This website explores the facts, truths and myths about natural gas exploration and production using the slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing process in the Barnett, Haynesville and Eagle Ford Shales of Texas, as well as other shale formations nationwide. Our purpose is to present the best available information about natural gas exploration and production to help civic leaders and citizens make informed decisions about how to proceed with this heavy industrial process in their communities.
at Lake Lewisville
In a deal that was not widely publicized locally, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has proposed to lease gas well acreage at Hickory Creek on Lake Lewisville, which serves as the primary drinking water reservoir for Dallas and North Texas. The auction process began in June, 2014, when Fort Worth-based Norwood Land Services contacted the New Mexico office of BLM about a lease on some 258.9 acres. That office is responsible for mineral rights on federal lands in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas. Norwood nominated the tracts at the time, hoping for a sale last April. Read the full story at: The Lewisville Texan.
Of paramount concern is the integrity of the 32,888-foot long earthen dam that was badly damaged during the floods of May and June, 2015, when a 161-foot long embankment slide occurred, as well as the potential for a dam failure resulting from frac'ing and/or wastewater injection under or near the dam resulting in subsidance and sublimation that causes a failure of the dam footing that breaks the dam and sends a torrent of floodwaters downstream destroying property and probably resulting in great loss of life. This issue has been discussed on what appears to be a rudimentary and less than objective analysis of potential threats to people and property by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE.) Similar threats can be found any time frac'ing or injection wells are allowed to operate near a flood control structure such as a dam, spillway or levee system. USACE has discussed dam repairs on its website at this link, but there is no mention of potential failures caused by activities associated with oil and gas exploration and production even though the BLM issued the Texas Resources Management Plan in 1996, specifically addressing these potential problems that USACE still has not formulated a comprehensive policy to mitigate. Considering the recent spate of earthquakes that have shaken Oklahoma, the Azle-Reno-Springtown area and parts of Irving and Dallas, the idea of drilling, frac'ing and injecting wastewater near a dam is unthinkable.
Of particular interest is the fact that public comment periods have come and gone with little to no reasonable public notice, and that the auction is being held in Santa Fe, NM where local citizens will not likely be able to attend and protest. Quoting from the Lewisville Texan article, "BLM held a two-week public comment period in early September. Officials generally use those comments when crafting environmental assessments. The next step was a 30-day public review of the environmental assessment. That process ended in November. Lease notice was issued Jan. 20, kicking off a 30-day protest period that ends Feb. 19, (2016). The public has until then to protest the sale by submitting written comments to BLM."
BR>In order to file a protest certain specific rules MUST be followed without exception. These rules appear on Page 9 (vi) of the PDF file at the link below. Protests MUST be received in Santa Fe by NO LATER THAN FEBRUARY 18, 2016 - NO EXCEPTIONS!
It should concern all citizens that our federal, state and local governments have failed to publicly notify us about these pending leases in such time and manner as to allow open public discussion. Citizens are encouraged to consider a group appearance in Santa Fe on April 20, 2016, to protest the lease auction on that date.
For more information on how to submit a written protest please visit BLM Protest Procedure.
On February 12, 2014, Trinity East Energy (TE) filed a suit against the City of Dallas for $30 Million claiming breach of contract because Dallas City Council did not authorize zoning changes which would have then allowed TE to pursue drilling permits to explore for and produce natural gas within Dallas City Limits at sites that are on public park land and in the Trinity River floodplain, both locations being currently designated as unlawful for such industrial activities by City ordinance. Using the very same arguments that FracDallas and other groups and individuals have used since 2010, the City of Dallas responded saying that there never was a guarantee of the right to drill, and that changing the zoning laws is a police power of the City Council that cannot be contracted away. In their lawsuit TE states that it knew drilling in parks and floodplains was illegal at the time they signed the lease and gave the City of Dallas $19 Million for land leases with mineral rights, but that they did so because former City Manager Mary Suhm "assured" them that she could get zoning laws changed to allow drilling.
In fact, Suhm never made any such statement. What she actually said was that she was "reasonably confident" that she could get the zoning changed, but that it was a police power of the City Council and that there was no guarantee the City Council would approve zoning changes. A trial was scheduled for November 2, 2015, but has been continued until September 19, 2016, in the 192nd District Court of Judge Craig Smith in the George L. Allen, Sr. Courthouse located at 600 Commerce street, 7th Floor, Dallas, Texas 75202. Read the TE lawsuit below:
Arlington, Texas resident Kim Feil saw her property taxes reduced by 31% after she protested her latest property valuation on the basis that natural gas wells and compressor stations nearby had devalued her property substantially because of air pollution, noise, truck traffic and threats to health and safety. Ironically, gas production facilities nearby also received tax appraisals that were lower than in previous years because their own activities reduced the market value of their properties. This is a new front in the war against urban drilling that every property owner should pursue. Read the full story HERE.
New Gas Drilling Ordinance
Passes City Council
On a 9-6 vote the Dallas City Council passed a new Gas Drilling Ordinance on Wednesday, December 11, 2013, just in time for Christmas, and showed its citizens that sometimes they really do listen to us and make decisions that put our interests ahead of for-profit corporations. Led by Scott Griggs, Sandy Greyson, Philip Kingston, Carolyn Davis, Monica Alonzo and Adam Medrano, our Mayor Mike Rawlings, and Council Members Jennifer Gates and Dwaine Caraway decided that gas drilling really is not the best idea for a densely populated urban area in approving an ordinance that includes a setback requirement of at least 1,500 feet from the nearest edge of a padsite to the nearest edge of a protected use property line. They also banned injection wells in Dallas and limited compressor stations to Industrial Manufacturing districts only. They also approved a requirement for 100% chemical disclosure and the use of discrete tagging additives to track fluid migration in groundwater, and they mandated baseline testing for water, air and soil to establish a standard to determine when pollution occurs.
To be sure, the ordinance has some weak points that need to be tightened up, but on the whole it is the strongest gas drilling ordinance in the nation, and it will afford Dallas citizens and our adjacent neighbors far more protection for health and safety, property values, quality of life and our environment than our neighbors to the west, north and south currently have.
News of the new ordinance reverberated around the world within minutes setting off a firestorm of protests from those who favor and promote natural gas exploration and production in populated cities.
We thank the Dallas City Council and former Councilwoman Angela Hunt, who was the first to sound an alarm on this issue, for standing up to protect citizens as their first priority. It is, indeed, a very Merry Christmas present to those who cherish clean water, clean air and clean soil. And, we would be remiss if we failed to thank our City Plan Commissioners for recommending such a strong ordinance to the City Council. This was leadership that our citizens and our city deserve.
For some time now the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), which includes KERA TV and Radio in Dallas, has been accepting funding from the American Natural Gas Association (ANGA) in return for running pro-gas drilling ads and commentary while offering scant to zero opposition opinion about the health and safety of natural gas exploration and production. PBS stations are constantly running ads extolling the virtues and safety of natural gas, which we know to be false in fact and by example. It is time we let PBS stations know of our opposition to their ANGA sellout by boycotting PBS programming and donations. We demand that PBS stop taking money from ANGA or other natural gas producers and begin to offer objective commentary that is truthful about the hazards of natural gas rather than promoting false claims of its safety and benefits.
The City of Fort Worth has joined the City of Arlington, Trinity Valley School and Tarrant County landowners, including Ed Bass, in suing Chesapeake Energy and its partner Total E&P (France) for improperly failing to pay royalties on natural gas production. The lawsuits allege that Chesapeake improperly deducted costs of production services and made sham sales with below market value prices on natural gas to its own affiliates in actions that denied royalties to mineral owners. Read more HERE.
FracDallas was well represented at the Global Frackdown event in Dallas on Saturday, October 19, outside the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, which features a fictional account display about the "safety" of hydraulic fracturing. Present from our group were Director Marc McCord, Tim Stanton, Eddie Morgan, Molly Rooke, Dick and Chris Guidi, and Linda Cooke, who took the photo above to document our participation. FracDallas members were about 25% of the total participants, which included members of Dallas MoveOn (event sponsors), Code Pink, Texas Action Coalition for the Environment, Dallas Sierra Club, Texas Campaign for the Environment and Downwinders at Risk.
(audio recording of consersation with well inspector)
Audio recording of discussion with Railroad Commission inspector
For the complete story about this Parker County water well contamination by a natural gas well please visit Parker County, Texas Well Contamination Cases
Eagle Ford production peaked in March at 1.7 million daily barrels, but then slid six straight months, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. The agency expects the field to pump 1.48 million barrels daily in September, still enough to fill 94 Olympic-sized swimming pools every day.
Allen Gilmer, CEO of Austin-based Drillinginfo, said dropping prices chip away at the Eagle Ford.
At $100 oil, most operators can make money.
Because costs for everything from drilling to fracking have come down 30 percent this year, vast swaths of the field still are profitable at $60 per barrel, the oil price for much of the spring.
"The Eagle Ford at $60 a barrel is not a whole lot different than the Eagle Ford at $100 a barrel," Gilmer said.
But crude oil prices around $40 turn the economics of the field upside down, and only 15 percent of the whole field makes money, Gilmer said.
Karr Ingham, an oil and gas economist, expects more job losses.
"I hate that the workers have to endure that," Ingham said. "Did they have a sense that this is how the business tends to go?"
Some workers knew.William Smith once made $1,700 a day as a company man, the one in charge of a well site for the operator. But that work dried up last fall.
"The oil field is a gamble, thatís all it is," Smith said.
He called a family friend with a construction company and asked for a job. Smith made $15 an hour for a time, and now farms for his brother-in-law. He plans to return to the oil field as soon as it needs him again.
"What matters is youíre making something every payday," Smith said. "Thereís a lot of things a man can do for a living. If he thinks heís too good for something, heís got a lot of growing to do."
Smith, 38, who started in the oil field 23 years ago, said the keys are to save, keep a positive attitude and find work to fill the slow times. "I lived beneath my means," Smith said. "You canít just be throwing money out the window. You donít need two boats."
Overnight at a drilling site near Hallettsville in late May, Lawrence Ullmann of Shiner talked about how white fleet pickups used to fill every parking lot in the region. His wireline crew members often slept in trucks because they couldnít find hotel rooms.
"Itís slowed down," Ullmann said. "I donít let it bother me no more. If Iíve got to move on, Iíll move on."
Some people had been at the Hallettsville site for days, others for hours, but no one had met much traffic on the way there.
Hans Helland, the contract operator of the well, stood outside and waited for the wireline report. The sky turned from ink-black to purple before sunrise, outlining the derrick and oak trees against the sky. His family always referred to booms by what came next. "The beginning of the end is what we always called it," Helland said.
In a small trailer, company man Nolan Sheedy kept the air conditioner low and the coffeepot fresh while he worked on reports on his laptop.
"Itís been too good for too long," Sheedy said. "You just ride it out and hope you last. You hope your basin is the one they like."
The numbers show an industry fallen on hard times.
The number of drilling rigs working in the Eagle Ford dropped by half in the past year, from 203 to 93. Across the country, more than 1,000 drilling rigs have been stacked.
McMullen County pumped 2.7 million barrels of oil in June, down from 3.6 million barrels the same month last year.
DeWitt Countyís total property value, much of it based on oil and gas wealth, fell by $1.15 billion this year, down 16 percent.
The Eagle Fordís biggest oil producers have issued a series of gloomy announcements. Houston-based EOG Resources made just $5.3 million in the second quarter, down 99 percent from the same period last year. ConocoPhillips last week said it would lay off 10 percent of its workforce. Marathon Oil Corp. posted a $386 million net income loss for the second quarter.
Dennis Elam, associate professor of accounting at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, said the smaller, more overleveraged shale companies are drilling wells just to pay debt. "Theyíre chasing the water right down the drain," he said.
South Texans track other economic measures - traffic jams on rural roads or the advertised prices for hotel rooms in the region, now as low as $40.
A few years ago, DeWitt County Sheriff Jode Zavesky lost seven employees in three weeks to the oil field. The police academy in Victoria had to cancel classes because everyone was going to work in the oil field instead. "Weíve got great benefits," Zavesky said. "But a young guy canít buy diapers on great health insurance."
Now, Zavesky has hired some of his old deputies back and said the police academy has seen a bump in enrollment.
Heís also seen an uptick in oil field crime - the theft of tools from work sites and people stripping copper from the drilling rigs parked along the side of the road.
Joy Tipton, who owns the Little White House Country Store in Fowlerton, judges the oil market by what time she starts to hear traffic rumbling down Texas 97. The noise used to start around 5 a.m., with trucks hauling sand, water and oil flowing past her place like a mechanical river. In August, it stayed quiet until around 9 a.m.
Blink-and-miss-it Fowlerton, with 62 residents the last time the Census Bureau bothered to count in 2000, hugs the La Salle-McMullen county lines. In recent months, a small restaurant and oil field supply company closed their doors.
That left Tipton as the only one to give unsolicited advice to oil field workers who stop to buy a soft drink or after-work beer: "Donít speed. Donít eat your dessert before you eat that sandwich. Thereís a police officer down there."
"Somebodyís got to take care of them," Tipton said. "They donít know how to do it."
This is an excerpt from a San Antonio Express News article by Jennifer Hiller, September 5, 2015, updated on September 7, 2015, giving an objective and behind-the-scenes look at shale oil and gas economics in Texas.
With the passage of HB 40 in the last session of the Texas Legislature a full frontal assault on Home Rule Authority was launched by the oil and gas industry through its puppets in the Texas House and Senate. But, Texas is not the only state where the grip of the oil and gas industry on elected officials is causing a loss of democracy and the right to control our neighborhoods. Recent actions in other states are having a profound effect on local control issues related to permitting of oil and gas operations in close proximity to where citizens live, work and go to school.
The South Florida town of Bonita Springs has officially banned fracking. The city council voted early Wednesday to ban all types of well stimulation techniques to extract fossil fuels, which includes fracking, within the city limits.
Read the full story HERE.
With the oil and gas industry already reveling in a recent Ohio Supreme Court decision stripping local control on fracking and other extraction activities away from communities, the Secretary of State has now handed the industry another victory, opening the door for fracking infrastructure projects to spread even faster across Ohio.
In a decision issued August 13, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted blocked citizens from voting on Home Rule Charter initiatives which include provisions on fracking infrastructure development.
Read the full story HERE.
There may be extensive legal precedent for overturning HB 40 as an unconstitutional overreach by the state legislature. In a reading of settled case law in Texas and elsewhere it is clear that courts have routinely upheld the rights of cities to protect citizens, public and private property, quality of life and the environment through implementation of zoning laws that restrict or prohibit industrial activities in residential neighborhoods or other areas. Below is a link to some interesting legal cases that may have profound influence on the dispostion of HB 40.
Read the full story HERE.
Midland County citizens are facing a housing crisis that is tied, in large part, to the growth of the oil and gas industry in the West Texas community. A recent article and video in the Texas Tribune related how Midland citizens are now having to pay much higher prices for housing while working for the same low wages they have received for years partly due to the demand for housing and the higher amounts that oilfield workers can afford to pay. It is yet another example of how the oil and gas industry privatizes profits while socializing costs with citizens left to feed on the crumbs. The Texas Tribune story can be found HERE.
The graph below shows the results of population growth and its effect on housing prices over the past decade and one half.
Ample Oil, No Water
Texas has been in severe drought conditions for over three years, but what has occurred as a result of oil and gas exploration using high volume slickwater horizontal hydraulic fracturing has compounded the problem immensely. Now, Texas towns are running out of drinking water and TCEQ projects that 30 towns will run out of water by year's end. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry continues to use and permanently destroy millions of gallons of our irreplacable, precious water resources with every frac job.
Suzanne Goldenberg has written an expose in The Guardian about this issue and how it is impacting lives and businesses all over Texas right now - and how it will impact us even more in the near future. Go to The Guardian to read the story of what happens to people when they start running out of drinking water.
For a long time we have known about blowouts and other well control problems occurring in the Barnett Shale and elsewhere around the nation, but few have known about specific cases facts about those incidents because that information is carefully shielded from public disclosure ... unless one knows where to look. The web site of the Railroad Commission of Texas lists such accidents, and the information is available HERE.
Everyone has heard about all the money to be made in natural gas exploration and production. Gas companies have been touting their success and potential windfall profits from their operations for over a decade, pitching their claims to potential investors and the general public upon whose support they rely to get drilling permits in populated areas. The promise of becoming the next "Jed Clampett" has had a lot of people defending an industry based upon expectations that shale gas would "free us from foreign energy imports", "give us plenty of cheap, domestically produced energy" that would last 100, 200 or even 300 years and that "natural gas is cleaner than burning coal."
All these claims have been made for a single purpose - to make money for the owners and shareholders of gas companies. But, the claims have not all been true and the results are far less than projected.
Peter Gorman has written an article about the Shale Game that bears reading and thinking about as gas prices hover at aroud one third of the production cost to get the stuff out of the ground. You can read his article HERE.
We all knew it was coming - it was just a matter of when. For years, the oil and gas industry has been operating on borrowed money and borrowed time while prices collapsed and drilling became unprofitable. For natural gas it began in 2009, when the market was glutted by overproduction and prices tumbled from over $13/mcf down to around $1/mcf (today's rate is $2.80/mcf.) For oil, it started last summer when the bottom fell out and oil dropped like a rock where it currently languishes at today's rate of $42.29/barrel for WTI, the US benchmark. For relative comparison purposes the cost to drill and frac a well averages around $7 million with the breakeven point for gas at about $8-9/mcf and for oil somewhere around $40-45/barrel. It does not take a mathematician to see the problem with operating on borrowed money when the selling price is lower than the production cost.
The oil and gas industry, however, is full of hubris and delusion - they keep thinking prices are suddenly going to rise and all will be well in the world (of oil and gas executives.) The truth is much different as evidenced by recent bankruptcy filings and mergers among the oil and gas companies. Many smaller companies like Quicksilver have ceased to exist and many others are struggling for survival. Economics analyst Wolf Richter has written extensively about the problems of shale economics and the current trends within the industry. Below are links to just a few of his articles from this year detailing the status of the shale oil and gas industry and predicting its near future:
Ordered from oldest to latest
The Fracking Bust Exacts its Pound of Flesh
Junk-Rated Oil & Gas Companies in a "Liquidity Death Spiral"
Investors Crushed as US Natural Gas Drillers Blow Up
Oil Re-Bloodies the "Smart Money"
A True Jobs Massacre Spreads in US Oil & Gas
Big Natural Gas Driller Bites Dust, ĎSmart Moneyí Gets Crushed
After years of effort by several local, state and national environmental groups urging New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban hydrualif fracturing in the state Cuomo gave citizens an early Christmas gift of epic proportions when he made the temporary ban on the practice permanent on Wednesday, December 17, 2014. This move is significant because new York has no frac'ing as of now, though drillers want to frac the Deleware River basin, which is atop the Marcellus Shale formation of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia where exploration and production have been rampant for years. New Yorkers are rejoicing in the decision Cuomo made after consulting with Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and Department of Health Acting Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to report their findings on the human health and environmental threats of frac'ing, both of whom reported a potential for significant negative impacts.
We thank Governor Cuomo and praise his wisdom in reaching this decision to protect his constitutents over the monied interests of the oil and gas industry. And while many organizations have played an active role in getting to this point we want to recognize Maura Stephens and the Coalition to Protect New York for their tireless and persistent dedication to educating citizens and public officials leading to this great victory.
On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, Mendocino and San Benito Counties in California, and Athens, Ohio joined Denton, Texas in voting to ban hydraulic fracturing within their jurisdictions sending a message to the oil and gas industry that citizens are fed up with their communities being invaded for the financial benefit of corporations at the expense of citizens' health and safety, property values and a clean environment. San Benito County passed the ban on a 57-43 percent vote. Mendocino County passed their ban on a 67-33 percent split. Athens passed their ban on a 78-22 percent split. Denton, in the heart of "Gasland", passed a ban on a 59-41 percent split.
Clearly, voters are sending a message that they do not want frac'ing in their communities, and some industry insiders have stated that they fear this will embolden other towns and cities to also enact bans. Two things are certain - first, the oil and gas industry will fight these bans in courts, and second, it is going to cost them a LOT of money to do so. But the oil and gas industry has a lot of money and they like to spend it like drunken sailors in Las vegas for the night.
During the period of Saturday, July 12, 2014 through Monday, July 14, 2014, Oklahoma registered 9 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater, with the strongest quake registering 4.3 and another registering 4.2. The US Geological Society (USGS) has now declared Oklahoma to the national leader in earthquakes greater than magnitude 3.0. Quoting from a news story on CNN On-Line, "Oklahoma has now surpassed California in quakes, and seismologists see no end in sight, CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
"California has recorded about 140 3.0-magnitude quakes or greater, compared to 207 in Oklahoma."
Read the full article HERE.
Overturns Act 13
Today is a day of celebration in Pennsylvania as the Supreme Court overturned the dispicable Act 13 that stripped away individual rights and gave gas producers carte blanche to harm people and property with impunity. Quoting from PA State Representative Jesse White's website, "State Rep. Jesse White, D-Washington/Allegheny/Beaver, released the following statement on todayís landmark ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court regarding Act 13, which upholds and expands the Commonwealth Courtís July 2012 decision to strike down sections of the Pennsylvania gas drilling law taking away local zoning rights as unconstitutional.
In making its ruling, the Supreme Court relied upon Article 1, Sec. 27 of the PA Constitution which guarantees the right of clean air and water for Pennsylvanians, as well as the violation of substantive due process rights stemming from various provisions of Act 13, including the provision superseding local zoning ordinances. The Court also ordered Commonwealth Court to revisit several arguments previously thrown out, including the controversial "physician gag order." The local impact fee portion of Act 13 remains unaffected by todayís decision.
Citizens in the Colorado towns of Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette and Broomfield, in spite of being outspent 40 to 1 by the oil and gas industry, voted to ban or place a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. The election results are a huge defeat for Governor Hickenlooper, The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and the oil and gas industry. Broomfield's victory is by only 13 votes, and a recount is being tallied, but these are significant setbacks to an industry that is accustomed to having its way at the expense of ordinary citizens and the environment. Read the whole story HERE.
Since records began in 1776, the people of Youngstown, Ohio had never experienced an earthquake. However, from January 2011, 109 tremors were recorded and new research in Geophysical Research-Solid Earth reveals how this may be the result of shale fracking. Read the full story HERE.
Waste Treatment Corporation, a Pennsylvania water treatment company, has been illegally discharging radioactive oil and gas wastewater since at least 2003, and continues to discharge such wastewater without authorization under the Clean Water Act and the Clean Streams Law, according to the notice of intent to sue delivered by Clean Water Action to the company.
Many pollutants associated with oil and gas drilling - including chlorides, bromides, strontium and magnesium - were discovered immediately downstream of the plantís discharge pipe in Warren, PA, state regulators discovered in January. Upstream of the plant, those same contaminants were found at levels one percent or less than those downstream, or were not present at all. State officials also discovered that the sediments immediately downstream from the plant were tainted with high levels of radium-226, radium-228 and uranium. Those particular radioactive elements are known to be found at especially levels in wastewater from Marcellus shale gas drilling and fracking, and state regulators have warned that the radioactive materials would tend to accumulate in river sediment downstream from plants accepting Marcellus waste.
The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) data on the number of pipeline accidents, deaths, injuries and property damage since 1986, shows numbers that are astounding. In nearly 8,000 pipeline accidents 512 people have been killed, another 2,360 have been injured and property damage has exceeded $6.158 Billion. These are the added costs of oil and gas production that are borne by the general public so that oil and gas companies can make money.
For a graphic representation of these accidents see the video below. You will notice that a larger percent of total accidents have occurred in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Kansas than in the rest of the nation. In Texas alone, there were 1,712 pipeline accidents (natural gas 491 / oil 1,221) resulting in 81 deaths, 371 injuries and more than $583 Million in property damage, most involving Kinder or Atmos.
The 2011 earthquake near Prague, Oklahoma, which registered 5.7 on the Richter Sale, was caused by deep injection of wastewater from natural gas exploration and production. The temblor was felt 800 miles away in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It goes down in history as the biggest earthquake ever felt in Oklahoma, resulting in destruction of 14 homes, injuries to two people and buckling of a federal highway. The injection well that caused the earthquake is located near the Wilzetta Fault, and it is still in operation today.
While studies by the US Geologial Survey and the National Academy of Sciences attribute injection well activities with earthquakes, including this one, the Oklahoma Geological Survey has yet to issue an official account of the sequence. In a statement responding to the paper appearing in the journal "Geology" about this earthquake, Oklahoma Geological Survey seismologist Austin Holland said the study showed the earthquake sequence could have been triggered by the injections. But, he said, "it is still the opinion of those at the Oklahoma Geological Survey that these earthquakes could be naturally occurring. There remain many open questions, and more scientific investigations are underway on this sequence of earthquakes and many others within the state of Oklahoma."
Click HERE for the full story.
For a more comprehensive report on injection well induced earthquakes and industry efforts to suppress scientific evidence linking them please visit Mother Jones .
Drill, Baby, Drill
The Post Carbon Institute has just released a comprehensive report discussing the economics of fossil fuel exploration and production in the face of economic realities and global markets. The report, titled Drill, Baby, Drill, discusses the truth about pursuing a fossil fuel future rather than moving to develop alternatives that are sustainable and clean. At issue is the high cost of dwindling production and increased environmental damage to our planet.
TEDX Air Pollution Study Released
The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) has released a study of the health effects of air pollution caused by natural gas exploration and drilling near residents in Colorado where TEDX is based. The peer-reviewed study substantiates what has long been known about the health damages caused by exposure to chemicals, even in extremely small doses, that adversely affect child development and IQ. Read the full study HERE.
In a short 14 minute video former TransCanada materials engineer Evan Vokes tells the truth about shoddy engineering practices and substandard construction practices by TransCanada pipeline employees that led to pipeline failures resulting in tar sands and crude oil leaks and spills over many years. Watch this video and learn from an engineer who was there when it happened, and who tried to warn TransCanada executives, but whose advise was shunned because it woulf cost the company more money.
As 2013 comes to a close it is important to look back on the safety record of an energy industry that promotes itself as operating in a safe manner that brings us many benefits with few negative effects. The following information is from an Alternet.org story about disasters energy producers would prefer you not know about. Let's just call it the energy industry disasters heard around the world as we look back on a year of disasters, injuries, deaths and property damage.
March 29:An ExxonMobil pipeline carrying Canadian Wabasca heavy crude from the Athabasca oil sands ruptures and spills thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower, Arkansas. The ruptured pipeline gushed 210,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude into a residential street and forced the evacuation of 22 homes. Exxon was hit with a paltry $2.6 million fine by federal pipeline safety regulators for the incident in November - just 1/3000th of its third quarter profits.
May 20: Underground tar sands leaks start popping up in Alberta, Canada, and do not stop for at least five months. In September the company responsible was ordered to drain a lake so that contamination on the lakeís bottom can be cleaned up. As of September 11, the leaks had spilled more than 403,900 gallons - or about 9,617 barrels - of oily bitumen into the surrounding boreal forest and muskeg, the acidic, marshy soil found in the forest.
July 30: About 50 tons of oil spills into the sea off Rayong province of Thailand from a leak in the pipeline operated by PTT Global Chemical PLC. It was the fourth major oil spill in the countryís history.
August 13: An ethane and propane pipeline belonging to Tesoro Corp. running beneath an Illinois cornfield ruptures and explodes. Residents heard a massive blast and then saw flames shooting 300 feet into the air, visible for 20 miles.
September 29: A North Dakota farmer winds up discovering the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history, the size of seven football fields. At least 20,600 barrels of oil leaked from a Tesoro Corp-owned pipeline onto the Jensensí land, and it went unreported to North Dakotans for more than a week. An AP investigation later discovered that nearly 300 oil spills and 750 "oil field incidents" had gone unreported to the public since January 2012.
October 7: An Oil and Natural Gas Corp. pipeline that carries crude from the offshore Mumbai High fields to India ruptures and spills at an onshore facility, but oil winds up flowing into the Arabian sea because of rainfall.
October 9: A natural gas pipeline explodes in northwest Oklahoma, sparking a large fire and prompting evacuations. No injuries or deaths were reported.
October 30: 17,000 gallons of crude oil spill from an eight-inch pipeline owned by Koch Pipeline Company in Texas. The spill impacted a rural area and two livestock ponds near Smithville and was discovered on a routine aerial inspection.
November 14: A Chevron natural gas pipeline explodes in Milford, Texas, causing the town of 700 people to evacuate. The flames could reportedly be seen for miles.
November 22: An oil pipeline explodes in Qingdao, China, killing 62 and setting ocean on fire. The underground pipelineís explosion opened a hole in the road that swallowed at least one truck, according to Reuters, and oil seeped into utility pipes under Qingdao.
November 29: A 30-inch gas gas pipeline in a rural area of western Missouri ruptures and explodes, sending a 300 foot high fireball into the air.
Offshore and Onshore Rigs:
January 22: A Devon Energy natural gas rig in Utah catches fire, causing evacuations for half a mile radius of the rig. No injuries are reported.
July 7: A hydraulic fracturing operation at a gas well drilling pad in West Virginia explodes and injures seven people, four with potentially life-threatening burns. The explosion occurred while workers were pumping water down a well, part of the hydraulic fracturing process for recovering gas trapped in shale rock. The tanks that recover the water and chemical mixture after they return to the surface are what reportedly exploded.
July 27: BPís Hercules 265 offshore gas rig in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana explodes, enveloping the rig in a cloud of gas and a thin sheen of gas in the water. After spewing gas for more than a day, the rig finally "bridged over", meaning small pieces of sediment and sand blocked more gas from escaping.
August 20: A gas rig belonging to the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan exploded in the Caspian sea while workers were carrying out exploratory drilling, when it hit a pocket of gas at unexpectedly high pressure.
August 28: A "well-control incident" at an oil drilling rig in rural south Texas causes an "intense" explosion after workers were drilling horizontally into the Eagle Ford Shale, causing homes to be evacuated. No injuries reported.
March 27: A Canadian Pacific Railway train derails, spilling 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in western Minnesota.Reuters called it "the first major spill of the modern North American crude-by-rail transit boom."
July 6: A unit, 74-car freight train carrying Bakken formation crude oil derails in Lac-Megantic, Canada, causing an incredibly tragic fire and explosion. Forty-two people were pronounced dead, 30 buildings downtown destroyed. Emergency responders describe a "war zone." 2,000 people evacuated because of toxic fumes, explosions, and fires.
October 19: A train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derails west of Alberta, Canada, causing an explosion and fire. No injuries were reported. Nine of the derailed cars were carrying liquefied petroleum gas and four carried crude. The crude oil cars were intact and kept away from the fires with no indications of any leaks.
November 8: A 90-car train carrying North Dakota crude derails and explodes in a rural area of western Alabama. Flames spewed into the air on a Friday, only finally dying down by Sunday, in what the Huffington Post called "the most dramatic U.S. accident since the oil-by-rail boom began."
Power Plants and Refineries:
April 5: Residents near an ExxonMobil refinery begin to smell "burning tires and oil" after the refinery leaked condensate water that accumulated while the company was flaring gas. Through the leak, ExxonMobil announced that it had released 100 pounds of hydrogen sulfide and 10 pounds of benzene. According to readings at the spill site, the refinery measured 160 parts per million of hydrogen sulfide and 2 parts per million of benzene in the air.
August 8 and 15: 15,000 liters of oil spills into local streams in Cuba, aftertwo separate instances at the Sergio Soto Refinery. The oil spill was the result of a negligent operator who failed to properly secure the residuals trap used to contain the hydrocarbon. While some of the oil was able to be contained, much of it was pushed upstream because of strong rainfall following the spill.
August 28: Approximately 20 gallons of partially refined petroleum from a New Jersey refinery spills into the Delaware River, after a leak in a heat exchanger that is part of the refineryís crude oil processing unit. The spill was reported two hours after workers discovered it, when they realized it was going into the river.
January 27: A barge carrying 668,000 gallons of light crude oil on the Mississippi River crashed into a railroad bridge. An 80,000 gallon tank on the vessel was damaged, spilling oil into the waterway, which prompted officials to close the river for eight miles in either direction.
September 15: Fuel tanks explode at Virgin Islands gas station, resulting in a huge blast and a fire and causing two injuries. The St. Thomas community of Bovoni was evacuated and traffic was diverted after the explosion.
October 1: An underground fuel reservoir explodes on a Czech Lukoil petrol station on a highway in Prague, killing one person and injuring two.
November 23: Five are hurt after a gas tank near a drilling rig explodes in Wyoming.
December 14: Thousands of gallons of gasoline spill into a harbor in southern Alaska on Saturday after a pump used to funnel fuel into boats is accidentally severed. The 5,500 gallon spill occurred in the small village of the village of Kake, whose residents rely on fish and subsistence to get by.
The Environment America Research & Policy Center report, Fracking by the Numbers, is the first to measure the damaging footprint of fracking to date.
"The numbers donít lie - fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment," said John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America. "If this dirty drilling continues unchecked, these numbers will only get worse."
"At health clinics, weíre seeing nearby residents experiencing nausea, headaches and other symptoms linked to fracking pollution," said David Brown, a toxicologist who has reviewed health data from Pennsylvania. "With billions of gallons of toxic waste coming each year, weíre just seeing the Ďtip of the icebergí in terms of health risks."
The report measured key indicators of fracking threats across the country, including:
Fracking also inflicts other damage not quantified in the report - ranging from contamination of residential wells to ruined roads to earthquakes at disposal sites. Read the full story HERE.
On July 11, 2013, the European Parliamentís Environment Committee voted 51-18 in favor of endorsing a proposal to impose a mandatory Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for all shale gas drilling activities in the European Union (EU). Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) showed a healthy dose of suspicion about the empty promises of the shale gas industry about its ability to guarantee so-called "safe fracking", according to the story found HERE.
According to a Christian Science Monitor story by guest blogger Joao Peixe on July 8, 2013, "A ban on fracking in a northern region of Spain has crimped Repsol SA's plans to begin drilling for shale gas in the north of Spain. Repsol had planned to begin seismic studies, with a view to drilling, in July, but the Cantabrian fracking ban, which prevent all hydraulic fracturing activities within the regionís borders, has put a hold on plans." This come after France banned all hydraulic fracing in 2012, and is yet another sign that European countries are learning from mistakes made in the U.S. You can read the article by Peixe HERE.
Artwork created by Lmnopi:
No person shall discharge from any source whatsoever one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and of such duration as are or may tend to be injurious to or to adversely affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property, or as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of animal life, vegetation, or property.
(a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), a municipality may lease oil, gas, or mineral land that it owns, in the manner and on the terms that the governing body of the municipality determines, for the benefit of the municipality. A lease under this section is not a sale under the law governing the sale of municipal land.
(b) A municipality may not lease under this section a street, alley, or public square in the municipality.
(c) A well may not be drilled in the thickly settled part of the municipality or within 200 feet of a private residence.
Acts 1987, 70th Leg., ch. 149, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1987.
It shall not be lawful for any person or persons to take possession of or make use of for any purpose, or build upon, alter, deface, destroy, move, injure, obstruct by fastening vessels thereto or otherwise, or in any manner whatever impair the usefulness of any sea wall, bulkhead, jetty, dike, levee, wharf, pier, or other work built by the United States, or any piece of plant, floating or otherwise, used in the construction of such work under the control of the United States, in whole or in part, for the preservation and improvement of any of its navigable waters or to prevent floods, or as boundary marks, tide gauges, surveying stations, buoys, or other established marks, nor remove for ballast or other purposes any stone or other material composing such works...
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