The fractivist play book keeps shrinking and they’re now down to flea flicker type moves that attract attention but seldom deliver anything but big losses.
Football, if it weren’t for the ridiculous politicization of the game this year, gets interesting in December as marginal teams take chances to improve their prospects for getting into title games. One of the oddest of such maneuvers is the flea flicker play. It appears our fractivist friends have resorted to it with a bizarre accusation that the EPA fracking was modified to please the industry. Folks, if the fractivist play book is down to this, the game is over.
Late last night a reader sent me a link to this extraordinarily lengthy (almost 4,300 words) but empty story. The title —”EPA’s late changes to fracking study downplay risk of drinking water pollution” —explains the theme as well as anything. I had heard rumblings earlier in the day about it but didn’t give it much thought, as this is the sort of pap fractivists put out on a daily basis. When I got the link, I thought I ought to at least peruse the thing. So, I did, to my everlasting regret. It was one of the most pathetic things I’ve seen out of the fractivist play book. It immediately made me think of football and something called the flea flicker play:
A flea flicker is an unorthodox play, often called a “trick play.” in American football which is designed to fool the defensive team into thinking that a play is a run instead of a pass…
After the snap the quarterback hands off or laterals the football to a running back or another player on his team, who then runs towards or parallel to the line of scrimmage. Before the running back crosses the line of scrimmage, he laterals the football back to the quarterback, who looks to pass to an eligible receiver.
The key elements of the flea flicker play are; (1) reversing a pass to do it over again and (2) fakery. That about sums up this fractivist piece. It’s the same old pass play with a twist to make us think it’s something new. It even includes two classic photos of “Junkyard Ray” Kemble; one with his bottles of dirty water and the other with his cigar. Ray is supposed to the lovable character or rogue, you see, who is fighting back against the man. He’s your entertaining uncle or mushugana.
The only problem is that Ray operates a junkyard (notice the car in the above picture from the story). Moreover, the only thing apparently wrong with his water is the fact he doesn’t pump his well until he wants to produce a bottle of dirty water. There’s also whatever stuff, if any, that leaked out of those junk cars, of course. His water was investigated, tested and found to be none of things he claimed — years ago. He has zero credibility and, yet, here he is, once again, the playing the center in the fractivist play book as the authors attempt their own version of the flea flicker.
Not only do the authors recycle and repass Ray, but they also engage in flea flicker word games. Here’s the second paragraph (first lateral pass) of the story (emphasis added):
Documents obtained by APM Reports and Marketplace show that in the six weeks before the study’s public release, officials inserted a key phrase into the executive summary that said researchers did not find evidence of “widespread systemic impacts” of fracking by the oil and gas industry on the nation’s drinking water.
Dozens and dozens of paragraphs and well over 2,000 words later, though, we find this, the second lateral pass back to the quarterback:
The documents obtained by APM Reports and Marketplace show that on April 24, 2015, an executive summary was circulated that said “hydraulic fracturing activities have contaminated drinking water resources in a variety of documented cases. Despite these risks, the number of documented impacts is quite low.”
This was followed by this, the third, final and only forward pass:
Nowhere did the draft state that there was no widespread, systemic impact on water.
Once again, we just have to ask. Seriously? The authors want us to believe there is some major scandal in the fact there some imperceptible, known only to them, difference in what the two bolded phrases mean? Only in the noisy corners of the fractivist mind could anyone imagine “Quite low documented impacts” is somehow significantly different than “no evidence of widespread systemic impacts.” So, what do they do next? Well, they just reassert it with that forward pass, as if something new had happened. That’s the flea flicker, the last desperate pass from the fractivist playbook.
Well, not quite the last. The whole article, of course, perpetuates the lie that drilling is fracking and fracking is anything at all connected with natural gas. That way the specter of unknown, dangerous, lifeform-altering chemicals can make it into the story. The truth, though, is that hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is not drilling; rather, it is a very specific process that comes after, sometimes long after, drilling.
The EPA report itself, unfortunately, melded the two processes together, which is the only way they were even able to say their were any impacts from fracking; by including things such as methane migration, which can occur from water well or geo-thermal well drilling just like it occasionally does from gas drilling.
It is this confusion of terms, in fact, which is at the root of the language controversy here. Several members of the EPA Science Advisory Board wanted to be much more clear on this point and they should have. This article only adds to the confusion by further muddling the distinctions between drilling and fracking.
It also includes some very misleading assertions, including the suggestion gas companies had simply refused to participate in providing data. Here’s the offending excerpt:
The study ran into a number of difficulties when it began five years ago.
The EPA, for example, tried to work with oil and gas companies to conduct testing on sites before, during and after a fractured well is drilled. Called “baseline testing,” it would have allowed scientists to see whether the process resulted in any contamination of groundwater. Despite pledges of cooperation from the industry, the EPA could never reach agreement with any company to conduct the tests.
“Initially, industry was very supportive of working together with the EPA to do some field studies,” said Robert Puls, a scientist who oversaw the study in 2010 and 2011. “As the details for doing those studies got closer and closer to actual implementation, their resistance seemed to grow.”
Puls said he left his position at the EPA in 2011 partly because he was frustrated with resistance by oil and gas companies to work with the EPA on the study.
Puls only tells a tiny bit of the real story. He used Rebecca Roter, a prominent fractivist from the Philadelphia area who migrated to Susquehanna County, as his contact in the area for purposes of the study. Here, in fact, is an e-mail exchange related by a Dimock resident contacted by Roter on behalf of Puls in 2011:
I got a real strange phone call from a woman in Brooklyn PA claiming to be helping Dr Puls from the EPA w/ a water study. Then I got this email. Does anyone know anything about this? We don’t mind having our water tested however we want nothing to do with the litigants at all. We don’t want someone who isn’t legitimate around here either.
From: Aludra <Aludra@aol.com>
To: XXXXXXX <xxxxxx.com>
Sent: Tue, Aug 16, 2011 11:40 am
Subject: Fwd: Susquehanna Co visit
Dear Mrs. XXXXXXX,
Thank you very much for speaking with me today. As promised I am sending along the EPA contact information. I will cc Dr Puls so that he knows you intitial willingess to be in the EPA study, and your preference to deal with him directly. Thank you very much for your time.
Rebecca Roter, Brooklyn PA 570-XXX-XXXX
Thanks for your willingness to help. Please identify 8 homeowners who you think have real impacts to their drinking water and are willing to be part of the study. Please send me the list with addresses. Identify where we can meet on Thu at 8 am to begin meeting with them individually. Access agreement attached.
Robert W. Puls, Ph.D.
Agency Technical Lead, Hydraulic Fracturing Study
Ground Water and Ecosystems Restoration Division
National Risk Management Research Laboratory, USEPA
P.O. Box 1198 / 919 Kerr Research Dr.
Ada, OK 74820
Puls, as the e-mail illustrates, was willing to let Rebecca Roter act as scout for his project. Does anyone have to wonder why the gas industry might have been skeptical about a process where fractivists played such lead roles?
Such is the fake pass nature of the entire story, complete even with quotes from Raina Rippel of fractivist Southwestern Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project fame. It could hardly be worse. The fact it’s even being offered reveals more about the ever shrinking fractivist playbook than anything else. The flea flicker doesn’t win many games and it isn’t winning this one either.
UPDATE: Katie Brown at EID reports who funded this latest nonsense:
It’s worth pointing out that APM has received tens of thousands of dollars from the anti-fracking Park Foundation and APM and Marketplace were awarded millions in grants by the anti-fracking Tides Foundation, specifically to create a program on “global sustainability and the economy.” From that press release:
“The grant will primarily support the creation of a new desk for American Public Media’s Marketplace business programs, including Marketplace™, Marketplace Morning Report™, and Marketplace Money™, a personal finance program.”