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Fracking Cracking???

by Crazy Horse Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 03:44:22 AM EST

 Living Green: Livestock Falling Ill in Fracking Regions...


In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying. While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or "fracking") operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.
....
Exposed livestock "are making their way into the food system, and it's very worrisome to us," Bamberger says. "They live in areas that have tested positive for air, water, and soil contamination. Some of these chemicals could appear in milk and meat products made from these animals."

In Louisiana, 17 cows died after an hour's exposure to spilled fracking fluid, which is injected miles underground to crack open and release pockets of natural gas. The most likely cause of death: respiratory failure.
In New Mexico, hair testing of sick cattle that grazed near well pads found petroleum residues in 54 of 56 animals.
In northern central Pennsylvania, 140 cattle were exposed to fracking wastewater when an impoundment was breached. Approximately 70 cows died, and the remainder produced only 11 calves, of which three survived.
In western Pennsylvania, an overflowing wastewater pit sent fracking chemicals into a pond and a pasture where pregnant cows grazed: Half their calves were born dead. Dairy operators in shale-gas areas of Colorado, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Texas have also reported the death of goats.
....
Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene, and xylene--and well testing revealed high levels of sulfates, chromium, chloride, and strontium.

Please remember the authors characterize this as a preliminary study (although peer-reviewed), but notice how the industry responds...



Fracking proponents criticize Bamberger and Oswald's paper as a political, not a scientific, document. "They used anonymous sources, so no one can verify what they said," says Steve Everley, of the industry lobby group Energy In Depth. The authors didn't provide a scientific assessment of impacts--testing what specific chemicals might do to cows that ingest them, for example--so treating their findings as scientific, he continues, "is laughable at best, and dangerous for public debate at worst."

Added to the body of literature on fracking side effects, the authors point out, "Ambient air testing by a certified environmental consultant detected elevated levels of benzene, methane, chloroform, butane, propane, toluene, and xylene--and well testing revealed high levels of sulfates, chromium, chloride, and strontium."

If Eye was writing propaganda for the foockin' frackers, such early results would indeed be called "laughable."

The preliminary study had other hurdles to overcome as well.


Documenting the scope of the problem is difficult: Scientists lack funding to study the matter, and rural vets remain silent for fear of retaliation. Farmers who receive royalty checks from energy companies are reluctant to complain, and those who have settled with gas companies following a spill or other accident are forbidden to disclose information to investigators. Some food producers would rather not know what's going on, say ranchers and veterinarians.

Let's put this in perspective.


Energy companies are exempt from key provisions of environmental laws, which makes it difficult for scientists and citizens to learn precisely what is in drilling and fracking fluids or airborne emissions. And without information on the interactions between these chemicals and pre-existing environmental chemicals, veterinarians can't hope to pinpoint an animal's cause of death.

Civilization is inflicting death by a thousand paper cuts to its own life support system. Holding one small slice up to the microscope won't help, with the efficiency of modern propaganda and distraction. (But Eye do it anyway.)

After all, it's not as if we had sustainable alternatives.

Poll
Allow Fracking in Yurp?
. Yes 5%
. Yes, but... 0%
. Wait for more studies 0%
. No, but... 5%
. No 76%
. What, Me Worry? 11%

Votes: 17
Results | Other Polls
Display:
<sigh>

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 07:29:39 AM EST
<sigh>
<breathe>
<sigh>
<breathe>

<OK, Onward>

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 12:11:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NOAA Finds Massive Methane Emissions from Fracking


Thousands of gas wells have been drilled in Utah's Uintah basin. An investigation by NOAA & CIRES found that 6% to 12% of the gas produced near Ouray (by hydrofracturing) escaped to the atmosphere raising methane concentrations in air to shockingly high levels.

I highly recommend reading the full Orange link. Especially if you're a fracking supporter.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 05:21:36 PM EST
Do we have any of those here? I mean, nuke supporters yes, but fracking?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 05:25:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure they will identify themselves if and when they feel the need (to make a point?)

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 8th, 2013 at 06:24:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the DK article suffers from typical hyperbole and a lack of the bigger framework.

The findings are based on a measurement on one day in an area that was under development at that time. In measuring time-series, that's a single measurement, and should be treated as such. This does not dismiss the findings, but they should not be enthusiastically extrapolated either. The measuring method, although valid, also indicates limitations for creating a periodical time-series.

With the exception of studies performed by the industry, which predictably find much lower rates of methane release in both conventional and unconventional wells, there exists to my knowledge no independent study that has monitored a significant sample of unconventional gas wells for an extended period of time, during either the phase of construction or steady production. Most will agree that such independent monitoring would be prudent as unconventional gas continues to expand and encroach towards less inhabited terrains. But in a controversial topic like this, even the counting of the number of wells becomes disputed.

Commenter LakeSuperior observes in the comments of the DK diary:

Daily Kos: NOAA Investigation Finds Massive Methane Emissions from Utah Fracking: 6% to 12% Lost to Atmosphere

Nothing in this particular scientific investigation directly measures emissions rates of specific pieces of oil and gas process equipment in the Uintah basin field under discussion.   Any discussion of what emission factors EPA used in its most recent methane and greenhouse gas emission inventory has to be related to specific factors applicable to specific pieces of equipment and specific operations.  

As a result, your 'now clear' declaration that EPA's emission inventory is 'far below realistic values' is either premature or does not address specifically what emission factors you are challenging.  

No part of the NOAA work can distinguish between the different process emission sources at well pads and other related facilities, such as what portion of the atmospheric methane increase detected is attributable to production operations and what portion of it is attributable to well construction and completion operations (as distinguished from production operations).

Anyway, the game looks rigged to me. Methane releases do not tally in the CO2 emissions and Obama's policy are guided to reduce CO2 emissions due to increasing shale gas production. After which it is not unlikely that shale gas production will decrease, and the next presidencies will be faced with sharply increasing CO2 emissions again.

by Bjinse on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 06:41:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Bjinse, you're putting the cart before the horse that has already left the barn.  

Goes without saying that this is a very preliminary result, and should be treated as one measurement of a time series. That the same result after three months of every other day flights would be far more significant.

That the same results from direct measurement of all the different processes at the source would be seriously more significant.

But we're trying to analyze, with very limited funding, a technology which has already been allowed to expand at incredibly high levels of new installations, before any actual independent testing was done.

For an industry which is allowed to bypass current environmental law. For an industry which is allowed to keep the chemicals used secret. For a technology and a resource which is already a known polluter to a very high degree.

The object of a civil society is to embark on such serious, expensive testing, BEFORE the vast deployment of such a potentially dangerous technology.

Under those circumstances, including the poor likelihood of finding sufficient funding, ANY reputable data point is all the more valuable, EVEN if it's only a data point.

Bjinse (from the link):


Practically, Obama committed himself to a 5 percent decrease up to 2020. A cynical person could comment that bit more fracking should do the job.

Heh. Double Heh.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 08:25:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
PS. Their methodology is absolutely standard for atmospheric science, especially when speaking of a specific basin which contains some 1% of the entire US wellheads.

And from the Salt Lake paper cited by oui, there's this:


The study based its findings on measurements recorded during a four-hour window Feb. 3, a calm, cloudless day that was perfect for measuring methane concentrations. There was almost no snow on the ground so the boundary layer over the basin was unusually high for winter, which allowed gas field emissions to mix evenly with the air, Sweeney said.

The basin's oil and gas infrastructure serves 6,000 wells that account for 1 percent of the nation's natural gas production.

The team found it leaked 60 tons of natural gas an hour during the Feb. 3 window.

"Most days we measured concentrations far greater than what we reported in the paper," Sweeney said. The new study was not designed to determine points of leakage.

To sum up, fracking should have to prove it's safety prior to implementation, rather than society has to prove its danger after the fact.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 09:28:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't need convincing of the virtues of the precautionary principle. Which obviously needs to be applied to the adoption of slickwater fracking for 'unconventional' gas reservoirs in shales.
by Bjinse on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 10:58:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that's a single measurement, and should be treated as such

When a single measurement is wildly off the previously assumed average (6-12% vs. the 1% in an EPA report), the minimum treatment is to call for better and more monitoring. Apparently, these scientists themselves have newer, still to be analysed measurements (my emphasis):

CIRES, NOAA observe significant methane leaks in a Utah natural gas field

Karion, Sweeney and their co-authors continue to analyze methane and other emissions data gathered in Uintah Basin, in 2012 and 2013, and from recent scientific flights through other oil and gas production regions.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 04:47:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
those who have settled with gas companies following a spill or other accident are forbidden to disclose information to investigators.

I guess it's worth to re-post this on-topic story from last week here:

Children given lifelong ban on talking about fracking | Environment | The Guardian

Two young children in Pennsylvania were banned from talking about fracking for the rest of their lives under a gag order imposed under a settlement reached by their parents with a leading oil and gas company.

The sweeping gag order was imposed under a $750,000 settlement between the Hallowich family and Range Resources Corp, a leading oil and gas driller. It provoked outrage on Monday among environmental campaigners and free speech advocates.

The settlement, reached in 2011 but unsealed only last week, barred the Hallowichs' son and daughter, who were then aged 10 and seven, from ever discussing fracking or the Marcellus Shale, a leading producer in America's shale gas boom.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 03:09:02 AM EST
Not counting the legal weight, what is the difference between this "settlement," and bribery?

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 03:51:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I've been seeing going on in Pennsylvania, I'm beginning to wonder if anyone there understands US due process requirements.  A settlement is not supposed to be binding on people who lack capacity unless an independent attorney (a guardian ad litem) makes a report to the court that the settlement is in their best interest.  I don't know why the judge didn't do that.
by rifek on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 04:46:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does that mean the settlement is unenforceable on the children?

Finance is the brain [tumour] of the economy
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Aug 10th, 2013 at 04:53:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know what sort of Bronze Age justice they have in Pennsylvania, but in jurisdictions displaying any form of civilization, you can't bind children without an independent advisor making a report to the court that it's in their best interest.
by rifek on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 10:43:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is conceivable that the parties could find, (found?) a guardian ad litem who would decide that their parents receipt of the $750,000 would be sufficiently in the interests of the children's family as to be in the interests of the children as well. It certainly doesn't speak well of the parents that they accepted this provision.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Aug 14th, 2013 at 11:41:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A mitigating circumstance for the parents might be a need to sell their property and move for the sake of their children's health.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 12:25:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
.
Uinta Basin gas leakage far worse than most believe

(SLTrib) - Accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the study was conducted by the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, or CIRES, which Colorado runs jointly with NOAA in Boulder.

The NOAA team piggybacked its work on a study funded in part by Utah examining ozone formation in the basin two winters ago. The team flew over the basin at about 1,000 feet gathering air samples and readings over several weeks.

by Oui on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 08:32:24 AM EST
The particular measurement discussed downthread, which measured the methane emission rate exploiting a turn of the weather, was a single measurement during that weeks-long campaign:

"We used a mass balance technique, which means we follow an air mass as it moves into the region and then flows out," said Colm Sweeney, a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) at the University of Colorado Boulder, who leads the aircraft group at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory Global Monitoring Division. "We look at the difference in methane between those two to determine an actual emissions rate for the region."

CIRES, NOAA and other scientists have used this type of atmospheric mass balance accounting technique in many other settings--to determine power plant emissions, for example, and the atmospheric impacts of refineries and cities, said Anna Karion, lead author of the new paper and a CIRES atmospheric scientist who also works at NOAA.

In Utah's Uintah Basin, on one day during a weeks-long field campaign in 2012, weather conditions were near ideal for testing the technique in an oil and gas field, Karion said. Late on February 2, a weather front passed through, with high winds that swept clean the atmosphere above the Uintah Basin, south of Vernal, Utah.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Aug 9th, 2013 at 04:42:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
HIgh Levels of Arsenic...


A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas' Barnett Shale.

While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009 -- a study the agency later abandoned.

h/t DoDo from News

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Aug 11th, 2013 at 03:32:41 PM EST
Communities in Texas are beginning to lose water as their wells run dry. Fracking is on cause. Some articles:

Guardian  (with a nice video)


Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

"The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: 'dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."
....

In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Treehugger version


We've seen how climate change and government mismanagement of water played a role in leading to the Syrian revolution. (link embedded in original)  And how the 2013 drought is pushing New Mexico farmers to extreme measures in search of water. It seems inevitable that unless there is some cooperation among neighboring communities and a political solution to better manage water resources and not allow the world's most profitable industry to suck towns dry, there are going to be some very angry people here in the US, as well.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin
by Crazy Horse on Thu Aug 15th, 2013 at 03:38:04 PM EST


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