The Flaming Water Nobody Wants to Acknowledge

One of the “stars” in Josh Fox’s Gasland Part II was the flaming hose in Parker County, Tex., which activists have used on several occasions to draw media attention away from all of the jobs and economic hope that shale development is delivering. News outlets often take the bait and report on the spectacle — precisely what activists want them to do — but typically ignore the fact that the issue is far more complex than the anti-fracking groups claim.

Folks opposed to shale development in north Texas want us to believe that the flaming water is due to gas drilling. “It wasn’t like this before the gas company started drilling here,” they allege. Except it was, and there are plenty of pictures to prove it.

Below are images from 2005 — roughly half a decade before Range Resources drilled its wells in Parker County — of a water well that’s only about half a mile away from the well that produced the infamous “flaming hose.” This well is drawing from the same source of groundwater as the well that appeared in Gasland Part II.

Hurst water well 1-1

Hurst water well 2-2

For some reason, those images, like many other facts, didn’t make it into Josh Fox’s movie. They’re also painfully absent from many news reports that are entirely premised on “flaming water” in the region.

And in case you think this is just an anomaly, here’s a picture of a water well  that was drilled in 2003 in the same region. Notice anything out of the ordinary?


There’s so much naturally occurring methane in the region’s underground water supply that public advisories warn residents of “flammable gas.” (The water well above was actually drilled into the gas-bearing Strawn formation, below the base of the water table. This is the same source for the methane in the flaming hose videos, as a comprehensive analysis confirmed.)

Activists in north Texas are clearly upset that President Obama embraced clean, job-creating natural gas in his 2014 State of the Union address. Like any political movement, when the narrative gets away from them, the anti-fracking crowd looks for a diversion. “Don’t pay attention to the good news,” the activists suggest. “Look at this shiny object over here!” The strategy has unfortunately worked, even as recently as this week.

With top regulators and officials in the Obama administration distancing themselves from the anti-fracking movement, sideshow stunts designed to deceive the public are literally all that the activists have left.

  • Photos Debunk Key Anti-Fracking Claim | Washington Free Beacon
    Posted at 13:22h, 06 February Reply

    […] near natural gas wells. Photos released through the legal proceedings against Range, first made publicly available on Wednesday, could bolster their […]

  • Photos Debunk Key Anti-Fracking Claim | pundit from another planet
    Posted at 13:52h, 06 February Reply

    […] near natural gas wells. Photos released through the legal proceedings against Range, first made publicly available on Wednesday, could bolster their […]

  • Frank Chernega
    Posted at 10:14h, 07 February Reply

    Great article! Picture of the flaming faucet from years ago speaks volumes. The same is true here in NY where our local newspaper recently ran an article about naturally occurring methane in the water of the Southern Tier –

    • Ken Miller
      Posted at 12:19h, 07 February Reply

      Frank, FYI, we have an eternal burning natural gas well in one of our county parks here in Erie County. It’s located in Chestnut Ridge Park.
      Been burning for a loooooooooooooong time, & everyone who visits the park thinks it’s the coolest thing ever!
      Funny thing is, I haven’t seen ANY damage, or dead grass OR sick people anywhere in the area…hmmmmmmmmmmmm???
      People need to drop the double standard they seem to be living under and see that nat. gas development is a GOOD thing, not the devil!!!

  • How Dependent is Society on Natural Gas? – The Norwood Resource
    Posted at 04:44h, 21 April Reply

    […] now evidence from organisations like the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and Energy in Depth  that the Gasland movies seriously distorted the facts. For example, in 2008, 2 years before the […]

  • Ben Hagemann
    Posted at 02:48h, 24 June Reply

    Steve Everly- I appreciate the point you’ve made, although I think you need to address more than a single example of this phenomenon. The most disturbing image I was left with from the first Gasland film was the people lighting water on fire from the faucet inside their own house. How do you explain people who have water that doesn’t burn when they built their house, to then complaining that their water has been gasified and flammable since drilling took place in their area?

    • AndyG55
      Posted at 02:00h, 21 March Reply

      Simple… when the well is first dug, it gets water, but as that water is drawn down, gas starts to seep into the well.

      My guess is that in the Lipsky case, he has been pumping water like crazy to keep the grass around his multi-million dollar mansion nice and green, and his well is now suffering from major seepage from the Strawn seam just below. Gees, he may even have actually drilled into the Strawn seam !! DOH !!

    • Eric_D
      Posted at 02:05h, 17 February Reply

      Ben, Andy,

      It’s called methane migration, it’s a natural phenomenon and methane in water has been reported as far back as the 1800’s. However, it can be caused by drilling as well.

      It’s possible the methane could be present one week and gone the next.

  • Study: Junk Science Film ‘Pivotal’ to Anti-Fracking Movement
    Posted at 09:49h, 04 September Reply

    […] highlighted pictures  that were taken of flaming hoses from water wells that occurred roughly half a decade before Range […]

Post A Comment