Author’s Note: The Rules for Frackers will be a series that highlights the tactics the Natural Gas Industry uses to gain access to shale plays across the country. The series will focus on the economics, politics, profiteering and media and academic manipulation that is occurring in the Marcellus Shale Play and have been occurring in other shale plays around the country.
“If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes (truth) politics” – Banksy
There is damning evidence that the natural gas industry is harmful for the environment. Since 2009, residents in Dimock, PA have been holding to their claims that their tainted groundwater was caused by locally owned Cabot Oil and Gas wells, and those claims were vindicated when water testing results were released last month. In what looks to have been a political stunt by EPA Region 3 Chief Lisa Jackson, the EPA prematurely released the water sampling data that was collected from over 60 homes, and in a report by Propublica, the EPA only looked at 10 samples of the whole data set. The EPA reported there were safe levels of methane combined with ethane inside some of the residents’ water wells, which proved that the methane migration was caused by drilling operations. What angered families in Dimock were the facts the EPA did not release.
Propublica, the first to report on the political stunt, reported that “the results showed that the ground water was contaminated with dozens of contaminants, and carcinogens and heavy metals that exceeded the agency’s ‘trigger level’ and could lead to illness if consumed over a period of time.” The cancer causing agents, if consumed over long periods of time in small concentrations, were anthracene, flouranthene, pyrene, and benzene, an additive in diesel fuel. Other chemicals found inside the ground water included: heavy metals such as chromium, aluminum, and lead, and salts associated with gas drilling such as bromide and strontium.
However, what is not visible are the strategies gas companies use to gain access to a shale play, and the mass profiteering conducted by industry shills and business owners. Gas companies are employing strategies that are tearing apart communities, and they are playing a hand in destroying the primary housing market in the areas where they extract natural gas. These strategies include preying on poor and minority communities to gain access to shale play, completely over estimating the amount of natural gas in a play, which leads to the buying out of politicians and the profiteering on a local level.
Thanks, Sean and Dory for providing a very clear perspective of this inbred network and the tactics they repeat across our nation’s shale plays. The leasing strategies you cite were definitely used in my rural community.
Wondering if you’ve noticed this strategy used by gas industry landmen: in each community (or area corresponding to a potential drilling unit), persuade at least one landowner to sell their mineral rights outright. That way, there is always one property in the area over which any hope of local or landowner control is completely severed (by a Mineral Severance agreement). Executing this one-time payment to purchase mineral rights gives the lessees (drillers) additional leverage over all the other lessors (landowners) in the area. If any lessors have second thoughts about a drill rig near their homes, the lessee (drillers) can say, “Well, if you don’t cooperate, we’ll just put the rig on Mr. X’s land because we own his rights. Very divisive for communities.