Can your tap water do this?

As the keynote speaker at Gov. McDonnell’s energy conference yesterday, Hugh Pickens said fracking has no effect on drinking water:

Pickens played down growing fears about a particular method of extracting natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals to break up rock to release gas deposits.

Some are fearful that fluids or wastewater from fracking could contaminate drinking water.

Pickens said the practice has been used in Texas and Oklahoma for decades with no adverse environmental consequences.

“What you’re hearing up here about damage to aquifers, I don’t believe it,” he said.


Denying a fact does not render it untrue.

Published by Waldo Jaquith

Waldo Jaquith (JAKE-with) is an open government technologist who lives near Char­lottes­­ville, VA, USA. more »

11 replies on “Can your tap water do this?”

  1. Well, your video doesn’t work, so I can’t say for sure, but the headline on it doesn’t support your claim. That water was flammable because of a natural gas leak, not “fracking” (isn’t that a Battlestar Galactica profanity?).

    Perhaps there is a legitimate concern about this process (though it’s probably just Luddite environmentalist wackos typically overstating the danger), but the headline on this video suggests that it doesn’t support the point.

    It’s kind of like using a picture of a mushroom cloud to illustrate the dangers of pressurized-water nuclear reactors. In short, it’s nonsense.

  2. 1. Historic petroleum reservoir fracturing in Texas and Oklahoma happen at much greater depths, with far greater distances between the oil and the aquifer. The regions are arid, and that is basin geology. There is no similarity between the east and the west hydrofracturing situation.

    2. Modern shale gas hydrofracturing technology is less than 10 years old and experimental.

    3. The many mishaps in shale gas hydrofracturing are the result of drill crews trying to figure out how to do it at shallow depths, in complex fractured geology.

    4. Aquifer contamination is only part of the problem. Surface storage of millions of gallons of contaminated frack water and sludge in our eastern surface watersheds is much more challenging. We have frequent flooding.

    5. Virginia has no severance tax on produced gas, and woefully low drilling bond requirements, and no financial responsibility documentation – taxpayers will pay for the inevitable cleanup.

    6. T. Boone is a shale gas player and investor. Sure the fox wants access to the henhouse.

    7. In an April 2004 report by a stakeholders group of industry, regulatory, and environmental reps – titled Virginia State Review (pdf) of Virginia’s Oil and Gas regulations, a road map to minimal best management practices were outlined. Governor McDonnell needs to quit talking and start working on a revision of Virginia’s 20 year old O&G regulations. Regulations which never anticipated the hazards of hydrofracturing gas shale.

    More from State Review of Oil & Gas Environmental Regulations (STRONGER) –

  3. Uh, “Bubby,” you’re an asshat.

    Obviously, gas in the water is a danger. The point of the post (which you obviously missed) is whether “fracking” is a danger to drinking water. The video doesn’t prove it. Indeed, there is no indication in the video that “fracking” occurs within 500 miles of that well.

    Hard to believe you’re that stupid. Stupidity and cowardice are a bad (and too frequent) combination on the Internet.

  4. I think it’s pretty straightforward. Pickens says that fracking doesn’t damage aquifers. But in CNN’s full story, they make the chain of events pretty clear. Dimock, PA is on a huge natural gas deposit. Fifteen people there, all individual landowners, allowed a gas company to drill and frack on their land. Then their tapwater became flammable because it contained high levels of methane. That was a problem that they did not have before, and that is adequately explained by the fracking. Now, it’s possible that this claim isn’t true. I’m not sure, because I’m no expert. But it sure makes a lot of sense.

    And, yeah, I’m with you: I hear “frack” and I think Battlestar Galactica. :)

  5. Well, to be fair, I’d linked to a shorter version of the story initially, since it included some impressive video. :) But the link in my last comment is to a longer story, where the facts are laid out—or at least the facts as alleged in the lawsuit brought by the fifteen people.

    I just know that if I allowed fracking on my land, and then my well water started catching on fire, I wouldn’t wonder if the two were related. :)

  6. Really don’t have time to watch the full video, but I’ll take your word for it. Can’t blame the guy (and his neighbors) for going to a lawyer: it would violate union rules! ;-) The chain of causation seems logical (and certainly suspicious), given what you have said.

    And I make no pretense about knowing Virginia law on the subject: I am not a land-rights/property-usage lawyer, nor am I licensed to practice in the Commonwealth.

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