As part of the federal government’s review process for approving exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), the U.S. Department of Energy has solicited two rounds of comments regarding its recent macroeconomic study on the economic benefits of allowing such exports. During the initial round, environmental groups raised a series of concerns regarding alleged impacts of allowing LNG exports, focusing chiefly – wait for it – on hydraulic fracturing.
Of course, in order to liquefy natural gas, first you have to produce it, and we know folks at the Sierra Club absolutely cannot stand the thought of that. So, they naturally tried to pollute the entire DOE review process with misinformation about shale development in general and hydraulic fracturing in particular, apparently unable to conjure up a credible case that actually seeks to address the real issue at hand (um, exports).
Luckily, the talking points submitted to DOE have been employed unsuccessfully so many times by now that refuting them wasn’t the toughest thing in the world to do. Below are a few examples of the kinds of claims that activist groups made in their comments to DOE, as well as a version of the response that IPAA and EID provided. Be sure to check out the full comments on IPAA’s webpage.
CLAIM: The Sierra Club argues that LNG exports would increase air pollution, and thus harm public health for residents living near gas wells.
FACT: The Sierra Club’s source was a study from the Colorado School of Public Health, a study that was so flawed from the very beginning that it was decommissioned by officials in the county where the data were collected. The study inflated the duration of industry operations by as much as 900 percent (and thus inflated the air emissions associated with those operations); used data known to be out of date; and its data on benzene emissions were taken from a monitoring station closer to a major interstate highway than the control sample.
CLAIM: The Delaware Riverkeeper Network says shale development “presents an unparalleled level of harm to drinking water,” and the Sierra Club references casing failure rates as an example of a major risk.
FACT: Looking at actual data, casing failure rates are actually quite low. In more than 34,000 wells drilled in Ohio over a 25 year period, the failure rate was less than one-tenth of one percent – 0.03 percent to be exact. In Texas, the failure rate was even less: 0.01 percent. Federal and state regulators, meanwhile, have repeatedly stated that hydraulic fracturing does not pose a serious risk of contaminating drinking water supplies.
CLAIM: The Sierra Club references EPA’s report on water quality in Pavillion, Wyo., to suggest that expanded shale development is too dangerous.
FACT: Assessments by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Land Management raise considerable doubts about the EPA’s methodology in Pavillion. The USGS, for example, conducted its own sampling, the results of which differed from EPA’s tests in at least 50 instances. USGS also effectively disqualified one of EPA’s two monitoring wells for being poorly constructed. The Bureau of Land Management said EPA’s techniques could have introduced “bias” into the samples, and that the data collected by EPA “should not be prematurely used as a line of evidence” supporting the claim that the EPA made; namely, that oil and gas activity caused chemical migration into groundwater.
On a more fundamental, even the EPA said its draft findings regarding Pavillion’s water quality “should not be assumed to apply to fracturing in other geologic settings” – which is exactly what the Sierra Club is trying to do!
Read the full comments here.