Fracking An Unconventional Poisoning

Richard (Rick) Mills
Ahead of the Herd

Page 3 of 3

 

In 2005 U.S. President Bush, VP Dick Cheney and Congress used a 2004 study (it said fracking posed no danger to drinking water, this study was conducted in an area where coal beds were being fractured, and not shale beds) by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to justify legislation of the "Halliburton loophole," which exempts hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Fracking for oil and gas embedded in shale rock basins across the country and world involves the injection of a 99.5-percent cocktail of water and fine-grained sillica sand into a well that drops under the groundwater table 6,000-10,000 feet and then another 6,000-10,000 feet horizontally. The other .5 percent consists of a mixture of chemicals injected into the well, proprietary information and a "trade secret" under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which current President Barack Obama voted "yes" on as a Senator.

 

 That loophole is referred to by many as the "Halliburton Loophole" because Dick Cheney had left his position as CEO of Halliburton - one of the largest oil and gas services corporations in the world - to become Vice President and convene the Energy Task Force. That Task Force consisted of the Secretaries of State, Treasury, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, Transportation and Energy. One of its key actions was opening the floodgates for unfettered fracking nationwide.

 

Between 2001 and the bill's passage in 2005, the Task Force held over 300 meetings with oil and gas industry lobbyists and upper-level executives. The result was a slew of give-aways to the industry in this omnibus piece of legislation. On top of the "Halliburton Loophole," the bill also contains an exemption for fracking from Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement of the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.” Steve Horn, desmogblog.com

What they exempted are ticking time bombs…

The technology to recover natural gas depends on undisclosed types and amounts of toxic chemicals. A list of 944 products containing 632 chemicals used during natural gas operations was compiled. Literature searches were conducted to determine potential health effects of the 353 chemicals identified by Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) numbers. More than 75% of the chemicals could affect the skin, eyes, and other sensory organs, and the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems.

Flickr.com

Approximately 40-50% could affect the brain/nervous system, immune and cardiovascular systems, and the kidneys; 37% could affect the endocrine system; and 25% could cause cancer and mutations.

 

These results indicate that many chemicals used during the fracturing and drilling stages of gas operations may have long-term health effects that are not immediately expressed. In addition, an example was provided of waste evaporation pit residuals that contained numerous chemicals on the CERCLA and EPCRA lists of hazardous substances.” Natural Gas Operations From A Public Health Perspecvtive, wv4mom.org

 

“The 14 leading hydraulic fracturing companies in the U.S. injected 10.2 million gallons of more than 650 products that contained chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as hazardous air pollutants.”2011 congressional report on the chemicals used in hydraulic fracking

 Is the shale revolution all it’s fracked up to be?

“A New York Times investigation first unearthed major cracks in the 'shale boom' narrative in June 2011, finding that state geologists, industry lawyers and market analysts 'privately' questioned 'whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves.' According to the paper, 'the gas may not be as easy and cheap to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying, according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an analysis of data from thousands of wells.” Le Monde Diplomatique

 

“The economics of fracking are horrid. Drilling is destroying capital at an astonishing rate, and drillers are left with a mountain of debt just when decline rates are starting to wreak their havoc. To keep the decline rates from mucking up income statements, companies had to drill more and more, with new wells making up for the declining production of old wells. Alas, the scheme hit a wall, namely reality.”  US financial journalist Wolf Richter, Business Insider

 As companies pump out the fracking fluids bubbles and ‘burps’ of dissolved gas are released. These early gases are usually vented into the atmosphere for up to a month or more until the well hits full production, then it’s hooked up to a pipeline.

 

Natural gas emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal per unit of energy when burned but a report by Cornell University concluded that methane leakage was 3.6% to 7.9% of gas produced.

 

Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4), and methane is over 25 times (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says methane is 86 times more damaging than CO2 over a 20-year period) more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere over a 100 year period.

 

In August of 2013, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) led study measured a stunning 6% to 12% methane leakage over one of the U.S.’s largest gas fields, the Uintah Basin, which produces about 1% of U.S. natural gas. Releases of those magnitudes could offset the environmental edge that natural gas is said to enjoy over other fossil fuels.

“Unless leakage rates for new methane can be kept below 2%, substituting gas for coal is not an effective means for reducing the magnitude of future climate change.” Major 2011 study by the Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR)

The new ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ study introduces the idea of technology warming potentials (TWPs) to reveal time-dependent tradeoffs inherent in a choice between alternative technologies.

 

In this new approach the potent warming effect of methane emissions undercuts the value of fuel switching. The switch from coal to gas, assuming a total methane leakage of 2.4%, would only reduce TWPs by about 25% over the first three decades – just half the oft touted 50% drop in CO2 emissions from the switch. The study found that if the total leakage exceeds 3.2%, gas becomes worse for the climate than coal.

 

The decline rate of shale gas wells is very steep. A year after coming on-stream production can drop to 20-40 percent of the original level. If the best prospects were developed first, and they were, subsequent drilling will take place on increasingly less favorable prospects. Try to imagine how much drilling is taking place just to keep even with the existing production rate, how about increasing production?

 

Here’s James Howard Kunstler, author of "The Long Emergency" and his take on the situation;

“In order to keep production up, the number of wells will have to continue increasing at a faster rate than previously. This is referred to as "the Red Queen syndrome" which alludes to the character in Alice in Wonderland who famously declared that she had to run faster and faster just to stay where she is.”

Conclusion

 

There’s no doubt hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have tapped huge resources previously thought unrecoverable. By the end of the year, the US will be producing more oil and gas than any other country in the world. And it’s almost all thanks to fracking.

 

But at what cost?

 

Hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells is contaminating our fresh water supply. Wells are counted by the hundreds of thousands in the U.S. and Canada, millions have been fracked worldwide and we’re drilling hundreds more per day. Each and everyone a potential ticking time bomb of human cancers and mutation. In the end, when the shale boom goes bust, and it’ll be much sooner than most think, we’ll have to live with what’s been done to our environment. In a few short years will we be able to rationalize, to justify the short term benefits from poisoning our most precious resource, our fresh water?

 

Hydraulic fracturing should be on all our radar screens. Is it on yours?

 

If not, maybe it should be.

 

Richard (Rick) Mills
aheadoftheherd.com


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This document is not and should not be construed as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase or subscribe for any investment. Richard Mills has based this document on information obtained from sources he believes to be reliable but which has not been independently verified. Richard Mills makes no guarantee, representation or warranty and accepts no responsibility or liability as to its accuracy or completeness. Expressions of opinion are those of Richard Mills only and are subject to change without notice. Richard Mills assumes no warranty, liability or guarantee for the current relevance, correctness or completeness of any information provided within this Report and will not be held liable for the consequence of reliance upon any opinion or statement contained herein or any omission. Furthermore, I, Richard Mills, assume no liability for any direct or indirect loss or damage or, in particular, for lost profit, which you may incur as a result of the use and existence of the information provided within this Report.


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