Well I’ll be Fracked!

Many of you may have seen the “Gasland” documentary, which seeks to suppress fracking completely, but some of you may not know that “Gasland” has been debunked – and successfully in my opinion – for the dangerous water they have in those parts is in fact a natural occurrence that had been known about for a long time.

“Debunking GasLand”
http://www.energyindepth.org/debunking-gasland/

“Did you know the people in Dimock had methane in their water 30, 40 years ago before drilling ever occurred? Yes I saw the well logs of some of the residents. The methane is a pre-existing condition.” And this from a public health practitioner who added a comment to the post.

With Gasland out of the way, you may think we can go full speed ahead, grab a hard hat and frack everything in sight, but I would not advise that course of action just yet. Apart from the risk of earthquakes, there are other matters of considerable import that seem to have a more solid grounding in scientific fact.

“Fracking: green groups denounce report approving further exploration”
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/apr/17/fracking-green-groups-denounce-report

“But green groups and local anti-fracking groups angrily denounced the report. Former Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper said this morning that it cast “grave doubt” on the government’s commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. A study by Cornell University last year predicted its impact on climate change would be worse than coal.”

I think we can dispose of “government commitments” by treating them with the contempt they deserve – don’t you?
Especially after they vetoed the European Commission proposal to label oil produced from tar sands as highly polluting.
What, didn’t know about that? Go to
“EU bows to oil lobby pressure”
http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/article/1569011-eu-bows-oil-lobby-pressure

That leaves us with the Cornell University study to consider.

The pointer to this came from “Shale gas ‘worse than coal’ for climate”, at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13053040

The document itself is as follows:-
Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formations
Robert W. Howarth, Renee Santoro and Anthony Ingraffea
Climatic Change, 2011, Volume 106, Number 4, Pages 679-690
and it can be downloaded (PDF) or viewed (HTML). The third option, the summary, I reproduce below:-

“We evaluate the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas obtained by high-volume hydraulic fracturing from shale formations, focusing on methane emissions. Natural gas is composed largely of methane, and 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the life-time of a well. These methane emissions are at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas. The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured—as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids—and during drill out following the fracturing. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas, with a global warming potential that is far greater than that of carbon dioxide, particularly over the time horizon of the first few decades following emission. Methane contributes substantially to the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas on shorter time scales, dominating it on a 20-year time horizon. The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.”

Now, let the great debate begin.

To frack, or not to frack – that is the question!

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