Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Jersey Lawmakers Vote to Ban Fracking

Thursday 30 June 2011

by: Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report

A Chesapeake Energy worker cleans oil from a pipe pulled from the ground at the company's drilling site near Big Wells, Texas, May 17, 2011. The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill that would place a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing. (Photo: Michael Stravato / The New York Times)
The New Jersey Legislature passed a bill on Wednesday that would place a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial natural gas drilling technique commonly called "fracking."

The bill passed the state Senate by 32-1 and the state Assembly by 56-11. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has not said if he would sign the bill into law.

New Jersey is the first state to consider a ban on fracking, but a widespread grassroots movement has helped establish local bans and moratoriums in 63 municipalities across the country.

Fracking is the process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals - some of them toxic - into underground formations to split up rock and release natural gas. Thousands of new fracking wells have been established in recent years as drillers rush to exploit untapped domestic fuel sources.

Fracking has been linked to water contamination events across the country and two fracking rigs in Pennsylvania have suffered blowouts since June 2010.

The New York Times reported today that insider sources believe New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo may lift a moratorium on fracking in his state following the release of an environmental impact study on Friday, but a spokesperson for Cuomo called such claims "baseless speculation."

The language in the New Jersey legislation echoes the concerns of fracking critics and accuses the industry of being unwilling to reveal the contents of fracking liquids.

Some companies have voluntarily reported the contents of their fracking liquids to an online database and some drillers report using chemicals like formaldehyde, hydrochloric acid and 2-butoxyethanol.

A recent study shows that about 40 to 50 percent of fracking fluid mixtures could affect the brain, nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and the kidneys; 37 percent could affect the endocrine system; and 25 percent could cause cancer and mutations.

Jim Walsh, an activist with watchdog group Food and Water Watch, said that the proposed New Jersey ban enjoyed broad bipartisan support because a widespread grassroots movement has put pressure on lawmakers.

"The more the public finds out about [fracking], the more they are against it," Walsh said. "I know that a tremendous amount of phone calls are going into legislative offices."

New Jersey does not sit on any large natural gas reserves and some consider the proposed ban to be largely symbolic.

New Jersey does share watersheds with New York and Pennsylvania, where a vast, gas-rich underground formation called the Marcellus Shale has become ground zero for the fracking debate in the eastern United States.

The Marcellus Shale underlies 36 percent of the Delaware River basin, which provides water to 15 million people in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Fracking operations require millions of gallons of water and until recently, gas companies in Pennsylvania were sending fracking wastewater to public treatment facilities.

Governor Christie is a member of the four-state Delaware River Basin Commission and Walsh said the proposed New Jersey ban puts pressure on Christie to promote a ban across the entire Delaware River region.

New York recently extended a moratorium on fracking until state agencies complete an environmental impact assessment on the practice. That assessment is due by Friday, but environmentalists have advised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to make any hasty decisions.

Fracking proponents say the practice is safe and will create jobs while producing cheap, clean-burning domestic fuel. The largely unregulated fracking industry, however, does not have a clean track record.

In June 2010, a fracking well in rural Pennsylvania blew out and spewed potentially explosive gas and thousands of gallons of contaminated water.

On April 19 2011, just hours before the first anniversary of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a fracking well in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, blew out and spilled thousands of gallons of fracking liquids across private property and into a local stream.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection cited fracking operators for 2,754 violations in 2010 and 1,751 violation between January and April 2011.

A loophole established by the Bush administration exempts fracking from federal regulation from the Clean Water Act, but public outcry has prompted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to study fracking in order to consider new regulations.

The EPA's report is due out next year. The agency chose Bradford County, where the most recent Pennsylvania blowout occurred, to be a case study on fracking's potential impacts on drinking wat

DEC supports fracking bans in watersheds

11:08 PM, Jun. 30, 2011
Written byJon Campbell

ALBANY — In a surprise move Thursday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a long-awaited summary of major, sweeping changes to its continuing review of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, a day before a full 900-page report is due to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The new recommendations include an outright ban of high-volume hydrofracking in the Syracuse and New York City watersheds and would prohibit drilling on the surface of state-owned land. Drilling would be banned within 500 feet of primary aquifers, which provide drinking water for most of the state’s urban centers.

The revised report would require gas wells to be at least 500 feet away from private water wells and would ban permits from being issued in 100-year floodplains.

Both advocates and opponents of hydrofracking said they were reviewing the DEC’s summary, but said they wanted to see the full, 900-page report before offering substantive praise or criticism.

If the department’s requests become final, 15 percent of the state’s portion of the Marcellus Shale formation, which stretches across the Southern Tier and a portion of the Hudson Valley, would be off limits to natural gas drillers. The western portion of the New York City water supply sits above the Marcellus in the Catskills region, including part of Ulster County.
“This report strikes the right balance between protecting our environment, watersheds, and drinking water and promoting economic development,” DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said in a statement.

The impending release of the latest draft of the DEC document, called the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, is a major step toward tapping into the state’s massive natural gas reserves.

High-volume hydrofracking, a technique that employs a mix of water and chemicals to break up underground shale formations and unlock gas, has been on hold in New York until a final version of the DEC report — not the upcoming draft — is released.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A “Golden Age” for Natural Gas Could Be the Dark Ages for Clean Air and Water

NaturalGasWatch.orgJun 8th, 2011 | By admin | Category: Lead Articles

Two days ago, the International Energy Agency issued a report that declared the world could be on the verge of the “Golden Age of Natural Gas,” citing increasing demand and concerns about nuclear power as two of the factors that have laid the groundwork for this glorious era-to-be.

The report stated that demand for the fuel could soar as much as 50 percent from 2010 levels and account for as much as 25 percent of global energy consumption by 2035.

The EIA report also noted that the environmental benefits might not be as large as one might anticipate as methane pushes out other alternative fuels, and also gave mention to the questions that surround the recovery of so-called “unconventional” methane.

“Unconventional,” is, of course, industry-speak for shale gas, which must be recovered via hydraulic fracturing, or fracking as it has come to be known — and this is where the serious questions begin to bubble up like methane through a leaky, old, cast-iron pipeline.

And make no mistake, there are many.

First, although many a fracker has declared the process to be safe, claiming that thousands of wells have been fracked in this nation over the years and not once has any fracking fluid every shown up in anyone’s drinking water, the fact is, some serious questions have been raised about methane showing up in drinking water. Just ask the folks who live in the Marcellus shale region of this country.

A case in point: a recent study from researchers at Duke University established a direct link between fracking and increased methane levels in drinking water in areas where fracking has occurred, and while methane itself may not be poisonous and is naturally occurring, as many of the fracking apologists like to point out, these concerns suggest that, at a minimum, a lot more research needs to be done.

Which is why Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley ordered a study of the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing in western Maryland.

“While we are mindful of the potential economic and energy benefits that could arise from the production of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale reserves in Maryland, we are also very concerned about an array of issues that have been raised regarding the use of hydraulic fracturing to extract this fuel,” O’Malley said in a press release announcing the decision.

Those concerns would include blowouts, spills, leaks and fires, which occur with disturbing regularity in the shale region.

Second, a recent study by researchers at Cornell University suggested that the environmental cost of getting shale gas out of the ground and into the market is much higher than that of conventional gas and, as a result, the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the use of shale gas could be even greater than those of coal when these costs are factored in to the equation.

And then there’s the absolutely deplorable state of America’s natural gas infrastructure. The fact is, our natural gas infrastructure is already overburdened, and explosions and leaks of enormous magnitude occur with disturbing regularity all across the country and in many states the pipelines are so leaky they are barely able to handle the load that is placed on them now. In Massachusetts alone, conservative estimates put the amount of fugitive methane emissions from leaky natural gas pipelines at approximately 12 billion cubic feet per year.

Methane is, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, a greenhouse gas emission that is 21 times more destructive to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, those Cornell calculations begin to look more plausible.

One can’t help but think that the IEA might have overstated the case a bit. Indeed,

Indeed, given these concerns — and the fact that methane could push out other, cleaner renewables as it comes into heavier use — one can’t help but wonder whether or not the Golden Age of Gas, as the EIA so optimistically put it, could actually mean the Dark Ages for Clean Water and Air.

Let’s hope not.

Monday, June 27, 2011

ExxonMobil Execs Say Fracking is Perfectly Safe and They’re Rolling Out a Big, Expensive Ad Campaign to Prove It

May 26th, 2011 | By admin | Category: Fracking, Lead Articles

From the Why People Hate Big Energy file: after yesterday’s shareholder meeting, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson stepped in front of the microphones to say that fracking, despite any claims or evidence to the contrary, is perfectly safe, according to a story in this morning’s Wall Street Journal.

From the Wall Street Journal story:
“There are risks” to the environment when the industry drills for natural gas in shale deposits, Mr. Tillerson said at a press conference following the oil company’s annual shareholder meeting. “We’re not trying to characterize this as an activity that does not have risk,” he said. “But we think there have been a lot of pretty casual statements about risks that are simply not backed up by facts.”
“The early detractors slap a label on something, and then it takes us a long time to get it peeled off,” he added.
Nevertheless, Tillerson continued, the company has done some polling on the issue and determined that, indeed, more than a few people — including a sizable contingent of ExxonMobil shareholders — are concerned about the environmental consequences of fracking, aka hydraulic fracturing, the process by which millions of gallons of water spiked with a toxic brew of chemicals are injected deep underground to break up shale formations, thereby freeing the natural gas trapped within the rock.
As a result, Tilleson said, ExxonMobil is rolling out an “aggressive” advertising campaign that will “telegraph its sense that the industry can drill safely and can clean up any environmental problems that result.”

Here’s the problem with that response, though, and it goes a long way toward explaining why people mistrust all the companies that are so heavily invested in fracking the Marcellus shale formation: the evidence that fracking has some very serious environmental consequences is piling up, both anecdotally and empirically. For a company like ExxonMobil to come out and say that not only that evidence, but the people putting it forward — that is, the people who have to live with the consequences of fracking day in and day out — are both wrong is condescending, arrogant and insulting, to put it charitably.

If ExxonMobil is serious about speaking to people’s concerns about fracking here’s what they need to do.

Step One — disclose the exact nature of the fracking fluid. Tell us what it is you’re injecting into the ground. If there’s nothing to be afraid of, there should be no problem telling the people who live within shouting distance of the well what is going into the ground beneath their feet.

Step Two — voluntarily comply with EPA water regulations. Right now, fracking is exempt from EPA regulation, thanks to an exemption carved out in federal law by former Vice President Dick Cheney in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. If fracking is safe, like ExxonMobil wants us to believe, this should be no problem, either.

Both of these could be accomplished easily if ExxonMobil threw its support behind the FRAC Act, currently pending in Congress.

Absent that kind of committment, unless the ExxonMobil ads feature Tillerson himself chugging a big ol’ glass of fracking fluid, all the talking points in the world don’t mean squat.

After all, who are you going to believe — ExxonMobil or your own eyes?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

What is Natural Gas?

Natural gas is a gaseous fossil fuel consisting primarily of methane but including significant quantities of ethane, propane, butane, and pentane—heavier hydrocarbons removed prior to use as a consumer fuel —as well as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium and hydrogen sulfide.[1] Fossil natural gas is found in oil fields (associated) either dissolved or isolated in natural gas fields (non-associated), and in coal beds (as coalbed methane).
Natural gas is often informally referred to as simply gas, especially when compared to other energy sources such as electricity. Before natural gas can be used as a fuel, it must undergo extensive processing to remove almost all materials other than methane. The by-products of that processing include ethane, propane, butanes, pentanes and higher molecular weight hydrocarbons, elemental sulfur, and sometimes helium and nitrogen. -

Recently, individuals and companies with a financial stake in natural gas production have been engaged in an effort to re-brand natural gas as an 'alternative' fuel. Since in English the word 'alternative' describes any option that isn't the standard or default, and natural gas is not the standard fuel for, say, cars and trucks, no one can write them a ticket for their highly elastic use of the word and concept. However, by the definition of the term as it has been used for decades, natural gas is not an alternative fuel. "Alternative fuels, also known as non-conventional fuels, are any materials or substances that can be used as a fuel, other than conventional fuels. Conventional fuels include: fossil fuels (petroleum (oil), coal, propane, and natural gas), and nuclear materials such as uranium. Some well known alternative fuels include biodiesel, bioalcohol (methanol, ethanol, butanol), chemically stored electricity (batteries and fuel cells), hydrogen, non-fossil methane, non-fossil natural gas, vegetable oil and other biomass sources." -

In fact, natural gas is just another highly polluting hydrocarbon and conventional - that is, non-alternative - fuel like oil, to which it is closely related and with which it is frequently found. Further, extracting natural gas and transporting it to markets takes huge amounts of, you guessed it, (imported) oil.

US gas plays - click on image to enlarge

Independent group reviewing Colorado fracking rules

By Catherine Tsai
The Associated Press

‘Gasland’ film blows the fracking top off US natural gas industry

Posted by Graham_Land in Politics, Pollution, Videos & Documentaries, 3 Jul 2010
Gasland Halliburton  300x168 ‘Gasland’ film blows the fracking top off US natural gas industry

Gasland is a documentary film written and directed by Josh Fox which explores the practice of hydraulic fracturing, a widespread method used in drilling for natural gas in the United States.

Hydraulic fracturing, often referred to as ‘fracking’ (yes, like in Battlestar Galactica), fractures rock in order to get at natural gas deposits in shale reservoirs. Environmental concerns associated with fracking include the contamination of groundwater, issues with air quality, greenhouse gas emissions and areas surrounding sites becoming polluted with natural gas and toxic chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process.

Gasland starts out a bit haphazard, as if Fox doesn’t really know what he’s doing, but after a short while it really picks up. He’s been offered a tidy sum to allow natural gas drilling rights on his property in rural Pennsylvania, but has heard bad things about the process and the affects it has on the environment and on the health of the people who live near the gas wells. So he decides to check it out.

What Fox discovers is that since the Bush-Cheney administration took office in 2001, American land, private and perhaps more shockingly, supposedly protected federal public land has been extensively opened up for fracking, and made exempt from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. The list of complaints is as long as it is shocking: gas clouds hanging over someone’s house, household water that smells like turpentine, highly flammable natural gas coming out of faucets and a variety of serious health complaints.

That’s what you get when you let an industry regulate itself and cut the claws off the Environmental Protection Agency. BP, Exxon and Halliburton make tons of money, ruin environments and destroy lives.

Friday, June 24, 2011

NY Attorney General Sues Federal Government Over Fracking

The federal government is being sued for allowing natural gas drilling, which involves the potentially harmful "fracking" technique, without conducting a full environmental review. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced a lawsuit yesterday that seeks to compel federal agencies to conduct an environmental review before the regulations authorizing gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin are finalized. Obviously, this goes against the gas industry's motto of "frack first, question later."

The fracking process involves injecting chemicals, sand, and millions of gallons of water into shale rock, releasing trapped gas. Unfortunately it's not just the gas that gets shaken loose; the water that was injected into the rock eventually resurfaces, and is often polluted with carcinogenic chemicals.

"The federal government has an obligation to undertake the necessary studies, and as I made clear last month, this office will compel it to do so. The welfare of those living near the Delaware River Basin, as well as the millions of New Yorkers who rely on its pure drinking water each day, will not be ignored," Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement. "

The lawsuit comes in the midst of mounting opposition to fracking throughout New York State, and weeks after a well blew out at a Pennsylvania gas drilling site, contaminating local waterways with thousands of gallons of drilling fluids. Schneiderman points out that 58 percent of the land area of New York City's West-of-Hudson watershed is within the Delaware River Basin, and that portion of the watershed provides most of the drinking water used by over nine million New York residents and visitors.

His lawsuit maintains that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies must conduct a full review of the impact of the proposed natural gas development regulations. And Schneiderman has the backing of his predecessor, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who last week said he "wants state officials to fully understand what hydrofracking is, before the controversial form of natural gas extraction is approved in New York."

For more on fracking and how it could affect you, here's awesome actor and upstate resident Mark Ruffalo:

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.
Contact the author of this article or email

Fracking gold rush lifts Halliburton as well backlog swells

Two Halliburton Co. employees work at a natural gas drilling site near Rifle, Colo. Bloomberg file

By DAVID WETHE & MIKE LEE Bloomberg News

Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. may have the power to charge higher prices for their oilfield services through 2012 thanks to a backlog of unfinished oil and natural gas wells that tripled in the past year.

The number of onshore wells in the U.S. and Canada waiting in line for the workers and equipment needed to complete them for production has risen to 3,500 from 1,145 in the second quarter of 2010, according to Houston-based Halliburton. Producers are seeing delays as long as six months.

The North American onshore drilling boom, driven by companies rushing to exploit shale-rock formations, sent demand skyrocketing for oilfield services such as hydraulic fracturing that cracks the rock to release gas and oil. Rigs drilling on land in the U.S. increased by 20 percent in the past year to 1,833 as of last week, according to Baker Hughes Inc. data.

Servicers are "like the people that sold the picks and shovels during the gold rush in California," said Allen Brooks, managing director with Houston-based investment bank Parks Paton Hoepfl & Brown.

The swelling backlog of wells to be completed gave oilfield services companies the power to raise prices more than 16 percent last year. It may accelerate consolidation in the industry as companies expand to meet demand, said Brian Uhlmer, an analyst at Global Hunter Securities in Houston.

The Philadelphia Oil Service Sector Index, a group of 15 names, has climbed 46 percent over the past year, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index is up 17 percent, and the S&P's explorers and producers index has risen 24 percent.

Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes, the largest providers of hydraulic fracturing services in the U.S. with more than 1 million horsepower each in pressure pumping equipment, are expected to expand earnings 46 percent this year, according to analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

New technology allows rigs to punch holes in the ground faster, while advanced production techniques mean it takes longer to finish the well, including multiple rounds of hydraulic fracturing that injects a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the well to break open the rock so oil and gas can flow.

Demand for so-called fracking may continue to exceed supply into 2013, Uhlmer said.

"Right now our customers can't get enough of us," Mark McCollum, chief financial officer of Halliburton, told analysts and investors May 24. "There's really been no discussions on any customers' point of slowing this process down for the foreseeable future."

Explorers and producers are expected to spend $122 billion in the U.S. this year, James Crandell and Omar Nokta, analysts at Dahlman Rose & Co., wrote in a June 7 note to investors.

Kurt Hallead, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in December that fracking prices that rose 16 percent in the first half of 2010 would continue to climb.

Whiting Petroleum Corp., a Denver-based oil producer, has seen a 10 percent increase in total well costs in North Dakota's Bakken Shale in the past year, said John Kelso, director of investor relations. The biggest driver of the increase is a 20 percent to 30 percent jump in the cost of fracking, he said.

Revenue from pressure pumping should surpass offshore drilling this year to become the largest segment in the equipment and service industry, according to a May 31 note to investors from Global Hunter, citing Spears & Associates.

Activists right to protest review of Colorado’s fracking rules

Submitted by Gwen Lachelt on Fri, 06/24/2011 - 12:03

Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) cheers the activists who spoke out yesterday challenging the STRONGER review of Colorado’s hydraulic fracturing rules. Citizen engagement of all types will only improve the process.

STRONGER (State Review of Oil and Gas Environmental Regulations) was created by federal agencies to review and validate state regulations as a means to fill the void left by oil & gas industry-won loopholes in federal environmental law. It should not exist. For decades, we have worked to close the loopholes that created it. And, in the absence of strong federal oversight, we continue to work diligently at state and local levels to enact strong safeguards because federal regulations continue to fall short.

Earthworks participates – Wilma Subra, our board member and Bruce Baizel, our senior staff attorney – in STRONGER because we work through all available avenues to protect communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of mining, digging and drilling. STRONGER is an imperfect process in need of improvement. But it will exist with our participation or not. Without our presence, communities would have little or no voice at all.

Earthworks’ OGAP believes that hydraulic fracturing should only be permitted if it can be done safely. Whether that is possible remains an open question – and will remain so as long as industry and its allies stonewall those who wish to answer it.

Chart: States With Drilling Disclosure Rules

Five states have passed laws or administrative rules requiring drilling companies to reveal some of the chemicals they use when injecting fluids to free natural gas and oil from underground rock formations.

* Wyoming was the first state to require disclosure of fracking fluids.
** Pennsylvania officials did not return calls or emails seeking clarification.
*** The Texas legislature passed the law in May 2011, but state regulators have until 2013 to complete the actual rules.
<strong>Source:</strong> <em>Reporting by Nicholas Kusnetz/ProPublica</em>

Critics Find Gaps in State Laws to Disclose Hydrofracking Chemicals

In this April 23, 2010 photo, a Chesapeake Energy natural gas well site is seen near Burlington, Pa. (AP Photo/Ralph Wilson)

by Nicholas Kusnetz
ProPublica, June 20, 2011, 4:36 p.m.

Over the past year, five states have begun requiring energy companies to disclose some of the chemicals they pump into the ground to extract oil and gas using the process of hydraulic fracturing.

While state regulators and the drilling industry say the rules should help resolve concerns about the safety of drilling, critics and some scientists say the requirements fall short of what’s needed to fully understand the risks to public health and the environment.

The regulations allow companies to keep proprietary chemicals secret from the public and, in some states, from regulators. Though most of the states require companies to report the volume and concentration of different drilling products, no state asks for the amounts of all the ingredients, a gap that some say is disturbing.

“It’s a shell game,” said Theo Colborn, an environmental health analyst who has testified before Congress about the dangers of drilling chemicals. Colborn and her organization, TEDX, examine the long-term health risks of chemicals and have opposed the expansion of drilling in Colorado and elsewhere. “They’re not telling you everything that there is to know.”

Others say the regulations, despite some flaws, are moving in the right direction. “It’s just a step in the process,” said the Sierra Club’s Cyrus Reed, who worked on a bill
signed into law in Texas on Friday [1].

Most drillers have supported the measures. Some say more complete disclosure isn’t necessary because the information that remains secret involves only nonhazardous chemicals or trade secrets that are a small fraction of products they inject. Energy companies recently have begun
voluntarily disclosing some of the chemicals they use on FracFocus [2], a web site run by two groups representing state regulators.

“While we support disclosing our ingredients, it is critical to our business that we protect our recipe,” Tara Mullee Agard, a spokeswoman for Halliburton, one of the world’s largest oil and gas service companies, told ProPublica in an email.

Gas drilling has surged across the country over the past few years due to technological advances that include hydraulic fracturing, in which drillers pump millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground to free up trapped deposits of natural gas. Energy companies are increasingly using the technique, dubbed “fracking,” in oil recovery, particularly in Texas and North Dakota.

first began reporting [3] on health and environmental concerns surrounding fracking three years ago. Gas companies are exempt from federal laws protecting water supplies, leaving it up to states to decide what sort of regulations are needed to protect ground and surface water.

Frack sand mining doesn't just suck, it blows

Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 04:41 PM PDT
Frack sand mining sucks!

This facility will use 3,700 gallons of water per minute, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, year round and we do not know the longevity of the mine other than the “permanent” box was checked on the permit application.

To put that water use into perspective: according to the US Geological Survey, the average person uses 80 to 100 gallons of water per day. So EOG will use more water in one minute than you use in a month. They will use 1,944,720.000 gallons of water a year, which is enough water for 53,280 people for a year.

EOG has already drilled 10 water wells, 7 of which were dry and the shallowest was 600'. That means they are drilling into the Trinity Aquifer. They plan to drill 40 water wells to meet their water needs. In order to avoid regulation by the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District, EOG moved the facility across the Montague County line to the Cooke County side. The Cooke GCD will be in place on January 1st so EOG is hustling to get their water wells completed before that date.
An unspecified amount of water will be recycled but it's important to note this recycled water will not be returned to the aquifer.

Mountain Creek runs right by the facility (see photos) and only a short distance away, flows into the Red River. At that point, is a major spawning area for striped bass.
Frack sand mining blows!

The TCEQ air permit from starts with the sand mine processing and does not take the impacts from mining into consideration. It starts when the sand is wet so we do not have any idea about the air impacts from mining the sand and processing it before it is wet.

Impacts on the permit include:

NOx 26.3 tpy
Carbon Monoxide 13.7 tpy
VOCs .876 tpy
Sulfur Dioxide 2.32 tpy
Particulate Matter (PM) (total) 34.7 tpy
PM (10 microns) 29.9 tpy
PM (2.5 microns) 27.9 tpy

It blows so hard in Montague
County that Denton gets 40% of their energy from the wind farm there. The silica sand can blow and create impacts 20 miles away. Breathing silica sand is a health hazard. According to Halliburton’s MSDS sheet, breathing silica sand can cause lung cancer.

Oil and gas extraction and particularly EOG has been hard on Montague County. Last year the industry used almost 91% of the water used in Montague County. EOG’s practice of burying reserve/waste pits in Montague County has already tainted water.
For more information, see the following: HERE

EPA selects Colorado, North Dakota sites as case study locations for national hydraulic fracturing study

Cathy Milbourn

Las Animas County, Colo. and Dunn and Kildeer Counties, N.D., among seven locations that will inform assessment of potential impacts of gas extraction practice on drinking water resources
(Denver, Colo. --June 23, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, in keeping with the Administration’s focus on ensuring that domestic resources are leveraged safely and responsibly, announced the next steps in its congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study. EPA has identified seven case studies to help inform the assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The sites identified were selected following extensive input from stakeholders, including the public, local and state officials, industry, and environmental organizations. To ensure the agency maintains the current timeline for the study, the EPA will begin field work in some of the selected regions this summer.

Natural gas plays a key role in the nation’s energy future. EPA is working closely with other federal partners to ensure that this important resource can be developed safely.

“This is an important part of a process that will use the best science to help us better understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water,” said Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “We’ve met with community members, state experts and industry and environmental leaders to choose these case studies. This is about using the best possible science to do what the American people expect the EPA to do -- ensure that the health of their communities and families are protected.”

The studies, which will take place in regions across the country, will be broken into two study groups. Two of the seven sites were selected as prospective case studies where EPA will monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of a well.

These areas are located in:
Haynesville Shale - DeSoto Parish, La.
Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.

Five retrospective case studies were selected and will examine areas where hydraulic fracturing has occurred for any impact on drinking water resources. These are located in:

Bakken Shale - Kildeer, and Dunn Counties, N.D.
Barnett Shale - Wise and Denton Counties, Texas
Marcellus Shale - Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, Pa.
Marcellus Shale - Washington County, Pa.
Raton Basin - Las Animas County, Colo.

The information gathered from these case studies will be part of an approach which includes literature review, collection of data and information from states, industry and communities, laboratory work and computer modeling. The combination of these materials will allow us to do a more comprehensive assessment of the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The study will continue to use the best available science, independent sources of information, and will be conducted using a transparent, peer-reviewed process, to better understand any impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing.

EPA invited stakeholders from across the country to participate in the identification of potential case studies through informational public meetings and the submission of electronic or written comments. Following thousands of comments, over 40 case studies were nominated for inclusion in the study. The case studies were identified, prioritized and selected based on a rigorous set of criteria. These criteria included proximity of population and drinking water supplies to activities, concerns about impaired water quality (retrospective only) and health and environmental impacts (retrospective only), and knowledge gaps that could be filled by the case study. Sites were prioritized based on geographic and geologic diversity, population at risk, site status (planned, active or completed), unique geological or hydrology features, characteristics of water resources, and land use.

The draft study plan and additional information:
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Finishing" a gas well in Dimock, PA

This is the process of "finshing" a gas well in Dimock, PA as seen with the FLIR GasFindIR Optical Gas Imaging camera. According to the worker there, the valves on the wells are opened up to release pressure before the flaring process. Raw gas, as well as vaporized flack fluid and anything else down in the hole, blows out unregulated.. The odor was still in the air 1.5 miles away at the Dimock Post Office. The first 2 minutes of the footage was shot down the road from the source and driving up the road to the source, the well pad. The last of the footage shows the flaring pipes, one starts to release the gasses (and ???) but is not yet lit. Youtube: blackbart0930

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Fracking Protest

More people need to realize the negative impact to one's health and the environment that can result from hydraulic fracturing, especially those who live beyond the Marcellus Shale region (the area of the Northeastern U.S. that contains perhaps the richest natural gas deposit and is currently being heavily developed). 'postcardsfaraway'

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Week in Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions – June 13, 2011

Jun 14th, 2011 | By admin | Category: Lead Articles, Natural Gas Explosions, Natural Gas Leaks

Graphic courtesy of Town of Richmond, Virginia.

Regular readers of know that natural gas leaks caused by contractors normally are not featured in the “This Week in Natural Gas Leaks and Explosions,” because they happen with such disturbing regularity that if every instance were noted there would be no room for anything else. Every once in a while, though, an incident of this nature occurs that is most definitely TWINGLE-worthy, and such is the case this week.

In Duluth, Minnesota, a contractor severed a natural gas line that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people from downtown Duluth for several hours on the afternoon of Thursday, June 9.
According to a story in the Duluth News Tribune, Duluth Assistant Fire Chief Erik Simonson said he was concerned by the manner in which the gas worked its way into the basements and ventilation systems of area buildings.

From the Duluth News Tribune:
“After city water and gas employees came and shut gas off, we had to go through each building and ventilate it and check to make sure gas wasn’t hiding in certain areas,” Simonson said. “Once inside a closed building, the mix of gas and air can become explosive if flame is introduced.”
An explosion leveled a house in Billings, Montana, on the morning of Wednesday, June 8. According to a story in the Montana Standard, a utility company spokesperson initially stated that the explosion was caused by a falling rock that struck the gas meter, but that statement was retracted later in the afternoon. The newspaper account notes that:
“lawns and driveways were littered with twisted pieces of metal, wedges of broken glass and chunks of wood and plastic. There was at least one downed powerline, mangled trees and smoldering debris. Houses all around the neighborhood had doors and windows blown out.”
Billings Mayor Tom Hanel later confirmed to KTVQ-TV that the blast was indeed caused by natural gas.

In Detroit, Michigan, a man was thrown through his front window when his house blew up on Friday, June 10. Authorities said preliminary reports indicate that the natural gas was the cause of the blast. Check out the video here.

A natural gas leak forced the closure of a downtown street to traffic for several hours on the evening of Thursday, June 9, while crews worked to repair the breach, according to a story aired by WRDW-TV.

In Noblesville, Indiana, the a gas leak sent organizers scrambling to relocate the Noblesville Strawberry Festival after a natural gas leak was discovered on the site that had been chosen for the event on Monday, June 6. The leak’s discovery also precipitated the evacuation of approximately 600 people, according to a story in the Indianapolis Star.

From the Star story:
The leak was found when a tent stake was removed Monday from the lawn at Eighth and Logan streets in downtown Noblesville. The stake is believed to have been driven into the gas line when the tent was installed last week. It had been acting as a plug for the gas line until the stake was removed. The tent was used for Noblesville Lions Club’s annual pork chop dinner and pancake breakfast last weekend.
In the town of Horseheads, New York, neighbors have been complaining of the smell of natural gas for days, worrying whether their neighborhood could turn into an inferno at any moment. NYSEG crews did confirm that a small leak was found, according to a story aired on WENY-TV, but assured residents that they had nothing to worry about. The residents remain unconvinced.
From the WENY-TV story:
“The smell has been driving the neighbors crazy. Of course everybody’s worried about it because of all of the older pipes and everything that’s been happening in Horseheads with all the accidents,” said Margaret Mitchell, another Steuben St. neighbor. Carol and Margaret called NYSEG right away, fearing they could have a natural gas leak on their street. NYSEG confirms they did find a small leak on the natural gas main in the street, but say no one is in danger, despite the strange smell. But all the neighbors aren’t convinced. “I worry about it, I especially worry about the neighbors. But what are you going to do, NYSEG is NYSEG, they’re going to do what they’re going to do,” said Mitchell.
The discovery of a natural gas leak in Frisco, Texas, forced the partial closure of a community park last week, according to a story in the Summit Daily News. Workers from XCEL Energy discovered the leak when they were pressure-testing the pipeline.
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