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The Fracking Lies of Oil Lobbyists

Jim Benton, NJ Petroleum Council

Jim Benton, NJ Petroleum Council

[Update: 5/25/11 – Assuming he knows the difference between horizontal and vertical, Jim Benton is lying again in this NJ Herald story. He claims fracking technology is 60 years old. That is false. Horizontal fracking is a new technique – it was this new technique that made Marcellus shale gas desposits recoverable. And he misleads about threats to drinking water, which include not only groundwater, but pollution threats to surface water from the BILLIONS of gallons of radioactive and toxic chemical laced fracking wastewater that is generated:

Benton said fracking has been used to extract natural gas for 60 years.

“This is not a new practice, but certainly the ability to go deeper (is), which is well beyond (where) drinking water is typically found.” [end update]

Jim Benton, lobbyist for the oily NJ Petroleum Council, just made claims he must know are false and/or misleading. In other words, assuming Benton was quoted accurately, he lied and/or intentionally misled the public.

Benton was quoted in a Morris Daily Record story:

Jim Benton, a lobbyist for the New Jersey Petroleum Industry Council, called Tittel’s claim of 15 acres of clear-cutting per well a “gross exaggeration.” Benton also characterized Tittel’s projection of 70,000 wells as “an unfounded exaggeration that will inflame the public” […]

Benton said he looked at Department of Environmental Protection comments and documents concerning the immediate proposed drilling for the Delaware River Basin.

“They’re talking about 30 wells in the Delaware River Basin” he said. “This can be done, this can be managed, and it can really make a difference. What we want is something that adheres to the highest industry standards across the board. We believe these extractions can be done without contamination.”

Benton is flat out wrong about the number of wells and “contamination”, and he must know it, or else he is a truly incompetent hack.

As we’ve written here:

Lifting the current DRBC moratorium would open the door to over 18,000 wells in NY and Pennsylvania, according to DRBC. Those wells would use over 100 BILLION gallons of water; generate more than 25 BILLION gallons of toxic hazardous wastewater with unsafe levels of radioactive contaminants; and destroy over 150,000 aces of forests and farms, more than all the land protected by the NJ Highlands Act.

Our citation of 18,000 wells – and water use, land consumption, land disturbance, and wastewater generation – were based on the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) data, which formed the basis of proposed DRBC regulations (read DRBC facts here). DRBC estimates development of 15,000 – 18,000 wells in the next 10 – 20 year period. This includes only horizontal wells, and not vertical wells, so it is a low estimate.

DRBC estimate of 12,000 – 18,000 wells makes Benton wrong by a factor of 400 – 600.

Benton also seriously misleads about the claim of 30 wells in the DEP’s comments on DRBC proposed rule (but only by a factor of 10 this time).

The DEP April 14, 2011 comment letter requested that the DRBC include new provisions to limit interim drilling – over just the next 2 years – to “30 production well pads, not to exceed 300 wells”.

That’s 300 wells – not 30 wells – Jim. There is a huge difference between well pads and wells.

DEP’s “request” is not a reality. It is very unlikely to be included in DRBC final regulations. And, even if it were to be, it is certainly unenforceable.

Benton must know all this. AN he accuses Tittle of exaggerating.

Benton’s deceptions are perfect illustrations of what noted journalist and author Rick Perlstein recently wrote in his powerful essay: Inside the GOP’s Fact-Free Nation – From Nixon’s plumbers to James O’Keefe’s video smears: How political lying became normal.

Perlstein noted:

IT TAKES TWO THINGS to make a political lie work: a powerful person or institution willing to utter it, and another set of powerful institutions to amplify it. The former has always been with us: Kings, corporate executives, politicians, and ideologues from both sides of the aisle have been entirely willing to bend the truth when they felt it necessary or convenient. So why does it seem as if we’re living in a time of overwhelmingly brazen deception? What’s changed?

Today’s marquee fibs almost always evolve the same way: A tree falls in the forest say, the claim that Saddam Hussein has “weapons of mass destruction,” or that Barack Obama has an infernal scheme to parade our nation’s senior citizens before death panels. But then a network of media enablers helps it to make a sound – until enough people believe the untruth to make the lie an operative part of our political discourse.

And I haven’t even focused on the numerous environmental problems from gas fracking that Benton claims “can be done without contamination“.

Benton sure has a big pair – he attacks Tittel’s credibility with his own lies and distortions.

Just more of the “old normal” among lobbyists.

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