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Gas drilling
Talking Points
 

 
TURN OFF YOUR HEAT

One of the newest and dumbest arguments used against anyone who is concerned about the environment is, “If you don’t like the natural gas drilling and the fracking process, turn off your gas heat!”

This argument harkens back to the old slogan used when there were protests against the US war in Vietnam, “Love it or Leave it.”  In other words, your dissent meant you should move out of the US instead of working to change and improve things. Fact of the matter is, if you do “love it” you stay and work for positive change, instead of having blind acceptance of the status quo. The US wouldn’t celebrate July 4th if this same sort of blind acceptance had ruled the day!

Drilling in the backyard
NIMBY - Not in my back yard?

The “turn off your heat” argument is every bit as hollow as “love it or leave it.” What the argument suggests is that you “suck it up” and tolerate the degradation of your air and water quality with blind acceptance, instead of working for improvements. Fact of the matter is that everyone; citizens, politicians and members of the natural gas industry should all have the same goal. Not shutting off the gas heat, but instead ensuring responsible production of natural gas.

Profits

Every company in the world has the same goal -- to be profitable. But those profits should never be allowed to violate common sense and individual rights, by cutting corners on environmental protection. Natural gas can be produced more responsibly, but it will take a concerted effort by citizens, politicians and regulators to force the gas industry, if necessary, to cut profits enough to use best available practices and technology while innovating safer methods, thereby providing the best possible safeguards for human beings and the environment. We only have one planet. Love it or leave it! 

NASA - Earth from Space
Inversion from space
October 23, 2000 - High pressure centered over the northeastern U.S.
had created a capping inversion. Forest fire smoke and industrial
air pollution accumulated under the inversion.


 
SPICE RACK

Some gas drilling companies will use a photo of a kitchen spice rack while discussing frac fluids. They will tell the audience: "We only use a few chemicals, just 4 or 5, and this is everyday stuff you use in your house."

Spice racks hold ingredients for cooking, not ones for fraccing gas shales.
Frac fluids put a nurse in Colorado into organ arrest after she came in contact with a drilling worker soaked with frac fluids. The good news is that she lived. Bad news is that it took more than 30 hours before she could be safely released from intensive care. These are POTENT "spices" indeed!

As far as the volume of fracking "spices" used, it would take a swimming pool to hold the 20,000 to 30,000 gallons used in each Marcellus well. That's a lot more than a teaspoon of spice!
 


Frac fluid containers on a flatbed truck


 
ROAD SALT

People learn that hydraulic fracturing fluids coming back out of the ground (flowback or produced water) contain high levels of salt which are bad for the environment, so the gas drilling company 'spin' will address this topic very simply. They tell the crowd they could drill for 10 years and not create as much salt runoff as the Pennsylvania highway department uses for de-icing roads during one winter.

OK then, we need the roads salted for safety and winter transportation, but do we really need gas drillers adding that much salt to the environment, especially when most of it gets inadequate treatment (other than dilution with treated sewage) before being dumped back into our rivers, where we get our drinking water? What about the radionuclides in wastewater?
  


Brine tanker headed for a disposal site. Wastewater
can easily be 5-times saltier than ocean water.


 
RESTORED TO THE SAME OR BETTER CONDITION
Drilling companies profess that they will put the land they use for gas drilling pads, frac pits, pipelines and other facilities back into the same or better condition. While they might get some vegetation to grow, it will never be the same.

Have you ever tried to get gravel out of soil? What about gravel the size of a softball?  Most of these sites are developed with hundreds of tons of large pieces of limestone which are nearly impossible to remove from the surrounding soil.

Did they spill anything?  If so, what did that leave in the soil to eventually leach into your ground water and water well?  Other questions to ask.
  


Large pieces of limestone left in a farmer's field near his well site.
 

Digging a production pit and its contents into the ground to be left forever
Creation of a Superfund site?
"Restoring" a gas well site by digging drilling chemicals
and contaminants from the production pit on this
well pad into the landowner's ground.


 
ZERO CASES OF DRINKING WATER CONTAMINATION

Gas drilling company PR staff continue to state with certainty that there have been no documented cases of drinking water contamination in the United States from drilling.

What about Dimock Pennsylvania, just to name one?

Be sure to ask your drilling company why so many people near drilling operations are being provided with water buffaloes at the drilling company's expense. Just a coincidence? If you haven't heard about these cases, that is because they had to sign a "hush" agreement to keep getting their free water.
  


Spring house water replaced by a water buffalo
 


 
MONONGAHELA RIVER WATER PROBLEMS AND GAS DRILLING
Late in 2008, about 1/3 of a million Pittsburgh area residents were treated to "chunky" water -- that being tap water that was much higher than normal in TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) from the Monongahela River.

A gas industry consortium commissioned a study by Tetra Tech in an attempt to show that drawing millions of gallons of water from surrounding streams and waterways had little to do with the terrible tasting drinking water. Using their numbers, and assuming the study was correct.... they said hydraulic fracturing of gas wells contributed to less than 7-percent of the chunky water problem (Keep in mind this study was done by an industry paid contractor).

This high-TDS situation is aggravated by a couple factors:
1) low river flow in the Mon River due to massive water withdrawals for fracking, and
2) the dumping of high-TDS drilling brine into the Mon River
  
Low river flow occurs primarily during drought periods. Fall 2008 was very dry with a Pennsylvania drought warning finally being issued on November 7th. This low water condition was aggravated by drillers taking free water out of local streams and watersheds to provide the millions of gallons of water required to frack (correct spelling is 'frac' which is short for fracture) each Marcellus Shale gas well. There are environmental regulations concerning the 'dewatering' of streams in the Clean Streams Law, but enforcement is lax to non-existent in southwestern Pennsylvania.
  
The dumping of drilling brine back into Pittsburgh tap water sources became a serious issue when ill-equipped waste treatment plants were accepting all the drilling wastewater they could get. The extra business greatly improved their bottom lines. However, most were not equipped to handle industrial grade wastewater and much of the processing was incomplete. Even well-equipped treatment plants have difficulty removing salts from water, so they count on dilution as the key to solving a high TDS problem. The more drilling brine is watered-down, the story goes, the closer the water will come to having acceptable TDS levels and be considered at "safe drinking water levels."

In early 2011 the issue of radioactive frack water came to the forefront with the publication of a New York Times article. Radium 226 is a soluble component of Marcellus Shale, so it only figures that it can easily return up the well bore with other fluids used for fracking Marcellus wells.
  
Photo below: Three tankers pumping water out of a stream running low due dry summer conditions on Marcellus Shale near Houston, Pa.  Is gas well fracking more important than aquatic life in this stream?
   

Steal the water from the fish...
Three vacuum trucks removing water from a stream experiencing low flow. Washington Pa. Firefighter Academy in Chartiers Township


 
 
 

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