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Greens to Michelle Obama: Ignore Science, Please (anti-shale movement getting desperate)

By Steve Everley -- May 17, 2012

In the latest attempt by anti-shale activists to obscure the facts and disregard evidence, a group called “The Mother’s Project” recently sponsored an ad in the New York Times calling on First Lady Michelle Obama to do whatever she can to “hit the pause button” on hydraulic fracturing.

The group – which was founded by none other than Angela Monti Fox, the mother of Gasland director Josh Fox – alleges that hydraulic fracturing is causing irreversible environmental damage. One of the activists with the group, Sonia Skakich-Scrima, had this to say about the process:

We’re seeing impacts to ground and surface water across the country and in Colorado. Those you can’t fix, they’re not fixable.

It’s unclear who she is referencing by saying “we,” but she’s certainly not referring to state regulators, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or scientists who have proper technical expertise.

As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Here are a few examples why:

· Regulators from at least a dozen statesincluding Colorado – have affirmed that hydraulic fracturing is not contaminating water. In fact, Colorado’s Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper, himself a petroleum geologist by training, said recently: “It’s almost inconceivable that we would ever contaminate, through the fracking process, the groundwater.”

· EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has stated publicly on numerous occasions that there is no evidence of water contamination from hydraulic fracturing. The EPA also recently released the results of its fourth set of water samples taken from the town of Dimock – a small town in northeast Pennsylvania featured in Gasland and constantly cited by activists as evidence of hydraulic fracturing contaminating ground water. EPA’s conclusion: there are no public health concerns with the water supply.

· A comprehensive assessment from the University of Texas at Austin found there is “no evidencethat hydraulic fracturing is contaminating water. That same study also looked at media coverage of the issue, finding that two out of every three stories was decidedly negative in tone, and only about a third of all media reports actually referenced scientific data.

· Even when the Park Foundation hires a consultant to claim that somehow, some way, in the future, based on computer modeling, hydraulic fracturing could maybe possibly contaminate ground water, the scientific community immediately rebuts it.

The reason hydraulic fracturing doesn’t contaminate water is simple geology: the rock formations that separate ground water supplies and the formation where hydraulic fracturing will occur have kept hydrocarbons and other fluids trapped at depth for millions of years.

If they didn’t, then it wouldn’t be necessary to stimulate the wells. The notion that billions of tons of impermeable rock will now miraculously allow for upward migration of fluids may generate headlines and help activist groups fundraise, but it’s simply not based in reality.

Which brings us back to The Mother’s Project, which says it’s trying to create a public “groundswell” to “bring more attention to the issue.” To be fair, it’s perfectly legitimate for citizens to express concerns about development, and asking questions about potential impacts is hardly controversial. And those questions should be answered with scientific facts and hard evidence.

But when it comes to hydraulic fracturing, the facts are clear. It’s just unfortunate that citizen-action groups are uninterested in bringing “more attention” to them.



Other MR posts on shale-gas drilling:

Giberson: “Did the Federal Government Invent the Shale Gas Boom?” (December 20, 2012 post becomes part of a national debate)

Shale Gas: Cornell’s GHG Paper Continues to Attract Criticism (November 2, 2011)

The Shale Gas Hit Piece: The New York Times (minus public editor Brisbane) Doubles Down on a Bad Bet (July 20, 2011)

Shale Gas and the New York Times: The Challenge from Energy In Depth (A ‘Dewey-Defeats-Truman’ Energy Moment?) (June 29, 2011)

Shale Gas Neo-Malthusianism: Poor Journalism at the ‘Newspaper of Record’ (June 28, 2012)

Dear EPA: Why is Wind Okay and Shale Gas Not? (March 2, 2011)

Unconventional Gas Riles and Refigures the World Energy Market: The Oil Market (Part III: February 23, 2011)

Unconventional Gas Riles and Refigures the World Energy Market: The Pacific and Asia (Part II: February 17)

Unconventional Gas Riles and Refigures the World Energy Market: North America (Part I: February 16) 


  1. Greg Rehmke  

    It is true that hydraulic fracturing causes irreversible environmental damage. But also true that the “damage” is thousands of feet down, well below the water table. Gravel pits cause irreversible environmental damage blasting, digging, and moving rock, as do all open pit and underground mines. Beavers cause irreversible environmental damage when they fell trees and build small dams. Butterflies callously push air around, disrupting irreversibly their local air ecosystems. And environmentalists cause irreversible environmental damage when they fly to conferences around the world, or just drive to downtown meetings or protests. Every act of creation causes “damage” in shifting around resources.

    The question to all these should be: “how much damage, and to whom?” Damage to one ecosystem creates openings and opportunities for new adjusted ecosystems. Pinprick blasts deep underground move rock around, allowing natural gas to flow. What is after is new and different, but not better or worse. Maybe tiny microbes are blasted, or maybe they move in and multiply after the blasts.

    Every fire since the dawn of time has caused irreversible environmental damage. Blame Prometheus.


  2. Steve Everley: Greens to Michelle Obama: Ignore Science, Please (anti-shale movement getting desperate) | JunkScience.com  

    […] MasterResource Share this:PrintEmailMoreStumbleUponTwitterFacebookDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. This entry was posted in Development, Environmentalism, Fracking and tagged anti development, greenie obstructionists, insane greens, irrational fears, natural gas. Bookmark the permalink. ← Josh Bloom: Why I Don’t Write About Pottery from the Ming Dynasty (Medical Progress Today) […]


  3. Charlie  

    What chemicals do they inject into the ground?


  4. FrackNation  

    You’re exactly right. Too much emotionalism, not enough science. FrackNation, a film Kickstarted by 3,300 supporters, will tell the truth about hydraulic fracturing. No scare stories. Only true stories.


  5. Peter Moliterno  

    Charlie- the so-called “chemicals” have to be relatively cheap, because millions of pounds of water and sand are used in a typical frac. Salts are sometimes used to make the water denser and guar gum is used to make it thicker, so that it will suspend the sand in water better. Then they “break” the frac by causing the guar gum to decompose so that the water can flow back to the surface better and leave the sand behind to prop open the cracks, ergo the term “proppant” for the sand.

    Yeah, hazardous guar gum, the same stuff that thickens many food products like ice cream. The fracking demand has driven up the price of guar gum by something like 4 times temporarily until more is grown.


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