A Test for Shale Gas Skeptics – Part II

Shale Gas Skeptics - Vic FurmanVictor Furman
Upstate New York Landowner
Shale Gas Activist at NYRAD-R


New York State’s shale gas skeptics deserve some facts, according to Vic Furman, and he’s devised a test to provide some of them. This is Part II.

Misinformation and speculation seem to be at the heart of what worries so many of our shale gas skeptics here in New York State. Multiple, supposedly grass roots, groups funded by the same big money sources out of New York City, San Francisco and Planet Ithaca keep throwing out assertions and innuendo that have absolutely no basis in fact.

Yesterday, I presented the first part of a test intended to set the record straight on several matters using a series of multiple choice questions. Today, I do the same with ten more true and false questions. If you have your own suggested questions, please pass them along.

Shale Gas Skeptics Test – Part II Questions
(True or false- choose one by filling in the circle)

1. Coal is a cleaner burning fuel then Natural Gas.

O True
O False

2. Methane migration can occasionally occur from drilling gas and oil wells.

O True
O False

Shale Gas Skeptics

3. Fracking fluid laced with chemicals can travel upwards from the depths through a mile or more of bedrock into a ground water aquifer.

O True
O False

4. Working on a drill rig or in natural gas production is a highly dangerous activity.

O True
O False

5. Pipelines are not safe for moving oil and gas to the end user or refineries.

O True
O False

6. Water consumed in drilling and fracking a well is never replaced back into the hydro-cycle. It is lost forever.

O True
O False

7. Renewable energy is ready to replace fossil fuels right now.

O True
O False  

shale gas skeptics - windmills

8. Renewables are, by definition, “clean energy.”

O True
O False

9. Landowners seeking gas leases are just greedy and don’t care about the environment.

O True
O False

10. There are already numerous cases across the US of fracking polluting our groundwater.

O True
O False

Shale Gas Skeptics Test – Part II Answers

1.   False. According to the EPA, “Compared to the average air emissions from coal-fired generation, natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third as much nitrogen oxides, and one percent as much sulfur oxides at the power plant.” Tony Ingraffea and his Park Foundation funded allies have been trying to say the life-cycle of natural gas production and use produces methane and other emissions making it worse than coal, but that hyperbole has been countered by numerous authorities. See herehere and here.

Shale Gas Skeptics - Owego Geothermal Well Fire

Owego Geothermal Well Fire

2.   True. However, it’s not the only way methane migration can happen or even the primary cause. A geothermal well drilling rig caught on fire recently in Owego, New York, for example, from methane migration. Also, a 2012 US Geological Survey study of New York groundwater “found explosive levels of methane in 15 percent of groundwater samples. The samples were taken from 66 household wells in upstate New York, none of which were within a mile of natural gas wells. Four of the tested wells contained enough methane that water from a connected tap could be lit with a match,” according to this report.

3.   False. A National Energy Technology Laboratory study conducted “an experiment of injecting tracer chemicals in fracking fluid at an undisclosed drill site with eight wells in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The NETL monitored (and continues to monitor) the eight wells over the past year and although the data is still preliminary, what have they found? No migration of fracking fluid toward the surface. Zero.” See this full report.

4.   False. Oil and gas extraction, combined with the support activities connected with it, has had fewer total fatalities than agriculture or tourism and rates of non-fatal occupational injury in the industry have averaged 1.5 per 100 full-time workers in 2012, compared to 3.5 for all industries combined. See the details here.

5.   False. It is, as we have seen in the news recently, far very dangerous to transport flammables over rails. Additionally, a Manhattan Institute report compared fatalities per billion ton miles of product transported by “road, rail, oil and petroleum products pipelines, and natural gas transmission. Road had the highest rate of incidents, with 19.95 per billion ton miles per year. This was followed by rail, with 2.08 per billion ton miles per year. Natural gas transmission came next, with 0.89 per billion ton miles.” That’s a pretty stark difference.

6.   False. Burning gas creates water. Using the life-cycle approach to calculating the net impact on water supplies, natural gas development is, in reality, a positive contributor to the hydrologic cycle. See this report, too.

Shale Gas Skeptics - combustion = water

7.   False. The technology and infrastructure to do this without subsidy are years away. There are major practical problems, too, as we would have to cover half of America with solar panels to power the other half and if you think solar and wind farms aren’t controversial, you haven’t been living in the real world. Germany tried too hard to jumpstart renewables and is now having to back off. Then, there’s this.

8.   False. Renewables have their own set of environmental problems, including major land disturbances, mining of rare earth minerals and noise.

9.   False. Landowners have always been the stewards protecting the streams and forest and sustaining the natural beauty of the land that attracts the second home owners so often opposed to natural gas development. What landowners want is simply to be able to keep their farms and their land and not to have to sell it for estate or property taxes.

10.  False. There is not a single case, anywhere in the US, since fracking began some 60+ years ago, of it polluting a groundwater supply. That’s a fact and if it were not true we’d be hearing about it endlessly. Instead, we get nothing but speculation and baseless assertions. Read this expose of the fractivist claims for a list of statements conforming there is no evidence to support their contentions.

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16 thoughts on “A Test for Shale Gas Skeptics – Part II

  1. In relation to only number #2 many wells in NEPA and NY have low levels of Methane ,but drilling near them can cause spikes by biogenic deposits or other shallow gas deposits.Until NG drilling was permitted in NEPA and across the country very few ever complained about issues from methane ( and usually other substances being in their water )…..SO the moral is “NO Drilling NO Issues “) and “Drilling increases issues due to disturbance of pockets of shallow NG .This is only one of the many problems brought about by NG drilling to an area !!!!!!!! This will never change ,just more BS will fly .Certified water testing has proved this here .

    • Bill, “No Drill No Problem” can be attached to anything. Thank God for the inquisitive and thirst for advancement. The good news, we need people like you to challenge what can be done. Taking your attitude Cavemen would not have made anything sharp and the wheel would never have been allowed to roll,no water wells would have been drilled either. Maybe you and your foundations that fear foreign corporations are going to lose money if America becomes more energy independent should start giving grants for immaculate extraction and perpetual motion. Your commentary is never based on facts, always emotions and hearsay. If I had to guess when you speak no one pays attention because you bring nothing to the table,

    • Then we’ll have to stop drilling new water wells also, for they can have the same impacrt. It happened to my parents when a new well for a new house was drilled across the street. Also no drilling for ground heat /heat sink systems, a renewable energy source. They too can go deep enough to cause problems with existing wells.

  2. # 3 Not all geology is the same in all areas .One area tested only gives results from that area .It is not a “One size fits All ” connections .

    • I Bill readily admit not to be a geologist but I do understand the Gas & oil companies have employed them from time to time. I understand that through gamma technology, sound waves. seismic testing and so many other tools made available, combined with the earths own geological crusting over 500 millions years I am quite comfortable that we have the ability to punch tens of millions holes into the ground to obtain life giving fossil fuels without endangering mankind. I wonder “what if the first man who sundried meat thought of spoilage the way you think about energy

  3. What a great educational tool! The Press and WNBF ought to be publishing and airing your tests. I am a daily reader of NGN and got 3 wrong on the multiple choice (100% on T-F). Thanks for taking the time to do this.

  4. – Just a note. A gallon of water is 8.35 pounds. Saying that 2.25 pounds = 3.7 gallons in the conversions below will make some question the whole narrative here. I am still a believer! Thank you!

  5. Great quiz… Good work on highlighting the unscientific and irrational claims of fracktivists. I am a regular reader of Shep’s excellent columns, and I am left-leaning and very pro-environmental…, which is exactly why I favor fracking over the primary alternative of coal. Although I believe conservation & reducing demand through energy savings need to be given more weight, I like it when the debate stays on science & provable facts, as this excellent 2-part quiz does. Politically disparaging the opposition for being liberal or getting money from liberal cause funders, while instructive to show a money trail & motive for some charlatans, is, in my humble opinion, not a winning strategy. For one thing, on the conservative side, there is an arguably greater history of industry-backed groups (I’m thinking Koch Bros., et al) funding their agendas, often regardless of facts (“Clean Coal?”). If receiving funding from wealthy donors with an ax to grind is a sin (and it is), neither side’s hands are clean. Another reason that politically disparaging fracktivists for their liberal friends is not particularly effective, is that presumably you’d like to win over as many people as possible. Emphasizing the association of fracktivists with liberal causes, while technically accurate, turns off those who support popular liberal issues. If you preach only to the choir, church attendance tends not to increase. For liberals, the best plan would be to keep showing (as this article does) that liberals are betraying their liberal ideologies by promoting unscientific views (similar to the way liberals have at times successfully promoted environmentalism by saying that it betrays a truly “conservative” approach to caring for the Earth & its resources). Pointing out that Obama & many other liberals 100% support fracking, that it is highly regulated, and that opposing fracking is essentially promoting coal is probably the best approach. Another strategy would be to illustrate that fracking is not so much an opposition to green technologies, but a cleaner and more cost-effective, job-producing bridge to reach them until such time as they can become practical, cost-effective, large-scale enough to meet society’s needs, and can overcome their own environmental hurdles. While so-called green energy may not be currently be practical on a macro scale, it is eventually going to assume a greater and greater role, and simply dissing it is not a persuasive strategy. Many large oil companies are actively investing in R&D for alternative energy projects, not as a PR ploy, but because they want to get on board for emerging technologies that can some day hold promise.

    • All good points, off course. We have pointed out numerous times that the Obama administration supports fracking and have emphasized the importance of fracking as an alternative to coal, as well as the fact that gas and renewables go well together.

  6. Pingback: A Test for Shale Gas Skeptics – Part II « ShaleMarkets.com – Oil and Gas (O&G) Shale Supply Chain

  7. I do not know where you got your information from, but it seems like it came from the oil/gas companies. More propaganda from them that looks like facts is NOT facts. You need INDEPENDENT sources.
    When you use these sources that are funded by the oil/gas companies, you only make me want to believe their side less and less!

      • i believe his sources are Josh Faux, Crazy Willy, Craig “The Trash Collector” Stevens and the Topless plactic lined coffin grandmother activist.”

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