I received a freaking fracking love letter from someone in the oil and gas industry so I posted it on my blog. The letter is from a landman, a young man who was recently married to a breathtakingly beautiful woman. I’m betting that he doesn’t have any children yet because most people have a change of heart after they have children and face the truth that “it’s not all about you” anymore. But, it’s been my experience that landmen have a very poor understanding of industry practices compared to people who actually spend time onsite. Update: He’s more than a landman. His daddy founded the company. Can you say vested interest?
Not long ago I was talking with the VP of Operations for a drilling company. When I told him that his industry needed better regulation, he agreed and said, “Our children will be better off for it.”
I won’t reveal his name or the name of his company because he was being honest, he has a family and he needs to keep his job–everybody needs a job. I won’t reveal the identity of the author of the freaking fracking love letter either, unless he becomes a bigger jerk.
I have a friend who is an engineer. Her name is Kim and she sent this in response to the challenge issued in the freaking fracking love letter:
Industry Dude: You post about fracking contaminating drinking water all the time, so I’m going to put you to the test and give you a chance to prove me wrong. This is the exact text that I posted on the Flower Mound Citizens Against Urban
Drilling website. Your email address was posted, so I figured I’d go right to the source. Let’s see what you can do:
Industry Dude: This is just another method by which groups such as yours and environmentally-motivated groups are attacking the industry. The environmental groups are attacking because they want to eliminate drilling entirely, and you want to eliminate it around you (although most of the time you come off so abrasively towards the industry that you appear as though
you want to eliminate drilling entirely).
Response: When O&G industry is accused of pollution, they respond with “you are attacking us”, “we never do anything wrong”, and “you hate us and want to destroy us”………..why is that their public reaction? Meanwhile, they run straight to DC and lobby for protection from scrutiny. If there is nothing to find (ie., there really is no pollution) then why all the worry?
Industry Dude: When you take the unfounded claims out of it, there is quite a bit of science, engineering, and plain ole common sense that disprove the claims. First and foremost, fracturing has been done for 50 years, with NO PROOF of groundwater being contaminated by it’s means. Yes, there are ALWAYS reports, but show me one in which it was proven to be caused by hydraulic fracturing.
Response: yes, fracturing of oil and gas formations has a long history — but that is a history of fracturing a vertical well – NOT a horizontal well and NOT to the extent that is being done in tight shales.
“no proof” — one cannot claim “no proof” unless there is actually a historical record of groundwater monitoring and analysis for those chemicals most likely associated with fraccing. When industry does not perform groundwater monitoring and disputes citizen derived data as somehow untrustworthy, specious, or coincidental – sounds like they need to put up or shut up. I suggest the industry spend some millions of those profit dollars in grant programs so that local citizens can test their water wells before and after drilling and start creating huge databases of groundwater monitoring data.
Industry Dude: Secondly, the vast majority of usable groundwater is 1,000 feet deep or shallower. Hydraulic fracturing is taking place in the Barnett Shale at a MINIMUM depth of 6,000 feet. It is probably about 7,500 feet on average. And
the Barnett Shale is considered shallow for a shale formation. You tell me how groundwater that is located 1,000 feet or less from the surface can be contaminated by fluid being pumped to a minimum of 6,000 feet below the surface. This of course assumes a properly cased hole, which is the case in every producing oil and gas well.
Response: this is the weakest argument eavah (be sure to read this with proper enunciation) – i like how we have to assume that every well ever drilled EVERY well ever drilled……….(let us repeat it one more time to make it true) EVERY WELL is properly cased so there could never ever ever ever (and i mean ever) be a problem. see how easily i went to sarcasm. i apologize.
dude – we are saying that the high pressures in the wellbore AND control of fluids under high pressure is exactly what we think is the cause of groundwater contamination. you can’t say your industry is ominpotent with respect to well construction without some proof of god-like powers over every single cement job. earlier, Industry Dude whined that enviros use unfounded claims – but here we have OMNIPOTENT claims. so i guess that is that.
Industry Dude: You let me know when you figure out how frac fluid is going to travel vertically 5,000 feet at a minimum through formation after formation, reservoir after reservoir, through countless layers of impermeable cap rock. Because it damn sure is not getting through the surface casing designed to protect the water table.
Response: is this Final Jeopardy? i will take stupid oil and gas questions for $500 Alex — the frac fluid travels vertically 5000 feet to the surface by traveling in the annular space between the excavated hole and the casing and/or cement job.
Industry Dude: Please, I challenge someone to enlighten me as to how this is possible. Until then, I, along with countless others, will call bull$@%^ to the claim.
Response: maybe a better use of our time is to ask this fellow what his education and work experience is — how often he has communicated with citizens that feel their groundwater is contaminated – how many groundwater monitoring projects he has designed and implemented to discover how frac-like chemicals are getting into drinking water aquifers……oh and why is he so angry?
Summary: this fellow reminds me a lot of the Corporate Agriculture fellows that claim there is no proof of pollution from earthen lined manure lagoons………when no state or federal groundwater monitoring is required……….yet the citizens who pay for their own water testing find elevated levels of nitrates, e coli, and odors in their water. Then if you show them the data – they claim the pollution is from the person’s septic tank — as if a 20 million gallon lagoon full of feces and urine is somehow less of a threat to groundwater than a 1000 gallon septic tank. I think it is a symptom of a brain disease – this categorical shouting of NO PROOF and “you are out to destroy us” – is truly a sad state of affairs……..if i worked for either industry, i would be mortally embarassed.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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this is really fantastic thank you TXsharon