As citizens await state decisions on new state EPA “fracking” regulations, many are worried radical environmentalist may compromise a promising opportunity in the development of gas reserves.

Natural gas advocates say radical environmentalists have long demonized the oil industry in their fight against free enterprise. Environmental groups claim fracking techniques to extract natural gas threatens the cleanliness of ground water, but their attacks contradict EPA studies that report there are no proven cases where fracking has contaminated water.

Extreme environmental groups have teamed up with some in the media to push their anti-growth agenda. A Heritage Foundation blog reports,

Environmentalists [...] have hijacked media outlets like The New York Times to run biased reports against fracking’s key contributions to America’s current and future energy supplies that would be a tremendous catalyst for the country’s economic recovery.

Though more EPA fracking studies are currently underway, environmentalist accusations contradict solid facts and studies. With almost any human activity, there will be some sort of environmental effect, but the benefits of shale drilling blows the costs out of the water. According to experts, a typical Marcellus Shale well can generate up to $4 million in economic benefits while only creating $14,000 in environmental damage.

If given the chance, the Independent Petroleum Association of America suggests the oil industry has the potential to lift our economy back on its feet again:

Petroleum powers the economy of this nation overall, evidenced by [a] strong correlation between states that have high petroleum use and high output. Petroleum is integral in our daily lives, not just as a fuel, but because it is present in common objects that are crucial to living a high-quality life.

But radical environmental groups often stand in the way. Some of these groups insist on “biological egalitarianism” in which all life forms are considered equal. An Acton publication titled A Biblical Perspective on Environmental Stewardship explains the dangerous connotation of this faulty environmental philosophy:

Instead, this philosophy negates the biblical affirmation of the human person’s unique role as steward and eliminates the very rationale for human care for creation. The quest for the humane treatment of beasts by lowering people to the level of animals leads only to the beastly treatment of humans.

Extreme environmental groups should remember the oil industry is not evil. They fail to see that their radical ideology is hurting the nation’s poor. Increasing oil production can fuel economic growth and provide jobs for the unemployed. To attack the oil industry in such a way is indirectly attacking human development. Cited in Ray Nothstine’s commentary on high gas prices and its impact on the poor are these words from John Paul II,

Besides the earth, man’s principle resource is man himself. His intelligence enables him to discover the earth’s productive potential and the many different ways in which human needs can be satisfied.

Of course, any human action has some effect on the environment; and so we have the responsibility to exercise environmental stewardship rather than prioritizing the fish in the Chesapeake Bay over the welfare of the human person.


  • Elise Amyx

    Mark, I used adjectives like “radical” and “extreme” exactly for that reason- to point out they only represent a minority opinion of those who have reservations about fracking.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Roeda/2260805 Mark Roeda

      Elise, you’ve lost me.  You’re admitting that the majority of environmentalists that have concerns about fracking aren’t radical.  And yet in your article you make it sound as though only radicals have these reservations. 

  • Gay G

    Mark is right: ‘radical’ and ‘extreme’ are two of the most demonizing terms used these days. Elyse, as you are just out of college, I would remind you to consider the source of your information. While you’ve been in class, some others of educated America have spend countless hours of research on the ‘environmental’, health, socio-economic, climate change, and land use issues related to NG development. It has been an utterly depressing course, NG 101, and one you should spend time with prior to further comment. For starters, keeping it purely financial (in the spirit of what touches all people!), check this: http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8212

    • http://www.vilepickle.com David

      I’m not sure how her sources are a problem here.  Care to elaborate?  Also, her name is Elise.

      • Gay G

        Sorry for the typo, Elise.
        “promising opportunity in the development of gas reserves” in her 1st paragraph is the first clue. This is an industry line, evasive, and vaguely attractive.
        The problematic sources were immediately obvious to me, given her sweeping disregard for the facts, but when I checked each of her red hyperlinked phrases, it became even more ridiculous. She has bungled the information, and drawn completely backwards conclusions.

        She parrots the industry line, “…their [enviro's] attacks contradict EPA studies that report there are no proven cases where fracking has contaminated water. This EPA hyperlink actually goes to an excellent article, which you should read:
        http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/26/epa-fracking-study-states_n_884895.html 
        The reason EPA has been funded for an updated study is because their prior findings (2004) were found to be false.
        This recent NYT series explores the same issue:
        http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/DRILLING_DOWN_SERIES.html
        I’d also recommend listening to the following 45 minute podcast, entertaining and tragic. http://www.thisamericanlife.org
        These are good too:
        BOOMS AND BUSTS – The Impact of West VA ’s Energy Economy: http://www.wvpolicy.org/downloads/BoomsBusts072111.pdf
        And the jury is still out on the actual merits of recoverable gas projections: The SEC is about to get involved:
        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/29/us/politics/29naturalgas.html?hp

        Finally, Ms Amyx writes, According to experts, a typical Marcellus Shale well can generate up to $4 million in economic benefits while only creating $14,000 in environmental damage. This links a blog, called ‘townhall finance’, which in turn quotes heavily from the conservative think tank, The Manhatten Institute. Beware of the “experts” – they often have an agenda which is not going to be good for those of us who live and work and raise children in areas where industry runs over ‘rules’. Watch Erin Brokovich again, it’s timely in this fracking fight.

        • http://www.acton.org/ John Couretas

          Did you see this from the Times’ Public Editor?

          July 16, 2011

          Clashing Views on the Future of Natural Gas

          By ARTHUR S. BRISBANE

          A NEW YORK TIMES article last month, “Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush,”
          warned across two columns at the top of the front page that high
          expectations for companies drilling shale gas might be headed for a
          fall. It was the kind of story you wish The Times had written about
          Enron before it collapsed. Or about Bernard Madoff.

          The June 26 article, written by Ian Urbina, was clearly intended to offer that kind of signal and specifically invoked “Enron,” “Ponzi schemes” and “dot-coms” in the early paragraphs.

          Raising the prospect of a fall, though, is a journalistic gamble. Adding
          to the risk, the story painted its subject with an overly broad brush
          and didn’t include dissenting views from experts who aren’t entrenched
          on one side or another of the subject. After publication, critics jumped
          in with both feet.

          A UBS investment analyst, William A. Featherston, and colleagues issued a report saying that the article, part of The Times’s continuing “Drilling Down”
          series on shale gas, was “unduly harsh,” failed to recognize the
          “enormous” growth of shale gas in recent years and offered no “credible
          source and context.”

          An M.I.T. natural gas study group
          released a statement taking issue with The Times’s analysis of shale
          gas economics, well productivity and other matters. Other commentators
          assailed the sourcing used to support the article’s premise: only two
          people named in the text, plus a large trove of e-mail from people whose
          names were redacted by The Times.

          A countervailing surge of support for the article, meanwhile, has come from environment-minded readers. And four Democrats in Congress have called on public agencies to examine some of the issues that Mr. Urbina raised in that story and one the next day.

          More: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/17/opinion/sunday/17pubed.html?_r=3

  • Single acts of tyranny

    It is simply fault-finding as they (the greens) are attracted to a romantic primitivism of Rousseau, and power leads to industry which is “bad” in some way.  They will rarely admit this, but be very clear, this is the agenda.  If you invented, containable, emission-free fusion power tomorrow which was free, they would be absolutely gutted and politically opposed to it. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LRPN6HG2CG2SWZ2H5LK7MJ4BLM phoo

    oh, YUK. this is a horrid article. the CIA must be behind this somehow.  the ONLY possible report that finds fracking NOT very harmful to the environment would be a report supported by the OIL INDUSTRY.  Huge amounts of money is being poured into fracking BY THE OIL COMPANIES!!  what we need is to find a suitable replacement to oil. The single most entrenched user and advocate of continuing on an oil based economy is the US MILITARY! which uses 50% of US oil supplies, and cannot get off oil for its tanks, ships, rockets, etc.etc.  We are doomed to stay with oil until someone blows us off the planet.  However, if OIL COMPANIES to stop thwarting the development of A NEW ENERGY SOURCE from within the atom, and stop directing energy development toward OIL SUPPORTIVE industries like solar and wind, then we might get somewhere.

  • Roger McKinney

    I have lived in Oklahoma for 50 years and know that well fracking has gone on that long. Millions of people in the state get their water from wells and there has never been a single instance reported in which fracking polluted ground water.

  • Roger McKinney

    Can you name an environmental organization that is not radical? I don’t know of any.

  • Roger McKinney

    BTW, fracking (fracturing) first began in the oil industry in the 1960’s in order to recover more oil from spent oil wells. It has only made news because environmentalists just now discovered the practice.

    • Gay G

      You are misinformed. The newer practice of “high volume slickwater hydrofracking” is orders of magnitude different from the 60 year old version. Check this series: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/DRILLING_DOWN_SERIES.html

      • Roger McKinney

        I didn’t see any discussion of new methods in your link. Which article did you find it in? Fracking has always used high volumes of water under high pressure. It’s the water pressure that causes the fracturing.

        • Gay G

          You are correct about large volumes of water, but the type of fracking done in the last 10 years uses literally hundreds of times more water per ‘frack’ (generally somewhere between 3 and 8 million gallons), and uses huge quantities of highly toxic chemicals which were not legal to be injected underground prior to the 2005 energy bill, which exempted fracking from federal oversight.
          Gas
          drillers receive special exemptions from seven federal environmental
          regulations that apply to countless other industrial activities across
          the country.
          Drilling companies are not required, for example, to report the discharge of toxic chemicals for the Toxics Release Inventory under the Superfund law – including the wastewater that threatens Eastern water supplies. They do not have to comply with the section of the Clean Water Act  that regulates pollutants at construction sites. And they don’t have to abide by the Clean Air Act, which regulates industrial emissions.
          Gas drilling also has its own individual exemption,
          approved by Congress during the George W. Bush administration, that
          explicitly prohibits the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating
          hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the way the
          agency regulates almost all other types of underground fluid injection,
          including those injection wells used for wastewater in the West.
          I am sorry that the series I linked does not go into much detail about the distinction between old and new fracking.

          This video explains how shale gas is now extracted, and you will quickly see the difference. The industry capitalizes on people’s lack of understanding about the difference – you are not alone. http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/chemicals.videoplayer.php

          • Roger McKinney

            The fact that the industry may be exempt from some regulations doesn’t make them evil. The regulations may be stupid in the first place. Of the millions of wells fracked, only a couple hundred have complained about ground water contamination and many of those are suspect.

            I’m not saying that it’s impossible for fracking to contaminate ground water; it’s just unlikely. If it does, then the land owners should sue in court for damages.

            You have a higher chance of dying in a car wreck than in having your groundwater contaminated by fracking. Should the EPA outlaw driving?

          • Richard

            Roger,
             
            I don’t think your statement is an accurate reflection of what is really happening across America’s “gaslands”. 
             
            The reason the gas industry received across the board exemptions on environmental laws from Dick Cheney (“Halliburton Loophole”) is because it is well known that petroleum exploration and production is a very messy (and risky) business, and many tens of thousands of gallons of chemicals are typically spilled in a variety of different ways over a time span of a decade, or even less, in a typical gas play.  Without the exemptions, they wound not be able to move into populated communities and agricultural areas (like West Va., eastern Ohio, Northern Pennsylvania, or NY State where they are chomping at the bits to start developing).
             
            In fact, the only state where the EPA enforces the SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act) is Alabama, because of what I said above in an earlier post, and that was under court order.
             
            The real issue that the gas industry won’t address is the fact that their repeated mantra that “over a million wells have been fracked and that there is no proof any private wells have been impacted” is a flat, outright lie.  There is not one single study that the gas industry can point to that shows gas drilling is not damaging to the environment or doesn’t threaten public health.  However, thousands of people have reported problems from nearby gas drilling operations but the true numbers of victims is hard to gauge.  Cases of private well contamination from drilling operations are typically covered-up by the industry so you really can’t say how bad the problem is.  When a landowner complains their well has become tainted by gas drilling, the first problem is proving it, and the gas industry is very skilled at dodging this bullet. 
             
            But, if the gas company comes to your door and offers you a weekly delivery of potable water to a 500 gallon white plastic container sitting out in your yard (the infamous “water buffalo”), it may be the only way for you to stay in your home, so you sign a non-disclosure agreement and the water deliveries start arriving every week.  Your home is now worth less than 1/3 of what it was before the gas industry showed up and started drilling, and you may never be able to move away because no one will ever buy your home if the well is unusable.  Worse, you can’t even complain about it to anyone, except the gas company delivering your water…how cruel is that?
             
            This is not fair, and it is not right!  This is why the gas industry has such a sullied reputation, and since they have dug in and become even more entrenched (as wittnessed by all the ANGA propaganda on the TV and radio) people can see they are refusing to take responsibility for their past mistakes and the problems they caused (lives ruined).  Given this sad fact, there is no reason to expect that the gas industry is going to do an about-face and start doing things any differently as they move into communities in eastern Ohio, West Va., Pa, and possibly NY State one day soon.  And this is why so many people have come to view the gas industry as a threat to their lives, their children’s well-being, and their communities, jobs notwithstanding.
             
            A recent risk assessment of Marcellus Shale wells suggests it is time for the federal government and state regulators to come to grips with a problem that they have long ignored or denied even existed, and that will grow exponentially as Appalachian shale gas is extracted at an ever increasing pace to drive industry profits (but not to make America energy self-sufficient as they claim). 
             
            Safety of Deep Well Marcellus Shale Drilling:  Preliminary Analysis of Probability of the Occurrence of a “Serious Environmental Incident:
            http://www.maryellenscottcmt.com/marcprotest/Risk_Assessment.pdf

          • Roger McKinney

            It doesn’t matter what EPA regulations the gas industry gets exemption from. Land owners can still sue in court for damages to their property if they actually exist.

            All the EPA does is punish an entire industry for the misdeeds of a tiny few.

  • Richard

    Elise,
    I think your sources are seriously biased and fatally flawed so much so that you are completely misinformed about the “ground truth” with respect to gas drilling’s true impacts on communities across America’s “gaslands”.
    Many people are suffering great hardships from this ruthless industry and they are good Christians, like you, and they deserve to be treated with the same compassion that any true “victim” requires.  These people are hardly “radical environmentalists”, and to claim they represent “extreme environmental groups” is a gross injustice that these people have to endure on top of their health problems and lost land values caused by the gas industry coming into their communities.
    These people are real people whose lives have been permanently altered by an industry that puts public health and safety, and the environment on a back burner while acting as if corporate profits are all that matter.  I’m talking about people like Louis Meeks of Pavillion, Wyoming whose well water was found to contain methane & hydrocarbons according to EPA test results, and who now gets water delivered by EnCana, who own the gas well.  I am also talking about people like the Lytle family in Seneca County, New York, who in 2007 reported contamination of their drinking water the morning after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby gas well owned by Chesapeake Energy Corporation. Their water turned gray and was full of sediment.  There are thousands more like them out there with real horror stories to tell about how they were treated by an indifferent industry.
    The gas industry claims that hydraulic fracturing has “never” caused a single case of private well contamination, and this is a flat outright lie.  Instead of beating-up on the victims of a ruthless industry that shows a depraved indifference to its victims, you need to get out and visit some of the most seriously impacted communities in America’s gaslands and see for yourself just how bad things really are for some people, and tell THEIR story instead of this “corporate myth” that you are perpetuating on your blog.

    • Roger McKinney

      If people are suffering from fracking, they can take their case to court. There is no reason for the EPA to get involved at all.

      • Richard

        Roger,

        You are right about that – the EPA has proven useless when it comes to fracking.  In 1997 an environmental group in Alabama, LEAF, sued the EPA on behalf of landowners who had been harmed by gas industry extraction of coal bed methane (CBM).  The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals sided with the plaintiffs and ordered the EPA to treat fracking as a method of under ground injection (UIC) of industrial toxic waste, and therefore was to be regulated under the SDWA (Safe Drinking Water Act) – but ONLY in the State of Alabama!
         
        The EPA was “castrated” in 2005 by Cheney with the infamous “Halliburton Loophole”, but only after passing-off a piece of junk science in 2004 that was to designed to “smooth over” a ruffled gas industry still seething over the 11th Circuit’s decision in the LEAF case.  The “landmark” 2004 EPA Study exonerated fracking as having any involvement in water well contamination – without ever taking one single water sample to a lab for analysis.  Amazing!  But, NOT science!
         
        So now, the EPA is doing their “penance” for past failures by undertaking a multi-community water quality impact study – which has the gas industry going ballistic!  The gas industry has called on the members of Congress they own to throw a monkey wrench into the EPA’s work and to bring it to a halt any way possible, including using Congress to withhold funding and even dissolve the agency.
         
        I hate to say it but without the EPA, citizens across the US would be suffering from much higher rates of environmental-born diseases, because industry would be using our air, water & lands as a dumping ground for all their industrial waste and toxic chemicals, just as they are doing in places around the world.  This is why people are fighting so hard to keep the gas industry out of their communities – the have seen what can happen when profits are put before people’s health and well being and they are afraid for their lives, and for their children’s lives.  And, this is why they get branded as “radical” and “extremists”, because they are fighting for their lives against a ruthless industry wirth no morals or scruples, excpet the almighty buck.

        • Roger McKinney

          “I hate to say it but without the EPA, citizens across the US would be
          suffering from much higher rates of environmental-born diseases…”

          That’s nonsense! Long before the EPA courts were cleaning up pollution as land owners brought suits against polluters. Without the EPA today courts would do the same for land owners. The EPA is more likely to side with the radicals and ignore evidence in favor of fracking in order order to please their boss, who is very anti-business.

          • Richard

            No, not nonsense…that is merely your opinion.

            The courts have provided some relief to plaintiffs in environmental litigation, but the fact that judges run for office jut like any elected political figure means they are subject to the same “temptations” and “motivations” as any other politician.  Put in plain English, we live in a country with a political system that operates on “legalized bribery” and politicians and judges frequently find it hard to stick to their convictions in the face of the sort of political pressure industry can muster – particularly in light of the recent Supreme Court decision (Citizens’ United) that gives corporations unlimited ability to use their money to elect political officials.

            Richard Nixon started the EPA, and the Clean Air & Water Acts were passed under his administration.  As a conservative republican president, he knew the value of protecting our environment – and the cost to public health and environmental quality if we did not.  It was his decision to federalize the protection of the environment because it was a necessity, not because it was politically correct, or because of some ideologically-driven belief system (devoid of reality), which is so unlike many of today’s conservative political figures.

          • Roger McKinney

            Yes it is nonsense. The EPA hires the same fallible human being that you claim become judges. You can’t assert that EPA bitter bureaucrats are more intelligent or more honest than judges.

            Judges do less about pollution today because the law grabbed their power to do so and gave it to the EPA.

            The radical left in power in Congress today appoints the EPA bureaucrats. Radical environmentalists have bribed the radical Congressmen with campaign funds and then ordered them to appoint radicals to the EPA.

            PS, Nixon was not a conservative. He was an idiot.

          • Richard

            No, not nonsense…that is merely your opinion.

            The courts have provided some relief to plaintiffs in environmental litigation, but the fact that judges run for office jut like any elected political figure means they are subject to the same “temptations” and “motivations” as any other politician.  Put in plain English, we live in a country with a political system that operates on “legalized bribery” and politicians and judges frequently find it hard to stick to their convictions in the face of the sort of political pressure industry can muster – particularly in light of the recent Supreme Court decision (Citizens’ United) that gives corporations unlimited ability to use their money to elect political officials.

            Richard Nixon started the EPA, and the Clean Air & Water Acts were passed under his administration.  As a conservative republican president, he knew the value of protecting our environment – and the cost to public health and environmental quality if we did not.  It was his decision to federalize the protection of the environment because it was a necessity, not because it was politically correct, or because of some ideologically-driven belief system (devoid of reality), which is so unlike many of today’s conservative political figures.

  • Roger McKinney

    Never heard of Au Sable, and the Evangelical Environmental Newtwork is extremely radical. So please, go on and on.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Roeda/2260805 Mark Roeda

      I was taking Elise’s reference to groups promoting “biological egalitarianism” as taking a radical position.   If the Evangelical Environmental Network is “extremely radical” in your book, I suspect that there aren’t many groups that would satisfy you.  Maybe Haliburton. 

  • Andy

    Elise, everything in your article is the absolute truth.  Onshore oil wells are regulated by the state, not the federal government and the EPA needs to keep it’s nose out of our business.  Most of the comments so far come from people who have never worked a day of their life in the oil field.  They have no clue as to procedures required to drill and complete an oil well.  The first step in drilling is to cement into place surface pipe.  This permanently isolates all of the fresh water zones that a well will come into contact with.  Water below this zone is too salty to drink so it is of no concern.  Fracking or any of a dozen other procedures that are performed to an oil well over it’s lifetime will not affect the ground water.  It is a physical imposibility.