Sunday, December 4, 2011

Energy Expert Raises Risks of Fracking

Industry not entirely truthful about effect of drilling method, group told.

Tony Ingraffea has done research and development work in the oil and gas industry for 25 years, but on Saturday the Cornell University engineering professor from New York was in Bible Hill speaking about the risks of hydraulic fracturing.

The drilling method, also known as fracking, is one of Ingraffea’s areas of expertise. Although fracking, a technique that forces water and chemicals into rock to release gas, has been a part of the oil and gas industry for many years, Ingraffea said the methods companies use to extract natural gas are really quite new and lack the necessary research to answer critical health and environmental questions.

"I’m an educator and I base my education on complete truth, whole truth," Ingraffea said in an interview.

"I don’t think the industry is being completely truthful about their technology or the impact the technology as currently practised might have."

Ingraffea was the keynote speaker at the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition’s one-day conference.

The real conversation that must take place should focus on what he calls the unconventional development of gas from shale formations, he told a filled lecture hall.

The method companies hope to use to extract gas from areas in Atlantic Canada — which has been banned in Quebec — combines direction drilling, increased use of water, adding chemicals to the water to increase the fluid flow and aggressive development of drilling areas.

Ingraffea said companies are using small kernels of truth, such as the ones that say fracking is an old and tested practice and that well failures are rare, to create myths to distract people from the dire lack of research on the technology they want to use.

Companies have taken a good technology — fracking and gas development — and taken it to "an abusive extreme," he said.

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