tagged w/ marcellus shale
By Jesse White
State Representative, 46th District of PA
In the waning hours of the 2012 state budget process, a few paragraphs were slipped into SB 1263, also known as the state fiscal code. This language provided for a ban on natural gas drilling in the South Newark Basin, which includes portions of Bucks and Montgomery counties in southeastern Pennsylvania.
On a day the state legislature approved dozens of bills, passed a $27 billion spending plan and authorized billions of dollars in tax credits for the petrochemical industry, the ban (also known as the “Bucks Backroom Deal”) may actually have the greatest impact on the state’s energy policy.
In February, the legislature passed Act 13, which eliminated local zoning for natural gas operations, which include drilling, compressor stations and pipelines. Passed with support of Republican lawmakers from the Southeast, Act 13 was hailed by the governor, lawmakers and the natural gas industry as crucial because it provided uniformity and consistency for developing shale gas drilling policy.
When questioned back home, many lawmakers from areas like Bucks and Montgomery counties began taking heat for their vote, so they started telling the public they either didn’t know what was in the bill or didn’t think it would apply to their county, even though many lawmakers like me, representing heavy drilling areas, tried desperately to warn them about how bad Act 13 was going to be if enacted.
The problem escalated from mild political headache to major political agita when a report surfaced in late June indicating there was a huge natural gas deposit underneath the South Newark Basin, which includes Bucks and Montgomery counties. The lawmakers had laid an egg with a bad vote on Act 13, and that egg was now a full-grown chicken coming home to roost.
But instead of confronting the mess their votes created for the entire state, these lawmakers, led by Sen. Chuck McIlhenney and enabled by the Corbett administration, basically stole the last life boat and left the women and children to fend for themselves on the sinking ship that is life under Act 13. Maybe if he and his colleagues had done their jobs and read the damn bill before they voted on it, we wouldn't be in this situation.
The underlying theme is impossible to ignore. Despite all the rhetoric about Pennsylvania’s commitment to responsible development of clean-burning natural gas in a consistent and uniform way, our energy policy is nothing more than dirty, hypocritical politics.
After spending $1.3 million in lobbying to get Act 13 passed, not a single energy industry lobbyist or executive would say a word about the selective drilling moratorium, which strikes at the very heart of their ‘uniformity and consistency’ argument. If they hadn’t been in on the deal, they would have gone ballistic.
The lack of opposition from groups like The Pennsylvania Association of Township Supervisors, which inexplicably sold out its member municipalities in an apparent deal to get Act 13 passed, was also very telling. No one was saying anything, which is unheard of in the State Capitol. Anyone looking at the signs could see the political fix was in to repay a few select lawmakers for their votes on Act 13 back in February.
The Corbett administration, which in theory should have vehemently opposed the moratorium, was oddly silent. Questions were immediately raised on the House floor, noting that Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley lives in Bucks County and DEP Secretary Michael Krancer lives in Montgomery County. If Act 13 isn’t good enough for two of the most blatantly pro-drilling members of the Corbett administration, why should the rest of us have to live under it?
Some of my colleagues defended the ban as a necessary move to study the South Newark Basin until at least 2018 so they can assess the impacts and ‘get it right’. There were no such studies in other parts of the state like my legislative district in Washington, Allegheny and Beaver counties. Not only were we were told by the administration and the gas industry they were doing everything right, but many of us were vehemently attacked for even suggesting otherwise, regardless of the evidence accumulating before our very eyes.
By signing SB 1263 and endorsing the rationale that a moratorium on drilling is necessary anywhere, Governor Corbett clearly acknowledged Act 13 is insufficient to allow a community to develop shale gas responsibly and exposed a level of hypocrisywhich many of us in the drilling areas struggle with on a daily basis.
Do not read this as an endorsement of a statewide moratorium on drilling, because it isn’t. I am not a ‘fractivist’—I’m charged with representing 62,000 people who have had their communities divided and conquered by a small segment of bad actors who use propaganda and strong-arm tactics to drill as much as possible as quickly as possible, with little regard for the people who were here before them or may be left after they leave.
By sticking their heads in the shale and pretending not to notice, Pennsylvania’s political leadership has given implicit, if not explicit, approval of this dangerous and short-sighted strategy. I’m sure the millions in campaign contributions have nothing to do with it.
Whether you are pro-drilling or anti-drilling, SB 1263 is terrible policy. With this clearly unconstitutional provision created for political convenience, we opened up a political powder keg in every county, where drilling opponents will no doubt demand moratoriums of their own. SB 1263 will also have a negative impact on the energy industry because it creates uncertainty in the marketplace.
The “Bucks Backroom Deal” has serious long-term implications for anyone impacted by Act 13. The need to repeal and replace Act 13 with a realistic, common sense approach to natural gas drilling is clear; until then, those of us not in Bucks or Montgomery counties are literally second-class citizens.
More than anything, this is about fairness for all Pennsylvanians. If Act 13 isn't good enough for some of us, then it isn't good enough for any of us.By Jesse White
State Representative, 46th District of PA
In the waning hours of... more
Simply put pumping chemicals into the ground is a dumb and dangerous idea. Of course there are people who can back up my statement with lots of facts and charts and actual video of flames coming out of water faucets but I'd rather try to lessen the pain of the reality with funny pictures, or at least attempt to.Simply put pumping chemicals into the ground is a dumb and dangerous idea. Of course... more
Dr. Daniel Fine of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy discusses North Carolina's approach to shale gas and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Fine offered these comments during a Feb. 27, 2012, presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shafesbury Society. Video courtesy of CarolinaJournal.tv. Watch full-length video of JLF events here: http://www.johnlocke.org/events/videos.htmlDr. Daniel Fine of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy discusses North... more
Dr. Daniel Fine of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy discusses North Carolina's approach to shale gas and hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking." Fine offered these comments during a Feb. 27, 2012, presentation to the John Locke Foundation's Shafesbury Society. Video courtesy of CarolinaJournal.tv. Watch full-length video of JLF events here:
Daniel Fine discusses North Carolina's approach to shale gas and hydraulic fracturing (two minutes)---
The full one hour video can be seen here-->"North Carolina?s approach to natural gas fracking" ---> http://lockerroom.johnlocke.org/2012/02/27/no...
Dr. Daniel I. Fine works with the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy. He is a longtime research associate at the Mining and Minerals Resources Institute, MIT. Fine is also a policy adviser on nonconventional oil and gas. He is co-editor of Resource War in 3-D: Dependence, Diplomacy and Defense, and has contributed to Business Week, the Engineering and Mining Journal and the Washington Times. Fine has testified on strategic natural resources before the U.S. Senate committees on Foreign Affairs and Energy and Natural Resources. In this speech, he discusses "Shale Gas Wars: From Pennsylvania to North Carolina."Dr. Daniel Fine of the New Mexico Center for Energy Policy discusses North... more
Ill. nuclear plant shuts after ‘unusual incident’
Iconic skier’s death points out U.S. health gap
Landowners fight eminent domain in Pa. gas fieldIll. nuclear plant shuts after ‘unusual incident’
Iconic skier’s... more
Opinions fly after Steelers star suggests watching documentary on gas drilling
Troy Polamalu learned last month that there are topics even more controversial than the defense's performance in Sunday night's playoff game against the Denver Broncos.
The Steelers strong safety maintains a popular Twitter and Facebook account that sends out movie recommendations every week, in between ticket raffle contests and aphorisms such as, "The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground."
His movie pick in mid-December: "Gasland," a popular anti-drilling documentary that's fueled the "fracktivist" movement against gas development and the fracking technique used in the Marcellus Shale region.
The post -- whether just an another example of Mr. Polamalu's taste for controversial documentaries or an outright political statement -- thrust the popular Pittsburgher into one of the most fractious debates to hit the region in a while.
The Polamalu Facebook page was suddenly home to a face-off over fracking, with one fan in Fort Worth, Texas, calling the film "left wing trash" that he was disappointed to see coming with a Steelers seal of approval. Yet another thanked him, saying Mr. Polamalu's "fame and clout" was helpful in spreading the "Gasland" gospel to the Steelers Nation.
Soon the gas debate talking points followed, over whether the jobs were worth the environmental risk or whether national security relied on gas exploration. It's probably the first time a Steeler has inspired talk of OPEC.
Mr. Polamalu is hardly the first celebrity to endorse "Gasland" or its director, Josh Fox. He joins Mark Ruffalo, Fran Drescher, Debra Winger and Scarlett Johansson in the roster of stars who've commented on gas drilling. Mr. Polamalu has offered no follow-up comment, and he and other Steelers had no media availability Monday.
Mr. Fox was still quick to seize the moment, tweeting back to Mr. Polamalu, "THANKS! Let's save PA's water! Go Steelers!"
He also called the Steelers "#1 in Fracktivist Defense."
The industry, meanwhile, was quick to contest the film's accuracy without dissing its well-liked endorser. EnergyInDepth, a pro-industry lobbying firm, tweeted to Mr. Polamalu, saying it has "separated claims" from the facts in "Gasland" -- and, by the way, congratulations on his Pro Bowl selection.
Mr. Polamalu's recent movie recommendations show an appreciation for controversial documentaries, such as the "Waiting for Superman" film that calls for public school reform and the "Food Inc." feature that criticizes corporate farming.
Some of his suggestions are less fraught with controversy, such as "Pulling John," which is about aging professional arm wrestling champion John Brzenk.
It's been a busy month for eco-conscious Steelers. Former running back Jerome Bettis recently starred in a series of commercials for the Environmental Protection Agency, advocating for new pollution regulations on power plants.
"Even the hardest-hitting players in the National Football League can't knock the wind out of me like asthma can," Mr. Bettis says in the spot.
The EPA standards were released in late December, the same week Mr. Polamalu recommended "Vanishing of the Bees," a documentary that suggests a link between certain pesticides and the sudden disappearance of honeybees around the world.Opinions fly after Steelers star suggests watching documentary on gas drilling
Considering the rate at which natural gas resources are being developed, and the sudden push from industry to export the product, it might come as a surprise that the Senate’s Energy Committee hadn’t had a hearing on liquified natural gas (LNG) since 2005.
Last Tuesday, for the first time in six years, Senators brought the issue back to the Capitol spotlight, as they considered the impact of exporting LNG on domestic prices.
In order to export or import natural gas, companies can either transport it through pipelines, or ship it as liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG is natural gas cooled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the gas becomes a liquid. Back in 2006, LNG imports far outstripped exports, and industry used that trade deficit to push for a massive expansion of domestic drilling, relying heavily on the argument for American “energy security.”
Now that that expansion is well-underway, with the infamous Utica and Marcellus shales the frontier of rapid development, utilizing controversial fracking and horizontal drilling techniques, the industry is eager to start exporting LNG to international markets where the fuel fetches a much heftier price.
The Senate hearing comes in the wake of a massive 20-year, $8 billion deal between the British BGGroup and Houston-based Cheniere Energy.
The amount of LNG represented in that deal alone amounts to roughly 3.3 percent of all current U.S. natural gas consumption.There are currently four other export applications on the desks of the Department of Energy (Dominion Energy’s Jordan Cove project, which I wrote about here, is another), and together they would be the equivalent of 10 percent of current U.S. natural gas use, according to Chris Smith, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Oil & Gas at the DOE.
Exporting that amount of LNG alone is, lawmakers worry, enough to impact domestic prices. Earlier this year, when the DOE approved the export permit for the Sabine Pass LNG project in Louisaiana (where the Cheniere LNG would ship off towards Europe), the department admitted that the project would raise gas prices in the U.S. by more than 10 percent.
Speaking at the hearing last Tuesday, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon put Smith on the spot as to the rational of that decision:
Clearly, the department believes that raising natural gas pries by 10 percent meets the public interest test required by the Natural Gas Act…My question is, does the department believe that raising gas prices by five times that amount would be in the public interest?”
The agency must determine whether the export projects are in the “national interest” during the approval process.
These first five proposed export deals represent, as Reuters referred to the Cheniere deal, “a new chapter in the shale gas revolution that has redefined global markets."
Many energy experts, environmentalists, and lawmakers like Senator Wyden are concerned that, despite the rhetoric, a massive expansion of natural gas drilling won’t actually improve America’s energy security or self-reliance, but will only help the gas companies reach more lucrative foreign markets, leaving Americans to clean up the mess and pay for any pollution, spills, or long-term ecosystem degradation, as well as paying higher natural gas prices.
As proof of the industry’s intention to tie into a global market, Wyden held up a graph of LNG prices worldwide, showing that prices are up to three times higher overseas than they are in the United States.
Showing the graph, Wyden warned, "Exports in the United States are going to make natural gas like the oil market. That’s why I’m concerned about what these price hikes could mean for our businesses and our consumers.”
Some other interesting bits from Wyden's testimony:
“I’m trying to get my arms around where the department is going to draw the line. Given the fact that prices overseas are many times higher than North American prices, my question really deals with how high do you think the price of the natural gas in the United States can go up as a result of these exports and still meet the public interest test?
"Is there anything else you can tell me about how the department is going to draw the line so we can tell American businesses and consumers that they’re going to be able to get affordable natural gas as a result of this new export policy?”
“We’re going to be looking at impact on GDP. We’re going to be looking at jobs. We’re going to be looking at impact on a balance of trade. Some of those factors will be affected by the price itself. So we understand the importance that price holds."
“We also understand that natural gas at these export levels remains an inherently local domestic commodity. Prices are higher in Asia, but if you compare natural gas with oil, oil is a globally fungible commodity where you have enough transportation infrastructure to move oil from market to market. Whereas the ability to couple prices in the United States with prices in Asia, there simply isn’t the infrastructure that would allow you to do that at this point in time.”
Also providing testimony was Jim Collins, director of underground utilities for the city of Hamilton, Ohio. Collins argued that exporting LNG would tie the country to international markets, and would increase domestic prices and cause Americans’ utility bills to rise. Collins is no anti-gas crusader. He supports the use of natural gas as a transportation fuel and electricity producer, but is worried that the export strategies of gas companies will leave Americans worse off.
Today, the vast majority of natural gas exports from the United States travel through pipelines into Mexico and Canada. Only about 5 percent of natural gas exports currently leave our borders as LNG from coastal ports. (I dug deeper into the natural gas trade numbers in this earlier post.)
As of last year, there were 11 LNG terminals in the United States, only one of which — Sabine Pass — is approved for exports. That the industry is lobbying so hard to open up other terminals for overseas shipping is proof that the "energy security" claims they're making to rally favor around rapid shale gas development are disingenuous at best.
It's worth noting that natural gas imports are still far greater than exports, and current natural gas demand still outstrips domestic supply. If "energy security" were the real goal, then the companies should be content closing the gap of domestic supply and demand.
But because the gas industry intends to tie into the more lucrative foreign markets as soon as possible, Americans will wind up paying higher energy bills, and will be left with all the risk, and cleaning up all the industry's pollution and waste. Which is why so many energy experts, environmentalists and lawmakers see natural gas exports as a lose-lose for America.
By Ben Jarvey | 16 November 11Considering the rate at which natural gas resources are being developed, and the... more
As energy companies scramble to develop the Marcellus Shale and other natural gas reserves locked up in shale formations, you’ll hear a lot about American “energy security” and reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports. You won’t hear a lot about companies’ plans to export the gas.
It’s becoming clear, however, that gas companies like Dominion Resources and Jordan Cove have big plans for exporting the natural gas that they’re rushing to frack.
First, some background. To export or import natural gas, companies can either transport it through pipelines, or ship it as liquefied natural gas (LNG). LNG is natural gas cooled to -260 degrees Fahrenheit, at which point the gas becomes a liquid.
Currently, the vast majority of natural gas exports from the United States travel through pipelines into Mexico and Canada. Of the 1,136,789 million cubic feet of natural gas exported from the United States in 2010, only 64,763 million cubic feet were exported as liquefied natural gas. In other words, only about 5 percent of natural gas exports currently leave our borders as LNG from coastal ports.
In 2010, the U.S. exported LNG to Brazil, India, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
But natural gas exports are still dwarfed by imports. In 2010, the U.S. imported roughly 431,010 million cubic feet of LNG and a total of 3,740,757 million cubic feet of natural gas. So we import over three times as much natural gas as we currently export.
(Interestingly, the largest provider of LNG imports to the U.S. is Trinidad and Tobago.)
As of last year, there were 11 LNG terminals in the United States, only one of which is approved for exports. This slightly outdated map shows the locations of eight LNG terminals, marked by red boxes. (The yellow boxes show where natural gas flows in or out of the country through pipelines.)
With natural gas imports still so much greater than exports, and with current natural gas demand still outstripping domestic supply, it's curious that domestic natural gas producers like Dominion Resources are trying to gain approval to export LNG, as this recent piece in the Wall Street Journal describes.
Dominion operates an LNG facility in Cove Point, Maryland that has the geographical advantage of being the closest LNG port to the massive Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.
Thomas F. Farrell II, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Dominion told the News-Register of Wheeling, West Virginia, "The facility is particularly well-situated to export gas production from the prolific Marcellus Shale and promising Utica Shale formations."
Across the country, there's a similar scene. Last month, the Jordan Cove Energy Project petitioned FERC to approve exports of LNG at its planned terminal in Coos Bay, Oregon.
Who exactly is behind the Jordan Cove Energy Project? Two foreign energy companies. Energy Projects Development, with offices in London and the United Arab Emirates, and Calgary, Alberta-based Fort Chicago. How likely is it that Jordan Cove, with foreign owners and stakeholders, is asking for export permission in the interest of American energy security?
While Dominion is based in Virginia, their claims for the necessity of the export terminal don't quite add up. "It is in our nation's best interests to develop our natural resources responsibly and reliably," Dominion chief Farrell said. "In the process, we will be able to improve the nation's balance of trade."
Of course, if the "nation's best interests" were the gas drillers' concern, they would sell the Marcellus production domestically and thereby reduce imports. But companies aren't actually operating in the interest of providing American energy security or "improving balance of trade." They're trying to open the valves wide to cash in as quickly as possible on these massive shale plays - wherever the markets exist - before anyone slows them down.
Shale development involving hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling is sold to the American public and to locally-impacted communities as a great boon for American energy security and self-reliance. But in reality, much of that shale gas pumped out of the Marcellus and other shale deposits is going to flow immediately outside our borders to markets with higher prices, making the big companies richer and leaving Americans just as energy poor - and cleaning up the industry's messes too.
By Ben Jervey
14 October 11As energy companies scramble to develop the Marcellus Shale and other natural gas... more
INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM
Fletcher School Tufts University
Dr. Daniel I. FineResearch AssociateMining and Minerals Resources Institute, MIT
LUNCHEON LECTURETUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 201111:00AM – 1:00PMCABOT 703
“Shale Gas War: The Geopolitics of U.S.Self-Sufficiency”
Dr. Daniel Fine
is a Research Associate at the Mining and Minerals Resources Institute,MIT. Dr. Fine is also a current Policy Adviser on Non-Conventional Oil and Gas. He isco-editor of
Resource War in 3-D: Dependence, Diplomacy and Defense, and has contributed to Business Week , the Engineering and Mining Journal and theWashingtonTimes
. Dr. Fine participated in the Atlantic Council Workshop on Central Asian Policyand the Hudson Institute Russia-United States Relations Project. He has given testimonyon strategic natural resources before the U.S. Senate Committees on Foreign Affairs andthe Energy and Natural Resources. Dr. Fine was a member of the Domestic EnergyProduction Issue Team of the Center For The Study Of The Presidency and Congress“Strengthening America’s Future Initiative.” He has participated as a panelist on energy public policy at the Rocky Mountain Global New Energy Summit.
Register to attend this event at
Business Casual Attire Required
http://www.scribd.com/doc/64842008/Shale-Gas-Wars-Flyer-9-20-11INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM
Fletcher School Tufts University
Dr. Daniel... more
The Department of Energy and General Electric will spend $2 million over the next two years to remove naturally occurring radioactive materials from the fracking fluids produced by America’s booming shale-gas industry.
The New York State Department of Health has identified Radium-226 as a radionuclide of particular concern in the Marcellus Shale formation deep beneath the Appalachian Mountains.
In hydraulic fracturing operations, drillers force water and a mixture of chemicals into wells to shatter the shale and free natural gas.
The brine that returns to the surface has been found to contain up to 16,000 picoCuries per liter of radium-226 (pdf). The discharge limit in effluent for Radium 226 is 60 pCi/L, and the EPA’s drinking water standard is 5 pCi/L.
Uranium and Radon-222 have also been found in water returning to the surface from deep shale wells.
In Pennsylvania, produced water has been discharged into streams and rivers from the state’s 71,000 wells after conventional wastewater treatment but without radiation testing, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The New York Times, which drew attention to the radioactive contamination earlier this year after studying internal EPA documents:
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle. via The New York Times
GE’s Global Research lab in Niskayuna, NY has proposed removing radioactive elements from produced waters and brine using a membrane distillation system similar to conventional reverse osmosis, but designed specifically to capture these radioactive materials.
GE will spend $400,000 on the project and DOE will supply $1.6 million. The Energy Department announced the project Monday.
The process will produce concentrated radioactive waste, which will be disposed of through conventional means, which usually means storage in sealed containers for deep geological disposal.
The government is seeking to address environmental concerns without stemming a boom in cheap gas unleashed by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in shale formations.The Department of Energy and General Electric will spend $2 million over the next two... more
In an unprecedented and pioneering move, New Jersey’s state legislature became the first in the nation to pass a bill to enforce a statewide ban on a controversial gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. The bill passed the Senate 32-1 and the Assembly 58-11.
“Today, New Jersey sent a strong message to surrounding states and to the nation that a ban on fracking is necessary to protect public health and preserve our natural resources,” said. Sen. Bob Gordon (D-Bergen). “Any benefits of gas production simply do not justify the many potential dangers associated with fracking such as pollution of our lakes, streams and drinking water supplies and the release of airborne pollutants. We should not wait until our natural resources are threatened or destroyed to act. The time to ban fracking in New Jersey is now.”
Fracking involves injecting water, toxic chemicals and sand deep underground to break up dense rock formations and release natural gas. Opponents of fracking cite the high potential for water and air pollution as a leading reason to ban the practice. The Delaware River provides drinking water to approximately 3 million people in New Jersey and this supply could be contaminated if fracking moves forward in the Delaware River Basin. Over 200,000 acres of land in the Upper Delaware River Watershed in Pennsylvania and New York are already under lease for gas drilling.
“Fracking is a man-made disruption to the environment, many times on large-scale proportions,” said Assemblywoman Connie Wagner (D-Bergen). “We’ve already seen a number of eco-casualties from this practice in surrounding states. It would be irresponsible to leave the door open for this practice to be pursued in New Jersey.”
Public opposition to fracking has escalated in recent months, with concerned residents and environmental and consumer advocacy groups campaigning against the practice in New Jersey and the surrounding states, where a gas drilling frenzy has taken hold or is ramping up to begin in the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation which extends up the East Coast. Pennsylvania alone is producing a glut of millions of gallons of fracking wastewater that is being shipped out of state. Gas drilling there is resulting in more than 11 violations of environmental permits per day at well sites, according to PADEP records, causing growing pollution and health problems.
“The New Jersey Legislature is taking the pro-active step of preventing contamination of our drinking water and environment, the only sure way to protect our residents from fracking pollution. This is a great day for the State’s present and future generations,” said Tracey Carluccio, deputy director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
New Jersey contains gas bearing shale formations, notably the Utica Shale in northern New Jersey, that could be targeted by energy companies in the new “gas rush”, threatening the State’s drinking water and resident’s health.
In Texas and western states, where fracking has been used for some time, air and water pollution are leading to degraded environmental conditions and reported health problems from residents – concerns which led those living in Dish, Texas, a town located near 11 natural gas compression stations, to hire a private environmental consultant to sample the air. The consultant found that it contained high levels of neurotoxins and carcinogens, including benzene.
A 2011 Cornell University study found that the process of fracking also releases methane, which according to the EPA, is 21 times more damaging as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Similarly, a study released by researchers at Duke University in April found methane levels in drinking water wells near active gas drilling sites at a level 17 times higher than those near inactive ones.
Earlier this year, the U.S. House and Energy Commerce Committee determined that 14 oil companies had injected 780 million gallons of fracking chemicals and other substances into U.S. wells between 2005 and 2009. This included 10.2 million gallons of fluids containing known or suspected carcinogens. The companies, however, are not required to disclose the chemicals in fracking fluid, which they claim should be protected as a “trade secret”. They are also exempt from portions of seven major federal environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act.
Scientists at the Endocrine Disruption Exchange who tested fracking fluids found that 25 percent can cause cancer; 37 percent can disrupt the endocrine system; and 40 to 50 percent can affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular systems.
More at the linkIn an unprecedented and pioneering move, New Jersey’s state legislature became... more
By Josh Fox - Director of GASLAND
This week, Teddy Borawski, the chief oil and gas geologist for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) and a member of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett's administration, serving in an official capacity, and on the record, compared my Sundance award-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary film GASLAND to Nazi propaganda stating "Goebbels would be proud." The slander was the latest in a series of smears and misinformation about the film and character attacks on me.
This kind of hateful speech shows a contempt for history, for truth, for science and sets a dangerous precedent in our state's government. Such slanderous mudslinging has no place in any rational or adult debate on ANY topic, let alone the most important issue facing the state in decades - natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.
When one speaks violence, he degrades himself and his fellow man. When that person represents the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he violates the fabric of our civic trust, delegitimizes the government he represents and opens the door to madness. The Corbett administration has thrown the dialogue on Marcellus drilling into the gutter and it is it up to the Corbett administration to get it out.
I made the film GASLAND out of a geniune care and love for the state of Pennsylvania. The film was designed to bring to light something that we were by and large overlooking -- the extreme harm and danger of Fracking for Natural Gas, as it was taking place across the nation. To make the film, myself and a dedicated team of five people were working for no pay, day and night, without a major media company behind the film and without any assurances that anyone would see the film outside of the Delaware River basin.
The film GASLAND has been thoroughly vetted, fact checked, verified and backed up by true journalistic review and science and we stand behind it and the incredibly brave Americans in it 100%.
GASLAND has helped forge a movement of in Pennsylvania, New York, and increasingly worldwide. Millions of people saw the film when it aired on HBO. In addition, I have toured to over 100 cities in the United States. Everywhere I go, I hear the complaints, concerns, outrage and dismay of the citizens facing the driller's invasion.
But instead of engaging in a real dialogue on the issues, the Pennsylvania government and the gas industry have mounted successive attacks against the honest journalism of the film. I and my team have been branded terrorists, extremists, communists, traitors, liars and now, Nazis. NAZIS!!!!!!
The state deserves better.
Continue Reading at:
http://dcbureau.org/201103231311/Bulldog-Blog/gasland-director-responds-to-attack-by-pennsylvania-official.htmlBy Josh Fox - Director of GASLAND
This week, Teddy Borawski, the chief oil and gas... more
The Pennsylvania homes of Karl Wasner and Arline LaTourette both sit atop the Marcellus Shale, a geologic formation that stretches from Tennessee to New York and holds vast deposits of natural gas. They also sit on opposite sides of a national debate over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. That's the process that makes it economical for energy companies to tunnel 5,000 feet below ground and remove the gas—but also poses environmental risks.
Wasner settled 14 years ago in Milanville, in the state's northeast corner, and will leave if drilling companies set up derricks nearby. He already moved away for six weeks last year while an exploratory well was drilled nearby. The noise, muddy water pouring from his taps, and chemicals that turned up in a neighbor's well drove him off, he says. "I moved to a beautiful rural residential area," says Wasner, "not an industrial park."
LaTourette, whose roots in the area go back five generations, is banking on the drilling. Her family has leased almost 700 acres of farmland to Hess (HES) and other companies to tap into the Marcellus Shale. She won't say what she's getting, but signing bonuses can range from $2,000 to $5,000 an acre, and royalty payments are about 20 percent of the value of the gas produced.
President Barack Obama enthusiastically backs gas drilling, and these days 90 percent of it is done by fracking, which involves forcing below ground chemically treated water under high pressure to smash through layers of rock, thus freeing the gas to flow upward. Along with wind, solar, and nuclear power, natural gas is crucial to Obama's goal of producing 80 percent of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. But the drilling is taking place with minimal oversight from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. State and regional authorities are trying to write their own rules—and having trouble keeping up.
Now, reports of contaminated water and alleged disposal of carcinogens in rivers have caught state and federal regulators, and even environmental watchdogs, off guard. Sometimes the fracking mix includes diesel fuel. Between 2005 and 2009, drillers injected 32 million gallons of fluids containing diesel into wells in 19 states, an investigation by Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) concludes. Just as it recovers its footing from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the Administration faces a new threat, again involving a risky drilling technology and charges of lax regulation. Obama is "evaluating the need for new safeguards for drilling," says White House spokesman Clark W. Stevens. "It's likely that the science is going to say we need to regulate fracking," says Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program for Public Citizen, a liberal advocacy group. "But Obama's political team is going to say don't regulate, and I think the political team will win."
The Marcellus Shale may contain 490 trillion cubic feet of gas—enough to heat U.S. homes and power electric plants for two decades, says Terry Engelder, professor of geosciences at Pennsylvania State University. That makes it the world's second-largest gas field behind South Pars, shared by Iran and Qatar. The shale gas rush is creating thousands of jobs and reviving the economy in states such as Wyoming, Texas, and Louisiana. In Pennsylvania, where 2,516 wells have been drilled in the last three years, $389 million in tax revenue and 44,000 jobs came from gas drilling in 2009, according to a Penn State report. Perhaps best of all, natural gas emits half the carbon emissions of oil.
While there have been no documented cases of fracking fluids flowing underground into drinking water, there have been spills above ground. Fracking produces millions of gallons of wastewater; some of it containing benzene has spilled from holding tanks. The wastewater can overwhelm treatment plants not equipped to handle high levels of contaminants. A Feb. 26 New York Times article, using documents from the EPA and state regulators, described how radioactive wastewater is being discharged into river basins. Sierra Club Deputy Executive Director Bruce Hamilton says Obama "has been sold a bill of goods." But even the Sierra Club has struggled with fracking. Last year it overruled New York and Pennsylvania chapters calling for a national fracking ban; now it's reconsidering that decision, Hamilton says.
The Delaware River Basin Commission, which manages the watershed that supplies drinking water to 15 million people in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, has put gas development on hold while it drafts rules. Wasner and LaTourette were among scores of people to comment at a Feb. 22 hearing in Honesdale, Pa., on a commission proposal to regulate the drilling. New York also has fracking on hold while it develops a drilling playbook. The Marcellus Shale runs beneath the watershed that supplies just over 1 billion gallons of water a day to New York City, the U.S.'s largest unfiltered water system.
The White House has sent mixed signals. "It's not necessarily federal regulation that will be needed," EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson told a Feb. 3 Senate hearing, noting that many communities and states already monitor parts of the process. Energy Secretary Steven Chu seems to differ. In a 2010 speech, he said fracking can be "polluting" and that rules were inevitable. "We continue to believe that state regulatory agencies have the appropriate expertise" to oversee gas production, says Dan Whitten, a spokesman for America's Natural Gas Alliance.
Even if the EPA stepped in, its authority would be limited. A clause in a 2005 energy law—dubbed the "Halliburton (HAL) loophole" for the company that helped pioneer fracking and is a supplier of fracking fluids—exempts fracking from parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) says Dick Cheney, once head of Halliburton, pushed for the exemption when he was Vice-President. Hinchey's evidence is circumstantial: Fracking was endorsed in Cheney's 2001 energy task force report, which led to the 2005 law and, according to Waxman, did not reflect the EPA's initial concerns about water pollution. Cheney declined to comment. Halliburton referred a request for comment to its website, which doesn't discuss fracking's risks.
So far, the EPA has begun a study of fracking's effect on drinking water. In February the agency said final results will come in 2014, two years after its initial target—and the 2012 elections. Its emphasis is "politics first and regulation second," says Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington policy group. "It's impossible to miss the jobs power of fracking in the Marcellus."
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/11_11/b4219025777026.htmThe Pennsylvania homes of Karl Wasner and Arline LaTourette both sit atop the... more
Good old hydrofracking. You know about it right? It's the method to produce natural gas by fracturing rock formations with millions of gallons of water and toxic chemicals. It's been contaminating groundwater in the Western US for many years and now it is being pursued with a vengeance in the East, particularity with respect to the Marcellus Shale formation that extends across Pennsylvania and New York.
Everyone in the know has warned us for years that hydrofracking was highly dangerous to sources of groundwater used for human consumption. But only now are we being told how much worse is that contamination of our water supplies. So bad it will make you ill after you read this investigative report from the NY Times:
With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.
While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.
In short, if your source of drinking water is a water plant that receives treated waste water from hydrofracking operations, your health and the health of your children and your neighbors and everyone else you know is at serious risk, a risk far greater than previously acknowledged by the oil and gas industry and federal regulators.
The Industry has known of these problems for many years, as has the EPA, as the documents shown to the NY Times reporters demonstrate. Yet neither the Industry nor the EPA has acted on those reports. Instead, both have turned a blind eye to the fact that waste water from hydrofracking is hazardous to your health. Indeed, since 2006, beginning with the Bush administration, the EPA told hydrofracking operators in Pennsaylvania that they did not need to test the the waste water that was released for radioactivity.
Astonishing, but true. Your government, politicians and the Oil and Gas Industry collaborated in a conspiracy of silence regarding the safety of using hydrofracking techniques to produce natural gas. As one alarmed expert stated:
“We’re burning the furniture to heat the house,” said John H. Quigley, who left last month as secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “In shifting away from coal and toward natural gas, we’re trying for cleaner air, but we’re producing massive amounts of toxic wastewater with salts and naturally occurring radioactive materials, and it’s not clear we have a plan for properly handling this waste.”
The risks are particularly severe in Pennsylvania, which has seen a sharp increase in drilling, with roughly 71,000 active gas wells, up from about 36,000 in 2000. The level of radioactivity in the wastewater has sometimes been hundreds or even thousands of times the maximum allowed by the federal standard for drinking water.
cont.Good old hydrofracking. You know about it right? It's the method to produce... more
The natural gas industry made Joe Todd an offer he couldn’t refuse.
He told them no, but New York State’s industry-drafted 2005 “compulsory integration” law made resistance pointless.
Todd had turned away a landman who tried last year to convince him to lease his property to a Denver-based gas driller. Then he received an official letter in January that said he had to surrender his subterranean property rights for a financial stake in the same Colorado driller’s new well operation less than a mile from his home in Big Flats, N.Y. He ripped up the letter and threw it in the trash.
The drilling started up anyway.The natural gas industry made Joe Todd an offer he couldn’t refuse.
He told... more
An email obtained by City Paper suggests collaboration between the state Department of Homeland Security and gas drilling interests.(http://citypaper.net/blogs/clog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/james-powers.pdf)
The email, authored by Pennsylvania Homeland Security chief James Powers, was written in apparent error: addressed to a participant in anti-drilling forums, the letter indicates that Powers mistakenly mistook its recipient for someone associated with pro-drilling interests.
In the email (full text below), Powers warns against distributing information gathered by the Pa. DHS on anti-drilling activities, saying that: "We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies."
The "support" he speaks of consists at least partly of confidential updates on anti-drilling activists and activities. A report yesterday evening(http://www.propublica.org/article/do-environmental-extremists-pose-criminal-threat-to-gas-drilling) by nonprofit investigative journalism outfit Pro Publica broke the news that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Homeland Security included in its regular newsletter, the Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin, descriptions of various activities and gatherings of activists opposed to gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale(http://citypaper.net/blogs/clog/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/PIBNo.13130August20101.pdf).
Included in a list entitled "Dates of interest" are a series of local meetings about gas drilling issues — a drilling ordinance in Cranberry County, a hearing in Damascus, Pa. on zoning regulations — as well as the recent screening in Philadelphia of the "controversial Gasland movie,"(http://citypaper.net/blogs/clog/2010/09/03/interview-josh-fox-director-of-gasland-screens-tonight-9pm-the-piazza/) a documentary by filmmaker Josh Fox on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, the process used to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.
City Paper emailed Mr. Powers to confirm authenticity of the email and was contacted instead by Governor Rendell's chief spokesman Gary Tuma, who acknowledged that the email was authentic and said that the Pa. Dept. of Homeland Security was sharing such information with certain local interests – including gas drilling companies — because of "recent acts of vandalism" against drilling operations.
"There have been five acts of vandalism against Marcellus Shale drilling facilities," in the last two weeks, he said, "including two of which involved firearms ... shotguns fired at equipment."
A third incident involved theft, he said after being asked for details, and the other two were "minor incidents."
Tuma added that "There have been peaceful protests related to MS drilling by people who oppose drilling and the increased amount of drilling — certainly no one is trying to restrict the rights of peaceful protest conducted within the parameters of the first amendment."
Asked whether there have been any protests that were not peaceful, Mr. Tuma acknowledged, "There have not been any that I'm aware of."An email obtained by City Paper suggests collaboration between the state Department of... more
The New York State Senate has approved at least a nine-month delay in issuing permits for a method of natural gas drilling, saying more study is needed to ensure it does not contaminate the state's water supply.
The 48 to 9 vote by the senate late on Tuesday was an unusual display of bipartisan cooperation in a divided chamber where Democrats hold a thin majority. The moratorium must still be approved by the state assembly and signed by the governor.
New York state has become the front line in the debate over hydraulic fracturing, a drilling technique that involves blasting enormous quantities of water, sand and chemicals into deep shale rock under high pressure to free trapped gas.
The technique has helped fuel a drilling boom in the United States and allowed companies to tap vast supplies of natural gas locked in big formations like the Marcellus Shale, which spans parts of New York.
But in New York, environmental groups have seized on the BP Plc spill in the Gulf of Mexico and a series of recent accidents in states that already allow drilling to demand more regulation.
"Keeping New Yorkers safe means preserving the sanctity of their access to clean, drinkable water," Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said in a statement.
"We do not need to look any further than the devastation in the Gulf of Mexico to realize that there is no financial benefit worth risking the safety of New York's water supply."
The moratorium was blasted by an industry group, which said the senate had "caved" to alarmists who have exaggerated the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, cheating the state out of desperately-needed revenue.
"We've turned our back on an opportunity that we haven't seen in generations, and at the same time the legislature assessed New Yorkers with $1.6 billion in new taxes and fees," said Jim Smith, a spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, an industry group that includes Chesapeake Energy Corp.
Hours before the senate's moratorium vote, the body passed a $136 billion budget after grappling for months over how to close a $9.2 billion deficit.
New York's Democrat-controlled state assembly is likely to approve the moratorium. State Governor David Paterson, a Democrat, is also expected to support it.The New York State Senate has approved at least a nine-month delay in issuing permits... more
Marcellus Shale gas drillers in Pennsylvania commit an average of 1.5 regulatory violations per day, according to a report from the Pennsylvania Land Trust, based on Right To Know requests to the Department of Environmental Protection.
In the last two and a half years, drilling companies were cited for 1,435 violations -- 952 of which were considered most likely to harm the environment, according to the report.
Share Land Trust spokeswoman Alana Richman said DEP provided a computer spreadsheet with information about each violation.
“We simply wanted to know what was going on with the drilling and put it out there as a statement of fact,”Richman said.
Nearly half of the violations were related to improper erosion and sedimentation plans and improper construction of wastewater impoundments that contain fracking water. These impoundments were improperly lined or not structurally sound.
In one instance, the Department of Agriculture quarantined a Tioga County farmer’s cattle because they could have ingested the frack water that leaked from the impoundment.
There were 155 citations for discharging industrial waste onto the ground or into commonwealth waters.
There were 100 violations of the state Clean Streams Law.
East Resources Inc. of Warrendale had the highest number of violations with 138, followed by Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy, with 118, and Chief Oil & Gas LLC of Dallas with 109.
Houston-based Cabot Oil & Gas, the company responsible for contaminated drinking water wells in Dimock, was fourth with 94 violations.
The list of companies with the worst performance records in terms of the number of violations per well drilled was topped by J-W Operating Co., of Dallas, which drilled only one well and racked up 11 violations. Citrus Energy Corp. of Castle Rock, Colo., averaged seven violations per well, and Penn Virginia Oil & Gas Corp. of Radnor averaged four violations per well.
The numbers in the report might reflect only a fraction of the violations, according to Jeff Schmidt, director of Sierra Club Pennsylvania Chapter.
“There’s likely to be lots more violations out there that haven’t been identified,” Schmidt said. “Many people feel this is the tip of the iceberg.”
The Sierra Club and Clean Water Action said the report was evidence Pennsylvania needs to enact legislation and make environmental inspection of Marcellus wells mandatory.
“DEP already has a policy that requires inspections,” Schmidt said. “This policy is not followed.”
DC Bureau’s documentary “The Marcellus Shale: The Politics of Gas” reveals the controversy surrounding natural gas production in New York. While skeptics of production fear hydraulic fracturing, a widely used technique to extract gas, will ruin the state’s pristine waterways, proponents tout potential economic benefits.
The political situation surrounding natural gas in New York is tainted. DC Bureau discovered the same year a powerful republican state senator endorsed industry-drafted revisions to gas mining laws, his law firm represented the largest natural gas producer in the state. Partners at the firm also advised local residents on real estate transactions involving mineral rights. In addition, DC Bureau revealed a liberal Upstate congressman championed strict control over hydraulic fracturing at the same time his wife lobbied for the American Association of Professional Landmen, whose members acquired gas leases in the state for energy companies.
With investors rallying support to drill in the New York portion of the Marcellus Shale – which geological experts say may hold the world’s largest store of natural gas, the race to tap into natural gas in this pre-Jurassic formation has begun.DC Bureau’s documentary “The Marcellus Shale: The Politics of Gas”... more