Appalachian Basin

A Carnival of Self-Proclaimed Experts Continues Magical Mystery Tour

Time and again the most tiresome feature of these anti-drilling events is the speakers’ purposeful use of outdated and exaggerated information. Take, for example, Weston Wilson who jabbers on about the gas industry needing to modernize.  He compares it to the 19th Century when oil derricks consumed the landscape in places like Oil City, Pennsylvania.


Today, as Weston seems not to notice, we are withdrawing natural from as much as a two-square mile area using a handful of wells constructed on one tiny pad that accounts for less than one-half of one percent of the landscape. How can anyone take this guy seriously?  Such scare tactics might work in a carnival “house of horrors” and are extraordinarily unfair to any members of an audience actually coming to learn something. Such theater should have a disclaimer at the door “Any resemblance to real facts is pure coincidental and unintentional, as this is a work of fiction.”

Anyone familiar with modern drilling techniques has dramatically reduced its environmental footprint to the point it is now far less than any other form of economic development we can imagine.  Every year, more wells are being drilled on single well pads, thereby further reducing land disturbance and the number of vehicle trips to drilling sites as companies have implemented closed loop drilling systems and now are close to recycling 100% of brine/flow back water. Here is a detailed description of closed loop drilling and some other great references.

It’s funny (not really) how Weston never mentions any of these 21st century practices but is outspoken enough with regard to his work at EPA to say “The American public would be shocked if they knew we make six figures and we basically sit around and do nothing.”  Perhaps that’s why he’s more than a century behind the times – he hasn’t been paying attention.

This carnival of self-proclaimed experts also included Tara Meixsell and Rick Roles. Tara is best known for her book “Collateral Damage” which tells of her years of gas industry resistance along with sad accounts of countless western woes.  An otherwise friendly Amazon review of her gas book describes it as “Unwieldy text that is in desperate need of an editor, full of incidental anecdotes and grammatical errors …”  I can see why.

In the videos below you will see Tara offer a tacky advertisement for her book during the presentation and praise Dr. Theo Colburn.  She also recommends a website by the name of

[myyoutubeplaylist Zuw4NFmJzdM, 7-q4x6IQFpA]

Dr. Colborn – environmental activist and former World Wildlife Fund staffer – is quoted in the movie Gasland as saying “Once the public hears the story, they’ll say, ‘Why aren’t we out there monitoring’? We can’t monitor until we know what they’re using. There’s no way to monitor. You can’t.”  Energy in Depth has complied a comprehensive debunking of Gasland but here are the most pertinent rebuttals to Dr. Colborn:

  • According to environmental regulators from Pennsylvania, “Drilling companies must disclose the names of all chemicals to be stored and used at a drilling site … These plans contain copies of material safety data sheets for all chemicals … This information is on file with DEP and is available to landowners, local governments and emergency responders.”
  • Environmental regulators from New York also testify to having ready access to this information. From the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) information page: “The [state] is assessing the chemical makeup of these additives and will ensure that all necessary safeguards and best practices are followed.”
  • According to the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), “[M]ost additives contained in fracture fluids including sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and diluted acids, present low to very low risks to human health and the environment.” GWPC members include state environmental officials who set and enforce regulations on ground water protection and underground fluid injection.

As for the website, Tara explained how it is based on a Wiki model (I guess she means it highly unreliable). There is a reason why Wikipedia is not considered a solid reference in scholarship?   There’s simply no way to verify the accuracy of these sites and it is clear is a vendetta site aimed at the natural gas industry. Here is the general overview found on its homepage that says it all:

Is your local well leaking? Is it non-compliant? Was your topsoil not replaced? If so, enter the information as a complaint about a facility. Or, do you think a particular well or employee deserves special recognition? Do you have a tip or a bit of history that you would like to add to the record? Then please leave a note on

As for Rick Roles, the outspoken cowboy of the group, his speeches have been simply bizarre. He spoke last evening of the supposed horrors trying to raise horses and goats near a gas well. He also claims he is a living breathing frac tank. His style speaks for itself.

[myyoutubeplaylist 3ehHIsjboyE, ia4zllnNoJc, naTL1j52RLo]

Overall, I must say this group would be a real hoot if some people weren’t taking them seriously.  Unfortunately, some do but EID Marcellus is on their trail following the this Magical Mystery Tour carnival from town to town to expose the nonsense.  Stay tuned and sign up for our Facebook page.


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