One of the frustrations in dealing with fractivists is that although they and I start on a scientific basis where I say if the overwhelming majority of scientists say climate change is real that's good enough for me, the antsi start losing all science in increasingly bizarre disaster scenarios.

The Howarth study from Cornell is a  prime example. Held up by the likes of Caroline Lucas, the Guardian and the FOE as indisputable fact, the reality is that the somewhat far fetched theory has been rejected by at least half a dozen other studies. Just the other day,  Howarth was refusing to admit defeat:

"Even with the regulations, the greenhouse gas footprint of shale gas will remain larger than that of coal, when viewed over an integrated 20-year time period following emission to the atmosphere, because of the methane emissions (even though reduced)," the joint statement read.

But what of this latest study funded by the Catskill Mountainkeeper and Park Foundation:

 A new study has raised fresh concerns about the safety of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, concluding that fracking chem­icals injected into the ground could migrate toward drinking water supplies far more quickly than experts have previ­ously predicted.

More than 5,000 wells were drilled in the Marcellus between mid-2009 and mid-2010, according to the study, which was published in the journal Ground Water two weeks ago. Oper­ators inject up to 4 million gallons of fluid, under more than 10,000 pounds of pressure, to drill and frack each well.

This story by very anti, but usually somewhat lucid Abrahm Lustgarten, shows that if you disagree with the laws of physics, try and get others to ignore them too:

 Scien­tists have theo­rized that imper­meable layers of rock would keep the fluid, which contains benzene and other dangerous chem­icals, safely locked nearly a mile below water supplies. This view of the earth’s under­ground geology is a corner­stone of the industry’s argument that fracking poses minimal threats to the environment.

But the study, using computer modeling, concluded that natural faults and frac­tures in the Marcellus, exac­er­bated by the effects of fracking itself, could allow chem­icals to reach the surface in as little as “just a few years.”

 “Simply put, [the rock layers] are not imper­meable,” said the study’s author, Tom Myers, an inde­pendent hydro­ge­ol­ogist whose clients include the federal government and envi­ron­mental groups.

Hare brained science gets recycled. We'll see this in the Guardian soon enough and Mike Hill and the Blackpool Green Party will  jump on this as signifying that fracking is some new untried thing not for the likes of us. Luckily we have people like an NHA reader of long standing, Terry Engelder from Penn State University:

 Several scien­tists called Myers’ approach unso­phis­ti­cated and said that the assump­tions he used for his models didn’t reflect what they knew about the geology of the Marcellus Shale. If fluids could flow as quickly as Myers asserts, said Terry Engelder, a professor of geosciences at Penn State University who has been a proponent of shale devel­opment, fracking wouldn’t be necessary to open up the gas deposits.

 “This would be a huge fracture porosity,” Engelder said. “So I read this and I say, ‘Golly, does this guy really under­stand anything about what these shales look like?’ The concern then arises from using a model rather than observations.”

That's rather a big hole in the argument. If chemicals (and oil and gas) can migrate to the surface,  why do we have to drill to find it? According to Myers theory, we should be sitting in pools of the stuff already.

Engelder pointed out  to Bloomberg another hole in the theory:

In my view the issue is settled, which is that it can’t happen on a time scale that is important to mankind,”

Yes, fluids will eventually migrate to the surface. But only after several hundred million years.





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  • Who sponsers or pay's these joker.... probally left wing nut case from Hollywood or the wacko from the democratic play book...

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  • Mark


    I thought the Heartland Institute were the go-to organisation if you wished to ignore the laws of physics.<br /><br />More seriously, the issue isn't that poor science is done by those who are appalling qualified to do so, but that this "science"makes it into the press reported by journalists either too lazy, or too ignorant to properly research it. Articles which play at base fears sell - hence the MMR scandal, and the ream of "everything causes cancer" stories we are fed. Unfortunately "big industry" poisoning water supply plays to all these fears, making easy press irrespective of the facts.

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  • Michelle

    You neglect to explain why this is "hare brained" science. I think your might be peddling the "hare brained" and unrealistic science.

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  • Michelle

    To the person who commented before...can you not see that this blog is itself sponsored by the gas industry? That doesn't raise any red flags for you?

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