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Fracking Foe Fears Prove Foolish… Again

Via Meadia keeps a close eye on the unfolding energy revolution in America that stands to make America one of the world’s leading energy producers and upend the global energy markets in a manner largely favorable to U.S. interests. Yet while the benefits of the new oil and gas are obvious, there remains a dedicated green movement committed to banning the practice, and we’ve noticed a tendency towards sensationalism and hack science in recent months.

As a case in point, the Associated Press reports that opponents of fracking—including John Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of the anti-fracking film “the Sky is Pink”—claim that chemicals from fracking cause breast cancer in nearby towns, citing spikes in breast cancer rates around sites of intensive drilling.

Yet so far there’s precious little evidence for this claim. Various impartial parties, including the Texas Cancer Registry and Susan G. Komen for the Cure, can’t find any link between fracking and breast cancer:

David Risser, an epidemiologist with the Texas Cancer Registry, said in an email that researchers checked state health data and found no evidence of an increase in the counties where the spike supposedly occurred.

And Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a major cancer advocacy group based in Dallas, said it sees no evidence of a spike, either.

“We don’t,” said Chandini Portteus, Komen’s vice president of research, adding that they sympathize with people’s fears and concerns, but “what we do know is a little bit, and what we don’t know is a lot” about breast cancer and the environment.

Likewise, fears about deep-underground radioactive water getting into public water supplies have turned out to be baseless after extensive testing by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.

As we’ve said before, it is certainly possible that some of the environmental concerns are valid, and as the technology expands in usage, more research should be done to determine how fracking can continue with minimal impact on the environment or nearby communities. But there’s a big difference between the sober and deliberate deployment of a powerful new technology with appropriate safeguards and kneejerk Nimby know-nothingism.

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  • vanderleun

    “… it is certainly possible that some of the environmental concerns are valid…”

    Too much ‘reasonable’ caution, like too much perfection, is a mistake.

  • Kris

    “kneejerk Nimby know-nothingism”

    Oh no! This is Spiro-ling out of control!

  • http://therandomtexan.wordpress.com Mike Anderson

    “kneejerk Nimby know-nothingism”

    W-a-a-y better than any Spiroism, especially with the catchy SMS abbreviation KNKN.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    I find fracking scarying. I am not sufficiently assured by a quote by a Susan Komen official. It just seems like too much risk for a payoff that can be achieved at a much lower cost by efficiency.

    I hope you are right and I am wrong. As an engineer, rather than a practicing ideologue, I am willing to be persuaded by facts. But for the time being, I find the exuberance about fracking somewhat irrational.

  • Kenny

    Think Saudi money will make it to Greens to fund their fake science against fracking and American energy independence?

  • Mrs. Davis

    Too bad for the Greens that all those hydrocarbons are located in Appalachia, North Dakota and Texas. Those folks are too poor or too knowledgable to be suckered in by the green con artists.

    Felipe, if you’re an engineer what are the facts that are scarying you? Fracking has been done for 60 years on over 1 million wells. You would think any systemic problems would have surfaced by now. But all the environmental problems have been the result of accidents, not problems inherent in fracking.

    The exberance about fracking is joyful but not irrational. I remember the exuberance over the discovery of the Alaska oil fields. And it did bring a lot of good to the world. So will fracking.

  • tysmwest

    And Oh NOES…now severe thunderstorms, caused of course by Global Climate Warming..I mean Change…are destroying the Ozone layer….run for cover…
    the CON never stops….

  • Art

    These fracking pseudo-scientists (along with their global-warming cohorts) have “cried Wolf!” so many times that no one is listening anymore.

  • http://astroprisonchronicles.com/ astroprisoner

    Well, the greens have to try -something- to stop fracking. After all, if the best estimates prove true then cheaper oil means there’s no reason to go to solar, or wind…or for that matter shave down cars even further in the name of fuel efficiency.

    Can’t have that.

  • http://smallestminority.blogspot.com Kevin Baker

    The Greens are no longer NIMBYs, they are now BANANAs – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

    Not original to me, but I think it’s an accurate assessment.

  • Stever

    To the extent there has been contamination of drinking water quality groundwater due to oil and gas operations its largely due to injections well practices done in fields that are older and not up to modern standards or drilling pits. This has largely been eliminated as an issue and is really not anything like the fracking process, both from an engineering and geological perspective.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Mrs. Davis #6, mining is very far from my area so I cannot give any expert opinion. So all I say can only be based on reading newspapers. Roughly, my impression is that people who know what they are talking about have valid concerns, which are not adequately addressed by the supporters. On the other hand, the joyful language of boosterism, such as you employed in your post, does not inspire any confidence.

    For example, you seem to be unaware that the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable, and that almost everyone would rather not live next to a gas, coal, or oil operation if they have an alternative. This is a pretty fundamental point.

  • John Galt II

    “I find fracking scarying” Yeah, yesterday you couldn’t even spell injuneer, and now you is one. “I find the exuberance about fracking somewhat irrational” How exactly is it irrational to be happy about becoming the number one energy producer in the world. I mean, other than jumpstarting our moribund economy, and allowing us to stop send billions of dollars to our enemies in Iran, Venezuela, and Saudi Arabia, whats good about it.

  • http://davidhdennis.com David H Dennis

    Isn’t the filmmaker’s name Josh Fox, not John? Josh Fox was the Gasland guy, and it would surprise me if a different person did the follow-up, especially with such a similar name.

    D

  • Bobo from Texas

    Who need more Oil and gas when we have such an abundance of Hope&Change!?

  • http://snowgoosechronicles.blogspot.com/ Oscar

    As a geological engineer, I’ll testify that fracking is no more environmentally hazardous than any other commonly used extraction technique.

  • Casey

    Felipe, I am a Feild Engineer with a major oil field service provider. I have been fracking wells since 2002 on two different continents.

    I may not be able to change your mind, but from my perspective Fracking has about as much chance at poisining the water supply as backing into your mailbox would shutting down the post office.

    We are fracking hundreds if not thousands of feet below the water table, in zones locked from the surface by impentrable cap rock. By definition, there would not be oil where we are drilling if that oil could migrate to the surface. The cap rock is what keeps it in place for us to find.

    The most powerful fracking techniques only manage to fracture a few acres worth of oil bearing rock around the well bore and then can not fracture the cap rock for the simple reason we can not inject fracturing liquid into the cap rock because it is impenatrable.

    I myself can not imagine a scenerio where you could contaminate the water table. Geologically, I do not think it is possible.

  • Donald Kotowski

    Felipe @ #12:
    “For example, you seem to be unaware that the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable, and that almost everyone would rather not live next to a gas, coal, or oil operation if they have an alternative. This is a pretty fundamental point.”

    I am sorry. That comment is made by a person who has never had a “hands-on” job. Mining jobs are exciting, desirable and pay heaps more money than flipping burgers at Burger King. Not every person can have an office job or wants one. These jobs are further emotionally fulfilling because the folks doing them know they are contributing to the greater good and energy independence of their country.

  • http://islandturtle.blogspot.com Corky Boyd

    Felipe,

    The exuberance comes from finding we’re nowhere near peak oil or peak gas, a favorite ruse of the “drill no more” crowd. Fracking and horizontal drilling are allowing the US to become less dependent on unreliable foreign energy. Indeed, a planned LNG import facility on Chesapeake Bay is now being proposed and an export facility. The largest single contributor to our massive trade deficit is imported energy.

    The new drilling techniques are allowing far less expensive source of natural gas, currently one fifth the cost of oil. There is a positive correlation between low energy costs and healthy economy in the US.

  • Yahzooman

    After all, these drilling companies aren’t really responsible for any potential pollution.

    Because our leader told me so …

    “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that.”

  • Brian Epps

    NIMBY? I think the acronym you are looking for is BANANA. Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

  • AD-RtR/OS!

    “…mining is very far from my area so I cannot give any expert opinion…”
    We can accept that, but why are you being so vociferous about fracking, which is used in drilling, not mining?
    Do you not know the difference, or are you just antagonistic about any form of mineral/energy recovery?

  • Andy Freeman

    > For example, you seem to be unaware that the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable,

    That’s true of pretty much every job. That’s why they have to pay people to do them.

    But let’s play along. Garbage man is an “undesirable” job. Does that tell us that we shouldn’t collect garbage?

    ? and that almost everyone would rather not live next to a gas, coal, or oil operation if they have an alternative.

    So? Most folks wouldn’t like to live near a steel mill. I wouldn’t like to live next to a elementary school (screaming kids) or a university (bad parking).

    Oh wait – there are folks who pay millions of dollars to live near an oil well. It happens to be on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. (Yes, that beverly hills.)

    > . As an engineer, rather than a practicing ideologue,

    Real engineers talk about quantifiable costs and benefits. They don’t assume unobtanium.

    This is a pretty fundamental point.

  • ccsmith

    “…almost everyone would rather not live next to a gas, coal, or oil operation if they have an alternative. This is a pretty fundamental point.”

    Fundamental or not, it’s just not true. The revolution in oil & gas production has been made possible by private landowners who willingly lease their mineral rights to producers in order to share in the profits.

  • gringojay

    It will be the return of USA economic robustness when the politicians find their cojones & say:” Go ahead, make my day – Frack It!”

  • Bohemond

    Gee, enviro-luddites scaremongering with “facts” they make up on the spot. I’m shocked, shocked!!

  • Diggs

    I completely disagree that a “majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable”. I worked as a roughneck in the summer near Big Piney, Wyoming when I was going to the U of Wyo. The work was hard, the pay was good, and the days off were spectacular. I knew twenty people or more who would have gladly taken my job, had I been stupid enough to give up a job that in 1985 paid $17/hr for an untrained top chain thrower like me. Maybe engineers don’t want to work in an oilfield (though I never met any of them either), but getting in as a roughneck is pretty sweet.

  • LHog

    Education and Knowledge are the antidote to ‘scarying’. Ignorance breeds fear.
    The Greens play on your ignorance. That should motivate you to get yourself educated, become fearful and hesitant.

  • Pettifogger

    Re Kevin Baker’s comment on:

    (1) NIMBYs–Not in my backyard, and

    (2) BANANAs–Build absolutely nothing anywhere near anybody.

    Don’t forget the third cohort, which may better describe what we are dealing with:

    (3) NOPEs–Not on Planet Earth

  • Patrick

    Felipe Pait – I question your claim to be an engineer. Anyone trained in a hard science or engineering would find it relatively easy to understand the facts with regard to fracing – they also would not confuse drilling for petroleum and mining.

    Further, any decent engineer would understand that if we could obtain the same results from conservation, we would. Do you honestly believe that individuals and companies want to spend more on energy?

    Finally, I question whether you are an engineer because most of them, at some point in their career, spend time with the kind of guys who work rigs (build buildings, equipment etc.) and understand that they are generally happy to have a good job and are often proud of that job.

  • Gringo

    Felipe Pait:
    For example, you seem to be unaware that the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable

    A job with a good salary is “not particularly desirable.” I worked as an engineer in oil and gas well drilling. I would say you don’t know what you are talking about. I found the jobs interesting and well paying.

    almost everyone would rather not live next to a gas, coal, or oil operation if they have an alternative. This is a pretty fundamental point.

    I was rather glad to lease my 6 acres of mineral rights and later collect production royalties from them. I have heard no complaints whatsoever from others about the drilling. Nor about collecting the royalties.

    Granted, I would not want to live next to an oil refinery. Nor would I want to live next to a feed lot.

  • CR

    “NIMBY? I think the acronym you are looking for is BANANA.”

    Yes, but it would not fit the alliteration at the end of the article very well.

  • Mrs. Davis

    Felipe,

    I don’t know where you’re from, but in Appalachia there are very few undesirable jobs given the past scarcity of jobs of any type. I would be pleased as punch to live with four or five gas wells on my farm. Every time I looked at them I could think about how to spend the next royalty check. You really don’t understand how poor these people are and how much these discoveries have changed their lives. Sure there may noise from the trucks and roads may be deteriorating faster. But now they have money to fix the problem…and the roof of the barn. And I don’t have to pay some barbaric sheik to heat my house. What’s not to like?

  • Jamie

    I was a mudlogger right out of college, and it was the most interesting and challenging job I’ve ever had, until my present one (preschool director, for some reason). I was the only woman mudlogger in the Sacramento Valley at the time, I was told, and besides the opportunity to taunt the rig hands with my fair young flesh (I wore grimy jeans, t-shirts, hard hat, boots – but heck, I WAS young and cute anyway!), I was getting paid GOOD money to do actual geology, and working awesome hours – twelve on, twelve off while I was on a well, but then I might score a week off to go camping! And if I didn’t get that much time off, why, it meant more money!

    Drilling is fun for the logger, on a good rig; either you’re busy or you’re goldbricking, depending on what’s going on, so you’re either interested in your work or interested in the book you brought along or the conversation you’re having. On a sloppy rig, it’s scary because accidents happen. (Diggs, I hope you were on a good rig and therefore still have all your fingers!) It is HIGHLY desirable work if you’re a geologist and want to do what you were trained to do.

  • LHog

    Boy I need to edit that!
    NOT become fearful and hesitant!

  • FJ

    I live in the Haynesville Shale area of northwest Louisiana, where literally hundreds of wells have been drilled in the last several years. In fact, there is a fracked well on the school property where I teach.

    To the best of my knowledge, there have been no instances of contaminated aquifers or the like. None.

    Nothing is zero risk, of course. There have been a couple of blowouts, though to the best of my knowledge nobody was hurt. But no systematic environmental damage, not even when blowouts occur.

  • Jim.

    @29, Pettifogger-

    If you’ll forgive someone else for pettifogging for a moment…

    Not On Planet Earth is clever, I’ll give you that. But there is some irony here. Via Meadia first learned the term BANANA (as far as I can tell) from one of my commets. I had learned it from an Australian mining engineer, with whom I am working on prototyping a 3D printing device that is capable of working in metals at low temperature, which was originally conceived because we wanted one that would work in microgravity.

    We’re looking forward to the day — we’re trying to hasten it along in fact — when Not On Planet Earth industries account for as much human wealth as our current terrestrial industrial base does. :-)

    We live in interesting times, and as people pointed out about field work, “interesting” doesn’t have to mean “bad”.

    As for Felipe– don’t be too hard on him, he’s probably a software ‘engineer’ who works in a cubicle and can’t imagine doing anything with his hands beyond typing and clicking a mouse. I used to do that five days a week — bored me silly — and am much happier now that my days include trips to the production floor. It’s a very limited perspective, though, and leaves you too vulnerable to believing what the “experts” picked by the NYT have to say about anything outside of your own scant experience.

  • Victor Erimita

    High voltage power lines. Genetically modified crops. DDT. Immunizations. Climategate. Increasingly burdensome EPA regs with vanishing point diminishing returns. Now fracking. The Left’s war on science.

  • Ed

    Mead, what is it with you? You reject fracking fears because there’s no evidence but are a global warming alarmist who thinks the science is settled even though the models have utterly failed to predict the past decade’s global temperature trends. Are you blind to the contradiction? Or just ignorant of the facts?

  • Exurban

    I live in British Columbia province in Canada, worked in a molybdenum mine many years ago, and know many people still in the mining industry. Most mining jobs today involve operating heavy equipment. Most newer mines are open-pit mines. All mining jobs pay well; the average British Columbia mining industry employee’s salary-plus-benefits package was $102,000 in 2007.

    That said, mining and petroleum drilling are two separate industries.

  • willis

    “As we’ve said before, it is certainly possible that some of the environmental concerns are valid…”

    Just as it is possible from quantum mechanics that one can walk through a brick wall without damage to the wall or one’s self. Neither is likely.

  • Corlyss

    Foolish or not, the envirothugs will try the argument on every liberal/Democratic judge on the planet till they find one that will stop fracking.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Casey #17, I understand your argument but I think a more complete understanding from my part is needed. Some people seem to be willing to have a complete definitive opinion without understanding the specifics but I am not one of them.

    Corky Boyd #19, you are correct that domestic sources of energy are preferable to imports from geopolitically dangerous places but that is not the only consideration. Also, there are reasons to be skeptical about the wild claims about gas.

    Andy Freeman #23, ccsmith #24, and Gringo #31, brush up on the Economics 101 concept of externalities. One person may profitably sells the rights to drilling in their land, and not care when their neighbors’ land loses value.

    Diggs #27 and Gringo #31, I am happy about the great job you had but it is still true that most people don’t look forward to a job in mining.

    John Galt #13, Donald Kotowski #18, AD-RtR/OS! #22, Patrick #30, Jim #37, thanks for the personal attacks. That’s the foundation on which a healthy debate is built on, isn’t it?

  • LarryFrom10EC

    It seems the environmental movement has decided it’s sole constituancy is people too stupid to think for themselves or fact check claims- wait a minute, they may be on to something there.

  • Jim.

    @Felipe-

    I thought that healthy debate was about opening people’s eyes to possibilities they hadn’t considered.

    You really ought to consider that people who “don’t look forward to a job in” mining, drilling, or other sector where you get your hands dirty but produce something of real value for humanity, are missing out and could benefit from a healthier attitude.

    You really ought to consider that these jobs are not the old-fashioned “black lung” sorts of jobs… in fact, an increasing number of them involve large amounts of teleoperation. Mining from the comfort of your own cubicle — even you might like it.

    You really ought to consider the possibility that the “experts” handpicked by the MSM have more to say about Leftist editors’ desires than about the actual world we live in.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait
  • Gary L.

    CR says:

    “NIMBY? I think the acronym you are looking for is BANANA.”

    Yes, but it would not fit the alliteration at the end of the article very well

    How about banal bankrupting BANANA bandicoots?

    And would the statement “You didn’t build this” the future pluperfect tense of BANANA?

  • Gary L.

    Correction to the final sentence

    And would the statement “You didn’t build this” be the future pluperfect tense of BANANA?

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Jim #45, thanks for clarifying, your previous post gave the impression that your idea of debate was personal invective. Actually, your post #45 does give a similar impression, at least the part after the 1st paragraph which states something different.

  • Gringo

    #43 Felipe:
    Andy Freeman #23, ccsmith #24, and Gringo #31, brush up on the Economics 101 concept of externalities. One person may profitably sells the rights to drilling in their land, and not care when their neighbors’ land loses value.

    The key word here is may . Theoretically, externalities MAY apply, but not necessarily. As far as I can tell, they do not apply to this lease.

    The mineral rights for this O&G lease comprised about a thousand acres. I had six acres of mineral rights- out of a thousand acres. The drill site took up about an acre- most of which got restored.

    How were the land values of those outside the mineral lease reduced? The land outside the lease still produced good yields of wheat and cotton- as did the land inside the lease, with the exception of the cement slab remaining from the rig site.

    Diggs #27 and Gringo #31, I am happy about the great job you had but it is still true that most people don’t look forward to a job in mining.

    As others have pointed out, you don’t know the difference between mining versus drilling for O&G. They are not the same. I would think that an engineer would know the difference. ¿Me entendés?

    Regarding “most people don’t look forward to a job in mining”- over the years, companies involved in O&G drilling don’t have trouble filling the jobs, so there are enough people who DO look forward to such work.Different strokes for different folks. Perhaps you find such work beneath you. There are a lot of people who do NOT find such work beneath them.

    #12
    For example, you seem to be unaware that the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirablle.
    Please inform me why those jobs are not particularly desirable. WHY? WHY?

    Please inform me why you bring in “mining industry” when the discussion is on drilling gas wells. Decidedly not the same as mining for copper or coal.

  • thibaud

    Bem feito, Felipe.

    Milita a boa milícia.

  • Jazz

    Felipe Pait says: Mrs. Davis #6, mining is very far from my area so I cannot give any expert opinion. So all I say can only be based on reading newspapers. Roughly, my impression is that people who know what they are talking about have valid concerns, which are not adequately addressed by the supporters.

    Your inability to communicate clearly impairs your argument. “People who know what they are talking have valid concerns”… about what? Fracking? Opposition to fracking? Mining (which you referenced)? “[W]hich are not adequately addressed by the supporters”… Whose supporters? Opponents of fracking? Proponents?

    On the other hand, the joyful language of boosterism … does not inspire any confidence.

    Does not inspire any confidence in whom, precisely? Do you speak on behalf of anyone other than yourself? If you speak for more than yourself, for whom do you speak, on what authority?

    For example, you seem to be unaware that the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable, and that almost everyone would rather not live next to a gas, coal, or oil operation if they have an alternative.

    On what basis do you form conclusions of Mrs. Davis’ awareness of anything other than the point she was trying to make regarding environmental safety? The desirability of the extraction jobs you mention is not in the least germane to a discussion of the geological risks of fracking. Yours assessment of Ms. Davis’ knowledge is awfully presumptive and cannot be rationally inferred from her comment.

    More to the point, you’re making positive assertions of fact regarding public preferences with no substantiating authority. In the absence of any substantiation, I have to ask, “Who says that ‘jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable’? According to whom? What empirical evidence do you have of this?” The same questions apply to your generalization that “almost everyone would rather not live next to a gas, coal, or oil operation.” Also, what qualifies as “next to” – 100 yards? 1/4 mile? Five miles?

    [From Felipe’s post 40]
    [Y}our previous post gave the impression that your idea of debate was personal invective.

    Interesting that you appeal to civility in light of your condescending dismissal of Ms. Davis in post #12.

    This is a pretty fundamental point.

    Fundamental in relation to what – the geological risks of fracking? Urban planning? According to whom?

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Gringo #43, perhaps there are cases when a man is happy that the neighbor made money out of a lease and he got a nice view of a mining or drilling operation. I doubt they are very common.

    Mining and drilling operations have more similarities than differences. In a general engineering conversation, the terms are often used interchangeably. The specifics can be different, but many arguments don’t depend much on whether the fossil fuels are solid, liquid, or a gas.

    No honest work is undignified, however most people prefer jobs of one kind over another.

    Jazz #52, boosterism doesn’t inspire any confidence in people who want rational arguments. I didn’t think much of Mrs Davis argument but neither did I insult her personally. Oh, if you think people so much love living next to fracking operations, sell me an apartment in Central Park and I’ll give you a couple of acres in West Virginia in exchange. Yards, miles, urban, suburban, whatever you want….

    Thibaud, what is it about fracking that brings out the most random arguments? It’s not as if we are talking about sex or religion here…….

  • Kris

    Felipe@53: “what is it about fracking that brings out the most random arguments?”

    Indeed. Such as “I find fracking scarying”. Or “The majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable”.

  • trayr1

    Felipe;

    Actually, if you look at most microseismic data gathered during fracturing operations, at least that I have seen, confirms the point that Casey made earlier. Most generally, height growth is less than 500 feet upward and usually less than 300 feet.

    As an engineer, I just ask that you do the volumetric calculations. Probably about the largest frac jobs I have seen are ~500,000 gallons of water in 5 perforation clusters (100,000 gallons/cluster)with 80% fluid effeciency (20% of the water is pushed into the pore space of the reservoir)is probably a reasonable number for low perm reservoirs. If you assume a frac width of ~0.2″, single planar fractures, and no stress bounding layers, the radial growth of the fracture is ~450 ft. Worst case, if all of the fluid went into one cluster of perforations and no water leaked off to the formation then the radial growth would still only be ~1,130 ft. Even if you doubled the volume with no leakoff and one cluster, the radial growth would still only be ~1,600 ft.

    Given that most of the fracs today are ~10,000 ft or more and most fresh water aquifers are ~1,000 ft or less, the volumetrics don’t add up even in the worst case scenarios. In reality, most fractures are not single and planar (from microseismic data). There are usually multiple fractures, thus decreasing the volume per fracture thus decreasing the growth. There is almost always a higher stressed interval above the reservoir of interest. This will tend to make the fracture grow more outward than upward.

    The other issue is that most regulatory agencies require protection of the deepest fresh water aquifer with a surface casing set through the aquifer and cemented with good, competent cement back to surface.

    Me personally, I have been frac’ing for 20 years (probably ~10,000 fracs) and have never seen any evidence of excessive height growth that would have compromised any fresh water aquifer. In fact, I have designed fracs for drinking water wells for US Public Health. Granted, there were precautions taken.

    As far as mining and drilling operations being so similar, I disagree 100%. I am a petroleum engineer, my wife is a mining engineer, my dad was a miner, and many of my relatives were miners or work in the oilfields. The only thing close to a similarity in mining and drilling as far as I can tell, is the fact that there is some limited drilling in open pit mining operations. However, those drilling operations are quite different. There is no way to hold an intelligent, coherent conversion on either mining or drilling with oilfield and mining people together other than on a basic level with a lot of detail and explanation. Please expand on your contention that mining and drilling operations have more similarities than differences as I would love to be enlightened.

    As a final note, on the economic side of things, oil companies want height growth to be as limited as possible. The fracture growing out of the hydrocarbon reservoir does nothing to enhance the production of a well while increasing cost. Most generally, if a fracture enters a zone that has moveable water in it, it usually severely reduces the production in the well. Companies go to great lengths to stay out of these wet zones.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Kris #54, in view of the quality of your previous arguments I feel no need to reply to you even if you mentioned my name.

    trayr1 #55, thanks for your careful explanation, which is even more detailed than Casey’s. The similarities between mining and drilling are that they are interventions in the subsoil. Both have a payoff in making available some natural resources while bringing about a risk to other natural resources. In order to balance these risks, scientific knowledge of geology and the careful application of technology are necessary. From the point of view of the public that has the benefit but also has to bear the cost of such operations, similarities between mining and drilling are more marked than the differences, as they are from the point of view of academics and engineers in other specialties. I am sure that practitioners in the areas feel otherwise. Just as an illustration, electrical and electronics engineers also feel their areas are diametrically opposed, but that is not so from the point of view of the rest of the world.

    Because of the scientific and technological demands of mining, gas, and petroleum engineering, it is not surprising that people like you and Casey are able to explain so well the compromises involved! I shall take note of your expert answers and refer to them whenever the subject of fracking comes up. That is what I expected when I confessed my ignorance and expressed my concern. You will excuse me for asking what are you both doing in a blog post like this ;-)

  • Gringo

    Felipe:
    Gringo #43, perhaps there are cases when a man is happy that the neighbor made money out of a lease and he got a nice view of a mining or drilling operation. I doubt they are very common.
    The problem with that answer regarding O&G wells is that if you can see a drilling rig from your land, the odds are pretty good that you are on the lease- unless the mineral rights to your land belong to someone else.

    There have been more than one million oil and gas wells drilled in Texas since 1919. If the relation between mineral rights owners of producing wells and landowners who didn’t own mineral rights for producing wells was as antagonistic as you presume, there would have been a huge civil war in Texas by now. Hasn’t happened.

    You know next to nothing about oil and gas production, or about oil and gas leases, yet you have the gall to pontificate on these issues.

    Felipe#12
    For example, you seem to be unaware that the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirablle.
    Gringo #50
    Please inform me why those jobs are not particularly desirable. WHY? WHY?

    Couldn’t answer that, could you?

    It is rather ironic that you bring forth the “I AM AN ENGINEER” meme when you don’t know jack about oil and gas production,nor about oil and gas leases.

    I would not have the gall to presume to pontificate about electrical engineering, because that is not my field.

  • Gringo

    While mining engineering and petroleum engineering both aim to extract minerals from the ground, they are separate disciplines. Mining engineering deals almost completely with extracting solids. There are some exceptions, such as injecting water to extract a water-soluble mineral such as salt. Petroleum engineering deals almost completely with extracting fluids. The recent extraction of tar sands is an exception, as it deals with petroleum-based substances which under ordinary circumstances do not flow.

    Morris Muskat was the founding father of reservoir engineering. The equations he developed for fluid flow in reservoirs in the 1930s are still the basis for reservoir engineering today. His equations are just put onto computers. Was Muskat a mining engineer? No. He had a Ph.D. in Physics.

    The Colorado School of Mines has both a Mining Engineering Department and a Petroleum Engineering Department. Conclusion: the Colorado School of Mines, which obviously knows something about mining, separates Mining Engineering and Petroleum Engineering.

    Petroleum Engineering faculties often have members who got their Ph.D. in a discipline other than Petroleum Engineering. It is possible that there are some Petroleum Engineering faculty members who got their Ph.D.s in Mining Engineering, but I am not aware of any. There are a number of faculty members in Petroleum Engineering who got their Ph.D.s in Chemical Engineering. This is but one example. The principles of fluid flow learned in chemical engineering can be applied to petroleum engineering.

    BTW, stating that “you don’t know jack about oil and gas production,nor about oil and gas leases,” is not a personal attack. It is a statement of fact.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Gringo #57, environmental damage can extend further than line-of-sight.

    Also, there was no need to join the crowd whose mode of argument is personal invective. There is no point giving rational answers to the rest of you questions, which were merely rhetorical anyway. Since that is how you prefer it, I’ll join the crowd and say you are all hat and no cattle.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Gringo #58, neither science nor technology are subject to well defined boundaries. Nevertheless, extracting solids, liquids, and gases from underground have a lot in common, from the technological, scientific, economic, and environmental point of view.

    Picking on details which are not particularly relevant to the subject is another useless form of argument.

  • Gringo

    Gringo [previous comments]
    It is rather ironic that you bring forth the “I AM AN ENGINEER” meme when you don’t know jack about oil and gas production,nor about oil and gas leases…..

    I would not have the gall to presume to pontificate about electrical engineering, because that is not my field.

    BTW, stating that “you don’t know jack about oil and gas production,nor about oil and gas leases,” is not a personal attack. It is a statement of fact.

    Felipe
    Also, there was no need to join the crowd whose mode of argument is personal invective.

    Anyone who conflates mining with O&G extraction proves my point about not knowing jack.[#12]. See my Colorado School of Mines comment [#58].

    Have you ever seen the paperwork for an oil and gas lease, or an actual on the ground oil and gas lease?

    Have you taken any courses in Petroleum Engineering?
    Have you ever belonged to the Society of Petroleum Engineers?
    Have you ever worked as an engineer in the oil field?

    I answer yes to all four.

    Ciao.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Gringo #61, now you are pulling rank, another worthless form of argument. If you care to read my posts you will see that I didn’t claim any special knowledge. My credentials are not relevant. I don’t care whether you have a PhD or in what field.

    And by the way, there are plenty of self important people who make irrelevant points in my professional society as well. As well as people who have something to say. You could learn from Casey #17 or trayr1 #55.

  • Kris

    Gringo, I admire your patience with Felipe, when you could simply address him in the following perfectly acceptable manner: “In view of the quality of your previous arguments I feel no need to reply to you”. After all, one can hardly come up with an analysis more reflective of quality engineering thought than: “I find fracking scarying”.

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Kris #63, it seems you have the last word. With your usual depth and finesse ;-)

  • Kris

    In which case, the last word was and is “scarying”.

  • Gringo

    Final post. What follows is a summation of some aspects of Felipe’s comments.

    1) Making condescending, insulting statements.
    the majority jobs in the mining industry are not particularly desirable
    That is very condescending for people who have worked in O&G – which is the subject of the thread. Also insulting. Even more so when you mistakenly label it “mining industry” – a term which people associated with O&G- from academics to roughnecks- do not use.

    I also note that I asked you WHY you considered that statement to be true [#50]. You didn’t bother to reply.

    2) Changing the goalposts.
    Felipe #53: Gringo #43[sic-#50], perhaps there are cases when a man is happy that the neighbor made money out of a lease and he got a nice view of a mining or drilling operation. I doubt they are very common.
    Gringo #57
    The problem with that answer regarding O&G wells is that if you can see a drilling rig from your land, the odds are pretty good that you are on the lease- unless the mineral rights to your land belong to someone else.
    Felipe #59 Gringo #57, environmental damage can extend further than line-of-sight.

    You changed the goalposts. First you were talking about someone in sight of a drilling operation, which I responded to, and then you changed to “further than line-of sight.”

    3) Misrepresentation.
    If you care to read my posts you will see that I didn’t claim any special knowledge. [#62]
    Your above statement is accurate about fracking. Note that my comments did not cover fracking per se, but your comments on 1) O&G leases and 2) labeling O&G-related work as “mining.”
    You argued left and right about mineral leases [#43,#53,#59]. Extensive arguing about a subject, as far as I can tell, implies that the arguer believes he knows the subject being argued. Or are you of the opinion that arguing about something implies that the arguer knows nothing about the subject? In that case, why argue?
    If you consider it “pulling rank” to point out that you don’t know jack about O&G leases, in spite of your copious comments on O&G leases. so be it. [#61]

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    Gringo #66, I am sorry that you took a statement of fact about mining jobs as a personal insult, which it was certainly not meant to be. It is a fact of life that people prefer jobs in Silicon Valley, Wall Street, or Hollywood, to give examples, to work in potentially dirty or dangerous environments. Not that the latter work is demeaning, much the contrary indeed. The sacrifices people make in order to extract from the ground the fossil fuels that all of us consume are admirable.

    [Please refrain from disparaging other commenters.]

  • http://fmpait.blogspot.com/ Felipe Pait

    It’s complicated. I don’t know if anyone is still reading this post, but the facts neither support excessive fear nor careless optimism about fracking.

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/feature/id/343202/title/The_Facts_Behind_the_Frack

    They do give reason to ignore people who oversimplify the issue.

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