Inhofe is a fracking denier

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OIL) claims hydraulic fracturing has “never” contaminated the water supply — one day after spill contaminates stream. 

Think Progress has the story on the Senate’s denier-in-chief.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) is perhaps Congress’ most reliable defender of dirty energy and evangelizer against the “hoax” of global warming. This morning, he took his message to Fox News host Brian Kilmeade’s radio show, where he extolled the virtues of hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting natural gas known widely as “fracking.” Fracking is a relatively new and untested technique, but Inhofe insisted that there’s nothing to worry about, as he claimed fracking has “never poisoned anyone” nor ever contaminated groundwater:

INHOFE: [There’s] never been one case “” documented case “” of groundwater contamination in the history of the thousands and thousands of hydraulic fracturing. […]

KILMEADE: Senator, has it ever poisoned anybody?

INHOFE: It’s never poisoned anyone.

Listen here:

While fracking has the potential to create vast new American energy supplies, Inhofe’s claim that it is completely without risk is either stunningly ignorant or intentionally dishonest. Just yesterday, a blowout at a Pennsylvania natural gas well engaged in fracking spilled thousands of gallons of toxic chemical-laced water, “contaminating a stream and forcing the evacuation of seven families who live nearby as crews struggled to stop the gusher,” the AP reported. Inhofe referenced the Pennsylvania spill in his interview, but said that it has “nothing to do with fracking” because it was a stream, not groundwater that was contaminated.

But fracking has contaminated groundwater. As a recent New York Times investigation confirmed, waste from fracking has contaminated groundwater and even drinking water with toxic and radioactive chemicals. The process relies on pumping toxic chemicals deep underground to break rock, and between 2005 and 2009, “hundreds of millions of gallons of hazardous or carcinogenic chemicals” have been pumped into wells. Large amounts of radioactive material have been found in water supplies near fracking sites, many Pennsylvanians have gotten sick, the tap water in homes near fracking sites have caught on fire, and a home in Celveland, Ohio blew up.

It’s worth noting that the oil and gas industry has been Inhofe’s top contributor over his political career, giving him over $450,000 in the last election cycle alone, even though Inhofe wasn’t up for reelection. Inhofe’s single largest campaign donor is oil conglomerate Koch Industries.

— A Think Progress repost.

20 Responses to Inhofe is a fracking denier

  1. Mossy says:

    Democracy for America is collecting signatures, calling on Congress to pass the “Frtacturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act” this year.

    Email for a copy and start collecting signatures!

  2. Sunshine says:

    Is this what Brother Jim should have said about fracking: ‘the greatest hoax ever perpetuated on the American people’?

  3. Neven says:

    Will this man end up in history books, I wonder (if there will be any later)?

    I’m already looking forward to the documentary containing interviews with the children of deniers, 20 years from now.

  4. Anne says:

    I’ve resorted to having only one thing to say to or about Jim Inhofe.

    “Jim, you are an idiot.”

    When feeling frustrated, writing this as a comment on his idiotic posts on his facebook page is a form of therapy. If you want to join me, go for it!!/jiminhofe

  5. Yvette says:

    I’ve watched multiple new NG wells installed here in Oklahoma over the last five years. I don’t know how many of the new wells use hydraulic fracturing. The region where I do most of my stream monitoring (which gets me out to rural areas) doesn’t have the shale, so it seems there would be no need for fracking. The increase in NG drilling probably means lots of money pumped to Inhofe’s camp.

    Inhofe is not up for re-election until 2014. I remember his duplicitous and malicious attacks on the Democratic opponent, Andrew Rice, the last time he ran for office. They were some of the most devious campaign ads I’ve ever seen.

    In 2005, Inhofe pulled off a dirty trick by attaching a rider to the pork laden, transportation bill. The environmental rider applied only to Oklahoma tribes, and the tribes’ sovereign authrority to implement environmental regulations on tribal land. It did not go through committee, and did not get attached until after the House had voted and approved the 2005, SAFETEA.

    My goal is to dog this man with truth until he is voted out of office. It’s a lofty goal since the majority of Oklahomans will vote for him simply because he’s Republican. He’s a Goliath here in Oklahoma, but Inhofe needs to go. He needs to be voted out of office so Oklahoma can recover from the biggest hoax ever played on us.

  6. Joan Savage says:

    In the link provided in the last sentence, the second largest donor to Inhofe after Koch Industries was Murray Energy, which is the largest privately owned coal company in America, according to its web page.

    The Murray Energy web page has the name, None of the coal operations on the Murray Energy map are in Oklahoma.

  7. RobertH says:

    Inhofe is a fracking a**hole, and a well-greased one at that.

  8. Lionel A says:

    Inhofe should be made to bathe in water from any of the contaminated sites, and he should better not smoke a Cuban whilst near that water. Making him drink the stuff would be tantamount to cruelty to dumb animals.

  9. Ziyu says:

    There’s got to be at least one climate activist willing to do this that lives in DC or OK.
    Get water from a site that the NYT says was contaminated with fracking. Go to Inhofe during a public meeting and tell him that this is contaminated water from fracking. And tell him that if his statement about fracking is true, then the water shouldn’t be contaminated. Then ask him to drink it. Either way, the climate activist wins. If he refuses, he’ll expose himself as a liar and hypocrite. If he complies, everyone will know he got sick from drinking that water.

  10. Lionel A says:

    HT to dhogaza over at Deltoid

    It looks like Inhofe as made a fool of himself elsewhere Inhofe “Scared The Crap Out Of” Airport Workers

  11. Raindog says:

    90% of gas wells in the US are hydraulically fractured. A ban on hydraulic fracturing is essentially a ban on natural gas as a significant part of our energy plan. 24% of US electricity and 51% of it’s home heating comes from natural gas. What would you propose we do to supply that heat and electricity if you want to ban fracking and therefore 90% of natural gas?

    Inhofe is an idiot. But even a broken clock is right twice a day. The actual process of hydraulic fracturing – the pumping in and breaking of the rock, has not ever been demonstrated to contaminate groundwater from the bottom up. Accidents on the surface like this one clearly can cause problems. It sounds like a hose or fitting of some kind failed here. And you would be right to say that if the well were not being fracked that this would not have happened. This may sound like parsing of words, but it is an important distinction because we can manage and clean up surface spills. The problems are mainly on the surface in other words.

    This incident was not good but no one was hurt and from what the Department of Environmental Protection says no fish were killed. It is still not known if anyone’s groundwater was contaminated. Let’s wait to hear what the scientists say before assuming it to be the case.

    Concentrations matter. Safe drinking water is allowed to have gasoline, diesel, arsenic, lead, mercury, cyanide, benzene and radioactive elements in it – in very, very small concentrations. Google the safe drinking water standards and have a look. In fact many of us drink very very tiny concentrations of these every day. I’m afraid that some people don’t really understand this and look at it as a presence/absence question rather than a concentration question. The reason the brine/frack water didn’t kill any fish is because it was diluted by the water in the stream.

    The NYT story on radioactivity was really misleading because the actual concentrations in the drinking water downstream of the treatment plants were “at or below normal” according to state regulators who have testing stations set up. What went into the plant was above normal but lots of awful things we wouldn’t want to drink go into water treatment plants (think sewage). The NYT didn’t actually find any drinking water with radioactivity levels above the standards. This is because most of the radioactive material (and other awful things) are removed at the facilities, then the remaining water is diluted 100 to 1. Then it is discharged into the rivers where it is diluted by 1000 or 10,000 to one. So even if the waste water starts out to have unsafe levels of radioactivity even 1000 times safe levels, most of the radioactive material is removed as a solid and the remaining water gets so diluted that the concentration is well below anything dangerous by the time someone drinks it. This is why we can have millions of farm animals (and humans) peeing into rivers, or pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers and household cleaners etc all going into the water and we don’t get sick (in most cases).

  12. Daniel J. Andrews says:

    Once you go down the rabbit hole of denialism, there isn’t anything too far-fetched to deny. Next month look for “Pollution hasn’t killed anyone. Ever. So we don’t need the EPA”.

  13. Lionel A says:

    Raindog, even if all you write were true, and I for one am highly sceptical knowing how big co’s play fast and loose with even weak regulations, you are ignoring the fact that many hazardous materials are concentrated as they move up food chains. In other words you are skating around a numer of elephants in the room.

  14. Dano says:

    Come now.

    He is a liar.

    And he works for the energy companies, so it is in his interest to lie. No need to sugarcoat it.



  15. Raindog says:


    I would be the first one to oppose hydraulic fracturing if I thought that it was going to lead to any sort of significant groundwater contamination. i don’t work for a company but I strongly support natural gas as a bridge fuel. Again – opposition to hydraulic fracturing at this point is opposition to natural gas as a fuel. The majority of conventional gas reservoirs have been drilled and produced and shale and tight gas sands are where the majority of the gas that can be produced currently resides. This campaign against hydraulic fracturing is just not based in factual information and it could lead us to a disastrous energy policy. Next time you read one of the anti-fracking articles in the NYT or from ProPublica, see if they actually have any data that shows a water supply that people drink from getting contaminated to an unsafe degree. Reread the NYT article – they sure whipped up fear about radioactivity but actually had no data at all from a river or a drinking water reservoir that showed any hint of high radioactivity. It was all innuendo.

    Here are the reasons to support shale gas and hydraulic fracturing:

    1. The main alternative is coal. Coal is far worse for GHG emissions. The Howarth paper was a joke. The IPCC, the DOE and many others have come up with gas emitting about half the GHG’s for the same amount of electricity created. Howarth doesn’t want gas wells in is backyard and is willing to say anything and sacrifice his scientific integrity toward that end. furthermore, 70% of gas is burned directly for heat, hot water, industrial purposes etc. vs 30% used for electricity. Gas that is burned directly probably emits 1/4 the GHGs of coal-fired electricity because half the electricity generated from coal-fired plants is lost in transmission and gas is twice has clean as coal to burn to begin with. Coal is the main source of mercury in our environment. That is something that really does work its way up the food chain. Coal is the main source of SO2 in our environment which causes acid rain. Coal is the main source of particulate matter or soot and this is estimated by the EPA to kill >30,000 people per year prematurely. Gas emits basically no mercury, SO2 or particulates. I am all for wind and solar and want to build them as fast as possible. But if hydraulic fracturing is banned we will end up burning a whole lot more coal over the next thirty years and that will be far worse for the environment. Hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to actually displace some coal-burning with natural gas. It’s really the only possible way to do that in the short term.

    Sadly the anti-fracking movement is without realizing it a pro-coal movement.

    2. It is good for local and national economy. If we stop producing gas (which is currently a pretty cheap source of energy that employs hundreds of thousands directly and millions indirectly). The only way we are ever going to be able to move to a green economy is if the overall economy is healthy. If the economy collapses, one of the first things to go will be wind and solar funding. I would support a national tax on gas and coal production that would be used to build wind, solar and geothermal projects.

    3. Gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing are already regulated by the states and by the federal government. Note that 8 PA DEP regulators were on the scene of the Chesapeake accident within hours. It is not covered by the safe drinking water act but that doesn’t mean it isn’t regulated. I am all for strong regulation and would be opposed to efforts to roll back regulations.

    4. Look at what has actually happened as a result of this incident, arguably one of the worst things that could happen. No one was killed or hurt. No wildlife was killed that we know of. Some local groundwater may or may not have been contaminated but in such a way that it can be fairly easily remediated. Thousands of wells have been drilled in PA. This and the incidents in Dimock PA are the only really significant problems. And no one was killed or hurt in Dimock either.
    Don’t let people who are mainly driven by NIMBYism but who make stuff up so they don’t look hypocritical convince you otherwise!

    I support wind but it is not without problems. Workers are killed during construction. Birds and bats are killed in great numbers every day. Transmission lines need to be installed which are ugly. The ground around them is sprayed with chemicals to keep weeds down. And taxpayers have to pay for them.

    Solar is better but is also pretty dangerous for workers. Solar panels are commonly installed on rooftops and workers commonly fall and are injured or killed while installing them. I am all for solar but it too is not without its downside. Plus it is expensive and taxpayers have to pay for it as well.

  16. Sunshine says:

    Has the book that Sen. Inhofe mentioned in the YouTube released by his press office (link below) been released yet? The tagline on the youtube from his office reads: “See for yourself who ended up winning the argument.”

    It was a good hallway interview with Mark Hertsgaard and a young activist from the Alliance for Climate Protection.

  17. Scott says:

    John Kyl can explain this.

  18. Jean says:

    What Inhofe says is the Party Line in Oklahoma.The Head of the Corporation Commission said so in an Op Ed in the Oklahoman(the Capitol’s paper owned by the Gaylord family,cheerleaders of our Corporate masters,Chesapeake and Devon Oil..So from our Capitol it is repeated”In 60 ears of fracking no one has ever been harmed,no drinking water has been damaged..This is repeated ad nauseum..I would not credit Inhofe with this line There is a lot of wind energy in the Panhandle…I write comments in the papers reminding m fellow Okies of this..Koch used to be called an Oklahoma company..T Boone Pickens owns Oklahoma State University,especially the Geolog dept..The sa the football stadium was a doneation,but tuition would be a lot lower if T Boone did not rule

  19. John Mason says:


    “I support wind but it is not without problems. Workers are killed during construction. Birds and bats are killed in great numbers every day. Transmission lines need to be installed which are ugly. The ground around them is sprayed with chemicals to keep weeds down. And taxpayers have to pay for them.

    Solar is better but is also pretty dangerous for workers. Solar panels are commonly installed on rooftops and workers commonly fall and are injured or killed while installing them. I am all for solar but it too is not without its downside. Plus it is expensive and taxpayers have to pay for it as well.”

    These are not valid criticisms of either of these specific industries, on the basis that accidents and fatalities occur in all industries. People die all the time at (or under) the wheels of cars. Why single out wind and solar in these terms?

    Cheers – John

  20. Calamity Jean says:

    “I support wind but it is not without problems. Workers are killed during construction. Birds and bats are killed in great numbers every day. Transmission lines need to be installed which are ugly. The ground around them is sprayed with chemicals to keep weeds down. And taxpayers have to pay for them.

    Solar is better but is also pretty dangerous for workers. Solar panels are commonly installed on rooftops and workers commonly fall and are injured or killed while installng them. I am all for solar but it too is not without its downside. Plus it is expensive and taxpayers have to pay for it as well.”

    Besides what John Mason said, your criticism of wind and solar power is wrong on several other points. “Birds and bats are killed in great numbers every day.” No, birds aren’t killed “in great numbers”. The only wind farm with significant bird fatalities is the one at Altamont Pass, which was started with an old design of wind turbine that is dangerous to birds. They are being replaced with modern design turbines that have a low bird mortalty rate of about one bird per turbine per year. Bats are a bigger problem, but it appears that bat kills can be reduced by stopping turbines on low-wind nights. . “The ground around t[ransmission lines] is sprayed with chemicals to keep weeds down.” How do you know? All the ones I’ve seen look like they have been mechanically mowed. Leaving short vegetation on the ground is a good idea to help control erosion. Herbicides would leave bare ground.

    “Solar panels are commonly installed on rooftops and workers commonly fall and are injured or killed while installng them.” Really? “workers _commonly_ fall” ? I’ve had the roof of the house I own worked on several times and nobody has fallen off. People who work on roofs are careful and use safety gear. Roofing is more dangerous than working in an office, but not as bad as plenty of other occupations. I’d even say that installing solar panels on roofs makes roofers safer. Solar panels last a long time, 30+ years, so people having solar panels installed are motivated to have the underlying roof made of the most durable material available to avoid removing and reinstalling the panels for roof repairs. Having the most durable roof means the roofers aren’t up there as often and are therefore less exposed to the danger of falling. “Plus it is expensive….” Well, I can’t say solar is _cheap_, but it’s price-competitive with new construction nuclear power, and faster to install.

    In short, Raindog, you have been severely misinformed.