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Posted on February 20 at 11:32 a.m.

Imagine a given minority group that was subjected to the same level of scrutiny as the oil industry, where their every action was the subject of a headline.

Imagine further a public that was overtly hostile to that group, and that this hostility was publicly acceptable and indeed even politically correct. Imagine that the public assumed this group to be guilty until proven innocent on every charge brought against it.

Imagine further a public and press that knew very little of the technical details behind the groups actions, and was content to go with assumptions based on emotion and not science or engineering realities.

This is the state of the oil industry in the US today.

Briana Mordick has 6 years experience as a petroleum industry geologist. As a relatively green geologist, Mordick would probably at best have had only a superficial appreciation of well completion and stimulation technologies, and no formal education or on the job training in these areas. It's almost certain that she never actually ran an acid or hydraulic fracture job herself, and that she would not know how to do so if asked. She has a vested interest in presenting alarmist scenarios as that increases her job security, confers recognition (what would happen to her career if she determined that the risks of these procedures were low?), and increases funding for the EDC. Yet she is presented as an unbiased industry expert by journalists who don't know any better.

On Questions Remain Over Offshore Acidizing

Posted on February 14 at 1:33 p.m.

One problem is cost.

The authors write on page 64 that "the overall construction cost for a WWS system might be on the order of $100 trillion worldwide, over 20 years, not including transmission."

Where's that capital going to come from, in a world many of whose countries are poor or currently awash in debt?

Another problem is timing.

Suppose we take your advice and start phasing out fossil fuels such that none will be produced any longer by 2030. This means that companies currently in that industry will stop investing in large long term projects now. It means that oil production will start to decline relatively quickly. If the timing works out perfectly, then that's great! But what if the authors are off by 10-20 years and the new technologies aren't developed and/or affordable until say 2050? We will have decades of fuel supply shortages and energy crises, due to underinvestment in fossil fuels that would ensue once the policy was in place. This situation would cripple the world's economies and probably hurt the poor more than anyone else. It would be a disaster.

I think the transition needs to be made responsibly, with an eye to the implications and possible unintended consequences of any enforced policy of global scale.

On Venoco Denies Acidizing Off Goleta Coast

Posted on August 2 at 2:52 p.m.

"here's about the only place we can concur: "The dumbing down of the US continues apace." Think about it."

DrDan, you have no expertise. I have a Master's degree in geology. I've thought about it, thank you very much for your advice though. Can you also give me advice on other topics you know nothing about? Your knowledge of geology, fluid flow in porous media, and well engineering are about the same as your knowledge of subatomic particles. Why should I listen to your views on either? Think about it, indeed. What hubris.

When you have a body of of knowledge without any evidence to support it, you have a belief, a religion. Not a conclusion.

On Fracking Report on Santa Barbara Channel

Posted on August 2 at 2:36 p.m.

"Yet you still keep this ridiculous proposition out there since you need it to make your weak case: [what] "would happen to the poor (and everyone else) if fossil fuels were shut off tomorrow." No one is suggesting that, get off that point."

This is not a point that I place any particular evidence on. In your original post you disregarded the benefits that oil has brought to the world. You claim that a major spill once every generation far outweighs the benefits.

Many people think that the only benefits oil provides comes only in the form of gasoline. They don't realize that oil permeates the modern world, providing benefits that enable such things as fertilizers; crop raising; food processing and delivery; power to extract and deliver raw materials used in construction; product assembly and delivery; transportation in all forms; feedstock for plastics, etc. Everyone uses all of these products directly and indirectly on a daily basis, but they want to criticize those who provide them the materials that make their lifestyles possible.

Why do they do this? I don't know. Perhaps you can explain it to me. I have heard lots of criticisms of the industry by people like yourself, but have never heard anyone back it up with rational, well thought out arguments backed by data. The thought process seems to go like this: "I don't like high gas prices... someone must be guilty.... I remember some big spills.... someone must be incompetent or causing them intentionally.... they make big profits in some years..... therefore I hate oil companies." It's a sort of nationally tolerated, even encouraged, prejudice.

The URL's are easy to find if you were really interested in learning.
Try googling "Royal Academy of Engineering hydraulic fracturing"

Here it is:
http://royalsociety.org/policy/projec...

You could have also found the NGWA's position paper quite easily.

Here it is:
http://www.ngwa.org/Documents/Positio...

I normally don't supply URL's to people with ideologically based views on science, because I know they won't be read. These people are not interested in analyzing facts, data, or evidence, usually because they don't have the skills or inclination to do so. Maybe you're different.

If you're going to supply websites, make them objective and appropriate sites. Personally, I don't seek my medical news from Car and Driver Magazine, and wouldn't go to activist fringe sites, whose writers are strongly biased and have no requisite expertise, for information on geology and well engineering.

Most of the public gets their information on fracking from celebrities and activist groups that have no expertise, or from politicians who, aware of this and seeking votes, issue more of same. The dumbing down of the US continues apace. We take positions on technical issues like climate and tracking based on political persuasion. We ignore evidence.

On Fracking Report on Santa Barbara Channel

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.

DrDan,

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....

Pavilion.
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

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