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View Diary: Fact Checking Josh Fox/Gasland #2; Oil/Gas Industry NOT Exempt from Clean Air/Clean Water Acts (133 comments)

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  •  You say tomato; I say tomato.. (2+ / 0-)
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    Chinton, LakeSuperior

    Is the bottom line the same?    

    What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Elizabeth Warren 2016

    by dkmich on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 10:48:03 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      Both the physical transport issues and the statutory authority regulating underground injection are complete distinct issues and no person who deals with these matters regularly would ever confuse them as doing so would constitute environmental consulting malpractice.

      •  Say what ? (1+ / 0-)
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        constitute environmental consulting malpractice.

        The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. David Morrison

        by indycam on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 11:07:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  OK but... (7+ / 0-)

        Is it hurting the environment regardless of what you call it or which piece of legislation or regulation is cited?

        What we need is a Democrat in the White House. Elizabeth Warren 2016

        by dkmich on Sun Jul 07, 2013 at 11:13:16 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yep, that is the relevant question IMO. nt (3+ / 0-)
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          dkmich, LakeSuperior, freerad
        •  I'll address your question first on the matter (4+ / 0-)
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          Ashaman, freerad, 6412093, dkmich

          of surface water discharges and air emissions.

          On surface water discharges there is no evidence that oil and gas operations in places like our state of Michigan is causing any problem at all with surface water discharges to streams and navigable waters.   There isn't any basis to say that hydraulic fracturing threatens water quality or lake levels in the Great Lakes, for example.

          On air emissions, natural gas and oil wells and other industry facilities do have air emissions, but such emissions are subject to permitting and emission control requirements.  In addition, there are opportunities to require additional air emission control methods.   Those federal air rules I cited in the diary are going to go a long way towards significant additional reductions in emissions from oil and gas facilities.

          On the issue of groundwater quality and protection, there isn't any physical connection between the operation of hydraulic fracturing thousands of feet below ground and water quality in surface aquifers above the lower confining layer [absent failure of best management practices and well integrity requirements].   There isn't any evidence that hydraulic fracturing is the cause of groundwater problems cited from oil and gas industry operations with the exception of the specific Pavillian, WY case where the hydrocarbon reservoir is relatively shallow and EPA's groundwater monitoring came from very deep wells.

          Instead, it is more likely that such problems have occurred from failures of surface operation best management practices or failure of well completion cementing.  Making sure these problems don't happen is a technically solvable problem and is not a case of "fatally flawed engineering" as described by Josh Fox.

          You may remember the famous case of the natural gas well blowout at Williamsburg, MI in the 1970s.   In our state of Michigan that case had a dramatic and continuing impact on both Michigan regulators and the industry in our state.  

          I am not claiming that the oil and gas industry has no environmental problems.   What I'm claiming is that Gasland's depiction of the situation is not a scientifically defensible one that Democrats should rely on to justify decisions such as whether Michigan Democrats should support a ban on horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Michigan.

          •  Failure of surface management practices? (6+ / 0-)

            I think you may have a point, the movie might have simplified the legal situation until it reached an inaccurate statement. There's clearly a complex set of laws involved, and knowing which one applies to which operation is a real problem where experts are often needed.

            But you bring up a simple case where we know there's a problem: groundwater gets contaminated with methane in areas where fracking operations are happening. You describe this as a failure of surface management best practices, and I think that may be a fair categorization. These companies know how to prevent such problems, the engineering tools exist to prevent them, but they are not actually applying the solutions properly?

            But surely this type of failure must be covered by some law or another, right? After all, if you destroy the groundwater supply for a home or for a community, there must be legal consequences, right?

            It seems like we either have a lack of laws protecting groundwater, or we've got companies that must be breaking a law somewhere along the line, right?

            Perhaps the problem is enforcement of laws, rather than a lack of coverage?

            •  Methane in groundwater and aqueous pollutants in (4+ / 0-)
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              dkmich, Ashaman, Adam AZ, marina

              groundwater are two distinct and different things and it is necessary to address the phenomenology and causation of each separately as a physical phenomenon.

              The first line of response to evaluating a situation where methane occurs in the groundwater wells is to determine whether is is biogenic vs. thermogenic methane, which is done through review of the proportion of carbon isotopes in the sample as well as detection of non-methane chemical species.   If thermogenic methane is detected it may have occurred as a result of breach of or inadequate cementing of the well.

              In aquifers suitable for drinking water that exist above the upper confining layer, pollution of such groundwater can occur from a surface discharge to groundwater from a spill of hydraulic fracturing fluid or process wastewater at the well pad or from a failure of portions of the wellbore cement installation.

              Yes, stringent regulation and inspection is necessary to order to ensure that operators do not violate rules binding on the drilling and completion of natural gas and oil wells.  In particular, the supervision, evaluation and accountability of how well cementing and well completion operations are conducted is a crucial matter requiring close attention by regulators.

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