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Oh, Canada’s Become a Home for Record Fracking

While furious debate over fracking rages in the U.S., the controversial practice has been embraced across the border. British Columbia and Alberta have offered incentives and loosened regulations to attract drilling. The result: record fracking operations and rising concerns about the environmental cost.

Workers on a natural gas drilling rig near Longview, Alberta. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press via AP Images)

Early last year, deep in the forests of northern British Columbia, workers for Apache Corp. performed what the company proclaimed was the biggest hydraulic fracturing operation ever.

The project used 259 million gallons of water and 50,000 tons of sand to frack 16 gas wells side by side. It was "nearly four times larger than any project of its nature in North America," Apache boasted.

The record didn't stand for long. By the end of the year, Apache and its partner, Encana, topped it by half at a neighboring site.

As furious debate over fracking continues in the United States, it is instructive to look at how a similar gas boom is unfolding for our neighbor to the north.

To a large extent, the same themes have emerged as Canada struggles to balance the economic benefits drilling has brought with the reports of water contamination and air pollution that have accompanied them.

The Canadian boom has differed in one regard: The western provinces' exuberant embrace of large-scale fracking offers a vision of what could happen elsewhere if governments clear away at least some of the regulatory hurdles to growth.

Even as some officials have questioned the wisdom of doing so, Alberta and British Columbia have dueled to draw investment by offering financial incentives and loosening rules. The result has been some of the most intensive drilling anywhere.

"There definitely is concern on the part of people living in northeast B.C. on the scale of developments, which are quite significant already and are only in their infancy,"said Ben Parfitt, an analyst with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, a research institute that promotes environmental sustainability. "We are seeing some of the largest fracking operations anywhere on earth."

Canada's eastern regions have proceeded more cautiously. In March, Quebec placed a moratorium on shale development pending further study. Protesters have taken to the streets in New Brunswick demanding the same.

Public opposition, coupled with low gas prices, has slowed drilling over the past year. Still, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers expects production from shale and other unconventional sources to more than triple in the next decade.

The industry's aggressive plan for growth has drawn an ambivalent response from the nation's top environmental officials.

In March, Canada's deputy minister of the environment sent an internal memo warning that more work was needed to assess the risks from shale gas drilling. The memo, obtained by an Ottawa-based newspaper and addressed to Environment Minister Peter Kent, said water use and contamination top a list of environmental concerns including air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and the use of unknown toxic chemicals. Kent subsequently ordered two studies looking at the safety and environmental impacts of shale drilling.

Yet, in a written response to questions from ProPublica, the environment ministry affirmed its commitment to continued development.

"Our Government believes shale gas is an important strategic resource that could provide numerous economic benefits to Canada," the ministry's statement said. Gas is an important part of a clean energy future, the ministry added, saying that "a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand."

B.C., Alberta Lure Drillers

Canada's current drilling boom dates to the late 1990s, when Encana began using fracking to extract gas from dense rock in northern British Columbia.

The second-largest gas driller in North America, Encana also started fracking shallow coal seams, or coalbed methane, in Alberta in the early 2000s, using nitrogen rather than water to free the gas. Coalbed methane drilling generally requires less fluid than fracking shale but occurs much closer to drinking water. In some cases, Encana and other companies have drilled wells directly into aquifers, injecting fracking fluids into groundwater suitable for drinking.

In the middle of the last decade, Encana and other operators started exploring northern British Columbia's shale gas reserves. The formations were promising, holding at least 200 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to industry estimates.

But drillers faced formidable hurdles to get to it. Unlike the Barnett and Marcellus shales in the U.S., Canada's best shale basins are far from most markets and existing infrastructure. Soggy ground slows drilling in the spring and summer, and the average high temperature hovers around zero degrees Fahrenheit in January.

To encourage development, British Columbia enacted a series of incentives, including reduced royalties for deep drilling and credits for building roads and pipelines in the remote regions.

These changes, combined with the area's severe conditions, spurred companies to concentrate and scale up their operations in British Columbia in an effort to cut costs, industry experts say. The result: a string of record-breaking fracks.

In a written response to questions from ProPublica, Apache said this approach reduces surface disturbance. It also can heighten the risk of air and water pollution, said Bruce Kramer, an expert in oil and gas law with McGinnis, Lochridge and Kilgore, a Texas-based law firm.

In both western provinces, the regional authorities responsible for regulating drilling have passed rules to allow more intensive drilling.

In Alberta, drillers can now pack wells closer together and pump more water out of shallow coal seams to free gas more efficiently. British Columbia issued detailed regulations last year that limit where and when companies can drill and set rigorous environmental standards but also gave its Oil and Gas Commission the authority to exempt drillers from virtually all of these provisions.

The commission referred an inquiry from ProPublica to its parent organization, the Ministry of Energy and Mines. In written responses to questions, the Ministry said the new regulations adequately address environmental concerns over drilling activity in the province. Pointing to an upcoming health study and new rules that compel companies to disclose chemicals used in fracking, officials said they would continue to review and revise standards as necessary.

Still, the regulatory shifts have prompted environmental advocates in Alberta and British Columbia to question whether officials are prepared to cope with rising concerns about water use, contamination and unchecked development.

"We just don't have a clue how big this issue is from a public policy perspective,"said Bob Simpson, a member of British Columbia's legislative assembly and an outspoken critic. "We really don't know what we're doing."

Jessica Ernst's Water Problems

Over the last five years, there have been several prominent cases in which Alberta residents have said gas drilling contaminated their water.

There are no hard numbers. The government does not track such complaints. But in some instances, residents' frustration has been exacerbated by their sense that regulators have not properly investigated their claims.

In 2005, Jessica Ernst noticed strange things happening to her water. The toilet fizzed. The faucets whistled. Black particles clogged her filter. Then she began getting rashes.

Ernst, a longtime environmental consultant for oil and gas companies, wondered whether the changes could be connected to drilling nearby. Encana had been drilling shallow coalbed methane wells near her home outside of Rosebud, about 50 miles northeast of Calgary.

She asked Alberta Environment and Water, the agency that oversees groundwater, to test her well. When the well was drilled in 1986, tests showed it had no methane. The new tests, however, showed high levels of the gas, as well as a hydrocarbon called F2 and two other chemicals.

But in 2007, a government research agency concluded it was unlikely that drilling had affected her water. The final report said the chemicals found were not typically used in coalbed methane drilling, and that one had probably come from a plastic tube used to test the water.

Ernst wasn't satisfied with the province's response, however. The government's report concluded that the methane in her well might be occurring naturally because tests showed similar levels of gas in nearby wells. But the tests were conducted after Ernst noticed the changes in her water -- she saw the results as an indication that the contamination might be more widespread.

The government's report also ignored evidence provided by one of its own analysts, a professor of geochemistry at the University of Alberta. When Karlis Muehlenbachs analyzed the gas in Ernst's well for Alberta Environment and Water, he found ethane, a gas often found with methane, with a chemical signature indicating that it had come from deep underground, below the depth of the well. Muehlenbachs told ProPublica that the ethane's signature meant that it could not have been there naturally. He said he is convinced that it resulted from drilling.

As Ernst searched for answers to what happened to her water, she unearthed evidence of other problems related to drilling. She found an Alberta Environment and Water report that listed cases in which the fracking of shallow wells resulted in gas or fluid leaking into nearby gas wells or spraying into the air. She also found government gas well records that said Encana had fracked into the aquifer that supplies her water well.

"The community was used as a test tube,"she said. "I was used as a test tube."

Earlier this year, Ernst sued Encana, Alberta Environment and Water and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates drilling, alleging that Encana's drilling was negligent and that the government agencies had covered up the company's contamination and failed to enforce regulations.

Ernst, who is asking for about $33 million Canadian in damages and return of wrongful profits, has vowed she will not accept a settlement that includes a confidentiality agreement, as others have done.

"Somebody has to do this,"she said.

Alan Boras, a spokesman for Encana, said the company would not comment on the case.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board denied a request for an interview. In written responses to questions, spokesman Bob Curran said he could not comment on the specifics of Ernst's case, but the agency is confident it has conducted itself appropriately.

Carrie Sancartier, a spokeswoman for Alberta Environment and Water, would not comment on Ernst's allegations because of the lawsuit but said there have been no confirmed cases of gas drilling contaminating water wells in the province.

Muehlenbachs, whose work has been used in several government investigations, said that is "simply false." He said he's analyzed thousands of cases of gas leaking up well bores and knows of at least a dozen cases of water contamination.

Alberta has introduced several measures to safeguard water from shallow drilling. In 2006, it established a buffer zone between shallow gas wells and water wells and required drillers to test nearby water wells before drilling into an aquifer.

Nevertheless, last January, as part of a review of drilling regulations, the Energy Resources Conservation Board said shallow fracking poses a risk to groundwater.

Is 'Communication' a Risk?

There have been no reports of groundwater contamination related to new drilling in British Columbia.

Increasingly, however, there are reports of something called "communication" -- events in which a fracture travels through the ground and connects two gas wells.

Ken Paulson, chief engineer at the province's Oil and Gas Commission, said these events do not pose a contamination risk. Other experts say their principal impact is to undermine production.

But opponents of expanded shale drilling say instances of communication show that drillers lack a full understanding of what happens when wells are fracked closer together, increasing the risk of contamination. Anthony Ingraffea, an engineering professor at Cornell University, said that if a fracture hit a natural fault, it could allow contaminants to enter aquifers.

Communication has occurred in the U.S. as well: Regulators in Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Pennsylvania reported such events to Canadian officials as part of the Energy Resources Conservation Board's regulatory review.

Documents provided to ProPublica show that energy companies have reported 25 cases of communication in British Columbia since 2009. Companies are not required to report such events, so the list isn't comprehensive, Paulson said.

In May 2010, the province's Oil and Gas Commission issued a warning when a drilling company inadvertently shot sand from one fracking job into another well being drilled more than 2,000 feet away.

The advisory said the operator contained the resulting jump in pressure within the well but warned of a "potential safety hazard." When communication occurs, Paulson said, the biggest concern is that an operator could lose control of a well and cause a blowout.

Concerns Over Water Consumption

As the debate over communication continues, Parfitt and other Canadian environmentalists have raised more immediate concerns about water use. Fracking requires lots of water -- on their biggest reported fracking job, Apache and Encana used an average of 28 million gallons of water per well.

While the oil and gas industry says it is responsible for 1 percent or less of British Columbia's overall water use, environmental advocates say that may not reflect the full extent of the industry's consumption or long-term needs.

Drillers use both surface and groundwater. Access to surface water is regulated by two agencies that issue long-term licenses or year-long permits. Overwhelmingly, energy companies have chosen to obtain permits, which require less regulatory review.

Most groundwater withdrawals aren't regulated at all. Drillers need permits to sink water wells, but there are no limits on the amount of water that can be taken from them. They can also purchase water from other well owners, so there's no way to track overall use.

"How much water is actually being used and, more importantly, how much water is projected to be used over next the 10 to 15 years? Because of the scattershot approach of regulation, this isn't something we can actually answer right now,"said Matt Horne, acting director of the climate change program at the Pembina Institute, an environmental think tank that published a report on the gas industry's water use.

Last year, in a report focusing on province-wide groundwater oversight, British Columbia's auditor general said the province was not adequately protecting aquifers from overuse and potential contamination. Agencies lacked the basic data necessary to assess the risks, such as the number and extent of the province's aquifers, the report said.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines, in a written response to questions, said the province is taking several steps to improve oversight of water use, including a research project studying aquifers. The agency said it can review large groundwater withdrawal projects and that pending changes to the province's water law would regulate withdrawals.

Drillers themselves are also moving to address water concerns. Encana and Apache have started using saline water not suitable for drinking or irrigation in some of their projects. Alan Boras, the Encana spokesman, said the company uses non-potable water almost exclusively in its main operating area in the Horn River Basin, where the largest frack jobs were reported.

Environmentalists say they welcome the effort, but caution that these projects are tiny compared to the industry's overall water use.

Governments, Industry Get Cozy

Public backlash to fracking has become such a concern for drillers and provincial governments in western Canada that last year they launched a joint effort to counter it.

In December 2010, the governments of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan signed a memorandum of understanding laying out a plan to share information and develop standards for hydraulic fracturing and water use. The provinces invited only one non-governmental entity to participate in the project: the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

The memo, which was leaked in August and published by the Alberta Federation of Labour, a union group, said the provinces and petroleum producers would work together to develop "key messages" on shale drilling to persuade the public not to fear fracking.

"The project will help to demonstrate that shale gas extraction is viable, safe and environmentally sustainable," the memo said.

The memo blamed environmental groups for spreading misleading information and stirring opposition to drilling.

"Environmental Non-Government organizations (ENGOs) are supporting a ill-informed [sic] campaign on hydraulic fracturing and water related issues in British Columbia and in other jurisdictions," it said. "This is expected to grow as shale gas development expands into Alberta and Saskatchewan."

In a separate memo, Alberta Environment and Water reported that the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers had approached the province to work on a joint public relations campaign.

Ultimately, no campaign materialized.

Janet Annesley, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, said the group hadn't wanted to join forces on PR but was just informing the province of plans to publish voluntary standards for shale gas drilling.

Still, critics saw the memo as proof of an overly cozy relationship between the government and the industry.

Bart Johnson, a spokesman for Alberta's Energy Minister, said the petroleum producers had suggested a joint PR initiative but dropped the request. Such a collaboration, however, would not have been inappropriate, he said. The government works with industry groups all the time, he said, citing a campaign with education groups against bullying in schools.

"Oil and gas is huge in Alberta. It fuels our economy. Indeed it fuels the economy of Canada," Johnson said. "Any suggestion that we shouldn't meet with that industry is ridiculous."

Ruth Hardinger

Dec. 28, 2011, 11:19 a.m.

There are tremendous alternative energies and its a growing industry…. much more so than fossil fuels.

Shale gas (aka natural gas) is not clean - it burns a bit less carbon than oil and counting its raw methane releases and all procurement - it contributes more to the carbon levels than coal.

Time to get off fossil fuels now before climate change is irreversable.

There’s an interesting story you haven’t covered yet about opposition to fracking on canadian reservations. These people need support.

http://www.nativenewsnetwork.com/standoff-in-alberta-blood-tribes-members-vs-murphy-oil-company.html

Implying that Canada is embracing fracking may leave a misleading impression of a substantial opposition within the electorate. Current governments are currently very pro big oil/big gas but a significant number of Canadians are opposed to the practice or are calling for more research. It may be more accurate to indicate that “current federal and provincial governments” are enthusiastic but large segments of Canadians are not. More stories on Canadian/US issues are most welcomed.

Cheryl Fontaine

Dec. 28, 2011, 11:49 a.m.

Fracking is destroying a way of life in Canada and it will do the same in the U.S.  People will lose their homes and property. The oil company has already starting digging wells in the aquifer. So in addition to poisoning the clean water in the aquifer, they’re taking millions of gallons of fresh water from the people.

Do we destroy the earth in our lust for OIL? It will make a bunch of people filthy rich, but it will also poison our land, air, and water and who knows for how long.

We are on the verge of a climate catastrophe, so the oil company’s answer to that is to drill the filthiest oil on earth and in so doing, increase an already dangerous situation in our WORLD caused by fossil fuels.

How much research and development of alternative sources would the money they are spending on this filthy project have financed?

Here in Nova Scotia the NDP Provincial Government is plowing ahead with an industry that was invited in by the previous Conservative Government and it appears the Deputy Minister of Energy is the main person pushing this very dangerous industrial activity .  The elected ministers are just followers - not the leaders they were elected to be .  Neither government has ever asked us if we would like to suddenly live in an industrial zone of O & G wells with large compressors nearby .  Neither have ever done a cost / benefit analysis that was made public .  They say that an enviornmental assessment isn’t required .
They do not have any published rules that say that government will protect our aquifers nor ensure the drillers that contaminate the aquifer will be responsible for the damage .  I can go on and on but by now you get the drift of just how many questions from the residents are left unanswered .

For more on fracking in Canada, check out this story by Chris Wood in The Walrus magazine:

http://www.walrusmagazine.com/articles/2011.12-energy-a-rock-and-a-hard-place/

The energy resources are endless and there will be no shortage of it ever and about the Good reality almost no humans on Earth knows unless explained in the future. Don’t Worry about the environmental pollutions because chemicals are always auto recycling to become and remain the same atoms @ 50% balancing rule. For billions of years to come, the Earth will still be too big to become an unhealthy place for Creations to live, let alone the universe, all we need is relocating the cities and there will be lots of healthy activities and new jobs for centuries and for actually happier future generations of mankind.

I will tell more in a to be opening soon website. It is the dumb minds that can’t see healthy and better options but only want to live like addicts in Alberta, Dhaka, Beijing, Jerusalem, Rome, Mecca etc.

So, live worry free and happy wherever you happen to be in the forever changing World.



Shahislam

Drilling and fracing aren’t the same thing, as much as Propubica would like to confuse the issue.  Drilling through an aquifer at 500 feet and fracing at 10K feet doesn’t mean that Apache fracced somebody’s well.  What dips work here

The only real question one needs to ask:  Is it being done as an expression of good or an expression of greed.

Cheryl Fontaine

Dec. 29, 2011, 7:35 a.m.

That question was answered a long time ago.  Regulations - Oil companies have spent millions working to defeat the EPA and other safety standards, both for the environment and for human beings. They would rather pay the fines than spend the money to make sure the work is done right and unfortunately, we have plenty of congressmen with their hands out who gladly spend their careers working for big oil instead of the people they are supposed to represent.

Here in Quebec, a growing movement similar to “Lock the Gate” in Australia is opposing shale gas extraction with fracking methods. “Vous n’entrerez pas chez Nous” pledge letter is being signed by property owners, farmers and landowners all over the St.Lawrence Lowlands, exactly where the gas companies want to frack the Utica.

If I can beleive the many citizens opposed to the gas invasion, there will NOT be any widespread fracking in Quebec. Can’t say I didn’t warn you.

Johanne Dion
President
Friends of the Richelieu
http://lesamisdurichelieu.blogspot.com/

Here in Michigan we’ve formed Ban Michigan Fracking.
Encana is fracking here, too, and in our state forests, for the Utica and Collingwood shales.
We need to turn to renewable energy now, not later.

LuAnne Kozma
co-founder, Ban Michigan Fracking
http://banmichiganfracking.org

Michael Hiner

Dec. 29, 2011, 3:54 p.m.

Engineers have been dealing with communication issues for decades.  It is too bad that ill-infomed individuals are trying to make it some kind of bell-weather environmental issue.  That would be junk science.

Bubba’s comment warrants further discussion to ensure the reporting is accurate about deep vs. shallow fracking.  If he is correct that all fracking is deep, then this article is very mis-leading.  It would be nice if a responsible party who knows these areas would educate us a little more about the depth to objectives and fracking depths.  Better transparency on the issues.

The Very Dirty Little Secret: fracking injects toxic chemicals into aquifers and permanently destroys the water supply. Unless testing is done before fracking, it’s impossible to prove that fracking is the source of the contamination.  There are many examples of water supplies being destroyed when fracking comes to town.  We need clean water to survive - why risk contaminating it?.  One intended consequence of fracking is that, when the water supply is contaminated, people will have to start buying water, creating a captive market.

Please read this article also on fracking and the film “Gasland:”

http://columbianewsandviews.com/2011/09/23/silent-spring-of-the-susquehanna-river-–-a-review/#more-9980

Denis Campeau

Dec. 30, 2011, 8:39 a.m.

Excellent article. There is one thing, regarding this article that should be put in perspective. There is no moratorium on schale gas in Quebec. The government had put in place a commission to evaluate the environmental effect of schale gas development. Companies can continue drilling if they want, and I don’t believe that the result of their evaluation will be a moratorium on schale gaz development. 

It is a fake commission that has to evaluate things like the use of chemicals during hydraulic fracturing but there are no chemist or biochemist as member of the commission. They have to evaluate the schale gas fracturing effect on health, but there are no physicians on the board. Also, they don’t want to have on the board any members of environmental group because they said that they can’t be neutral, but they agree to have a geologist working for a gas company on the board…

Another industry dirty secret! Minutes from Calgary, Canada’s oil & gas capital, lies the Lochend, a densely populated farming, ranching and acreage community. Saturation of oil wells and immense brute force fracking operations over part of the Paskapoo Aquifer, one of the highest groundwater use areas in Canada, is taking place at an alarming rate. Reports of illnesses of residents and animals near fracking operations, ongoing reports of earthquakes since July in the heaviest fracked areas, communication incidents, etc. are mounting.
Water moves! Ironic that Calgary’s water treatment plants cannot monitor for frack fluid poisoning in the event of a spill or leakage into our ground water or our surface water.
The shameless concentration of our Alberta govt. and its regulator on getting oil and gas reserves out from the ground as fast and as much as possible despite the world wide concern on the immediate and long term effects of fracking led several of us to form POWERS (http://www.powersalberta.ca)
Alberta and its regulating arm have actually decreased the regulation of the industry in the midst of this controversy. Unlike Quebec, where their govt. looked after its people’s interests and imposed a moratorium on fracking, we need to protect ourselves from our govt.
Brian Pickup, President of POWERS

Although, there is no real shortage of fossil fuel or alternate energy-sources all these issues are temporary and has been created by human greed of wealth only.
A globally and desperately needed new commercial transportation of 21st century: “Giant gaseous (Natural and helium) balloons, fully covered with solar panels” and controlled by remote digital operators / GPS will end these unscrupulously profiteering activities of thousands of Millionaires and Billionaires in Oil Business.
We’ll surely have few failures at the beginning but the new century’s transportation industry with this alternate energy will be able to create countless jobs in North-America because we are able to honestly manage the today’s greatest digital technologies like the Internet, GPS etc. (To be cont.)

Shahislam

What we need to realise is that govts are now bought and paid for by the big fossil mining and oil companies.  We have allowed this to happen and now we only have ourselves to stop it.  In Australia Coal Seam Gas mining is going to ruin our prime agricultural land and our water and both the left and right political parties are embracing it. We have all taken our eye off the ball too long.

Michael Hiner

Jan. 1, 2012, 9:59 p.m.

Oil and gas are commodities.  You can regulate or ban the production, but you will not help your communities as much as you think.  Canadians may not need the energy as much as those of us in the US.  You can certainly take us to task on consumption and high demand.  But if we don’t get the energy from our neighbors we will certainly continue to import from cartels and dictators who love to try to embarrass us and blackmail us.

Regardless of your view, all of our economies survive with oil and gas.  Even if the pipe dream of complete transfer to alternative energy could be realized in less than 50 to 75 years, we still need plastics, lubricants, IC chips for computers, and untold thousands of commodites that are derived or refined from oil and gas and used in the form of plastics and other materials.  It doesn’t go away as easy as some would like to imagine.

Back to the US—we also have a rapidly growing population, in part by influences beyond our domestic boundaries.  If we all believe that people regardless of dividing line are deserving of basic infrastructure and access to such standards of living, then it is not a blight for US citizens to care for their expanding population.  We hope that our neighbors will stand by us and not throw us to the whims of the cartels and dictators.  But if that is the outcome, rest assured that human impact on climate will continue.  Perhaps it won’t be in your backyard or ours, but it will be in some region as a viable production commodity.  Maybe those countries won’t have the power of the people and government to regulate and control such as we have in our own country’s?  Maybe those populations will suffer even greater environmental harm because it is their backyard and not ours?  If that should come to pass the climate concerns and problems will likely be greater.  Until you stand on a street corner of Beijing or Shanghai, you cannot honestly imagine smog so thick that it hides buildings.  The air quality conditions are very similar to the conditions of New York and London before the turn of the 20th century when everthing was run by coal.  That is the comparison.

But what should we do?  Investigate, educate, research and be honest.  People and oil companies are not as horrible as some environmental groups suggest.  And the green lobby is not one stereotype.  There are the 1-10 per cent who always seem to muck up a good plan ( on both sides).  But even though that fringe are a problem, the greater good of the green side and the oil and gas side can overcome the challenges.  It only takes good science and good engineering applications to solve most problems.

With a wide reach—Hillary Clinton wrote the book “It Takes a Village.”  The title in spirit applies to the debate on oil and gas production, and alternative energy.  They cannot operate in exclusion.  They must be balanced.  Over reliance on one leads to instability of the local and global system.  The village is bigger than our backyard

Kindest regards,

I certainly don’t have all the answers, but our garbage could produce the methane gas we need (biogas). And our labs can certainly find a way to realign the molecules of all the plastic we throw away everyday and fabricate the plastics we’ll need in the future. The only reason we don’t do all this already is because of the oil and gas industry’s lobbying. Time to wake up and smell the roses, folks. Don’t let the same old excuses hold us back from doing what will have to be done one day anyway! There is no excuse for not protecting what’s left of our drinking water sources right now! Having to clean up afterwards will only cost more money and misery.

Hi J. Dion, you are right! Those are additional sources and there are endlessly more to be surprised when those will ever actually be needed..
You know, Ontarian (Canada) garbages could be used for the same purpose; instead, it’s being carried to USA at a high transportation costs, only to benefit some strange businessmen. I have a valid claim of C$ 65 million as penalty or compensation against the personal damages caused by the richest Crown of Canada and I may, as partial settlement, agree to get a piece of useless, empty ‘Crown Lands’ in the North to show my fellow Canadians the way how to produce the highly needed local natural gas in the isolated Northern Ontario.
Alberta’s oil and gas can help beyond border the whole North-American territory and It’s possible but impossible for only the greed of some invisibly too rich business-guys (but with small minds -who wrongly think world may run out of energy one day; but actually that will happen never as long as a tiny Solar ray for earth is still there; and the more energy we burn out, the more it’s gets naturally recycled to produce it back on this Earth because no chemical goes out of this planet and although mysterious in the Cosmioc level, continuously get recycled)  that manipulate unseen everything in Canada starting from Canadian great Judicial system to National and ‘International honest politics’.

The greatest of all leaders: Wise and truly Honorable Mr. Obama will make the smartest political decisions to impose some more sanctions against few (blind heads of) oil rich nations but will let them increase oil production to be limitless and also allow them to sell oil for cheaper prices, which will definitely bring the oil price down to normal in the International market place. Alternate clean energy sources are also around the corner. Just watch what kind of great things this blessed and luckiest world leader does in the coming months.

Therefore, please, no need to worry (to be Cont.)

>>Gas is an important part of a clean energy future, the ministry added, saying that “a healthy environment and a strong economy go hand in hand.”<<

There it is—“clean energy future”—the most repeated gas industry lie, mouthed by the environment ministry itself. Can’t buy better advertising with a mountain of gold. Yet evidence abounds that shale gas production with water ruination and air pollution plus methane releases in its full production lifecycle make shale gas one of the dirtiest fuels on earth. Ruth in the first comment alludes to Cornell’s Howarth and Ingraffea whose peer-reviewed reports shows strong indicators that shale gas is a climate menace that will greatly worsen the greenhouse effect. See their peer-reviewed study here:
http://www.sustainablefuture.cornell.edu/news/attachments/Howarth-EtAl-2011.pdf. Multiply this fact by worldwide global shale gas development and you can see the greenhouse/climate change disaster ahead. Ingraffea also recently verified that methane in shallow deposits is not kept out of aquifers by multiple layers of cement and steel casings around the well bore (as repeatedly told to us in TV commercials) since the methane simply moves up the outside of the well bore into drinking water aquifers and bypasses the casings, causing the methane in drinking water wells to have to be vented into the atmosphere to avoid explosion (just one of many sources of methane leakage in shale production).

The very fact that the Canadian environment ministry so glibly mouths gas industry propaganda without rebuttal, even by ProPublica’s reporter to get a counter quote, tells us what we’re up against to educate the American public, to turn this ocean liner of carbon dependence around, not only to switch to alternative fuels to generate electricity and drive transportation but to replace plastics, ingredients of medications, cosmetics, etc. This will take some imaginative and skillful framing to conteract carbon industry lies. Let’s get crackin to counter lies about frackin!

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Fracking

Fracking: Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat

The promise of abundant natural gas is colliding with fears about water contamination.

The Story So Far

The country’s push to find clean domestic energy has zeroed in on natural gas, but cases of water contamination have raised serious questions about the primary drilling method being used. Vast deposits of natural gas, large enough to supply the country for decades, have brought a drilling boom stretching across 31 states. The drilling technique being used, called hydraulic fracturing, shoots water, sand and toxic chemicals into the ground to break up rock and release the gas.

More »

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