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Friday, June 22, 2012

Josh Fox's Latest Propaganda Video Comes Under Fire

Despite anti-gas activist/Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell's glowing endorsement of Josh Fox's 18-minute propaganda film directed at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, not everyone is greeting the video with champagne and roses.

Energy in Depth and former PA environmental regulator John Hanger have both addressed many of the claims Fox makes in the video, and the consensus between them is that Fox is far too distracted by his anti-gas agenda to actually account for reality in his films, however slickly produced and effectively horrifying they may be.

First, from EID:

They say that 82.3 percent of statistics are made up on the spot. Watching the video released by Gasland star Josh Fox this week – cleverly titled “The Sky is Pink” — one wonders whether that figure might be in need of a slight upward adjustment. 
Set aside the distracting, out-of-focus camerawork and characteristically creepy, overwrought narration, and the argument that Josh and his team attempt to put forth goes something like this: No natural gas well is safe. All of them fail and leak. And most damning: Industry studies and memoranda – memos previously buried in industry “drawers” — prove it. Memos so confidential, it took us a full three minutes to find them online (more on those later). 
In fairness, Fox doesn’t say that every well is destined for failure. In a column submitted to the USA Today last summer, Fox argued that five percent of wells experience “an immediate failure of the concrete casing.” Eight months later, in February, that figure had jumped eight-fold, with Fox telling DemocracyNow! that “casing that protects the groundwater cracks in 40 percentof the cases.” That same month, he suggested to Al Jazeera that the actual failure rate was closer to “50 percent” (20:16). In his new film (09:23), he settles on a new number: 16.7 percent. Hey, at least we’re improving, right? 
Of course, not mentioned anywhere in the new 18-minute film is the Aug. 2011 report issued by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), a study that draws on real-world field data and case descriptions from regulators representing two of the most heavily drilled states in the country: Texas and Ohio. According to that study, more than 220,000 oil and natural gas wells were drilled and completed (fractured) in these two states over the past 25 years, 16,000 of them horizontal wells targeting deep shale formations. 
Take your pick from any of the failure rates that Fox has cited over the past year: If he’s right – or even close to right – shouldn’t there be thousands of confirmed cases of water contamination from faulty wells and compromised casings? Unfortunately for Josh (but fortunately for everyone else), the GWPC report tells a very different story.

Read the rest of that article by clicking here.

Next, from John Hanger's blog:

The bulk of the movie, however, reflects an interesting strategic decision by Fox. The video focuses largely on methane migration and essentially lets go the claim that hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals are returning from depths to widely pollute aquifers.

By focusing on methane migration and the Colorado tap water fireball in Gaslands, Fox may well be replying to the new video Truthland that critiques Gaslands on this point. Whatever is Fox's reason for focusing on gas migration, this is progress of a sort. 
Unlike fracking fluids returning from depth, methane migration caused by mainly cementing mistakes is an issue. Yet Fox goes off the rails in dealing with methane migration in two critical ways. 
First, Fox suggests that gas drilling mistakes cause all cases of methane in tap water. He seems determined to convince the viewer that it is impossible for gas naturally or prior to drilling to be in someone's water at levels that cause it to ignite. Fox's position on the causation of gas in water is as silly and wrong as saying that gas drilling mistakes never cause gas to migrate and contaminate water wells. 
While gas drilling errors have caused a small number of gas migration cases in Pennsylvania, Fox goes so far to suggest that methane is migrating from close to 50% of all wells ever drilled in the USA and world, an astounding suggestion that flies in the face of more than 100 years of gas drilling and cementing experience and 60 years of hydraulic fracturing. He directly states that the gas industry is engaged in a decades long global conspiracy to conceal what he claims are the massive numbers of gas wells that are causing large amounts of pollution to aquifers, wherever gas drilling has taken place for a century or more.

No doubt, Josh Fox and Donald Trump could have a great time swapping conspiracy theories, and both have Manhattan abodes to make a meeting easy. While I hope for that summit, while waiting, let's look at what has happened in the real world. 
Pennsylvania itself has had approximately 400,000 gas wells drilled in its history and millions have been drilled in the USA. If gas were migrating from gas wells at anything like the rate suggested in this video, gas faucets would be flaming in millions of homes in America and around the world. Obviously, they are not. 
Instead, though the problem of gas migration is real, it is infrequent. When it does infrequently occur, repairs to gas wells can be made that may stop the migration.
Read the rest of that post by clicking here.

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