This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, July 8th 2013:
Ronald Bailey, who has specialized in exposing myths in the field of biotechnology for years, took great joy in exposing some popular myths about fracking over at Reason magazine where he writes a weekly science and technology column.
Bailey is best known for his book “Global Warming and Other Eco Myths” which exploded some popular myths, such as:
- Myth: Antarctica is melting due to global warming
- Fact: Antarctica is cooling, and has been for the past 30 years
- Myth: The global population is growing faster than our ability to feed it (i.e., the Malthusian proposition)
- Fact: Farmers are producing more food using fewer resources than ever before
- Myth: Solar and wind powered generators are a renewable, efficient, and less intrusive alternative to gas, oil, or coal-burning generators
- Fact: A single 555-megawatt natural gas power plant produces more electricity than 13,000 windmills
What set him off this time was a petition he received in the mail from a “green” group, Food and Water Watch (FWW), to pressure President Obama to ban fracking. That petition is likely to fall on deaf ears if what Obama had to say in his June 26th remarks at Georgetown University can be believed:
Today, we use more clean energy – more renewables and natural gas – which is supporting hundreds of thousands of good jobs. We waste less energy, which saves you money at the pump and in your pocketbooks. And guess what – our economy is 60 percent bigger than it was 20 years ago, while our carbon emissions are roughly back to where they were 20 years ago….
Now, even as we’re producing more domestic oil, we’re also producing more cleaner-burning natural gas than any other country on Earth. And, again, sometimes there are disputes about natural gas, but let me say this: We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions….
The bottom line is natural gas is creating jobs. It’s lowering many families’ heat and power bills.
The petition from FWW, however, outlined a few of their favorite myths:
1. You can light your tap water on fire
Well, of course you can, if inert methane gas has been absorbed by the water in sufficient quantities that when it reaches the atmosphere, and is lighted by a match. It can cause quite a show, as Josh Fox’s first video screed, Gasland, illustrates. What Fox failed to mention (which was brought to his attention in the film FrackNation) is that this phenomenon has been known for decades.
But to blame it on fracking is a deliberate and provable lie. In fact, as Bailey points out, the faucet that was set on fire is located in Fort Lupton, Colorado, which was tested for quality by Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. Their report stated: “There are no indications of any oil & gas related impacts to your well water.”
2. Fracking chemicals could seep into groundwater and consequently poison drinking water coming from wells
The most notable case so far is concerns raised in Pavillion, Wyoming. But the EPA study was “inconclusive” and fraught with inconsistencies so they turned the issue over to the state. Once again, the greens have gotten ahead of themselves, conflating fact with foregone conclusions.
3. Fracking increases air pollution
Well, not enough so you’d notice. As Bailey points out, in Pennsylvania the entire natural gas industry is responsible for 2 percent of the state’s smog-causing organic compounds, 5 percent of its nitrogen oxides, and 1 percent of the small particulates emitted by all the state’s industry in 2008. As Bailey points out: “That’s not nothing, but converting just one coal-fired plant to burn natural gas would do far more to improve Pennsylvania’s air quality that shutting down the state’s entire [natural] gas industry.”
4. Fracking causes cancer
This claim was raised by Fox in his YouTube video The Sky is Pink, but it was based on a single newspaper article! Talk about overreach! Bailey, however, fact-checked the matter by asking two experts in epidemiology to look into it. They concluded that Fox was wrong, again. There was no evidence of an increase in breast cancer in the Texas counties cited by Fox.
5. Natural gas is worse than coal
This came from a cobbled-together study by Cornell University that concluded that methane gas released more global warming pollutants than coal-fired plants. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory looked into that claim and concluded that “emissions … from Barnett Shale gas … were found to be very similar to conventional natural gas and less than half those of coal-fired electricity generation.”
Let’s not miss the main point: greens are seeking to use concerns over environmental pollution to drive their totalitarian agenda. As Dick Morris wrote about Steve Milloy’s book Green Hell:
Liberals want to use climate change as an excuse to take over the economy and regulate everything, and this book exposes their plans.
The greens will use lies and deceit at every opportunity to scare us into accepting draconian controls, all in the name of the environment. These myths, exposed by Bailey, are just a few they are using.