The anti-fracking film Gasland Part II debuted last weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival. The original Gasland was thoroughly debunked by energy scientists and industry experts, revealing the film maker, Josh Fox’s, initial effort relied upon faulty research if not deliberate distortions of the truth. Since Gasland first aired on HBO in 2010, even more research has confirmed the safety of natural gas drilling. Gasland Part II is expected to follow the same distortions presented in Gasland and Fox’s equally discredited propaganda short, The Sky is Pink, doubling down on wrong.
Myths from Gasland:
MYTH: “What I didn’t know was that the 2005 energy bill pushed through Congress by Dick Cheney exempts the oil and natural gas industries from the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act…and about a dozen other environmental regulations.”
· The oil and natural gas industry is regulated under every single one of these federal laws — under provisions of each that are relevant to its operations.
· The 2005 energy bill was supported by nearly three-quarters of the U.S. Senate, including then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. In the U.S. House, 75 Democrats joined 200 Republicans in supporting the final bill.
MYTH “Fracking chemicals are considered proprietary.”
· The entire universe of additives used in the fracturing process is known to the public and the state agencies that represent them.
· Not only do individual states mandate disclosure, the federal government does as well. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates this information be kept at every wellsite, and made readily available to response and medical personnel in case of an emergency.
MYTH: “The fracking itself is like a mini-earthquake…. In order to frack, you need some fracking fluid — a mix of over 596 chemicals.”
· The fracturing process uses a mixture of fluids comprised almost entirely (99.5%) of water and sand. The remaining materials, used to help deliver the water down the wellbore, are typically found and used around the house. The average fracturing operation utilizes fewer than 12 of these components, according to the Ground Water Protection Council — not 596.
· Over the course of its history, fracturing has not only been used to increase the flow of oil and natural gas from existing wells, but also to access things like water and geothermal energy. It’s even been used by EPA to clean up Superfund sites.
GENERAL MYTHS ABOUT FRACKING:
MYTH: Flaming water is the result of natural gas drilling
Colorado regulators issued a detailed refutation of the alleged link between shale drilling and flammable well water portrayed in the flawed documentary, “Gasland.” They noted that naturally occurring biogenic methane, unrelated to drilling, was the cause of flammable well water.
ProPublica explained, “Drinking water with methane, the largest component of natural gas, isn’t necessarily harmful. The gas itself isn’t toxic — the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t even regulate it — and it escapes from water quickly, like bubbles in a soda.”
Methane-borne water is actually a naturally occurring phenomenon with which even Gen. George Washington experimented in 1783 when he ignited New Jersey’s Millstone River.
MYTH: Drilling is contaminating groundwater
Claims of groundwater contamination have been so deeply flawed that even Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson has publicly and categorically refuted them.
In no case have we made a definitive determination that [hydraulic fracturing] has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.
“I’m not aware of any proven case where [hydraulic fracturing] itself has affected water.”
Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published an article suggesting a link between hydraulic fracturing and illness in food animals.
The piece is decidedly unscientific, providing neither data nor independent corroboration to support their assertions.
Energy In Depth notes that Dr. Ian Rae, a professor at the University of Melbourne in Australia and Co-chair of the Chemicals Technical Options Committee for the United Nations Environment Programme, called the paper “an advocacy piece” that suffers from poor referencing, and the authors themselves “cannot be regarded as experts” in the field in which they are commenting.
MYTH: Natural gas drilling as a process that’s laced with harmful chemicals
Even while states are moving to join those which already require disclosure of substances used in hydraulic fracturing, the industry routinely uses the online database FracFocus.org. Any visitor to the site can find out additives are being used at any well site in the database.
Typically, water and sand account 99.5 percent of the mix. One of the most frequently used substances in the other one-half of one percent is guar gum, a food thickening agent found in everything from ice cream to pudding.
In a related story, Yoko Ono, Matt Damon and Sean Lennon have gone on the warpath against fracking in New York. Their group called Artists Against Fracking is being investigated on lobbying violations at the request of The Independent Oil and Gas Association. This sign has been erected in New York by the pro-fracking group “Frack Nation”: