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« Worth it | Main | Careful, now »

Aug 13, 2011


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Bill Yaner

The picture of industry working hand in hand with the scientific community on these questions is comforting if questionable to say the least.

With so much money to be made for the corporations, land leasers, and local governments, and so many jobs to be created at a time of jobless desperation, any scientific findings that would significantly slow down the pace and/or add major cost to the fracking process would become that man standing alone against the majority in Ibsen's "Enemy of the People."

Rather than welcoming a dialogue, the science of Rachel Carlson was ripped into full force by the industry she questioned - much as the science of climate change has been ridiculed and ignored by industry owned policy makers in our own time.

Nice to think that with fracking, things will be different, but its difficult for me to see how they possibly could.

Billy Jones

So, water (and whatever it happens to contain) just happens to rise up naturally from the depths of the Earth. Where have I heard that before? Oh, I remember, it was my 6th grade Geology book.


So, what's the inventory of the NC laws that regulate this specific industry, at this date ?

Any, specifically ?

For example, does NC have laws regulating frac fluids, specifically ?

Fred Gregory

"The real breakthrough would be if industry were willing to work with the scientific community, which hasn’t been done so far. We were hoping to build those bridges, but it’s tough..."

Sounds good. But it is indeed tough when the hyperbole of "Gasland", misleading articles by leading newspapers inter alia are stirring up paaranoia and anxiety when in fact there is no science behind these fears.

We need more common sense as expresed by Charles Holbrook a NC geologist.

Fracking: Development of Gas Holds Great Promise


You can tell an issue has reached public consciousness when it become plot-line fodder for TV drama. Fracking has officially attained this status, making a cameo appearance on the most recent episode of my new favorite series, Suits.

Billy Jones

Fred, did you happen to see who wrote the article Ed linked to? Avner Vengosh Professor of geochemistry and water quality Duke University-- you know, the kind of gig your Campbell professor would get if he could.


"....you know, the kind of gig your Campbell professor would get if he could."

What particular issue do you have with what Holbrook said?

Billy Jones

Bubba asked, "What particular issue do you have with what Holbrook said?"

For starters: "The pressure required to fracture the rock is easy to calculate, and the risk of those fractures running amok to contaminate freshwater zones is highly unlikely. The entire purpose of fracking would be instantly defeated if the fractures extended into the mass of surrounding rock, providing an unwanted escape route for the gas. ."

100% BS There is no way that fracking could work if the fracking were encased in "multiple strings of steel casing securely cemented into place." and water wells would quickly run dry if water wells were "multiple strings of steel casing securely cemented into place." In order for fracking to work the underground layers must be opened up, not sealed off.

Fracking works by breaking up the layers of rock beyond the gas well, not the rock that has already been removed from the ground in the drilling of the hole.

And this is also BS: "So I urge our legislators or their emissaries to go to those states such as Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma with well-established oil and gas laws to learn from them."

Notice he conveniently left out Pennsylvania and New York, states with drilling history that goes back even farther than the states he mentioned and states were recent fracking adventures are currently causing environmental nightmares.

On top of that, your retired Campbell professor wrote a puff piece that only mentions the up side and none of the down sides-- obviously PR BS.

But then you don't know enough 6th grade geology to have a clue.

Ed Cone

RBM, North Carolina's current drilling laws would seem to rule out fracking. Our long-in-tooth laws in this area are under review, with the state legislature taking a go-slow approach while the Senate wants more aggressive action.

...which leads to the opinion article linked by Fred. The author argues that we should emulate the laws of Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, and that we should spend tax revenue from drilling operations wisely. Makes sense to me to consider what those states have done well, but also what they may do less well, and how their laws fit the specific needs of NC.

The author bio says he's "a geologist with a long history of petroleum exploration" who "taught geology for four years through Campbell University following retirement," so I'm not sure calling him a professor is accurate, nor do I think that discussion is as relevant as considering what he actually says.

Fracking Facts

RBM: Here are the current NC rules about horizontal drilling and fracking:

1.Fracking/ injection – N.C.G.S. 87-88(c) provides that “every well shall be constructed and maintained in a condition whereby it is not a source or channel of contamination of the groundwater supply or any aquifer.” 15A NCAC 02C.0209(b) “…oil and gas production and storage related injection wells…no person shall construct, use or operate a well of this class for injection.”

2. Horizontal drilling – The oil and gas code and its regulation ban horizontal drilling, providing that “the maximum penetration of… wells into the producing formation…shall not unreasonably vary from the vertical drawn from the center of the hole at the surface.” N.C.G.S. 113-393(d). Also, Department of Environment and Natural Resources rules 15A NCAC 05D.0107(e) states that “vertical deviation” may not “exceed three degrees” unless the director grants an exemption. Wells also are not permitted to cross property lines.


Anyone really know how many jobs fracking might actually create here? Dozens? Hundreds? Thousands? What's happening other places? Are the jobs good jobs or Walmart jobs?

A lot of folks get ticked off when the state bribes a business to come here with tax goodies and such. It comes out of taxpayers' wallets. We ought to consider cost when we consider fracking, as well as the jobs and other benefits. And, we ought to consider Worst Case costs, not the sweet-sounding PR we get from the oil corps. What's the worst that can happen? How much will it cost to clean up? Can it be cleaned up?

Billy Jones

Most well drilling jobs will be gone as soon as the holes are punched into the ground and most of the hole punchers will come from out of state. Life in the drilling business is and always has been very migratory.

Bill Bush

IIRC, the Cheney energy regulation adventure made fracking fluids protected trade secrets, and beyond the reach of state regulation. That last phrase would certainly match up with the anti-environmental leaning in the current NC elected houses. Put one domino near another, wave a dollar bill ten feet away and watch the falling start.

Fred Gregory

Nothing short of stopping fracking in its tracks will satisfy the envviro zealots and the usefful idiots stirred to fear by their relentless onslaught of propaganda.

Facts on Frack Attackers

"...there is no shortage of groups and individuals who disregard the facts because they benefit from the demonization of natural gas. That's why the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives last week published a paper last week titled, "The Great Frack Attack: The War on Natural Gas,"

...the so-called "journalism" nonprofit ProPublica... claims to focus "exclusively on truly important stories – stories with 'moral force,'" and has received several millions of dollars from its liberal founder Herb Sandler. He gained his wealth from the subprime mortgage crisis and has helped support Center for American Progress, the ACLU and EarthJustice, among many other leftist groups.Part of ProPublica's search for "moral force" has apparently driven it to publish a 120-article series on the alleged dangers of gas industry fracking, also falsely attributing water contamination to the process.

An agenda, and lots of money, are behind efforts that undermine fossil fuel development (both oil and gas shale) in our country. Lies and distortions, effectively publicized, may kill it before U.S. drilling produces enough to make a difference in gas prices and in our dependence on energy sources from the Middle East"

Steve Harrison

Seriously, Fred? Did you just post a propaganda "report" from a fossil fueled think-tank on how the left (somehow) benefits from anti-fossil fuel propaganda reports?

I had no idea that not drilling was so lucrative. How can I get my hands on some of that no gas money? Has the government started subsidizing not drilling, like the "don't grow your crops" farm thing? I always miss out on these sweetheart deals...

Ed Cone

Fred, you say a cautious, science-based approach to the issue "sounds good," but you consistently ignore such approaches and spend your energy tilting at the supposed extremists who allegedly want to stop fracking for some nefarious reason.

You say Pro Publica isn't trustworthy because of some vaguely-defined bias ascribed to its funder, but then how are we to view the trustworthiness of sources bankrolled by industry? Pro Publica does investigative work and provides links to serious sources, and you're linking to an opinion journal.

There is an important debate going on, spelled out in documents like the one cited here. Join it if you wish.


"Pro Publica does investigative work and provides links to serious sources, and you're linking to an opinion journal."

Pro Publica is an organization funded to produce results that support left wing causes.


"ProPublica's investigations include 'The Gulf oil spill' (208 stories); 'How industry money reaches doctors' (26 stories); 'Civilian contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan' (35 stories); 'The Wall Street money machine" (28 stories); and "'Fracking: Gas drilling's environmental threat' (122 stories).

OK, it's biased. Is it accurate? Dave Kopel, research director at Colorado's Independence Institute, doesn't think so. He checked out ProPublica's assertions about natural gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, 'suspected of causing hundreds of cases of water contamination.'

Colorado and New Mexico officials supposedly 'documented more than 1,000 cases where water was contaminated by drilling activities.' Kopel called the officials. New Mexico had no fracking cases. Colorado didn't compile fracking numbers."

Ed Cone

If those errors were committed, they should be corrected. But you can't really damn an organization for alleged bias and then cite opinion columns and "think tanks" as reliable sources. It's the quality of work over time, and the transparency, that matters, and from what I can see Pro Publica does a pretty good job.

So, anyway, in this post there's a link to a professor pleading for serious science to be applied to this issue, and in the one added this morning, a link to a report that is very friendly to natural gas extraction but points to several outstanding issues. Aren't these the things worth discussing, rather than pissing matches about ideology?


Here is the definitive description of who Pro Publica is and what is it they do.


"As this article has demonstrated, there are more than a few reasons why people who value investigative journalism should be worried by the launch of Pro Publica. Indeed, rather than strengthening and improving the diversity of investigative journalism in the mainstream media, Pro Publica may even facilitate (albeit unintentionally) its demise.

Moreover, the free stories provided by Pro Publica will no doubt bolster the bottom line of their corporate media recipients (who also happen to serve as Pro Publica’s advisors), who may even use this service as an excuse to cut the little resources they had previously set aside for investigative reports."

But this sort of thing doesn't seem to concern Ed Cone, professed journalist.

Andrew Brod

Someone just changed the subject. Bubs' "noteworthy" clip has nothing to do with whether Pro Publica's reporting is reliable.


"Someone just changed the subject. Bubs' 'noteworthy" clip has nothing to do with whether Pro Publica's reporting is reliable."


Andykins' comment is today's version of "I Don't Care If I Can't Read A Stock Chart, I DO Know What I'm Talking About".

He didn't even bother to read the material in the Spin Watch link.

As usual.


"....and from what I can see Pro Publica does a pretty good job."

Of course you do.

We wouldn't expect any different, even thought their reliability is, shall we say, compromised. We know better when it comes to your selectively applied standards.

Andrew Brod

I wasn't commenting on the entire Spin Watch article. I commented on the part that you considered "noteworthy." What you highlighted has nothing to do with what anyone was talking about here. If that matters.

As for the rest of the Spin Watch article, yes, I read it. Did you? More to the point, did you notice that it's a critique of Pro Publica from the left? Noteworthy:

In spite of their rhetoric Pro Publica are not in the business of improving investigative journalism, but instead they are in the business of promoting a variety of "investigative" journalism that bolsters the status quo. As Noam Chomsky notes, "the media serve the interests of state and corporate power" and "fram[e] their reporting and analysis in a manner supportive of established privilege and limiting debate and discussion accordingly".

By the way, Spin Watch's funders include a raft of lefty organizations, including Greenpeace International and Greenpeace UK. I wonder what they think about fracking?

There is another approach. You could drop your infantile tactics and actually debate the issues. That might mean doing more than cribbing from others' links. For example, Billy addressed the issues directly and asked you if you have any understanding at all of the geology of fracking. Any response? Or would you prefer to resume whining about what group funds what other group?


"I wasn't commenting on the entire Spin Watch article. I commented on the part that you considered "noteworthy." What you highlighted has nothing to do with what anyone was talking about here. If that matters."

It had everything to do with Cone's point.

"Did you? More to the point, did you notice that it's a critique of Pro Publica from the left?"


See my comment above. Plus, I don't recall endorsing any political, social, and economic views Spin Watch may have, and i don't care what their opinion on fracking is.

Of course, you might want to argue that quoting a source that holds views you agree with undercuts the point I made, but that would involve exposing some of your intellectual hypocracy "progressives" always seem to have.

All the rest of your post is, as usual, irrelevant noise. And your confusion continues to grow.

Andrew Brod

I figured as much. Spin Watch criticizes Pro Publica in general terms for reinforcing what it sees as the corporatist orientation of the media. It's supported by lefty environmental groups like Greenpeace that would presumably applaud the specific Pro Publica article in question. But to you this is irrelevant noise.

I need an emoticon for shrugging.

I'd prefer to discuss the Pro Publica article on its merits, but you insist on playing the meta-game of guilt by association. And yet you can't even keep your own game straight.


"And yet you can't even keep your own game straight."

Don't mind Andykins, folks.

He's having another alien inspired "Twilight Zone" hot flash, just like his hero had yesterday.

Or perhaps it's just early onset dementia.


So, that article on fracking was something, huh? Thanks for the enlightening discussion, guys.

Andrew Brod

It doesn't matter, Thomas. The organization that published it was criticized by an organization that almost certainly opposes fracking, which obviously invalidates the article's skeptical take on fracking... wait, what?

Ed Cone

Not sure why people feel the need to respond to Bob past a certain point. He's not going to listen.

His pet name for Dr. Brod, though, moves things from grumpy to creepy. Andykins? WTF.

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