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Jul-03-2010 17:42printcommentsVideo

Clean Water Underground? Halliburton says: 'Fugetaboutit!'
America's Water Supplies Get Freaking Fracked

"Only after the last tree has been cut down... Only after the last river has been poisoned… Only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten." - Cree Indian Prophecy

If "fracking" isn’t already in your neighborhood or that of a relative or family friend, believe me, it will be coming soon. Photos: donnan.com, HBO and Jacques del Conte

(LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.) - If you haven’t heard about “fracking,” the use of solvents, exotic chemicals and water injected by extreme high pressure boring tips to literally fracture deep subterranean strata releasing energy resources, then sit up and pay attention America: If it isn’t already in your neighborhood or that of a relative or family friend, believe me, it will be coming soon. If you’re lucky, been safely ensconced under a really dense rock that Halliburton and their cronies haven’t quite reached because the permits haven’t been acquired, it’s just a matter of when, not if.

The technique of fracking (sometimes referred to as “hydro-fracing”) has been around for decades, basically consisting of enhancing, amplifying and expediting boring logistics for oil, natural gas and coal exploration. Originally they drilled vertically but then those wild and crazy, voracious gambling guys down in Houston (Halliburton) came up with horizontal drilling patents. They don’t just drill a mile down, baby, they drill for miles in every which way but loose. Some geologists and seismic experts theorize minor earthquake events and subsidence have already been provoked, is this a wonderful emerging management practice or what? [1]

Never underestimate the ability of economics to trump environmental impacts and distract legitimate long range concerns. Yes, it wipes out our water supplies but it creates jobs and stimulates economic recovery putting America back to work------illogically working to destroy our long term sustainable resources and population, get it?

If you don't see the contradiction, you must be Sarah Palin and probably see a hazardous waste landfill from your porch as fiscal incentive or neocon nirvana, amber waves of stain that glow at night from the methane torches.

Soaring consumer energy costs with depleting domestic availability equals insidious strategies masked as feel good procurement. And they spin it as doing us a patriotic service. Whenever you hear the words “Balanced approach to America's assured future energy procurement,” be fearful and know that you’re getting screwed by lip-licking, ass-smacking good old boys from Texas who are gambling with a finite, life-sustaining natural resources: Your water and air. Although both belong in common to all under land trust doctrines laid down centuries ago by real thinkers, don't tell these get rich quick elitists and village morons who can look you in the eyes and lie like sociopaths. They're on their iPhones checking the commodities market stock figures and can't be bothered by what BP execs called "small people."

From Pennsylvania to Wyoming, California, Montana, Colorado to Texas, even upstate New York where millions draft their drinking water replenishments, virtually all regions of this country are emerging as victims or eventually will become candidates. Almost nowhere is it safe any longer as these companies tenacious minions of darkness literally perforate and honeycomb our nation, burrowing like termites below the surface, until recently sub rosa, out of the public’s sight and held litigiously harmless from repercussions. Assisted by our own traitorous phony protection agencies, they have undermined (pun intended) our guaranteed right to fresh, non-hazardous air and water. Fluid entropy.

Halliburton and other energy resource firms were given exemptions from the prescriptions of the Safe Drinking Water Act back in 2005. Their energy bill goal was to morph the bastard child from Hell of VP Dick Cheney and his now infamously stealthy “Energy Taskforce” into their pet lapdog: Fracking. Or should we call it “task farce?” Now demeaned by many as “The Halliburton Loophole," Cheney personally assured exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.

Insult to injury, these corporate thieves of healthy drinking water supplies are also exempt from the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act, even affecting EPA oversight controls for runoff and the Superfund Act. There is no liability for these companies infused contaminants that "leak off," to clean up their toxic sludge and runoff from drilling sites, no sanctions/fines for destroying historical drainage patterns or creating toxic vapors. With every breath you take, noxious gases. With every sip you take, petrochemical cocktails. They've been able to light their tapwater as it comes out in Colorado, obviating a need for a home security flashlight. Fill up your sink, set a match and barbecue indoors! Don't forget you hazmat gear.

These energy seekers are allowed to use additives as fracturing fluids which contain toxic mixtures of diesel fuel, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, carbon disulfide, naphthalene, pyridines and xylene---Basically solvents and petroleum distillates, aromatic hydrocarbons and reagents.

Through their combined use of surfactants and solvents they've chemically mimed or duplicated the molecular structure of the dreaded oil dispersants now being vilified by biologists in the Gulf spill cleanup efforts. Take that, Cuyahoga River, burn on from the stream down to the lake for all we care.

Halliburton and their brethren, in an accord with USEPA in 2003, agreed to self-imposed limits for the use of diesel fuel. Now EPA says that they appear to have exceeded that limit, once again they self-monitor, leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse----No need to wonder what else we’re NOT being told, an excellent Sundance Film Festival entry, GASLAND by Director Josh Fox, can help you figure that one out[2].

There are several insightful slideshows and short videos by other news agencies available at You Tube: [3] [4] [5]

Mind-boggling, but they also have proprietary rights, they are not required to divulge their protected patents and formulas, the actual toxic constituents in the fluids they disperse out of their wellbore nozzles into our subterranean systems. Hey, it’s like Christmas every waking minute all around the nation, surprise me Halliburton, what's next?

Mainstream publications began waking up and addressing the subject earlier this year, and if Americans thought that their surface water impairments are becoming alarming, this exploration technique could be the final nail in the water quality coffin. Major aquifers in America either are, or are becoming, contaminated by the detritus of the volatile, carcinogenic media used for this type of wellboring-----Not to mention the gases released to the surface as a direct result of these aggressive processes. Safe removal of hydrocarbons for processing is a lie. There's no such thing as a free lunch or clean coal.

Since the Gulf oil fiasco began, not only BP but other energy exploration, production and refinement corporations have begun saturating our TV screens and internet search engines with self-aggrandizing propaganda. They tell us, as if we’re retards (sorry, “IQ challenged”) that they are making every attempt to provide safe, dependable and hopefully inexpensive energy to meet our demands. It’s become apparent that what they’ve really saturated is our public ground water systems, filled our air with filthy junk, and the public’s supply wells with pure polluted BS.

As for that old "Life is about trade-offs and compromises" crap, selling out the bastion, the beacon of world freedom for 30 pieces of platinum (betrayal is more expensive these days, ya know), compromising the health of an entire democracy for profit doesn't sound very Christian to me---I don't care how many times Dickhead Cheney goes to church.

The actual subterranean flow paths, the historically undisturbed corridors and charged aquifers that provide approximately 35% of our finite drinking water (potable) are not clearly defined, understood or entirely mapped presently, and the sub-surface migrational potential changes due to porosity variations make for sketchy scientific analyses. Consolidated formations (rock) lay next to and interwoven with unconsolidated/non-compacted sediment, soil and sand. Thus we only have vague ideas or theories about how far, how fast and to what extent fracking will irrevocably alter and affect our watery future. Like their partner BP, Halliburton is experimenting at our expense.

Most of this fracking is taking place on unregulated public land leased cheaply by our own government to energy consortiums: Now who said irony died on 9/11? Many of the potentially large resource reservoirs under our feet are not conducive to typical well boring strategies, and so our benevolent friends from the former Bush Administration will be giving us one very long, protracted legacy: An endless protracted nightmare of guaranteed massive contamination----Lucky Cheney will probably kick pretty soon, he's probably sorry about leaving after the First Act curtain in this Wagnerian/Shakespearian tragedy.

With the barriers between aquifers and other subterranean reservoirs or banks disrupted and redirected, combined with contamination of surface waters that infiltrate downgradient, there is no scientific database or existent modeling that can predict the outcome of these enormously widespread degrading modifications.

About 35% of our national population receive their drinking water from one of the 140,000 public water systems that use groundwater as their primary source[6].

As noted in the Summer 2010 edition of the Trout Unlimited magazine TROUT, TU members are outraged by what's documented about Pennsylvania in GASLAND and are being asked to support the Chesapeake Bay Foundation in its quest to completely ban natural gas wells and further exploration in that state’s floodplains. Apparently this year’s flooding has resulted in “daylighting,” that is introduced the chemicals used for hydro-fracturing into surface drainage through leaching and seepage, creating runoff wastewater that becomes deadly toxic soup for immersed aquatics or foraging land animals---Not to mention health hazards for human recreational uses.

In Pennsylvania, oil and gas regulations don’t allow well pads within 100 feet of tributaries, a pitifully short distance at that, but osmosis and capillary action transports or migrates these polluted brews beyond legal restricted distances. Septic tanks usually require an 800-1200 foot setback, so this mystifies me personally. It is unclear what benefit if any there’d be in capping and abandoning these well sites anyway-----Contaminates like VOCs linger long long after cheaply flaccid remedial efforts. Plus they know that under the 2005 exemption they’re off the hook for major fiscal penalties. This is another example of why eco-protectionistas were frustrated by the Bush era environmental law rollbacks and sleepwalking.

A faucet lights up from the amount of natural gas in the
Colorado water supply, in a scene from "GASLAND" (HBO)

This single Safe Drinking Water Act exemption was a Trojan Horse, an in advance "Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card, Just Pass Go" which constituted zero future accountability, zero future responsibility, zero legal exposure. It was intended to be a safe harbor or haven, one for the sheltered criminals who'll never be prosecuted as they could have been under the Clean Water Act---No one forced or pre-disposed to cleanup these enormous regions, only the American taxpayer to pay these deadbeat debtors bills. Ad nauseam.

Non-potable, so-called irrigation or recycled water is not being spared either. Due to the transference, the out-of-control mixing of naturally occurring carcinogens with the chemicals used for fracking, treatment plants for potable and reclaimed are not able to remove these substances even if diverted. Once you add in the pharmaceuticals and other inorganic nasty things waste treatment plants aren't designed to capture, remove or reduce, that are becoming dominant in recycled water, we're just plain old "fracked, " now aren't we? Aren’t you glad to know that your crops thus the produce at your market is being soaked in these evil couplings before harvesting, then appears on your family's table for consumption, laced with a gamut of substances (supplements!) you never asked for? [7] [8]

So when you watch those ridiculous energy corporation infomercials on TV, telling you what a great job they’re doing to make us safe from foreign addictions, maybe you’ll laugh a little. Then maybe a tear of sadness and remorse will trickle down. America the Beautiful, polluted, mission accomplished, from sea-to-shining-sea.


[1] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydraulic_fracturing

[1a] epa.gov/ogwdw000/uic/wells_hydrofrac.html

[2] blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/06/22/gasland-director-josh-fox-on-his-controversial-documentary/

[3] youtube.com/watch?v=iYAXnQame-U


[5] scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=shale-gas-and-hydraulic-fracturing

[6] water.usgs.gov/nawqa/studies/public_wells/

[7] naturalnews.com/023565_water_lead_drinking.html

[8] nwri-usa.org/CECs.htm

FYI: If a project near you has some interesting enviro-aspect(s) that you think is/are worthy of Salem-News.com coverage and our readers attention, feel free to contact me with a very brief synopsis. Water-related “Blue Interventions” are my specialty!

Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger von Bütow and his OMO columns are written exclusively for Salem-News-com. Born and raised in the LA Harbor area, son of a German immigrant father, he's been in Orange County for 45 years and is a 38-year resident of Laguna Beach, Ca. In 1998, he began his professional career in environmental review processes (CEQA, NEPA, MND, MND and EIR/EIS). He's a rare mix of cross-trained builder, writer and consultant as he brings his extensive construction experiences dating back to 1972 into his eco-endeavors. He has tremendous field and technical expertise in successful watershed restorations, plus wastewater, urban runoff, water quality monitoring/improvements and hydrologic mechanisms. He's built everything from commercial spas to award-winning private residences, and provided peer review and consultant analyses for single homes, subdivisions and upscale resorts.

View articles written by Roger Butow Read Roger's full biography on the Salem-News.com Staff Page

His resumé is extensive, try an online GOOGLE search of his personal journey and historical accomplishments. His consultation fees are reasonable and if you've got a major project that alarms you, that needs creative intervention, then he's your man. His credentials and "CV" can be provided upon request.

Contact him at his office: (949) 715.1912 or drop him an email: rogerbutow@cleanwaternow.com

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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RealisticTreehugger July 14, 2011 7:45 am (Pacific time)

@RalphD...Ok so where is the PEER REVIEWED SCIENTIFIC PUBLISHED LITERATURE that says there is no contamination and are free to joyfully skip off into the sunset knowing our water is perfectly safe?? Where do you get your facts? Faux news? You are just as guilty as a crazy enviro..babbling forth that you KNOW there is no contamination when in fact there has been no documentation to support otherwise! Where is that data??? The truth is that this issue is starting to be heavily studied using the emphirical scientific method NOT hearsay. Duke Univ just published a paper in PNAS and other academics are not far behind. If industry is behind their is "no contamination" statement, then they should be more than happy to share baseline data with Duke University that supports their statements. The fact is they refuse to...

RalphD October 13, 2010 10:29 pm (Pacific time)

You east coast liberals need to get out to the oilfields and get your facts straight - don't rely on a cub reporter from the NYT for your mis-information.

Ralphd October 13, 2010 10:21 pm (Pacific time)

It is interesting to read comments from people who know nothing of the fracturing process other than what the liberal media tell them. Here are some actual facts. A lot of fresh water is actually used in these processes and recovered water is often reused. That is a downside. The truth is that fracturing takes place far underground where only salt water is found - so much for the drinking water argument. The pictures of burning water are actually real, but are from areas with shallow gas production so that water wells can naturally produce some gas. These are two realities have very different causes. No case of surface (ground) water contamination has been documented. The toxic chemical mix is often just water with some friction reducer or a gelling agent (such as guar that us used to thicken your ketsup and pudding and icecream). In some cases a bit of acid is used but this is consumed by the rock of the formation. If you are an eastern liberal just get off of the case - you are really exposing you ignorance. Just stop driving or riding in any plane or vehicle, heating your home,or you are just a hypocrite. Just walk and live in a cave without refrigeration. You can stop fracturing if you want to - but I think you only want to obstruct, obstruct, delay and raise costs for everyone.

Roger von Bütow July 6, 2010 12:43 pm (Pacific time)

Tom: As Josh Fox's film is a lightning rod, has achieved a high profile and spurred intense national debate about this already controversial strategy, how could I NOT include it? John Stewart makes fun of everyone and everything, he's not a legitimate news source. Secondly, if you actually read the column thoroughly I encouraged readers to educate themselves online---There's enough personal eyewitness accounts from ordinary citizens experiencing impacts and from consortiums of UNPAID scientists to keep anyone busy for quite some time. They are freaking out by the thousands in upstate New York, Colorado and especially in Pennsylvania.....I only included WIKIPEDIA as it's a common source, I could have created a hyperlink reference page with 100 sources, all either opposed or at minimum outraged. Third, many of the pro-fracking groups/websites are "astroturf" organizations. Synthetic, bogus attempts by petrochemical corporations, their employees and/or marketing and lobby firms as shills....Dummy organizations funded by BP, Halliburton, Exxon, Shell, etc. Fourth, I don't consider myself a liberal---I'm a Libertarian. I believe, that like democracy, environmental protection is achieved by constant vigilance. If these drilling companies aren't polluting, why do they need exemptions? Why do they need shelter from litigation or placing limits on it? This isn't conspiracy theory stuff, it's happening right now in the Gulf. Industry is NOT the proper oversight mechanism, it cannot monitor itself for compliance or contigencies. The web is filled with anti-fracking articles or ones that ring some serious alarm bells. I couldn't find time these past few months to write about this subject, but your response tells me that I'm not too late, I'm hitting my target, always a good thing for a Marine. This column is getting lots of internet hits and is up the charts at GOOGLE and BING. I'm just one of many who see that this tradeoff of more gas for less potable water needs more professional analysis and risk assessment...Unless you're adverse to independent scientific inspection and conclusions reached IN the public domain instead of behind Dick Cheney's closed doors? Read up on T. Boone Pickens, he's got a $$$ stake in it too, so his comments are self-serving. I think that he has the greatest amount of water rights entitlements in the USA---So when this Goes South (after all, it came from there!), when the frackers have impounded, then wasted our aquifers, wells, and streams, he'll be selling America HIS banked water at inflated prices, a Wild West Water Baron version of an Oil Sheik. Instead of a burnoose a cowboy hat!

Tom July 6, 2010 6:09 am (Pacific time)

More Lies from the Left. Using Wikipedia and "Gasland" as his source material???? John Stewart, Liberal comedian, even ripped apart Josh Fox and his Gasland claims. Extreme Evniro-wackjobs are as dangerous a group than any these days. Go to www.energyindepth.com or google Marcellus Shale Coalition. Look for "gasland debunked".

Editor: You are using Comedy Central to gauge the accuracy of this story?  Funny, I just ripped Jon Stewart to shreds for a ridiculous assertion in a recent show, hope you don't think that comedian is a defining source for news, he's a comedian and as sold out as the next.  Naturally you guys in the industry are doing everything possible to counter this news, most unscrupulous people do.  However the word 'debunked' makes me think of other liar based strategies like 'swiftboating' and the like.  Better luck next time, I thought this piece was fantastic and revealing, exactly what it is.

Roger von Bütow July 5, 2010 4:28 pm (Pacific time)

PS: I've already gotten several emails inquiring about the millions of gallons of water mixed in with the liquid lubricants/additives. I was unable to ascertain, due to the varying regulations and absence of discrete info state-to-state if they're using reclaimed or potable water. Regardless, hundreds of millions of gallons of POTENTIAL drinking water are being used each day already. We'll soon have several hundred thousand of these sites up and running. So you may have assured future energy to run your home heating system, cook your food, power your vehicles, but you will NOT have safe non-toxic water to drink.....Heck of a trade-off, huh?

Roger von Bütow July 4, 2010 4:59 pm (Pacific time)

Terry: In 2009, Democrats in both Branches of Congress introduced bills to repeal the exemptions for fracking (FRAC ACT), plus hopefully close some loopholes intentionally created by Cheney's Energy Task Farce. The lobbyists and Republicans have dug in their heels, both bills are stalled. Fracking is now taking place in 34 states, not to mention extensively worldwide. It's really insidious because they drill laterally too, so they could drill under YOUR propriety after buying rights to set up shop next door from your neighbor. I don't get that part, I thought property owners mineral/water rights under their parcel were inviolate. My research showed depths of 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) and as for the horizontal/lateral distances I assume similar distances. Subsidence (vertical collapse and/or lateral shifting) has some pretty bad potential too, enormous sinkholes aren't out of the question. They're basically rearranging both sub-surface strata position and drainage, plus polluting surface drainage. They've already created mini-earthquakes (around 3.0) in a few places. So the impacts could reach out miles in multiple directions. I suggest readers contact their congress people and find out how their reps have/are voting, put pressure on them to halt this process NOW and require more independent enviro-studies by non-biased consultants. Watch the You Tube interview by PBS, it plus other info by experts on the web is really really disturbing. If natural gas is, as T. Boone Pickens calls it a transitional energy source, then this particular method of transition from oil to renewable is just another dead end and just as ecologically damaging. Rearranging the basic building blocks, the elements of the Earth's upper crust haphazardly is nuts! Once again, energy exploration is really experimentation on a massive scale with unknown impacts. How can they mitigate or have contingencies for what they've never implemented, have no historical experience or analog for?

Terry Waite July 4, 2010 1:23 pm (Pacific time)

This is harsh, so this is what my children have to look forward to in this world? Is anyone doing anything to put an end to this unscrupulous business practics?

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