Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Southern Union Natural Gas Distribution Company Convicted of Improperly Storing Hazardous Waste


(see attached)

First Circuit Court of Appeals – This case involved the criminal conviction of a natural gas distribution company (Southern Union) for storing hazardous waste without a permit, which resulted in an $18 million fine. The conviction and fine were upheld, and the First Circuit specifically noted ” there was a need for a penalty substantial enough to attract the attention of large corporations, thereby achieving not only specific, but also general, deterrence.” Southern Union did not properly manage 140 pounds of mercury, which became the “play toy of young vandals who spread it about, including at their homes in a local apartment complex, after they spilled it around Southern Union’s largely abandoned and ill-guarded Tidewater site in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Aerial View of Fracking Sites in Dimock, PA

Environmental Advocates of New York's Executive Director Rob Moore and Water & Natural Resources Program Director Katherine Nadeau had the chance to take a plane ride over Dimock, PA recently. They flew over drilling sites and witnessed first-hand the damage hydro-fracking can cause to our communities.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Word Obama Forgot to Say

Posted: November 12, 2010 03:15 PM

A couple months ago, I was out in Dimock, PA, meeting with community members who've been affected by reckless natural gas drilling in and around their town. I was also there to tape an interview with Lesley Stahl, for an episode of 60 Minutes that will air this Sunday.

Dimock has become an unfortunate poster child of dangerous gas extraction, and after spending some time there, it's easy to understand why. Many residents have expressed alarm at how their drinking water has turned brown and made them sick soon after gas drilling started. The water is now too poisonous for most residents near drilling operations to use for drinking or bathing; it will be at least a couple years until a pipeline is built to transfer water from a safe location. Moreover, highly flammable, greenhouse-gas-intensive methane that is believed to have been released from gas drilling or hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") caused one Dimock resident's well to spontaneously combust one day. Methane released from a gas-drilling site has been observed bubbling up in the Susquehanna River, miles away. And while sitting in the front yard of another Dimock resident, I could hear methane gurgling constantly out of a special vent recently installed in their own well.

Concerns about natural-gas extraction have been on the rise not just in Dimock, but in places across the country, from West Virginia to Texas to Wyoming. And yet even given these important issues, natural gas still has a relatively lighter footprint than coal or oil. Gas is not a clean fuel, but it can be cleaner.

So it was with great interest that I heard Obama talking about natural gas last week. In a press conference the day after the election, someone asked if there were issues he might be willing to collaborate on with the new Congress. "We've got, I think, broad agreement that we've got terrific natural gas resources in this country," the president replied. "Are we doing everything we can to develop those?"

Uh oh. Look, I can only imagine the pressures that the president is under on a daily basis. And I can sympathize with the unique challenges the president faces of needing to speak accurately and precisely on a wide variety of topics with the media ready to pounce on any minor nuance or particular slip-up. But what did concern me about the president's statement was a single word that I didn't hear. I hope his question about natural-gas resources omitted that word unintentionally: "Are we doing everything we can to develop those responsibly?"

Clearly, we are not. Not when fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Air Act, parts of the Clean Water Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, as well as our country's hazardous waste and cleanup laws.

It's important to acknowledge that just because natural gas is cleaner than other fossil fuels -- especially coal -- does not mean we should give the industry a free pass. The exploration, production, transportation, and burning of natural gas is an inherently dirty business that disrupts local communities and pollutes the environment. There are thousands of documented cases of air and water pollution violations and human health and safety hazards. If natural gas is to be part of the mix that displaces dirtier energy sources like coal and oil, these have to be addressed.


Thursday, September 30, 2010


Imagine discovering that you don't own the mineral rights under your land, and that an energy company plans to drill for natural gas two hundred feet from your front door. Imagine having little recourse, other than accepting an unregulated industry in your backyard.

Split Estate maps a tragedy in the making, as citizens in the path of a new drilling boom in the Rocky Mountain West struggle against the erosion of their civil liberties, their communities and their health.

The lady speaking at 1:49 is a puppet, an idiot. Anyone have a nice cool glass of 'frackwater' for this lady to quench her thirst?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Gov't Monitors Fracking Victims

Fracking, the process where oil and gas companies drill for natural gas has caused people to get sick. And those speaking out against fracking are actually being monitored by the Department of Homeland Security in Pennsylvania. RT Correspondent Kristine Frazao discusses a town in Pennsylvania where they don't even have clean drinking water and now their houses are worth nothing.

Source: The Alyona Show

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Shale gas moratorium urged in Quebec

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 | 6:31 PM ET
Quebec environment group Équiterre is calling for a moratorium on shale gas exploration in the province until the controversial process is reviewed for environmental risks.

The St. Lawrence River's south shore is fertile farmland and rich in shale deposits.
The St. Lawrence River's south shore is fertile farmland and rich in shale deposits. (CBC)Équiterre says there are too many unanswered questions about the impact of extracting natural gas using a new technology called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking".

"We could take six months or something like that to study it carefully," Équiterre deputy director Stephen Guilbeault said Tuesday.

"Obviously, the information provided needs to be independent. It cannot come from the people who stand to benefit millions from the exploitation of this resource."

Équiterre says potential groundwater contamination is a real issue for public safety, and the Liberal government should halt exploratory drilling pending further study.

Quebec's environmental protection agency — known as the BAPE — is reviewing natural gas exploration and is expected to report back to the provincial government by February 2011.

Companies reproached for not informing communities

The province has already allowed gas exploration in low-lying regions along the St. Lawrence River, where there are deposits of the gas trapped in shale bedrock. But the government has chastised the Quebec Oil and Gas Association for how it proceeded with its drilling.

Communities along the St. Lawrence River where drilling has started have complained they weren't notified about the work until after the fact.

Natural Resources Minister Nathalie Normandeau said people should have been told ahead of time.
"I had a discussion with [association president] Mr. [André] Caillé about the bad experience with one community, and my message is clear: It is not acceptable for Quebec."

The oil and gas association is hosting information sessions in communities where shale gas deposits have been identified. The first meeting was scheduled in Bécancour, outside Montreal, on Tuesday night.

Shale gas has been lauded by leading energy companies around the world as a rich source of future power.

Earlier this week in Montreal, Shell CEO Peter Voser told an international energy conference that shale gas has risks, but they are manageable.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Oil and gas company sentenced for bird deaths

EnCana Oil & Gas Inc., a company based in Denver, pleaded guilty and was sentenced Aug. 26 for two misdemeanor violations regarding the deaths of about 55 federally protected migratory birds in Colorado and Wyoming.

The company was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Denver for violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act in the deaths of the birds, including waterfowl and owls, in natural gas well reserve pits and wastewater storage facilities, according to a news release.

The court sentenced the company to pay a total of $200,000 in fines and community service payments for the violations, which occurred in the past four years, after reaching a plea agreement, according to the release.

The violations occurred at facilities in Colorado’s Piceance Basin, located south of Moffat County, and the Sweetwater, Sublette and Lincoln Counties of Wyoming.

According to the release, migratory birds often land on open wastewater ponds at oil and gas facilities and can become coated with or ingest fatal amounts of hydrocarbon discharge as a result of production operations.

Oil and gas companies can prevent such bird deaths, according to the release, by placing obstructions or netting over the water to prevent contact with the wastewater.

As part of the plea agreement, EnCana must implement an environmental compliance plan designed to keep birds from coming in contact with the wastewater in the two states. According to the release, EnCana has already spent $3 million to start the plan.

The fines EnCana must pay as part of the agreement will go to the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

According to the plea agreement, EnCana “failed to heed warnings” during initial investigations from federal agencies in 2005 and 2006 about the uncovered pits in the Piceance Basin.
About 19 migratory birds, such as ducks and owls, were found to have died as a result of the wastewater in the Piceance Basin, many of which were located at facilities in Rio Blanco County, according to the release.

“The United States is bound by several treaties to protect migratory birds, many of which cross international borders and are a resource we share with other counties,” said U.S. District Attorney John Walsh in the release. “The Migratory Bird Treaty Act provides only criminal sanctions for unlawfully taking such birds, and we treat corporate violations of this statute as serious offenses.”
The Migratory Bird Treaty Act was enacted in 1918 and creates a misdemeanor criminal sanction for the un-permitted taking of listed birds by any means. None of the birds killed in the case were listed as endangered or threatened under federal law, according to the release.

“Environmental compliance plans, like the one in this case, help reduce the needless killing of protected birds in the future,” said Steve Oberholtzer, Special Agent in charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, region six, in the release. “Our agency will continue to investigate these killings and refer appropriate cases for prosecution.”

The cases were investigated by special agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and were prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. District Attorney’s office in Colorado.


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rifle area Rancher thinks his activism may have triggered retaliation

One of man's horses was shot and killed

RIFLE, Colorado — A Mamm Creek rancher and critic of the gas drilling industry is wondering if his political activism might be linked to the recent shooting death of one of his horses.

Rick Roles, who lives in the region between Mamm Creek and West Mamm Creek south of Rifle, said this week that one of his stallions was shot and killed some time last week, between June 24 and June 26.

“He was missing Thursday afternoon, and I found him Saturday morning, gut shot,” said Roles when reached on his cell phone.

Roles, who has reported noxious odors and fumes from nearby gas wells, along with claims that his health is negatively affected by those fumes, said he was not home for much of Thursday when the horse went missing.

“I leave every morning to get out of the fumes,” he explained.

By following a trail of blood that started near a horse trailer on his 180-acre property, he said, he located the horse on Saturday.

Roles said he believes that the horse was shot with a rifle, after a check of the carcass revealed “a half-inch entry wound and an exit hole about as big as your fist.”

He estimated that it took the horse about 20-30 minutes to expire from blood loss and shock.

Phillip Strouse, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said a deputy had gone to the scene and had spoken with Roles on June 27, and that the case is under investigation.

This is not the first time one of his stallions has been shot under mysterious circumstances, Roles said.

Two years ago another stallion, “the daddy of all my horses,” also was shot while out grazing. Because it was rifle hunting season, Roles said, authorities concluded it was an accidental shooting, though no one was ever found who might have been responsible.

But this time, Roles hypothesized, the shooting might have been meant as a message. He said that it was kind of a coincidence that the horse was shot right after the last film came out.

Roles has been featured in two films about the impacts of the gas industry in western Colorado — “Split Estate,” by film maker Debra Anderson and narrated by Ali MacGraw, which came out in 2009, and “Gasland,” by filmmaker Josh Fox, recently released and aired on the HBO network — and a book, “Collateral Damage,” written by Garfield County resident Tara Meixsell.

The two films portray the gas industry as causing significant environmental and health impacts to the communities in the regions where they are working. Both have drawn heavy criticism from industry spokespersons, who have claimed that many of the facts cited in the films are inaccurate hyperbole.

The book is billed as a “journal” of Meixsell's life and times in the “gas patch.”
Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Friday, June 18, 2010

National Environmental Policy Act

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), enacted in 1969, also exempts certain oil and gas drilling activities, obviating the need to conduct environmental impact statements (EIS) (BLM 2008).
The exemption, enacted by Congress in 2005, effectively shifts the burden of proof to the public to prove that such activities would be unsafe. In 2006 and 2007, the BLM granted this exemption to about 25 percent of all wells approved on public land in the West (BLM Budget 2009).
The activities thus exempted include:

“(1) Individual surface disturbances of less than 5 acres so long as the total surface disturbance on the lease is not greater than 150 acres and site-specific analysis in a document prepared pursuant to NEPA has been previously completed.

(2) Drilling an oil or gas well at a location or well pad site at which drilling has occurred previously within 5 years prior to the date of spudding the well.

(3) Drilling an oil or gas well within a developed field for which an approved land use plan or any environmental document prepared pursuant to NEPA analyzed such drilling as a reasonably foreseeable activity, so long as such plan or document was approved within 5 years prior to the date of spudding the well.

(4) Placement of a pipeline in an approved right-of-way corridor, so long as the corridor was approved within 5 years prior to the date of placement of the pipeline.

(5) Maintenance of a minor activity, other than any construction or major renovation or a building or facility” (NEPA 2009).

Environmental Working Group

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA)

Thousands of post-1980 wells are exempt from the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) that holds most industries accountable for cleaning up hazardous waste. The act, passed in 1980 and amended in 1986, allows the federal government to respond to releases of hazardous substances that threaten human health or the environment. It created a trust fund known as “Superfund” to be used to clean up contaminated sites; the fund is financed via taxes on the chemical and petroleum industries.
Congress has since abolished the taxes and pays for the fund through general revenues. As a result, the fund is too small to meet cleanup goals. Yet the liability exemption for drilling companies remains (Mall et al. 2007, CERCLA 2008).

Superfund allows Potentially Responsible Parties (PRPs) to be held liable for clean-up costs for a release or threatened release of a “hazardous substance.” But the law defines this term to exclude oil and natural gas (CERCLA 2008).

Consequently, the industry has little incentive to clean up its hazardous waste and to minimize leaks and spills. In 2006, oil companies in Campbell County, Wyoming reported five spills including 265 barrels of oil that leaked from a storage tank and 150 barrels from a valve left open. (Mall et al. 2008, NRS 2008). IHS data show that

Campbell County is one of the most intensively drilled counties in the West.

Clean Water Act

Companies have drilled thousands of the nearly 270,000 wells in the West since 1980 under an exemption from the Clean Water Act that sets standards for stormwater discharge despite the potential for significant runoff from thousands of well pads, pipelines and other infrastructure. In 1987, Congress added amendments to the Clean Water Act requiring EPA to develop a permitting program for stormwater runoff. These amendments exempted oil and gas exploration, production, processing or treatment operations, and transmission facilities. However, the EPA considered the standards to apply to construction facilities.
Beginning in 1992, the EPA required stormwater permits for oil and gas construction facilities of five acres or more. In the 2005 Energy Bill, Congress extended the exemption to all oil and gas construction facilities (Clean Water Act 2008, EPA NPDES 2006, W&WNews 2006).

In New Mexico, anglers fishing the trout waters of the San Juan River below Navajo Dam have seen a dramatic decline in the quality of fishing over the last seven years. This four-mile stretch of the San Juan was once rated as a world-class trout fishery that was estimated to bring approximately $40 million to the region each year. But anglers say that fishing has dwindled in part due to sediment run-off impacting the river that has coincided with a dramatic increase in oil and gas development and infrastructure.

 Over the past 30 years, companies have drilled close to 20,000 wells in San Juan County and Rio Arriba County that straddle the San Juan River. Hundreds of wells and associated networks of roads and pipelines are located within three major drainage areas that flow into this stretch of the river (Bryan 2009). Application of the Clean Water Act could help reduce the runoff from oil and gas activities.

Environmental Working Group

Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (TRI)

Thousands of the nearly 270,000 wells drilled in the West since 1980 are exempt from the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986. The act requires companies to report the release of significant levels of toxic substances to EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). The Oil and Gas Accountability Project, a reform organization, has said that the law would likely apply to benzene, toluene and xylene, chemicals often used in oil and gas drilling (OGAP Exemptions 2008).

A 2008 report by EWG and the Paonia, Colorado-based Endocrine Disruption exchange found that Colorado’s natural gas industry uses at least 36 chemicals listed under the TRI (EWG and TEDX 2008, TRI Chemicals 2008).

The industry typically guards its drilling chemicals as trade secrets. In 2008, in LaPlata County, Colorado, nurse Cathy Behr almost died from contact with the clothing of a worker she had treated. The worker’s clothes were permeated with a chemical fluid called Zeta Flow used in natural gas drilling. The company that made the fluid refused to identify it, citing trade secrets to the nurse’s physician even as he was laboring frantically to save her life. The doctor had to guess how to treat Behr, who was suffering from liver failure, respiratory failure and heart failure. She later recovered (Hanel 2008).

Even if the toxic release law applied to the oil and gas industry, individual wells might not report their discharges because current rules, watered down in 2006, set a floor of 2,000 pounds of total releases per facility. The previous threshold had a lower limit of 500 pounds (EWG Stolen Inventory 2008, CFR TRI Threshold 2008).

The Colorado legislature enacted limited disclosure of toxic chemical discharges in its recent sweeping overhaul of oil and gas drilling standards. Among other provisions, the state will require companies to keep records of chemical products used at each well when 500 pounds or more of the substance is injected into the well or stored for injection at the well site. But the nature of those chemicals will largely be hidden, with some exceptions for state officials and medical personnel (COGCC 2008).

Environmental Working Group

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act


The nearly 270,000 oil and natural gas wells drilled in the West since 1980 have enjoyed an exemption from the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), passed in 1976 to establish a cradle-to-grave hazardous waste management program (RCRA History). The law sets standards for disclosure and safety in handling hazardous waste, for reducing such waste and for developing non-toxic alternatives (RCRA 2008). In 1988, the EPA and Congress agreed not to apply RCRA to oil and gas wastes, overriding objections from some officials at EPA after the agency had documented 62 cases in which oil and gas wastes had caused damage. Two EPA officials told the Associated Press that the exemption was granted due to industry pressure, a charge that EPA administrators denied (Dixon 1988).

Drilling generates significant volumes of hazardous and toxic waste. Some of the major sources are: hydraulic fracturing fluids in which toxic additives are mixed with large volumes of water; drilling mud, a mixture of clay (bentonite) and water mixed with other toxic additives; and produced water (naturally occurring underground water coming from an oil or gas producing zone that can contain toxic hydrocarbons). The mud is usually stored in a large earthern pit that generally serves as the repository for all the other wastes when the well is drilled and put into production (EPA 2000, OGAP 2005).

These wastes should be stored in lined waste pits but are often dumped on the ground or in unlined pits. Even lined pits can leak, contaminating nearby water. (Epstein and Selber 2002, NMOCD Pit Testing 2007). The New Mexico Oil Conservation Division has identified more than 400 cases statewide of groundwater contamination from oil and gas waste pits (Prukop 2008, Farmington 2008). A 2007 NMOCD study found that rips and tears in pit liners were a common problem. Sampling from 37 pits found 17 substances, including arsenic, benzene, cadmium and mercury, that violated water quality standards (NMOCD Pit Testing 2007).

In June 2008, the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division implemented a rule requiring that waste pits be lined and registered with the state and that companies find alternatives when groundwater is within 50 feet of the surface. The rule set forth detailed standards for managing oil and gas wastes (NM Pit Rule 2008). New Mexico governor Bill Richardson recently directed the NMOCD to modify several provisions of the pit rule in response to complaints from some companies that the provisions were burdensome and might cause them to leave New Mexico. (Brunt 2009).

Environmental Working Group

Free Pass for Oil and Gas: Environmental Protections Rolled Back as Western Drilling Surges: Oil and Gas Industry Exemptions

Many of the nearly 270,000 oil and natural gas wells drilled in the West since 1980 have employed hydraulic fracturing, a process that involves the underground injection of tens of thousands to six million gallons of water per well. The water is laced with toxic chemicals and sand or other material known as “proppant.”

The fluid creates fractures in underground formations and the proppant holds these fractures open, allowing oil and gas to flow up the drilling pipe (EPA Fracturing Final 2004 ES-11, Schein 2008, Burnett and Vavra 2006). EPA considered hydraulic fracturing as exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act following the act’s passage in 1974 (LEAF v. EPA 1997, EPA Fracturing Final 2004).

The act sets standards and requires permits for the underground injection of hazardous substances so that these materials do not endanger Underground Sources of Drinking Water (SDWA 2008).

According to 2005 Congressional testimony by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, a group that represents governors from oil and gas producing states, hydraulic fracturing is used in 90 percent of all oil and natural gas wells drilled in the U.S. (IOGCC Carrillo 2005).

Hydraulic fracturing has recently been associated with water contamination and human health problems. Last summer, the federal Bureau of Land Management documented benzene contamination in water wells in Sublette County, Wyoming, the site of one of the nation’s largest natural gas fields.

Hydraulic fracturing is common in Sublette County (Lustgarten 2008). It was not clear what caused the contamination, but benzene is injected underground in hydraulic fracturing, and the extraction process also causes naturally occurring deposits of benzene to surface (Hess 1998, EPA Final 2004 4-11). What makes the situation so alarming is that there is no other likely source for the benzene in rural Sublette County other than natural gas operations.

Also last year, a nurse in Durango, Colorado almost died after being exposed to hydraulic fracturing chemicals (Hanel 2008).

In a draft 2002 report, EPA reported that at the point of injection, nine hydraulic fracturing chemicals violated water quality standards (EPA Fracturing Draft 2002). This assertion was edited out before the final report was published. The published report did note that fracturing fluids are likely to remain underground and are “likely to be transported by groundwater supplies” (EPA Fracturing Final 2004).

In a 1997 case involving hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane (CBM) wells, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the Safe Drinking Water Act’s underground injection standards applied to hydraulic fracturing. EPA conducted a study and, in a report that was heavily criticized by an internal whistle-blower and others, concluded that “the injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into CBM wells poses little or no threat” to drinking water (EPA Fracturing Final 2004 ES-16).

The agency suggested that it was up to states with primary authority to enforce the Safe Drinking Water Act to set standards for any hydraulic fracturing that might threaten underground sources of drinking water (EPA Fracturing Final 2004 ES-17). In 2005, Congress exempted most hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act but said the act would apply to fracturing with diesel fuel (SDWA Exemption 2005).

Environmental Working Group

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Natural Gas Condensate - Wiki

Natural gas condensate is a low-density mixture of hydrocarbon liquids that are present as gaseous components in the raw natural gas produced from many natural gas fields.

It condenses out of the raw gas if the temperature is reduced to below the hydrocarbon dew point temperature of the raw gas.

The natural gas condensate is also referred to as simply condensate, or gas condensate, or sometimes natural gasoline because it contains hydrocarbons within the gasoline boiling range. Raw natural gas may come from any one of three types of gas wells:[1][2]
  • Crude oil wells – Raw natural gas that comes from crude oil wells is called associated gas. This gas can exist separate from the crude oil in the underground formation, or dissolved in the crude oil.
  • Dry gas wells – These wells typically produce only raw natural gas that does not contain any hydrocarbon liquids. Such gas is called non-associated gas.
  • Condensate wells – These wells produce raw natural gas along with natural gas liquid. Such gas is also non-associated gas and often referred to as wet gas.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids Discharged

Liquid nitrogen tanker trucks transport gas to the site for nitrogen foam fracturing. Nitrogen will travel through pipes to be mixed with water and a foaming agent at the wellhead prior to injection. The foam is used to create and propagate the fracture deep within the targeted coal seam.

The fracturing fluids, additives, and proppant are pumped to the wellhead and mixed just prior to injection. (Secret Sauce of non-disclosed toxic chemicals)

Fluid that is extracted from the well is sprayed through a diffuser and stored in a lined trench until it is disposed of off-site or discharged.

Discharged?  Is that what the EPA stated in their documents?
Discharged where?

Click HERE to read entire EPA document

dis·charge (ds-chärj)
v. dis·charged, dis·charg·ing, dis·charg·es
a. To relieve of a burden or of contents; unload.
b. To unload or empty (contents).
a. To release, as from confinement, care, or duty: discharge a patient; discharge a soldier.
b. To let go; empty out: a train discharging commuters.
c. To pour forth; emit: a vent discharging steam.

June 2004

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Congress to Investigate Safety of Natural Gas Drilling Practice Known as Hydraulic Fracturing

The top Democrats on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have asked eight oil-field companies to disclose the chemicals theyve used and the wells theyve drilled in over the past four years. Last week, Waxman also revealed two of the largest gas drilling companies have pumped hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground in violation of a voluntary agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency.



Tuesday, January 5, 2010


This Website is a Crash Course In Fracking, Zusman, Neil , (2010)

This website is a crash course in fracking. At the top and bottom of these pages are links to annotated information about fracking by subject, with each page listing sorted alphabetically. Fracking (fracing, hydraulic fracturing), or hydrofracking, is a method of mining for natural gas which greatly increases the efficiency of extracting shale gas from the ground. Geological experts claim that shale beds in New York, particularly the Marcellus Shale, contain more natural gas than previously estimated.

Marcellus Shale Map Northeast U.S.

Can we benefit by this new source of natural gas without it affecting our water and lifestyle? The diagram below, provided by Energy in Depth, an Oil and Gas Industry website, portrays a clean, quiet, well site. The reality however, as seen in the diagram provided at the bottom of this page by The Colorado Independent and Pro Publica is different.

Cross Section- Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing uses millions of gallons of water, chemicals and lubricants. Where does all this water come from? The contents of the underground injection fluids used in fracking is a trade secret. In 2005, fracking was exempted from regulation by the Safe Drinking Water Act (1974) leaving it up to the states to monitor and regulate a rapidly increasing number of fracked wells.

Frack Diagram with Surface Features

EPA Cutaway

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was criticized in 2004 by Weston Wilson, an EPA scientist for "bad science" in this Fracking Study which led the EPA to mislead Congress to pass the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (PDF, 511 pages, 3.1MB).

Acts of Congress are often designated as public laws when they are intended to protect all members of society in areas of interaction not limited to contract and tort laws. Most U.S. Consumer Protection laws are written as Acts of Congress. Consumer Protection laws are a form of government regulation that protect the interests of consumers.

halliburton loop

Section 322 of this Law amended the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to exempt all fracturing fluids except diesel from EPA regulations.

Read the New York Times editorial, 11/3/2009, on the Halliburton Loophole.

Federal regulators currently do not have access to a full accounting of the types and quantities of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. On February 18, 2010 the Congressional Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to eight companies in the fracking business requesting information on the chemicals used in fracturing fluids and the potential impact of the practice on the environment and human health. On March 18, 2010 the EPA announced that it is re-allocating $1.9 million for a comprehensive study of hydraulic fracturing. On April 7, the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) met for two days to provide advice on EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) proposed approach to be used to frame the hydraulic fracturing study design and the areas that will be addressed by research relevant to hydraulic fracturing. Public comments were included but will not be permanently online.

The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act was introduced on 6/9/2009 in the Senate to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act and reverse the hydraulic fracturing exemption. Debate on this legislation is expected later in 2010.

This legislation will not prohibit mining and drilling companies from operating, however it will remove their exemption under the Safe Drinking Water Act which allows companies to keep secret the chemicals and toxins they use in this process. Businesses involved in hydraulic fracturing projects can still continue to use a combination of water and sand or ceramic beads to increase oil and natural gas production.

This website, Fracking Resource Guide annotates evidence, opinions, and observations on whether or not the potential economic benefits for the companies doing business in the Marcellus Shale outweigh the potential harm to our other public and private interests.

Almost all of the links lead to free internet resources. There are also references to scholarly books and journal articles that your local or school librarian can help you locate. You'll find background information on fracking from reliable authors; links to companies; expert opinions; public opinions for and against fracking; government reports, politics, pending legislation and regulations; legal issues, and press reports. Use the menu at the top and bottom of these pages and the search box to navigate these resources.

Editor's Note: If we bust the myths about global warming and fossil fuels - the growing scarcity of our oil supply, and can replant lots of trees, by Freeman Dyson's estimates, a trillion, to remove all the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere now, with a lot more needed by 2050, as India, China, Brazil, etc. industrialize; then we only have to worry about methane from gas flares, and the melting of the tundra permafrost to prevent humanity from reaching the "tipping-point" of our destruction. The Earth will undoubtedly survive, but we won't. Global Warming must be addressed by all governments, NGO's, citizen activists, and corporations. Drilling Isn't Safe. (Neil Zusman, 2010-11-21.)