The Fracking Process and its Effects
- What: Robert Bauer, an engineering geologist at the Illinois State Geological Survey, will speak about oil/gas well construction, providing a brief history of horizontal wells and the hydraulic fracturing process, seismicity, results on contamination studies in the United States and where shale oil/gas resources may lie in Illinois.
- Who: Chicago chapter of the Appraisal Institute
- Where: Park Regency Hote , 1413 Leslie Drive, Bloomington
- When: March 12, 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
- Cost: $50
Source: Crain's chicagobusiness.com Accessed 3-12-14
Robert Bauer is a busy guy. Shilling for the oil and gas industry is his assigned task. Today he brought the pro-fracking message to Bloomington, Illinois. The problem with these appearances stems from the organization that sponsors Bauer's pro-fracking message: the Illinois Prairie Research Institute. Though the organization's name suggests it conducts research that should be unbiased and scientific, an examination of the Institute's funding sources suggests the think tank has more ties to coal, oil, gas and nuclear energy than it does to groups who look critically at such energy sources.
Bauer Is Hosted and Quoted:
Last fall Bauer was the lead speaker at a fracking conference hosted by Rend Lake College in southern Illinois. Anti-fracking activists who attended his presentation described Bauer's talk as replete with misinformation and pro-fracking interpretations of the industry that attempted to dismiss all concerns with the process. Bauer's technique is to claim industry expertise, use enough jargon to sound convincing, and ignore any and all data from other states that document environmental and human or animal health risks connected to fracking. To examine Bauer's fracking presentation, watch a video-taped version here:
Bauer has stated that studies of eastern fracking sites reveal no ill effects to water supplies. "The best studies are the studies where folks go in before drilling and do sampling of the water supplies and groundwater wells in the area, and then after hydraulic fracturing and drilling has taken place, do additional sampling afterwards," he said. "Those type of studies have shown no contamination from these drilling operations, and that is what's required for their permits (in the new act.)" Eleanor Black, "Fracking Makes Its Debut in Illinois Under the Strictest Regulatory Laws in the U.S.," Daily Illini, October 24, 2013, http://www.dailyillini.com/news/local/article_ccff98ce-3c55-11e3-8440-001a4bcf6878.html. Accessed 3-12-14. Critics of Bauer's position note that the timing of the post-fracking water sampling carefully avoids those times when the most radioactive and chemically laden liquids will flow back onto the fracking site.
Bauer also acknowledges that ISGIS had a hand in drafting Senate Bill 1715, the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act, "(We) had a seat at the table of the multitude of folks who worked on this legislation," he stated. http://www.dailyillini.com/news/local/article_ccff98ce-3c55-11e3-8440-001a4bcf6878.html . In the fall of 2013 when he gave his interview, over thirty thousand Illinois citizens submitted written comments protesting weak regulations drafted by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to implement the new fracking law.
Bauer Works for the Illinois Prairie Research Institute and ISGS, but Who Does IPRI Work For?
IPRI represents itself as an organization that brings unbiased data to the public. Its mission statement reads, in part, "To provide objective, integrated scientific research and service, in cooperation with other academic and research units of the University of Illinois and elsewhere that allow citizens and decision-makers to make choices that ensure . . . enduring environmental quality." IPRI Annual Report, 2012.
An examination of IPRI's donors reveals that the institute does indeed receive, as its executive director William Shilts acknowledges, a significant amount of government funding, "Last year, our $15.8 million core state funding leveraged nearly $85 million in other funding, about half of which came from federal sources. . . A significant amount of our funding originates in State of Illinois agencies. "From the Executive Director," IPRI Annual Report, 2012. Such state and federal funding would suggest that IPRI was charged with conducting studies that examined all data, as well as contending theories, to arrive at conclusions that both sides of a question would be forced to accept as at least possible interpretations of a study topic.
Unfortunately, a review of IPRI's non-governmental funding sources suggests that the institute has become a favorite home for coal, oil, gas and nuclear donation streams, as well as the engineering and research companies employed by such energy companies.
IPRI's 2012 annual report lists over 30 funding sources directly tied to coal, oil, gas and nuclear. Some of these include:
Compressed Energy Systems, "Located in the Shawnee National Forest, . . . working with Abandoned Mine Methane." http://www.compressedenergysystems.net/index.html.