Wednesday, March 31, 2010

US Oil Company Donated Millions to Climate Sceptic Groups, Says Greenpeace

Report identifies Koch Industries giving $73m to climate sceptic groups 'spreading inaccurate and misleading information'

by John Vida

A Greenpeace investigation has identified a little-known, privately owned US oil company as the paymaster of global warming sceptics in the US and Europe.

The environmental campaign group accuses Kansas-based Koch Industries, which owns refineries and operates oil pipelines, of funding 35 conservative and libertarian groups, as well as more than 20 congressmen and senators. Between them, Greenpeace says, these groups and individuals have spread misinformation about climate science and led a sustained assault on climate scientists and green alternatives to fossil fuels.


"The company's network of lobbyists, former executives and organisations has created a forceful stream of misinformation that Koch-funded entities produce and disseminate. The propaganda is then replicated, repackaged and echoed many times throughout the Koch-funded web of political front groups and thinktanks," said Greenpeace.


The groups include many of the best-known conservative thinktanks in the US, like Americans for Prosperity, the Heritage Foundation, the Cato institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Foundation for research on economics and the environment. All have been involved in "spinning" the "climategate" story or are at the forefront of the anti-global warming debate, says Greenpeace.

Read all about it HERE.


What the Frack? Natural Gas from Subterranean Shale Promises U.S. Energy Independence--With Environmental Costs

Natural gas cracked out of shale deposits may mean the U.S. has a stable supply for a century--but at what cost to the environment and human health?

By David Biello
March 30, 2010

DISH, Tex.—A satellite broadcasting company bought the rights to rename this town a few years ago in exchange for a decade of free television, but it is another industry that dominates the 200 or so residents: natural gas. Five facilities perched on the north Texas town's outskirts compress the gas newly flowing to the surface from the cracked Barnett Shale more than two kilometers beneath the surface, collectively contributing a brew of toxic chemicals to the air.

It is because of places like DISH (formerly known as Clark) and similar sites from Colorado to Wyoming, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched a new review of the practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking". From compressor stations emitting known human carcinogens such as benzene to the poor lining of wells after drilling that has led some water taps to literally spout flames, the full set of activities needed to produce natural gas gives rise to a panoply of potential problems. The EPA study may examine everything from site selection to the ultimate disposal of the fluids used in fracking.

View a slide show of hydraulic fracturing

The picture from DISH is not pretty. A set of seven samples collected throughout the town analyzed for a variety of air pollutants last August found that benzene was present at levels as much as 55 times higher than allowed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). Similarly, xylene and carbon disulfide (neurotoxicants), along with naphthalene (a blood poison) and pyridines (potential carcinogens) all exceeded legal limits, as much as 384 times levels deemed safe. "They're trying to get the pipelines in the ground so fast that they're not doing them properly," says Calvin Tillman, DISH's mayor. "Then you've got nobody looking, so nobody knows if it's going in the ground properly…. You just have an opportunity for disaster here."

DISH sits at the heart of a pipeline network now tuned to exploit a gas drilling boom in the Fort Worth region. The Barnett Shale, a geologic formation more than two kilometers deep and more than 13,000 square kilometers in extent, holds as much as 735 billion cubic meters of natural gas—and the city of Fort Worth alone boasts hundreds of wells, according to Ed Ireland, executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, an industry group. "It's urban drilling, so you literally have drilling rigs that are located next door to subdivisions or shopping malls."

Although the first well was drilled in 1982, it took until 2002 for the boom to really get started. Now there are more than 14,000 wells in the Barnett Shale, thanks to a combination of being able to drill horizontally and fracking—pumping water at high pressure deep beneath the ground to literally crack the rock and release natural gas.

"They pump a mixture of water and sand—and half a percent of that is some chemicals, like lubricants," Ireland explains. "They pump that into the formation at a very high pressure. Cracks it just like a windshield. And the cracks go out a couple hundred feet on either side and that forms the pathway for the natural gas to migrate to the well bore and up to the surface."

All that natural gas may prove a boon to a U.S. bid for energy independence. Plus, burning natural gas to produce electricity releases roughly 40 percent less of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide than burning coal. So the question is: Can extracting that natural gas be done safely?

Water pollution
As Ireland notes: "There's never been a documented case of contaminated water supply." That is technically true, but residents of Dimock, Pa., may disagree. That town sits atop the Marcellus Shale—a giant natural gas–laden rock formation that stretches from Tennessee to New York State—and the kind of extraction now going on in Texas is just getting started there. In Dimock, leaks from badly cased wells contaminated drinking water wells—and one even exploded.

It all comes down to the fact that fracking involves a lot of water. There's the at least 11.5 million liters involved in fracking a well in the first place. There's the brine and other fluids that can come to the surface with the natural gas. And there's the problem of what to do with all that waste fluid at the end of the day.

In Dimock's case, Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas has spilled fracturing fluid, diesel and other fluids, according to Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection. And elsewhere in the state fracturing fluid contamination has been detected in the Monongahela River, which is a source of drinking water. In more common practice, companies dump used fracking fluid back beneath the surface, usually injecting it into other formations beneath the shale. For example, in the case of the Barnett Shale, disposal wells send that water into the deeper Ellenburger Formation.

But there's also the problem of what's actually in the fracking fluid. EPA tests in Wyoming have found suspected fracking fluid chemicals in drinking water wells, and a study by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation identified 260 chemicals used in the process—a review undertaken as the state decides whether to allow such drilling on lands comprising the watershed providing New York City with its drinking water. And Dow Chemical notes that it sells biocides—antimicrobial poisons—to be included in the mix. But companies zealously guard the secret of what exactly makes up their individual "special sauce." It is one of the ways the companies distinguish themselves.
(See Flower Mound Citizens Against Urban Drilling March 30th post: Natural Gas Drilling Companies Searching for Hydraulic Fracturing Alternatives)

Air pollution
In places where required by law, natural gas companies also distinguish themselves by how they filter out air pollutants. "There's [vapor recovery units] that they can put in place to cut out 95 percent of the emissions from a site," Tillman says. "In states where it's been mandated they do it, and they do it willingly—and they do presentations that show how they're going to comply and how their vapor recovery unit is better than the next guy's vapor recovery unit."

That obviously does not happen in DISH, and a big part of such negligence is a lack of appropriate oversight. For example, after it received complaints the TCEQ sent an SUV with a gas detection unit to drive around Dish for a couple of hours. Despite widespread complaints of odor, the commission found "no leaks that would be detectable to the human nose," Tillman says. "So obviously they're trying to deceive us, they're treating us like we're blooming idiots."

As a result, DISH conducted its own air quality test—at a cost of 15 percent of the town's annual budget of $70,000—that revealed the toxic mix of air pollution. Subsequently, the town petitioned and won the right to install one of seven permanent air monitors in the entire state of Texas. "It's not just writing regulations," Tillman notes. "Somebody has to go out and make sure they're following regulations. And when they're not following regulations, the punishments need to be swift and harsh."

That problem is not confined to the TCEQ or the Railroad Commission of Texas, which through a quirk of history regulates the Lone Star State's oil and gas industries. National laws, like the Safe Drinking Water Act, have been specifically amended to exempt hydraulic fracturing from federal regulation. Yet a New York City analysis of fracking has found that whereas a single fractured natural gas well may do no harm, the hundreds required to exploit shale gas "brings an increased level of risk to the water supply." Plus, although fracking occurs deep below freshwater aquifers, natural cracks "serve as conduits that facilitate migration of contaminants, methane or pressurized fluids."

And it's in the air, too. The Texas Health and Human Services Commission is now conducting tests on roughly 30 residents of DISH to see what might be the human health impacts of this air pollution exposure. And the TCEQ has found high air pollution levels in other nearby towns, such as Decatur, and at individual residences.

Climate savior?
Nevertheless, a 2004 study by the EPA found hydraulic fracturing harmless and the oil industry has been using a roughly similar extraction method since the 1940s. If shale gas can be extracted safely, it might go a long way to cutting back on U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases, as acknowledged at the U.N. Copenhagen climate conference this past December by environmentalists such as Christopher Flavin of the Washington, D.C.–based World Resources Institute. "Compared with coal, natural gas allows a 50 to 70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "It's a good complement to the wind and solar generators that will be the backbones of a low-carbon electricity system."

Already, the U.S. produces nearly 600 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE), and it estimates proved reserves of natural gas of at least 6.7 trillion cubic meters. The Marcellus Shale alone may have at least 10 trillion cubic meters.

A host of companies have moved in to exploit this resource, and a "few hundred" wildcatters operate in the Barnett Shale alone, according to Ireland. "The wildcatters are the small companies, they have a low overhead, and they can afford to go out and take some risks," he says. "That's been the history of the business and I think that will continue." But major companies have also taken an interest; ExxonMobil hopes to buy natural gas producer XTO Energy pending regulatory approval.

That's because natural gas is becoming more and more the fuel of choice for generating electricity; the DoE expects 21 percent of U.S. electricity to be derived from natural gas by 2035, and by 2034 power plant builder and consulting firm Black & Veatch expects almost half of all U.S. electricity to come from burning natural gas. "I don't see gas shales having an insurmountable environmental problem that is expensive to fix," says Mark Griffith, head of Black & Veatch's power market analysis.

And the gaseous fossil fuel is used for everything from home heating to making plastics and fertilizer. "It's good that we've discovered all this natural gas, because we're going to need it to generate electricity," Ireland says. "Twenty years from now, we're still going to need all the natural gas we can get."

Some, such as Texas oil- and gas-millionaire T. Boone Pickens, have even suggested using this new surfeit of natural gas to help wean the U.S. off foreign oil, turning it into vehicle fuel. Of course, compressed natural gas is already the fuel of choice for many metropolitan area bus fleets.
Ultimately, however, shale gas extraction—and the hydraulic fracturing that goes with it—will have to be done right. "If something comes out that you're poisoning the population, it's going to be a very bad thing," Ireland notes.
The EPA anticipates finishing its latest study of the practice by 2012. "Six months ago, nobody knew that facilities like this would be spewing benzene," Tillman notes. "Someone could come in here and look at us and say, 'You know what? They've sacrificed you. You've been sacrificed for the good of the shale.'"


Editor's Note: David Biello is the host of a forthcoming series on PBS, tentatively titled "The Future of Electricity". The series will explore the coming transformation of how we use and produce electricity, along with its impact on the environment, national security and the economy. He conducted the interviews for this article in conjunction with his work on that series.


Natural Gas Drilling Tip Line

EPA's Mid-Atlantic Region has a natural gas drilling tip line for reporting dumping and other illegal or suspicious hauling and/or disposal activities.

• Tip line number (toll free): 877-919-4372 (877-919-4EPA)

• Tip email address:

• Tip mailing address:
EPA Region 3
1650 Arch Street (3CEOO)
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

Documenting Suspicious Activity

To the extent possible, record:

• Location of the event

• Date of the event

• Time of the event

• Who, if anyone you interacted with during the event

Photos and videos are great ways to document observations. Be sure to record the date and time the photo or video was taken. Email your digital files, or mail your photographic prints, video cassettes, or CD-ROM disks to EPA using the contact information above.

When describing what you observed, include:

• Activity taking place, including description of equipment and materials involved

• Descriptions of vehicles
- Color
- Company name or logo
- License plate number
- Type of vehicle

• Destination of discharge (physical location and stream name, if known)

• Environmental impacts: discoloration, dying vegetation, dead fish or other wildlife

Thank you for reporting this information to EPA.


Reporting Environmental Concerns to Pennsylvania's Dept. of Environmental Protection

The Pennsylvania DEP site for Environmental Complaints - Northeast Region:

• Pennsylvania DEP Environmental Complaint Form:

• Environmental Cleanup Hotline: 570 820-4902

Environmental Program Manager: Ron Brezinski


Obama to Open Offshore Areas to Oil Drilling

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wed, March 31, 2010 -- 12:01 AM ET

The Obama administration is proposing to open vast expanses
of water along the Atlantic coastline, the eastern Gulf of
Mexico and the north coast of Alaska to oil and natural gas
drilling for the first time, officials said Tuesday.

The proposal -- a compromise that will please oil companies
and domestic drilling advocates but anger some residents of
affected states and many environmental organizations -- would
end a longstanding moratorium on oil exploration along the
East Coast from the northern tip of Delaware to the central
coast of Florida, covering 167 million acres of ocean.

Read More:



Splashdown would like to pass along two excellent posts, very worth your reading time!

First, a powerfully comprehensive and provocative post from the blog The Falcon and the Dove : Marcellus Shale Well Drilling is Highway to Hades for Pennsylvania, posted Monday, March 29th...

Secondly, EPA TO THE RESCUE, from the blog Gracenomics, Tuesday, March 30th, is a good critique of energy mining. Comparing gas drilling to coal mining, it says government response "has been a predictable compromise: to minimize the environmental damage rather than to curtail the particular practice that perpetuates it."


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rendell warns natural-gas industry that resistance to tax will backfire

By Andrew Maykuth
Inquirer Staff Writer
Tues., Mar. 30, 2010

FORT WORTH, Texas - Gov. Rendell, describing himself as the "best ally" of the natural-gas industry, has warned it that public opinion is turning against Marcellus Shale drilling, and that a tax on gas production is the best way to get Pennsylvanians to accept the practice.

In a talk before an energy conference in Dallas, Rendell said the natural-gas business was following "some bad advice" in resisting a Pennsylvania tax on production, and it could face a future backlash resulting in a far more severe tax "that will bleed the industry."

Since the governor's recorded comments Thursday at the conference, sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute and Southern Methodist University (his remarks can be heard at the institute's Web site), a spirited discussion has been sparked about the industry's difficulties communicating to the state's citizenry its positive aspects - jobs, economic development, a reduction in greenhouse gases, and less reliance on imported fuel - rather than the environmental drawbacks of the Marcellus drilling.

Telling his audience at the natural-gas conference that he has campaigned relentlessly to promote the industry in Pennsylvania, Rendell said he recently invited leading gas-drilling executives to the governor's mansion in Harrisburg to discuss a proposal to enact a wellhead-production levy like those in other states with severance taxes.

But only one drilling executive accepted the invitation, Rendell said during the roundtable discussion.

"Now, I have not said that publicly," Rendell said. "If I told the people of Pennsylvania that, there would be a sense of tremendous outrage.

Outraged yet??? Here's more:

"As governor, I've never had that experience before - I've never invited major CEOs, even to talk about things as difficult as taxes, to come to the residence and had them turn me down.

"So the industry is making mistake after mistake right now, and the tide of public opinion is turning, and even though it is truly the golden goose, we* could blow it."

*Uh-oh, whose governor is this???

Continue reading HERE.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Appalling News Needs Your Attention and Action!!!

Oil giants propose limiting federal oversight of fracturing
Copyright 2010 Houston Chronicle
March 24, 2010, 10:12PM
Reprinted by permission. (Thanks Tom)

BP, ConocoPhillips and Shell Oil Co. have provided Senate lawmakers with language to include in a pending climate change bill that essentially would block federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing, a technology that's key to the current natural gas drilling boom.

The companies prepared the document, according to sources familiar with it, at the request of the Senate team that is drafting climate change law, which includes Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

If incorporated into the climate change law, it would keep the Environmental Protection Agency from imposing regulations on fracturing, which is now regulated at the state level.

Read more HERE,
then write letters!


Saturday, March 27, 2010

PA Forests 'Significantly Threatened' by Gas Drilling

Vote on Rep. Vitali’s 5-year Moratorium Expected this Week
By Iris Marie Bloom
Philadelphia Weekly Press

The Pennsylvania legislature may vote this week to allow Governor Rendell to force the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) to lease yet another huge chunk of Pennsylvania state forests. At a Temple University teach-in attended by over 200 people last Thursday, DCNR Secretary John Quigley stated that Pennsylvania’s forests are "significantly threatened by this uncontrolled gold rush to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale."
The forest land already leased is one third of all Pennsylvania’s state forest land. All the state forest land left is sensitive and deserves special protection, according to the Pennsylvania Forest Coalition, PennFuture, Trout Unlimited, and other members of a wide-ranging coalition springing up to defend Pennsylvania’s forests and rivers.
Pennsylvania Representative Greg Vitali (D-Delaware) has introduced a resolution, HB 2235, which would require a five-year moratorium on any further leasing of forest lands. Supporters have become more vocal and active this week, expecting the vote any day. In a March 22nd editorial, "Stop, Look, Assess Drilling’s Full Effects," the Pocono Record advocated for HB 2235: "Pennsylvania should not risk the integrity of the beautiful forests that gave the state its name… Pennsylvania has already leased…a whopping 700,000 acres. Let’s see how that goes before opening the remainder of this valuable public land to energy companies." Over 145 people attended a Poconos forum on Marcellus Shale drilling last month, sponsored by the League of Women Voters out of growing concern about forest fragmentation, water quality and other impacts.

Vitali’s bill would also authorize DCNR, rather than the governor, to decide whether to authorize further drilling after the five-year moratorium.

Legislators not particularly known for environmental advocacy may favor the moratorium for economic reasons: tourism is Pennsylvania’s second most lucrative industry, and that’s not all about people standing in line to see the Liberty Bell. According to the Appalachian Mountain Club, Pennsylvania has more maintained hiking trails than any other state.

The Pocono Record commented, "Responsible legislators also must weigh [shale gas drilling’s] substantial risks, which include chemical spills, water pollution, the incursion of new roads in pristine remote land and heavier traffic in rural areas. Our legislators have a sworn duty to protect Pennsylvania’s natural resources." The Record concluded, "Don’t let our historic forests become a cash cow for drillers."
LINK to complete article.


Bradford County becomes focal point for natural gas education

By Steve Reilly
Published: Friday, March 26, 2010

TOWANDA — As other counties in Pennsylvania and New York try to prepare themselves for the natural gas boom, Bradford County’s position as one of the most drilled counties in the Marcellus Shale is attracting regional, national and even international attention its way.

At Thursday’s Bradford County Commissioners meeting, Steuben County, N.Y., resident John Benson spoke during the period devoted to remarks from visitors, and asked for the advice of the commissioners on helping his county prepare for the natural gas industry.

The commissioners explained to Benson that Bradford County will be hosting a day-long meeting of officials from the natural gas advisory boards of counties across New York and Pennsylvania next week in order to educate local leaders and share ideas.

“We’re hosting a meeting here in Bradford County for members of other county [task] forces in Pennsylvania and New York to try to share ideas and work with each other on developing our task forces and advisory committees and sharing ideas on what has progressed on each county and how each county has dealt with some of the growth that natural gas is bringing to the area,” explained Commissioner Mark Smith.Smith said that about 80 officials from multiple counties — including Tioga County, N.Y., Sullivan County and Lycoming County will attend.

“It’s going to be the first meeting of the kind in the state,” Smith said.

Smith said the idea came from Bradford County’s own Natural Gas Advisory Committee, which decided that Bradford County should host a forum for other county natural gas advisory committees to join together and discuss the natural gas industry.

According to Smith, the meeting will include presentations from three different county task forces, and round tables that will include three professors from Penn State.

“A lot of people from all over are coming, and I think it’s a great thing for Bradford County to be able to put this together,” Smith said.

Smith added that last week he met with international bank about natural gas play.

“I thought it was pretty interesting that a bank that’s based in Europe is interested in what’s going on in Bradford County,” he said. “The natural gas development in Bradford County has really put us on the map nationally, and even worldwide.”

The 26 natural gas wells drilled in Bradford County in February were more than were drilled in any other county, according to data from the Pennsylvania Department of Enviornmental Protection.



Protecting Our Waters Hails Philadelphia Weighing In Against Fracking In Delaware Basin

Says DRBC Should Heed City Position - Reject Stone Energy Permits

Philadelphia, PA -
Environmental groups from across the region hailed passage of a Philadelphia City Council Resolution yesterday calling on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to reject all permits related to hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, until a full environmental impact assessment is complete. The groups said the DRBC should follow the Council's direction and not allow this environmentally destructive drilling practice to occur in the Delaware River Basin.

"We are extremely happy that City Council took its first strong step towards protecting Philadelphia's watershed from shale gas drilling," said Iris Marie Bloom, Campaign Director of Protecting Our Waters, a grassroots Philadelphia organization that opposes shale gas drilling. "Thanks to this resolution, the Delaware River Basin Commission now knows that Philadelphia's elected officials don't want any arsenic, benzene, radium 226 or hundreds of other Marcellus Shale fracking contaminants anywhere near our drinking water!"

"The Delaware River Watershed provides drinking water to 15 million people who will all be affected if shale gas drilling moves ahead in the River's headwaters, 1.5 million of them here in Philadelphia," noted Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper. "Until comprehensive analysis of the cumulative impacts of this new industrial activity is complete and protective regulations are in place, we will continue to fight to prevent shale gas extraction in our watershed".

So far, no gas drilling has occurred in the Delaware River Basin but many companies are poised to drill if they can obtain permits. Two applications from Stone Energy, one to frack the first well in the Delaware River watershed and one to withdraw up to 700,000 gallons per day from the West Branch Lackawaxen River, for five years, are pending. How DRBC rules on the Stone Energy permits will be considered a bellwether for gas exploration in the region. The DRBC Public Comment Period on the Stone Energy permits ends on April 12, 2010 and a decision could come in May.

"There are some places that simply are too sensitive and too important to allow any drilling at all, and the Delaware River Basin is one of those places." said Deborah Goldberg,
Managing Attorney for Earthjustice, a national environmental organization with offices in New York.

Stone Energy's water withdrawal permit would allow them to withdraw up to one billion, 277 million gallons of fresh, clean water from the West Branch Lackawaxen River over the next five years. If permitted, all of that water would be mixed with a toxic cocktail of fracking chemicals including methanol, formaldehyde, 2-butoxyethanol, and other known carcinogens. Fracking technology is exempt from major provisions of five federal environmental laws. The EPA recently announced a two year environmental review of the technology. New York City commissioned a scientific study which concluded there should be no shale gas drilling within 7 miles of New York City's watershed.

"There is no doubt that tremendous pollution of our water and air would result if these permits are granted" concluded Bloom, adding, "The net impact on climate change appears to be negative. This tiny, healthy tributary to the Lackawaxen River, Pennsylvania's 2010 River of the Year, spawns tremendous biodiversity and keeps the water flowing down to the mainstream Delaware River clean and fresh."


FYI: Chesapeake Energy spent $720,000 lobbying in 4Q

The Associated Press Week
March 26, 2010

Natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy spent $720,000 in the fourth quarter to lobby the federal government on natural gas issues, climate change and natural gas vehicles, according to a recent disclosure.

That's up from the $590,000 that the company spent in the third quarter.

The company also lobbied Congress on hydraulic fracturing, according to the report filed Jan. 19 with the House clerk's office. The technique involves injecting massive amounts of water, sand and chemicals underground to unlock huge natural gas reserves. The technique has gained widespread use, but it has raised concerns about environmental damage in some areas, and the Environmental Protection Agency has said it will spend $1.9 million to study potential human health and water quality threats.

Chesapeake, based in Oklahoma City, has used this technique to become one of the nation's largest gas producers. It has maintained that the technique is safe.

Chesapeake also has pushed for greater consumption of natural gas for electricity and other uses because of the ample supplies and because it releases far less carbon dioxide than coal.



Friday, March 26, 2010


Week of 3.26.10 on PBS... tonight in most areas.
Josh Fox talks about "Gasland" on NOW
[Streaming video of this program will be available online after broadcast]

In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a "lesser-of-evils". While it does release some greenhouse gases, natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply—parts of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth. But a new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called "fracking", raises concerns about health and environmental risks.

This week, NOW talks with filmmaker Josh Fox about "Gasland", his Sundance award-winning documentary on the surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. Fox's film—inspired when the gas company came to his hometown—alleges chronic illness, animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions, and regulatory missteps.


Philadelphia seeks ban on natgas-drilling method

By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA, March 25 (Reuters) - Philadelphia officials on Thursday asked a state regulator to ban the natural-gas drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing until its environmental effects, especially on drinking water, are studied.

This is an excellent no-brainer in our opinion, with lots to recommend it (!) including the fact that the oil industry is working hard to limit the EPA's study, hoping to prevent the government from insisting on full disclosure of fracking fluid ingredients. And of course that leaves the industry free to continue to deny responsibility for the obvious ways the process/technique is causing unremediable contamination.
A moratorium pending findings would also prevent any further harm to Life Itself wherever drilling takes place, until it is satisfactorily proven safe... and as drilling spreads across the land, undeniable examples abound.

America's energy independence (the reason we are given for the carte blanche Big Oil has been granted over our environment) seems nearly irrelevant as foreign energy/money barons jockey to buy up leases. Why are we rushing to destroy our vital life sustaining resources for foreign profit before we even know how safe or unsafe hydraulic fracturing actually is!???

Write to your elected officials. Urge them to enact an immediate moratorium on any further drilling activities until we understand the full impact of this process, including disposal of all produced waste, on our public and environmental health, safety and well-being.


Pa. justices side with gas industry over landowners in question of lucrative royalty contracts

Associated Press

HARRISBURG, PA. — Pennsylvania's high court sided Wednesday with the natural gas industry in a dispute with landowners who had sought to invalidate the leases they signed before the Marcellus Shale rush intensified and drove up land values.

In a 6-0 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a Susquehanna County judge's ruling that validated lease agreements that subtract drilling costs from the calculation of landowners' natural gas royalties.

"Certainly we're very pleased," said Pittsburgh lawyer Kevin C. Abbott, who had filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case on behalf of Chesapeake Energy Co. and other gas companies. "It does certainly look like a victory for the oil and gas industry."

The decision is expected to settle dozens of other cases pending in Pennsylvania's state and federal courts.

In this case, landowner Herbert Kilmer and others had sued ElexCo Land Services Inc. and Southwestern Energy Production Co., contending that such leases were invalid because state law guarantees landowners a minimum one-eighth royalty from the production of oil and gas on their land.

Justice Max Baer, who wrote the court's decision, noted that the term "royalty" and the method of calculating a one-eighth share is not defined by the state's Guaranteed Minimum Royalty Act. However, he cited various texts on the industry that say a royalty is paid from the net amount remaining after deduction of certain production and well development costs.

Kilmer's lawyer, Laurence M. Kelly, said Wednesday evening that he was unaware of the decision and did not want to comment until he had read it.

Industry representatives have suggested the lawsuits were sour grapes on the landowners' part because they had signed leases at values well below what their neighbors were negotiating months or years later from companies pursuing the Marcellus Shale.

Some geologists predict that the formation below a large swath of Appalachia could become the country's biggest gas field.

The case was being closely watched by the company executives, who worried that a decision against their companies could invalidate tens of thousands of leases and throw the industry into chaos.

In addition, the royalty issue was being raised in more than 70 lawsuits filed in Pennsylvania's federal and state courts by plaintiffs seeking a judgment that the leases they signed were never valid.

Judicial decisions in two of the cases raised the prospect of a myriad of different legal opinions.

In Susquehanna County, the judge in the Kilmer vs. ElexCo case had handed the companies an initial victory, saying the law does not specifically prohibit the subtraction of costs.

Separately, a federal judge in Scranton hearing a case against Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. denied a motion to dismiss the case, saying the law's silence did not necessarily mean the costs can be legally deducted.

Kilmer appealed to state Superior Court, but industry lawyers asked the Supreme Court to step in and effectively settle the matter for everyone.

It did, and heard arguments in September.




Monday, March 22, 2010

UN: Polluted water killing, sickening millions

The Associated Press
Monday, March 22, 2010; 12:30 PM

NAIROBI, Kenya -- More people die from polluted water every year than from all forms of violence, including war, the U.N. said in a report Monday that highlights the need for clean drinking water.

The report, launched Monday to coincide with World Water Day, said an estimated 2 billion tons of waste water - including fertilizer run-off, sewage and industrial waste - is being discharged daily. That waste fuels the spread of disease and damages ecosystems.

"Sick Water" - the report from the U.N. Environment Program - said that 3.7 percent of all deaths are attributed to water-related diseases, translating into millions of deaths. More than half of the world's hospital beds are filled by people suffering from water-related illnesses, it said.

"If we are not able to manage our waste, then that means more people dying from waterborne diseases," said Achim Steiner, the U.N. Undersecretary General and executive director of UNEP.

The report says that it takes 3 liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water, and that bottled water in the U.S. requires the consumption of some 17 million barrels of oil yearly.

Improved wastewater management in Europe has resulted in significant environmental improvements there, the UNEP said, but that dead zones in oceans are still spreading worldwide. Dead zones are oxygen-deprived areas caused by pollution.

"If the world is to thrive, let alone to survive on a planet of 6 billion people heading to over 9 billion by 2050, we need to get collectively smarter and more intelligent about how we manage waste, including wastewaters," Steiner said.



The latest shale gas player...

from the Calgary Herald
by Peter Tertzakian
March 22, 2010

All the big boys are getting in on the shale gas action. ExxonMobil started the rush with its $US 27 billion purchase of XTO Energy a couple of months ago. Multinationals Total and Shell didn’t want to be left out and followed suit by claiming turf with their own acquisitions. Now the gas prospectors are coming from the other side of the world to the 21st century version of the North American Klondike; last week Reliance Industries, India’s largest public sector company, was said to be in talks with Atlas Energy, a leading player in the Marcellus shale.

... but the most noteworthy was the announcement last week that Consol Energy was buying Dominion Resource’s Appalachian exploration and production business... ...Consol is the most profitable publicly-traded coal company in the US with the second largest reserves of the carboniferous stuff.

What’s a coal company, the archenemy of all other purveyors of energy, doing buying up natural gas assets?

Read more HERE.


Meanwhile... Shale Gas Drilling is about to get underway in Europe

Will Need More Water, Analyst Says
Bloomberg/Business Week
By Katarzyna Klimasinska
March 22, 2010

Natural-gas deposits in shale rocks in Europe lie deeper than those in the U.S. and more water will be needed to drill the wells, according to Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.

The hydraulic-fracturing method, which pumps water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure, allowed the U.S. to bring production from shale formations to about 20 percent of the nation’s supply, IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates said on March 10.

Europe has less renewable water resources than the U.S., Bernstein analyst Oswald Clint said in a report today.

“Shale-gas development in Europe using hydraulic fracturing will only be approved after a long debate in Brussels, and once a carefully structured drilling plan protecting limited existing and future water resources is developed,” Clint said.

Poland has been targeted by Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp. for its shale-gas potential.

Houston-based ConocoPhillips, which has an option to develop as many as 1 million acres in the Silurian shale formation that cuts through Poland under an exploration agreement with Warsaw-based Lane Energy, plans to drill the first well this year, according to Kamlesh Parmar, country manager for Lane Energy.



Editorial: The risks of fracking

The Philadelphia Inquirer
March 22, 2010

The rush to drill for natural gas in Pennsylvania has put state officials in the unsettling position of playing catch-up with environmental regulations.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is hiring new inspectors as fast as it can, and developing new rules for drillers. But more needs to be done in Harrisburg to ensure this aggressive push for domestic fuel doesn't pollute drinking water.


Representatives of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, an industry trade group, point out that not a single case of groundwater contamination has been linked to their drilling technique, called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking." It involves pumping up to three million gallons of water (per well), combined with sand and chemicals, more than a mile underground to shatter the rock and release the gas.

But fracking does carry potential risks to the environment. Those concerns are causing government officials elsewhere to proceed cautiously on Marcellus drilling. New York state has imposed a moratorium on Marcellus wells until it completes an environmental-impact assessment.

And the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last week launched a two-year study to determine whether fracking is a danger to groundwater. An EPA study in 2004 deemed the process safe, but the Obama administration is questioning the thoroughness of the Bush-era review.

In Pennsylvania, it's full speed ahead with Marcellus drilling, including widespread leasing of state forest land. There is no comprehensive set of laws aimed specifically at regulating this new industry, nor a tax on the production of natural gas that exists in most other gas-producing states. Gov. Rendell correctly seeks to impose a severance tax again.

Another useful tool for protecting the environment is a bill proposed by Rep. Camille "Bud" George (D., Clearfield) that would coincide with pending DEP regulations. George's measure would require more inspections of Marcellus wells and expand to 2,500 feet (from 1,000 feet) the "pollution zone" in which groundwater contamination is presumed to be caused by a well operator.

George also would require drillers to disclose the specific chemical concentrations of their fracking fluid. Many drillers withhold that information, arguing it's proprietary. U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told Congress last week that he, too, is considering requiring drillers to disclose the chemicals used in fracking.

Some industry leaders agree; some don't. Disclosure of the chemicals being pumped into the ground ought to be a minimum standard of environmental protection as regulators try to keep pace with this burgeoning industry.



Sunday, March 21, 2010

Drilling concerns: Environmentalists fear damage from natural gas exploration

The Tribune-Democrat
March 20, 2010

Environmentalists say the state must take preventive measures to avoid damage from natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Otherwise, Pennsylvania will again see the same damage to streams and native fish that was caused by coal mining in the past, members of the Laurel Mountain Chapter of Trout Unlimited said in a position paper.

But since entering the state in 2008 to hunt for the deep, gas-rich Marcellus Shale, industry officials have complained that Pennsylvania’s permitting process is time-consuming and environmental regulations are often too cumbersome.

“The industry is certainly being adequately regulated,” said Matt Benson, spokesman for the [pro-drilling] Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association.

“The Department of Environmental Protection and (state) Fish Commission are adequately inspecting drilling operations now, and we do not believe that more restrictions are needed.


But the Pennsylvania Council of Trout Unlimited, a 13,000-member organization with 53 chapters, including the Laurel Mountain chapter, says that DEP is overburdened and the number of gas-drilling applications is continuing to increase.

The DEP has not taken a position on Trout Unlimited’s concerns or on drillers’ fears of overregulation.

Trout Unlimited, through a position paper on the effects of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, is calling for greater protection of state forestlands and for a mandatory “severance fee” that gas drillers would pay to defray the costs of any environmental damage.

“The Marcellus Shale gas rush appears similar to the coal boom at the turn of the 20th century,” the group’s president, Randy Buchanan, said in a statement describing Trout Unlimited’s concerns. “We are still paying the economic and environmental price for the impact on our land and water resources (from coal mining).”

Trout Unlimited board member Len Lichvar said in the statement: “The gas industry’s well-funded lobby groups continue to work to stall the legislative process required to implement a severance fee.

“However, a severance fee, despite industry claims to the contrary, will not forestall the extraction of Marcellus Shale in the state. What it will do is to empower the state to minimize the resource degradation that is sure to come from the process of water use and land intrusion.”

For complete article, CLICK HERE.


Don't Bring Your Guns to Towanda

Texas man charged after shooting in Towanda
March 21, 2010

A Fort Worth, Texas man faces felony charges after he discharged a handgun that struck a woman in the forearm during an incident Saturday in Towanda, police said.

Samuel J. Kirchner III, 27, of 6705 Greenlee St., Fort Worth, Texas, has been charged with the third-degree felony of firearms not to be carried without a license, the third-degree felony of flight to avoid apprehension, and the second-degree misdemeanor of recklessly endangering another person, Towanda police said.

The charges stem from an incident that occurred in the area of Capt. Jack's bar on Main Street in Towanda at 12:42 a.m. on Saturday, police said.



Friday, March 19, 2010

Activists Statewide Urged to Support Tougher Rules on Natural Gas Drilling
March 19, 2010

HARRISBURG – Clean Water Action e-mailed tens of thousands of its members in Pennsylvania, calling on them to tell legislators to support H.B. 2213 that would beef up protections of drinking water sources and require tougher inspections when companies drill for gas in the Marcellus shale formation.

Representative Bud George (D- Clearfield) is sponsoring HB 2213 that would update many out of date aspects of the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Act, the act that governs how the oil and gas industry drills for natural gas in Pennsylvania. The Oil and Gas Act was written before the new deep shale drilling for gas began here, and needs to be strengthened and updated to reflect the potential hazards of the new drilling techniques.

“Deep shale or Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling costs more money and uses more water than traditional natural gas drilling. It’s different by perhaps one or two orders of magnitude, and that’s why it’s not fair to say that drilling has been going on in our state for 70 years. This is something new,” said Myron Arnowitt, PA State Director for Clean Water Action.

“Our organization, Citizens for Clean Water, is proud to endorse H.B. 2213. Our regulations aren’t any good if no one double-checks the drilling industry’s work,” said Vera Scroggins in Susquehanna County.

HB 2213 includes these tougher standards:

  • Disclosure of the actual recipes of hazardous chemicals added to water in the hydrofracking process.
  • Inspections by DEP each time a gas well is sited, drilled, cased, cemented, completed, altered and stimulated.
  • Extra precautions near residential water wells
  • Increased bonding requirements to accurately reflect the state’s costs for plugging and reclaiming abandoned wells.
  • Affirmation of the right of municipalities to govern the hours and locations of drilling activity (this requirement was upheld in a recent PA Supreme Court case)

"I am a resident of an area with heavy drilling activity. I support this legislation. These protections are long overdue. If they were in place from the start maybe my pond would not have been contaminated.” said Ron Gulla from Hickory Township in Washington County.

“I urge the Pennsylvania house to pass HB2213 by Bud George. We need its improvements to the Oil and Gas act. It improves the water protection provisions, increases the well inspection requirements, increases permit fees to fund the DEP, requires frac chemical disclosure, adds more realistic bonding requirements, and excludes Marcellus wells from the blanket bond option.”, said Wayne Chudleigh of Union Dale, PA.

"We are outraged by the dismal impact of shale gas drilling in our state so far,” said Iris Marie Bloom of Protecting Our Waters (POW) in Philadelphia. “POW calls for a statewide moratorium for Pennsylvania, and an outright ban on shale gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin, which supplies drinking water to 15 million people. We strongly support Rep. George's bill because it provides an absolute minimum of protection for the people, land, and waters of Pennsylvania.”

“Clean natural gas does not exist if you take into account the dirty extraction process and all that it encompasses-from huge amounts of diesel fuel used to run the machinery, trucks, generators, bulldozers, the arsenal of chemicals, waste water and the resulting destruction to landscape, environment and lives,” Said Victoria Schweitzer of Dimock, Pennsylvania . “This “bridge fuel” as it is called is a disastrous chapter of the Commonwealth's history in the making. What will be on the other side of that bridge when the last rig leaves? That is why we need Representative George’s bill." (Victoria’s ground water was contaminated by Marcellus Shale Gas drilling near her property.)

“We support HB 2213, which would put some much-needed but reasonable controls on the gas drilling industry in Pennsylvania. Many more common sense controls are necessary, but this is a start,” said Ellie Hyde of the South Branch Tunkhannock Creek Watershed Coalition. “It is unconscionable that an industry with as much potential to contaminate the water we drink and depend on, should be exempt from laws and regulations that other industries must follow.”

Clean Water Action is an organization of 1.2 million members, including 150,000 Pennsylvanians, working to empower people to take action to protect America's waters, build healthy communities and to make democracy work for all of us. For 36 years Clean Water Action has succeeded in winning some of the nation's most important environmental protections through grassroots organizing, expert policy research and political advocacy focused on holding elected officials accountable to the public.



PUC sets hearing on Marcellus shale pipelines

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is holding a special hearing as part of efforts to clarify and possibly expand its role in regulating burgeoning Marcellus shale gas well and gas pipeline development.

The hearing by the commission on April 22 in Harrisburg is expected to examine a host of safety issues, including whether the PUC has jurisdiction over the pipelines that will transport gas pulled from the 5,000- to 8,000-foot-deep shale layer beneath three-quarters of the state.

Tyrone Christy, PUC vice chairman, said development of the state's shale gas field or "play," thought to hold as much as 363 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, raised numerous issues about the commission's core regulatory functions and scope.

"We believe that these issues need to be examined and these questions answered sooner rather than later so that we can fully protect the public while not stifling economic growth," Mr. Christy said in a hearing notice last week.

Jennifer Kocher, PUC spokeswoman, said the PUC has regulatory jurisdiction over "public utility pipelines," defined as pipelines transporting gas or oil within the state for compensation.

"But if a drilling company uses its own pipelines to transport the gas it produces, then there's a question about our jurisdiction," Ms. Kocher said. "We're looking at that issue, at our safety jurisdiction, safety issues and the role of the PUC."


State Department of Environmental Protection regulators say 5,000 new Marcellus shale wells could be permitted this year in Pennsylvania, double the number permitted in the state over the last two years.

"There's an enormous amount of development going on and a big increase in the amount of pipelines," Ms. Kocher said. "Our concern is the safety of those lines and who will oversee it. That's unclear right now."

State legislation would be needed to authorize any expansion of the PUC's regulatory role.

On a related Marcellus shale regulatory matter, the PUC increased its transportation enforcement activities in five northeastern counties last month after receiving complaints that well drilling and tanker trucks were operating without PUC certification.

"We've increased enforcement all over the state," said Ms. Kocher.

Roadside truck inspections, in partnership with the State Police, have occurred in Bradford, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga and Wyoming counties. Trucking companies must have PUC certificates and proof of insurance if transporting commodities such as sand, water or stone related to the well-drilling operations.

Read more. CLICK HERE.


The Pennsylvania legislature has empowered the Public Utility Commission to direct and enforce safety standards for pipeline facilities and to regulate safety practices of certificated utilities engaged in the transportation of natural gas and other gas by pipeline.

The Commission is authorized to enforce federal safety standards as an agent for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Office of Pipeline Safety. The safety standards apply to the design, installation, operation, inspection, testing, construction, extension, replacement and maintenance of pipeline facilities. The PUC may prescribe additional pipeline safety standards over and above federal standards, provided they are not in conflict.

Whenever the Commission uncovers pipeline safety violations, it is empowered to direct the utility to take necessary steps to correct the violation.

The PUC investigates all methods or practices of pipeline companies, including reports, records and other information. PUC investigators inspect the property, buildings, plants and offices of the pipeline companies and inspect books, records, paper, email and documents relevant to the enforcement of the rules and regulations.

If an inspector finds evidence of a possible violation, a violation report is written. The Gas Safety Division will notify the gas utility of the results of the onsite evaluation, specifically citing the gas pipeline safety regulation the gas utility is apparently violating. The gas utility must answer with a written response to the PUC within 30 days of notification.

The gas utility and the Gas Safety Division will work together to reach an agreement on how to correct the violation. If an agreement can not be reached, the Gas Safety Division can refer the problem to the PUC for formal resolution by issuing a complaint, setting a penalty, or seeking enforcement through the court system.


DEP: Gas industry treatment behind discharge on hillside

sungazette.comMarch 17, 2010

WATERVILLE - A substance used in the natural gas drilling process is discoloring and distorting the texture of spring water running off a Cummings Township sidehill.


The mysterious substance was seen flowing down the slope, under the road and into Pine Creek, said Daniel T. Spadoni, spokesman for DEP's northcentral region office. Officials from another state agency alerted DEP.

"We were notified (Monday) morning by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources," Spadoni said. "There was a white foamy material discharging from a spring down the hill."


Terming it a surfactant, Spadoni said a substance known as Airfoam HD* was causing the water run-off to be unnatural in appearance.


Surfactant used to treat Pennsylvania General Energy wells affected the water run-off, which Spadoni said had nothing to do with hydrofracturing.

Workers for the Warren-based energy company are drilling five wells in the area, high above the road, but he said they have yet to reach the point of using highly pressurized water to break the rock underneath the ground.

They were using the whitening substance as a lubricant that lowers the surface tension between air and water, according to Spadoni.

A receptionist answering a Pennsylvania General Energy phone Tuesday afternoon said company officials were not available to comment.

"They're attempting to determine what caused this problem and what actions they can take to stop it," Spadoni said of energy company representatives, with whom DEP members have been communicating.

The only precaution Spadoni recommended to residents is to avoid the suspicious spring water run-off in the area.

"I don't think you would want to drink this discharge," he said.

The substance leaking down the hill isn't listed as dangerous on a Material Safety Data Sheet, according to Spadoni.


"I don't believe there are concerns about drinking water in Waterville at this time," Spadoni said, adding that area residents can continue regularly using tap water in their homes.

The investigation will continue.

"We don't know for sure what its chemical composition is," Spadoni said.

He said DEP will continue to make sure the gas company assists to dissolve the situation. (!!!)

Spadoni said there may be more than one suspect discharge.


DEP lies to residents of Waterville about chemical product hazards

Nastassja Noell

*AIRFOAM HD discharging into spring water from gas production -- Dan Spadoni of the DEP said to the reporter in this news article that the MSDS sheet states that Airfoam HD is not dangerous -- HOWEVER, Air Foam HD has high levels of a chemical called 2-BE (2-Butoxyethanol) which is strongly associated with a rare form of adrenal cancer. The MSDS sheets for Airfoam HD (see below) indicate that this chemical product can cause health problems and is also soluble in water. Water tests for 2-BE are extremely expensive, costing over $100 for a 500ppm test of a water sample (as Wayne and Angel Smith in Clearville, PA found out last winter). There is already one poster child for 2-BE contamination and this rare adrenal cancer in a gas drilling area: Laura Amos. (read more following MSDS)


Laura Amos's water became contaminated with 2-BE when "fracturing four wells on our neighbors' property (less than 1000' from [their] house) ... "blew up" [their] water well, creating or opening a hydrogeological connection between [their] water well and the gas well...


In August 2004 [Amos] came across a memo written to the US Forest Service and BLM Regional offices in Delta County, describing the health hazard posed by a chemical used in fluids that are injected underground to enhance the release of methane. Dr. Theo Colborn of Paonia, Colorado submitted the memo in response to decisions that were being made in Delta County by the government officials to allow gas exploration and development on the Grand Mesa. Colborn is the President of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, Inc (TEDX) and for over 10 years directed the World Wildlife Fund's Wildlife and Contaminants Program. She has been honored worldwide for her focus on the effects of synthetic chemicals on human and wildlife health. The focus of Colborn's memo was on a chemical called 2BE, used in fracturing fluids.

The following information was taken from Colborn's report: "2BE is a highly soluble, colorless liquid with a very faint, ether like odor." She wrote that at the concentration to be used in Delta county 2BE might not be detectable through odor or taste. "2-BE has a low volatility, vaporizes slowly when mixed with water and remains well dissolved throughout the water column." "It mobilizes in soil and can easily leach into groundwater." "It could remain entrapped underground for years."

She noted it is readily absorbed by the skin and can easily be inhaled as it off-gasses in the home. Colborn cited the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry Profile that listed the following effects of 2-BE: kidney damage, kidney failure, toxicity to the spleen, the bones in the spinal column and bone marrow, liver cancer, anemia, female fertility reduction, embryo mortality, and the biggie that got my attention - elevated numbers of combined malignant and non-malignant tumors of the adrenal gland."

CLICK HERE to read Amos' entire galling tale.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hydraulic fracturing study initiated by EPA

Agency seeks input from Science Advisory Board

WASHINGTON, DC, March 18, 2010 -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will conduct a comprehensive research study to investigate the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on water quality and public health. Natural gas plays a key role in our nation's clean energy future and the process known as hydraulic fracturing is one way of accessing that vital resource. There are concerns that hydraulic fracturing may impact ground water and surface water quality in ways that threaten human health and the environment. To address these concerns and strengthen our clean energy future and in response to language inserted into the fiscal year 2010 Appropriations Act, EPA is re-allocating $1.9 million for this comprehensive, peer-reviewed study for FY10 and requesting funding for FY11 in the president's budget proposal.

"Our research will be designed to answer questions about the potential impact of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment," said Dr. Paul T. Anastas, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development. "The study will be conducted through a transparent, peer-reviewed process, with significant stakeholder input."

EPA is in the very early stages of designing a hydraulic fracturing research program. The agency is proposing the process begin with (1) defining research questions and identifying data gaps; (2) conducting a robust process for stakeholder input and research prioritization; (3) with this input, developing a detailed study design that will undergo external peer-review, leading to (4) implementing the planned research studies.

To support this initial planning phase and guide the development of the study plan, the agency is seeking suggestions and comments from the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) -- an independent, external federal advisory committee. The agency has requested that the Environmental Engineering Committee (EEC) of the SAB evaluate and provide advice on EPA's proposed approach. The agency will use this advice and extensive stakeholder input to guide the design of the study.

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that drills vertical and horizontal cracks underground that help withdraw gas, or oil, from coalbeds, shale and other geological formations. While each site is unique, in general, the process involves vertical and horizontal drilling, taking water from the ground, injecting fracturing fluids and sands into the formation, and withdrawing gas and separating and managing the leftover waters.

A federal register notice was issued March 18, announcing a SAB meeting April 7-8.

Contact Information: Enesta Jones (MEDIA CALLS ONLY),, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355, Lina Younes (PUBLIC INQUIRIES ONLY),, 202-564-9924


More information on hydraulic fracturing:
More information on the SAB and the supporting documents:


EPA To Begin Hydraulic Fracturing Study Thursday

Ted Fioraliso
March 17, 2010

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Thursday will announce the start of a comprehensive research study to investigate the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on water quality and public health. That's according to Southern Tier Rep. Maurice Hinchey's office.
Hinchey wrote the provision that urged the EPA to conduct the study, after questions were raised regarding the safety of the natural gas drilling process.
He's applauding the EPA, saying the study is an important step towards ensuring that horizontal drilling is done in a way that protects the environment, natural resources, and public health.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

*** *** MUST SEE VIDEOS! *** ***

Ron Gulla discusses Range Resources drilling on his farm - 1

Ron Gulla discusses Range Resources drilling on his farm - 2


Gas pipelines, compressors concern some landowners

Environmental, economic issues cited
By David Falchek (Staff Writer)
Published: March 17, 2010

Yeah, you've heard that before, but this time it's about pipelines. Without a sprawling circulatory system to draw gas from thousands of wells and channel it to paying customers, the multibillion-dollar industry sprouting over the Marcellus Shale would not be worth a penny.
While the infrastructure may look beautiful to the burgeoning gas industry, advocates and some landowners find the vision blossoming in Broome County less than attractive. A point of dissatisfaction, so far, involves a proposal by Laser Midstream, of Houston, for a 30-mile pipeline connecting well fields in Susquehanna County, Pa., to the Millennium Pipeline - a main artery running through Broome County that serves major markets in the Northeast.

The project would include a compressor station on 20 acres of unspecified Windsor property near the Millennium junction, with three 1,380-horsepower compressors, equipment to purify gas and tanks to collect waste.

Landowner coalitions that favor natural gas development have opposed the Laser Midstream proposal because it brings Pennsylvania gas into their territory. That, they say, could reduce capacity to move gas they hope to someday be flowing from under their land.

Others oppose the project on environmental grounds. Compressor stations, they say, will produce emissions and noise that will mar the landscape and possibly create health risks.

“Every operation to get this clean gas they brag about is dirty,” said Victoria Switzer, an environmentalist and resident of Dimock, Pa., where Marcellus-related drilling is intensifying. Stationary equipment concentrated on parcels to drill, frack and pump gas produces round-the-clock exhaust that fouls the air, she said.

For the complete report, CLICK HERE.


First Marcellus Shale Regulatory Legislation in PA

Ted Fioraliso
Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HARRISBURG -- The first regulatory legislation in the Northern Tier relating to the Marcellus Shale is on its way to Gov. Ed Rendell’s office.
State Sen. Gene Yaw sponsored the bill. It amends the Oil and Gas Act to require operators of Marcellus Shale wells to provide well production information to the Department of Environmental Protection. That information will be made public in six months, and be posted on the DEP’s website.
The State Senate unanimously approved the measure, six days after the House did the same. The governor is expected to sign it into law.


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Lawmakers urge against Marcellus Shale permits

...and propose a heartening series of environmentally proactive bills for Pennsylvania

Alex Rose
Main Line Media News
March 12, 2010

State Rep. Greg Vitali, D-166, of Haverford, recently joined legislators and environmentalists asking that Gov. Ed Rendell stop granting permits to drill in state forest land over the Marcellus Shale region, a huge deposit of natural gas lying under much of the state.
“We already have made available 692,000 acres and there could potentially be thousands of wells drilled to extract the gas,” said Vitali in a release. “We cannot lease any further state forest acreage without encroaching on the most sensitive lands, which include old-growth forests, habitat for endangered species and fragile ecosystems.”
Rendell spokesman Gary Tuma previously said a requirement of passing the last state budget was generating enough recurring revenue to help balance the budget for two fiscal years. That included $180 million worth of drilling leases in the 2010-11 budget, he said.

Vitali has entered legislation that would place a five-year moratorium on those leases. The State Forest Natural Gas Lease Moratorium Act would also confer sole discretion for additional leases to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources when the moratorium ends, and would require the DCNR to conduct an annual report on the impact gas drilling has on state forests.

State Rep. Bryan Lentz, D-161, of Swarthmore, meanwhile, introduced his own legislation this week that would establish a severance tax on natural gas and put the proceeds toward tax exemptions for green businesses.

Lentz’s bill would authorize the state Department of Community and Economic Development to establish 15 Keystone Green Zones in the state, similar to the Keystone Opportunity Zones that offer businesses a bevy of tax breaks for setting up shop.

In this instance, those breaks would go to businesses that manufacture energy-efficient products or products used in the renewable energy industry.

“I am proposing that we give companies a financial incentive to do business in Pennsylvania, which will produce good-paying jobs and brand the state a hot spot for this growing industry,” said Lentz, a Democratic candidate in the 7th Congressional District. “All the while, we’ll be reducing our impact on the environment and surrounding communities, and improving the quality of life for residents across Pennsylvania.”

Environmental attorney Gail Conner, another Democratic contender in the 7th Congressional District, also called for the closure of the so-called “Halliburton loophole” in the Safe Drinking Water Act that bars the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating hydraulic fracturing being used to mine natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region.

“The Safe Drinking Water Act in its current form allows the oil and gas industry to inject ‘undisclosed’ hazardous materials directly into or adjacent to our nation’s water supplies during the process of fracturing rock through drilling to release gas reserves,” said Conner. “These fracturing fluids pose a potential threat to human health and drinking water supplies.”

Like Vitali, Conner is calling for the restoration of jobs cut at the DEP and DCNR last year, as well as a moratorium on drilling leases.

She has also proposed a slew of permit application requirements, including full disclosure of chemicals used in fracking, and specifying locations for the source of water used and disposal of waste water.

Conner also said the public needs to be informed of a spill or other contamination within 24 hours and some financial remedy should be available for residents whose property is damaged by drilling.

“Protecting our environment and natural resources, and providing a voice for the residents in our communities, should not take a back seat to special interests,” said Conner. “The citizens of the commonwealth have a state constitutional right to clean air and water. I hope that our state leaders will uphold those rights intended to protect the citizens and our communities.”
LINK to source.

Commentary by Splashdown in red.



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