Monday, August 31, 2009


Public Information Meetings Scheduled Statewide

HARRISBURG – Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today announced that the Environmental Quality Board will accept public comment on proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s erosion and sediment control and stormwater management regulations, which are expected to significantly improve and protect water quality in Pennsylvania.

The proposed changes include requirements for establishing and protecting existing streamside and riverside forest buffers and increasing protection for exceptional value waterways, incorporate existing post-construction stormwater management requirements into state regulation to bring Pennsylvania into line with federal requirements, and enhance agricultural stormwater management provisions beyond plowing and tilling to include animal heavy -use areas.

The new regulations also include an updated permit fee structure and a new permit-by-rule option offers a simplified permitting process for eligible low-risk construction projects that will reduce permitting delays while improving oversight of projects by the department.

“We are shifting the focus of water quality protection from reviewing paperwork to holding permittees more accountable, conducting more on-the-ground inspections to verify that best management practices are being implemented and maintained, and increasing protections for our waterways,” Hanger said. “These changes improve the permitting process both from an environmental and administrative perspective, and will provide greater protection to the environment through better coordination with and accountability from all involved in land development.” The Environmental Quality Board, which promulgates Pennsylvania’s environmental regulations, will conduct three public hearings to accept public comment on the proposed amendments. Prior to the hearings, DEP will conduct public meetings to explain the proposed rulemaking and to respond to questions from participants. The 90-day public comment period runs through Nov. 30.

The public meetings and hearings will be held as follows: • Sept. 29 at the Cranberry Township Municipal Building, 2525 Rochester Road, Butler County. The public meeting is at 4 p.m. and the public hearing is at 5 p.m.

• October 1 at the Department of Environmental Protection, Southcentral Regional Office, Susquehanna Room B, 909 Elmerton Ave., Harrisburg. The public meeting is at 4 p.m. and the public hearing is at 5 p.m.

• October 5 at the Salisbury Township Municipal Building, 2900 South Pike Avenue, Allentown. The public meeting is at 4 p.m. and the public hearing is at 5 p.m.

Individuals wishing to present testimony at a hearing are requested to contact the Environmental Quality Board, P.O. Box 8477, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8477, (717) 787-4526, at least one week in advance of the hearing to reserve a time to present testimony. Oral testimony is limited to 10 minutes for each witness. Witnesses are asked to submit three written copies of their oral testimony to the chairperson at the hearing. Organizations are limited to designating one witness to present testimony on behalf of the group at each hearing.

Persons in need of accommodations as provided for in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 should contact the board at (717) 787-4526 or through the Pennsylvania AT&T Relay Service at (800) 654-5984 (TDD) to discuss how the board can accommodate their needs.

For more information, visit, then select “Public Participation.”


Geologic Map of Pennsylvania: Free Downloads

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is offering "Map 1 ... a regional (1:250,000-scale) map of the bedrock geology of Pennsylvania. It consists of three sheets: one showing geology in the western half of the state, one showing geology in the eastern half of the state, and one showing four northwest-southeast-trending geologic cross sections from across the state."
CLICK HERE to access downloads.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dirty Water Cannot Be Washed...


U.S. finds water polluted near gas-drilling sites

* Potential obstacle for U.S. energy extraction

* 2-BE, used in drilling, linked to series of illnesses

* Natural gas companies say drilling technique is safe

By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA, Aug 27 (Reuters) - U.S. government scientists have for the first time found chemical contaminants in drinking water wells near natural gas drilling operations, fueling concern that a gas-extraction technique is endangering the health of people who live close to drilling rigs.

The Environmental Protection Agency found chemicals that researchers say may cause illnesses including cancer, kidney failure, anemia and fertility problems in water from 11 of 39 wells tested around the Wyoming town of Pavillion in March and May this year.

The report issued this month did not reach a conclusion about the cause of contamination but named gas drilling as a potential source.

Gas drilling companies say the gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," is safe, but opponents contend it pollutes groundwater with dangerous substances.

Evidence of a link between gas drilling and water contamination would set back development of a clean-burning fuel promoted by the Obama administration as crucial to the future of U.S. energy production.

Some experts believe the United States holds more than 100 years worth of natural gas reserves. The new findings may raise questions about the process companies such as EnCana Corp (ECA.TO), Halliburton Co (HAL.N) and others commonly use to pump the gas from deep geological formations. Encana, Canada's biggest energy company, is drilling in Pavillion.

"There may be an indication of groundwater contamination by oil and gas activities," said the 44-page report, which received little public attention when released on Aug. 11. "Many activities in gas well drilling (and) hydraulic fracturing ... involve injecting water and other fluids into the well and have the potential to create cross-contamination of aquifers."

Among the contaminants found in some of the wells was 2-butoyethanol, or 2-BE, a solvent used in natural gas extraction, which researchers say causes the breakdown of red blood cells, leading to blood in the urine and feces, and can damage the kidneys, liver, spleen and bone marrow.

Greg Oberley, an EPA scientist who has been testing the water samples, said the agency did not set out to prove that hydraulic fracturing caused groundwater contamination, but was responding to complaints from local residents that their well water had become discolored or foul-smelling or tasted bad.

The investigation was the EPA's first in response to claims that gas drilling is polluting water supplies, he said. Testing will continue.

For the full report from Reuters, CLICK HERE.


Friday, August 28, 2009

YES!!! Bravo! CBF Files Challenges of DEP Marcellus Shale Natural Gas Permits...

For the first time since the Department of Environment Protection took over review of erosion, sediment, and stormwater control plans for natural gas drilling sites, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation is challenging two permits in Tioga County contending violations of both Commonwealth and federal laws.
Not only did DEP strip review authority from local County Conservation Districts in April, but it instituted an expedited stormwater permitting process that does not allow for public participation or meaningful agency review of permit applications.
In fact, the Ultra permit was issued within two days of receipt of the application. Phase II of the Fortuna permit, the one with the Exceptional Value wetlands issue, was issued within three business days.
“Instead of protecting the environment, DEP is rubber stamping permit applications without any formal review,” said CBF’s Pennsylvania Executive Director Matt Ehrhart. “Wild trout streams and their tributaries, and exceptional value wetlands that should receive extra protection under the law are at risk due to the lack of thorough DEP oversight.”
CBF is challenging permits issued to Fortuna Energy, Inc. authorizing earth disturbance for pipeline construction in Jackson Township, and to Ultra Resources, Inc. authorizing earth disturbance for substantial drilling operations in Gaines and Elk townships.
The Fortuna pipeline will cross tributaries of wild trout streams and impact exceptional value wetlands in violation of Pennsylvania wetlands law. The Ultra project will include pipeline crossings of high quality trout streams within the Pine Creek watershed, home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and one of the state’s premier outdoor recreation destinations. For both projects, there was no analysis of the rate or volume of stormwater runoff from the construction, which can pollute streams.
“That these permits were issued without technical review and an analysis of the damage caused by construction and post-construction runoff violates both the federal Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania law,” said CBF Pennsylvania Staff Attorney Matthew Royer.
For the complete report, CLICK HERE.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Water For Oil: The Devil's Bargain For Natural Gas

Following is an extensive excerpt of an excellent overview of how we are blindly playing with fire...
Hopefully, being informed will help us make the right decisions about energy and the environment, and press our senators and representatives to legislate in favor of protecting our vital, lifeline resources: air, land and water! WRITE NOW!!! (See sidebar at left.)

Alice Joyce
Mon, 24 Aug 2009 18:22 UTC

Dirty water cannot be washed - African proverb

If you had a choice between filling your car of the future with natural gas (now being promoted as a viable, green, clean, future alternative to oil), or quenching your thirst with unpolluted water which would you choose? This is not a hypothetical question. If the natural gas lobby continues to have its way, natural gas - the supposed safe, ecologically friendly fuel source - may do some serious damage to the earth's water.

In 2002 advances in horizontal drilling (a technology invented by Halliburton in 1949), drastically reduced the costs previously required to extract natural gas from rock and shale located miles deep within the earth. Although the industry asserts that the process is safe, does the following industry summary from a Halliburton January 17, the following found on slide 65 of its 2008 power point presentation entitled A Historic Perspective of Hydraulic Fracturing inspire confidence?

After 60 years of hydraulic fracturing research technology and experience, we can safely say that we know about hydraulically created fractures

  • How Deeply They Penetrate

  • Their Vertical Extents

  • Their Symmetries About the Wellbore

  • Whether They are Planar or Multistranded

  • Their geometries at the Perimeter

  • Which Directions They Go

  • What Their Conductivities are
Other than that, we've got it down pat!

But they still make a lot of money

And does this promotional video distributed by Baker Hughes, a competitor of Halliburton, which presents as an advantage of its technology the need for fewer highly trained technicians to be on site allay concerns about industry commitments to the safety of the general public?

Horizontal drilling involves numerous lateral wells which branch off from a main shaft drilled up to 10 miles into the earth. Each well is then injected with several millions of gallons of water and sand under high pressure to create fissures that fracture or "frack" the rock in which the gas is trapped. Unfortunately, while the process does liberate gas from the rock it is trapped within, it also infuses the millions of gallons of water that free it with the ingredients of a chemical cocktail which energy companies insist is safe while refusing to release data concerning its contents. The secrecy, they say, is necessary to protect company proprietary rights to the formula from being copied by competitors, not to cover up any health risks to the public.

Lending credibility to the industry's reassurances is a 2004 EPA study whose conclusion ruled that the fluids used in the fracking process are without risk. However, the concerted efforts of then Vice President Dick Cheney and energy lobbyists to weaken environmental regulations in the 2005 Energy Bill the following year does raise some red flags.

If the EPA's 2004 ruling was accurate, why did Dick Cheney and energy lobbyists feel the need to push through amendments to the 2005 Energy Bill that gave energy companies exemptions from The Clean Air Act, The Safe Drinking Water Act, The National Environmental Policy Act, The Comprehensive Environmental Recovery, The Compensation and Liability Act, The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and The Toxic Release Inventory under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-know Act?

Was there something that Cheney and the lobbyists knew that they wanted to keep hidden from the rest of us?

Click here
to read an excerpt of an interview with Wes Wilson, an environmental engineer and 30 year employee of the EPA who requested whistleblower protection, submitted an 18 page document to members of Congress and the EPA's Inspector General which claimed that the study was inaccurate, that the fluids posed health risks, and that the report was written by a panel linked to the industry that included an employee of Halliburton.

... despite the concerns raised in the 2004 EPA Report, The 2005 Energy Bill was passed by an overwhelming majority.
On August 8, 2005, President Bush signed into the law the energy bill; on July 28, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 275 to 156 to approve the energy bill; and on July 29, the U.S. Senate voted 74 to 26 to approve the energy bill which was in large part written by the industry.
Sixteen companies spent $70 million lobbying Congress and $15 million in donations given to federal candidates - most of it going to Republican politicians. PublicCitizen identifies these companies as:
Anadarko, BP, Burlington Resources, ChevronTexaco, ConocoPhillips, Devon Energy, Dominion Resources, EOG Resources, Evergreen Resources, Halliburton, Marathon Oil, Oxbow (Gunnison Energy), Tom Brown, Western Gas Resources, Williams Cos and XTO.
The implications of passage of these amendments on the environment is evident in the following analysis of the effects the exemptions from the Safe Drinking Water Act would have on the integrity of the water supply.
Oil and Gas Regulatory Rollbacks

Section 322 exempts from the Safe Drinking Water Act a coalbed methane drilling technique called "hydraulic fracturing," a potential polluter of underground drinking water. One of the largest companies employing this technique is Halliburton, for which Vice President Richard Cheney acted as chief executive officer in the 1990s.

This exemption would kill lawsuits by Western ranchers who say that drilling for methane gas pollutes groundwater by injecting contaminated fluids underground
The victory for the energy companies proved to be disastrous for those affected by it. Since publicizing the ingredients in proprietary leases is not mandated by law, the public has had no recourse for mandating that energy companies release the contents of their fracking fluids.

Despite this lack of transparency TEDX (The Endocrine Disruption Exchange) has compiled an incomplete list of the names of products and their chemicals indirectly from industry Material Safety Sheets, state Emergency Planning and Community-Right-To-Know, (EPCRA), Tier II Reports, Environmental Impact Statement and Environmental Assessment Statement disclosures, rule-making documents and accident and spill reports which can be viewed here.

As more communities experienced adverse effects from horizontal drilling, there have been calls to regulate the industry. Ironically, in an Orwellian twisting of the truth, the industry counters by arguing that the EPA 2004 report, (which we have already seen was heavily influenced by the industry), is proof enough that the process is safe and needs no regulation.

This argument is used in the industry website Energy in Depth to refute The Center for American Progress's (CAP) demands for legislation revealing the ingredients of fracking fluids.

Calling CAP "an influential, left-of-center public policy organization based in Washington, D.C.", and describing its support of The Frac Act of 2009 as support for "legislation that seeks to impede the development of America's abundant shale gas resources by targeting the critical tools needed to bring those resources to market," Energy in Depth goes on to refute the need for regulation by citing the 2004 EPA report:
In 2004, no less an authority than the EPA itself undertook an exhaustive research project aimed at finding out, once and for all, whether hydraulic fracturing posed a legitimate risk to ground and drinking water. It found "no evidence" of any such risk.
Instead, a rosy picture of job creation, millions of dollars in revenue for states and municipalities, and the continued availability of safe water which defies all fact and experience is used to convince lawmakers already desperate for funds in this worsening recession that horizontal drilling is just what is needed to bring the economic relief they need.


In addition to the mysterious illnesses that just happen to break out in areas which have been exposed to fracking fluids, is the phenomenon of sudden explosions which also occur in areas that have been recently drilled. These explosions are significant in that they directly relate to the contamination of the water supply by the leakage of methane gas into wells and aquifers.

Buried Secrets: Is Natural Gas Drilling Endangering U.S. Water Supplies?
In December 2007, a house in Bainbridge, Ohio exploded in a fiery ball. Investigators discovered that the neighborhood's tap water contained so much methane that the house ignited. A study released this month concluded that pressure caused by hydraulic fracturing pushed the gas, which is found naturally thousands of feet below, through a system of cracks into the groundwater aquifer.
Other concerns are the corruption of the integrity of watersheds and other water sources. The plan to drill in the Marcellus Shale Formation in upstate New York threatens the watershed which supplies pure, unfiltered water to 10 million New York City residents as well as water to farmers and other residents of the state.

Despite safety assurances for the chemicals used in the fracturing fluids, there have been reports of animal deaths near drilling sites using such fluid.

There have also been reports of sinkholes developing on drilling sites. In Denver City, a sinkhole suddenly appeared on a drilling site owned by Occidental Permian Limited which measured 76 feet by 70 feet and was 48 feet deep.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of gas drilling gone awry is the mud volcano that erupted on the island of Java, Indonesia. The mud began to erupt in 2006 following an exploratory drilling procedure, and it hasn't stopped since. Experts are 99% sure that the eruption was caused by drilling.

The mud continues to erupt and flow at a rate of about 100,000 cubic meters a day. There is no way that experts can predict when or where these eruptions will next occur. Some of them have even taken place in people's living rooms!

To make this story even more bizarre, and to add to its horror movie quality, it is estimated that the mud will continue to flow for at least another 30 years!

Here is a Time video that gives a sense of the magnitude of the catastrophe:

In the frenzy that has been generated around the media-generated energy crisis raising fears that we will run out of fossil fuels, we seem to have lost our perspective about which resources are truly necessary to sustain life. Clean air, healthy soil, and of course uncontaminated water are elements upon which all life depends. Generations have lived without fossil fuels, but none have lived without air, soil, and water. These resources must not be allowed to devolve into commodities, for if they do, those who provide them will have the power of life and death over all living things.

For the complete article, CLICK HERE.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Big Takeover

Wednesday, 26 August 2009 • PETER GORMAN
Fort Worth Weekly

It's been a tough spring and summer for the gas drilling industry's public image.

This gas-drilling site doesn’t look so bad to the naked eye. Courtesy TCEQ

But when seen through infrared camera, the same site is a toxic mess. Courtesy TCEQ

In Caddo Parish in Louisiana's northwest corner, 17 head of cattle died in late April after drinking "frac" water that entered their pasture. During the last several months, earthquakes in Johnson County and at D/FW International Airport caused gas companies to shut down injection wells thought to be responsible. And then a couple of week ago, a film showing invisible poisonous hydrocarbons escaping into the air at gas well sites in North Texas appeared on YouTube:

Closest to home, 14 new wells are planned for a Fort Worth park within 600 feet of a proposed elementary school and community center. Oh, and a gas industry lobbying group has been given the right to put a class in a Fort Worth public high school, with full control of the curriculum.

"Sounds like the apocalypse when you just rattle them off like that," said Don Young, founder of Fort Worth CanDo and a consistent voice against urban gas drilling. The seemingly endless horror stories have activists like Young shaking their heads in disbelief. "Just when you think you've seen it all, something else happens to shock you again," he said.

In the earliest of the incidents, on April 28, a small amount of hazardous material the industry calls simply "waste water" or "salt water" escaped onto a northwest Louisiana pasture while a Chesapeake Energy well was being fracced -- that is, when high-pressure water was being forced within the underground shale formation to release the gas trapped within it. Within an hour, 10 cows that drank some of that water were dead. In the next three hours, another seven died. The Shreveport Times reported in an August 6 update that it had received a letter from Chesapeake official Steve Turk in which he wrote that their investigation of the incident showed "a portion of mixed 'frac' fluids, composed of over 99 percent freshwater, leaked from vessels and/or piping." Chesapeake did not admit the other 1 percent of the fraccing fluids killed the cows but did admit having compensated the farmer for them.

"What I want to know," said Sharon Wilson, a longtime anti-drilling activist who maintains a running blog on problems associated with shale activity, "is how the gas companies can call fraccing fluid 'salt water' [sic: 'fresh water'] when 1 percent of that fluid is enough to kill 17 cows, most of them within an hour?"

Dead cows tend to shake people's faith in the safety of drilling -- but not as much, for some people, as the dozen or more small earthquakes that have been registered in North Texas since October 2008, including one that caused $100,000 worth of damage to a Boy Scouts' building. Although drillers at first denied any connection between their activities and the tremors, in mid-August Chesapeake closed two injection wells it uses for disposing of frac fluid at D/FW airport and in Cleburne after some studies suggested those wells could be causing the problem.

An August 13 report in The Wall Street Journal noted that researchers from Southern Methodist University concluded that there was "a "possible correlation" between the quakes and a salt water disposal well operated by Chesapeake on the southern end of the airport, which sits atop a fault line. Chesapeake spokeswoman Julie Wilson did not return calls to Fort Worth Weekly for this story but told the Journal that the move was a "precautionary, proactive step. The events in that area were very minor, and most have not even been felt or were barely felt."

However, for the tens of thousands of North Texans who now live near gas wells and their attendant gathering stations, compressors, and pipelines were those captured in a short YouTube video put together by Young and Wilson from footage taken by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The state agency film was made as part of an ongoing TCEQ program to identify hydrocarbons escaping into the air from gas wells and other industrial sites around the state. Young learned of the filming program and requested and obtained copies.

The footage that he received was shot at well sites in Johnson and Parker counties from a helicopter equipped with a specialized infrared video camera, called a HAWK, that can film emissions invisible to the eye. The HAWK camera, according to TCEQ spokesperson Lisa Wheeler, photographs "hydrocarbon emissions" but cannot specify which poisonous hydrocarbons are escaping or determine the quantity.

The film shows what looks like great plumes of smoke -- the otherwise invisible hydrocarbons -- escaping from wells being drilled and also from storage tanks, water separators, and pipelines. TCEQ has not released information that would identify the specific well sites and companies involved.

"What's so galling is that the gas companies can put vapor recovery systems on the wells and outfit their pipelines to avoid these fugitive emissions," Sharon Wilson said.

According to a report produced by Southern Methodist University for the Environmental Defense Fund in Austin, "Vapor recovery units on condensate tanks would pay for themselves in a matter of months by generating additional revenue to producers from the gas and condensate that would be captured instead of released to the atmosphere."

The report further concluded that poisonous emissions could be significantly reduced with minor retrofitting to every other stage of drilling and transporting natural gas.

But during the hashing-out of the most recent Fort Worth gas-drilling ordinance, Mayor Mike Moncrief took environmental issues out of the hands of the task force designing the ordinance. City staff later left the green completion of wells, with vapor recovery systems and closed sludge pits full of toxic waste, up to the discretion of the gas companies, rather than requiring any such measures in the ordinance.

"Most gas companies simply won't do it unless you force them," Sharon Wilson said. "But you've got to wonder what these companies are thinking. If you can break even on what you spend by selling what you recover, why wouldn't they? Think of the public relations nightmare they could avoid."

Calls on the issue to several major Barnett Shale producers were not returned.

Chesapeake has another public relations disaster about to happen. Its Murkat site drilling plan calls for up to 14 wells to be drilled directly adjacent to neighboring Rosemont Park on the Fort's South Side. "And that plan now collides with a Fort Worth school district plan to build a combination elementary school/community center right across the street," said Gary Hogan, a member of both of the city's drilling ordinance task forces.

The two sets of plans, Hogan said, put the school building at just about 600 feet from the first well bore, as opposed to the normal distance of 600 feet from the edges of the two properties. That property line is well within 600 feet.

"If the [school district] goes through with the plan it's going to be a perfect storm for our kids: a multiple-well site spewing poisonous hydrocarbons from less than the normal protected distance to an elementary school," he said. "To me, not having [hydrocarbon] recovery systems mandatory on urban wells is criminal. One of these days we're going to have kids needing to go to emergency rooms from this."

Calls to the Fort Worth Independent School District on the issue were not returned.

Most recently, there was the early August announcement that Southwest High School will be the new home of the Southwest Academy for Petroleum Engineering and Technology. It will essentially be a private school within a public school, initially funded by a grant from Quicksilver Resources, a Fort Worth-based gas-drilling company.

The program was developed by the Independent Petroleum Association of America, a Washington D.C.-based lobbying group that will control the curriculum of the academy. School Superintendent Melody Johnson, on the district's web page, hails it as offering "students first-hand testimonies from those who work in these career areas." Johnson also notes that, "When they graduate, these students will be fully prepared for ... direct entry into these fields of work."

But to Hogan, Wilson, Young, and others, it sounds like an outlandish incursion by private and vested interests into what is supposed to be an even-handed learning experience. "The lobbying group controls what is being taught," Wilson said. "That's not teaching. That's propaganda."

As with the issue of the school near Rosemont Park, the FWISD did not return calls concerning the placement of public school curricula in the hands of a lobbying group.

Activists are also upset with a new Chesapeake corporate display in Fort Worth's main library. "My gut feeling is that it is wrong to mix corporate and public interests in a place like a library which is supposed to be a sanctuary for people," said Young. "They try to say it's educational, but it's really just corporate advertising.

"When you look at the whole picture," Young continued, "it's as if the gas industry got together to say, 'We're going to own this city.' And to some extent, they do. They've taken over city hall, no question about that. And they've taken over the parks department, which has given them every waiver and variance they've asked for. They've gotten into the libraries, and now the industry is running its own program with its own curriculum in one of our public schools.

For the complete story, CLICK HERE.


There's lots to pay attention to in this article, lots for folks on the Marcellus shale to consider and work to try to make happen differently...

Pa. going over W.Va.’s head on Mon River pollution

Thanks to a friend for sending in this article from the Charleston (WVA) Gazette:

KEN WARD JR. • Tues., Aug. 25, 2009

Our neighbors to the north are apparently growing tired of West Virginia’s inaction — or action through only baby steps — to deal with the potential water pollution problems from disposal of “pit fluids” from large-scale oil and gas drilling.

According to a story over the weekend by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter Don Hopey, Pennsylvania authorities have asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to step in and set tougher pollution limits for Monongahela River.

Pennsylvania DEP Secretary John Hanger told Hopey that his state has issued orders limiting the discharges of total dissolved solids, or TDS, in the Mon — and, perhaps more importantly, has started the lengthy process of drafting new regulatory controls. But, Hanger said, West Virginia hasn’t done likewise. Hanger told Hopey:

We’re not satisfied with the response we’ve received from West Virginia and are engaging the EPA. Because at the end of the day, without federal involvement, we may not get the kind of cooperation needed to solve this problem. I personally have concerns that the posture of West Virginia on this matter is not aggressive enough.

In his article, Hopey explained some background of this Pa-W.Va. dispute:

Sources of dissolved solids include sewage treatment plants, power plant scrubber and coolant water, storm water runoff, abandoned mine drainage, a host of industrial activities and wastewater from oil and gas drilling, especially the millions of gallons produced by deep wells tapping into the Marcellus shale gas bed.

For the past year, Pennsylvania has restricted the amount of wastewater from those deep gas drilling operations that sewage treatment plants can accept to no more than 1 percent of their total water discharges into the river.

West Virginia has only recently urged treatment facilities to limit intake of well waste water. And officials there said the sewage treatment plant in Clarksburg, the only such facility in the state that was permitted to accept well drilling waste water, stopped last month.

Scott Mandirola, director of the WVDEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management, told Hopey that his agency would “cooperate fully” with Pennsylvania and the EPA to develop a pollution reduction plan for the Mon.

But as I reported in May, setting the needed pollution limits is not a major priority for WVDEP. In a presentation during a public water quality standards meeting, DEP assistant water director Pat Campbell noted that surrounding states have such standards, but West Virginia is only just beginning to study whether it should adopt one:

This is the beginning of the state considering whether to have a TDS critiera and what that number should be.


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

"How in god’s name can the oil industry dump sh*t in our drinking water and not tell us what it is?"

EPA: Chemicals Found in Wyo. Drinking Water Might Be From Fracking
by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - August 25, 2009 12:36 pm EDT

Louis Meeks’ well water contains methane gas, hydrocarbons, lead and copper, according to the EPA’s test results. When he drilled a new water well, it also showed contaminants. The drilling company Encana is supplying Meeks with drinking water. (Abrahm Lustgarten/ProPublica)

Federal environment officials investigating drinking water contamination near the ranching town of Pavillion, Wyo., have found that at least three water wells contain a chemical used in the natural gas drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Scientists also found traces of other contaminants, including oil, gas or metals, in 11 of 39 wells tested there since March.

The study, which is being conducted under the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund program, is the first time the EPA has undertaken its own water analysis in response to complaints of contamination in drilling areas, and it could be pivotal in the national debate over the role of natural gas in America’s energy policy.

Abundant gas reserves are being aggressively developed in 31 states, including New York and Pennsylvania. Congress is mulling a bill that aims to protect those water resources from hydraulic fracturing, the process in which fluids and sand are injected under high pressure to break up rock and release gas. But the industry says environmental regulation is unnecessary because it is impossible for fracturing fluids to reach underground water supplies and no such case has ever been proven.

Scientists in Wyoming will continue testing this fall to determine the level of chemicals in the water and exactly where they came from. If they find that the contamination did result from drilling, the placid plains arching up to the Wind River Range would become the first site where fracturing fluids have been scientifically linked to groundwater contamination.

In interviews with ProPublica and at a public meeting this month in Pavillion’s community hall officials spoke cautiously about their preliminary findings. They were careful to say they’re investigating a broad array of sources for the contamination, including agricultural activity. They said the contaminant causing the most concern – a compound called 2-butoxyethanol, known as 2-BE – can be found in some common household cleaners, not just in fracturing fluids.

But those same EPA officials also said they had found no pesticides – a signature of agricultural contamination – and no indication that any industry or activity besides drilling could be to blame. Other than farming, there is no industry in the immediate area.

In Pavillion, a town of about 160 people in the heart of the Wind River Indian Reservation, the gas wells are crowded close together in an ecologically vivid area packed with large wetlands and home to 10 threatened or endangered species. Beneath the ground, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earth is a complex system of folded crusts containing at least 30 water-bearing aquifer layers.

EPA officials told residents that some of the substances found in their water may have been poured down a sink drain. But according to EPA investigation documents, most of the water wells were flushed three times before they were tested in order to rid them of anything that wasn’t flowing through the aquifer itself. That means the contaminants found in Pavillion would have had to work their way from a sink not only into the well but deep into the aquifer at significant concentrations in order to be detected. An independent drinking water expert with decades of experience in central Wyoming, Doyle Ward, dismissed such an explanations as "less than a one in a million" chance.

Some of the EPA’s most cautious scientists are beginning to agree.

"It starts to finger point stronger and stronger to the source being somehow related to the gas development, including, but not necessarily conclusively, hydraulic fracturing itself," said Nathan Wiser, an EPA scientist and hydraulic fracturing expert who oversees enforcement for the underground injection control program under the Safe Drinking Water Act in the Rocky Mountain region. The investigation "could certainly have a focusing effect on a lot of folks in the Pavillion area as a nexus between hydraulic fracturing and water contamination."

The Superfund investigation follows a series of complaints by residents in the Pavillion area, some stemming back 15 years, that their water wells turned sour and reeked of fuel vapors shortly after drilling took place nearby. Several of those residents shared their stories with ProPublica, while other information was found through court and local records. Several years ago a one resident’s animals went blind and died after drinking from a well. In two current cases, a resident’s well water shows small pooling oil slicks on the surface, and a woman is coping with a mysterious nervous system disorder: Her family blames arsenic and metals found in her water. In two of those cases the Canadian drilling company Encana, which bought most of the area’s wells after they were drilled and assumed liability for them, is either supplying fresh drinking water to the residents or has purchased the land. In the third case a drilling company bought by Encana, Tom Brown Inc, had previously reached an out-of-court settlement to provide water filtering.

Though the drilling companies have repeatedly compensated residents with the worst cases of contamination, they have not acknowledged any fault in causing the pollution. An Encana spokesman, Doug Hock, told ProPublica the company wants "to better understand the science and the source of the compounds" found in the water near Pavillion before he would speculate on whether the company was responsible.

Precise details about the nature and cause of the contamination, as well as the extent of the plume running in the aquifer beneath this region 150 miles east of Jackson Hole, have been difficult for scientists to collect. That’s in part because the identity of the chemicals used by the gas industry for drilling and fracturing are protected as trade secrets, and because the EPA, based on an exemption passed under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, does not have authority to investigate the fracturing process under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Using the Superfund program gave the agency extra authority to investigate the Pavillion reports, including the right to subpoena the secret information if it needs to. It also unlocked funding to pay for the research.

EPA officials have repeatedly said that disclosure of the fluids used in fracking – something that would be required if the bill being debated in Congress were passed – would enable them to investigate contamination incidents faster, more conclusively and for less money. The current study, which is expected to end next spring, has already cost $130,000.
Urge your senators and representatives to vote FOR the FRAC Act, removing exemptions for hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. For info and help, see sidebar left. WRITE NOW!
About 65 people, many in jeans, boots and 10-gallon hats, filled Pavillion’s community hall on Aug. 11 to hear the EPA’s findings. They were told that a range of contaminants, including arsenic, copper, vanadium and methane gas were found in the water. Many of these substances are found in various fluids used at drilling sites.

Of particular concern were compounds called adamantanes, a natural hydrocarbon found in gas that can be used to fingerprint its origin, and 2-BE, listed as a common fracturing fluid in the EPA’s 2004 research report on hydraulic fracturing. That compound, which EPA scientists in Wyoming said they identified with 97 percent certainty, was suspected by some environmental groups in a 2004 drilling-related contamination case in Colorado, also involving Encana.

EPA investigators explained that because they had no idea what to test for, they were relegated to an exhaustive process of scanning water samples for spikes in unidentified compounds and then running those compounds like fingerprints through a criminal database for matches against a vast library of unregulated and understudied substances. That is how they found the adamantanes and 2-BE.

An Encana representative told the crowd the company was as concerned as they were about the contamination and pledged to help the EPA in its investigation.

Some people seemed confounded by what they were hearing.

"How in god’s name can the oil industry dump sh*t in our drinking water and not tell us what it is?" shouted Alan Hofer, who lives near the center of the sites being investigated by the EPA.

"If they’d tell us what they were using then you could go out and test for things and it would make it a lot easier right?" asked Jim Van Dorn, who represents Wyoming Rural Water, a non-profit that advises utilities and private well owners on water management.

"Exactly," said Luke Chavez, the EPA’s chief Superfund investigator on the project. "That’s our idea too."

Now that the EPA has found a chemical used in fracturing fluids in Pavillion’s drinking water, Chavez said the next step in the research is to ask Encana for a list of the chemicals it uses and then do more sampling using that list. (An Encana spokesman told ProPublica the company will supply any information that the EPA requires.) The EPA is also working with area health departments, a toxicologist and a representative from the Centers for Disease Control’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to assess health risks, he said.

Depending on what they find, the investigation in Wyoming could have broad implications. Before hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005, the EPA assessed the process and concluded it did not pose a threat to drinking water. That study, however, did not involve field research or water testing and has been criticized as incomplete. This spring, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson called some of the contamination reports "startling" and told members of Congress that it is time to take another look. The Pavillion investigation, according to Chavez, is just that.

"If there is a problem, maybe we don’t have the tools, or the laws, to deal with it," Chavez said. "That’s one of the things that could come out of this process."

For the complete ProPublica report, CLICK HERE.


Monday, August 24, 2009


Water Well Contamination

Cornell University Cooperative Extension offers the following documents pertaining to water well contamination resulting from natural gas development. All instances of contamination that we have found thus far have not been caused by hydro-fracturing chemicals, but have been instead caused by improper well casings that have resulted in methane migration into aquifers or the turbidity that results from methane migration or ground vibrations.

SPLASHDOWN Editorial: Contrary to the above claim that all instances of contamination have not been caused by hydro-fracturing chemicals, real proof exists:

See Bluedaze post with pictures, video and link to more links re: sick and dying livestock and wildlife.

See below: Cause of cow deaths in Caddo Parish remains a mystery...

See also: Exxon Mobil pays fine in case tied to bird deaths.

Penn. DEP Notice of Violations to Cabot Oil and Gas Re: Dimock Gas Migration. Improper casing caused methane migration.

DEP Tests Dimock Water Wells and finds no contamination from hydro-fracturing chemicals.

The Garfield County Study of Methane Contamination
(all links)

Update on the Ongoing Investigation of the Presence of Methane Gas in Water Wells in Laramie/Fox Hill Aquifer (PDF), From Colorado Oil & Gas Commission's David S. Neslin to the Weld County Commission, April 13, 2009

NYS DEC Slideshow: Marcellus Shale Exploration

Contamination of Private Water Supplies by Gas Well Drilling in New York State, by Stephen Penningroth, PhD Executive Director, Community Science Institute, 2009.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources - Report on the Investigation of the Natural Gas Invasion of Aquifers in Bainbridge Township of Geauga County, Ohio 153-page report blamed a nearby gas well's faulty concrete casing and hydraulic fracturing on methane contamination.

Scientific Paper:
"Contamination of Aquifers by Overpressuring" Annulus of Oil and Gas Wells Samuel S. Harrison, May/June 1985

BP to clean up contaminated water well- Public involvement requires written request Pinedale Online! - August 20, 2007

Hydrocarbons found in 85 Jonah/Pinedale Anticline water wells. 3 of the 85 have Benzene Hydrocarbon levels above allowable WY DEQ levels by Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online! - April 26, 2007

Air Quality Contamination

Barnett Shale Area
Emissions from natural Gas Production in the Barnett Shale Area and Opportunities for Cost-Effective Improvements by Al Armendariz, Ph.D. Dept. of Environmental & Civil Engineering, Southern Methodist University, Jan. 26, 2009.

Texas State Agency Backs SMU Ozone Study

Wyoming Area

Air Pollution Advisory Issued: The Air Quality Division of Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality is issuing an air pollution advisory beginning Wed., Feb. 27, for the Upper Green River Basin in Sublette County.

Sublette County Reaches EPA Ozone "Non-Attainment" Status

Wyoming Dept. of Environmental Quality Interim Policy on Air Quality Compliance & Permitting Procedures.
(Details situation, and role of gas companies, and permitting procedure)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

UPDATE: Cause of cow deaths in Caddo Parish remains a mystery

By Alisa Stingley •
Shreveport Times • August 7, 2009

Just what killed those cows?

No final toxicology report has been made public about what killed 17 cows in south Caddo after they ingested liquid spilled from a nearby Chesapeake Energy Corp. drilling site April 28.

But information in available reports indicates the cows died painful deaths.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality's enforcement division continues to review the case. If the cause of death is in those files, it isn't being released until the division completes its investigation.

However, DEQ has said it is not responsible for getting veterinary lab tests done on cattle that died from some kind of contamination. And the state Natural Resources Department has said it doesn't order such tests either — only if the cattle had died of disease.

Chesapeake Energy and its contractor Schlumberger Technology sent a statement by e-mail to The Times saying they have no access to lab results and do not know the cause of death.

Perhaps the only ones who do know what killed the cattle are the cows' owners, Cecil and Tyler Williams, and their private veterinarian, Dr. R.L. Powers, who sent specimens to LSU and Texas A&M labs for testing. But none of them is talking, and the schools won't release information due to client confidentiality.

Here's what is known:

During a routine fracturing operation by Schlumberger, some fluids composed of 99 percent freshwater leaked onto the well pad then onto the pasture after a rain, Chesapeake Energy, which owns the well site, says in a letter sent in June to DEQ. About 4 p.m. April 28, site workers noticed the dead cattle.

Subsequent soil and water samples taken by the regional DEQ office found elevated chlorides — a salt, as well as oil and grease and some organic compounds. Potassium chloride can be added to the fluids used during stages of the hydraulic fracturing process used to reach natural gas trapped in underground shale.

A preliminary necropsy report by the Louisiana Animal Disease Medical Laboratory at LSU in Baton Rouge is among documents in the DEQ public records database. The report does not determine the cause of death and notes that a toxicology report was pending.


Surface Owner's Bill of Rights

Why have lawmakers rejected it two years in a row???

Wetzel County Residents Face Drilling Concerns

August 18, 2009
· Gas and oil companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale have increased in the state over the past few years, especially in Wetzel County.

Although the boom is adding economic benefits to the state, it also is causing problems for many residents who live near these wells.

Ray Renaud and his wife Margie have lived in their country home on Friendship Ridge in northern Wetzel County for more than 30 years. The area around their quaint farm house has always been peaceful with little traffic.

But everything changed three years ago when oil and gas companies began moving in to drill for Marcellus shale.

The main issue is a matter of life and death. These trucks pose a significant hazard to the citizens and we have seen numerous accidents,” said Renaud.

"Part of the reason we haven’t had a fatality up to now because the activity has damaged the road to an extent that people have to slow down to avoid an accident.”

Renaud is a member of the Wetzel County Action Group. He has documented safety concerns by clocking traffic with his radar gun. He also has a scanner in his kitchen so he can go take pictures of accidents along the roadways.

His neighbor, Steve Conlon is also concerned about the roads.

“We have a bee farm... and we used to have four routes that we could bring people to our place and now we have one,” said Conlon.

“With all of the riches being taken out of the ground in Wetzel County there should be enough money to repair the damage.”

Chesapeake Energy is one of the companies drilling in the area. Officials say they have been listening to residents concerns.

Mike John, Vice President of Corporate Development said the company created a community advisory panel to address issues. Chesapeake has placed more escort vehicles in front of its tankers and trucks and has also increased communication with school bus drivers.

“We have been able to institute piloting of large trucks and school buses and will have spent likely up to $1.8 million repairing two roads,” said John.

“If we impact the roads we will put them back in a condition that is at least as good or even better as the condition of the road that we found.”

The impacts of drilling aren’t all negative in Wetzel County. Motels are booked well in advance, and local restaurants are busy.

The County Commission expects to see oil and gas severance tax revenues increase this year by 15 to 20 percent.

“With additional tax revenues and copy revenues we will be able to fund other local outside agencies like our public libraries, ambulance authority and local emergency medical services,” said commissioner Scott Lemley.

Some residents are benefiting as well from royalties and leasing agreements. But not every landowner in the county owns mineral rights.

According to David McMahon, co-founder of the WV Surface Owner’s Rights Organization, many residents are being taken advantage of by companies.

“The only notice that surface owner is required by law to get to get when there is going to be someone come and bulldoze a road or well site on their land is that they get 15 days notice for the application of the well permit when the drilling company files with DEP,” said McMahon.

West Virginia is rich in oil and gas, but poor in its number of oil and gas regulators.

There are 50,000 active oil and gas wells in West Virginia but only 16 state inspectors.

The WV Surface Owners Rights Organization is trying to get a bill passed in the legislature to help protect landowners.

‘We want the driller to show the surface owner their plans before they go to file the permit and send out the surveyor. We want some incentives for the driller to negotiate with the surface owner and come up with a written agreement something in writing,” said McMahon.

“Most residents are also worried about environmental and land quality concerns,” said Renaud.

The Wetzel County Commission is asking the Department of Transportation and state lawmakers to help repair some of the damaged roads along drilling areas.

McMahon expects the Surface Owner’s Bill of Rights to be reintroduced during the next legislative session. Lawmakers have rejected it twice in the past two years.

Why's that? Who do the lawmakers represent?


A few concrete facts...

In June, the EPA held three national public hearings on proposed rules limiting cement industry pollution, including the first ever limits for MERCURY emissions. The rules would significantly decrease some of the most dangerous kinds of air pollution cement plants release, including Mercury, Particulate Matter, or soot, Hydrochloric Acid, and chemicals contributing to smog called Total Hydrocarbons. The hearings took place in Washington D.C., Dallas/Fort Worth, and Los Angeles.

Cement kilns are some of the biggest mercury polluters in the country. Mercury is a dangerous neurotoxin that can impair a child's ability to walk, talk, read, write and learn. Mercury also interferes with the brain and nervous system and can affect blood pressure, fertility, can cause memory loss and tremors.

"Tomoko Uemura in Her Bath, Minamata" (1972), by W. Eugene Smith
Tomoko suffered from Minamata disease,
caused by industrial pollution of Minamata's bay with mercury.

Hydrochloric acid is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure may cause eye, nose, and respiratory tract irritation and inflammation and pulmonary edema in humans. Acute oral exposure may cause corrosion of the mucous membranes, esophagus, and stomach and dermal contact may produce severe burns, ulceration, and scarring in humans. Chronic (long-term) occupational exposure to hydrochloric acid has been reported to cause gastritis, chronic bronchitis, dermatitis, and photosensitization in workers. Prolonged exposure to low concentrations may also cause dental discoloration and erosion. Ingestion may be fatal. Lethal to fish. Toxic for aquatic organisms due to pH shift.

While most area residents attending the Texas hearing voiced concern over the fundamental human rights at stake, "You can't get much more basic than the need to breathe clean air," said one. Another resident, unsympathetic with cement industry concerns over the cost of the proposed rules on mercury, hydrochloric acid, hydrocarbons and particulates said, "Put them out of business until they can make clean cement."

As is typical of industry, cement producers claim the cost of doing business as it should be done, with safeguards in place protecting our vital lifeline resources: air, land and water, and so, us, would have a negative effect on their economy, and by extension, the overall economy and economic recovery. It's a defensive posture aimed at maximizing profits at any price.

To learn more about cement plants, mercury pollution and regulation, CLICK HERE, HERE and HERE.
For industry spin, CLICK HERE.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

‘Concrete’ proof of gas development impact...

No strawberries. No taxes.

August 18, 2009

MONTGOMERY - A proposed cement plant in Clinton Township is concrete proof that developing natural gas resources in the Marcellus Shale region will produce jobs for local residents. ...

The complex will be built and operated by global oil and gas industry support company Halliburton.

The facility will produce concrete specifically for the gas drilling industry and could generate up to 300 jobs, according to company officials. ...

The project, estimated to cost between $10 million and $12 million, will include a concrete plant, warehouse, offices and truck wash and maintenance bays built over two phases, Pabst said.

A sand plant may be built as part of a third phase, but that depends on gas industry demand, he said.

Pabst said 70 to 80 percent of the jobs generated by the facility will be local hires. ...

Perry Harris, the company's northeast district manager, said Halliburton found the site appealing because of its proximity to the Marcellus Shale, the availability of local workers and the fact that they needed a significant amount of land on which to build.

"We feel like it is a good location," he said. ...

The company bought the property for $450,000 from the Industrial Properties Corp., a real estate development authority administered by the Chamber of Commerce, said Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce executive vice president Jason Fink.

The parcel, which formerly was a strawberry field, was the last available parcel in the commerce park, Fink said.

Fink said one of the things that appealed to the company was the fact that it is a Keystone Opportunity Zone, a designation that provides relief from state, municipal, county and school taxes through 2011. An application has been submitted to the state to extend the designation beyond 2011, Fink said. ...

"Obviously, they're here for the long term," Matteo said.

For a more detailed account, CLICK HERE.


Warren County Commissioner gathering evidence for oil/gas drilling hearing

TIMES OBSERVER, August 18, 2009

One side says the economic impacts are devastating.

The other side doesn't see it that way.

The judge in a case filed by representatives of the oil and gas industry against the U.S. Forest Service and environmental groups wants to hear the specifics of those economic impacts.

Warren County Commissioner John Bortz will be one of the witnesses testifying at an evidentiary hearing scheduled for Monday and Tuesday in federal court in Erie.

To prepare for that event, Bortz, with the help of Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry (WCCBI) Director of Workforce Development Heidi Powley, is gathering evidence.


Bortz did not disclose the results of the survey that had come in as of Monday, but gave a preliminary outline of the findings.

"There is a degree of confirmation" of negative effects on the economy, he said. "They are pointing to a direct impact from the moratorium on new development."

"This is having a direct effect on us locally," Bortz said.

Powley explained that she has been polling local businesses via email.

"I basically asked them how the ruling... has impacted their business," she said.

Those polled include all chamber members and various other business contacts in Warren, Forest, McKean and Elk counties, Powley said.

She did not disclose the results of the polling but said she has been getting responses.

In July, U.S. District Court Judge Sean McLaughlin scheduled the evidentiary hearing after a hearing to rule on a defense motion to dismiss the lawsuit and a plaintiff motion for a preliminary injunction against a prior settlement.

In that prior settlement, the Forest Service and plaintiffs Allegheny Defense Project (ADP), Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), and the Sierra Club agreed that the appropriate level of National Environmental Policy Act analysis be done before new drilling development is allowed on the Allegheny National Forest.

The Forest Service agreed to allow several hundred new wells, for which applications were already in place, but to otherwise put a hold on new drilling until a forest-wide Environmental Impact Statement can be prepared. That process is expected to take at least a year.

In the current lawsuit, Minard Run Oil, Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association (POGAM), Allegheny Forest Alliance (AFA) and Warren County are the plaintiffs and the Forest Service, the agency's local and national leaders, ADP, FSEEE, and Sierra Club are named as defendants.

CLICK HERE for article source.


Exxon Mobil pays fine in case tied to bird deaths


Aug. 13, 2009, 1:54PM

Exxon Mobil Corp. has agreed to pay $600,000 in fines and community service payments under a deal with the federal government concerning violations of a federal migratory bird law in five states including Texas, the Justice Department said today.

On Wednesday, the Irving-based oil giant pleaded guilty in a federal district court in Denver to five misdemeanor charges of breaking the U.S. Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

Exxon Mobil was accused of killing about 85 birds including water fowl and hawks in Colorado, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas.

The birds died after exposure to hydrocarbons in open natural gas well pits and wastewater storage facilities at company sites in each state, said John Cruden, acting assistant U.S. attorney general, in a conference call this morning.

ANNETTE MESSAGER, "Le repos des pensionnaires"
For more on this story, CLICK HERE.


Friday, August 14, 2009


EPA will investigate nearby oil and gas development to determine contamination source

Pavillion, WY citizens call for fracking moratorium

Pavillion, WY, August 14, 2009 - This week U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told a group of over 70 that initial investigations found 11 of 39 tested drinking water wells were contaminated. Among the contaminants are toxics used in oil and gas production.

As part of a Superfund investigation, EPA began sampling in March 2009 in the Pavillion, WY area in response to multiple landowners concerns about changes in water quality and quantity following EnCana's increased gas development in the area. Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) and EnCana had continually assured Pavillion residents that there was no evidence of hydrocarbons or toxic chemicals in their drinking water wells.

(Look you in the eye and lie.)

"Our families and neighbors are experiencing everything from miscarriages and rare cancers to central nervous system disorders, seizures, and liver disease" said John Fenton of Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens, a citizens group formed to address oil and gas contamination.

EPA confirmed the presence of 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE), a known constituent in hydraulic fracturing fluids, in three wells. This is the same chemical that was documented in the water well of Laura Amos, a Colorado landowner, after nearby wells were hydraulically fractured by EnCana. EPA reported that other water contamination, in the Pavillion wells, included methane, as well as adamantanes (a form of hydrocarbon) and six other chemical compounds of concern.

In 2001 EnCana's fracturing operations in Silt, Colorado were linked to methane and other contamination of Ms. Amos' nearby water well. Amos was unable to test immediately for chemical constituents related to hydraulic fracturing as she was unable to identify what chemicals were in EnCana's drilling products. In 2003 Ms. Amos was diagnosed with a rare adrenal cancer and she later discovered that 2-BE had been used in EnCana's fracking products. According to Dr. Theo Colborn at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, known health effects of 2-BE include elevated numbers of combined malignant and non-malignant tumors of the adrenal gland, kidney damage, kidney failure, toxicity to the spleen, the bones in the spinal column and bone marrow, liver cancer, anemia, female fertility reduction, and embryo mortality.

As a result of the EPA's findings, residents in the Pavillion area are now calling for a halt to EnCana's fracturing operation. "It's very concerning that we are finding known fracturing products and hydrocarbons in our citizens' water wells," says John Fenton. "We'll await EPA's determination as to what is the cause of this contamination. However, in the mean time, we are asking EnCana to ensure no more fracturing occurs in the area."


"Full cooperation in this instance requires that EnCana fully disclose what products and chemicals have been used in the Pavillion/Muddy Ridge fields," says Deb Thomas, organizer for the Power River Basin Resource Council and the Pavillion Area of Concerned Citizens. "This shows why federal regulation of fracturing and drilling operations is so important. We have been seeking answers from EnCana and the State of Wyoming for years. We are very pleased that EPA is now getting results. All citizens deserve clean water."

In June, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act (S. 1215/HR 2766) was introduced to require disclosure of fracturing chemicals to public agencies and to lift the exemption for hydraulic fracturing under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The legislation, known as the FRAC Act ensures that a federal minimum standard would prohibit endangerment of underground sources of drinking water while allowing states flexibility in implementing that standard.

***Urge Congress to vote for the FRAC Act, removing exemptions for hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. You can get contact information for your senators and representatives from the side bar on the left. WRITE NOW!***

"Citizens throughout the country have been reporting changes in their water well's quality and quantity after nearby hydraulic fracturing operations for years and voicing concerns about both short and long-term health effects," said Jennifer Goldman of Earthworks' Oil and Gas Accountability Project. "The FRAC Act is critical to ensuring that we know what toxics are being injected into and near our aquifers and to holding the oil and gas industry accountable for the environmental and health impacts."


Oil and Gas Drilling is Transforming the Allegheny National Forest

According to Alan Gregory's Conservation News, "The Allegheny is the most heavily drilled federal public land anywhere. It is a veritable pincushion of drill pads, storage tanks, roads, clearcuts, holding ponds and pollution." In 2007 the Allegheny Defense Project published this slideshow of aerial views of oil and gas drilling in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. At that time, the ANF had approximately 9,000 active oil and gas wells... more than all other national forests combined! The Forest Service predicts that if current rates of drilling continue, there could be 20,000 wells by 2020 and an additional 3,000 miles of roads. According to the ADP, "The oil and gas industry, the Forest Service, and the PA DEP all share the blame for what is happening in Pennsylvania's only national forest."



Natural gas development in Colorado, the impacts on communities, environment and public health. A primer for public servants and residents of counties that care for their lifestyles.

Drilling for Gas in Bradford County, PA ... Listen!

Cattle Drinking Drilling Waste!

EPA... FDA... Hello? How many different ways are we going to have to eat this? ... Thank you TXSharon for all you do! ... Stay tuned in at


A film by Txsharon. Thank you Sharon for all you do. Click HERE to read the complete article on Bluedaze: Landfarms: Spreading Toxic Drilling Waste on Farmland

SkyTruth: Upper Green River Valley - A View From Above