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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Photos Debunk Key Anti-Fracking Claim -- Water wells supposedly contaminated by fracking were flammable years before gas drilling -- By Lachlan Markay, The Washington Free Beacon

Gasland Part II director Josh Fox / APNewly released photos of a flaming water well have renewed skepticism of claims by environmental activists and federal regulators that hydraulic fracturing made drinking water supplies in Parker County, Texas, flammable.

The 2005 photos show that drinking water in the area contained sufficiently high methane concentrations to be ignited years before a company blamed by environmentalists for water contamination began drilling in the area.

The Environmental Protection Agency in December 2010 issued an endangerment order against Range Resources, saying the oil and gas company either caused or contributed to groundwater contamination in Parker County.

Independent analyses of the case contradicted the EPA’s claims, which the agency released in collaboration with environmental activists in the state. EPA’s inspector general in December exonerated agency officials of wrongdoing in that collaboration, though questions about the agency’s close relationship with environmental groups remain unanswered.

The agency later settled with Range and withdrew its order. However, environmentalists continued to tout the Parker County case as an example of the environmental dangers of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

A flaming garden hose in Parker County served as a potent image in environmental activist Josh Fox’s 2012 film Gasland Part II. Fox and others have blamed fracking, an innovative oil and gas extraction technique, for polluting nearby drinking water with flammable methane.

Fracking supporters contend that such methane concentrations often appear naturally in water supplies near natural gas wells. Photos released through the legal proceedings against Range, first made publicly available on Wednesday, could bolster their case.

The photos show a flaming water well in Parker County, about a half mile from the gas well that allegedly contaminated the water well shown in Gasland. However, the photos were taken years before Range began drilling in the area.

Another photo shows a water well with a sign that warns, “Danger: flammable gas.”

The photos are a crucial piece of evidence rebutting claims made by the environmentalists and the EPA. While the agency demonstrated the presence of methane in Parker County’s water—a claim no one disputed—it failed to prove the methane was present as a result of fracking.

“The approach used by the EPA to correlate the Lipsky gas sample to Range Resources production was fundamentally flawed,” according to a study by Texas geoscientists Alan Kornacki and Mark McCaffrey.
The EPA did “not differentiate between gas in the Barnett [shale] formation from gas in [other nearby] reservoirs.”

This is not the first time iconic images of flaming water in a Josh Fox production have come under fire.

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