As I’ve said before, I’m all for U.S. energy independence — oil, gas, wind, solar, hamsters running on little metal wheels — whatever it takes.

The process getting all the headlines recently is hydraulic fracturing. Simply, fracking entails drilling a well then pumping a mixture of water, sand, and various chemicals into it at high pressures which causes fractures or cracks in the shale. Oil and gas is then released into the well through the fractures. (My apologies for my rather pedestrian explanation, but you get the gist.)

I’m in favor of the process as long as it can be done responsibly, with miniscule or no damage to the environment. The jury will probably be out on that for some time to come. Meanwhile, all that oil and gas is ours. Fracking has been a boom to the brownwater transportation industry, creating more demand for inland tank barges.

Now comes word that a New Orleans company, Helis Oil & Gas, wants to drill a well between the town I live in, Mandeville, La., and the next town over, Abita Springs.

Now wait a minute. In the Dakotas or even elsewhere in Louisiana, but hydraulic fracturing in my backyard?

Abita Springs is home to the Abita Brewing, famous for its underground spring water, and is the former home of our company’s commercial marine head, Mike Lodato. About 500 people showed up at the Abita Springs Town Hall on May 1, and that’s a crowd, most of them vehemently opposed to the idea. Helis officials assured them that there would be little or no risk of environmental damage to the area. The majority of the people weren’t buying any of it.

What about me? I wish I could say I feel the same way I do about hydraulic fracturing here as anywhere else, but I’m having a hard time getting there. Hey, I’m as hypocritical as the next person.

Ken Hocke has been the senior editor of WorkBoat since 1999. He was the associate editor of WorkBoat from 1997 to 1999. Prior to that, he was the editor of the Daily Shipping Guide, a transportation daily in New Orleans. He has written for other publications including The Times-Picayune. He graduated from Louisiana State University with an arts and sciences degree, with a concentration in English, in 1978.