The Environmental Defense Fund (aka Frauds), like any NGO, runs on grants. Big grants. Grants that they can become dependent on. And when the check is big enough, they follow the Golden Rule, also known as The Greater Check Theory of economics and science. A phenomena not unknown to the frackers. So Hizzoner writes them a check to “fix fracking”. Let the pretense begin. Starting with the pot (nat gas) calling the kettle (coal) black. And then there is where the spin stops: at the peer reviewed science
Was going to write something about this, but Dwain Wilder beat me to it, and in spades . . .
Here’s Dwain’s comment:
Thanks, Mark, for your explanation of EDF policy on fracking. But you’ve got several matters out of kilter:
• “In short, hydraulic fracturing is not going away any time soon.” Chesapeake and many other indie drillers are quietly trying to off-load, on the cheap, leases and even drilled properties in various shale plays. Bankers who funded earlier drilling are pulling back. Why? Because shale plays don’t have legs. The drillers get a few sweet spot wells that do very well indeed, but fall off much more rapidly than expected. And they get lots of dry holes. A surprising fraction of holes are dry. Drillers are on a treadmill, trying to define ever more financial assets by drilling holes (productive or not), to pay for the production losses they’ve already suffered. That explains all the perfervid drilling at a time the natural gas price is tanking.
• “…and we’re advocating for leak reduction in order to maximize natural gas’ potential carbon benefit.” This flies in the face of the fact that the industry already knows they are unable to get this done. Shlumberger, for instance, authored a presentation to the industry, alarmed that all well casing deteriorates over time, that all casing cement fails within a decade or two, and that gas is leaking to the surface _outside_ the well bore, despite careful well seals. But the frackers have persisted in their advertising (but not in their filings with the SEC) that they do a good, clean, safe job of it. The industry isn’t interested in ‘Best Practices,’ or even the most efficient practice. They are interested in the bottom line. (see above).
• “In states like New York, which have little or no experience in regulating modern oil and gas development, we believe it is important to take the time needed to develop strong regulations with the resources necessary to implement and enforce them before commercial-scale development should be allowed.” New York has been regulating conventional gas drilling since the late 1800s. The DEC has plenty of experience, such as it is. They have no idea where abandoned conventional wells are, they do not monitor known capped wells, and thus have no idea of how much leakage conventional wells are contributing to global warming. With staff reductions hitting the DEC every few years, imagine what they would do to ‘regulate’ gas emissions in an even modest shale gas play in New York. The Division of Mineral Resources (DNR) is a part of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Its charter is to maximize the economic benefit of natural resources exploitation. It is not an environmental organization. Reforming the DEC to give it a role independent of the interests of extractive industry would be next to impossible.
• “Natural gas production can never be made entirely safe; like any intensive industrial activity, it involves risks. But having studied the issue closely, we are convinced that if tough rules, oversight and penalties for noncompliance are put in place, these risks become manageable.” This ‘risks become manageable’ never seems to apply all the way down to the situation of the people living next to the fracking wells, the compressor stations, the pipelines, the 24/7 truck traffic on their back-country lanes, the perpetuity of the lease terms (sometimes very abusive). Industrializing the highly settled American rural landscape is not a management problem. It is a road to travesty and misery. Advocating that regulations can make fracking’s risks acceptably ‘manageable’ is akin to advising a woman to put up with a dangerous man with an abusive history because she can always call a cop if it gets too bad.
• “Demand for natural gas is not going away, and neither is hydraulic fracturing. We must be clear-eyed about this, and fight to protect public health and the environment from unacceptable impacts.” This begs the question, “Who is responsible for energy policy?” Homeowners? Villages and towns? Farmers? Do we as American citizens have at our fingertips the levers of power that deliver heating oil rather than coal? Hydro-electric rather than gas-fired electricity? Solar panel and other green energy sources rather than natural gas? Manifestly not! Energy policy is made at the needs of industrialists whose reach extends to the highest office in the land (c.f, the so-called Halliburton Loophole” engineered into the 2005 Energy Policy Act by the connivance of Vice President Dick Cheney). This is what we need to be clear-eyed about. Americans are not demanding natural gas, any more than we demand propane-fueled cars (plentiful in Europe) rather than buy gasoline. We as citizens are in poor standing to demand anything of the oil and gas industry. We have been mild consumers of whatever form of energy would make this rapacious crowd of extractive industry magnates the most profit. And sky-high profit it has been indeed, replete with corporate corporate welfare programs.
Americans have no obligation to accept that “demand for natural gas demand is not going away.” It will go away when Chesapeake, Shell, Cabot, Exxon/Mobil and their ilk can’t make money at it. Or when it is criminalized out of existence by withdrawal of the Halliburton Loophole and a dozen other exemptions to clean air, soil, water and community safety regulations that have been lobbied into state and federal law by and for the fracking industry.
We do not have to sit mildly by and accept that our fate is to be fracked.
### (with gratitude to Deborah Rogers, Calvin Tillman, Spike Jones and Chip Northrup)