Radical environmentalists’ favorite Colorado reporter, Bruce Finley of The Denver Post, published a piece that suggested that Colorado ranked second in the country for the amount of diesel used in fracking fluid, which is illegal in many states.
Here’s the deal. Finley’s piece, based on a report by the Environmental Integrity Project, is grossly misleading (Greg Moore, will Finley be punished yet?). That stat is only the beginning. Finley says that 9,173 gallons of diesel fuel have been used in fracking activities. The dirty secret is 9,171 came from one well and the remaining two gallons of kerosene were spread out over 14 wells. For those of you at home who were not math majors (Betsy Markey, we’re looking at you), that’s approximately 36 ounces, or three bottles of beer, per well.
The average concentration for those 14 wells, based on EIP’s data table, was literally about 0.00006 percent of the total fluid. For the one with most of the diesel use, the diesel accounted for one percent of the total fracturing fluid, which was over 400,000 gallons.
Then, there’s the tricky scenario where the definition of diesel is murky. Operators weren’t flouting the law, as the study claims, because the substance they used to frack, kerosene, wasn’t considered a diesel fuel until February 2014, after most of the wells had been drilled. The report, in essence, is retroactively changing the definition of diesel fuel in order to ding more operations.
According to Energy in Depth:
“Out of 280 supposed ‘diesel fracks’ in EIP’s report, 273 of them simply cannot be accurately described as such.”
The Environmental Protection Agency’s original concern with the use of diesel fuel in fracking was due to its use as a primary ingredient in fracking fluid. The fracking that happens now contains perhaps a fraction of a percent of kerosene and only as an anti-corrosion agent, not the main liquid in fracking fluid. But, again, there has never been an instance of fracking contaminating drinking water – not with kerosene or any other ingredient.
The report also is missing context as FracFocus, the well database that the report relies upon, contains information about 77,500 wells. This report has singled out 351 wells, which is just 0.5% of the wells listed. And, even these 351 wells listed have not used diesel fuel inappropriately.
If the bulk of the report is untrue, why does the media even pay any attention to this garbage? As it turns out, EIP’s comms director is Tom Pelton, who also happens to host an environmental show on NPR.
But, Finley mentions none of this. Instead, he swallowed whole the story from EIP. If this instance was the first time he’s obfuscated the truth in the name of environmentalism, perhaps we’d offer the tip that a healthy sense of skepticism would go a long way. But, this is a well-established pattern with Finley, and it’s not fair to his readers.