Published: December 12, 2011 By HENRY FOUNTAIN in the New York Times YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Until this year, this Rust Belt city and surroun...
From Washingtonsblog posted on April 11, 2013 What Are We Choosing for Our Future? Wind energy expert Paul Gipe reported this wee...
From No Frack Ohio 5-10-12 WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. - Brian and Amy Smith seem to be the first example in western Pennsylvania of...
Sunday, December 30, 2012
Friday, December 21, 2012
California Fracking Rules Slammed By Environmentalists As Shale Oil Boom Threatens To Remake State by Aaron Sankin, HuffPo, 12-19-12
Emily DeMarco: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-315-0262. The Post-Gazette is a news partner of PublicSource, a nonprofit investigative news group in Western Pennsylvania.
First Published December 16, 2012 12:00 am
Regulators Under Fire for Keeping Fracking Pollution Test Results Under Wraps by Mike Ludwig, 12-11-12
Last year, a hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) chemical fluid disclosure “model bill” was passed by both the Council of State Governments(CSG) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It proceeded to pass in multiple states across the country soon thereafter, but as Bloomberg recently reported, the bill has been an abject failure with regards to “disclosure.”
That was by design, thanks to the bill’s chief author, ExxonMobil.
Originating as a Texas bill with disclosure standards drawn up under the auspices of the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy Fracking Subcommittee rife with oil and gas industry insiders, the model is now codified as law in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.
Bloomberg reported that the public is being kept “clueless” as to what chemicals are injected into the ground during the fracking process by the oil and gas industry.
“Truck-Sized” Loopholes: Fracking Chemical Fluid Non-Disclosure by Design
“Drilling companies in Texas, the biggest oil-and-natural gas producing state, claimed similar exemptions about 19,000 times this year through August,” explained Bloomberg. “Trade-secret exemptions block information on more than five ingredients for every well in Texas, undermining the statute’s purpose of informing people about chemicals that are hauled through their communities and injected thousands of feet beneath their homes and farms.”
For close observers of this issue, it’s no surprise that the model bills contain “truck-sized” loopholes.
“A close reading of the bill…reveals loopholes that would allow energy companies to withhold the names of certain fluid contents, for reasons including that they have been deemed trade secrets,” The New York Times explained back in April.
Disclosure Goes Through FracFocus, PR Front For Oil and Gas Industry
The model bill that’s passed in four states so far mandates that fracking chemical fluid disclosure be conducted by FracFocus, which recently celebrated its one-year anniversary, claiming it has produced chemical data on over 15,000 fracked wells in a promotional video.
The reality is far more messy, as reported in an August investigationby Bloomberg.
“Energy companies failed to list more than two out of every five fracked wells in eight U.S. states from April 11, 2011, when FracFocus began operating, through the end of last year,” wrote Bloomberg. “The gaps reveal shortcomings in the voluntary approach to transparency on the site, which has received funding from oil and gas trade groups and $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.”
This moved U.S. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) to say that FracFocus and the model bills it would soon be a part of make a mockery of the term “disclosure.”
“FracFocus is just a fig leaf for the industry to be able to say they’re doing something in terms of disclosure,” she said.
“Fig leaf” is one way of putting it.
Another way of putting it is “public relations ploy.” As Dory Hippauf of ShaleShock Media recently revealed in an article titled “FracUNfocusED,” FracFocus is actually a PR front for the oil and gas industry.
Hippauf revealed that FracFocus‘ domain is registered by Brothers & Company, a public relations firm whose clients include America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Chesapeake Energy, and American Clean Skies Foundation – a front group for Chesapeake Energy.
Given the situation, it’s not surprising then that “companies claimed trade secrets or otherwise failed to identify the chemicals they used about 22 percent of the time,” according to Bloomberg‘s analysis ofFracFocus data for 18 states.
Put another way, the ExxonMobil’s bill has done exactly what it set out to do: business as usual for the oil and gas industry.
Steve Horn is a Research Fellow at DeSmogBlog and a freelance investigative journalist based out of Madison, Wisconsin.
Marcellus Shale Report: November 2011
Water: Into the Wells
A discussion of the water input required to hydraulically fracture a Mar- cellus Shale well – the quantity, additives, and risks.
ProPublica-Fracking Gas Drilling's Environmental Threat,ProPublica, July 9, 2012
Check the link out.
Earthquake-Causing Fracking to Be Allowed within 500 FEET of Nuclear Plants, by Washingtonsblog.com, 10-22-12
Nuclear Plants Vulnerable to EarthquakesOn July 26th 2011 the California Energy Commission held hearings concerning the state’s nuclear safety. During those hearings, the Chairman of the Commission asked governments experts whether or not they felt the facilities could withstand the maximum credible quake. The response was that they did not know.
Are They Fracking With Us?
Fracking Pollution Sickens Pennsylvania Families, Environmental Group Says, by Lynne Peebles, HuffPo, 10-18-12
* Hydraulic fracturing exempt from some regulations
* Lawmaker says regulators have "one hand tied behind their back"
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators are having a tough time keeping pace with rapidly expanding shale oil and gas development, according to a report from a government watchdog released on Tuesday.
Legal limitations and a lack of key data have hampered the Environmental Protection Agency's oversight of shale production, said the report from the Government Accountability Office, Congress' non-partisan investigative arm.
"Officials at EPA reported that conducting inspection and enforcement activities for oil and gas development from unconventional reservoirs is challenging due to limited information, as well as the dispersed nature of the industry and the rapid pace of development," the report said.
Breakthroughs in horizontal drilling techniques and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in recent years have unlocked massive oil and gas reserves trapped in shale formations.
But the surge in domestic drilling has raised concerns about possible water and air pollution.
Both President Barack Obama and his Republican challenger, Governor Mitt Romney, have touted the shale boom on the campaign trail, with Romney pledging to keep states in charge of most onshore drilling.
The Obama administration has said that states are the primary regulators of shale energy output, but the federal government can offer a template for effective oversight.
Critics of shale oil and gas drilling have charged that federal regulation of the practice is inadequate, especially since hydraulic fracturing is exempt from certain EPA rules.
The report was requested by Democrats in the House of Representatives and the Senate who have raised questions about fracking.
The GAO found that the EPA has difficulty investigating water contamination cases because there is often no information on the quality of water before drilling began to use for analysis.
A separate report issued by the GAO on Tuesday reviewing hazards associated with shale energy development said the risk to aquifers may be linked to the depth of drilling, citing studies that have found that the fracturing process itself was unlikely to directly affect groundwater because drilling typically takes place thousands of feet below water sources.
In the GAO's report on challenges regulating shale production, the EPA said it does not always know where to conduct inspections or enforce certain regulations because it sometimes does not have information on what activities are going on at well sites.
In some cases, the EPA must completely rely on companies to identify themselves as subject to regulations, the GAO reported.
"Regulators have operated with one hand tied behind their back for too long when it comes to the oil and gas industry," said Congressman Edward Markey, one of the lawmakers who requested the report.
Markey and other lawmakers have pushed for legislation that would expand federal oversight of hydraulic fracturing, a move the industry has warned is unnecessary and could curb development.
(See link for photo collection.)