About Air and Water

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fort Worth meeting on gas drilling process draws heated response Read more: http://www.star-telegram.com/2010/07/08/2323407/fort-worth-meeting-on-ga

BY JACK Z. SMITH - Fort Worth Star Telegram - July 8, 2010
FORT WORTH -- It wasn't an event for the meek and indecisive, nor for those seeking middle ground.
A capacity crowd of about 600 gathered at the downtown Hilton Fort Worth hotel Thursday night, and dozens of speakers voiced either grave concerns about -- or enthusiastic support for -- the increasingly controversial hydraulic fracturing process that has made possible drilling booms such as the Barnett Shale play in North Texas.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency called the meeting -- the first of four around the nation -- to determine the scope of a study that will focus on the issue of whether the fracturing process poses a significant threat in terms of groundwater contamination. But the study also will examine other issues, including the large volume of water used in "fracking" wells.
"I'm sending out an SOS to the EPA," said fervent fracking critic Sharon Wilson, a local representative of the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project, which favors strong federal regulation of the energy industry and full disclosure of chemicals used in fracturing.
"We need you here. We need you on the ground. We need you now," Wilson told EPA officials, as supporters applauded enthusiastically.
But Angie Burckhalter, speaking on behalf of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association and the Independent Petroleum Association of America, also elicited enthusastic clapping after describing fracking as "a safe, proven technology that has been used over one million times for 60 years."
Fracturing is vital to producing "clean energy that makes modern life possible," she said.
Boos and cheers
Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Victor Carrillo also strongly defended fracturing, saying that without it, gas recovery from tight rock formations such as the Barnett Shale -- the leading gas-producing area in the nation -- would be "impossible." There are no documented cases of fracturing causing groundwater contamination in Texas, he said, drawing both cheers and boos.
Meeting moderator Adam Saslow repeatedly implored audience members to tone down, urging them to employ "manners your mother taught you."
Calvin Tillman, an outspoken critic of the oil and gas industry and mayor of the Denton County community of Dish, held up a container of murky water and said it came from the home of a resident who fears his water well has been contaminated by Barnett Shale operations.
In considering stronger regulation, the foremost concern should not be about what might "negatively affect Chesapeake or Devon," Tillman said, referring to two large gas producers. Instead, the emphasis should be on negative effects on drinking water, he said.
America's Natural Gas Alliance, which represents 34 independent gas exploration and production companies, defended fracking and pledged to "be a constructive participant in the progress of the [EPA] study going forward."
"We are confident that a scientifically sound and data-driven examination will provide policymakers and the public with even greater reassurance of the safety of the longstanding practice," ANGA said in a statement.
How it works
Hydraulic fracturing is a technique in which huge volumes of water and sand, along with a much smaller amount of chemicals, are injected deep underground to fracture rock formations and allow gas and oil to flow into a wellbore.
Concerns have been expressed about the potential for fracturing to pollute groundwater; about surface spills of well wastewater that include chemicals used in fracturing; and about the volume of water that fracturing requires -- often 3 million or more gallons for a single well.
JACK Z. SMITH, 817-390-7724

Read more in the Fort Worth Star Telegram

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Immersive full-dome 3-D Digital planetarium show narrated by Ewan McGregor (Obi wan Kepobi from Star Wars) - Astronaut takes you exporing the worlds of inner and outer space. The movie is projected all around you. You recline in specially constructed chairs which enables you to comfortably view the immersive full-dome planetarium show. Astronaut! (produced from the National Space Centre in England) goes beyond the stereotypical space movie. Experience a rocket launch from inside the body of the astronaut. Float around the international Space Station moving thorugh the microscopic regions of the human body! Discover the beauty and perils as "Chad", the test astronaut experiences everything thrown at him.

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