Monday, May 7, 2012

NRDC Sponsored Comment On EPA Pavillion Investigation Deserves Respectful Reading

A horrendous trait in the fracking debate is that the two camps at the opposite ends of the spectrum that oppose any middle ground are thoroughly committed to not listening to what the other says.  The committed pro-drilling and anti-drilling voices dismiss information on the basis of who said it, without regard to what was said.

Energy In Depth can be ignored, because it always makes a pro-drilling case.  NRDC can be dismissed, because it highlights all the perils and accidents of drilling. In both camps, minds are firmly closed.   "A closed mind is as dangerous as a closed parachute," as the saying goes.

Some within the gas industry reacted in this fashion to comments filed by Dr. Myers on behalf of NRDC and other environmental groups with the EPA on its Pavillion Wyoming investigation.  Whether one agrees with them or not, Dr. Myers' comments deserve a respectful reading, as they are not polemical and make some important points.

They even make one point that should find broad agreement in the industry and that is the geology and circumstances of hydraulic fracuturing in Pavillion make it unwise to extrapolate from what happened there to other places.  As the EPA itself said prominently in its draft paper, the Pavillion circumstances add up to a unique case.

Though the discussion by Dr. Myers of the various chemistry findings within the draft is worth reading by all but contestable at a number of points, I would hope that the industry broadly would join with the EPA and Dr. Myers and conclude that some of the drilling and hydraulic fracturing practices revealed at Pavillion are not acceptable.  These practices--hydraulic fracturing within a few hundred feet of an aquifer, absence of cementing, poor cementing, inadequate casing--should not be acceptable, whether or not they caused pollution of the aquifer at Pavillion.

To some extent, given what has been revealed about the quality of drilling and hydraulic fracturing at Pavillion, the arguments about chemistry and contaminants and sampling are beside the point.  Saying that the hydraulic fracturing and drilling practices used at Pavillion are not acceptable should not be controversial and should be said by everyone.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your last paragraph...and saying that drilling practices were not acceptable in Dimock should not be controversial or debated or diputed by the responsible gas company. Eh?