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Shale Drilling

I will be the first to admit I’m relatively ignorant on the ins and outs of the science behind hydraulic fracturing, and its environmental impact, other than groking the overall basic concept. Generally speaking, I think it’s appropriate for government to regulate externalities, such as river or groundwater contamination caused by industrial processes, provided those regulations are based on science rather than hysteria.

However, I’m wondering how many of these people are going to voluntarily go without natural gas this winter. Speaking only for myself here, but I’m guessing I probably speak for many Pennsylvanians: I like not being cold. I also like hot showers. I’m open to listening to ideas about how natural gas drilling needs to be regulated, but these folks apparently want it stopped. I hate to tell these folks, but natural gas isn’t produced by farting unicorns.

20 Responses to “Shale Drilling”

  1. falnfenix says:

    I’d strongly suggest watching Gasland and researching fracking.

  2. I think fracking itself can be done safely. However, some companies, trying to do it cheaply, are causing a bad name for the process.

  3. Sebastian says:

    Gasland would seem to have a political agenda, and that automatically makes me not trust it. I’ve read a little about the process, and I can see where it could have potential environmental impacts. But we need gas, unless folks want to spend winters cold. I’m not opposed to mitigating environmental effects, or making the drillers pay for clean-up. But we have to drill.

  4. Spade says:

    Gasland’s people actively ignored relevant information that was available. View it like you would a Moore flick.

  5. SidViscous says:

    Relevant information being that this area had natural gas in it’s water basically always. This is far from a new phenomenon, and there is no evidence that fracking is exacerbating this.

    And the director was well aware of it.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/04/the-gasland-movie-a-fracking-shame-director-pulls-video-to-hide-inconvenient-truths/

    This phenomenon is also not limited to areas like this.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/may/23/newsid_2969000/2969125.stm

    Fracking happens so far below the water table it is hard to imagine it having any influence on the ground water. Water well in PA are what 250 foot would be deep right. Fracking happens kilometers deep. Between the two are various impermeable layers.

  6. Jeffrey H says:

    From what I have seen there hasn’t really been any pollution from the fracking process itself. The instance of I had heard of pollution involved the company not lining the well according to regulations which wasn’t a fault of the hydrofrack process. One of my friends who works in Natural Gas on the engineering side said they pump out everything they pump in and then some. That being said it looks like a solution is on the way that can hopefully keep all sides happy.

    http://reason.com/archives/2011/05/17/a-better-way-to-frack

  7. David says:

    You should really research gasland. You’ll find out that it’s full of half truths and down right lies and totally unsupported claims. It’s nothing more than a hit piece like any Michael Moore film or Morgan Spurlock hit job.

  8. Jake says:

    Remember, Sebastian, that facts and science are irrelevant to these types. They seem to see science as a primitive religion that lures people away from The Truth (ironic, I know).

  9. MikeSilver says:

    In the 1980’s I worked in the oil field of PA, OH, WV, and NY as a geophysical well logger. At the time, we were targeting the Medina formation which held oil and some gas. Medina is below the Marcellus.

    The Marcellus shale was a PIA because it would swell and close off the well bore. That’s a huge problem when you have a radioactive source downhole measuring geologic properties.

    A couple facts from my time in the area. The Marcellus is greater than 4000 feet below the surface and typically I saw it at 4500. Its radioactive signature is pretty strong and distinct.

    Natural Gas and Oil is very shallow in these areas. Pennzoil used to have wells near Bradford PA that were only 200 feet deep and still producing green oil for more than 100 years. It was pretty cool to do well logging on some of the first wells ever drilled.

    We’ve been drilling for over a century in NY, PA, WV, and OH. You can walk in the hills and still find old wells. Those old wells are usually not properly abandoned and are often the sources of the groundwater polution people are experiencing.

    Fracking at 4000′ doesn’t impact groundwater. There are thousands of feet of IMPERVIOUS rock between the area they are fracking and the groundwater. That impervious rock is why the gas hasn’t migrated. It forms a cap.

    From what I’ve seen of the people and their positions, they appear to be environmental zealots hoping we go backward in time to a horse based economy. They oppose nuclear because its nuclear, they oppose oil drilling because its oil, they oppose coal because its coal. Solar and wind is ok. Nevermind, that we can not tan enough or blow enough to meet our energy needs.

  10. Countertop says:

    I do a lot of grouse hunting in the St Mart’s area an we stumble on lots of well pads. The roads have gotten much busier, but there are also more of them. I’ve literally walked hundreds of miles through the area over the last couple of years and have never seen any sign of the outward contamination that the anti ethy activists allege.

    The only concern I do have is that the well pads themselves are pretty big and take out a fair amount of forest. But to a hunter, that just makes more transition areas and enhances the opportunity to find wildlife.

  11. Chris says:

    What I took away from Gasland was that while there may be no problem with having natural gas wells, there are issues with the process of fracking. The movie did bring some of these issues to light. Problems that the energy companies won’t ever discuss. For people to dismiss information without looking into it further is shameful. Of course the process and wells the energy companies drill or frack are perfectly safe. The cheapest, fastest and most profitable always is. At least that’s what they always tell us.

  12. SPQR says:

    So Chris, you don’t want to explore the idea that the film you watched was itself disinformation.

  13. mike says:

    The most compelling parts of Gasland were when they lit the faucets on fire. That it had nothing to do with fracking or drilling is very inconvenient if you’re trying to create a Michael Moore-type docuganda film.

  14. David says:

    @Mike

    Except the flaming faucet in question had nothing to do with natural gas drilling. A little side note that the gasland people were not too willing to disclose.

  15. mike says:

    Yeah, that’s what I was getting at. I guess I didn’t make that clear enough.

    I’ve found that people most opposed to things, like fracking, or guns, or whatever, are often the least informed. I’m by no means an expert on these, but I guess I’m slightly more informed that the folks who want to ban each of them.

    After seeing Gasland I wondered why fracking was allowed just like everyone else who sees faucets catch fire. And that’s the hallmark of good propaganda. But then it turned out that the movie just ignored facts that didn’t support the theme of the movie – and left people like me and other commenters here thinking that fracking and drilling causes flammable water.

  16. Sebastian says:

    One lesson to take away is that nearly everyone is full of shit. Our side is by no means exempt from this. The truth is hard. Propaganda is easy.

  17. MikeSilver says:

    Wikipedia had the following explanation of the flaming faucet:

    In a scene from the film Weld County landowner Mike Markham is shown with director Josh Fox igniting gas from a tap water faucet in his home with a cigarette lighter, which the film portrays as attributable to natural gas exploration in the area. In 2008 The Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) investigated a complaint made by Markham alleging that nearby natural gas operations impacted his domestic water well.[10] Laboratory tests concluded that Markham’s water well contained biogenic methane, a combustible gas that occurs naturally in underground coal beds.[10] Further investigation revealed that Markham’s water well had been drilled through four different coal beds containing naturally occurring biogenic methane gas. The 2008 investigation concluded that “there [were] no indications of oil & gas related impacts to [Markham’s] water well.” It was also concluded that the water well of Weld County landowner Renee McClure, also featured in the film, contained naturally occurring biogenic methane not related to oil and gas activity in the area.[11]. On the other hand Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, the D. C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, whose research for more than 30 years has involved fracture mechanics has said that drilling and hydraulic fracturing can liberate biogenic natural gas into a fresh water aquifer. Thus, just because the gas is labeled as “biogenic” it does not show how it actually got there. [12].
    The COGCC concluded that a well belonging to Weld County landowner Aimee Ellsworth, also featured in the film, contained thermogenic methane that was attributable to oil and gas activity in the area. The report states that Mrs. Ellsworth and an operator in the area had reached a settlement in that case.[9]

  18. MikeSilver says:

    And that professor …. Dr. Ingraffea’s research concentrates on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes. He has no background in chemistry, geology, or petroleum engineering. He’s just another hack trying to jump on the enviro-whacko gravy train.

  19. bornlib says:

    EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson:
    “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water, although there are investigations ongoing.”

  20. mike says:

    Gasland hides inconvenient facts, straight from the horse’s mouth (video interview with Josh Fox):
    http://fightgaslandcensorship.com/

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