One of the worst droughts in U.S. history is hampering oil production, pitting farmers against oilmen and highlighting just how dependent on water modern U.S. energy development has become.
Over 60% of the nation is in some form of drought. Areas affected include West Texas, North Dakota, Kansas, Colorado and Pennsylvania, all of which are part of the recent boom in North American energy production.
That boom is possible partly by hydraulic fracturing. Known as fracking for short, the controversial practice gets oil and natural gas to flow by cracking shale rock with sand, chemicals, pressure and water.
Lots of water. Each shale well takes between two and 12 million gallons of water to frack. That’s 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools worth of water per well. If America wants to stay on the road to energy independence we may need this drought to end so the oil and gas industry keeps having access to the water it needs