Another Freaking Music Video about Fracking

May 13, 2011

From Pro Publica:

Here’s more about the video, which was done by David Holmes and other talented journalism students at Jay Rosen’s NYU’s Studio 20. It was part of their collaboration with us to build better explanations for stories. For more on fracking, its lack of regulation, and the potential for drinking water contamination, check out our now nearly three-year running investigation.

Since a lot of people, including me, have had hopes that new techniques for pulling methane out of the ground could ease the energy transition, it’s maddening to hear about how the technology has been mishandled. Another new study shows contamination in drinking water from the practice.

Digital Journal:

Durham – A new scientific study has, for the first time, found a pattern linking hydraulic fracturing and natural gas drilling with methane contamination of drinking water, with some contamination levels so high that faucet taps can be set on fire.

For the first time, new research conducted by four Duke University scientists shows that water supplies close to natural gas wells had an average of 17 times the level of flammable methane gas as wells further from active drilling operations.

A total of 68 wells were tested by the research team, all located in the Marcellus and Utica shale drilling areas, located in northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York state. The group defined active gas extraction areas as within one kilometer (around six-tenths of a mile) of a gas well operation.

Robert Jackson, a biology professor at Duke and one of the report’s authors, said: “We certainly didn’t expect to see such a strong relationship between the concentration of methane in water and the nearest gas wells. That was a real surprise,” 

One Response to “Another Freaking Music Video about Fracking”

  1. marvingubba Says:

    Warning: Latest studies suggest…
    Likelihood of getting sand in your shorts rises substantially if you go to the beach.

    Please don’t misunderstand me. Fresh ground water is crucial and any drilling practices that lead to its pollution should be stopped or corrected. However, this study that bloggers are claiming as direct proof, really falls short.

    The study surveys water in locations pre-identified by the drilling companies as having methane present.

    This is worth repeating…
    It tested waters in areas where thermogenic methane is KNOWN to exist.

    After reading both the study and its supporting materials, its disappointing that it didn’t sample methane levels in shallow well water around traditional (non-fracked) gas wells.

    It make clear that…

    “Methane concentrations were detected generally in 51 of 60 drinking-water wells (85%) across the region, regardless of gas industry operations”

    “regardless of gas industry operations”

    Further it states,

    “Methane migration through the 1- to 2-km-thick geological formations that overlie the Marcellus and Utica shales is less likely as a mechanism for methane contamination than leaky well casings, but might be possible due to both the extensive [natural fault and] fracture systems reported for these formations and the many older, uncased wells drilled and abandoned over the last century and a half in Pennsylvania and New York.”

    Again this makes no distinction between fracked and non-fracked extraction as either method could suffer equally from leaky well casings.

    Additionally it continues,

    “”…we found no evidence for contamination of the shallow [drinking-water] wells near active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids.”

    Recall that the fossil fuel industry was born in Pennsylvania before the Civil War.
    The first wells were hitting oil and gas at depths less than 100 feet. And over the following 150 years, thousands (likely tens of thousands) of wells were drilled across the region.

    Ignoring that this study focused only on areas of known methane reserves…
    At best it concludes that any increase (over baseline levels) of thermogenic methane (not marsh-gas) in surface water is likely a result of
    a) leaky well casings
    b) over 100 years of abandoned wells that were drilled without any casings

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