What is worrisome about oil and gas development

GG has long been annoyed with the focus of anti-oil-and-gas groups on fracking.  It simply isn’t the biggest problem.

Want to see the biggest problem (well, aside from putting all that carbon in the air)?  We here in Colorado have been bombarded with ads claiming that massive oil and gas development in North Dakota is environmentally sound.  This has always been obvious nonsense, but a New York Times investigation has really torn the cover off just exactly how much damage the Bakken Shale boom has created. Is it pollution of groundwater from fracking fluids?  No, it is the far more pedestrian failure of pipelines, valves and other means of moving fluids around at the earth’s surface. The report also shines a bright light on the industry-friendly “regulation” (in quotes because, well, in a lot of places we’d call it turning a blind eye) in place in North Dakota and how it has failed to slow spills per drill pad (1 in 6 drill sites has had spills) and containment to the drill sites.

North Dakota’s commission overseeing oil and gas spills worries about scaring companies away.  Yeah, if you are a company making $1.8 billion in net profits, you’re going to run away if you are fined $100,000.  Wouldn’t it be a good idea to scare away operators who cannot properly monitor their pipelines? Maybe you’d be left with responsible players.

It is perfectly fair for people to demand that oil and gas operations be as clean as the industry likes to advertise, and it is appropriate for them to demand meaningful oversight and regulation to ensure that is what happens.

And to those in the oil and gas industry: you are playing Russian Roulette if you think that hiding and denying and foot-dragging are good ethics to follow.  You may have subsurface rights, but those are not absolute and can be curtailed by legislative action.  Piss off enough people and see how well it goes.


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