While environmental groups have been spreading the word that hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — of shale rock for natural gas extraction causes a slew of environmental problems including groundwater contamination, a new study released during the first day of the American Association for Advancement in Science’s annual conference says the exact opposite.
(Related: ‘Fracking crazy’ or ‘fracking brilliant’? A look at the pro-fracting documentary ‘FrackNation’)
New Scientist reports that research from the Energy Institute at the University of Texas, which evaluated violations in fracking regulations in Texas, Michigan, New Mexico and Louisiana, found that environmental problems associated with this method of obtaining natural gas was not from the fracking itself but other issues like “ruptured well casings that also affect conventional gas production, or surface spills of chemicals or wastewater”:
“We found no direct evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself had contaminated groundwater,” says [Charles] Groat, [the lead author]. “We found that most of the violations were at or near the surface.”
Here are some of the main conclusions of the research:
Natural gas found in water wells within some shale gas areas (e.g., Marcellus) can be traced to natural sources and probably was present before the onset of shale gas operations.
Although some states have been proactive in overseeing shale gas development, most regulations were written before the widespread use of hydraulic fracturing.
Media coverage of hydraulic fracturing is decidedly negative, and few news reports mention scientific research related to the practice.
Overall, surface spills of fracturing fluids pose greater risks to groundwater sources than from hydraulic fracturing itself.
The lack of baseline studies in areas of shale gas development makes it difficult to evaluate the long-‐ term, cumulative effects and risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.
“Our goal was to provide policymakers a foundation for developing sensible regulations that ensure responsible shale gas development,” Groat said in a statement. “What we’ve tried to do is separate fact from fiction.”
Listen to Groat speak about the study in an interview with BBC:
New Scientist points to the fact that it also reached a similar conclusion recently in piece stating that when fracking is conducted responsibly, the risks are small.
There are two sides to every story. Just as critics responded to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” with the 2008 documentary “Not Evil Just Wrong,” the flip side to Josh Fox’s “Gasland” — a 2010 film portraying the negative environmental and health effects of hydraulic fracturing — is already in the works.
But the directors of “FrackNation” — the same ones who produced the response to Gore’s documentary – wouldn’t consider their story one side or the other:
There are two sides to every story. Then there is the truth.
FrackNation is the film that will tell the truth about fracking.
Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer plan to show other stories not revealed in Fox’s film and debunk what they consider lies and misrepresentations in Gasland, in their effort to tell the truth.
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a process that involves pumping water and chemicals into shale rock to create cracks that will allow a trove of natural gas within to be harvested, is a hot topic these days with the EPA studying effects on health and water quality and earthquakes being associated with this man-made activity.
(Related: Real News from the Blaze: Panel talks fracking)
The boisterous McElhinney spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Saturday in a session about the natural resources available in the U.S. that are not being used whether it be due to regulations, laws or fears caused by environmental activism.
It was a speech that drew laughs and nods from audience members:
Wearing a shirt with the slogan “Fracking Brillant,“ McElhinney shared with her audience what she considered the lies of ”sustainability“ and ”anti-fossil fuel atmosphere” in the country. she also explained of how she hopes “FrackNation” will educate citizens about 1) where their energy comes from (she cites those who drive electric cars not realizing that the electricity powering the car often comes from burning coal); and 2) the opportunity available for the country to use its own, “local, indigenous and organic” resource.
Politico reports that “FrackNation” highlights how fracking could help those who have fallen upon hard times in the nation:
In “Frack Nation,” McAleer interviews one farmer who says, “If the gas industry is not allowed in, I will have to divide my land and sell it for development. My son wants to farm, but he had to get a job in the city. I won’t be able to keep it for him.”
“The environmental movement has had a very easy ride for the last 30 years,” said McAleer. “The media hasn’t asked difficult questions.”
In her speech at CPAC, McElhinney went a step further with her analysis, noting that environmentalists a couple decades ago raved about natural gas as a clean energy alternative. Now that natural gas is competitive with coal in terms of cost, Mcelhinney surmises, there is a group that no longer wants you to have it. She draws the analogy in the drop of natural gas prices to buying your child once-expensive ski gear at Walmart.
“They want to turn the lights out,” she said. “They hate seeing your kids on the ski slope next to them. They hate your kids having what they have.”
And what about the earthquakes? McElhinney pointed out that, yes, there is such a thing as man-made earthquakes and that fracturing can cause them. She also notes that a form of renewable energy popular with environmentalists is geothermal energy; this also causes man-made tremors though.
In Fox’s Gasland, residents bring up another issue: they associate being able to shockingly light their water on fire with the fracking. But McElhinney says that towns have been able to do this well before fracking. When the team confronted Fox about this point, he said it wasn’t relevant. Watch the directors explain this encounter with Fox and provide more information about the documentary:
Politico notes that the mode of fundraising the directors are taking is interesting — even ironic. Here’s why:
Perhaps most interesting about McElhinney and McAleer’s efforts to complete “Frack Nation” is their method: Kickstarter. The filmmakers are using the fundraising website to raise $150,000 to cover their costs. (They’re currently at $36,000). McAleer says that his film is one of the few conservative projects on a website that he views as predominantly liberal.
“All the movies on Kickstarter are pro-environment, anti-business, anti-American, I suppose, said McAleer. “And that’s why it’s been one of the more successful projects on Kickstarter so far. It’s been constantly on the most successful front page of Kickstarter because the money has come in at such a rate because people are just so glad to see something different there.”
With less than 50 days to go, FrackNation has nearly 775 backers who have contributed more than $62,000 to the team’s $150,000 goal.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced thursday that the United States would be joining a coalition to reduce certain man-made pollutants, which some scientists say contribute to global warming.
Other countries joining the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Live Pollutants, which will be run by the United Nation’s Environment Program, include Bangladesh, Canada, Mexico, Sweden and Ghana. AFP reports Clinton saying the program will target black carbon, methane and hydrofluorocarbons:
“We know that in the principal effort necessary to reduce the effects of carbon dioxide, the world has not yet done enough,” Clinton told an audience at the State Department that included envoys from the coalition countries.
“So when we discover effective and affordable ways to reduce global warming — not just a little, but by a lot — it is a call to action for all of us,” Clinton said.
“This coalition, the first international effort of its kind, will conduct a targeted, practical and highly energetic global campaign to spread solutions to the short-lived pollutants worldwide,” she added.
“It will mobilize resources, assemble political support, help countries develop and implement a national action plan, raise public awareness, and reach out to other countries, companies, NGOs and foundations.”
The New York Times reports that the U.S. is contributing $12 million to the initiative, which hopes to reduce so called “short-lived” pollutants that account for 30 to 40 percent of global warming. Canada also contributed $3 million to the effort. According to the Times these funds will help kickstart the initiative and recruit other countries. It also states that some money will be provided to developing countries to help them reduce these types of pollutants:
Drew T. Shindell, a senior climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute on Space Studies, said that attacking short-lived climate agents could have immediate impacts.
“From a political point of view,” he said, “what’s really appealing about these measures is that a lot of the benefits are realized by those that take the action. If you reduce these emissions in the developing world, it’s the developing world that gets most of the benefits, by stabilizing rainfall and improving public health.”
The Times reports Todd Stern with the State Department’s “special envoy for climate change” as saying this “voluntary partnership” is expected to produce results quickly. More specifically, according to scientists, efforts from this program could reduce 0.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. As these pollutants are also associated with health ailments, the program also hopes to prevent prevent millions of cases of lung and heart disease by 2030.
According to AFP initiative looks to reduce the following: methane, like that from landfills and the agriculture industry; black carbon, which comes from kilns and diesel vehicles; and chemicals emitted from aerosols, refrigerants and insulating foam.
AFP reports Clinton as saying the program is not meant to override a more international and larger effort to curb global warming, but to “complement” it.
Greenies have used this argument to prevent this form of energy diversification for years now.
EPA Administrator confirms no water contamination from fracking http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2011/05/epa_administrator_confirms_no.html