Wednesday, April 28, 2010

DEP Responding to Odor Complaints, Analyzing Air Quality in Washington, Greene Counties

Inspectors Sampling to Gauge Possible Impact of Natural Gas Well Operations

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


Helen Humphreys, Department of Environmental Protection Southwest Regional Office

PITTSBURGH -- The Department of Environmental Protection is gathering samples this week to analyze air quality in areas near natural gas operations in Washington and Greene counties.

The department’s efforts, which will be conducted in four phases with each phase lasting one week, are intended to isolate the source of odors that have prompted complaints from residents.

“DEP has received complaints about odors that residents believe are emanating from gas well drilling facilities,” said DEP Southwest Regional Director George Jugovic Jr. “We take these concerns very seriously and are working to identify the specific source of these odors. If there is a violation of the commonwealth’s air quality laws, the department will take the appropriate enforcement action.

“The bottom line is that any operation subject to our permitting requirements faces real and enforceable emissions limits that are designed to protect the public’s health,” he added.

Under the Air Pollution Control Act, any entity operating a source of odors may be fined up to $25,000. In the natural gas industry, compressor stations, which are located along natural gas transmission lines and pressurize gas so that it can be piped across great distances, operate under a general permit that limits pollutants by incorporating best available technologies.

During the first phase of a multi-phase effort, DEP’s Mobile Analytic Unit will collect air samples at a site in Washington County removed from active drilling and compare the results with samples taken near active drilling sites in Greene and Washington counties. DEP will also analyze air samples collected over a 24-hour period using 12 canisters, some of which will be placed on the properties of residents who have complained of odors.

Phases two through four will be conducted within three miles downwind of sites related to gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale, including active drill sites, compressor stations, drip tanks, well heads, gas well flares and wastewater impoundments.

All sampling will be completed by June.

Samples will be analyzed for volatile organic compounds, ozone, nitrogen oxides, hydrogen sulfide and carbon monoxide.

Canister samples will be analyzed at the DEP laboratory in Harrisburg.

For more information, visit or call 412-442-4000.


Camillus bans use of hydrofracking to drill for natural gas

By John Stith/The Post-Standard
April 28, 2010, 3:34PM

Camillus, NY -- Camillus officials have banned hydrofracking anywhere in the town.

The town board passed a local law that bans drilling for natural gas using the horizontal hydraulic fracturing technique. The action does not affect vertical drilling, town Supervisor Mary Ann Coogan said.

Hydraulic fracturing —known commonly as fracking — involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and chemicals into the ground, fracturing underground rock and freeing natural gas trapped there. Industry officials say fracking is safe, but opponents say it poses environmental risks.

“It would pose a potential danger to water supplies as well as scarring the land,” Councilman James F. Salanger said of the fracking technique. Salanger chairs the board’s public works subcommittee.

Camillus isn’t alone in questioning the use of hydrofracking.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is preparing regulations that would allow hydrofracking throughout New York. But just last week, the agency made it more difficult to use fracking in the watersheds that send drinking water to Syracuse or New York City. The DEC will allow fracking in the two watersheds but will require drilling companies to prepare an environmental impact statement for each drilling site, effectively making the cost of drilling prohibitive.

Earlier this year, both Onondaga County and DeWitt both passed moratoriums banning the use of fracking for a year while the technique is studied.



Fractured gas well questions multiply

by Jim Mayo, Your Times Publisher
Sequoyah County Times
April 26, 2010

The question of whether or not an injection well to dispose of oil and gas well fluids will be opened in Vian remains on hold while an Oklahoma Corporation Commission referee considers the application and the protests against it.

The Vian well is in a semi-dormant status awaiting the referee’s decision, but the larger issues of new and wide-spread use of hydraulic fracturing techniques in gas wells and disposal of the waste water that results from them have grown.

Of immediate interest is the fact that four new injection wells have opened in Arkansas near Fort Smith. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission reports that the amount of waste saltwater coming from Arkansas into the 18 counties of commission District IV, which includes Sequoyah County, dropped from 925,566 barrels in the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2009 to 25,000 barrels for the quarter ending March 31, 2010. The new wells are likely taking much of the water that was coming here. However, this is but a small part of the total water injected in the district during the two time periods. Just because Arkansas drillers aren’t sending as much waste to us as they once did doesn’t mean the issue has passed.

I think it is important to consider as a whole the subjects of fractured wells, injection wells and soil farming, which is a way of attempting to dispose of waste salt water above ground and is the subject of much protest in Haskell County. Each is a part of the effort to increase production of natural gas.

When you see T. Boone Pickens on TV boosting gas, or read about rapidly increasing supplies of domestic natural gas, it is largely the hydraulically fractured wells that produce the gas.

I am indebted to my sister, Andy, in Beaumont, Texas, for sending along a story from the April 11 issue of the Houston Chronicle.

It reports on a potential disaster underway in the small town of Daisetta, Texas, which is located about 55 miles northeast of Houston.

On May 7, 2008, a sinkhole as wide as two football fields developed near this small town of 230. As that sinkhole developed, a quarter-mile away a geyser of fluid gushed from an abandoned well on property owned by the community’s mayor. The mayor said in the April 11 article that he had to cut down 100 trees on his property that were killed by the fluid.

The article went on to say, “In the first published report providing any explanation for the phenomenon, a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality adviser theorized injection disposal wells may be primarily responsible for destabilizing the area and creating a kind of quicksand 1,000 feet below that led to the collapse.”

The town has hired a law firm to investigate and sue the people responsible, if that can be determined.

In addition to the sinkhole and dead trees and vegetation, the city worries that its water wells may also become contaminated.

The article said the Texas Railroad Commission conducted investigations and found nothing in violation of its regulations other than an instance when an injection well operator injected more waste than his permit allowed. The Railroad Commission is the Texas equivalent of our Oklahoma Corporation Commission. Both regulate the oil and gas industry.
Injection well operators and regulators have said many times that there is little or no risk involved in injecting oil and gas well waste into underground formations. People in Daisetta aren’t convinced. The Chronicle article reported that “… an engineering company drilling a backup well for the city detected traces of toluene and naphthalene in its water sample…. the engineer recommended abandoning the $93,000 project and drilling somewhere else.”
While hydraulic fracturing of oil wells has been going on for years, the wholesale fracturing of gas wells using millions of gallons of water under tremendous pressures is relatively new, and so some of the problems with the technique are also new.

Oklahoma is highly dependent on the oil and gas industry. One of the reasons we are in such a slump is the decline in prices for gas, partly brought on by the Great Recession. Partly because of this, state government is almost broke. Clearly, we all have a stake in what happens to oil and gas production.

We also have a huge stake in controlling and eliminating pollution and improving public safety. That is why people in Vian are so upset over the proposed injection well that would be located only a few blocks from the Vian school.

All of the problems surrounding frac wells have drawn the attention of the nation media. In recent weeks, the Wall Street Journal published an extensive article about the subject, the Public Broadcasting System program NOW featured a segment that would scare your pants off, and newspapers here and there are picking up on the story as it develops.

In the NOW segment, a man in a home near a fractured well turned on a water faucet in a kitchen and ignited the gas that came out into a ball of flames.

Congress has promised to hold hearings into the various issues surrounding the ever-growing complaints.

The oil and gas industry, and to some extent the government agencies which regulate them, are fond of saying that fracturing oil and gas wells and disposal of fluids down injection wells is nothing new.

It seems to me that while that may be true, there is still much more we don’t know about what we are doing than what we do know, and ignorance can be downright dangerous.

We should proceed with great caution.

Assembly members push for uniform watershed protections in Marcellus shale drilling

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

ALBANY – Days after the state DEC announced it would require case-by-case review of any proposal to mine natural gas from Marcellus shale in the New York Watershed, Assembly members Kevin Cahill of Kingston and Barbara Lifton of Ithaca criticized the proposal.

The two lawmakers said there should be one standard, whether the hydraulic fracturing of the shale formation is in a watershed or not.

Cahill spells out their concerns. “There is no reason to be more protective of the drinking water of a child in New York City than there is to be protective of the drinking water for somebody who doesn’t happen to live in the New York City watershed,” he said. “One standard would work. If it’s not safe for the watershed, it ought not be considered safe for the rest of the state.”

Cahill and Lifton are asking the DEC to revisit their plans and come up with one unified plan for environmentally safe natural gas drilling.



Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sludge Pit Casualty: Lathrop Twp. PA

Click to super-size: Chief Oil and Gas/Phelps Unit: photo courtesy of Frank Finan


Largest organization of water professionals endorses federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing

From Amy Mall's Blog
Amy Mall, Senior Policy Analyst
Boulder, Colorado
Posted April 23, 2010 in Health and the Environment
on Switchboard, from NRDC

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is the "authoritative resource on safe water." It is the largest and oldest association of water professionals in the world. It has more than 60,000 members--including more than 4,600 water supply utilities, water treatment plant operators and managers, scientists, environmentalists, manufacturers, academicians, and regulators. The members of AWWA oversee most of North America's drinking water.

AWWA has endorsed federal legislation to federally regulate hydraulic fracturing ---the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act--"in the interest of protecting current sources of drinking water and potential sources in the future."


Monday, April 26, 2010

Help Save PA's Wild Forests

By David Masur, PennEnvironment Director
April 26, 2010

From Pennsylvania's Sproul State Forest to Tioga State Forest (home to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon), our state forests are well-known destinations for hiking, fishing, camping and other outdoor activities.

Most Pennsylvanians would be shocked to hear that they're often sold off to the highest bidder for destructive practices that will do irreparable harm to our forests. It's sad but true -- dangerous gas drilling is placing hundreds of thousands of acres of Pennsylvania forestland at risk.

This week the Legislature is deciding whether to protect our remaining state forestlands from gas drilling. Click here to help make sure our state representatives make the right choice for our state forests today.

Already, state officials have opened up 700,000 acres of our state forests for gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale region -- that's more than 40 percent of our forests over the Marcellus Shale.

More drilling means more roads, pipelines, wells and trucks in our state forests, destroying habitat and polluting our streams.

Luckily, there is a proposal to halt further gas drilling leases in our state forests. If passed, House Bill 2235 will implement a 5-year moratorium on further drilling leases in our state forests.

HB 2235 is expected to be voted on this week. Without your support for this bill, the trend of selling off our state forests to the highest bidder may continue. Let's make sure that we keep our forests protected now and for future generations of Pennsylvanians. Click the link below to e-mail your state representative today -- and help protect Pennsylvania's state forests.


Senator Casey asks federal agency to investigate drilling contamination

Chorus of operators calling for frac fluid disclosure grows

(But What Does It Mean???)
Fort Worth Business Press
April 26, 2010

When the nation’s largest oil and gas exploration and production company offered its support for making the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing public, concerned U.S. residents who want transparency got perhaps their biggest boost from a somewhat unlikely source.

In a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Irving-based ExxonMobil Corp. said it would support the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. ...the injection of millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals – so far not publicly disclosed by oilfield services companies – into the ground to break up porous shale and allow for enhanced recovery of natural gas and oil.

“ExxonMobil supports the disclosure of the identity of the ingredients being used in fracturing fluids at each site,” according to the April 13 filing. “While we understand the intellectual property concerns of service companies when it comes to disclosing the proprietary formulations in their exact amounts, we believe the concerns of community members can be alleviated by the disclosure of all ingredients used in these fluids.”

The company’s stance is seen as a move aimed at curbing possible federal regulation of fracing, which so far has been overseen by state agencies, such as the Railroad Commission of Texas. ExxonMobil’s statement also echoes similar stands by two other companies: Chesapeake Energy Corp. and Range Resources Corp., whose top executives last year offered their support for disclosure.

Although several big names support disclosure, transparency isn’t their decision to make. The oilfield services companies perform the process for the operators, and therefore must choose to make the chemicals public information, which isn’t likely.


The top three firms – Halliburton, Schlumberger and BJ Services Co. – either did not return multiple requests for comment by the Business Press’ time of publication or skirted the question of whether they would consider disclosing the chemicals used.

ExxonMobil can’t force services companies to disclose, said Lisa K. Vaughn, a partner in the Fort Worth office of Shannon, Gracey, Ratliff & Miller LLP, “but as they and the other bigwigs of the world put more pressure on the suppliers to disclose that might lead the,” push toward disclosure.

Operators “are beginning to feel legislative pressure against their potential environmental contaminants,” she added...

Insistence on safety

A driving force behind the move toward disclosure is public pressure.

“Part of what’s going on is this recognition by the oil and gas companies that there’s this fear by the public about what’s in the frac fluid, and this fear is caused by not knowing,” Vaughn said.

Despite public fears, the Railroad Commission of Texas insists the process is safe and effectively regulated.

Yadda yadda yadda:

“Even with the recent intense hydraulic fracing activity in the Barnett Shale of more than 13,000 gas wells, there have been no documented cases of groundwater pollution caused by fracing in Texas,” said Ramona Nye, a commission spokeswoman. “One reason for this is that the commission has strict well construction requirements that require several layers of steel casings and cement to protect groundwater. Another reason is that most of the fracing that is occurring, such as in the Barnett Shale, for example, occurs in geologically confined formations that are more than a mile deep. In contrast, the groundwater in the Barnett Shale region goes no deeper than 500 feet.


Although the Texas officials say no contamination has yet occurred, last week, about 135 Caddo Parish, La., families were evacuated after an EXCO Resources Inc. drilling crew reported “irregular pressure readings and signs of natural gas in the air” at a well site, according to KSLA-TV, a local news organization. Two wells of the three wells at the Dallas company’s site were cemented shut as a result; however, testing of private water wells also revealed at least 10 wells contaminated with natural gas, according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Little data available because chemicals untracked

The Railroad Commission of Texas does not require operators to list the specific chemicals used in their frac jobs; however, in the commission’s Form G-1, required for each well drilled, companies fill out how much water and sand they used, according to a commission spokeswoman. For example: 2.3 million barrels of water (which would include the chemicals) and 250,000 pounds of sand. (Each well’s drilling data is accessible to the public via the commission’s Web site.)

While the commission does not track how many wells drilled are fractured, “it is safe to assume that all of the more than 13,000 wells in the Barnett Shale have been hydraulically fractured at least once,” Nye said.

Both the state agency and the federal government are in the dark. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires companies to keep a list of the chemicals used at drill sites in case of accidental spills or an incident in which someone is exposed to the chemicals; however, OSHA itself does not have the information.

Oilfield services companies have resisted disclosure because they argue their formulas are proprietary.

It’s the same concept as Coca-Cola – water, sugar and natural flavors,” said Vaughn, adding it’s that last vague component other companies want to know.

Couldn’t companies patent their recipes?

“It can be hard to get intellectual property protection for the recipes they’re using because those recipes can change day to day, week to week (and) site to site due to all these different variables,” she said.

Although companies claim their specific formulas are trade secrets, operators have sought to dispel concerns by shedding some light on the process; for example, Chesapeake Energy created a Web site,, that reveals some of the chemicals – though not the amounts in which they’re used.

“What is not fully disclosed are the specific quantities of each chemical used in the blending of frac mixtures on location. That varies, well-by-well, and is proprietary to the service providers,” according to a company spokesman. “We have encouraged the providers to be more transparent with this information but we respect that they are in a highly competitive industry and have trade secrets to protect.”

And this is, of course, more important than public health and safety or protecting our most vital, irreplacable resource (water), among other environmental concerns.

Possible federal regulation

Last summer, four legislators from Colorado, New York and Pennsylvania introduced a bill aimed at giving the federal government oversight into hydraulic fracturing, arguing a process being used in more than half of the United States requires even-handed regulation across the board. Industry groups counter the bill would result in thousands of lost jobs and billions in unrealized revenue.

The FRAC Act, or Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 to require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they use in their hydraulic fracturing processes.

If companies opt to disclose, it’s likely it would be an all or none approach, because if just one company offered its formula it would put itself “at a business disadvantage,” Thompson said. “If there’s governmental regulation, then they’re all going to have to disclose.”

ExxonMobil has an interest in thwarting federal oversight; a stipulation in its proposed about $30 billion acquisition of Fort Worth’s XTO Energy Inc. says the former can walk away from the deal if Congress passes federal regulation.

Not all operators support disclosure

While some companies have offered their support for disclosure, EOG Resources Inc. will not. A March 25 proxy statement includes a proposal, expected to be put forth April 28 at the company’s annual meeting by a group of stockholders owning about 245,000 shares, that calls for a study into using “less toxic fracturing fluids, recycling or reuse of waste fluids and other structural or procedural strategies to reduce fracturing hazards.”

EOG Resources’ Board of Directors opposes the proposal, calling the process “a well-established reservoir stimulation technique” that poses “minimal impact to the environment and to human health.” The board recommends shareholders vote against the proposal. (An EOG Resources spokeswoman said the company would not provide further comment.)

A virtually identical proposal in ExxonMobil’s proxy statement, submitted by San Francisco’s The Park Foundation, also will receive a no vote by the company’s board of directors; however, as previously noted, ExxonMobil does support disclosure. (It's an easy public relations ploy... looks good, costs nothing.)

Editorial comments by Splashdown in red.



Friday, April 23, 2010

NY ruling sets back gas drilling in watersheds

By Basil Katz

NEW YORK, April 23 (Reuters) - New York state imposed new restrictions on shale gas drilling in watersheds for the cities of New York and Syracuse, citing concerns over drinking water safety and prompting victory calls from environmentalists.

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced on Friday that applications to drill for shale gas in the two cities' watersheds will be taken on a case-by-case basis instead of falling under the general rules that will apply to the rest of the state.

For these cities it amounts to a "de facto ban" on the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, said Alex Matthiessen, president of environmental group Riverkeeper. He called the ruling a "huge win." ...

"Due to the unique issues related to the protection of New York City and Syracuse drinking water supplies, these watersheds will be excluded from the pending generic environmental review process for natural gas drilling," the state agency said.

New York City joined environmentalists in December in voicing strong concern the process might harm the city's fresh water supplies, which come unfiltered from a 2,000-square-mile (5,200-square-km) watershed largely located in the Catskills Mountains north of the city.

"Portions of the Marcellus Shale where the city's watershed lies must be treated differently and the Department of Environmental Conservation's decision today recognizes that crucial fact," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. ...

Some say the proposed separate track for the cities is not nearly enough and reiterated calls for a blanket ban.

"A complete ban on watershed drilling was the right thing a year ago, it's the right thing today, and it will remain the right thing for as long as we debate hydraulic fracturing in New York," Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in a statement.


(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Daniel Trotta and Andre Grenon)


DEP Fines Stallion Oilfield Services $6,500 for Illegally Transferring Fracking Water in Lycoming County

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


Daniel T. Spadoni, Department of Environmental Protection North-central Regional Office

Penalty Reflects Latest Enforcement Action against Company

WILLIAMSPORT -- The Department of Environmental Protection has fined Stallion Oilfield Services of Canonsburg $6,500 for operating a transfer station without a permit last year at its facility in Old Lycoming Township, Lycoming County.

The financial penalty represents DEP’s latest enforcement action against Stallion. It previously issued a notice of violation to the company in June 2009, which prompted the company to stop operating its transfer station.

“DEP conducted an inspection at Stallion in June 2009 and discovered that the company was operating a fracking water transfer station without the required DEP permit,” said DEP North-central Regional Director Robert Yowell. “Businesses that support the natural gas exploration industry like Stallion must improve their compliance with Pennsylvania’s waste management regulations. DEP continues to look aggressively for these illegal transfer stations and will take appropriate enforcement action whenever we find them.”

There were 21 fracking water tanks at the site divided into two staging areas. The tanks were used to store fracking flowback water from natural gas wells.

DEP inspectors also found a 450-square foot area where fracking water had spilled onto the ground. Soil samples showed high levels of chlorides and barium, which are common constituents of fracking water. Stallion subsequently excavated and properly disposed of about seven cubic yards of soil.

DEP’s follow-up inspection in August 2009 confirmed that the company had halted the illegal transfer station activity.

The fine was paid to the Solid Waste Abatement Fund, which helps to pay for cleanups across the state.

For more information, call 570-327-3659 or visit


Thursday, April 22, 2010

1970 ~ EARTH DAY ~ 2010

Let's celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day by sending a loud message to our leaders that we can no longer wait for a clean energy future.

The League of Conservation Voters has partnered with a broad coalition of organizations to gather signatures from concerned citizens who demand energy independence and a cleaner planet.

Will you add your name and send a strong message to your Senators that they must take action this year?

Click here to sign the Earth Day Declaration of Energy Independence petition now!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

PA Politician Calls for Moratorium on Gas Drilling Permits

Written by Allison Sickle
April 21, 2010

As the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection prepares to issue 5,000 Marcellus Shale gas drilling permits this year, only one Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the May 18, 2010 Pennsylvania primary is calling for a moratorium on issuing new permits in a state that strongly supports gas drilling. Former Congressman Joe Hoeffel says the natural gas industry should deal with concerns about wastewater contamination before DEP issues additional permits. Gas drilling is a “pretty serious challenge” to the drinking water supply in communities, he says.

In an interview with DCBureau, Hoeffel said, “If it’s going back into groundwater, it’s got to meet safe drinking water standards. Right now, the industry wants to dilute it with freshwater and just put it all back into the groundwater, and that’s not good enough.”



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

South Caddo Parish: NOW... and Then

Testing continues on S. Caddo water wells contaminated by natural gas
KSLA News 12
Monday, April 19, 2010 7:50 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 6:25 PM EST

CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator says the contamination of underground water systems from a recently drilled natural gas well has not spread, but residents already evacuated from their homes will have to stay away from the area for a little while longer.

from AP Texas News/Houston Chronicle: About 135 homes in southern Caddo Parish have been evacuated as a precaution after natural gas was detected in drinking water wells. Crews were drilling for gas in the area.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality says it found potentially dangerous chemical compounds in 35 of 45 private water wells it sampled. The wells draw their water from the Wilcox Aquifer.

At a news conference early Tuesday evening, Prator said the contamination had not spread to DeSoto Parish.

According to Prator, there are two main concerns at the moment. One is the amount of gas within the each home's water well and the quality of the home's water. Once the water quality tests come back Wednesday evening, Prator said if the quality is acceptable, people would be escorted back to their homes by an entry team. That team would then test the gas quantity at the home.

Prator asked that everyone have patience, saying they wanted to get the evacuees home as soon as possible.

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 29, 2009...
19 Cows Die Near Chesapeake Energy Gas Well

Yesterday local residents witnessed cows dying in a fenced in Louisiana pasture [in South Caddo Parish], just 150 feet from a Chesapeake well. Apparently some type of production, or fracking fluid ran offsite and into the pasture where the cows got into it and ingested it.
One person said she watched at least four cows, "tongues hanging, bleeding off front and back, foaming at the mouth and bellowing" collapse and die.

THURSDAY, MARCH 25, 2010...
Chesapeake, Schlumberger fined $22,000 each in cows' deaths
By Vickie Welborn
March 25, 2010

KEITHVILLE – Chesapeake Energy Corp. and its contractor Schlumberger Technology Corp. each must pay $22,000 for violating state law in connection with the deaths almost a year ago of 17 cows at a natural gas well site.

Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality mailed identical letters spelling out the settlement agreement with both companies on Tuesday. Each was informed that it must advertise the agreement and invite public comment.

Both companies deny the material discharged from the natural gas well site killed the cows, deny violations were committed and neither makes an admission of liability, according to the settlement document signed by LDEQ Assistant Secretary Paul D. Miller. Included in each fine is $1,300 in enforcement costs.

In a joint statement from Chesapeake’s Kevin McCotter and Schlumberger’s Stephen T. Harris, both companies acknowledged today entering into a proposed settlement agreement.

State Attorney General Buddy Caldwell also must give his concurrence. He has 90 days to reject the agreement. Both companies are required to forward a check within 10 days of receiving notice of the execution of the settlement agreement.

Citizens noticed the dying cows April 28 in a pasture owned by Cecil and Tyler Williams on state Highway 169 near the corner of Keatchie-Marshall Road in south Caddo Parish. Witnesses reported hearing them bellowing and seeing them bleeding before they fell over dead.

At the time, Schlumberger, as a contractor of Chesapeake, was performing routine fracturing of the natural gas well. LDEQ determined during its investigation that fluid leaked from the well pad then ran into an adjacent pasture after a rain.

A Dec. 2 report by contract toxicologist Dr. June Sutherlin now posted on the LDEQ Web site concludes the cows’ deaths were consistent with and suggestive of petroleum hydrocarbon ingestion with secondary aspiration pneumonia.

“Based on the typical period of time required for cattle to die from aspiration pneumonia secondary to petroleum hydrocarbon ingestion, it is likely that the cattle were exposed to petroleum hydrocarbons prior to April 28, 2009,” according to Sutherlin’s report.


DEP to Meet With Drilling Companies to Discuss Ways to Prevent Dangerous Gas Migration Situations, Safeguard Homes, Water Supplies

Dept. of Environmental Protection

Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


Neil Weaver, DEP

HARRISBURG -- Department of Environmental Secretary John Hanger announced today that he has called a meeting of oil and gas companies with permits to drill in the Marcellus Shale to discuss what steps the industry must take to prevent gas migrating from wells and polluting Pennsylvania’s natural resources, which can create a public safety risk.

The meeting will be held on May 13 in Harrisburg.

“The Department of Environmental Protection has a constitutional and statutory obligation to protect Pennsylvania’s environment. That right is not for sale and is not subject to compromise,” said Hanger.

“Drilling for natural gas beneath our soil can be done responsibly without putting the citizens of Pennsylvania, their property or livelihoods at risk,” added Hanger. “I am urging the industry to come and discuss how to effectively and safely prevent gas migration, protect our natural resources, and ensure that what happened to the residents of Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, does not happen elsewhere.”

Last week, DEP took further action against Cabot Oil & Gas Inc. after it failed to address migrating gas discovered in 2009 from drilling operations that contaminated groundwater and the drinking water supplies of 14 homes in the region.

“Gas migration is unacceptable and the department is taking every precaution necessary to address this issue to protect our citizens and their communities,” Hanger added. “In addition to increased oversight, the department has proposed tougher regulations to meet the growing demand and new drilling technologies including improving well construction standards to protect from gas migration.”

For more information, visit


Pittsburgh protesters call for Marcellus freeze, severance tax

By Rick Stouffer,
Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Protesters gathered Downtown today to lobby Gov. Ed Rendell and state lawmakers to freeze new Marcellus Shale drilling leases in state forests and pass a severance tax on removing natural gas from Pennsylvania land.

"It's time for the governor and the Legislature to step up and protect the most environmentally sensitive areas of state forestlands," said Jan Jarrett, CEO of Citizens for Pennsylvania's Future, or PennFuture — sponsor of the "Save the Forest" rally outside Piatt Place on Fifth Avenue.


Rendell proposed the severance tax in February 2009, but it was pulled from consideration in September because the governor said he wanted to give the fledgling Marcellus Shale industry time to get its "sea legs."

But in January, Rendell, faced with a projected $450 million revenue deficit for fiscal 2010-11, said he wants to raise at least $100 million a year from the tax on drilling, to take effect in July. Last year, Rendell proposed a 5 percent tax at the wellhead and 4.7 percent on every 1,000 cubic feet of gas produced.

Jarrett said ... the money is needed by communities impacted by Marcellus activity, for environmental protection and to help fund the state game commission and fish and boat commission.


Jim Shantz of Zelienople, Butler County, said he has seen the drawbacks of strip mining and supports the requested changes.

"We're now as taxpayers paying for those problems," he said. "As citizens of the state, I don't think we have to pay to reclaim the lands impacted by drilling or for the huge amount of water drilling requires."


Hard-working, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens are being asked to enable or bail out high-handed, covert and greedy corporate/industrial gambles time and again these days, bringing every kind of ruin down on our society. It's about time our government represented us, 'the people' it was designed to serve, and put some meaningful safeguards in place to protect our quality of life and the world we live in and leave to our children. -Splashdown


Shut Down Wells, EPA Orders Gas Drilling Company

Abrahm Lustgarten
April 19th, 2010

In its 2009 annual report, Cabot Oil and Gas named a field in Texas and another in Dimock, Pa., as its two largest fields of production. But yesterday the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection ordered Cabot to plug at least three of its gas wells in Dimock and pay hefty fines after contaminating local drinking water.

More than 15 months after natural gas drilling contaminated drinking water in Dimock, Pa., state officials are ordering the company responsible — Houston-based Cabot Oil and Gas — to permanently shut down some of its wells, pay nearly a quarter million dollars in fines, and permanently provide drinking water to 14 affected families.

The order is among the most punitive in Pennsylvania’s history and reflects officials’ frustrations over a string of drilling-related accidents. The record of spills, leaks and water contamination in Pennsylvania — several of which are tied to Cabot — has spotlighted the environmental risks of drilling for natural gas across the country, jeopardized development of the massive Marcellus Shale resource deposit, and contributed significantly to actions by both Congress and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to bolster federal oversight of drilling.

“The events at Dimock have been the black eye for the industry and have also been a black eye for Pennsylvania,” the state’s chief environment official, John Hanger, told ProPublica. “It’s been an enormous headache. If Cabot doesn’t get this message, the company has got an amazing hearing problem.”

ProPublica was among the first to report about the water contamination problems in Dimock — and about more than 50 other similar cases that have emerged as drilling development has spread across the state — in an article published last April that was part of a series about drilling concerns across the country. Since then the state Department of Environmental Protection has more than doubled its enforcement staff, and legislation has been introduced to revise Pennsylvania’s rules for drilling and strengthen protections for groundwater.

Cabot did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement Thursday, Cabot Oil and Gas said that it agreed to the DEP’s measures and that the state’s order represents “a continuing joint effort by Cabot and the PADEP to ensure the safety of people, water resources and the environment of Susquehanna County.”

DEP officials determined last fall that methane gas and drilling waste had leaked through cracked underground casing on Cabot’s gas wells and seeped into drinking water in the Dimock area. They fined the company, which is also being sued by a group of area residents, $120,000 at the time. In its most recent order, which is an update of that 2009 action, the Department of Environmental Protection expressed frustration with Cabot’s failure to address the contamination and said it found gas bubbling up in well water as recently as March, even though the company had submitted a plan to fix it last November.

On Thursday, the DEP gave Cabot — which Hanger described as one of “the worst” oil and gas operators he has seen — 40 days to plug the three wells it believes are responsible, and threatened that Cabot would have to plug more if the problems didn’t subside. It gave the company a month to install permanent water treatment systems in 14 homes where water was found to contain high levels of methane, iron and other metals, and where residents have complained of headaches, skin rashes and sick animals. In addition, it ordered Cabot to pay a $240,000 fine, plus $30,000 for each month in which it fails to fix the problems.

The DEP is also suspending its review of Cabot’s pending applications for new drilling permits across the state and won’t allow the company to drill any new wells at all in the Dimock area — even those already permitted — for 12 months. It said it will continue to investigate 10 more Cabot wells near Dimock and could order some of them plugged as well.

CLICK HERE to continue reading...


Monday, April 19, 2010

ExxonMobile favors fracing disclosure

Environmental group welcomes position from oil industry giant
by Katie Burford
The Durango Herald
April 19, 2010

Oil giant ExxonMobil, which is acquiring local producer XTO Energy, said last week that it supports the disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

The company's board, in a statement filed last week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said disclosing the chemicals would ease concerns about potential contamination from fracing, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand under high pressure into formations to break up the rock and release gas.

Companies in the past have balked at disclosing the make-up of the proprietary mixtures, arguing it would put them at a competitive disadvantage.

“ExxonMobil supports the disclosure of the identity of the ingredients being used in fracturing fluids at each site," the company said in the statement. “While we understand the intellectual property concerns of service companies when it comes to disclosing the proprietary formulations in their exact amounts, we believe the concerns of community members can be alleviated by the disclosure of all ingredients used in these fluids."


Bruce Baizel, staff attorney for the Durango-based Oil & Gas Accountability Project, called ExxonMobil's position a significant step.

“I think we will see that that probably starts the shift toward getting the disclosure we've been working on," he said.

Once the chemicals are widely known, he said companies will be more likely to use green alternatives.

... environmental concerns about fracing have dogged the industry for years.

...a water-monitoring program... which is being overseen by state regulators with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is one of the most comprehensive in the country.


The final results of a study of the data are expected to be released later this month.

Though the monitoring does not test for proprietary fracing chemicals, said Karen Spray, an environmental protection specialist with the commission, it does look for a common component of the mixtures, potassium chloride.

Similarly, the presence of gas in the water could indicate a problem.

Under new state rules that went into effect last year, the state's oil and gas commission can compel companies to disclose their fracing chemicals when evidence of possible contamination exists.

CLICK HERE for complete article.


PennDOT's diligence establishes an example

Public Opinion Online Editorial
By Matthew Major, opinion editor and member of Public Opinion's editorial board

It was only a matter of time before the drilling activity in the Marcellus Shale region began to take its toll.

That kind of heavy industry not only threatens the surrounding environment, but quickly wears out the public infrastructure it needs to accommodate massive truck traffic.

So it wasn't a total surprise when we heard that PennDOT this week revoked a road use permit for Chesapeake Energy Corporation, the second such revocation the company has accrued since March 1.

Chesapeake had been granted a permit to put heavy trucks and equipment on a state road in Bradford County. The road normally has a 10-ton weight restriction.

Chesapeake's permit carried the understanding the company would be responsible for repairs. It was revoked after the company failed to deal with severe damage it caused, PennDOT said.

On March 1, PennDOT revoked Chesapeake's permit to use another Bradford County state road for the same reasons. The permit was restored after the company made repairs. The road was closed for about one week.

Chances are, much the same thing will happen with the most recent revocation. But the incidents definitely highlight a need for close monitoring of the drilling activity in the Marcellus region.

It's reassuring to see the state keeping a close eye on the roads supporting the natural gas bonanza in the Marcellus Shale region. We only hope that other state agencies in charge of human health and environmental protections are doing the same.



Thursday, April 15, 2010

World-Renowned Scientist Dr. Theo Colborn on the Health Effects of Water Contamination from Fracking

Democracy Now!
April 14, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency has begun a review of how the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” can affect drinking water quality. We speak to Dr. Theo Colborn, the president of the Endocrine Disruption Exchange and one of the foremost experts on the health and environmental effects of the toxic chemicals used in fracking.
(Link to Democracy Now! including rush transcript.)


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fracking: As Safe as Coca-Cola!

By Kate Sheppard
Mother Jones
Tue. April 13, 2010

The natural gas industry would like us to believe that the chemicals they're injecting into the ground in order to extract gas are as harmless as Coca-Cola. Therefore, they should be shielded from the scrutiny of federal regulators. No need to investigate—just take their word for it!

In comments to the Environmental Protection Agency obtained by Mother Jones, Penneco Oil Company, an oil and natural gas business based in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, says that it will "strongly oppose" increased regulation of hydraulic fracturing, a.k.a "fracking," and questions why the EPA would even want to investigate the controversial practice of injecting water and chemicals into shale, coal beds, and other geological formations to extract natural gas.

Here's one clue: Natural gas extractors have been found to use compounds containing toxic chemicals like benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene. A congressional investigation recently found that companies have injected hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based chemicals into the ground. Yet the industry is currently exempt from Clean Water Act standards, and companies are not even required to disclose exactly what their fracking fluids contain. The industry claims such information is proprietary.

Natural gas interests are fighting hard against efforts to subject the industry to tougher scrutiny. Shortly after the EPA announced that it would take a closer look at fracking due to concerns about water contamination, the industry began demanding protection under a climate bill. Penneco goes so far as to argue that the EPA is just making things up:

We are concerned that bureaucratic machinations have caused the EPA to hypothesize a problem and that EPA is now seeking research to justify a solution to a nonexistent problem. We are adamant that this process should start from the context of reality; Hydrofracking is a modern industrial and technological success which has delivered clean reliable energy to millions of American homes, reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy -- and that the research should work forward from that premise.

Instead, Penneco wants the EPA to take a more "positive" approach to its investigation. The company "would like to see questions for research prefaced and asked from the positive regarding hydraulic fracturing." For example, "What has been the benefit to America's streams and waterways as a result of hydraulic fracturing allowing for fewer acres of disturbance while increasing the amount of recoverable reserves?"


But perhaps the most comical part of the submission comes when the company claims that injecting diesel fuel and other toxic chemicals into the ground is no more dangerous than soda pop:

The formula for Coca-Cola is a closely guarded secret—though the ingredients are disclosed. In its dilute form—as a beverage—Coca-Cola is a known acid. It is entirely likely that in transport, as a concentrate, Coke may qualify as a toxic chemical. Perhaps, on game day at a stadium, where the stadium may have thousands of gallons of Coke syrup waiting to be mixed with carbonated water, the stadium may have high levels of toxic chemicals on hand. However, as we all know, there is no practical risk and the substance is relatively harmless. We believe that the same reasonable standard of common sense needs to be employed with hydraulic fracturing chemical studies.

Thus, Penneco concludes, any study from the EPA should consider the "absolute benefit that our society and the environment have reaped as a result of the introduction of hydraulic fracturing technology." Glad that's settled!


If Congress places limits on carbon dioxide, the demand for natural gas is only expected to grow—along with pressure by the industry on lawmakers to let it operate without scrutiny.


Editorial comments by Splashdown in red.


The EPA’s Hydraulic Fracturing Study Must Be Designed to Protect America’s Water Sources and Quality

Policy Expert at The Wilderness Society Testifies in Front of EPA Science Advisory Board

(See also Friday, APRIL 9, 2010 post: EPA Study and Big Oil U.)

The Wilderness Society
April 7, 2010

WASHINGTON – Today, Mary Krueger, a policy expert at The Wilderness Society, testified at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) Environmental Engineering Committee on the Hydraulic Fracturing Research Plan Review. The SAB is accepting public comments on the methodology of the EPA’s study on hydraulic fracturing that is scheduled to begin this year.

Krueger’s testimony makes clear that a study on the effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water must examine the risk that the invasive process poses to America’s water wells, especially in landforms that are already naturally fractured and porous. Additionally, the study must contain a full lifecycle of the hydraulic fracturing process, including an examination of the water supplies needed to carry out every “frack job.”

The testimony builds on The Wilderness Society’s work to ensure that natural gas drilling is “done right.” One of the most important components of “doing it right” is to make sure that drinking water is protected. Unfortunately, the natural gas industry currently enjoys an exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act, which can be dangerous to both rural and urban communities. Even more worrisome is that natural gas companies are not required to publicly disclose the chemicals they are injecting underground. As Krueger states, “exempting hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act creates a regulatory black hole that unnecessarily puts public safety in jeopardy.”

The Wilderness Society’s testimony focuses on three areas that the science committee leading the study must consider:

  • The effects of hydraulic fracturing on karst water systems and landforms that are characterized by sinkholes, caves, seeps, and springs that supply drinking water;
  • The water sources and quantities used for hydraulic fracturing — the process involves the usage of huge amounts of water, often four- seven million gallons or more per well; and
  • Provisions that ensure that both the quantity and quality of drinking water from wells will not be negatively affected.

View Mary Krueger’s testimony.

View the power-point presentation.

“It is imperative that the Obama Administration ensure that natural gas development is done in a way that protects people and lands,” said Krueger. “The EPA should produce a study that is based on sound science and that is not compromised by the worn-out talking points used by the natural gas industry.”

Moving forward, The Wilderness Society urges the EPA to use sound science in decisions regarding hydraulic fracturing.



Drilling company shareholders push for proxy votes for more company disclosure

Shareholders from environmentally conscious mutual funds, foundations, investment houses and the New York State Common Retirement Fund have successfully put proposals on the annual meeting agenda that would urge more disclosure and transparency of the possible environmental effects and liability risks of hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing involves pumping water with chemical additives into a rock formation under pressure to fracture the rock and release natural gas.

Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. and EOG Resources Inc. challenged the shareholder initiative claiming the requests were "micromanagement." The Securities and Exchange Commission backed the shareholder initiatives, which will be put to a shareholder vote.

Other companies receiving the proposal, but not having issued their proxies, include Chesapeake Energy Corp., XTO Energy Inc., and Ultra Petroleum.

The goal of the effort is not to get attention of the public, media, or policymakers. The groups want the attention of shareholders, and by extension, management.

...Typically, any shareholder with more than a $2,000 stake in a company can put certain proposals before shareholders.

Most companies resisted, first by refusing to respond to questions, then fighting to keep the proposal off the ballot. The measures ask management to prepare a report on the environmental impact of fracturing and to set a course for minimizing the chance of environmental harm.


Management tends to see such shareholder activism as a nuisance. But Rob Whalen, spokesman for $130 billion New York State Common Pension Fund, the force behind the Cabot initiative, said the push for environmental responsibility is in the best long-term interests of the company.


The fund reached agreements with Range Resources Corp. and Hess Corp. Range plans to put extensive information on its company Web sites.

"Our hope is that other companies would work with their shareholders the way these companies have," Mr. Whalen said. The fund's negotiations with Chesapeake have collapsed and the company is trying to keep the proposal off the ballot, he said. Discussions with XTO, which is entertaining a takeover bid by Exxon Mobile Corp, have slowed.

In a letter to the fund, Hess agreed to show "public concern regarding the use of chemicals in fracturing and potential risks to the environment and human health." This is a departure from the industry position that conventional fracturing poses little, if any, environmental or health risks.

In their proxy statements, Cabot and EOG Resources Inc., expressed their objection to the proposal, denying any documented case of groundwater being contaminated by fracturing and depicting the process as posing little or no threat to human health or drinking water.



Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Tests find toxins in Dish residents

Texas mayor, Calvin Tillman, visited our area recently to talk about the air quality issues facing DISH. The town's air is fouled by emissions resulting from a major convergence of gathering lines, compressors and metering facilities.

Results of blood and urine samples taken from DISH residents by state health officials have found toxic compounds (1,3-Butaduene compound, Toluene compound, Trichloroethylene compound, N,N-Dimethylformamide) in people’s bodies to be the same as those detected in the air and water there.

CLICK HERE to read the distressing report in today's Denton Record Chronicle.


Hydraulic fracturing a suspect in three new reported incidents of drinking water impacts in Arkansas

"Today I am updating the list with three new reports from Arkansas."

CLICK HERE to read today's entries. ...contribute your own!


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Democratic candidates address issues at local political event

The affects of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale was one of the big topics of discussion among political candidates Saturday during the 2010 Spring Dinner of the Bradford County Democratic Party.

Rep. Chris Carney of the 110th Congressional District was the keynote speaker at the event, who explained that he has said many times he is in favor of making certain that clean water is protected. Others who spoke included Mike Dineen on behalf of Daniel Onorato, who is running for governor; Jake Diegel who represented U.S. Senator Arlen Specter; Lou Freimiller, who spoke on behalf of candidate Joe Hoeffel, who is running for governor; Deb Barr, who spoke for Joe Sestak, who is a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate; and John Murray, who is running for the governor's spot.

As more natural gas companies have set up rigs throughout the area to tap the Marcellus Shale, many local residents have expressed concern about the effect on the area - particularly on the roads and the environment.

...many people in the audience were enthusiastic when candidates spoke about the importance of keeping the environment protected during the gas drilling process.

Carney said during his speech that he wants to make certain that a balance is struck between industrial development and the needs of the communities in being provided with clean water.

"We're not going to create a desert where we live, we're not going to ruin the water so we have to move. We're going to create the balance so we have the lifestyle we want and the clean water we want, but we also cannot throw away the opportunity that we have right now in the terms of the economy with what's going on right now with the drilling. We've got to do it right, we've got to have the right kinds of monitoring on the gas companies," Carney said.

Diegel said that Specter has always been in favor clean and safe drinking water, and will study the legislation that is being put forth in Washington to regulate fracking in the gas drilling industry. He also said that Specter has also been very supportive of alternative forms of energy, such as solar power, to help the environment as well as provide for energy needs.

Barr said that [Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate] Sestak is the only candidate with a 100 percent rating from the Conservation League.

"He's been on top of every environmental issue. I'm very happy to be working for Joe Sestak in the primary."

Freimiller, speaking for Hoeffel, said that Hoeffel is the most progressive candidate for governor in this year's primary, being pro-choice and pro-marriage quality. He said that [gubernatorial candidate] Hoeffel will work aggressively to double PennDOT's budget used to improve roads and rebuild bridges. Freimiller also said Hoeffel has called for a moratorium on gas drilling permits on state forest lands; and has not taken any campaign money from gas drilling companies.


C.J. Marshall can be reached at (570) 265-1630; e-mail:


Friday, April 9, 2010

EPA Study and Big Oil U.

A conflict of interest?

From a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, "As the scientific consensus surrounding climate change has solidified, the oil, gas, coal, and electricity industries have reluctantly recognized the inevitability of political action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ... Some actually have begun funding university research aimed at developing technologies and exploring policies that address the global warming crisis.
"Since 1991, the major oil companies have committed to investing more than $792 million in at least nine major universities in the United States. Leading institutions like MIT, Stanford, Princeton, and the University of California
at Berkeley have major collaborative research agreements with the energy industry. This study identified five major limitations on academic freedom that are occurring in the nine programs. They include:
• Allowing company representatives on governing boards (6 universities)
• Giving industry sponsors first rights to intellectual property (5 universities)
• Allowing industry sponsors a role in deciding what research projects are funded (6 universities)
• Permitting industry review of research before it is published (5 universities)
• Allowing companies to delay publication of research results (5 universities)
"There is an inherent conflict between the interests of universities and the interests of corporations. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich noted recently, “Corporations obviously are interested in making proprietary, that is . . . having as their personal property, whatever intellectual capital is generated from their sponsorship, but academic freedom – indeed, the life of the mind – depends on the free flow of information.” Although universities and corporations often defend these programs on the basis that they have similar goals and complementary knowledge, the fact is that the interests of universities and corporations can diverge. University research is supposed to work toward the common good. Corporate research is primarily aimed at maximizing profits."
In the appendices to the report, Appendix B asks: "Do you allow company representatives on governing boards?" According to Appendix C, the answer is YES for six of the nine universities: Berkeley, Stanford, Rice, UC Davis, Georgia Tech, and Carnegie Mellon.

A number of these impartial? universities are represented on the EPA Science Advisory Board as Members of the Environmental Engineering Committee augmented for hydraulic fracturing review. In fact, David A. Dzombak, Carnegie Mellon University, serves as Chair.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Oil and Gas Industry Opposes Expansive Study to Be Done By EPA on Hydraulic Fracturing

It seems fitting that the industry would be concerned by what the EPA may find in regards to the safety of drinking water.
Abrahm Lustgarten
April 8, 2010

A federal study of hydraulic fracturing set to begin this spring is expected to provide the most expansive look yet at how the natural gas drilling process can affect drinking water supplies, according to interviews with EPA officials and a set of documents outlining the scope of the project. The research will take a substantial step beyond previous studies and focus on how a broad range of ancillary activity – not just the act of injecting fluids under pressure – may affect drinking water quality.

The oil and gas industry strongly opposes this new approach. The agency’s intended research "goes well beyond relationships between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water," said Lee Fuller, vice president of government affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of America in comments (PDF) he submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The "lifecycle" approach will allow the agency to take into account hundreds of reports of water contamination in gas drilling fields across the country. Although the agency hasn’t settled on the exact details, researchers could examine both underground and surface water supplies, gas well construction errors, liquid waste disposal issues and chemical storage plans as part of its assessment.

The EPA begins public hearings today in Washington to nail down the scope of the study.


The EPA is undertaking the study in response to a wave of reports of water contamination in drilling areas across the country and a Congressional mandate issued in an appropriations bill last fall. The agency had previously examined hydraulic fracturing in a 2004 study that was limited in scope and was widely criticized.


For the latest study, the EPA sent its scoping document to its Science Advisory Board asking for the group’s input in designing the fracturing study. In the document, the EPA explained that information gained from looking at the impact from the start to the end of the process, called a lifecycle assessment "can help policymakers understand and make decisions about the breadth of issues related to hydraulic fracturing, including cross-media risks and the relationship to the entire natural gas production cycle."

In past interviews with ProPublica, Fuller has explained that, in his view, hydraulic fracturing shouldn’t be blamed for any contamination unless the process of injecting fracturing fluids underground under pressure was "the sole" cause of contamination. If contamination seeped through cracks in a gas well’s protective casing under pressure of the fracturing process, for example, he wouldn’t attribute it to fracturing because the cracks may have existed before the fracturing process began and would be a well construction problem, not a fracturing problem.


Fuller’s definition of fracturing-related contamination helps explain the oil and gas industry’s steadfast claim that that there is not a single case in which hydraulic fracturing has been proven to have contaminated drinking water supplies.

For the complete article, CLICK HERE.



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