Frack, baby, frack!

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    Mar 20, 2011 4:31 PM GMT
    http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/frack_baby_frack_oUJ3F1ESRxmBAxrPq1L6hL

    In three months, a statewide ban on all natural gas drilling comes to an end.

    But will Gov. Cuomo allow developers to begin tapping the rich Marcellus Shale — and thus not only help allay New York’s energy woes but also boost the upstate region’s ailing economy?

    Then-Gov. David Paterson issued the moratorium last December after vetoing a bill that would have extended an existing ban on hydraulic fracturing, aka hydrofracking, in which water and chemicals are injected into rock formations to release natural gas.

    Hard-core lefties and environmental groups say the process — which is banned only in New York — contaminates groundwater.

    But those claims are refuted by the official state geologist, who calls them “exaggerated” and says he’s found no evidence of such contamination in three years of study.

    “This could really help us fight climate change,” said Dr. Langhorne “Taury” Smith, who works for the State Museum, in an interview with an upstate newspaper. “This is a huge gift, this shale.”

    On the other hand, the controversy over the shale, he said, has been a gold mine for environmental groups — which have raised funds by alarming folks about the alleged dangers of hydrofracking.

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    Mar 20, 2011 4:42 PM GMT
    I'm not a big environmentalist but I don't support fracking. Admittedly, the science is ambiguous but with what's going on in Japan, I think we need to proceed carefully with all energy initiatives. I would prefer investment in greener technologies because I think long-term that's where we are going to have to end up but the corporate sector won't lead because it's not profitable enough, and even modest investments would cause the Right's heads to explode.
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    Mar 20, 2011 7:02 PM GMT
    I have done technical work for people on both sides of this. Nether side is being altogether rational about it, but the full-blown hysteria drummed up by the envirobabble groups, and by the New York Times, is reprehensible.

    Inevitably, a few aquifers are going to become messed up. It will be probably be impossible to prove a direct cause-and-effect link, however. The same effects can be produced by ordinary household water wells. One solution would be for the states to set up insurance pools, paid for by the gas companies, to cover replacement water supplies for affected wells. Most of the time, they would end up paying for things that are not their fault, but one could consider it part of the cost for access to the resource.

    There's probably too much hysteria on both sides for that to work, though. Meanwhile, I'm making money off both sides. So Rave, Baby, Rave!
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    Mar 20, 2011 7:55 PM GMT
    Christian73 saidI'm not a big environmentalist but I don't support fracking. Admittedly, the science is ambiguous but with what's going on in Japan, I think we need to proceed carefully with all energy initiatives. I would prefer investment in greener technologies because I think long-term that's where we are going to have to end up but the corporate sector won't lead because it's not profitable enough, and even modest investments would cause the Right's heads to explode.


    There are tens of billions being invested in green technologies right now - and a lot is being invested with the expectations that government subsidies will not be there (Bloom Energy, Terra Power, Nanosolar, First Solar, a number of cellulostic ethanols to name a few). There are now solar companies who ARE able to produce energy at economic levels after installation costs without subsisidies which is fairly stunning in itself. Corporate America or at least venture capitalists ARE pursuing these technologies because of the potential for massive profits.

    While I find the space pretty exciting, in the meantime there will need to be a transitional energy source to get to things like solar or even thorium which can't melt down. As I'm sure you're aware, nuclear as it stands right now on uranium was a decision made in the cold war era because a byproduct is plutonium used in nuclear weaponry. The alternative was the more abundant thorium.

    That is and can be natural gas. It is far more green than say coal and oil (apparently burns 50% cleaner than coal, 20% than oil let alone the extraction costs) - and the best part is that it can be found nearest some of the largest population centers in North America so it doesn't need to be trucked in or piped in from across the continent. I don't understand the hysteria behind fracking - though the biggest legitimate I think fear is that it does consume a massive amount of ground water. I also don't understand why Congress hasn't more aggressively pushed for a reduction or at least a streamlining in allowing for conversions to natural gas. That said, the incentives are there.

    Already - with gas trading at $4 and oil trading at $100/barrel, you need 6x the units of gas to get the equivalent energy of oil. So think about that... at $24 (6x4), you get the same amount of energy. Before the discovery of the abundance of natural gas, oil used to trade fairly consistently at a 6x multiple to gas (though admittedly gas is more volatile price wise). Now gas is a quarter of the energy equivalent price of oil! Imagine being able to fill up your tank for less than a quarter of the cost.

    And that's why we are seeing large fleet conversions where there exists the infrastructure for trucking to liquid natural gas and courier companies and cab companies (as I understand it many of them in Toronto are already on compressed natural gas) making the conversions despite the rather high costs (upwards of $6k mostly in regulatory permitting/inspection costs).
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    Feb 18, 2012 1:53 AM GMT
    Good news given the energy resources at stake.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/17/4271707/ut-study-finds-no-direct-link.html

    UT study finds no direct link between fracking and groundwater contamination

    Hydraulic fracturing of shale formations to extract natural gas has no direct connection to groundwater contamination, according to a study by the Energy Institute of the University of Texas at Austin.

    The study, released at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver, British Columbia, found that many problems ascribed to fracking actually have other causes, such as "casing failures or poor cement jobs."

    University researchers also determined that many reports of contamination are the result of above-ground spills or other mishandling of wastewater from shale-gas drilling, rather than the fracking process.
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    Feb 18, 2012 2:46 AM GMT
    Yes bygod, put any amount of chemicals or whatever it takes for RIGHT NOW to get the gas, the HELL WITH TOMORROW or very long term effects, TODAY IS ALL WE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ----- RIGHT ?


    Its crazy to think that putting chemicals in the ground that we wouldn't ingest for fear of cancer or other health risks, aren't going to get into the ground water. There are underground streams flowing in who knows what directions as well as traveling for who knows what distances. There's no way to say how long into the future it will take for these chemicals to get into the underground water systems and water tables. Its very unwise for a temporary benefit to possibly ruin hundreds of years of use of underground water.

    Here's an example from whats called the 'fruit belt' of Michigan, near Lake Michigan. For 5 to 7 decades much of the area's fruit orchards and crop land has been sprayed with chemicals. The environmentalists were ignored and were ridiculed until about 20 years ago when suddenly due to state health standards new wells were being required to be tested against more stringent standards.

    Many areas were discovering that the drinking water has been contaminated by all those chemicals, so now home drinking water in a lot of areas are having to be treated where 50 years ago drinking straight from the wells was completely safe. Cancers of certain types have been on the increase and is feared linked to those chemicals due to the high prevalence in those particular areas.

    Some risks just aren't worth taking because reality has it that chemicals in the ground eventually mean chemicals in the ground water. Our future is just as important or more so than today. That's just common sense.

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    Feb 18, 2012 2:51 AM GMT
    realifedad said Yes bygod, put any amount of chemicals or whatever it takes for RIGHT NOW to get the gas, the HELL WITH TOMORROW or very long term effects, TODAY IS ALL WE HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT ----- RIGHT ?


    Its crazy to think that putting chemicals in the ground that we wouldn't ingest for fear of cancer or other health risks, aren't going to get into the ground water. There are underground streams flowing in who knows what directions as well as traveling for who knows what distances. There's no way to say how long into the future it will take for these chemicals to get into the underground water systems and water tables. Its very unwise for a temporary benefit to possibly ruin hundreds of years of use of underground water.

    Here's an example from whats called the 'fruit belt' of Michigan, near Lake Michigan. For 5 to 7 decades much of the area's fruit orchards and crop land has been sprayed with chemicals. The environmentalists were ignored and were ridiculed until about 20 years ago when suddenly due to state health standards new wells were being required to be tested against more stringent standards.

    Many areas were discovering that the drinking water has been contaminated by all those chemicals, so now home drinking water in a lot of areas are having to be treated where 50 years ago drinking straight from the wells was completely safe. Cancers of certain types have been on the increase and is feared linked to those chemicals due to the high prevalence in those particular areas.

    Some risks just aren't worth taking because reality has it that chemicals in the ground eventually mean chemicals in the ground water. Our future is just as important or more so than today. That's just common sense.



    From what I've read on fracking - it's healthier than fertilizers/pesticides that have been used in our food supply in the past in far fewer amounts. The bigger concern might be the amount of water that gets used.

    To be specific for instance:

    http://bismarcktribune.com/news/state-and-regional/some-companies-disclose-fracking-chemical-recipes/article_5ff41ece-18b9-11e1-90bb-001cc4c03286.html

    Some states like Montana and Louisiana require fracking disclosure. Others, like North Dakota and Texas, are moving that direction, he said. The site is already easy to use, and anyone with a computer can look up individual wells by county, pull up a spreadsheet and see how much water by gallons and how much sand and specific chemicals by percent of the total were injected. In general terms, fracking consists of about 97 percent water — anywhere from 2 million to

    5 million gallons per well — and sand, and 3 percent chemicals that hold the sand or ceramic beads in suspension, release the suspension and prevent scaling on the well pipe.

    It might help to have a calculator and a high school chemistry book nearby.
    The registry also shows the depth of the well where fracking occurs, generally 10,000 feet, or two miles down, at least 8,000 feet below groundwater in North Dakota. In some instances, companies will list a chemical description like “oxyalkylated alkyl alcohol” but withhold its precise characteristics as proprietary information.
  • roadbikeRob

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    Feb 18, 2012 5:34 PM GMT
    I have mixed emotions on fracking in New York.
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    Feb 18, 2012 5:37 PM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidI have mixed emotions on fracking in New York.


    I suspect you'll be less mixed once your tap water is flammable. icon_lol.gif
  • roadbikeRob

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    Feb 18, 2012 7:06 PM GMT
    Christian73, there are two sides to every story. How do you know that the flammable drinking water is a direct result of hydrolic fracturing for natural gas. All you know it could have been caused by a decrepit, malfunctioning septic system.
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    Feb 18, 2012 9:12 PM GMT
    roadbikeRob saidChristian73, there are two sides to every story. How do you know that the flammable drinking water is a direct result of hydrolic fracturing for natural gas. All you know it could have been caused by a decrepit, malfunctioning septic system.


    You're wrong.

    I own a home that sits on top of the Marcellus. I've been to Dimock, PA, and a few other towns in the area that have been destroyed by drilling.

    But anti-drilling legislation is hitting NY State hard, so it's not looking good for those drill-now-ask-questions-later folks.

    Chesapeake Energy is already shutting down a lot of rigs in the northeast, and has announced that it will not expand in the Marcellus (Encana is reducing its operations, too). And with natural gas prices unable to hold its own, the entire industry is cutting back significantly.
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    Feb 18, 2012 9:40 PM GMT
    riddler78 saidGood news given the energy resources at stake.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/17/4271707/ut-study-finds-no-direct-link.html


    the major prob w/ this study, and 1 that the researches themselves pt out, is there is no "baseline data." AND, the study was not done onsite, but taken from reports. secondary sources, while useful, add little 2 r knowledge base. therefore, the study is at best flawed, if not unusable.
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    Feb 18, 2012 11:05 PM GMT
    The deliberate dishonesty told in Gasland about flammable water - which came from methane, and not the result of fracking:

    [url]http://cogcc.state.co.us/library/GASLAND%20DOC.pdf[/url]

    Gasland incorrectly attributes several cases of water well contamination in Colorado to oil and gas development when our investigations determined that the wells in question contained biogenic [naturally-occurring] methane that is not attributable to such development.


    More here - from the industry and a PR counter offensive:

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    Feb 18, 2012 11:08 PM GMT
    tailgater_3 said
    riddler78 saidGood news given the energy resources at stake.

    http://www.sacbee.com/2012/02/17/4271707/ut-study-finds-no-direct-link.html


    the major prob w/ this study, and 1 that the researches themselves pt out, is there is no "baseline data." AND, the study was not done onsite, but taken from reports. secondary sources, while useful, add little 2 r knowledge base. therefore, the study is at best flawed, if not unusable.


    I think you're really overstating the issues with the study - given that it very specifically refutes a number of the original concerns on fracking - and at the very least suggests that a number of the concerns were overblown if not outright dishonest in some cases.

    This isn't to say of course, that precautions should be taken - but calls by some for a moratorium or a severe limitation because of contamination are not about the science.
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    Feb 18, 2012 11:28 PM GMT
    A really good look at the issues pro and con on fracking -

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/guest-post-dont-frack-me
  • roadbikeRob

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    Feb 19, 2012 6:50 PM GMT
    credo, I am not wrong on this issue. There is always that possibility of something else besides fracking that could cause a rural home's drinking water to become flammable. Keep in mind that much of the hilly, rural country in New York's southern tier is poor country. Poverty remains a serious problem like it is throughout the Appalachians. Most rural housing stock is old and substandard and almost all those remote houses depend on both a water well and a septic tank. Many rural septic systems especially in the Appalachian Region are known to be failing and malfunctional due to years of use and any backing up of a septic could possibly contaminate a well, you just never know. So I would not be so quick to blame hydrolic fracking as the only cause for contaminated drinking water from rural wells.
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    Mar 13, 2012 6:21 AM GMT
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304537904577277814040731688.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTWhatsNewsCollection

    Some energy companies, state regulators, academics and environmentalists are reaching consensus that natural-gas drilling has led to several incidents of water pollution—but not because of fracking.

    The energy officials and some environmentalists agree that poorly built wells are to blame for some cases of water contamination. In those cases, they say, wells weren't properly sealed with subterranean cement, which allowed contaminants to travel up the well bore from deep underground into shallow aquifers that provide drinking water.