Now, water on fire is hilarious. Pittsburgh, like every other place, has lots of chemicals in its water and most prevalent is the one that makes people ridicule Cleveland. Yet if you ask most people about when the Cuyahoga River in Cleveland was on fire, or why, they won't know. It's just...Cleveland.
So it goes with fracking. Fracking has been around for 70 years - if you ask an older geologist, it is actually far safer today than it was even 30 years ago due to the exact improvements in drilling and process that activists are trying to scare people about. But if you ask environmentalists, they just know fracking is bad, they don't know why. And that goes for every other talking point in fundraising brochures. Regarding another hot fundraising topic, Keystone XL, as Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer phrased it, “Ninety per cent of these jackasses that are complaining about the Keystone pipeline in Washington, D.C., one year ago wouldn't have even known where the Keystone was."
Really, you can insert any science issue here - nuclear power, vaccines, food - some left-wing environmental group is claiming they love science but that scientists can't be trusted to do it.
Activists are now gushing about a PNAS study which sampled well water and plotted its methane related to distance from a fracking site. The closer water was to fracking, the more likely to have methane.
Presto, that meant fracking caused methane to seep into water. Except that isn't true at all. In reality, the sites that are best for fracking already have lots of methane - that's what they are looking for - and it already has a geology that makes it possible to get to. It's natural, that is what biogenic means. It's similar to hysteria about Fukushima, when activists determined that its radiation had caused birth defects to go up - in the western U.S. In reality, radiation in Fukushima was lower than background radiation in Tokyo and New York City and far lower than a beach in Brazil where radiation levels are 300X acceptable levels. But it's natural, activists contend, which is the spooky kind of fallacy that passes without question in advocacy groups.
Some of the claims about flaming tap water have been outright fraud, of course. 'The ends justify the means' is nothing new among eco-terrorists who destroy beet farms and send bombs to researchers and fabricate results implicating GMO foods.
The "Gasland" clip containing fake flaming water has been debunked everywhere. Here is one example:
Lots of others have been outright fakes, where activists intentionally hooked gas lines up to water to make their point.
So while activists tout a PNAS correlation by claiming that stray methane is going to kill everyone, the EPA - which has been actively looking to torpedo the energy source that has caused CO2 emissions from energy to plummet back to early 1990s levels - has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production. The EPA applauded the industry for 20 percent fewer methane emissions during the period from 1990-2010 while activists claim they are suddenly dooming us - the EPA says natural gas is good in the fight against global warming. Yes, that means anti-energy activists are now being pitted against climate change activists in a way that hasn't been so ridiculous since environmental activists blocked solar power installations in southern California, with over $100 million in lawsuit costs. In reality, the gas industry has exceeded government standards by a great deal, they are not violating them.(1)
Alex Berezow at Real Clear Science makes the math so simple even an employee at Union of Concerned Scientists can understand it:
At the end of a single day, assuming the house is airtight, 0.035% of the air will be composed of methane. That's not very much at all, and it's far, far below levels that would be considered dangerous. The lower explosive limit for methane is 5%, which means the air needs to be 5% methane before any explosions can occur. And asphyxiation won't happen until the air is 50% methane.So if you are living near a fracking installation, you can run out and buy a methane detector, but it will do nothing more than alarm you. If you are still worried about your tap, my bottles of organic, non-GMO dihydrogen monoxide are selling like crazy. And I can make a dihydrogen monoxide detector if you are worried about that, as well.
(1) It's not an environmental free-for-all. Obviously if anything occurs that does harm people the company should be penalized - and will be. That still won't make fracking bad, any more than bald eagles being killed over and over, a Federal crime (that is swept under the carpet by the current administration), means we should shut down wind power.