2. Energy Security
Oklahoma State University Energy Symposium Presentation by Matthew R. Simmons
2 Energy Oxymorons 1. Energy Independence 2. Energy Security
By Jon Hurdle
PHILADELPHIA, May 29 (Reuters) - Opponents of natural gas drilling in the U.S. northeast on Friday welcomed new restrictions by an interstate regulator requiring prior approval for any new projects in the Delaware River basin.
Energy companies and their trade association criticized the new regulations and said they would need to study the ruling to determine what impact it would have on plans to exploit gas reserves that form part of the massive Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania and parts of surrounding states.
The Delaware River Basin Commission said on May 19 that energy companies must obtain its approval before beginning extraction.
There is no current gas development in the area covered by the measure, although the commission has received about 100 applications from energy companies, said Clarke Rupert, a spokesman for the organization.
The action -- which precedes a formal rulemaking -- may slow development of the Marcellus Shale which is said to contain enough gas to meet U.S. needs for a decade or more.
The commission, representing Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and the federal government, said its action reflects concern about the potential for damage to water quality in a 197-mile, non-tidal stretch of the river from Hancock, New York to Trenton, New Jersey.
DRBC Executive Director Carol Collier "determined that as a result of water withdrawals, wastewater disposals and other activities, natural gas extraction projects in shale formations may individually or cumulatively affect the water quality of Special Protection Waters by altering their physical, biological, chemical, or hydrological characteristics," the organization said in a statement.
The measure was hailed by critics of gas drilling who say the new "hydraulic fracturing" technique for gas extraction is contaminating groundwater with a cocktail of chemicals, some of them carcinogenic.
Activists have been particularly concerned about the possibility of pollution in the Delaware River watershed which supplies some 15 million people.
People living near drilling sites in Pennsylvania and other states have suffered from rashes, vomiting, and discolored water, while animals have died and some wells have been polluted with escaping methane, critics say. ...
Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of the Delaware Riverkeeper, a nonprofit environmental group, said the commission's action goes beyond the rules imposed by individual Pennsylvania or New York regulators, who activist accuse of treating energy companies too leniently.
"We think there should be some positive trickle-down on other agencies," Carluccio said.
Click HERE for the complete story.
|AP Photo / Keith Srakocic|
By Chris Hedges
In the musical “Urinetown,” a severe drought leaves the dwindling supplies of clean water in the hands of a corporation called Urine Good Company. Urine Good Company makes a fortune selling the precious commodity and running public toilets. It pays off politicians to ward off regulation and inspection. It uses the mechanisms of state control to repress an increasingly desperate and impoverished population.
The musical satire may turn out to be a prescient vision of the future. Corporations in Colorado, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and upstate New York have launched a massive program to extract natural gas through a process that could, if it goes wrong, degrade the Delaware River watershed and the fresh water supplies that feed upstate communities, the metropolitan cities of New York, Philadelphia, Camden and Trenton, and many others on its way to the Chesapeake Bay.
“The potential environmental consequences are extreme,” says Fritz Mayer, editor of The River Reporter in Narrowsburg, N.Y. His paper has been following the drilling in the Upper Delaware River Valley and he told me, “It could ruin the drinking supply for 8 million people in New York City.”
Trillions of cubic feet of natural gas are locked under the Marcellus Shale that runs from West Virginia, through Ohio, across most of Pennsylvania and into the Southern Tier of New York state. There are other, small plates of shale, in the south and west of the United States. It takes an estimated 3 million to 5 million gallons of water per well to drill down to the natural gas in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The water is mixed with resin-coated sand and a cocktail of hazardous chemicals, including hydrochloric acid, nitrogen, biocides, surfactants, friction reducers and benzene to facilitate the fracturing of the shale to extract the gas.
The toxic brew is injected with extreme force deep within the earth. The drilling is vertical for about 5,000 to 7,000 feet. The technology, developed by Halliburton, allows drills to abruptly turn sideways when they reach these depths. The lubricant and biocides propel the sand on a horizontal axis for as far as half a mile. The fissures created are held open by the sand, and the natural gas flows to the surface through steel casings. Feeder lines run from the grid of wells to regional pipelines.
About 60 percent of the toxic water used to extract the natural gas—touted in mendacious commercials by the natural gas industry as “clean” energy—is left underground. The rest is stored in huge, open pits that dot the landscapes at drilling sites, before it is loaded into hundreds of large vehicles and trucked to regional filtration facilities. Such drilling has already poisoned wells in western Pennsylvania, Colorado, Alabama, Arkansas, New Mexico, Kansas, Montana, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those whose water becomes contaminated, including people living in towns such as Dimock, Pa., must have water trucked in to provide for their needs. Farm animals that have drunk the toxic mixture that has leeched from gas drilling sites have died. Cattle ranchers in Colorado, where drilling is occurring in close proximity, have reported that their livestock birthrates have gone down and animals are bearing deformed offspring.
“The single biggest concern is the release of poisons into the environment and its impact on all that live in proximity to the drilling activity,” the River Reporter’s editorial this week read following a visit to local drilling sites. “Large pits, lined with sagging black plastic, did not instill confidence that it couldn’t escape into the environment. And we wondered how migrating birds would know the difference between this body of fluid and an area pond. Ironically, the effect on animals became very real that afternoon when, upon our return, we received the news that in Caddo Parish, LA, 17 cows died after apparently ingesting fluids that escaped from a nearby gas pad.”
The New York City watershed lies within the Marcellus Shale. This watershed provides unfiltered water to more than 14 million people in New York City, upstate New York, Philadelphia and northern New Jersey. It is the largest unfiltered drinking water supply in the United States. And if the federal government does not intervene swiftly, it could become contaminated. The nonprofit group NYH2O has begun organizing in New York City, calling for a statewide ban on natural gas drilling to protect not only the city’s fresh water drinking supply, but everyone else’s. But New York’s notoriously corrupt state Legislature and feeble governor seem set to permit the drilling.
The natural gas companies, not surprisingly, insist that the millions of gallons of poisoned water left underground or collected in huge open pits pose no threat to watersheds. Let us hope they are right. The truth is, no one knows. And these corporations, in a move that suggests the drilling may not be as benign as they contend, had their lobbyists ensure that the natural gas industry was exempted by Congress in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 from complying with the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is designed to regulate groundwater.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a congressional hearing on Tuesday that the agency would consider revisiting its official position that this drilling technique does not harm groundwater. A 2004 study conducted by the EPA under the Bush administration concluded that hydraulic fracturing causes “no threat” to underground drinking water. The study was used to support the provision in the 2005 energy bill that exempted hydraulic fracturing from federal regulation.
We do not know, because there is no federal oversight, the exact formula of the chemicals added to the water. We do not know, because the industry has been greenlighted through state regulatory agencies, what the millions of gallons of poison underground will do to our drinking water. We are told to trust the natural gas industry, as we were told to trust Wall Street. And if our drinking water becomes contaminated, then expect corporations to profit from the desperation.
Corporations like Bechtel have been buying up water reservoirs around the globe in anticipation of future water shortages. And what they will do when they control our water was illustrated in Bolivia a decade ago. The World Bank forced Bolivia to privatize the public water system of its third-largest city, Cochabamba. It threatened to withhold debt relief and other development assistance if the city did not comply. Bechtel, which was the only bidder, was granted a 40-year lease to take over Cochabamba’s water through a subsidiary called Aguas del Tunari.
“Urinetown” was visited on Cochabamba in 2000 within weeks of the privatization. Aguas del Tunari imposed massive rate hikes on local water users of more than 50 percent, according to the Cochabamba-based Democracy Center. Families living on the local minimum wage of $60 per month were billed up to 25 percent of their income for water. The rate hikes sparked citywide protests. The Bolivian government declared martial law in Cochabamba and deployed thousands of soldiers and police to restore order. More than 100 people were injured in the rioting and a 17-year-old boy was killed. The Cochabamba project was abandoned, but Bechtel and other corporations are not done. Bechtel’s control of the water supply in Guayaquil, Ecuador, a few years later resulted in water shutoffs, contamination, and a deadly hepatitis A outbreak. Water in a world of scarcity will be very profitable. And Bechtel is preparing for the bonanza at home and abroad.
Profit, even if it results in widespread human suffering, is the core of America’s ruthless unregulated corporate capitalism. Our health care industry profits from sickness and death by excluding those who most need coverage. Our financial industry created perhaps the largest speculative bubble in human history and trashed our economy as well as looting our treasury. Our oil and gas industries, whose profits are obscene, wreck the environment and poison our water. And the worse it gets for us, the better it gets for them. You may not need to travel to a theater to see “Urinetown.” It could soon be coming to you.
Good news for Life Itself is mounting. Help keep the ball rolling. Write your representatives NOW urging them to VOTE FOR H.R. 7231, repealing exemptions for hydrofacking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Excerpted from an article by John Sullivan, dated May 22, 2009 in the Philadelphia InquirerIn a bid to restore the primacy of science in setting air-pollution standards at the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced yesterday that she was reestablishing key internal review procedures regarding harmful pollutants.
• Jackson said the EPA would resume a process in which agency scientists issue "staff papers" outlining options for policymakers to consider in establishing air-quality levels for ozone, particulates, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
• Jackson also "reaffirmed" the critical role of the congressionally mandated Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), a panel of outside scientists, in helping the agency make sound scientific decisions on air quality....
Jackson's reversion to earlier regulatory practices was seen by environmentalists as part of a wider campaign by her and the Obama administration to hew more closely to scientific evidence when regulating the environment in all areas.
In a letter yesterday announcing the changes, Jackson said it was "essential that the best science and the greatest transparency inform air quality standards that prevent illness and save lives."
She added that the changes "will help us bring greater rigor and openness to our standard-setting process and improve the scientific basis for our standards."
The moves ... [herald] the reversal of a steady decline under the Bush administration of the influence of hard science in setting air-quality standards.
Traditionally, the "staff paper" process was rigorous, bluntly expressing the opinions and conclusions of the EPA's scientific staff on what levels of pollutants they consider safe without undue regard for cost and industry considerations.
"This is very good news," said John Balmes, a California physician who studies ozone and served on the panel when the EPA under George W. Bush set ozone levels in 2008.
Balmes was highly critical of the decision and testified before Congress in 2008 about how the decision ran contrary to widely accepted science and the need to reinstate the staff paper.
"Politicos in the Bush administration wanted to do away with the staff paper because it gave them less opportunity to maneuver," Balmes said.
Jonathan Samet, who now chairs the seven-member science panel, welcomed the changes.
"It's a strong reaffirmation of the importance of the science committee," said Samet, who teaches at University of Southern California. He said the changes would guarantee a more open process, adding that how the EPA made some previous decisions was not clear to the public.
"It is just common sense to let these scientists again play a key role in shaping our nation's air-quality standards," said Sen. Thomas Carper (D., Del.), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee's subcommittee on clean air and nuclear safety.
The restoration of the staff paper and support for the science panel come at a critical time in the review of the criteria for air pollutants.
As part of the Clean Air Act, the EPA must review and set safe levels every five years for six pollutants: ozone, particulates, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and sulfur dioxide.
The pollutants can be dangerous at high levels and are commonly found in the ambient air across the country.
To help make those decisions, Congress established CASAC to advise the administrator on setting safe levels.
Currently, reviews for nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide are underway, said Balmes, who sits on both review panels.
Balmes said that science panel members in April were supposed to review the derided policy paper for setting nitrogen oxide levels, but the meeting was canceled.
"That was the first sign to us that they were going to change things," said Balmes said.
John Walke, the director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's clean-air project, said the changes greatly diminished the role politics and power can play in interfering with science.
"The bottom line is, it will ensure more protective clean-air standards for the public," Walke said.
Since 1992, the federally mandated commission has designated a substantial portion of its jurisdiction as “special protection waters” - rivers, streams and creeks within it cannot be ruined or exhausted through unnatural means.
The designation covers almost all of Wayne County, besides a small slice on its western edge, since its waters drain into the Delaware River, a federally recognized “wild and scenic river.”
And although it has long been known that the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) would regulate and require permitting for drilling activity in its jurisdiction, the order lets it be known that drilling activity cannot cause a “measurable impact” to water quality and that a myriad of regulations within the “special protection waters” area must be abided by.
This includes preventing site runoff, or other contamination that degrades waterways.
DRBC Spokesperson Clarke Rupert said the order clarifies the commission’s position in regards to how it would regulate natural gas drilling.
The commission has been mulling over its regulatory framework for this new industry in the Commonwealth over the past year.
The intent of the order is not to stop the natural gas industry from burgeoning here, he noted, but rather to ensure that it does not negatively impact a watershed that provides drinking water to nearly 15 million people.
“This isn’t a stop sign that the drilling can’t take place,” said Rupert in a phone interview with The Wayne Independent on Wednesday. “Our intention is not to put up road blocks.”
Representatives of the Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association were not available for comment.
A representative of the Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance, a large property owners group that is seeking to have its land drilled, was also unavailable for comment.
The order would apply to both horizontal and vertical hydraulic fracturing - a process that busts open rock with fluid to release natural gas - in any shale formation where natural gas may reside.
Essentially, it raises the bar to ensure that “high water quality” remains as is.
Other industrial activities have also fallen under this designation and its rules since 1992.
“The DRBC is closing a loophole drillers could use ... as there are often shallower natural gas formations above the Marcellus Shale,” said Brady Russell, a director with Clean Water Action, a state environmental advocacy group. “This is an important determination by DRBC and will help to fill the gap in regulations related to gas drilling activities and their impact on water usage and water pollution.
New methods of drilling for natural gas use large volumes of water, along with the use of chemicals, to extract natural gas.
The order is temporary, however.
“The commissioners intend to adopt regulations ... after public notice and a full opportunity for public comment, but this rulemaking process can be lengthy,” said executive director Carol R. Collier in a statement. “In the meantime, DRBC will apply this” order.
It would additionally cover all aspects of natural gas operations, including proper permitting for water withdrawals and sewage treatment facilities that accept wastewater from natural gas operations.
Natural gas companies operating in Pennsylvania also must attain drilling permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection.
The commission is currently reviewing two permit applications in Wayne County: a natural gas drill site in Clinton Township and a water withdrawal request from the West Branch of the Lackawaxen River in Clinton Township.
There appears to be no producing natural gas wells in Wayne County, as of Wednesday, according to agency records.
Any person affected by this decision can request a hearing by submitting a request in writing to the commission secretary within 30 days of the date of the order.
May 15, 2009 — U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette is leading the charge to increase federal oversight of the nation’s natural gas industry, reintroducing a bill that specifically targets a process called hydraulic fracturing. ...
DeGette, a Denver Democrat who unsuccessfully championed the cause on Capitol Hill last year, is poised to reintroduce legislation that would remove an exemption for hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act that was granted in the 2005 Energy Policy Act.
“As this is an important issue for Congresswoman DeGette, she is expecting to introduce the bill soon,” DeGette spokesman Kristofer Eisenla said. “We are currently just finalizing language and talking to the chairman about the direction of the legislation,” he said, referring to U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who control’s the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee’s gavel. “While we are planning to introduce it, no decisions have been made yet on how it will move,” Eisenla said.
The bill could be folded into Waxman’s American Clean Energy and Security Act, which is currently being bandied about in committee and includes such lofty goals as a national renewable energy standard and a carbon cap. DeGette also sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee.
The exemption was granted in 2005 because of a controversy stemming from an Alabama case in which it was alleged that fracking was directly responsible for groundwater contamination. The Environmental Protection Agency studied the case and did not conclude there was a direct correlation between the process and methane found in drinking water.
So to prevent further attempts to enforce a layer of federal oversight, the exemption was granted.
“Right now it’s a technology that has allowed us to increase natural gas supplies in the country to an incredible extent, and it’s a technology that’s been in use over 60 years with no documented cases of groundwater contamination from fracking,” said Kathleen Sgamma, director of government affairs for the Denver-based Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States. (see Wells comment below, among many other sources)
Sgamma says all the fluids used in fracking, which are 99.5 percent water and sand but include small percentages of chlorine, food additives and thickeners, are regulated by state and federal agencies and contained in steel and concrete casing.
(That small percentage of chlorine, food additives and thickeners, according to the Pennsylvania DEP, includes 2-butoxyethanol, Monoethanolamine, Ethylhexanol, Dazomet, Formaldehyde, Acetic Anhydride, Glutaraldehyde, Isopropanol, Boric Acid, Propargyl Alcohol (Prop-2-yn-1-01), Ethane-1,2-diol (ethylene glycol), 5-chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazotin-3-one, Ethylene Glycol, Sodium Bicarbonate (NaHCO3), Methanol and Diesel. There are 54 chemicals identified by the DEP in fracking fluids. The ones listed here are those known to have negative impacts on health including skin, eye and sensory organ irritation and toxicity, followed by respiratory effects, gastrointestinal and liver effects. One category includes such effects as death, teeth effects, etc. The most often cited effect in this category is the ability of the chemical to cause death. -Splashdown)
“There have been cases where an operators have made mistakes and the casing that is done for a well has not been done correctly, and when that happens the state is the regulatory agency, and they ensure that the operators take corrective measures, so that’s already being regulated,” Sgamma said.
But a study conducted for Garfield County and released in December showed elevated levels of methane in groundwater supplies in the gas-rich mountain area: “There is a temporal trend of increasing methane in groundwater samples over the last seven years coincident with the increased number of gas well installed in the study area,” the report concluded.
Methane can occur naturally and is not considered toxic, but it can be flammable and noxious to breath once it evaporates out of the water supply. In some cases it can cause accidental explosions.
DeGette’s latest efforts to regulate the industry at the federal level have triggered a massive lobbying effort designed to raise the alarm about the potential for lost tax revenues and jobs.
According to a recent New York Times article, the industry campaign is predicting DeGette’s bill could shut down a third of the nation’s gas wells and half the oil wells, costing state treasuries $785 million. Environmentalists called such predications baseless scare tactics.
At home in Colorado, economic fallout was the same tactic the industry took in trying to stall or derail hard-fought and more environmentally stringent oil and gas drilling regulation recently implemented by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Some opponents of those regulations are still blaming them for a downturn in natural gas drilling on the Western Slope — ignoring the larger effects of the global economic crisis that caused oil and gas commodity prices to drop substantially.
(In a comment posted May 15, 2009 to this article, Carolyn Wells of Dimock, PA wrote: Thank you so much for writing about this; there are poisoned wells three miles down the road due to fracking so that line stating there is no water contamination is a bold faced lie. Twenty wells in my area have been poisoned and the family who leased their land to Cabot Oil now uses their food stamps to buy water. So my tax dollars pay for exploitation of pristine areas by the gas industry.)
HARRISBURG, PA - John Hanger has spoken.
Responding to a cascade of complaints from every sector of state and local governments for instituting a measure curtailing the role of local community conservation districts (CCD) in monitoring gas well drilling, Hanger, the newly appointed Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary, sent a generic letter to all conservation district managers defending his early spring action.
On March 18, DEP summarily made a decision to transfer responsibility for reviews and permit functions associated with oil and gas drilling and related activities from the CCDs to the DEP Regional Office Oil and Gas Management Program. The decision was arrived at without consultation of any conservation district, which was unprecedented.The letter detailed various reasons the action was taken. In summary, some of the reasons given were that combining the permit and inspection function to one agency “should lead to more protective and efficient regulations” and that by taking on these CCD functions, DEP inspection staff will be responsible for all aspects of gas operations, which would “create a more efficient and effective process that will better protect water resources.”
The statement said that the creation of a new regional office staff will make even stronger oversight and that this “cradle to grave responsibility will provide greater consistency for gas operators, as well as DEP’s overall regulatory responsibilities to safeguard the people’s right to clean water.”
The letter ended with this closing statement: “While Pennsylvania’s natural gas reserves could increase the supply of a clean burning fuel, with very important climate and air benefits and yield billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs for our communities and families, we will not compromise the state’s environmental regulations in the production of gas.”
For the complete story, including commissioner responses, click HERE.
Mr. Hanger appears to be making a clear statement of accountability on behalf of the environment here. We need to monitor the progress of drilling in the state of Pennsylvania carefully!
• supplying water for well construction without impacting local water resources,
• avoiding degradation of small watersheds and streams as substantial amounts of heavy equipment and supplies are moved around on rural roads, and
• determining the proper methods for the safe disposal of the large quantities of potentially contaminated fluids recovered from the wells.
"While the technology of drilling directional boreholes, and the use of sophisticated hydraulic fracturing processes to extract gas resources from tight rock have improved over the past few decades, the knowledge of how this extraction might affect water resources has not kept pace. Agencies that manage and protect water resources could benefit from a better understanding of the impacts that drilling and stimulating Marcellus Shale wells might have on water supplies, and a clearer idea of the options for wastewater disposal."(This article reprinted from the EnviroPolitics Blog: http://enviropoliticsblog.blogspot.com)DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY!
"On this Earth Day," President Obama declared April 22, "[I]t is time for us to lay a new foundation for economic growth by beginning a new era of energy exploration in America."
Sure, the current era of energy exploration -- oil, gas, coal and nuclear -- has been marred by lousy government policy and radical environmentalists. But it's hardly over. America's ability to harness affordable, abundant and reliable energy sources created a strong foundation for the world's largest, most dynamic economy.
If the energy of the "past" were scarce or prohibitively expensive, starting a new chapter would make sense, but that isn't the case. Rather, the President's desire to scrap our economy's current foundation in favor of expensive, unproven technologies is colored by his stated belief that human activity is causing global warming.
...[I]n his Earth Day address, the President said, "We still need more oil, we still need more gas." Although Obama seems to recognize the essential role carbon-based fuels play in our economy, he clearly wants to see them phased out as quickly as possible. His $3.6 trillion budget request makes seven significant changes in the tax code and essentially declares war on domestic oil and natural gas production!
The most outlandish is a tax on production in the Gulf of Mexico, from which the nation produces significant quantities of oil and natural gas ... . Several tax deductions are targeted for elimination. If the desire is to move away from oil and natural gas quickly, those economically damaging policies make sense. But can he convince the American people his vision is worth their sacrifice? ...
Killing 'Old' Energy Sources
Why does Salazar believe more R&D into this vast resource is unnecessary? Again, the answer is simple: He realizes we cannot have a new energy economy if the "old" is nowhere close to being depleted. Salazar has also repealed valid leases in Utah without a hearing and constructed hurdles that could prevent natural gas exploration in Colorado and oil exploration on Alaska's North Slope.
As if that weren't enough, the President's chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Jon Wellinghoff, believes coal and even nuclear may be things of the past, saying, "We may not need any, ever." Combined, those two sources provide nearly 70% of our nation's electricity supply. At least Wellinghoff acknowledges, "Natural gas is going to be there for a while, because it's going to be there to get us through this transition that's going to take 30 or more years."
Enter House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). He's on a back-door mission to stop natural gas production in the Marcellus shale of Pennsylvania. A process known as "hydraulic fracturing" is necessary to gain access to the trillions of cubic feet of natural gas there. The state has regulated that process for the past 60 years, but Waxman would like to use the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate it, thus giving the finally authority on its use to the anti-carbon Environmental Protection Agency.
In less than four months in office, the President has laid the groundwork to transform our energy infrastructure by making "clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy."
For the Holler's complete commentary, click HERE
Fearing a push by House Democrats to regulate a controversial form of natural gas production, an industry coalition launched a campaign yesterday arguing that new rules would kill jobs and batter the economy.
The coalition of independent oil and gas companies says a Democratic proposal to allow new oversight over hydraulic fracturing would slash domestic oil and gas production and cost the Treasury $4 billion in lost taxes, royalties, rents and other payments. But environmentalists and an aide to a Democratic lawmaker backing regulation say the claim amounts to "scare tactics."
The industry group says hydraulic fracturing, which uses high-pressure injections into the ground to force oil and gas to flow more freely, has a track record of safety and is regulated sufficiently by the states. Environmentalists and some congressional Democrats argue it threatens groundwater. In addition to adding oversight, they want companies using the process to reveal what chemicals are used -- information that is now considered proprietary.
The 2005 Energy Policy Act exempted hydraulic fracturing from regulation under the Safe Water Drinking Act. But Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) proposed a bill last year to repeal that exemption. DeGette is now talking with Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) about either inserting her bill into pending climate legislation or reintroducing the measure on its own.
"We're hoping to move this forward shortly," DeGette spokesman Kristofer Eisenla said. Without federal oversight, he said, there is no way to really track whether the process is safe.
The possibility of new regulations triggered the industry's public relations campaign.
"The key question is how vulnerable lawmakers are going to be to being persuaded" by the data the coalition is sharing, said Kevin Book, managing director at ClearView Energy Partners, an energy market analysis firm. With the next election still 19 months away, he said, lawmakers "may not be as persuadable."
In addition to sending its data to the press, the group Energy in Depth delivered its information to "key oversight committees" in Congress.
"This campaign is designed to dispel some of the myths and showcase some of the technologies" used by companies in the hydraulic fracturing business, said Brian Kennedy, spokesman for the Energy in Depth coalition. "We've got to make the point that federal policy should be fostering more domestic energy production, not less."
Despite Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill, "if we're successful in communicating the facts," Kennedy said, the odds of defeating a legislative move for federal regulation "are quite good." ...
"As these things are playing out now on the Hill, obviously these industries remain very powerful," (Sierra Clubspokesman, Josh) Dorner said. But with the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress opening the door to more regulation, he said, "clearly the days of the Dick Cheney energy policy have passed."
To read more CLICK HERE.
Defend Our Water Now! Write to your congressmen today! Urge your representative to vote FOR H.R.7231, repealing exemptions for hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
WE NEED TO SPEAK LOUDER THAN THEY DO!
Though scientists have yet to find definitive evidence that drilling chemicals have seeped into ground water, there are dozens of anecdotal reports from around the state that water supplies in gas-production areas have been tainted.
The public outcry threatens to impede exploitation of the 44-million-acre (18-million-hectare) Marcellus Shale, which geologists say might contain enough natural gas to meet U.S. demand for a decade.
People in gas-drilling areas say their well water has become discolored or foul-smelling; their pets and farm animals have died from drinking it; and their children have suffered from diarrhea and vomiting.
Bathing in well water can cause rashes and inflammation, and ponds bubble with methane that has escaped during drilling, they say. ...
Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Texas-based Range Resources Corp. said, "There are zero reports of chemical contamination of groundwater."
Ron Gulla, who said his land has been polluted by Range's gas drilling, was incredulous. "I have never seen such a bunch of liars in my life," he shouted at Pitzarella, to scattered applause. "You have put me through hell."
U.S. energy companies rushing to exploit Pennsylvania's massive natural gas reserves have launched a public relations campaign to calm fears the bonanza is contaminating water with toxic chemicals. Read all about it HERE.
RED ALERT! The Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission
is Urging Congress Not to Remove Exemption of
from Provisions Of The Safe Drinking Water Act
WE NEED TO SPEAK LOUDER THAN THEY DO!
Text of H.R. 7231 [110th]: To repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act...
This version: Introduced in House. This is the original text of the bill as it was written by its sponsor and submitted to the House for consideration. This is the latest version of the bill available on this website.
H. R. 7231
To repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and for other purposes.
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
September 29, 2008
Ms. DEGETTE (for herself, Mr. HINCHEY, and Mr. SALAZAR) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce
To repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. REGULATION OF HYDRAULIC FRACTURING.
Section 1421(d)(1) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300h(d)(1)) is amended by striking subparagraph (B) and inserting:
‘(B) includes the underground injection of fluids or propping agents pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities; but
‘(C) excludes the underground injection of natural gas for purposes of storage.’.
The National Park Service has a major opportunity to close a set of thirty-year-old loopholes, which currently exempt more than half of all oil and gas wells from regulation.
This opportunity is especially urgent now that a huge natural gas boom has been found on the Marcellus Shale in the northeast, which could threaten dozens of units of the national park system if the Service does not act.
These parks include iconic landscapes, like the Gettysburg battlefield, the Flight 93 national memorial, the Delaware Water Gap, and the Appalachian Trail. By modernizing its regulations now, the Service can best protect the units of the national park system by setting the gold standard for oil and gas regulation.
We the people of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania call for a complete moratorium of all natural gas and oil drilling activities, including exploration, until a time when the processes involved do not affect the environment (including land, air and water) and the health of the population in any negative manner what so ever.
Sat., AUGUST 21, 10-6
*NOTE NEW TIME*
"Gas Stock," a Marcellus Shale and environmental awareness concert and rally, to be held Saturday, Aug. 21, at the Luzerne County Fairgrounds in Lehman Twp., will feature live bands, speakers and vendors.
Admission is free. More information will be posted at www.gasstockconcert.com.