beach, California, in the early 20th century. Here’s a view from a similar vantage point today.

    The only way to change it is for people to get pissed off and force the change.

  13. 13
    Hoodie says:

    Our newly republican legislature wants to bring that mess here to NC, for a pretty marginal play in comparison to the Marcellus or Barnett shales in an area in which groundwater pollution may be even more likely. You’ll know we’ve passed through the looking glass when the leg offers tax and other incentives to get companies to come drill here because gas is too cheap.

  14. 14
    👽 Martin says:

    Yes, but Mordor didn’t have the profit margins.

    @Trollhattan: My brother in law lives in Taft and is a pipeline engineer. Probably worked on that disaster there.

    Fun fact: the land there has subsided roughly 20 feet as the oil was removed and the ground settled to fill the voids.

  15. 15
    Eric U. says:

    @Hoodie: the gas companies have been so successful that they have driven the price of gas too low and now it’s not economic. So you might be spared for a while

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Fun fact: the land there has subsided roughly 20 feet as the oil was removed and the ground settled to fill the voids.

    People talk about how we need to “save the planet” but, frankly, the planet has no problem with killing us all off and promoting some other form of life to top dog. We need to stop doing stupid things to save ourselves from the adaptations the planet comes up with to counter them.

  17. 17
    👽 Martin says:

    @Mnemosyne: Well, the upshot is that Taft is a truly shitty place to live, so if we leave it inhabitable by humans, not much of a loss. HB, however, is a different story.

  18. 18

    Xzerbarkian School: 6.5 billion years in the future.

    Teacher: Can anyone tell me what killed the dinosaurs?
    Billy: A meteor and climate change?
    Teacher: That’s right. Now can anyone tell me what killed the humans?
    Billy: Stupidity and greed.

    And then the sun goes red giant, absorbs the Earth, kills all of the Xzerbarkians, and the universe continues on its slow slide to heat death, completely unaware of it.

    And so it goes…

  19. 19
    greenergood says:

    Yep, they want to do that over here in Margaret Thatcher Land as well, with Thatcher-era politicians (google Nigel Lawson, father of the ‘hawt’ English cooking temptress Nigella Lawson) waxing lyrical about energy independence now that the North Sea oil is supposedly running out (which is it, but not as fast as they say it is). So let’s just destroy beautiful countryside instead – we deserve to look like Mordor too, ’cause we won’t stop wanting the fuels ’cause we can’t be arsed to learn about energy efficiency in all its myriad forms – jeesh …

  20. 20
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    In just a few years the gas companies have basically turned the landscape into something out of Mordor.

    After King Coal did a fairly decent job laying the groundwork. How is this anything new?

    If Mordor did operate along Galtian principles, those pussies in The West never would have had a chance. Clearly Sauron never read the glibertarian “classics”, otherwise, it’s DARKNESS EVERYWHERE BITCHES!!!!!!!

  21. 21
    Redshirt says:

    @Mnemosyne: DRILL EVERYWHERE!

  22. 22
    Redshirt says:

    I thought Sauron was a first class businessman? For example, look how he outsourced not only Orc production to Sauraman, but also arming and training those Orcs. Great for the bottom line, great for the armies of terror.

  23. 23
    Hoodie says:

    @Eric U.: Yeah, but that won’t save us from the stupidity and greed of Republicans. The price will be so low, they’ll want to subsidize drilling and/or reduce regs, they’ll get the most fly by night operators to do it and they’ll leave a mess. Thus, we get shittily executed exploration and get to pay for it too.

  24. 24
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Redshirt:

    Yeah but distance and communications limitations meant empowering Sauruman just a little bit too much. That’s the problem with being the Big Cheese: some punk is always trying to cut himself a slice.

  25. 25
    PeakVT says:

    Cole isn’t exaggerating that much. Every one of the white rectangles is a new drilling site.

  26. 26
    Redshirt says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: Sauruman would’ve done fine if it weren’t for those pesky Tree Huggers.

  27. 27
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Teacher: That’s right. Now can anyone tell me what killed the humans?

    They won’t even know we were here.

    Give me 100 million years (much less a billion-plus) and I’ll erase all trace of homo sapiens except for some odd geochemical trace element and isotopic signatures buried in various sedimentary basins which will have no obvious connection with the handful of fossilized human specimens preserved from the same very narrow time horizon.

    There will be a mass extinction event in the fossil record marked by the disappearance of other species (besides us) with no obvious cause, the oil and gas will be missing from formations one might have expected to find them in, but otherwise to all intents and purposes it will look as if the the rate of erosion and sedimentation accelerated for a very brief period associated with some minor fluctuations in the climate and that’s it.

    We are so puny in the face of geologic time that we couldn’t leave a lasting mark on the Earth even if we wanted to.

  28. 28

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage:

    He started well. He gussied himself up, played the crowd, gave out magic rings to everyone. But instead of building the One Ring to dominate the others, he probably should have filed a patent on magic rings, started MagiRing LLC, and had the governments of Gondor, Lothlorien, and Rivendale collect his licensing fees anytime someone used them, then slowly bought out other industries throughout the lands until he was the largest single employer and generated the most jobs and economic activity to the three kingdoms.

    When the Elves and Humans start complaining about the abysmal working conditions and low pay in his MagiRing factories, he could file a request for a visa for skilled orc workers to replace them.

    Sure, Gandalf would probably complain about the despoiling of the land and the evil taking over the world, but that’s what his media outlets the Eye (TV) and the Mouth (Radio) are for.

    Would it be irresponsible to speculate that Gandalf is a pot smoking, hippie with long hair who has a fetish for young Hobbit males? It would irresponsible not to.

  29. 29
    Petorado says:

    You’d have to see what a frac operation looks like to believe it. It’s not what most people envision it to be.

    Checking out any of the roughneck websites will open up a world of drilling disaster vids for those that want to disabuse themselves of the idea about how safe drilling is.

  30. 30
    Redshirt says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: A cool thought, but surely, we’d leave many traces. Radioactive sites, for example. If our cities aren’t swallowed by land and then by the sea, ruins would be found occasionally. Gold bars could be dug up. Diamond rings in middens. Etc.

    Future archeologists will know about us, I think.

  31. 31
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Would it be irresponsible to speculate that Gandalf is a pot smoking, hippie with long hair who has a fetish for young Hobbit males? It would irresponsible not to.

    Sauron has been quoted elsewhere saying that nothing beats a wizard for middle management…if you can keep them from smoking too much. Then all they do is sit around campfires and giggle.

  32. 32
    Trollhattan says:

    @👽 Martin:

    My dentist is from Taft and for some reason, prefers to spend his weekends at his Tahoe place rather than visit the old homestead. Go figure.

    My daughter saw the Oil Patch for the first time a couple weeks ago, when we were on vacation. I’m helping cement her DFH cred, one trip at a time.

  33. 33
    Petorado says:

    @PeakVT:

    When the area is fully developed, it will look like the Jonah Field in WY.

  34. 34
    Trollhattan says:

    @Petorado:

    Clearly, the answer is to make filming it illegal, like several states are doing for their cattle, pig and poultry farmersindustries.

    Gunz may be free, but video is Right Out!

  35. 35

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Oh, I assume we’ll leave something behind, even if it’s just an odd trinket here and there or a fossil or two.

    Plus, I’ve heard V’ger left the solar system several times already, so he’s due to hit a wormhole, crash on a world of sentient machines and go about f*cking things up in the galaxy for a while. That seems like a fitting legacy for us.

    Serious question: Assuming a meteor doesn’t wipe out the site in the ensuing 6 billion years, would the remnants of the moon landing survive?

  36. 36
    Trollhattan says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Have never read about the longterm life of our lunar debris. Will speculate that over time (millennia) the equipment and tracks, footprints, etc. will be covered by dust resulting from various meteor strikes.

    Back on earth, I’d presume our terraforming efforts will be visible. Even after dams fail, their remnants will be there a loooong time. Radionuclides, also, too.

  37. 37
    Redshirt says:

    @Comrade Dread: Coolest thing: The gold record attached to the Voyager probes is pretty much guaranteed to be the longest lasting human artifact (to date). Theoretically it could last for billions of years in near perfect condition.

  38. 38
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Redshirt:

    but surely, we’d leave many traces

    Aside from a mass extinction event in the fossil record and chemical signatures buried in sediments, no, nothing we build or manufacture will survive that length of time. People really have trouble visualizing how ephemeral the world as we know it now is on long time scales. 100 million years is enough time to wear the Himalayas down to stubs like the Appalachian mountains today. A little more than that is what we’ll need to send the Hawaiian islands down into an oceanic trench. That’s enough time for the Yellowstone hotspot to cross the entire upper Midwestern US and head into Canada, covering everything in its path with a pile of volcanic ashfall and outflow debris a mile or more thick, assuming that in the meantime the North American plate doesn’t rift and start taking bits of the continent in different directions. Come back in that much time and the very continent we live on and whose form we take for granted may be split in two with a new ocean forming down the middle.

  39. 39
    PeakVT says:

    @Comrade Dread: The sunlight/deep freeze cycle, sputtering from the solar wind, and impacts from micrometeorites will degrade the equipment until enough dust covers it to protect it from more damage. How much would be left would require some computer modeling to determine.

  40. 40
    Robert Sneddon says:

    @Trollhattan: Thermal cycling (too bloody hot to 200 below zero every four weeks) and solar and cosmic radiation will do for most of the bits and pieces left on the Lunar surface in a few thousand years but detectable remnants will still be there when the Sun goes red giant on is ain a couple of billion years time, assuming we don’t send a garbage team around the landing sites to clean up after.

    The major detectable footprint left by radioactives on Earth will be fission products from nuclear explosions and reactor operation, different in quantity and type from regular “natural” radioactive decay. The absence or scarcity of some isotopes could well be noted, stuff that was refined out of uranium and thorium ore bodies to make nuclear fuel and then disposed of back into the mine sites as tailings.

  41. 41
    ruemara says:

    Well, that kinda was the point of Mordor and Orthanc. We are all orc slaves now.

  42. 42
    Robert Sneddon says:

    You can thank the Lord, John, that you don’t live in a state afflicted by coal, just frackers. Here’s what Germany looks like.

    They plan to phase out burning lignite and coal for power generation by 2050, more than 35 years from now. Unless they don’t since they’ve got proven reserves of combustible dirt that would last them another couple of hundred years at current rates of consumption.

  43. 43

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Curse you, SCIENCE! First you make me feel guilty about driving a Hummer, now you kill my jokes.

    This is why no one invites scientists to parties.

  44. 44
    Forum Transmitted Disease says:

    surely, we’d leave many traces. Radioactive sites, for example.

    @Redshirt: Here’s the deal with that; with some compounds it takes hundreds of thousands of years to reach their half-life. With some, it’s hundreds of millions at the least. But what they don’t tell you in Nuke Protesting 101 is that it doesn’t take long at all, in the grand scheme of things, for our nuclear fuel and objects to go back to being as radioactive as the stuff we mined it from. Most of which is pretty damned radioactive in the first place.

    There’s other stuff we’ll leave behind that will survive the march of time – mostly ceramics and some plastics – but after a hundred million years of plate tectonics all that shit will be at the bottom of an ocean and ground into dust-sized pieces.

    We’re nothing in the grand scheme of things.

    The major detectable footprint left by radioactives on Earth will be fission products from nuclear explosions and reactor operation, different in quantity and type from regular “natural” radioactive decay. The absence or scarcity of some isotopes could well be noted, stuff that was refined out of uranium and thorium ore bodies to make nuclear fuel and then disposed of back into the mine sites as tailings.

    @Robert Sneddon: This will be the only nuclear trace we’ll leave.

  45. 45
    Nerd says:

    Southeast New Mexico -each white dot is an oil or gas well
    http://maps.google.com/?ll=32......&z=11

  46. 46
    Redshirt says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Oh, I grasp the concept of geological time. I just quibble that there would be no trace of us left. Cut diamonds are a good example – if not completely recycled into the mantle, they’ll last near forever. If conditions were lucky, they may still be found. For example, there are some parts of South Africa today that has land from 3.5 billion years ago. So it is possible.

    But you’re mostly correct – in 300 million years all the Continents will be in vastly different places, with different oceans, landmasses, mountains, etc. And another 300 million years after that it’s all different again.

  47. 47
    Ted & Hellen says:

    Just more evidence as if we needed any, that the Democratic Party is useless.

  48. 48
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Redshirt:

    If conditions were lucky, they may still be found.

    Well anything that is still around to be found will be because it was deposited into a sedimentary basin, which means that outward form (e.g. the “cut” part of cut diamond) will have to survive the process of being transported there, which not only includes being rolled and tumbled in a stream down to the sea, but then raked around in the sand on whatever beach happens to be nearby, before being buried. Basically if you want a human artifact to survive geologic spans of time, go to New Orleans, rent a boat, and somewhere far enough offshore to be below the effects of wave action (commensurate with the most powerful hurricane to visit the area in say the next 10,000 years) and then dump your diamonds and porcelain china over the side and into the mud and hope for the best. That’s your best bet.

  49. 49
    PeakVT says:

    @Robert Sneddon: Um, Cole lives in West Virginia.

    @Forum Transmitted Disease: I’m probably quibbling with a rhetorical flourish, but it’s not true that most of our stuff will end up in an oceanic trench. Continental material is too buoyant to get pulled down, and most of our debris will stay buried somewhere on land.

  50. 50
    Redshirt says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I’ll do it! I bet in a billion years I’ll find it. What do I get if I win? :)

  51. 51
    Maude says:

    @Redshirt:
    #37
    Send more Chuck Berry.
    Voyager2 is adjusting her high gain antenna right now.

  52. 52
    Dr. Squid says:

    In just a few years the gas companies have basically turned the landscape into something out of Mordor.

    One does not simply walk into Ohio County.

  53. 53
    Redshirt says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Now that I think about this more, I don’t see how you can be completely right. We’ve found fossils from the 3.5 billion years ago period. We have rocks from that period as well. There are formations in Australia that date to that time.

    Certainly, 98% of human existence will be erased, but I don’t see how all of it could be. Not all land surfaces are sent into ocean trenches, nor is the surface so scoured to wipe our ALL traces which exist upon it.

  54. 54
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Redshirt:

    What do I get if I win?

    Worlds Greatest Scavenger Hunt Expert Evah.

    Also, don’t bother with the diamonds. After posting I remembered that they wouldn’t survive the reheating of even a modest amount of burial, not being mineralogically stable at those P/T conditions. The china might last a bit longer, I’d have to check on that. Gold bars would probably be a better bet but if they go too deep and encounter the wrong sort of fluids even that wouldn’t work.

  55. 55
    Redshirt says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: I should have mentioned Zirconium rings instead.

  56. 56
    Mino says:

    @Trollhattan: Federal Court put a halt for now to the industry’s plans to frack California into the Pacific O and get rid of a whole lot of hippy/Dems with one blow.

  57. 57
    Mr. Longform says:

    @Redshirt:

    by then the ship from planet Zircon will have returned for all the Zirconiums, so they’ll be gone

  58. 58
    cleek says:

    if (fossilized) dino shit can last hundreds of millions of years – so far – we’ll certainly leave lots of traces at least that long.

    it just needs to be durable enough to survive incorporation into sedimentary rock, which should be no problem for many plastics, cut stones, big chunks of metal, etc..

  59. 59
  60. 60
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    I bet volunteer firefighters really appreciate being depended upon for controlling industrial accidents.

  61. 61
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Redshirt:

    We’ve found fossils from the 3.5 billion years ago period. We have rocks from that period as well. There are formations in Australia that date to that time.

    The fossils in question are geochemical oddities found in metamorphosed sediments, which are most plausibly interpreted as evidence of biological activity by analogy with our knowlege of present day microrganisms and their chemical signatures. The rocks in question have undergone significant deformation and would contain no trace of the external form of any artificial objects dropped into them. Yes, in various parts of the world there are some very old rocks, but all of them have been buried and then exhumed (i.e. have come back up to the surface) at some point in their long history, and that process destroys the sort of evidence of external form we are talking about wanting to preserve. The further back in time you go, the more that is the case.

    If you want to leave behind a human signature for anything beyond archeological spans of time, somewhere out in space is really the only place to do it, the surface of the Earth is just too physically mobile and too chemically reactive a place to do it. Which is a very good thing, because we wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case.

  62. 62
    daverave says:

    @Trollhattan:

    You really need to zoom out on that image a few levels for the true impact.

  63. 63
    lefthanded compliment says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ:
    We’re way past due for our own “cleansing of the Shire.”

  64. 64
    Gravenstone says:

    @Robert Sneddon:

    You can thank the Lord, John, that you don’t live in a state afflicted by coal

    Dude, he lives in West-by-God-Virginia, where coal is fucking KING! Seriously, I crossed through WV a few years back and was greeted at the border by fucking billboards touting coal as “Carbon Neutral”. I damn near wrecked my vehicle, I shuddered so violently from the assault on my common sense.

  65. 65
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @lefthanded compliment:

    We’re way past due for our own “cleansing of the Shire.”

    Kinda hard to pull off in a nation of Boromirs. Maybe we’ll get around to it after the next meeting of the National Ring Association, in which presumably some policy changes will be discussed. Maybe.

  66. 66
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @muddy: I sorta kinda get the impression that Vermont is halfway civilized compared to much of the rest of the country. Can you please refer me to a good source to learn about employment prospects there?

  67. 67

    FTS International, huh?

    What does FTS stand for? One obvious phrase comes to mind…

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