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As a pro-industry professor drops a few clangers in debate with fracking expert, I have to ask who does one believe?
In a debate entitled "Should New York State and/or Starkey township allow high volume shale gas extraction?", Terry Engelder, professor of geosciences at Penn State University argued against Professor Anthony Ingraffea, professor of engineering at Cornell University and president of Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy Inc. Engelder was recently credited with a dramatic over-estimation of US shale gas reserves in 2009... read more
He applied the economic argument in the debate, “When there is a conflict between policies around economic growth and climate preservation, economic growth will win every time.” [He did not mention whether or not sustainability was of any concern in these policies]. When asked about noise and truck traffic from gas wells, he said “one well takes anywhere from two to four days to complete once it has been fracked, and once the work is complete on it, the workers go home”. [Emphasis added]. [This appears in dramatic contrast to the claims of ‘sustainable’ jobs for South Africa made by Shell].
Engelder is reported to have claimed: “some pads are so large they can house their workers right on it”. [Shell SA, says that a competed drill site in the Karoo is about the size of a coffee table – Bonang Mohale]. In response to questions about pollution, Engelder is reported to have stated “road salt making its way into the water table is more of a risk to the water quality” [than fracking]. Talking of air pollution and climate change, Engelder allegedly commented “the half-life of methane is so short, it does not really matter how much of it is leaking into the atmosphere”. [emphasis added].
These statements display either a complete disconnect with empirical data relating to risks and effects of fracking, or perhaps a deliberate attempt to downplay those risks. I don’t believe professor Engelder’s statements and I don’t believe the oil and gas industry – not for one second.
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