Shaleshock Expert Agrees – Hydrofracturing Will Not Hurt You

Shaleshock Action Alliance, an anti-drilling group, recently sponsored a meeting at Tompkins Cortland Community College in Dryden, NY to discuss the potential negative consequences of horizontal drilling and hydrofracturing (a specific technique used in drilling for natural gas). Shaleshock’s expert speakers for the evening included two chemists and an endocrinologist. One of the chemists was Ron Bishop, a biochemist at SUNY Oneonta and someone who has worked with gas drilling companies and in construction. According to Mr. Bishop:

“Hydrofracturing is not the boogeyman under the bed; it is not going to hurt you,” Bishop said. “You’re more likely to have problems with transporting the 10 to 30 tons of chemicals to the drilling site.”*

Mr. Bishop’s concern is with the transportation of chemicals to drilling sites and the potential for accidents and spills. But the thing is, truckloads of the same chemicals go over our interstates every day, and travel down our rail lines every day. It’s true you don’t see trucks carrying these types of chemicals on back roads every day, but with proper precautions, there’s no reason why it can’t be just as safe on our rural roads as it is on our other transportation systems.

So Shaleshock’s own expert agrees—hydrofracturing is safe. Thanks for your candid honesty Mr. Bishop!

*Elmira Star-Gazette (Feb 23) – Marcellus Shale: Spills of drilling chemicals worry experts

  • Tom Shelley

    Dear Star-Gazette–The above quote from Dr. Bishop is taken completely out of context. He was saying that hydrofracking in and of itself is not the biggest problem associate with this technology.

    The spill situation, which the above comment attempts to trivialize, is still very significant as has been seen by spill events in PA and West Virginia over the past few months. Spills are more likely on twisty, hilly rural roads inadequate for heavy truck traffic than Interstate highways.

    The specter of water pollution by poor practices in the handling of flowback and produced water is an even more serious problem. The provisions for the handling of what would be defined by New York State law as hazardous waste in any other industrial context are terribly inadequate under the provisions of the proposed dGEIS. Our ability to treat strong brine solutions laced with heavy metals and various highly toxic chemicals is a complete unknown at this time.

    Even more serious is the potential for air pollution to be extremely destructive to our local ecosystems and agricultural production. Tens of thousands of stationary diesel engines and even more diesel truck engines are going to add millions of tons of NOx and VOCs to our air resulting in a high production of ground level ozone. Many areas in Wyoming, Colorado and Utah that were formerly pristine wilderness are now ozone non-attainment areas–similar to the Los Angles basin on a bad day. The effects on the dairy industry, the wine industry, the organic farming industry and the tourist industry are going to be devastating. The income from these traditional local industries over the next ten years is projected to be 320 billion dollars. The natural gas industry is projected to develop 22 billion dollars in income in the same time period. The choice for the region is clear to me and it does not include the development of a dirty fuel source over a clean environment for our children and grandchildren. Tom Shelley, Ithaca NY

    PS: In several natural gas production ares in the West, 1 out of 4 children develop childhood asthma that will compromise their respiratory systems for the remainder of their lives. Some pro-gas folks apparently don’t have a high regard for the long-term health of their children and grandchildren.

  • Marie McRae

    I was at the Health Risks forum and I heard Dr Ron Bishop speak. For those who might be interested in hearing Dr Bishop’s comments IN CONTEXT they are viewable here:

    There are many steps that must be completed to extract gas from any given well site. The wells that have been traditionally drilled in NY have NOT used the high-pressure, slick-water technique now being utilized to extract gas from the Marcellus and other “tight” shales, and called, in short-hand, “fracking”. To compare your grandfather’s well drilling with the well drilling proposed for tight shales is meaningless and irrational at best, and intentionally obfuscating at worst.

    Of the many steps taken to drill a Marcellus shale gas well, most, if not all, are fraught with the possibility of accident. The severity of those accidents varies – just as the damage in an automobile accident varies – from merely problematic to life threatening. As I would strive to avoid any automobile accident, so, too, I want to avoid any and all of the imported industrial accidents that WILL go along with unconventional drilling. Because accidents WILL happen.

    I own farmland that sits over the Marcellus shale. I live here for the quiet beauty of the place, for the clear air I breathe and the wonderful water I drink. I say NO to hydraulic fracturing of the earth I stand on. I say NO to the hauling of chemical laden trucks on our roads. I say NO to the wasteful thinking that believes stealing millions of gallons of water from the earth’s water cycle is OK.

    I say YES to: organic farming, strong tourism attractions, beautiful wineries, quiet bed and breakfast establishments, eco-tourism, local food production, and many other activities that historic and future economic projections show will bring more money to NY state than will any amount of drilling over the next 20 years.

    Marie McRae

  • Jim

    Mr. Shelley, thanks for leaving a comment on this post. As one of the speakers at the event in question, your opinion of what was said, and what was intended, holds more weight than others who simply attended. But I would point out two things about your response:

    1) Most of the time hydraulic fracturing itself is usually made out to be the problem, and as your colleague stated, the technology is not a serious threat. We can argue about the safety of transporting chemicals, but it’s refreshing to see some honesty about “hydrofracking” in this always heated debate. It simply is not the evil it’s made out to be.

    2) I find your P.S. less compelling. You make a blanket statement that implies 1 in 4 children develop asthma due to drilling related activities (trucking traffic, etc.) What study are you citing? And the fact that children in a particular area where there is drilling does not necessarily mean drilling activity is the cause. It would be helpful in this debate to be accurate and not resort to incendiary language about people not caring about their children or families if they are pro-drilling.

  • Jim

    Maria, thanks for the link to the video of the Shaleshock presentation. I encourage everyone to watch. Those of us on the pro-drilling side of this debate have nothing to fear in hearing the anti-drilling point of view. I always find interesting things to research and think about. And frankly, I always find my own viewpoint strengthened by the lack of compelling arguments and evidence from those who oppose drilling! So please, watch.

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