How to Frack Responsibly: Joe Nocera

You should read Joe Nocera’s column in the NYT today about fracking.  He begins it with “Fracking isn’t going away” and then goes on to describe the economic benefits of the fuel.  He  says “Fracking’s enemies can stamp their feet all they want, but that gas is too important to leave it in the ground.”

It’s important to point out that Joe Nocera is not some right wing, petro-consultant.  He is a liberal columnist with the NYT.  He cites in his column Fred Krupp, the president of the Environmental Defense Fund, which published a report that concluded “the U.S. shale gas resource has enormous potential to provide economic and environmental benefits for the country.”

Nocera spends the rest of his column outlining some of the ways the process of extracting this gas can be done in a responsible fashion.

That’s all I am asking here in New Brunswick.  I never found that unreasonable.

I understand that shale gas has become a proxy for some larger distrust of government, et. al.   The folks who talk about Hydro-Quebec and fracking in the same breath understand this all to well.

But just remember the shale gas doesn’t belong to ‘government’ or to some American ‘company’.  It belongs to us.  We need our government to put the property environmental framework and monitoring regime in place.  We need our government to work to maximize the value of the resource to New Brunswickers (a loaded term, I give you) and we need high quality and responsible companies to pull it out of the ground for us but in the end it is ours.



9 thoughts on “How to Frack Responsibly: Joe Nocera

  1. If there were a promise to share the earnings with New Brunswickers, and to fully compensate people for any damage, then much of the opposition would go away. Hearing neither, the opposition continues.

  2. The greatest health concern is air pollution, not methane gas leaks, which is only one contributing factor. For instance, the water coming out of a fracked well is more polluted than the water going in, as it also contains material released from the shale. These materials then go into enormous containment ponds where they get released into the atmosphere. The science is so far behind the technology that we need to pause. We cannot undo the damage, so let’s make informed decisions, once we have the information.

  3. “If there were a promise to share the earnings with New Brunswickers, and to fully compensate people for any damage, then much of the opposition would go away.”

    While I agree that the govt has done a terrible job of showing NBers that the govt is on their side, I don’t believe that the opposition would go away if it did just that. As comment #2 shows, there is a significant proportion of the population (especially amnongst the chattering class) that will remain in opposition to this development, no matter what.

    Shale gas will be extracted eventually and low prices might delay that development. My fear is that irrational and intense oppostion to shale gas extraction might prevent any regulatory and compensation scheme from being put into place. How many politicians want to spend political capital trying to find compromise with those who will never compromise? We could end up with the worst possible scenario in a few years – pressure from the jobless, pressure for tax revenue, all pushing the project forward in the absence of proper regulation.

  4. I doubt that would end it. Remember the opposition is also an industry in itself, promoting fear and ignorance instead of facts and risk tolerance.@Stephen Downes

  5. Sadly Harold is misinformed, the materials cannot obviously evaporate into the atmosphere – only gas can be released. Methane and radon gas for example, which is the same thing that happens when you dig a basement. The water is then treated in a treatment plant.

  6. They will be storing the waster water in tanks that is what is being proposed for NB. There will be no releases into the atmosphere of anything because these tanks are sealed tanks. The stuff that comes out of a non-conventional well when it is drilled is exactly the same as the stuff that comes out of a conventional well, as both exposed underground materials. But for some reason once again people don’t get it. Unless we shut down the entire industry…its just part of the process for all drilling operations and its been going on for 60 years.

  7. On another note everything that used in drilling a non-convention gas well is the same for a conventional well. Except they use more water in a non-conventional well. However, conventional wells are also fraced, and they use same fracing products as non-conventional wells. They both bring up subsurface materials and they all have surface castings and storage ponds or storage tanks. If you seen a non-conventional site and conventional site one you would not be able to tell the difference. The only real difference is the technique one goes vertically one goes horizontally and as one uses more water there would be more tanks on site. But they are all natural gas wells they carry very similar risk. However, for some crazy reason shale gas has been targeted even though the actual risk are quite similar.

  8. @Will
    Actually basements are the biggest source of radon exposure for people. See radon comes from granite and granite is everywhere and it is exposed on the surface all over NB. You can’t avoid Radon gas, it’s only harmful if it builds up in a closed environment like a basement.The heavy metals that come up are bound to sediments they don’t evaporate because they are heavy metals, like iron, manganese, copper and arsenic. One thing people are missing is that drilling is a very short phase of a wells life a few weeks or days at best. Once the well id drilled there is not much on site but a well head. At this point all the chemicals are of the site.

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