WUWT readers may recall that I wrote an analysis in 2014 that was provided to the Butte County Board of Supervisors: A report on the hyperbole behind the politicized issue of ‘fracking’. In it, I wrote:
The process is safe, and continues to be proven as such.
For example, on May 13th 2011, 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.
The British also aren’t worried about it:
The British government’s health agency is the latest body to give fracking a clean bill of health, in a move that should galvanize the country to act on its considerable reserves of shale gas. Reuters reports:
Public Health England (PHE) said in a review that any health impacts were likely to be minimal from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the pumping of water and chemicals into dense shale formations deep underground….
“The currently available evidence indicates that the potential risks to public health from exposure to emissions associated with the shale gas extraction process are low if operations are properly run and regulated,” said John Harrison, director of PHE’s center for radiation, chemical and environmental hazards.
RELEVANCE: The EPA sees no threat to drinking water in studies they have conducted. Neither do the British.
There is a huge financial incentive by drilling companies to manage fracking water properly or face fines. Newer formulations of fracking fluid are safe enough to actually drink.
Scientific studies show the process is safe.
EPA itself grudgingly confirmed in 2015 that fracking does not contaminate groundwater, barring mishap or poor practice.
About a year later, in January 21, 2016, the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board endorsed the agency’s findings and recommended its conclusions be stated less ambiguously. I think the agency is still trying to get out of that.
The study had further corroborated a study by the U.S. Department of Energy in which the researchers injected tracers into the hydraulic fracturing fluid, with no observable groundwater contamination after twelve months’ monitoring. It also confirmed reports by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Government Accountability Office, Duke University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University, the University of Colorado, and the Groundwater Protection Council – to name just a few.
I concluded with:
A ban probably won’t matter much in the scheme of production, but if passed it will be used as a political bandwagon tool.
A fracking ban will be just about as useless as the infamous “nuclear weapons ban” in Chico, but it will make some emotional folks feel good about themselves.
If I were to be in your position, I’d put it up to a vote of the people of Butte County, rather than approve a ban outright. I think you’ll find it has about as much support in the citizenry as the ill-fated attempt to ban Genetically Modified Food (GMO’s) a few years back.
Don’t believe the absurdity of a nuclear weapons ban? Here is the language:
No person shall produce, test, maintain, or store within the city a nuclear weapon, component of a nuclear weapon, nuclear weapon delivery system, or component of a nuclear weapon delivery system under penalty of Chapter 9.60.030 of the Chico Municipal Code
Well, surprise. Emotion trumps science once again. Both newspapers in town endorsed the idea of banning fracking, both saying essentially “protect our water, just in case”. The alternative weekly would have endorsed it anyway, since it is a liberal cause. They did a story on Gasland producer Josh Fox visiting town, who outright lied to produce some scenes in the film Gasland.
He’s stopping in Chico because he considers it a “hot spot”—mostly because of Measure E, which, if approved by voters on June 7, would ban fracking in Butte County.
“We’re doing the tour to energize the movement against fossil fuels,” Fox said. “We’re going places that are in the thick of the fight, whether it’s a fight against oil pipelines, bomb trains, offshore drilling, onshore drilling, fracking or mountaintop removal for coal.”
Right, it’s not about saving the water table in Butte County, it’s about the “the movement against fossil fuels”.
The alternative weekly, that bastion of “medical marijuna” advertising, the Chico News and Review, had this to say about Measure E:
Measure E: Yes. This is an easy one. Whether or not the local geography is conducive to hydraulic fracturing, the latest research concludes that fracking can, indeed, contaminate groundwater. Let’s also remember that there’s a fracked well in Glenn County. Simply put, we cannot allow the Tuscan Aquifer—the source of our drinking and ag water—to be jeopardized now or ever by fracking.
But the newspaper of record, The Chico Enterprise Record, where they actually have trained journalists who should have been able to sniff out that this is nothing more than an emotional movement in response to a trumped up movie, fell for it too.
I’m terribly disappointed in the ChicoER editorial board, who usually has the intelligence to see through such emotionally based measures, like they did some years ago when a bunch of the same liberal cabal got together and tried to ban GMO foods. The ER had some sense then, sense enough to recommend against passage, and that this was an unnecessary law. But in the matter of fracking, I’m particularly disappointed with ER Editor David Little, who allowed what I consider to be a flippant and self-contradictory editorial to be published on the issue, saying:
Editorial: Fracking ban makes more sense than the alternative
We’re not sure a ban on hydraulic fracturing is necessary in Butte County. A lot of political capital could be spent trying to outlaw every boogeyman that’s out there.
That said, a citizen initiative has resulted in the question going to county voters on June 7, so we all have to answer a straightforward question: Should fracking be banned in Butte County?
We think it should, and recommend a “yes” vote on Measure E.
Really? Recommending something you aren’t sure of, something your admit is akin to a “boogeyman”? Once again, stupidity trumps science. Einstein said it best.
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.- Albert Einstein
The result: it passed. Here’s the story from this morning’s paper:
Despite zero oil or natural gas companies seeking to use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in Butte County, the practice is no longer allowed in the county thanks to Measure E.
With 129 of 140 precincts reporting, Measure E was passing with 71.46 percent in favor and 28.54 percent opposed.
“We’re really thrilled that it’s going to pass and we’re really glad that the residents of Butte County are concerned about their water,” said Dave Garcia, spokesperson for the advocacy group Frack-Free Butte County.
The group held an election-night party at Round Table Pizza on Pillsbury Road in Chico, where Garcia said people were excited when early results were published online.
“Yeah, it was really wild and crazy there, especially when we found out we were almost ahead at 71 percent or so,” he said from the pizza parlor.
As I’ve said before, I have no financial interest in the outcome, but that didn’t stop the leader of this movement (Dave Garcia) from publicly accusing me of being in the pay of “big oil” on a local Facebook forum simply because I hold an informed opinion, even though I’ve never taken a dime from oil or gas interests. It’s typical for the left to attack the person with emotional poison, rather than the person’s arguments, when they know they can’t win the argument on facts alone.
So now, two things will happen:
- The Butte fracking ban will be used to try to get it passed in other counties citing “see, Butte County did it and they don’t even have fracking going on there!”.
- Butte County will be held up as a place that has not one, but TWO incomprehensibly stupid laws.
Way to go, emotionalists.
Note: within 15 minutes of publication, this story was edited for a few punctuation, spelling, and grammar errors. The scope of the content remained unchanged.