Category Archives: Fracking

More on Fracking

If you have been following the blogs here on that subject you will know that I have been in communication on the subject with Kathleen Hassall who lives in the US. We share similar concerns and so I was delighted to receive a long email from her the other day which I would like to share with you. Here is what she said (and I will write a response some time next week)..

Reading Mr. Willett’s words here about his own thoughtful struggle to
see the best way forward with regard to fracking, I am most struck by
the degree to which we are all in this together, this effort to find
our way through unknown territory, sometimes dark. There is hope in
this I think – that everyone in favor of breathing air, drinking water
and turning on lights at night is ultimately on the same side. I am
happy to be on Mr. Willett’s side.

Mr. Willett is right to suggest there are pulling wires of interest
and influence in scholarly publications, as in all arenas where
careers are made, and there is no gospel to be found in journals. In
the particular case of the researchers whose work was disparaged by
the shale gas industry spokesman – the researchers who compiled reports
from six states of illness and death among farm animals and pets
following exposure to fracking chemicals – one, Dr. Michelle Bamberger,
is a practicing veterinarian, educated at Cornell (a prestigious
private research university in the US); the other, Dr. Robert E.
Oswald, is a professor of pharmacology in the Cornell University
College of Veterinary Medicine. A recipient of both Guggenheim and
Fulbright fellowships, with scores of published articles, he has far
outdistanced the testing stage at which he had to publish in order not
to perish; he long ago established himself as a credible voice.
Surely on the specialized topic of animal health, these two deserve a
sober hearing.

This is not of course to say – I think no one would suggest – that one
narrowly-focused article can be anything more than one small piece of
the complex puzzle over which we all now shake our heads. That an
industry lobbyist so quickly moved to brush this piece off the table,
I find troubling; here again Mr. Willett and I are in agreement.

It is at great cost to public understanding, and to authentic public
choice, that the dialogue on fracking, combative and polarized, is
also so distorted by fugitive information and unacknowledged interest
that every purported fact seems to require investigation. Meanwhile
wheels are in motion, driven forward by the very powerful engines of
anticipated wealth and national energy security, and it seems clear
the UK is destined for fracking. Even as I write this, Cuadrilla is
moving on Lancashire, waving hundreds of thousands of pounds.

What can we know as fracking approaches? The hydraulic fracturing
industry has adopted a rhetorical strategy famously employed by
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, US President 1933-1945. Taking office in
the darkest days of the Great Depression, Roosevelt delivered a
stirring inaugural address in which he declared, “The only thing we
have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror
which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
Neatly here the new President confined all sense and all honor in his
own corral. In one sentence he reduced all possible camps to two:
self-terrified ninnies, dead weight on the backs of the valiant – and
those with clear eyes and steady nerves, the ones who would roll up
their sleeves, pitch in for the New Deal, and build the bridge to a
better future.

Of course Mr. Roosevelt, giving that speech in 1933, was perfectly
well aware that there was plenty more than fear itself to fear – some
40% of US banks had failed; unemployment was pushing hard on 25%; US
mining, logging, industry, agriculture, all were foundering; tens of
millions in America had too little to eat; and unrest in many cities
was turning violent. It would have ill-served the president’s
purpose to acknowledge any of this. He was not trying, after all, to
inform. He was trying to motivate. He was trying to recruit. He was
trying to sell a particular horse.

The fracking industry at present, likewise. Perhaps the most
effective of the industry’s self-promotional tacks is the suggestion
that questioners are emotional rather than rational, fearful without
cause, weak-willed, silly. Thus it presents its own science as hard
minded and definitive; it dismisses dissenting voices variously as
ignorant, irrelevant, or hysterical. What else should it do? It is
bent on directing the discussion to one conclusion.

(As to whether the fracking industry knows there are reasons to fear,
I present one modest piece of evidence. Understandably, the
“landmen”, industry representatives seeking leases, are not prone to
offer landowners lists of things that might go wrong – but the US
federal Securities and Exchange Commission dictates that potential
investors in any enterprise must have access to just such a list. No
doubt the industry strives to keep the obligatory catalogue as brief
and bland as possible, so as not to scare off money. Still, in 2008,
potential investors in Cabot Oil & Gas were apprised of possible “well
site blowouts, cratering and explosions; equipment failures;
uncontrolled flows of natural gas, oil or well fluids; fires;
formations with abnormal pressures; pollution and other environmental
risks.”)

In truth I don’t see how we can reasonably expect the shale gas
industry to volunteer information contrary to its own interests. As
much as Roosevelt was, it is determined to make the sale.

So at present we have the horse-trader’s emphatic assurance that the
horse is sound. He declines to have the horse examined by anybody
else before we buy it, and insists in any case nobody but himself is
qualified to judge the horse – and then he suggests that if we do not
reach for the reins, we are sissies. On this basis, shall we buy?

I return to the question of what we can know before the frackers have
at England. Mr. Willett is entirely in the right to suggest we
cannot know without careful investigation which of the many unsettling
reports about fracking are entirely reliable, and which may be skewed
by error, ambition, or special interest. We can know, however, that
in the US the shale gas industry, with its inexhaustible war chest and
its private stables of eager scientists, PR strategists, professional
lobbyists and lawyers, has not been able to contain a still-rising
tide of dissent. We can confirm that complaints and questions are
multiplying in every US state where fracking is underway. We can know
that questioners and dissenters on record represent a remarkable range
of experience, interest and approach. Among them are environmental
scientists and citizens’ rights groups, specialists in food safety,
fishermen, human health researchers, farmers, water quality experts,
investigative journalists, law professionals, landscape
preservationists, landfill monitors, the US Occupational Safety and
Health Administration, leaders in the Audubon Society, landowners
whose property has been fracked, and householders now able with a
match to ignite the water that comes from their kitchen taps. We can
safely assume that some of the myriad alarms raised by all these
disparate voices are unintentionally or even intentionally false.
What of the rest?

I do not like to think so, I would be happy to be wrong in this, but I
believe, on the basis of what has happened in my own country, and what
is happening still, that England is now in jeopardy. Perhaps the
fracking of your country is inevitable. Even if this is so, you who
fought to keep your forests whole, you who mourned the loss of your
ancient oaks–you have time, still, a breathing moment in which to
prepare. You can take action now to protect your country and your
people as far as possible from damage.

With one important exception, I want to endorse Mr. Willett’s
thoughtful and prudent suggestions as to what you might do, add one or
two specifics, and have done.

Mr. Willett expresses concern that Britain’s political leaders, in
their eagerness to streamline progress, may to some degree exempt the
shale gas industry from regulation and oversight in the UK. Surely
not? If you doubt this would be a singularly boneheaded move, only
look west. Of all the reckless and costly decisions US policy makers
have ever embraced – admittedly a long and harrowing list – the
establishment of the so-called Halliburton loophole, exempting the
shale gas industry from federal environmental protection laws, is a
strong contender for the most benighted. This is an industry that
injects millions of gallons of water carrying hundreds of chemical
compounds forcibly into the earth. Did we not think this might have
some environmental effect that would bear looking into? The industry
produces millions and millions of gallons of contaminated wastewater
which cannot be made clean by traditional wastewater treatment plants.
Did we not think there were any unanswered questions here? Did we
not think?

There has been much talk in this fracking debate about risks – which
risks are illusory, which risks are tolerable, which risks are known.
There are risks entirely avoidable: simply do not lower the bar. I
hope Mr. Willett and others like him will succeed in persuading
Britain’s leaders to hold this new industry accountable to all the
laws already in place to protect your nation’s natural wealth. Why
else do you have those laws?

If the shale gas industry, as it insists, does not represent a threat
to the environment, it should not balk at careful monitoring or at
prohibitions of damage. Would not objective oversight and
information gathering serve to prove the justice of its claims?

Monitoring will also generate a growing body of information, so that
every decision to expand fracking will be better informed than the
last.

Information gathering at every stage is key to minimizing risk. As
Mr. Willett notes, we need detailed information about potential sites
before fracking as well as during and after. We also need to know
precisely what chemicals are being injected at any given site – and too
much is at stake to permit the industry to withhold this information
as a “trade secret.” Without such information we cannot separate
coincidence from cause; we cannot document change; we cannot learn the
truth about fracking.

Risk can be reduced also by following Mr. Willetts’ advice on
site-by-site drilling approval dependent on information about local
conditions. In the US, some regions characteristically drought
prone – places where water is slenderly supplied by nature and already
overtaxed by human us – were nevertheless opened to fracking.
England can show far better sense. You know where your wildlife is
most vulnerable, where your wetlands are most fragile, where you are
apt to run short of water and where you are prone to flood. You can
identify the safest placements for shale gas mining operations.

Three more suggestions (again, based on what is happening over here):

Limit proliferation, at least until you’ve had a chance to see how the
first of the mines suit you. “Fracking by the Numbers,” a report
published in 2013, counts 82 thousand shale gas wells now operational
in the US, with 33,753 in the state of Texas alone. Whatever
opportunities there are in fracking operations for things to go wrong,
we have multiplied by tens of thousands.

See to the leases: very much can be done here to protect the
landowners who lease to frackers and to insure that damages done to
the countryside will be repaired. Here is a link to a document
prepared by Harvard Law School to advise US landowners on specific
issues the best lease will address, and specific rights it can secure:
http://tinyurl.com/Harvardleasingguide . Here is a link to an
article that appeared in the New York Times, “Learning too Late of the
Perils in Gas Well Leases,” about landowners who were unaware of what
rights they had given up, and what obligations they had assumed, in
leases they only thought they understood:
http://tinyurl.com/perilsofleases .

Use the full power and resources of your national government to
negotiate with the shale gas industry. Do not send, to dicker with
this formidable and hungry power, your earnest and cash-poor local
councils. With all due respect to your councillors, this is gnats
against volcanoes.

I have said I disagree with Mr. Willett on one point. I would rather
not – and in a sense I do not. He says fracking sites in England
should be approved only where there is “a known safe place for the
disposal of contaminated water.” I wish I knew of the existence of
any such place. This is the ominous question to which I have been
able to find no reassuring answer. I read in “Fracking by the
Numbers” that in the year 2012, contaminated wastewater produced by US
fracking operations amounted to 280 billion gallons. It is a number
stunning to thought. Where is the safe place?
I want to close on a more optimistic note: I do not at all doubt
England can do a far better job than my own country has done in terms
of managing this challenge. I even believe that if you do rigorously
monitor and regulate the frackers, you will will motivate them to take
care. You will lead them to develop ever safer procedures. Perhaps
even, with you looking constantly over their shoulders, they (with all
their money/power/science) will actually solve the problem of waste.

Here again, you people of the little boats, England can show the world.
From the land of the fracked, I wish you godspeed.

(And in the interest of full disclosure, I report that I am on
nobody’s payroll–and except as a breather of air, a drinker of water,
and a reader by lamplight, I have no dog in this fight.)

More on fracking – or not fracking, as the case may be

This blog is really in response to a comment put up by Kathleen Hassall on my blog “To frack or not to frack”. Firstly, however, I would like to thank her for taking so much trouble and for providing a very thought provoking and reasoned argument – an argument with which I have a good deal of sympathy.

Looking back over the last fifty years or so, I begin to see a common thread in much of my life – the need to link events with the cause of those events: causation, in a word. One of the first stories I filed which has a real resonance today was a story about an unexpected flood. What I wanted to know (and failed to establish) was why it happened. Why was the farmland as far as the eye could see under water? Nobody seemed to have a reasonable answer although quite a few were entirely happy with the one they gave me.

In order to establish the level of risks associated with fracking we have to look at what causes what. As I see it there are two dangers here.

The first is finding what was already there but not noticed – and finding it because there is a “cause” looking for “events”. This is not for one half of a second to suggest that none of those new finds are genuine but one cannot totally ignore the possibility that findings point to some event that has a completely different cause. Let me give an example: water depletion in areas where there is fracking springs to mind. There are many reasons for water depletion – most of them being caused by carrying out unsustainable development or agri/horticulture but that is another story – and one can well understand that if this happens near to an area of fracking it is rational and reasonable to blame the fracking. This does not mean that fracking is innocent but more evidence is needed to determine the true causation.

The other thing – and Kathleen Hassall rightly points this out in her comment – is that it is nigh on impossible to obtain information from a source which one can trust. This is one of the reasons why I avoided putting many links up on the first blog: most of the ones I looked at struck me as being suspect one way or another. Incidentally, while we are on the subject, the reasons I chose the very odd and anonymous anti-fracking web site were that it receives countless “hits” (it headed the list of sites that came up on various search engines) and it gave me the headings I wanted. Apart from that it was not really worth a second glance.

So where does that leave us? Well, the honest answer is “very puzzled”.

Even the scientific reports which one would consider should be trustworthy may not be all they seem. Now for a bit of academic treason. Over the years I have interviewed a number of academics and have had a few as quite close friends. There is an absolute need to produce good publications to advance in the academic world: publications which have been approved by peer reviews. It is good if such publications can deal with something of general interest (such as fracking) which will attract a wide audience. In general terms peer reviewers are lenient towards publications which do not attack the reviewer’s position (in which case the review may well be rabid). So I suggest that we cannot entirely trust such publications – especially if we look back at those that have since been demonstrated to be entirely wrong.

Having said that, the immediate rebuttal of the article published by the Food and Environment Reporting Network by the spokesman for Energy in Depth is disturbing: Kathleen Hassall rightly condemns it.

She opens one of her paragraphs with the following: “Again and again, as I struggle to see all sides of this issue, I find holes cut out of the picture – and the scissors seem to bear the prints of the shale gas industry.” I am inclined to agree with that but then I look at those who argue against fracking and what do I see? I find holes cut out of the picture – and the scissors seem to bear the prints of the protesters.

What I fear here, in the UK, is that politicians chasing solutions to the energy needs of the nation will pass laws which reduce the regulation and control of those carrying out fracking operations. What little influence I have will be used to seek assurances that problems will be honestly and transparently reported and that all operators will be subject to constant close scrutiny. I think that is a reasonable price for them to pay for the right to frack.

Continuing to work through Kathleen Hassall’s comments brings us to the problems associated with “out of court settlements”. Apart from the obvious (that we do not know any details) is that it is often cheaper for a company to settle something out of court than it is to get involved in costly and time consuming actions. Even our own revenue service will “agree” a large corporation’s tax liability rather than pursue a larger claim through the courts because it is uneconomical so to do (and they are supposed to be on the side of the tax payers). This does not mean that all allegations are false but simply that such settlements tell us nothing of value.

Then there is the question of who benefits from the claims (for and against) which are deluging the planet (and to which, I suppose, I am adding). That is of vital importance and half the time it is almost impossible to know.

So it is that I come down somewhere in the middle. I do not feel we should give fracking a clean bill of health and allow it wherever there is shale gas. I do not feel we should disallow it entirely. Each and every operation should be judged on its merits taking into consideration the geology of the area, the availability of sufficient water, a known safe place for the disposal of contaminated water, suitable access for site traffic and a suitable (and guaranteed) plan for the reinstatement of the site. On that basis, only sites which can meet these reasonable requirements would obtain permission (you might even say that the default position would be refusal). The reinstatement part is vital to avoid needless damage to our countryside. It is difficult to see how it can be assured but I leave that problem for someone better qualified than I am to find a solution.

There will be mistakes: there are always mistakes. But I do think that I agree with the CPRE’s position which is:-

We all have a role to play to reduce our energy consumption but we are realistic and recognise there are no easy solutions to our energy mix if we are to meet our current needs and allow for fuel security in the long-term.

Although shale gas exploitation could reduce the use of more damaging resources such as coal we must also continue to move towards a cleaner, more renewable mix.

Fracking is not a permanent fixture on the landscape so there could also be less damaging visual impacts than some other forms of extraction. The potential repercussions in some areas of the countryside however would still make fracking entirely inappropriate, which is why careful consultation and engagement with communities is essential to determine possible sites.

Lastly I would like to mention that I believe quite strongly that we in the UK should listen to what is happening in the US because they sometimes have something quite important to tell us so I hope that we shall see more trans-Atlantic comments in the future. And, yes, it might be good if sometimes the US listened to the UK but that is a different subject.

To frack or not to frack – that is the question

This subject has moved from being one of rational debate to being symbolic and thus driven by emotions. It is difficult to see how this has come about: we all need power (although there is an excellent argument that suggests that we need to change our ways so as to consume less far less, than we do at present). We all know that power means using some form of the resources available to us and that our fossil resources are finite. Quite rightly we have tried to look at alternative ways of generating power using “renewables”: wind, solar and wave power. These are steps in the right direction but the first two are unreliable (the wind does not always blow – it gets dark) and the third is proving far harder than we once thought. We need more time in which to solve these problems and need to decide how to bridge that gap.

The use of shale gas is one obvious way to bridge that gap, so what is the problem? I suppose the answer is “fear” – a combination of genuine concern for the environment (good) and nimbyism (bad but understandable). I have no intention of considering the second reason: it is not in my nature to take on moral or philosophical challenges about the balances between the public good and the private individual.

In the environment, I include the well being of humans as we are a part of that environment. However, before we look at what we know about fracking in terms of what can go wrong and how to reduce the risks, we have to accept that every enterprise carried risks – even making a cup of tea. I cannot accept the argument that we should refuse to carry out something unless it can be declared “risk free”. Such a demand lacks any measure of intellectual credibility. Meanwhile there remains a shadow over fracking – as with every other human activity: unexpected events, consequences, call them what you will. By their very nature it is impossible to take them into consideration so the very best we can do (and should do) is to use our intellects to reveal as many possible problems as we can and to see whether they may be solved. It is the ones for which no credible solution can be found that should be used to decide the answer to our question.

Meanwhile, because of the emotions surrounding fracking, the world is awash with rumours about eventualities (with little or no basis in science) and the first thing to do is to look at those and see which have any merit. Here are the views expressed on the web site of someone called “dangers of fracking“. In this part I add my first thoughts (for what they are worth).

Site Traffic

“Each gas well requires an average of 400 tanker trucks to carry water and supplies to and from the site.”

First thoughts. What size of tanker? Over what time scale (per hour, day, week, month)?

Water Usage

“It takes 1-8 million gallons of water to complete each fracturing job.”

First thoughts. 1 to 8 is a pretty wide range. What is the definition of a “fracturing job”? Are we talking about getting the thing operational or the whole life span of the well?

Fracking

The water brought in is mixed with sand and chemicals to create fracking fluid. Approximately 40,000 gallons of chemicals are used per fracturing.”

First thoughts. The world is full of sand and we seem to manage it without difficulty, it must be the chemicals that concern us. We need to know what chemicals are used in fracking.

Fracking Chemicals

“Up to 600 chemicals are used in fracking fluid, including known carcinogens and toxins such as ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid, mercury, methanol, and uranium.

First thoughts. “Up to” always makes me worry. I say, “I walk up to thirty-four miles a day.” Once, when I was in my early twenties, I walked thirty-four miles so my statement is true in all respects but it gives a completely false impression as, to my shame, my average daily mileage over my life span is probably less than one of those miles. So where does that 600 come from? We need to find out.

Contamination

“During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater. Methane concentrations are 17 x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.”

First thoughts. If this is true we have a problem so we need to look into this one vary carefully. Seventeen times higher does seem rather a specific figure, it would be interesting to see where they got that.

Drinking Water

“Contaminated well water is used for drinking water for nearby cities and towns. There have been over 1,000 documented cases of water contamination next to areas of gas drilling as well as cases of sensory, respiratory, and neurological damage due to ingested contaminated water.”

First thoughts. Well, this leads on but over a thousand cases can’t have happened without someone doing something about them. We shall have to see what investigations resulted and what was revealed.

Finally

“The waste fluid is left in open air pits to evaporate, releasing harmful volatile organic compounds into the atmosphere, creating contaminated air, acid rain, and ground level ozone. In the end, hydraulic fracking (in the US) produces approximately 300,000 barrels of natural gas a day, but at the price of numerous environmental, safety, and health hazards.”

First thoughts. Well, this certainly gives us the case against but nothing at all in the way of verifiable facts.

* * * * *

Faced with the above, the next thing to do is to try and establish some facts but we are, as always, worried that everything we read is tainted: everybody seems to have an ax to grind. First, though, let mew get my ax out of the way. I am a life member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England and I really, really do not want to see further despoliation of our countryside. Here is the official CPRE view with which I agree.

We all have a role to play to reduce our energy consumption but we are realistic and recognise there are no easy solutions to our energy mix if we are to meet our current needs and allow for fuel security in the long-term.

Although shale gas exploitation could reduce the use of more damaging resources such as coal we must also continue to move towards a cleaner, more renewable mix.

Fracking is not a permanent fixture on the landscape so there could also be less damaging visual impacts than some other forms of extraction. The potential repercussions in some areas of the countryside however would still make fracking entirely inappropriate, which is why careful consultation and engagement with communities is essential to determine possible sites.

You may wish to click here to see the full text.

Now for a more detailed look at some of the issues raised above.

Water Contamination

Right, now back to business. Obviously the big one is water contamination so let’s start there. Yes, there have been quite a few cases of water contamination in various parts of the US. Associated Press carried out an extensive report a week or so ago. Here are a few extracts (click here to see full text).

Pennsylvania has confirmed at least 106 water-well contamination cases since 2005, out of more than 5,000 new wells. There were five confirmed cases of water-well contamination in the first nine months of 2012, 18 in all of 2011 and 29 in 2010. The Environmental Department said more complete data may be available in several months.

Ohio had 37 complaints in 2010 and no confirmed contamination of water supplies; 54 complaints in 2011 and two confirmed cases of contamination; 59 complaints in 2012 and two confirmed contaminations; and 40 complaints for the first 11 months of 2013, with two confirmed contaminations and 14 still under investigation, Department of Natural Resources spokesman Mark Bruce said in an email. None of the six confirmed cases of contamination was related to fracking, Bruce said.

West Virginia has had about 122 complaints that drilling contaminated water wells over the past four years, and in four cases the evidence was strong enough that the driller agreed to take corrective action, officials said.

A Texas spreadsheet contains more than 2,000 complaints, and 62 of those allege possible well-water contamination from oil and gas activity, said Ramona Nye, a spokeswoman for the Railroad Commission of Texas, which oversees drilling. Texas regulators haven’t confirmed a single case of drilling-related water-well contamination in the past 10 years, she said.

Now, I don’t know what you think about that but I feel this suggests that, as you would expect, water will become contaminated and in some cases the work associated with fracking is to blame and that it is right and proper that when this happens those doing the fracking are required to take the appropriate remedial action.

Why do I feel reasonably happy? Well, let’s look at the figures and please accept that this is not a truly accurate way of looking at the problem but is probably as near as we can get without making it a life time project.

In Pennsylvania, 106 reports of contamination of which 52 were confirmed associated with fracking at over 5,000 wells or, if you like percentages, 2.12% of wells were suspect and 1.04% were proved to be contaminated. These figures, of course, assume that there are exactly 5,000 wells so the true percentages are even lower.

We can’t get similar figures for the other three states but we can note two very important sentences.

“. . . in four cases the evidence was strong enough that the driller agreed to take corrective action”

“Texas regulators haven’t confirmed a single case of drilling-related water-well contamination . . .”

These are important because the first suggests that when action is needed, action is taken whilst the second reminds us that not all contamination is caused by fracking.

Disposal of Waste Water

This is a problem – but disposing of waste water in old dis-used wells as happens in places such as Ohio does not seem to create the earthquakes that have been reported. This rumour started because a researcher at Columbia University identified that there had been 167 earthquakes in Youngstown (Ohio) during the first year of fracking but that there had been none recorded before that. Both statements are true (the results were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research). Also true is the fact that these were detected using extremely sensitive instruments which had not been used before and, or so it seems, none of them were noticed by any other means. The only reports of a person claiming to have felt one of these earthquakes which were then investigated indicate that the earthquakes people felt were not detected by the seismometers being used in the laboratory. So, define “earthquake”.

Having said that there is evidence that in some places waste water has seeped through fissures in rocks deep below the ground and contaminated the ground water.

If you try to find out what us happening by using Google, you will be offered numerous anti-fracking sites – simply because they are the most popular. That does not mean that enough attention is being given to considering the disposal of waste water. Far from it. Most scientific journals suggest that this is the biggest problem surrounding fracking but those presently available are already out of date. I am still trying to find the latest position on this subject which, in my book, is the real reason why we need to look at each situation with great care. Fracking should be allowed only if it can be demonstrated that all the waste water generated can be dealt with safely. That’s quite a big “if”.

The Chemicals

Probably the sanest source for looking at the chemistry is FracFocus’s site.

One quote that might help to put matters into perspective is: “Multiple names for the same chemical can also leave you with the impression that there are more chemicals than actually exist.” You may remember that one of the chemicals mentioned above was ethylene glycol. Well, this is probably better known to you as anti-freeze (and that is what it is used for).

How unbiased is FracFocus? Judge for yourself – it is, of course, in the US. “FracFocus is the national hydraulic fracturing chemical registry. FracFocus is managed by the Ground Water Protection Council and Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, two organizations whose missions both revolve around conservation and environmental protection.”

This is why I think it is the best place to look but I might be wrong. An aside: this site registers sites in the US and the total is presently 68,887.

Site Traffic

As far as I can establish, this is often a problem during the development of the site (as it is with building a house) but not usually thereafter – where, in the US, no provision as such has been made to ameliorate traffic nuisance it is because there is little need and where there is a need action is taken. I assume it would be the same here.

My Conclusions

It is a great pity that we have allowed society to become so dependent on power but, as they say, this is where we are. Shutting down old coal fired generation plants has created a gap in production and made us heavily dependent on imports of all fuels: and dithering over how we should go forward has made the problem worse. Somehow we have to fill the gap. There are no solutions that are ideal but, with the various caveats suggested above, it would seem that fracking is the best way to do that.

However, that is all it should be: a stop gap. We have to find a better long term solution. My guess is that this should be the sum of thousands of micro-solutions rather than one or two macro-solutions but that is another story.