A sleight of hand

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People in Quebec want to see both sides of the coin before making a decision.  Everyone knows there are benefits and costs to all decisions and we need to know both.

However, you can only have both sides of a debate if you are forming an opinion based on the information.  In our debate, like a magician, ecocrats switch the coin before they show the other side.

Opponents in Quebec recently over-torqued a story about how a professor couldn’t tell the difference between methane that is in groundwater naturally and methane that is in groundwater due to drilling.  Therefore, he needed and recommended more data be gathered.  I thought and still think his recommendation has merit and should be investigated.

With a sleight of hand, opponents switched the coin to say he was actually talking about a potential case of water contamination, the first ever in Quebec.  Never mind the reason the professor couldn’t tell the difference is because it is completely normal to find thermogenic natural gas in groundwater in Quebec.  And never mind that natural gas is completely non-toxic and people in Quebec have been using well water with natural gas in it for hundreds of years with no health impacts.

Now it turns out the story wasn’t just over-torqued, the story wasn’t even true.  The professor wasn’t even testing groundwater.  He tested water from the cellar of the well and didn’t realize it.   The Minister of Environment caught this and press released it.

Let me rephrase that.  The professor couldn’t tell the difference between groundwater and industrial water at a natural gas well.   It turns out there was no contamination of groundwater – there wasn’t even contamination of industrial water.

It wasn’t just that there are limitations to the type of tests done by the professor.     It is because thermogenic natural gas is naturally found in groundwater in Quebec.   We have known this for decades and opponents know it too.  It was published by the Soleil in February of 2011 when I did a media tour telling people about thermogenic gas in ground water in Quebec.

Ecocrats also switched the coin when they suggested last year that 19 of 31 wells were leaking.  It is entirely expected to be able to detect methane at a gas well.  The ministry of environment has also now reported there were only about three wells that required routine preventative maintenance.