Blog Archive

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Fracking news for June 22, 2014, by rjs

First, a couple on Ohio vis a vis renewable energy....

Ohio Changes Name to Kochio (rhymes with “Tokyo”) -- Thereby making it official:  the state that is round on both ends and Hi in the middle is little more than a Koch Sock Puppet. Run by a bunch of fracketeeers. Here are some prime quotes, after Gov. Kasich signed a law that gutted the state’s commitment to energy efficiency and renewables:  Before the signing the law, Gov. Kasich and his proxies had hailed the state’s clean energy initiatives.  “Ohio ranks No. 1 in the nation for renewable and advanced energy, bringing in more renewable energy facilities than any other state,” according to Dick Munson, with the Environmental Defense FraudsReally? No. 1? Ohio by no means “ranks No. 1 in the nation for renewable energy.” Not even fracking close.  In fact it ranks 38th – as this report shows.  So much for the veracity of the Environmental Defense Frauds. “Ohio is committed to leading the world to energy independence with advanced energy innovation, groundbreaking manufacturing processes and low-cost deployment of these assets to fulfill current and future demand for alternative energy solutions,”JobsOhio formerly stated.  What?  This is Koch Doublespeak – “leading the world” by advancing to the rear, quoting the Governor’s PR department. 

Why Ohio’s Budget Update Will Further Crush Renewable Energy  -- Fresh off signing the nation’s first renewable energy freeze, Ohio Gov. John Kasich approved a biennial budget update that could further damage the state’s ability to harness electricity alternatives.  Amid various tax cuts, House Bill 483 contains language requiring wind turbines to be about 1,300 feet from a property line as opposed to previous regulations that required a turbine to be the same amount from a home. Environmental and clean energy advocates say Kasich’s refusal to veto that language from the bill could be the final blow that crushes the state’s renewable energy sector.  “Legislators rammed through restrictive rules without due process, and millions of dollars already invested based on the previous set of rules may now be lost without any public debate. This will force clean energy developers and manufacturers to move to neighboring states with similar resources and friendlier business climates.”  Kiernan said the passage kills about $2.5 billion in wind energy plans, including jobs, leases, payments to local governments, and factory orders. He charges that the section damaging wind energy was added to the budget bill after public debate. According to AWEA, Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables North America, wrote a letter to Kasich stating that the change would make wind energy “commercially unviable.”

then a chart of world natural gas prices which I want to highlight this week because the free trade agreement with 14 pacific rim countries known as the Trans Pacific Partnership is back in the news, like this: Skeptics Aside, Obama Steams Toward Pacific Deal…we’ve discussed this before; if Obama gets fast track authority on trade, this agreement can be passed in nearly complete secrecy and without debate….among other provisions, it would mandate gas exports to the signatories, including Japan, and allow multinational corporations to sue states and localities whose environmental laws interfere with their right to profit, with adjudication not in our courts, but before an international tribunal dominated by those same multinational corporations…as you can see, gas prices in Asia and S America are roughly 4 times our domestic prices; should the export flood gates be opened, our domestic gas prices will quickly rise to approach the global price, and fracking for gas in areas of Ohio where it’s now unprofitable would become likely…

there's an also article on LNG exports later in this batch, specifically on how one can get filthy rich from the coming boom in gas exports to Europe..

EPA’s Methane Greenwash -- The EPA could regulate methane as a greenhouse gas – if it wanted to. It regulates CO2 as a greenhouse gas and that regulatory authority has been upheld by the US Supreme Court. (Scalia dissented on behalf of the frackers and Clarence “I concur” Thomas went “ugh.”)   The frackers say that methane emissions are not a problem. The new head of the Dept. of Energy, Ernest Moniz, aka “Easy Money” got his job by proving gas wells don’t leak. If so, they shouldn’t have a problem with some regulations. Right? If the EPA does not regulate methane emissions, we will all get cooked by the frackers “best practices.”  Here is the NRDC’s and Sierra Club’s take on why the EPA should regulate methane as a potent greenhouse gas. Conspicuous by their absence from the report: The Environmental Defense Frauds. Imagine that.  Full report here. “Attached are comments that we submitted to EPA yesterday along with our colleagues at CATF, Sierra Club and Earthworks, regarding EPA’s technical white papers looking at methane and VOC emissions in the oil and gas sector. The thrust of the comments is that the white papers clearly support direct regulation of methane under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act based on the amount of methane pollution and the reasonable cost opportunities for abatement, and that there are good reasons to believe that the need is even more compelling than presented in the (EPA) papers.  While the loads of technical work may be evident on the face of the comments, what may be less obvious is the coming together of our groups to submit a single set of joint comments, which was a significant feat in itself. Big thanks to our team, in particular Briana (who stayed up late to help see these across the line) and Kate S. (who provided valuable help on framing while covering two big filings of her own), as well as Vignesh and Doniger.

Princeton Study: Up to 900,000 Abandoned Oil and Gas Wells Pollute Pennsylvania’s Air -- Pennsylvania already has a fracking problem groups struggle to inspire politicians to address. Now, a Princeton University study shows that hundreds of thousands of abandoned oil wells are adding to the state’s pollution. CO2, Methane, and Brine Leakage through Subsurface Pathways: Exploring Modeling, Measurement and Policy Options is a first-of-its-kind study from Mary Klang that describes how abandoned oil wells serve as leakage pathways for carbon dioxide, methane, brine and more. Based on records, Kang estimates that between 280,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells account for 4-13% of the state’s methane emissions. Three of the 19 wells measured by the team are considered high emitters. Leakage was found in both plugged and unplugged wells.“Existing well abandonment regulations in Pennsylvania do not appear to be effective in controlling methane emissions from AOG [abandoned oil and gas] wells.”

Up To A Million Abandoned Wells In Pennsylvania Spew Heat-Trapping Methane -- Another week, another bombshell study supporting the conclusion that natural gas has no net climate benefit on any timescale that matters to humanity.  This time it’s a Princeton thesis, which finds “Methane emissions from abandoned oil and gas [AOG] wells appear to be a significant source of methane emissions to the atmosphere.” Natural gas is mostly methane (CH4), a super-potent greenhouse gas, which traps 86 times as much heat as CO2 over a 20-year period. So even small leaks in the natural gas production and delivery system can have a large climate impact — enough to gut the entire benefit of switching from coal-fired power to gas. Study after study, however, finds that the leaks are anything but small. The research involved “first-of-a-kind direct measurements of methane fluxes” from 19 AOG wells in Pennsylvania. Doctoral candidate Mary Kang found methane leaks in every single one of the wells — even the ones that were supposedly plugged — and 3 of them were “super-emitters.”  Why do leaky abandoned wells matter? Because there are so damn many of them:  "With currently available data, we estimate that there are between 280,000 and 970,000 AOG wells in Pennsylvania, which translates to 4 to 13% of total estimated state-wide anthropogenic methane emissions in Pennsylvania.”  And there are hundreds of thousands if not millions more around the country.

Fracked Gas to Surpass Coal In Global Warming By 2020 -  A Princeton University study has found that leaks from abandoned oil and gas well bores pose not only a risk to groundwater, but represent a growing threat to the climate. Between 200,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells in the state of Pennsylvania likely account for 4-7% of estimated man-made methane emissions in that jurisdiction, a source previously not accounted for, the study says.  Pennsylvania, much like Alberta in Canada, is the oldest oil and gas producer in the United States and the scene of intense environmental controversy due to the impact of hydraulic fracturing on its well-punctured landscape. By 2012, Saskatchewan, Canada’s second-highest oil producer, had planted more than 87,000 oil and gas wells on the landscape. About 58,000 remain active, but 24,000 wells weren’t pumping hydrocarbons. Of the 24,000 non-producing wells, 9,700 have been dead for five or more years. According to a recent University of Waterloo study, about 20% of the province’s oil and gas wells, active and abandoned, are leaking methane into soils, groundwater or the atmosphere. But no one knows in what amounts. The problem is particularly acute in the Lloydminster region. The province’s auditor general reported in 2012 that “environmental cleanup costs of existing oil and gas wells and their associated facilities” total nearly $4 billion.

Fracking Boom Threatens U.S. Water Supplies - Since the onset of the fracking boom almost a decade ago, every state in the US has been examining its geological resources in the hope of finding oil or gas it can access through this extraction method. Almost half the states are now producing at least some shale gas, with a few—Texas, Pennsylvania, California, Colorado, North Dakota—sitting on massive deposits. Nearly half a million wells in the US were producing shale gas in 2012. But while many countries now seek to bolster their economies by following the American lead in exploiting this controversial new source of fossil fuels, campaigners in the US are warning of serious collateral damage to the environment: the depletion and contamination of vital water supplies. The process of fracking, short for “hydraulic fracturing”, involves injecting water, sand and chemicals down vertical wells and along horizontal shafts—which can be several miles long—to open up small pores in the rock. This releases the methane for capture. Fracking a well just once uses upwards of 5 million gallons of water, and each well can be fracked 18 times or more. Texas alone used an estimated 25 billion gallons of water for fracking in 2012, according to a recent report by Ceres, a not-for-profit group advising investors on climate change. Where surface water is lacking, as in Texas, underground aquifers are being emptied at record rates. And while fracking’s water use still trails behind personal and agricultural uses, demand is accelerating even while much of the US is suffering extreme drought, which is probably caused or worsened by climate change exacerbated, ironically, by burning fossil fuels. There is no overarching policy regulating how the industry uses water. In the Energy Policy Act of 2005, a provision known as the “Halliburton loophole” exempts oil and gas operations from almost all federal air and water regulations, leaving protection of these basic life necessities to the states.

Records show inspection lapse in oil and gas wells -— Federal officials in charge of overseeing the drilling of new oil wells on public land in California let 3 years pass without inspecting some high-priority sites, according to public records. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management records say 31 of 99 high-priority wells drilled from fiscal year 2009 to 2012 in the state's oil-rich Central Valley were not inspected during that period, the most recently available records provided by the bureau. Each of the uninspected wells is located in Kern County. A BLM official in Sacramento disputes the number of uninspected wells, saying that bookkeeping errors have misrepresented the problem. "The BLM takes its responsibilities seriously and is continuing to improve our internal recording processes and our ability to inspect all high priority drilling operations to ensure they are done safely and responsibly," said spokeswoman Dana Wilson in an email to The Associated Press. Wilson had previously said tight budgets prevented her agency from being more thorough, noting that officials can't charge industry fees to perform inspections. Nationally, the BLM stands by the data provided to the AP that showed a snapshot of three years' worth of inspections. The agency oversees about 100,000 oil and gas wells on public lands, about 3,500 of which received the high-priority designation because they're located near national forests, fragile watersheds or are otherwise identified as higher pollution risks. About 40% of high-priority wells hadn't been inspected, showing a department struggling to keep pace with America's drilling boom over the past decade. The records indicate 13 states, including California, have high-priority wells that were uninspected.

Four in 10 higher-risk oil and gas wells in U.S. aren’t inspected by feds - — Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with the U.S. drilling boom, according to an Associated Press review that shows wide state-to-state disparities in safety checks. Roughly half or more of the wells on federal and Indian lands were not checked in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, despite potential harm that has led to efforts in some communities to ban new drilling. In New Castle, a tiny community in the Colorado River valley, homeowners expressed chagrin at the large number of uninspected wells, many on federal land, that dot the steep hillsides and rocky landscape. Like elsewhere in the West, water is a precious commodity in this Colorado town, and some residents worry about the potential health hazards of any leaks from wells and drilling. “Nobody wants to live by an oil rig,” Joann Jaramillo, 54, said.  Even if the wells were inspected, she questioned whether that would ensure their safety. She said many view the oil and gas industry as self-policing and non-transparent. “Who are they going to report to?” she asked. Government data obtained by the AP points to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as so overwhelmed by a boom in the drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that it has been unable to keep up with inspections of some of the highest-priority wells. The agency designates wells as high priority based on a greater need to protect against possible water contamination and other environmental and safety issues. Factors include whether the well is near a high-pressure formation and whether the drill operator has a clear track record of service.

Montana oil and gas wells go without inspection -  More than two dozen newly drilled oil and gas wells with a high pollution risk went uninspected on federal and tribal lands in Montana during a recent three-year period, according to an Associated Press review. U.S. Bureau of Land Management data examined by The Associated Press show that 25 out of 144 wells in high-priority areas were not inspected between fiscal year 2009 and 2012. That's equivalent to about 1 in 6 wells that weren't assessed. Nationwide, about 40% of wells went uninspected during that time period, a finding that underscores the government's struggle to keep pace with America's drilling boom. The BLM designates high-priority wells based on a greater need to protect against possible water contamination and other environmental safety issues. Factors also include whether a well is located near a high-pressure formation, or whether the drill operator lacks a clear track record. Eleven of the uninspected, high-priority wells in Montana were on tribal land and 14 were on federal land. BLM officials acknowledge they've had trouble keeping up with inspections and promised to make changes including prioritizing which wells pose the most risk of causing harm if something were to go wrong.

Analysis: Ohio gas, oil wells more at risk for pollution - The Medina County Gazette: Ohio is among 19 states with an oil or gas well recently drilled on public lands that was identified by the federal government as having a higher risk of pollution.Ohio has one higher risk gas well, in Bazetta Township in Trumbull County. It was inspected as required by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. That’s according to data obtained by The Associated Press of drilling inspections for the fiscal years 2009 to 2012. Northeast Ohio’s Trumbull County is home to the Shenango Wildlife Area. In all, the data show that four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise with higher pollution risks escape federal inspection. The Ohio well has been in production since 2010, and the owner is M&M Royalty Ltd. Four in 10 new oil and gas wells near national forests and fragile watersheds or otherwise identified as higher pollution risks escape federal inspection, unchecked by an agency struggling to keep pace with America’s drilling boom, according to the Associated Press review, which shows wide state-by-state disparities in safety checks.

More Crashes and Arrests Report Examines Social Costs of Fracking in Ohio - The rapid growth of the oil and gas industry is changing the faces of many of Ohio's small towns. A new analysis finds a correlation between certain public safety standards and permits to frack for natural gas in counties over the Utica shale formation.The report from FracTracker looked at road safety and crime rates in the 14 counties with the most Utica permits issued between 2009 and 2014. According to report author Ted Auch, they found the rates changed faster in those counties than in the rest of the state. "Crashes and commercial vehicle enforcement are increasing by about 6.9% and 8.9% per year across these counties," Auch said. "At the state level they're increasing by 6 and 2.8% respectively." The report also found some counties experiencing significantly higher crime rates, including more felony charges, as well as resisting-arrest, weapons and suspended-license violations. The report used data provided by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, with 2009 as a starting point, since the first Utica permit was issued in September of 2010.  Auch said increases in drug violations are likely a byproduct of changes in culture. But other arrest categories and crashes are directly related to the industry and its transient workforce.

New Ohio Drilling Policy May Be Good for Oil & Gas, Insurance Industries - Insurance Journal - Ohio in mid-April 2014 enacted stricter regulations for oil and gas drilling near faults or areas of past seismic activity, a move that some, including insurers, may view as a step in the right direction. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources said the new regulations, which require the installation of seismic monitors for drilling that occurs within three miles of a known fault or area of seismic activity greater than a 2.0 magnitude, apply to new drilling permits issued by ODNR. Ohio regulators and those in many other states in which previously inaccessible oil and gas reservoirs are being tapped as a result of technological advancements in the technique of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are increasingly concerned about the connection between drilling activity and seismic events. A 600% jump in earthquakes in the central United States in this century has governmental entities taking notice, said Swiss Re Vice President Michael Diggin. “The U.S. Geological Survey is studying whether those quakes are caused by the sudden, high pressure injection of millions of gallons of wastewater miles below the surface,” Diggin said during an Advisen/Swiss Re-sponsored webinar on hydraulic fracturing. The new regulations in Ohio, which has seen an uptick in drilling activity in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, make sense for regulators, oil and gas operators, and insurers, according to Bolz, a geologist who worked in the oil and gas industry before he entered the insurance business.

Newly Discovered Documents Reveal Kasich Misled Ohioans on Fracking Public Lands - Newly discovered documents released today by Food & Water Watch reveal that the Kasich Administration continued to refine plans that would promote fracking on state lands for months after the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) claims the plans were abandoned. The latest revelations in the “Frackgate” scandal raise serious questions about whether the fracking promotion plan was actually implemented. “Simply put, the Kasich Administration has misled the public about how long and how deeply it planned to promote fracking on state lands,” said Alison Auciello, Ohio organizer for Food & Water Watch and an Ohio native.“Governor Kasich must immediately come clean on the true historical timeline and current status of his administration’s discussions about fracking on state lands. Additionally, the attorney general’s office must thoroughly investigate what appear to be glaring inconsistencies and conflicts of interest in this administration’s dealings on fracking in Ohio.”  As reported on EcoWatch, in February the Ohio Chapter of the Sierra Club and Progress Ohio revealed a draft of the communications plan from Aug. 20, 2012, as well as an email including top officials in the Kasich Administration that had been circulated in an effort to set up a meeting to discuss the strategy. Since the release of the documents the Kasich Administration and the ODNR have been publicly denying that the plan was ever implemented.

Group wants details of Kasich plan to market state lands for fracking - Aurora Advocate, Portage County, OH: An advocacy group continues to push for more details of a plan to allow horizontal drilling for oil and gas on state-owned lands that was developed by Gov. John Kasich’s administration and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The plan ultimately was shelved, and the governor says he no longer supports the idea. But Alison Auciello, Ohio Organizer for Food & Water Watch, said June 19 that emails and other documents show the administration pursued the plan longer than it initially indicated. And she questions whether parts of the strategy were implemented. “We feel that it’s pretty clear that the administration and the Department of Natural Resources has misled us about how far and about how deeply it planned to go on with this communications plan to promote fracking,” Auciello said. “It shows a lot of inconsistencies in what the administration is saying about the plan and some conflicts of interest. So we’re asking for the attorney general to conduct a full investigation into how far this plan actually went.” The ODNR plan came to light earlier this year as a result of a public records request from the liberal advocacy group ProgressOhio, environmentalists and newspaper reporters.A section of the plan titled, “Communication Problem to Solve,” states that “an initiative to proactively open state park and forest land to horizontal drilling/hydraulic fracturing will be met with zealous resistance by environmental activist opponents, who are skilled propagandists.”

Anti-fracking group plans lawsuit after well appeal gets rejected by state - A local anti-fracking group is vowing to continue its struggle against a Torch area injection well in the civil court system after an appeal was denied Thursday by the state Oil and Gas Commission. The Athens County Fracking Action Network filed an appeal of what's known as the K&H2 well in eastern Athens County earlier this year, with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources disputing the standing of the group to make such an appeal. The well in question is one of two injection wells owned by K&H Partners of West Virginia at the site. On Thursday, the Oil and Gas Commission granted the ODNR's motion to dismiss the appeal, siding with the ODNR and K&H in arguing that the commission did not have the authority to consider the appeal. The ODNR has been designated by state law as Ohio's sole oil and gas regulatory authority.

Watch Late Farmer Terry Greenwood Tell Josh Fox About the Fracking Site That Killed His Cattle --When filmmaker Josh Fox visited Pennsylvania farmer Terry Greenwood during what would be his last days on Earth, Greenwood’s only request was for the Gasland director to “tell my story.” “So what does that mean? Does it mean tell the story of how gas companies barged onto his land,” Fox asked in his a tribute to Greenwood for the Gasland blog. “Does it mean speak about the water contamination they suffered, the insult added to injury when [the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection] ignored his complaints, the death of the cattle, his own death to cancer?” Fox decided that was a big part of the story, along with exposing the generosity, smile and knack for truth-telling that Greenwood possessed. That’s why Fox decided to upload a previously unreleased video interview on Greenwood’s property from four or five years ago. In it, Greenwood describes the lies and bullying he received from the owners of a nearby fracking site and the contamination his animals received as a result.
Former Pennsylvania Health Employees Say Bosses Enforced Silence on Shale Drilling - A shocking investigative report revealed Thursday that Pennsylvania state health employees may have compounded the danger of Marcellus Shale drilling by systematically refusing to respond to residents’ concerns about it. A former Department of Health employee said she was told not to return phone calls from residents who expressed concerns about natural gas drilling, NPR reported in its State Impact series. “We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them,” said Tammi Stuck, who worked as a Fayette County community health nurse for nearly four decades. Another department retiree, Marshall P. Deasy III, confirmed Stuck’s accusation. He said that drilling was the only public health issue he remembers officials enforcing silence on during his 20 years with the department. Stuck said she was given a list three years ago of words that, if uttered by residents, should be grounds for ending a conversation or handing it off to a supervisor. “There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten,” Stuck said. “There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list.  "If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”

Regulators Gagged in Fracksylvania  - Two retirees from the Pennsylvania Department of Health say its employees were silenced on the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling.  One veteran employee says she was instructed not to return phone calls from residents who expressed health concerns about natural gas development. “We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them,” said Tammi Stuck, who worked as a community health nurse in Fayette County for nearly 36 years.Another retired employee, Marshall P. Deasy, III, confirmed that. Deasy, a former program specialist with the Bureau of Epidemiology, said the department also began requiring field staff to get permission to attend any meetings outside the department. This happened, he said, after an agency consultant made comments about drilling at a community meeting.  In the more than 20 years he worked for the department, Deasy said, “community health wasn’t told to be silent on any other topic that I can think of.” Public health advocates have expressed concern that Pennsylvania has not funded research to examine the potential health impacts of the shale boom.  Doctors have said that some people who live near natural gas development sites – including well pads and compressor stations – have suffered from skin rashes, nausea, nosebleeds and other ailments. Some residents believe their ill health is linked to drilling, but doctors say they simply don’t have the data or research – from the state or other sources – to confirm that.

Pennsylvania Instructed Its Employees To Ignore Residents Sickened By Drilling -- The Pennsylvania Department of Health instructed its employees never to talk to residents who complained of negative health effects from fracking, StateImpact Pennsylvania reported Thursday. Two retired employees of the department detailed restrictions on attending meetings, lists of topics they could not discuss, and a general departmental hostility to the idea of health problems linked to shale gas drilling. The state’s governor, Tom Corbett, declined to comment for StateImpact Pennsylvania’s story. Pennsylvania has had more than 6,000 hydraulic fracturing wells drilled within the last six years, and zero state studies on their health impacts. In Pennsylvania, and near fracking operations across the country, people have won settlements from fossil fuel companies after being sickened. In many cases the drilling company imposes a gag order to prevent sickened people from spreading the word about what caused their illness and building the case that fracking has negative health effects.  In 2011 Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission recommended a registry to collect health data from people living near fracking operations. Three years later, it still doesn’t exist. Across the country in Colorado, legislators tried to commission a study on the health effects of living near drilling, but fossil fuel advocates ensured its demise. Doctors want more data on health effects of fracking, but the interests of the drillers usually win out.

Frick & Frack Caught Dumping Frack Filth --The name of the waste hauler is “Frick & Frack Transport” – I am not making this up.  Note that the authorities correctly identify why this illegal dumping happens so often – the waste haulers are paid by the load, not by the hour, so they have an incentive to simply make the flowback disappear, avoid the tipping fees and go get another load. Repeat. And that is exactly what they do. The trucker, Skyler Fowler Harris, 34, has been charged with “Improper Disposal of Waste Material,” a Class C Felony.  Throntveit said Harris was driving for Frick & Frack Transport, LLC, a Medicine Lake, Mont., trucking company, subcontracted to BOH Trucking, a North Dakota firm, to haul oilfield wastes. A local resident reported the incident. The individual drove by the truck, stuck in mud by the slough, said Throntveit, and thought something “just didn’t look right.” The  individual  noticed a hose coming off the tanker and going into the ditch, which connected to the slough. When Deputy Zach Schroeder arrived on the scene, he witnessed the hose and found Harris with the truck. The amount of frackwater dumped is unknown at this point. Schroeder alleges Harris falsified his log book. His truck  ticket said he was hauling 60 barrels of frackwater. The digital meter on the truck said 72 barrels. This would amount to between 2,500 and more than 3,000 gallons of frackwater potentially impacting the slough. The cleanup is ongoing, Schroeder said. Harris will be charged $200 to $300 for county road maintenance where he got stuck, plus the cost of the clean-up of the spill, Schroeder said.

Texas gas town ready to revolt against fracking (AP) — Natural gas money has been good to this Texas city: It has new parks, a new golf course and miles of grassy soccer fields. The business district is getting a makeover, and the airport is bustling, too. For more than a decade, Denton has drawn its lifeblood from the huge gas reserves that lie beneath its streets. The gas fields have produced a billion dollars in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts. But this former farming center north of Dallas is considering a revolt. Unlike other communities that have embraced the lucrative drilling boom made possible by hydraulic fracturing, leaders here have temporarily halted all fracking as they consider an ordinance that could make theirs the first city in the state to permanently ban the practice. "I think the people of Denton really want to keep the livability of the town," said Taylor Schrang, a 28-year-old personal trainer." And fracking is pretty obtrusive." If the city council rejects the ban, it will go to voters in November.

Wyoming Residents Frustrated With State’s Fracking-Funded Water Contamination Investigation - Wyoming environmental officials continue investigating water wells and whether fracking is the source of water contamination in the tiny town of Pavillion, but some groups in the area are concerned about the credibility of that investigation. That’s because it’s being funded by Encana, the oil and gas firm those groups believe is responsible for adding methane, hydrocarbons, lead and copper into the local water supply. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency handed the investigation over to the state a year ago, and things have been downhill ever since, according to groups like Earthworks and Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens. State regulators held a meeting late last week that was meant to provide an update to residents. Instead, it reinforced their lack of confidence in the process.  Encana provided a $1.5-million grant to the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation to be used for the investigation, Jeff Wojahn, president of the company said a year ago. Now, the state says it will allow Encana to provide feedback on data regarding wellbore integrity, surface pits, domestic water wells and a project to install cisterns project before the public views that data, reported.

Earthquake Insurance Becomes Boom Industry in Oklahoma -- Just a few years ago earthquake insurance wasn’t something many thought much about in Oklahoma. That’s changed with the outbreak of tremors that has rattled the state in recent years, which many blame on increased oil and gas drilling activity.  “Every time there’s a decent size earthquake there’s a spike in interest,” said Matthew Ramirez, an agent for Farmer’s Insurance in Edmond, which has been affected by many of the recent quakes. So far in 2014, Oklahoma has seen 200 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or stronger. Standard homeowner policies generally don’t cover damage caused directly by earthquakes (to a building’s foundation, for instance), though they usually do cover the damage that earthquakes can cause, such as burst pipes or fire. Before Nov. 2011 Ramirez insured “three or four homes” for earthquake coverage, “including mine,” he said. On Nov. 6, that all changed. A magnitude 5.6 earthquake—the largest ever recorded in Oklahoma—destroyed 14 homes and injured two people. “In the days that followed, we were flooded with earthquake calls, about 20 per day for 2 weeks,”   Today, he says, more than 40% of the homes he insures are covered for earthquake damage. Statewide, according to the Insurance Information Institute, the number of homes in the state with earthquake policies has more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, to 12,407. According to Amberlee Darold, a seismologist with the Oklahoma Geological Survey, it’s no longer a matter of debate that hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells, or “fracking,” causes earthquakes. “It’s known that fracking can cause earthquakes and has caused earthquakes,” she said. Whether or not the injection of fracking wastewater into old wells for storage leads to earthquakes is a matter still up for debate, she said, but “there’s no question with fracking.”

Fracking Revolving Door Spins Out of Control -  The Fracking Revolving Door spins out of control – and she was responsible for “Climate Change” ?  In which fracking direction ? Warmer or cooler ? Heather Zichal, former Obama White House Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, may soon walk out of the government-industry revolving door to become a member of the board of directors for fracked gas exports giant Cheniere, who nominated her to serve on the board. The announcement, made through Cheniere’s U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Form 8-K and its Schedule 14A, comes just as a major class-action lawsuit was filed against the board of the company by stockholders. In reaction to the lawsuit, Cheniere has delayed its annual meeting.  At that meeting, the company’s stockholders will vote on the Zichal nomination. The class-action lawsuit was filed by plaintiff and stockholder James B. Jones, who alleges the board gave stock awards to CEO Charif Souki in defiance of both a stockholders’ vote and the company’s by-laws. Souki — a central character in Gregory Zuckerman‘s book “The Frackers“ — became the highest paid CEO in the U.S. as a result of the maneuver, raking in $142 million in 2013, $133 million of which came from stock awards. Zichal was nominated to join Cheniere’s audit committee of the board, and will be paid $180,000 per year for the gig if elected.

Govt opens Maui's dolphin area for oil drilling -  The Government has opened up more than 3,000 square kilometres of a marine mammal sanctuary for oil and gas drilling, home to the critically endangered Maui's dolphin. It comes less than a week after the International Whaling Commission urged our Government to do more to save the species. The Maui's dolphin is the world's rarest. It is estimated there are only 55 left. "I think primarily once you go from exploration right through to production, you're not jeopardising the wildlife," says Minister of Energy and Resources Mr Bridges. In April, the Government signed off a block offer – the biggest area ever of sea and land for oil and gas exploration. Now official documents obtained by the Green Party reveal the Department of Conservation pointed out that this is the home of the Maui's dolphin, known as the West Coast North Island Marine Mammal Sanctuary. The area the Government has opened up for potential drilling overlaps 3,000 square kilometres into the sanctuary, including large areas off the Taranaki coast.

Buru to gas frack without EPA assessment - THE West Australian government has decided to allow Buru Energy to frack for gas in the Kimberley region without an Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) assessment. THE junior explorer plans to test tight gas flows using hydraulic fracturing stimulation at four existing wells along its Laurel Formation prospect in the second half of 2014. The EPA told the company in January that the proposal raised several environmental issues but it had decided against subjecting it to an impact assessment process. "The EPA considers that this small scale, `proof of concept' exploration drilling proposal is unlikely to have a significant effect on the environment," it said. Potential impacts such as vegetation clearing and pollution of groundwater due to well failure could be monitored and mitigated by the Department of Mines and Petroleum and the Department of Water, the EPA said.

Public Outcry Intensifies to Stop Cove Point LNG Export Facility -- Monday marked the end of a contested 30-day public comment period on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) draft Environmental Assessment for the controversial $3.8 billion plan, proposed by Virginia-based Dominion Resources, to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) from Cove Point, MD. Dominion’s plan is to convert an existing import facility into an export facility and to pipe fracked gas from the Marcellus shale to southern Maryland, liquefy it and export it to be burned in Japan and India. FERC’s environmental assessment has been widely criticized for failing to address the project’s role in speeding fracking across Appalachia, worsening the climate crisis and threatening the safety of nearby residents in Calvert County with potential explosion and fire catastrophes. The facility, located next to a residential community, is only three miles from a nuclear power plant and 50 miles from Washington, D.C. More than 150,000 comments flooded FERC, arguing that it is clear that without analyzing the foreseeable cumulative impacts this project would have on the environment throughout the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay watershed, FERC’s determination of a “Finding of No Significant Impact” is arbitrary and capricious and violates the National Environmental Policy Act.

LNG: The Long, Strategic Play for Europe: Interview with Robert Bensh -- Liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe isn’t a get-rich-quick scenario for the impatient investor: It’s a long, strategic play for the sophisticated investor who can handle no small amount of politics and geopolitics along the way. When it comes to Europe, Russia’s strategy to divide and conquer has worked so far, but Gazprom is a fragile giant that will eventually feel the pressure of LNG.  Robert Bensh is an LNG and energy security expert who has over 13 years of experience with leading oil and gas companies in Ukraine. He has been involved in various roles in finance, capital markets, mergers and acquisitions and government for the past 25 years. Mr. Bensh is the Managing Director and partner with Pelicourt LLC, a private equity firm focused on energy and natural resources in Ukraine.   In an exclusive interview with, Bensh tells us: 
•    Why the smart LNG play is a long-term one
•    How LNG fits into the European energy picture
•    Why LNG will eventually pressure Russia in Europe
•    Why Gazprom is but a fragile giant
•    How Russia combines gas and political influence in Eastern Europe
•    How the European Union is easy to divide and conquer
•    Why the Ukraine crisis has brought attention to the South Stream pipeline
•    Why Bulgaria is the new front line
•    How Lithuania succeeded in negotiating down Gazprom
•    What Moscow’s Crimea annexation really achieved
•    Why it’s game over for Gazprom prices when Turkey steps in

NATO claims Moscow funding anti-fracking groups - Russian intelligence agencies are covertly funding and working with European environmental groups to campaign against fracking and maintain EU dependence on Russian gas, the head of NATO has claimed. Answering questions after a speech in London, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO secretary-general, said improving European energy security was of the “utmost importance” and accused Moscow of “blackmail” in its dealings with Europe. “I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas,” Mr Rasmussen, former Danish prime minister, told an audience at Chatham House, the international affairs think-tank. His remarks followed a wide-ranging speech on NATO’s mission and purpose after Russia’s takeover of the Crimea earlier this year, and an explosion of jihadist violence in the Middle East. Mr Rasmussen did not detail the nature of his suspicions about Russian involvement with environmental groups. The 28-nation EU bloc depends on Russia for about a third of its oil and gas needs but has significant shale gas reserves that could permanently curb its high dependence on imports.  A NATO official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Financial Times that the alliance believed Russia was engaged in “a campaign of disinformation on many issues, including energy.”

The Real Reason Shell Halted Its Ukrainian Shale Operations: Royal Dutch Shell has blamed air strikes by the government in Kiev against its own citizens in southern Ukraine as the reason it decided to declare a halt to its shale oil projects in the troubled region. In reality, the truth may be closer to the fact that company is disappointed with the economic viability of what it once thought was a large shale deposit and is looking for a way out. After a series of dramatic statements and the signing of a $410-million letter of intent, a veil of uncertainty is being drawn around the myth of Ukrainian shale. Royal Dutch Shell CFO Simon Henry said in an interview with Bloomberg TV that the decision was prompted by the need to protect the company’s business interests in Ukraine.  By walking away, Shell will be able to “freeze” its involvement in the failed initiative while simultaneously minimizing the damage to its reputation. In accordance with the contract, Shell’s Ukrainian counterparts will, in the end, have to wait another 50 years to get their hands on that long-awaited “freedom gas.” Shell will also be able to demonstrate its concern for its employees who work in the region where a brutal civil war is on the verge of breaking out.

7,500 gallons of oil spills in Colorado river - A storage tank damaged by floodwaters dumped 7,500 gallons of crude oil into the Poudre River near Windsor in northern Colorado, slickening vegetation a quarter-mile downstream, but apparently not affecting any drinking water, state officials said Friday. The bank where the storage tank sat next to the river was undercut by the high spring river flows, causing it to drop and break a valve, Todd Hartman of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources said in a statement. The tank released all of its contents, which was 178 barrels of crude oil, or roughly 7,500 gallons, Hartman said. A second tank nearby appeared to be unaffected. “At this time we know of no drinking water intakes affected by this spill. The release is not ongoing,” he said. The tank’s operator, Noble Energy Inc., discovered the spillFriday and reported it to state officials. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission officials and state Department of Public Health and Environment water quality staff responded, along with a Noble Energy response team, Hartman said.

Louisiana Levee Board’s Suit Against 97 Oil and Gas Companies Survives Multiple Attempts to Kill It --A New Orleans, LA, area regional levee board voted yesterday to continue pursing an environmental damages lawsuit against 97 (yes, 97!) oil, gas and pipeline companies. The vote—which came almost two weeks after Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) signed off on a bill that strips the levee board of the power to file such lawsuits—was a boon to environmentalists and a bust for opponents, who had hoped the board would dismiss the lawsuit and end its contentious yearlong battle with the Louisiana governor. The drama began in July 2013 with a creatively crafted lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East Board (SLFPA-E). The suit asserts that 10,000 miles of oil and gas canals and pipelines have been cut through Louisiana coastal lands, and draws attention to the essential role these coastal regions play as a frontline defense for New Orleans communities against hurricane-induced flooding. “The oil and gas industry is responsible, conservatively, for 600 miles of coastal land loss,” said Steve Murchie, campaign director with the Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental group committed to protecting and restoring the natural resources of the Gulf Region. “We have a $50 billion coastal restoration project that will probably cost closer to $100 billion to get done.”

Meeting Logs: Obama White House Quietly Coddling Big Oil on “Bomb Trains” Regulations - Steve Horn - The first on-the-books meeting OIRA held in the second quarter of 2014 about the newly-proposed oil-by-rail safety regulations written by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) was with lobbyists, economists and attorneys representing both the American Petroleum Institute (API) and Chevron on May 19. Attendees of that meeting included Misty McGowen, Director of Federal Relations for API and Michael Yoham, Manager Rail Transportation Services for Chevron. This API-Chevron White House visit parallels the one they made together when OIRA mulled over new rules on sulfur in gasoline. In 2012, a group led by API president Jack Gerard went to the White House to discuss this issue with another of President Obama’s closest advisers, Valerie Jarrett. This visit clearly paid dividends for the industry when the new regulations were delayed. Akin to what is currently happening with the oil-by-rail regulations regarding Bakken shale oil and the DOT-111 tank cars, it was coordinated with a big public relations push trashing the regulations as unnecessary.  History, as they say, has repeated itself in the oil-by-rail sphere. A new report touting the safety of oil obtained from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) in the Bakken Shale was released by industry groups the same week as the API-Chevron visit with OIRA.

TransCanada eyes 'bridge' to Keystone XL pipeline approval - Oil producers and Keystone XL developer TransCanada Corp. are exploring the option of transporting Canadian crude oil by railcar as a temporary solution until the pipeline is approved. Still, crude-by-rail isn't a substitute for Keystone XL, Russ Girling, CEO of TransCanada, told The Hill on Thursday.  "Our customers asked whether we would explore with them potentially building rail-car loading facilities at a place called Hardesty, which is the initiation point of the current Keystone XL project, and we've said we will do that, and we'll do it expeditiously," Girling said. Producers like ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips want a temporary way to transport the oil while waiting for the U.S. to act on Keystone XL. "We don't know how long this is going to take, and they want a solution that bridges them between now and whenever we get approval to build the pipeline," Girling said. Despite opposition to Keystone and pressure on President Obama from his environmental base, Girling believes it will be approved, if not by Obama, then after his presidency. The reason: Demand from producers to transport their crude oil isn't going away.

3 New Reasons Keystone XL May Finally Be Approved - President Obama has three new reasons to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would bring 830,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil per day from Alberta to U.S. refineries, which would lead to economic growth and job creation in the United States. 
  • Escalating Conflict in Iraq. Though the fighting is yet to affect oil production in Southern Iraq, uncertainty over how much havoc ISIS will create is driving up futures prices. Disruption in Iraq's production would substantially affect its heavy crude oil exports, the type of oil found in Canadian tar sands. If unrest continues in the region, Canadian oil could help replace lost supply with reliable, stable production.
  • Approval of Canadian Pipeline. The Canadian federal government just approved its Northern Gateway pipeline project, which would send Canadian oil west for export to Asian markets. If the United States does not act quickly, Canadian oil will follow other paths to market. Northern Gateway, to be constructed by Enbridge, is not the preferred route, as the pipeline would transport fewer barrels of oil than Keystone XL in a less efficient way (it would cross rugged terrain and still need to be shipped to China for refining).  Still, the Canadian government’s pro-growth energy policy stands in stark contrast to that of the United States, which is characterized by inconsistencies and lack of certainty. 
  • Senate Committee Moves Bill. Led by Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources passed a bill that would bypass the State Department and approve Keystone XL. Senator Landrieu is facing a tough reelection battle and the vast majority of Louisiana residents support construction of the pipeline. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is opposed to Keystone XL, but he may decide to bring the bill to the Senate floor in an attempt to keep his majority after the midterm elections..
Yet Another Attack on the Oil & Gas Industry – It’s not hard to see the left’s Given all the election-year maneuvering in Washington, it's not surprising that efforts to enact a "tax extenders" measure acceptable to the House and Senate are stuck in the mud. Lawmakers can scarcely agree on the color of the sky, let alone the question of how expired tax provisions should be dealt with in the waning days of the 113th Congress. For many of the 50-plus sections of the Tax Code that are currently in limbo, gridlock may not be such a terrible thing. Favors such as those for NASCAR tracks and racehorses might best be put to rest permanently, devoting any revenue windfalls to across-the-board rate reductions (and certainly not to higher government spending). On the other hand, items such as the research and experimentation credit or enhanced small-business expensing could be workable, critical parts of a streamlined tax system that allows for more rational treatment of pro-growth investments. Consensus is a rare commodity in any discussion surrounding tax policy, but on extenders - and on other pending questions surrounding tax reform - earnest, thoughtful debate is key. That's what makes the recent grandstanding in the House Ways and Means Committee so discouraging. Not once, but three times during a markup of legislation pertaining to tax extenders, Democratic Reps. John B. Larson of Connecticut and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon offered amendments that would have levied punitive new taxes on America's major integrated oil and gas companies.

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