Hendricks County Flyer
The Hendricks County Flyer
Sat Jul 20, 2013, 02:50 AM EDT
The pro-fracking conspiracy in the United States is so vast that it evidently encompasses the Environmental Protection Agency, famously a tool of the oil and gas industry.
The EPA just dropped its study of fracking allegedly contaminating the water in Pavillion, Wyo. The enviro left had rejoiced at the news a few years ago that the EPA had for the first time implicated fracking as a threat to groundwater. Now, amid criticisms of its methodology, the EPA has backed down and won’t issue a final report. It is handing the matter off to the state of Wyoming, which has been dubious of the EPA’s claims.
It is one in a long series of disappointments for anti-fracking crusaders who expect at least the EPA, if no one else, to credit their crackpottery and paranoia. According to ProPublica, “environmentalists see an agency that is systematically disengaging from any research that could be perceived as questioning the safety of fracking or oil drilling.” It never occurs to them that perhaps the evidence doesn’t back up the anti-fracking hysteria.
Consider a celebrated case in Parker County, Texas. Resident Steven Lipsky had methane in his drinking water. The EPA fastened on the idea that Range Resources had contaminated his well through fracking, and hit the company with an endangerment finding and remediation order. But as Mario Loyola of the Texas Public Policy Foundation recounts, the EPA couldn’t actually defend any theory whereby the fracking had polluted the well.
Slowly, the agency retreated in ignominy. It turned out that the well wasn’t contaminated at all, but contained levels of methane typical in the area and below levels that the federal government considers a threat to health.
“Area residents,” Loyola writes, “had found natural gas in their water wells years before any drilling for natural gas. Some water wells were even ‘flared’ for days after drilling, to release dangerous levels of methane. One area subdivision’s water tanks warn ‘Danger: Flammable Gas.’”
This naturally occurring methane explains the starkest evidence against fracking — a handful of flaming faucets in Colorado, supposedly rendered flammable by fracking. They were the stars of “Gasland,” the anti-fracking film by propagandist Josh Fox, who seeks to be the Michael Moore of natural gas. The state’s oil-and-gas commission issued a careful rebuttal explaining that in the area in question “troublesome amounts of ... methane” had been documented in the aquifer since 1976.
None of this is to say that fracking never goes wrong. If there is a mechanical failure in a well, there will be problems. But this is true of any kind of drilling. There’s nothing uniquely dangerous about the act of fracking, which involves blasting mostly water and sand into a shale formation to create tiny fractures that release gas. This often happens 5,000 to 8,000 feet underground and far beneath any aquifers.
Fracking is such an obvious boon that it is embraced almost everywhere it is feasible. Now, Josh Fox is returning to the well, so to speak, with “Gasland 2,” aired on HBO. He is officially a third of the way to as many sequels as “Fast and Furious.” Just wait for “Gasland 6: All Fracking Leads to This.” He must feel like he’s made the equivalent of the 1970s scaremongering anti-nuclear movie “The China Syndrome” (twice), except the nuclear industry has continued to thrive.
On an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Fox had to plead that his anti-fracking cause isn’t a fizzle. He could cite the ban in New York, but most states aren’t so economically self-destructive. Despite a case of methane contamination a few years ago that became a cause celebre for anti-fracking activists, then-Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, continued to greenlight fracking. Even Gov. Jerry Brown in California is resistant to banning fracking in a state allergic to exploiting its natural resources.
Fracking is so self-evidently the future that, at times, even the EPA seems loath to try to stand in the way.
Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
December 10, 2013
Indiana’s lopsided win in the Old Oaken Bucket game ended yet another disappointing season for those unfortunate enough to call themselves Hoosier Football fans. As a member of that tortured lot, the climactic victory over hapless, one-win Purdue offered little solace.
December 9, 2013
December 7, 2013
When I woke up Saturday morning, I gave a customary online scan of Friday’s sports, mainly for a recap of the Pacers’ home game against Milwaukee.
November 18, 2013
Most people recall where they were upon hearing significant news in their life, whether it was positive or negative. I remember where I was when I heard now-former Butler basketball coach Brad Stevens was going to the Boston Celtics.
November 12, 2013
Having gone to a football school in the heart of basketball country, I was never around soccer in my youth, and thus haven’t been a soccer guy in adulthood.
November 5, 2013
I hate to say it, but I'm afraid we've seen this before.
October 29, 2013
There have been a lot of big games played in Indianapolis, none bigger than the Colts' unforgettable win over New England in the AFC championship seven years ago.
While next Monday's visit from Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos won't eclipse that monumental event, there is no doubt that the city has never and will never experience another night like No. 18's return.
October 17, 2013
An NPR broadcast examines the question of how communities can better prepare for tornadoes like the one that struck Moore, Okla. on Monday. The broadcast features commentary from Michael Fitzgerald, who reported a five-part disaster series for the CNHI News Service.
May 22, 2013
Part I: Are We Prepared? | Part II: Disaster Dollars Part III: Lessons Learned | Part IV: Warning Signs Part V: The Big One
In the long list of health disparities that vex and disproportionately affect the lives of African-Americans - diabetes, cancer and obesity among them - one of the earliest and, it turns out, most significant, may be just when a black child is born.
December 12, 2013
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