The 60 Minutes Segment on Shale Gas

THE MAIN SEGMENT


EXTRA FOOTAGE

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Comment by al raptoria on March 20, 2014 at 10:05am

Renee, if it weren't for the Anti-Frackers the due diligence we ALL need in order to be safe would not be developing. Throughout history it has taken those who are willing, for whatever their motivations, to put their own lives LOUDLY on the line to get those in power to budge along the line of humanity-in progress instead of bullishly mowing us all down en route to their greed-driven (or fear-based) goals. I am GRATEFUL to those out there on the front lines who try to keep Big Business more honest than they'd ever be without the conscience-providers you eschew. Dear Renee are the direct Beneficiary of the tireless dedication of those who have dedicated their lives to consciousness-raising...with every bite of FDA approved food, medicine, every breath of healthy air and clean water, safe roads and cars, and clothes and buildings and more. I am certain they would say to you, grateful or not for their efforts, "You're welcome Renee. Live a good life."

Comment by SpreadsheetWizard on November 26, 2013 at 3:47pm

There is a great deal of propaganda going around about the effects of fracking to extract hydrocarbons from the deep geological formations.  Environmentalists seek to paint the process as the worst thing to happen since the last time an asteroid struck the earth, while the oil and gas industry claims there is no environmental danger at all.  Folks, as usual the truth lies somewhere between the extremes.

There is danger to water supplies.  There are two main hazards:

  1. poorly constructed and maintained vertical bores and

  2. careless handling and disposal of the waste fluid.

Of these two, the latter presents the greater risk to the water supply, and both causes are manageable.

Vertical bore problems typically involve gas that infiltrates well water.  These stories of flammable tap water make for exciting cinema, but they are not exclusively limited to areas of deep well drilling, the events tend to happen in clusters usually within small areas, and they are uncommon.  The documentary “Gasland” depicted a couple of occurrences, but frequent airing of the blazing faucet scene makes it seem more common than it is.

The cause of well contamination by gas is usually a defective or failed vertical bore lining.  The effect is localized, and the risk to the water table from this sort of contamination over let’s say a township wide area is extremely small.    Moreover, fracking occurs a mile or more below the water table, and the released gas and fracking fluid both flow along the path of least resistance, that is the well bore.  The probability that gas would seep through a mile or more of dense rock into the water table is unimaginably small.

The handling and disposal of waste fluid is by far the greater hazard.  It has been known for years.  Waste fluid handling was the issue that made Erin Brockovich a household name (although not in connection with fracking).  The effects of improper waste fluid disposal are not self limiting, and it sometimes takes years before they are noticed.

The most effective control for this cause of contamination is vigilance.  Containment ponds and the ground around them must be monitored continually.  The ponds must be properly lined to prevent the contents from seeping into the soil.  The levels of fluid in a pond must be controlled to prevent overflows from rainstorms or snow melt.  Fluid disposal wells must be managed as diligently as the gas and oil wells should be.

All this requires laws, ordinances and trained, competent, ethical officials to enforce them.  Most of the current environmental laws set good-enough standards.  The main problem is enforcement, and I believe that is manageable.

Gas companies have been forced to recognized the hazard of waste fluids and are working on new ways to manage it.  Some companies are recycling the fluid for use in other wells, which reduces their requirements for fresh water, chemicals, and places to dispose of them.  The gas and oil industry may have a bad reputation with environmentalists, but it is not purely evil, and it is capable of smart innovations.

Having made my spiel, I offer my bottom line.  I believe the benefits of fracking to the owners of gas rights and to the United States economy outweigh the risks inherent in the process.  The risks are real, but they are manageable.  Accidents and failures will occur from time to time, but these can be corrected through vigilance and timely action.  Fracking is going to continue with us or without, so I think we should reap some rewards from it while we can.

Comment by Renee E. Dorsey on August 10, 2013 at 1:38pm

Love this - but the anti-fracking crap - ugh.

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