Pollution in China, therefore Fracking. Wait… what? by Paula Graham, July 20, 2015, The Independent.ca
N.L. fracking review panelist Maurice Dusseault gave a funny — and awkward — speech at Memorial University recently.
Maurice Dusseault gave us a laugh (and induced a lot of wincing) a few weeks ago as he peddled misinformation about fracking as a guest speaker for MUN’s Student Society for Petroleum Engineers.
It was a bit awkward because Dusseault preached about the engineering code of ethics and being “global citizens” when it comes to meeting the world’s energy needs, but at the same time lauded fracking, a pollution-heavy form of oil and gas extraction that contributes to climate change, and by extension exacerbates human diseases, increased catastrophic weather events, food insecurity, and social inequality.
Another layer of awkwardness is Dusseault’s position on the N.L. fracking review panel — you know, the ‘independent’ panel that is deciding whether to allow fracking in the province.
Among other absurd arguments, Dusseault tried to convince us that since people in China are having health problems as a result of burning coal, we should be making ourselves more dependent on oil and gas, specifically fracking. This is akin to arguing that if people in Toronto are dying from heroin overdoses, we should build more meth labs in Vancouver. Dusseault essentially claimed that fossil fuel pollution in one part of the planet will be solved by burning more fossil fuels in other parts of the planet. Wait… what?
The host of the event, Chevron Chair in Petroleum Engineering Dr. Lesley James, issued a strong warning at the beginning of Dusseault’s talk: this is not political, this is technical [!]. And before she took questions she again reminded the audience that only questions of a technical nature would be addressed. However, this was sharply contradicted by Dusseault’s own blatant political commentary. At the beginning of the presentation he literally invited the crowd to laugh at Quebec’s aim to become a fully sustainable-energy province.
Dusseault’s first slide overtly mocked the idea of “Life without Fossil Fuels,” and implied that people who wish to transition away from fossil fuels are irrational hippies. Silly tree-huggers want a world that doesn’t involve being held hostage by a rogue industry that has put us on a path of ecological catastrophe? Hilarious!
Dusseault also argued that methane is “not toxic, just unpleasant,” when addressing the controversial issue of fracking and water contamination. Methane is naturally occurring, after all.
[Methane/ethane reality check:
Bruce Jack and two industry gas-in-water testers were hospitalized with serious injuries after Jack’s natural gas contaminated well exploded.
Is it safe to breath industry’s leaking methane venting constantly from water taps in homes? Methane is an asphyxiant; it can kill within minutes. What about the toxic harms of breathing industry’s leaking ethane that often accompanies industry’s leaking methane venting from water taps?
The study, published in the journal Atmospheric Environment, looked at hourly measurements of air pollutants like ethane and methane — gases that are found in natural gas — in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. between 2010 and 2013. It found that ethane measurements increased by 30 percent between 2010 and 2013 in the region. … Ethane spikes in Maryland and D.C.’s air isn’t good news for residents of the region: when ethane is breathed in, it can cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness. END METHANE AND ETHANE REALITY CHECK]
In all his moral engineering glory, Dusseault rushed through or simply skipped slides in his presentation that discussed the risks of fracking and dismissed documented cases of water contamination near well sites.
Don’t worry, he insisted, the oil and gas industry is “obsessed with safety.” The only thing stopping us from drilling the perfect oil well is lax regulations and our aversion to risk. Wait… what?
In his very technical and ‘not at all political’ presentation, he also quipped that eating bitumen (aka tar, or asphalt) would be a silly way to try to commit suicide because it is also not toxic, just unpleasant. Good to know, I guess.
Leaving himself more time to make sure we thought really hard about how fracking would help reduce pollution in China, Dusseault left climate change and global ecological sustainability out of his presentation completely.
Perhaps the most confusing was the 20 or so minutes Dusseault spent talking about how rocks shift, under the ground, naturally. This is what ‘hydraulic fracturing’ apparently refers to scientifically: movements causing fractures in rocks.
Ok, sure. But I’m assuming that this sermon was supposed to convince people, by way of rhetorical confusion, that when we talk about hydraulic fracturing as an industrial practice it’s no different than the shifting of rocks that has been happening throughout the history of planet Earth. Does Dusseault think that people are too stupid to know the difference between “rocks move on their own sometimes” and “we pump deadly chemicals into the ground to shift the rocks to extract oil”?
Main take-away from Dusseault’s presentation: Advances in fossil fuel technology will fix the problems and pollution of the fossil fuel industry.
In other words: Pollution in China, therefore fracking.
Also, the Student Society for Petroleum Engineers serves pizza at their events.
[Refer also to:
Woman dead, man seriously injured in home explosion in Orwell Ohio caused by methane contaminated water well [Industry’s leaking methane migrating into businesses, homes and water wells has no odor, thus residents get no warning that their lives are in danger.]
A 2009 regulator report summarized 64 gas migration cases in 22 counties in Pennsylvania dating from the 1990’s to 2009 caused by the oil and gas industry; five cases were caused by hydraulic fracturing that contaminated numerous wells and two springs used as domestic water supply. The 64 cases resulted in 11 explosions, five fatalities, three injuries, a road closure, and numerous evacuations with residents in one community displaced for two months.
The problem is more common than regulators like to admit.
Fracing Rerun in New Brunswick Government. Why? Did Jason Kenny and Senior Alberta Government Advisor, frac patent holder Dr. Maurice Dusseault complain that citizens aren’t brainwashed yet like they are in Alberta?
2013 11: [Dr. John] Cherry told his Calgary audience that the real question is not whether methane –which can also occur naturally in groundwater – has contaminated water wells, but whether this contamination is causing harmful effects.
Why are Nova Scotians not demanding that frac patent holder Dr. Maurice Dusseault be removed from the frac panel, his paper where he pushes the Alberta Regulator as model be struck, and a formal apology issued to the public?
Dr. Maurice Dusseault, Public Advisor on Council Canadian Academies Frac Panel, Nova Scotia Frac Panel, New Brunswick Energy Institute (that promotes fracing) Filed Frac Patent in 2011; Frac Patent Issued in 2013
Cumulative frac harms: Who’s looking? Canada Water Network? Synergy group extraordinaire with Alberta Government Bev Yee on the Board who helped cover-up Encana fracing Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers?
Nova Scotia still creating frac rules (to regulate with “No Duty of Care?”) and recreating frac definition (to allow “blanket approval” like in Alberta’s Fox Creek World Record Frac Quake Pilot Project?)
Did the people of Newfoundland and Labrador set themselves up to be frac’d by asking for an “independent” review of fracing? Will they get what citizens of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada got: recommendations to be used as lab rats?
Another Frac Panel? When will the many peer-reviewed studies and reports showing frac harm, bad economics and deadly jobs be enough? Former Chief Justice of Court of Queen’s Bench NB, Professor Engineering & President Emeritus University NB, former board chair of NB Community College appointed to study fracing
The Council of Canadian Academies Literature Review retained in 2012 by Ex-Minister of Environment Peter Kent to be released May 1, 2014, after repeat delays; Fixes for Canadians Harmed by Fracing Not Expected