Frackophobia Addressed by Deroy

Paul Driessen is hangin out with Deroy Murdock? Excellent. I have respected Deroy’s writing now for a long time.

Deroy expounds on fracking.

The message from Paul to me:

As my colleague Deroy Murdock notes, about the only thing deeper than a natural-gas well is the ignorance of the anti-fracking crowd. Their hatred of hydrocarbons should not excuse these frackophobes from learning the facts or speaking factually and honestly, he says. And yet, thanks to the “mainstream media” and the activists’ money and Alinsky-inspired chutzpah, we are inundated daily with nonsense like “Fracking makes all water dirty” and “Pretty soon there will be no more water to drink.”

In this informative article, Deroy presents some FACTS about fracking.

Thank you for posting his article, quoting from it, and forwarding it to your friends and colleagues.

Best regards,


Fracking – Clean and green

Hatred of hydrocarbons should not excuse frackophobes from learning facts or speaking factually

Deroy Murdock

Williamsport, PA. The only thing deeper than a natural-gas well is the ignorance of the anti-fracking crowd.

Fracking – formally called hydraulic fracturing – involves briefly pumping water, sand and chemicals into shale formations far beneath Earth’s surface and thousands of feet below the aquifers that irrigate crops and quench human thirst. This process cracks these rocks and liberates the gas within. Though employed for decades with seemingly no verified contamination of ground water, anti-fracking activists behave as if this technology were invented specifically to poison Americans.

“Fracking makes all water dirty,” declares a poster that Yoko Ono recently exhibited at a Manhattan carpet store. Rants another: “Pretty soon there will be no more water to drink.”

Reporting on an anti-fracking event starring actor Mark Ruffalo and mystic Deepak Chopra, writer Alisha Prakash warns: “If this process remains the status quo, our planet will not be able to sustain life in another 100 years.”

Matt Damon’s 2012 film Promised Land dramatizes fracking’s supposed dangers by showing a toy farm devoured by flames.

In contrast to all this absurd hyperventilation, consider the sworn testimony of former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. Hardly a right-wing shill for Big Oil, Jackson told the House Government Reform Committee in May 2011: “I’m not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself has affected water.” In April 2012 Jackson said, “In no case have we made a definitive determination that the fracking process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”

Naturally occurring methane has tainted water since long before fracking was invented. However, environmental regulators from Pennsylvania to Arkansas to California echo Jackson. The allegation that fracking causes water pollution lacks just one thing: proof.

Beyond this, frackophobes would be astonished to see how much Anadarko, America’s third-largest natural-gas producer, obsesses over health, safety, and the environment in its Marcellus Shale operations. Anadarko and the American Petroleum Institute discussed these practices during a summer 2013 fact-finding tour that they hosted for journalists in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the thriving heart of what I call Frackistan.

“We live in this area,” says Anadarko production manager Robert Montgomery. “We love the forests here. We want to keep the environment safe for us and our kids.” He adds: “Regulatory agencies have been working with us every step of the way, as we have been developing these new technologies. There’s a whole lot of science and engineering involved, and we work side by side, so they know what’s going on.”

Montgomery explains that, before drilling, Anadarko identifies flora and fauna near production sites. In Pennsylvania, it uses outdoor cameras to determine which animals traverse the area. This helps Anadarko work with landowners after drilling and fracking are completed, to restore their property to its prior condition, or enhance it with new and different vegetation if the owners want to attract certain species.

For example, a large pond on a small hill belonging to the Elbow Fish and Game Club temporarily holds production-related water for an adjacent development site. After 50 to 100 days of drilling and well construction, and two to five days of fracking, about six to twelve wells will quietly begin to collect natural gas from this field. At that point, the soil excavated for the pond will be removed from storage and returned from whence it came. Anadarko will plant local grasses and flowers and, except for a few unobtrusive wellheads, the place will look largely untouched, as the wells yield gas for 20 to 40 years.

A few minutes away by car, several wells are being fracked on acreage owned by a farmer named Landon. The bonuses, rents and royalties he receives for gas exploration and production on his property enable him to put a new roof on his house and barn, buy new equipment, and save money for retirement. But he wants his fields and wildlife habitats protected. To that end, a thick felt-and-rubber pad, surrounded by a large berm, prevents potential spills from contaminating Landon’s soil.

“We even collect rainwater that falls on the pad,” says a production worker fittingly named Anthony Waters. “It’s pumped down the well, not put onto land.”

It would be far cheaper to let rainwater wash over fracking gear and then drain into the soil or roll downhill into a creek. But that’s not Anadarko’s style.

As mentioned, fracking does not involve constant injection and extraction of water throughout a well’s two- to four-decade lifespan, but only for the five days or less it usually takes to frack a well. This is the rough equivalent of getting a vaccination for five seconds, rather than living with a constant intravenous drip. For all its supposed evils, in this analogy, fracking is like a flu shot.

The amount of water involved here is microscopic, compared to other, thirstier fuels. According to the U.S. Energy Department, it typically takes about three gallons of water to generate 1 million British thermal units of energy from deep-shale natural gas. For conventional oil: 14 gallons. Coal: 22.5. Tar sands: 47.5. Corn ethanol: 15,805. Soy biodiesel: 44,500 gallons. Cultivating corn and soybeans requires irrigation, fertilizer and pesticides, which highlights just how stupid it is to turn food into fuel.

Fracking the Marcellus Shale happens some 6,000 feet underground. That is about 5,000 feet (more than three Empire State Buildings) below groundwater supplies. Drills and pipes penetrate aquifers, but all the way through more than a mile of rock they are encased in multiple layers of steel and concrete designed to separate drinking water from fracking fluids (which are 99 percent water and sand and less than 1 percent chemicals).

An old-fashioned well was like a vertical straw that sucked up gas just from the bottom tip. Horizontal wells start from one small spot at the surface and then fan out far underground. They then draw in gas from across a wide area of gas-bearing shale, as if through small holes in vacuum hoses laid flat on the floor. Having multiple wells drilled through a limited space on the surface means reduced impact on farmland and habitats, as well as fewer roads and trucks.

Is there risk in all of this? Of course. If not, Anadarko would not take these precautions. However, risk encircles us. Seat belts are not a reason to ban automobiles. Instead, they are evidence that managing risk lets people live their lives rather than hide at home – which is perfectly safe . . . until fires, floods, tornadoes and burglars come knocking.

Rather than peddle ill-informed nonsense and crazy lies about fracking, Yoko Ono and company should learn what Anadarko is doing and encourage other producers to adopt its standards as best practices. And if another company is cleaner and safer, challenge Anadarko and its competitors to learn that producer’s lessons. The frackophobes’ hatred of hydrocarbons should not prevent them from learning nor excuse them from speaking factually.

Unlike Pennsylvania, New York State is sitting on its adjacent portion of the Marcellus Shale and studying its collective navel, while farmers and their loved ones live on the edge of poverty and approach bankruptcy. The Empire State and the rest of the U.S. should harness fracking’s surprisingly clean technology and develop this country’s bountiful natural-gas reserves – carefully, responsibly and for everyone’s benefit.

What’s not to like? This fuel is all-American, and the revenues stay here – not in the hands of people who want to kill us.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. A version of this article first appeared on National Review Online (

Six of Deroy’s photos are available in jpg format. The first three are attached. Contact me if you would like me to send you any of the others. Please credit him for any used. Paul

1) The Anadarko Petroleum Company fracks a natural-gas well near Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

2) Anadarko production engineer Dave Johnson points to the small holes in a well pipe through which fracked natural gas passes en route to U.S. stoves, furnaces, water heaters and power plants.

3) After drilling and fracking, wells like these quietly channel natural gas into pipelines and on to consumers, often for 20 to 40 years.

4) A poster by Yoko Ono offers yet another hysterical claim against fracking.

5) As in this model, alternating layers of steel and concrete surround a natural gas well and keep it from contaminating groundwater supplies.

6) A thick rubber and felt pad, surrounded by a four-inch-high berm, is designed to prevent any spilled liquids from seeping into the soil.

Photos by Deroy Murdock

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9 responses to “Frackophobia Addressed by Deroy

  1. There is a very good reason for frackophobia and for the groundswell of recent opposition to the oil and gas industry. Historically, the industry has shown very little regard for the environment. It has repeated lied, blocked government regulations of any and all sorts and placed profits before responsible stewardship. And as a former resident of Fort Mcmurray (tarsands country), I know of what I speak.

    Having said that, I’m prepared to agree that responsible oil and gas extraction is possible — and even that fracking, property done, is a relatively benign process. But numerous fracking accidents throughout North America have been well-documented. The fact that they derive from improper installation,monitoring and closure, rather than from inherent flaws in the process itself, is cold comfort to the individuals affected. .And the chemicals are indeed toxic, to the extent that they can be analyzed (the industry typically doesn’t release information on their composition, which in itself does not exactly inspire confidence). These chemicals are presumably safe if controlled and contained — but if a well blows, disintegrated, collapses, or otherwise fails, then they can get into water supplies.

    In general, the oil and gas industry is its own worst enemy. And it still displays a “gold rush” mentality. When a new oil and gas field is discovered, operators descend like locusts, intent on extracting as much as possible as quickly as possible. And then, of course, accidents happen. Sometimes, bad accidents happen. And instead of addressing their process and accepting responsibility, media blackouts are initiated and the spin machines are revved up.

    If the Anadarko Petroleum Company operates as described, they are to be commended. But they are one among many, and until the carelessness and arrogance of the overall industry is addressed and corrected, ordinary people like myself will remain skeptical. . .

    • Once again, I, little ole me, can contaminate an entire water supply. Easily and undetected. Americans really are clueless about their water supplies, especially wells. It is EASY to contaminate ground water. EASY. Anyone with a modicum of understanding of wells can do it. So can wind turbine bases, probably. Just as much evidence for that as for fracking and really cool explanation of how it can happen. Let’s stop putting those useless things up.

  2. There is a more general term for the people you are refereing to as Frackophobes [which is an accurate and easily understood description] and that is Luddites.
    The term comes from the Ned Lud uprising in England where Luds followers engaged in acts of machine wrecking and other violence against factory owners in the mistaken belief that the machines that were producing the wealth that made the rapid expansion of the middle class and the improvement of living conditions for millions were taking their jobs.
    Today the Luddite is the anti-capitalist/anti-technology and usually low information in general posessing hysteric who is vocally afraid of every advance in technology while living in complete ignorance of how the technological infrastructure makes the easy life enjoyed by those who live in industrialized societies possible.

  3. I have some real problems with the assertions of Mr. Tilland as described above. If such things as described were part of the history, no doubt we would have to hear about them day after day from the anti fracking fanatics.

    Fracking occurs at thousands of feet, and drilling to the depth is not fraught with the kinds of troubles and catastrophes described by Mr. Tilland or the enviros would be having a field day. irresponsible and reckless conduct would be constantly in front of us as a reason never to allow fracking.

    Media Blackouts are initiated? What hogwash. The media is intensely anti oil and would never consider covering up a drilling problem–just the opposite.

    I would say that the drilling and exploration of a an area may be disruptive and certainly intrusive, as any big project might be, but some of the statements are not credible.

    For McMurray, which I assume is Canada, there may have had deluge of oil people and equipment, but I would suspect that we would have heard chapter and verse of the stories by now, considering that NGOs with billions in assets have no more important project that to try to stop fracking.

    If the problem was as bad and common as Mr. Tilland asserts, why are the enviros and their allied gov agencies repeatedly doing studies that are exposed as fake and misrepresentative. Why was the movie gasland such a fake? Why did the efforts to create a crisis in more than one location turn out to be agency hyperbole with no evidence.

    There is a fairly big fracking play going on not far from me, the Barnett Shale, West of Fort Worth TX. The residents, like Mr. Tilland claimed all kinds of things, Wells that had gas, for example, but superficial pockets of gas have nothing to do with the deep drilling of a well.

    The process goes on at such depths as to make it silly to say that fracking is contaminating water wells and the claims were in fact not related to fracking. Water wells are invariably less than 500 feet or the water quality is bad, natural gas/petrol well go to thousands of feet.

    As for the new scare–quakes–is it not amazing that when one considers the forces required to move the mantle of the earth that maybe it might be more reasonable to assume that quakes are due to natural forces and not the piddling use of pressure at 10,000 feet to cause some layer of shale to become more permeable?

    We would be quite over the top to say that drilling activity is disturbing mother earth’s mantle enough to cause an earthquake. I assume geophysicists could guess the forces involved, but I have a hard time believing some red necks working on a rig can make an earthquake.

    if they could, then I would want to ask, well is the earthquake something to worry about? Anymore than the earth shaking when someone puts dynamite down the hole.

    Lucky for me I never had to work a rig, I probably would have lost a finger the first day.

    And I am not an oil man, so i don’t have a dog in the fight except my antagonism to the enviro NGOs, the noisy blockers and, of course the gov agencies that are intent to stop production and assert themselves.

  4. With the advent of high speed computer systems making the crunching of truly large amounts of data possible and the use of that data producing useable sub-surface models scientists have been using explosives combined with strategically placed seismographs and other recording instruments to study the structure of the earth.
    The amounts of explosives that can be safely used in a conventional well will only trigger micro-quakes below the level of human perception. To do the sort of disruption the enviro-hysterics talk about you need the sort of specialized well drilling and explosives that have only been used at the Nevada Test Range in this country.
    This sort of explosion hasn’t occured for decades, since the signing of Nuclear Test Ban Treaties.

  5. The big, underlying problem for a lot of people is the comparison of potential situations to unattainable utopian standards. They want a guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong or could even possibly go wrong. Such assurances just aren’t possible in any industry.

    Search “flour mill explosion” or “molasses flood”. Every industry has its risks. It is no more reasonable to say that no risk is acceptable than it is to say that no regulation is required.

  6. How about a sign that exposure to Yoko Ono may drop IQ? And why is Deepak here and not in India, where they are starting to open up fracking. Should he not defend the pristine India? Wait, not enough money there for him, is there? Seriously, though, if it’s that important, why isn’t Deepak moving back to save India?

    In Wyoming, the EPA backed out of the Pavillion water mess because they would have to admit there was no evidence fracking had anything to do with the well problem. It was a case of wells went bad and who to blame? Oh, look, they’re fracking and they have lots of money and people hate them (well, the people that don’t make their living from “them” and the rest of the state won’t mind paying income tax if we drive ‘em out, right?) so let’s blame them. Wells go bad. They are expensive to replace, so people look for a sugar daddy to replace them. Or a scapegoat, whatever they can get.

    Most oil companies don’t want to damage the environment (in spite of Tilland’s comments). They want to stay in business and make money. A few have found shortcuts, leaving abandoned wells, etc., but we need to block the shortcuts, not stop the drilling, as noted in the article.

  7. Sorry, I’m not buying the theory that Yoko Ono has anything to do with earthquakes. (Music can get only so bad.)

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