The Fracking Lies

Over a decade ago, when the oil and gas industry began fracking the Marcellus shale in our corner of Pennsylvania, they would often dodge the truth by saying, “Fracking has never contaminated a single water well.”

Of course the entire process of fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, contaminates not only water wells, but also ground water, in far too many cases. By making that wild claim, the industry was trying to ‘hang their hat’ on the precise moment when 9,000 pounds per square inch of pressure would crack the shale, not everything else associated with it.

That’s like saying cutting a cake, before eating it all, can’t make you fat.

After hundreds of water wells in Pennsylvania were contaminated by fracking, as documented by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), industry moved away from using that wild claim. The Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro conducted an in-depth investigation over recent years and the Grand Jury findings can be found here. Click image to open PDF:

That is, until the US Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette, stepped foot in Pennsylvania this week, and took that wild claim a couple steps further with this malarkey

US secretary of energy tours a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in Washington County, Pa.
Oct. 27 (WTAE-4) – The U.S. Secretary of energy was in Washington County on Tuesday to tour a Marcellus Shale natural gas well. Dan Brouillette toured a Range Resources natural gas well in North Strabane Township. When asked about concerns from people who say fracking affects the water they drink and the air they breathe he said, “There are no creditable studies that show fracking harms the environment in a significant way. What we are seeing here in the technology in rigs like this one and in companies like Range Resources is that the water that is being extracted from the process at the end of the process is actually cleaner than it was when it went in. That’s the innovation. That’s the type of technologies that we are seeing in the industry.”


As the saying goes,
“I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night.”

He was not only adding to the spin of clean water around drilling and fracking, but he also added the part about fracking not harming the environment in a significant way. And that part about no credible studies. Really?

‘Get out the shovel’ for that BS!

Let’s address the credible studies first. There are literally hundreds: “a fully referenced compilation of evidence outlining the risks and harms of fracking – a major source of two greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide and methane, is incompatible with climate solutions. Climate change is a public health crisis and receives our close attention in the sixth edition.” and you will find it here:

When Secretary Brouillette spoke about not harming the environment, we take that to mean our air, land and water. That completely ignores the public health toll, with so many of those facts hidden by NDA’s — commonly known as ‘gag orders.’

First, what does he consider “significant” and does that include “cumulative?”

Keep in mind that Danny Ray Brouillette was standing in Washington County Pennsylvania when he made these wild claims, one of the four S.W. Pa. counties involved in an ongoing Pennsylvania health study to determine why there have been so many cases of Ewing Sarcoma near drilling over the past decade, dovetailing with the fracking boom. If those youth illnesses are linked to fracking, as many suspect they will be, those cases would definitely be significant.

As far as cumulative, the egg-slicer permitting in the same county where he stood, has allowed over 4 dozen air-polluting gas processing facilities to be built in just the past 15 years. That air pollution is fully documented by the industry itself during the permitting process.

Shale gas production has led to thousands of tons (millions?) of contaminated drilling waste, much of it radioactive fracking waste — Ra226 with a half-life of 1,600 years — to be deposited in our local landfills, that were only designed to hold garbage, not these toxic materials. Toxic effluent leaches out of them, like a teabag, into waterways used for public drinking water. Totally insane, yes!

And back to the wild claim about not contaminating any water, that is the exact issue that got me engaged in these environmental issues 12 years ago — the dumping of fracking wastewater into the Monongahela River — the source our tapwater.

We don’t have to look very far to find that along the frequently dotted trail of Dan Brouillette’s job-hopping stops, he was one of the participants in crafting the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that included a loophole exempting frackers from the Clean Water Act.

So why is Danny Ray Brouillette visiting our county now? Two reasons…

First, as a henchman for his desperate boss who is falling miserably behind in the presidential election polls, and incorrectly believes the citizens of our Commonwealth are in love with fracking. Sorry Mr. President, but the majority of Pennsylvanians are against it, and nearly half of them favor a complete ban on fracking. Wild claims won’t change that, they are onto the lies and industry spin.

Secondly, in an ongoing promotion of a future petrochemical hub in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-West Virginia tri-state that would add to the major pollution of the Shell cracker plant being constructed in Monaca, Pa — and possibly followed by construction of a couple more huge cracker plants. An underground storage hub, that would hold ethane to make plastic, has also been pushed by the federal government, as well as whatever other industries would develop along side these pet-chem processes.

It’s a grand plan with big wheels in motion. Oh, and I almost forgot, the US Energy Secretary was also here in a desperate effort to resuscitate coal mining. Unfortunately, these ideas and snake oil promotions are more stone age than space age, as other nations across the globe have ‘seen the light’ and begun moving rapidly toward a sane renewable energy future.