Phil Stevens on Selling Our Soul to Fracking - a shattering NZ growth industry

Interviewed by Tim LynchOctober 2, 2013
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Aotearoa is up from grabs at present as hide bound macho-male-men prod, poke and plunder the deep recesses of natures secrets. Nothing now is sacred, other than the god of money and the power that it wields REALLY?

What happened to ex PM, Helen Clarks emphasis on Sustainability and NZ being a leader in this field? It was lobotomised by internal memo to all Govt Departments within days of the Clark administration leaving office!

Well, fracking has now come to town in our fair country, as a quick fix for PEAK OIL, and for a few short years, we in NZ will join the Western frenzy of 'keeping collapse at bay' by skimming, sucking and raking off 'minor gains' in fossil fuels, as a breather from what we are leaving our fast coming future and children to deal with - an addicted 7 billion plus oil culture, with a physiological and a psychological dependence - that very soon runs dry or becomes exorbitantly expensive! (This previous statement is countered by the industry saying it's giving us time for more renewable energy sources to be developed and deployed.)

Meanwhile climate change and our ecological footprint are figments of ones imagination - just whistling into the wind.

The annual $2 billion oil and gas industry of just Taranaki hosts 62% of New Zealand's 638 wells - 470 onshore and 168 offshore - boosting to thousands the number of jobs in the region. However:

So far, there have been 43 wells subject to 69 incidences of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Taranaki.

Its a growing business and it's being opened up with unknown consequences.

Fracking is rupturing the inner geology of the ground beneath our feet. Where underground streams of water at differing layers, course silently in many directions filling up aquifers and nourishing in unknown ways the planetary body and ecology as it does with the human body.

What we are doing is we are drilling down deeply into the 'mother' - up to many kilometers down and then many kilometers horizontally,

A mix of water, sand, and various chemicals is pumped into the well at very high pressure in order to create fissures (sometimes small amounts of explosives are used) in the shale through which the gas can escape. Natural gas releases itself through these fissures and is drawn back up the well to the surface, where it is processed, refined, and shipped to market. But, some gas actually escapes up through the ground along the horizontal fissues breaking out at surface level seeping up into the atmosphere.

Also, the mixture of chemicals, that the gas industry uses is kept secret and does not publish and there are up to 700 different chemicals, benzine, diesel fuel, detergents, solvents and stuff like corexit that was sprayed on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, all kinds of carcinogens, things that you don't want in your drinking water, your food or the air you breathe.

Fracking has been banned in France, Quebec in Canada, Pittsburgh, Buffalo in the USA and the Karoo region of South Africa. The EU has proposed a moratorium while investigation is carried out. Moratoria are in place in New South Wales Australia and New York State. The National Toxics Network in Australia has called on state and federal governments to introduce, as a matter of urgency, a moratorium on all drilling and fracking chemicals until they have been examined independently. However: *** This is not even on a discussion paper in NZ.***

Where is the precautionary principle?

This is a far ranging interview from stories of water taps bursting into flame when lit with a match. To the struggle to get media on side - to be heard, lack of finance to fight cashed up corporations, scientists fearful to speak up, lack of political will (NZ for example) when there are jobs being offered in this mix. Long term poisoning of the aquifer, huge amounts of leaking gases out of the ground going into the atmosphere. Cancer clusters, health problems for humans and animals the list goes on. THE MATHEMATICS
500,000 Active gas wells in the USA X 8 million Gallons of water per fracking X 18 Times a well can be fracked. 72 trillion gallons of water and 360 billion gallons of chemicals needed to run the US current gas wells.

Here's a step-by-step look:

  1. A well is drilled vertically to the desired depth, then turns ninety degrees and continues horizontally for several thousand feet into the shale believed to contain the trapped natural gas.
  2. A mix of water, sand, and various chemicals is pumped into the well at high pressure in order to create fissures in the shale through which the gas can escape.
  3. Natural gas escapes through the fissures and is drawn back up the well to the surface, where it is processed, refined, and shipped to market.
  4. Wastewater (also called "flowback water" or "produced water") returns to the surface after the fracking process is completed. In Michigan, this water is contained in steel tanks until it can be stored long-term by deep injection in oil and gas waste wells. Fracking is fundamentally different than traditional gas extraction methods.
  • Fracking wells go thousands of feet deeper than traditional natural gas wells.
  • Fracking requires between two and five million gallons of local freshwater per well - up to 100 times more than traditional extraction methods.
  • Fracking utilizes "fracking fluid," a mix of water, sand, and a cocktail of toxic chemicals. While companies performing fracking have resisted disclosure of the exact contents of the fracking fluid by claiming that this information is proprietary, studies of fracking waste indicate that the fluid contains: formaldehyde, acetic acids, citric acids, and boric acids, among hundreds of other chemical contaminants.


And earthquakes or swarms of them are problematic too especially in geological unstable parts of NZ.

Land owners in the Taranaki are now offering their land up as 'dump stations' for rock slurry and the chemical discharge of contaminated waste of what has been under the ground and are holding all this in large ponds with berms or bunds but, there are breaches and spills that get into waterways and creeks that do eventually get out to sea. What happens if they have continuous torrential rain?

Also, spreading this slurry over farms to have the sun draw out whatever moisture is in it furthering atmospheric pollution to the extent that Fontera has warned farmers that they will not collect from farms that are doing this process for fear of damaging their 'clean green' branding on milk products. Hooray for Fonterra.

Then there is the control or lack of it from the release of methane from deep under the ground. A good percentage, some estimate up to 6 or even 10 times as actually produced leaks out and vents straight up into the atmosphere and methane is 10 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than Co2.

Also, in this interview Steve covers the idea that our modern monetary system is a proxy for energy and that those who control the energy, basically control the money - that global trading is intrinsically bound up in oil flows.

Plus, the energy returned on energy invested, once 100 years ago for 1 barrel of oil you could get 100 barrels in return, today it is 1 barrel equivalent for every 10 barrels in return, the fracking ration is now 1 to 7 and basically it's becoming uneconomic at this scale tar sand 1 to 5 and biofuels as low as 1 to 2 and we are polluting our planet's water supplies in the meantime too

Again ... Where is the precautionary principle?

Question for readers and listeners?
Why are we being systematically excluded from the process of a say in how we use our natural resources? The public in NZ are being explicitly denied their voice - in this case of Fracking, only iwi and hapu and local authorities are being consulted (Note the Govt tie up with the Maori party here) and democracy has been suspended as in Environment Cantebury as there is no obligation under the law, as the Crown Mineral Act does not even require the Govt to consult with local authorities!

NZ also has the one of the lowest royalties rates on wealth as we grovel to offshore mining and oil corporates stealing from 'the commons' that's been gifted to humanity from the very beginning. Why? Because NZ is a 'cheap date' we give ourselves away and in return, get very low royalties as a country.

We need to educate ourselves fast on as many issues as possible and build up our awareness of whats at stake and organize appropriately.

I ask that you on-send this email to your networks and sub networks. Don't keep this to yourself, or be fearful of the consequences. This is a time to be courageous!

Phil Stevens formerly of Arizona now NZ.


Frack Free - Tararua | Facebook
Article by Dell Panny - Convener of the Environment Standing Committee for the National Council of Women, New Zealand

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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