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Someone Has A Boone To Pick With You

By Art van Bodegraven | 10/05/2012 | 7:46 AM

HBO, a couple of years ago, aired a quasi-documentary entitled Gasland, which startlingly presented examples of aquifers gone wrong, with affected citizens able to set their tap water alight with a kitchen match.  The culprit was the practice of "fracking" in natural gas extraction from shale, and the villains behind it all were many, led by Halliburton, no favorite of those of a liberal persuasion.  A scrupulously honest inustry executive of my acquantance privately opined that the Josh Fox effort was a "left-wing hatchet job".

The film was not a balanced portaryal of all elements of the argument, but, admittedly, one with a point of view.  Such material is sometimes called "propaganda".  That does not mean that the point of view is wrong, or that the slant is immoral, only that there is a bias.

This Tuesday past, those of us at CSCMP's Annual Global Conference got to hear T. Boone Pickens hold forth on a range of energy-related issues, fracking among them.  In general, I am interested in energy solutions and alternatives, especially as they might, either for better or for worse, affect the US's global position.  As an Ohioan, where we sit on pieces of both Marcellus and Utica shale, I am passionate about the economic potential of natural gas in replacing the jobs and incomes we have lost with a decline in manufacturing.

In the supply chain space, the idea of fracked natural gas in over-the-road trucking saving perhaps 75% of the imported oil needs current used there is attractive.  Permanent operating cost reductions in fuel costs, with a one-year payback in replacing aging diesel tracotrs with natural gas-using new gear, seems to be compelling.

Mr. Pickens was clear and powerful in extolling the safety of fracking, based on his experience with thousands of wells and his confidence in fracking on his own land, which lies over the huge Oglalla aquifer.  I suspect that my friends with the Environmental Defense Fund were less impressed.

But, here's the point.  We must be looking out for how we will heat, light, power, and transport on this planet one or two hundred years from now.  That is a given.  But, we desperately need to figure out how we are going to get from here to there.  To me, that means using everything we've got, especially from domestic sources, and not over-commiting to the future at the expense of the present.

So, what is the truth about fracking?   What does the science tell us, really?  What is the incidence of problems versus the number of no-incident cases?  What factors appear in problem cases that are absent in those that have had apparent bad environmental consequences?

We, as a nation and as global citizens need to know.  So far, frankly, Boone Pickens is more persuasive than the shrill voices of the true believers in another cause.


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About Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven

Art van Bodegraven (1939 - 2017) was Managing Principal of the van Bodegraven Associates consultancy and Founding Principal of Discovery Executive Services, which develops and delivers supply chain educational programs. He was formerly Chair of the Supply Chain Group AG, Partner at The Progress Group LLC, Development Executive at CSCMP, Practice Leader with S4 Consulting, and a Managing Director in Coopers & Lybrand's consulting practice. Concentrating in supply chain management and logistics for over 20 years in his 50+ year business career, he has led ground-breaking strategic, operational, and educational projects for leading US and global clients. Art was principal co-author of DC Velocity's Basic Training monthly column for a decade, and was the principal co-author, with Ken Ackerman, of Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management, the definitive primer in the field. His popular blog, The Art of Art, has been a staple of DC Velocity's web site since its inception.


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