Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Democrat from Hurley, N.Y., may not have a particularly firm grasp on the history of hydraulic fracturing – continuing to tell anyone who will listen (wrongly) that HF was previously regulated by EPA under the Safe Drinking Water Act, but now is not.
But anyone who thinks he doesn’t have a sophisticated understanding of how to use all levels of government to get things done (or, in this case, stop things from happening) – think again.
Mr. Hinchey, an original co-sponsor of the job-killing FRAC Act – which aims to strip individual energy-producing states of their ability to tightly and able regulate hydraulic fracturing – has elevated (or at least tried) his attack on responsible domestic shale gas development.
Under the headline “Obama admin rejects timeout for Marcellus drilling,” Greenwire’s Mike Soraghan reports this:
Brig. Gen. Peter “Duke” DeLuca, commander of the North Atlantic Division of the Army Corps of Engineers, last week declined a request from Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) to use the federal government’s vote on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to seek a temporary ban on gas production in the Delaware watershed.
The Obama administration has decided against pressing for a temporary halt to Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania and New York, a key federal official said.
Hinchey wants drilling there to wait until the commission completes a “cumulative impact statement,” but DeLuca said that could delay drilling for years.
“Just to be clear here, Hinchey was trying to use a federal agency to direct the actions of a regional water board for the purposes of preventing the development of natural gas in a state where he doesn’t even live,” said Chris Tucker, spokesman for Energy in Depth, a group of independent drillers. “Next thing you know, he’ll be ordering the Army Corps to build levees around our well sites in Wyoming.”
Here’s what others – who have actual energy backgrounds and expertise – are saying about hydraulic fracturing’s long and clear record of environmental safety and effectiveness.
- IPAA’s Barry Russell: “Special Interests’ Misguided Policies”: “While some opponents of responsible American energy production contend that Washington ought to step in and brush aside the authority and expertise of the states in this area, the industry continues to provide the facts, history and data needed to better understand and appreciate the record of achievement to which state officials continue to lay claim after 60 years of successful oversight. This has become such an important policy issue, that the industry has created a coalition – small and large companies, consumers, landowners – to address the very questions asked today by National Journal. You can visit the Energy in Depth coalition’s website at www.energyindepth.org. (National Journal, 9/20/10)
- Pa. Petroleum Geologist: “In praise of shale gas”: “The risk of polluting underground aquifers is vanishingly small. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection tightly regulates the use of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the technique that’s made it possible in recent years to reach large deposits of shale gas, and hydraulic fracturing is done at a considerable distance from any underground water resources. Safeguards also are in place to protect water systems from discharging drilling wastes. (Post-Gazette, 9/22/10)
- Ph.D. in Geophysics with a focus in Petroleum Seismology: “Pa. doesn’t need federal agency’s help regulating shale gas development”: “Pennsylvania has returned to the national energy stage. The Marcellus Shale is filled with natural gas but only allows it to flow along cracks in the rock known as “fractures.” Hydraulic fracturing – sometimes called “fracking” – involves injecting fluid into these tight formations at very high pressures to create man-made fractures. Without directional drilling and fracking, the gas boom in Pennsylvania might never have started. The type of fluid used for fracking varies, but it is usually over 99 percent water and solids with the remainder being additives that promote flow of the fracking fluid through the rock. (Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, 9/19/10)
They say ya gotta to where the action is, right? Well, this week that action is in Fort Worth, Texas, host-city to the Tenth U.S.-China Oil and Gas Industry Forum (OGIF). For those not familiar with the OGIF, it’s a public-private partnership designed to facilitate dialogue around the development of oil and gas resources in both the United States and China. Topics of discussion this year? Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), deepwater development and of course, unconventional oil and natural gas technology and development.
EID has set up shop, brought along a few issue alerts, fact sheets and other educational materials to distribute along with a laptop and monitor to allow folks to access www.energyindepth.org, see our work, view a video or two and signup to receive our mailings.
The conference kicked off yesterday with a tour of a few Chesapeake Energy facilities in the area – EID had an opportunity to tag along and tour an urban drilling site, compressor station and salt water treatment facility.
This afternoon we’ll hear from U.S./Chinese government and industry officials on shale gas; we’ll be sure to keep you updated.
CNN uses Binghamton HF hearings as launch point for day-long primal scream against shale gas – but how much of it actually squares up with the facts?
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With so much talk in Washington these days from politicians about “plans” aimed at redirecting our struggling economy and putting Americans back to work, not as much attention has been paid to the incredible economic force that America’s oil and natural gas producers continue to bring to bear in so many regions across the country.
Unfortunately though, some leaders in Washington are working to advance misguided policies that seek to severely undercut producers’ ability to safely deliver the energy resources needed to fuel our economy. Naturally, the less energy produced, the fewer jobs created – and tougher it is to make good on the promise of America’s homegrown (and growing) energy potential.
Consider the potential consequences of the FRAC Act, which could strip energy-producing states of their ability to determine the regulatory landscape associated with hydraulic fracturing – a 60-year old technology that’s used to enhance energy production in 90 percent of the nation’s oil and natural gas wells.
While some opponents of responsible American energy production contend that Washington ought to step in and brush aside the authority and expertise of the states in this area, Energy In Depth continues to provide the facts, history and data needed to better understand and appreciate the record of achievement to which state officials continue to lay claim after 60 years of successful oversight.
In today’s Bismark Tribune, EID’s Lee Fuller shares some additional insight on this record:
Here are the actual facts: Fracturing has been used safely in the United States for more than 60 years, and has never in that time been directly regulated by the EPA. For decades, that responsibility has remained with states, which continue to compile a remarkable record of oversight and enforcement.
How good? In 60 years, not a single case of groundwater contamination has been credibly tied to hydraulic fracturing. Don’t believe us? Just ask the EPA — it confirmed as much to the U.S. Senate earlier this year.
Rep. Earl Pomeroy said recently that the “regulation of hydraulic fracturing is best left to the states,” and that new efforts to turn that authority over to the federal government “will do nothing to protect drinking water and will only serve to slow down development resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and more imported oil.”
Sen. Byron Dorgan confirms that “hydraulic fracturing is not a problem,” noting there have been “many studies” that “show that it does not contaminate groundwater,” including one by the EPA in 2004.
Thanks to the Bakken Shale, North Dakota’s unemployment rate is currently at 3.6 percent. Compare that to the national rate of 9.5 percent. And what about the North Dakota budget? Thanks to the Bakken, it currently enjoys a surplus of $500 million.
Here’s what others are saying about oil and natural gas production enabled by tightly-regulated fracture stimulation technology:
ON FRACTURING’S RECORD OF SAFETY, ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS
- Ph.D. in Geophysics says “Gas shale and hydraulic fracturing work for NY”: “No evidence directly connects injection of fracking fluid into shale with aquifer contamination. In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a study finding no confirmed instances of drinking water contamination by fracking fluids in the ground. This finding is not surprising as fracking fluid is pumped through heavy, steel pipe surrounded by a concrete liner to formations thousands of feet below aquifers. (Hornell Evening Tribune, 9/7/10)
- Surge in use of natural gas helping to lower emissions: “But now, thanks to greater geologic and scientific insight and developments in drilling and production techniques, producers are unlocking shale’s enormous potential. We don’t have to look overseas to realize the environmental and economic gains of relying on natural gas; huge shale gas reserves in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Appalachia are easily accessible – right here, right now. Shale gas has begun to tip the scales such that experts deem the boom a game-changer, the most significant energy innovation in years. (Houston Chronicle, 9/3/10)
ON JOB CREATION, ECONOMIC GROWTH
- Gas boom economic engine for company: “When a Texas gas company hired Michael Pascuzzi’s earth-moving business to build two water impoundments, he sat down at his desk and cried. The family-owned company had been headed for bankruptcy. ‘We were real close to throwing in the towel,’ said Nicholas Pascuzzi Jr., Michael’s father and president of their McDonald-based company, New Dominion Construction. Marcellus shale saved the company, fresh evidence of how the commercial discovery of gas in the deep shale formation boosted the economy of Western Pennsylvania during a national recession.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 9/8/10)
- Gov. Rendell touts Shale’s economic potential during broadcast: “There is an economic upside here that is substantial,” Gov. Ed Rendell said on the Wednesday night show, which was part of a series of PCN programming on the Marcellus Shale. (Scranton Times-Tribune, 9/9/10)
- “Atlas Energy Inc. is among those doing some hiring. The natural-gas producer, based in Moon Township, Pa., has added 160 workers this year, bringing its head count to 680. The company recently played host to a jobs fair at a Pittsburgh-area hotel, where a line to register spilled out of a ballroom and into the lobby.” (Wall Street Journal, 9/4/10)
ON EXANDED SUPPLIES OF AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE ENERGY
- Marcellus Shale production data exceeds expectations: “Marcellus Shale gas wells in Northeast and Northcentral Pennsylvania led the state in natural gas production last year, exceeding even industry predictions about the promise of the gas-rich shale, according to well production data released for the first time by the state. In the 12 months between July 1, 2009 and June 30, 2010, the state’s 632 producing Marcellus wells released 180 billion cubic feet of gas – an amount that more than doubles Pennsylvania’s annual natural gas production from the years before the shale exploration began. … Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Range Resources, which reported a total production of about 35 billion cubic feet of natural gas and 402,000 barrels of natural gas liquids last year, said the report indicates what the industry believed, “which is that it is a very large natural gas discovery and could be one of the largest anywhere when it’s all said and done. It’s just going to take time.” (Scranton Times-Tribune, 9/9/10)
- What peak oil? Why an oil glut is ahead: “Part of that surplus comes from increased oil and gas production, particularly from ongoing production in the non-OPEC countries (including the U.S., where a “shale gas boom” has created a natural-gas glut). … But as the summer driving season passes and students head back to school, awareness has gradually dawned that we may be looking at an oil surplus for years to come. (CNNMoney, 9/8/10)
- Natural gas from shale rock promises energy revolution: “A new source of energy, shale gas promises to add significantly to the world’s energy reserves. … David Spigelmyer, vice-president of government relations at Chesapeake Energy said the firm’s gas extraction takes place a mile or more underground. “Groundwater rests between 300 and 500 feet and we have multiple layers of cement and steel to protect these freshwater aquifers,” he said. (BBC, 9/8/10)
With so much talk in Washington these days from politicians about “plans” aimed at redirecting our struggling economy and putting Americans back to work, not as much attention has been paid to the incredible economic force that America’s oil and natural gas producers continue to bring to bear in so many regions across the country.
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Recent national news segment on hydraulic fracturing swings and misses on technology’s 60-year old record of safety, effectiveness, transparency
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State Dept. forum seeks to export promise and potential of shale gas to markets around the world – but will Administration apply same lessons, encouragement here at home?
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The responsible development of clean-burning natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation – enabled by hydraulic fracture stimulation technologies, coupled with advancements in horizontal drilling – continues to be an boon throughout much of Appalachia, where small, rural communities and towns have not experienced genuine, lasting economic growth and prosperity for quite some time. But that’s all changing now thanks to these technologies, which can safely and effectively reach the Marcellus’ abundant, homegrown, job-creating natural gas reserves.
And while some continue to oppose this environmentally-proven and tightly regulated development, and the tens of thousands of good-paying jobs this production is helping to create at a time when economic opportunity is dire, it’s clear that folks throughout the Rust Belt agree that this is a good thing, and that it can – and must – be done responsibly.
Energy production companies, including Chesapeake Energy, continue to hire throughout the region, holding forums for those interested in joining our fight for a more secure energy future and more stable energy prices for American families, seniors and consumers.
Under the headline “Hundreds Want Gas Drilling Jobs,” the Wheeling Intelligencer reports that “For neighbors Shawn Long and Eric Westbrook of Middlebourne, who arrived before 10 a.m. and waited more than an hour to get through the door, the chance for new employment in the Ohio Valley is welcome.”
One attendee at the recent Chesapeake Energy open house said that “This is a great opportunity for around here,” adding that “this (the gas industry) is one of the only things around here. It’s a good thing they (Chesapeake) are here.” Another individual seeking employment noted that “It’s this or the coal mine. I’ve got two kids and a wife I have to take care of,” add that “Any new full-time employment in this area is great.”
We report, you decide — as they say.
Hundreds in WV, Throughout the
Rust Belt Want Gas Drilling Jobs …
… While a Few Use Distortions to Stop Responsible Gas Development, Job Growth
|(Hundreds Want Gas Drilling Jobs; Wheeling Intelligencer, 8/19/10)||(“Protest” in Pittsburgh, Pa.; 8/18/10)|
In 1949, the average cost for a gallon of gasoline was 17 cents. That same year, the First Polaroid Camera was sold for $89.95. And while the Polaroid has certainly had a lasting impact on American society, it was in 1949 when hydraulic fracturing first came into commercial use.
This energy stimulation technology has been safely used to help produce homegrown oil and natural gas more than 1.1 million times. And because of the industry’s commitment to ensure environmental safety, along with commonsense laws and regulations overseeing the process, hydraulic fracturing has never caused groundwater contamination. But despite this remarkable track record of putting the nation on stronger path toward energy security, a host of claims surrounding fracturing continue to persist.
Energy In Depth’s Lee Fuller helped separate the fact from fiction in a Detroit Free Press letter this week:
Fracturing is not new and is not “exempt from federal water laws,” as Olson claims. Shale gas development is regulated under the federal Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, the Community “Right to Know” Act, the Superfund law and by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
While Olson claims that “Most states, like Michigan, have not evaluated the impacts” of this technology, your readers should know Harold Fitch, director of the Geological Survey (OGS) office at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality — which regulates every aspect of oil and gas production, including fracturing — has said that “there is no indication that hydraulic fracturing has ever caused damage to ground water or other resources in Michigan.” Fitch notes that “OGS has never received a complaint or allegation that hydraulic fracturing has impacted groundwater in any way.”
Fracturing fluids are made up of more than 99.5% water and sand. A small percentage of fluids used to reduce friction and kill bacteria that are commonly found under one’s kitchen sink, are added. Not only is a list of these fluids mandated by federal law to be available at every well site, many organizations — including Energy In Depth — list them online.
And here’s just a quick snapshot of positive economic benefits that hydraulic fracturing is helping to bring to energy-producing regions of the country that are in desperate need of good-paying jobs and stable energy costs, as well as the commitment from the industry to be good neighbors and stewards of the environment:
- Making good on a promise; Halliburton plant creates jobs. Sun-Gazette. “When ground was broken last August on a cement mixing plant owned by Halliburton off Route 405 in Clinton Township, company officials promised they would bring jobs to this area. The company is making good on that promise, said Perry A. Harris, senior district manager for Halliburton’s northeast U.S. operations. “By year’s end we’ll have 75 to 100 (employees) and (add) another 100 to 150 next year,” Harris said during a recent tour of the plant. … Harris said the company plans to develop another 55 acres nearby that will be home to other Halliburton gas field support operations. “Between the two sites, we’ll (be hiring) 400-plus people over the next two to three years,” Harris said.
- Another Bakken in ND? KXN-TV. “Central Bottineau County is poised to become the hub of a brand new boom. We’ve all become familiar with the Bakken Shale Formation in recent years. That’s the huge oil-rich rock formation that’s triggered a major oil boom centered in the Stanley area. But now, major oil companies are making moves that suggest a second oil boom is in its infancy. Jim Olson reports. Oil wells are not new to Bottineau County. 40 years ago, several successful wells were drilled there. But the work going on this summer on drilling rigs like this could signal the beginning of a major oil rush to the region. Lynn Helms, Dept. of Mineral Resources, says “It’s going to have a major impact.”
- Our commitment to the community. Lock Haven Express, Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Kathryn Klaber. “And while Marcellus development is still in the early stages, many of these benefits are already being realized. According to a recent study released by researchers at Penn State, our industry will help create nearly 212,000 jobs across the Commonwealth over the next decade. Last year alone, Marcellus development was responsible for the creation of 44,000 jobs. To date, landowners have received more than $1.7 billion in royalties and lease payments from Marcellus producers. And this production has also generated close to $400 million in state and local tax receipts – with that number expected to double this year. Many Pennsylvanians are also seeing lower energy rates because of this increase supply, allowing consumers to keep more of what they earn.
- Natural gas fueling economy. Shreveport Times. “The Haynesville Shale is the fourth largest natural gas field in the world. Discovered in 2008, the shale rock is buried as deep as two miles under the ground and in some places can be 500 feet thick. It stretches about 5,000 square miles under most of northwest Louisiana, and experts believe it contains about 245 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, enough to power America for 10 years. Local leaders tout the economic benefits of the shale not just because of the millions of dollars in royalties and leasing bonuses paid to local landowners during the past two years from gas companies scrambling to acquire space to drill, but also new jobs and economic growth have come as a result of the production.
- Anadarko joins team to preserve stream banks. Lock Haven Express. “The Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Bureau of Forestry have been working with volunteers from Anadarko Petroleum Corp. this week to construct in-stream fish habitat structures along Trout Run, a tributary to Pine Creek. Last fall, Anadarko contributed $10,000 to the conservancy to purchase materials for a stream restoration project in the Pine Creek watershed. Anadarko employees volunteered to help with the installation at the time of the donation. This week, they kept their word with 20 Anadarko staff from Williamsport and Houston pounding sledge hammers , moving rock, and securing silt fabric to create the in-stream structures.
- UGI to spend $300M on drilling project. Citizens Voice. “UGI Corp. plans to invest more than $300 million over the next two years to develop natural gas infrastructure in the Marcellus Shale region, a project that includes a “major pipeline project,” the utility company announced Thursday. UGI officials outlined the move in a one-and-a-half-page news release sent out after normal business hours without providing details of exactly where the company might locate such a pipeline. The project would bring Marcellus Shale producers in the state “improved access to high-value markets,” according to the release.
- Gas Company Overhauling Some Roads. WNEP-TV. “Cabot Oil and Gas is now completely rebuilding some roads before all the trucks show up. It’s a complete transformation along Wickizer Road, a state road near Dimock. Trucks and crews are turning a narrow dirt road into one wide enough to handle big trucks coming and going all the time. Cabot Oil and Gas is doing all the work on that road and other state and township roads in Susquehanna County before there is truck traffic.
University of Houston professor Dr. Michael Economides in the Houston Chronicle:
- There have been two huge lies, the first that hydraulic fracturing somehow causes natural gas to migrate upwards through the geological formations, infiltrating drinking water aquifers. The second, is that “chemicals” mixed with the fracturing fluids will contaminate the same drinking water. … The idea that formations 10,000 ft below ground can somehow contaminate drinking water aquifers, 9,500 higher through the growth of the fracture height is beyond preposterous.
- The “chemicals” we use are not that many nor are they sinister. We use mostly gelling agents, not much different than the common kitchen flour to thicken the water to allow it to transport the particulates, tiny granular materials to keep the fracture propped so that gas and oil will flow into the well (still 10,000 ft below ground.)
- About 100,000 wells are fractured worldwide every year and in all my years in this industry I have heard of precious few examples of such accidents. The reason is that oil and gas wells are hermetically sealed with steal casing and a cemented annulus. They are perforated only at a very limited interval, perhaps 50 to 100 ft, exactly where the targeted reservoir is. Fracturing fluids will not go anywhere else.
- What is at stake here is at least 90% of natural gas production and perhaps 70% of oil production in the United States.
- A back of the envelop calculation suggests that the war on fracturing toys with about $200 billion per year. This is the incremental value added by fracturing in the United States at just the wellhead. The multiplier in the economy is several times that. The damage to the US energy supply would be incalculable. This is why the cavalier attitude of the environmental groups is hard to fathom.
Forbes’ Christopher Helman: “Can Gas ‘Fracking’ Pollute Groundwater? Unlikely.”
- Can hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells pollute groundwater? The anti-drilling crowd wants you to think so, and has convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to launch an investigation into fracking. Don’t believe them.
- Using underground sensors they monitored the success of these fracks–how the rock cracked, how far the frack fluids infiltrated into the gas reservoirs. What they found was that even in the most successful fracks, none of the fractures or chemicals migrated closer than 4,500 feet below the surface–thousands of feet below the nearest water aquifer.
- In short, if water reservoirs are ever contaminated it’s because of a problem with how wells are cased close to the surface, not because frack chemicals are oozing up from a mile underground.
- We need to end this debate. Many oil and gas companies would be ok with regulations covering how wells must be cased. But it’s absurd to even consider a ban on fracking. Without the process the U.S. would go from being self-sufficient in natural gas to depending on shipments of LNG from the likes of Qatar. Without fracking, gas would cost a lot more, as would electricity, chemicals, plastics, everything.
Pinnacle’s Kevin Fisher: “Data Confirm Safety Of Well Fracturing”
- In the more than 60 years following those first treatments, more than 2 million frac treatments have been pumped with no documented case of any treatment polluting an aquifer.
- As a result, hydraulic fracturing is now responsible for 30 percent of domestic oil and natural gas reserves, and has aided in extracting more than 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 7 billion barrels of oil, with much more to come.
- Studies conducted by governmental agencies and respected authorities have unanimously concluded that hydraulic fracturing is safe. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Ground Water Protection Council and the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission all have found hydraulic fracturing nonthreatening to the environment or public health.
- The EPA conducted an extensive survey of hydraulic fracturing practices and their effect on drinking water in 2004. … The EPA agreed with the GWPC and the IOGCC that hydraulic fracturing is safe. More specifically, the EPA concluded that hydraulic fracturing does not create pathways for fluids to travel between rock formations to affect the water supply.
- Despite claims by environmental organizations, [Steve] Heare, [director of EPA’s Drinking Water Protection division] also reported that he had not seen any documented cases where hydraulic fracturing was contaminating water supplies.
- ICF International recently completed another key study that specifically addressed hydraulic fracturing activities in the Marcellus Shale play in New York. The study confirmed that the EPA findings were valid and found that there would not be any risks to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus Shale region.
- The data from these two shale reservoirs clearly show the huge distances separating the fracs from the nearest aquifers at their closest points of approach, conclusively demonstrating that hydraulic fractures are not growing into groundwater supplies, and therefore, cannot contaminate them.
Sen. Casey asks Colo. congresswoman to help him make the case for jobs-killing anti-HF bill in Philadelphia paper – EID takes a closer look
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PA DEP confirms that well-water claims not related to “natural gas exploration and production activities”; Calls such claims “unfortunate”
Drinking Water Claims Made Last Week …
Drinking Water An Issue In Marcellus Shale Debate
Jul 23, 2010
Bill Eakin, of Avella, says his once-pristine well water is now contaminated and that it has killed his garden and made him and his wife Shirley ill.
He blames the Atlas Energy Company which has been drilling for natural gas close by for the past two years.
In a statement, Atlas Energy says testing showed that their drilling had nothing to do with the contamination of Bill Eakin’s well.
“The results did not indicate contamination due to natural gas exploration and production activities. We subsequently notified their lawyer of the results and discontinued the courtesy water service that has been provided during the testing process.”
… Debunked by Scientific, DEP Data This Week
DEP Tests Don’t Find Water Contamination
Jul 27, 2010
In a statement, Atlas told KDKA’s Andy Sheehan their tests of the village’s water wells came up negative:
“The results did not indicate contamination due to natural gas exploration and production activities.”
On Tuesday, the state Department of Environmental Protection said its independent testing showed the same thing.
“That’s exactly right,” Helen Humphreys, a spokesperson for the DEP, said. “The test results came back with results that are consistent with water in southwestern Pennsylvania.”
The DEP says it also has been unable to verify any contamination cases in the state caused by drilling, even though much of the public believes otherwise.
“It is counter to a perception and it’s unfortunate,” Humphreys said. “We really need to be sure that people are seeing the data that we’re seeing.”
For 60 years, energy-producing states have used hydraulic fracturing – a tightly regulated energy stimulation technology – to access and increase domestic oil and natural gas production. Without this technology, much of America’s job-creating energy resources would simply be unreachable. And today, thanks to advancements in horizontal drilling techniques coupled with fracture stimulation, enormous amounts of homegrown energy are being leveraged in stable supplies of America-made energy and tens of thousands of good-paying jobs.
North Dakota’s Bakken Shaleformation is a shining example of how fracturing is positively impacting not only the state, but the nation’s energy security altogether. As national unemployment rates continue to hover near double digits, and with millions still without steady work, North Dakota’s economy, and its workforce, have never been stronger — thanks in large part to hydraulic fracturing.
This from Reuters today:
North Dakota and Alaska have added the most jobs, while Nevada, California and Florida have lost the most, in the last five years, according to research released on Monday. … In first place, North Dakota added 21,300 jobs, and Alaska followed by adding 10,100 jobs from 2005 to 2010, it said. North Dakota saw an increase of 3,200 jobs in the last year alone, it said.
Some in Washington, unfortunately, continue to work to increase layers of unnecessary bureaucratic red tape aimed to stripping energy-producing states of their ability to effectively regulate fracturing. You see, fracturing has always been – and continues to be – ably and closely regulated by individual states, who are best equipped to oversee this critical process. Recognizing the devastating economic and national security threats posed by such actions, some members of Congress – including North Dakota Congressman Earl Pomeroy – continue to fight back.
“Shutting Down the Bakken?” is how North Dakota’s KFYR-TV describes these efforts in Washington. This from the new report:
It may not look like much, but hydraulic fracturing is what makes drilling in North Dakota possible. The process, also known as hydro fracking or just fracking, breaks up rocks two miles below the ground, allowing rigs to bring the oil to the surface. “Without fracking, we can`t get the Bakken oil out, period,” says Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-North Dakota. That’s what has Pomeroy and oil workers in our state so concerned about proposals in Congress to add new regulations for hydraulic fracturing. Pomeroy says cutting down on fracking on land is no way to address concerns raised by the Gulf oil spill. He believes ending what frack crews do would be devastating for North Dakota.
And from Oklahoma to Upstate New York, major newspapers and energy industry experts are also speaking about attempts in Washington to discredit fracturing’s long and clear record of environmental safety and effectiveness.
In a recent editorial, under the headline “Rep. Henry Waxman seems obsessed by fracturing concerns,” The Oklahoman writes this:
Hydraulic fracturing’s effect on water supplies has been examined for years and likely will be until the last syllable of this administration’s executive orders is written. Tomorrow and tomorrow can’t come soon enough for energy executives. No adverse impact from fracturing has been proven. Shaking up rock through fracturing is essential for releasing natural gas from shale formations; natural gas is essential for transitioning power generation away from coal. Gas is also key (along with offshore oil drilling) in reducing dependence on foreign supplies.
And IOGA-NY’s Michelle Blackley took to the pages of the Syracuse Post-Standard to highlight the important role that fracturing plays in job creation and energy security. Under the headline “Hydrofracking has safe record and spurs economy,” Ms. Blackley writes this:
Hydrofracking is an environmentally responsible way to stimulate the flow of energy from new and existing oil and gas wells. It is well-regulated and has been employed over 1 million times without a single incident of drinking water contamination. Hydrofracking’s record of safety and impressive ability to help make the most of our domestic energy resources designate it as one of the most important tools in our nation’s effort to achieve greater energy independence.
To say that Congressman Earl Pomeroy, a North Dakota Democrat, and Rick Perry, the Lone Star state’s conservative Republican governor, don’t see eye-to-eye on a host of issues would certainly be fair. But when it comes to creating jobs, delivering stable supplies of homegrown energy, the odd-couple, of sorts, couldn’t be more aligned.
You see, hydraulic fracturing – which has been used to stimulate energy production in America for more than six decades – has always been, and continues to be, effectively and tightly regulated by energy-producing states.
But some in Washington (and their allies “in the arts”) — who oppose the responsible development of domestic oil and natural gas — are working to erect unnecessary regulatory barriers. If the EPA were to be given outright authority to oversee this process, and given the directive to issue permits for fracturing, production of American oil and natural gas would be dramatically undercut in the best case scenario, and altogether halted in the worst.
Henry Waxman, the Beverly Hills congressman who chairs the powerful Energy & Commerce Committee, continues to kick around the idea of giving EPA authority to regulate fracturing. At the same time, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) has made his intentions and beliefs clear that unelected Washington bureaucrats know better than folks in Pennsylvania when it comes to regulating fracturing, which is principally responsible for creating tens of thousands of jobs across the Commonwealth.
But when it comes to protecting their states from an onslaught off Washington attacks that threaten jobs and economic activity, Earl Pomeroy and Rick Perry are not standing by idly.
Pomeroy called it “irresponsible” for Congress to enact new [fracturing] regulations before the results of that study are known.
“Imposing new regulations now will do nothing to protect drinking water and will only serve to slow down development resulting in the loss of thousands of jobs and more imported oil. It is critical that any legislation related to the Gulf oil spill focus on responding to that tragedy and not include additional burdens on hydraulic fracturing,” he said.
Pomeroy pointed out that over the past two years, North Dakota has significantly increased its oil production, rising from the ninth largest oil producing state to the fourth. “This increase in production has resulted in a significant state budget surplus and the nation’s lowest unemployment rate,” he said.
Pomeroy said the regulation of hydraulic fracturing is best left to the states
. “Regulators in each individual state have a better idea of what steps are necessary to protect their residents and environment. Additionally, they are better equipped to implement commonsense regulations that fit their states unique needs than a catchall Environmental Protection Agency regulation,” he said.
And in a speech yesterday, Gov. Perry didn’t mince his words:
Perry dismissed questions about the safety of hydraulic fracturing. …”I am a very strong advocate of hydraulic fracking,” Perry said. “I’ve got great concerns that the federal government is trying to regulate that aspect of our drilling industry. It would basically shut down the oil and gas industry for hydraulic fracking to be outlawed or frankly, allow radical environmental interests to come in and have a say on how it … can be used by the federal government.”
Echoing Pomeroy’s comments, Perry adds this:
“I think the state of Texas is doing an appropriate job and I think we’re doing a pretty good job of making sure that companies that have misused the technique are being punished appropriately,” Perry said.
Energy in Depth, an industry-backed group fighting new regulation of fracking, had this to say about the new Waxman letters:
“The basic geological reality of shale gas exploration is the formations we fracture are separated from the formations carrying potable underground water by thousands and thousands of feet — and millions and millions of tons — of solid, impermeable rock. If the chairman is looking for some additional information on that scientific phenomenon, or on the steps that operators take at every wellsite in America to ensure what happens inside the wellbore has no way of communicating with what occurs outside it, that’s a conversation we look forward to being part of,” spokesman Chris Tucker said.
- “No verified incident of hydraulic fracturing harming groundwater”
- “We’ve never had any problems with hydraulic fracking”
Top Colo. Oil, Gas Regulator: “No verified incident of hydraulic fracturing harming groundwater”: “David Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, told the EPA the state has found no verified incident of hydraulic fracturing harming groundwater. Industry representatives from as far as North Dakota defended the safety of producing oil and gas by underground injection of high-pressure fluids to fracture formations, and spoke of the necessity of the practice for energy development. (Grand Junction Sentinel, 7/14/10)
Colo. Woman Drives Over 4 Hours to Defend America’s Oil, Natural Gas Producers: “Mariah Raney traveled all the way from Grand Junction to Denver to deliver a simple message Tuesday. The oil and gas industry is economically important to families such as hers, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should consider the industry’s job and tax benefits as it moves forward with a study of the possible groundwater and other effects of hydraulic fracturing by energy companies, she told EPA officials. … Raney said she has a brother-in-law who works as a welder in the industry and other family members who work in areas such as education and health care that benefit from taxes generated by oil and gas development. “I don’t think that people realize it’s important to everybody’s family,” Raney said later in an interview. “Every time you flip on your lights it’s important to your family.” (Grand Junction Sentinel, 7/14/10)
Colo. County Commissioner on Fracturing: “It’s safe”: “It’s safe. In Weld County, where we have more than 30,000 wells, 19,000 active wells, more than any other county in the nation, we’ve never had any problems with hydraulic fracking,” Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said. … Gas and oil companies say fracking is safe, and 95 percent of wells in the western U.S. are stimulated by the process. “It’s like robotics to the automotive industry, without fracking we can’t develop most of the natural gas in the United States,” Western Energy Alliance Director of Government Affairs Kathleen Sgamma said. (9 News, 7/14/10)
Petroleum Engineering PhD: “Drilling is a safe and economically urgent choice”: “Fears of environmental ruin are exaggerated and examples often have no relevance to shale gas technology. A narrow 5z-inch diameter horizontal hole more than a mile beneath the surface, sealed with multiple layers of casing and cement, stimulated by a time-proven technology of creating micro-fractures no more than 150 feet in height, presents no danger … Industry is already quickly approaching near 100 percent reuse and recycling of waste water in closed loop systems that minimize the surface spill risks. … Obstructionists with no practical energy or economic alternatives fiddle from their ivory towers while typical upstate New Yorkers and communities struggle in quiet desperation epitomized by what a local struggling farmer recently told me: “We are in the fight of our lives for our economic survival and our basic mineral rights.” … It’s time to move forward rather than hinder this exceptional economic opportunity. (Buffalo News Op-Ed, 7/14/10)
- “States should continue to play the chief regulatory role”
- “There has never been a confirmed report of groundwater contamination”
- “There are no documented cases of fracturing causing groundwater contamination”
- “There have been more than one million wells using hydraulic fracturing drilled nationally since the 1960s and not a single instance of direct groundwater contamination has been tied to the process”
Ground Water Protection Council: “The Oklahoma City-based Ground Water Protection Council that Paque heads takes the position that states should continue to play the chief regulatory role because they already have experienced staffs in place and are more knowledgeable about the unique geology and hydrology of their regions. The council is an association of state regulatory agencies that oversee the oil and gas industry and impose rules to protect groundwater. Members include the Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which deals with various water issues. “It would be nigh impossible for the federal government to step in and replace the thousands of people the states have doing it now,” Paque said. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 6/29/10)
Top Texas Oil, Natural Gas Regulator: “With many thousands of fracs taking place in Texas, Commission records do not indicate a single documented water contamination case associated with hydraulic fracturing in our state. The study the EPA is conducting, like other studies in the past, will show the positive benefits of this homegrown technology that has increased our supply of clean burning natural gas that makes America more energy secure. (Texas Insider, 7/9/10)
Alabama Oil, Natural Gas Regulator: “There have been thousands of fracking operations in the state, according to board Deputy Director Dave Bolin, going back to the 1940s, when the process was in its infancy. “There has never been a confirmed report of groundwater contamination,” said Bolin, citing regulations requiring operators to seal fracking pipes with steel and cement to 300 feet below the water table, to prevent the fracking fluids from seeping in. “And the fact is, if we as a state want this resource to be viable, the hydraulic fracturing process is necessary.” (Birmingham News, 7/12/10)
Texas Oil, Natural Gas Regulator: “Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Victor Carrillo also strongly defended fracturing, saying that without it, gas recovery from tight rock formations such as the Barnett Shale — the leading gas-producing area in the nation — would be “impossible.” There are no documented cases of fracturing causing groundwater contamination in Texas, he said. (Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, 7/8/10)
Pa. Oil, Natural Gas Assoc.: “[Hydraulic fracturing] has been used in oil and natural gas development since 1949. It is not new. It is not unproven. It is not experimental. … Without hydraulic fracturing – which is regulated competently by the states – we would not have new oil and natural gas resources in the United States. We would continue to rely on foreign countries for the oil we need to turn into gasoline to drive our cars. We would have coal and nuclear power to meet some of our electricity needs, but we would not have a homegrown source of natural gas “bridge fuel” we will need for decades as we work to increase the reliability and economics of renewable fuels. (Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader, 7/10/10)
Texas Alliance of Energy Producers: “Additionally, during the past 25 years, the Congress, federal regulatory agencies, state regulatory agencies, state legislatures, and the courts have examined hydraulic fracturing extensively. Yet, not one case of contamination by hydraulic fracturing has been proven. In 1995, EPA Administrator Carol Browner, who serves as Obama’s energy and environmental czar, wrote that hydraulic fracturing closely was regulated by the states and, “EPA is not legally required to regulate hydraulic fracturing.” Most importantly, she further wrote that there was “no evidence that hydraulic fracturing resulted in any drinking water contamination” in the litigation involved. Also, two EPA officials testified just a few months ago that they did not know of any contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing. (Standard-Times, 7/10/10)
Pa. Paper: “Stick to the facts”: “There have been more than one million wells using hydraulic fracturing drilled nationally since the 1960s and not a single instance of direct groundwater contamination has been tied to the process. The source on that is not the gas industry but rather DEP’s director of Bureau of Oil and Gas Management. … And a spill is not an environmental disaster. Recently, a well owned by EOG Resources had a leak and fracturing fluid was spilled. The situation was addressed without fracturing fluid entering water sources. The source on that information is not the gas industry but John Hanger, state DEP secretary. (Williamsport Sun-Gazette Editorial, 7/9/10)
Just The Facts: Gasland Debunked
Fracing film’s flim flam: “Hydraulic fracturing, as many OGJ readers know, has been around for decades. Recently, its use has driven development of US natural gas reserves locked in shale. And it promises the same for other global areas. … Coinciding with that showing, oil and gas producer organization Energy in Depth (EID) issued a 4,000-word, point-by-point rebuttal of virtually every allegation the movie makes against the technique and the industry that employs it. With that as background, call what follows a point/counterpoint on, as it happens, a subject well known to many Journal readers. (Oil and Gas Journal, 7/12/10)
Gasland aims to “create an atmosphere of fear”: “The Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association (PIOGA) said “Gasland” is and inaccurate portrait of fracking made to create an atmosphere of fear. In fact, they said fracking is being performed safely in 38 states. “They are all saying the same thing in a million wells we have not had a problem with contamination by hydraulic fracturing,” said Lou D’Amico, President of PIOGA. (WFMZ-TV, 7/12/10)
AP story on “potentially harmful” chemicals used in fracturing process runs everywhere in Pennsylvania – two days later, we learn DEP sent AP the wrong list (!)
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- In an interview with The Inquirer on Wednesday, [DEP secretary John] Hanger was harshly critical of Fox, whom he called a “propagandist
- Hanger dismissed Gasland … as “fundamentally dishonest” and “a deliberately false presentation for dramatic effect.”
- Critics say Fox, who stars in his own movie in the style of Michael Moore, presents a one-sided portrait of natural gas extraction. Energy in Depth … called Gasland “heavy on hyperbole, light on facts.”
FLASHBACK – Sec. Hanger as CEO of top environmental group: “Since our founding by The Heinz Endowments and the Pew Charitable Trusts in 1998, PennFuture has changed the landscape in Pennsylvania for both environmental protection and the economy. … If we are to truly move our state, our nation, and our world into a new clean and green future and solve the problem of global warming, we know we have a long road ahead and many challenges to meet.” (4/14/08)
‘Gasland’ documentary fuels debate over natural gas extraction
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Wed, Jun. 23, 2010
John Hanger might think twice the next time a documentary filmmaker knocks on his door in the state capital.
In a documentary about natural gas development that premiered this week on HBO, Pennsylvania’s secretary of the environment receives a decidedly unflattering portrayal at the hands of Josh Fox, who made the movie Gasland.
Fox portrays Hanger – a liberal who spent years in the mainstream environmental movement – as an equivocating tool of the natural gas industry. In one of the film’s signature moments, Fox pulls out a bottle of water he says was polluted by a Marcellus Shale gas well and challenges the state’s top environmental regulator to drink it.
A clearly uncomfortable Hanger declines. At the end of the interview – Hanger appears for five minutes of the 105-minute film – the secretary detaches the microphone from his lapel and walks out of his own office.
In an interview with The Inquirer on Wednesday, Hanger was harshly critical of Fox, whom he called a “propagandist.”
Hanger dismissed Gasland, which won a Sundance Film Festival award, as “fundamentally dishonest” and “a deliberately false presentation for dramatic effect.”
Fox, contacted in New York on Wednesday during a promotional tour, shot back: “It’s John Hanger himself who’s dishonest.” He said the secretary was disingenuous to present natural gas development “as anything other than a disaster.”
The flap encapsulates much of the polarizing debate that has erupted around shale-gas drilling, which relies upon a controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing.
Fox became interested in gas drilling early last year when an operator offered his family nearly $100,000 to lease its 19 acres in northeastern Pennsylvania, in the heart of the booming Marcellus Shale natural gas play. Fox sets out on a mission to expose the evils of natural gas.
Critics say Fox, who stars in his own movie in the style of Michael Moore, presents a one-sided portrait of natural gas extraction. Energy in Depth, an industry website, called Gasland “heavy on hyperbole, light on facts.”
NOTE: Click HERE to read the full Inquirer article on-line.
- Debunking GasLand (Fact Sheet)
- Longtime NYT Editor, Columnist on GasLand: “One-sided, flawed … in the Michael Moore mode”
- Dan Boren: Gasland Has Many Inaccuracies
- No Second Acts for GasLand
So what’d he think of the write-up? According to one columnist for a major national daily with whom we both spoke, Fox’s primary critique of the EID fact-check was that we had based it off an “earlier print of the film,” not the new and improved version purchased by HBO. That iteration was going to be different, we were told — different from the film he had previously screened in dozens of places all across the country. After all, it was an HBO product now. And certainly a network with more than 30 million U.S. subscribers couldn’t be expected to just run any picture show it got its hands on without conducting a thorough job of vetting and reviewing it first. Right?
Our curiosity was officially piqued. What would Fox decide to change? The possibilities were endless. He could decide to strike the portion of the film on Dunkard Creek, which even the local press in the area have derided as a “glaring error.” Maybe he’d decide to toss-in a quick mention of the report from Colorado regulators on the Markham well in Fort Lupton, which found the methane in the water had nothing to do with oil or gas development.
But then again, adding in that little disclaimer would sort of ruin the flammable faucet scene, wouldn’t it? How about that bit about the endangered species in Wyoming? That part’s factually incorrect as well, and easily confirmable as such. Would that segment make HBO’s final cut? EID had to find out – even if it meant staying up well past its bedtime to do it.
So we watched the film, again. And what do you know? Dunkard Creek’s still in there. And so is the flammable faucet. And so is the phantom claim that natural gas exploration in Wyoming is rendering the sage grouse extinct. Incidentally, if that’s true, someone should tell the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission. It might want to discontinue its sage grouse hunting season. Ditto for the mule deer. We shouldn’t be hunting endangered species.
So what did he actually change, then? In the final analysis, unfortunately, not a whole lot. Take a gander for yourself:
Previous version: “In 2004, the EPA was investigating a water contamination incident due to hydraulic fracturing in Alabama. But a panel rejected the inquiry, stating that although hazardous materials were being injected underground, EPA did not need to investigate.” (31:32)
HBO version: “In 2004, the EPA was investigating water contamination incidents due to hydraulic fracturing across the country. But a panel rejected the inquiry, stating that although hazardous materials were being injected underground, EPA did not need to investigate.” (30:17)
- Mercifully, someone informed the director that the 2004 EPA investigation in Alabama he previously cited did not actually take place. His new version for HBO excludes the mention of Alabama, but unfortunately still mischaracterizes EPA’s course of study in this area.
- In the new version, Fox says that EPA “was investigating water contamination incidents,” but then the agency apparently decided it “did not need to investigate” those incidents. Which one is it? Did EPA conduct an investigation focused on hydraulic fracturing in 2004, or didn’t it?
- Here’s what actually happened: In June 2004, EPA released the conclusions of a nationwide study on the relationship between the fracturing of coalbed methane wells and underground sources of drinking water. What did it find? “In its review of incidents of drinking water well contamination believed to be associated with hydraulic fracturing, EPA found no confirmed cases that are linked to fracturing …”
- More on the scope of research involved in the EPA study: “In addition to reviewing more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, EPA also interviewed 50 employees from state or local government agencies and communicated with approximately 40 citizens who were concerned that CBM production impacted their drinking water wells. EPA made a draft of the report available for a 60-day public comment period in August 2002.”
Previous version: “What I didn’t know was that the 2005 energy bill pushed through Congress by Dick Cheney exempts the oil and natural gas industries from Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Superfund law, and about a dozen other environmental and Democratic regulations.” (6:05)
HBO version: “What I didn’t know was that the 2005 energy bill pushed through Congress by Dick Cheney exempts the oil and natural gas industries from the Safe Drinking Water Act.” (5:03)
- Once again, kudos to Fox for at least having the decency to convert what was previously an outright falsehood into a respectable distortion. As he concedes here, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains no such exemptions to the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Superfund law, or any of the other “dozen” statutes he cites. Click here for EID’s fact sheet on the various federal laws that apply to each step of the energy development process.
- The 2005 energy bill does, however, contain language relating to hydraulic fracturing and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Here’s what it does: It makes crystal clear Congress’s long-standing position that hydraulic fracturing was never intended to be regulated under SDWA, and that the process is best regulated by state experts and officials on the ground, not by EPA staff in Washington, D.C. Is that what you would call an “exemption” to the law? Not exactly. It was simply a restatement of current law: how it is, how it was, how it’s always been. For the past 36 years.
- As for the claim that the Vice President of the United States “pushed” the bill through Congress, consider: The Energy Policy Act of 2005 earned the support of nearly three-quarters of the U.S. Senate (74 “yea” votes), including the top Democrat on the Energy Committee; current Interior secretary Ken Salazar, then a senator from Colorado; and a former junior senator from Illinois named Barack Obama. In the U.S. House, 75 Democrats joined 200 Republicans in supporting the final bill, including the top Democratic members on both the Energy & Commerce and Resources Committees. That’s quite a push.
Two minor changes — that’s all we noticed in watching the “new” version of the film on HBO last night. Of course, we did pick up on a few little things we missed the first couple times around. For instance, Fox does an interview with one woman in Colorado, who is shown coughing on camera and stating that natural gas exploration is the reason “I’m never healthy.” In the next scene (27:48), she’s shown holding a cigarette. The woman also blames natural gas development for the occurrence of methane in her water well. For what it’s worth, Colorado regulators disagree: “COGCC sampled the McClure water well on 3/25/09. Sample results show naturally occurring biogenic methane gas in well and no impact from O&G [oil and natural gas] operations.”
Next up for GasLand? An encore airing on HBO slated for Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m. EST. Check back at energyindepth.org for updates and additional points of debunkery from the film. Tough to imagine we’re through with this yet.
EID responds to mistaken assertions made during recent markup of Energy & Commerce Committee
WASHINGTON – The federal government mandates the disclosure of materials used in the commonly used, 60-year-old process of hydraulic fracturing – but do any of the states? Late last month during a markup in the House Energy and Commerce Committee, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) told her colleagues on the panel that “only three states have laws requiring reporting.” But according to the Ground Water Protection Council, the actual number is significantly higher than that – and as recently as this week, growing.
Earlier today, Energy In Depth executive director Lee Fuller sent a detailed letter and accompanying packet of information on disclosure to every member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, seeking to dispel any misconceptions that may exist on what is fundamentally a basic, verifiable question. The text of that letter, along with links to the various addenda included with it, can be found below.
June 11, 2010
The Honorable Henry Waxman
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Commerce
2125 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6115
The Honorable Joe Barton
Ranking Member, Committee on Energy and Commerce
2322A Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515-6115
Dear Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Barton:
On May 26, the Energy and Commerce panel held a full committee markup of H.R. 5320, the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability (AQUA) Act of 2010, a bill that was reported favorably to the House by a vote of 45-1. One of the amendments brought up for consideration that afternoon, offered by U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), sought to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to target the continued use of hydraulic fracturing, a key energy technology never previously regulated under SDWA, but over the past 60 years, one that has been aggressively regulated by the many states in which the technique is commonly deployed.
Although the DeGette language was ultimately withdrawn — a motion that was supported by the chairman – the debate that was spurred by the introduction of the amendment included several assertions which, upon closer scrutiny, don’t quite reflect the current reality as it relates to state involvement in the regulation and oversight of fracturing activities. I appreciate the opportunity to correct that record on behalf of the Independent Petroleum Association of America and Energy In Depth, of which I have the pleasure to serve as executive director.
Reviewing the archived video of the debate on the committee’s website, Rep. DeGette on several occasions makes reference to what she believes to be an inadequate number of states currently requiring service companies to disclose information related to the materials used in the fracturing process. In particular, she suggests that “only three states have laws requiring reporting,” and that two other states “are considering implementing those laws” as well. All told, she estimates that “only one-tenth of the states require this type of reporting,” and proceeds to use that premise as the foundation for constructing a broader argument in support of her amendment.
But those numbers don’t quite align with research jointly published last year by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the U.S. Department of Energy. According to that report, of the 27 states in which 99.9 percent of oil and gas activity takes place:
- 25 of those states require a detailed well treatment report to be submitted to state regulatory agencies;
- 18 states require the submission of a list of materials used (water, sand, additives) in the process;
- 19 states require the volumes of those materials to be disclosed; and
- 10 states demand a list of specific additives the service company intends to use on site.
Attached for your convenience, please find a previously unpublished addendum to the GWPC report providing a detailed summary of how these states regulate hydraulic fracturing, as well as other rules in place governing every stage of the energy exploration, production and delivery process. Please note that since this addendum was compiled, a number of states – such as Colorado, Pennsylvania, and most recently Wyoming – have updated their disclosure rules to provide for even greater level of transparency in the process.
In analyzing the disclosure requirements currently in place in the individual states, it’s important also to recognize that the federal government also requires the forthright disclosure of additives used in the fracturing process in the form of Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), which are mandated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to be present at every well site in America where a minimum amount of chemicals are found. In states such as New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, these sheets and aggregations thereof can be accessed easily by navigating to the website of the appropriate state regulatory office. In other states, similar information can be obtained by submitting a simple request to the agency.
In closing, one additional comment made by Rep. DeGette during the debate over her amendment last week may warrant further explanation – specifically, the assertion that “in 2005, the oil and gas industry got itself exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the only industry which is exempt from that legislation.”
As senior members of the committee during that time, certainly you remember that the provision of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 dealing with hydraulic fracturing did not result in a substantive change to existing law; it merely clarified Congress’s long-standing position that hydraulic fracturing had never been – and, in fact, was never intended to be – regulated under SDWA. But that doesn’t mean other aspects of the process aren’t regulated under SDWA and a host of other federal rules and statutes. For your convenience, I’ve attached a fact sheet depicting the various forms of federal regulation (SDWA, Clean Water Act, etc.) that apply to each step of that process.
Thank you for the opportunity to address some of the misconceptions that exist regarding ongoing efforts by the states to discharge their long-held responsibilities related to the regulation of oil and natural gas. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly should you have any additional questions, concerns or comments.
Lee O. Fuller
Energy In Depth
cc: All members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
Peter Applebome, a reporter and editor at the New York Times since 1987, writes thisabout GasLand in the Gray Lady:
- “It’s one-sided, flawed and personal in the Michael Moore mode”
Local PA newspaper calls out Josh Fox: “One glaring error in the film is the suggestion that gas drilling led to the September fish kill at Dunkard Creek in Greene County. That was determined to have been caused by a golden algae bloom from mine drainage from a [mine] discharge.” (Washington (Pa.) Observer-Reporter, 6/5/10)
Marcellus Shale group weighs-in: “Our understanding, based on previews of the film, is that it’s loaded with misleading claims and untruths, and completely fails to recognize the well-known fact that hydraulic fracturing has been used in this state for a half-century, and according to state and federal regulators, has never once been found to adversely impact the public’s underground drinking water supplies.” (Patriot-News, 6/2/10)
Washington Examiner: “[Lisa] Jackson forgot to mention “concerns” about hydraulic fracturing come only from environmental groups seeking to stop all uses of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. Jackson’s announcement followed the Washington premiere of the anti-fossil fuel “GasLand” propagandamentary produced by some of these same groups. Two more facts Jackson didn’t mention: Never in the 60-year history of hydraulic fracturing has it been linked to a single proven public health threat to water quality; and the EPA has already studied hydraulic fracturing, most recently in 2004, when it found no threat.” (Editorial, 3/19/10)
“Michael Moore has spawned imitators, including Josh Fox”: “Michael Moore, writer/producer of Fahrenheit 9/11, Sicko, and Capitalism: A Love Story among others, has pioneered this kind of “documentary” that’s long on innuendo and short on facts, perfecting it as an art. It seems Mr. Moore has spawned imitators, including Josh Fox. … The drumbeat will only grow louder from the anti-drilling movement. Their two-pronged attack is to claim: 1) Hydraulic fracturing as a mining technique is unsafe, and 2) Your water will become contaminated with nasty chemicals and/or methane gas if there’s a drill anywhere near you. Both claims are false.” (Marcellus Drilling News, 2/23/10)
Interested in learning the facts? Click HERE to view Energy In Depth’s comprehensive fact-check of the “one-sided, flawed” claims perpetuated in GasLand.
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the introduction of the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act in the 111th Congress, a bill sponsored (but probably not authored) by Reps. Dianna DeGette (D-Colo.) and Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.) While short on actual legislative text, the bill – the Senate companion to which was introduced the same day last year by Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) – aims to give regulators in Washington unprecedented authority to regulate the commonly used energy technology known as hydraulic fracturing, never mind that states have been aggressively regulating the process for more than six decades already.
So here we are one year later. And despite the fact the no committee or subcommittee of either house of Congress has acted on the bill in any discernable way since its introduction, its threat to our economy and our nation’s energy security remains very real.
Congress is considering a federal takeover of fracking oversight, which would only lessen Pennsylvania’s environmental protection. S. 1215, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, would require the hydraulic fracturing process to be monitored by the federal government under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
S. 1215 is unwarranted. Fracking occurs thousands of feet beneath aquifers, and there is no indication it causes contamination. According to DEP’s Bureau of Oil and Gas Management director, “there has never been any evidence of fracking ever causing direct contamination of fresh groundwater in Pennsylvania or anywhere else.”
Besides being unnecessary, the FRAC Act is poor policy, as it shifts responsibility away from local authorities who are better equipped to handle local situations. Pennsylvania’s regulatory agencies have made sure no water contamination in the state has occurred and should be supported as the correct regulatory bodies for protecting the state’s waterways.
The FRAC Act has lined up a few cheerleaders recently, though. In fact, there’s even a movie out now called GasLand that perpetuates tired, debunked talking points aimed at domestic energy production and the tens of thousands of jobs this industry continues to create. While the “documentary” has garnered some fanfare for its theatrics, it didn’t get quite the same reception when put under the microscope of an Energy In Depth fact-check.
But it’s not just Energy In Depth that understands how critical shale gas production, enabled by fracturing, is to our nation and to our economy. Other top opinion-leaders are speaking out, too. San Antonia Express columnist David Hendricks writes this in a recent column:
What if I told you a domestic fuel exists that emits only half the greenhouse gases of coal and can be found in abundant supply to last the United States at least 45 years?
Many of you already know what it is: natural gas. Technological advances are unlocking natural gas reserves in deep shale rock strata around the world. The more people search for new reserves, the more they find.
The United States has enough shale gas that prices can range in a comfortable zone for the next few decades.
The threat of Washington stripping energy-producing states of their ability to regulate fracturing is as real as the economic benefits this technology is bringing to regions of the country who desperately need jobs and affordable, domestic supplies of energy. Send Congress the message that responsible, heavily-regulated, job-creating American energy production is critical to our long-term security.
Last week was quite a week for shale gas production enabled by hydraulic fracturing, a 60-year old tightly regulated technology used to stimulate oil and gas production in 9 out of 10 wells nationwide.
There was plenty of positive and welcomed economic news. An updated Penn State University economic impact study released last Tuesday finds that the development of the Marcellus Shale’s clean-burning natural gas reserves, through the use of fracturing, has the potential to add an additional 212,000 new jobs to the state’s employment rolls over the next decade. Energy In Depth’s executive director, Lee Fuller, said this about the study:
“The release of this report from Penn State today serves to reinforce that status in a modern context, and also make clear to those who oppose this critical work on political or ideological grounds that, at least on practical economic grounds, that opposition could lead to fewer jobs, greater dependence, and a lot less revenue for the state.”
But Appalachia isn’t the only region of the country that is booming thanks to fracturing. The Shreveport Times reports this under the headline “Haynesville Shale spares local economy”:
The huge amounts of money injected into the local economy via the Haynesville Shale activity has spared northwest Louisiana from the worst effects of the national slowdown, according to an economist whose second-year study of the industry was released Tuesday.
In the report, Dr. Loren C. Scott pointed out that the seven firms participating in his study “pumped an amazing $7 billion into the state’s economy” in just one year. That sizeable injection of new money into the state can be equated to tossing a boulder into a pond.
Scott’s study serves as tangible evidence to the “tremendous economic benefits of natural gas extraction operations in northwest Louisiana,” said Don Briggs, Louisiana Oil and Gas Association president.
And in a report yesterday from KENS 5-TV, “Texas oil and gas boom paying dividends for San Antonio,” thanks to 21st century fracture stimulation technologies. This from the region’s CBS affiliate:
A huge, underground oil and gas field is promising big results, and that’s having an economic impact on San Antonio.
“I wish I had a crystal ball.” No one knows, no one knows. They just pick up the phone and start ordering equipment,” said Chase Hooker, Director of new business development for APPCO; a company that makes equipment called Frac-Sanders.
These huge, $250,000 machines deliver a special sand mixture to a well. The “frac” sand helps force fossil fuels out of the ground. Despite making a dozen of these 25-ton machines a month, APPCO is back-ordered through 2011.
Unfortunately, some in Washington – despite this overwhelmingly positive economic news in an otherwise struggling national economy – believe that the energy-producing states should be stripped of their proven ability to effectively regulate fracturing.
Last week, Colorado Rep. Dianna DeGette, an advocate for burdensome, duplicative and potentially devastating federal regulations on American energy production, offered and withdrew an amendment at a House Energy and Commerce Committee mark-up that would have stripped energy-producing states of their ability to effectively regulate fracturing. Like her bill, the FRAC Act, Ms. DeGette’s amendment would give the federal government – for the first time ever – authority to oversee this critical and heavily regulated practice.
Thankfully the amendment was withdrawn amidst pressure from Energy In Depth, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and scores of Democrats and Republicans on the panel.
EID’s Fuller wrote this in a letter to members of the committee leading up to the hearing:
The fact is, hydraulic fracturing has been ably and aggressively regulated by the states almost since the moment of its invention, with regulators compiling an impressive record of enforcement and oversight during that time. It’s a record that continues to be acknowledged by regulators and lawmakers on the federal level as well, most recently by EPA’s director of drinking water protection, who told a reporter in February that there existed “no evidence” that “states aren’t doing a good job already” when it comes to regulating fracturing activities.
But it’s not just America’s energy producers and job-creators speaking out about fracturing’s long and clear record of effectiveness and safety. Major newspapers are speaking out, too. Today’s Investor’s Businesses Daily writes this in an editorial:
Environmentalists, aided and abetted by Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, now want to stop us from unlocking our vast reserves of natural gas locked up in shale using a technique called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.” The technique involves injecting liquids under pressure, 95% of which is water, into the shale rock to release the trapped gas.
Casey has introduced legislation to remove fracking’s long-standing exemption in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows energy companies to use the process. He claims the process endangers America’s drinking water, though fracking is done thousands of feet below the groundwater table and there’s never been a case of groundwater contamination caused by fracking.
“This 60-year-old technique has been responsible for 7 billion barrels of oil and 600 trillion cubic feet of natural gas,” according to Sen. James Inhofe, ranking member of the Environment and Public Works Committee. “In hydraulic fracturing’s 60-year-history, there has not been a single documented case of contamination.”
China’s rapacious appetite for economic growth, job creation and overall global dominance is no secret, nor is its playbook for achieving those goals. Affordable, stable supplies of energy – more than anything else – are the foundation of strong and competitive economies. Leaders in China understands this full-well, and is moving forward aggressively – with the help of the White House – to put their nation a path toward prosperity and unmatched growth.
While shale gas has been termed a “game-changer” in the United States, this clean-burning resource is also making waves in the global energy markets. In a report today from People’s Daily Online, under the headline “Sinopec to boost unconventional gas production capacity by 2015,” the news outlet reports this:
Sinopec Group (Sinopec), the country’s second-largest oil company, plans to increase its unconventional gas production capacity to more than 2.5 billion cubic meters annually by the end of 2015, a move in line with China’s efforts to diversify its energy mix.
Sinopec will speed up the development of unconventional gas including shale gas and coalbed methane during the central government’s 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15).
Development of unconventional oil and gas will become an important growth engine for the company’s business in the next five to 10 years, the company said in a statement on its website Tuesday.
The report highlights the critical role American-created hydraulic fracturing technologies will be for the Chinese to unlock their shale gas reserves and the role those resources will play in fueling its economic future:
Analysts said using more advanced foreign technology in the sector would accelerate the exploitation of China’s gas reserves.
Tight gas is natural gas contained in rock that must be fractured or broken open before it can flow easily to production wells.
Use of unconventional gas would be an effective substitute to meet China’s rising natural gas demand, said analysts.
You see, at the same time the White House is lending a hand to the Chinese to help tap their job-creating shale gas reserves, some in Congress (and other out-of-the-mainstream advocacy groups) are working to make it more difficult – or altogether impossible – for American energy resources to be safely leveraged into jobs, security and competitiveness. Hard to believe, isn’t it.
Maurice Hinchey, a senior member of the U.S. House whose district encompasses much of the Marcellus Shale along New York’s southern tier, is working feverishly – along with Rep. Dianna DeGette (Colo.) and Sen. Bob Casey (Pa.) – to effectively strip energy-producing states of their ability to regulate fracturing. Their bill – the FRAC Act – would for the first time in the history of the Safe Drinking Water Act give the EPA in Washington outright authority to regulate (not to mention permit) every aspect of the fracture stimulation process.
How come? Glad you asked. Are energy-producing states – who tightly regulated this practice – not pulling their weight? Not according to the EPA’s water regulator, and growing chorus of congressional Democrats, Republicans and governors.
Would there be any added environmental benefit should the FRAC Act become law? Afraid not.
But don’t these FRAC Act-backers just want to know what fluids are used in the process? Well, that’s already well-known, actually – 99.5 percent water and everyday playground sand, along with other additives commonly found in ice cream, gummy bears and peanut butter (scary stuff, huh).
The aim of the FRAC Act is not to make our water resources any cleaner or more secure. It’s aims is to make domestic energy production more burdensome.
China understands the benefits to stable and affordable energy supplies. If you do as well, then send Congress a message that the FRAC Act will cost jobs, increases our foreign energy dependence and put America in a weaker position in the global economy.
Chairman Waxman: “I would ask that you withdraw the amendment at this time … Now is not the right time for this change.”
Energy In Depth
“A proposed amendment to rewrite the Safe Drinking Water Act that may be considered by the House Energy and Commerce Committee today could have “serious consequences” for hydraulic fracturing, a key technology used for decades to extract natural gas from shale formations, Energy In Depth executive director Lee Fuller warned in a letter to chairman Henry Waxman, D-CA, and ranking member Joe Barton, R-TX. … “As it relates to the composition of fluids commonly used in the fracturing process today, it’s important to note that greater than 99.5 percent of the mixture is comprised of water and playground sand,” Fuller said in the letter.” (Washington Examiner, 5/25/10)
“The oil and gas industry opposes DeGette’s legislation. In a letter sent to lawmakers Tuesday, Lee O. Fuller, VP of government affairs for the Independent Petroleum Association of America, argues that fracturing is safe and has been sufficiently monitored by state-level regulators such as the Texas Railroad Commission: The fact is, hydraulic fracturing has been ably and aggressively regulated by the states almost since the moment of its invention, with regulators compiling an impressive record of enforcement and oversight during that time.” (Dallas Morning News, 5/25/10)
“States would have to sacrifice other functions to generate the information,” Fuller wrote. “Of course, if they choose not to do that, states would have to give up their regulatory responsibilities under [the Safe Drinking Water Act] and turn those functions over to EPA. Not only would this burden EPA — since it is not staffed with the capabilities to undertake daily regulatory responsibilities — but it would also lead to duplicative regulations.” (E&E News, 5/25/10)
“It’s a record that continues to be acknowledged by regulators and lawmakers on the federal level as well, most recently by EPA’s director of drinking water protection, who told a reporter in February that there existed “no evidence” that “states aren’t doing a good job already” when it comes to regulating fracturing activities.” (Letter, 5/25/10)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
“For the past 60 years, hydraulic fracturing has been safely and effectively regulated by the states. Oil and gas companies already provide full chemical disclosure in accordance with all applicable federal and state laws and regulations. In contrast to the assertions on which this amendment is premised, these materials are well known to state regulators and information about them are generally available to members of the public by request to the state.
“More importantly, Rep. DeGette’s amendment could reduce oil and gas production in the United States. … The loss of these new and innovative products would mean greatly reduced oil and gas production in the United States, greater reliance on imports, and the loss of high-paying jobs.
“This amendment would do nothing more than add an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy that would stifle domestic energy production, increase energy costs for American consumers and small businesses, and potentially force U.S. manufacturing overseas. At a time when the United States is trying to become energy independent, fight an ailing economy, and put Americans back to work, now, more than ever, is the time to harness the power of proven technologies that will develop American energy resources.” (Letter, 5/25/10)
National Association of Manufacturers
“The amendment … is expected to include language taken from H.R. 2766, and will seek to rewrite the Safe Drinking Water Act in a manner that will limit energy producers’ ability to deploy a key technology, known as hydraulic fracturing, which is needed to access abundant energy resources from shale formations onshore.
“Manufacturers rely on natural gas not only as a source of electricity, but as a feedstock for products such as plastics, fertilizer and pharmaceuticals. U.S. manufacturers use approximately one-third of the nation’s natural gas supplies. Because natural gas is a regional commodity, U.S. manufacturers need reliable and increased access to domestic supplies, especially to the large reserves contained in the nation’s natural gas shale formations.” (Letter, 5/25/10)
The national economy continues to struggle, and families, small businesses and communities across the nation remain under the thumb of unacceptably high local unemployment rates. The Associated Press reports yesterday that “The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months.” The AP notes that “Applications for unemployment benefits rose to 471,000 last week, up by 25,000 from the previous week …. It was the first increase in five weeks and the biggest jump since a gain of 40,000 in February.”
We all recognize that our economy, as a whole, is far from out of the woods and on its way to a full recovery. But despite this economic downturn, there is positive news – especially as it relates to job creation – in energy-producing regions of the country.
Here’s just a glimpse of this week’s positive economic (not to mention national security) news created by homegrown energy production enable by the 60-year energy stimulation technology called hydraulic fracturing – which is supported by a majority of Americans and is helping to drive down energy costs for struggling families:
Marcellus shale creates jobs: “The mile-deep Marcellus shale formation covers all or part of seven states and is estimated to contain enough gas to handle the country’s needs for decades. “We felt we needed to hold a meeting like this for a long time,” said Katy Klaber, executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a trade group representing drillers and other companies. “We hear the macroeconomic view about the thousands of jobs created by Marcellus shale drilling, but these examples show that someone locally has a job due to the Marcellus impact.” (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, 5/20/10)
Life on a Drilling Rig: “Natural gas drilling is changing the landscape of the northern tier in many ways. … Rick Woodbeck of Towanda is just getting started. After a quick bite to eat with his co-workers they’re off to the job site. …He drills into the Marcellus shale gas deposits miles below the surface of the earth. … “I believe it’s a good thing. The economy is not doing well right now. It did bring a lot of jobs to the area. Restaurants are doing better. Just the local economy is overall better,” Woodbeck said. Not only that, he is seeing more people from the area getting these types of jobs. Six guys on his crew work the rig and four are from Pennsylvania. “There’s more jobs. I see more and more local guys on the rigs,” said Woodbeck.” (WNEP-TV, 5/19/10)
Potential New Jobs in Indian Country: “New jobs on the horizon have many people excited about a potential economic upswing in Montana’s Indian Country. … They offered updates on many new projects on Montana reservations, such as a contract with a Chinese company to build communications equipment in Montana. Another hope on the horizon is to tap into the Bakken shale oil formation. “When you look at the hidden Bakken oil wells producing huge amounts of some of the best crude in the world and now they’re moving on our reservation,” Ft. Peck Tribal Councilman Stoney Anketell said.” (KULR-TV, 5/19/10)
Shale coalition president promotes drilling’s economic benefits: “The president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition on Monday told regional community leaders that development of the Marcellus Shale not only will help the economy on a large scale, but it’s just as important to recognize the effects on the area business owners and the area job market. Kathryn Klaber, who was hired four months ago as the first president of the fledgling coalition, said it was formed in 2008 to advance responsible development of natural gas from the geological formation that lies more than a mile below a good portion of the state.” (Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, 5/21/10)
Oil and gas production is blessing our state: “Maybe it seems like an odd time to celebrate oil and gas exploration, what with a BP well spewing hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. But we in Michigan should do just that — celebrate. Bonus payments from an auction of state-owned gas and oil rights this month hit $178 million — more than eight times the record set in 1981, and just $12 million short of the total for all such sales, combined, since 1929. And that money will be reinvested in Michigan public land and recreation.” (Midland Daily News, Op-Ed, 5/16/10)
Oil, Gas Lease prices raising hopes for Local Economic Boom: “Record prices for oil and gas lease rights have raised hopes in one local county of an economic boom. A site in Pioneer township in Missaukee County could determine if the county is going to get a lot busier in the near future. The hopes are that Encana Natural Gas will go ahead with the site, install a pipeline and start producing natural gas.” (9&10 News (MI), 5/12/10)
But despite the overwhelming and undeniable positive economic impact American energy production is having throughout the country, some in Washington – and in local and state governments – remain committed to slowing, or altogether stopping, this progress. How so, and why? Hydraulic fracturing – the critical technology used to stimulate homegrown energy in 9 out of 10 wells nationwide – is the tool that allows America’s producers to reach reserves that would otherwise be unreachable.
So rather than going directly after the carpenter, some are committed to going after his or her tools through proposing layers of unnecessary, duplicative and bureaucratic layers of regulations that would make energy production more difficult, without adding any additional environmental benefit.
But what are elected officials who actually understand this process, as well as other energy experts, saying about these misguided efforts to impede job-creating American energy production? We’re glad you asked.
North Dakota Governor John Hoeven: “Gov. John Hoeven has had a series of meetings with Environmental Protection Agency leaders as the agency moves forward with a process that could end in its regulation of an oil drilling process known as fracturing. The EPA is now studying the effect the process has on ground and drinking water and could potentially use the authority granted in the Clean Water Act to take over the permitting process from the states. … The message Hoeven wants to send to the EPA is “we can regulate fracturing very well, thank you very much.” (Bismarck Tribune, 5/16/10)
IOGA-NY’s Brad Gill: “Oil and gas companies are not “exempt” from the Safe Drinking Water Act. The act was never intended to regulate hydraulic fracturing. In addition, the federal government already regulates many aspects of drilling operations, including truck emissions and wastewater disposal. The state of New York does so as well, with requirements far exceeding those at the federal level.” (Syracuse Post-Standard, 5/14/10)
Marcellus Shale Coalition’s Kathryn Klaber: “The recent shale gas boom has been called a “game changer” in the North American energy picture. It promises to deliver abundant, cheap natural gas for decades to come. Utility companies are counting on it to generate electricity with half the greenhouse emissions of coal, while gas producers are touting it as the truck fuel of the future. … “Hydraulic fracturing has been going on in this country for 60 years. It is not new and there have been no confirmed cases of groundwater impacts from hydraulic fracturing,” said Kathryn Klaber, president of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, a Pennsylvania-based industry group.” (Globe and Mail, 5/17/10)
Shepstone Management Co.’s Thomas Shepstone: “Natural gas drilling is not only environmentally responsible, but essential to health. There is, despite all the hysterical statements made by opponents, not one example of gas-well fracking polluting a water supply. Opposition to gas drilling is largely speculation and fear-mongering by those who would have the rest us do nothing to improve our lot, while they live off money inherited or made elsewhere. … Gas drilling is good for us, good for our health and good for the environment we treasure. We cannot save our environment by standing still. It is only responsible development that generates the wealth required to protect resources. Gas drilling is responsible and it will save our environment.” (Wayne Independent, 5/16/10)
Texas Dept. of State Health Services: “The only residents who had higher levels of benzene in their blood were smokers. Because cigarette smoke contains benzene, finding it in smokers’ blood is not unusual.”
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EID responds to NRDC’s running list of conjectures, distortions targeting safety, performance of hydraulic fracturing
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When it comes to the facts surrounding the 60-year old energy stimulation technology called hydraulic fracturing, which has been safely used more than 1.1 million times throughout the United States, several top New York academics believe that the facts – based on science and not fear or hyperbole – speak for themselves.
In yesterday’s Syracuse Post-Standard, under the headline “Scientists say Hydrofracking benefits outweigh risks”, a trio of Syracuse University experts echoed the fact that anti-shale gas production advocates – who “rely on fear ” – “are exaggerating the risk” of fracturing, and that “many of those concerns have been sensationalized” and “overblown.”
This from the article:
The debate should be about the science, he contends, as do two retired SU professors, Bryce Hand and Joe Robinson — who have defended high-volume hydraulic fracturing as a safe method to capture a huge supply of underground natural gas in the Marcellus Shale formation.
But opponents of hydrofracking have “dispensed with science and rely on fear” to turn the public against drilling, Siegel said.
The voices of scientists are being drowned out, the professors said.
“What I’m finding is that no matter how you make the argument about shale bed methane to the local community, they refuse to understand it or refuse to even consider it,” said Siegel, a 62-year-old Syracuse resident.
And speaking of the facts, Pennsylvania Congressman Bill Shuster – a member of the House Energy and Mineral Resources panel – took to the pages of the Johnston Tribune-Democrat today to highlight the overwhelmingly positive economic impact that the safe, responsible development of the Marcellus Shale is having throughout the Commonwealth. Under the headline “Marcellus Shale: Reigniting state’s energy potential,” the congressman writes this:
There is enormous economic potential for Pennsylvania to take advantage of this reserve as new drilling techniques have unlocked vast resources previously impossible to reach.
Natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale will generate $14 billion and has the potential to create 98,000 jobs in 2010 alone, and bring in $800 million in state and local tax revenue.
From steel to rail, other industries are already responding to the needs of the growing gas industry. This will lead to more jobs and economic growth throughout the state.
It is important that we recognize the enormous potential shale gas holds for Pennsylvania and encourage this growing industry with smart policies that encourage economic development.
The congressman also underscores how effectively the state regulates this production, especially as it relates to fracturing:
Natural gas drilling is effectively regulated at the state level by the Department of Environmental Protection. I believe the state continues to be in the best position to manage and regulate the industry.
The federal government is considering regulation of a critical drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing, which is necessary to recover gas from the Marcellus Shale.
Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for 60 years; more than 1 million wells have been hydraulically fractured and there has never been a single documented case of groundwater contamination.
The practice is regulated effectively at the state level and there is simply no need for the federal government to step in with unduly burdensome regulations.
While Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) believes that unelected Washington bureaucrats are best suited to regulate fracturing, a chorus of key congressional supporters have recently weighed-in, sending a loud and clear message that energy-producing states are best able, equipped and situated to oversee this critical technology.
In fact, a bipartisan group lawmakers who serve on the powerful House Energy & Commerce Committee – led by Reps. Sullivan (R-Okla.), Ross (D-Ark.) – wrote Henry Waxman and Ed Markey, leaders of the panel, last week, urging them to reject a one-size-fits-all Washington takeover of fracturing regulations.
Following the release of the bipartisan letter, Congressman Sullivan said this:
“In 2004, the EPA concluded that hydraulic fracturing poses no threat to groundwater. In fact, in the past 60 years, close to one million wells have been hydraulically fractured in the United States with no known harm to water supplies. I firmly believe that putting hydraulic fracturing under the grip of the EPA as some in Congress seek to do, would be a mistake and a bureaucratic nightmare that would lead to delays in recoverable domestic natural gas extraction and would hurt job growth in Oklahoma our nation.”
Congressman Mike Ross added this:
“Natural gas is one of our cleanest and most abundant energy resources in America. This industry also employs nearly 4 million Americans, including about 40,000 Arkansas families. Hydraulic fracturing is an important technology that allows us to safely recover natural gas from shale formations like the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas, reducing our dependence on foreign energy sources. It is absolutely critical we have the most recent and relevant scientific data before making any decisions, which will most likely have a far-reaching impact on Americans’ access to natural gas.”
And in a separate letter last week, Wisconsin Congressman James Sensenbrenner – the top Republican on the House Energy Independence Committee and former Science panel chairman – told EPA administrator Lisa Jackson this:
“EPA can help promote our nation’s energy independence by making it easier for the U.S. to rely on our domestic resources. We should let states regulate fracking guidelines instead of establishing federal mandates, or a government takeover of yet another industry.”
Francis Ford Coppola served as executive director of the Golden Globe-nominated The Odyssey in 1997. Back in 1968, Stanley Kubrick directed the Oscar award-winning 2001: A Space Odyssey. Both were decent movies. Both did decent at the box office. But the truth is, neither of these puppies can hold a candle to the recently released Gas Odyssey film pulled together by young documentarian Aaron Price.
What do we know about movies, you ask? Absolutely nothing. But here’s what we do know: Price’s story about a community rallying together to support the responsible conversion of clean-burning natural gas resources into jobs, revenue and opportunity for the future is as genuine John Wayne. And if you haven’t seen the trailer for it yet, well, you don’t know what you’re missing out on, friend.
The responsible development of the Marcellus Shale – considered to be the world’s second largest natural gas reserve in the world – is generating untold amounts of economic activity and job creation. At the same time, this safe, heavily-regulated production – enabled by advancements in horizontal drilling technologies coupled with the 60-year old energy stimulation process called hydraulic fracturing – is unlocking enormous amounts of clean-burning, American natural gas.
Price highlights this once-in-a-lifetime economic transformation that is rejuvenating and bringing hope to communities that have historically been down on their luck. Throughout the 117 minute documentary, Price captures the stories of family farmers, school administrators, small businesses owners and landowners whose lives, and lives of those who make up their communities, have been positively and directly affected by this production.
But this film doesn’t tell just one story – it tells two. See, in Pennsylvania, private landowners are permitted to produce shale gas on their land. However, in New York – just a couple miles away across the state border – the government in Albany has a de facto moratorium in place preventing the responsible development of Marcellus shale gas, and its associated economic benefits, from moving forward.
Here are just a few of the key firsthand accounts that Price captures:
Stephen Herz of Windsor NY, who’s owned a family horse for 60 years:
“Broome County is in a dire position, and quite franking, allowing responsible natural gas drill is a clear light at the end of this tunnel. … The natural gas opportunity is this community’s salvation … This opportunity will filter down through our community, creating jobs, creating revenue, and giving our citizens reason to hope and reason for a bright future here in Broome County. … If the gas industry isn’t allowed to responsibly thrive in Broome County, you might just as well place a closed sign on this community.”
James Worden, also of Windsor, says this, speaking on behalf of more 3,000 upstate New Yorkers:
“They tell me that they are losing their jobs, and other hardships they suffer.”
Julie Lewis, of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, says this, nothing the “astounding” potential economic benefits:
“We have not seen contamination by frac fluid, but that’s what everyone keeps talking about.”
Jon Dietz, truck driver in Montrose, PA, tells Price this:
“In my opinion, there’s nothing detrimental to our area with what’s going on right now. It’s bringing jobs, it’s bringing money. And its’ improving everything. This was a dead community. Our last factory closed years ago.”
Price talks to Derek Matolka, who’s enrolled in Lackawanna College’s natural gas technology program, and commutes from Vestal, NY:
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do before, but I’m excited about this program and to join the gas industry following graduation.”
Broome County executive, Barbara Fiala, a tireless advocate for economic opportunity and job creation, adds this:
“Nothing would compare to what gas drilling would mean to the community,” in terms of jobs and positive economic impact.
FRAC Act Author Bob Casey Served By PA DEP
Faced with Opportunity to Get the Fact Straight on HF in Letter to EPA, Casey Strikes Out Again
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National enviro groups quick to declare hydraulic fracturing to blame for water tests in Wyoming; but what do enviro groups INSIDE Wyoming have to say?
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Associated Press: “Plenty of folks like Matoushek are eager for the gas, and the royalty checks, to start flowing — including farmers who see Marcellus money as a way to keep their struggling operations afloat. “It’s a depressed area,” Matoushek said. “This is going to mean new jobs, real jobs, not government jobs.” (4/18/10)
Marcellus Shale Coalition Touts Economic Benefits: “Kathryn Klaber, president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, said the industry complies with environmental regulations. … ”We are eager and ready to work with the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission, just as we are with every other state government agency and regulatory body, to ensure that safe, responsible, heavily regulated shale gas development continues to drive economic opportunity and job creation in an environmentally responsible way.” (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 4/17/10)
Joint natural gas venture will bring more jobs to area: “In terms of hiring, what we anticipate is likely adding about 500 employees over the next five years to accomplish what we will do in our new activities. The vast majority of those employees will be people working in our core operating areas, Fayette, Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties,” he said. “We are proabably looking at hiring about 100 new employees each year as we ramp up,” he said. “In terms of the types of jobs, they will range from all aspects of the whole drilling operation. … We estimate that for every Atlas employee we hire there’s probably four contractor employees who work for the service companies and others we deal with,” Kupfer said.” (Herald-Standard, 4/18/10)
Thanks to Fracturing, Gas OPEC looks less likely: “Qatar, GECF member and the world’s biggest gas exporter, has invested heavily in building new LNG facilities and is not interested in reducing production. Russia, another of the group’s biggest exporters, no longer supports the idea either, despite recent comments from Gazprom bristling at the success of US shale gas, and its problems with the growing preference for cheaper spot pricing for pipeline gas.” (Financial Times, 3/19/10)
Shale Gas Generating Millions for Local Louisiana Communities: “Mineral lease bonus payments in the Haynesville Shale natural gas area totaled more than $2.1 million this past week for Caddo Parish and Shreveport. Parish government raked in another $1.3 million in advance payments as part of an agreement to allow oil or natural gas to be extracted. The state Mineral Board leased rights to about 165 acres of Caddo public property during its auction in Baton Rouge on Wednesday.” (Associated Press, 4/18/10)
Prosperity 101: PA College President Weighs-in on Shale Gas: “Northeastern Pennsylvania has an opportunity to become part of the solution through the careful and thoughtfully regulated extraction of natural gas in the Marcellus Shale. Natural gas emits far less carbon than oil or coal. Other technologies such as nuclear-generated power and wind power also offer significant opportunities, but will take longer to develop. Natural gas is an excellent short-term way to limit pollutants while not sacrificing continued economic growth and prosperity here and abroad.” (Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times-Leader, 4/19/10)
Quicksilver CEO: Plenty of life left in Barnett; And Thanks HF, These Job-Creating Resources Are Now Reachable: “Quicksilver Resources Inc. is about a decade into the Barnett Shale, but it still has another 10 years of projects ahead, the company’s top executive said last week. The Fort Worth-based oil and gas exploration company began leasing in the North Texas gas play back in the early 2000s and now produces 250 million cubic feet equivalent of gas per day from its 162,000-acre leasehold, which runs from Denton County southwest to Bosque County. … “We’ve got a lot of gas up here in this Horn River Basin,” Darden said. The company has drilled four wells to date, one of which was flaring at more than 10 MMcf per day before being hydraulically fractured.” (Fort Worth Business Press, 4/19/10)
About Those Jobs: PA Paper Says College Connects Courses, Gas Industry: “With a new industry bringing truckloads of gas workers from other areas, Pennsylvania College of Technology has begun offering a number of programs to help area residents learn the basic skills needed for employment in the Marcellus Shale region. The process of forging a partnership with industry companies and contractors began about a year ago when a Penn College team, in partnership with the Penn State Cooperative Extension, launched the Marcellus Shale Education and Training Center to act as a central resource for workforce training.” (Williamsport Sun-Gazette, 4/18/10)
PA DEP all alone in continuing to insinuate that natural gas exploration had something to do with Dunkard Creek — while EPA, WV agencies say otherwise
Last Month, Secretary Chu Says Hydraulic Fracturing Done “Safely, Responsibly”; This Month, Chu Can’t Seem to Remember That
FLASHBACK: “I have no information that states aren’t doing a good job already [regulating fracturing],” Steve Heare, director of EPA’s Drinking Water Protection Division said … He also said despite claims by environmental organizations, he hadn’t seen any documented cases that the hydro-fracking process was contaminating water supplies.” (Dow Jones, 2/15/10)
US Shale Gas Revolution, Enabled by Hydraulic Fracturing, Generating Jobs, Reviving Old Train Towns – Exactly What Jethro Tull Had in Mind
We all know that safe, responsible, well-regulated natural gas production from dense, shale rock formations is helping to drive down energy prices and foreign dependence, and creating a heck of a lot of good-paying jobs, too. Hydraulic fracturing – a 60-year old energy stimulation technique used in 9 out of 10 wells nationwide – is the technological linchpin to unlocking the nearly 100 years of clean-burning, homegrown natural gas supplies. The fluids used in the fracturing process are made up of more than 99.5 percent water and sand. And as gas production continues to expand throughout Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale – considered to be the world’s second largest natural gas reservoir – the demand for sand and freight rail to move equipment continues to increase.
Yesterday’s Williamsport (PA) Sun-Gazette reports this under the headline “Marcellus Shale exploration credited in need for new locomotives”:
The Wellsboro and Corning Railroad took delivery of four SD 40-2 locomotives last month, and the burgeoning Marcellus Shale natural gas industry is the main reason the powerful locomotives are needed.
According to Tom Myles IV, chief financial officer of the Myles Group, owners of the railroad, “The additional power is necessary to support the demands of the growing gas related industries in Pennsylvania. Because the need for transportation of gas-related products is so great, we have added the locomotives to increase the ability to run longer, more economical and environmentally sound trains.”
The Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader reports this recently in a story entitled “Old Duryea railroad yard taking on new life; Rail cars of sand to be used in Marcellus Shale natural gas extraction get a home”:
Investment spurred by Marcellus Shale natural gas exploration has transformed an antiquated, weed-ridden rail yard just north of Pittston into a state-of-the-art transloading terminal teeming with rail and trucking activity on an almost daily basis.
Over the last year, Reading & Northern Railroad Co. sunk $100,000 into Pittston Yard, laying new track to accommodate 100 new rail cars and constructing a facility to store and hold up to 800 cars of sand to be used in hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” operations at Marcellus Shale drill sites throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania, said Reading & Northern President Warren A. Michel.
“The reason for our success is that we are the largest facility in the region capable of handling hundreds of rail cars of sand. We now have 130 (sand) rail cars at the yard and we’ll be expanding substantially over the next six months,” Michel said.
The company rewarded its full-time employees for their work on the project and throughout last year with an extra week of paid vacation this year and a paid trip to their choice of either Disney World; Branson, Mo.; Williamsburg, Va.; London; or a cruise.
Because of a number of factors including the Marcellus Shale drilling industry, Reading & Northern has hired 10 new employees over the last two months.
And last week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that “Marcellus Shale sends short-line railroad booming.” This from the Inquirer’s Andrew Maykuth:
Nobody knew there was gold in the sand.
When A.T. “Tom” Myles approached officials in this town three years ago about taking over the ailing Wellsboro & Corning Railroad, he thought the 35-mile short line had potential for transporting lumber to market from northern Pennsylvania.
But that was before the Marcellus Shale natural-gas boom took off and exploration companies were clambering to import sand into Pennsylvania – millions of pounds of special sand used to develop gas wells.
“I didn’t even know about the sand when I came in here. I just wanted the railway,” said Myles, 65, a fourth-generation railroader from Exton. He is chief executive of the Myles Group, a collection of companies his family owns and operates from Chester County.
Maykuth notes that the uptick in freight rail demand from the Marcellus shale is creating jobs:
In the two years since Myles took over the Wellsboro & Corning line, cargo traffic has nearly tripled, to 849 railcars last year, the most in its modern history. In a recession, Myles has hired 10 people to transfer sand from the cars into trucks.
He anticipates that business will nearly double this year, to 1,600 railcars. Almost all of that is sand used in hydraulic fracturing, the process that shatters the dense Marcellus Shale under high pressure to unlock its stores of natural gas.
The gas industry’s huge appetite for what is known as “frack sand” has spurred a rebirth for the struggling railroad, whose previous operator gave up just before the gas boom.
Michael Ming, president of Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, tells CNN that “We’ve basically won the lottery,” when it comes to American shale gas. He’s right – we have. More affordable, cleaner energy; less dependence on unstable regions of the world to fuel our economy; and tens of thousands of good-paying jobs – who’d be against that? We could think of a few folks who continue to distort facts and lodge baseless attacks on American energy producers, especially as it relates to fracturing technologies. But here are the facts.
Donald Siegel, a Syracuse earth sciences professor who holds a PhD in hydrogeology, writes this in yesterday’s Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin in a column entitled “Unfounded fears obscure facts; Public needs to understand science behind shale’s potential”:
The long-term history of gas production and the science behind it show that recent public fears of hydro-fracking are misplaced.
The water in rock thousands of feet deep is disconnected from our lakes, rivers and shallow aquifers. Hydro-fracking cannot break through these thousands of feet of rock all the way up to reach shallow aquifers.
Organic compounds in hydro-frack, flow-back water naturally biodegrade, are miniscule when measured, and trivial when considered in the context of how much raw boat fuel discharges every year in New York waters from inefficient outboard motors.
And Scott Cline, a petroleum engineering PhD, writes this in recent Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin op-ed under the headline “Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Will Not Contaminate NY Drinking Water”:
The rare cases of increased water well methane that everyone gets excited about are not related to the horizontal drilling and fracture stimulation specifically. Rarely, naturally occurring very shallow gas zones create problems when cementing surface casing in any type of well whether vertical or horizontal which can lead to the shallow gas zone bleeding into aquifers. This is rare, can be fixed with re-cementing and the methane and water turbulence will dissipate over time. DEC will require strict surface casing procedures and certification. Absolutely no frac fluid is entering the USDW from the fracture process.
EID letter to Kerry, Graham & Lieberman lays out the facts on hydraulic fracturing, importance of technology in fueling America’s shale gas revolution
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CNBC’s Cramer on EPA’s new HF study: “Even though we can’t find a single documented case of groundwater contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing, I’m concerned this could be the beginning of process that creates more regulatory hurdles for natural gas companies, and makes it more difficult to drill in the United States.”
Cramer: “Steve Heare is the EPA’s director of drinking water protection. He recently said that the states our ‘doing a good job already regulating hydraulic fracturing,’ and he added that there is no evidence to suggest the process contaminates water … He would seem to be a knowledgeable figure. He’s the drinking water protection person at the EPA.”
WASHINGTON – Now we know why they call it “Mad” Money. Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y) appeared on Jim Cramer’s CNBC financial show to discuss shale gas exploration, hydraulic fracturing, and his ongoing and very active efforts to prevent clean-burning, American made shale gas resources from being produced in New York, or anywhere else.
Actually, Rep. Hinchey disputed that characterization of his intent, offered up throughout by the host. In reality, he said, he’s just interested in “making sure that drilling occurs” and that the exploration process “is not impinged upon” – notwithstanding that his bill, known as the FRAC Act, would impede efforts to safely explore for natural gas in the very best case, and outright ban those efforts in the worst (and most plausible) case.
Keep in mind, this is the same congressman who suggested to one online writer that “very substantial economic elements,” and sinister ones at that, were involved in exploiting the shale gas revolution “for their own economic advantages.” And oh yeah, this is also the fella who once famously said: “I do not think that relying on foreign oil impacts our security. I would hope…that there might be a new approach to this whole issue and that approach would essentially mean let us import as much [energy] as we possibly can.” Yikes.
That aside, let’s see how the congressman’s latest performance holds up under an EID fact check:
“A significant portion of the Clean Water Drinking Act [sic.] was repealed in 2005. And that provision in 2005 said that people who are drilling don’t have to tell anybody what they’re putting into the ground.”
The bipartisan 2005 energy bill, supported by then Sen. Barack Obama, clarified that Congress never intended hydraulic fracturing to be regulated under Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). If Congress ever intended the SDWA to extend beyond its original scope and cover the fracturing of energy wells, it certainly had plenty of chances to make that view known.
Passed in 1974, SDWA has been amended a whopping eight separate times over the past 35 years (’74, ’77, ’79, ‘80, ‘86, ‘88, ’96, ‘05), but at no time during that extended run was the concept of regulating fracturing under the Act a significant component of the debate. And that’s true even though at the time of the bill’s passage in ‘74, fracturing had already been in commercial use for 25 years.
What’s changed in 35 years? Not a whole lot on the technological side, with the notable exception of exciting advancements in horizontal drilling techniques that allow producers today to access 10 times the energy by drilling 1/10 the number of wells.
So again: Fracturing was never regulated under SDWA – and, by that definition, could never have been granted an “exemption.” How can you be exempt from something that never covered you in the first place?Dennis Lathem, executive director of the Coalbed Methane Association of Alabama, sheds some additional light on the 2005 bipartisan legislation:
“Hydraulic fracturing has never been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The 2005 Energy Policy Act contained language clarifying this intent. The language was necessary because a federal circuit court ruled (incorrectly in my opinion) the temporary process of hydraulic fracturing is the same as the permanent disposal of wastes underground and is therefore covered by the SDWA.
“The fact is, if the language clarifying hydraulic fracturing had not been in the 2005 Energy Policy Act, every state in the union would be in exactly the same regulatory posture as they are today, except Alabama.”
Also, click HERE to view a comprehensive timeline illustrating fracturing’s long and clear record of effective regulation.
“It was one of the drillers that put 12 homes into jeopardy [in Pennsylvania], and which caused a lot of contamination of drinking water supplies.”
PA DEP: “Responding to recent concerns expressed by residents of Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, the Department of Environmental Protection has collected dozens of water supply samples in the Carter Road area and determined that nearby gas well hydro fracturing activity has not impacted local wells.” (Release, 3/27/09)
“I don’t think what I’m doing is going to cause the drilling in New York to be hesitated in any way, or stopped or done more slowly.”
The FRAC Act could give EPA outright authority to regulate fracturing in energy-producing states, stripping states of their ability to closely and effectively regulate this technology. In an editorial entitled “Power play: Fracturing plan wrong, indefensible,” The Oklahoman writes this:
“The latest power grab is an attempt to switch regulation of hydraulic fracturing from the states to the Environmental Protection Agency. … Some believe the technique poses harm to drinking water supplies. U.S. Rep. Dan Boren, D-Muskogee, disagrees and says the regulatory shift would be “disastrous for the industry.” … Legislation has been introduced in Congress to require companies to disclose the chemicals used in the process and allow the EPA to ensure compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. This is a solution in search of a problem.” (6/15/09)
“There’s a lot of examples where drilling has caused damage to drinking water supplies.”
At a recent Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, U.S. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) asked senior EPA and USGS officials if “Any one of you know of one case of ground water contamination that has resulted from hydraulic fracturing?” Here are the answers:
Peter Silva (EPA Water Chief): Not that I’m aware of, no.
Sen. Inhofe: Ms. Giles?
Cynthia Giles (EPA Compliance Administrator): I understand there’s some anecdotal evidence, but I don’t know that it’s been firmly established.
Sen. Inhofe: So the answer is no, you don’t know of it.
Cynthia Giles nods.
Sen. Inhofe: Alright, Mr. Larsen?
Matthew Larsen (Assoc. Director for Water, EPA): I’ll have to respond in writing, I don’t, I’m not aware of all of our studies on that topic.
Click HERE to view this exchange online.
EID On The Record, and With the Facts
Associated Press: “Fracturing has a long and clear record of safely leveraging otherwise unreachable homegrown, clean-burning, job-creating energy reserves,” said Lee Fuller, the head of Energy In Depth, a Washington-based coalition of natural gas and oil producers. In response to environmental concerns, Fuller said the industry has been drawing up standards for well casings and how to best handle the fluids in wells. He said efforts in Congress to regulate fracking should be halted until the EPA study was completed.” (3/18/10)
Wall Street Journal: “Lee Fuller, head of the petroleum-industry group Energy In Depth, said that if the review “is based on objective, scientific analysis, it will serve as an opportunity to highlight the host of steps taken at every wellsite that make certain groundwater is properly protected.” (3/19/10)
The Oklahoman: “An oil and gas industry group has proposed tabling legislation that would give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate fracturing until the EPA completes its study. Lee Fuller, executive director of Energy in Depth, said further regulation of hydraulic fracturing could hamper domestic energy production and job growth. … “Hydraulic fracturing is one of the U.S. oil and gas industry’s crowning achievements, enabling us to produce energy supplies at enormous depths with surgical precision and unrivaled environmental safety records,” said Fuller. “And, simply put, new innovations are making these technologies better and better by the day.” (3/19/10)
Buffalo News, LTE: “Hydraulic fracturing issues are already answered … All processes related to natural gas exploration and extraction are regulated by the states which, because of their vast geological differences, can do a more thorough job. The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency would never be able to regulate these processes efficiently or cost-effectively. In fact, Steve Heare, director of EPA’s drinking water protection office, recently said states are “doing a good job already” regulating hydraulic fracturing, adding that there is no evidence that suggests the process contaminates water.” (IOGA-NY’s Brad Gill, 3/22/10)
E&E News/New York Times: “Industry also welcomed the new study, saying it would prove claims that fracturing technology is safe. “Assuming the study’s methodology is technically sound, its evaluations are science-based, and its conclusions are peer-reviewed, there’s really only one credible outcome this project can produce,” said Chris Tucker, a spokesman for the industry-backed group Energy in Depth. “And — spoiler alert — it’s not the one that opponents of responsible shale gas exploration are clamoring for.” (3/18/10)
Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader, LTE: “Natural gas industry called well-regulated … The reality is that 99.5 percent of that solution is made up of clean water and playground sand, with much of the remainder comprised of materials such as guar gum – which might sound scary, but is actually found in products such as peanut butter and ice cream. As for the activist’s charge that the natural gas industry isn’t regulated under federal law? Wastewater treatment is covered by the federal Clean Water Act; for wastewater disposal, it’s the Safe Drinking Water Act; and just for good measure, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration mandates the full disclosure of materials used in the process.” (EID’s Chris Tucker, 3/20/10)
Local, State, Fed. Officials: Shale Gas a “Powerful Engine of Economic Growth”
The Hill: “Congressmen defend ‘fracking’ as House panel investigates drilling technique … Boren and Murphy defended the technique and pointed to studies that did not find a any link to groundwater contamination. They added that the materials used are “well known to those who regulate the process and are managed in a way that eliminates vitually any risk of those components coming into contact with shallow reservoirs bearing potable water.” “At the time of unprecedented economic uncertainty, and in a year in which four million Americans lost their jobs, shale gas exploration represents a proven and powerful engine of economic growth – and one this Congress idles at the peril of those it represents.” (3/15/10)
Sunbury (PA) Daily Item: “Yaw: Gas boom highly controlled … State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-23, of Williamsport, said that while environmental activists have been inflaming fears about the perceived dangers from frack water used to extract natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region, a more pressing concern may be effectively managing the influx billions in tax revenue the drilling will bring the Commonwealth. … He said that the fracking process is widely used across the country, and with drilling under way in the Marcellus shale region, there is little evidence that it poses any serious threat. … A Penn State study estimated that when local taxes are included, the government revenue from drilling will hit $2 billion for the period of 2008 through 2010. … Gas drilling has been “the savior of the family farm” in the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, because of the lucrative gas leases for property owners.” (3/19/10)
Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette: “Marcellus will create thousands of jobs, forum speakers say … [Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli] set the stage by pointing out that Chemung County’s unemployment rate is 9.4 percent, which he said ranks 27th out of 62 counties in New York state. “This is an opportunity for this county and this region to be reborn,” he said. “We can do it and we can do it safely and we can make this a better place to live and work.” (3/19/10)
Fracturing Helping to Bring Jobs, Economic Growth to the Nation’s “Poorest” Regions
Billings Gazette: “Potential oil play in state excites industry … For decades, these formations in eastern Wyoming remained technically unrecoverable. But with national oil prices expected to average more than $80 per barrel through 2010 and average $85 in 2011, and huge leaps in drilling and completion technologies, there’s a rush on mineral leasing from Cheyenne to north of Douglas. “Landmen are more active in southeast portions of the state that haven’t seen oil and gas activity in a long time,” said Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission supervisor Tom Doll. Places including Goshen and Platte counties — among Wyoming’s poorest — could see some significant drilling activity for the first time in decades, Doll said.” (3/17/10)
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “Report: Local capital investment created, retained about 16000 jobs … Mr. Yablonsky said 25 of the 44 companies that invested significant capital in the region were energy companies or related industries that had come in to the area or expanded locally because of the natural gas located in the Marcellus Shale Ray N. Walker Jr., a senior vice president of Range Resources, of Fort Worth, Texas, said his company moved him here to open a Marcellus Shale office in Southpointe. Since he unlocked the door in January 2007 the office has grown to employ 200 people locally and 310 across the state. Mr. Walker said there were 55,000 people in Pennsylvania employed in industries involved in the extraction of the natural gas and he predicted that number to double by the end of this year.” (3/18/10)
Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader: “Drilling likely to generate variety of labor positions; 75 percent of gas production workforce composed of unskilled, semi-skilled jobs … If natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale is as successful as energy companies and landowners hope, the companies likely will need to hire more employees to man wells, perform testing for and oversee the drilling of new ones and monitor their operations. “The jobs associated with natural gas drilling are well-paying jobs,” said Doug Hock, spokesman for Calgary-based Encana Energy, which has its U.S. headquarters in Denver, Colo. Salaries even for less-skilled positions generally range between $60,000 and $70,000, Hock said.” (3/22/10)
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Marcellus Shale sends short-line railroad booming … ‘I didn’t even know about the sand when I came in here. I just wanted the railway,’ said Myles, 65, a fourth-generation railroader from Exton. … Almost all of that is sand used in hydraulic fracturing, the process that shatters the dense Marcellus Shale under high pressure to unlock its stores of natural gas. The gas industry’s huge appetite for what is known as “frack sand” has spurred a rebirth for the struggling railroad, whose previous operator gave up just before the gas boom. … “I’m an entrepreneur, and I have a vision for this operation,” Myles said. “I’ve put a lot of people to work here, and I’m going to put a lot more to work.” (3/22/10)
Academics, Experts Say Fracturing, Shale Gas Could Spur “Boom in Blue-Collar Jobs”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: “This rush to develop the Marcellus region, which has an abundance of the fossil fuel 6,000 feet below much of the state, could lead to an influx of new companies in Western Pennsylvania to take advantage of low-cost energy and a boom in blue-collar jobs, the experts said. “This region will become self-sufficient in terms of energy. There’s enough natural gas in the Marcellus to power this state for 180 years,” said Kent Moors, director of Duquesne University’s Energy Policy Research Group. … “I don’t think fracking bothers the water table because it’s performed well below the water table,” [Lester Lave, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and co-director of the university's Electricity Industry Center] said. … “I don’t think we will run into a lot of water problems.” (3/17/10)
Buffalo News, Op-Ed: “We must take full advantage of Marcellus Shale … Thanks to the use of new drilling techniques combined with a decades-old process known as hydraulic fracturing, energy companies are now able to access deposits of shale gas that were considered out of reach a few years ago. … Shale gas provides a significant boost for the economy, with thousands of new jobs, tax revenue for state and local governments, and income for property owners. … There have not been any documented cases of ground water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, according to Steve Heare, director of the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water Protection Division.” (David Copley, petroleum geologist, 3/15/10)
Binghamton (NY) Press & Star Bulletin, Op-Ed: “The Coming Age of Natural Gas … Heretofore unimagined technologies have now thrust themselves upon human history that will permit the safe extraction of this relatively clean domestic energy resource from the tight grip of the earth. The sheer abundance will also provide long-term downward price pressure on energy making the structural shift even more compelling. Miraculously America sits atop much of those resources and the fruits of that extraction will once again help propel America to energy prosperity and security. Dominant global competitive advantage, jobs, tax revenue and prosperity may result for many generations to come.” (Scott Cline, petroleum engineering PhD, 3/16/10)
The Daily Caller, Op-Ed: “Fracking for a better tomorrow … Technological innovation is one of America’s hallmarks. And our world-leading domestic natural gas industry is one of the best examples. It is puzzling then why some oppose new shale gas production here in the U.S., even when we possess the best and safest technology to recover some of the earth’s most prolific gas reserves. Fortunately, at a time when the U.S. is in dire need of jump-starting its economy, a triumphant story has managed to unfold—the re-emergence of natural gas and hydraulic fracturing. … Hydraulic fracturing is an environmentally safe, highly efficient method to increase America’s domestic energy production. And second, natural gas is the bridge to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.” (Dr. Michael Economides, professor at the Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston, 3/19/10)
Wilkes-Barre (PA) Times Leader: “Larry Milliken, director of Energy Programs at Lackawanna College, said that industry wide, jobs in the gas and oil drilling industry pay about 20 percent better than the same types of jobs in other industries. “Around here, there are an awful lot of jobs in the $9- to $14-per-hour range. Jobs in the oil and gas industry tend to start in the $18-per-hour range and go up from there,” Milliken said. A petroleum engineer might earn $40,000 to $45,000 teaching at a college or university, but working in the field for a gas or oil company, the engineer could make close to $90,000, he said. The average technician in the natural gas industry can expect to earn about $30 per hour, which equates to an annual salary of about $60,000. A starting technician with a two-year degree can expect to earn $18 to $20 to start, amounting to a salary near $40,000, Milliken said.” (3/22/10)
Philadelphia Inquirer: “Sudden, serendipitous growth like this is not uncommon in the Marcellus region, where suppliers of housing, food, gravel, spare parts, and transportation are experiencing a stunning demand for their services, the indirect effect of billions of dollars flowing into gas extraction. The full economic effect of the natural-gas boom is only beginning to be understood, said Timothy W. Kelsey, a Pennsylvania State University economist. According to a study by the Pennsylvania Economy League, the oil and gas business was a $7 billion industry in Pennsylvania before the Marcellus frenzy. Kelsey anticipates that compared with those of the shale-gas booms in Texas and Arkansas, which began earlier, the effects will filter out broadly across the economy. “It could be a very big number,” he said.” (3/21/10)
Elmira (NY) Star-Gazette: “If the Marcellus Shale development in the Southern Tier of New York follows the pattern of the Northern Tier of Pennsylvania, then the region could be looking at thousands of new jobs being created over the next few years. “For a rural region, folks, that is significant,” one of the speakers said Friday at the Chemung County Chamber of Commerce’s 17th annual Economic Forum at the Holiday Inn-Riverview in Elmira. The speaker was Larry Michael, executive director for Workforce and Economic Development at the Pennsylvania College of Technology. … He said his center’s study estimated that by 2013 the Marcellus Shale operations will create about 4,000 new jobs in the Northern Tier alone, and between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs combined in the Northern Tier and central Pennsylvania. … “The numbers are just staggering, absolutely staggering,” he said.” (3/19/10)
Newspapers Tout Shale Gas, “Will Create Thousands of Stable, High-Paying Jobs”
Houston Chronicle, Editorial: “The natural gas story … Jobs, jobs, jobs: Expanding the use of natural gas in this country will create thousands of stable, high-paying jobs in the exploration, extraction, marketing, transmission and construction areas. That is not to mention the multiplier effects in service sector areas such as restaurants, entertainment and lodging that promise thousands more jobs.” (3/13/10)
Washington Examiner, Editorial: “Obama’s EPA stifles new energy gains … Jackson forgot to mention “concerns” about hydraulic fracturing come only from environmental groups seeking to stop all uses of fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas. Jackson’s announcement followed the Washington premiere of the anti-fossil fuel “GasLand” propagandamentary produced by some of these same groups. Two more facts Jackson didn’t mention: Never in the 60-year history of hydraulic fracturing has it been linked to a single proven public health threat to water quality; and the EPA has already studied hydraulic fracturing, most recently in 2004, when it found no threat. Clearly, this new study is about stopping fossil fuel development, not protecting public health.” (3/19/10)
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Editorial: “Already Appalachia’s largest coal producer, Consol knows energy-market opportunity when it sees it — and seizes it. … The deal bodes well for the Pittsburgh region’s economy — and for greater U.S. reliance on domestic energy sources. Best of all, it bodes well for an American future as bright as all the lights Consol can help power — today and for years to come. As long as government doesn’t tax away the profit motive, that is.” (3/22/10)