Science

Plentiful Fuel

The facts about fracking

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I just learned I'm going to save money! My apartment building in New York will switch from heating oil to cleaner natural gas. Gas is much cheaper than oil now because energy companies found ways to get more of it out of the ground.

Even more astounding is that by using this technique, America won't run out of natural gas for 100 years or more! Time to break out the Champagne?

Not so fast, say environmentalists. To get gas out of the ground, companies use pressurized chemicals to blow up rock. It's called hydraulic fracturing—fracking. An Oscar-nominated movie, Gasland, says that fracking contaminates our water supply with chemicals. In the movie, some homeowners set their tap water on fire.

That got my attention. I've seen Michael Moore's movies and environmental documentaries, which I thought were nonsense. But Gasland is more convincing. I thought it merited discussion on my Fox Business show last week.

Unfortunately, Gasland producer Josh Fox turned down my invitation, as did representatives of the big national environmental groups that oppose fracking. I think I know why. The movie and the left's arguments against fracking are deceitful.

First, the movie implies that nasty chemicals get into the water table. That seems logical, since they shoot them down into gas wells. But it turns out that the shale gas wells are thousands of feet below the water table. Do the chemicals flow up—against gravity?

But then what's the explanation for the most dramatic part of the movie: tap water so laden with gas that people can set it on fire?

It turns out that has little to do with fracking. In many parts of America, there is enough methane in the ground to leak into people's well water. The best fire scene in the movie was shot in Colorado, where the filmmaker is in the kitchen of a man who lights his faucet. But Colorado investigators went to that man's house, checked out his well, and found that fracking had nothing to do with his water catching fire. His well-digger had drilled into a naturally occurring methane pocket.

"There are lots of … naturally causing effects that occur," says Matthew Brouillette of the Commonwealth Foundation, a think tank in Pennsylvania—where much of the film was shot. "It's really no surprise. We find that 40 percent of the wells in Pennsylvania have some sort of naturally occurring methane gas and other types of things."
John Hanger, former director of Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection, who also appeared in the film, is less sanguine:

"Gas can migrate … from poor drilling into people's private water wells. … We have had gas move from poorly done gas drilling through the ground and reach people's water wells. So there is a need for oversight … gas does have some impacts. It is not perfectly clean. But compared to coal and oil, which are more dirty fossil fuels, natural gas can be produced and consumed in a manner that is cleaner than coal."

Filmmaker Josh Fox concedes that the states concluded that the fire wasn't caused by fracking, but he says the government regulators collude with industry, or don't use good science. His movie portrays Hanger as an indifferent bureaucrat. Hanger says the movie is just inaccurate. "Josh Fox has a mission. … He is trying to shut down the gas-drilling industry."

Frankly, I'm skeptical of all of them: lefty moviemakers who smear companies, companies with economic interests at stake, and the regulators, who are often cozy with industry and lack essential knowledge. The surest environmental protectors are property rights—and courts that assign liability to polluters.

But hydraulic fracturing is a wonderful thing. It's not new. Companies have done it for 60 years, but now they've found ways to get even more gas out of the ground. That's the reason gas is getting cheaper and panicky politicians no longer rant about America "running out of fuel."

Natural gas is not risk-free, but no energy source is. Perfect is not one of the choices.

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

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  1. John, I’m with you on your skepticism, but just to make sure you’re informed, any chemical in liquid form can flow “up” against gravity via capillary action if there’s an appropriate stationary phase, like earthen material, present for it. It is akin to what’s used in chemical research called thin-layer chromatography.

    1. I guess Stossel never put celery in red dye when he was a kid.

    2. And volatile compounds can vaporize and would be less dense and can rise as can less dense liquids. So it is not impossible and gravity has little to do with it is my take on it.

      However the studies show it is not a problem.

    3. OK, but for thousands of feet?

      1. It’s a very long celery.

        1. It’s also a vastly wide piece of celery so the red dye doesn’t make it very high

          1. There is no celery.

            1. Stop making me hungry.

        2. It’s a very long celery.

          Trees have a natural height limit for a reason.

          and that limit is far less then 1000s of feet and that limit is governed by gravity.

          “Gravity n stuff” is correct.

      2. Yes.

        Volatile and semi-volatile organic chemicals can move quite a long way in groundwater and soil, depending on the soil type. And yes, I have seen sites where contamination moved MILES, not just thousands of feet.

        And yes, it can move UP from the groundwater into the vadose zone and into the shallower layers above.

        In fact, groundwater itself will evaporate upwards through the pore spaces in soil. And in doing so, it can transport certain contaminants with it.

        1. Thanks for saving me from typing that!

          Stossel: “Gravity n stuff” it was a really poorly written and thought out article to get do a conclusion that pretty much everyone supports.
          Yeah property rights are the way to go, but don’t pretend that this is a situation as easy to explain as “gravity makes things go down”

        2. In fact, groundwater itself will evaporate upwards through the pore spaces in soil. And in doing so, it can transport certain contaminants with it.

          One should note that 99% of all clean drinking water is clean because it has been transported through pores in the soil.

          yes contaminates can be transported though soil with water…but considering the fact that even salt isn’t one of them one should know that the list of contaminates that can do that is a very very very short one.

    4. Also there’s this:

      http://www.pnas.org/content/ea…..1100682108

      Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing

      Average ?13C-CH4 values of dissolved methane in shallow groundwater were significantly less negative for active than for nonactive sites (-37 ? 7? and -54 ? 11?, respectively; P < 0.0001). These ?13C-CH4 data, coupled with the ratios of methane-to-higher-chain hydrocarbons, and ?2H-CH4 values, are consistent with deeper thermogenic methane sources such as the Marcellus and Utica shales at the active sites and matched gas geochemistry from gas wells nearby. In contrast, lower-concentration samples from shallow groundwater at nonactive sites had isotopic signatures reflecting a more biogenic or mixed biogenic/thermogenic methane source. We found no evidence for contamination of drinking-water samples with deep saline brines or fracturing fluids.
      —————–

      In other words, Stossel is most likely wrong about the source of methane in drinking water.

      1. Is this the same study that said in the fine print that it wasn’t fraking but conventional wells tha caused the problem?

  2. This was the subject of last week’s episode.

    1. That got my attention. I’ve seen Michael Moore’s movies and environmental documentaries, which I thought were nonsense. But Gasland is more convincing. I thought it merited discussion on my Fox Business show last week.

  3. I don’t know about lefty filmmakers and the presumption of guilt, and I’m not so sure about telling people with contaminated water to “get a lawyer”…

    But I’m sure there are things people and companies can do to ensure both the safety of their water supply and do fracking. Well construction would seem to be key here.

    Just like everything else, people typically don’t notice a poorly constructed well until something goes wrong.

    1. Like a lot of issues, there is nuance on all sides that gets glossed over too quickly. Typically what gets glossed over in the environmentalist argument is the fact that they recognize that “no energy source is. Perfect.” It is because of this that environmentalists continue to harp on industry to minimize their environmental impact, even in the face of a technology that is more environmentally friendly.

      I am an environmentalist. I support increased use of natural gas to reduce carbon. But I think it is incumbent upon companies to take all precautions to avoid the negative consequences of extraction. That makes extraction “more expensive.” Which is proper. Energy companies should not be allowed to socialize the costs and privatize the profits.

      1. But I think it is incumbent upon companies to take all precautions to avoid the negative consequences of extraction…Energy companies should not be allowed to socialize the costs and privatize the profits.

        Why Neu, how very libertarian of you.

        I mean that in the nicest way possible.

        1. JW,

          (~_^)

          I consider libertarian principles to be an important component of any policy decision. I am not, however, a libertarian as I believe there are other equally important principles that also need to be considered.

          1. “I believe there are other equally important principles that also need to be considered.”

            I think our rights are the most important consideration. Some people call that “freedom”; some people call it “responsibility”.

            Whatever you want to call it, I think our rights can overlap and contradict sometimes, and that’s why I’m not an anarchist.

            I don’t think somebody should be free to stop energy companies from fracking their own property just because some homeowners didn’t care enough to make sure their water wells were constructed properly–if that’s the issue.

            And for a lot of people, that appears to be the underlying issue whether they realize it or not.

      2. “I am an environmentalist. I support increased use of natural gas to reduce carbon. But I think it is incumbent upon companies to take all precautions to avoid the negative consequences of extraction.”

        I’m an environmentalist too.

        I don’t think there are any precautions energy companies can take to avoid the negative effects of poorly constructed water wells.

        I think that’s ultimately the responsibility of the homeowner.

        1. I don’t think there are any precautions energy companies can take to avoid the negative effects of poorly constructed water wells.

          Ken it is the poorly constructed gas wells that are leaking. It does not matter how you construct a water well if gas is leaking into the aquifer.

          1. Well poorly constructed gas wells can be constructed better if that’s the case.

            If it’s poorly constructed gas wells that are the problem, that can be fixed.

            No need to go all “no fracking”. How ’bout “no poorly constructed gas wells”?

            1. It’t not poorly constructed gas wells (or water wells). Once the fracturing occurs and the water used to fracture is extracted, the gas making its way to the water table are most likely fugitive from broken up geology outside the reach of the well. It’s not as if every molecule makes it from the fractured geology back up the well casing. You are fracturing a three dimensional space spanning hundreds of thousands cubic feet that contains lighter than air materials…if the geology is fractured and the gas does not make its way up the well casing, it’s not as if it remains inert. It will move through the geology until it finds pressure equilibrium (water), and then settle. In my water table. Sweet!

      3. it is incumbent upon companies to take all precautions to avoid the negative consequences of extraction

        I think i drift from you on this one.

        I think companies should take all reasonable precautions, and that reasonable should be governed and defined by common law liability and free markets.

        Taken your statment as written “all precautions” would literally make it physically impossible for natural gas extraction to occur.

        1. The “reasonable” was meant to be implied.

          1. reasonable should be governed and defined by common law liability and free markets

            In the abstract, I am fine with the way our society has structured its government to deal with these kinds of issues. An overlapping regime of local, state, and federal laws…yadda yadda. When we are talking about specific policies, I may or may not agree with the current rules, but conceptually there is no need to reconfigure the WAY we define these things.

      4. “I support increased use of natural gas to reduce carbon”

        Oh boy. Here we go..

  4. the fracking environmentalists are cylon sleeper agents looking to bring down the economy!
    no fracking joke

    1. I could figure this all out. EASY.

      1. whats with all the fracking articles about fracking recently? are the reason editors having a bsg marathon?

  5. When natural gas burns, does it produce a different color than a methane burn?

    1. Natural Gas is Methane

      1. Natural Gas is mostly Methane

        Typical Composition of Natural Gas
        Methane CH4 70-90%
        Ethane C2H6 0-20%
        Propane C3H8
        Butane C4H10
        Carbon Dioxide CO2 0-8%
        Oxygen O2 0-0.2%
        Nitrogen N2 0-5%
        Hydrogen sulphide H2S 0-5%
        Rare gases A, He, Ne, Xe trace

    2. From wikipedia:
      Natural gas is a gas consisting primarily of methane.

      So, the answer would be “no”.

      1. Small differences in the different trace components of natural gas can change the color.

        So the answer is “maybe”.

  6. stossel best read the recent duke study conducted in PA & NY.

    1. That would be the study that Ron wrote about 2 days ago.
      From the article (https://reason.com/archives/2011/05/17/a-better-way-to-frack)- “The biggest, most headline-grabbing fear is that fracking chemicals will contaminate drinking water. Last week, environmental scientists at Duke University published a study titled “Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing,” in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study found that natural gas concentrations in water wells within 3,000 feet of gas wells were higher than in wells that were further from gas wells. Interestingly, the researchers included water wells near Dimock, Pennsylvania where it is well known that improperly constructed natural gas well casings had resulted in the fugitive gas contaminating local water wells.

      Sounds like bad news. But when you read the fine print, the Duke researchers admit that “based on our data, we found no evidence for contamination of the shallow wells near active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids.” Despite its misleading title, the study did not find that fracking as a technique contributed at all to the natural gas found the nearby water wells. In fact, the gas-rich shale lays several thousand feet below strata of impermeable rock from shallow surface drinking water aquifers. Instead, bad well casings that also occur with conventional gas wells appear to be the culprits. States already set standards for constructing proper well casings and impose penalties when companies fail to comply.

      1. How many wells near Dimock were included in the study? 4 maybe?

        And I would replace the word “admit” with “state”. The use of the word “admit” is misleading. The researchers are not accountable for the use of their paper in pushing a viewpoint that later needs to be “retracted” after careful examination of the information.

      2. I have requested the author of the study if he would be willing to publish a result set that removes the samples from Dimock, PA. I will follow-up here if he replies.

        1. Mason: I requested the same information before I wrote my column – I still not heard back from them.

      3. See my comment a few lines up on fugitive emissions…while this article correctly points out that fracking fluid migration is not a concern during / post injection, water waste is a major concern. That water still needs to be treated properly before it is introduced back into the general water supply, which it currently is via municipal water treatment facilities in PA: problem is, if you don’t know the contents of the water, you can’t properly treat it and that is the concern regarding the non-disclosure of fracking fluid contents (proprietary arguments are made to avoid reporting). PA DEP has requested as of May 1, 2011, that drillers ‘voluntarily’ stop sending their waste water to muni treatment facilities. One should also look at the evaporation ponds out in CO. Not good.

        Finally, the position taken by the article is a little weird: Reason’s author is basically saying “SWEET! no fracking fluid in GW! Only methane….which by the way is not regulated and water with a high methane content is safe for human consumption”. Terrific. But that’s only one concern alleviated. The overall concern involves the HAZARD, which can take many forms. Methane off gassing from your shower, sink, dishwasher, washing machine, etc….collecting in an enclosed space, and blowing up is the risk. The study trades one high risk situation for another.

        I suppose a Libertarian might want to ask whether that is a situation they would be comfortable with in their own home. From a safety standpoint, it’s way risky but that’s one’s right…to take risks: from a straight market value standpoint, he / she would also presumably be Ok serious devaluation of their property assuming those conditions are suspected at sale.

  7. Here are some more facts about hydraulic fracturing. Perhaps it complicates the issue and is not as clear cut as Stossel is making it out to be:

    http://bit.ly/jcHswG

    1. Study you link to was covered in an article 2 days ago – https://reason.com/archives/201…..y-to-frack

      1. Until the gas-fracking method becomes a standard, I’d say it’s incorrect to dispel concerns of the use of water in hydraulic fracturing until water is no longer used. Talking about a solution, or to borrow from the author, an “end-around”, is just that: talk. Meanwhile, water is being used and the concerns are reasonable given what is known.

        1. mason – my understanding is arkansas suspended fracing after the earthquakes started.

          1. Two injection wells built near a fault line were shut down. New production wells are still being drilled and fraced.

    2. Imagine someone studying radiation levels around nuclear reactors. He goes to Chernobyl, takes 10 measurements, goes to Fukushima, Japan, takes 10 measurements, goes to Russelville, Arkansas, home of a perfectly normal reactor, and takes 10 measurements. He then goes to 30 random places no where near a nuclear reactor and takes measurements. He averages all his numbers together and declares that nuclear reactors spew forth radiation because the measurements he took near reactors are on average a million times higher than the measurements he took elsewhere.
      This is an exaggerated version of what the authors of that study did.

      And would it kill you to use the full link. This isn’t twitter.

      1. No, I suppose it wouldn’t kill me to use the full link just as it wouldn’t kill you to click on what I used.

        1. It might, but we can’t know that until after we’ve taken the leap to click it.

          Use link shortening, and I for one won’t click it. There isn’t a shortage of text on the internet. Use full links so you do people the courtesy of telling them where you’re sending them.

          1. I’m not really concerned with learning what standards exist as it pertains to when and where a shortened link should be used. It’s also not my intention to pander to specific requirements that usually result in more exceptions than broad consistency.

            If the fear of being “Rick-rolled” is legitimate, I would offer that there are plenty of tools that will preview the URL prior to you actually clicking on it. Too numerous to mention here but bit.ly is one such vendor that provides this functionality.

            There are other reasons to use shortened links other than character-length concerns.

            1. You’re the one doing the arguing. It’s your message that is lost. And the ‘other reasons to use shortened links’ that you fail to mention can’t be evaluated, since you fail to mention them.

              It’s not being Rickrolled that is worrisome. It’s going to blatant malware sites.

          2. Additionally, any URL is capable of dropping you somewhere else from where you thought you were going. Phishing, cross-site hacks and redirection are common schemes that have existed as a threat long before “link shortening”. It’s not possible to be 100% certain of where a link will take you until you click on the link.

            Common sense and discretion are one’s best tools for avoiding trouble.

            1. Yes, and browsers will show you what the link is, even if it’s masked. You can see if there’s a redirect, or if it goes to a sketchy domain. But with the shortened links, browsers show your shortened link, not the ultimate destination.

              If you want to be stubborn, that’s fine. But it means whatever message you have will be lost due to your stubbornness.

          3. Use link shortening, and I for one won’t click it.

            I just wanted to note that Stossel used tiny URL for all of his links in the article.

        2. I’m with Highway on this one. Since 80% of the pages on the net are porn, I like to know where I’m going before I get there…

      2. Imagine someone studying radiation levels around nuclear reactors. He goes to Chernobyl, takes 10 measurements, goes to Fukushima, Japan, takes 10 measurements, goes to Russelville, Arkansas, home of a perfectly normal reactor, and takes 10 measurements. He then goes to 30 random places no where near a nuclear reactor and takes measurements.

        Imagine someone studying radiation levels around nuclear reactors that systematically excluded Chernobyl and Fukushima. Same problem. No?

        1. The bigger problem with the study is that their methods section does not detail how the wells were chosen. A random sampling might have included the wells you are concerned about, and been completely legitimate. The lack of details makes it hard to interpret the results meaningfully.

          1. From their supplemental material (which a link is provided in the paper itself):

            “The study area was chosen because of its rapid
            expansion of drilling for natural gas from the Marcellus Shale
            (Pennsylvania) and Utica Shale (New York), and because it
            represents portions of both the upper Susquehanna and upper
            Delaware watersheds that combined provide drinking water to
            more than 15 million people.”

            1. That narrows it down to why they chose northern Pennsylvania. I want to know why they picked a water well 5 km east of Montrose, PA, a big blob of wells southeast of Dimock, PA and that other blob of wells in southwest Bradford County. Their selection is obviously not random.
              When collecting data, it’s important to detail sampling methods.

              1. i believe access was an issue. some property owners refused. the results may well effect re-sale values

        2. Yes, that would be the same problem. The solution to this is to compile a list of whatever the researcher is interested in and to randomly pick places to take measurements.

          1. The solution to this is to compile a list of whatever the researcher is interested in and to randomly pick places to take measurements.

            Depends on the question you are trying to answer, of course. I think, for the hypothetical you outlined, you would want to go ahead and get samples for the whole population for most questions, rather than a random sampling. With Chernobyl and Fukiyama in the mix, you are not likely to be asking a question where averaging makes much sense anyway.

      3. Why are people bitching about a study that supports the fact that fracking is relatively safe clean and environmental damage is minimal and easily avoidable?

        Nothing is wrong with the study…Mason simply misread it and misunderstood its implications.

        1. Nothing is wrong with the study…Mason simply misread it and misunderstood its implications.

          Really? How did you come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with the study? My guess is because you think it “supports the fact that fracking is relatively safe clean and environmental damage is minimal and easily avoidable.”

          The methodological issues that Ron and KWebb raise are legitimate concerns. The lack of detailed methods are concerning to me. I don’t really have the time nor interest to go further than that with this study, but it certainly doesn’t get away with a clean slate, even based on a cursory look.

      4. 400some nuclear power plants in the world, and the total wikipedia list for nuclear accidents is something like 20 long. Compare for coal over its use lifetime. Compare for casualties.

        1. Dr. K.

          And even if you just restrict to radiation added to the environment, coal is worse. This is not news.

  8. Can’t spell environmentalist without “mental”.

    1. Can’t spell sarcasmic without racism.

      1. Can’t spell sarcasmic without racism.

        Let’s see.

        s-a-r-c nope.

        s-a-r-c nope.

        s-a-r-a-c-s-m-i-c saracasmic drat! Was supposed to be sarcasmic.

        s-a-r-c double drat!

        How do you do that?

        1. sarcasmic = s+a+r+c+a+s+m+i+c
          racism = r+a+c+i+s+m
          sarascmic – racism = s+a+r+c+a+s+m+i+c – (r+a+c+i+s+m) = a+s+i

          1. Oh, I get it.

            You’re not keeping the letters in order.

            Mine is better than yours because the letters stay in order.

          2. Whew, for a second there I thought you were asking for my asl.

      2. …says the guy who can’t spell his name without clan.

        1. Says the guy who can’t spell his name with out letters.

  9. Ron Bailey says:
    Despite its misleading title

    That title is only misleading if you are not a regular reader of scientific articles. (I know Ron reads science articles, so I wonder why he would find it misleading. I guess he could just be deliberately trying to call into question the honesty of the authors, but it seems a substance-free accusation to me).

    The title says that the article will discuss “Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing.”

    No conclusion is implied.

    1. The title implies that well drilling and hydraulic fracturing were accompanied by methane contamination of drinking water. In reality, hydraulic fracturing had nothing to do with the contamination. With a title like that, it’s hard to believe the researchers weren’t revealing their bias.

      Let’s say I published a study titled “Violent rape accompanying Democrat fundraising.” If my study goes on to show no link between violent rape and Democrat fundraising, wouldn’t you say the title was misleading?

      1. No.

      2. The title implies that well drilling and hydraulic fracturing were accompanied by methane contamination of drinking water.

        No it doesn’t.
        It tells you that both were examined.

        1. If they wanted to simply say both were examined, they could have used a title like “Methane levels in drinking water near well drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations.” Using the word “contamination” reveals their bias.

      3. Oh, fucking a, now you’re arguing about how they should have written the title?

        I read a shitload of scientific journals in college and a shitload of legal journals in law school (and sometimes still do today).

        There is nothing whatsoever controversial or improper about the title of they study. What they purported to study was methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing – i.e., is there any, if so, how much, can we posit a correlation or a cause?

        There is no foregone conclusion implied from that title. It’s bog standard form for scientific journals.

        1. At most, it might presume that there is SOME kind of methane contamination accompanying fracturing – but then you might read the study and find that after gathering and analyzing their data, they concluded that in fact, there was none.

          If you presume the conclusion from the title alone and don’t read the actual study, well that’s the problem of the reader.

          1. It’s starting to worry me how much i agree with you lately.

          2. It’s starting to worry me how much i agree with you lately.

      4. That’s what the abstract is for, not the title. The title doesn’t discuss the results, just the focus of the study.

    2. The title says that the article will discuss “Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing.”

      You and Ron read published scientific articles.

      Most everyone else does not.

      Ron is writing for laymen who do not read published scientific articles on a regular basis.

      See how that works?

      To Ron’s audience the title can be and is misleading.

      1. You and Ron read published scientific articles.

        A fair assumption.

        Most everyone else does not.

        Also a fair assumption.

        Ron is writing for laymen who do not read published scientific articles on a regular basis.

        True enough.

        See how that works?

        To Ron’s audience the title can be and is misleading.

        So Ron, who reads these kinds of articles all the time might have taken the time to point out that “although the title might seem misleading, it isn’t” rather than putting forth is “expert” opinion that the title was, in fact, misleading.

        See how that works?

        1. But the title is misleading to a laymen.

          The laymen who is use to news stories and the standard narrative that titles refer to results rather then referring to what was studied.

          Science uses different nomenclature for their titles then what is commonly used. His audience when confronted with this uncommon procedure is misled by it. Therefor the title is misleading.

          Something can be misleading without a villain behind it.

        2. putting forth is “expert” opinion

          To be read with a Cockney accent, of course.

          1. Something can be misleading without a villain behind it.

            True enough. Ron was, however, writing an article where he was trying to paint the opposition to fracking as nothing but meddlesome environmentalist engaged in villainy. In the context of the surrounding sentences, it seems more likely to me he hoped his readers would infer that the scientists involved in the study were biased and agenda driven. You can give him the benefit of the doubt if you want. It is too consistent a pattern in his writing for me to give him that break. He does, after all, write for an agenda driven magazine. His articles are really more persuasive essays than informative journalism.

        3. The science news cycle, as reported in practice, and in convenient, graphical form for easy comprehension.

          1. I had the one graphing the productivity levels of a PhD student hanging in my workspace back in the day. So true…

  10. Did you notice this week that Ronald Bailey disclosed that he has a small, but not insignificant interest in the gas industry in his article on fracking, but Stossel never discloses that he is a paid spokesperson of CEI, which is essentially an oil company think tank?
    If your points are all logical/true/valid, then there should be no reason to fear disclosure, and if you’re a real journalist you should do it anyway…

    1. Oil and gas are competitors in the energy market, no?

      1. Not when it comes to lobbying, no.
        Energy markets in the US are not competitive.

      2. They’re often the same companies. At this point it’s safe to say that if you want to stay in the energy business and you are presently an oil company, you’re going to be in the gas business one way or another.

    2. Everybody who drives or heats their house or their water has an interest. Enviro’s don’t count because they don’t bath and they ride there bikes to work, all though I don’t know how the bikes were made without energy.

      1. Wood and tin foil pulled from a dumpster.

  11. As to the content of the article, look, Stossel, there may be some people saying we should end all oil/gas production, but I haven’t seen those people, at least not in Gasland or the public dialog surrounding it. [Presumably solar, wind, and tidal lobbyists are saying it, though.]

    To say “The only options the hippy leftist filmmakers are giving us is to pollute water supplies or nothing because there is no perfect energy” is a straw man. No one is suggesting that we can only use things that are perfect.

    What the people involved with Gasland (et al) seem to be saying is: “Compensate us for the damage you’ve done to our health and our property. No externalizing your costs onto my life and land.”

    Libertarianism is primarily about two things: individual liberty/freedom, and property rights. To many libertarians, those things are one and the same. If you were a real libertarian, Stossel, you’d already know that.

    1. I agree wholeheartedly – if it is proven that a company caused harm to the homeowner. In fact, from my experience the companies agree, too – they loathe going to trial, as any jury pool could be extremely sympathetic to the homeowner.
      Owners of the properties I’ve fractured on have been nuetral to ecstatic about us being there – and their neighbors, who don’t get royalties or leasing fees, much less so.
      It’s a constant pr struggle, made harder by dishonest actors.

  12. Beautiful ad homs there jcalton.

    Textbook!

    “If you were a real…”

    The conclusion being that since he is not a real whatever, that anything he said is now invalid.

    Ad hominem – “argument against the person”

    Bra-vo!

    1. This coming from the person who posted “Can’t spell environmentalist without “mental”.”

      Really? Or are you just being sarcasmic?

      1. Can you spell environmentalist without “mental”?

        I can’t.

        Doesn’t mean environmentalists are mental.

        Just means you can’t spell environmentalist without “mental”.

        In fact, it means nothing at all.

        1. Can you spell environmentalist without “mental”?

          Yes.

          W-a-t-e-r-m-e-l-o-n

          or alternatively

          g-r-e-e-n-m-o-o-n-b-a-t

    2. No, that’s not what I said. Nothing I said there was ad hominem.

      This is a fact:
      Real journalists disclose their industry ties to industries they are writing about. It’s a standard principle and has been for at least 60 years.
      This is a fact:
      Stossel doesn’t. [Here or in any of his other energy articles.]

      What you are suggesting is that its an extraneous fact intended to distract from Stossel’s reasoning.

      But the far more obvious conclusion would be that since he is a paid spokesperson for the fossil fuels industry, we should subject what he is saying to extra scrutiny on that basis. [And, IMO, even more scrutiny since he hides that fact in every energy piece he’s ever written–unlike Bailey.]

      “Ad hominem” connotes attacking the speaker to avoid having an actual logic- or fact-based argument on substantive issues. In this case, the point about Stossel as a journalist goes directly to the credibility of his substantive arguments.

      Most importantly, where do you address my actual points, say–for example–the stuff in bold? In fact, what you’ve done is far more ad hominem.

      Is it a straw man?
      Is this externalizing?
      Should residents be compensated?

      We have no idea, since all you’ve done is attack me.

      1. Here’s an analogy: If you had an old lady on the stand who had identified you in a lineup, and you came out and said “Look at her–her vision is 20/200. This lady can barely see anything!”

        Is that ad hominem? Aren’t you attacking the physical frailties of an old lady?
        A: Yes, in the literal latin meaning, that is ad hominem. But in a logical argument sense, the answer is NO: that lady’s human shortcoming is highly relevant to your position.

        The flaw in the person is the flaw in the argument.

        1. Stossel’s connection to an oil company has nothing to do with the findings of those Duke U. researchers or of the Commonwealth Foundation or of the State of Colorado. And Stossel’s general political bias is way out in the open.

        2. Sigh… yes, that is an ad hominem attack in the literal sense of the phrase, but it does not represent an ad hominem logical fallacy because you are not using the attack to impugn her logic, but her testimony. If Stossel were reporting something he had seen or heard, then your analogy would have some merit, as might your attack on him for lack of disclosure. But his logic is right or wrong independently of his motivations, and can be verified independently of his motivations.

          Technically, your original comment was merely a red herring, as you only mention his lack of disclosure without directly stating that it invalidates his argument. Your later post, however, converted that error into an ad hominem fallacy with the statement that the “point… goes directly to the credibility of his substantive arguments”. That statement is fallacious–his arguments stand or fall on their own. The lack of disclosure may affect his personal credibility, but it does not, and cannot, affect the merits of an argument he makes from facts that are independently verifiable.

      2. jcalton said :”What the people involved with Gasland (et al) seem to be saying is: “Compensate us for the damage you’ve done to our health and our property. No externalizing your costs onto my life and land.””

        John Stossel said: “The surest environmental protectors are property rights?and courts that assign liability to polluters.”

        So, John Stossel did address the issue of compensation for those harmed by fracking. He also gave several examples of how no one has been harmed by fracking.

      3. His disclosure of who he is a spokesperson for in no way affects any of the facts or logic in his argument.

        It is an argument against the person. It suggest that there is a possibility that his facts and logic are wrong because he has been paid by the fossil fuel industry, but does not identify any of these flaws.

        He is a [fill in the blank] therefor his argument is wrong.

        Textbook ad hominem.

      4. We have no idea, since all you’ve done is attack me.

        Pointing out the fallacy of your argument is an attack?

        That’s weak.

  13. Mr. Stossel,
    Your stuff is great, I love it. But if you want to argue about fracking, argue the NYT pieces that sifted through hundreds of documents. Not a movie from one person.

  14. Gasland producer, charlatan, fraud, Josh Fox, Delaware River Savior, does not live in Wayne County, PA or own property there. His father, Michael, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, owns approximately 18 acres in Damascus Township (Milanville, PA). The property, which Josh has called the only home he’s ever known in the state he loves, and along the river he loves, has been cited, via certified mail, since Dec 12, 2006, and again on Aug, 08, 2010 by Damascus Township (60 Conklin Hill Rd, Damascus, PA 18415 570-224-4410) for violations of the Junk & Rubbish Law. Specifically, abandoned, uninhabitable mobile home, junk vehicle and vehicle parts, household junk and rubbish, furniture, scrap metal, etc. The property borders Calkins Creek, a major tributary of the Delaware River, about a mile distant. The property is 729 John Davis Road (a road with no winter maintenance) and slopes markedly down to Calkins Creek. Fox’s were warned to clean and provide receipts for proper disposal of the junk at this site and that burying/burning were violations of state/federal Clean Air/Water/Landfill laws. Nevertheless, in autumn 2010, they torched the mobile home and abandoned the toxic, smoldering dump to the winter snows. The spring runoff and heavy rains have since carried any runoff waste to the Calkins Creek, only 100 feet distant, and on to the Delaware. Since March 4, 2011, Fox has been cited, via certified mail, by PA Dept of Environmental Protection (2 Public Square, Wilkes Barre, PA 18701 570-826-2511) for violations of the Solid Waste Management Act. The mess/dump/debris/junk remains on site, next to Calkins Creek to this day.

  15. Love Reason mag. And I always enjoy the comments. Libertarians seem to have an innate sense of irony and humor – no matter how pressing or serious the issue.

  16. John, You are an American hero and you make some good points in this article, but please take out the part about chemicals “flowing up, against gravity”. Lighter chemicals flow up all the time. That’s why we have oil slicks on top of the water.

  17. And now the man who stammers conventional wisdom…

    1. I cursed us by coming back

      1. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

    2. I cursed us by coming back

  18. But I haven’t seen it, so…

    1. That’s probably why he’s repeating it. He noticed you didn’t live blog it yet.

  19. Lemon meringue certainly is not harmless.

  20. Short for fire crotched gingers

  21. Lukianoff, I think he played for the New York Islanders.

  22. FIRE CROTCH

  23. Quite a struggle to get that sentence out.

  24. Where’d the bad lawyer touch you John? Show me on the doll.

  25. Wasn’t that guy in the white shirt an ancillary character on Cheers?

    1. One of those guys whose name nobody knew and nobody was ever particularly glad he came?

  26. Is this episode building to a defense of Ward Churchill?

  27. No one likes PETA. Even the animals would rather be made into coats than deal with those people.

  28. A commercial for Louisiana? Yuck.

  29. You use a holster so you don’t have to carry your gun.

  30. The Bill of Rights is extremely potent when you cram it all into one little area.

    1. You can pursue all the happiness you want in this little 12′ X 12′ concrete square.

      1. THAT’S THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE! It’s not allowed in the free speech zone.

  31. Great. Now there’s no free speech zone. That’s a step backwards!

  32. Next thing they knew, everyone was wearing empty holsters as fashion accessories.

  33. New York City is a Second Amendment Free Zone.

  34. 2 Fire crotched gingers

  35. So colored again?

  36. Ewww, I would rather be called African-American than Californian-American.

  37. We all came from Africa.

  38. White person? WHITE PERSON?!?!

  39. Most black people don’t answer poll questions, but African-Americans love to do that.

  40. So your dad wants to be president?

  41. Just don’t be a Republican then you won’t sound racist

  42. Play that woman-American anchor who described the two French Muslim kids who got electrocuted running from Frog cops as “French African-American” youths.

    1. Oh good grief. I didn’t hear about that.

      Woman-Americans are not Americans at all
      -Teddy Roosevelt

  43. Katherine Mangu-Ward, turn in your citizenship.

  44. A commercial for online dating by showing two people dry-humping in the copy room.

  45. That’s a catchy song.

  46. What if you love to hate?

  47. I would be fine with calling Coulter a hateful bitch for that. Evil even

  48. If he was indeed gay, I assure you there was no hooha involved

  49. Those kids are captivated by Ann defending her book.

  50. Ann loves her some counter-thuggery.

  51. Hey, I may wish Mcvey had killed NY Times employees but at least I don’t throw pies at people. That’s just rotten.

  52. I dunno. Define loathsome…oh that’s what it means. Yeah that sounds like her.

  53. She resents PC? So she’s a Mac gal?

  54. SHE USED AFRICAN-AMERICAN!

    1. I’ll thank you to keep that kind of speech in the free speech zone.

      1. The CAPSLOCK is the free speech zone on the internets.

        1. So the COMMANDER had it right all along?

  55. Those damn Moose Slums. Who cares about their feelings.

  56. They hate south park in the moose slums

  57. She wished McVeigh has parked his truck in those moose slums

  58. Phelps did the mary jane; I’m not buying his swim spa.

  59. Did Stossel even make any sales?

  60. That would mean my whole honeymoon was filled with rape.

    1. You’re raping me right now.

      1. what if you take a bunch of shots and start having sex before they hit you? “Your right to accept my invitation for sex ends where my intoxication begins”

  61. If that mindless chanting didn’t convince you to change your mind, John, then I don’t know what will.

    1. NO MORE RATIONAL DISCUSSIONS ON OUR CAMPUS!!

  62. Know means know. And that’s a rap.

    1. Non means non Mr IMF

      1. That gives me an idea for Friday Funnies…

  63. I couldn’t agree with the article more. But I must leave another correction about the frac fluids “flowing up against gravity”. Frac fluids are injected into the ground under high pressure. And just like the oil and gas that’s under the ground at high pressure, high pressure fluids seek out lower pressures…which means they’ll flow up, against gravity through an oil or gas well. And thank goodness they do or we wouldn’t have an oil or gas production.

  64. Fracking is not as dangerous as the people who have investments in windmills would like to lead us to believe. Water tables are much much closer to the surface than the rock below which the natural gas that fracking is used to get is located. The contaminated well out east had a defective well casing. The fracking “chemicals” are mineral salts, sand (yes, sand is made of chemicals) and water. Sounds like the environmentalists don’t want to lose money on their Obama friendly investments and spread lies about natural gas.

  65. Renewable gas beat dwindling fixed reserves of oil. Dilemma arises only when profit motives are put before responsibilities to protect and serve public. Goal ought not be self aggrandizement but social justice.

    Wealthy conservatives want no part in working toward collective survival, but anything they do that further erodes middle class will boomerang back on them. When too few have cash, cash will be worthless. Strict capitalism extrapolated to its extreme spells failure for civilization.

    Before you hurry to defend “trickle down” economics, know that that ship has sailed and sunk. Tax reduction from 91 to 35% for bracket over $200K/yr did nothing to create jobs, a net loss in millions. Time to restore taxes to corporations and wealthiest few, unless they are willing to assume some other social responsibilities in lieu of privileges afforded them by rest of society.

  66. There are certain problems associated with the use of garbage disposal in the homes. This article will guide you on dealing with one of these common problems and also to how to prevent them right from the beginning. ???? ??? ?????? ?????? ???????
    There are certain problems associated with the use of garbage disposal in the homes. This article will guide you on dealing with one of these common problems and also to how to prevent them right from the beginning.

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