Leavenworthtimes.com – Fracking letter filled with lies, inaccuracies

FileChris Faulkner, CEO of Breitling Energy, professes to tell us “the truth about fracking” (Letter to the editor 6/1-2/13).

He characterizes fracking as an economic boon, citing $70M monthly checks to residents of Karnes County in Texas. He claims fracking does not contaminate the water supply nor damage the ground.

While it may be true that fracking increased the tax base in Karnes County, the poverty level of the county was not affected in any positive way. The population of the county fell, employment in the county fell, and individual income fell. The only thing that increased was the oil/gas royalty income of a few already wealthy landowners.

Mr. Faulkner absolutely misrepresents an extensive study by The University of Texas. That study (which you can find online and read for yourself: “Fact-Based Regulation for Environmental Protection in Shale Gas Development”) states that fracking most certainly DOES contaminate groundwater at multiple points in the process from construction of the rig and wellbores right through leaks, blowouts, spills, flow-back, and waste disposal.

The UT study is not alone: Research by Duke, Cornell, and MIT (studies NOT funded by Mr. Faulkner and his confreres in the oil and gas industry) identify identical problems. Dr. Robin Ikeda at the Centers for Disease Control reported this April identified fracking sites where the EPA documented water contamination.

Mr. Faulkner also claims that fracking does not damage the land. Look at pictures of fracking sites and your own eyes will tell you that the impact on the land is NOT “easily restored,” as Mr. Faulkner claims.

Mr. Faulkner does not mention that the UT study concludes fracking also creates critical water consumption shortages, contaminates surface water, releases harmful atmospheric emissions, and has negative health effects. Presumably these and other effects of fracking are not myth.

He does not argue that the loss of significant farmland, forest, and wildlife habitats to fracking is a myth. He doesn’t argue that risks to air quality are a myth, or that mishandling of fracking waste is a myth, or that the health concerns are a myth. Water is a precious commodity and the huge volume of water used in fracking is lost to the water cycle forever – he doesn’t argue that this is a myth either. Despite droughts in Kansas in 2011 and 2012 water permits to oil and gas companies for fracking increased exponentially.

It’s a high cost to pay, sacrificing scarce water resources, giving up valuable farm land, contaminating our air, and endangering our children’s health. Is it worth the price? Mr. Faulkner thinks Karnes County is an exemplar of the ways in which fracking is “transforming entire communities.” Let’s see: Individual income in Karnes County down, population growth reversed, employment stalled, economic growth nil. Is that the transformation we want in Kansas. What are we buying again by allowing Mr. Faulkner to take our water and our land for fracking?

I think we’re just buying a load of – well – you know.

Fracking facts Ronald Banks Leavenworth To the editor:

As a retired environmental specialist, I was up close up and personal to water permits, programs and issues. The letter of June 1-2, “The real truth about fracking” must be taken with a grain of salt.

Initial red flags are conflicts of interest. The writer is a CEO of an energy company and the study he quotes from the University of Texas, Austin, was noted in the news clip, “Fracking Report Under Scrutiny,” Science Journal, Aug 3, 2012, p.506, revealing “Charles “Chip” Groat, the lead author of the study, didn’t disclose a potential conflict of interest: He serves on the board of Plains Exploration & Production Co., which conducts fracking in the United States.”

Drilling pressurizes a horizontal section of piping shaft (parallel to surface/right-angle to the vertical shaft), 3-4 million gallons of water, sand and chemicals form a solution pumped to up to 7,000 kilopascals, which creates a football-shaped cloud of fractured shale 300m long; sand grains keep fractures open.

From 2005-09, about “750 chemicals and other components were used in hydraulic fracturing including coffee grounds, walnut hulls, to 29 components that may be hazardous if introduced into the water supply.”

It is more true than not that subsurface ground-water will not be directly contaminated with drill-water or flow-back and produced water. “Only one documented case of direct groundwater pollution resulting from injection of hydraulic fracturing chemicals used for shale gas extraction.”

Safe injection sites are becoming fewer and earthquakes are more prevalent around wells; “Arkansas Geological Survey took note of a curious cluster of earthquakes near Greenbrier. The Guy-Greenbrier area had had only one quake of magnitude 2.5 or greater in 2007 and two in 2008. But there were 10 in 2009, the first year of deep disposal and 54 in 2010. By spring, nearly 1,000 recorded quakes had struck the area since the wells had started up.” Wells were shut down by governor and Oil and Gas Commission.

The economic data is indisputable: Just in the Marcellus there is a 1:2 probability that 489 trillion cubic feet is there; price of $14 to 4.50/million Btu; gas yields only 45 percent of carbon dioxide emissions of coal; is perfect “bridge” to more 0-emission sources.

I’m not a tree-hugger extremist, but do think we should look at total benefit to cost ratio. It is pretty straight forward if you are not plagued in areas of indirect effect. Just like the BP spill, we should be vigilant to unsafe cost-cutting by energy companies.

Full disclosure and compensation to affected areas before drilling and after consequences. Sure, we have a windfall now, but as we wring the rag of natural gas to get that last bit, we should protect our environment for our posterity.