Appalachian Basin

Pa. Anti-Fracking Group Hiring: No Fracking Knowledge Required – Must Have Ability to Regurgitate Misinformation

PennEnvironment – a “Keep It in the Ground” group that’s not only responsible for a host of debunked reports, but deceptively sharing an image of a Pakistani rig in an effort to capitalize on Hurricane Lee’s devastating impact on Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region in 2011 – is hiring. And its “help wanted” ad includes all of the misinformation and false claims one would expect to be key talking points for the individual who will be filling the position of “Don’t Frack Our Future Program Director.”

After all, the DFOFPD needs to be fluent in “grassroots organizing” with “a demonstrated commitment to environmental issues and to citizen-based social change.” And let’s not forget the ever-important “ability to raise money.” However, having a technical understanding of the shale development process and the regulations that govern it is not a prerequisite for the future DFOFPD. That’s right — the words “science” or “engineer” are never mentioned in the job description for a person who will be responsible for understanding a pretty technical process and helping to “expand protections” over it.

Nonetheless, EID would like to help applicants prepare for their upcoming interview by arming them with some pretty important scientific reports and peer-reviewed studies that were written by reputable and independent academic and regulatory third-party experts, i.e. – not PennEnvironment.

When your future employer says that shale development “poison[s] drinking water,” be sure to check out the following reports that assert otherwise:

  • Department of Environmental Protection (2018): “[T]here is no evidence that hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a direct impact to a water supply in Pennsylvania.”
  • Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (2018): “Water quality monitoring efforts by the bureau and its partners have not raised significant concerns on state forest headwater streams to date.”
  • Yale University (2018): “Collectively, our observations suggest that [shale gas development] was an unlikely source of methane in our valley wells.”
  • Pennsylvania State University (2018): “The most interesting thing we discovered was the groundwater chemistry in one of the areas most heavily developed for shale gas – an area with 1400 new gas wells – does not appear to be getting worse with time, and may even be getting better.”
  • Department of Environmental Protection (2018): “[T]he majority of wells in the state are being operated in a manner that greatly reduces the risk for groundwater impacts.”
  • Susquehanna River Basin Commission (2017): “To date, the Commission’s network of monitors has not detected discernible impacts [from shale development] on the Basin’s water resources…”

And these are just recent Pennsylvania studies – there are more than two-dozen reports from across the country demonstrating that fracking is not a major threat to groundwater.

When your future employer says that shale development “emit[s] millions of pounds of methane and smog-forming pollution.”

For information on Pennsylvania’s methane emissions from shale operations, please refer to:

  • University of Maryland’s 2017 study was retracted in 2018 because: “[T]he original wind measurements led to an overestimate of methane emissions from oil and natural gas operations. A reanalysis with corrected winds reduced the total estimated emissions by about a factor of 1.7, with a correspondingly larger reduction in emissions of methane attributed to oil and natural gas in the southwestern Marcellus Shale area. This is expected to reverse a conclusion of the paper, which had asserted that leakage from oil and natural gas extraction in this region results in a climate penalty compared to the use of coal.”
  • Department of Environmental Protection (2017): “The average methane reported from each mid-stream compressor station decreased from 106.9 tons in 2012 to 97.5 tons in 2015. The average emission per well site was 8.3 tons in 2012 and 5.8 tons in 2015. Year to year changes in other emissions are related to a variety of factors, including where wells are drilled and types of equipment being used.”
  • Penn State University (2017): “It seems like natural gas is a good solution now, at least for the Marcellus Shale. Our results clearly suggest that it’s a clean source of energy. And on top of that, we can suggest a lot of gas with a very low leakage [0.4 percent] overall from the infrastructure.”

Shale basins across the country are experiencing similar methane emissions reductions, with overall U.S. oil and natural gas methane emissions decreasing 14 percent from 1990 to 2016 at the same time natural gas and oil production increased by 50 and 21 percent, respectively.

Pennsylvania has also seen reductions in other emissions, including those that are seen as contributing to “smog-forming pollution.” These declines can be largely be attributed to the fact that emissions from natural gas development are overstated by activists and that Pa. is switching to clean-burning natural gas for electricity generation.

  • S. Environmental Protection Agency (2018): The air emissions trend report data show Pennsylvania reduced sulfur dioxide emissions 69 percent from 2002 to 2014, with the Appalachian Basin seeing a total reduction of 72 percent during this time period.
  • Department of Health (2018): “Based on the air sampling collected from July 2012 to July 2013, exposure to the contaminant levels found in ambient air are not expected to harm healthy individuals.”
    • “The measured concentrations of acetaldehyde are substantially lower than those observed to have caused health effects in animals and humans based on scientific research studies. … The calculated additional cancer risk for this chemical is very low. Therefore, long-term acetaldehyde inhalation exposures at the levels detected by PADEP in this project are not expected to harm people’s health.”
    • “The measured concentrations of benzene are substantially lower than those observed to have caused health effects in humans and animals based on scientific research studies, and are similar to background levels measured in this project and in rural areas of the United States. The calculated additional cancer risk for this chemical is very low. Therefore, long-term benzene inhalation exposures at the levels detected by PADEP in this project are not expected to harm people’s health.”
    • “The measured concentrations of formaldehyde are substantially lower than those observed to have caused cancer health effects in humans based on scientific research studies, and are consistent with background levels measured in the United States.”
    • “The general population of healthy and sensitive individuals are not expected to experience harmful effects from PM2.5 exposure at the levels found in the PADEP long term air data set.”
  • Department of Environmental Protection (2018): At the primary criteria pollutant monitoring site, the pollutants that were monitored – ozone, nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and carbon monoxide (CO) – did not exceed “the applicable [National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)] or [indicate] a probable future exceedance based on the data pattern.” Further, the patterns from measured concentrations “did not indicate a localized source impact which would cause exceedance of any of the NAAQS evaluated.” The primary site also had “significantly fewer” Air Quality Index days that were less than “Good” compared to similar monitoring sites. The monitoring sites and background sites showed no significant difference “in either cumulative estimated Excess Lifetime Cancer Risk (ELCR) or cumulative chronic non-cancer Hazard Quotient (HQ).” “All four of the project HAP monitoring sites had a cumulative ELCR and HQ that were comparable to another historical Commonwealth VOC background concentration ambient monitoring site.”
  • S. Environmental Protection Agency (2018): EPA data show Pennsylvania reduced its carbon emissions 17 percent and its carbon emissions from electricity generation 29.5 percent from 2005 to 2015. Overall, the Appalachian Basin saw the most significant U.S. reductions at 18 and 21.5 percent, respectively, during this time period.
  • Department of Environmental Protection (2017): “[In 2015] harmful pollutants like nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SOx) and particulate matter (PM2.5) all saw decreases from 2014 emission levels [six percent, 31.5 percent and 22 percent, respectively].”

Similar emissions reductions that are largely attributable to increased natural gas consumption – made possible by fracking – are happening across the country, resulting in the United States leading the world in carbon reductions, in addition to having some of the cleanest air in the world.

When your future employer says that shale development “carve[s] up our state forests and parks.”

There hasn’t been a ton of research in Pennsylvania on forest fragmentation, but earlier this year the state regulatory agency that oversees the Commonwealth’s state forests did release its report finding that by doing things like using existing pipeline right-of-ways, forest fragmentation has been minimized.

Good luck applicants!

EID agrees that “clean water to drink and clean air to breathe … should be the heritage we leave to future generations.” And as a multitude of studies demonstrate, shale development is helping the Commonwealth to achieve this, while also creating jobs, driving economic investment and lowering energy costs for consumers.

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