When President Obama told The New York Times over the weekend that too many Republicans deny science, implying that they reject reason and fact-based policies, who knew he’d be vindicated so quickly?
There are more than a few seemingly acceptable ways to defend fracking. Nearly all of these defenses are nearsighted, and some are wrong, but they’re not necessarily insane. However, if your goal is to defend the controversial process of harvesting natural gas using “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking,” it’s probably a smart idea to avoid defending flammable tap water, a terrible yet iconic consequence of the process.
During the Western Conservative Summit in Denver this week, State Sen. Randy Baumgardner, a Colorado Republican, was asked about fracking by a right-wing activist named Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt. His response?
I’ve been to a lot of the fracking seminars, and if people, they’ve never been and they really don’t understand it. Most of these seminars are free they can go to — they can learn about fracking. They can learn that the myth of, you know what, nine or 11 thousand feet, that fluid is gonna come back to the surface. And since 19 — the 1940s when they first started fracking, there’s never been one recorded incident. They talk about methane in the water and this, that, and the other, but if you go back in history and look at how the Indians traveled, they traveled to the burning waters. And that was methane in the waters and that was for warmth in the wintertime. So a lot of people, if they just trace back the history, they’ll know how a lot of this is propaganda.
What a colossal bucket of horseshit. And what he said was pretty stupid, too. (I’m here all week, folks.)
There’s no historical record showing that North American tribes relied upon methane-polluted water for warmth in the wintertime, especially “burning water” created as the result of an industrial activity. No evidence whatsoever. But it’s always entertaining to hear morons tell the rest of us that we’re the ones who are ignorant of history when it’s absolutely and obviously the other way around. And insofar as there are mentions of “burning water” in Native American history, it’s almost certainly one of any number of other things:
1) “Fire-Water” — Also known as booze.
2) Hot springs — Baumgardner represents a town called Hot Sulpher Springs, CO. I certainly hope those springs, if they still exist, are just the result of geothermal activity and not methane pollution.
3) Lava flows — Similar to hot springs, lava from volcanic eruptions would also provide warmth (though dangerously so) and appear in liquid form.
Conversely, where does the now infamous flammable tap water come from? Fracking, almost exclusively so. By way of a refresher, here’s that eye-opening scene from the documentary Gasland:
Illustrated (click to enlarge):
A recent study by Duke University and reported via The Economist, showed that indeed methane-polluted well-water is commensurate with the hydraulic fracturing process.
Dr. Jackson studied water samples from 141 private drinking-water wells in an area home to 5,000 or so drilling sites sitting atop the Marcellus shale, a gas-rich geological formation stretching from northeastern Pennsylvania to southeastern New York. He found that four out of five wells contained methane. In some homes within 1km (0.6 miles) from the nearest drill site the gas had a chemical signature suggesting that it originated from the Marcellus, rather than being the product of biological processes closer to the surface.
Concentrations of the gas in such homes were also six times higher than for those farther away. Levels of ethane and propane, other ingredients of natural gas, were higher, too. All were well above the levels the Department of Interior considers safe.
The study also confirmed that none of the drilling sites were observed to be in violation of regulations. So the methane in the wells arrived there due to what’s considered to be a safe process. Clearly it’s not.
Ultimately, though, it’s shills like Baumgardner and the ill-conceived “all of the above” energy policy that’s slowing what ought to be a space-race caliber pursuit to discover cheap, renewable and clean-burning forms of energy.
The Indians? Jesus, what a buffoon.