|The Western Mail today carries a story by Peter Law on a report issued yesterday by a team from the University of Texas Energy Institute (UTEI), that claims fracking pollution of groundwater is ‘unproven’. What it really amounts to is a lot of nothing, but it is being jumped on for propaganda purposes.
See the report in the paper here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/02/17/fracking-company-claim-absolute-proof-the-technique-is-safe-91466-30346586/ (My words near the end have been subject to some pretty dreadful editing, but the drift is clear enough)
As you will see from this URL, our old friend Gerwyn Williams, of Bridgend-based two-bit company Coastal Oil & Gas, is keen to twist it for his own ends. Only a complete idiot would suggest that there is any absolute proof that any industrial process, let alone one that involves explosives, nasty chemicals and very high pressure hydraulics, is totally safe. But the report from the UTEI doesn’t say this at all.
The key passage is quoting Lead Scientist Dr Groat:
An important part of our study was to determine whether or not there was any direct verified evidence that fracturing itself was producing contaminated waters that ended up in that process in the groundwater.”
Our preliminary finding is we have found no demonstration that that has happened.
Hardly conclusive proof of anything, but clearly leaning towards wanting to exonerate the frackers. The fact that Dr Charles Chip Groat is such an eminent and well respected geologist (http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_G._Groat), in the twilight of his career (72 next month), lends it some credibility …… Or does it?
The self same Dr Charles “Chip” Groat (there can only be one of them, surely!) just so happens to have fallen on his feet late in life, with a Directorship of a Houston based company called Plains Exploration & Production Company (PXP). His total ‘compensation’ package was worth $308,300.00 in 2009, and $493,598.00in 2008. He only took up the position in November 2007. http://people.forbes.com/profile/charles-g-groat/64104
And just what does this company do? Its website does not say a lot (http://www.pxp.com/) but it does say this:
“PXP is an independent oil & gas company primarily engaged in the activities of acquiring, developing, exploring and producing oil and gas in its core areas of operation: California, Texas and Louisiana.”
So maybe just the faintest hint of a vested interest, Dr Charlie “Poker Chip” mega-Groats!
But maybe I am being a bit harsh on the old man. His report goes on to say that there is a need to carry out more sampling and analysis of groundwater, to get to the bottom of where contamination was coming from. He also recognises that more baseline studies are also required to show what conditions are like before the start of drilling operations. This would make it easier to establish what effects should or should not be attributed to fracking. Which pretty much sounds like a case for at least a moratorium while all this work is done, wouldn’t you agree, Gerwyn?
And incidentally, Peter Law, for the sake of balance, it would have been worth including these aspects of the UTEI report in what you printed. However, your story does include other bits that support our case rather than Gerwyn William’s:
How reassuring is this?
As for Gerwyn trotting out the the old chestnut of frack fluid being 96% water and 4% food additives, I look forward to him taking a few sips of a sample in front of us all at the Inquiry in May! Now that would be re-assuring and closer to absolute proof! I will get the recipe from Dr Theo Colborn for him, although even she has not worked out some of the secret ingredients yet!
I have a growing feeling that the Public Inquiry in May is going to be a lot of fun!