Hickenlooper: Fracking Has “Literally No Risk”

Aspen Daily News’ Andrew Travers, conservationists thrown for a (Hicken)loop(er) yet again:

The controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing carries “literally no risk” if done correctly, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said during a conversation that covered his support for natural gas extraction at the Fortune Brainstorm Tech conference at the Aspen Institute on Tuesday.

Hickenlooper said that the controversial process of “fracking,” which has led to environmental concerns and protests over drilling on public lands in local areas like the Thompson Divide, could lead to cleaner fuel for cars and domestic job growth. Fracking entails injecting a cocktail of water, sand and chemicals under high pressure deep into the ground to break up rock formations and release natural gas.

“Like any industrial process, fracking has some risks but, really, if done properly, certainly out in the West, there is literally no risk – certainly much less than many industrial processes,” he said in a public interview with Fortune magazine’s Andy Serwer… [Pols emphasis]

To summarize your Democratic Governor, hydraulic fracturing has “some risks,” but for reasons we admit we’re not up to speed on, in the West there is “literally no risk”–well, maybe some risk, but “certainly much less” than “many industrial processes.” We’re not sure exactly what those industrial processes would be, but we have to assume there are an awful lot of “industrial processes” out there that carry more than “literally no risk.” Like baking cookies, for example. Have we mentioned recently that Gov. Hickenlooper “took a swig” of fracking fluid himself?

Just remember, he’s better than Tom Tancredo. Shut your eyes, repeat as necessary.

34 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

    Frackenlooper strikes again.

    • mtboneiii says:

      Are any of these concerns about fracking based in reality or are they just fear?

      Governor Hickenlooper supports the environment and if this was bad for the environment he would be the first to go against it.  He gets his information based in FACT.  I am a progressive, environmentalist Democrat and I don’t understand why our kneww-jerk reaction as liberals always has to go against things like this.  

      Look, there are always some risks involved.  You have to mitigate those and put in the proper safety protocols.  Unless we are all willing to stop using energy and using our devices, cars and indeed our computers (and this blog) then we need to accept that.

      • AristotleAristotle says:

        I would say the fears are based in reality, and your hyperbolic dismissal borders on the concern-trollish.

        • bobewegen says:

          Far from being a concern troll, mtboneiii seems thoroughly in the mainstream of scientific opinion, though it is by no means unanimous.

          • ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

            The outbreak of reason on Colorado Pols this evening is heart warming.

            • ClubTwitty says:

              with some rapidity, in different geologies.  The science is still out, but I think there is reason to be skeptical of the every-thing-is-OK-we’ve-been-doing-it-for-60-years industry schtick.  

              Industry has not been fracking horizontally a mile out under densely populated areas for any length of time.  There are studies that indicate, if nothing else, that more study is needed.  Exactly what the problems are or might be are unknown (is it released hydrocarbons migrating upwards into aquifers?  Is it the frack itself–this is what the evidence so far exonerates from what I understand, is it bad casing eroding over time)…

              Meanwhile history certainly suggests that simply accepting industry’s rosy scenarios at face value may be a mistake.  

              Hickenlooper is not making a number of folks wondering about all those frack trailers parked by junior’s middle school feel any safer by his blanket, universal pronouncements. Governors say all sorts of things.  Sarah Palin was a governor after all.    

              • bobewegen says:

                there are studies that indicate, if nothing else, that more study is needed.

                  When the Berlin Wall came down a friend of mine in the State Dept. toasted the great day thusly:

                  To Peace.  May it require further study!

                  Yes, as long as there are grants to be had, studies will always conclude that further study is needed.

                  I am not trying to resolve the issue for all time.  But frankly it is you and Aristotle, not the above maligned montbonaii, that are the minority on the issue.  That’s a fine place to be, but a poor one from which to label the mainstream view as unacceptable.

              • bobewegen says:

                there are studies that indicate, if nothing else, that more study is needed.

                  When the Berlin Wall came down a friend of mine in the State Dept. toasted the great day thusly:

                  To Peace.  May it require further study!

                  Yes, as long as there are grants to be had, studies will always conclude that further study is needed.

                  I am not trying to resolve the issue for all time.  But frankly it is you and Aristotle, not the above maligned montbonaii, that are the minority on the issue.  That’s a fine place to be, but a poor one from which to label the mainstream view as unacceptable.

                • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

                   

                  But frankly it is you and Aristotle, not the above maligned montbonaii, that are the minority on the issue.

                  I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion, Bob. I recall a poll taken back during the legislative run-up to the new rules being made. In it, 72% of Coloradoans said that protecting the air and water in Colorado was more important than O&G development.

                  These statements by Gov. Frackenlooper are NOT factual. I used to work in the industry, bob. I know how fast and loose they play with the truth.

                  • bobewegen says:

                    is a good thing.  The question is whether fracking is a tool of Satan.  Based on the evidence to date it seems both effective and fairly benign.  Hick obviously overstated the case but, frankly, not by that much.

                    • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

                      anyone refer to fracking as “a tool of the devil”. Not that some tree-hugger, like me, hasn’t uttered those words. This is not just an academic exercise if you live a couple hundred feet from a gas well.

                      Do you personally know anyone who lives within a few hundred feet of a gas well?

                      I know lots of them.

                      I will grant that you are right about one of your claims. Hydraulic fracturing is effective, true, but the “fairly benign” part…not so much. There is nothing benign about it. Do you have some data or some study, not provided by industry, that substantiates your claim?

                      Can you say for sure, Bob, that your “benign” fracking process didn’t poison the water and air of Chris Mobaldi and ultimately kill her? No. You can no more prove that it didn’t, than I can prove that it did.

                      I have been engaged in this debate for some eight years now, Bob. When the industry engages in full disclosure, I will be happy to be proven wrong. Platitudes and vague reassurance are not at all comforting to those facing the prospect of the “Bulldozer at the Gate”.

                      But, in the interests of fairness…please tell us of your experience in the oil and gas business and what factual information you have that engenders the confidence you display in Halliburton, Cal-Frac, Schlumberger, and the like.

                         

                    • bobewegen says:

                      that fracing is safe and benign.  Of course not.  And you admit you can’t prove it’s not.  So, without absolute proof, do we just shut the whole thing down and freeze in the dark.  No, I doubt that.  The evidence is overwhelming that the governor, while perhaps carried away, is essentially right.  The burden of proof never consists of proving the negative:  prove under all imaginable circumstances everywhere in the world over the next ten thousand years that fracing will never, ever, harm anybody.

                        That is silly.  I can make a much stronger case against water than against fracking — after all, dozens, maybe hundreds, of people drown every year in swimming and occasionally in their bathtub.  

                    • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

                      do we just shut the whole thing down and freeze in the dark.

                      and it never has been. It is about responsibility and respect… it is about a pathway to accountability. It is about owning up to the damage you do.

                      To say that the oil and gas industries’ leadership has an obfuscatory persuasion would be very generous. The old joke is…How do you tell when an oil man is lying? … when his lips are moving.

                      This is an overstatement, of course, for humorous effect (lay off, elbee) and I have many friends and family members who are part of the oil and gas industries’ workforce. They are just hardworking people doing a job. This isn’t about them, either.

                      This is about people who lie for a living. People who have spun so many stories, they believe the excrement they disseminate. Go down to the state capitol building and look for the guys in the Armani suits. What is important to them is profit. Profit is power…and they like it. It is pervasive in the richest industry in the world.

                      What that thirst for profit does to the decision making processes in O&G board rooms across the world, IS THE PROBLEM.

                      Profitability depends upon preservation of a profit mechanism that relies on avoidance of liability and secrecy. It relies on the hubris which is routinely manifested as disrespect for the lives and property of those who are unlucky or uninformed enough to find themselves in the path of Exxon/Mobils’ bottom line.

                      When I see an oil company publish a list of the ingredients in the fracking fluid THEY ACTUALLY USE, I will shower them with praise. Until then, the only acceptable compromise is an open, easily accessable pathway to the information needed to save a life. “Frac Focus”, according to the attorneys I consult, is toothless and will not be able to respond to a life threating emergency. Time will tell.

                      The evidence is overwhelming that the governor, while perhaps carried away, is essentially right.

                      With respect, Bob. The evidence is not at all overwhelming. Ask the EPA…the evidence isn’t even convincing.

                      That is silly.  I can make a much stronger case against water than against fracking — after all, dozens, maybe hundreds, of people drown every year in swimming and occasionally in their bathtub.  

                      I must also say… I have decided not to be insulted by the above statement. No one I know bathes or swims for profit…on other peoples’ land. Fracking is often done against the wishes of the landowner.

                      I don’t wish to be snarky with you, Bob, so I will be serious. The years I spent working on gas wells taught me a few things. One of those was that gas drilling can get away from you and out of hand in a hurry. Mistakes happen, sometimes due to negligence, sometimes due to system failure. But for whatever reason a failure occurs, those who suffer the consequences deserve the truth. To date…they aren’t getting it.      

                    • ClubTwitty says:

                      please provide the link, otherwise dump your hyperbole.  

                      You jump to conclusion in saying it is fairly benign, or even that most opinion, informed and otherwise, resides there with you.  I say the jury is out.  There is not necessarily that much study on the effects from its current uses–fracking a mile out in ‘shales’ nor that much study of its effects on air quality, or just analysis of the cradle to grave impacts (How many spills and other mishaps occur getting it to site or into the well? What is the connection between deep well injection and shallow earthquakes?)

                      In any case, fracking takes massive amounts of water–sold from municipalities while crops die for lack.  There are numerous air quality issues.

                      As I noted, there are impacts cradle to grave, not just from the frack itself, and–yes–all that must be included in understanding the impacts of the operations and in assessing it.  

                      There are of course any number of other impacts associated with it.  One could argue Hick has no need to go into all those.  And that might be true–thousands of trucks, for instance, on questionable roads–but he should not adopt an attitude where all that is discounted, in which all concern is conflated to a very technical question of whether the frack itself contaminated water, at least if he wants to avoid criticism like this diary.  In understanding concerns it only makes sense to look at how this technology is actually deployed in communities.  I think the science remains unresolved as well.  But there is much more to it than that, and I understand why it concerns people when the Governor blows off all concern as misinformed.  

                    • bobewegen says:

                      You’re lightening up in your old age, CT.

                    • ClubTwitty says:

                      The Prince of Darkness himself?  I seriously doubt that.  Certainly none of the science I have seen on the subject suggests that.

                      Still, Halliburton does have suspicious colors, and I enjoyed the movie War, Inc. even though it was disturbing. But I saw Ozzy Osbourne too and survived that.  

                      Schlumberger is a company with a German-looking name pronounced the French way, and you know what they say about Europeans these days.  

                      I do think there is some space between ‘tool of Satan’ and ‘literally no risk’ which was my point, or rather attempt at a point.  The Gov makes himself subject to ridicule, as do those of us, ahem, who think that Lucifer is behind fracking; when the Gov uses absolutist language that expresses no connection with the real concern of citizens, and their elected leaders on councils and county commissions,in the gaspatch.  Add Routt County now to those duly elected bodies acting on behalf of their constituents against the state.    

          • AristotleAristotle says:

            with the full cooperation of the oil industry?

            Given that industry’s horrible record on both the environment and telling the truth about any risks involved with their extraction methods, color me unimpressed.

      • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

        becomes “no” risk with the qualifier of “literally” attached, you can immediately smell a semantical rat.

        Any system that requires human infallibility as its failsafe mechanism is NOT a good bet.

        and this…

        Governor Hickenlooper supports the environment and if this was bad for the environment he would be the first to go against it.

        is a fantastical statement akin to such as “Mitt Romney is a warm, lovable human being, who knows what it means to worry about paying the rent.”

        Ice cold watermelon awaits…I’ll be back.  

      • TobiasFunke says:

        Mostly it’s just fear. I worked in the industry for a while, but I’m also a conservationist, so I’ve seen it from both sides. MOST fracking operations don’t have any issues, because MOST fracking operations are run the right way, by reputable firms hiring reputable contractors to do the work.

        There absolutely needs to be oversight in an attempt to make sure every fracking op is up to code and monitored regularly to make sure corners aren’t being cut, and there need to be massive fines for those companies who are found to be doing things improperly.

        But Governor Hickenlooper is right (although I wouldn’t have said “literally,” as I fucking hate that word) that most operations are safe, both for the people and the environment, according to studies up to this point.  

      • dmindgo says:

        To claim ‘no risk’ is very unscientific.  Fracking is akin to taking an air mattress and pushing out the air.  The difference is the mattress is denser so the effects take years to be seen, not seconds.  (That is several orders of magnitude on the time scale.)  To claim we know what will happen is an assertion, not a fact.

        What we do know is that there has been disruption of wells in areas that have undergone fracking but that PROVING fracking as the cause is next to impossible.  The likelihood is high, though.

        The FACT is that a nurse in Durango was exposed to fracking fluids last year (or was it 2010?) and nearly died.  Part of the problem was the companies refusal to disclose its ingredients.

        Now, I don’t think we shouldn’t do fracking.  What does need to happen is regulation and transparency in the operations.  That has gotten better over the years but there are still some obvious concerns.  Also, we still don’t know what happens at the end of the cycle in fracking and that is an area that deserves extreme scrutiny in the very near term.

  2. Diogenesdemar says:

    “Fracking, certainly out in the West, has literally no risk to . . . ”

    a) human beings.

    b) any (fuzzy, cuddly) wildlife.

    c) the environment.

    d) anyone’s groundwater drinking supply.

    e) unicorn habitat.

    f) my future political aspirations.

    g) my potential campaign donations.

    h) my gutsy, practical but liberal, public persona.

    i) any of the really important stuff above.

    j) none of the above.

    kj) all of the above.

  3. ProgressiveCowgirlProgressiveCowgirl says:

    …and give me back my public trustee, please?

  4. ArapaGOPArapaGOP says:

    I like you understand that:

    1) Western wells are drilled deeper, thousands of feet below the water table.

    2) Proper drilling to ensure wellbore integrity means aquifer contamination will not occur, and has never occurred in Colorado.

    Fracking in the West is safe and risk-free if done properly, just as Hickenlooper says it is. It’s too bad that his party doesn’t understand the issue and is beholden to anti capitalist environmentalist whackos.

    But remember Governor, if you want to join the party of freedom, energy and prosperity, we’re ready to welcome you!

    • DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

      That you can light your tap water on fire!

    • Sir RobinSir Robin says:

      Give me a fucking break. Ask the majority of Americans, women, how they feel about Republicans and freedom. Ask people who want inexpensive energy for the people, not high profits for big oil, and then ask the vast majority of Americans, who are struggling financially, while Republican policies benefit the top 1%.

      You are a fucking asshole. And, stupid to boot.

      I hope I’m being succinct enough.

    • Duke Coxdukeco1 says:

      1) Western wells are drilled deeper, thousands of feet below the water table.

      Natural gas occurs at very high pressure underground. That pressure will propel gas and water hundreds of feet in a matter of minutes. Your “thousands” of feet doesn’t mean squat. Additionally, while the gas bearing zones in the Piceance basin are deep, that is not so for the Wattenberg field and other front range production areas.

      2) Proper drilling to ensure wellbore integrity means aquifer contamination will not occur, and has never occurred in Colorado.

      No level of drilling expertise can “ensure” well bore integrity. Drilling is a dangerous business in which is subject to innumerable variables. High pressure concentrations, underground geological inconsistencies, human error, mechanical failure…all these and more can compromise your “proper drilling”.

      This is particularly so when you understand the enormous pressure drillers are under to make footage. Drilling is generally done in a hurry. “Never occured in Colorado”, huh? Horseshit. You might get away with saying” never been proven in court”. Why don’t you bop on over to “FracFocus” and see if you can come back with a list of the ingredients in Zeta-flow, howzabout? You can’t prove it in court until you know what’s in it.

      Fracking in the West is safe and risk-free if done properly, just as Hickenlooper says it is.

      This pronouncement is simply pulled out of your ass and has no basis in reality.

      beholden to anti capitalist environmentalist whackos.

      That should read: beholden to freedom loving patriots who are defending private property rights and hunting habitat for the benefit of NRA members.

    • bobewegen says:

      to bring your old testament — Genesis is the only guide to science, you know.  And be sure to hate gays.  And be sure to try to cut Medicare and Social Security so the richest 1 percent won’t have to pay any taxes.  And be sure that women aren’t allowed to practice birth control.  And remember that global warming is a fraud, never mind those fires and heat waves, it’s all a commie plot.

        All in all, the Democratic party may be a better fit for you, governor.   You seem just too smart to be a birther, and no real Republican would dare suggest that Obama was born in America, which is exactly what those commie state officials want you to think.

         

  5. BlueCat says:

    join in on any thread not related to Mitten’s tax returns/SEC/IRA/off-shoring situation? Maybe Hick isn’t switching parties because, even for a guy who drinks frack cocktails, there’s a limit to what he can stomach.

  6. DavidThi808DavidThi808 says:

    Just remember, he’s better than Tom Tancredo

  7. CastleMan says:

    There is evidence that fracking can contribute to increased seismic activity and that it has a significant and negative effect on groundwater. Then there are the bad impacts on air quality, to say nothing of the unsightliness of rigs and the harm the rig and surrounding development does to wildlife habitat and surface water quality.

    Hickenlooper’s background as a petroleum geologist is overwhelming his willingness to take honest account of the evidence.

    On balance, fracking is a bad thing.  

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