The Gasland movie: a fracking shame – director pulls video to hide inconvenient truths

From “Not Evil, Just Wrong”: Gasland director hides full facts
Written by Phelim McAleer

Gasland_Q__A
Josh Fox has made a documentary that makes some pretty alarming claims about gas drilling across the US. But as is often the case when these claims are examined they do not stand up to scrutiny.

Fox’ documentary Gasland, claims that fracking, a way of drilling for natural gas, has polluted water and endangered lives. One of the most alarming scenes is when he lights water that residents claim has been polluted by fracking. It is dramatic and at first glance seems like a slam dunk. I mean they can light their water – it is polluted and there is gas drilling nearby. It must be responsible.

But then a little digging reveals a few inconvenient facts. A 1976 study by the Colorado Division of Water found that this area was plagued with gas in the water problems back then. And it was naturally occurring.

As the report stated there was “troublesome amounts of methane” in the water decades before fracking began. It seems that in geographical areas gas has always been in the water.

But Josh Fox knew this and chose not to put it in Gasland.

I asked him about this omission at a recent screening at Northwestern University in Chicago.

He said he had not included these facts that questioned his alarmism because “they were not relevant.” He also dropped the bombshell that I had not been aware of that there were media reports of people lighting their water as far back as 1936. Again this was not included in Gasland because it was not relevant.

Perhaps Josh you should include all the evidence and let people figure out what is relevant and what is not.

==================================================================

Note from Anthony: The Gasland director apparently didn’t like this video being used to criticize him (which falls under fair use) and he has pulled it from YouTube claiming a copyright violation. Fortunately, there are other options besides YouTube to show Phelim McAleer’s video:

And as way of verification of the Gasland’s claim of fracking causing methane in groundwater was based on a fabricated claim or not, I went looking for the 1976 report that McAleer cited. I didn’t find it, but I did find another report from the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) which was equally damning:

click for article

Source: http://search.datapages.com/data/doi/10.1306/03B5B46B-16D1-11D7-8645000102C1865D

Additionally, on May 13th, the New York Times reported:

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” got a clean bill of health this week in the first scientific look at the safety of the oil and production practice.

So in light of all this, perhaps this description of Gasland’s director Josh Fox’ situation would be apt:

Liar, liar, tap water on fire!

Lest anyone think that natural gas right at the surface is a problem unique to the United States, I offer this video of the “Door to Hell” in Turkmenistan.

Also, back in 2009, before the green movement went fracking crazy, Treehugger reported this story about methane in a lake that could be ignited in a matter of fact sort of way.

Why Yes, Methane Bubbling Up From a Frozen Lake Can Be Lit on Fire

Here’s the video:

No mention of fracking or drilling nearby.

Even research scientists get a kick out of naturally occurring biogenic methane:

 

125 thoughts on “The Gasland movie: a fracking shame – director pulls video to hide inconvenient truths

  1. It was common knowledge in the area that often water will ignite ….because of shallow coal seams with associated methane. Cabot’s mistake was that they did not test the surrounding water wells before they drilled their Marcellus wells, so that they had a baseline upon which to compare gas contents. Rather than fight, they agreeds to settle. Now oil companies are testing all water wells with 1/2 mile of any existing new wells so that the baseline will be established, they tey can compare before and after frac.

  2. If you run across any videos you consider important please download and store. Videos are disappearing at the speed of light off the net especially you tube. 25+ channels have been deleted that I subscribed to for a long time.

  3. So people, tap water has always been lighting up and they chose to publicise it now because they are Green Communists?

  4. I grew up in Ohio, and all the neighborhood boys knew where the natural gas seeps were. We would throw a match into one, and it would ignite and burn for several hours, sometimes for a few days. Methane has always been in the water in various places.

    Frakking is done so far below the water table and below impervious rock and salt deposits that this just has to be another attempt to alarm the public with pseudo-science. I would like to see them go where frakking is taking place right now, and ignite their tap water. <—[there’s an empirical test for the hypothesis, no?]

  5. Biogenic vs. thermogenic, and Fox himself admits it. Well, that alone pretty much proves that Fox’s claims are false. I hope the gas company sues the liar.

  6. Those of us who lived in rural Alberta remember a similar phenomena…

    http://environment.alberta.ca/02883.html

    Methane gas occurs naturally in groundwater aquifers in most geological sedimentary basins worldwide, including here in Alberta. Methane gas exists in a dissolved state in groundwater underground and will “bubble out” when pumped to the surface. For those on private water well supplies, spurting taps is a common result of this phenomenon. Methane gas can pose an explosion or asphyxiation hazard if allowed to build up in a confined space, so well owners are strongly encouraged to vent their water supply systems when gas is present.

    This indicator is an important way to determine if groundwater is being affected by coalbed methane and other oil and gas activity.

    Coalbed methane (also known as CBM) is a relatively new natural gas energy source in Alberta. Albertans have expressed concerns that methane gas could migrate from CBM wells to nearby aquifers and water well supplies.

    Alberta Environment oversees a network of over 250 groundwater monitoring wells spread across the province. A monitoring program was initiated in 2006 to better understand the quality of groundwater in Alberta. The monitoring wells are tested for a variety of water quality parameters, including methane gas. A total of 126 wells have been accessed for gas sampling to date. Wells will be sampled every few years to monitor long-term trends.

  7. The overland drovers in Australia would water their cattle and horses at various bores across the inland cattle country then, if it was after nightfall, ignite the “water” so they had light to wash their clothing and perform other chores around the camp under the light of the burning gas.

    A wet bag was then used to “switch” off the light so they could get to sleep. Dad often told of this when reminiscing about his days on the stock routes back in the 1920s and ’30s.

  8. How odd. If I found out there was methane in my tap water my first reaction would be to tear who ever runs the water treatment plant a new one. Wouldn’t even occur to me to get excited about where the methane was coming from until the question of how the **ll that get’s past safety and quality inspections was answered.

    But since it sounds like this has been a known problem for a long time, perhaps someone decided methane in tap water isn’t a health hazard below certain levels? If so, one would think that the water treatment plant(s) in the area would have records of the testing they’ve done over the years which ought to include what goes into as well as what comes out of their plants. If they don’t have those records…well there ought to be a lot of trouble over that. If they do…. then comparing before frakking and after frakking ought to be frakking simple and the frakkers should stop pointing their frakking fingers and making frakking claims and just compare the frakking before with the frakking after to see what frakking actualy frakking does. Can it be any frakking simpler?

    REPLY: This is well water, from onsite. – Anthony

  9. Mr. Watts, this naturally burning gas pit is not in Uzbekistan, it’s in Turkmenistan, two and a half hours of driving into the desert from the capital, Ashkhabad. In the daytime, under strong sunlight, it doesn’t look that impressive, though it is very hot at the edge, and there is a danger of suffocation downwind from the pit.

    REPLY: Thanks, my mistakestan. Uzbekistan was cited in the YouTube video description. Fixed – Anthony

  10. Love the bit at the end of the cross examination by Phelim where Fox clearly knows the game is up, eyes move quickly left to right and back, a clear micro expression sign of the subjects guilt, the realisation that the game is up and in an interrogation setting the sign that the suspect is ready to spill the beans. Well done to Phelim McAleer, he is fast becoming the CAGW/greenshirt cults kryptonite.

  11. From the same article you quote:

    Jackson and his fellow researchers at Duke do not completely exonerate fracturing from problems, either. He said more research is needed into whether the intense pressure used to crack open shales, much higher than in conventional drilling, might be the cause of those leaky pipes allowing methane into well water.

    This is happening, and it is impossible to deny it. Have you watched “Gasland”? People who have never had problems with their wells are finding huge problems once fracking is started in their neighborhoods (often of their property because of split estates where they only own the surface rights, a huge problem here in the west). Natural gas drilling companies have settled by providing people affected by these problems with trucked in water supplies. There is ample evidence that the drilling/facking process is causing problems.

    REPLY: See the first comment in this thread. Claims are one thing, baselines are another. Now that they know to establish baselines ahead of time, we’ll see if the issue is real or just overactive imaginations looking to score a tort. My take is this: if the problem was so real, so bad, why did Josh Fox have to resort to a lie of omission to make his movie prove the point he wanted? – Anthony

  12. REPLY: This is well water, from onsite. – Anthony

    Sorry, missed that. On the other hand… well water is supposed to be checked regularly too. Its been a very long time since people just drilled a well and drank whatever came out of it. In most jurisdictions there would be mandatory annual testing (if not more often) and anyone with a drinking water well on their property with any sense in their head would have it tested voluntarily from time to time. I’ll accept that perhaps some juridictions might not have mandatory testing, and I’ll even accept that not all people with a well on their property have enough common sense to have it tested. But ALL of them? SOMEONE must have done testing from time to time and the records ought to be available.

    Not to mention that if MY well water could be lit on fire, the FIRST thing I’d be doing is finding out where to send the water to see what the frakk is in it.

  13. SOMEONE must have done testing from time to time and the records ought to be available.>>>

    Let me take that a step further. Most well water had a lot of minerals in it. Makes for bad tasting water, maybe even a smelly bath, and clothes don’t wash clean…so putting in water softeners, iron eaters, and other on site water treatment systems is a decent sized business opportunity anywhere that on site wells are common. And THOSE companies test before and after as a matter of course, they’d have no way of dedending themselves against false accusation if they didn’t. and I’d bet they keep those records for a very long time.

  14. Anthony, would the homeowner have been alarmed if this this was a common occurrence prior to the fracking? And there is ample evidence in the area of the Marcellus shale which shows similar problems.

    Also, didn’t you try to pull something like this for a youtube video which made you look bad?

  15. davidmhopper
    Where I am in the midwest US, methane is not part of the very long list of substances tested in water from a new well, or in follow up testing, or in private wells for that matter. Routine testing would not detect methane, it isn’t part of the routine series.

  16. The Marcellus shale problems were also highlighted in Gasland.

    It is also worth pointing out the problems with “coal bed methane” which is a popular source for natural gas here in eastern Montana. The water pollution, via the salty water which is an effulent from these wells is causing huge problems in the eastern part of my state, and this is not nearly as bad as the problems associated with fracking. Your assertion that fracking (as a complete process) got a clean bill of health is silly as shown in the quote I made above. There are real problems with the method, and the fact that the industry got a free pass on water quality requirements (exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2004) shows that the industry *knows* there are problems.

    REPLY: It’s not my assertion, nor is it “silly”. It is the lead paragraph from the story in the NYT. Sorry if you don’t like it but it stands as is from the NYT article. Complain to them – Anthony

  17. davidmhoffer says:
    June 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I would imagine that the owners of the property also have records, since they paid for the well & testing.

  18. Ahem….. what does this ‘methane water’ taste like????

    On a more serious note, could the water supply pipe be routed to an open top tank that has a low pressure bladder sealed to it, say one that could expand to 300 cu ft at 0.5 psi pressure or so? Me thinks I could run my stove top or the water heater off of such a methane/natural gas source….. That should keep the taps from audible flatulence and every time I took a shower, washed clothes or the truck, or watered the garden, I’d be collecting more ‘natural gas’ for the breakfast bacon and eggs fry up! Now THAT would be sweet!

    I’d need a float type shut off switch in the main water tank to shut off the pump in the well, when the low pressure main water tank was full. Not having to pump the main tank to 45 – 60 psi should make the expensive and harder to replace in-well pump last a lot longer. I’d need a second smaller above ground pump to take water from the low pressure tank and pump it to 45-60 psi for the house line pressure. The weight of the bladder would be designed to maintain about 0.5 psi pressure on the methane gas as it is withdrawn for cooking and the bladder collapses, eliminating any specialty pump there. Hmmmm…. I think this could work!

  19. Poor sound but I get this to be Fox’s response;

    “Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission ruled the gas biogenic rather than thermogenic…(aside on types of gas)….and Gasland was incorrect because we had misstated the facts that this biogenic gas was naturally occurring so that Mike Markham could light their water before the fracking but there was drilling going on in that area for 4 or 5 years and the report was that same year.”

  20. davidmhoffer says:
    June 4, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    davidmhoffer says:
    June 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I grew up in Southeast Pa and our home there had a well and where I live now in Maryland has a well and in both cases there is no law that well water gets tested every year. Matter of fact the original well where we now live dried up and a new one was drilled. Guess what the state of Maryland calls for? You test for yield and then disinfect the new well with Chlorine and that is it for testing as can be seen in the PDF linked here:

    http://extension.umd.edu/publications/PDFs/HW3.pdf

    Yes paying to have your water tested once a year should be on the homeowners to do list, however most well water is not discolored or smelly and unless that changes most homeowners will not pay the expense of a private test.

  21. Slightly OT, but fracking caused earthquakes in Blackpool, England according to the BBC. Oh and fracking is accelerating climate change.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9501000/9501838.stm

    A series of earthquakes near Blackpool have been blamed on the drilling of shale gas, which is also accused of polluting water supplies and accelerating climate change.

    The BBC’s environment analyst Roger Harrabin reports.

    Harrabin of course is a high priest in the AGW Cult.

  22. Rattus Norvegicus,

    Here in South Colorado (San Juan mountains), we use very hard well water with lots of limestone and methane in it. Being treated by the softener system (expensive, IMO), it becomes OK for dish washing, taking showers, etc. but not for cooking or drinking. And, if water pipes are not used for several weeks, stagnated water emits bad-smelling gas, mix of methane and H2S naturally contained in the local aquifers. There is a lot of traditional natural gas pumping going on around us, mostly by the Indian reservation authority. We still have to buy drinking water in the store, 12 miles from us.

    I am sure that clever locals, as soon as they would get a wind of environmental suits against the fracturing oil & gas companies, would readily jump on the same wagon, hoping to get some money out of the system (unemployment is very high in our neck of the woods). This is exactly what happens elsewhere. Those people who are suing gas companies for “methane in the water” had the same problem before, and know it very well — but one cannot sue Mother Nature, n’est ce pas?

  23. cwj says:
    June 4, 2011 at 10:37 pm
    davidmhopper
    Where I am in the midwest US, methane is not part of the very long list of substances tested in water from a new well, or in follow up testing, or in private wells for that matter. Routine testing would not detect methane, it isn’t part of the routine series.>>>

    The long list of substances would include organic compounds as well as dissolved gasses with threshold limits that when exceeded would require additional testing to determine the specific contaminant.

    And it isn’t “hopper”. No pees in my name just a couple of frakking effs.

  24. I remember the sidewalks in Burbank catching fire on occasion when someone tossed a lit match. Seems there is plenty of natural gas seeping out through the ground in SoCal.

    Also, wasn’t there Congressional testimony in the past couple of weeks by EPA that they have not documented a single case in the US where fracking has caused water contamination?

    Oh, here it is … Lisa Jackson:

    Jackson told a Republican from Pennsylvania (a state nicknamed “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas”) that she was “not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself” had affected water.

  25. A friend of mine’s well water does this naturally, they have a vent build into their standby tank to alleviate the build up preventing what he guy did in the first video.
    We actually did that once by jamming the vent to build up the concentration enough.
    The only other times it could happen is when they go away or lose power cutting the power to their pump, there by drying out the lines.

  26. davidmhoffer:

    Not only on-site, but a private well.

    If Colorado is like most western states there are few if any water quality testing requirements for private wells.

    Usually the only WQ test ever performed on a private well is when the well is first drilled. Older wells may not have ever been tested since these even minimal requirements were only begun in the 80’s or 90’s.

  27. Would Rattus please explain what kind of evidence would convince him that fracking causes no problems wrt methane in tap water?

    If the answer is “none” then of course there is no point in debating the point.

  28. I think we need to be a bit more cautious with the consequences of this type of gas extraction.
    While it might be true that the ‘documentary’ appeared to misrepresent the facts in the specifics shown, I would suggest that it is equally foolish to assume that ALL such reports of damage are equally so.
    There is good evidence that some real damage has been caused in Australian sites.
    There is clear evidence of chemical pollution of neighbouring water wells.
    It would seem that this is prima facie evidence of the potentiality of damage to neighbouring pastoral industries.
    Additionally the amount of water used and polluted in an outback Australian where water is so precious and from a common diminishing sources, ‘the great artesian basin’ , Murray/Darling river system could render this type of extraction counter productive for the nation.
    My point is that each site should be tested and judged individually rather than a expedient formulaic approach of one in all in or the reverse , to do otherwise isn’t scientific.
    Currently there is a Senate inquiry into the whole inustry.

  29. I think we need to be a bit more cautious with the consequences of this type of gas extraction.
    While it might be true that the ‘documentary’ appeared to misrepresent the facts in the specifics shown, I would suggest that it is equally foolish to assume that ALL such reports of damage are equally so.
    There is good evidence that some real damage has been caused in Australian sites.
    There is clear evidence of chemical pollution of neighbouring water wells.
    It would seem that this is prima facie evidence of the potentiality of damage to neighbouring pastoral industries.
    Additionally the amount of water used and polluted in an outback Australian where water is so precious and from a common diminishing sources, ‘the great artesian basin’ , Murray/Darling river system could render this type of extraction counter productive for the nation.
    My point is that each site should be tested and judged individually rather than a expedient formulaic approach of one in all in or the reverse , to do otherwise isn’t scientific.
    Currently there is a Senate inquiry into the whole industry.

  30. Seems to me that he is making sure that people see the obvious implication that the fraking has caused this flaming water so the facts about it not being caused by this are totally relevant. The only thing that is not relevant is his defence of leaving out these relevant facts.

  31. There is a campaign here on the mid north coast of NSW to stop gas exploration because of the claims in “Gasland”. If these facts had been included in the film much of the heat would go out of the rather vitriolic campaign. I’ll be writing to the local activists and have them read the NYT piece.

  32. I wonder why climate alarmism attracts such ‘intellectually challenged’ people to its cause?

    Here’s some examples

    a. The guy above who couldn’t think through the consequences of a simple obvious question about history
    b. The Hockey Team who never anticipated that somebody might look at their work in detail and expose it for the sham that it is.
    c. The 10:10 video guys whose pathetic and pitiful attempt at propaganda scored a spectacular own goal
    d. The UEA who (as Bishop Hill and colleagues is slowly exposing) didn’t even organise their own Climategate whitewashes in a bullet proof way. Bringing yet more ridcule and ordure on their heads
    e. Mike Mann whose intellect seems to run out after parrotting ‘well-funded climate deniers’ and who thought nobody would question the disappearance of the well-documented Medieval Warm Period.
    f. The Greenpeace publicity manager who threatened us all with ‘we know where you live’
    and finally:
    g. Dr Pacahuri who imagined himself so untouchable that with a phrase like ‘voodoo science’ he could quell any dissent. Instead his own credibility plunged into sharply negative territory.

    This is not the behaviour of great strategic thinkers. These guys are not the sharpest knives in the drawer. They do not exude ‘bottom’. They are not the finest minds of their generation.

    If this is the best team that the alarmists can muster, then I suspect that the game will be all over within five years. I seriously doubt if they will be winning many high-quality converts in that time.

    And as the unhappy consequences of their lobbying come home to more and more of Joe Public, their case will come under ever more vigorous scrutiny. Wittering on about Big Oil funded deniers and blowing up children isn’t going to do them any good whem that day comes

  33. Methane appearing uncontrolled above ground (and unsuspected) is a huge hazard. Often it is associated with abandoned shallow coal mine workings or from deeper workings where the mine entrance has not been adequately sealed. Particularly a drift mine because an inclined tunnel is more difficult to seal than a vertical shaft.

    But there are also problems from comparatively shallow coal workings (a few hundreds of metres) where shafts have been sealed but where rebound groundwater following cessation of pumping drives methane gas up a geological fault. (Until the workings become flooded).

    However, there have been spectacular and deadly explosions where the methane is from normal decay of organic material. One of the worst was at Abbeystead, which for some reason, everyone in this debate has conveniently forgotten:-

    http://www.hse.gov.uk/comah/sragtech/caseabbeystead84.htm

    But methane isn’t something you want hanging around anywhere near your house. If the people with the flammable tap water shown in Gaslands have been exposed to this danger for decades, then whoever is responsible for regulating the water supply should be behind bars.

    If fracking for shale gas at a depth of several kilometers is causing any genuine problems I would be surprised. The drillers must have been doing something really stupid. If not, then as an early commenter has suggested, the gas company should sue Fox’s sorry ass.

    Arguably, many of the alleged problems we have had over the years have been attributable to BigGas, BigCoal and BigOil refusing to stand up to the likes of Fox, and Fiends of the Earth, Greenpiss and all the rest when they have been spouting lying nonsense. Not suggesting that Exxon should start playing hard ball with the little people who can’t be expected to necessarily get their facts right. But when rich organisations with numerous full time paid “experts” like WWF weigh in with their usual pernicious and tendentious bullshit they MUST be answered by legal action.

    Instead BigOil and the rest have been much too interested in being “Mr. Nice Guy” and contributing money to crooks like the late unlamented Stephen Schneider.

  34. Mr. Fox is an alarmist liar. He has jumped on the environmental wacko bandwagon in regard to something he has no idea what he is talking about. I am both a petroleum geologist and environmental geologist. Fracture treatment of shale gas formations thousands of feet in the ground is a miraculous technology that will provide the US with cheap domestic energy for decades. It is perfectly safe and it would be nearly impossible for it to affect the shallower groundwater wells many people use for their domestic supply. This is political football that people who hate petroleum producers are try to use to bring them under more federal regulations. Quite simply another federal government power grab. They have to create a perceived problem before government can come to our rescue. Mr. Fox is a pathetic snake oil peddler. Rather than fall on his knees and thank his creator for his great fortune, to live in our great county with such abundant resources, he makes a propaganda film to smear the good name of creative people who risked their personal livelihoods to bring us that resource. He is not worthy of an attempt at reeducation.

  35. @dp says:

    June 5, 2011 at 12:24 am

    What you say is correct but, as your link shows the problem at Nyos was CO2, not CH4.

  36. The BBC used a Gasland extract the other day to crank up the fear about fracking in Blackpool after the 1.5 Richter scale earthquake there recently.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13612482

    They use the phrase “Environmental groups claim…”, a sign that they were aware of the dubious nature of the footage yet they still used the clip. Now they can say “Environmental groups and the BBC aimed to deceive by presenting irrelevant footage of natural methane leakage in the US “

  37. The other exciting gas you can get in lower levels of lakes in Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S).

    The Black Sea has a huge dead zone of H2S below a couple of hundred metres.

    http://www.bucharestherald.ro/dailyevents/41-dailyevents/16635-specialists-warn-huge-hydrogen-sulfide-reserve-in-black-sea-could-trigger-real-disaster-in-europe

    However, the danger of a mass inversion isn’t explosion as this media piece suggests, it is the toxicity of H2S. A lung full and you are a gonner.

    But there may be scope for extracting hydrogen.

  38. Lot of froth about hot air – be greatful and collect it whilst it’s still freely available and “on tap” and use for heating / lighting etc. Hmmp! townees, – never happy – even when they are!

  39. examinator says:
    June 5, 2011 at 12:13 am

    I think we need to be a bit more cautious with the consequences of this type of gas extraction.
    While it might be true that the ‘documentary’ appeared to misrepresent the facts in the specifics shown, I would suggest that it is equally foolish to assume that ALL such reports of damage are equally so.


    Well said. Fracking is in essence a high risk technology:

    “The controversial new drilling operation for natural shale gas in Lancashire has
    been suspended following a second earthquake in the area that may have been triggered by the process. The earthquake last Friday near Blackpool occurred at
    the same time that the energy company Cuadrilla Resources was injecting fluids under high pressure deep underground to deliberately blast apart the gas-bearing rock – a process known as “fracking”, brought to Britain from the US, where it has been highly contentious.

    Earthquake experts from the British Geological Survey said that the 1.5 magnitude quake last week was similar to a 2.3 earthquake in April in the same area and that both may be linked to the experimental fracking for shale gas at Preese Hall on the Fylde coast. ”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/small-earthquake-in-blackpool

    -major-shock-for-uks-energy-policy-2291597.html

  40. For what it is worth, I have a gas well in my neighborhood, about one or one and a half miles from my house. They have been fracking in the general area of Arlington, Texas, in the heart of the Barnett shale, for some time now. Although few people have wells in this area, I am not aware of anyone who has a well experiencing flaming water. The more common problem is the impact of injecting used water from the fracking process into the ground, which has created issues of potential groundwater contamination. These issues are being dealt with by the industry as they are presented. I believe there is a scare tactic environmental lobby out there misinforming the public, because our gas lessee can’t get a permit from the City of Arlington right now. I’d like to benefit from this while I’m alive, if possible. Stop the irrational scare tactics, Mr. Josh Fox.

  41. The BBC showed a film of biogenic methane being ignited through a hole in the ice of a frozen lake and stated that it was evidence of climate change. Complete rubbish but the gullible swallowed the story.

  42. Industrialising gas deposits requires pressure in the deposit, it is not a viable proposition to pump gas from a well, so if a gas deposit is near the surface it would have lost its pressure hundreds of thousands of years ago.
    Financially viable gas deposits are usually at the several km depth, and water deposits are not usually found on the same level.
    Fracking in the oil industry is one of its most exact sciences, every oil-well drilled is fractured, it is a very expensive operation so the fracturing must be done were it is needed, not as the MSM have been misleading the world as a willienillie operation, the fracking tool is loaded with ‘bullets’ that are sent on predetermined paths in the structure that contains the hydrocarbons that are to be recuperated, making super highways for the liquids/gases to pass before entering the pipe to the surface, if there was a leak anywhere in the system the well operator would know immediately and the well would be shut in, you don’t spend millions of dollars on a well only to have some contractor blow it all away.

  43. In Alberta, there were lots of people who had gas collectors built into their water systems to acquire the “free” gas but the government claimed they were avoiding paying royalties and the systems were unsafe so they are no longer allowed to collect the gas.

    However the government produces a brochure on how to vent methane from domestic wells since it is a common occurrence. http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex10840

  44. There was a TV show about fracking in Queensland, Australia. Farmers didn’t like it, as they had no control over their own land. Gas producers could just set up and start drilling….

  45. If I had methane in my water, I’d want them to drill more gas wells around me so they could extract all the methane as quickly as possible. Or I’d plumb my water main to my gas furnace and cut down on my heating bill!

    Anyhow, I doubt methane in water poses a health risk. Just don’t use open flame around your tap.

  46. My father was fracking played-out gas wells west of Fort Worth, Texas, in the ’60s. These were shallow wells, only a couple of thousand feet deep. In those days, they injected “produced” water from the wells — recycling the salt water brought up with the oil (what little oil there was) under pressure. This is not a new technology.

    What is new, apparently, is the chemical mix now used to improve the result. It is not the harmless salt water of the past, but a toxic brew designed to create higher pressures and reduced shear resistance. In the event of contamination, the health risk is higher due to the efficacy of the process, which increases the area of contamination, and the higher toxicity of the materials used.

    Aside: Old-time petroleum prospectors looked for surface seeps to locate promising drilling sites. One wonders if global seepage is stable over time, or if volcanic and tectonic activity causes emissions to vary — this could be an important factor affecting atmospheric “greenhouse gas” levels not adequately accounted for in climate modeling. Anyone know if there is good solid data on global methane (and CO2) seepage and its magnitude compared to anthropogenic emissions?

  47. I did a Google search on fracking a while back to try and learn a bit about it, the results were interesting to say the least with most returns focused on the controversy including the Wikipedia page.
    As George Carlin would say. The planet is fine, the people are fracked. I can’t help but smell an agenda. As usual I hope I’m wrong.

  48. re: well testing

    The only test required for private wells in my area is for coliform bacteria. It is required for newly drilled wells and by lenders in conjunction with a mortgage application. Of course most smart people also test for ph, hardness, dissolved solids, tannins and other “ingredients” in order to determine what type of filtering would be needed. It is also wise to do so after any portion of your well water delivery system has been opened and exposed to air.

  49. A rule of thumb from a chemist. The atomic weight of nitrogen is 14. N2 that makes up most of the air it is atomic weight 28. Rule of thumb, the atomic weight is proportional to the density among simple gases. If you take a light gas like H2 with atomic weight = 2, it will rise rapidly through free air. A heavy gas like H2S = 34, greater than 28, will tend to hug the ground. Methane is 16, much less than 28, so it’s another quite light gas. CO2 at 44 is definitely a ground hugger (which is why I think the global abundance is rather more than measured high up on Mauna Loa. There will be large amounts sitting in valleys etc.) Among other climate gases, Ozone at at a heavy 48 should not rise into the stratosphere unless carried convectively. SO2 is a real heavy at 64. Chlorine at 70 is obviously heavy enough for trench warfare.

    In parts of Australia, there is another name because “frakking” can be a bit towards the Politically Incorrect. So we used “cracking” instead. We have good cracks and bad cracks, there are natural cracks that give off a lot of gas and refined cracks that are sweet. Along a fault, we can have a line of crack and that can sure get up your nose. When having a beer with dissolved gas from a metal can, we use “crack a tinnie”. People working for weeks in remote areas come to town to “chase some crack”. When they get back on site, mates ask them “Did you crack it?” Laughter is sometimes described as a “big crack up”, but conversely, that is seen by some males as an opportunity. Etc; etc.

  50. *it’s “FRACCING”, not “fracking”.
    this message brought to you by your friendly oil company shill. ;-)

  51. The controversy over fracing is far more fabricated than than even the AGW scare. As a geologist in the industry, I have seen nothing but scare tactics & misrepresentations. The whole thing took the industry by surprise because the claims are so ridiculous. Image the safest practice in your business & some outsider coming in & saying it was hazardous. You would be left speechless. How do you argue with a crazy man? You can’t. That’s essentially what has happened with the whole fracking controversy.

  52. Kristiabstad, the town I lived in when I went to high school in southern Sweden use water that contains hydrogen sulfide which is taken from wells deep underground from wells inside the city. Before the water is distributed to households the hydrogen sulfide is removed by letting air bubbles remove the H2S gas inside a pool. The air with the gas is then let out trough high chimneys. Depending in weather and the wind you can sometimes feel a smell of rotten eggs if you are near that building.
    I guess that methane can be removed cheaply using the same method, if ever methane is a problem.
    The worst thing the greenies can imagine is that there exists new potential abundant cheap alternative for energy production that can deliver base loads such as from shale gas or from thorium reactors. After all, their great master plan is to impose energy rationing, get control over people and stop economic growth.

  53. That firey hole in the ground picture gives new meaning to lighting a human…well, you know.

  54. No doubt the attempt to build contempt prior to investigation will increase. I wasn’t aware of the extent of the religious ferocity of the anti-fracking movement until recently when a lefty friend went off unprovoked with all this misinformed bile. Always agenda – first and last. Fact is far less important than accusation.

    Too much fear to be peddled for villification of energy company whipping boys. Just can’t resist. There’s a lot at stake in terms of “clean” ideology. Natural gas is plentiful, clean and cheap. For those with an agenda, it has to be stopped.

    The main similarity with AGW is the inability to disprove the claims. “Danger” can never be ruled out.

  55. I grew up in Western Pennsylvania. Industries there included coal strip-mining and glass bottle factories. The glass industry was there because of the gas available with the drilling technology early in the last century. Many rural homes were heated and lighted with gas produced on the property.

    We hunted whitetail deer. One of the paths we used was along a stream and went past an unused well (unplugged). The well bubbled up water, sulphur (sulfur) and iron in solution, and gas. Beside the well was a large fallen tree. We often sat on the log and tossed matches (remember paper book matches?) toward this wondrous spring. Just as a lighted match was about to touch down in the water there would be a little ‘poof’ and tiny bit of flame. One day while returning along this path a friend sat for a bit to rest and threw a match or two while softly singing a popular song of the day. A nicely antlered buck came along the same path and met his demise. This was about 1960. Even then the well was old.

  56. Background: I’m a Dallas CPA, been living/working in the oil patch all my life, with many clients in the oil business, as well as small working interests in dozens of wells. All this info has been accumulated over years working with and observing their businesses. I offer this only as a primer of what goes on downhole. Depending on geographic location, underground geology and technology used, a particular well may differ in many aspects from what I’m about to describe. Note to mods: if this is too long, just delete it. I’m not sharing anything that’s not otherwise available on the web anyway.

    A well starts with a large hole, usually 20″, drilled with an auger ~50 feet down. A metal tube is inserted and cemented into place. This is called “conductor casing,” and primarily is used to prevent deterioration of the hole as drilling proceeds. The rig is set over this hole.

    Once drilling reaches 200-300 feet below the local water table, surface casing is set. This is usually 9″ pipe, that is centered in the hole with special centering tools. Cement is pumped down the hole, through the space at the bottom, and back up in the space between the casing and the wellbore. This casing is designed to ensure that everything that follows does not have a path into or out of the water table. It also provides a pressure barrier, and the blowout preventer is connected to the top of this casing. The well is usually pressure tested to ensure that there are no leaks.

    While the mathematical probability of a failure of this casing or cement is not zero, they have been doing it this way for 60 years, the technology is relatively straightforward, and the well is tested to make sure that there is no passage to the water table. Besides the environmental consideration, the oil and gas that comes out of a well is too valuable to “lose” it to a porous rock formation.

    Then the remainder of the well is drilled to the target depth. In many areas this will pass through several oil and gas producing layers, or “zones.” In the case of a horizontal well (which is a fascinating topic that deserves a post all it’s own) the wellbore may extend several thousand feet through the target zone.

    Depending on the geology below, production casing may or may not be set at this time. This is 8″ pipe that “hangs” off of the bottom of the surface casing, or may extend all the way to the surface. This, too, is cemented into place, the goal being to prevent all those valuable minerals from being lost to porous rock layers during production.

    In a deep well, the rock formations are to tightly compacted that little oil or gas can escape. In these cases, it is necessary to fracture the rock formation to release the oil/gas. This is called “fracking.” It is desirable to carefully control the exact location of the fracture, to maximize production from the entire wellbore.

    This process is started by sending units down the wellbore to “perforate” the casing/cement at the desired locations. This is done with +/-200 explosive charges that each blast a small hole in the side. This is repeated for every desired fracture stage. One of our long horizontal wells had 49 frac stages along 14,000 ft of wellbore.

    Next, a “plug” is sent down (usually sent down along with the perforation gun, but that’s irrelevant) that will isolate each fracture stage from the rest. You don’t want to have to pump enough fluid to frac the entire wellbore at once, so you concentrate the effort on one stage at a time, working from the toe back toward the surface. Water, along with various chemicals are pumped at extremely high pressures to fracture the rock. The pumping is monitored by computers, so that the frac team knows exactly how much water has been used at what pressures, so they have some assurance of how far the rock has been fractured. Along with water, sand or small ceramic beads (think poppyseeds) are pumped down to hold the fractures open after pressure is relieved. These “proppants” hold the rock open while allowing oil/gas to flow around and toward the wellbore where it can be collected.

    Each stage is fracked in turn until complete. Then the plugs are drilled out to allow the stages to comingle and oil/gas to be produced.

    The frack water collected from the wellbore over the next few weeks is stored in a tank, and then pumped into a nearby disposal well (in our area. some locations recycle the water for the next job). These disposal wells are nothing more than deep deep holes that have been fractured at zones with porous rock layers, usually below the oil producing zones. Since oil floats, having a water bubble below the oil can act to sweep oil upward, toward the producing wells. These wells are cased and sealed just like oil/gas wells, and the water is not allowed to comingle with the drinking water table.

    So, to those who are concerned about gas or saltwater contamination of drinking water: it’s unlikely. The water or gas would have to either penetrate thousands of feet of rock, which has successfully sealed off the gas for thousands of years (otherwise there would be no gas layer to mine), or would have to penetrate at least two steel pipes that are cemented in place. I am totally unconvinced that drilling is the cause of water contamination.

    Happy drilling.

  57. In the Po valley in Italy you can light fire to the water from the pump in the old water wells in several of the town squares.

    I have seen this myself over twenty years ago. Nobody ever freaked out. It was amusing and of course well known to be naturally in the water due to the Po Valley being a huge sedimentary basin with lots of long-ago buried decaying organic materials (source rocks for oil & gas)

    Why it should recently be a surprise that you find dissolved gases, minerals etc. in ground water in many parts of the world is a mystery to me.

    Unfortunately people have become so stupid and disconnected from nature that they can be totally hood winked by eco-fascist zealots.

    It is not so sad that eco-fascist zealots exist and that they spew propaganda. These people always existed and probably always will. What is terribly sad is that the general public is becoming gullible to believe it, and worse our own western media is abetting these eco-wackos! In the past, these people were just humored and ignored – they did not get time in national press or on major TV networks. Worse still, recently there is a trend whereby Western Governments seem to be abetting these people. (possibly because alarm => fear => more control/power)

    The end result is more unnecessary central control of all private and public activities for the “good” of the fatherland and a hysterical anti-industry public who are practically willing to stop industry at ALL cost because they believe the “end justifies the means”.

    It would all be a minor amusement if this trend was not leading towards a totalitarian society where no activities are allowed without the appropriate approval from central ruling authority.

    Will we ever get to the situation where our democratic governments will call for industrial workers to be identified by a badge sewn on their clothes? (perhaps a badge indicating the worker’s carbon footprint)

    Let’s hope not.

  58. BBC News used a different clip of lighting methane – a young guy in what looked like a student digs. As it seemed an extreme example I happened to have it recorded so I watched it moment by moment to see if the water flowed – I did not see any. It was almost as if someone had fed mains gas in to a tap and lit it for propaganda purposes.

    It is interesting to note that fracking has been used for 60 years in over 2 million operations without complaints of groundwater contamination. The difference now is that it offers the possibility of powering civilisation for another 200 years, something anathema to many Greens.

    Many want a return to a pre-industrial society, along with a pre-industrial population. They have been most successful in Europe, where Spain and Portugal have crippled their economies by investing heavily in so called ‘renewables’, the UK is setting the path for de-industrialisation, and even Germany is taking the first steps to destroying its economy.

    One issue is that when governments try to be green they think this is just a matter of doing what eco-activists tell them. For example it can be strongly argued that wind, solar and ethanol produce more CO2 than they save, hence the need for subsidies. So renewables are probably not ‘green’ even though backed by green organisations.

    Also, by failing to confront the green propaganda they give the impression that the Green activists are the fount of all knowledge, which can lead the electorate to cut out the middlemen and vote in a green government, as happened in Germany. [See below]

    Most people want to be ‘green’, but not neccessarily in a way that leads to poverty and death.

    http://www.thegwpf.org/energy-news/2874-peter-glover-ten-fracking-things-everyone-should-know.html

    http://www.thegwpf.org/the-climate-record/3133-germany-the-friendly-eco-dictatorship.html

  59. Even novels have reference to natural methane in water. Nevil Shute’s “A Town like Alice” mentions a water bore being lit to amuse the heroine, if one can properly call her that.
    So nothing new then, not even the lying for effect. The scary thing is when folk KNOW that the ends justify the means ( exaggerating, manipulating, etc).

  60. The processes that release gases as well as oil are well documented. Gases are of course far more mobile and since they leave no traces (unlike an active oil seep) are probably leaking out of the ground in many places in EVERY sedimentary basin.

    http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/articles/article/theoracleatdelphinotjusthotair/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum_seep

    One of the challenges in petroleum exploration is to find the relatively few spots where gas & or oil is NOT seeping out! Source rock is prevalent everywhere but in 99.9% of cases the stuff just leaks out to surface and gets consumed by bacteria – finding the few spots where the hydrocarbons get “trapped” is actually a very very tricky business (needle in a hay stack problem).

  61. Martin Brumby says:
    June 5, 2011 at 1:18 am

    @dp says:
    June 5, 2011 at 12:24 am
    What you say is correct but, as your link shows the problem at Nyos was CO2, not CH4.

    Sorry – was making the point (badly) that accumulation of gas in water is not uncommon. The process for accumulation of CO2 or methane is the same. What is needed is a steady source of the gas and a body of water.

  62. This post, along with the entire collection of comments, is a great illustration of the main reason I regularly read WUWT. It’s a great learning experience. Thanks Anthony.

    P.S. to davidmhoffer: In my part of Wisconsin (a state not known for lax regulatory behavior) there is also no testing required of private wells that are already in existence. (I don’t know about requirements on a new well or on the sale of the property, but the only testing on my well in 25 years has been voluntary. When the well is opened, the plumber will add chlorine as a disinfectant, but no testing is required then either.)

    If you’re going to speculate in a comment, best that you say that you’re speculating (guessing) rather than sound as if you know what you’re talking about. Here on WUWT, I’ve found that the speculators/guessers, as well as alarmists, are usually called out quite effectively by people who actually know what they’re talking about because of direct experience. After a few such experiences these people usually disappear voluntarily, or else modify their behavior, rather than being banned from contributing as apparently occurs on the alarmist sites.

  63. Any time I see the phrase “not evil, just wrong” I know almost immediately that what is to follow is “not only wrong, but evil”. In this case, the guy is deliberately making a documentary that doesn’t document alternative theories and problems that existed before fracking showed up on the scene. When questioned about it, he clearly states its “irrelevant”. He wants to shut down fracking and is willing to hurt the people who have jobs in this area and those who can use the cheap energy, when methane in the water may be explained by other processes. That’s evil in my book.

  64. Please, for the love of all that is ‘holey’ (holey…get it? wink wink, nudge nudge)….’fracturfing’ does not contain anywhere in it’s spelling the letter ‘k’.

    The slang short version is spelled fraccing or frac’ing.

  65. Mark Wagner says:
    June 5, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Mark,
    Thanks for the explanation.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Others,
    About the only tests of well water in the area* (very rural) where I live are done by sales reps for household water systems (think Culligan) and may include minerals, iron, pH, and sediment. [*Wash. State; east of the Cascades] The general rule is that if it ain’t broke don’t mess with it.

  66. fracking/fraccing

    Fraccing, frac, fracced do not appear in Webster’s online (or anywhere that I can find).

    Webster’s, Dallas Morning News, Newsweek, New York Times all spell it with a “k.”

    Get over it.

  67. By providing a path of least resistance, shouldn’t drilling and fracking generally reduce this problem, with a few unique and probably temporary exceptions?

  68. Martin Brumby says on June 5, 2011 at 1:15 am

    Methane appearing uncontrolled above ground (and unsuspected) is a huge hazard. Often it is associated with abandoned shallow coal mine workings or from deeper workings where the mine entrance has not been adequately sealed. Particularly a drift mine because an inclined tunnel is more difficult to seal than a vertical shaft. …

    Oh my .. what may be the results of ‘adequate sealing’?

    Rising methane (partial) pressure in the old shaft?

    And leaks elsewhere?

    Wouldn’t an otherwise thoughtful solution be to ventilate the mine shaft? (Or, work to recover the methane?)

    .

  69. In Italy all water wells are tested at no cost 2 times a year by the local authority and rated drinkable or not. All open wells are rated non drinkable even if they are because of the possibility of contaminants entering the well,

  70. How do you like that? Huh! Up there in Alberta they can’t spell FRACKING.

    Perhaps we should rename it HUFing, as in Hydraulic Underground Fracturing.

  71. Phhht. Get over yourself. I know, you’re the self appointed ‘king of the patch’ apparently.

    Happy ‘drilling’!

  72. Down in the Everglades we have “swamp gas” — methane, that gets ignited by lightening, and drives forest fire fighters nuts. Been doing this for the 40 years I’ve been here.

    When do you think the lefties will take blame for killing tens of millions with malaria in Africa with their DDT hoax? Even WHO after 35 years plus of trying could find nothing that DDT did except kill mosquitoes.

  73. Roy Jones says:
    June 5, 2011 at 1:02 am

    In the UK the press focus is on fracking causing earthquakes.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/jun/01/blackpool-earthquake-tremors-gas-drilling

    Perhaps you’d like to give us the details of the catastrophic danger than can result from a magnitude 1.5 (or 2.3) earthquake of the sort that occured in Lancashire in the UK. Then we can pass on a dire warning to the Icelanders who’ve had 64 in the last 48 hours. Eighteen of these were between magnitude 1 and 3. One was magnitude 3.1.

    http://en.vedur.is/earthquakes-and-volcanism/earthquakes/#view=map

  74. Why don’t you apply the same level of scepticism to fracking as to climate change then Mr Watts?

    Double standards it seems. Lets not forget, it’s not just gas land that presents concerns on fracking it is also US and the UK academics that have reservations. I guess there just more crack pot conspirators to be struck of ideologically by you and your chums.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/108/20/8172.abstract

  75. Sam says:

    “Why don’t you apply the same level of scepticism to fracking as to climate change then Mr Watts?”

    Maybe because fracking has been done for many decades, and there is a wealth of empirical knowledge and experience supporting it…

    …unlike AGW, which is model-based, with no evidence of global harm from CO2 emissions. See the difference? One is based on real world experience, while the other is based on evidence-free conjecture.

  76. Perhaps you’d like to give us the details of the catastrophic danger than can result from a magnitude 1.5 (or 2.3) earthquake of the sort that occured in Lancashire in the UK. Then we can pass on a dire warning to the Icelanders who’ve had 64 in the last 48 hours. Eighteen of these were between magnitude 1 and 3. One was magnitude 3.1.

    This made me laugh. Living in New Zealand we do not call a magnitude 3 an “earthquake”. Trucks rumbling past cause more shaking than that. (Literally: most people don’t even feel a magnitude below 3.0 let alone have it cause damage.)

    In any case, I remain unconvinced that inducing small earthquakes is a bad thing. It’s a hell of a lot better than letting things build up to a big one, recalling that tectonic movements are the real cause – no drilling in the world will actually make one occur that was not ready to go anyway.

  77. Of course the Gasland man lied. These type of stories only exist because of lying.

  78. Ed Dahlgren says:
    June 5, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    ‘Gasland’ sounds a lot like a Michael Moore production.

    – Ed

    Michael Moore has become very, very rich through his ‘documentaries’. It looks like Mr. Gasland wants a piece of the action!

  79. When I first started doing mineral exploration geochemistry, I was astounded at the public ignorance of what is found beneath the surface. Many were so affected by Jules Verne type stories that they imagined underground caverns, rivers, vegetation, even civilizations. The simple common model of an A, B, C soil horizon system resulting mainly from the effect of weather on hard rock below was unknown to the majority of people I spoke to. I sincerely hope that people are now educated better about soil profiles, their effects on agriculture and the natural environment and their gas content. Do I read into comments above that some references are made to people who ought understand soil profiles and water tables and so on, but do not?

  80. Rod Everson;
    If you’re going to speculate in a comment, best that you say that you’re speculating (guessing) rather than sound as if you know what you’re talking about. Here on WUWT, I’ve found that the speculators/guessers, as well as alarmists, are usually called out quite effectively by people who actually know what they’re talking about because of direct experience.>>>>

    Well where I grew up well water sampling every few years was something that just got done. You can get a list of accredited labs off the Health Canada web site. Newer wells are subject to newer standards and the older ones exempt, but buy a property and the financial institutions will more than likely require well water testing before granting a mortgage. Further, Colorado has stringent water quality testing requirements for public water systems:

    http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/regulations/wqccregs/100301primarydrinkingwaternew.pdf

    And these are water systems that draw from the same acquifer base that private wells in the area draw from. There are also a considerable number of businesses listed in the area that specialize in testing and servicing of private wells. My point was that there ought to be records available from both public and private sources that could be used to understand the types and levels of contaminants before and after fracking in the area became common.

    If you want to nit pick my assumption that mandatory well water testing is more common than it is, go right ahead. the point of the thread, and the point of my comments, is that there ought to be a variety of records that could yield information of value in either supporting or falsifying the claim in the first place.

    As for your assumption that you live in a highly regulated state that doesn’t have mandatory testing requirements and that somehow suggests that other jurisdictions don’t either… well congrats on making a broad determination on a sample size of ONE.

  81. SlimmerPickens says: What is new, apparently, is the chemical mix now used to improve the result. It is not the harmless salt water of the past, but a toxic brew designed to create higher pressures and reduced shear resistance. In the event of contamination, the health risk is higher due to the efficacy of the process, which increases the area of contamination, and the higher toxicity of the materials used.

    …Again, people should quit passing on speculation as to what they think they know and only put what they know on this Blog. SlimmerPickens is total wrong about the toxicity of most common (not all) fracture stimulation fluid. To see what is commonly in fracture treated water please go to http://fracfocus.org/

    I find it hard to believe we are reduced to debating such useless drivel with such stupid people. This water with additives is going miles into the ground and a good portion stays there. That which returns is not intended for potable use. Alarmist nuts please go back to your Mom’s basement.

  82. I am really disappointed by the polarization of every issue. Both the left and right get caught in the trap set for them. I’m neither left nor right, up nor down. I hug trees, but would rather converse with a down to earth farmer than a city greenie.
    In disagreement with a ‘builders labourer for a big construction company’ mate, over there being too many trees on his property, and some should be cut down to let more light in. But he wouldn’t even cut down a sappling, yet I’m the one with dreadlocks.
    Stop putting people into boxes. It ruins the debate, and you end up going around in circles. Believe me, it wasn’t city greenies that kicked off the CSG stink in Oz. it was the farmers. And I’d hardly call them lefty greenies. There are regular problems with gas leaks. Toxic ponds and roads all over their farms, processing infrastructure, noise pollution, wear and tear of roads, and land values reduced. It is fracturing communities everywhere.
    You can forget this issue being a left and right debate. This is about survival. This is about the bigger picture of corporate exploitation out of control. And your childrens childrens children will be still paying for the mess left behind.

  83. What right do we humans have to plunder the landscape all over the planet. Bulldozing it. Drilling it. Fracking it.Blowing it up. And leaving a toxic cocktail of chemicals in the ground risking the life source for numerous generations. Forget the politics. This is a fight for sanity, and for life on earth.

  84. And there is a great deal of methane that comes out of coal mining too – one of the biggest problems for miners.

    In the UK the Abbeystead water plant blew up, killing 4 locals who were touring the site. Someone wanted a ciggy, as they always do whatever the circumstances, and did not have the decency to wait until back outside again. So 4 people died, as methane was leaking out of nearby coal seams. Not sure whether this was listed as an industrial accident, or yet more smoking deaths.

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

    .

  85. Regards the Blackpool fracking earthquakes, I think this is usual hype from the Biased Broadcasting Corporation. They have no one on their staff who would know the difference between a spanner and a screwdriver, so don’t expect the BBC to give a balanced story about a technical subject.

    In this case, I understand that the drilling was still in progress. ie, the drill hole was not pressurised, and so at this point in time this was just a drilling operation, not a fracking operation.

    .

  86. Russell Good says:
    June 6, 2011 at 1:23 am
    What right do we humans have to plunder the landscape all over the planet. Bulldozing it. Drilling it. Fracking it.Blowing it up. And leaving a toxic cocktail of chemicals in the ground risking the life source for numerous generations. Forget the politics. This is a fight for sanity, and for life on earth.>>>

    What right to beavers have to chop down trees and build dams? How dare the fox eat a rabbit? And that expression “do bears sh*t in the woods?” turns out… it is true! They do sh*t in woods! How dare they! What right does Smallpox have to wipe out entire communities? Where does Anthrax get the right to kill off herds of cattle? And who gave tape worms permission to live inside of people?

    Russel, have a read through the articles on this site, and actually read them, and the comments. You’ll find that we’re surviving just fine. We live longer than any generation before us, we grow bigger and stronger than any generation before us because we have better nutrition and better disease control, and if you take a careful look at the facts regarding pollution, you’ll find that we’re the first generation in a long time (perhaps ever?) to leave the planet cleaner than the generation before. Does that mean we’re perfect? Not even close! But the notion that we’re doomed? Nonsense.

    On the other hand, the generations that come after us are so heavily in debt that maybe you are right, civilization’s collapse is just around the corner. But due to bad money management, not the environment.

  87. This was a very informative blog, thank you.

    I particularly enjoyed reading the last two paragraphs by Martin Brumby says: June 5, 2011 at 1:15 am comment


    Arguably, many of the alleged problems we have had over the years have been attributable to BigGas, BigCoal and BigOil refusing to stand up to the likes of Fox, and Fiends of the Earth, Greenpiss and all the rest when they have been spouting lying nonsense. Not suggesting that Exxon should start playing hard ball with the little people who can’t be expected to necessarily get their facts right. But when rich organisations with numerous full time paid “experts” like WWF weigh in with their usual pernicious and tendentious bullshit they MUST be answered by legal action.

    Instead BigOil and the rest have been much too interested in being “Mr. Nice Guy” and contributing money to crooks like the late unlamented Stephen Schneider.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/06/04/the-gasland-movie-a-fracking-shame-director-pulls-video-to-hide-inconvenient-truths/#comment-674055

    The comment KnR says: May 2, 2011 at 11:28 am
    What a bunch of cynics you are , their next study on the difficulties of starting a fire underwater , will surely silence you all
    was surely apt.
    source: WUWT 2 May 2011 Stunning discovery by USFS and AP: dead trees burn faster

  88. And for some inane reason, I think should what Martin Brumby suggest come to fruition, that the ‘experts’ may well be found to be supplied with information from the well tenured public servants or vice versa.

    What free market types label ‘self-interest’. That’s a cyclical sort of way.
    Feeds the ever burgeoning policy/legislative process for all and one.

  89. Russell Good says:
    June 6, 2011 at 1:23 am
    What right do we humans have to plunder the landscape

    what right do you have to prevent me from producing and selling for a profit the minerals under the ground I own?

    There must be a balance. Fracking is not nearly as bas as it’s been made out to be? So why do so many continue to spread disinformation regarding it? Hmmmm…..

  90. I’ve read that natural seeps of oil in the Gulf of Mexico have slowed down and some even stopped after oil drilling started out there.
    Perhaps if the fracking can reduce the total amount of natural gas in the system, it will actually decrease this problem as well.

  91. ***********
    Russell Good says: June 6, 2011 at 1:23 am
    What right do we humans have to plunder the landscape all over the planet. Bulldozing it. Drilling it. Fracking it.Blowing it up. And leaving a toxic cocktail of chemicals in the ground risking the life source for numerous generations. Forget the politics. This is a fight for sanity, and for life on earth.
    *************

    Russel – if humanity did not drill, frack and blow and otherwise extract mineral resources from the Earth, you most certainly would not have a life to live. Your hair-shirt, Dark Age utopia would sustain a world population of about 50 million – in poverty, starvation and disease.

    So if you really don’t like the pressure that humanity is placing on the the Earth, then do the decent thing and relieve the Earth of your share of that pressure. And please do it in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner, preferably involving composting.

    .

  92. People are getting excited about a 1.5 magnitude earthquake?

    In terms of energy, that’s the equivalent to what, dropping the china?

  93. Russell Good says:
    June 6, 2011 at 1:23 am

    First you say that you are neither left nor right, then you post this nonsense?
    At least it only took a couple of minutes for you to reveal your true motivations.

  94. Mikael Pihlström says: June 5, 2011 at 2:04 am
    “… Earthquake experts from the British Geological Survey said that the 1.5 magnitude quake last week was similar to a 2.3 earthquake in April in the same area and that both may be linked to the experimental fracking for shale gas at Preese Hall on the Fylde coast. …”
    ——————
    From having lived in the Californian deserts and experienced many small earthquakes, I can tell you that you can hardly feel a 3.0 earthquake unless you are standing right over the epicenter. If you are in a moving car, even 4.0 earthquakes can easily be missed. (It happened to me 3 times, all within 5 miles of their epicenters.)

    Californians (well at least the sensible ones) welcome all those small, non-damaging quakes because they gradually release the growing stresses along fault lines. When small quakes stop happening in a region, the probability of a major quake increases.

    So, if fracking really does cause *small* earthquakes (that cause no damage), maybe we actually need a lot more fracking rather than less in order to protect the planet and mankind. (I’m using the generic meaning of mankind, not just males. Wouldn’t want to live in a world without the ladies! ;-)

  95. ******************
    Mark Wagner says:
    June 5, 2011 at 12:35 pm
    fracking/fraccing
    Fraccing, frac, fracced do not appear in Webster’s online (or anywhere that I can find).
    Webster’s, Dallas Morning News, Newsweek, New York Times all spell it with a “k.”
    Get over it.
    ******************
    You choose to be wrong then. In the oil and gas industry it’s fraccing or fracing. There is NO “K”.
    I certainly wouldn’t take MSM’s spelling over someone in the industry. ;-)
    And certainly NOT anything from the NYT!

  96. DavidMHoffer,

    Interesting reading, your water testing regs. I noticed that these are the public utility regs, in compliance with the clean water act. Most interesting to note though, no requirement to test for methane in the water supply.

    I’m not saying that they don’t test for it, only that it’s not required. So if it’s not required for a public utility, why would it be required for a private residence? And for that matter, why would a private well owner pay for a test that the state has not deemed not a significant enough risk to issue legislation on for public water utilities.

    Personally, I have no idea how many districts have well regs that would require you to test for the presence of natural gas, but I would wager that they are probably only in areas where there has been a significant natural problem in the past or a documented issue with contamination currently. Either way Coloradoans are not required to test for the presence of Methane. Pennslyvania (where I currently live) is not required to test for it. And Indiana (where I used to live) is not required to test for it.

    I’m not saying no one does, I’m just saying that it may not be as straight forward from an owner/records perspective as some would make it sound. Either way, moving forward, the companies themselves will now start doing pre and post tests to mitigate future liability. I would also state that is seems odd no one at the gas companies would have thoght to test for this since they’re pumping water into the ground to extract natural gas.

  97. this is just like the nuclear hit piece movie with Meryl Streep…they need to see where this guy got his funding and what his background is because i thought it was too convenient that all of a sudden we had this huge new source of natural gas via frakking and then (big shocker!) some movie is already in the can and ready to spread green propaganda….just too convenient…and you know the green lefties are worried about this cheap natural gas impacting their beloved solar and wind dreams…

  98. Davidmhoffer wrote: “As for your assumption that you live in a highly regulated state that doesn’t have mandatory testing requirements and that somehow suggests that other jurisdictions don’t either… well congrats on making a broad determination on a sample size of ONE.”

    Ah, if you have followed the comments throughout, you’ll note that I was probably the fourth or fifth person to contradict your assertion. In fact, I could find no one who agreed with your assertion (assumption) that water testing of private wells is common, and those posters were commenting on several different states. It appears to me that you are the one using “a sample size of ONE” but that’s hardly the point. The point is that you will get called out effectively in here when you make unsupported assertions, a fact that makes this blog an excellent source of information, due to the vast amount of information stored in the heads of the people who post comments (and I don’t include myself in that description, by the way) who are willing to share their knowledge and expand upon, or take issue with, points in the main postings.

    As to my own knowledge base, which partially revolves around the teaching of phonics, if “fraccing” was indeed once the preferred spelling it was doomed to be replaced because it violates one of the most reliable rules of English spelling unless it were intended to be pronounced “frak-sing.”

    The rule: The letter “c” is pronounced with the /s/ sound when it is followed by one of the letters e, i or y. Otherwise it is pronounced with the /k/ sound. And yes, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. (“Tucson” and “soccer” being two for starters.) The British are a bit less inclined to apply this rule (compare our “skeptic” with their “sceptic”) which perhaps explains why a Canadian could live with “fraccing.” An American will be much, much more comfortable with “fracking.”

  99. Instead of whining and complaining these folks should be collecting the gas and using it for heating.

    Another case of folks complaining about the spillage from the cup running over.

  100. Please see this statement from Northwestern regarding the video Phelim McAleer mashed together:

    On May 24, 2011, Students for Ecological and Environmental Development (SEED) and Northwestern University Community Development Corps. (NCDC) hosted Josh Fox to speak with students after a screening of his documentary, Gasland. In the past week, there have been several deliberately misleading articles and videos of the event posted online. The author, Phelim McAleer, has cherry-picked single statements made by Mr. Fox and left out the surrounding context in order to advance his own seriously misguided political agenda. We feel it is necessary to discredit this biased attack against Mr. Fox’s work. The blog entry and videos do not accurately reflect the discussion during the Q&A event.

    Contrary to what his video and articles would suggest, Mr. McAleer repeated the exact same question concerning fracking research multiple times without listening to Mr. Fox’s logical, coherent responses, interrupting him frequently. After approximately five minutes of this, representatives of SEED and NCDC stepped in, asking Mr. McAleer to refrain from monopolizing the Q&A period. During this time, in a display of exceptionally poor taste, Mr. McAleer became increasingly confrontational and belligerent. When pressed by Mr. Fox, Mr. McAleer refused to disclose any relationships he might have with oil and gas drilling companies. Perhaps most troublingly, Mr. McAleer did not appear able to grasp the geological arguments made by Mr. Fox, who demonstrated a nuanced understanding of the geology of fracking throughout the presentation. During the reception after the event, Mr. McAleer was again disruptive, pressing Mr. Fox on his earlier question and attacking Mr. Fox’s journalistic credentials. Once again, representatives of SEED and NCDC requested he leave the event, as he was not contributing to meaningful discussion and was acting in a hostile manner. Needless to say Mr. McAleer ought to consider himself persona non grata at Northwestern University in the future. Phelim McAleer’s dishonest and diversionary tactics do not represent the respectful discourse we hope to cultivate.

    We categorically and unequivocally condemn the propagation of any dishonest or misleading information that distort Mr. Fox’s statements at Northwestern University, violate his intellectual property, or defame his character.

  101. *****
    Rod Everson says:
    June 6, 2011 at 9:25 am

    An American will be much, much more comfortable with “fracking.”
    *****

    Thanks, that’s a relief. I wouldn’t know how to pronounce “fraccing”. Now, “fracking”, that’s frackin’ obvious. :)

    Davidmhoffer, neither MD or VA require testing for private wells other than coliform testing before a property sale. And my well water, loaded w/iron (& iron bacteria), calcium, magnesium & traces of H2S still tastes much better than city water, which despite treatment still has leftover hints of “stinky river water” taste.

  102. Late to the party, but I would like to point out that the proper spelling of the terms are “frac” and “fracing”, not “frack” and “fracking.” There’s no “k” in the word “fracture.”

  103. Sad thing is Josh already got the ball rolling, this won’t stop until there’s a lawsuit that wins in court to stop “spreading the fear” nonsense

  104. If I had methane bubbling up from my water well, I’d look for a way to separate the gas from the water and use both. It wouldn’t need to be any great quantity for the cut in my gas bill to be worth it.

  105. Unfortunately, many of you have forgotten that the film, “Gasland,” shows that the water was filled with drilling mud by the couple who set their tap water on fire for demontration. That’s a fact that some of you have left out. Well, MANY of you have left out. Sorry. “Gasland” has numerous stories and it is a movie that offers us a warning about drilling and fracking. Those of us who live near it all know the truth. Most people haven’t experienced it and don’t want to believe these horror stories. Truth in this case is stranger than fiction.

  106. Seems most people missed the whole point of the movie Gasland. It wasn’t about burning water at all. That was just a side-effect.

    The main concern is the excessive use of clean water and hazardous chemicals used in the fracking process. The flowback water is a serious issue. Who is cleaning it and how are they doing it? Those are the questions that need to be addressed.

    But then again, I’m just a stupid European. All I know is that we Dutch can safely drink water from our taps allover the country. As soon as some big corporation comes along wanting to inject hazardous stuff into our earth we will object to it.

  107. Nice try Mr McAleer, is that all you have got? People who Josh interviewed in the movie clearly stated the quality of water got considerably worse after the drilling started. Maybe it was slightly contaminated before the process, I don’t know. Yes, there are reports there was some amount of gas present in underground water, however, can you show us some evidence from each of the affected household that their water was as bad before the drilling? If you cannot prove the water was contaminated before the drilling started than you should really be quiet!

    Mr McAleer, you know hydraulic fracturing is not an environmentally friendly technology for number of reasons, e.g. it uses large amount of water, uses toxic chemicals, there is large amount of toxic waste produced, etc. As Arend just said, it is not about presence of gas in water after the drilling, it is about environmental damage it causes all together. If I could, I would lock you up in a room with all your money and a glass of water. After 3 days I would ask you how much you are willing to pay for another glass of water.

    It is really sad we live in the world where big corporations have so much power they can influence government legislations and get away with all damage they cause. We live in the world that is governed by big corporations and money, not a democratic government. The government is just a bunch of corrupted individuals with money hungry pockets!

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