Fracking Campaign

Fracking In California Under Spotlight As Some Local Municipalities Issue Bans

Lawsuit over fracking near schools in Mars School District could have statewide legal impact

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““It should not be around schools, or residents, or farmland; I mean, it’s ridiculous, it’s industrial,” says Laurel Colonello, of Middlesex Township, where the contentious well pad is located. The Mars Area School District school campus, where 3,200 students attend, is in Adams Township, just over the border. One elementary building — where grades five and six attend — straddles the line.”

Read more at Pittsburgh City Paper.

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Fracking and Groundwater Contamination: The Known and the Unknowns

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Peak oil, or peak water? Peak water might be the (unfortunate) answer. Alternative sources of energy may become more widely available, but there are no alternatives to water. The ongoing depletion of groundwater contained in aquifers—one of the most important sources of water on our planet—is a significant threat to our future.

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We Are Together & Together We’ll Make Change

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As fracking bans and moratoriums or local ordinances become a reality across the country, it would be so powerful for those who are advocating change to one piece of the problem or solution, to include the other parts of the gas and oil industry’s problems, processes, etc. as well. Working together on alternatives, disposal, rights to know, exports and more will provide the holistic approach to the public. That can really make a bigger – deeper difference in how people respond to efforts that go beyond a backyard struggle towards a sustainable communities. It might even bring clarity to the public that is getting so many different messages and become confused.

At CHEJ we just celebrated the next step toward a ban in New York on fracking, but Obama is still pushing regulations. We’ve seen pipelines stopped, at least temporarily and ordinances passed. Most recently two counties in Ohio have passed local moratoriums on injection wells that will force the industry to find other ways to dispose of their wastes. Two other Ohio counties are in the mist of deciding to ban injection wells that activist say have a good chance of passing.

It appears from the “wide view” that our staff and Board can see as a national group, as we look across the country that there are serious efforts and real wins by ordinary people. What isn’t as obvious is a strong message that we are together and supporting other groups who have taken on different parts of the problems, are encouraged and inspired by the wins and share the vision of what could be. It’s not that people aren’t mentioning other segments of the struggle locally or at a higher level of government, but it’s not coming through as a unified struggle for a unified goal. No there will never be absolute agreement on goals but maybe we could get agreement on a unified message that works. At CHEJ we came up with Preventing Fracking Harms to address the different goals around wells, infrastructure and such. That won’t work in the bigger message but I think there are words that might.

As groups join together this fall at events like the one planned for October in Colorado it would be great to find an opportunity on or off the agenda to figure out how all the extraordinary work folks are doing can include a message – not a list serve – not a petition – but a message that gets tagged on everyone’s everything before they close their news release, blog, signs and more. Or maybe we have a massive e-mail conversation. Let me know what you think.

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What’s NORMal for Fracking? Estimating Total Radioactivity of Produced Fluids

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Naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) found in liquid wastes from hydraulic fracturing are an emerging environmental health concern.1 The heavily drilled Marcellus Shale, for example, contains isotopes of radium, polonium, and lead.2,3 However, the few studies that have focused on NORM in fracking wastewater (produced fluids) have reported on a single element—radium.4,5 In this issue of EHP, researchers estimate total reactivity for a mixture of isotopes present in liquid fracking waste from the Marcellus Shale.3

Full Story from Lindsey Konkel at Environmental Health Perspectives

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U.S. Oil & Gas from Shale Shows a Retreat in Drilling, Fracking, and Production

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by S. Tom Bond on June 23, 2015

See also: www.Marcellus-Shale.us

Shale production retreats as oil & gas prices do not support the high cost of production

Commentary by S. Tom Bond, Retired Chemistry Professor & Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

There were two impressive article in Bloomberg recently. One titled “Speculators Retreat From Oil as OPEC Oversupply Crowds Out Shale” and a second called “The Shale Industry Could Be Swallowed By Its Own Debt.” Deborah Rogers Lawrence has been predicting something of this sort for years, and now it seems to be coming to pass.

The first article says “Trading in futures is falling as WTI swings in a $5 range, the narrowest in 19 months. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries pumped the most oil last month since October 2012, while the U.S. government says output will start falling from this month. Investors are watching a June 30 deadline for Iran and six other nations to reach a nuclear deal that could lift oil sanctions and further swell a global supply glut.’ The higher cost of extracting oil in the U. S. seems to be catching up with the market.

It continues ” Saudi Arabia, OPEC’s biggest member, is ready to produce more oil if demand rises, Oil Minister Ali-Al Naimi said June 18. It has 1.5 million to 2 million barrels a day of spare capacity, he said.” and further, Libya may double output to 800,000 barrels a day by next month, according to Mohamed Elharari, a Tripoli-based spokesman for the state-run National Oil Corp.” Moreover, Iran wants to pump 4 million barrels a day, up from 2.8 million.

And according to a financial news letter I get, both Royal Dutch Shell and Total (France) want to return to Iran as soon as matters can be cleared up. Elsewhere the same source (out of Israel) says Total is seeking the equivalent of up to $15B in Chinese financing to fund its expansion in Russia, despite U.S. and European sanctions imposed on the country. The company expects Russia to be the most important region for its oil and gas output by 2020, when it hopes for production of around 400K bbl/day. Last year Total produced 2.2 Mbbl/day out of world production 94 Mbbl/day.

OPEC’s principal interest is to continue with its market share, while U. S. producers want to maintain oil’s current price, or put it back to where it was when they borrowed so much money. Futures traders are withdrawing, because they are not sure what the signals mean. Drillers are loosing their nerve. The number of rigs searching for oil dropped by 4 to 631 in the week ended June 19, the lowest level since August 2010, Baker Hughes Inc. data show.

The second article reports “The debt that fueled the U.S. shale boom now threatens to be its undoing. Drillers are devoting more revenue than ever to interest payments.” It gives as an example one company that is spending almost as much in interest as a company twenty times its size.

The reason this is dangerous is that oil has fallen 43% in the last year. Bloomberg says, ” Interest payments are eating up more than 10 percent of revenue for 27 of the 62 drillers in the Bloomberg Intelligence North America Independent Exploration and Production Index, up from a dozen a year ago. Drillers’ debt ballooned to $235 billion at the end of the first quarter, a 16 percent increase in the past year, even as revenue shrank.”

More from this Bloomberg article: “The question is, how long do they have that they can get away with this,” said Thomas Watters, an oil and gas credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s in New York. The companies with the lowest credit ratings “are in survival mode,” he said.

The problem for shale drillers is that they’ve consistently spent money faster than they’ve made it, even when oil was $100 a barrel. The companies in the Bloomberg index spent $4.15 for every dollar earned selling oil and gas in the first quarter, up from $2.25 a year earlier, while pushing U.S. oil production to the highest in more than 30 years. (End of quote.)

Some 45 of the 62 companies are rated “junk bond” by Standard and Poor. The $20 billion in bonds of the 62 are trading as distressed bond yielding more tha 10% above U. S. Treasury bonds. the most conservative bonds available. S&P has lowered the investment ratings of 105 exploration companies. World-wide oil and gas companies comprised one-third of the 36 corporate- debt defaults.

One bad example given in this article: Oklahoma City-based SandRidge issued $1.25 billion of second-lien debt this month at 8.75 percent interest, more than all but one of their existing bonds, records show. The company paid $24 million in fees and will add $109 million a year to interest payments, which are already eating up 29 percent of its revenue.

So far this is all about oil. What about gas? The net-short position on U.S. natural gas (that is the promises to deliver by speculators) decreased 23 percent. Nymex gas rose to $2.894 per million British thermal units. Baker Hughes gas drilling rig count in the Marcellus has fallen from 141 in 10/28/11 to 64 in 6/19/15.

Gas and oil are somewhat linked since the principal use for both at the present is to burn them for energy. Oil can be moved as liquid cheaply, and gas can not. Gas lines are the big boom at present. The Energy Information Administration says that about 4,600 miles of new interstate pipelines could be completed by 2018. That’s on top of the 6,800 miles of existing pipelines as of April, 2014. Compare the two numbers. Quite a bonanza for the executives in the agencies that move the money and the companies that build them. It is reflective of very high optimism – or is it simply “get mine now, to hell with what follows.”

Is optimism about substituting gas for coal justified? The U. S Energy Information Administration says 205.7 pounds of carbon dioxide is given off per million BTU’s produced. With natural gas it is 117.0 pounds of carbon dioxide per Million BTU’s. 57% as much.

What’s more, the conservative Deutsche Bank has just concluded that in 14 states of the US, solar power is now as inexpensive as that from coal and natural gas. And get this: by 2016– next year! — Deutsche Bank concludes that solar will be competitive with coal and natural gas in all but three or four states.

Must be a lot of clenched toes and queasy stomachs among the oil and gas gamblers.

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EPA Can Map Environmental Justice Communities – Can They Stop The Poisoning?

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Today we know how to identify Environmental Justice communities but what is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doing to relieve their community burdens? A new mapping tool created by the EPA, called EJSCREEN was recently released. This tool is great for academia or researchers but how does it help environmentally impacted communities? Why is generating information, that community already know because they are living with the pollution and associated diseases daily, more important than helping them?

CHEJ, for example, has worked for over thirty years with Save Our County in East Liverpool, Ohio This community in the 1990’s was defined by EPA as an Environmental Justice community, through their evaluation process which is the same as the mapping categories. Yet nothing has changed as a result of this definition.

  • The hazardous waste incinerator, WTI, still operates and remains for most of the time in violation of air and other standards.
  • Other industries continue to pollute with little enforcement.
  • An elementary school was closed due to the air emissions from the WTI Incinerator stack which is almost level to the school windows (incinerator is in the valley) stack peeked over the embankment. The City was force to shoulder the costs of relocating students and staff.
  • In the past several years new wells were drilled for natural gas extraction and infrastructure.
  • The community has the highest number of cancers in their county than other similar counties in the state.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed in East Liverpool, Ohio as a result of being defined an environmental justice community.

  • No decision to stop new polluting industries from setting up shop.
  • No action on denying permits, when they have been a significant repeat violator of the laws and regulation, when up for renewal permit.
  • No fee data and information when requested under the freedom of information requests.
  • No additional public comment meetings for new or existing permits. Absolute nothing changed in East Liverpool, OH and so many other communities.

    Thank you EPA for providing a tool for academics, for communities to say yes our community qualifies (although they already knew) and for real estate and banking institutions to provide information that will make it more difficult for families in Environmental Justice communities to secure a home improvement loan or sell their property.

    Now can you spend some time and money on reducing the pollution burdens and assisting with the medical professionals for disease related injuries.

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    Near a Fracking Center, Drinking Water Has More Chemicals and Carcinogens

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    “Drinking water wells in Texas counties that are home to intensive hydraulic fracturing operations contain elevated levels of more than two dozen metals and chemicals, including carcinogens, according to a new study in Environmental Science & Technology.”

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    Fracking In California Under Spotlight As Some Local Municipalities Issue Bans

    EPA Finds Some Cases Of Water Contamination Related To Fracking, But Says It’s Not Widespread

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    WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday released a much-anticipated study of whether hydraulic fracturing contaminates drinking water supplies, concluding that while there have been some cases of contamination, the issue is not widespread.

    Read more.

    Fracking for Environmental Remediation

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    Most of us are familiar with hydraulic fracturing as a technique used for oil and natural gas drilling. The process uses a slurry of chemicals and sand to prop open rock fissures, allowing the release of fossil fuels. However, natural gas and oil are not the only constituents trapped in rock layers; these layers can also serve as a reservoir for contaminants. At Superfund sites and other polluted areas, the process of remediation, or cleanup, can be extended and expensive. Hydraulic fracturing has been utilized as an environmental cleanup method, where the same process is used to release trapped contaminants in rock layers. The EPA provides information on the process at

    http://cluin.org/techfocus/default.focus/sec/Environmental_Fracturing/cat/Overview/

    In fracking for environmental remediation just as in fracking for oil and gas drilling, a slurry of chemicals is pumped into the ground, typically containing a combination of water, sand to prop open fissures, detergent, and nutrients/amendments which stimulate the process of chemical breakdown. According to the EPA, “Environmental fracturing can be used to make primary treatment technologies…more efficient.” By enhancing the access of chemicals for pollution treatment to the rock layers where the pollutants are trapped, fracking has the possibility to decrease treatment times at polluted sites.

    Fracking for fossil fuel extraction – specifically, horizontal drilling which uses a very large volume of chemicals- has been faulted for a number of high-profile instances of water contamination. When the process fails, the stakes are high for communities whose water supplies are in proximity to fracking wells. Through environmental hydraulic fracturing is intended to clean up already-polluted sites, the parallels between this process and fracking for natural gas are difficult to ignore. Is it possible for the process to further spread contamination in instances that pipelines or wells fail? The research is slim on this topic so far, but we do know that even with the best of intentions, remediation processes do not always go as planned. In my next post, I’ll explore the potential for unintended consequences from remediation.

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    Change law on reporting of chemicals

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    As Ohio’s legislature grinds through another budget cycle, I’d like to note a small opportunity the budget affords for much-needed change. Buried in the 2,783-page document is a proposal to allow the Department of Natural Resources to accept information about hazardous chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing, instead of that information going to the state and local emergency planners and first responders who receive the same information from all other chemical-intensive industries.

    Actually, state law already allows this, but the budget bill seeks to further empower ODNR to control who gets that information, when and how. As the program director for the Stark County Local Emergency Planning Committee and a retired firefighter, I understand very well the need for hazardous chemicals to be known before a spill or other accident occurs. I also know from conversations with peers from other counties that not all oil and gas drillers are reporting as they should, within 90 days of new chemicals arriving on site.

    Arguably, since fracking chemicals can arrive, be used, then removed from a well pad in as little as a week, the 90-day reporting window is excessive with respect to oil and gas operations. Legislators should use the opportunity afforded by the budget to correct Ohio law, bringing the oil and gas industry under the same reporting regime as everyone else.

    Then all interested parties, including ODNR, can update laws governing chemical reporting by everyone to better reflect reality in Ohio today.

    DON McDONALD

    Canton

    http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/editorials/2015/05/31/1-change-law-on-reporting-of-chemicals.html