More Evidence Shows Flaming Faucet Anti-Fracking Guy Has a Point, But the State Is Sticking With the Industry

Categories: Environment

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Monica Fuentes
If an angry homeowner-turned-environmental-activist keeps getting vindicated by research, but all the important government people just ignore it, does the research make a sound? Probably not.

Steve Lipsky, the homeowner in Parker County who became famous for being able to set his water on fire after Range Resources started drilling for natural gas nearby four years ago, has failed to get the government or the industry to do much for him in his crusade against fracking. (Choice quote from his Facebook page: "Why am I being sued for $4,000,000 ??"). Now, WFAA is reporting on new data that seems to finally draw a conclusive link between fracking and Lipsky's flammable water. If only it mattered.

Lipsky recently sent samples of his water to a lab called Isotech Laboratories. Dr. Zac Hildenbrand, a visiting scientist at UT-Arlington who analyzes water quality for a living, then agreed to look at the data to help Lipsky make sense of it. What Hildenbrand found was a lot of methane.

"It's the highest value I've ever seen," Hildenbrand tells Unfair Park. The numbers say that Lipsky's water contains 76 milligrams per liter of methane. For comparison, the federal government says any concentration above 10 milligrams per liter is unsafe because it could cause an explosion. In non-scientific terms -- kaboom!

Hildenbrand won't speculate on what caused that unusually high methane concentration. "I think that would be irresponsible of me to say at this time," he says. (He adds that he is collecting data for a UT-Austin study that will address that question later on).

But WFAA did reach two other researchers -- earth scientist Geoffery Thyne and soil scientist Bryce Payne -- who reviewed the Hildenbrand/Isotech findings, and said it appears that the nearby fracking is in fact to blame for the elevated methane. "Both Thyne and Payne believe these test results could represent the nation's first conclusive link between fracking and aquifer contamination," the station reports.

That's not as big of a deal as it seems. There's already been a decent amount of research drawing a link between fracking and water contamination. The key is getting people to listen. It was way back in 2011 when the feds first scientifically linked underground water pollution with fracking in Wyoming.

A study on Pennsylvania water published last August similarly found that people living near fracking wells were more at risk to have their water contaminated with methane.

And there have been enough complaints about the methane in Parker County that the Texas Railroad Commission this January agreed to reopen the investigation it had dismissed earlier.

But then, at the end of last month, the commission closed that investigation.

As for those ridiculously high methane levels that Hildenbrand recently found, the Texas Railroad Commission's response is basically, what numbers? Texas also came out with its own study on methane in Parker County water that conveniently put Lipsky's numbers much lower, at just 8.6 milligrams per liter of methane. The state told WFAA that it is standing by its own research.

Through all of this drama, Range Resources has found time last year to launch a lawsuit against Lipsky. Last August, the company won an appeals court's permission to pursue defamation and business disparagement claims against him.

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everlastingphelps topcommenter

Did they measure the 76mg from the potable side of the well pump or from the gas bleed (where a Federal judge ruled that he committed a fraud on the court by connecting the hose to the last time)?


Inaccuracies (The Wyoming incident is still under question with the latest declaration linking the pollution to other aspects of the drilling process), vagaries ('similarly linked' to methane instead of actual fracking chemical footprints), and now the questionable WFAA findings.

If I had to write so much BS to get paid as a reporter then I would definitely spend it all on booze so I could forget what I wrote every night after work.


Terry Engelder, a widely respected geoscientist from Penn State University, has looked at the data for Parker County and concluded: “The fact is that the RRC-Silverado data set suggests, if anything, that there is NO link between fracking and groundwater contamination in the Fort Worth Basin” (emphasis added). Dr. Engelder also issued a strong rebuke to WFAA’s coverage of the issue, saying the news station “might wish to be more careful about its choice of ‘experts’ and approach only those without an agenda.”



They measured the water itself. Loftin had in 3 depositions that Lispky did NOT apply the hose to the well head (which is NOW a gas vent, NOT a water well) ... do YOU know who did? 

I do. Loftin was lying as conservatives are trained to do by Industry they work for.


@dingo Inaccurate. The EPA was politically bullied into turning the Pavillion case over to the state and EnCana, the operator that contaminated the water. That would be like allowing drunk drivers to turn themselves in.

In the Pavillion case, the water contamination was linked to actual chemicals used in the fracking process. Weird chemicals that no one has ever heard of before.

The EPA has stated repeatedly that they stand by their science in the Pavillion case and in the Parker County case.



If all of the evidence points to Range - would you expect Engelder to face that? I doubt it. Victims of Industry are just necessary sacrifices for Terry. He supports people who call victims liars.


@pak152 attention this pak152 only shows up to defend certain businesses. A bonafide PR blog shill  Unlike all the other Ruddskis and bmarvel's on here, he gets paid to troll.


@pak152 Oh oops! Engelder, who is only widely respected by oil & gas companies, forgot to look at all the data. More to come...


@TXsharon @dingo 

"EPA has stated repeatedly that they stand by their science in the Pavillion case and in the Parker County case."

would you provide a link to the EPA's website where they state that? or should we just accept your word for it?


@paulpsycho78 @pak152 

"he gets paid to troll" I do? then someone must be stealing the checks from my mailbox. wonder how much TxSharon gets paid? or paulpsycho78?


@TXsharon @pak152

also why didn't you update your blog about what the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) said about the study that tried to link birth defects to natural gas?

"“It is difficult to draw conclusions from this study, due to its design and limitations. We appreciate continuing research about possible public health implications that may be associated with oil and gas operations in Colorado. With regard to this particular study, people should not rush to judgment.  Here are some reasons why."


@TXsharon @pak152 well well look who shows up to attack the individual and not the data. 

say TXS how's come you didn't report on these issues on your blog?

"“The total reported amount of reported [oil] spills is small compared to the solid waste” that has spilled from damaged sewer lines and household chemicals from destroyed homes, said Matthew Allen, a spokesman in EPA’s Region 8 office in Denver. …

Allen said EPA did aerial surveys in the days after the floodwaters began to recede to try to locate broken oil pipelines or other infrastructure that would cause a large-scale, continuous release, and did not find any. Instead, it has mostly worked to recover gasoline tanks and propane tanks that were carried away by the floods, he said."

"“While the new estimate of oil released from flood-damaged tanks has grown to almost 35,000 gallons, officials believe it really is just a minute part of a much bigger problem. Floodwaters quickly became a toxic soup of wastewater, raw sewage, industrial and household chemicals, agricultural waste and chemicals rushing downstream. Oil and gas releases, officials said, have been so small, it’s almost immaterial. ‘There were likely hundreds of millions of gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage and that is the larger public health concern,’ said Mark Salley, spokesman for the state department of Public Health and Environment.”"

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