Pickens Thinks New Yorkers Don’t Understand Fracking

Yesterday, the nation saw another example of the cost of doing business with the natural gas industry when a natural gas well operated by Chesapeake Energy blew out in Canton, Pennsylvania.

According to T. Boone Pickens this week, New Yorkers need an enlightened, “intelligent” leader on energy … like T. Boone Pickens.

On the subject of fracking, Pickens said…

“Western New York is concerned about it. They now have said, ‘You’re gonna frack these wells in the watershed? What? The Watershed! They don’t even know what the watershed is. That’s where it rains. It rains in the watershed and then runs into a lake. And you’re not gonna frack a lake or the watershed or whatever. You’re fracking down 10,000 feet, two miles under the surface. But my God you say that to people, in New York, they don’t know what’s gonna happen to their water. Well what they need is somebody intelligent, a leader to say this is what the deal is. Don’t worry. Just watch what I’m telling you, listen to what I’m saying and check the facts. That’s all you have to do. It’s not complicated It’s very simple.”

This “reassurance” from a representative of the natural gas industry came courtesy of Pickens while he and Ted Turner were guest speakers earlier this week at the National Press Club event promoting his Pickens Plan to reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil and invest in alternative fuels and natural gas in particular. It sounds like Pickens wants residents of New York State and even President Obama to trust him and the rest of the natural gas industry and not concern themselves with any of the details of fracking.

Before implying New Yorkers were incapable of grasping what a watershed was, he glossed over the fact that vertical fracking is currently taking place in Western New York using dangerous chemicals and the state’s water supply to extract methane from shale and the industry is poised to expand drilling in New York when the current state moratorium on horizontal fracking expires. The toxic chemicals used in fracking are exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act thanks to the artful politicking of Dick Cheney and the “Cheney Loophole.” Shale gas drilling has rapidly expanded across the state of Pennsylvania in recent years.

More from Pickens:

“If you notice, all the complaints are coming from Pennsylvania. And that’s in the Marcellus. How long have you been developing the Marcellus? About three years. You’ve been…I drilled over 800,000 wells in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and fracked those wells. And I do not know of any lawsuit or any complaint or anything else about that.”

But there is a distinction in the type of natural gas drilling that’s going on in the Marcellus Shale. The hydraulic fracturing that’s used to extract methane in shale formations is a much more water intensive and dangerous process than in many of the conventional natural gas sources out west. Shale rock formations are much more dense so it takes much more water and pressure. Regardless of how many wells Pickens claims that he fracked safely, clearly there are problems right now in Pennsylvania and New York and that’s where much of the natural gas industry has turned to lately.

As Bryan Walsh at TIME wrote this morning in response to the unfolding disaster in Branford County, Pennsylvania, “You don’t have to fear the contamination of underground aquifers to worry about the impacts of shale gas drilling.” Accidents at the surface can release toxic fracking fluid into local streams and onto agricultural fields. Since the fracking wastewater cannot be treated by standard treatment plants, it could potentially make its ways into drinking water supplies.

The Pickens Plan is really a plan to frack America. The Food & Water Watch plan is to fight for a ban on fracking.


This post was originally published by Food & Water Watch.


Take Action:

Sign the Care2 petition to end fracking in New York State

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To learn more about fracking, click here.


Photo from jurvetson via flickr
Written by Rich Bindell and Emily Wurth of Food & Water Watch


W. C
W. C4 months ago

Thanks for the article.

William C
William C4 months ago

Thank you for the information.

m Shiel
M s5 years ago

Pickens is an idiotic equivalent to big oil billionaires who are greedy They don't care about people or nature I'm tired of him making others believe he stands for what new yorkers want

nancy dukewich
nancy B6 years ago

Trust T. Boone. Right. and I have a bridge I would like to sell you.

Grace Adams
Grace Adams6 years ago

Wind turbines are already cost competitive with coal. So why can't the gas companies invest in wind turbines insteadf of fracking?

Glenn M.
Glenn Meyer6 years ago

SOLAR TOWERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart6 years ago

I agree with Richard about making companie "responsible" to a certain extent, but I'd like to see INDIVIDUALS held responsible. Put Pickens' PERSONAL ass(ets) on the line rather than hide behind a phalanx of corporations with their legal/accounting departments and their lobbyists.
Let Pickens go in front of TV cameras and guzzle down a tall, frosty pint of the "harmless" chemicals that spilled last week... after it's been ignited.

Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W6 years ago

Well someone else brought up the fact that Haliburton and their subsidiaries are responsible for most of the chemical work (some other company is contracted to do the drilling and another for extraction), so now everyone is aware of that.
And of course, we trusted their sub, KBR, with the electrical work to support our troops which ELECTROCUTED at least 3 of them to death
And we trusted BP's subs to build a working platform and install a safe well in the Gulf (gee, I think one of those was a Haliburton too?)
So - - uh - - OH Yeah, I trust these guys - - NOTNOTNOTNOT!!!!

And here's the BIGGEST thing about it, ya know? Fracking is a relatively recently invented process BECAUSE IT'S CHEAPER THAN WHAT THEY USED TO DO!
Fuel is simply not cheap, no matter what. I say let them do it the old-fashioned, much less polluting way. The profits won't be as astronomical, but we could have the gas and the water too!

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

T. Boone Pickens only wants the fracking money!

Richard M.
Richard McBane6 years ago

Pragmatic alternative to "either-'A'-or-'not A'":
1) Require Fracking Companies to secure a $1 Billion insurance policy before being allowed to frack in that state.
2) Require fracking companies to list ALL chemicals used at each site.
3) Require fracking company to *pay for* (not conduct) pre-testing of ALL wells and springs within 1/2 mile of proposed fracking sites. Then, if ANY of the fracking chemicals or increased levels of methane appear in any well or watersheds after fracking begins, Fracking Companies would be held FULLY responsible for all damages to property, health and livelihoods.
If fracking is so "fracking" safe, then there should be no resistance to these commonsense precautions.
[But somehow, I doubt the Fracking Companies would be willing to operate under such scrutiny. Wonder why? Hmmmm....]