Frothing Frackaphobes Fermenting Fear

Courtesy of John Micek’s daily must-read blog Capitol Ideas comes a post on an Esquire magazine article articulating the latest lunacy foisted by phobic fracking fact foes furiously fomenting fear.

Yesterday, it was fracking makes Jesus cry.  No really, we’re not trying to be sacrilegious, that is basically what they said.  Today, it is fear for beer as fracking will poison your potables and kill jobs in New York.  What’s next, fracking kills cuddly kittens?

kitten fear

The lead goes like this: “You should know that some excellent beer is in danger should fracking begin in the Marcellus Shale.”  It concludes: But you know what else is inconveniently located right on top of the Marcellus Shale? Brewery Ommegang, maker of some of our favorite Belgian-style beers.

A lot of water is used in the brewing process, and the beer is just never quite as good when it’s peppered with toxins like benzene and radioactive strontium. If fracking begins, Ommegang will either have to relocate, close, or truck in its water from elsewhere.”

Or maybe Marcellus Shale might expand brewery production due to increased demand from jobs created by drilling?  Ooops, sorry, jobs are proven benefits of natural gas, we’d never want to talk about those.  But seriously absent in the report are little things called facts, causality and common sense.

Here are a few things the reporter might have considered before fermenting her frothy fear:

Since the 1980s nearly all wells in Pa. have been fracked and natural gas development has never been proven to cause crops, cattle or food to be unsafe. According to the DEP, the process has never even led to groundwater contamination let alone poison beer.

Moreover, just in case you are interested in facts more than fear, the shale in question is more than a mile below the water surface (at least in Pa.) and groundwater is simply not in danger of contamination caused by fracking chemicals.  How do we know for sure?  Pennsylvania’s DEP has tested water on seven state rivers and concluded there are NO dangerous radiation or radioactive chemicals caused by Marcellus Shale development

Still fear for beer?  The fracking and wastewater are well regulated in Pa. and could and should be for New York should they lift their current jobs-killing moratorium. For example in Pa., the drilling industry is held to Total Dissolve Solids (minerals, metals, and salt in the water) standards that are 300 percent more stringent than other industries in the state. Drilling wastewater is treated to safe drinking water standards before it can be discharged into waterways.

But hey, those pesky little facts shouldn’t get in the way of a good story, huh?  While you cower in fear, keep your suds close and your kittens closer.  After all, the fracking monster is around every corner.