The Corner

Myth-making about Fracking, Texas Tremors

The headline: “26 Earthquakes Later, Fracking’s Smoking Gun Is in Texas.”

From the penultimate paragraph: “There’s no 100-percent definitive scientific connection between this latest swarm of earthquakes and fracking activity.”

I know that the Daily Beast is not edited by thoughtful people, but could somebody get the headline writers, the columnist, and the editors on the same page?

Somebody apparently does not know what “smoking gun” means.

James Joiner’s column on the link—possibly real, possibly imaginary—between gas drilling in north Texas and a recent string of small earthquakes is a tour de force of innuendo in the usual style: statements of verifiable fact get the could/can/may/might treatment, flights of fancy get breathless certitude.

Try a little exercise in compare-and-contrast.

Joiner: “Irving itself has more than 2,000 of these sites nearby, and some of the more than 216,000 state wide ‘injection wells’ responsible for disposing of fracking’s wastewater byproduct are in close proximity.”

Seismologist Craig Pearson, investigating on behalf of Texas oil-and-gas regulators: “There are no oil and gas disposal wells in Dallas County. And I see no linkage between oil and gas activity [in] these recent earthquakes in Irving.”

Joiner: “Science has proven that the pressure and liquid combination can combine to “lubricate” fault lines.”

Heather DeShon, associate professor of geophysics at Southern Methodist University: “We cannot say yet what’s causing the Irving earthquakes.”

As we know from the fraudulent Gasland, with its phony fracking-caused-my-kitchen-sink-to-spit-flames scene, the Left is willing—eager, in fact—to lie about the energy industry.

Fracking is the hot issue right now, along with the Keystone XL pipeline, but the Left has made it clear that it intends to oppose every traditional energy infrastructure project it comes across. Having succeeded in getting New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban modern gas-drilling techniques in his moribund state, the same environmentalists are moving on to seek new restrictions or an outright ban on using trains to ship oil through New York, new restrictions on the oil-shipping terminal at Albany, restrictions on future pipeline projects, etc. They are not opposed to fracking; they are opposed to modern technological civilization.

There are many reasons for earthquakes in Texas: In West Texas, there have been tremors believed to be linked to the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, one of the many excellent reasons that agricultural and industrial users—along with everybody else—ought to be made to pay market rates for water. (Some geologists believe that those quakes are simply the result of “crustal weakness.”) The area around Dallas sits atop the Balcones fault, and while Texas is no California, it has had more than 100 earthquakes measuring 3 or higher on the Richter scale since the middle of the 19th century, the largest one that walloped Valentine in 1931.

But earthquakes are a handy thing to throw at fracking, so that’s the story we’ll get—whether it represents reality or does not.

There is, as I have written many times here, no known way to produce energy without imposing environmental costs. Coal-mining is ugly and coal-burning pollutes; it takes a lot of poison to make photovoltaic cells; solar panels and wind turbines are made out of oil; conventional drilling methods and fracking both present environmental challenges, though they are mainly not the ones that get environmentalists’ knickers knotted. There will always be the question of tradeoffs.

But tradeoffs are not what the environmentalists are interested in. Instead, their agenda is to oppose all energy development not powered by rainbows and unicorn poop: natural gas projects, pipelines, railway facilities, shipping facilities for coal exports—everything. And they are willing to mislead—and to lie outright—in the service of that project. 

Editor’s Note: This post originally misidentified the publication in which Joiner’s column appeared as the Huffington Post. 

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