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Debunking a Few Commonly Held Fracking Myths

Exploding sinks and liquid that flows upward.

by
Jazz Shaw

Bio

April 5, 2014 - 10:54 pm
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No country for young men.

Prior to each election cycle, one topic is sure to be raised in the debate for office seekers in every corner of the nation where energy exploration takes place. Where do you stand on fracking? Properly known as hydraulic fracturing, fracking is the liberal boogieman which is, according to environmental activists, responsible for everything from the rampant destruction of the wilderness to exploding sinks.

So popular is this allegedly common knowledge that The Daily Show’s Asif Mandvi did a “special report” on the subject this year. He highlighted the hazards posed to citizens residing near natural gas drilling rigs and lampooned industry experts who had the audacity to question the scientific accuracy of esteemed liberal studies on the subject such as the Matt Damon film, Promised Land.

As with most such displays of eco-warrior activism, a few pesky but pertinent details were left out of the Comedy Central analysis.  One of the chief accusations which was somewhat casually tossed into the report dealt with the commonly held belief on the Left that fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process – along with the sought after natural gas itself – somehow migrate to the surface and contaminate the drinking water of those living nearby.  But do they?

No less of a Right Wing source than CBS News reported just last year that extensive studies in Pennsylvania had failed to provide proof of this allegation.  As part of an ongoing test, the drilling company agreed to inject unique chemical markers into their fracking fluid and allow the state Department of Energy to conduct regular tests of wells and ground water over a period of years to see if the markers were making their way to the surface. Not surprisingly, none were detected.

The fracking fluid is more than 98% water and sand, with the small remaining volume being a combination of chemicals used to free up the natural gas more easily. They are typically injected at depths greater than 8,000 feet under the ground, and to make it to the surface they would need to travel upwards in defiance of gravity, passing through several different geologic layers before reaching the aquifer above.  To date, studies have not indicated that this is happening.

But what of the Pennsylvania man who was able to set his tap water on fire in the fictional movie, Gasland? Surely that must mean something!

It does.  And to understand precisely what it signifies, we should take a brief detour to another location in the Keystone State.  The town of Centralia, or at least what remains of it, lies in the same geographic belt as the natural gas mining sites mentioned above.  If you go to Centralia you’ll find a ghost town, all but abandoned by man.  In various spots, steam and noxious gases rise from the ground with no obvious cause and the air is considered unfit for human habitation.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
To the left, the word 'fracking' carries they same Pavlovian reaction as the words 'Koch Brothers' -- They immediately know it's evil and anything bad said about it must be true. That's why when Los Angeles had its two moderate earthquakes two weeks ago, L.A. politicians could blame them on fracking and not be laughed all the way to the Arizona state line.

Any groundwater contamination from oilfield drilling activity is far more likely to come from the after-process of reinjecting brine water byproduct from drilling, either where the casing on the reinjection well is bad or those tasked with doing it use an improper well. When you have as much money in oil and natural gas drilling as you have right now, you are going to attract some people who either want to get rich quick by cutting corners, or truly are too dense/lazy to follow the rules. But that's a matter for government oversight -- something you'd think the big government types would be satisfied with. But the environmentalist wing of the left wants America to produce no more power than it takes to keep their personal iPhones, big screen TVs and other home and office electrical devices running. So as a result, the 'clean natural gas' they were crying for the U.S. to develop for almost 40 years, when the sources were tougher to reach, is now attacked as evil once a plethora of it is obtainable.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you think they are in it for money & perks, you badly underestimate them. Yes, they do take advantage of those when they can, as often as they can, but that is not their motive.

These people are FAR more dangerous and dedicated than mere greed can motivate.

They are in it for POWER.


Greed is to power as a Pomeranian puppy is to a hungry saber-toothed tiger.



21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I used to work in the natural gas industry in northeast Pennsylvania. Got to know some of the local residents quite well. One of them was a water-well driller from Troy PA who told me that in the 26 years he had been drilling water wells in that area he had drilled exactly TWO water wells that did not bring methane along with the water they produced. He told me that us "gasholes" (the local endearment for people like me from out of state who worked in the industry) were getting blamed for stuff that had been happening there long before there was ANY fracking was done in the area!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (29)
All Comments   (29)
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And the Saudis laugh, collect our money, work against fracking.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Activists need to be active.
It matters not how logical their cause, because the existence of the cause justifies and sanctifies it.
You oppose it and you're evil and must be extirpated by any means necessary, in this the inquisition of secular fundamentalism.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Shale gas also destroyed their plan to impose "green energy" and profit as crony capitalists. Using natural gas in place of coal plus improved energy efficiency and reduced economic activity reduced carbon dioxide emissions without money flowing where the friends of the Left expected it to go. The proletariat is getting by with natural gas power plants and cars that use less gas due to transmissions with more gears instead of buying carbon credits, solar power, and electric cars.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"reduced carbon dioxide emissions without money flowing where the friends of the Left expected it to go. "

If you think this is about money, you badly underestimate these people.

20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
The Left has become a bunch of "fracking Koch suckers", who will believe any urban legend shoveled at them.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Since when does Charlie Watts protest fracking?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I live in Titusville PA, home of the first commercial oil well in 1859, Drake Well. The site that Edwin Drake drilled his well was along Oil Creek. The Seneca Indians used to travel to the area for centuries because the oil was seeping out of the ground there. They scooped it up for medicine. We still have oil and gas wells today and we sit on top of the Marcellus Shale so now we have fracking here. And with all of this, all this "destruction" we still have some of the best hunting in the state and logging is still a big industry here (mostly run by Amish). My username come the the oil ghost town Pithole that existed for only about 3 years in the 1800s. It is amazing the lies that people spread who have no idea what they talking about. I know many of the drillers and the last thing they want is errors. They are extremely careful to the point of absurdity. But some people don't want to hear the truth.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"...extensive studies in Pennsylvania had failed to provide proof of this allegation."

Given a set of wells with intact casings, this result makes sense. But a cracked casing near the surface will allow fracking fluid, gas, or oil to seep into groundwater. The moral of the story isn't that fracking is bad, but that a little bit of quality control on wells is required.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
and every state that allows fracking has ALOT of quality control on wells and casings ... most require double wall casing with concrete in between ...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
But if a well allows hydraulic fracturing fluid to leak via a cracked casing, it would also let the desired oil or gas product leak instead of being recovered and sold. Energy companies are self-motivated not to throw away their own profits.

The more likely problem is spillage of salty used hydraulic fracturing fluid being trucked back to the recycling plant. Energy companies are less self-motivated to prevent leaks of a waste product of negative value.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fair enough. I wasn't arguing that fracking was inherently any more polluting than any other kind of fossil fuel extraction. But saying that there's absolutely no problem with groundwater pollution isn't quite true. There is a minimal, fairly rare, usually transient problem.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, and we do our cause harm if we try to pretend it's a flawless process.

Care is needed, and scrutiny is warranted.

20 weeks ago
20 weeks ago Link To Comment
Being from Oklahoma, today I awake to the following headline of all places the Drudge Report:

RECORD QUAKE ACTIVITY ROCKS OKLAHOMA

Now I am absolutely sure fracking will be blamed for this across the MSM for recent events.

And yet, if you were to take a poll across my state, few of us would be against hydraulic fracking for many reasons: (1) It finances in large part the activities of the state; (2) We've been conducting fracking for years and we're still here without problem; (3) Most of us believe the risk to be slight and insignificant - the seismic activity probably unrelated and certainly not controllable; (4) Most of us are of the belief that energy independence is a good thing - the rest who don't are certifiably stupid and voted for Obama.

But you're not going to hear that from the doomsday crowd. The folks from LA howling about the dangers of hydraulic fracking tickle us most.

When I start seeing fault lines at surface level, I'll be sure to get on board. Until then as resident, "Drill, Baby, Drill!"
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I'm of the opinion that large earthquakes are caused by pressure building up for a long period of time, then releasing. I'm further of the opinion that fracking lubricating faults and allowing them to slip and cause earthquakes is a very good thing.

It's far, far better to have lots of tiny earthquakes than one big one.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The entire North American plate is still flexing and readjusting to the loss of the ice sheet from the last ice age. Canada gains a centimeter of altitude, Florida loses a centimeter... everything moves.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
They are already blaming fracking - although all the seismic activity took place over 12,000 feet deep, deeper than any fracking yet goes.

Fracking is sometimes detectable by seismic gauges, but as "micro" events, and are used for calibration purposes.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
To the left, the word 'fracking' carries they same Pavlovian reaction as the words 'Koch Brothers' -- They immediately know it's evil and anything bad said about it must be true. That's why when Los Angeles had its two moderate earthquakes two weeks ago, L.A. politicians could blame them on fracking and not be laughed all the way to the Arizona state line.

Any groundwater contamination from oilfield drilling activity is far more likely to come from the after-process of reinjecting brine water byproduct from drilling, either where the casing on the reinjection well is bad or those tasked with doing it use an improper well. When you have as much money in oil and natural gas drilling as you have right now, you are going to attract some people who either want to get rich quick by cutting corners, or truly are too dense/lazy to follow the rules. But that's a matter for government oversight -- something you'd think the big government types would be satisfied with. But the environmentalist wing of the left wants America to produce no more power than it takes to keep their personal iPhones, big screen TVs and other home and office electrical devices running. So as a result, the 'clean natural gas' they were crying for the U.S. to develop for almost 40 years, when the sources were tougher to reach, is now attacked as evil once a plethora of it is obtainable.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
The two Satans of liberal "religion:" Global climate change and "fracking."
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
You never know where the enviro-loons are going to rear their heads next. The village of Arcanum, Ohio just recently passed an ordinance prohibiting the practice of "fracking" within the confines of their village limits.

The population of Arcanum, OH is approximately 2,100 and it lies hidden in the cornfields most of the time. The fact that there is exactly zero interest on the part of the oil or gas industry in going to Arcanum to drill an oil or gas well while employing any method of extraction seems to be irrelevant to the crackpots advocating for the banishment of fracking in Ohio. Apparently the rule is whatever it takes to champion one's ignorance.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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