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Monday, May 7, 2012

Facking, the EPA, Common Sense and your Wallet

Now let's imagine a world where the problems I described with medical science penetrate into other parts of the government.

We have two interesting stories:

First we we the EPA and its further, extended fracking regulations.

Several ago I wrote about these regulations in"Facking, the EPA and the Emperor's New Clothes."

But these regulations are not enough, apparently, to prevent the heinous crime of pouring diesel fuel into a gas well as part of the fracking process.

So to save us from this practice new "guidance" from the EPA was recently released.

A review of this "guidance" indicates a great series of horrific outcomes of diesel fuel mostly related to the compounds some manufacturers - regulated by the EPA of course - put into their diesel products. 

There is a tremendous and lengthy discussion about permitting, dangers, etc.

Toward the end of the document the "pathways" that diesel fuel might follow to contamination are outlined.

While this is all well and good and no doubt will cost the industry millions if not tens of millions of dollars and jobs there's just one small problem:  diesel fuel (as the EPA describes on page #8) is made up of "20 to 60 percent polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).

These compounds are, of course, components of crude oil.

Now, interestingly enough, at the bottom of shale gas wells there can be crude oil and petroleum products.  In fact, natural gas is often mixed into crude oil.

And diesel fuel is, surprise, made from crude oil - primarily by heating it with steam and then as the heated compounds rise in a large distillation column siphoning off the diesel fuel at a certain level.

So petroleum comes up through the gas well as petroleum, it gets turned into diesel fuel - a petroleum product, and now it must be regulated to put back into the well.

Now, needless to say this is complete nonsense.

No doubt there is someone on the drilling platform running a diesel generator or perhaps driving a diesel truck to the drilling site.  Or for that matter driving a diesel truck past a school where small children are playing...

All perfectly legal and unregulated uses of diesel fuel (unregulated at least at the level of the end user).

Yet using diesel fuel in a well that produces petroleum is now a regulated area under the purview of the EPA...

Our second bizarre fracking story is this: "The Microbial Complications of Fracking."

We are killing the subsurface bacterial colonies a mile below the surface of the earth.

As it turns out bacteria exist in natural gas wells - and according to this article cause problems when fracking wells - so certain chemicals are put into the well to kill off the bacteria.

Apparently (at least the implication is) we should all be concerned for the lives of these bacteria.

Now the article implies that bacteria are involved in process of creating natural gas - kind of like the abiogenic theories of petroleum (the idea that petroleum is the byproduct of a bacterial process rather than geological time and pressure).

Pretty far out stuff...

The real truth in both of these stories is that the EPA and the scientist in the second article think fracking is bad and it should be stopped.

In the case of the EPA they have little leverage save for the Clean Water Act.  So they invent a process whereby the chemicals of well drilling leak off into the aquifers surrounding the wells and pollute them.

Mind you this is not documented despite what you might otherwise think or see.

(Leaking gas well cannot be fracked in the first place because they won't sustain the 7,000 PSI pressures required to do so.)

Natural gas is currently cheap so rather than encourage industry to use it as a replacement for foreign petroleum our government instead discourages its discovery and use.

Six or seven years ago when our property was drilled for gas no one from the EPA gave a proverbial "rat's ass" about it.  The drilling company was neat and clean - I know because we literally stood by and watched them drill - and managed all their own water, waste and chemicals.

Natural gas was around $15 USD then and it was worth drilling.  Today the price has dropped to $2 USD.  But drilling is till occuring...


Because with inexpensive local energy companies will be able to use less expensive foreign oil.

Unfortunately, the transition to local natural gas will take time because large consumers of oil have to refit their manufacturing and industrial processes to use it.

Natural gas is cleaner than petroleum as well - producing less pollution.

Cheaper, cleaner, local - no wonder we shouldn't be using it...

And what about the "science part..."

Oh yes.

Well, the entire EPA process revolves around the fact that no one will figure out that there isn't any real science behind the regulations - only politics.

Since as little as 20% of academic medial research can be relied on you have to wonder if the same levels of reliable research are produced for things like fracking and geology...

Certainly I wouldn't have given it another thought before writing these blog posts.

But now I see that virtually 100% of everything produced as "research" should be questioned.

And, of course, our policy makers accept research from prestigious universities as gospel for making law...

Remember: as many as 19 of 20 medical research papers (in certain disciplines - notably those with a lot of political interest) are bogus... (see my post here).

Makes you wonder, doesn't it...?

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