Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Fracking vs. Ice Cream

Energy
Fracking vs. Ice Cream

Ecocentric

by Kristen Demaline

Whether or not hydraulic fracturing is allowed in New York State, the amount of shale plays from Utah to Texas to Pennsylvania has been plenty profitable for Halliburton, Baker Hughes and the many other companies chasing this boom. But earlier this year, Halliburton had some bad news for investors:  profits were expected to drop more than originally forecasted. The culprit? The growing demand on a little green guar bean that grows best in India. When ground and mixed with water, it produces guar gum, a gel-like and critical ingredient in fracking fluid, as well as ice cream.

India produces 80 percent of the world’s guar gum. The beans are largely grown in Rajasthan, one of the driest, poorest regions in the nation. With the advent of fracking in the U.S., demand went up for the gel by 665 percent.

While that pint of Chunky Monkey only needs a pinch, just one drill job uses 20,000 pounds of the beans. In fact, there has been so much demand for guar gum that a shortage is expected in the second half of the year, driving up prices for oil and gas companies who need to buy the gel for use in fracking operations. As matters stand, guar powder used to make the gum has gone from $1 to $2 per pound to $12 per pound, and the price of guar accounts for nearly 30 percent of overall fracking costs. Check out this handy infographic from Bloomberg Businessweek showing the “wild ride” of guar:

I mentioned earlier that the gum is mainly grown in one of the poorest and most arid regions in India. For farmers, this increased demand for their crop has been life-changing. Reuters shared the perspective of one farmer who said “Guar has changed my life…Now I have a concrete house and a color TV.” And who would begrudge struggling farmers more income? One wonders what will happen after a cheaper, synthetic option is found. In the meantime, just as in American frack boom towns, all of this extra cash is being trumpeted by the oil and gas industry as a terrific benefit.

Guar gum is also celebrated in arguments about the safety of fracking. After all, as one industry professional put it to Time, "The companies can say: ‘We are using stuff they put in ice cream!’” So how unsafe could fracking be, right? It’s a job creating, wealth-building, natural process. However, I advise you not to eat fracking gel, despite it containing a natural ingredient and suggest you meet the Frack Family.

Check out this Reuters video that shows more of the story:

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

 

Project goal: To create an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to leather, in this case using fungi.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Plastic waste is bulldozed at a landfill. Needpix

The plastic recycling model was never economically viable, but oil and gas companies still touted it as a magic solution to waste, selling the American public a lie so the companies could keep pushing new plastic.

Read More Show Less

Trending

54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Maria Symchych-Navrotska / Getty Images

By Pamela Davis-Kean

With in-person instruction becoming the exception rather than the norm, 54% of parents with school-age children expressed concern that their children could fall behind academically, according to a poll conducted over the summer of 2020. Initial projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association, which conducts research and creates commonly used standardized tests, suggest that these fears are well-grounded, especially for children from low-income families.

Read More Show Less
A teenager reads a school English assignment at home after her school shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic on March 22, 2020 in Brooklyn, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein / Corbis via Getty Images

The pandemic has affected everyone, but mental health experts warn that youth and teens are suffering disproportionately and that depression and suicide rates are increasing.

Read More Show Less
In an ad released by Republican Voters Against Trump, former coronavirus task force member Olivia Troye roasted the president for his response. Republican Voters Against Trump / YouTube

Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch