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Saturday, March 31, 2012

More EPA Slapdowns/Recants

Texas, Parker County:Link
In an about-face, the Environmental Protection Agency on Friday withdrew its 15-month-old emergency order against Range Resources that had blamed the Fort Worth-based drilling company for methane contamination in water wells and demanded that it supply safe drinking water to two Parker County homes.
The SC whacked them, the Fifth Circuit just gave EPA the raspberry for being arbitrary, capricious, and acting without legal authority, and we all know that the Sackett case will have a long tail. The fracking controversy will not go away, but the EPA's proceedings there have not withstood independent scrutiny.




Comments:
Short term profits over long term interests.
The profits of fracking are privatized while
the potential environmental damages are
socialized. Too little is being done to prevent
ground water contamination.
Sporkfed
 
The odds of fracking liquids contaminnating shallow wells (1000 feet or less) is almost nil. Shallow water wells can be very delicate unless the aquifer is thick and extensive, which most shallow aquifers aren't. I know a water well driller who drilled six wells on his own property. Five had gas contaminated water and were unusable until he found a lense of sand with sweet water. A small earthquake could open up a seam allowing the gas to migrate to that small lense.

I understand that the fracking process does create some localized earth tremors due to the high pressures involved. Those tremors, which are mostly confined to the strata above 100 feet, could, in theory, cause a good well to go bad. However, anyone who has lived in the country where water wells are the standard knows that wells often go bad for any number of reasons having nothing to do with surface conditions or migration of fluids from deep formations that are sealed by impermeable layers above them. (One of the conditions necessary for entrapment of oil and gas.) That's one reason most states require that wells be tested periodically. They can and do go bad.

The oil companies should ally with the local water well drillers to get histories of wells in the area where fracking is being done. That way more intelligent decisions can be made when a property owner claims the oil/gas drilling ruined their well.

Fracking has been standard practice to enhance oil/gas wells since before I worked as a geologist in the 50s. The advent of directional drilling has made it possible to enhance larger areas and complete wells in tighter formations. As a result, it is more widely used today, but it is not a "new and dangerous procedure" that threatens the environment in unusual ways.

The EPA has become a tool of the watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) who wish to destroy the energy industy and our economy. These court cases may help slow their agenda.
 
Franking methods and depths used have expanded since the 50's. While the EPA does goes overboard
I would argue in this case they need to be extra vigilant.
We can not afford to damage our water supply given our
increasing population demands and the needs of agriculture and industry for clean water. A drought
followed by contamination of certain aquifers would
Be devastating.
Sporkfed
 
There is a new and potentially cleaner fracking technique being developed. It uses propane for the fluid that is pumped into the well. This has the advantage that the propane can be recovered and reused more cheaply than water and it is not likely to contaminate any water because if it spills, it just evaporates. Obviously this requires large tankers of propane and extra safety precautions to prevent fires/explosions. But that sort of thing is the norm for all petroleum drilling, so it is no real biggie.

There is only one small company in Canada that is doing this right now. If one of the biggies like Schlumberge decides to go with the technique, it will spread quite rapidly.
 
Hmm - Jimmy, is that why propane production just suddenly went up?
 
Mom,
Could be.

Here's a link to a an investor's analysis of fracking and the associated problems .
http://www.irrcinstitute.org/pdf/IRRC_An-Investor-Guide-to-Hydraulic-Fracturing.pdf

Water availability and recycling are two of the biggest issues - along with environmental complaints. NY, NJ and MD have bans or moratoria on fracking. The way ahead is going to be (pun intended) fractious.
 
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