More questions about the natural gas boom

June 22, 2012 by Ken Ward Jr.

In his big coal industry speech the other day, West Virginia Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller had some interesting comments comparing coal to natural gas:

Natural gas has its challenges, too – with serious questions about water contamination and shortages and other environmental concerns. But while coal executives pine for the past, natural gas looks to the future -investing in technologies to reduce their environmental footprint. And they’re working with others on ways to support the safe development of gas – and we will all be watching.

As he watched the natual gas boom, Sen. Rockefeller might want to check out a couple of interesting stories that came out this week.

First, there was a post on The Daily Beast about a Yale study concerning whether the boom is a positive or negative thing for our society, discussing the data regarding accidents at gas drilling and production sites. And then, there was a blockbuster from the great Abrahm Lustgarten over at ProPublic, Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us, reporting:

Over the past several decades, U.S. industries have injected more than 30 trillion gallons of toxic liquid deep into the earth, using broad expanses of the nation’s geology as an invisible dumping ground.

No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.

There are growing signs they were mistaken.

Records from disparate corners of the United States show that wells drilled to bury this waste deep beneath the ground have repeatedly leaked, sending dangerous chemicals and waste gurgling to the surface or, on occasion, seeping into shallow aquifers that store a significant portion of the nation’s drinking water.

One Response to “More questions about the natural gas boom”

  1. Diane says:

    It makes me sad to think that all the people in rural WV who have always called the state their home, their heritage….haven’t a clue what is about to happen to their rural communities in the coming years. This Marcellus shale play is NOT the conventional oil and gas boom period these folks are used to seeing over the decades. The high-volume, slick water fracking fluids being injected when they drill these horizontal wells are nothing like the prior water & “foaming agents” of conventional well drilling. These multi-billion dollar out-of-state companies who have put the “ma & pa” drillers out of business in the state could NOT care less that they are poisoning the local people of WV and contaminating our drinking water. More that 50% of surface land and 80% of mineral rights are owned by out-of-state people & companies. They don’t have to live here, but we do. And they don’t give a thought to this controversial chemical mix they are exposing us to in order to rake in their billions of dollars of natural gas to sell to China. If you think this shale play is gonna solve the U.S. energy crisis, you are a fool! And at what cost will this be to the people of WV? Our legislature are slaves to the industry and as careless and criminal as they are. No other industry could get away with using these toxic chemicals. I feel sad for the WV people who haven’t a clue what’s coming down the pike for them with this Marcellus drilling frenzy!

Leave a Reply