Blog Archive

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fracking, oil, natural gas, earthquake news by rjs, July 20, 2014

Probably the most important news this week was that the Obama administration opened an area on the Atlantic seaboard twice the size of California for the oil companies to explore for oil, including approval of the use of sonic cannons which are known to be harmful to sea-life....needless to say, the oil companies are ecstatic, & the story is being carried everywhere, and 4 links on it are included below...

The big spill story we missed last week was that of a pipeline rupture in North Dakota that apparently went unnoticed for days and ended up spilling over a million gallons of briny drilling bi-products into a ravine leading to a lake which is the water supply for an Indian far, the industry has not identified what the contents of that pipeline included, ie whether it's just brine or whether it's oil & fracking chemicals flowback, but nearby vegetation is dying and the cleanup is expected to take weeks...
The story that disgusted me most was that the California DNR like agency had to issue orders to seven oil companies to stop injecting their waste into the states aquifers; as you know, California is now in an extreme drought and it seems that what happened years ago, when water was plentiful, was that the state assumed certain aquifers of low quality or at a great depth would never be used, so they allowed the oil and gas industry to dump into it turns out, California is now going to need that polluted accompanying investigation by ProPublica has identified 1,500 aquifers nationally that the EPA has allowed industry to pollute in a like manner...
Included here are articles from several states on their specific fracking related stories and issues, including a bunch from Ohio...we'll start with two from the Youngstown Vindicator that suggest they're moving farther to the dark side; the first, promoting a book from an industry flack that allegedly dispels the myths about fracking that environmentalists have been perpetrating, and the second about the former coach and now new president of Youngstown state, suggesting that the true purpose of a state university is to turn out gas and oilfield workers...

Book takes on fracking 'myths' - Youngstown Vindicator - While oil and gas development has slowed in the Mahoning Valley, arguments over the practice have continued unabated. Greg Kozera wrote “Just the Fracks, Ma’am,” in which he takes on what he contends are the biggest myths about the fracking process and talks about his experience in the oil and gas industry. Kozera is an engineer with a master’s degree in environmental engineering with more than 35 years of experience in the natural gas and oil industry. He also is the president of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association. “I want to replace the unfounded fears people have about fracking with facts. This is simply too important an issue for so many people to make decisions based on misinformation,” Kozera said.

Tressel tasked with building academics at YSU to support oil and gas industry -  Youngstown Vindicator - The board of directors at Youngstown State University turned a negative into a positive and, following the untimely departure of President Randy Dunn, landed a national sports figure and hometown hero as its new university president. President Jim “Coach” Tressel may increase enrollment, raise money and project a motivating view of the university for years to come. With an academically strong support staff, Tressel seems to possess toughness capable of addressing the challenges that face the university.The new president will find the following changes on campus after his time away: the construction of new campus buildings, the demolition of many blighted buildings surrounding campus, the creation of a STEM program, the university’s affiliation to the additive manufacturing and defense industry, the new and improved neigh- boring downtown Youngstown, which includes a world-class business incubator program, and, last but not least, the regional expansion of the oil and natural-gas industry in the Mahoning Valley and beyond.The oil and natural-gas industry has shown that it brings not only additional service, transportation, manufacturing and construction jobs, such as those provided by Vallourec Star, but also environmental challenges that have subtle, yet powerful, impacts on the world’s view of YSU as an institution of higher learning with a quality campus life. With enrollment down 15% since 2010, student attraction amid this boom will be integral to the university’s future success. Certain aspects of the oil and naturalgas boom in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania will complement academic growth and campus life at YSU. The oil and natural-gas industry will need advanced metallurgic, civil, electrical and even radiological engineers if infrastructure is built in the Mahoning Valley to supply and support regional shale drilling.

Investigation to continue at site of house explosion | — Investigators were expected to return to the scene of a house explosion Thursday. The accident killed a 27-year-old woman and critically injured her boyfriend. The couple had been smelling gas at their Montgomery Road home in Orwell for weeks. There is a well on the property and natural gas would sometimes seep into the water system. Around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, the man who lived there lit a cigarette and the house blew. The man was flown to MetroHealth Medical Center. He remained in critical condition at the time of this report. People who live in the area report that they felt the blast five miles away.

In rare effort, Ohio scientist to test water before fracking soars - McClatchy DC: As the shale gas boom was making its way into Ohio in 2012, University of Cincinnati scientist Amy Townsend-Small began testing private water wells in Carroll County, the epicenter of the Utica Shale. Her project, which includes samples of more than 100 wells, is one of the few sustained efforts in the nation to evaluate drinking water quality before, during and after gas drilling.Although it will likely be another year before Townsend-Small releases the results, her work offers a template for other communities worried about how drilling, fracking and producing unconventional natural gas might contaminate groundwater supplies. Most residents test their water only after they suspect it has been polluted; few have the resources or foresight to conduct baseline testing prior to the drilling.The tests cost hundreds of dollars, "so it's not something everybody can afford to do regularly," said Townsend-Small, an assistant professor in the geology department. Once her sampling results are published, the data points won't be matched with specific locations, in order to protect residents' privacy and to avoid affecting property values.Townsend-Small's team offers free water testing about four times a year to interested landowners in and around Carroll County. She uses drilling reports the industry files with Ohio regulators to determine which water samples were taken near active gas wells.

Ohio town grapples with fracking: housing troubles, rent gouging - CARROLLTON, Ohio - Concerned citizens crowded into a local church here July 10 for a town hall style meeting. They were there to hear Cody Coleman-Chrisman, founder and executive director of Ohio Valley Renters Advocates (OVRA), with a panel of experts who came to advise on fracking's latest but not least harmful effect on our eastern Ohio communities: housing shortages and the rent-gouging that followed. This meeting had been organized by OVRA and Caitlin Johnson of the Ohio Organizing Collaborative. When most people think of fracking, they either anticipate the economic opportunities promised by the energy companies or they are apprehensive about fracturing's impact on the environment, including the very water they drink and the air they breathe. Many wage-earners in our area have already found the promise of well-paying jobs (for them) to be illusory as they watched pickup trucks with out-of-state license plates invade their communities and take the new jobs they thought would be theirs. They have come to realize that there may indeed be more jobs but, for most of them, those will be low-wage jobs (in food service, hotels, etc.). Others worry about reports from other communities, ahead of them in fracking, that tell of burning water taps, poisoned water-tables, drinking water that is no longer fit to drink, disposal of the irreparably contaminated water used in the fracking process, ripped-up local roads, gas well explosions, and even earthquakes.

Two drilling companies sue Broadview Heights over ban on oil and gas wells - – Two drilling companies with natural gas and oil wells in Broadview Heights have sued the city over its prohibition against future wells. Bass Energy Co. Inc., of Fairlawn, and Ohio Valley Energy, of Austintown, said the state of Ohio, not Broadview Heights, has sole authority to permit or deny drilling and to regulate wells. "Any effort by Broadview Heights to prohibit or regulate the location, drilling or operation of oil and gas wells is thus preempted by state law and of no force or effect," the companies said in the lawsuit, filed June 10 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. On Friday, Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods – the nonprofit citizens group that initiated a campaign to ban drilling in Broadview Heights – filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit. MADION said there is "considerable doubt" that the city will vigorously defend the lawsuit. "Both the mayor of Broadview Heights, Samuel Alai, and its law director, Vincenzo Ruffa, have made public statements expressing doubt as to the enforceability of the (drilling ban)," MADION said in its motion. MADION said Alai more than once has warned that companies would sue the city over the drilling ban, and that taxpayer money would be spent to defend the suits. In April, Ruffa said the city is "stuck" with state law, regardless of the city's drilling ban, MADION said.

Petrol panel says it won't change mind about denying well appeal - The Ohio Oil and Gas Commission has declined to reconsider its decision to deny an appeal by a local anti-fracking group opposed to a Torch area drilling-waste injection well in eastern Athens County. The matter is now heading to a Franklin County court. 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.  In June, the Oil and Gas Commission granted the ODNR's motion to dismiss the appeal, siding with the state agency and K&H in arguing that the commission did not have the authority to consider the appeal. State law designates ODNR as Ohio's sole oil and gas regulatory authority. ACFAN had asked the Oil and Gas Commission to reconsider its decision, but last week this request was declined.  In its decision, the commission said it found no cause to reconsider, stating that it had correctly concluded that the panel lacks jurisdiction to entertain ACFAN's appeal. In the filing with Franklin County, ACFAN attorney Sahli requests the court find the dismissal from the commission "unlawful and unreasonable" and to overrule the dismissal, remanding the matter to the commission to hold a hearing.

Wet gas means more profits for Ohio, says state | Midwest Energy News: Controversy continues over the rapid growth of high volume oil and gas operations made possible by horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. But at its “State of the Play” event at Stark State College, officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) had only enthusiasm for the state’s growing shale gas industry. The state’s natural gas production nearly doubled last year, mostly as a result of horizontal wells in the Utica Shale in eastern Ohio. Market shifts have made that formation’s “wet gas” particularly profitable. Such wet gas has a relatively high proportion of other light hydrocarbons in addition to methane. Those other hydrocarbons can be separated out, processed and sold to make plastics and other petrochemical products. “These are very valuable products,” said Rick Simmers, Chief of ODNR’s Division of Oil & Gas Resources. “And they make the Utica unique among shale plays in the entire nation and, for that matter, in the world.”

Fracking wastewater is big business in Ohio -- The oil and gas boom made possible by hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of horizontal wells has also led to dramatic growth in Ohio’s injection well disposal industry. The state now has more than 200 active injection wells for oil and gas waste, as shown on an updated map released this month by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Over 16 million barrels of wastewater were pumped into Ohio rock formations in 2013 — an increase of more than 2 million barrels from the previous year. In the oil and gas industry one barrel equals 42 gallons. In contrast, only 7 injection wells were active in neighboring Pennsylvania, which sends millions of gallons of its fracked wells’ wastewater to Ohio. Besides bringing in revenue for companies, the growing industry produced nearly $2 million in fees for ODNR last year. According to agency spokesperson Mark Bruce, that money supports the agency’s regulatory program. Yet environmental groups have questions and concerns. Drilling, fracking, and operating fracked wells produces massive amounts of wastewater. Wastewater from drilling is known as pit water. Flowback is fluid that comes back to the surface during the initial period after fracking. Produced water comes up with oil and gas while the well is in operation. Although some water is reused for fracking operations, all the wastewater must eventually go somewhere. Wastewater from fracking is very salty. It also contains substantial amounts of heavy metals, along with dissolved radioactive materials, such as radium. “It’s a hazardous material, so you don’t want to leave it sitting around on the surface,” “You don’t want to be spreading it on roads for dust control.”

Ohio fracking water reuse questioned -  Since January, Ohio has approved operating permits for 27 centers that take drilling mud, radioactive rocks and wastewater from fracking wells and store or “clean” it before sending it on to landfills or injection wells. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has approved every permit — considered temporary until the state writes rules that regulate the centers — without any public notification or input. That worries critics, who say there is little oversight to ensure that the environment and people who live near the facilities are safe. At least 12 facilities are operating. Some operated before a law was enacted in January that brings them under the state’s authority. State officials say recycling centers clean otherwise dirty byproducts of fracking and divert some of the millions of gallons of wastewater that is pumped deep underground in injection wells. “They need a place to put (the waste), and they need a place to test it,” said Mark Bruce, an ODNR spokesman. “You don’t want a container of oil-field waste just sitting somewhere.” The temporary permits expire six months after the department creates rules. Those are still being drafted, according to the agency.

Citizens' group asks US EPA to regulate Ohio fracking waste -  A Toledo-based grass-roots group opposed to horizontal shale drilling — also known as fracking — has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take over enforcement of the Clean Water Act in Ohio, saying that the state EPA “is no longer fit” to do the job. Terry Lodge, attorney for the FreshWater Accountability Project, sent a letter to the U.S. EPA on Friday, outlining what the group says is Ohio’s “insufficient regulation” of oil and gas industry waste. “Sadly, the (Ohio) EPA has been stripped of its protective role while the gas industry has erected its own self-regulatory facade through powerful lobbying,” Lodge wrote in a letter to U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “It’s time to unmask this charade and restore U.S. EPA authority over water effluent in Ohio, which has been contaminated with radioactive and chemical wastes.” In his letter, Lodge said the Ohio General Assembly has assigned sole responsibility for all environmental permitting for all aspects of the oil and gas industry to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Lea Harper, managing director of the FreshWater Accountability Project, said her group is asking the federal agency to revoke nearly two dozen ODNR “chief’s orders,” which are temporary authorizations that have been issued to 23 facilities in the state, including several in the Tuscarawas Valley. (see list)

Each fracking site needs list of chemicals - The Columbus Dispatch -- If it hadn’t been for residents’ efforts, the Monroe County Emergency Management Agency might not have had even the meager list of chemicals it had when 16 fracking trucks caught fire on June 29 (“State agency: Fracking fire likely fouled creek,” Dispatch article, July 1). Until September 2013, the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act of 1986 hadn’t been enforced for the oil and gas industry in nearly 12 years. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency worked with Ohio’s State Emergency Response Commission and the oil and gas industry to begin sending lists of hazardous chemicals to fire departments and emergency-planning committees last September, largely due to citizens’ action. Ohio law still exempts oil and gas operators from the same emergency-safety standards that every other industry in Ohio follows, and confuses how oil and gas drillers report hazardous chemicals to emergency responders. We need further improvements to federal standards, too, so that hazardous chemicals are reported to emergency responders as soon as they’re brought to a site, rather than within 30 to 90 days, as rules currently allow.

New York Shale Gas Situation in 4 Maps -
Court dismisses challenges to NY's lengthy fracking review (AP) -- A judge has dismissed two lawsuits challenging the state's delay in finishing its health and environmental analysis of the potential impact of shale gas development in New York, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday. The lawsuits were filed on behalf of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, claiming 70,000 members, and the trustee of bankrupt Norse Energy. State Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough dismissed both lawsuits, saying the petitioners did not have standing to sue Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Health Department to compel completion of the review. Shale gas development using horizontal drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been on hold in New York since the environmental impact review was launched in July 2008. Schneiderman called the decision "an important victory in our effort to ensure all New Yorkers have safe water to drink and a clean, healthy environment." The lawsuits claimed the Department of Environmental Conservation had abused its discretion in delaying completion of its environmental review so the Democratic governor could avoid making the politically complicated decision to allow or ban fracking.  Scott Kurkoski, attorney for the landowners' coalition, said an appeal is likely.

New York Supreme Court Dismisses Pro-Fracking Lawsuits -- The State of New York won’t be rushed by the fracking industry, its supporters or their lawsuits.  A state Supreme Court judge dismissed two lawsuits Monday that sought to stop the state’s review of fracking’s health and environmental impacts, according to the Associated Press. State Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough said the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York and the trustee of Norse Energy had no grounds to sue Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Health Department in hopes of a swift end to the years-long fracking review. The fracking review began back in 2008. Last month, the New York Assembly overwhelmingly passed a three-year moratorium on oil and natural gas drilling permits. The lawsuits charged that the Department of Environmental Conservation, in particular, abused its power and dragged its feet regarding the completion of the review. The Joint Landowners Coalition represents 70,000 members.

The gas company that says it can take your backyard | Al Jazeera America: The Coxes built their home in 2001, and they’ve paid to maintain their enviable slice of exurban Pennsylvania. When Ronald, a financial adviser at Prudential, grew fed up with the way his wraparound backyard deck shifted every time he sat down for an evening drink, he spent around $30,000 to rip it out and replace it. You could probably land a plane on the new one, he jokes. “This is my house, it’s my safe zone; nobody’s going to bother me,” he says. “It was worth it for the peace of mind.” But in late 2012, someone bothered the Coxes. A representative of oil and gas transporter Sunoco Logistics Partners — a “landsman” sent by the company to scout and buy access to their property — came to their front door and told them that Sunoco was going to dig a pipeline under their woods. “And I went: ‘No you’re not,’” Cox says. After he refused, a lawyer for Sunoco sent a letter that said the company had the power of eminent domain, including the right to survey their property and condemn it to build their pipeline. Sunoco hired a realty company to appraise the land, valuing the 23 acres at $352,000 and estimating the damage of constructing a pipeline at $2,700. Representatives offered the Coxes $6,000. They said it was better to sign an agreement immediately, since the company would gain the right to the property anyway. “I kind of thought, ‘If we resist enough, they’re going to go away.’ But they didn’t,” Cox says. The Coxes didn’t know it then, but their dream home lay in the path of a metastasizing controversy that involves not only Sunoco’s bid for eminent domain but an attempt by the company to circumvent local zoning laws, all aimed at swiftly completing a sprawling, multi-year project to exploit a boom in the byproducts of the Marcellus Shale.

Expert: Pa. didn't address fracking health impacts: (AP) - Pennsylvania's former health secretary says the state has failed to seriously study the potential health impacts of one of the nation's biggest natural gas drilling booms. Dr. Eli Avila also says the state's current strategy is a disservice to people and even to the industry itself because health officials need to be proactive in protecting the public. "The lack of any action speaks volumes," said Avila, who is now the public health commissioner for Orange County, New York. "Don't BS the public. Their health comes first." Avila told The Associated Press that he believes senior political advisers did a "disservice" to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett by putting a study of health effects on the back burner three years ago. That has led to a cycle of public fear and confusion, Avila said. "What are you so afraid that we're going to uncover?" Avila said of industry leaders, adding that it would be better to clearly tell people what is or isn't a problem. "It's not that I'm against fracking. I'm sure it's helping many individuals financially." The gas drilling industry has said hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is safe and there's no evidence of serious health problems from it.

Compendium of Fracking Risks -  Executive Summary from the Compendium of Fracking Risks Three notable features: First, the compendium is top-heavy with data from recent sources. That’s because, as we discovered in our research, science is now beginning to catch up to the last decade’s surge in unconventional oil and gas extraction.  As stated in the introduction: “A growing body of peer-reviewed studies, accident reports, and investigative articles is now confirming specific, quantifiable evidence of harm and has revealed fundamental problems with the drilling and fracking. Industry studies as well as independent analyses indicate inherent engineering problems including well casing and cement impairments that cannot be prevented.” Indeed, more than half of the peer-reviewed papers in the medical and scientific literature on the health impacts of fracking have been published in the last 18 months. Second, the compendium not only compiles findings from the medical and scientific literature but also includes evidence from other credible sources, including government reports, investigative reportage by news organizations, and Form 10-K reports that gas and oil companies use to disclose risks of their operations to their investors. We chose this tack because institutional secrecy, federal exemptions from key provisions of environmental laws, gag orders, and non-disclosure agreements between industry and landowners make population-based environmental health science research, as traditionally practiced, extremely challenging.Third, the compendium is interdisciplinary. With an appreciation for the many social determinants of health, we looked at crime statistics, traffic accident rates, stress, noise and light pollution, and changing economic indicators, as well as more conventional environmental health issues, such air pollution and drinking water contamination.

Denton could become 1st Texas city to ban fracking -  A North Texas community that sits on what’s believed to hold one of the biggest natural gas reserves in the U.S. could become the first city in the state to ban hydraulic fracturing, with Denton City Council members set to vote Tuesday night on a citizen-led petition. Industry groups and state regulators warn that such a ban ban could be followed by litigation and a severe hit to the city economy. The City Council is holding a public hearing Tuesday night, with a vote to follow. If the council rejections the petition, it would likely still go to Denton’s voters in November. Under the proposed ban, operators would be allowed to continue extracting energy from the 275 wells in Denton that have already undergone hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, but not reinitiate the process on old wells.

Texas City Blocks Fracking Ban, But Voters Get Their Say In November --Denton, Texas, blew its opportunity to become the first community in the state to ban hydraulic fracturing but will get a second chance for the title at the ballot box in November. After an emotional eight-hour public hearing on Tuesday, the city council in the north Texas community voted 5-2 against a citizen proposal to stop issuing permits for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, operations. A temporary ban instituted in May will expire in September, but city fathers sent the proposal for a permanent ban to the November election. Denton, a city of about 125,000 residents that is about 35 miles northwest of Dallas, is located on the Barnett shale gas field. The city has some 275 wells that have already been fracked and would have been allowed to continue producing under the proposed ban.

As Fracking Expands, So Does Opposition – Even In Texas --Public opposition to hydraulic fracturing – better known as “fracking” -- is nothing new. The 2010 documentary “Gasland” energized the nascent anti-fracking movement, with its depiction of tap water that caught on fire and once-healthy people who became chronically ill after fracking operations began nearby.  Back then, most of the opposition tended to be concentrated in Pennsylvania, where the most intensive shale gas drilling was taking place. But as drilling operations for shale gas have spread across the country, so have movements to stop them.  Fracking began in the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from West Virginia, through Ohio and Pennsylvania to New York, as well as in the Barnett and Haynesville Shales in Texas and Louisiana.  But it has since spread to Ohio, North Dakota, Montana, and Colorado, in addition to other states. And while some places have been more welcoming to the industry than others, most communities experience mixed effects when fracking moves in. In rural communities, some farmers have been able to pay down debt and even hold onto their multigenerational farms by allowing drillers on their land.  But in others, companies have strong armed landowners into giving up mineral rights against their will. Then there is the truck traffic, noise, and air and water pollution that opponents say cause environmental and health problems. That’s why it’s no surprise that groups opposed to fracking have sprung up in disparate parts of the country, as more shale is fracked.  Perhaps the most surprising place that’s being considered is in the politically conservative, drilling-friendly state of Texas. The city of Denton, which is located on top of the natural gas-rich Barnett Shale, is considering a fracking ban. Supporters of a ban decry the environmental effects of drilling, and the fact that some well pads have been set up as close as 100 yards from people’s homes.

LAW: Age-old legal tool poses modern threat for oil and gas -- When a Texas jury handed down a $3 million verdict this year for a family affected by natural gas drilling, Dan Raichel saw a pattern coming into focus. Environmentalists had for years sought to slow the breakneck pace of shale development, but sophisticated attempts to challenge regulations or prove contamination had fallen short. And yet, down in Texas, a driller was thwarted by something as simple as nuisance law. The case centered on Bob and Lisa Parr, who lived atop the Barnett Shale and said they suffered health problems from the air emissions of nearby well sites. The jury found that the emissions disturbed the Parrs' property and constituted a private nuisance (EnergyWire, June 16). "Nuisance affects the whole fracking debate in a lot of ways," said Raichel, an attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. "In a colloquial sense, it's pretty clear that fracking is a nuisance in a lot of these communities." In a legal sense, nuisance claims cropping up around the country may prove surprisingly effective at reeling in development. The high-dollar Texas verdict -- which dealt not specifically with fracking but with broader oil and gas operations -- serves as a harbinger of a very litigious future.

Extreme Drought in CA Triggers Halting of Fracking Waste Injection to Avoid Aquifer Contamination  - The state’s Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal “poses danger to life, health, property and natural resources.” The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed withProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells.  The action comes as California’s agriculture industry copes with a drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2 billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California-Davis. The problem is that at least 100 of the state’s aquifers were presumed to be useless for drinking and farming because the water was either of poor quality, or too deep underground to easily access. Years ago, the state exempted them from environmental protection and allowed the oil and gas industry to intentionally pollute them. But not all aquifers are exempted, and the system amounts to a patchwork of protected and unprotected water resources deep underground. Now, according to the cease and desist orders issued by the state, it appears that at least seven injection wells are likely pumping waste into fresh water aquifers protected by the law, and not other aquifers sacrificed by the state long ago.

Poisoning the Well: How the Feds Let Industry Pollute the Nation’s Underground Water Supply - ProPublica: Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation's drinking water. In many cases, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted these so-called aquifer exemptions in Western states now stricken by drought and increasingly desperate for water. EPA records show that portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers have been written off because exemptions have allowed them to be used as dumping grounds. "You are sacrificing these aquifers," said Mark Williams, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado and a member of a National Science Foundation team studying the effects of energy development on the environment. "By definition, you are putting pollution into them. ... If you are looking 50 to 100 years down the road, this is not a good way to go." As part of an investigation into the threat to water supplies from underground injection of waste, ProPublica set out to identify which aquifers have been polluted. We found the EPA has not even kept track of exactly how many exemptions it has issued, where they are, or whom they might affect. What records the agency was able to supply under the Freedom of Information Act show that exemptions are often issued in apparent conflict with the EPA's mandate to protect waters that may be used for drinking.

Answers on link between injection wells and quakes - States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater. Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults. Oklahoma has recorded nearly 250 small-to-medium earthquakes since January, according to statistics kept by the U.S. Geological Survey. That's close to half of all the magnitude 3 or higher earthquakes recorded this year in the continental United States. A study published earlier this month in the journal Science suggests that just four wells injecting massive amounts of drilling wastewater into the ground are probably shaking up much of the state, accounting for one out of every five quakes from the eastern border of Colorado to the Atlantic coast. Another concern is whether injection well operators could be pumping either too much water into the ground or pumping it at exceedingly high pressures. Most of the quakes in areas where injection wells are clustered are too weak to cause serious damage or endanger lives. Yet they've led some states, including Ohio, Oklahoma and California, to introduce new rules compelling drillers to measure the volumes and pressures of their injection wells as well as to monitor seismicity during fracking operations. Here are some answers to key questions about the phenomenon:

North Carolina lifts fracking moratorium - North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law a bill ending the Tarheel State’s moratorium on energy production via hydraulic fracturing. The governor’s action ends a 2012 moratorium on hydraulic fracturing—also known as fracking—that was imposed to provide time for fracking-specific regulations to be drafted. It also terminates a decade-old fracking ban. The North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission continues to work on fracking regulations, which are scheduled to be finalized by January 1, 2015. They would go into effect in March 2015, with the first drilling permits becoming available on July 1, 2015.

Colorado governor lacking support for fracking bill - Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and business leaders vowed to do “whatever it takes” to defeat initiatives proposed for the fall ballot that would restrict oil and gas drilling generating $30 billion a year for the state economy. “These measures risk thousands and thousands of jobs and billions in investment and hundreds of millions of dollars in state tax revenue,” said the first-term Democrat at a press conference yesterday at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. The proposals, which are circulating for signatures, would amend the state constitution to require wells to be set back 2,000 feet from structures and provide communities with more control over where drilling takes place. The debate over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water, chemicals and sand are injected below ground to bring oil and gas to the surface, has escalated in Colorado as drilling moved closer to suburbs, raising concerns about water and air contamination. Five communities in the state have voted to ban or put a moratorium on such activity. Hickenlooper, who is running for re-election, has worked with energy companies, lawmakers and business groups since May to broker a compromise and appease activists pushing for restrictions on fracking. He sought to head off the ballot measure that would prohibit drilling within 2,000 feet of structures -- a step energy companies say would effectively ban fracking in the state.

Most Coloradans Want Voters To Decide Whether Their Community Is Opened Up For Fracking - Colorado’s political establishment has been working overtime to thwart an election day showdown over proposals to give communities the power to control oil and gas drilling, but local opposition appears to be gaining strength. In a poll taken in May, but not released until this past weekend by supporters of two proposed ballot measures, Colorado voters strongly supported requiring oil and gas wells to be set back at least a half mile from residences and giving cities and towns the ability to enact stricter controls on oil and gas development than the state allows.The setback proposal was supported 64 percent to 21 percent, and even by 56-35 after respondents were read arguments against the measure. The local control measure, which establishes a so-called environmental bill of rights, was supported 64-27 and then 52-34 after arguments against it were presented. The poll results were released as a furious battle is being waged in Colorado over whether the festering issue of local control of fracking and drilling will be decided at the ballot box in November, a battle that is being waged in Colorado neighborhoods and on the airwaves. A handful of Colorado communities have already approved bans or moratoria on fracking, and their ability to do so is likely to be decided in court. With that backdrop, supporters of local control are aiming to amend the state constitution in the November election.

1 mn gallons of oil-drilling byproducts leaked into N. Dakota drinking water — A North Dakota pipeline has hemorrhaged about 1 million gallons of oil-drilling saltwater into the ground of a native Indian reservation, with some of the byproduct suspected to have leaked into a lake that provides drinking water. The spill of a toxic byproduct of oil and natural gas production at the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation was discovered on Tuesday. The cleanup is expected to last for weeks, according to Miranda Jones, vice president of environmental safety at Crestwood Midstream Partners LP. A subsidiary of Crestwood - Arrow Pipeline LLC - owns the underground pipeline. Jones believes the leak started over the Fourth of July weekend, but was only detected when the company was sorting through production loss reports, according to AP.  Karolin Rockvoy, a McKenzie County emergency manager, visited the site of the leak and said, based on the amount of devastation done to local vegetation, the spill had probably gone undetected for some time. The pipeline was not equipped with technology that alerts operators of a leak, Jones said. Last year, the state legislature rejected legislation mandating pipeline flow meters and cutoff switches.

Huge North Dakota Wastewater Spill Prompts Calls For Fracking Regs - Beaver dams have so far prevented about 1 million gallons of fracking wastewater discovered spilled July 8 from a rural North Dakota pipeline from spreading too far. But area residents, environmentalists and even a Republican state legislator all want more reliable measures. The spill of the toxic saltwater, a byproduct of hydraulic fracturing, came from gas extraction operations at the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation and occurred days before it was discovered.  The federal Environmental Protection Agency said the underground pipeline spilled about 24,000 barrels, or 1 million gallon, in North Dakota’s thriving oil and gas region. The water, which can be 10 times saltier than seawater and contains salt and fossil fuel condensates, was being piped away from fuel extraction sites for safe disposal. The EPA said most of the saltwater had pooled near where it had spilled and that beaver dams in the area had kept it from spreading. As a result, the EPA said, the local soil has simply been absorbing the spill.That’s a bit too fortuitous for Wayde Schafer, a spokesman for the Sierra Club in North Dakota. He said there have been four other spills in the region recently, including three caused by lightning strikes and a fourth attributed to a cow that rubbed against a tank valve.  In 2013 alone, there were 74 pipeline leaks that spilled 22,000 barrels of saltwater. Yet that same year, the North Dakota Legislature voted 86 to 4 against a bill that would have mandated flow meters and cutoff switches on wastewater-disposal pipelines. Energy companies protested the cost of such measures, and even state regulators argued they wouldn’t detect small leaks.

'Saltwater' From Fracking Spill Is Not What's Found in the Ocean - Bloomberg: -- In early July, a million gallons of salty drilling waste spilled from a pipeline onto a steep hillside in western North Dakota's Fort Berthold Reservation. The waste—a byproduct of oil and gas production—has now reached a tributary of Lake Sakakawea, which provides drinking water to the reservation. The oil industry called the accident a "saltwater" spill. But the liquid that entered the lake bears little resemblance to what's found in the ocean. The industry's wastewater is 5-8 times saltier than seawater, said Bill Kappel, a hydrogeologist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey. It's salty enough to sting the human tongue, and contains heavy metals in concentrations that might not meet drinking water standards. The briny mix can also include radioactive material. Heavy metals and radioactive materials are toxic at certain concentrations. "You don't want to be drinking this stuff," Kappel said. The North Dakota spill has killed vegetation and contaminated the soil, and cleanup crews are working on remediation and monitoring. Confusion persists over the wastewater's environmental and health effects because little is known about the composition of the spilled waste. The compounds it contains vary widely depending on local geology and drilling practices. And there are inconsistencies even within the industry over the definition of "saltwater," which may or may not contain hydraulic fracturing (fracking) fluids. Jim Ladlee, associate director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, said oilfield definitions vary by company, and the same operator may use different words for the same waste product in different parts of the country.

Protestors Say No to Fracked Gas Export Expansion Plan - (video interview & transcript) The European Union really wants U.S. natural gas. That's according to a leaked document obtained by The Washington Post. The document reveals that part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which is a $4.7 trillion trade deal currently being negotiated between the U.S. and the E.U., will make the export of U.S. oil and gas legally binding. But if such a deal went through, that would mean real consequences for us here in Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay. There's a proposed massive expansion of Maryland's Cove Point facility. That's where natural gas is liquefied and then exported. Here to discuss Cove Point and an upcoming July 13 rally in Washington, D.C., against this expansion are our two guests. There you see Shilpa Joshi. She is the Maryland field organizer for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. She's also one of the organizers of the rally in D.C. And also joining us is Josh Tulkin. He's the director of the Maryland Sierra Club. Thank you both for joining us.

Sardonicky: The Mapping of the Terror Trains - Look a-yonder what's coming down that railroad track. It's the Oil Bombin' Special, and while it's not bringing your baby back, it is most definitely bringing the Bakken. Crude, that is: millions of gallons of highly flammable fracked Bakken oil and Alberta tar sands product are sloshing at breakneck speed through thousands of North American towns, every single day. Towns like Lac-Megantic, Quebec, where one year ago this month an oil train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people and incinerating the central business district.  If you live within half a mile of railroad tracks, chances are that you are among the 25 million people living within a blast zone. But since railroad and oil companies are afraid they'll lose money if you are actually informed that you are in harm's way, the government has not seen fit to issue color-coded terror threat alerts to vulnerable populations. People might protest, or otherwise interfere with deregulated late capitalism. But thanks to the efforts of environmental groups, information on routes and deadly cargo is slowly dribbling out anyway. One group, ForestEthics, has even devised a simple tool whereby you can type in your locale to instantly discover how at-risk you and your loved ones really are:  For the first time ForestEthics has brought Google mapping capabilities together with railroad industry data on oil train routes across the US and Canada. The tool uses US Department of Transportation guidance for emergency response, identifying the one mile evacuation zone in the case of an oil train fire or a half mile in the case of a spill. The group used census data to estimate the number of Americans living in the one mile blast zone, but the map also shows schools, sports stadiums, town halls, and landmarks across the country within the danger zone.

BNSF, labor union reach tentative deal to allow train operations with 1 employee -  One of the largest U.S. railroads and one of the largest labor organizations representing railroad workers have reached a tentative agreement to allow one person to operate a train on routes protected by a new collision-avoidance system required by Congress in 2008. A BNSF Railway spokeswoman confirmed the agreeement with the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers. If ratified by union members, it would cover 60% of the BNSF system. Under the agreement, a sole engineer would operate most trains with the support of a remotely based “master conductor” on routes equipped with Positive Train Control. 

Obama Administration Opens Eastern Seaboard To Oil Drilling Surveys - On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the use of seismic airguns to explore the seabed from Cape May to Cape Canaveral for oil and gas.These sonic cannons are compressed airguns that get towed behind ships, using dynamite-like blasts to produce sound waves 100,000 times louder than a jet engine underwater every ten seconds. The waves travel through the water and through the ocean floor, bouncing back up at different rates to provide prospective drillers and researchers a better sense of where oil, gas, minerals, and sand lie beneath the waves.  It’s not a surprise that this is dangerous: even BOEM estimates that this practice will disrupt, injure, or kill millions of marine animals, including the most endangered whale species on the planet. It is less surprising that this risky tactic would be approved in large part to ferret out another source of fossil fuels, risking another BP disaster and emitting more pollution that causes global warming. It’s more surprising that this gambit is being entertained in an area that may not even have that much oil or gas.

Obama opens East Coast to oil search, sonic cannons -- The Obama administration is reopening the Eastern Seaboard to offshore oil and gas exploration, announcing final approval Friday of sonic cannons that can pinpoint energy deposits deep beneath the ocean floor. The decision promises to create plenty of jobs and thrills the oil industry, but dismays environmentalists worried about the immediate impact as well as the long-term implications of oil development. The cannons fill waters shared by whales and turtles with sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine. Saving endangered species was the environmental groups' best hope of extending a ban against offshore drilling off the U.S. Atlantic coast. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management disclosed its final approval first to The Associated Press ahead of an announcement later Friday. The approval opens the outer continental shelf from Delaware to Florida to exploration by energy companies preparing to apply for drilling leases in 2018, when current congressional limits are set to expire. The bureau is moving ahead despite acknowledging that thousands of sea creatures will be harmed.

White House Opens Door to Exploring Atlantic for Oil - The Obama administration approved guidelines on Friday for seismic searches for oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean, handing the petroleum industry a significant victory in a bitter dispute with environmental groups over the searches’ impact on marine life. The decision opens the way for companies to seek permits to look for oil in a stretch of the Atlantic from Delaware to Florida, using compressed-air guns that blast the ocean bottom with thousands of sound pulses as loud as a howitzer. The pulses bounce off geologic formations deep in the earth, giving geologists hints of where oil and gas deposits may lie. The new rules do not permit actual drilling for oil, and the only previous exploration in the area produced 51 dry holes before ending in the 1980s. But experts have said that a decision to allow exploration sends a clear signal that allowing offshore drilling rigs would be approved as well.A congressional ban on offshore Atlantic production expires in 2017. The oil industry is pressing for exploration to begin as soon as next year. Environmental groups say the seismic pulses will destroy some marine creatures and disrupt feeding, migration and other crucial habits of whales and dolphins, some of them already endangered species. The oil exploration industry argues that years of seismic exploration elsewhere have produced little if any evidence that the technique causes serious harm.

Obama approves sonic cannons for use in east coast gas and oil exploration -- The Obama administration has approved the use of sonic cannons to explore for oil and gas off the Eastern Shore. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Friday formally approved guidelines for using air cannons in the Atlantic Ocean from Florida to Delaware. Energy companies could buy new oil and gas leases and begin drilling in 2018 if they find profitable reserves. The guidelines are meant to protect endangered whales and other creatures from the loud noises and increased vessel traffic, but the government's environmental impact study estimates that more than 138,000 sea creatures could be harmed. The decision opens an area of the eastern seaboard larger than two Californias to exploration for the first time in decades.

‘Terrifying’ oil skills shortage delays projects and raises risks - The skills shortage in the oil patch is frequently cited as one of the biggest challenges facing the industry. In what has been called the “Great Crew Change,” the older generation of geoscientists and petroleum engineers who were hired before the sweeping lay-offs of the 1980s are now approaching retirement age and will soon leave the world of work. But it is still unclear who will replace them. The pool of potential talent is too small, and companies are scrambling to cope with the crunch. A 2011 survey by Schlumberger Business Consulting (SBC) highlights the problem. It said more than 22,000 senior “petrotechnical professionals” would quit the industry by 2015 – equating to a net loss of more than 5,500 people. Recruitment of new graduates would offset this reduction in the total number of oil workers, but “will not fill the experience gap,” it noted. SBC’s 2012 survey delivers an even starker message: by 2016, it said, the shortage of experienced oil industry professionals will reach 20% of the talent pool. “The demographics are terrifying,” says Greg Lettington, director of engineering at Hays, the recruitment consultant. A recent survey by Hays found that skills shortages were by far the main concern for oil and gas employers worldwide, outstripping factors such as economic instability, and worries about security or safety regulations by a wide margin. The skills gap reflects the cyclical nature of the industry. Oil companies have tended to shed staff whenever the oil price dips and the economics of crude production weaken: attrition was particularly high during the 1990s, when oil prices bounced around at $20 a barrel. “Companies made lots of people redundant and those people left the industry for good.” Recruitment and training virtually stopped. As demand for new engineers and geoscientists waned, so did students’ interest in oil-related courses. Universities responded by closing down their geosciences and geology departments. Ms Christopherson says that only three UK universities now offer courses in petroleum engineering.

Global oil giants face a fight to lure local talent - Oil and gas groups whose operations are spread around the world are struggling to attract staff and those they do hire command increasingly lofty salaries even as some of the oilfields they work in are running dry. The end of “easy oil” in maturing basins such as the North Sea is demanding more work to lift remaining reserves, which has led to wage inflation in countries such as Norway and the UK even as production declines. Meanwhile some affluent countries blessed with a glut of energy projects – Australia in particular – have seen tight labour market conditions bid up salaries and threaten the viability of some developments. Elsewhere, poorer countries, such as Brazil, Russia, Angola and Nigeria, have been keen to use multibillion-dollar budgets for new oil and gas projects as a lever to develop desperately needed domestic employment and supply chain opportunities. Gary Ward, oil and gas sector recruitment specialist at Hays, says: “In Latin America and the Middle East, people are putting a lot of effort into training their own people. In countries such as Brazil and Colombia, because of the mineral wealth in oil and gas, their futures are partly determined by how much effort they put into these sectors.”

BP’s Latest Estimate Says World’s Oil Will Last 53.3 Years -- BP’s annual report on proved global oil reserves says that as of the end of 2013, Earth has nearly 1.688 trillion barrels of crude, which will last 53.3 years at current rates of extraction. This figure is 1.1% higher than that of the previous year. In fact, during the past 10 years proven reserves have risen by 27%, or more than 350 billion barrels.  The increased amount of oil in the report include 900 million barrels detected in Russia and 800 million barrels in Venezuela. OPEC nations continue to lead the world by having a large majority of the planet’s reserves, or 71.9%. As for the United States, which lately has been ramping up oil extraction through horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, BP says its proven oil reserves are 44.2 billion barrels, 26% higher than in BP’s previous report. This is more than reported most recently by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which had raised its own estimate by 15% to 33.4 billion barrels.  That means shale-oil extraction enterprises in the United States have more to offer than many first believed. The sources include the Bakken formation spanning Canadian and U.S. territory in the West, the Eagle Ford formation in East Texas and the super-rich Permian Basin in West Texas, which alon holds 75 billion barrels of recoverable fossil fuels. And though Eagle Ford and Bakken seem to hold far less oil, EOG Resources, which has been working Eagle Ford, has increased its estimates of the site’s reserves. The Motley Fool reports that its latest estimate of recoverable fuel is 3.2 billion barrels, more than the nearly 1 billion barrels expected in 2010.

Orwellian Newspeak and the oil industry's fake abundance story - The oil industry's fake abundance story is so full of verbal legerdemain that it has become a sort of lexicon of Newspeak for oil. The public relations firms and fake think tanks behind this Newspeak have already achieved a notable goal, one styled as "doublethink" in Orwell's 1984.  We now have nearly an entire population in the United States and nearly an entire media establishment that believes that oil is abundant -- not because of the objective facts, but because of the oil industry's highly successful public relations campaign, a campaign that is still underway. The reason it is still underway is that it is essential to repeat the fake abundance story again and again in order to drown out any possibility that contrary facts will make their way into the public mind. Just to assure you that there are contrary facts, let me list two key ones:
  1. Growth in world oil production (defined as crude plus lease condensate) in the 8 years from the end of 1997 to the end of 2005 was 10.1%, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). During the 8-year period from the end of 2005 (an important inflection point) through 2013 that growth was 3.0%. The dramatic slowdown in the rate of growth occurred despite the wide deployment of new technology (such as high-volume slickwater hydraulic fracturing), record average daily prices (based on the world benchmark Brent Crude) and record oil industry spending on exploration and development. All of these things would have dramatically increased production if we weren't facing limits on what is cost-effective to extract.
  2. From its secular low of $9.10 per barrel on December 10, 1998, the Brent Crude spot price has leapt to $107.51 as of the close on Friday. That's a 1,081% increase in the last 15 years. The average daily spot price of Brent Crude reached two successive records in 2011 ($111.26) and 2012 ($111.63) before dipping slightly in 2013 ($108.56). So far in 2014 through July 7, the average daily price has been $108.95. All this price data (except the Friday close) is available here from the EIA. The price of commodities that are abundant tend to fall, not rise sharply. The sharp rise indicates that buyers are competing vigorously for constrained supplies.
Who Are The World’s Richest Oil Barons?  -- 1. Charles and David Koch ($68 billion jointly) The bogeymen of the Democratic Party inherited their fortunes, along with the family business, from their father, Fred. But they’ve since shown a keen entrepreneurial spirit. Koch Industries’ claim to fame initially was a proprietary oil refining technique, but the brothers soon diversified the product portfolio to encompass refineries, pipelines, and the manufacturing of chemicals, polymers and fibers. This wide swathe of business interests is still focused on oil, but Koch Industries has now become America’s second largest private company, behind Cargill. Its main oil and gas subsidiary, Flint Hills Resources, processes well over 300 million barrels of oil a year. That figure is one reason the Kochs are vilified by environmentalists: Combined, their companies emit more than 300 million tons of greenhouse gasses a year, the equivalent of over 5% of the U.S. carbon footprint.  But the reputations of Charles and David Koch are less based on their business success than on their staunch support of the Republican Party. The Koch’s political action committee is consistently the largest oil- and gas-money contributor to the Republican Party.
Hungry U.S. Power Plant Turns to Russia for Coal Shipment - When New Hampshire’s largest utility needed to rebuild coal supplies after the past frigid winter, it turned to Russia rather than to Appalachia in the U.S. Northeast or Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. The Doric Victory, a bulk carrier the length of two football fields, transported the fuel almost 4,000 miles (6,436 kilometers) from Riga, Latvia, last month to Public Service of New Hampshire’s Schiller power plant in Portsmouth, a 150-megawatt facility that’s electricity since 1952. Utilities in the U.S. are scrambling for coal, on pace to increase imports 26% this year, as railroad bottlenecks slow deliveries and electricity demand climbs with an improving economy. Russia, the world’s third-largest exporter of the fuel, will boost shipments 3.9% to 106 million metric tons this year, IHS Energy forecasts, part of President Vladimir Putin’s plan to expand Russia’s role in the global coal market.

An alternative reality bonus: 
Great video of the technology that is driving our energy bonanza: Hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling - From Marathon Oil –”Safe, cost-effective refinements in hydrauliproduced c fracturing (also known as fracking), horizontal drilling and other innovations now allow for the production of oil and natural gas from tight shale formations that previously were inaccessible. This animated video above introduces you to the proven techniques used to extract resources from these shale formations in a safe, environmentally responsible manner.” At the end of the video, they explain what happens at the end of a well’s typical 20-40 year life: The land is returned to its original, natural condition before the drilling took place, and there is no evidence remaining that a oil or gas well was ever there!


Anonymous said...

Was there supposed to be a video under the "Alternative Reality Bonus"? Can't see it. Tried Firefox and Internet Explorer.

Thanks for the hard work of keeping this blog up to date!!!!

Tenney Naumer said...

I think it was an interview with Josh Fox, but the formatting was totally screwing up the post, so I had to delete it.

This fracking news is sent to me by my internet buddy rjs who compiles it each week, and for some reason when I copied it this time from his email it contained code that really messed things up. I was able to get rid of some of the mess, but not all.

Also, I have been having trouble with the blog and getting the youtube videos to show up even though I put in the embed code. It's not like I have not been doing this since 2007. I think Chrome or Windows 8.1 doesn't agree very well with it.

Sorry about that!