Hansard: Dr. Anthony Ingraffea’s testimony to Natural Resources Committee Inquiry on Fracking December 4, 2015, Parliament of South Australia
Flowback impoundments: I did not see anything at all in your regulations regarding
surface containment or underground containment or tank containment or lake containment of flowback. This is a major issue in the United States. It was when it got started in Texas in 2000: it is still a major issue now. Where do you put the waste? Where do you store it temporarily? How do you protect the public from the noxious odours from the waste and from surface spills from transporting and storing the waste?
I already mentioned compressor stations. Compressor stations have evolved. I didn’t
see anything at all in your regulations regarding the different types of compressor stations that can be installed. Noise pollution and gaseous emissions from compressor stations are common and are common complaints. If you have wet gas, you’re going to need processing plants. Think of them as mini-refineries—again, lots of noise, lots of flares, lots of noxious emissions.
I want to conclude by pointing out that you’ve done tremendous homework. Again, I
am lauding your committee for the research it has done, but there’s more research available, so I’m pointing you here to the largest current database archive of peer reviewed science literature on shale gas. My organisation put this together starting about a year ago. I want to point it out to you. This is a bar graph that shows the publication history of peer reviewed science on shale gas development, actually shale and tight gas development. You will note that in 2009, a few years after things had started in the US, there was a total of six peer-reviewed publications in the entire world—six. What you’re seeing now is exponential growth. We’re now seeing about one new publication per day.
Fifty per cent of all the published peer-reviewed science on shale gas has been published in the last 1½ years. We didn’t know much when we got started in the US. You’re in a much better position; you haven’t started. I’m a professor and I’m used to giving people assignments, but it would be way above me to give you the assignment of reading all 650 of these papers. But you are now aware of them; you can’t duck the issue. The science is now there. You’re in a much better position to make informed decisions about what you’re going to do with shale gas development and what you’re going to put into your regulations if you go ahead with it. You have no excuse for ignorance. Many states in the US went ahead without this knowledge—you can’t.
If you do an analysis of some of these subtopics, you will find startlingly clear
consensus. These are science papers. If we ask what the science says about health impacts, human health impacts, you can go into that database and you will find that there are 16 peer-reviewed papers, so far only 16 peer-reviewed papers, on health impacts. Of those 16 papers, 87 per cent of them—14—say the health impacts are bad. None of them say the health impacts are good. Thirteen per cent of them say we haven’t measured any health impacts.
It is a similar situation on air quality: 92 per cent find negative impact, bad impact on
air quality; 8 per cent say no measurable impact on air quality. Water quality impacts: three-quarters of the papers published so far find that there have been bad impacts on water; about one-quarter say no measurable impact. There’s a growing consensus, the number of papers is growing, and the consensus is growing, and it’s now your responsibility to learn about this and decide what to do about it.
To summarise: again, because of the two fundamental differences between shale gas development and conventional gas development—spatial intensity and technologies of scale—I am making the following four assertions with regard to your terms of reference. The risks of groundwater contamination in your state, if you go ahead with shale gas development, are very high. Why would they not be? What makes you think you’re going to be different from Pennsylvania?
I didn’t say anything at all at this point about the potential net economic outcomes to
the region and the rest of the state, partially because the economics in Australia are different from the economics in the US, but I would point out that in the US the shale gas boom has busted. It’s done; it’s over. Let me repeat that: the shale gas boom is over in the US. The US will never again produce as much shale gas as it did in 2014. All the major shale gas plays are in decline except for one.
Shale gas is an extension of the fossil fuel era. It is not a 100-year supply. It is not a
50-year supply. In the US, it will wind up being about 10 to 15 years’ supply. That’s my testimony.
Fracking Investigation 5:41 Min by Paul Makin, Broadcast: Wednesday 16th December 2015, TodayTonight, Channel 7 filmed Ingraffea’s testimony
Is it a lucrative source of state revenue or fracking folly? The world expert who warns we just aren’t ready to do it right:
“The risks of groundwater contamination in your state if you go ahead with shale gas development are very high.”
“It was the best evidence that the committee has heard so far. … All of this from arguably the foremost expert on fracking in the world.”
“Flaring for a shale gas well can go on for weeks, not hours, weeks.
“I would hope that you do not develop the shale gas fields in the south east corner of your state.”
“….the evidence given…was alarming.”
“The frackers have told the inquiry everything is rosie, nothing bad is going to happen.”
“Whether it’s south Australia shale or south Texas shale, it’s impermeable, and to get seven to ten per cent of the gas out of it, you have to beat it to death with many wells.”
“You have no excuse for ignorance.”