New fracking study, new controversy


Critics of a new report on hydraulic fracturing say the report is flawed because of the heavy influence of the oil and gas industry over the locations used to collect methane emission measurements. Photo by Gazette file.
September 23, 2013
Environmental scientists are criticizing a new report on fugitive methane emissions recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, insisting the study was conducted by a group of researchers with heavy ties to the oil and gas industry.

The report, sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund, concluded that fugitive methane emissions at active natural gas production sites are far lower than previously suspected based on information from a number of scientific studies — such as a controversial 2011 study by Cornell University that said "3.6 percent to 7.9 percent of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the lifetime of a well." Fugitive emissions are gas emissions from production equipment due to leaks and other irregular releases of gases resulting from industrial activities.

Led by University of Texas at Austin professor David Allen, the report's findings concluded that methane emissions at hydraulic fracking sites are 2 to 4 percent less than anticipated by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the report, the total methane leakage at the study sites was 0.42 percent of all gas produced during the process of extracting natural gas from beneath the ground.

The site studied emission measurements from 190 natural gas development sites and 489 wells where hydraulic fracking — the process of blasting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into rock formations to release natural gas — had already occurred but production had not yet begun.

The article goes on to report:   While the study provides pro-drilling interests with favorable results, some environmental scientists say the report is skewed because of the oil and gas industry's strong influence over the testing.

Nine energy companies — including Chevron, ExxonMobil, XTO Energy and Southwestern Energy — offered the study financial support, technical advice and access to their sites so scientists could collect measurements and samples.

Seth Shonkoff, executive director of Physicians, Scientists, & Engineers for Healthy Energy, and an environmental researcher at the University of California-Berkeley, says the sites where emission measurements were sampled were not chosen at random, but rather by the oil and gas companies that controlled the sites.

"The sample in this study was taken from the well sites of nine operators who participated in the study. These nine operators are responsible for approximately one-half of all the wells fracked last year. The operators offered a subset of their well sites to be monitor for this study and the researchers chose from these offered sites," said Shonkoff.

"Thus the well sites included in this study were selected from the offering list and the selected well sites were monitored at times allowed by the oil and gas industry rather than a random sampling of sites," Shonkoff continued. "The authors make no mention of a randomization sampling protocol to minimize bias."

Shonkoff also says the study focused too narrowly on sites where process completion had already taken place, a possible reason why the emission estimates are so varied compared to other reputable studies.
Please read the entire article:

Local Leaders Concerned Over Brine Facility and Fracking Link

Genesee Sun   13 Sep, 2013 - Josh Williams

     AVON — The Town of Avon passed a resolution Thursday evening to resume action on a 12-month moratorium on natural gas exploration and extraction, or hydrofracking. The development came after representatives from the New York State Attorney General’s Office and the New York State Department of Conservation office (DEC) approached local leaders with a proposal to shut down the brine processing plant currently operating in Leicester.
     The Leicester brine processing plant exists to treat brine that is being pumped from the Azko salt mine, which collapsed in 1994. According to officials, the plant operates at a cost of $200,000 per month, currently being paid by Azko’s insurance company, Zurich.
     A number of local Town Board officials were present at earlier meetings, including Supervisors from the Towns of Avon, Geneseo, Leicester, Mount Morris and York. At those meetings they were reportedly asked by Tim Hoffman, from the State Attorney General’s Office, and by other state officials, to keep the matter private. However, citing concerns for public safety, the issue was brought to the public’s attention this week in the Avon, Leicester and York Town Board meetings.
     According to Town of Avon Supervisor David LeFeber, the old salt mine is still producing 15 gallons of brine, or water with very high concentrations of salt, per minute. The plant treats the brine and releases the treated water into Little Beards Creek. Without the processing plant, brine may spill into natural water sources in the region, contaminating natural water sources and potentially impacting drinking water and agriculture.
“Since we talked about this operation [hydrofracking], we thought the State was going to issue permits, the State was going to monitor things, the State was going to make sure that our resources are protected.” said Avon Town Supervisor David Lefeber. “Businesses come and go, but our ability to produce food and have fresh water is a huge thing and somebody’s got to protect that.”
     The Town of Avon passed a resolution 3-2 Thursday to have Town Lawyer James Campbell begin drafting a new moratorium on hydrofracking. Board members Dick Steen and Bob Ayers voted against the resolution; David LeFeber, Tom Maiers, and Jim Blye voted for the motion.
     A source with close knowledge of the situation, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the thatthe DEC was recently involved in a temporary shut down of the brine processing plant, during which tests were conducted to process fracking fluid trucked up from Pennsylvania. According to the source, if successful, the plant could serve as a potential future site for processing fracking fluids.
    The plant was built in 2005 and cost $8.2 million, which was paid for by Zurich, presumably as part of Akzo’s mitigation requirements.
    At a Town of York Board meeting held later Thursday after the Avon meeting, the same concerns were raised.  Board members expressed strong interest in obtaining independent geological and scientific surveys before even considering a shut down of the brine processing facility.
“Our job is to protect our community,” said York Deputy Supervisor Lynn Parnell.


Constitution foes tour lastest pipeline route

9/11/2013  THE TIMES JOURNAL, The News of Schoharie County

On Friday, activists from Stop the Pipeline and the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities toured the latest route proposed for the Constitution Pipeline. 
The group, with permission from area landowners, examined the ecological features that would be negatively impacted by the proposed pipeline. 
The Pace Environmental Litigation Clinic will use this information to prepare a response to environmental impact statements made by the pipeline company and federal regulators. 
The pipeline is proposed to run for 120 miles, including a route through the heart of Schoharie County, where landowner resistance is high. 
If the pipeline is approved, homeowners could have their land taken through eminent domain.
Wayne Stinson, a Summit landowner who participated in the tour said, this was important, not just for the individual impacted landowners, "but for the neighboring property owners and the larger communities threatened by the pipeline as well." 
Bob Nied, a member of the Board of Directors or the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities, said of the tour: "This is part of a collaborative effort between citizens groups from Pennsylvania to eastern Schoharie County. 
We intend to develop a comprehensive understanding of the potential impacts of this proposed pipeline and clearly articulate those impacts to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission."


Marcellus Watch: Drillers go for broke in appeal of bans

In New York State, a municipality's established legal right to ban gas drilling within its borders stands as the final line of defense against an aggressive energy industry bent on setting its own rules.

By Peter MantiusPosted Sep. 4, 2013 @ 2:03 pm 
In New York State, a municipality's established legal right to ban gas drilling within its borders stands as the final line of defense against an aggressive energy industry bent on setting its own rules.

Now that right is up for grabs.

The state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, agreed last week to hear industry challenges to drilling bans enacted in 2011 by the towns of Dryden and Middlefield. Those bans were passed under the towns' home rule authority to exercise land use law. Roughly 60 municipalities have passed similar bans and many more have passed drilling moratoriums.

The industry has repeatedly challenged those bans and lost -- at the trial court level and at the appellate level, where four judges ruled unanimously in May.
Now the energy boys want to go for broke with another appeal. Since the high court will invite amicus curiae briefs from interested parties, we can expect an array of deep pockets to submit novel, sophisticated new rationales for why the state's home rule principle needs to be dumped to serve gas drillers.
The stakes are enormous because the energy industry has already co-opted the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Senate. If the Court of Appeals caves on home rule, it will be transferring vast new powers to our energy lords.
Consider a few ways the drilling industry has already undermined the state's governance and environmental protection standards:
• Property rights.
New York State allows drillers to conduct underground trespass for the purpose of theft. A 2005 state law drafted by a lobbyist for drillers and promoted by the DEC empowers an energy company to drill under the home of an unwilling property owner in order to take gas. Notably, that gas need not be from an underground pool that extends under multiple properties. It's just gas from shale underneath that particular landowner's home. The state-sanctioned action -- which may jeopardize the homeowner's mortgage and insurance contracts and is virtually certain to slash the property's value -- is called "compulsory integration." There's no way for an unwilling homeowner to opt out.
• Equal protection.
The principle of legal protection under the law is obliterated by the DEC's plan to establish protection zones (the New York City watershed) and sacrifice zones (the Southern Tier and the Finger Lakes) for gas drilling. The DEC's draft rules would make it vastly more difficult to drill in protection zones, which have more power and money than the sacrifice zones. No gas wells are allowed within 4,000 feet of the NYC watershed. But within a sacrifice zone, the DEC says it's fine to drill only 500 feet from a residence or a private water well. So money buys protection.
• Environmental standards.
When it uses high-volume hydrofracking, the gas drilling industry produces rivers and mountains of toxic waste. Most of it is so contaminated that it would easily meet the definition of hazardous waste were it produced by a less-favored industry. But the energy industry successfully lobbied for a federal law exempting its waste from the definition of hazardous waste, thus dramatically easing disposal requirements. Even so, states are free to enact tougher rules, and the New York State Assembly has voted to do so. Those bills to remove the industry's special exemption from the definition of hazardous waste have never been signed into law in New York. One reason: the DEC, which actively pushed for the industry's "compulsory integration" bill, hasn't lifted a finger. So disposal of drilling waste is cheaper and easier, at an unspecified future cost to the environment and the health of New Yorkers. Could the DEC possibly make it any more clear that accommodating industry is a higher priority than conserving the environment?

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TxDOT Plans to Convert Some Roads to Gravel

    Citing a funding shortfall and the impact of a historic oil drilling boom, Texas Department of Transportation officials on Thursday announced plans to move forward with converting some roads in West and South Texas to gravel.
    Approximately 83 miles of asphalt roads will be torn up and converted to “unpaved” roads, TxDOT Deputy Executive Director John Barton said. The speed limits on those roads will probably be reduced to 30 mph.
    “We would do these immediately, and I would suspect we would continue to convert other roadway segments as we continue to move forward,” Barton told the Texas Transportation Commission.
    All of the affected roads have been so heavily damaged by truck activity related to oil and natural gas exploration that they have become safety hazards, Barton said. The process of converting the roads to gravel can be done quickly but will probably be delayed a few weeks as TxDOT gets permission from the commissioners to lower the speed limits on all of the impacted segments, Barton said.
    The impacted roads are in four South Texas counties — Live Oak, Dimmit, LaSalle and Zavala — and two West Texas counties — Reeves and Culberson. The list of impacted roads includes a three-mile stretch of frontage road for Interstate 37 in Live Oak County. Barton said a plant that processes oil and natural gas has dramatically increased the truck traffic on that road. “Instead of whipping in at 70 miles per hour, they’ll have to move in there at 30 miles per hour,” Barton said.

    New Study Finds High Levels of Arsenic in Groundwater Near Fracking Sites

    Brian Fontenot and Kevin Schug, two of the authors of a new study that 
    ties fracking to arsenic contamination. (University of Texas Arlington)
    A recently published study by researchers at the University of Texas at Arlington found elevated levels of arsenic and other heavy metals in groundwater near natural gas fracking sites in Texas’ Barnett Shale.
    While the findings are far from conclusive, the study provides further evidence tying fracking to arsenic contamination. An internal Environmental Protection Agency PowerPoint presentation recently obtained by the Los Angeles Times warned that wells near Dimock, Pa., showed elevated levels of arsenic in the groundwater. The EPA also found arsenic in groundwater near fracking sites in Pavillion, Wyo., in 2009 — a study the agency later abandoned
    ProPublica talked with Brian Fontenot, the paper’s lead author, about how his team carried out the study and why it matters. (Fontenot and another author, Laura Hunt, work for the EPA in Dallas, but they conducted the study on their own time in collaboration with several UT Arlington researchers.) Here’s an edited version of our interview:

    What led you guys to do the study?
    We were sort of talking around lunch one day, and came up with the idea of actually going out and testing water in the Barnett Shale. We’d heard all the things that you see in the media, all the sort of really left-wing stuff and right-wing stuff, but there weren’t a whole lot of answers out there in terms of an actual scientific study of water in the Barnett Shale. Our main intent was to bring an unbiased viewpoint here — to just look at the water, see if we could find anything, and report what we found.

    What kind of previous studies had been done in this vein?
    The closest analog that I could find to our type of study are the things that have been done in the Marcellus Shale, with Rob Jackson’s group out at Duke University. Ours is set up very similarly to theirs in that we went out to private landowners’ wells and sampled their water wells and assayed them for various things. We decided to go with a list of chemicals thought to be included in hydraulic fracturing that was actually released in a congressional report. Our plan was to sample everyone’s water that we could, and then go through that list of these potential chemical compounds within the congressional list.

    How did you do it?
    We were able to get a press release put out from UT Arlington that went into the local newspapers that essentially called for volunteers to be participants in the study. For being a participant, you would get free water testing, and we would tell them our results. We were upfront with everyone about, you know, we don’t have a bias, we’re not anti-industry, we’re not pro-industry. We’re just here to finally get some scientific data on this subject. And we had a pretty overwhelming response.
    From there we chose folks that we would be able to get to. We had to work on nights and weekends, because we had an agreement with EPA to work on this study outside of work hours. So we spent quite a few weekend days going out to folks who had responded to our call and sampling their water. But that wasn’t quite enough. We also had to get samples from within the Barnett Shale in areas where fracking was not going on, and samples from outside the Barnett Shale where there’s no fracking going on, because we wanted to have those for reference samples. For those samples we went door to door and explained to folks what our study was about.
    We have people that were pro-industry that wanted to participate in this study to help out — saying, you know, ‘You’re not going to find anything and I’m going to help you prove it.’ And we also had folks that were determined to find problems. We have the whole gamut of folks represented in our study.  
    We would take a water well, and we would go directly to the head, the closest we could get to the actual water source coming out of the ground, and we would purge that well for about 20 minutes. That ensures that you’re getting fresh water from within the aquifer. So we didn’t take anything from the tap, and nothing that had been through any kind of filtration system. This was as close to the actual groundwater as we could get. We took some measurements, and then we took several samples back to UT Arlington for a battery of chemistry analyses. That’s where we went through and looked for the various volatile organic compounds and heavy metals and methanols and alcohols and things like that.

    The DEC plays ostrich on radioactive waste                                    By Peter Mantius   Posted Aug. 2, 2013 @ 2:21 pm 

    A generation ago, defiant residents of Allegany County blocked the state from establishing a dump licensed to handle the state's radioactive waste in their community. Today, a handful of the same people object to a private company's plan to boost imports of radioactive wastes from Pennsylvania gas drilling to its Allegany landfill.

    The state Department of Environmental Conservation is weighing whether to let Casella Waste Systems expand its Hyland Landfill in Angelica by 49 percent.
    State officials have not responded to requests for a full environmental review or even a public hearing on the plan. They have reason to tread lightly. The last time Alleghany residents mobilized on this issue, in 1990, they mounted horses to resist state troopers and built barricades with old tractors and manure spreaders.
    The state then canceled its planned licensed radioactive waste dump, sending shock waves across the country. Since then virtually every state has scrambled to find any community willing to accept a licensed dump for its "low-level" radioactive waste. Almost all, including New York, have failed.
    That has left the oil and gas industry without enough licensed facilities to handle its substantial radioactive waste. In response, the federal government and the states have eased rules for disposal, backtracking on accepted scientific conclusions about the gravity of the risk.
    At the federal level, the so-called Halliburton Loophole in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempted oil and gas waste from key provisions of the 1972 Clean Water Act and the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act.
    At the state level, the DEC has if anything been even more complicit in denying the risk of radioactive waste so private companies can sidestep the cost of addressing it. The agency now allows Hyland and four other Southern Tier landfills -- none with a license to handle radioactive waste -- to import drill cuttings and other wastes from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of Marcellus shale wells in Pennsylvania.

    Read more: 



    Landowner disputes with Chesapeake hit a boiling point in northern Pa.

    BRADFORD COUNTY, Pa. -- The quiet breeze rolling over the hills west of Litchfield Township has replaced the hum of natural gas rigs operating in rural northeastern Pennsylvania.
    On a hot afternoon in June, Terry and Diana Van Curen's car ambled toward Aikens Well 5H, where Chesapeake Energy Corp. has been extracting gas from under the couple's 17-acre wooded property for the past year.
    The concrete pad and wellhead sit on the crest of a small hill, roughly a mile from their home and off to the side of an old country road paved by gas companies. It overlooks farms and forests that straddle the border of Pennsylvania and New York. Well pads and pipelines are tucked into the countryside, where Marcellus Shale gas snakes into the hundreds of horizontal wells built here in Bradford County since 2009.

    Swelling tax receipts and lease and royalty payments have breathed life into public budgets here and created a cushion for struggling dairy farmers and retirees like the Van Curens. Goodwill for the economic boost and investment in infrastructure has tended to quiet the din of anti-fracking activists.
    But in recent months the goodwill has started to erode. Local officials and landowners, including the Van Curens, are accusing Chesapeake Energy of cheating them out of royalty payments by imposing large fees for "post-production" costs. Since January, with gas prices remaining persistently low, the cash-strapped driller from Oklahoma City has sliced off more than 80 percent of the Van Curens' monthly royalties in the form of a fee for the cost of transporting gas through gathering pipelines.
    "It's like they have a dart board in Oklahoma City and they'll say, 'Let's see what we can get this month,'" Terry Van Curen said, fingering through a pile of financial spreadsheets. "What I don't understand is how in God's green earth they can take this much in gathering fees and not give us an explanation.
    The article continues:     "Back at the Van Curens' kitchen table near Sayre, Pa., in Bradford County, Terry and Diana arranged their payment stubs.
    On a spreadsheet, the monthly royalties plunged at the start of this year with some adjustment for less gas production. For December, the couple netted $425.34 after a 23 percent gas gathering deduction. For February's production, Chesapeake slashed 88 percent for the same purpose. The couple cashed a check for $29.54. For March, $66.10.
    "You do listen to your neighbors," said Diana Van Curen. "There are a lot of people disappointed with what's going on."  "I guess the assumption was that there would be some kind of protection for the landowner," said Terry, her husband.   What about court? "They have a lot more money than we do," he said.
    Aikens 5H
    Aikens 5H is the well pad that produces shale gas from under the Van Curen property. 
    Read the entire article:

    Dutch bank refuses loans to businesses involved in shale gas

    Bosc d'Anjou via flickr

    Dutch bank Rabobank has announced it will not lend money to businesses that deal with unconventional energy extraction, including shale gas, because of the environmental and social implications of doing so. The institution, which specialises in financing agriculture and food businesses and has a focus on sustainability, has declared shale gas, which is sourced from a process called fracking, and oil from tar sands as off limits. On fracking, it said the risks of water and soil contamination by the chemicals injected into the shale rocks to extract the gas were too high. So too is the threat to biodiversity, ecosystems and local residents. Its restriction on loans applies also to farmers who decide to lease their land to energy companies for extraction operations. The bank applied the measures in order to slow down the so-called ‘dash for gas’ which is happening rapidly, particularly in the US.

     - See more at:

    OSHA fines 3 firms, finds workers at Parachute spill not protected

    POSTED:   07/10/2013 06:53:25 PM MDT
    UPDATED:   07/11/2013 06:49:47 AM MDT
    By Bruce Finley
    The Denver Post

    The spill at the Williams energy company gas plant along Parachute Creek was reported March 8.(Denver Post file)
    Workers hired to handle a oil and gas spill that contaminated a creek and groundwater near Parachute may have been exposed to benzene and other hazardous chemicals, federal authorities said Wednesday.
    Federal investigators found that Rangely-based Striegel Inc., Williams Co. subsidiary Bargath and Rifle-based Badger Daylighting Corp. failed to protect workers they sent to excavate toxic soil near Williams' Parachute Creek gas plant,where a spill was revealed in March.
    The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued more than $27,000 in fines for what it described as "serious violations," which may include failure to provide workers with proper respirators.

    As workers began digging for super-concentrated hydrocarbons, the companies "did not inform (them) of the nature, level and degree of exposure likely as a result of participation in such hazardous waste operations," OSHA documents said.

    Workers dug trenches along the pipeline, west of Parachute Creek, to find and remove toxic material, documents said. "This condition potentially exposed employees to benzene and other volatile organic compounds.
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    The Pump Handle

    Frac sand exposure study FOIA: 13 months and still no response from CDC

    Posted by Elizabeth Grossman on July 10, 2013

    Field studies conducted at hydraulic fracturing well sites by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 2010 and 2011 found exposures to respirable crystalline silica well in excess of safety limits set by both NIOSH and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The NIOSH  findings, released in April and May 2012, found 79% of air monitoring samples taken in personal breathing zones for silica exceeded the NIOSH recommended exposure level (REL) and 47% were greater than OSHA’s permissible exposure limit (PEL). Nine percent of the samples showed respirable silica exposures 10 or more times the OSHA limit, with one sample 25 times the PEL.  Thirty-one percent of all the air monitoring samples showed silica exposures 10 or more times NIOSH’s  REL, with one sample exceeding it by more than 100 times.These findings, from eleven different fracking sites in five states, prompted NIOSH and OSHA to issue a “Hazard Alert” in June 2012 for worker exposure to silica. The question now is what progress may have been made since then in improving conditions to better protect workers from this potentially serious health hazard.
    Silica exposure has become a concern in fracking operations as large quantities of industrial sand – which crystalline quartz (a.k.a. silica) – are used as proppants in hydraulic fracturing to help expand fissures through which shale gas is extracted. Industrial sand is also used in cementing at well sites. According to Well Servicing magazine, a single frac job can use anywhere from several tons to two million pounds of this sand.  It is delivered to drilling sites in truck loads that typically consist of about 50,000 pounds to 25 tons. Fine silica dust can be generated at numerous stages  at these operations as the industrial sand is transferred between equipment. Exposure to respirable silica dust, too fine to see, can lead to the incurable lung disease silicosis, chronic obstructive respiratory disease, lung cancer, scleroderma, bronchitis, renal disease and respiratory failure. The part of fracking operations during which sand is used generally lasts between several days to not more than a couple of months at the most, industry experts explain. But the crews conducting this work move from site to site and their exposure to silica dust accumulates. Respirable dust exposure is also a concern for workers involved in mining and processing this sand – also a booming industry.
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    Chevron Among Drillers Facing Gas Wells Nuisance Lawsuit

    BLOOMBERG                                                                                                                                                                                              By Sophia Pearson & Jim Efstathiou Jr. - Jun 8, 2013 12:01 AM ET
    Chevron Corp. (CVX), Williams Cos. and WPX Energy Inc. (WPX) face a lawsuit by six Pennsylvania families who claim nearby gas wells are a nuisance that have diminished their ability to make use of their property.
    The families say the companies’ activities have ruined the “quiet use and enjoyment” of their homes and caused emotional damages including anxiety and fear. The homeowners seek unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for the effects of toxic chemicals, noise and odor from nearby gas wells, according to a copy of a complaint provided by the families’ lawyers. It couldn’t immediately be verified in court records.
    Advances in hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and horizontal drilling have spurred a boom in states including Pennsylvania. With it have come complaints that drilling operations have spoiled water and air. Regulators in Pennsylvania have linked gas and oil drilling with about 120 cases of water contamination from 2009 to 2012, according to documents obtained through a state right-to-know request.
    Since 2009, more than 35 lawsuits that allege fracking contaminated water have been filed in eight states, according to a Jan. 1 report from the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP.
    In those cases, homeowners must rely on scientific evidence that may not be conclusive, according to Charlie Speer, whose Kansas City, Missouri-based law firm is handling the complaint. In a nuisance case, a jury is asked to consider the intrusion into people’s lives as a result of drilling.

    Twelve Wells

    The plaintiffs live in Fayette County, a part of Pittsburgh’s metropolitan area with a population of about 136,000 spread across 790 miles (2,050 square kilometers), according to the 2010 U.S. Census. The county is home to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and the state’s largest cave, Laurel Caverns. Uniontown, the county seat located about 50 miles southeast of Pittsburgh, is the birthplace of the McDonald’s Big Mac, according to the county’s Website.
    Twelve wells near the residents’ properties have been leaking natural gas, methane and other toxic and radioactive substances into the air and ground, according to the complaint. Faulty design, construction and maintenance are allegedly to blame.

    Hauler illegally dumped fracking waste, state says

    By  Spencer Hunt
    The Columbus Dispatch Wednesday June 5, 2013 4:33 AM
    An Ohio company that hauls fracking waste from Utica shale wells ceased operations yesterday after state officials accused it of illegal dumping.
    Employees for Harch Environmental Resources dumped fracking waste and oil-based mud down a hill to a private pond in Belmont County on May 16, according to a news release from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
    Harch, which has offices in St. Clairsville and Shadyside, Ohio, voluntarily stopped hauling the waste fluids while it awaits a hearing with agency regulators. The company wants to keep its permit to haul fracking waste. Harch officials did not return a call for comment yesterday.
    Acting on a tip, inspectors found waste on the ground near a St. Clairsville farm. Inspectors determined Harch trucks had backed up to the crest of a hill and released waste from a Gulfport Energy drilling site into a private pond.

    Carbondale residents get blood tested for drilling compounds

    by Nelson Harvey, Special to the Aspen Daily News
    Friday, May 24, 2013
    A doctor who recently tested the blood of several Carbondale residents for a range of toxic compounds associated with oil and gas drilling said his results could be the start of a baseline data set used to measure future effects of drilling in the Thompson Divide.

    Dr. John Hughes of Aspen Integrative Health tested the blood of 10 Carbondale residents for a range of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) associated with gas drilling, including benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylene. He found low levels of xylene in some subjects, but found no VOCs in concentrations above federal health thresholds.

    “The original thought was that we would re-test some of these individuals later, and see what happens if drilling takes place in the Thompson Divide,” Hughes said.

    The divide is a vast and scenic area south of Carbondale that runs from Sunlight Ski Area to McClure Pass.

    The gas companies SG Interests and Ursa Resources have said they intend to develop a combined 18 gas leases in the area. The Thompson Divide Coalition, a Carbondale advocacy group, is negotiating with the companies to purchase and retire those leases.

    Casey Sheahan, a Carbondale resident who is also the chief operating officer of the outdoor-clothing company Patagonia, said he and his wife Tara participated in the small study to help generate data about the health impacts of oil and gas drilling near Carbondale.

    While there has already been baseline water quality sampling done in parts of the Thompson Divide, Sheahan said, much less is known about how drilling will affect the health of Carbondale residents.

    “We now have baselines here from the human standpoint,” Sheahan said. “My family is part of the baseline test group for this blood testing, and we intend to go to the mat with the oil and gas community if they follow through with drilling in this area.”

    Because the blood of the Carbondale residents was relatively clean, Hughes also decided to compare it with blood samples from 10 residents of the Front Range city of Erie, where some 17,000 natural gas wells have already been drilled.

    He found high levels of the carcinogen ethyl benzene in the blood of nine of the 11 Erie subjects, while none of the Carbondale subjects showed high levels of ethyl benzene.

    “The EPA has a standard for benzene of 5 parts per billion (ppb), and the highest levels that I found in the Erie patients’ blood was 118.5 ppb,” Hughes said.

    The Erie patients all lived between 300 and 1,800 feet from gas wells, and the level of ethyl benzene that Hughes detected was highest in those living closest to wells. 
    Many limitations, but a basis for research
    Hughes readily acknowledged that his small study has many limitations, and shouldn’t be construed as conclusive.

    Fracking the Suburbs: An 

    Explosive Combination?

    As oil and gas get harder to find, the industry is drilling in suburbia—
    and the neighbors aren’t pleased
    A surburban fracking operation in Ohio.
    Fracking takes place just a few hundred feet from an Ohio apartment building. Photo by People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative.
    As rural deposits of fossil fuel grow fewer and farther between, extractive industries are increasingly sitingtheir operations over the next best location: suburban neighborhoods. According to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, the Marcellus shale formation beneath parts of the Midwest and Appalachia contains literally trillions of cubic feet of natural gas—the most accessible of which often lies beneath residential neighborhoods.
    Environmental injustice has come as a shock for many of Broadview Height’s mostly white, middle-class population.
    Broadview Heights, population 19,400, is just south of Cleveland. The small town seems to typify Midwestern suburbia: tree-lined streets, vaguely familiar housing developments of recent vintage, and a median household income of over $70,000—significantly more than the state average of $45,000. Residents include former Clevelanders seeking a more peaceful place to live, where raccoons, deer, and wild turkey can be seen intheir backyards.
    But Broadview Heights is in the midst of a transformation. In 2004, the Ohio legislature passed a law effectively stripping local municipalities of their right to regulate the permitting, spacing, and location of oiland gas wells. This led to a spate of small fracking operations cropping up inside neighborhoods, which in turn has led to the flight of some residents. More than 70 gas wells have been drilled here since 2005—in some instances without the notification of residents living just 600 feet away, according to Truthout.
    “I think this is a bold move for these companies, to drill in suburbs, but they feel empowered to do it,” says Elisa Young, founder of the anti-coal activist group MeigsCAN in Meigs County, Ohio. “The landmen quietly come in, get all their ducks in a row, anthethey tell you, ‘This is a done deal. You can’t do anything about it.’”
    Young notes that environmental injustice has come as a shock for many of Broadview Height’s mostly white, middle-class population. For many of them, she says, “It’s their first experience at seeing how these industries really operate.”

    News and Media

    Grassroots Campaigns Can Stop Fracking One Town at a Time

    City councils and local activists have stymied shale gas mining in New York, and could prove an example for others to follow

    Accounts of flammable tap water and sudden sickness in rural Pennsylvania have spurred questions as to the safety of shale gas mining. (Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Corbis)Readers of the New York Daily News were treated to a little unsolicited advice from Ed Rendell recently. The former Pennsylvania governor, a Democrat, who presided over much of the fracking boom in his state from 2003 to 2011, invited his neighboring governor – who's been sitting on the fence over shale gas mining – to join the party.
    In Pennsylvania, Rendell effused, "thousands of solid jobs with good salaries were created, communities came back to life and investment in the state soared".
    What the Daily News failed to mention is that Rendell has lobbied the Environmental Protection Agency in favor of a driller company, Range Resources, and is currently a paid consultant of Elements Partners, a private equity firm with big stakes in several energycompanies that are engaged in fracking. 
    And what Rendell failed to mention is that the drilling of over 150,000 wells for natural gas has transformed large swaths of rural Pennsylvania into what basically are industrial zones, bristling with monster trucks, wastewater ponds, and traffic jams. Air pollution is higher in counties with drilling than those without and residents complain about round-the-clock noise
    Ed Rendell also didn't mention the McIntyre family, who live in Butler County – western Pennsylvania's frack zone – and whose members suffer from projectile vomiting, headaches, breathing problems, mysterious skin rashes … the list goes on. The family dog died suddenly, after lapping up some water the family believes was problematic. The McIntyres no longer drink, brush their teeth, or do their laundry with the water piped into their home.


    Stop the Minisink Compressor Station

    By Pramilla Malick

    Residents of Minisink, NY, go face to face with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in 2012.
    As advances in technology open vast territories of the U.S. to new forms of extreme fossil fuel extraction, more and more American communities find themselves battling not only private oil and gas companies but also their own government to protect their homes, health and way of life.
    The oil and gas rush requires a massive infrastructure network to get those fuels to markets, domestic as well as foreign, including millions of miles of pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. Like the extraction process itself, this infrastructure carries enormous risks such as air pollution, water contamination and risk of explosion.
    However, unlike drilling sites, which are confined to areas on top of shale formations, the related infrastructure spans throughout the U.S. Indeed it can and will be built anywhere a gas or oil company so desires, striking indiscriminately at rural, suburban and even urban communities. Why? Because the sole federal permitting agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is also euphemistically known as the agency that “never met a pipeline it didn’t like.”
    Few Americans may have heard of this elusive and powerful agency, but FERC is a mecca for the oil and gas industry—a virtual wishing well. If you are an oil and gas lobbyist, just toss in a coin, close your eyes and a permit lands in your hands. This may sound hyperbolic, but it’s not. How else can one explain a more than 98 percent approval of oil and gas projects? However, if you happen to be a member of an impacted community, you’re out of luck. With a FERC stamp on a piece of paper, in an instant your dream becomes a nightmare and everything you’ve worked for you entire life is gone.
    FERC is not accustomed to public scrutiny. However, impacted communities are beginning to join forces and fight back. Furthermore, FERC decisions are beginning to be challenged in court. A small middle-class residential community in Minisink, NY, is one such community which recently engaged in one of the most intense oppositions in the agency’s history. The FERC rubber-stamped project, near completion in Minisink by Columbia Pipeline Group will place a 12,260 horse power gas compressor station on a greenfield site within a half-mile of more than 200 families—literally a few hundred feet from many homes. This was approved by FERC despite the fact that a viable alternative was available to the company which could site a much smaller facility on a brownfield site, with no homes within three fourths of a mile. The cognitive as well as moral failures of FERC decisions are glaringly obvious in the Minisink case, portraying an agency that caters to the whims and wishes of a private company over the welfare of hundreds of American citizens.
    Moreover, while project owners routinely meet with members of FERC staff and even write the environmental reviews, members of impacted communities have no voice or representation in the decision making process. This one-sided and fundamentally un-American process not only leads to wrong decisions for impacted communities but wrong decisions for the nation. In the Minisink case, the community-proposed alternative would have not only prevented 200 families from complete financial and environmental devastation, but also resulted in 44 percent less fuel usage and 44 percent less air emissions.  When a federal agency of the United States shows such disregard for the mandate to curb greenhouse gas emissions, it raises serious questions about our country’s commitment to combat climate change. 
    FERC’s powers derive from the Natural Gas Act which gives it the authority to preempt any local or state law that may stand in its way. This archaic 45-year-old law has no regard for fundamental property rights or for the concept of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It allows FERC to operate autonomously with very little oversight, answering to no one. But FERC has been running rogue for far too long. It’s time to bring the agency in line with our core values as a nation; fairness, equality and transparency. Communities must be part of the decision making process and FERC must be held accountable by the American people and the U.S. constitution. It’s also time to revise the Natural Gas Act to create more regulations and oversight as to how these projects are sited and monitored.
    Minisink is a largely conservative town but its experiences with its new company neighbor have left most residents with a sense of betrayal by our government and an aversion to the national narrative about America’s new energy. If reforms aren’t implemented before further expansion is allowed, as more and more American communities like Minisink get swept away into the ever expanding sacrifice zone, the wrath against the entire industry and its main enabler FERC will soon reach a critical mass.

    The Downwinders

     Posted: 05/02/2013 10:49
    Fracking Ourselves to Death in Pennsylvania
    Cross-posted with
    More than 70 years ago, a chemical attack was launched against Washington State and Nevada. It poisoned people, animals, everything that grew, breathed air, and drank water. The Marshall Islands were also struck. This formerly pristine Pacific atoll was branded “the most contaminated place in the world.” As their cancers developed, the victims of atomic testing and nuclear weapons development got a name: downwinders. What marked their tragedy was the darkness in which they were kept about what was being done to them. Proof of harm fell to them, not to the U.S. government agencies responsible.
    Now, a new generation of downwinders is getting sick as an emerging  industry pushes the next wonder technology -- in this case, high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Whether they live in Texas, Colorado, or Pennsylvania, their symptoms are the same: rashes, nosebleeds, severe headaches, difficulty breathing, joint pain, intestinal illnesses, memory loss, and more. “In my opinion,” says Yuri Gorby of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “what we see unfolding is a serious health crisis, one that is just beginning.”
    The process of “fracking” starts by drilling a mile or more vertically, then outward laterally into 500-million-year-old shale formations, the remains of oceans that once flowed over parts of North America. Millions of gallons of chemical and sand-laced water are then propelled into the ground at high pressures, fracturing the shale and forcing the methane it contains out. With the release of that gas come thousands of gallons of contaminated water. This “flowback” fluid contains the original fracking chemicals, plus heavy metals and radioactive material that also lay safely buried in the shale.
    The industry that uses this technology calls its product “natural gas,” but there’s nothing natural about up-ending half a billion years of safe storage of methane and everything that surrounds it. It is, in fact, an act of ecological violence around which alien infrastructures -- compressor stations that compact the gas for pipeline transport, ponds of contaminated flowback, flare stacks that burn off gas impurities, diesel trucks in quantity, thousands of miles of pipelines, and more -- have metastasized across rural America, pumping carcinogens and toxins into water, air, and soil.
    Sixty percent of Pennsylvania lies over a huge shale sprawl called the Marcellus, and that has been in the fracking industry’s sights since 2008.  The corporations that are exploiting the shale come to the state with lavish federal entitlements: exemptions from the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Clean Drinking Water Acts, as well as the Superfund Act, which requires cleanup of hazardous substances. The industry doesn’t have to call its trillions of gallons of annual waste “hazardous.” Instead, it uses euphemisms like “residual waste.” In addition, fracking companies are allowed to keep secret many of the chemicals they use.
    Pennsylvania, in turn, adds its own privileges. A revolving door shuttles former legislators, governors, and officials from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) into gas industry positions. The DEP itself is now the object of a lawsuit that charges the agency with producing deceptive lab reports, and then using them to dismiss homeowners’ complaints that shale gas corporations have contaminated their water, making them sick. The people I interviewed have their own nickname for the DEP: “Don’t Expect Protection.”
    The Downwinders
    Randy Moyer is a pleasant-faced, bearded 49-year-old whose drawl reminds you that Portage, his hardscrabble hometown in southwestern Pennsylvania, is part of Appalachia. He worked 18 years -- until gasoline prices got too steep -- driving his own rigs to haul waste in New York and New Jersey. Then what looked like a great opportunity presented itself: $25 an hour working for a hydraulic-fracturing subcontractor in northeastern Pennsylvania.
    In addition to hauling fracking liquid, water, and waste, Randy also did what’s called, with no irony, “environmental.” He climbed into large vats to squeegee out the remains of fracking fluid. He also cleaned the huge mats laid down around the wells to even the ground out for truck traffic. Those mats get saturated with “drilling mud,” a viscous, chemical-laden fluid that eases the passage of the drills into the shale. What his employer never told him was that the drilling mud, as well as the wastewater from fracking, is not only highly toxic, but radioactive.
    In the wee hours of a very cold day in November 2011, he stood in a huge basin at a well site, washing 1,000 mats with high-pressure hoses, taking breaks every so often to warm his feet in his truck. “I took off my shoes and my feet were as red as a tomato,” he told me. When the air from the heater hit them, he “nearly went through the roof.”
    Once at home, he scrubbed his feet, but the excruciating pain didn’t abate. A “rash” that covered his feet soon spread up to his torso. A year and a half later, the skin inflammation still recurs. His upper lip repeatedly swells. A couple of times his tongue swelled so large that he had press it down with a spoon to be able to breathe. “I’ve been fried for over 13 months with this stuff,” he told me in late January. “I can just imagine what hell is like. It feels like I’m absolutely on fire.”
    Family and friends have taken Moyer to emergency rooms at least four times. He has consulted more than 40 doctors. No one can say what caused the rashes, or his headaches, migraines, chest pain, and irregular heartbeat, or the shooting pains down his back and legs, his blurred vision, vertigo, memory loss, the constant white noise in his ears, and the breathing troubles that require him to stash inhalers throughout his small apartment.

    05-01-2013       Food & Water Watch

    Anti-fracking rally participant at Gov. Kasich’s State of the State in February 2012 in Steubenville, Ohio. Photo credit: Stefanie Spear
    This week, State Sen. Mike Skindell (D-Lakewood), State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) and State Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown) introduced legislation to ban Class II fracking waste injection wells in Ohio. The bill would prevent waste from being discharged into Ohio’s waterways after treatment, and would make it illegal for municipalities to use the liquid waste from oil and gas operations for dust and ice control on roadways.
    Today, grassroots leaders from around the state applauded the bill, citing that none of Ohio’s wastewater treatment plants are equipped to handle the level of toxicity and radioactivity present in fracking waste.
    “Ohio communities should not be declared wastelands for dumping toxic waste into what amounts to a hole in the ground, thereby endangering local drinking water supplies and public health,” said Teresa Mills, fracking coordinator with the Buckeye Forest Council. “Community groups have been working with state legislators on ways to address the problems associated with fracking injection wells, and we’re thrilled to see this legislation introduced.”
    “We need to take the necessary time to consider all the consequences of drilling so many additional injection wells in Ohio,” said State Rep. Denise Driehaus. “We should avoid the pitfalls other states have encountered and focus on protecting our land, water and residents. Drilling for oil and gas produces an abundant amount of waste, which is then injected deep beneath the ground. These wells are changing the Earth’s geology by adding man-made cracks that allow water and waste to flow freely. We cannot sit idly by as our state is used as a dumping ground for toxic waste and Ohioans’ health and safety are increasingly put at risk.”
    “Ohio politicians and regulators have been too lenient on oil and gas industry disposal of fracking waste,” said Alison Auciello, Ohio-based organizer for Food & Water Watch. “Just because the industry is creating a tremendous amount of toxic waste doesn’t mean Ohio has to accept it. In the absence of truly safe disposal methods, the burden should be placed on the industry to come up with safe alternatives or cease to create the waste in the first place.”
    In 2012, Ohio’s 178 active injection wells accepted 13,846,657 barrels of brine and liquid waste. Radioactivity in oil and gas wastewaters has been found to exceed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s safe drinking limits by up to 3,600 times, exceeds federal industrial discharge limits set by the Nuclear Regulatory Agency by more than 300 times.
    “The state should follow our lead,” said Joanne Gerson, chair of the Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum, which was instrumental last year in helping to enact an ordinance passed by the Cincinnati City Council banning the underground disposal of waste within city limits.

    Fracking drives potentially explosive demand for potentially explosive ammonia factories

    The U.S. could soon be home to a lot more ammonia factories — not a comforting thought after a deadly explosion at an ammonia fertilizer plant in Texas on Wednesday evening. You can blame the fracking boom.
    Ammonia is used to produce fertilizer, industrial explosives (like those used in mining), plastics, and other products. It’s becoming cheaper to produce in the U.S. becauseone of its main feedstocks is natural gas, and natural gas, in case you haven’t heard, is being fracked here at a breakneck pace and sold for bargain-basement prices.
    Australian company Incitec Pivot this week announced [PDF] that it will be building a hulking new $850 million ammonia facility in Waggaman, La., just outside New Orleans. Construction could begin within six weeks, with the plant expected to come online in 2016. The announcement is being characterized by Australia’s media as a blow for the manufacturing sector Down Under, but Incitec Pivot can’t resist the siren song of cheap American natural gas.
    The article goes on to say:  The history of ammonia production and storage is littered with spectacular accidents. The owners of the Texas facility had previously assured regulators that their operation posed no serious safety risks.

    Ohio’s $500 Billion Oil Dream Fades as Drillers Misjudge
    Chesapeake Energy Corp. of Oklahoma City, the biggest U.S. shale lease owner, last week offered up 94,200 acres (38,121 hectares). Photographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

    Bloomberg News

    By Mike Lee and Edward Klump on April 15, 2013

    Ohio’s $500 Billion Oil Dream Fades as Utica Turns Gassy

    U.S. drillers that set up rigs amid the rolling farmland of eastern Ohio on projections underground shale held $500 billion of oil are packing up.
    Four of the biggest stakeholders in untapped deposits known as the Utica Shale have put up all or part of their acreage for sale, as prices fall by a third in some cases.Chesapeake Energy Corp. (CHK) of Oklahoma City, the biggest U.S. shale lease owner, last week offered up 94,200 acres (38,121 hectares). EnerVest Ltd. and Devon Energy Corp. (DVN) are selling as early results show lower production than their predictions.
    “The results were somewhat disappointing,” said Philip Weiss, an analyst with Argus Research in New York. Early data show “it’s not as good as we thought it was going to be.”
    The flip-flop underscores the difficulties faced by even experienced drillers around the world in tapping the sedimentary rock. In California, Occidental Petroleum Corp. was stymied by the Monterey Shale’s fault-riddled terrain. In Poland, Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) stopped drilling because shale output was minimal. China’s failures with shale gas drove producers Cnooc Ltd. and China Petrochemical Corp. to seek expertise in North America.
    In Ohio’s Utica formation, which runs eastward as far as New York, drillers frequently found the rock too dense and underground pressures insufficient to produce oil.
    The rush to buy acreage has reversed.
    Read More:

    Posted on 

    The Scottish Herald today reported the UK’s first fracking leak – at Coal Bed Methane (CBM) wells near Canonbie in Scotland. The wells – owned by Dart Energy – confirm anecdotal evidence from locals who have – over the last two years – periodically noticed gas in their water supply.
    The leaks are of no surprise to the oil and gas industry – drillers are well aware many gas wells leak. Research by oil services company Schlumberger suggests up to 60 percent of gas wells will be leaking within 30 years. The UK’s Society of Petroleum Engineers found 34% of gas wells leaking in the UK’s North Sea (see p7 of linked pdf)
    In the Norwegian North Sea 18% of gas wells are leaking. In 1992 the US EPA found 200,000 wells leaking, a 16.7% failure rate. There are many more studies and examples – see our piece on gas wells leaking.
    The fracking industry has to tried to divert attention from their leaking problem. Dart Energy has denied plans to frack in Scotland, despite company documents clearly showing fracking depths, chemicals and pressures to be used at Canonbie. Yet the stark truth is that a sizeable proportion of all gas wells leak, whether onshore, offshore, conventional gas, shale gas, or CBM. It’s an industry-wide inevitability, and the reason many research papers, seminars and workshops are devoted to the issue. And unconventional gas means thousands of wells in highly populated areas, most of which are likely to leak eventually.
    In Australia the CBM industry has produced hundreds of leaks – you can see what one looks like here:
    The most common form of leakage is what the industry calls ‘sustained casing pressure’ (SCP) or ‘sustained annular pressure’ (SAP). This means that gas has leaked up the gaps between the well-casings to the surface. As the gas passes through any water aquifer present, it may escape into water supplies. Hence the famous footage showing flaming water taps in the US.
    Professor Tony Ingraffea explains how leaks occur here:
    For anyone involved in the fracking fight there are many certainties: the most compelling of which is that gas wells leak. And in direct contradiction to politicians who claim the UK’s so-called ‘world-class regulation’ makes it somehow immune to the leaking problem, the tragic situation at Canonbie proves just the opposite.


    Judge Rules Federal Agency Failed to Address Fracking Risks in Auctioning Off Monterey County Public Lands
    Monday, April 8, 2013
    Jenny Chang, (202) 213-3421,
    Brendan Cummings, (951) 768-8301,
    SAN JOSE, CA—Today, a federal judge has ruled that the Obama Administration violated the law when it issued oil leases in Monterey County, CA without considering the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. The ruling came in response to a suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club, challenging a September 2011 decision by the federal Bureau of Land Management to auction off about 2,500 acres of land in southern Monterey County to oil companies.
    “This important decision recognizes that fracking poses new, unique risks to California’s air, water, and wildlife that government agencies can’t ignore,” said Brendan Cummings, senior counsel at the Center, who argued the case for the plaintiffs. “This is a watershed moment — the first court opinion to find a federal lease sale invalid for failing to address the monumental dangers of fracking.”

    Berks leaders, residents alarmed by pipeline possibility

    Industry officials vow to improve their approach, but people in affected areas are skeptical.
    The Reading Eagle
    Originally Published: 4/7/2013

    Al Knaubb's concern began when he noticed several helicopters hovering low over his forested Alsace         Township property last fall.

    Three days later his phone rang.

    The man on the other end asked for permission to survey Knaubb's property for a study regarding the Commonwealth Pipeline, a 120-mile project that would transport natural gas from Marcellus shale deposits in northern Pennsylvania to Chester County. 

    It was the first Knaubb, or anyone else in his community, heard of the $1 billion project that would cause an uproar in neighboring Chester County in the following month.

    It was also the last time Knaubb received any type of information about his property's role in the proposed project, he said.

    The whole ordeal left a bad taste in his mouth.

    "I would like to see them be open and honest about it up front instead of doing all this planning with my property and other people's property," he said. 
    Read More:


    Toxic and Tax Exempt:   American Taxpayers Foot the Bill
    for Tar Sands Oil Spill Cleanup
    Erin O'Sullivan
    Published: Wednesday 3 April 2013 
    As the Obama Administration continues to ponder a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, TransCanada has been assuring everyone of it’s safety. “Safety of the public and the environment is a top priority for TransCanada” their slick website reads. Any spill is deemed “unlikely.”
    Hardly. Last year, there were 364 spills from pipelines that released about 54,000 barrels of oil and refined products. In 2010 in Marshall, Michigan an Enbridge pipeline sent 819,000 gallons of toxic tar sands crude into the town’s creek just 80 river miles from Lake Michigan. Now in Mayflower, Ark., 22 homes have been evacuated this week as Exxon prepares to attempt to clean 10,000 barrels of this same dirty tar sands crude from neighborhoods.
    The experiences of people of Marshall, Michigan may shed light on what the citizens of Mayflower, Arkansas may now be in for.
    On July 26, 2010, at 7:30 a.m., Marshall resident Susan Connolly dropped off her children at daycare. That Michigan morning there was a strong smell in the air, making it hard to breathe. By the time she picked up her children just a few hours later, the symptoms had started.
    That night her son vomited. The week following, her daughter had a rash, as did almost all the children at the daycare. The other children also reported cases of vomiting, upset stomach, shortness of breath, lethargy, headaches, rash, irritation with the eyes, sore throat and cough. Meanwhile, Connolly and her husband experienced migraines, eye irritation, sore throat, nausea and cough. Just six days later, their dog came in from the yard suffering from continuous vomiting and diarrhea.
    They quickly learned that this was all related to a broken Enbridge pipe, spilling bitumen ooze into the water just  six-tenths of a mile from their children’s day care and just two miles from their home. Bitumen is a thick, sticky, black semi-solid form of petroleum. It is transported from Alberta Canada as diluted bitumen (dilbit) on its way to refineries in the U.S.
    “I’m a parent and I see the children and the staff of this center who have been affected by this spill,” says Connolly. “Three months after the spill, four parents withdrew six children from the center due to their concern of their short-term health effects of their children. They were concerned about the smell, air quality, and potential long-term effects. An employee who has been with the child care center since it opened, who helped them build it from the ground up, left the center because she has been sick since the day of the spill.”
    Their concern is understandable. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency established that there were 15 parts per billion of benzene in the atmosphere in the region of the spill, which is roughly three times the standard established as safe for human exposure.
    Read More:

    Tuesday, April2,2013  
    Posted: 12:40 PM

    Developer drops plan for LPG terminal in Searsport

    Portland Press Herald

    By Tux Turkel

    Staff Writer
    SEARSPORT, Maine — A member of the town's planning board said Tuesday afternoon that he was surprised to learn that the energy company that has been proposing to build a controversial 22-million-gallon liquid propane storage tank in Searsport is withdrawing its application.

    click image to enlarge
    In this Friday, March 9, 2012 photo, a sign in opposition to a proposed 23-million gallon propane tank is seen in the front yard of a home in Searsport, Maine. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)
    A spokeswoman for Denver-based DCP Midstream Partners told the Portland Press Herald that preliminary votes last week by the Searsport Planning Board indicate that the town ultimately will reject a final permit needed to build the $40 million terminal.
    “We just don’t think that it’s necessary to carry forward the deliberations with the planning board, based on where they’re at,” said Roz Elliott. “We really appreciate the opportunity to have tried.”
    DCP has been working for years to line up the needed approvals for the project. It won permits from state and federal regulators, but needed a local approval from the planning board. The body has been conducting deliberations, and in an initial vote last week, decided 5-0 that the project was not permitted in the zone in which it was proposed.
    Mark Bradstreet, a planning board member, noted that his group still had six more days set aside for deliberations, and hadn't started voting yet on other aspects of the application. But Bradstreet acknowledged that the board's decision that the project's industrial use was encroaching on a commercial zone and was too close to abutters sent a signal to DCP.
    "An applicant can look ahead and decide it has lost too many battles to win the war," he said.
    The company also was facing the prospect of a protracted legal challenge from opponents, who were set to challenge an earlier permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
    Read More:

    Parts of Low Country Are Now Quake Country

    Herman Wouters for The New York Times

    Bert de Jong says the walls of his Loppersum house now bulge and will require buttressing.

    LOPPERSUM, the Netherlands — Jannes Kadyk’s modest brick home suffered more than $5,000 in damage. Bert de Jong’s more stately home will need about $500,000 to get back into shape.
    Both houses, like thousands of others, were damaged during recent earthquakes that have shaken the flat farmland in this area dotted with villages and tucked up against the North Sea.
    The quakes were caused by the extraction of natural gas from the soil deep below. The gas was discovered in the 1950s, and extraction began in the 1960s, but only in recent years have the quakes become more frequent, about 18 in the first six weeks of this year, compared with as few as 20 each year before 2011.
    Chiel Seinen, a spokesman for the gas consortium known as NAM, said the extraction had created at least 1,800 faults in the region’s subsoil.
    “These faults are seen as a mechanism to induce earthquakes,” he said.
    The findings in the Netherlands parallel the anxiety about hydraulic fracturing technology in the United States, where several states have halted drilling temporarily, though more commonly out of fear that chemicals used in the process may pollute water sources.

    Life After Oil and Gas

    WE will need fossil fuels like oil and gas for the foreseeable future.So there’s really little choice (sigh). We have to press ahead with fracking for natural gas. We must approve the Keystone XL pipeline to get Canadian oil.

    Robert Samuel Hanson
    This mantra, repeated on TV ads and in political debates, is punctuated with a tinge of inevitability and regret. But, increasingly, scientific research and the experience of other countries should prompt us to ask: To what extent will we really “need” fossil fuel in the years to come? To what extent is it a choice?
    As renewable energy gets cheaper and machines and buildings become more energy efficient, a number of countries that two decades ago ran on a fuel mix much like America’s are successfully dialing down their fossil fuel habits. Thirteen countries got more than 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy in 2011, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency, and many are aiming still higher.
    Could we? Should we?
    National Research Council report released last week concluded that the United States could halve by 2030 the oil used in cars and trucks compared with 2005 levels by improving the efficiency of gasoline-powered vehicles and by relying more on cars that use alternative power sources, like electric batteries andbiofuels.
    Just days earlier a team of Stanford engineers published a proposal showing how New York State — not windy like the Great Plains, nor sunny like Arizona — could easily produce the power it needs from wind, solar and water power by 2030. In fact there was so much potential power, the researchers found, that renewable power could also fuel our cars.
    “It’s absolutely not true that we need natural gas, coal or oil — we think it’s a myth,” said Mark Z. Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and the main author of the study, published in the journal Energy Policy. “You could power America with renewables from a technical and economic standpoint. The biggest obstacles are social and political — what you need is the will to do it.”
    Other countries have made far more concerted efforts to reduce fossil fuel use than the United States and have some impressive numbers to show for it. Of the countries that rely most heavily on renewable electricity, some, like Norway, rely on that old renewable,hydroelectric power. But others, like Denmark, Portugal and Germany, have created financial incentives to promote newer technologies like wind and solar energy.
    Read More:

    Bloomberg News

    Range Resources Paid $750,000 in Fracking Accord

    By Sophia Pearson on March 21, 2013
    Range Resources Corp. and other natural-gas drillers paid a Pennsylvania family $750,000 to settle claims the companies were contaminating their water, according to unsealed court records.
    MarkWest Energy Partners LP (MWE) and Williams Cos. (WMB)’s Williams Gas unit joined in the June 2011 agreement, which included the transfer of Chris and Stephanie Hallowich’s home in Hickory, Pennsylvania, and payment of $750,000, according to court records unsealed in Common Pleas Court in Washington County.
    The settlement terms were included among more than 900 pages of documents Common Pleas Court Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca ordered unsealed yesterday after rejecting the companies’ arguments that such a move threatened their right to privacy.
    In resolving disputes with homeowners from Texas to Pennsylvania, gas drillers have often demanded secrecy in exchange for buying their properties, delivering fresh water or paying out a settlement.
    Environmental groups such as Earthjustice praised O’Dell- Seneca’s ruling, saying it would help to shed light on the health risks of fracking. Range Resources, which fought the release, said yesterday through a spokesman that it welcomed the disclosure.
    BP and Chase at odds over drilling lease
    By Jamison Cocklin
    BROOKFIELD   Published: Sun, March 10, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

    When Joyce and Kenneth Thomas were first approached by BP last July to sign an oil and gas lease on their 4 acres off Warren-Sharon road, they thought little of it.
    But as negotiations proceeded with the oil and gas giant, it turned out the company was willing to send a small windfall in their direction, a signing bonus of $16,926 for 4.34 acres.
    Five acres is usually required to drill and maintain a Utica well. But as drilling technologies have improved, operators are going deeper, requiring in some instances 40-acre tracts of land to lay down a well pad.
    BP approached a neighbor of the Thomases, obtained an additional acre to make five, and everything was going smoothly.
    “I thought, ‘They’re not going to put a rig on my property — I’m just a 4-acre peon,’” said Joyce, as she sat with her husband around the couple’s dining- room table.
    In December, the neighbor received his bonus payment of about $13,000 — the Thomases are still waiting.
    The problem is not BP; it’s the couple’s lender. Chase Bank refuses to amend the terms of their refinancing agreement to allow the lease to go forward, barring any future operations, even though BP has no specific plans for the property.
    Now, Joyce, an office worker, and Kenneth, a steel worker, are unlikely to receive a dime from BP.
    The rush of leasing activity and drilling operations across the Utica Shale play in Ohio has left many of the state’s residents wide-eyed, ready to jump on leasing opportunities at a moment’s notice, without realizing the complexity of such a long-term agreement.
    Increasingly, a growing number of banks are reluctant to finance properties where oil and gas leases exist, nor will they consider issuing second mortgages on similar land. In some instances, lenders have even grown wary of financing a neighbor’s property, free and clear of any oil and gas operations, for fear of a decline in property value if a drilling site is nearby.
    Read More:

    Fracking and nuclear side by side in Pennsylvania: A match made in hell?

    Published time: October 25, 2012 18:44
    Edited time: October 25, 2012 22:44
    Plans are afoot to drill a well that will use fracking technology only a mile from a nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. The parties involved say they are unconcerned, despite evidence showing fracking increases incidence of earthquakes.
    "We’re not aware of any potential impacts and don’t expect any," said Jennifer Young, spokesperson for plant owner First Energy told Pennsylvania’s Herald Standard. "We see no reason to be particularly concerned."
    Environmental authorities approved plans to construct a shale gas well near the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport earlier this month. State rules require any such well to be more than 500 feet from the edge of plant territory, though data indicates that there are no fracking wells that close to nuclear power stations anywhere in the US.
    Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing, in full – is a recently-adopted extraction technique, which uses pressurized fluid to crack open impermeable materials deep underground, allowing gas or oil to escape.
    It has been linked with a magnitude 4.0 earthquake in Ohio last year, as well as several seismic incidents in Texas and Canada just this autumn.
    The US Geological Service has warned that the procedure can cause earthquakes, whose severity and frequency will only become obvious once fracking is more established.
    A 2010 report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) listed Unit 1 at the Beaver Valley Power Station as facing the fifth-highest risk of earthquake out of all reactors in the entire United States.
    But the NRC says the new well is none of their business.

    “Our regulations do not speak to off-site wells,” said NRC spokesperson Neil Sheehan. “Our focus is on on-site activities.” 

    Hydrocarbon spill confirmed north of Parachute

    POSTED:   03/16/2013 03:17:43 PM MDT
    UPDATED:   03/16/2013 11:18:12 PM MDT
    By Bruce Finley
    The Denver Post

    Oil-and-gas industry officials Saturday confirmed that state and federal regulators and a consortium of consultants have been at the scene of an underground plume of more than 1,500 gallons of hydrocarbons in western Colorado for more than a week.
    The source of the plume — discovered 4 miles north of Parachute along Parachute Creek next to Williams Midstream's Parachute Creek Gas Plant — has not been identified.
    But company crews are drilling holes to try to determine the size of the plume and its source, said David Ludlam, director of the Western Colorado Oil and Gas Association, an industry trade group, who was picked to serve as spokesman for a group of companies involved.
    "It is beneath the surface," he said.
    On Saturday, company crews estimated the amount of hydrocarbon material that vacuum trucks have removed at around 37 barrels — roughly 1,554 gallons. An undetermined amount remains in the ground. The exact nature of the hydrocarbon material in the ground has not been revealed.
    "We are vacuuming it up," Williams spokeswoman Donna Gray said.
    Pipelines run underground along Parachute Creek. There also are underground tanks. Construction crews locating pipelines in preparation for a gas-plant expansion discovered the problem.
    Read more: Hydrocarbon spill confirmed north of Parachute - The Denver Post

    Do we have enough water to frack our way to energy independence? 

    dried mud in drought
    Photo: ashleigh290/Flickr.
    In chemistry you quickly discover that oil and water don’t mix. The same is true in the energy industry.
    It’s unfortunate, because the new fuel sources that the International Energy Agency claims will allow North America to reach energy independence require tremendous amounts of water. Whether it’s from shale plays or the oil sands, millions of gallons of water are needed to pull that energy out of the ground.
    Alberta’s oil sands mines require more than three barrels of water to produce a barrel of bitumen. With daily output of 1.5 million barrels, the oil sands is one thirsty customer. Fortunately for Big Oil, northern Alberta is blessed with the mighty Athabasca River.
    Many US shale producers wish they were so lucky. The industry’s growing need for water comes at a time when much of the country is grinding through the worst drought in more than half a century.
    That’s bad news for hydraulic fracking — the latest cure for America’s energy addiction. Fracking is a process that injects a mixture of water and rock-shattering chemicals (all benign, according to industry) into an underground shale formation with the goal of opening fissures in the rock that allow hydrocarbons to flow to the surface.
    To get an idea of how much water is involved in the process, consider that in Texas’s Eagle Ford formation, one of the country’s most prolific shale plays, it takes about 150,000 gallons to drill a single well. And that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the six million gallons that are needed to frack that same well.
    Unlike northern Alberta, there isn’t a whole lot of water flowing through Texas these days. Last summer, companies were forced to truck in water from as far away as 75 miles in order to drill their wells.
    Producers in Pennsylvania are running into similar problem trying to drill into the region’s Marcellus formation. State water authorities have cut off companies from drawing water from at least two major rivers. A shortage of water forced one producer, Breitling Oil and Gas, to shutter production from more than ten percent of its wells.
    When it comes to achieving energy independence, the ongoing drought in the US Midwest is an unexpected obstacle. Production from North Dakota’s Bakken play, already at 700,000 barrels a day, holds the potential to double and even triple, according to the IEA. That forecast, however, is critically contingent on sourcing adequate supplies of water. Simply put, without water you can’t frack.
    We’re already seeing a tug of war between the water needs of the fracking boom in the Bakken and barge traffic on the Mississippi.
    North Dakota wants to tap reservoirs that feed the Missouri River for fracking. Others want that water diverted to the Mississippi to ensure the river maintains the minimum level needed for shipping. South of St. Louis, low water levels are threatening to shut down commercial barge traffic.
    Drought and fracking clearly don’t mix. Will America’s shale revolution soon run out of water?
    – Jeff Rubin, Transition Voice


    As Fracking Increases, So Do Fears About Water Supply

    Jennifer Whitney for The Texas Tribune

    Hugh Fitzsimons, a bison rancher in Carrizo Springs, at the old windmill that produces two gallons of water a minute to supply his animals.

    Jennifer Whitney for The Texas Tribune
    A basin collects the water pumped by the windmill. Mr. Fitzsimons says water used in nearby fracking is reducing his supply.
    “We just can’t sustain it,” Hugh Fitzsimons, a Dimmit County bison rancher who serves on the board of his local groundwater district, said last month as he drove his pickup down a dusty road.
    From 2009 to 2012, water production from one well on his ranch fell by two-thirds, a problem Mr. Fitzsimons linked to nearby wells pumping water for fracking operations. A study commissioned by his groundwater district found that in a five-county area that includes Dimmit, fracking reduces the amount of water in the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer by the equivalent of one-third of the aquifer’s recharge. Recharge means the amount of water an aquifer regains from precipitation and other factors.
    The amount of water used in hydraulic fracturing — roughly 4 million to 6 million gallons per oil or gas well — has stirred concerns around Texas as the drought wears on and the drilling boom continues.
    Studies say that fracking consumes less than 1 percent of the total water used statewide, far less than agriculture or even watering lawns. But in some drilling hotbeds like Dimmit County, the proportion of water used for fracking has reached the double digits and is growing along with the oil boom. Companies are springing up to offer recycling, and some drillers are able to use brackish water, but those technologies are often not cost-effective.
    Oil and gas companies are “in the spotlight right now,” said Representative James L. Keffer, Republican of Eastland, the chairman of the Texas House Energy Resources Committee. Because drillers have increased their water use only recently, he said, “they have to prove themselves a little harder than others at this point in time.”
    The article goes on to say:
    In 2011, Texas used a greater number of barrels of water for oil and natural gas fracking (about 632 million) than the number of barrels of oil it produced (about 441 million), according to figures from the Texas Water Development Board and the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator.
    The U.T. study, published in January, found that the amount of water used statewide for fracking more than doubled between 2008 and 2011. The amount is expected to increase before leveling off in the 2020s. 
    The study’s lead author, Jean-Philippe Nicot of the University of Texas, has calculated that in 2011, nearly a quarter of the water used in Dimmit County went toward fracking. He projects that the figure will rise to about a third in a few years.
    Read More:

    Groups Urge Investigation of EPA Actions in Texas Water Contamination Case

    Coalition asks Inspector General to determine whether political meddling led agency to drop probe of gas drilling company

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - More than 80 organizations from 12 states and a New York state senator today called on the inspector general of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to investigate a decision to drop legal action against a drilling company despite evidence that it had polluted residents’ well water near Fort Worth, Texas.
    Go here for the letter and full list of signatories:
    The organizations sent a letter to EPA Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr., asking him to broaden an ongoing investigation of a case that made national news last year when the EPA dropped an enforcement action against Range Resources Ltd. after earlier invoking rare emergency authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act. New York State Senator Tony Avella is sending a similar letter later today. Elkins began investigating the case after six U.S. senators asked him last June to determine whether EPA had followed proper procedures.
    Associated Press and other news outlets have recently brought new information to light that raises additional questions about EPA’s commitment to protecting the public.
    The case began in 2010 when EPA found that Range’s natural gas drilling near Forth Worth had “caused or contributed” to pollution of residents’ well water with benzene and dangerous levels of methane. The agency issued an emergency order requiring Range to provide drinking water to two families and to install meters in their homes to monitor explosion risks, among other actions.
    The drilling industry and other critics charged that EPA’s decision to drop the case was proof that it had “rushed to judgment” and that Range had not polluted the families’ water. EPA did not explain its decision, issuing only a two-sentence statement describing its withdrawal as an opportunity to work with Range to make drilling safer. The EPA also withdrew the requirement that Range provide the families with drinking water.
    Last month (January 2013), the Associated Press reported that the EPA made its decision even though a 2011 report it commissioned from an independent scientist had strongly suggested that one of Range’s natural gas wells was the source of the water contamination. EPA did not mention that report when it announced its reversal.
    The organizations' letter calls on the inspector general to investigate why the EPA did not mention the scientist’s analysis, whether the EPA had a scientific basis for dropping the case against Range and whether the EPA had responded to political pressure, including recently-disclosed communications from Ed Rendell, former Pennsylvania governor and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
    “We fear that the EPA has failed in its duty to protect people’s health,” said Paul Gallay, President of New York-based Riverkeeper. “As a critical decision about fracking looms in New York state, we are left wondering what science and data have been kept secret from our experts and decision makers. All eyes are on Governor Cuomo to protect New Yorkers, and we urge him to take a step back and see what other information is hidden that could prevent an informed decision.”
    “Range Resources went behind-closed-doors and solicited special favors rather than be a good neighbor to homeowners whose drinking water was polluted by Range’s drilling,” said Earthworks Energy Program Director Bruce Baizel. He continued, “The fact they were successful calls into question all public oversight of oil and gas development.”
    “EPA’s inexplicable decision to drop the case adds to a growing concern that drilling regulation is woefully inadequate even as drillers push into more populated areas from New York to California,” said EWG Senior Counsel Dusty Horwitt. “The public must have confidence that the EPA is acting to protect our health and drinking water, not corporate profits.”
    Associated Press reported that Steven Lipsky, whose family EPA identified as having been affected by the contamination, can light his well water on fire and now pays $1,000 a month to have water delivered.


    Health consultants say they finished fracking review weeks ago

    5:22 PM, Feb 8, 2013A drilling rig is seen Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 in Dimock, Pa. State regulators blame faulty gas wells for leaking methane into the groundwater in Dimock, Pa. It was the first serious case of methane migration related to the Pennsylvania 3-year-old drilling boom, raising fears of potential environmental harm throughout the giant Marcellus Shale gas field.
    A drilling rig is seen Friday, Oct. 14, 2011 in Dimock, Pa. State regulators blame faulty gas wells for leaking methane into the groundwater in Dimock, Pa. It was the first serious case of methane migration related to the Pennsylvania 3-year-old drilling boom, raising fears of potential environmental harm throughout the giant Marcellus Shale gas field. / AP File Photo

    ALBANY — Three outside experts assisting New York with a health review of hydraulic fracturing say their work was completed more than a month ago, which the state Health Department didn’t reveal during lengthy testimony before lawmakers last week or in a public statement.
    UCLA professor Richard Jackson said his review was completed two months ago and has been in the hands of the state Department of Health since then, according to an email he sent to a physicians group Thursday that was obtained by Gannett’s Albany Bureau.
    The state asked Lynn Goldman, dean of George Washington University’s School of Public Health, for her last comments on the review about six weeks ago, she wrote in a separate email to Gannett. The third reviewer, John Adgate of the Colorado School of Public Health, said all three consultants finished their work at the same time.
    “At New York State Department of Health’s request, I provided pro bono review of their Health Impact Assessment almost two months ago,” Jackson wrote to the executive director of Physicians for Social Responsibility, a Washington D.C.-based group which had written him with concerns about New York’s review.
    Read More:
    February 6, 2013

    State: Firm must reduce fracking risk

    Local advocates question efficacy of agreement

    COOPERSTOWN — State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli on Tuesday heralded a new agreement with Cabot Oil and Gas that commits the company to revealing its policy for “eliminating or minimizing” the use of toxins in hydraulic fracturing fluids.
    But two local advocates for greater transparency in the chemicals used to frack shale formations for natural gas said the agreement stops short of telling the public precisely what toxic substances those fluids contain.
    The article goes on to say: 
    Lou Allstadt of Cooperstown, a retired Mobil Oil Corp. vice president who oversaw the company’s drilling operations in the Western Hemisphere, said he questioned the significance of the agreement, noting the public will still be in the dark on the makeup of Cabot’s fracking fluids.
    “If Cabot comes through with what they said they would do, all we will know is what Cabot’s procedures are to try to use less toxic chemicals,” Allstadt said. “That doesn’t mean they will not be toxic. It doesn’t mean they will not be spilled. It just means they say they are trying to use less toxic chemicals.”

    Range Resources denies intentionally providing inaccurate 

    water testing results

    By Linda Metz   Staff Writer 

    Range Resources denied Tuesday it intentionally provided inaccurate water testing results to three Amwell Township families who attribute their health problems to drilling activity near their homes.

    Washington County President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca heard preliminary objections in the 182-page lawsuit that was filed by attorneys John and Kendra Smith on behalf of Stacey, Harley and Paige Haney; Beth, John and Ashley Voyles; and Loren and Grace Kiskadden.

    The lawsuit claims Range knew its Marcellus Shale gas development operation on the Yeager farm on McAdams Road in Amwell Township had contaminated the groundwater with chemicals from a leaking drilling waste pit and a 3 million-gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid flowback impoundment as early as November 2010.

    In addition to Range, the lawsuit names Gateway Engineers, New Dominion Construction, Red Oak Water Transfer, Terrafix Environmental Technology, SKAPS Industries, Engineered Synthetic Products Inc., Microbac Laboratories, Multi-Chem Group, Universal Well Services, Halliburton Energy Services, Saxon Drilling, Highland Environmental, EAP Industries, Test America and engineers Carla Suszowki and Scott Rusmisel.

    The three families, who live below the drilling site, claim they suffer a multitude of health problems, including nosebleeds, headaches and dizziness, skin rashes, stomachaches, ear infections, nausea, numbness in extremities, loss of sense of smell and bone pain.

    Range has argued the plaintiffs have offered no proof their illnesses are linked to the drilling activity.

    The plaintiffs claim Range did not provide them full water sampling results, which would have shown an array of contaminants related to their illnesses.

    According to Kendra Smith, Range purposely omitted certain findings from the water testing results that showed contamination. She said the drilling company misrepresented the results even though it knew that the property owners were frantically trying to find the cause of their illnesses.

    Message from Mexico: U.S. Is Polluting Water

    It May Someday Need to Drink


    Mexico City plans to draw drinking water from a mile-deep aquifer, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The Mexican effort challenges a key tenet of U.S. clean water policy: that water far underground can be intentionally polluted because it will never be used.
    U.S. environmental regulators have long assumed that reservoirs located thousands of feet underground will be too expensive to tap. So even as population increases, temperatures rise, and traditional water supplies dry up, American scientists and policy-makers often exempt these deep aquifers from clean water protections and allow energy and mining companies to inject pollutants directly into them.
    As ProPublica has reported in an ongoing investigation about America's management of its underground water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued more than 1,500 permits for companies to pollute such aquifers in some of the driest regions. Frequently, the reason was that the water lies too deep to be worth protecting.
    But Mexico City's plans to tap its newly discovered aquifer suggest that America is poisoning wells it might need in the future.
    Indeed, by the standard often applied in the U.S., American regulators could have allowed companies to pump pollutants into the aquifer beneath Mexico City.
    For example, in eastern Wyoming, an analysis showed that it would cost half a million dollars to construct a water well into deep, but high-quality aquifer reserves. That, plus an untested assumption that all the deep layers below it could only contain poor-quality water, led regulators to allow a uranium mine to inject more than 200,000 gallons of toxic and radioactive waste every day into the underground reservoirs.
    But south of the border, worsening water shortages have forced authorities to look ever deeper for drinking water.
    Read More:
     January 18, 2013

    OCCA: Local gas leases dwindling

    Gas leases are drying up in Otsego County, according to the latest information compiled by the Otsego County Conservation Association. 
    The Cooperstown-based environmental group has been tracking leased land in the county since 2008 using public records. The map shows all parcels found to have been under a gas or oil lease since the late 1990s, and the status of those leases as of Dec. 7. No new leases were identified since the last version of the map was published in December 2010, but expiring leases and other factors have reduced the amount of acreage countywide under lease, according to a media release from OCCA.
    According to updates made by OCCA Environmental Planner Rima Shamieh and Martha Clarvoe, special projects manager, 1,165 parcels totaling 70,654 acres, or 11 percent of the land in the county have been under at least one lease since the late 1990s. Of those 70,654 acres, only 29,065 were still under a valid lease as of Dec. 7.
    “The acreage leased in the county dropped from 11 percent of the total land area to 4.5 percent. That’s a huge decrease. And, the vast majority of those leases expired rather than being terminated prematurely, while none of them have been renewed,” Shamieh said in the release. 
    “The original map, made public in December 2008, showed that 6.61 percent of the county had been leased. By April 2009 this figure had risen to just over 9 percent, and had reached 11 percent by December 2010,” OCCA Executive Director Darla M. Youngs said in the release. 
    Other changes noted by the mapmakers include: 
    • 36 percent of the acreage that was under a lease has had its lease released or terminated (extinguished) by the gas company and is no longer under a lease.
    • A significant number of leases, covering 16,429 acres and 281 parcels, have expired but have not been formally released (let go or extinguished) by the company holding the lease.
    OCCA produced its first gas lease map in 2008 as a visual tool for local governments to be able to track activity within their boundaries and so that municipalities might consider drafting land use regulations or modifying existing laws to address concerns. The information is provided “as is,” and OCCA makes no guarantee or warranty concerning its accuracy or completeness. The revised map will be made available via the OCCA website at
    Read More:

    Fracking ban rally outside State of State address

    By WKTV News

    ALBANY, N.Y. (WKTV) - Over 1,500 New Yorkers from every corner of the state descended on Albany Wednesday to rally against fracking outside of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State address.

    The group delivered a clear message calling for the governor to reject fracking, implement a statewide ban, and be a leader in clean, renewable energy for New York and the nation.

    “New Yorkers simply want Governor Cuomo to listen to the people he represents and would be most impacted by fracking, not the gas industry,” said Natalie Merchant of New Yorkers Against Fracking.

    Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address, which is expected to include the announcement of initiatives to address climate change and protect the environment, comes just days after a coalition of national environmental and progressive groups sent him a letter urging his leadership on climate change.

    Gas field workers cited in Pa. hospital's losses

    Written by
    Associated Press

    3:06 PM, Dec 24, 2012 

    JERSEY SHORE, Pa. – The first operating loss in about five years at a north-central Pennsylvania hospital is a sign of the influx of natural gas field workers without health insurance, the facility’s CEO said.

    Jersey Shore Hospital president and CEO Carey Plummer told the Sun-Gazette of Williamsport that many subcontractors attracted to the area’s Marcellus Shale drilling boom do not cover employees.
    That has brought a growing number of uninsured people to the community-owned, nonprofit hospital, Plummer said.
    “We had a loss,” Plummer said. “I don’t think it’s a sign of the economy. I think it’s the influx of the gas, industry and those who lack insurance.”
    The hospital reported an operating loss of $770,000 while providing more than $3 million in care to people unable to pay in its most recent fiscal year. The uncompensated care figure is the highest it has ever seen.

    Other significant factors contributing to the hospital’s losses include cuts in Medicaid reimbursements, employee salary increases and higher pension costs, Plummer said.


    Oil, gas drilling rile West's energy embrace  


    Associated Press

    Monday, Dec. 17, 2012

     -- This used to be a land proud of its oil barons. Now the energy industry that has brought wealth and jobs across the interior West is prompting angry protests by citizens sporting gas masks and using bullhorns at public hearings.
    A generation after the fictional oil tycoons of the TV soap "Dynasty" gave Denver's oil and gas industry a glamorous sheen, the Rocky Mountain region appears to be questioning its romance with the industry. New drilling technology has moved oil and gas production from the sparsely populated plains, where oil rigs are embraced as job creators, closer to cities and suburbs. Now, conflicts are increasing along the populous eastern fringe of the Rockies.
    Gas-mask-wearing protesters are confronting city and county officials considering whether to limit or ban hydraulic fracturing, a drilling procedure in which water, sand and chemicals are forced deep underground to pry oil and gas from rock. Fracking, as the procedure is called, has led to an energy boom in areas previously unattractive to energy producers, but it is also raising concerns about air and water quality.

    The protests in Colorado have gotten intense. At hearings across the state, shouting opponents harass oil and gas representatives. Even Colorado's governor, a Democrat and former geologist who says fracking is safe, has been mobbed by protesters. Leaving a suburban Denver meeting about drilling earlier this fall, Gov. John Hickenlooper ducked into an SUV and pulled away as a crowd of protesters, some of them children, chanted, "Dirty water, dirty air, we get sick and you don't care!"
    Opposition to fracking has also surfaced in Idaho, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has probed whether the procedure may be responsible for groundwater contamination near the Wyoming town of Pavillion. State officials and others have disputed that claim.
    The West's anti-fracking movement hit a watershed moment in a Denver suburb in this year's elections. Longmont, a town of about 85,000 located 30 miles from Denver, voted overwhelmingly to buck state law and prohibit fracking in the city, setting up a legal showdown over whether individual communities can challenge the powerful Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission, which regulates the industry statewide.

    Read more here:


    AG inquires about conflicts on fracking 

    votes in Southern Tier

    7:55 PM, Dec 11, 2012   

    Eric Schneiderman
    FILE - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman answers a question during a news conference in 2011. / Anonymous/AP Photo
    The New York State Attorney General’s Office has launched an ethics inquiry concerning votes by Southern Tier town board members related to natural gas drilling, according to documents obtained by the Press & Sun-Bulletin.
    In single-page letters sent in October, Assistant Attorney General Judith Malkin indicated that drilling-related action by town boards earlier in the year raised questions about potential conflicts of interest.
    “We have been alerted to concerns about Windsor Town Board members with signed gas leases voting on issues related to hydrofracking,” one of the letters states. “This concern raises possible conflict of interest issues.” “In that regard,” the letter adds, “would you please send us a copy of the town’s ethics    code.”  Read More: 


    New York’s Attorney General Files Intent to Sue EPA for Failing 

    to Address Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas Industry



    A Cornell study released last year, lead by Professor of Ecology and Environmental Biology Robert Howarth, was the first of its kind to study the global warming impact of natural gas extraction from shale deposits. The conclusion was that fracking releases up to 8 percent of the extracted methane directly into the atmosphere, and reports that all methane will contribute to 44 percent of global warming. Photo Andrew Michler
    According to a press release today from New York’s Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman:
    Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of seven states, today notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of his intent to sue the Agency for violating the Clean Air Act by failing to address methane emissions from the oil and natural gas industry. EPA has determined that methane is a powerful climate change pollutant emitted by the industry in large quantities. Because of this, and the availability of affordable methods for controlling the industry’s methane emissions, Attorney General Schneiderman’s coalition charges that EPA violated the Clean Air Act when it largely ignored methane in recent updates to air pollution emission standards for the industry.

    Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas. Pound for pound, it warms the climate about 25 times more than carbon dioxide. EPA has found that the impacts of climate change caused by methane include “increased air and ocean temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, melting and thawing of global glaciers and ice, increasingly severe weather events—such as hurricanes of greater intensity—and sea level rise.” In 2009, EPA determined that methane and other greenhouse gases endanger the public’s health and welfare.
    The EPA’s decision not to directly address the emissions of methane from oil and natural gas operations—includinghydrofracking—leaves almost 95% of these emissions uncontrolled. 
    Read More:                     ____________________________________________________________________________
    Toxic Fracking Wastewater Banned in 

    A coalition of health and environmental groups gathered in White Plains today to congratulate the Westchester County Board of Legislators for unanimously voting to prohibit the sale, application and disposal of waste products from natural gas drilling anywhere in the county.
    The new law, which applies to all wastewater treatment plants and all roads within the county, bans the sale of fracking waste, the processing of fracking waste at wastewater treatment plants, and the spreading of fracking wastewater on roads including applications for de-icing and dust control purposes. The groups are urging County Executive Rob Astorino to sign the bi-partisan legislation immediately.
    High volume hydraulic fracturing also known as “hydrofracking” or “fracking” involves drilling deep underground into shale deposits and injecting millions of gallons of water and hundreds of toxic chemicals at high pressure to fracture the shale and release the gas. Much of this highly toxic mixture returns to the surface with the gas along with other contaminants including heavy metals, volatile organic compounds, brine (approximately eight times saltier than sea water) and high levels of naturally occurring radioactive materials—including radium-226 and radium-228—which are known human carcinogens. Radium-226 has a half-life of 1600 years and is linked to bone, liver and breast cancers; other chemicals in fracking fluid are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
    “Whether or not hydrofracking is permitted in New York State, radioactive fracking waste poses an immediate public health threat since it is produced by vertical gas wells in New York and is permitted for de-icing and dust control and is also accepted from Pennsylvania for dumping in landfills in New York State” said Ellen Weininger, educational outreach director for Grassroots Environmental Education, based in Rye, New York.
    “With lax oversight from the state and absence of federal regulations, local governments need to step in to protect their citizens from dangerous exposures. We strongly commend the board of legislators for fulfilling that responsibility entrusted to them by the people of Westchester County by passing this critically important legislation.”
    _______________________________________________________ Bayou Frack-Out: The Massive Oil and Gas Disaster You've Never Heard Of
    Thursday, 06 December 2012 10:21By Mike LudwigTruthout | Report
    Sink Hole.The picturesque bayous in Assumption Parish are now contaminated with natural gas. (Photo: Jeff Dubinsky / Louisiana Environmental Action Network)For residents in Assumption Parish, the boiling, gas-belching bayou, with its expanding toxic sinkhole and quaking earth is no longer a mystery; but there is little comfort in knowing the source of the little-known event that has forced them out of their homes.
    Located about 45 miles south of Baton Rouge, Assumption Parish carries all the charms and curses of southern Louisiana. Networks of bayous, dotted with trees heavy with Spanish moss, connect with the Mississippi River as it slowly ambles toward the Gulf of Mexico. Fishermen and farmers make their homes there, and so does the oil and gas industry, which has woven its own network of wells, pipelines and processing facilities across the lowland landscape.
    The first sign of the oncoming disaster was the mysterious appearance of bubbles in the bayous in the spring of 2012. For months the residents of a rural community in Assumption Parish wondered why the waters seemed to be boiling in certain spots as they navigated the bayous in their fishing boats.
    Then came the earthquakes. The quakes were relatively small, but some residents reported that their houses shifted in position, and the tremors shook a community already desperate for answers. State officials launched an investigation into the earthquakes and bubbling bayous in response to public outcry, but the officials figured the bubbles were caused by a single source of natural gas, such as a pipeline leak. They were wrong.
    On a summer night in early August, the earth below the Bayou Corne, located near a small residential community in Assumption, simply opened up and gave way. Several acres of swamp forest were swallowed up and replaced with a gaping sinkhole that filled itself with water, underground brines, oil and natural gas from deep below the surface. Since then, the massive sinkhole at Bayou Corne has grown to 8 acres in size.
    On August 3, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a statewide emergency, and local officials in Assumption ordered the mandatory evacuation of about 300 residents of more than 150 homes located about a half-mile from the sinkhole. Four months later, officials continue to tell residents that they do not know when they will be able to return home. A few have chosen to ignore the order and have stayed in their homes, but the neighborhood is now quiet and nearly vacant. Across the road from the residential community, a parking lot near a small boat launch ramp has been converted to a command post for state police and emergency responders.

    (Photo: Jeffrey Dubinsky / Louisiana Environmental Action Network)


    Pipelines Explained: How Safe are America’s 2.5 Million Miles of Pipelines?

    Map of major natural gas and oil pipelines in the United States. Hazardous liquid lines in red, gas transmission lines in blue. Source: Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

    At 6:11 p.m. on September 6, 2010, San Bruno, Calif. 911 received an urgent call. A gas station had just exploded and a fire with flames reaching 300 feet was raging through the neighborhood. The explosion was so large that residents suspected an airplane crash. But the real culprit was found underground: a ruptured pipeline spewing natural gas caused a blast that left behind a 72 foot long crater, killed eight people, and injured more than fifty.
    Over 2,000 miles away in Michigan, workers were still cleaning up another pipeline accident, which spilled 840,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. Estimated to cost $800 million, the accident is the most expensive pipeline spill in U.S. history.
    Anti-fracking vote could raise volume in Fort Collins

    Longmont's Election Day action is a call to arms for Fort Collins residents who are worried about drilling.   Nov 10, 2012 

    Written by
    Bobby Magill

    On Election Day, Longmont voters said five words to Big Oil:         Don’t frack up our city.
    Voters approved Longmont’s measure banning hydraulic        fracturing, Question 300, by a nearly 20 percent margin, an overwhelming rebuke of modern oil and gas drilling within city     limits despite the oil industry’s $500,000 campaign against the measure.
    Longmont’s call to arms against fracking is reverberating in Fort Collins, where residents and many elected officials are worried Northern Colorado’s oil and gas boom could one day visit the Choice City and foul its air, water and quality of life.
    “The message sent by the voters in Longmont is loud and                clear — their citizens do not want fracking in their town, and I imagine the citizens of Fort Collins won’t want it here, either,”          said Fort Collins City Councilwoman Lisa Poppaw.
    Read More:

    City losing expected $278,000

    10/18, 2012  By MARK MARONEY - , Williamsport Sun-Gazette     

    The city administration(Williamsport, PA) was informed Wednesday it is expected to receive a little more than half of the amount of money from Marcellus Shale gas drilling impact fees than it had anticipated and planned to include in the 2013 budget.

    The Public Utility Commission reports that Williamsport will receive $259,597. Originally, Mayor Gabriel J. Campana expected the city to receive $538,000 that he was going to use in planning the upcoming budget.
    "That's an additional blow to the taxpayers," Campana said.
    City taxpayers may have to anticipate an increase in real estate taxes, he said.
    The city faces a $1.5 million shortfall requiring a 2-mill tax increase, but Campana said it won't be that much.
    "I am taking pre-emptive measures and bold steps to reduce the size of government and bring alternative sources of revenue into the city next year," he said. Next year's payroll will be lighter under a plan that Campana will announce in early November.
    City engineer John Grado said he was told the calculation of how the impact fee money was distributed has to do with population and mileage from wells.
    "The city was apparently five miles from a vertical well, but not five miles from a horizontal well," he told the city finance committee Wednesday.
    Asked from where the city received the original higher estimate, Campana said it was from a report done by Delta Development Group, a Mechanicsburg consulting firm that has looked at long-range economic development for the city.
    It also was what the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry interest group, estimated the city would receive by the end of the year, Campana said.
    Campana said he's disturbed because the money has to be used for impacts caused by gas industries, such as road reconstruction and housing.

    Methane bubbling near Chesapeake drilling operations in Black Creek, Forks Township, Sullivan County, PA.
    (Image: Responsible Drilling Alliance)
    by Morgan Myers and Ralph Kisberg  
    DUSHORE, PA - The Department of Environmental Protection is investigating two methane migration incidents near Chesapeake Energy drilling operations in Forks Township, Sullivan County. One incident occurred in the Black Creek area, and the other near Pleasant Valley Road.
    Although DEP has not yet determined the cause of either methane migration, an abandoned well from the 1950's was discovered around a mile northwest of the Pleasant Valley Road problem area.
    DEP detected combustible gas at the surface of the ground above the abandoned BJ Broschart well in Forks Township. A township resident reported to RDA that the well was drilled to a depth of 7,000' and never put into production.
    "Since the well is considered an orphaned well, with no viable operator, the department assumed the responsibility of plugging the well through the Orphaned Well Plugging Fund," said Spadoni.
    Hydrocarbon Well Services well-plugging site 
    (Image: RDA)
    DEP hired Hydrocarbon Well Services to plug the orphaned well through an emergency contract.
    "Had we not taken this action, this well would have simply been added to a list of thousands of orphaned wells waiting to be plugged, and it could have taken many years," said Spadoni.
    Read More:



    Shale drilling bans pose serious 'access challenge' for U.S. producers


    A well-organized campaign to convince local governments in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio to ban natural gas drilling poses a real threat to the industry's boast that it can supply 100 years' worth of gas to U.S. consumers, analysts say.
    Thirty-nine communities in New York have imposed outright bans on unconventional gas drilling. About 100 more have passed moratoriums. Restrictions imposed by Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and towns in the Catskill Mountains raised the profile of the ban movement this year, as local critics of unconventional drilling race the clock to boot out producers before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) lifts the state's broader moratorium.
    "The reality is that you have an increasing access challenge as you move into new areas, as you move into communities that aren't used to this," said Michael Levi, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "That is the biggest supply-side issue, not the details of regulation or the details of tax policy when it comes to the big, long-term picture for the resource."
    A year ago, the movement to ban hydraulic fracturing -- the process of tapping shale gas deposits a mile underground by injecting water, sand and chemicals at a high pressure -- wasn't viewed as an insurmountable threat. Most moratoriums and ordinances banning the practice have fallen along geographical lines. Towns near the Pennsylvania border favor drilling the region's sprawling Marcellus Shale gas reserves, while communities in central and western New York, outside of the heart of the Marcellus, have been more likely to oppose drilling.

    Letter: Break state tie to health study

    Impact of hydrofracking needs independent test, experts say
    Updated 3:48 p.m., Friday, October 5, 2012
    ALBANY — Hydrofracking opponents aren't satisfied with the idea of the state reviewing its own health impact analysis on the natural gas drilling technique, perhaps the most controversial chapter of the long-awaited master plan for the possible implementation of fracking in New York.
    The Department of Environmental Conservation study will be reviewed by the state Department of Health, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced last month.
    But "the health department is a political entity," said David O. Carpenter, the director of the University at Albany's Institute for Health and the Environment.
    Carpenter speaks from experience: He served for five years as director of DOH's Wadsworth Labs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Carpenter said he saw the administration of Gov. Hugh Carey work to undercut research into the harmful effects of radon gas during a period when the executive branch was trying to boost the use of insulation in homes to save energy.
    Carpenter was among scores of medical professionals who signed a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling for a fully independent health impact assessment. The letter, dated Thursday, criticized the plan for a DOH review as "halfhearted and questionable.
    Read more:

    _________________________Fracked Memory

    by Robert H. Boyle and Bruce Ferguson on August 30, 2012 
    Bradley J. Field has amnesia.
    Field is the director of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Mineral Resources, the agency responsible for putting together the high-volume-fracking environmental-impact statement that’s supposed to protect New Yorkers against pollution and prevent the release of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
    Amnesia hit Field after our previous Metroland piece [“Field of Distortions,” June 28] revealed that he’s a certified signer of the Global Warming Petition, which urges the United States to reject the Kyoto Protocol because “the proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.”
    Official word of Field’s amnesia came from DEC spokeswoman Emily DeSantis. Apparently the director is no longer able to talk to the media, so when fracking blogger Tom Wilber picked up on our story and inquired if Field had in fact signed the petition, DeSantis replied, “He does not recall.”
    Really? Signing the Global Warming Petition isn’t a simple deal where a man can just scribble his name and then put it out of mind.
    The Global Warming Petition Project, to use its formal name, recruits signatories by mailing a packet to those it considers “scientists,” no matter what their actual area of expertise. A cover letter states, “It is especially important for America to hear from its citizens who have the training necessary to evaluate the relevant data and offer sound advice.” The packet also includes a 12-page “research” report called “Environmental Effects of Carbon Dioxide” that’s designed to look like a paper published by the National Academy of Sciences—a con job so outrageous that the Academy not only denounced it as deliberately deceptive but also reaffirmed the scientific consensus that human activity is causing global warming.
    The petition itself has to be signed and mailed back to the so-called Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine in the aptly named town of Cave Junction. In order to verify the signature, the Institute writes back to the signer and posts the name on the petition website only after confirmation has been received. All in all, that’s quite a lot for Field to “not recall.”
    In case you can’t swallow the line that Field can’t recall signing the petition, DeSantis offered an alternative explanation: “If Mr. Field did sign such a petition it was in his personal capacity and had no bearing on his professional duties.”  
    Read More:   _____________________________________________________August 28, 2012

    Fracking foes put heat on Gov. Cuomo

    ALBANY —  Hundreds of opponents of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas rallied outside the state Capitol on Monday in what some   said was the kickoff for even more demonstrations if Gov. Andrew Cuomo sanctions high-volume drilling in New York.
    “I think Governor Cuomo is going to have a harder time signing off now on fracking after this demonstration of opposition,”   said Matt Frisch of Arkville, Delaware County, employed as a public school teacher in New York City.
    Speaker after speaker — including documentary filmmaker Josh Fox, actress Debra Winger and ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber   — exhorted Cuomo to abandon what they said were apparently imminent plans to allow the controversial shale gas extraction   technique in New York.                                               Read More:
    Yogurt industry, fracking don't mix

    Written by
    Sandra Steingraber and Michelle Bamberger

    5:54 PM, Aug. 20, 2012  |  
    Gov. Andrew Cuomo rightly held a “yogurt summit” last week. Greek yogurt — loved by children and nutritionists alike — has become a signature product of upstate New York, providing a much-needed boost to our economy as well. And when the Southern Tier’s own Chenango County-based yogurt maker Chobani debuted a national advertisement during the Olympic Games — as an official sponsor of Team USA, no less — it was hard not to feel proud of our cows, our athletes and the agricultural landscape that makes it all possible.
    Upstate dairy farmers face obstacles as they try to meet the milk demands of the state’s rapidly growing yogurt manufacturers. One of those obstacles is fracking.
    The governor appears perilously close to lifting the four-year moratorium on unconventional shale gas development in our state. If so, he will open the cow-filled counties of the Southern Tier to the water-destroying, air-polluting, accident-prone, chemically dependent industry called fracking.
    This is deeply alarming. We need only look at the evidence emerging from of Pennsylvania, where fracking is booming, to predict the effects on our own cows. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of dairy cows in Pennsylvania counties with 150 or more shale gas wells decreased, on average, by 18.7 percent. (They declined only 1.2 percent in counties without Marcellus wells.) Similarly, fracked counties experienced an average 18.5 percent drop in total milk production (compared to an average increase of 0.9 percent in unfrocked counties).

    ___________________________ Another possible environmental disaster for Louisiana

  • AUGUST 10, 2012
  • Bay Corne area sinkhole expands

    Unstable ground, toxic fumes, a slurry mysteriously forming, and the possible collapse of a salt mine that is being used to store flammable materials has caused the LouisianaGovernor, Bobby Jindal, to declared a state of emergency. He declared the emergency last Friday and ordered an immediate evacuation of 150 homes due to unstable ground, toxic fumes, and a slurry opening up in an adjacent swamp that swallowed several tall trees.
    A slurry, or sinkhole, that appeared in Assumption Parish is causing local residence some understandable worries. Lack of information has many citizens extremely irritated while scientists and State agencies try to figure out what is going on.
    What started out as small tremors turned into bubbling slurries. These findings were first reported on May 30 in Bayou Corne. It was thought that there may have been a gas leak coming from a nearby abandon well.
    On August 3, local residences were experiencing headaches and nausea from a strong diesel smell. It is believed that the fumes were coming from what now has turned into a huge sinkhole located between Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou.
    Highway 70 had to be temporarily shut down due to ground movement causing a gas line to shift. The highway was reopened on Sunday after the gas lines had been depressurized. The sinkhole has grown over the last few days from an estimated 200 feet in diameter to 372 feet. The sinkhole is an estimated 422 feet deep. In a press release from the Assumption Parish Police Jury dated August 9, the slurry has grown between 10 to 20 feet overnight.
    It has been determined that gas is not coming from any local abandon wells or pipelines but the sinkhole and the strong diesel smell still remains. Residences are concerned because Bayou Corne and Grande Bayou have an abandoned salt dome below them. Tests are being conducted to see if the salt mine had been compromised. In addition, highly flammable gas such as butane and other products are being stored in the mine. Most of these products are currently being removed but the threat of collapse still has the communities extremely worried.
    Tests for naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) have also been conducted with no apparent concern for local residence and wildlife. Meanwhile, DEQ has increased their monitoring efforts of the slurry site. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness (GOHSEP) continues to coordinate communication and requests for support among local, state and federal agencies according to their latest incident update release.
    The US Geological Survey has been monitoring the bubbles while the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) continue conducting tests on and near the site. Other agencies are also aiding in the monitoring activities such as the Louisiana National Guard who are conducting nighttime air support at the request of local officials. GOHSEP continues to stay on alert and are monitoring the situation. They will be conducting a press conference later this afternoon.

    Doctors and Scientists Present Gov. Cuomo with Fracking Science Digest  7.16.12

    Grassroots Environmental Education

    A compilation of independent scientific studies and reports related to the health impacts of hydrofracking was presented to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo today by a representative of a delegation of medical doctors and scientists.

    In a cover letter, the experts have requested a meeting with the Governor to discuss his desire for “the facts and logic and science and information,” which he says will be the basis for his decision on the controversial gas drilling technique. The 275-page digest, culled from tens of thousands of pages of scientific findings, was prepared expressly for the Governor by Grassroots Environmental Education.

    “The Governor cannot possibly make an informed decision on one of the most important public health issues of our lifetime based solely on industry-sponsored science, or agency reports that do not include any analysis of the public health impacts of hydro-fracking, particularly on the most vulnerable, which includes our children,” says Dr. Ronald Bishop, professor of biochemistry at SUNY/Oneonta and author of two of the eighteen studies included in the digest.

    Read More:


    The Wall Street Journal

    $1.6M settlement in Pa. gas drilling lawsuit

    Updated June 22, 2012, 3:38 p.m. ET

    PITTSBURGH — Three northeastern Pennsylvania families have reached a $1.6 million settlement with a gas drilling company over contaminated water wells.

    But Jared McMicken of Wyalusing said the agreement reached Thursday provides little comfort since his drinking water was ruined by nearby drilling, and his family must move.

    "We've lost our house, and we're not going to get out of it what we got into it," he said. "We have a bunch of people who have to leave their homes."

    The dispute with Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy began in 2010. Wyalusing is about 160 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

    McMicken said he and the other families in the case insisted that any settlement be made public. The arbitration trial began this week and was settled on the fourth day.

    Attorney Todd O'Malley said he believes this is the first case involving pollution in the Marcellus Shale region where settlement terms were publicly disclosed. Past disputes have been sealed.
    Read More:

    June 20, 2012

    Middlefield wins another round in gas battle

    State Supreme Court Justice Donald Cerio on Tuesday rejected a request by lawyers for landowner Jennifer Huntington to reopen her lawsuit challenging the Middlefield gas drilling ban so that "newly discovered facts" could be considered.
    Cerio ruled that the alleged new evidence -- a 1981 legislative bill memo that had not been submitted by Huntington's lawyers when the lawsuit was filed last year -- did not constitute new facts and did not support the contention that it was the intent of the state Legislature to prevent towns from zoning out gas drilling."To conclude from a reading of this passage that the legislative intent was to disenfranchise local authorities from implementing local land use regulation would seem a leap of constructive interpretation which this court cannot embrace," Cerio wrote in his decision.                                                                                              
    The new ruling keeps intact Cerio's decision Feb. 24 that upheld Middlefield's authority to enact zoning changes that keep out gas drillers.
    Read More: _________________________________________________________________

    Contributed Photo
    Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo just installed this solar array next to his home in Callicoon.
    From gamma rays to solar rays: Ruffalo’s newest project

    By Dan HustCALLICOON — Much of the world knows Mark Ruffalo these days as The Incredible Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner in Marvel’s recent blockbuster, “The Avengers.”
    Much of Sullivan County, meanwhile, has become familiar with the Callicoon resident as an outspoken gas drilling opponent.
    Now he’s joined the growing ranks of locals powering their homes with the sun.
    The Democrat caught up with Ruffalo last week to see how he – and anyone else – could afford a solar array.
    Q: You’re known for water and gas issues. So how and why did you decide to install a solar system?
    Well, I realized a while ago it wasn’t enough to just be against something. I had to find another way that was equally good or better than what I was fighting against.
    It’s no secret that I am against the natural gas gold rush going on in America. So I have been on the hunt for viable, job-producing alternatives.
    This is real energy independence – energy independence that does not make us even more dependent on the fossil fuel industry, an industry that drags us into wars and gouges us at the pump and at the meter.
    I want real independence, and the way we are going to get there is through renewable energy.
    We are the innovators, we are the leaders, and I am watching the world leaving us behind. I don’t like it. I feel like we are being had by the fossil fuel industry, which has no real commitment to our community or country.
    I want to walk the walk and talk the talk. I have to be part of the solution. This is one step closer to me being the world citizen I believe I can be.
    Q: How much did it cost, and did you take advantage of any incentives or grants or other aid?
    I am leasing my 14-kilowatt solar array from a company called Sungevity. I did a prepay lease for $9,003.08 (ground mount).
    Sungevity’s pricing included the incorporation of a state incentive from NYSERDA [NYS Energy Research and Development Authority] over $10,000 (state rebate) and a federal tax credit, both of which are applied to Sungevity so they can bring us affordable solar.
    This system did not involve huge upfront costs. The great thing about the system is that it can be leased with no upfront money. Most middle class families can get this system without shelling out a huge amount of cash.
    In the past, solar was prohibitive because it cost a large sum of money to put it up. With leasing, they take your monthly fee out of the energy you are saving every month by producing your own energy.
    I will be saving more than $1,200 a year with this system.
    Q: Who did the installation, and how did it go?
    Sungevity installed the system. They subcontracted local electricians and excavators. Mike Gorr did the trenching, and New York State Solar Farm did the solar install.
    Once the job was designed and approved for installation by the state and utility (about a 4- to 6-month process), the actual install job took two weeks. It is connected to the whole electrical system for the main house.
    Q: Was there anything that surprised or struck you about its installation or operation?
    I was surprised by how damn proud of it I am and how simple the entire thing is to maintain.
    Sungevity monitors the system via the Internet. They will maintain it throughout its lifetime. If there is a loss in energy, they will send someone out to get it back up to par.
    I am surprised by how little there is to do to keep it up.
    Q: Can you sell energy back to the electric company, and how soon do you expect a return on your investment?
    This is the essence of net metering: any electricity that is produced over what I use is put back on the grid and credited to me. Then my neighbor uses it.
    This is our road to energy independence. It is inexhaustible. It is ultimately free, and no one ever fought a war over a solar panel.
    The difference between this and drilling is when you have a solar spill, it’s not a nightmare, it’s a beautiful day.
    With my array, I will save about $1,300 per year in energy, and over the course of the lease, it will take 300,000 pounds of carbon out of the atmosphere.
    Q: Would you recommend this to others, and if so, do you have suggestions on how people of middle and low incomes can afford such?
    The reason I got this system was because I didn’t want to shell out $40,000 right off the top. I wanted to show to people what was possible.
    Soon we will be able to do community solar, where the community can choose to have its own solar farm. It would pay for itself through our collective use of the system. The cost is defrayed over the entire community.
    This is being done in California and parts of NY. This would be very cheap to do and employ quite a few people.
    Until then, we have leasing. Sungevity has a zero-percent-down lease option, no money out of pocket. Middle-income customers can now afford solar power.
    Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
    I love the idea of energy independence – real energy independence, not the appearance of it, but the true realization of it.
    The technology is here for a cleaner world, a safer world, a more independent world where we are not reliant on multinational corporations for our very existence. This is the truest form of democracy to me.
    The fossil fuel industry has been leading us around by the nose for the last 70 years. They take an enormous amount of our tax money in subsidies and have a good amount of politicians in their pockets. They tell us where to go to war and have cost us dearly in military conflict.
    It’s been a good run, and we have gained a lot from it. I am grateful to have had the industrial and technical revolutions. Now we are ripe for an energy revolution, a peaceful Sunlight Revolution.
    We have been given a false equivalency: fossil fuel extraction or no lights, jobs or money. It just isn’t true. We do have another way. It is available to us today. We actually get a choice.
    When I say, ‘“Power to the people,” I actually mean it. Literally. 

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________ Water Sales to Fracking Industry Stopped in Southern Ohio

    Buckeye Forest Council  6.7.2012

    The Muskingum Water Conservancy District (MWCD) announced today that it is halting water sales to the oil and gas industry pending the completion of a U.S. Geological Survey water availability study and the revision of its water supply policy.
    The MWCD cited concerns presented by members of the public and environmental groups as reason for the announcemenThe MWCD’s announcement follows a June 2 rally and protest on the steps of the Tuscarawas County Courthouse in New Philadelphia, Ohio. At the rally led by the Southeast Alliance to Save Our Water and the Buckeye Forest Council, concerned citizens came out in force to protest a potential decision by the MWCD to sell millions of gallons of public water to fracking operations.

    The rally coincided with the annual meeting of the MWCD’s Conservancy Court, a panel of 18 judges (one from each county in the district) whose mission includes reviewing and approving or denying proposed District water sales.

    Read More:     ________________________________________________________________________________________________ 

     Silencing Communities: How the Fracking Industry Keeps Its Secrets

    Tuesday, 08 May 2012 13:46By Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report
    The "Rogers" family signed a surface-use agreement with a fracking company in 2009 to close their 300-acre dairy farm in rural Pennsylvania. That's not the end of the Rogers' story, but the public, including the Rogers' own neighbors, may never learn what happened to the family and their land as drilling operations sprouted up in their area. The Rogers did not realize they had signed a nondisclosure agreement with the gas company making the entire deal invalid if members of the family discussed the terms of the agreement, water or land disturbances resulting from fracking and other information with anyone other than the gas company and other signatories.
    "Rogers" is not the family's real name, it's a pseudonym offered by Simona Perry, an applied anthropologist who cannot reveal the family's identity. Perry has been working with rural families living amid Pennsylvania's gas boom since 2009. Mrs. Rogers initially agreed to participate in a study Perry was conducting on rural families living near fracking operations. She later called Perry in tears, explaining that her family could no longer participate in the study because of the nondisclosure clause in the surface-use agreement. She told Perry she felt stupid for signing the agreement and has realized she had a good life without the money the fracking company paid them to use their land.

    Perry has been working with and collecting data on rural families living amid Pennsylvania's gas boom since 2009 and she told Truthout that the Rogers were not the only family who could not share their experiences due to nondisclosure agreements. Perry said the nondisclosure agreements prevent doctors and researchers from gathering valuable data on the health and environmental impacts of fracking and have a chilling effect on people and communities living near the rigs.

    Read More:


    Residents Fed Up with Bad Water Flee 

    Shale Drilling Areas

    APRIL 30, 2012 | 12:30 PM    BY SUSAN PHILLIPS
    Gas drilling has turned some quiet rural areas of Penn­syl­va­nia into grow­ing indus­trial zones. Res­i­dents com­plain of increased truck traf­fic, bad air, and con­t­a­m­i­nated well water. Some of those res­i­dents have turned to activism. Oth­ers have filed law­suits. But a grow­ing num­ber of Penn­syl­va­nia res­i­dents liv­ing near Mar­cel­lus Shale sites are also pack­ing up their bags and moving. The article goes on to say:
    About a year ago, Kim McEvoy’s water began to look gray. Then it turned black. She called a com­pany that drills water wells in the area. A man told her to call the gas com­pany that was drilling nearby. Before that phone call, McEvoy didn’t really know much about the gas drilling hap­pen­ing in her rural com­mu­nity. She doesn’t own a big piece of land, so the gas com­pa­nies never asked to lease her min­eral rights. But, she was hope­ful they would help with her water.
    “The gas com­pany did come out and test in April,” said McEvoy. “And I thought great I’m gonna find out why my water is this gray­ish color.”But the com­pany didn’t send her the test results until July. And even then, a list of chem­i­cals didn’t really explain much. In the mean­time, the com­pany, Rex Energy did pro­vide her with clean water that she could use to shower and clean. That ended in Jan­u­ary, after the Depart­ment of Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion con­cluded that Rex Energy’s drilling did not con­t­a­m­i­nate, or alter, McEvoy’s water sup­ply, nor the well water of other fam­i­lies who live in an area of Con­no­que­ness­ing Town­ship called the Wood­lands. A DEP spokesman says the gas wells are sep­a­rated from the water wells by sev­eral thou­sand feet, too far, he says,  to have had an impact.

    Read More:

    War Over Natural Gas About to Escalate

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    Sierra Club launches 'Beyond Gas' campaign.

    By Amy HarderShare on twitter
     MAY, 3, 2012

    Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune on the National Mall in June 2010

    The rocky relationship between one of the world’s most influential environmental groups and the natural-gas industry is headed toward full-scale combat.
    The Sierra Club is intensifying its natural-gas reform campaign and renaming it “Beyond Gas,” a spin-off of its decade-old “Beyond Coal” campaign seeking the phaseout of coal-fired power plants.
    “As we push to retire coal plants, we’re going to work to make sure we’re not simultaneously switching to natural-gas infrastructure,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune told National Journal in an interview on Wednesday. “And we’re going to be preventing new gas plants from being built wherever we can.”
    The name for the campaign was actually decided about two weeks ago but hasn’t yet appeared prominently on the group’s website, Brune said. “Beyond Gas” represents a significant expansion of the group’s ongoing efforts against increased natural-gas production and will be integrated with campaigns against the other major fossil fuels, oil and coal.
    The stronger anti-gas push is “in large part due to the emerging reality that the climate impact of gas is much worse than we thought, and the availability of renewables is much better than we thought,” Brune said.
    That 33 states now have renewable-electricity standards shows that the country is closer to depending on clean energy sch as wind and solar power than most people think, he said. “It would be the height of irony if we decrease our reliance on coal and rather than jumping to clean energy, we replace one dirty fuel with another.” 

    Butternuts OKs drilling moratorium

    The Butternuts Town Board passed a nine-month moratorium on natural gas drilling and other extraction activities, the supervisor said Monday.
    The moratorium passed, 3 to 2, after a public hearing Monday night, Supervisor Charles Eckelmann said. 

    Eckelmann said he and council members Michele Farwell and Heather Covington voted for the moratorium, and member Don Hunt and Marlene Brooks voted against it.

    The measure is for a moratorium within the town on natural gas and petroleum exploration and extraction activities, underground storage of natural gas and disposal of natural gas or petroleum extraction, exploration and production wastes.                                 

    Ecklemann said the moratorium will allow time for council members and the Butternut Town Comprehensive Plan Committee to continue reviewing issues and concerns about drilling for natural gas and its potential impacts. Comments at the public hearing Monday night were mixed over natural gas drilling and the moratorium, he said.    

    Explosion rocks natural gas compressor station                         Posted by  on 4/05/12 • 

    The Williams Lathrop Compressor Station just west of Rt. 29 suffered an explosion Wednesday. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN WOODRUFF
    Times-Shamrock Writer
    An explosion at a natural gas compressor station in Susquehanna County on Thursday morning blew a hole in the roof of the complex holding the engines, shaking homes as far as a half-mile away and drawing emergency responders from nearby counties.
    The11 a.m.blast at the Lathrop compressor station off Route 29 sent black and gray clouds billowing from the building for several hours, but the damage was contained to the site and no one was injured, said a spokeswoman for Williams Partners LP, which owns the Lathrop station.
    Automated emergency shutdown procedures stopped gas from entering or leaving the compressors, and Williams will do a full investigation of the cause and damage as soon as it is safe to go back into the building, Williams spokeswoman Helen Humphreys said.


    Colorado farms planning for dry spell losing auction bids for water to fracking projects            4.1.2012 By Bruce FinleyThe Denver Post

    Front Range farmers bidding for water to grow crops through the coming hot summer and possible drought face new competition from oil and gas drillers.
    At Colorado's premier auction for unallocated water this spring, companies that provide water for hydraulic fracturing at well sites were top bidders on supplies once claimed exclusively by farmers.
    The prospect of tussling with energy industry giants over water leaves some farmers and environmentalists uneasy.
    "What impact to our environment and our agricultural heritage are Coloradans willing to stomach for drilling and fracking?" said Gary Wockner, director of the Save the Poudre Coalition — devoted to protecting the Cache la Poudre River.
    "Farm water grows crops, but it also often supports wildlife, wetlands and streamflows back to our rivers. Most drilling and fracking water is lost from the hydrological cycle forever," Wockner said. "Any transfer of water from rivers and farms to drilling and fracking will negatively impact Colorado's environment and wildlife."                                                                                                              
    Read More: Finley: 303-954-1700 or


    Fracking is illegal in North Carolina. And with any luck, it will stay that way for the foreseeable future.


    Read More:

    On Election Day, Longmont voters said five words to Big Oil: Don’t frack up our city.______    

    Voters approved Longmont’s measure banning hydraulic fracturing, Question 300, by a nearly 20 percent margin, an overwhelming rebuke of modern oil and gas drilling within city limits despite the oil industry’s $500,000 campaign against the measure.      
    Longmont’s call to arms against fracking is reverberating in Fort Collins, where residents and many elected officials are worried Northern Colorado’s oil and gas boom could one day visit the Choice City and foul its air, water and quality of life.   

    A Welcome Caution Shown on Fracking

    Actually, it will take more than luck to accomplish that goal. It will take a General Assembly determined not to let industry unleash this highly questionable and controversial gas-extraction procedure within our borders until the facts about its potentially devastating impact on the environment are far clearer than they are now.

    Fortunately, there are clear signs that some key members of the Republican-controlled legislature are inclined in just such a careful direction. Three prominent members, including state Rep. Mitch Gillespie, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, took time this past week to lay out the reasons they think the state might need to wait a few years before jumping on the fracking bandwagon, if it ever does.

    Conservation is Conservative


    Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble

    Posted: 03/13/2012   Columnist for the "Boulder Daily Camera"                                            Fracking for natural gas is on Coloradans' minds. From landholders to policy makers, it's a pig pile of attention on the environmental effects, which are bad enough when real -- roads ruined by heavy trucks carting waste water, and waste water voided from the hydrologic cycle when stored in disposal wells, seeps from faulty linings of containment pits, methane leaks that make shale gas as climate intensive as coal, and air quality such as Erie'sbecomes more tainted with hydrocarbons than Houston and Los Angeles, to name just a few.

    Unincorporated Boulder County has just entered a moratorium on fracking, plus Erie and the city of Longmont as well. Aurora is crafting its own regulations. It's a patchwork of regulations in the making, amounting to one big "Whoa, Nellie!" to the industry.

    March 5, 2012

    Council's anti-hydrofracking vote brings ovation

    NIAGARA FALLS — City lawmakers received something on Monday that they don’t receive very often, if at all — not one, but two standing ovations.

    The first applause followed the council’s unanimous vote in favor of a new law that bans hydrofracking-related activities, including the treatment of so-called “fracking” waste, within city limits.

    The second came after the council agreed to send a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking him to impose a statewide moratorium on the controversial natural extraction process until more is known about its impact on public health and the environment.

    “I hope the governor gets the big picture here and bans it statewide,” said Council Chairman Sam Fruscione, who is expecting the council’s letter to be delivered to Cuomo within the next few days.

    The council’s anti-fracking position follows speculation that the city’s water board may be interested in accepting hydrofracking waste water as a way to boost its bottomline. The state as a whole — through the New York Department of Environmental Conservation — is still in the process of developing guidelines for the fracking industry, but council members said they wanted to make sure they took an affirmative stand on the issue. The ordinance adopted Monday — patterned after a similar ban imposed by the City of Buffalo and other communities in recent months — describes hydrofracking and the handling of waste from the process as posing a “significant threat” to the “health, safety and welfare” of residents in Niagara Falls. It also suggests that any involvement in the process within city limits could cause “irreperable harm” to the city’s water supply and may cause significant health problems for city residents. The law prohibits any individual or company from engaging in natural gas extraction practices and from storing, treating, transferring or disposing of wastes from such activities. Violators would be subject to fines. The law allows enforcement action to be taken in New York State Supreme Court and the provisions can be enforced “by any resident” through court action. The ordinance took effect upon the council’s approval.
    Read More:
    Updated: March 6, 2012, 4:38 PM

    Council calls for state ban on 'fracking'

    The Buffalo Common Council today called for a state ban on hydraulic fracturing.

    By a unanimous vote, city lawmakers urged Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state lawmakers to enact a prohibition "due to possible dangers and environmental impacts of such operations."
    The measure was sponsored by North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr.
    In February 2011, the Council voted to ban any kind of natural gas extraction, including hydraulic fracturing, in the city.
    Last March, lawmakers reiterated their opposition to treating any wastewater containing hydraulic fracturing fluid at the city's Sewer Authority facility.

    Albany Common Council Reintroduces Fracking

     Ban Bill with Veto-Proof Majority

    Eco Watch 02-24-2012

    Frack Action

    Following New York State Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey’s landmark decision in Dryden, NY that re-affirmed local municipalities’ right to prohibit natural gas extraction, Albany Common Councilman Dominick Calsolaro announced the re-introduction of the Albany fracking ban bill at a press conference on Feb. 24. The bill passed last year but was vetoed by Mayor Gerald D. Jennings. Calsolaro applauded the court decision and called for local municipalities’ rights to remain intact.

    The article goes on to say:
          The court decision was influential with the Common Council, now yielding a veto-proof majority of 10 votes for the fracking ban bill. Councilman Jim Sano, who abstained last year over concerns about the then-ongoing Dryden lawsuit, announced his support of the ban.
          “Given this recent court decision, my reservations of the City of Albany banning hydrofracking have been removed. I abstained from the original vote and stated at that time I was fearful that the City potentially would have to pay damages if the decision in this court case was favorable for the plaintiffs. I further said, my decision on the matter could not be final until this court case was resolved, the case has been resolved, the ban was upheld, therefore any reservations I had in regards to this legislation have been satisfied.”
          With news that the DEC is rushing through more than 61,000 public comments on fracking, Albany is one of many municipalities renewing efforts to ban fracking following the Judge Rumsey’s decision. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, Governor Cuomo said that it was up to the courts if municipalities have the right to ban fracking. “I believe it’s up to the courts,” Cuomo said. “And if the courts say they have that right, they have the right.”
     Read More:

    Can the shale gas boom save Ohio? 

    The help-wanted sign is out in Canton, Ohio, for Chesapeake Energy.

    The company that has led the charge in shale gas drilling is looking for truck drivers with licenses for hazardous materials, a purchasing coordinator for oil field equipment, a pipeline technician, a field safety coordinator, administrative assistants, troubleshooting electricians, a tax analyst and more.

    (Tony Dejak/AP) - Darla Bruno of Canton, Ohio, was among the protesters at an anti-hydraulic fracturing demonstration last month in Steubenville, near the Pennsylvania border.
    The article goes on to say in a Quinnipiac poll…
    At the same time, voters said by a 72-to-23 percent margin that hydraulic fracturing should be suspended until there are further studies about its impact. They said by a 43-to-16 percent margin that fracking would damage the environment.
    Support for a moratorium was strong among all groups, Quinnipiac said.
    Read More:

    Montgomery MediaFriday, March 02, 2012  UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.      

    Marcellus Shale activity seemingly affecting county-level dairy production

    In recent years,anecdotal evidence has suggested that natural-gas development is benefitting many Pennsylvania farmers, with money from gas leases and royalties allowing producers to pay off debt, invest in new equipment and remain active in a business often characterized by razor-thin profit margins.

    Still other reports have indicated that some farmers are using gas-related income to make major changes to their operations or to leave agriculture altogether. However, very little data exists to measure the true impact of natural-gas development on agriculture in the state.

    To get a better picture of how the natural-gas boom is affecting Pennsylvania's top agricultural sector, dairy farming, researchers led by Timothy Kelsey, professor of agricultural economics, examined county-level changes in dairy cattle numbers and milk production between 2007 and 2010, as reported by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service.

    Those data were analyzed in connection to the level of natural-gas drilling activity in each county, as indicated by Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection statistics on the number of wells drilled during the same three-year period.

    "Changes in dairy cow numbers seem to be associated with the level of drilling activity," said Kelsey. "For instance, counties with 150 or more Marcellus Shale wells on average experienced a nearly 19 percent decrease in dairy cows, compared to only a 1.2 percent average decrease in counties with no Marcellus wells."

    The analysis, co-authored by Riley Adams, doctoral candidate in agricultural economics, is summarized in a fact sheet, "Pennsylvania Dairy Farms and Marcellus Shale, 2007-2010."
    This publication also is available online at


    Animals are dying in gas-drilling country. 

    THURSDAY, MARCH 1, 2012       Posted by Jonathan Purtle    
    What do 17 dead cows, seven stillborn puppies, an anorexic horse, and a delirious child have in common?
    Unfortunately, there’s no punch line to this one.  According to research published recently in New Solutions, a peer-reviewed journal that focuses on environmental and occupational health policy, they’re all suspected casualties of drilling for natural gas.

    As we described in previous posts, a range of health risks have been associated with hydraulic fracturing and other parts of the extraction process, such as the chemicals that are injected deep underground and the natural, but toxic, compounds that rise to the surface.  Industry-friendly policies, however, have prevented high-quality public health studies that are needed to
    accurately measure the impact. The missing research, in turn, stymies regulatory policies to protect the public’s health.

    Lacking sufficient data to conduct an epidemiological investigation, the authors of the dead-cows study (veterinarians Michelle Bamberger and Robert  Oswald, who is on the faculty at Cornell University) reviewed 25 recent cases where health problems among animals, and their owners, were suspected of being linked to natural gas drilling.  They interviewed animal  owners in six states affected by gas drilling: Colorado, Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Since many of the individual cases are in litigation, however, details about who, where, and when are omitted from the published article.
    Read more:

    Gas leasing in Western Maryland spurs calls for reform

    Landowners, Realtors seek more disclosure, protections

    — The first natural gas well has yet to be drilled into the Marcellus shale deposits underlying Western Maryland, but ripples already are being felt here from an industry that has brought wealth — and controversy — in neighboring states where drilling has proceeded apace.
    Complaints from landowners about misleading pressure tactics by drilling company agents and concern that widespread leasing for mineral rights could hurt home sales are prompting calls for legislation to change the state's laws on leasing of land for gas and possibly other energy development.
    "Basically, these leases should be protecting both the landowners and the community, and they're just not," said Natalie Atherton, acting director of CitizenShale, a group recently formed to see that the residents in this economically depressed mountain region are not short-changed if gas is found, and in any case aren't left with contaminated streams and wells and other harm.
    Dana Shimrock
    Dana Shimrock holds the lease for mineral rights she and her husband signed. (Timothy B. Wheeler, BALTIMORE SUNDecember 23, 2011)
    Read More:

    Pa. woman: Chemicals in my water in drilling area

    Updated 04:03 p.m., Saturday, February 25, 2012

    EVANS CITY, Pa. (AP) — A woman says state environmental officials refused to do follow-up tests after their lab reported her drinking water contained chemicals, but it's unclear where the pollutants came from.                               

    At least 10 households in the rural Woodlands community, about 30 miles north of Pittsburgh, in western Pennsylvania, have complained that recent gas drilling impacted their water in different ways.

    The Department of Environmental Protection first suggested that Janet McIntyre's well water contained low levels of only one chemical, toluene, a paint thinner. But a review of the DEP tests by The Associated Press found in her water four other volatile organic compounds that can be associated with gas drilling.
    Read more:

    Hydraulic fracturing a danger to water, food, farmland:
    National Farmers Union (Canadian) calls for moratorium
    (Rimbey, Alberta, February 23, 2012) “Many farmers in my area who either have direct experience with the destructive nature of hydro-fracking technology on their water wells, or who have neighbours who have been affected have come to me with their concerns” says Jan Slomp, Rimbey area dairy farmer and Region 7 (Alberta) Coordinator for the National Farmers Union (NFU). “We are in the heart of Alberta’s oil and gas country where our ability to produce good, wholesome food is at risk of being compromised by the widespread, virtually unregulated use of this dangerous process.”
    For further information:
    Iain Aitken: (403) 843 0094 Jan Slomp: (403) 843 2068
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