Shale Gas News and Information
Arguing with the laws of physics
- Written by Nick Grealy
- Published: 07 May 2012
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.