Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Art And Science - And Debate

"There is no evidence that the hydraulic fracturing ... has resulted in any contamination or endangerment of underground sources of drinking water (USDW)."
"Moreover, given the horizontal and vertical distance between the drinking water well and the closest methane gas production wells, the possibility of contamination  or endangerment of USDWs in the area [Alabama] is extremely remote."
Carol Browner, EPA administrator [under Bill Clinton]; director of White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy [under Obama administration]

"Industry documents show that 6% of the wells leak immediately and that 60% leak over time, poisoning drinking water and putting the powerful greenhouse gas methane into our atmosphere. We need to develop truly clean energy not dirty water created by fracking."
Yoko Ono for Artists Against Fracking
Encana to invest $3.1B in Eagle Ford, double oil production
Workers tend to a well head during a hydraulic fracturing operation at an Encana gas well outside Rifle, in western Colorado.  Photograph by: Brennan Linsley , THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP
Well, that's settled then, it seems. The U.S. EPA, known for its rigorous research and reliability has lied repeatedly, assuring authorities in various American administrations that fracking is completely safe, when obviously it is not, because an environmental pressure group -- scads of environmental pressure groups -- faithfully practise their religion of environmentally passionate condemnation of energy extraction.

Fracking is a new term to most people. But it is anything but a new technology. It has been used for well over half a century in various states, and from all environmental, scientific reports that have been issued throughout that period of time there has never been one single documented issue that would support the contention that fracking "poisons" drinking water, through contaminating aquifers.

In 2012, Lisa Jackson, at that time head of the EPA informed a reporter that: "In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater." The EPA "reviewed incidents of drinking water well contamination believed to be associated with hydraulic fracturing and found no confirmed cases that are linked to fracturing fluid injection into coalbed methane wells or subsequent underground movement of fracturing fluids."

Alabama regulators reviewed fracking activity on their own and the result they came up with was the same: "There have been no documented cases of drinking water contamination that have resulted from hydraulic fracturing operations to stimulate oil and gas wells in the State of Alabama." And in Alaska state researchers found: "There have been no verified cases of harm to groundwater in the State of Alaska as a result of hydraulic fracturing."

It doesn't end with just those two states. Kentucky too received landowner complaints about contaminated groundwater and when they conducted their research they concluded that: "In Kentucky there have been alleged contaminations from citizen complaints but nothing that can be substantiated." 

Michigan has thousands of fracked wells, yet investigations conducted there found "there is no indication that hydraulic fracturing has ever caused damage to groundwater or other resources in Michigan." The state's Office of Geological Survey claims never to have received one single complaint or allegation that fracking had affected groundwater "in any way".

"Though hydraulic fracturing has been used for over 60 years in Texas ... records do not reflect a single documented surface or groundwater contamination case associated with hydraulic frackturing" was the official word from that state. Since the Fifties drillers in South Dakota have been fracking for oil, and for gas since 1970, and yet the state reports: "No documented case of water well or aquifer damage by the fracking of oil or gas wells."

A  study conducted by the Ground Water Protection Council, comprised of state-level groundwater regulators, concluded in a 2011 report covering 15 years of activity where over 16,000 horizontal hydraulic-fracking shale-gas wells were used in Texas and Ohio that not "a single groundwater contamination incident resulting from site preparation, drilling, well construction, completion, hydraulic fracturing stimulation or production operations at any of these horizontal shale gas wells", was revealed.

Perhaps it should be further explained by looking at the verifiable fact that fracturing is occurring at an amazing depth, deep into the Earth; how does a mile or deeper sound? Then compare that to the depth of a typical well which sinks several dozen feet to a few hundred feet to reach an exceptionally deep water table. The Big Well in Greensburgh Kansas, dug by hand in 1887 has a depth of 109 feet; deep because of a deep watertable.

Water aquifers average around 500 feet below ground. And fracking takes place thousands of feet below the surface, between 6,000 and ten thousand feet underground. Quite the difference in depth ... leading to the obvious conclusion that contamination just isn't even remotely likely. For fracking fluid to enter the water table or to enter an aquifer it would have to flow upward through tons of rock.

Environmental scientists might take a break from time to time and turn their attention from precise scientific measurements of the environment to turning their hand to the arts. The kind of aesthetic activity that really pleases art-lovers, to offer an alternative to the art being churned out by those involved in Artists Against Fracking. If artists can so readily turn themselves into environmental investigators, why not scientists into artists?

Oh, wait ... the art is in the ability to persuade people that what they're witnessing is art. The science proves or disproves a theory turning it into observable fact. Funny world we inhabit.

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