Gasland the Movie: How much to believe?

HBO featured a movie tonight, called Gasland.

One write up describes the movie as follows:

'GasLand', a documentary that premiered at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and focuses on hydraulic fracturing, will begin airing on HBO starting June 21 at 9 p.m. The documentary focuses on American communities that have been impacted by the increase in natural gas drilling--specifically hydraulic fracturing--across the country.

The documentary's writer and director, Josh Fox, had been approached by a natural gas company who was interested in leasing his family's Milanville, Pa., home for drilling; they would receive a signing offer of $100,000. Fox set out across America in search of information about natural gas drilling methods and their impacts on the environment and health of the people and areas in the drilling locations. Locally, he visited Dimock, Susquehanna County, where natural gas drilling had already been taking place. A family that he profiled had been worried about their water supply being contaminated. He found similar concerns in citizens of other states that were host to the drilling, such as Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and Texas.

The question a person has is, "How accurate is this documentary?"

When one reads the reviews, there is clearly a lot of difference of opinion. We read:

"GASLAND just might be the best film of the year." -The Huffington Post

And at the other end of the spectrum, a site called Energy in Depth has a whole page of material under the title Debunking GasLand, with section headings:

  • Misstating the Law
  • Misrepresenting the Rules
  • Mischaracterizing the Process
  • Flat-Out Making Stuff Up
  • Recycling Discredited Points from the Past

As an example of the types of things shown, it says:

Mike Markham: Fox blames flammable faucet in Fort Lupton, Colo. on natural gas development

But that’s not true according to the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). “Dissolved methane in well water appears to be biogenic [naturally occurring] in origin. … There are no indications of oil & gas related impacts to water well.” (complaint resolved 9/30/08, signed by John Axelson of COGCC)

What are readers views on the movie? If you didn't see the movie, this is link to an NPR interview with the director. There is also a trailer available for viewing.

Haven't seen it yet, but am looking forward to it soon (West Coast). The firm you mention as the "other side" (Energy in Depth) is a PR front created by the American Petroleum Institute to rebut the film. This is a standard move by policy-planning groups, especially those involved in the energy industry ("CO2--some call it pollution; we call it life" should ring a bell). I'm not sure if it's fair to post one quote from the Huffington Post that has nothing substantive to contribute, then follow it with critical quotes attacking the veracity of the film from a PR firm hired to sling mud.

Read the comment I quoted up above, and follow the link. Fox is claiming that what was ruled a naturally occurring phenomenon was caused by fracking. That would sound to be pretty fraudulent to me.

Thanks, I did both. My contention is that the post could be a little more balanced in relation to the substantive claims presented (i.e. presented for the detractors and missing for the proponents).

Does anyone honestly believe that we can inject poison into the ground and NOT f*&% up our ground water? This is insanity.

Wow - so anyone who doesn't agree with the ruling of a commission is a fraud ?

Heck, this site is based on the fact that we don't agree with agencies like EIA/IEA.

No, no - anyone who says anything negative about oil & gas companies and who thinks we're not all DOOMED when the oil & gas run short is a fraud :)

I haven't had a chance to see the movie, or explore the shale gas industry troubles beyond reading TOD and a couple of other sites, so I have no firm opinions in this respect.

But I do find it interesting that so far I haven't heard anybody who habitually refers to "FAUX News" as being a bau front organization, owned and operated by big business of course, explain why Fox would be ringing the environmental fire bell in this case-true or not.

My guess for what it's worth is that there will be a substantial and geographically well scattered number of water pollution cases verified beyond a doubt just from shale gas drilling already done when the dust settles.

OFM, the Fox mentioned here is Josh Fox, the documentary's writer and director, not Fox News. Yes, it would be highly irregular for Fox News to be investigating items of this nature unless they were overwhelmingly obvious and irrefutable.

I also believe that there will likely be many more verified cases of impacts from shale gas drilling.

Gail The comment you quoted above said

But that’s not true according to the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). “Dissolved methane in well water appears to be biogenic [naturally occurring] in origin. … There are no indications of oil & gas related impacts to water well.” (complaint resolved 9/30/08, signed by John Axelson of COGCC)

If the man didn't have flamable water before fracking and did after fracking in the area it is reasonable to assume that fracking had something to do with his water becoming flamable whether or not the gas came directly from the fracked well.

Do the frackers think that the gas they are drilling for is NOT biogenic (produced by living organisms or biological processes) or do they think they are getting abiotic gas? Do they think the gas they are drilling for is NOT NATURALLY OCCURRING? Have they tested Mr. Markam's water?

I live in Garfield County, CO and can introduce you to two families who's "naturally occurring dissolved methane" explosive well water was fine - for two generations - before fracking commenced in their area.

Fraud requires intent. If Josh Fox actually believes that the methane coming out of faucets is not naturally occurring, it is not fraud. If intent did not have to be proven in fraud cases, a large number of corporate executives would now be behind bars. There would now be 100s of criminal negligence charges filed against persons involved in the BP oil spill.

Can you say with reasonable certainty that Josh Fox is not operating in good faith? He turned down $100k at a time when he likely had no reasonable expectations of making money or becoming "famous" off a documentary.

If you are taking a poll, keep it unbiased. If you want to express your opinion, express it explicitly rather than loading your poll question (e.g. What are readers views on the movie?) with your own opinion.

COGIS said, "Dissolved methane in well water appears to be biogenic in origin." Does this sound like an in-depth analysis and study was completed? Where are the details of the analysis and study? Methane was bubbling out of the ground and streams. Should we believe that either they never noticed this before or a massive growth of bacteria just happen to coincide with the ng operations. I need to know more.

I AM SKEPTICAL OF THE ACCURACY OF THE GASLAND DOCUMENTARY. I am skeptical of anything that is obviously bias, including your post and links you provided. You chose to link to a film review that gave no opinion to the accuracy of the documentary. Did you mean for this to balance the opinion of "Energy In Depth?" Why not provide links to some less bias sources?

Should we just rollover and return to pre-1970 environmental standards? Relying exclusively on the opinion of the energy industry would do exactly this.

Dad had a gas well on his property back in the 70's. Ran dry in about ten years. I do not notice any subsidence from it, but I never really looked. My brother owns it now.

Vacant lot near-,-87.810306&spn=0.008773,0.0...

Tinfoilhatguy - We are not talking about a regular NG well. We're talking about Hydro-fracking. Different

Ok, I get it now. Yep, when the gas well ran out, we got water. Would that have been possible natural hydro-fracking?

Also the well was within 500 meters of what I call a large river, at least at that point. The link above gives approximate location. I am not sure if they ever injected anything INTO it.

From the trailer I think the film is very, very fraudulent. I saw enough that suggested to me it is highly inaccurate. It seems to dismiss that fact that there is something called casing and more so, surface casing which has, especially initially in time, a high integrity.

I would be interested in more details on your opinion, with references to independent sources, after you've seen the film. I heard the filmmaker interviewed on radio two weeks ago, and his arguments were pretty persuasive. Thank you.

I heard the film-maker a few weeks ago in a radio interview and I thought the whole time how he was misconstruing things to point toward fracing and wells as the culprit and the evidence was scant to absent.
First of all you case through the fresh groundwater zone on the order of hundreds of feet and this casing is cemented in with returns back to surface and it is typically a relatively large diameter bore. The allusions that this frac fluid and gas from the well is somehow making it back into the freshwater zone are completely unfounded. Not only that but GC-MS techniques would quickly and conclusively show those fluids and gas related to the reservoir back at the surface. It's not like you could hide it. Methane, especially in areas subject to glaciation are common in water wells. On and on and on. After 30 years of geology when I see outright falsifications like this it's upsetting. Gail, the surface casing and cement on the Macondo well is not in failure and in fact it is the only thing keeping the situation together so your "LOL" actually isn't accurate.

having seen the movie, there is a whole lot more to it than the mere fracking.....see it before you detract from it.
check out what the result is from the condensate is shown in infrared, and you can watch them vent
there is enuf additional problems not counting the fracking aspect that it ought to be done in a cleaner fashion or not at all.
and we've yet to see if your guess, which is what it is,about the gulf cement job is true.
combine the ground water contamination from oil extraction worldwide, ground water contamination from coal extraction, and now from fracking and tell me where you think this leads. now throw in the other industrial processes that cause massive contamination and spillage.
now drink.
call me in 2 years and we'll talk....if you survive it.

point in discussion; I don't think you're realizing there are multiple cement jobs in a well. You drill surface and cement in surface regardless if you complete the well or not. This protects the freshwater zone from any well fluids. Then if you complete the well and run casing there is another cement job. If you're cementing in liners as you go there are more cement jobs. In the case of fracing Marcellus shales in PA / NY / WV you run casing for surface, then you run another diameter of casing down and into the formation. One wants the frac fluids to operate on the gas bearing shale zone and not be lost into other formations. If you're lucky you get penetration of your frac fluids for tens to maybe 100+ feet into the gas bearing formation. We're talking about rocks that have very low permeability and thousands of feet deep. It is possible in rare cases to get well fluids lost in higher zones and even perhaps near surface. But it is very rare. The hyperbole that frac fluids are making there way into near surface freshwater zones is what it is, fantastic and ungrounded hyperbole. You're lucky if you can get very small and easily flowable gas molecules some to translate some hundreds of feet to your well bore. To say that water and other molecules that constitute the frac fluids are flowing thousands of feet through tight rocks and contaminating surface water wells on a time scale of months is not realistic. I will see Gasland. But the trailer and the writeups I've seen tell me that overall it is a propaganda and a scare movie.

We all know that nothing can go wrong with drilling casing...


Exactly Will - it is quite shocking actually that we have the on-going disaster in the Gulf and STILL people want to put the burden of proof on those with a dissenting voice about punching holes in the earth. Here's an idea - instead of making the enviros / concerned citizens PROVE that something that obviously has the potential for becoming a problem is indeed a problem - why don't we first make the companies who can effectively walk away when it's all over PROVE that they are not going to leave a big problem for others to solve.

I remember seeing a PBS documentary years ago about the chemical industry - an opponent of the industry who was concerned about the flood of new compounds to the market each year put it perfectly I thought - he said that in these situations we are too fixated on our criminal law way of evaluating cases - in that the companies in question (Dupont etc. for the PBS show) were innocent until proven guilty and that very lax standards existed for evaluating chemical interactions etc. before new compounds were allowed to be released to market. The opponent argued that the burden of proving reasonable safety should be on the development company and that before anything new was released they should make at least a reasonable attempt at PROVING the safety of the product - the new compounds should be considered "guilty" until proven innocent to some extent.

The documentary is bias, but it not fraudulent. Maybe you should review the definition of fraud and how it is proven. Wikipedia would be a simple start. Do you believe that Josh Fox believes that hydraulic fracturing is relatively safe to the environment and is not causing the problems that he says it is? I believe each point by "Energy in Depth" can be rebuked.

And I also question the accuracy of GasLand, but fraud, give me a break -- total ad hominem.

Exemption from any legal liability tends to foster sloppy extraction practices that tradeoff profit against destroying the environment.

The natural gas companies insist that the millions of gallons of poisoned water left underground or collected in huge open pits pose no threat to watersheds. In a move that suggests the drilling may not be as benign as they contend, however, these companies ensured that in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress exempted the natural gas industry from complying with the Clean Water Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Right-to-Know Act.

o Loopholes introduced in the Energy Policy Act have exempted the natural gas industry from following environmentally responsible practices or publicly disclosing the hydraulic fracturing chemicals.

o In particular, the Halliburton loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act has enabled energy companies to pump enormous amounts of toxins into the ground, jeopardizing the quality of drinking water.

o Gas companies are further exempt from the Clean Water, Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, also known as the Superfund law) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

For example, at a time when New York is facing record budget deficits and a nationwide recession, this activity is also economically unsustainable. According to Walter Mugdan, a senior official at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the cost of the treatment plant that would be required to filter New York’s drinking water is roughly equivalent to the estimated revenue the state would earn from gas development over the next decade. Energy development is important to the economy of New York but may not be allowed to threaten New York water sources. A ban on natural gas drilling near New York drinking water supplies is the best option to ensure the continued integrity of the New York City water system.

If fracking for natural gas is safe for drinking water then remove the Halliburton loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act. There has been far too many examples of big business taking advantage of the tax payer. Why should the tax payer pay any fright whatsoever for any fracking problems!

If these allegations of pollution law exemptions are true, then I think they are damning.

Industries don't seek exemptions unless they have something to exempt.

Not an allegation:

Safe Drinking Water Act, section 1421:

See "Energy Policy Act of 2005, 109th congress" below:

Underground Injection Control Program
Most public water systems rely on groundwater as a source of drinking water, and the 1974 Safe
Drinking Water Act authorized EPA to regulate the underground injection of fluids (including
solids, liquids, and gases) to protect underground sources of drinking water.28 SDWA §1421
directed EPA to promulgate regulations for state underground injection control (UIC) programs,
and mandated that the regulations contain minimum requirements for programs to prevent
underground injection that endangers drinking water sources.29 Section 1422 authorized EPA to
delegate primary enforcement authority (primacy) for UIC programs to the states, provided that
state programs prohibit any underground injection that is not authorized by a state permit.30
Thirty-three states have assumed primacy for the program, EPA has lead implementation and
enforcement authority in 10 states, and authority is shared in the remainder of the states.31
The UIC program regulations specify siting, construction, operation, closure, financial
responsibility, and other requirements for owners and operators of injection wells. EPA has
established five classes of injection wells based on similarity in the fluids injected and activities,
as well as common construction, injection depth, design, and operating techniques.
The 1974 SDWA specified that the UIC regulations could not interfere with the underground
injection of brine from oil and gas production or recovery of oil unless underground sources of
drinking water would be affected. 32 In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the 109th Congress
amended SDWA to specify further that the definition of “underground injection” excludes the
injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) used in hydraulic fracturing
operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities. 33

It's interesting that they used this particular law for fracking. It doesn't really fit the original intent. Underground Injection Wells were traditionally used as an alternative to hazardous waste disposal. For example, a steel-making factory would use an Underground Injection Well to dispose of pickling waste - acids used to clean the steel. The fluids being injected were by definition both hazardous and waste. The exemption for oil wells was to allow extracted brine water to be reinjected into a well with two benefits. First, it provided a disposal mechanism for the extracted brine (which meets the definition of a hazardous waste). And it helped extract more oil from the well.

Fracking fluids are not injected as part of a hazardous waste disposal process, so it isn't a good fit for the law. But with enough lobbying effort congress can be compelled to pass almost anything.

Oil and gas E&P wastes have been substantially exempt from regulation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act since 1980; exempted from most provisions of the Clean Water Act since 1987 (additional exemptions as of 2005 modifications); exemptions, as noted above, to SDWA; substantial exemptions to CERCLA. And so on.

Heisenberg - In 2005, at the urging of Vice President Cheney, fracking fluids were exempted from the Clean Water Act after the companies that own the patents on the process raised concerns about disclosing proprietary formulas - if they had to meet the Act's standards they would have to reveal the chemical composition which competitors could then steal. Fair enough, but this also exempts these companies from having to meet the strict regulations that protect the nation's freshwater supply.

This was a sweetheart political deal and it probably doesn't surprise you that the the Vice President's former employer Halliburton is one of the largest players in providing hydraulic fracturing services to gas companies.

Concerns about proprietary formulas is not an excuse for exemption from the Clean Water Act (understandable for Right-to-Know Act). It's simple accounting. The company would disclose the chemicals it uses to regulatory agencies. The agency set limits. The agency would (1) review the company's own environmental testing, (2) require independent testing, and/or (3) the agency would do testing. This can at least be done without disclosing specific chemicals to the public.

This is no different than what is done with the regulation of financial institutions that consider their specific asset holdings and pricing and risk models proprietary. The SEC and the Fed still audit their proprietary holdings and review their proprietary models.

Simply a red herring to get out all accountability. While we are at it, why don't we remove speed limits in school zones. It's amazing how many believe corporations don't need to follow laws similar to what individuals are required to follow. In NYC I can be ticketed for jay-walking, loitering, or littering. Jay-walking is considered risky and may cause an accident. What about the risks corporations take? Not to mention the outright fraud they commit.

I saw an interveiw on an ABC news program a while back. One thing I took away from the interview was can we trust the big business of NG to tell us everything is safe, when the main driver for the business is Money?

I do know that ground water sources can be polluted by other things getting into wells. Too much reading on the subject, too much family history about wells going bad, and all the EPA papers and information on the subject over the years. Plus things I learning in school, and why some of my watersystem designs are designed the way they are.

Mineral leaching gets into ground wter supplies, and in some areas the ground water is rather harsh and in some cases undrinkable without heavy filteration to get back to plain ole H2O.

Pumping any kind of fluid into the ground that is not plain water, can lead to ground water sources getting tainted. We don't fully know where all the underground water flow paths are, we don't have good maps underground caverns and chambers and where the water tables get their refills from. A lot of time we are guessing when we look at datasets of the underground world, hoping that our guesses are right, and not knowing all the ways we could be wrong.

So in general, I can't say that the movie is wrong or right, but that I am not going to trust anyone who is going to be putting anything in the ground but pure water. That might be a simplistic veiw of things, but I'd rather like to be save than sorry.

New York City better think twice about where it gets its water from, if it had to fix a bad water problem, they couldn't even grasp the amount of money and time it would cost to replace a good water source.

Central Arkansas gets most of its water from area lakes, and a reservoir, treating it and storing it in big tanks, and they don't depend on ground water much. But they do try to protect the water sources some, while people not on city waters get it from wells. Not every house gets tap water that tastes good, here our tap water tastes okay, but other places I have lived in the area or drank tap water from aren't as tasty.

Needing about 1/2 a gallon a day, just to drink, gets you into big numbers, without having to think about all the other uses you have for water.

Start with dirty water and few uses of it can even get going, most of us need clean water to live and getting water from the ground has been a tried and true method for a long time, but we in the over populated world are finding that water is too special to go about mucking it up. Why take that risk?

You can live without power, you can't live without water for more than 7 days, though 3 will get you sick. We are already talking about water wars, and water famines, why are we letting big Business tell us they have our best interests at heart, when we know that that is not the case?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world,
Hugs from Arkansas.

I am not going to trust anyone who is going to be putting anything in the ground but pure water. That might be a simplistic veiw of things, but I'd rather like to be safe than sorry.

Charles...we should all be so simple.


Yeah I am a simple kind of person. Some times people might even call me naive, but I tend to give everyone I meet the benifit of being nice people until they prove otherwise.

But I don't trust Gov't, and rarely trust businesses, Though I do know a few business owners personally. Big companies where there is not a single owner to deal with, have too many hands in the till, to be trusted to look out for anyone elses best interest but their bottom line. Gov't has the habit of getting so big that it acts like a spoiled business, and has no one head to put on the chopping block if something goes wrong.

So yeah, I am simple. smiles. I do dream of a place where the rulers are always looking out for everyone, but it is only a nice dream land, not something I'll see on earth any time soon.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, one person at a time.
Hugs from Arkansas.

I haven't seen the program but I plan to. One thing that impressed me was Fox's challenge to the Gas companies: "If you can show me one community where these problems that are brought up in this film aren't occurring I'll include it in the film. Frankly I don't think such a community exists."

Sometimes I wonder how much actual science average people understand. In first year high school chemistry you are taught that one of the unique qualities of H2O is it is the universal solvent.

Properties of Water:

Adhesion and Cohesion

Water is attracted to other water. This is called cohesion. Water can also be attracted to other materials. This is called adhesion.

The oxygen end of water has a negative charge and the hydrogen end has a positive charge. The hydrogens of one water molecule are attracted to the oxygen from other water molecules. This attractive force is what gives water its cohesive and adhesive properties.

Hydro Fracking involves mixing water with a cocktail of chemicals such as Benzene and other lively chemicals to extend the extraction of Natural gas in rock formations such as shale. 99.5% of that substance is sand and water. The water extracted after Fracking is a hazardous waste that needs to go somewhere. Over 50% of that liquid remains in the ground. Gosh I wonder if any of that fluid might migrate into an aquifer?

Environmental concerns regarding hydraulic fracturing techniques include potential for contamination of aquifers with fracturing chemicals or waste fluids. But the extraction companies and their agents assure us that everything will be alright. The part that's comical is we will let them have their way until we have another environmental mess to clean up.

Maybe we can put a warning on it like a pack of Marlboros:

Warning: The primary environmental and human health concerns associated with hydraulic fracturing include the mishandling of solid toxic waste, a deterioration in air quality, the contamination of ground water, and the unintended migration of gases and hydraulic fracturing chemicals to the surface within a given radius of drilling operations. The costs associated with environmental clean-up processes, land value losses, and in addressing human and animal health concerns may significantly outweigh the economic gains associated with hydraulic fracturing. New technological advances and appropriate regulation may be required in order to safely implement the process.

Currently there is legislation trying to raise taxes on Chemical and gas companies to put money back into Superfund. What is it about the American tendency to sell out everything that counts for short-term profit? We are a stupid people!


In a similar ground water toxicity concern, storage of spent nuclear reactor fuel in Canada (near Winnipeg) was undergoing years of research while I was still in university. One of the main concerns was ground water migration. Contaminated water can travel a fair distance, and uphill too.

The whole notion of pumping harsh, poisonous chemicals in the ground and then being dismissive, so to speak, of the potential hazards is unconscionable. It comes down to the old problem of probability and possibility with accepted risk. It's acceptable for a factory worker to drop one in 5,000 parts destroying it, but how many babies can a nurse drop on its head?

We have delved greedily...

BC - Can you provide some more detail re the research? What are its assumptions?
Spent rods are kept in an on site cooling pool initially. The water is deionized and extremely pure (with added boron) - the water is not and never becomes radioactive. Tritium is a non issue. Spent rods however can sometimes release hot particles due to worn fuel pellet casing, so the water is continuously filtered and monitored. Hot particles can be extremely radioactive, but are quite unlikely to migrate far AFAIK.
After a period of cooling, the fuel may be moved to dry cask storage.
People can and do dive for maintenance reasons in the spent rod pools. Normally, with proper precaution, not a lot of exposure.
People everywhere are concerned about what they are not familiar with - easier to get funding to research on what the public is concerned about too.

Rant warning - A lot of research is bunk. It runs the gamut eg a research physician submits a proposal and is approved for 1/2 what he asked for, so he does the research anyway with 1/3 the patients & publishes his result, which looks real, however the paper lacks sufficient statistical power to say anything at all. Happens all the time, often multiple studies are pooled statistically, sometimes you can salvage real info. Generally speaking however the money was completely wasted though. Other times unspoken assumptions are not realistic. Other times (and commonly) the researcher is not a statistician and applies statistics to the results improperly, eg shopping for a P value that shows significance etc (eg the researcher normally uses .01 & decides to go with .05 after the fact, a suspect practice). On top of all that, a researcher's professional affiliations, personal beliefs, and source of pay can profoundly bias design of the research, results and interpretation. That said, some research is very good and ultimately unassailable. Scientists vary greatly in ability and what drives them. Many are as happy with a result that is contrary to their expectation as with one that supports said expectation.

This goes back almost 25 years and the site was at Pinawa, MB run by Atomic Energy Canada. We toured the site with the civil engineers in our graduating class. The underground site sits in Precambrian Shield rock. Among many other experiments to test the integrity of the site for long term storage of radioactive waste, they were measuring the ground water migration out to 2 km (IIRC).

I believe the site was never used for long term storage, similar to Yucca Mountain.

The fundamental point is water does move through rock farther than we many expect. But the common sense of the matter, and stated many times in this post, is it is ludicrous to inject poisonous materials into the ground - fracking or otherwise - and not expect environmental and health problems.

Talk about passing problems onto generations to come...

I don't know about that movie but I recently saw a couple of the Oscar-nominated movies from last year.

A Serious Man has a running subtext based on rationality and random chance, and has some great moments concerning the teaching of science. "I understand the dead cat. Larry Gopnik: You understand the dead cat? But... you... you can't really understand the physics without understanding the math."

Up in the Air has the running subtext on Business as Usual and powerpoint engineering, and essentially presents the corporate vision of A Serious Man's academic view.

The former is rationality framed as logic and the latter presents rationality as simplicity. I don't watch many movies but you get what you can from them, and sometimes the subtlety works better than the hammer-the-point-home approach.

I'm a fan of both movies also (Serious Man, and Up in the Air).

However, these kinds of movies are way too up in the introspective air for your average Joe Five'n'a'Half Pack.

Give him pure violence, sex and a happy ending.
Then he's happy and content.

I did write a little more detailed review of "A Serious Man" here:

Of course, because it is a subtext-filled film, I placed it in the context of what I am currently working on -- The Mentaculus.

BTW, I almost forgot about The Informant, which is all about whistle-blowers making up stuff.

WebHubble - The Informant is about a man who made some stuff up and lied about himself. Thus he made it much more difficult for ADM to be convicted of price fixing which was not made up.

"ADM's receipt of federal agricultural subsidies have come under criticism. According to a 1995 report by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, "ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period. At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30."[13]"

And ADM has been convicted of other crimes as well In July 2005, the International Labor Rights Fund filed suit against the Nestle, Archer Daniels Midland, and Cargill companies in Federal District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of a class of Malian children who were trafficked from Mali into the Ivory Coast and forced to work twelve to fourteen hours a day with no pay, little food and sleep, and frequent beatings. The three children acting as class representative plaintiffs are proceeding anonymously, as John Does, because of feared retaliation by the farm owners where they worked. The complaint alleges their involvement in the trafficking, torture, and forced labor of children who cultivate and harvest cocoa beans that the companies import from Africa.[15]

Mark Whitacre who the fictionalized movie was about was embezzling. He wasn't doing anything any other top ADM employee was doing. ADM used that to discredit him

Mark Edward Whitacre (born May 1, 1957) came to public attention in 1995 when it became known that he was the highest-level executive to ever become an FBI whistleblower in U.S. history. He was the President of the BioProducts Division at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) from 1989 to 1995. During three years (1992–1995), Whitacre had been acting as an informant for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), which was investigating ADM for price fixing. After ADM discovered his role as an informant, ADM investigated Whitacre's company activities. Having discovered a potential embezzlement scheme, and at ADM's request, the FBI began investigating Whitacre for embezzlement from the company. Whitacre lost his whistleblower's immunity as a result of $9 million in various frauds, and consequently spent eight and a half years in federal prison. Whitacre is currently the chief operating officer and President of Operations at Cypress Systems, a California biotechnology firm.

However Whitacre was convicted for tax evasion and fraud and sent to prison on March 4, 1998.[1] He received a sentence of ten and a half years in federal prison, three times longer than his co-conspirators,[15][16][17] but spent only eight and half years in prison.

Some of the FBI agents and Department of Justice officials opposed Whitacre's ten-year sentence.[2][15][17][18][19]

Whitacre served approximately eight-and-a-half years in a federal prison for fraud, price-fixing, and tax evasion.[1][2] Several current and former FBI agents and Department of Justice officials are attempting to obtain presidential clemency or a presidential pardon in return for his substantial assistance with one of the largest price-fixing cases in history.[2][19]...Whitacre's clemency petition is supported by other FBI agents involved with Whitacre's case in addition to former FBI supervisor, Dean Paisley, by a former Attorney General of the United States, and by one of the former Asst. U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted Whitacre.[2][8][19] Two prosecutors from the Canadian Department of Justice also support a pardon. Furthermore, several Senators and Congressmen, Cornell University and Ohio State University Professors, Baseball Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew, and numerous top executives of corporations have written the White House in support of clemency.[2][8]

More than ten years later (2008), the former FBI supervisor of the price fixing case, Dean Paisley, with backing from two other FBI agents, went public with praise about Whitacre. "Had it not been for the fraud conviction," Paisley said, "he would be a national hero. Well, he is a national hero."[19][7][31][33] "Without him, the biggest antitrust case we've ever had would not have been", Paisley added.[7][31][33] On August 4, 2009, a Discovery Channel documentary aired, Undercover: Operation Harvest King, where several FBI agents stated that "Whitacre got a raw deal."[34] In addition, official letters from the FBI in support of a Whitacre pardon were published September, 2009 in a new book, Mark Whitacre Against All Odds, written by Floyd Perry.[35]

Whenever I see a movie version of a true story I do like to check it out for the facts (or nearer to the facts) before I assume the movie version is the whole story

Too bad that Whitacre was clinically schizo which didn't help his cause

Like I said the interesting thing about movies are the subtexts anyways.
The running gag in this movie is Matt Damon's narration,
where you finally realize why it rambled so much and had that unfocussed, non-chalant quality.

This is getting way off-topic, but Whitacre was bipolar (manic-depressive), NOT schizophrenic--that's an important distinction.


As Seth said not schizo - but bi-polar - A HUGE DIFFERENCE

"Whitacre: Well, they should know the movie is really about mental illness. Just like A Beautiful Mind is about schizophrenia, this movie is about bipolar disorder, and mine was untreated and undiagnosed at the time. They're showing the challenges of suffering from a severe mental illness and how stress, like working undercover and for a corporation simultaneously, can make a mental illness worse, especially when it's untreated and undiagnosed. I wasn't treated at all for it until I attempted suicide … but by that point the $9 million theft had happened and all the mistakes had already happened, so it was too late."

I liked the movie, but frankly I am more interested in how ADM keeps getting away with the stuff it gets away with and glad that a whistle blower revealed some of it and sad that what he was revealing was partially discredited by his own misdeeds.

Recently "A former banker for the Swiss giant UBS who blew the whistle on the biggest tax-evasion scheme in US history is preparing to head to prison tomorrow to begin serving a forty-month federal sentence. Bradley Birkenfeld first came forward to US authorities in 2007 and began providing inside information on how UBS was helping thousands of Americans hide assets in secret Swiss accounts."

This whistle blower also went to jail while the heads of UBS and the people illegally hiding assets did not. Life of late is becoming even harder for whistle blowers. Too bad for all the rest of us when that happens.

Actually I think the CEO's of most major corporations, as well as many elected officials would be diagnosed as psychopath's if they weren't such good psychopaths. Tony Hayward certainly shows the signs Psychopathy is a personality disorder characterized by an abnormal lack of empathy combined with strongly amoral conduct, masked by an ability to appear outwardly normal.

The CEO's are NOT psychopaths. They are sociopaths.
There is an important disctinction.
Sheez. :) :) :) :)

From wiki on sociopathy -
"a pervasive pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others that begins in childhood or early adolescence and continues into adulthood."[1]

The individual must be age 18 or older, as well as have a documented history of a conduct disorder before the age of 15."

From wiki on psychopathy
"According to Hare, many psychopaths are superficially charming, and can be excellent mimics of normal human emotion;[10] some psychopaths can blend in, undetected, in a variety of surroundings, including corporate environments.[11] "

So I would say I was right

However also from wiki
"[1] People having antisocial personality disorder are sometimes referred to as "sociopaths" and "psychopaths."

Which leaves us as both right. But Whitacre was not schizophrenic :)

do you follow Dexter on cable TV?

Just cause you're psycho doesn't mean you're on the wrong side of the street.

Don't have cable. Don't follow tv shows. Takes too much time to follow Peak Oil :)

Just FYI:

The pictured "Dexter" (not to be confused with cartoon Dexter's Laboratory) works by day as a forensics specialist for the Miami police department.

However, at night he turns into a psycho serial killer who has a special "code": he kills only those who deserve to be killed (according to his judgment) -usually other serial killers. Funny that he never kills himself.

Hypocrisy lurks everywhere --even among crazy people. :-)

Josh Fox and three other guests discussed the movie and related issues for an hour today on NPR's "Diane Rehm Show." The show can be streamed or downloaded from the link below. (No TV in this house so I didn't watch the movie; hope some who did will comment.)

My partner asked the driller drilling a gas well on the adjacent property what they were pumping into the ground and he said "just water." If it is so safe, why won't they tell us what's in it? The "proprietary formula" excuse won't hold water--they don't have to tell us the formula, just list the ingredients they are putting into the ground.

We refused the lease, but the adjacent property is an extended woodland owned by a German corporation and they don't care if our area is livable--they don't live here.

Michael Moore is listed in the credits.

I know the energy is needed, no argument there. But if the industry is so confident it can frac gas in an environmentally responsible and safe manner, then why do they need to be exempt from the Clean Water Act? Why? Because maybe they can't without messing up the groundwater.

Thankfully, there's only gravel and granite bedrock beneath the area where I live.

I know the energy is needed, no argument there

Many would challenge the 'need' to extract large amounts of fossil fuels to feed a fossil fuel addiction, and would argue we need to transition to other energy sources while cutting out wasteful consumption.

The shale gas technology has made investing (and finding investment) for onshore conventional gas exploration more difficult. I have been trying to fund conventional projects and the money is going to the shale gas, not the conventional projects. The shale gas has a fast payout, but also a fast decline. I hope shale gas is the flavor of the month and will fall out of fashion soon.

"The question a person has is, 'How accurate is this documentary?'"
Ha -- great use of the passive voice! Who is "a person?" Does this "a person" have this question based on an expenses-paid tour hosted by an energy company? Does the same person doubt if climate change is really much of an issue? Hmmmm. One wonders.
It seems quite plausible to me that hydraulic fracturing could mess up water supplies. And it seems clear to me that such practices shouldn't be exempt from the Clean Water Act. Further, it seems weird to me to cast environmentalists as villians, but maybe that seems normal to the gas companies.

Well said.

I think the issue need be restated as 'How accurate is the industry information'?

Casting environmentalists as villains isn't new. been going on for some time. Some of it is even deserved.
however, it is rote for extractive industry. Nothing unique about 'gas companies' in this regard.
Expect more it it, not less.

Cagleart, agreed. If you were daily faced with the choice of food for the day or a new set of clothes, unless you were anorexic you would choose food. We are faced with a livable planet that supports human life, or BAU. In the larger realm where consequences are less certain in our lifetime it is harder for us as humans to see the right choice. But we are trading the livability of the planet for frivolous stuff (anything beyond basic needs, air, water, food, shelter is frivolous, but we in the first world have taking frivolity to new highs and redefined it as necessary).

I have seen the movie and have also done a bit of research on the pros & cons of hydrofracking. As someone commented earlier, the "pros" usually end up being driller's hired PR sources, but many also are landowners who are seeking the jed clampett payoff. The "cons" are mostly concerned about water pollution, accidents, and costs passed on to the unwitting taxpayers. The consensus among more knowledgeable "cons" is that they don't believe regulations are enforced, that fines are too small to discourage violation, and accidents inevitably happen. Many problems and fears are about the huge amount of polluted waste water that fracking generates; Where does it all go and how much of it is spilled (or dumped)?

My research tends to corroborate the "cons". I'm new to posting here at TOD so I'm not sure the following links will come through; they are links to records of violations of law or accidents or harms to people or the environment that occurred as a result of hydrofracking.

Sounds like you've done more homework than anyone else here, which is great.

I'm still trying to get a feel for just how bad fracking is for the environment. I try to keep realistic expectations about this: anybody who thinks you can run a major industrial activity like this outdoors while Bambi and Thumper dance around the wellhead drinking from a crystal stream is kidding themselves. Hopefully the people selling fracking leases understand that serious energy production of any kind is, at best, a slightly dirty business.

But it's the government's job to make sure that whatever deal the energy companies and the landowners make, it won't result in large-scale health disasters, contaminated forests shriveling up and dying, and the like.

So far, I'm reading a lot about "fears" and "worries", but not so much about real serious documented damage to health or land. I haven't gone through every one of your links, but the ones I did read focus on the sort of small-scale safety and environmental violations that I'd expect from any large outdoor industry -- the kinds of things that go on in mining, construction, and forestry on a daily basis.

Does it go beyond that? Do we have solid reason to suspect it will in the future?

Thanks! Yes your links did come through.

The emphasis on shale gas is fairly new. It is looking more and more like it has several strikes against it:

1. Expensive to drill
2. Declines quickly
3. Too much chance of interfering with water quality

Do any of you know the answers to these questions?

Why do they need to add the other chemicals to the water in order to fracture the gas-bearing rock? What is the physical function of the additional chemicals? Would pure water alone (pumped under sufficiently high pressure) do the job? If not, why not? I'm just wondering if there might not be a better way of extracting all that natural gas without causing all the pollution...

Why do they need to add the other chemicals to the water in order to fracture the gas-bearing rock?

They don't. Hydraulic pressure alone is enough.

What is the physical function of the additional chemicals?

Surfactants lower surface tensions, and are handy in an oil/water mix at the interface. Acids are used to clean up new perforations, and make a weak spot at the reservoir interface prior to the pressure being applied. Friction reducers, scale inhibitors, for obvious reasons, nitrogen or even CO2, (as a return fluid energizer or the fracing fluid itself), antibacterial agents, gelling agents (assuming we aren't talking slickwater here) of various sorts, the more I think about this the more I think WOW there is alot of stuff we dump in there sometimes.

So yes, lots of chemicals, doing all sorts of things. As a percentage of volume all of this junk is pretty small, the main component of these things is still mostly the frac fluid itself, which is usually water, but certainly that isn't a diehard rule either.

Would pure water alone (pumped under sufficiently high pressure) do the job?


If not, why not? I'm just wondering if there might not be a better way of extracting all that natural gas without causing all the pollution...

Some million frac'd wells now and what pollution? These people aren't pumping frac fluids into aquifers for the pleasure of screwing up some guys drinking water, holy crap 60 years of this procedure now and the evidence is some guy lighting his tap water? There was methane gas in my best friends drinking water when we were in the 4th grade....he lived on top of a coal mine. But gee, it must have been that hydraulically fractured gas well a mile away and 6000' deeper instead? Cementing primary strings back to surface, through all fresh water zones, is probably standard practice, if not an actual law, is most states in the Union.

Isn't thr real issue the fact that we an't trust advocates of any stripe. Advocates produce a one sided view of things, which can often be deceptive. Dualing advocates of both stripes are not much better as far as truth determination goes. If there are problems associated with SG wells, we need to know some facts and statistics:
() How likely is the alledged problem to be caused by the SG activity? How bad is it? How common is it? What sort of remedial steps are made? Are they adaquate?

With one sided advocacy we usually just see a few egregious outliers. Something awful happened to X. If you allow SG rilling you will suffer just as badly. Or case Y of alleged SG contamination was shown to be a fraud. Therefore ALL SG damages are just fraudulent claims (strawman argument).
Given that sort of presentation, how can we determine the relative risks and benefits of an activity. This sounds like policy making via dualing emotional arguments. Not likely a sound way to arrive at an optimal strategy.

How is the public supposed to get on this list of problems associated with GG wells if the industry is totally shielded from regulation? The local and state governments are paid off through taxes and royalties to keep their mouth shut and their ears closed.

Where are the little people supposed to go when their water turns bad? The drillers are long gone and your land is now worthless and unhealthy. How does the little guy get into the facts and statistics or is he just forgotten in his total loss of home and property value with no pure water to drink or maybe a case of leukemia from some benzene ingestion to show that his water is now bad. How can he prove who did this crime to him?

Once a water table is destroyed it is gone forever. It cannot be fixed. You can’t remediate it and its loss is tragic beyond any possible contravening value.

"Isn't the real issue the fact that we can't trust advocates of any stripe."

Everybody is an advocate to some degree. Look at the site you're reading. It's an 'advocate' of peak-oil. For instance, how often has flogged the "peak oil caused the credit crisis" meme? Do you think they REALLY have the logic to back that up or are they bending over backwards to connect the dots in order to get people who are preoccupied with the economy to give a damn about peak oil again?

Ultimately you have to pass these arguments through your own B.S. detector and try to filter out the biases of yourself and the messenger.

I haven't seen the movie, but the comments from those who have give me a pretty good idea of its content. Here are a few points I haven't noticed being made:

  • A properly engineered shale gas well has one or more strings of casing set before fracking is done.
  • The typical depth of a shale gas well is 7700ft..
  • Water wells are usually less than 600ft deep, occasionally as deep as 3000ft.
  • It is therefore a reasonable assumption that a shale gas well is extremely unlikely to affect water wells because there is a sediment column several thousand feet thick between the aquifers used for water wells and the shale used for gas production, and the casing in the gas well protects the aquifer from any fluids in the well.

This does not prove that mistakes and errors never happen. But they happen very rarely: companies drilling wells are very aware of the tendency of pre-existing problems to appear suddenly once an outside company with deep pockets does anything in an area, and are careful to minimize the possibility of water contamination and similar problems. The real damage done by these kinds of operations tends to be less obvious, such as excessive wear on road surfaces not built for heavy vehicles (and fracking usually involves a large number of heavy vehicles).

The real problem with shale gas is that it is marginally economical at todays prices, and its potential appears to have been greatly exaggerated. Shale is to gas what deep water is to oil: a marginally profitable and very expensive way of replacing rapidly depleting conventional reserves.

I think you're right re rarity of fracking fluid migrating up - But what about lost circulation higher up? Seems to me shale gas is the flavor of the moment - build up stock values as quickly as possible, then sell. To do this, drill and frack as quickly as possible, build up proven reserves, show high production, do it as cheaply as possible to show higher potential profitability, run interference re any potential reg that may slow things down or cost money. If a shale gas well went in by my house, would I ever know if a seal was bad, and fluid containing benzene entered my groundwater supply? Would I ever find out without legal discovery? With discovery? Would the drilling company even know? Is the drilling foreman paid a bonus for speed of completion (foreman on gas pipelines are often paid a substantial bonus for finishing ahead of schedule)? Cut corners don't always make it into company records. If you are injured in fact, will the company's legal dept fight every step of the way until settlement even they know realistically they are responsible? If your health is damaged, will a settlement really give you back what was lost (easy answer to this question anyway)? Maybe there is sufficient oversight in place to prevent small drilling companies from pushing the envelope for short term gain, and the above questions are non issues. I don't know - but I doubt it based upon what I have learned re oversight in the GOM.

It is therefore a reasonable assumption that a shale gas well is extremely unlikely to affect water wells because there is a sediment column several thousand feet thick between the aquifers used for water wells and the shale used for gas production, and the casing in the gas well protects the aquifer from any fluids in the well.

If you were talking about a vertical well I would agree with you. However when you drill horizontally there is no guarantee that there will not be breaks in that sedimentary column. You may have heard about tectonic compression (e.g., foreland basins, caused by lithospheric flexure), tectonic extension (e.g., back-arc basins, caused by lithospheric stretching), and tectonic strike-slip. The sedimentary column is not uniform and all you need is one break and that poison water will find a way into an aquifer. (ask any plumber)


"It is therefore a reasonable assumption that a shale gas well is extremely unlikely to affect water wells because ..."

Kinda like this, you mean? :-

Per Tony Hayward - '"low-probability, high-impact" accident'

Per Tony Hayward - '"low-probability, high-impact" accident'

More likely "low-probability, low impact accident". The quantities of everything involved are so much smaller. It's like careless driving: if you're careless driving a motor cycle, you're mainly a danger to yourself; if you're careless driving an 18-wheeler loaded with gasoline, you're a danger to everyone else as well.

If you're the pedestrian hit by the motorcyclist texting while riding it's a high-impact accident to you, but it isn't to most other people.

"The quantities of everything involved are so much smaller..."

Uh - like a whole community's water supply ? If it's not New York, it's ok ?

A lot of small things can add up to a huge problem for everybody. You say why care if a few country folk are poisoned, as long as I am comfortable in my house warmed from all that cheap gas.

But when the river that feeds your city water supply is polluted from ground water runoff and you start getting sick then it matters to you. By then it is too late for you because the damage is done in a million small ways and it is hopeless and irretrievable. By then, there are few places that are safe to move to, to get away from all that poison.

By then, only the rich gas producers can afford to live in those safe places where they lead the good life and keep the payola going to the politicos to keep it all going in the right way for them.

The pollution from natural gas wells is not a lot of small things: it is rare small things. If you are seriously worried about polluted ground water, you need to pay more attention to the common small things: agricultural runoff is the largest non-point source of water pollution.

Another major source of water pollution is similar, but not exactly agricultural: runoff from over-fertilized and pesticide-treated suburban lawns (which, incidentally, also account for a large part of water waste).

The real problem with shale gas is that it is marginally economical at todays prices, and its potential appears to have been greatly exaggerated. Shale is to gas what deep water is to oil: a marginally profitable and very expensive way of replacing rapidly depleting conventional reserves.

I would disagree, if only because shale gas fields have a history of production going back more than a century. "Marginally profitable" in your terminology appears to still have the word "profitable" within it. While we would all like to be handed a profitable $100,000 per day for our good looks, many of us would also be happy with a marginally profitable $10,000 per day.

And "rapidly depleting" conventional reserves aren't any more rapid now than they were a few decades back, the last time I checked out the aggregate decline it looked pretty even steven down through the years.

I should also mention that I have done hydraulic frac jobs with not much more than water. Lets here it for stress fields in rock! Hoo Rah!

And "rapidly depleting" conventional reserves aren't any more rapid now than they were a few decades back, the last time I checked out the aggregate decline it looked pretty even steven down through the years.

I think "even steven" refers to a case where reserves coming up seem to evenly match the declines from the existing reservoirs. Is that right?

This is the example from Texas

Reserves are not rate, so they can go up and down and do whatever, what balances off against a drop in rate because of natural decline is new production from something else. And in your Texas example, that means Newark East field and the Barnett shale, sure as shootin. The OP asked about conventional gas production, which the last time I looked at an EIA breakout of conventional/unconventional for the entire US, showed that conventionals were still slowly and surely declining, have been for more than a couple decades now.

Reserves are not rate


That should be a quotable TOD talking point

Reserves are not rate


That should be a quotable TOD talking point

Sure. Too bad it doesn't explain much and is generally misused. It is certainly true. The definition says so.

This statement is more difficult to misuse.

"Reserves and rate are often correlated."

What does show up as a rate is the rate at which an initial discovery estimate increases in value. This is called reserve growth, and it defines a reserve growth rate.

What does show up as a rate is the rate at which an initial discovery estimate increases in value. This is called reserve growth, and it defines a reserve growth rate.

I assume thats what you think you have "learned" from fitting the data the same ways that Attanasai & Root, and Verma assemble it?

You want a job Web? I like your apparent certainty, however misplaced.

Is the rate infinite? No.

Is the rate zero? No.

Then it's somewhere in between and it has an average.

It also has an average size and variance about the averages.

That is all you need to know to use the maximum entropy principle.

Is the rate infinite? No.

Is the rate zero? No.

Then it's somewhere in between and it has an average.

It also has an average size and variance about the averages.

That is all you need to know to use the maximum entropy principle.

Cool. Doesn't say a single peep about reserve growth, where it is, how to create it, what might stop it, its economics, why it happens, or when, how long it will continue (>0) and exactly where it won't reach infinity....but as long as you are happy, I certainly won't object.

I tried to watch it last night, but I know too much about the industry to sit through such a terribly innacurate production. It was an embarrassment, and I think it's unfortunate that many people may watch it and think it's even 10% accurate. It's also unfortunate because a much better documentary could be made on the +/- of shale gas, preferrably by someone who knows the first thing about it.

Regardless of what the ultimate truth is, the public good is harmed from the dissemination of inaccurate information. I was going to say nobody gains from such dissemination, but that is not accurate. There's always someone trying to gain from warping what is presented to the common person, even if it is only to sell an entertainment product.

That holds true for both sides. Each side will spin scenarios in an attempt to have them become accepted perceptions.

Why not write a rebuttal here? That would move the conversation forward. I think most people at TOD want to hear all sides before making up their mind.

Lurker here for over a year, obviously more interested/dedicated post-Deepwater Horizon, but what has prompted me to sign up was this documentary, and this question. Does anyone have a map (localized?) showing NG pipelines, compressor stations etc...? I've been looking since last night and other than general overview maps ( may as well be a map from space) from the pipeline companies, I cannot find anything. The Hydrocarbons being released by these compressor stations is something I'm trying to follow up on. Thanks for any help you guys can provide. Keep up the good work!

Does anyone have a map (localized?) showing NG pipelines, compressor stations etc...?

There is no single source for such information. It is largely a state matter, and the states are very uneven in the way they make data available.

In Texas this information is available online from the Texas Railroad Commission.

However, there have been two cases in Texas in the last few weeks where construction crews have accidentally hit gas pipelines, with fatalities in both accidents, and in at least one of the accidents the construction crew appears to have done all their homework in looking up pipeline locations.

The official maps are not necessarily accurate.

I have worked with state pipeline and well location data in North Dakota, and it is readily accessible on line. I don't know how accurate or complete it is.

Thanks! I'm more concerned with my local area (Massachusetts/NH). I'm not sure that the known risks of these compressor stations and pipleine connections is fully understood by the public. I'm trying to put together some sort of map for my area so I can physically go take samples.

That being said, I see a few posts saying this documentary was way off. I have done some research on the matter, and is there something I'm missing here? If this 'stuff' is so safe then why are they being given an EPA exemption. Seems like fools logic to me. Maybe someone involved in the industry can refute some of the documentary and not just use Industry talking points, of which a memo was produced especially for the aftermath of this film. For a layman like me, could someone explain why this film is inaccurate?

For those saying low probability/low impact...I would venture to guess that for those personally affected it is not a low impact event.

The EPA is looking at the issue again. This is one recent news item.

Feds to study fracking, water quality link

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has scheduled four public information meetings, across the country, including one in Binghamton, on the proposed study of the relationship between the gas-drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing and the quality of nearby drinking water.

And just to add one more iron to the fire. After peak oil hits mainstream and we lose a lot of databases, just look for more accidents to happen. Digging for things will cause all sorts of nasty side affects.

You can't even be sure of land in the great open spaces, who will know of all the buried things future explorers will get harmed by.

Not going to be a safe world after we are gone, hidden dangers everywhere, History will paint us with a anger color( whichever one they use then).

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world, with hand drawn maps on rock walls with stick figures.
Hugs from Arkansas.

I saw Gasland last night. I find it hard to believe the people interviewed specially rigged their faucets to catch on fire, or that they would have caught fire before the fracking if anyone had tried it. Are the free replacement water supplies provided only under non-disclosure fake? Why do the energy companies refuse to be interviewed?

It's easy believe there is some deception in Gasland, much as any Michael Moore documentary. Finding some falsehoods should not invalidate the entire premise of any production. But credibility has to be near 100% for most people to trust any part of a story. We only trust balanced journalism, so it's easy for the accused to generate doubt simply by refusing to talk, taking away the balance. Silence is a powerful tactic.

I saw a very good little film in February at the Boulder International Film Festival that talked about the impact of oil and gas drilling in Western Colorado specifically. It is called "Split Estate" referring to the situation that exists throughout the Western US where people own the surface rights to their property, but the subsurface minerals are owned by someone else (often the US government) and leased to oil and gas companies. This leads to the heinous situations where people one day wake up to find a drilling rig on their property 150 feet from their back door. Drillers are allowed to destroy 5 acres out of every 40. If water wells are contaminated, they bring in a couple pallets of bottled water. It is really an eye opening illustration of how the oil and gas industries work in the West.

It sounds like "Gasland" covers much of the same ground.

I believe I am objective on this issue. I can see where we need energy but very few of us want to expose ourselves or nature to the consequences required to consume fossil fuel.

Here is my take. I saw Gasland last night. I subsequently read various pro and con websites on this issue:

- Fracking is toxic period. From the process itself to the waste it creates.

- How could polluted water wells and streams be a problem in 35 states and no one knows about it? Easy. The drilling companies drill and run. Then pay off the damages. You know make the money and pay the fine. Move to the next town.

- If you want to believe that this is just a leftist anti-oil/natural gas, socialist film then you have to believe that all the people he interviewed are con men.

Significant problems with the film:

1. The people who have toxic water wells, in a lot of cases, were the ones who gave the Gas companies the ok to drill on their land for payment.

2. In Dimmock, PA it appears the natural gas companies dumped the toxic waste materials in streams, rivers, waterways, fields, etc. If that is the case, then the fracking pollution can't really be uncoupled from the dumping pollution.

3. The filmmaker did the usual "Bush, Cheney, Halliburton" boogieman stuff which is unnecessary.

4. It was on HBO, it should be on free tv.

Thank you for all of the Awesome commentaries on this website. It is extremely informative.


"The filmmaker did the usual "Bush, Cheney, Halliburton" boogieman stuff which is unnecessary."

How is it unnecessary? It's true, isn't it?

I've heard of the flammable water thing before. I haven't seen the documentary but did none of the people interviewed have baseline studies done of their wellwater prior to such a gas well being drilled? is that an uncommon thing because, to me, it should almost be mandatory. It would certainly go a long way to determine if there were problems with well water before or after a gas well is drilled.

As a side note, in this and many other topics I see many folks express frustration on the point that we just don't know whom to trust.

Reminds me of this passage from the '72 sci-fi dystopian novel, John Brunner's "The Sheep Look Up".

"I'm convinced people are subconsciously aware of what's going on, and becoming alarmed by it. For example, there's an ingrained distrust in our society of highly intelligent, highly trained, highly competent persons. One need only to look at the last presidential election for proof of that. The public obviously wanted a figurehead who'd look good and make comforting noises."


The grazing herd (the sheeple)
often refer to this as recognizing that "somehow"
we the herd are "not on the right path"
(not on the right track).

You see this phrase used in the polls many times.

First a comment on the split estate issue. When energy companies first began leasing mineral rights in the West, much of the land was still held by the original settlers or their descendents, like my wife's family. These farms and ranches could encompass huge areas, covering many square miles. Some would sell their subsurface property, aka mineral rights (possibly containing natural gas, or possibly not), to energy developers, as a supplement to their income. As more people moved into the area, the farms and ranches started to get subdivided. The newcomers (many from California in the last 30 years) would buy the land, without performing their due diligence on the real estate transaction. It's not the fault of the original land owner that he sold something he had no use for. It's not the fault of the companies that purchased the mineral rights from the original land owners, hoping that they might find something of value. (If they did, the original owner would receive, usually, a 1/8th royalty). Further, all of this information is readily available to the public, including potential land and home buyers. Personally, I would rather see a 6' high wellhead every 1/4 mile, than six 150' tall windmills in the same area. Also, the life expectancy of the wind is forever, while the gas well may last 20-30 years before it is plugged, and the land reclaimed.

Finally on hydraulic fracing...(I've been a petroleum engineer for 30 years, and have never spelled it "fracking"; it's a "frac", not a "frack"). The San Juan Basin in the Four Corners area (NM, CO, AZ, and UT), is the second largest gas producing region in the country, covering 6,700 sq. miles. The first well was drilled around 1896. Since then, over 40,000 wells have been drilled in the area, or nearly 6 wells per sq. mile. Hydraulic fracturing began in earnest in the mid-1950's, and with the exception of one formation, and only in one small part of the Basin, every well is hydraulically fractured. In total, somewhere between 20,000 and 30,000 wells have been hydraulically fractured here in the last 50 or so years. Please note: THIS IS NOT NEW TECHNOLOGY!!

My wife's family has lived here since the 1880s. I've lived here since the 1970s, and raised my family here. We drink the water here. We breath the air here. We hike in the forests here. We fish in the world-class trout river here. This area does not have higher than the national average incidences of cancer, leukemia, fish die-offs, mysterious flaming faucets, or exploding toilets. Everything I've written here is a matter of public record. Take the time to research the NMOCD and COGCC websites. They contain a wealth of information. If I don't understand something, I try and learn as much as I can about it, from a number of different sources. Yes, I'm in the energy business. Yes, I pay my taxes, so that roughly half of the rest of the country doesn't have to. No, I don't work for Halliburton, and no, I don't know Dick Cheney :).

Finally, and once again, hydraulic fracturing has been going on safely here for nearly 60 years. It is not new technology in any way shape of form, except to the minds of those trying to scare you into donating to their latest "Save the World from [fill in the blank]" or "Citizens Against [fill in the blank]" cause. Peace.

I don't know if any chemicals are added to the water before it is injected for the fracing process. They do add sand to keep the pores open afer the rock is fractured. It's my understanding that the water dissolves minerals from the formation which are then carried up with the flowback water. The flowback water contains very high concentrations of chlorides, iron, other metals, all lumped together as dissolved solids. At that point it is properly referred to as a brine. There are some companies around here (north-central PA) that have set up recycling operations to use physical-chemical processes to reduce the TDS enough for the water to be re-used. The PADEP is not allowing any of the frac water to be discharged to the surface. They were trucking it to wastewater treatment plants in the area, but the biological processes do not remove dissolved solids - they were using a strategy of dilution to. I believe that the PADEP is causing that practice to be phased out. In order to discharge the frac water to the surface, it would require a process such as reverse osmosis to remove enough dissolved solids.

There is some drilling mud that is used, of course. I suppose that the mud has all the interesting additives. Maybe that's the poisons that they're talking about.

The natural gas field is relatively new to my area (central Arkansas). I have had mixed feelings about it ever since it came. This used to be called "the Natural State"; now I call it the natural gas state. The Fayetteville Shale n g play has been going on for about five years now. I have worked in it for three.

I have worked frac jobs a few times. A frac is done using by far mostly water and sand with other chemicals added in much smaller amounts. I don't know what the chemicals are but I know some are acids. A frac is done in stages of about one hour each, requiring a number of stages. I have been on fracs of twelve to fifteen stages. Depending on if there are problems, which there usually are, a frac can take days to complete working night and day.

The water, sand and other chemicals are pumped into the well and out into the shale formation using as many as fifteen semi-truck mounted high-pressure pumps all connected to the well head and all pumping at the same time to a volume of 100 bbl. per minute at ten thousand psi. This goes on for however many stages are required to complete the frac. That is a lot of water.

After the frac and before the well goes into production, much of the water, chemicals and some sand come back as flowback which has to be disposed of. When the well finally does come in to production, it continues to produce water along with the gas. The water is collected in tanks at the well site and must be regularly pumped off and taken to disposal wells.

I am a tank truck driver and I haul much of this fluid to the disposals. Every fluid that is used in the production of gas wells is eventually pumped back into the ground. It is being disposed of 24 hours a day and there is a gargantuous amount of it to be disposed of. The energy companies spend a lot of money disposing of these fluids. Much of it is drilling mud, which is mostly diesel fuel.

I don't know how much of this is getting into the water table, but it seems reasonable to me that it can by leaching up through fissures. I guess I should get out of this business, but to be fully conscientious, I would have to get off the grid completely. Maybe Daniel Boone had the right idea.