Energy in Depth Responds to Recent Studies & Reports

We posted about a couple of the recent developments that were picked up by the anti-fracking movement as proof of the dangers of natural gas development, such as the USGS water testing results in Wyoming (as well as Encana's response), Bloomberg's efforts to rekindle outrage over the water in Dimock, PA, and the Earthworks report that lampooned state regulation of gas drilling.

Energy in Depth, in typical fashion, was not going to let these new reports go without offering a response that attempts to debunk them.

First, their response to the Pavillion testing:
To rational observers, it’s been clear for months that the EPA blundered in Pavillion, Wyoming, and blundered badly. But if you needed more evidence of the EPA’s missteps, and the agency’s desperation to save face, it came last week from an unexpected source: the federal government itself. 
To recap, the EPA issued a preliminary report in December which, according to the Associated Press, “theorized a link between a petroleum industry practice called hydraulic fracturing and groundwater pollution in a Wyoming gas field.”  That theory came under fire almost immediately, after the State of Wyoming, EID, and many others identified serious flaws in the data EPA used to support it. For example, EPA’s two groundwater monitoring wells were drilled too deep and into a natural hydrocarbon reservoir. There are also special procedures for drilling monitoring wells, but EPA didn’t follow them, which means the agency may have introduced foreign substances into the very groundwater it was trying to sample. 
When confronted with these flaws, and others, the EPA agreed in March to suspend its investigation, retest the wells, and bring in the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct its own sampling. Under one condition:  that USGS could not provide any analysis of the data it collected. Instead, the role of USGS was limited to feeding raw data into the peer-review of EPA’s findings, which has not yet begun. 
The USGS published that raw data Sept. 26. Almost immediately, an EPA spokeswoman e-mailed reporters to say the USGS report “is generally consistent with groundwater monitoring data previously released by the Environmental Protection Agency.” USGS couldn’t say much in reply, other than “USGS did not interpret the data.”
But for those willing to look closely enough at the USGS report, it’s hard to see how the EPA can claim the two reports are “generally consistent.” Actually, that statement is highly misleading, because there are glaring inconsistences between what the EPA and USGS found. So far, Energy In Depth has identified more than 50 individual measurements from the EPA’s draft Pavillion report that have been discredited by the USGS.
Read the rest here.

And then comes their response to the Earthworks report:

Last week, Earthworks released a report that attempted to show lax state regulation of oil and gas development. The purpose was clear: build a case for more federal regulation, and by extension delay approval for additional production – if not ban it outright. Unfortunately for Earthworks, anyone with an Internet connection has access to information that proves Earthworks’ goal was not to shine on a light on a problem, but rather to repeat its old talking points in a new way.
That objective was hardly buried or hidden in the document, either. On the second page of the report, Earthworks says, “this work could not have been undertaken without the generous support of The Heinz Endowments.” For those unfamiliar with Heinz, they – along with the Park Foundation – have been one of the chief financial backers of efforts to stop natural gas development. To put this in poker terms, Earthworks revealed its hand before the betting even began.
What’s more amazing, though, is the sheer lack of understanding of the oil and natural gas industry that Earthworks put on display for everyone who read their report. From mischaracterizing state regulatory systems to failing to account for the fact that well pads often have multiple producing wells, Earthworks’ latest report stands high as a monument to mediocrity in the world of anti-drilling activism.
Below you’ll find a list of some of the biggest problems with Earthworks’ report. Feel free to add any other discrepancies or problems in the comments section at the end of the post.
Read the rest of that article here.

And then, the response to new reports about Dimock's water:
It’s not hard to grasp what the EPA is saying, is it?  Naturally occurring contaminants were determined to be present in five water wells (out of 61 sampled) at levels that presented health concerns, but these householders also had access to treatment systems that can reduce concentrations to acceptable levels, regardless of the source or the likelihood these problems long preceded gas well development.
The Times, of course, is saying this doesn’t address methane issues and proceeds to draw upon a Duke University (yes, that Duke University) study to suggest it is a contaminant and is finding its way into water wells as a result of Cabot’s gas wells.  It cites the DEP methane standard (intended to address risks of gas explosions), but avoids noting there is no EPA drinking water standard for methane because it doesn’t present a drinking water threat.  It is only a problem when the methane accumulates in an enclosed space, a problem easily resolved with venting.
Methane leakage, therefore, is the last hope natural gas opponents have of perpetuating the Dimock myth. 
Read the rest of that article here.

And the see-saw act between drilling advocates and drilling critics continues.

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