Comments by swimmer

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Posted on August 2 at 1:57 p.m.

"Wow, quoting a couple of hacks like Stephen Chu and Lisa Jackson on the "safety" of fracking? You're joking, right?"

Your ad hom attacks on Chu and Jackson are based on.....?
Interesting concept, to call a Nobel Prize winner a hack. I suspect, spiritwalker, that Dr. Chu understands the physical concepts relevant to fracking far better than you do.

Of course, you ignore the Royal Academy of Engineering's report and the NGWA position. The report is too complicated for you to read, and the NGWA conclusions violates your political persuasion. So why not ignore them... what else can you do, debate the issue on technical merits? You have on expertise to do that, so... ad hom attacks. Impressive!

On Fracking Report on Santa Barbara Channel

Posted on August 1 at 11:51 p.m.

What do the experts say?

Lisa Jackson, former head of the EPA, testified before congress last year that she didn't know of a single case where fracking had contaminated an aquifer.

Dr. Steven Chu, former head of the DOE and a Nobel Prize winning physicist, is on record as saying that fracking could be done safely.

The UK's Royal Academy of Engineers, in a report released in June 2012, studied actively developing shale play areas where fracturing was heavily used. They reviewed reservoir depth, aquifer depth, and propagated fracture length for hundreds of wells. Their conclusion?

"The available evidence indicates that this
risk is very low provided that shale gas extraction takes place at depths of many hundreds of metres or several kilometres [which it does or can be limited to]. Geological mechanisms constrain the distances that fractures may propagate vertically. Even if communication with overlying aquifers were possible, suitable pressure conditions would still be necessary for contaminants to to flow through fractures. More likely causes of possible environmental contamination include faulty wells, and leaks and spills associated with surface operations. Neither cause is unique to shale gas. Both are common to all oil and gas wells and extractive activities." In other words, wells that are fracked pose no more risk to aquifers than conventional wells do.

Finally what about the people who should know best? Let's consider the geologists who study aquifers for a living. These are scientists, geologists who are unaffiliated with the oil industry. They work for government agencies, academia, and environmental remediation firms. Their professional society is called the National Groundwater Association, or NGWA. What do they say in their position paper on the subject?

"NGWA recognizes that hydraulic fracturing of and gas wells is a mature technology and has been a widespread practice for many decades. While no widespread water quality or quantity issues have been definitively documented that are attributable to hydraulic fracturing and related activities at oil and gas well sites, there have been isolated cases where faulty casing installations (including poor cement bonds) or poor management of materials/chemicals at the surface are suspected as having negatively impacted groundwater, surface water, or water wells."

On Fracking Report on Santa Barbara Channel

Posted on August 1 at 11:31 p.m.

By the way, DrDan, I wonder if you have ever pondered the following questions in reading about an alleged case of aquifer contamination.

What percentage of wells have contaminated the subsurface? Locally? Nationwide?
What is the probability of a conventional well polluting an aquifer? A fracked well?
Does the local geology have anything to do with the risks?
Does well construction have anything to do with the contamination, as opposed to fracking itself?
Do surface operations have an impact? Was the contamination caused by a truck spill, or a worker accidentally knocking over a drum of fluids?
Can the risks be mitigated by restricting fracking to certain locations or depths?
Are certain companies acting illegally or irresponsibly? Is there a question of enforcement?

No , you haven't thought about anything like this, because you're too poorly informed to even ask the questions, and too closed minded to give them serious thought. For you it's black and white. Find one case of pollution out of 1.1 million wells in 40 years, and you say "these are bad people, shut 'em down." I wonder why you don't say this for every industry that has an accident. We don't ground the airline industry when one crashes. We build black boxes and research ways to improve safety. We don't ban hospitals when there's a case of malpractice, and accuse all doctors of incompetence. We investigate, enforce, punish, and try to prevent.

I'm sure you don't advocate junk science when it comes to global warming; why do you embrace it in the case of fracking?

On Fracking Report on Santa Barbara Channel

Posted on August 1 at 11:20 p.m.


The predicted response: an ad hominem attack. Someone who disagrees with you is labeled a shill. It must be so!

"You are shrill in your hyperbole when writing about how awful it would be if we "stopped fossil fuels immediately", which I wouldn't write. "

Whether I'm shrill or not, or what the character of my writing style might be, is irrelevant. What's relevant is what would happen to the poor (and everyone else) if fossil fuels were shut off tomorrow. You dodge the obvious consequences and prefer to comment on style. Impressive.

The first link you supplied is written by people as equally uninformed as you are. Anyone can find a link written by like minded people that will support what they think. This is called conformation bias.

For example, references in the links you quoted....

You stopped at the nugget you thought supported you. You failed to search further, or go beyond 2011 for some reason. You would have found out that the EPA has withdrawn its claim on pollution at Pavilion and handed the study over to the State of Wyoming. The EPA's methodology and findings were criticized by many, including the state of Wyoming, the BLM, and the USGS. You can, of course, as all good ideologues do, claim that the EPA was bribed or some equivalent. What else can you do?

Dimrock, PA.
In May of 2012 the EPA determined that the drinking water at Dimrock was not contaminated. Although one staffer reportedly disagreed, this at least indicates that there is no consensus, let alone proof, that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated the aquifers there. Yet uninformed people like yourself and bloggers you visit keep referring to this as a sort of lightning rod, a smoking gun that fracking is dangerous.

The Duke study.
Another study often quoted by you and your fellow dilettantes. The fact is, the researchers did not have well deviation surveys and as a result did not know where the well bores went below the surface, and could not link observed methane to fracturing. The evidence in fact points strongly to casing corrosion, as methane impurity contours were circular and centered on the wellbores at the surface. But such corrosion can happen anywhere - whether a well is fracked or not. They said in the report that they found no evidence for fracture fluid in any aquifers in the study area. In a follow up study this year, they repeated: no evidence for fracture fluids in the aquifer. No matter. Ideologues will still reference the work, because rather than using data to determine the conclusion, they conclude and then seek data to support them. And besides, not having the expertise to understand the technical details of the paper, they can blissfully ignore inconvenient conclusions.

So this is the limit of your "analysis:" ignoring science (what else can you do?) and going to ideological websites. And of course, pointing out typos.

On Fracking Report on Santa Barbara Channel

Posted on August 1 at 3:01 p.m.

How DrDan, who obviously knows nothing about geology, well completion techniques, elastic properties of rocks, drilling engineering, or fluid flow in porous high P-T media, can say that tracking is experimental is beyond me. There is a difference, DrDan, between concluding that something is experimental from a body of evidence, versus just believing it because of your political persuasion. Do you see the difference? You're thinking with your glands, not your brain.

DrDan's second paragraph is just plain silly. It's a diatribe on conspiracy theory and supposedly evil people out to destroy the planet. He's obviously not a serious person.

The fact is, it's a difficult and dangerous business to bring DrDan the oil he demands to survive. When a mistake is made, it's big news, and, although I know people in DrDan's industry are perfect, in the oil industry people do sometimes make errors. To a small and bigoted mind, I suppose this translates into intent to inflict harm. But that's not the case, any more than one can say that the airline industry is evil whenever a plane crashes (or hundreds of other examples).

I wonder what DrDan thinks would happen to world poverty if we stopped fossil fuels immediately. He can go gather data to find out! Go talk to farmers in developing nations and advise them that they can no longer use fossil fuels to raise and deliver their products to market in trucks or train. Go to some large urban centers and inform people that there will be no more food in markets or restaurants unless they are delivered without the use of fossil fuels.

Finally DrDan closes with a note of hubris. No one, he implies, could possibly disagree with him unless they're being paid off!

DrDan knows nothing about the oil industry, nothing about the way it works, and perhaps most importantly, nothing about the half million people or so that work in it. But he's sure all of these people are bad to the bone. Does this attitude sound familiar? It's prejudice, and it's bigotry. Only in many people's minds, DrDan's included, it's politically OK to be prejudiced against certain people.

DrDan, get some data, analyze it, create some hypotheses and test them with the data, and then make your case. How many cases of pollution due to fracking are documented? Do oil companies set oil prices? Do they destroy the environment for fun? Ask questions and don't assume the answers. But I don't think you're going to do this, because you can't. You have no expertise, and no predilection to objective thinking. The movement of oil molecules in the ground are for you a political question, not a scientific one. So you comment on grammatical errors instead.

The problem is, too many people, like our DrDan, do not take the time to think, to analyze, to test hypotheses... they simply believe, and the foundation for their belief is merely their ideology.

On Fracking Report on Santa Barbara Channel

Posted on October 1 at 11:15 p.m.

Why couldn't you have just answered in this way in the first place? I just don't understand this virulent style that pervades the internet.

From what you say, it sounds as if the "guilty" party here is the landlord. Why did he refuse renewal? Because Chase made him, as owner of the property, a better offer? This is life. This is the property owner's right. Unless you're prepared to sell your house to the party with the second highest offer, you really can't point your finger. You and the community may want, and feel nostalgia for, a surf shop in IV, but the owner of the property has invested his time and money in it, and he has the right to do what he thinks is best for him and his family. He can, and should, take what the community tells him into consideration, but ultimately it's his decision.

Or there could be other reasons for the outcome, such as the new owner's poor credit rating, or perhaps the landlord didn't think the new owner had the skills to run a business. Maybe the landlord thought the rent was way below market, but the new owner wouldn't budge. Perhaps one or more of these factors is what led him to consider a sale in the first place. There could be a number of reasons why a landlord would not renew a lease.

Opinions and beliefs about Chase (or any other accused entity) are irrelevant: only the facts are relevant. Too many people merely believe, and too few conclude, and to act on opinions and beliefs alone is to act on prejudice. Sometimes the unpopular party is innocent. Our system of justice is designed to protect unpopular defendants too. Yet too many, especially in the case of politically unpopular defendants, are willing to make public accusations merely because "they believe."

On Welcome to the New Isla Vista

Posted on October 1 at 10:23 p.m.

Please. To claim that someone who questions your accusation is a paid Chase rep is really childish. I don't work for Chase, and I didn't even say you were wrong. You might be right. I merely pointed out that your conclusions were, and still are, not supported by any evidence. If you're going to publicly accuse someone of wrongdoing, it's good practice to have evidence. It's called civil behavior. It's the foundation of our system of justice.

Your claim that IV Surf Co was not in trouble because "there are a lot of people who surf" in IV is naive, and tells me all I need to know about your credibility. A lot of people eat in my neighborhood, yet a nearby restaurant just went under. Imagine that! Did you ever hear of the concepts of Return on Sales, or competition? And by the way, I din't claim they WERE in financial trouble: I said that could be one motivation to sell.

It's a pity more people can't discuss issues like rational adults. Why do people like yourself have to respond in such a sniping, ideological way? There's a situation here. What is it? If it can be shown that Chase abused IV Surf Co, then I can accept that. If the owners of IV Surf Co were shown to be satisfied with the outcome, would you accept that? Let's consider the facts, not political perspectives.

So. If IV Surf Co was not happy with the outcome, then why did they sell?

I've read what Taibi has written about industries I know a lot about. He puts ideology in front of facts. In my view he has very little credibility. But Taibi's ideology is irrelevant to this particular transaction. It's a small enough deal that Chase HQ probably didn't even know about it and was most likely a local or regional decision.

On Welcome to the New Isla Vista

Posted on October 1 at 6:59 p.m.


What were the circumstances behind IV Surf Company's decision? Maybe they were in financial trouble and needed cash, or maybe they wanted to relocate, or maybe their landlord raised the rent too high, or maybe they owned the property and could make more by selling it than they could with their business, or maybe the owners decided they had had enough and wanted out of the business. It's possible that they were pressured to go against their will, but there could be other explanations.

I wouldn't just assume that Chase did something distasteful. IV Surf Company wasn't forced to sell; presumably they are happy with the price they got or they wouldn't have sold. It may in fact be the case that IV Surf Company is pleased with the outcome and would interpret the sale entirely differently than you do. It's often the case with small businesses that liquidation has more value than the ongoing concern, if the sale price is high relative to annual income, or if the business is barely breaking even or even losing money. I see no need to accuse Chase of acting unethically, unless you have some inside information.

On Welcome to the New Isla Vista

Posted on September 16 at 10:44 p.m.


When you say, "However, they can only frac wells that they already own the rights to so how will revelations of their secreet formula make a difference," you misunderstand who's trying to protect the formulas.

Oil companies don't own the formulas, the oil field service companies do. They compete by selling these fluids to the oil companies. The service company with the most effective frac fluid will win out, and if the formula goes public, then that company loses its competitive advantage, and all of the investment it made developing the formula is effectively wasted.

"I seriously doubt with all the industrial spying that is going on that they are really capable of keeping their formulas completely secret."

Perhaps not. But if the formula goes public, companies can be certain that it won't be kept secret. And you just mentioned a case where the secret CAN be kept. So why not frac fluids?

It seems to me that governments and communities should have a right to know what's being injected into their properties. There should be some solution to this that can satisfy both parties.

On Fracking Friction

Posted on September 14 at 9:11 p.m.


"They made more profits than any business in the history of the world this year"

This gives profit rank by industry for 2010.
"Major Oil and Gas Integrated" (i.e. Big Oil) ranks:
#166 out of 215 in p/e ratio
#112 out of 215 in profit margin (income divided by revenue)
#94 out of 215 in return on equity

In terms of absolute profit, AT&T made more than all but one of the nation's 14,000 oil companies. Microsoft, Walmart, IBM, Apple, Johnson & Johnson, Berkshire Hathaway, Procter & Gamble, Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola, General Electric, and Intel made more than all but two oil companies. Do you hate these companies too? What industry are you in?

Your comment shows that you don't know the difference between a profit and a profit margin. A pretty impressive thinker you are, Spacey.

"and they continue to receive subsidies while the country is in a 'recession'."

Define for me 1) what a subsidy is, in your words, and 2) what amount in subsidies the energy industry receives in absolute terms, and then as a percentage of capital investment.

You have no idea. You're just throwing out a slogan here. You read it somewhere and it fits with your ideology.

"Think of all that money they could have made had they not spilled all that stuff into the gulf of mexico."

Sure. But your point? That the industry should have decided to sell the oil instead of spill it? This is the general idea, Spacey. What a silly non-sequitur of a comment.

"They figured out how to extract it from tar sands in Canada.... but they still use 1970's technology to clean up."

This is the only point you make that has some merit, although 1970's technology is a bit of a stretch. BP was guilty of complacency, I believe, but it was surely not an intentional or malicious event. Since BP was at fault, you believe all the other 13,999 oil companies in the US are also guilty. Do you make similarly sweeping hostile claims against the airline industry whenever a plane crashes?

Also, this is another mindless variation on the theme "We can put a man on the moon, so why can't we....?" As if all engineering challenges are equal. As if a few dollars can solve any problem. I wonder if you've ever considered why we have no cure for cancer or the common cold? After all, we've figured out how to produce oil from tar sands.

I would be embarrassed posting such easily refuted and unsupported nonsense as you do. Why do you bother?

On Pipe Dreams Set to Become Reality

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