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Posted on September 12 at 9:49 p.m.
"I can only assume you are a paid staffer at an energy PR company spinning the company line"
The predictable comment. You can almost hear him.. "What? Do you expect me to debate the issue on a technical basis? Let's go for the personal attack."
Who I am is irrelevant. But I can tell you I'm not being paid to write. "Spinning the company line" indeed. As if no opinions that counter yours can be legitimate. As if any statement by any defendant should be dismissed out of hand.
"I know longer live in the county, but based on the rather sordid history of enegy extraction in the North County..."
The "sordid history" you speak of can largely be ascribed to one company out of about 400 operating in California, and out of about 14,000 operating in the US.
"my own opinion is that I don't have a lot of faith in what energy companies have to say about how safe their activities might be."
Prejudice (it's not just a racial phenomenon). See my previous statement. Now in your phrase above replace "energy companies" with a minority of your choice, and replace "how safe their activities might be" with "how innocent they are". Get the picture? You glibly dismiss around 2 million people working in the industry as unsavory characters at best. Somehow, you're better than all these people who deliver your energy to you?
"If an energy company wants to mix toxic chemicals with water and inject the mixture into the ground then the burden of proof of demonstrating that it is safe is on them."
Agreed. But the trial by the media has already been decided, wouldn't you agree?
You're aware, aren't you, that the chemicals naturally occurring in the earth (oil and gas) are already toxic. And you're aware that these chemicals are being injected into this already polluted rock thousands of feet below the fresh water aquifer?
"Groundwater is a public resource and needs to be protected, any contamination that might result would be difficult and expensive to remove."
Agreed. Can we do the science and find out what that risk is? Can we let those who understand geology and petroleum engineering determine the risks (doesn't have to be eneryg industry people)? Or should we just leave to inexperienced journalists?
"Stating that there is no evidence that it's not safe is not proof, bring on the research that prooves it's safe."
There is plenty of evidence. Over the past 60 years, over a million wells have been fracked. For example, repeating the reference above: Evaluation of Impacts to Underground Sources of Drinking Water by Hydraulic Fracturing of Coalbed Methane Reservoirs: EPA 816-R-04-003.
Can you prove that air travel is 100% safe? No one will ever be able to prove fracking is 100% safe. Human error is always a factor, in any industry, including yours. But as a society we should not let a frantic, uninformed, and biased media make our decisions on energy policy. We need to balance risks versus benefits. Would you agree?
On Fracking Friction
Posted on September 11 at 11:34 a.m.
Notice that I haven't said that contamination is not possible. I'm just saying:
1) show me a compelling technical case where an aquifer has been contaminated by fracking; and
2) demonstrate for me what the risk of contamination is, and then what the benefits are.
You can make a compelling case that airline crashes kill people. But you're aware of the risks and benefits. So, armed with that understanding, neither you nor anyone else is going to say that air travel should be banned. Can't airline accidents be mitigated? Can't new procedures be put in place to reduce crash risk? Can't FAA oversight be stricter?
Given all that's at stake, I fail to see why fracking doesn't warrant the same objective assessment. If that objective assessment reveals that fracking is indeed harmful at a high rate of probability, regardless of any possible mitigating steps, then I think it should be banned. But if the assessment shows that the risk of contamination is vanishingly small (possibly contingent on additional safeguards or procedures), which I suspect would be the case, then I don't think we should object.
Posted on September 11 at 11:32 a.m.
I'll repeat. Both the head of the EPA and the head of the DOE (a Nobel prize winning physicist) are on record as saying they know of no documented incidents of aquifer contamination by fracking. The are aware of Gasland. You might wonder what they know or understand that you don't.
Everyone keeps citing all of these "cases" of contamination, and claims that fracking is destroying the earth as we know it, but we strangely never hear of any convincing documentation. At least the EPA and DOE under Obama haven't. Most critics, one must assume, don't think a case needs to be supported by solid evidence: hearsay and ideological motivations are sufficient.
Why do you accept Gasland so readily? One scene, for example, where gas was shown to catch fire from a faucet in Colorado? Colorado's environmental agency has refuted that. The gas in that case was naturally occurring biogenic gas. There are other examples but I won't go into it. Gasland has been widely refuted by many, and its producer has zero experience. And yet people embrace it without a second thought. Why is that? Why do they not demand the same scrutiny of Gasland's claims as they do for Acme Oil's claims? I think the answer to that is obvious.
Even if all of the incidents shown in Gasland were true, I don't understand why you so readily accept that it means all fracking is dangerous, everywhere, and no matter who does it. If Gasland's inexperienced producer followed airline crashes all over the world, would we conclude all airlines are careless and dangerous? Suppose he made it his business to document plagiarism. He found several examples from around the world. Do you conclude that journalists and novelists are dishonest everywhere? Are all newspapers and publishers subversive and incompetent?
This rush to judgment is really quite remarkable. If a minority youth were convicted with the same casual lack of attention to facts, the public would be rightly outraged. But when the de facto defendant is politically incorrect or unpopular, the standards of justice fall to those of the Salem witchcraft days. We accept an inexperienced (and obviously biased) movie producer's word at face value, no further questions your honor.
And by the way, a Halliburton truck is evidence of what, exactly? Be specific.
Posted on September 10 at 12:29 a.m.
What kind of a question is that? If a crime is committed, do you first ask what the color of the suspect's skin is? Do you think a person's background is more important than the hard facts read out in a courtroom?
Forget about who I am, and forget about ad hominem attacks and implied conspiracies. Stick with the evidence. The molecules moving about in the ground that we're trying to understand could care less about who I am or who you are.
Posted on September 9 at 2:07 p.m.
"maybe we could invest in some real change in how we power ourselves. Much more clean energy, no commercials."
Billions are being invested in alternatives. Google "renewable energy subsidies" and see for yourself.
Why do you frame it as an either-or question? No rational person will advise that we can get off fossil fuels tomorrow. It's going to take a long time, not just a few years. What do you recommend in the meantime? How do you propose to get to work, fly, stay warm, use plastics, buy food (harvested, processed, and delivered to your market via fossil fuels) without fossil fuels in the meantime?
Wishful thinking and ideology such as you display are not going to solve the problem. In fact, such uninformed thinking has a negative impact on energy policy. To eventually reach the worthy goal of replacing fossil fuels, it's going to take lots of effort, tons of capital, and especially expertise in renewable energy technologies.
What do you think of folks who trot out "science" to deny global warming? Don't like it? Then why do you advocate junk science in this case?
Posted on September 9 at 2:06 p.m.
"putting water at risk of more contamination is not an option for us animals."
Isn't this a scientific question? You are putting lives at risk when you allow airplanes to carry passengers. The real question is, what is the risk, and what are the benefits? You don't know enough about either to comment in any useful way.
"Gasland shows a lot of evidence, unless you believe it is a fiction with paid actors."
Gasland has been widely refuted by the EPA, the DOE, and state environmental officials from Pennsylvania and Colorado. The director, Josh Fox, has no expertise, no experience, and no relevant technical training. It's simple. You accept things at face value if they agree with your ideology. You reject things if they don't. Why should anyone accept anything at face value? Do the science. Gasland is junk science.
"Fracking is a sloppy process, done without any study of what this is actually doing to our planet."
What do you know about the process? Please post your years of experience, how many wells you've fracked, and your relevant university degree. Or do you think experience is unnecessary in making a scientific judgment?
"How would you feel, some little bug drilling down into your skin 1 inch and extracting fluids or gases while depositing hundreds of chemicals, poisons?"
Touching, but irrelevant. A more appropriate analogy would be a bug that extracts toxins from your body (oil and gas) and replaces them with something less toxic.
The fracture fluid is not injected into aquifers.
"At this point in our country's history, we'd be fools to put our faith in anything the government says about oil companies (the wealthiest among us) without verifying it independently (kinda what gasland does)... "
Sure, as I said, take nothing for granted. Not even Gasland,,, which you have complete faith in. Right?
"I have seen enough exxon comercials (valdez) and propaganda about 'clean, natural gas' and how we need to still produce this dirty energy to meet our 'needs'."
Unfortunately, we do. Natural gas supplies 20% of US electrical energy. That's the reality.
"If we took our oil company subsidies as well as natural gas,"
I hear this line daily. Please tell me, how much does the industry get in subsidies? What does that work out to per company? What are some of the specifics? Name me a few specific subsidy programs.
Posted on September 9 at 10:01 a.m.
The EPA conducted a study of hydraulic fracturing in 2004, picking an area with unusually shallow reservoirs in attempt to understand the impact on aquifers. (Evaluation of Impacts to Underground Sources of Drinking Water by Hydraulic Fracturing of Coalbed Methane Reservoirs: EPA 816-R-04-003 )
Here's what the study concluded:"EPA also reviewed incidents of drinking water well contamination believed to be associated with hydraulic fracturing and found no confirmed cases that are linked to fracturing fluid injection into coalbed methane wells or subsequent underground movement of fracturing fluids. Although thousands of coalbed methane wells are fractured annually, EPA did not find confirmed evidence that drinking water wells have been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing fluid injection into coalbed methane wells."
So I think the jury is still out on this one. The fact that fracking has been done for over 60 years in over a million wells in the US, without widespread incidents of aquifer contamination (even one according to the DOE and EPA) suggests that maybe this isn't as dangerous as most want to believe.
One thing I've noticed in this debate: those who are the first to condemn junk science in the name of climate change (and rightly so) are among the first to embrace it when it comes to the oil industry.
Posted on September 9 at 10 a.m.
I'm aware of this often quoted study. I'm sure the EPA and DOE is as well, and both are on record as saying they are not aware of clear cut cases of aquifer contamination due to fracking. I don't think that this study is the smoking gun that those who cite it assume it to be. Three reasons:
1) From your link: "The researchers did not find evidence that the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing had contaminated any of the wells they tested, allaying for the time being some of the greatest fears among environmentalists and drilling opponents."
The study found abnormally high levels of methane. What if this is found in all or most areas where gas is produced? What if it has little or no relationship to fracking? I don't know the answer to that one.
2) The researchers did not know the underground trajectories of the wells in their study area. As I understood it in reading the report, the wells are mostly highly deviated to horizontal. If fracking itself caused the methane levels to increase, and contaminants are migrating vertically through fractures to the aquifer, then the methane should have correlated to the surface projected locations of the sections of the wellbores where they intersected the gas reservoir. Instead, the methane correlated to the wellbore surface locations. These surface locations could be thousands of feet away, and thousands of feet above, the gas reservoir (which by the way is polluted by nature). This suggests that the problem could be due to poor well design or inadequate cement, not necessarily to the process of hydraulic fracturing itself.
3) The study as I recall it (months since I read it) did not delve into into other possible issues. Was it bad cement at the surface in a handful of wells? Was it one operator's poor or negligent practices? Was contamination the result of one or more spills of produced and contaminated water?
In other words, is the fracking process itself at fault, or is it the result of other related factors that can be regulated away or mitigated against? This is an important distinction, not legalese mumbo jumbo. If techniques are available to safely frack and produce these reservoirs (as Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Chu, head of the DOE, believes), then prohibiting this process will not be good for US jobs, state and federal tax revenues, and energy security. Don't you think an objective evaluation of the process would be better than one based on ideology?
I think the real concern people should have here is not the headline grabbing fracturing, but on the source and disposal of the volumes of water needed. Where will it come from, and is there enough, and is this the best use of the state's water supply?
Posted on September 9 at 12:42 a.m.
Instead of "admitting that "aquifers have been ruined," let's first demonstrate that they have been.
Here is an extract of what Lisa Jackson, head of the EPA, had to say on May 24, 2011:"The head of the Environmental Protection Agency told a House committee Tuesday that she favored natural gas production and said she didn't know of any “proven case” in which hydraulic fracturing had affected drinking water."
People need to be aware that companies have every incentive NOT to damage aquifers, because1) they would rather produce and sell the oil than spill it into the environment;2) they don't want to pay the fines, lawsuits, and cleanup costs associated with such an event;3) they don't want to lose their license to operate in an area they pollute through negligence;4) they'd prefer not to have the glaring negative publicity that would be associated with serious aquifer damage;5) fracturing is very expensive, and the objective is to fracture the (already naturally polluted) oil bearing rock: it makes no sense to willfully damage non-oil bearing rock;6) and finally, believe it or not, these are real people, and they don't want to needlessly damage the environment around them, the local drinking water, and livelihoods of those in the community in which they operate.
This is a highly technical issue, involving geology, rock physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, and fluid flow in porous media. Many journalists and bloggers reduce it to junk science. Not knowing the first thing about the risks or the people involved, they reshape the debate into an ideological one.
How about looking at real data, and making a sober assessment of costs, risks, and benefits, rather than reducing it to an argument about good guys and bad guys? If aquifers have in fact been damaged, let's learn how it happened and how, and if, it can be prevented in the future. Maybe the damage is due to something unrelated to fracturing. Let's find out. Let's not use junk science to shape our energy policy.
Posted on June 15 at 11:35 p.m.
I'll believe the head of the EPA before I'll believe someone like yourself who has no oil industry experience. And it's not just the head of the EPA who's saying this.
Your belief that fracking began in the 1990's is evidence that you're uninformed.
See for example, Wikipedia's entry for "hydraulic fracturing" in which they quote: "Hydraulic fracturing for stimulation of oil and natural gas wells was first used in the United States in 1947."
This comment is supported by two footnotes:
Howard, G.C. and C.R. Fast (editors), Hydraulic Fracturing, Monograph Vol. 2 of the Henry L. Doherty Series, Society of Petroleum Engineers New York, 1970.
Montgomery, Carl T.; Smith, Michael B. (December 2010). "Hydraulic Fracturing: History of an Enduring Technology". Journal of Petroleum Technology (Society of Petroleum Engineers) 62 (12): 26–32. ISSN 0149-2136. Retrieved January 5, 2011.
How the first authors wrote about hydraulic fracturing 20 years before you claim it was invented is beyond me, but perhaps you can explain their clairvoyance.
Chato,if you're going to criticize people, stick to topics you know something about.
On Tracking the Fracking
Now in its 22nd year at UCSB, Reel Loud is ... Read More
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