Is there no job the Obama administration will not seek to destroy?
This week the EPA released a draft report claiming hydraulic fracturing, commonly called fracking, of shallow natural gas wells in Wyoming may be contaminating drinking water in a community called Pavillion.
In the past decade, fracking has revolutionized the oil and gas industry in this country, allowing companies to extract oil and gas from tight shale and sandstone formations that previously were not economically feasible. (See the video below for a better explanation.)
Fracking itself is nothing new, the technique has been used since the 1940s. Pressurized water, sand and lubricating chemicals are pumped down a well and into the rock below, causing fracturing of the formation, thus allowing oil and gas to flow into the well tubing and up to the surface.
But Texan George Mitchell — whose Christie, Mitchell and Mitchell I briefly worked for as a roustabout in the 1960s, proving some get filthy rich in the grease orchard, but most just get filthy — spent 18 years experimenting with the technique to create the modern boomlet in shale gas production that has driven down the price of natural gas to historic lows and created many thousands of jobs. He combined fracking and slant oil drilling so one well could tap what previously would have taken dozens of wells.
(If you’re ever down in Fort Worth, over by the stockyards, pay a visit to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and check out the Energy Blast — a theater-ride-show-education in 4-D, replete with watery dinosaur breath, that tells the 14 billion-year story of Barnett Shale and how it is being accessed with fracking techniques today.)
But the environmentalist have gone Chicken Little crazy, trying to find some shred of evidence that fracking could cause some problem, somewhere, somehow — even though logic would indicate that fewer wells drilling through the drinking water aquifers would reduce the risk of contamination. But what’s logic got to do with a good job-killing panic?
AP quoted Kate Sinding, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council in New York City, as saying of the draft EPA report, “In Wyoming, EPA is recognizing what experts — along with families in fracking communities across the country — have known for some time. Fracking poses serious threats to safe drinking water.”
The website Energy in Depth raises some serious questions about the report.
It points out that the contamination detected by EPA comes not from actual drinking water wells but from two monitoring wells drilled far deeper than most water wells. The EPA drilled those wells into a hydrocarbon-bearing formation. Might that explain the presence of hydrocarbons?
Energy in Depth noted that chemicals were used to drill the monitoring wells and there is a possibility those chemicals are what is being detected in the water rather than chemicals from gas wells.
The EPA draft itself points out that benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes (BTEX) were detected in one monitoring well. The problem with this startling discovery is: “BTEX and trimethyl benzenes were not detected in concentrated solutions of drilling additives.”
Also, the draft has not been peer reviewed and the EPA ignored Wyoming’s request to delay the release of the draft until it was properly reviewed.
“The draft report coming out of the EPA today is reckless,” said Bruce Hinchey, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming. “Let me be clear, the EPA’s findings indicate that there is no connection between oil and natural gas operations and impacts to domestic water wells. Unsubstantiated statements coming from the EPA today stretch the data and cause unwarranted alarm and concern about a proven technology that allows our industry to safely extract oil and natural gas. The EPA’s announcement is irresponsible and leads us to call into question its motives.”
Never let the facts stand in the way of a good job-killing stampede.