Herald on Fracking

April 3rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The editorial:

The inquiry into being undertaken by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment is extremely welcome. The technique, under which high-pressure blasts of water, sand and chemicals are used to fracture rock to release gas and oil, has generated a lot of emotion but far too little light. On one side, the Greens have called for a moratorium on despite the lack of conclusive evidence about its ill-effects. On the other, there has been the usual accusation that those opposed to such new practices are Luddites, and the Energy and Resources Minister’s unhelpful statement that “the Greens want a moratorium on everything”. Both sides of the argument stand to gain much from a science-based investigation.

The statement “the Greens want a moratorium on everything” may be unhelpful but it is not without a degree of truth. I recall compiling the list of things they want banned and stopping once it made 100. That was in 2008. I suspect it has grown since then, and they never take things off the list.

Here’s the challenge for the Greens, if they want to be taken seriously on this issue. If the PCE inquiry finds no reason to ban fracking, will the Greens change their policy of wanting a moratorium?

Further can the Greens point to any data or factors which would ever cause them to change their stance on fracking?

As far as I can tell they would only stop opposing fracking if it is proven to be totally safe. Now of course it is absolutely impossible to prove something is totally safe.

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44 Responses to “Herald on Fracking”

  1. wreck1080 (3,853 comments) says:

    The greens want you living in a cave eating nuts and berries.

    I recall Jeanette Fitzsimmons (sic???) commenting on the traffic congestion caused by the one lane Kopu bridge near Thames….. something to the effect of not needing a new bridge because people should relax and visit the cafe and be happy.

    Such is the madness of the green thinking.

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  2. Jinky (182 comments) says:

    So you’re happy for people to do whatever they like until it’s shown to be harmful? Because that’s the opposite of the Greens call for it to be stopped until it’s shown to be safe. Which approach is more sensible? Discuss.

    [DPF: Yes I am happy for people to do what they like until is is shown to be harmful. Absolutely. The burden of proof should be on those seeking to ban something, in a free society]

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  3. GPT1 (2,112 comments) says:

    Heh I got thrown off red alert years ago for responding to the effect that pointing out hypocrisy (Mallard’s take your pills vs post asking for patience re. Chris Carter) may be unhelpful but did not make it untrue.

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  4. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    You’d have to hope that they don’t use any “evidence” from the movie Gasland

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  5. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    In Poland, shale gas is transforming their economy, removing the dependency on Russia for gas.
    It is providing cheap energy across the USA, and is boosting communities.

    China has 25 trillion cubic metres of known shale gas reserves, enough to last them 200 years.

    There is no such thing as 100% safe energy. Wind turbines cause toxic waste in Mongolia, kill thousands of birds, catch fire and fall down.

    I’m not sure I’d want a 300m high tower with a blade the size of a 747 jumbo jet collapsing around me, but you NEVER hear any criticism of this from the Greens.

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  6. insider (1,035 comments) says:

    One of the big false premises thrown about is that this process is somehow ‘new’. Fracking’s been around for 150 years, been used in oil for 60 years and in NZ for over a decade. It’s about as new as mobile phones. We seem to have got over pandering to neighbourhood loons worried about their brains being fried.

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  7. cows4me (248 comments) says:

    Global warming just doesn’t do it any more, time to throw in some fracking. Heaven forbid the people come to the realisation we are not about the environment but see us for what we are, totalitarian, brain damaged commie maggots.

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  8. hj (6,794 comments) says:

    I think the Green Party position on environmental issues is often duplicitous in so far as they gain easy points by being anti fracking anticlimate change anti dirty dairying but would there social policies were devised by Father Christmas.

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  9. Fisiani (1,021 comments) says:

    The Greens are the only Party in Parliament for several terms that have NEVER been in Government.
    Even Hone Harawira has been in Government.
    Their policies are so whacky they are not fit for Government.

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  10. Kimble (4,443 comments) says:

    Because that’s the opposite of the Greens call for it to be stopped until it’s shown to be safe. Which approach is more sensible? Discuss.

    Prove that using a keyboard is safe.
    Then prove the mouse is ok too.
    Then prove that clicking virtual buttons is safe.
    Then prove that reading is safe.
    The prove that writing is safe.
    Then prove that communicating digitally is safe.
    Then prove that stopping digital communication is safe.

    Discussion over.

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  11. Lloyd (125 comments) says:

    The Greens are anti-progress and pro-marijuana.
    ’nuff said.

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  12. hj (6,794 comments) says:

    I think the Green Party position on environmental issues is often duplicitous in so far as they gain easy points by being anti fracking anticlimate change anti dirty dairying but what (e.g) is their position on Auckland’s population growth (given that 80% of NZ population increase is from offshore)???

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  13. krazykiwi (9,189 comments) says:

    The greens want you living in a cave eating nuts and berries.

    Quite so.

    Energy is hated by the eco-loony greenies because it has enabled humans to expand civilization, supposedly causing great angst to Gaia

    Energy is hated by the marxist greenies because it gives humans choice, and independence.

    In short energy is hated by greenies, so we can expect any source of energy to opposed.

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  14. hj (6,794 comments) says:

    I would like to ask David Farrar which books he has read on climate change and which ones he agrees with?

    I read Poles Apart by Gareth Morgan. What i discovered was that while climate data is gathered from an enormous number of sources (Stevenson’s boxes etc) there is a lot of scope for any of that data to be faulty but nevertheless give an accurate picture. Also the opposing argument was weak, (there just isn’t much there).
    http://polesapart.com/

    [DPF: I don't know I have read any books on climate change, but I have read dozens of papers on it. My position is that the direct impact of greenhouse gases on the global temperature is beyond doubt - it is basic science. Whether such direct impact is multiplied or mitigated by other environmental forces is more open to debate, and the forecasts have been not been entirely accurate. But on the basis there will definitely be some warming, I think it is sensible to take some steps to mitigate and reduce]

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  15. Mark (1,465 comments) says:

    I am pleased that there is such certainty that fracking is safe in the Taranaki Basin. It is safe because the oil industry tells us so and their track record of forgoing self interest in environmental issues gives me great confidence. FFS is is entirely appropriate that there is a review of this by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the environment and one hopes that there is some degree of independent science applied to the review. In situations where the consequences of getting it wrong could be catastrophic then I would rather have some comfort that there is some rigour around the approval process that the laissez-faire process that DFP would have us follow. If it is safe then great but get it right in the first place.

    [DPF: Yes I am happy for people to do what they like until is is shown to be harmful. Absolutely. The burden of proof should be on those seeking to ban something, in a free society]

    DPF it would be interesting to apply this logic to the drug industry, the agricultural chemicals industry as well as the Petro Chemicals industry.

    [DPF: Using the Green approach, no new drugs would even be allowed as no drugs can ever be proven to be entirely safe]

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  16. Brian Smaller (4,036 comments) says:

    I’m not sure I’d want a 300m high tower with a blade the size of a 747 jumbo jet collapsing around me, but you NEVER hear any criticism of this from the Greens.

    Actually, you just hear Greenies complaining when the wind farms will be built near their houses.

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  17. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Mark: DPF it would be interesting to apply this logic to the drug industry, the agricultural chemicals industry as well as the Petro Chemicals industry.

    As it should be because not to do so would stop human progress dead…but that is the Greens agenda afterall…

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  18. wreck1080 (3,853 comments) says:

    Just one thing— fracking has been around for sometime but ‘horizontal’ fracking is new. It is somewhat misleading to say horizontal fracking is OK because vertical fracking has been in use for 100 years. They are different.

    And the greens are moaning about Horizontal fracking if I understand correctly.

    I say get horizontal fracking , until such time as it is shown to be dangerous.

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  19. Spam (598 comments) says:

    I am pleased that there is such certainty that fracking is safe in the Taranaki Basin. It is safe because the oil industry tells us so and their track record of forgoing self interest in environmental issues gives me great confidence.

    I am pleased that there is such certainty that fracking is dangerous in the Taranaki Basis. It is dangerous becuase Gareth Hughes tells us so and his track record of forgoing self interest in environmental issues gives me great confidence….

    He links to a report by Shell Todd Oil Services on the Taranaki Regional Council that shows groundwater contamination at Kapuni, and attributes that to Fracking even though the contamination has zero to do with fracking and is from historic “well blowdowns”. He als choose to ignore all the ground water testing by the Taranaki Regional Council around the Cheal wellsites that show zero groundwater contamination, and continues to refer to contamination there as well. He also ignores evidence from GNS which shows zero link between any earthquakes in the Taranaki Region due to fracking.

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  20. kowtow (8,107 comments) says:

    I’m oppossed to hydraulic fracturing!

    I want Aotearoa to remain a relatively poor and indebted country.I think our young people should continue to emigrate in order to have high paying jobs. The ones that remain can serve coffee to rich tourists or pick apples and spend quality time on the dole. I think expensive power bills for the elderly are a great idea too.

    Vote Green for an unsustainable future.

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  21. insider (1,035 comments) says:

    @ wreck

    The greens are not making any distinction, they say all fracking is bad, despite it having been done here without apparant issue for years. All of a sudden it is apparantly dangerous.

    I’d disagree there is any significant difference in the different fracking techniques. They are doing effectively the same thing. Horizontal fracking has been around sicne the 90s but it has recently been going through a boom. But that is mainly in the US which has a high gas demand and has large deposits of oil shales. We don’t necessarily have that here so it’s misleading to transplant fracking fears without that context.

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  22. Ross12 (1,366 comments) says:

    kowtow 12.00

    You can add this to why vote Green ( yes I realise you forgot the sarc/ tag on your comment). This from the global conference of Green Parties ( I wonder who went from NZ)

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/browns_one_world_government_grows_nearer/

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  23. decanker (222 comments) says:

    “Energy is hated by the eco-loony greenies”

    No, wasted energy is hated by greenies.

    As an example, I would build a small well insulated home that’s at best entirely self-sufficient; an anti-greenie builds a home as large and as cheaply as he can afford and then uses whatever energy is required to power it, cos it’s his right to be as wasteful as he wants, and complain about soaring power bills.

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  24. kowtow (8,107 comments) says:

    decanker

    that’s bullshit. It is simple common sense to build efficiently to increase warmth and cut costs etc. Efficiency is a capitalist virtue,waste is a vice.

    Greens support subsidies and waste.

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  25. decanker (222 comments) says:

    kowtow, go and drive through Albany, Howick etc and tell me that building efficiently is common sense. That’s bullshit.

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  26. David Garrett (6,905 comments) says:

    Insider: Well said. I like that… “about as new as mobile phones…”

    wreck1080: do you have any understanding at all about how oil wells are drilled and more importantly, completed and then brought into production? Do you understand the difference between horizontal and vertical fracking? I’ll be my usual polite self and refrain from rubbishing you if you can show even a minimal understanding of what you are talking about…

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  27. kowtow (8,107 comments) says:

    decanker

    “drive” through Albany etc surely not. One should be cycling or walking..

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  28. David Garrett (6,905 comments) says:

    Here’s a thought…the Greens are so adamantly opposed to fracking because the indications are that it may release so much hitherto unavailable oil internationally that it would delay “Peak Oil” for a couple of hundred years or more… and thus derail at least one of their doomsday scenarios…I understand that the US became a net oil exporter last year for the first time since the 1950’s…

    Of course their argument would also be that this is equivalent to giving a drug addict a greater supply of drugs with which to kill himself quicker…which brings us back to the whole “human induced climate change” argument I guess

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  29. DJP6-25 (1,345 comments) says:

    Fracking must be good. Greens hate it.

    cheers

    David Prossser

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  30. insider (1,035 comments) says:

    I spoke too soon about mobile phones. There was a petition in Parliament today asking for the rules around cellsites to change…so there are still a few out there

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  31. David Garrett (6,905 comments) says:

    silence from Wreck on his understanding of oil well construction generally and fracking in particular…i guess he is still researching so he can respond quickly when I start cross examining him…

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  32. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    The climate change argument is a red herring, because whether or not it is a problem, gas has much lower CO2 emissions that coal. So by replacing coal by gas, you are reducing the country’s emissions.

    A recent report in the UK proposed that wind energy would actually increase CO2 emissions overall, because of the inefficient way gas has to be used to offset the highly variable wind output.

    The issues that we need to investigate are: (a) potential contamination of the water table through methane or chemicals, (b) potential earthquakes

    The upsides are locally produced gas that doesn’t require importation, and a relatively low cost to extract it.

    The issue is “shale gas” by the way. ‘Fracking” is a technique that sounds scary, and this is of course why the environmentalists use it.

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  33. Spam (598 comments) says:

    The issues that we need to investigate are: (a) potential contamination of the water table through methane or chemicals, (b) potential earthquakes

    a.) Actually has just as much potential with normal drilling than fracking.
    b.) It also needs to consider the magnitude of those potential earthquakes.

    If earthquakes from fracking are a problem, I expect a moratorium on pile-driving foundations, and actually on heayy trucks going past my house.

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  34. David Garrett (6,905 comments) says:

    Spam; Excellent!! Ever read “The hammer of Eden” by Ken Follet?? About as plausible as the greenies’ line on this…

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  35. hj (6,794 comments) says:

    [DPF: I don't know I have read any books on climate change, but I have read dozens of papers on it. My position is that the direct impact of greenhouse gases on the global temperature is beyond doubt - it is basic science. Whether such direct impact is multiplied or mitigated by other environmental forces is more open to debate, and the forecasts have been not been entirely accurate. But on the basis there will definitely be some warming, I think it is sensible to take some steps to mitigate and reduce]

    “some” is a useful piece of string in this case?

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  36. andyscrase (89 comments) says:

    Spam, I was listing the issues that will or should be investigated. I understand that *some* magnitude 2 “earthquakes” have been measured as a result of fracking.

    Having personally lived through most of the Christchurch shakes, I think these will be as significant as a sparrow’s fart, but someone needs to go through the motions.

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  37. Spam (598 comments) says:

    Spam, I was listing the issues that will or should be investigated. I understand that *some* magnitude 2 “earthquakes” have been measured as a result of fracking.

    Fair enough, but the standard line I have heard from the greens is “it must be banned because it causes earthquakes” with zero context of how big they are. Sound-bites, you see.

    @David Garrett: No, but my father is a big Ken Follett fan.

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  38. Steve (4,538 comments) says:

    I have a friend on Facebook who lives in Colorado and does “Fracking’ for a living.
    Recent convo:

    Hi Robert,
    Lately here in NZ there has been a lot of talk about ‘Fracking’
    While I know the Internet is there for info, the seems to be a lot of mis-information with the media here.
    I think you do this ‘fracking’ would you like to give me the simple rundown from your perspective please.

    Sure, Steve – what would you like to know? There are several different types of fracking jobs. Slickwater, CO2, Nitrogen, and Gel fracks are the most common. Sllickwater is the basic frac job – A stage usually takes about 150,000 to 200,000 gallons of water, and around 150,0000 lbs of sand. (of course, this can vary due to the depth of the gas formation – very deep wells will use more water). A well has multiple stages – 12, 15, 20 – depends on the formation they want to get the gas from. Around here, we’re usually pumping at 6000psi to get the water and sand into the formation, and pumping the stage takes around 2 hours. The chemicals used in slickwater, co2, and nitrogen jobs are very safe to work with. Co2 and Nitrogen jobs are a little bit more dangerous than slickwater fracs due to the explosive expansion capabilities of liquid co2 and nitrogen – but dangerous to the frac hands, not the public.
    Gel jobs are a bit of a different bird – The chemicals are a bit nastier. We’re not using a lot of chemicals on the job, tho – think in terms of 1/4 or 1/2 gallon of chemical per 1000 gallons of water pumped. THink of it like this – no one will survive drinking a gallon of bleach. Dump a gallon of bleach into a swimming pool, and you can drink it all day long…
    The only chance for gas and gas byproducts to migrate is if the well and casing are compromised. The formations we are pumping into are a mile or two under ground, and theres an impermeable barrier of bedrock between the formation and any water table. If the well and casing get ruptured, tho, gas can seep up the line and contaminate water tables, so the company will pull the string and re-run the line and casing. Failures in the casing/well are pretty rare, but all wells are monitored for just this eventuality. In my 5 years of working, I’ve only seen one well in which we couldn’t frac because the pressure readings indicated a problem with the casing.

    Thanks for that Robert. Some of the weird Greenies here think fracking caused the earthquakes in Christchurch

    No problem – and they’re talking about injection wells. After a frack, they flow back the well. Basically,after the frack, the pressure of the gas in the formation pushes the water that they fracked with back out of the well and into tanks or storage ponds. Some of the water is “pressed”, or filtered and used again. If you need to get rid of a ridiculous amount of water, you drill an injection well and pump it down a mile or two underground. There is a veeery tenous connection between injection wells and mild earthquakes.

    Love the comment about ‘bleach’ this is where the flakes go scarmongering

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  39. David Garrett (6,905 comments) says:

    Funnily enough, that Wreck chap doesn’t seem to want to play….must have seen the 10 years of oil well drilling experience in half a dozen countries on my CV…

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  40. Mary Rose (393 comments) says:

    Most comments on this and previous threads do rather prove that the whole subject “has generated a lot of emotion but far too little light”. !!

    “Anything they say is wrong because they are saying it and I hate them” is never a great argument or defence by any side on any subject.

    So thanks Steve for posting something informative.

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  41. Mark (1,465 comments) says:

    Mark: DPF it would be interesting to apply this logic to the drug industry, the agricultural chemicals industry as well as the Petro Chemicals industry.

    As it should be because not to do so would stop human progress dead…but that is the Greens agenda afterall…

    So drugs and agrochemicals released before testing is progress. Stunning logic. I am not a greens supporter but are you not suffering from the blind ideology that you accuse them of.

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  42. wotsisname (14 comments) says:

    James Northrup
    http://vimeo.com/14472351

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  43. wotsisname (14 comments) says:

    Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Ingraffea, Robert Howarth
    http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2101745_2102309_2102323,00.html

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  44. wotsisname (14 comments) says:

    Thom Hartmann & Dr. Tony Ingraffea: How Fracking caused an Ohio earthquake

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