The UT “study” on fracking is not really a study, it’s a report. When it first came out, I glanced at it and thought “meh” because much of it is still in draft form, it has not been peer reviewed and it’s not really a scientific study. Add to that the fact that the report was largely funded by ConocoPhillips and that Dr.Groat has spent his career in the oil and gas industry including a recent gig as Director of an oil company board in Houston. What can you expect?
According to the report, we don’t need to worry about fracking because fracking is not the worst thing about fracking. Most problems are caused from the drilling. Okay, I can roll with that! I’m not sold on giving fracking a pass due to industry’s preferred narrow definition of fracking, but we’ve always reminded people that fracking is only a small part of dirty extreme energy extraction. In fact, the worst part is likely the MASSIVE amounts of toxic waste that is generated.
Some quick thoughts about the UT fracking report:
- Groat says there is no evidence of groundwater contamination from fracking. Then in a taped interview he admits there is little baseline water testing. In other words, we don’t know where the contamination is coming from but we just know it’s not from fracking.
- The report points to casing failures as the greatest potential for contamination.
- Accidents such as blowouts and spills cause most of the water contamination. (What a relief, eh?)
- Contamination also comes from casing failure due to the high pressure during fracking, but this is not fracking’s fault that it requires such high pressure it damages the casing.
- MASSIVE amount of waste has high potential to contaminate water.
Perspective: All this overlooks the fracking air pollution.
- Add Utah to the list of states that now has ozone problems from natural gas drilling.
- Study: Colorado oil-gas pollution tops expectations
- Natural microseepage of methane to the atmosphere from the Denver-Julesburg basin, Colorado.
“A study led by scientists from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), headquartered in Washington DC, and the University of Colorado in Boulder looked at methane and other emissions from a natural-gas field north of Denver, where fracking methods are used to open up sand formations.”"They estimated cumulative emissions from the field using not industry reports or conceptual models, but concentrations of pollutants in air samples. This is important because the atmosphere does not misrepresent data or make mistakes; nor does it bend to ideology or political will.The data suggest that methane emissions from natural-gas operations could be substantially higher — and so be worse for global warming — than was thought. At works in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, methane emissions were roughly double the official estimate.”
- Rampant gas pipeline leaks
So remember: Fracking is not the worst part of fracking! It’s the whole dirty process.
Update: From the comments we learn that Groat’s “total ‘compensation’ package was worth $308,300.00 in 2009, and $493,598.00 in 2008” while he was director at that Houston company.
Here’s what the people who live in the Gas Patch know: When they drill and frack, our water gets contaminated.