The gas industry’s hot air
Marcellus Watch: Bullies and superheroes in the fracking battle
By Peter Mantius
Posted Jun 04, 2013 @ 12:34 PM
It’s chilling to watch private industry seize the reins of government and steer it down a dark and dangerous back alley of self-interest. But it happens. That’s why we need real-world superheroes like Helen and David Slottje. They help us sort out right versus wrong.
Helen and David live in Ithaca. They are lawyers who are married to each other. They are probably underpaid in money but well rewarded in gratitude from those who have bothered to acquaint themselves with the natural gas industry’s efforts to manipulate the legal landscape in New York State.
A few years ago, that industry began an aggressive push to gain land rights in the Southern Tier so it could begin fracking the gas-rich Marcellus shale. Landmen working for companies like Chesapeake Energy fanned out across the region to peddle lease deals to naively expectant landowners.
Lease-granting landowners – many of whom were also local politicians – readily bought in to the industry promise that a fracking boom would mean an economic boom for upstate New York (on top of personal riches for them). Many organized into coalitions, which served as uncritical local lobbies for the industry’s agenda.
Meanwhile, gas industry agents had been working in Albany, corralling state senators and reinforcing old loyalties at the state Department of Environmental Conservation in a bid to build a broad legal foundation for widespread fracking.
Three of its key legal principles would be:
• The landowner has a basic right to exploit his or her privately-owned gas resources, and that right supersedes others’ rights to be protected from damage caused by fracking activities.
• State bureaucrats at the DEC have the final say over where a gas well can be drilled, superseding all powers of local governments.
• DEC bureaucrats may grant a gas company the authority to drill on property that hasn’t been leased, even if the property owner is adamantly opposed.
Together, the three principles amounted to an extremely aggressive legal agenda aimed at stripping rights from anyone opposed to the gas industry’s drilling schedule. That includes landowners who fear the environmental risks of fracking and those who simply want to wait to try to frack later at a better price.
Read more: http://www.the-leader.com/newsnow/x776201168/Marcellus-Watch-Bullies-and-superheroes-in-the-fracking-battle?zc_p=0
Hazards of fracking outweigh profits
Published: May 25, 2013 The Standard Speaker
Having read the Associated Press article titled, "As Pa. gas production soars, experts debate taxes," in a recent edition of the Standard-Speaker, I couldn't help but write this letter.
Natural gas drilling and collection by means of hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as "fracking," is an extremely lucrative, but environmentally unsound, practice. It all comes down to money, of course, as the recent article suggests. Billions of dollars are to be made yearly by the natural gas companies and land owners sitting on shale formations.
All Gov. Tom Corbett and state legislators seem to care about is how much of a share the state will profit in taxes from this. Economically speaking, this is all well and good. And for the everyday consumer of natural gas, the news is great: prices are at an all-time low. After all, who can argue with cheap heat in an area with long winters and skyrocketing oil prices?
What everyone seems to be missing, or what they seem to be avoiding, in the case of the natural gas companies and the government of the State of Pennsylvania, is the environmental cost of fracking. Those reading this who just groaned, moaned, or tossed the paper across the room are probably thinking, "Here we go again, an environmentalist nut!" Take a drive around the outskirts of Hazleton, across the airport beltway, or south on Route 309, and have a look at the damage done by strip mining; damage that is largely cosmetic at this point, but will never go away.
Now, take a hard cold look at the facts about fracking (you can easily do this via an online search) and you'll find that the potential and actual damage from natural gas collection is and will be far from just cosmetic. However much money consumers save now on their heating bills, however many billions natural gas companies and land owners may make, and however many millions the state makes on a yearly basis from all of this, once the water table in an area is irrevocably damaged, there's no turning back the clock to reverse it.Ancient Rome was partially brought to its knees by lead poisoning because of the use of lead pipes in their water supply system. Let's not be so naive. Your children will not be able to fix the damage that's now, nor will they be able to live on Mars.
Dominic J. DeJoseph,
Gas companies have pressured the U.S. Department of Energy into considering the export of liquefied gas to foreign countries. Twenty export applications have been filed. The DOE secretary commented, “If the government does not allow more exports, companies will not have the economic justification to drill for the gas at all.”
Sandra Steingraber: Illinois, say no to fracking
Posted May 23, 2013 @ 01:02 AM
I spent the first half of my life in downstate Illinois and the second in upstate New York. Both are agricultural lands with big skies, interlaced streams and aquifers and a human culture that cheerfully carries on despite inattention from the busy metropolis tacked on at the border.
Ominously, New York and Illinois have something else in common: Each state is caught in the crosshairs of an industry that seeks to blast apart its bedrock via a brutal technology called high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which uses chemical-laced water to free bubbles of methane — natural gas — trapped within deep layers of shale.
From New York to Illinois, I bring a message: Don’t let them do it. Say no to Illinois Senate Bill 1715, now being rushed through the Illinois General Assembly before the end of the legislative session in the hope that you blink and miss it.
Shale gas extraction from fracking is an accident-prone, carcinogen-dependent enterprise that turns communities into industrial zones. It destroys water, pollutes air, wrecks roads and lowers property values. Fracking, as currently practiced, cannot be made safe by any regulations, let alone the sorry set of rules contained in SB 1715.
The backers of this bill claim it contains the strongest regulations for fracking in the nation. Nonsense. New York State promulgated a far stricter set of rules that prohibited drilling on state lands and set aside certain watersheds as off-limits to fracking altogether — and still we rejected them.
New York State’s regulations were subject to numerous public hearings and comment periods. Hundreds of scientists provided testimony, as did thousands of business owners, farmers, faith leaders and ordinary citizens. And thrice, over nearly five years of deliberation, we’ve sent a deeply flawed environmental impact statement back to the drawing board.
From that democratic process, New Yorkers now know a lot about fracking. The more we find out, the deeper our objections. When you look under fracking’s hood, you see terrifying problems. Behind the hard sell and soothing promises, this contraption is unsafe at any speed.
First, we uncovered problems with the promised jobs. When our economists looked closely at the industry’s projections, they discovered that the jobs that fracking provides are temporary, toxic, and carry high rates of injury. They also wipe out other jobs. When rural lands are industrialized for gas drilling, tourism and recreation industries disappear.
Read More: http://www.sj-r.com/opinions/x1039446421/Sandra-Steingraber-Illinois-say-no-to-fracking?zc_p=0
Hydraulic Fracturing Is A Dead-End Path
May 12, 2013 The Post Journal, Jamestown, NY
In the 1960s the tobacco industry tried to counter evidence that smoking had serious health impacts by spending millions to make ludicrous claims about the benefits and safety of smoking. Today's natural gas industry is in much the same position, making claims about fracking that collapse under scrutiny. Yet because of the immense wealth and power of the energy corporations, they are generally succeeding in making very big profits while putting our people and water resources at risk through the fracking process.
The industry proponents often say, "We've been fracking wells for 60 years without any problems." However, high volume hydrofracturing, using millions of gallons of freshwater and hundreds of tons of toxic chemicals per well, is very different from the fracking of earlier decades. This new kind of fracking has only been used since 1997 and most HVHF wells are less than five years old. Fracking's many negative impacts are being green-washed by an industry spending millions to convince us that fracking is safe and to increase its profits at the expense of the environment. For example, the gas industry used its influence to lobby for the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which exempted fracking from having to follow the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and several other major environmental laws. What has resulted from this lack of regulation are serious environmental and health issues associated with virtually every aspect of fracking. Leaking well-casing seals, radioactive isotopes in the frack fluid, compressor station air pollution, hazardous waste disposed as if it is household garbage, serious animal and human health impacts, contamination of water wells and surface water and almost-daily reports of accidents, spills, illegal dumping and explosions, are just a few of the many indicators of fracking's risks.
Colorado 'promotes' natural-gas catastrophe that now threatens Colorado River
Parachute Creek is now officially contaminated with cancer-causing benzene and heaven knows what else. A carcinogenic stew is now making its way quickly down the creek and presumably into the Colorado River a mere four miles away from the source of the contamination, a natural gas plant run by Williams, the international oil and gas company headquartered in Tulsa, Okla.
I’m outraged by what has happened, and everybody in this state should be as well. It didn’t have to happen. We could have stopped it. We just chose not to. State authorities, along with the company, have been watching this slow-motion catastrophe unfold for months, all the while taking one half-measure after another, supposedly in an effort to stop the benzene from reaching the creek. One can only assume that our state’s gas-friendly regulators have allowed Williams to use a half-assed approach full of half-measures because it was half as expensive as doing the right thing from the get-go.
This is, of course, just the latest example of why it is insane to have one government agency, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), charged with acting as both the oil and gas industry’s primary promoter as well as its supposed chief regulator. You’d have to be dumb enough to drink fracking fluid to think that such a conflicting arrangement could work with any efficiency when it comes to public safety and protecting the environment. Right, governor?
So how did the catastrophe at Parachute Creek occur, and how bad is it? It’s still hard to say exactly, because the story keeps changing, either because the parties involved are telling bald-faced lies or they are the most incompetent group of people to ever walk upright.
Even now, after the contamination in the slow-moving groundwater plume under Williams’ gas plant has been allowed to make its way all the way to the creek, the company and the state still aren’t being forthcoming about what exactly is in the water besides benzene. When it comes to hydrocarbon contamination, if there is benzene in groundwater, then there are almost certainly several other equally or even more dangerous contaminants along with it. But at this point, it’s unclear if the Williams contamination has even been tested for all of the potential contaminants it contains. I have to say, such secrecy is incredibly irresponsible, considering that Parachute Creek water is supposed to be used as part of the town of Parachute’s drinking-water supply. I guess the COGCC is wearing its promoter hat when it comes to making Williams tell us exactly what it has spilled into our water. Lord knows, we wouldn’t want the company to have to go to any additional expense.
And it’s not just the Parachute water supply that’s being affected. Cattle and horse operations downstream are using the water for their animals, and several farmers depend on the creek’s water for irrigation.
This is a big deal. I recently spent a few days with a fellow down by Walsenburg who had the misfortune of irrigating his crops with water contaminated by a gas company six years ago.
The land he irrigated is still dead and won’t even grow grass. As a result, he is on the verge of losing his fourth-generation farm and dairy.
Not mad yet? Let’s take a look at the timetable on this calamity and see if that pushes you over the edge.
The value of their properties will decline, while the value of Cabot/Williams stock will increase. Financial power and political influence will have been used to transfer private wealth to the stockholders of Cabot/Williams.
The Constitution Pipeline violates our belief in America the Beautiful. Cabot/Williams will cut the straightest and cheapest route across our landscape that it can persuade FERC commissioners to approve. It would dredge through wetlands, barely skirt lakes, fragment forests, and irreversibly scar lovely hills.
Fracking would inevitably follow. Forests will be razed, hills cut up into quarries, waters polluted with undisclosed chemicals, and silence shattered with 24 hour roar of compressors. Rather than our beautiful, productive, healthy, peaceful, rural landscape we will be left with an ugly, unproductive, unhealthy, noisy, industrial landscape.
I refuse to believe or accept that this is how we Americans believe decisions that affect us so closely should be taken or that we want our countryside to be so blindly destroyed.
Bruce S. KernanSouth Worcester
The Montana Standard
Thursday, March 14, 2013 11:00 am The Mountain Eagle
The Montana Standard
Prof says fracking has sordid track record
The current promotional hype aside, fracking is a major potential threat to public health, the environment and social justice.
Read the entire Opinion piece: http://mtstandard.com/news/opinion/prof-says-fracking-has-sordid-track-record/article_da56c848-9f35-11e2-aab5-001a4bcf887a.html
The projected route would run directly under the only area of my property that is buildable. Without being able to build a home, my property becomes significantly devalued if not worthless. The meager compensation typically paid for a right of way is insignificant compared to the purchase price of the property.
This pipeline is open access, and must accept fracked gas along the entire route, which makes gas drilling probable. There will be compressor stations, perhaps on my land. They create a constant source of loud noise, bright light and noxious air pollution, and carry the risk of fire and explosion. Marcellus gas contains high levels of radon, creating a possible health hazard for my family and me.
The pipeline corridor fragments habitat, creates a loss of my privacy, can be accessed at any time, day or night, is maintained with the use of toxic chemicals used to inhibit vegetation, creating danger to me, domestic animals and wildlife.
I would face possible injury, loss of life, increase in medical costs, loss of homeowners and liability insurance, loss of property value, increased and costly difficulties in obtaining real estate financing.
A gas pipeline running through the county will result in considerably lower property values on or near the route. It will inhibit potential property buyers should I try to sell.
I will not personally benefit from the use of gas to heat a home, as Constitution will not make gas available to me.
I advocate for the preservation and enhancement of the rural character of Delaware County; a safe, quiet and scenic environment; a non-industrial agricultural and tourist-based economy. I oppose the Constitution Pipeline.
Read More: http://www.registerstar.com/the_mountain_eagle/opinion/article_f07091b0-8caf-11e2-ae9c-0019bb2963f4.html
Yes, a drilling moratorium