Fracking right

It hasn’t happened for a while, but today I agree with Nick Smith.

What he says about fracking confirms my impression that his position on global warming since the Nats took power has been constrained more by his cabinet obligations publicly to support government policy than by his lack of understanding of the scientific facts, for he shows himself perfectly capable of examining these, and on the topic of global warming surely he has examined them. But I digress.

Smith has an article in last Monday’s Herald, Fracking the sensible choice for NZ, in which he destroys the Green’s jittery arguments against fracking in the extraction of underground resources.

It’s a pleasure to read and, giving information about the true extent of both fracking and minor earth tremors caused by human activity, puts the absurd fracking “controversy” into perspective.

The Greens, with their emotionally-charged attack on the “new” environmental evil of fracking, have elevated the technique into our national consciousness. But this campaign, though as well funded as their other campaigns, has been just as distorted and free of objective content and once again plucks mercilessly at the public uninformed fear nerve.

Not unexpectedly, they argue from a position of non-interference in the natural world. Mother Nature is always pristine and never changes. For fear of environmental damage, they would do almost nothing, no matter how remote the possibility of damage. But for fear of disaster, they actually would do nothing.

Don’t mention nuclear power. Cheap, endless, reliable, safe nuclear power. New Zealand is not constructed from electrons, neutrons and protons, as it’s “nuclear free.” But I digress.

Here are some illuminating comments from Nick Smith’s article on fracking.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, has been used in New Zealand for decades … used to develop geothermal energy fields and to enhance oil and gas recovery in the petroleum industry … similar to “well stimulation” in the water industry… Fracking involves water being pumped at high pressure down a well to open up gaps so it is easier to extract the water, steam, gas or oil… The alternative to fracking in these tight geological formations is to drill a lot more wells. This uses a lot more energy, creates potentially greater environmental problems… Lots of small earthquakes are [already] triggered by constructing pile foundations for buildings, bridges and wharves… The lubricants have a toxicity similar to dish washing liquid… The argument here is not that fracking is risk-free but rather that the risks are manageable.

The Greens abandon reason to champion renewable energy, claiming it’ll create 100,000 jobs, only to seek a ban on fracking that would kill off geothermal projects – a large proportion of their renewable potential.

I’m happy to say that the “new” Nick Smith agrees, and I agree with him when he concludes:

Fracking may have too many letters in common with our favourite swear word, but it is the least of New Zealand’s environmental worries.

I support the tradition of reserving “swear” words for special situations and ignoring them at other times.

In the same way I have opposed or ignored Nick Smith for a long time, but find I support him when he is scientific and reasonable.

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10 Thoughts on “Fracking right

  1. ChrisM on 18/08/2012 at 4:31 pm said:

    Geothermal well hydraulic fracturing as a deliberate policy is very rare. It is usually only done in hot dry rock projects, none of which are in NZ. There have been some attempts to improve the permeability of geothermal reinjection wells (most notable being WK301 at Wairakei in the early 80s) but they have generally been failures. One of the main problems has been the thermal expansion characteristics of rock.
    Nick’s article was well reasoned, but it will fall on deaf ears. You don’t expect the Greens to actually respond with facts do you?

  2. Andy on 18/08/2012 at 4:58 pm said:

    Micheal Mann, of all people, has been singing the praises of shale gas as a way to reduce CO2 emissions. Moving form coal to gas in electricity generation has been one of the key factors (it is believed) that has resulted in a big drop in CO2 emissions from the USA.

    When you present this to the Greens though, it falls on deaf ears. They’d rather have wind backed by gas which for the UK will cost 10 times as much – for the capital cost – as gas alone (according to the Hughes report)

    There is an article in the Listener this week about some Aussie activist who will soon be gracing our shores to make trouble for all shale gas developers.

  3. Richard C (NZ) on 18/08/2012 at 5:32 pm said:

    “Fracking ……. is the least of New Zealand’s environmental worries”

    Planet Earth does a bit of fracking on its own account from time to time.

    Rather less constrained than the human kind and with some very expensive and inconvenient consequences for human economies and lifestyles (think Christchurch)

    Doesn’t seem to care too much for it’s own environment when doing so either.

  4. Andy on 18/08/2012 at 6:43 pm said:

    By the way, I contributed a small quantity to Phelim McAleer and Ann McInhilhenny;s movie “FrackNation” which not only will make me an “executive producer”, but also I believe give me the rights to distribute the DVD to anyone who wants it.

    I have also done the same for Gordon McDowell’s “LFTR 2012” documentary on Thorium energy, which also has distribution rights via Creative Commons.

    I’ll keep you posted on developments of these documentaries

    As an update, these are both energy solutions that can mitigate CO2 emissions, so I’d like to see some robust objection from the environmental lobby

  5. ChrisM on 20/08/2012 at 6:47 pm said:

    I see in todays Dominion Post, Gareth Hughes claims no geothermal well has been fracked in NZ. I think that thisstatement demonstrates yet again why he should never be allowed to have any position of influence. Never let facts stand in the way of your prejudices.
    In answer to Richard, reasoned and Greens aren’t two words I would use in the same sentence.

  6. Andy on 20/08/2012 at 8:17 pm said:

    The same guys complainig about fracturing rock to extract gas probably have no problem with a similar technique being used to inject CO2 into the ground for carbon capture and storage.

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