Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Quietly, the Kansas House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Utilities is opening the door to hydraulic fracturing, which is known by the variant terms of fracking, fraccing, and fracing.  H.B. No. 2164, AN ACT concerning property; relating to ownership of pore space, should be of interest to everyone, and not just those in the Land Title Industry.  Read the bill online @ http://www.kslegislature.org/li/b2011_12/measures/documents/hb2164_00_0000.pdf.

Pore Space is the gaps in hard rock, such as tight shale, formations where oil and natural gas have been locked in by nature.  These products naturally move in zones of natural fractures in the rock formation.  In order to get the oil and gas out of these zones Petroleum Companies want to inject fracing fluid into the fracture zones. 

The problem with fracing, as the above video clip clearly demonstrates, is that either the fracing fluid, the petroleum products, or a combination of both can enter the fresh water supplies and pollute drinking water. Employing the standards of the American Petroleum Institute, [API], and using care and thoroughness the freshwater aquifers are supposed to be protected.  This protection is accomplished by housing the well bore in two or three layers of steel tubing and one or two layers of impervious cement, along with packers.  Packers are expanding rings at the bottom of the wellbore cased in cement.

That sounds good, but the problem is apparently not everyone is employing the API standards with care and thoroughness.  Since fracing in other parts of the country have led to ignitable drinking water Kansas must set a firm standard.  Kansas must assure the safety of our drinking water by making fracing operations comply with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, [SWDA].
From American Law and Jurisprudence on Fracing, by Thomas E. Kurth, Michael J. Mazzone, Mary S. Mendoza, and Christopher S. Kulander (© 2010 Haynes and Boone, LLP) @ http://www.haynesboone.com/files/Publication/3477accb-8147-4dfc-b0b4-380441178123/Presentation/PublicationAttachment/195a3398-5f02-4905-b76d-3858a6959343/American_Law_Jurisprudence_Fracing.pdf we learn why opponents of fracing rely on SWDA.

According to The Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit
environmental organization, drilling companies are avoiding federal
law and injecting toxic petroleum distillates into wells and threatening drinking water supplies. Opponents of fracing allege that water supplies are threatened because “30 to 60% of the fracing fluid stays in the geological strata and may escape through the existing or new fractures and contaminate surface groundwater.”

What is concerning, opponents claim, is that the additives in fracing
fluids are highly poisonous and carcinogenic. The fluids include, they claim, “potentially toxic substances such as diesel fuel, which contain benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; methanol; formaldehyde; ethylene glycol; glycol ethers; hydrochloric acid; and sodium hydroxide.” The non-profit agency, ProPublica, reported that in July 2008, a hydrologist sampled a water well in rural Sublette County, Wyoming–the home of one of the largest natural gas fields and has thousands of wells that have undergone hydraulic fracing. The test showed that the water “contained
benzene…in a concentration 1,500 times the level safe for people.”

If you find yourself confused by the propaganda spun by the Petroleum Industry and the claims asserted by the opponents of fracing, I suggest you study the EPA's Proceedings of the Technical Workshops for the Hydraulic Fracturing Study: Fate and Transport @ http://www.epa.gov/hfstudy/epa600r11047.pdf.

My gut reaction is that fracing produces additional oil and natural gas from existing wells, and that production drops off quickly in what is called the decline curve.  Therefore the production is short term and care and thoroughness of operators implementing the API standards may give way to corners being cut and groundwater protection receiving short shrift.  The result is that aquifers and groundwater become polluted with carcinogenic chemicals.  I believe that Kansas must enforce SWDA relative to oil and natural gas production in the state and that fraccing wells be subject to strict inspection to insure proper steel casings, impervious cement, and packers are installed in accordance with API standards.
The Petroleum Industry has proved itself, time and again, that they are not able to put safety first.  I do not trust them with the water we drink.

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