Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Asking QUESTION and researching the Answers, we never like to ask or find if they are telling the TRUTH, and what are the consequences. Everyday i am trying my best to learn as much as i can to understand what really is going on, and not what they tell me is going on.
We also can file Lawsuits against these companies because they are breaking the laws, and thats why
they have been not telling the Truth of these activities.
HERE ARE SOME INSIDE INFORMATION of many of these CASES which has to do with the GAS Drilling where lawsuits were filed against all these companies.
UPSTREAM NATURAL GAS LITIGATION: WHAT IMPACT WILL ARUBA HAVE?
May 2014 (No. 5)
Michael L. Krancer, Margaret Anne Hill, and Frank L. Tamulonis III
Energy, Petrochemical & Natural Resources
Upstream activities in fracturing have seemed to miss the aim of the plaintiffs bar. Now, that could change based on a recent case in “oil-friendly” Texas: Parr v. Aruba Petroleum, No. 11-1650 (Dallas Co. Ct. at Law, filed March 2011).
Since the advent of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling for use in natural gas development, there has been a stream of legal activity pursued by private plaintiffs, municipalities and environmental groups alleging various types of individual harms or harm to the environment. Initially, this litigation focused on common-law actions such as negligence, nuisance and trespass claims alleging personal injuries and property damage related to exploration activities, well pad development, and hydraulic fracturing. The defense bar for the oil and gas industry anticipated a surge of litigation on the upstream side similar to the MTBE (methyl tertiary-butyl ether) groundwater litigation and asbestos cases that have been ongoing for decades. “Anti-fracking” litigation was generally viewed as the next big thing. But based upon court activity, it appeared that the litigation efforts had been slowly redirected from a focus on the upstream side of development (at the wellhead or well pad) to midstream development; that is, a focus on pipeline construction and expansions, compressor stations, etc.
All of that changed April 22, when a historic “first” occurred in a Dallas County, Texas, court—a jury awarded $2.925 million to a family (Lisa and Bob Parr, as well as Lisa Parr’s daughter) for personal injuries based upon a private nuisance claim. The Parrs filed their initial complaint in March 2011 against Aruba Petroleum and 10 other defendants, alleging nuisance, trespass and property diminution claims related to nearby natural gas drilling and production operations. They requested an astonishing $66 million in damages. The Parrs live on a 40-acre ranch in the Barnett Shale play, which has seen substantially increased drilling activity since 2008. Aruba alone has 22 natural gas wells within a two-mile radius of the Parrs’ home. Aruba refused to settle with the Parrs, and the remaining defendants were either dismissed or settled the claims filed against them.
The Dallas County court granted Aruba’s motion for summary judgment as to all claims except for the private nuisance claim. That claim proceeded to a jury trial with witnesses for the Parrs arguing that the family suffered personal injuries as a result of alleged exposures to chemicals associated with Aruba’s wells. For its part, Aruba argued that it was in compliance with state and federal laws, including the Clean Air Act. Aruba also contended that the Parrs could not prove causation since its wells are among hundreds of wells within the area. Nonetheless, the jury agreed with the Parrs, finding that the natural gas drilling and production was the cause of their illnesses. The jury did not award punitive damages, however, since it did not believe that Aruba acted with malice.
The immediate and long-term impact of the Aruba case is being debated by commentators and counsel for both the plaintiffs and defendants alike. Many state the obvious—it’s a nuisance case and therefore fact-specific with little consequence to other companies in the industry. But don’t be so sure. The smart money says that the Aruba case provides impetus to the plaintiffs’ bar leading to a second and more formidable surge of litigation against hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development.
Numerous nuisance-based cases involving hydraulic fracturing activities are still pending throughout the nation, and the jury verdict in Aruba may serve to embolden the plaintiffs’ counsel as they proceed through settlement negotiations, and will undoubtedly be a big boost that encourages the plaintiffs to litigate for jury verdicts. Companies will need to consider the possibility of nuisance claims filed by the plaintiffs bar notwithstanding the fact that they are in material compliance with the terms of permits and operating conditions.
There are already cases in the starting gate. Some are in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania—the heart of natural gas development and ground zero for national opponents of fracturing. The claims in these cases sound a lot like those in Aruba and include nuisance claims alleging, inter alia, adverse health impacts allegedly caused by hydraulic fracturing. In Berish v. Southwestern Energy Production, Docket No. 3:10-cv-01981, 13 families claim that their well water became contaminated in 2008 when drilling activities commenced near their drinking water supplies. The plaintiffs say that improper casing is the culprit and their drinking water wells became contaminated with diesel fuel, barium, manganese and strontium. One plaintiff claims to have suffered neurological symptoms. In addition to a private-nuisance claim, the plaintiffs also brought claims for anticipatory trespass, negligence, negligence per se, gross negligence and strict liability. The case is nearing the discovery deadline, currently set for May 23.
Another case is Manning v. WPX Energy Appalachia, Docket No. 3:12-cv-00646. The plaintiffs claim private nuisance in that the defendants’ drilling activities involving 15 wells within 1,000 to 7,390 feet of their homes have caused contamination of their water, exposure to hazardous chemicals, and a decrease in property values. The plaintiffs also have claims under the Pennsylvania Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, negligence, strict liability and trespass. In 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection released the results of tests showing that the methane in the wells is naturally occurring shallow gas, and is not attributable to nearby drilling activities. This conclusion has recently been bolstered by an important new study by Fred Baldassare showing that naturally occurring methane, even deep Marcellus methane, in shallow groundwater is a common pre-drilling condition in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the plaintiffs continue their federal suit, and are challenging the results of the state DEP’s test before the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board. Unfortunately, some of the plaintiffs’ lawyers may be emboldened because the Aruba case is telling them that neither causation nor culpable behavior is a requisite to the success of a nuisance cause of action. The case is currently scheduled for trial in January 2015.
These cases are but a small representation of cases that involve factual and legal issues similar to those in Aruba. Other cases are pending in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and copycat cases will almost certainly be brought by emboldened plaintiffs in the wake of the Aruba verdict, although, as mentioned, the likelihood of the success of those claims is far from guaranteed. A non-exhaustive list of other similar cases currently pending includes: Kamuck v. Shell Energy HoldingsGP, No. 4:11-cv-01425-MCC (M.D. Pa. Aug. 3, 2011); Butts v. Southwestern Energy Production, No. 3:12-cv-01330 (M.D. Pa. July 10, 2012); Fiorentino v. Cabot Oil and Gas, No. 3:09-cv-02284 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 19, 2009);Baker v. Anschutz Exploration, 6:11-cv-06119 (W.D.N.Y. March 9, 2011); and Strong v. ConocoPhillips, No. 2011-487 (Dist. Ct. Panola County Tex., Dec. 2, 2011).
The potential uptick in upstream-related litigation may likewise be affected by an increasing focus on hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development by citizens, environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA just released its proposal to regulate disclosure of chemicals used in fracturing—even though the states already do that. The EPA’s “fracturing study” continues—even though the states are already regulating and studying fracturing every day.
The debate, whether informed or not, regarding the safety of, and the need for, hydraulic fracturing and natural gas development continues to play out in editorial pages, town hall meetings where moratoria are considered, and commercial venues such as the movie “Gasland.” Some Americans have short memories. Not so long ago, we were waiting in gas lines at the mercy of foreign cartels. Now, we stand at the verge of not only being energy-secure in our own right, but also in being able to influence positive international outcomes through wise deployment of our natural resources rather than our military resources.
Industry has known all along that the minds of the people must be won by hard work in the neighborhoods and the court of public opinion before it will be won in court. It should therefore continue to do a good job in the field and work hard to convince all citizens, who make up our juries, that responsible development of our natural resources can be done safely and at a great economic and geopolitical benefit to both them and our country.
This alert was first published by The Legal Intelligencer on May 16, 2014. To view this article, please visitwww.thelegalintelligencer.com. Reprinted with permission, © 2014 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All rights reserved. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. For information, contact 877-257-3382,firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.almreprints.com.
Notice: The purpose of this newsletter is to review the latest developments which are of interest to clients of Blank Rome LLP. The information contained herein is abridged from legislation, court decisions, and administrative rulings and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion, and is not a substitute for the advice of counsel.
Marcellus Drilling News andOIL & GAS DRILLING NEWSfrom around the globe
|Attorney General files criminal charges against Marcellus Shale waste haulerJune 6 – State Attorney General Kathleen Kane has filed 64 criminal charges against the owner of a Northumberland County company that hauls waste and equipment for the natural gas industry. The extensive list of charges against Milton-based Minuteman include multiple counts of fraud and criminal conspiracy related to illegal dumping and overbilling major natural gas companies.
The investigation stems from allegations that Minuteman and its owner, 43 year-old Brian Bolus, was dumping solid waste from gas drilling operations in several counties. Bolus and Minuteman (which includes Minuteman Towing Inc., Minuteman Spill Response Inc. and Minuteman Environmental Services Inc.) also allegedly overbilled every business with which they contracted by at least one hour per invoice.
Scientists: Tests prove fracking to blame for flaming Parker County wells
June 5 – For the past two years, News 8 has aired a series of stories of flames shooting from water wells in Parker County. Dangerous levels of methane gas somehow found its way into the water supply. While Barnett Shale gas producers deny any connection to their operations, a pair of scientists are now disputing that. They say test results just released by state regulators provide concrete evidence linking fracking and groundwater contamination.
Parker County resident Steve Lipsky first noticed it in 2010. His well water was becoming contaminated with increasing levels of methane gas. So much so that once he vented his well, natural gas would come streaming out. He illustrates the volume of gas by lighting the vent on fire at night. Today, the contamination has become so bad, even his well water ignites. “Unless people get off the couch and vote or do something, who’s going to stop them from continuing doing what they are doing?” Lipsky said.
Gov. McCrory signs NC fracking gas drilling bill
June 4 – RALEIGH – Gov. Pat McCrory has signed into law a bill that clears the way for permits to be issued for gas drilling by a method called fracking in North Carolina as soon as next spring. McCrory on Wednesday signed the Energy Modernization Act during an event at North Carolina State University. The measure further refines previous legislation to allow companies to extract oil and gas from the ground by injecting high-pressure mixtures into rock.
The bill lifts a 2012 moratorium that blocked permits. Critics say the bill passed gives lawmakers less time to object to those rules and changes how permits would be issued. “There are more than 1,000 documented cases of contaminated water from fracking across the country,” said Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina. “By rushing to frack, Gov. McCrory and legislative leaders are putting North Carolina’s rivers and the drinking water for millions in jeopardy.”
U.S. Steel closes two tubular plants indefinitely, including one in McKeesport, Pa.
June 2 – The U.S. energy boom was supposed to be a godsend for the U.S. steel industry. Try telling that to about 260 U.S. Steel employees who are slated to lose their jobs even though they make tubular products for oil and gas producers. The Pittsburgh steel producer said that in August it will indefinitely idle tubular products plants in McKeesport and Bellville, Texas. The company cited continuing pressure from overseas producers that it says are unfairly taking the market away.
The decision comes as U.S. Steel and other domestic producers lobby the U.S. Commerce Department to rule that producers from nine countries are illegally dumping tubular products used by the energy industry on the U.S. market. They claim the steel is being sold at below-market prices or benefits from unfair government subsidies. A United Steelworkers union spokesman said 157 of the workers losing their jobs are USW members who work at the McKeesport plant. About 20 management employees at the plant also will lose their jobs.
By Len Boselovic / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Past Pennsylvania conservation secretaries protested state forest leases
June 2 – HARRISBURG – Two former Pennsylvania conservation and natural resources secretaries testified in Commonwealth Court today that they tried to convince former Gov. Ed Rendell not to take the power to decide when and how much public land to lease for natural gas development out of the conservation agency’s hands. About 700,000 acres in the state’s 2.2-million-acre public forest system are already available for gas development.
Michael DiBerardinis and John Quigley, both of whom served as Department of Conservation and Natural Resources secretaries under Mr. Rendell, said when the governor and General Assembly began to dictate in 2009 how much money the agency had to raise through gas leases, a key aspect of DCNR’s mission “evaporated.” The Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation is seeking a preliminary injunction to block the proposed lease sale.
By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Prospects for solar power brighten
June 2 – Green Mountain Energy, a competitive, renewable electricity supplier headquartered in Austin, Texas, recently introduced a new plan to customers in Pennsylvania and New York that will allow them to buy 100 percent solar energy, a first for Pennsylvania consumers. Part of Green Mountain Energy’s “SolarSPARC 100” plan is a commitment to build local solar farms.
The plan is available to customers for 11.4 cents per kilowatt hour. By comparison, heading into June, Duquesne Light charged its customers 6.59 cents per kilowatt hour and West Penn Power charged 4.9 cents per kilowatt hour. The Green Mountain offering comes as solar power gains favor among Americans. A Gallup poll last year revealed 76 percent believed the United States should put more emphasis on developing solar power, the highest percentage for any energy source.
By Michael Sanserino / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Oil, gas wells often keep operating despite violations
June 1 – Ohio has more than tripled its number of inspectors of oil and gas wells in the past five years. But even with the extra eyes, wells cited for violating state law often stay active for years without fixing problems that could be harmful to the environment. From 2010 to early May, inspectors cited nearly 3,800 wells — 6 percent of the total in Ohio — for violating state law.
But many of the wells where inspectors found issues are allowed to remain active without ever showing that their violations were resolved. The department does not have the authority to issue fines or penalties; it must refer the worst offenders to county or state prosecutors. The department acknowledges that many wells have been in violation for years, but it considers some of them a low priority; they are idle wells that need to be permanently closed but probably pose no imminent environmental threat.
Neighbors fret over scant science on oil, gas drilling health impacts
June 1 – When Noble Energy started drilling a well about 650 feet from Eric Ewing’s rural Weld County home in March, the noise was fierce and the house shook — but that’s not what worries Ewing. “It’s the fumes,” said Ewing, 39. “You can see them coming off some of the sites around here. They can make you dizzy.
“I don’t know if I should be worried. I mean, I have two small children, a 5-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy. Am I putting them in jeopardy?” There is no clear answer to Ewing’s question, environmental health researchers say.
Va. to review natural gas fracking rules
May 31 – RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia is looking anew at regulations governing hydraulic fracking for natural gas, a drilling method that has spawned a gold rush for the energy resource in the U.S. and given rise to its own environmental movement. The review comes ahead of a Dallas energy company’s plans to drill in tens of thousands of leased acres south and east of Fredericksburg. To date, drilling for natural gas in Virginia has occurred only in the southwest Coalfields region of the state.
The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has assembled an advisory panel of state officials, an industry representative and others to review the state’s existing rules on fracking, as the process is informally called. Its first meeting is Wednesday in Richmond. The review also comes as interest grows in the Taylorsvillle Basin in eastern Virginia. Containing an estimated 1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, the basin is beneath the Northern Neck and Middle Peninsula along the Chesapeake Bay. It also extends into Maryland.
NC fracking bill heads to governor
May 30 – RALEIGH – A bill to allow permits for fracking in North Carolina was all but a done deal Thursday as it heads to Gov. Pat McCrory for his signature. It was a fast turnaround for the bill after being passed with no debate by the Senate hours after the House approved it with minor changes. McCrory, an ardent proponent of expanding natural gas exploration in North Carolina, will very likely sign the bill.
Natural gas exploration includes fracking, which refers to hydraulic fracturing, a method of extracting oil and gas by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into rock. Permits for the practice could be issued by May 2015. The governor told reporters Thursday in Raleigh he “absolutely” supports the House version of the bill, saying he’s pushed for energy exploration since his first run for governor in 2008.
Fracking wells possible culprit of Texas earthquakes
June 1 – RENO, Texas — The first time the earth shook their home, David and Meredith Hull thought it was a propane tank exploding outside, an odd but rare phenomenon. Then it happened again. And again and again — more than 30 earthquakes since early November. One tremor tossed David Hull against the refrigerator and Meredith atop the stove. “It felt like something was under the house literally lifting it up and slamming it back down on its foundation,” said David Hull, 60, a retired sheriff’s deputy. “The whole house was shaking.”
The Hulls are one of dozens of families here and in nearby Azle, about 17 miles northwest of Fort Worth, who say they’ve been hit with a rash of earthquakes since November. Residents and city leaders point to area oil and gas disposal wells as likely culprits. The wells dispose of wastewater used in hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — for natural gas in the nearby Barnett Shale.
Critics warn of long-term effects of shale drilling under state property
May 29 – Before former Gov. Ed Rendell issued a moratorium on leasing, DCNR leased out almost 139,000 acres of state land to natural gas developers. Mr. Corbett’s order makes 700,000 acres of state-owned and managed land available for drilling, according to DCNR. While Mr. Corbett’s order rescinds the previous moratorium, it forbids any lease that “involves long-term surface disturbance, such as placing well pads, roads or pipelines in the newly leased areas.”
It also dictates that future revenue from drilling will go toward improving parks, buying mineral rights to the land and acquiring more state land. But not everyone is convinced those distinctions will adequately protect the land. “There’s no such thing as non-impact drilling,” said John Quigley, DCNR secretary in the Rendell administration. “There’s going to be noise impacts, air pollution and aesthetic impacts, at a minimum.”
By Gideon Bradshaw / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
Tentative settlement reached in Sunoco Pipeline eminent domain case
May 27 – A tentative out-of-court settlement was reached between Sunoco Pipeline and a Chartiers Township couple who were attempting to prevent the company from imposing eminent domain to secure an easement to cross their property for a new Marcellus Shale pipeline. Sunoco attorneys informed Washington County Judge Katherine B. Emery Friday of the pending agreement that would end the case involving Ron and Sallie Cox, who headed a list of more than 40 local property owners involved in similar litigation with the company.
The remaining lawsuits stand in the way of Sunoco completing a 50-mile pipeline from MarkWest Energy’s gas-processing plant in Chartiers to Delmont to hook into a nearly 20-year-old line crossing Pennsylvania into Delaware. Central to the Cox appeal was whether Sunoco could claim public utility status to acquire easements for the pipeline.
May 14th PA Commonwealth Court Session
PCN Videos on Act 13:
Crews Hauling Remaining 1,000 Tons of Contaminated Soil Out of Range Resources Impoundment in Washington County This Week
May 28 – An environmental reclamation company is working this week to haul out the remaining 1,000 tons of contaminated soil from a Washington County impoundment operated by Southpointe-based Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources. John Poister, said the company, Weavertown Environmental, had been waiting to receive the proper documentation called a Form U in order to transport the remaining soil effected by what DEP has described as a “significant leak” at the Amwell Township impoundment.
Poister said more than 2,000 tons of soil will have been removed from the impoundment and into area landfills when the cleanup at the site is complete. While DEP last month issued a notice of violation to Range Resources for the leak, no civil penalty has yet been assessed. Poister said that remains a possibility, and indicated that an investigation is ongoing into how the pit’s leak detection system “failed miserably” – and how the leak, reported April 16, had gone unnoticed by Range Resources officials.
Two more drilling sites found with Marcellus Shale sludge radioactivity in Washington County
May 27 – Range Resources has confirmed that Marcellus Shale drilling sludge with radioactivity content too high for normal landfill disposal is stored at two more of its drilling pads in Washington County.
Waste containing higher radioactivity levels is being temporarily held by Range at the Melechi pad and the MCC pad in Smith, near Mount Pleasant. Earlier this month, drilling sludge from Range Resources’ Carter drill pad and impoundment in Mount Pleasant was also found to have higher radioactivity readings.
++++++++++++++Homeowners consider moving if fracking begins in NC
May 26 – Lee County and those around it will be some of the first in the state to see fracking wells because the area is thought to have vast deposits of natural gas. Supporters say the economics make sense and the process would make the U.S. less dependent on foreign oil.
Opponents, however, are concerned about their property rights. Some homeowners also say they’re concerned about the potential for contamination to water in the area. “This whole process has been too fast,” said Ed Harris, who lives outside Sanford. “There’s not enough study that’s gone into it.”
Gas pipeline explosion near Warren prompts evacuations in northwestern Minnesota
May 26 – WARREN, Minn. — A natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded, sending flames shooting high into the sky in far northwestern Minnesota on Monday, authorities said. “The flames were over 100 feet in the air so it was really something out there,” said Jim Duckstad, the county’s 911 coordinator. People who called in said it sounded like a jet engine.
Nobody was injured, but six or seven families living within two miles of the site were evacuated. The pipeline is owned by Viking Gas Transmission Company, which sent crews to the scene.
Climate change to boost health problems
May 25 – Peter Adams, a professor of civil and environmental engineering and engineering and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University, said warmer air temperatures combined with expected higher humidity “makes the atmosphere more able to do chemistry and produce compounds that could impact human health.”
One of those compounds likely to increase is ground-level ozone, the primary component of unhealthy smog. Methane emissions from increased shale gas drilling, along with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compound emissions from drilling operations and increased truck traffic, also could rise.
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
++++++++++++++Is Senate moving too fast on allowing fracking in NC?
May 25 – Last week, in line to fire the starter’s pistol on fracking, the drilling method used to extract shale gas, were state Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and other Republican state lawmakers, including Sens. Joyce Krawiec of Kernersville and Andrew Brock of Davie County. In the Senate, they helped sponsor a bill — the Energy Modernization Act — that would allow fracking to start as early as next summer.
Opponents of the bill cautioned that many questions remain about the impact that fracking may have on public health and the environment. They questioned why the Senate would pass the Energy Modernization Act because it would allow fracking to start before a full legislative review of proposed rules on fracking operations being drafted by the state Mining and Energy Commission (MEC).
Gov. Corbett allows drilling under Pa. state lands
May 23 – Gov. Tom Corbett will allow natural gas companies to drill under state forests and parks but will ban drilling that would result in long-term surface disturbances. In an executive order that took effect on Friday, Corbett ended a blanket ban on gas drilling leases by allowing companies to drill horizontally from wells on properties adjacent to state lands, or on land the state leased. Political opponents and environmental advocates blasted the decision, saying it will result in a buildup of potentially hazardous drilling sites near sensitive, protected lands.
By Chris Togneri and Mike Wereschagin / TRIB Live
++++++++++++++Write-down of two-thirds of US shale oil explodes fracking myth
May 22 – Next month, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) will publish a new estimate of US shale deposits set to deal a death-blow to industry hype about a new golden era of US energy independence by fracking unconventional oil and gas.
EIA officials told the Los Angeles Times that previous estimates of recoverable oil in the Monterey shale reserves in California of about 15.4 billion barrels were vastly overstated. The revised estimate, they said, will slash this amount by 96% to a puny 600 million barrels of oil.
Oil Drillers’ Burning of Natural Gas Costs U.S. Millions in Revenue
May 22 – In oil-rich North Dakota, gas flares dot the landscape like city lights, torching natural gas that the industry won’t use. The burning flares are a hallmark of a booming U.S. oil industry in which natural gas, a valuable energy source itself, often becomes a waste byproduct of drilling. Now, the cost of flaring—in lost energy resources and potential revenue from federal land in North Dakota and other western states—is increasingly drawing the attention of government officials and interest groups.
A new report released by the Western Values Project (WVP), a nonprofit focused on sustainable land development, estimates that the federal royalties lost from U.S. gas flaring amounted to more than $50 million in 2013. That lost gas could have powered all the homes in Chicago for a year, according to the report. Oil companies burn off natural gas for several reasons: sometimes to prevent a dangerous buildup of methane at a drilling site, but more often because the companies do not have the equipment or the financial incentive to capture and sell it.
U.S. officials cut estimate of recoverable Monterey Shale oil by 96%
May 21 – ederal energy authorities have slashed by 96% the estimated amount of recoverable oil buried in California’s vast Monterey Shale deposits, deflating its potential as a national “black gold mine” of petroleum.
Just 600 million barrels of oil can be extracted with existing technology, far below the 13.7 billion barrels once thought recoverable from the jumbled layers of subterranean rock spread across much of Central California, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
The new estimate, expected to be released publicly next month, is a blow to the nation’s oil future and to projections that an oil boom would bring as many as 2.8 million new jobs to California and boost tax revenue by $24.6 billion annually.
Plan Approval Revisions Issued including Extensions, Minor Modifications and Transfers of Ownership under the Air Pollution Control Act and 25 Pa. Code §§ 127.13, 127.13a and 127.32.
Southwest Region: Air Quality Program
63-00965A: Rice Poseidon Midstream LLC (171 Hillpointe Drive Suite 301, Canonsburg, PA 15317) on May 08, 2014, to authorize the change of ownership from M3 Appalachia Gathering, LLC to Rice Poseidon Midstream LLC for Twilight Compressor Station located in West Pike Run Township, Washington County.
Intent to Issue Operating Permits under the Air Pollution Control Act and 25 Pa. Code Chapter 127, Subchapter F.
Southwest Region: Air Quality Program, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4745 Contact: Barbara Hatch, Facilities Permitting Chief—Telephone: 412-442-4174
63-00631: Columbia Gas Transmission (1700 Mac-Corkle Ave SE, PO Box 1273, Charleston, WV, 25314) for a Natural Minor operating permit renewal for their Donegal Compressor Station in Donegal Township, Washington County. Equipment at this facility includes two Ingersoll-Rand model #36 KVS, 1,240 bhp natural gasfired stationary reciprocating internal combustion compressor engines, a LeRoi model #RXIS 135 bhp emergency generator, a 2.0 mmbtu/hr heating system boiler, two indirect fired line heaters, an odorant flare, and five storage tanks. Potential emissions at this facility are estimated to be 55.1 tons per year (tpy) of NOx, 66.7 tpy CO, 29.1 tpy VOC, 0.1 tpy PM10, 0.1 tpy SO2, and 4.65 tpy formaldehyde. The facility is subject to the applicable requirements of 25 Pa. Code Chapters 121—145. The proposed Operating Permit contains applicable emission limits, as well as testing, monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting and work practice requirements. Copies of the application, DEP’s analysis and other documents used in the evaluation of the application are available for public review during normal business hours at the Department’s Southwest Regional Office, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Appointments for scheduling a review must be made by calling 412-442-4000.
Any person may submit comments or object to the operating permit or a proposed condition thereof by filing a written protest with the Department at the Southwest Regional Office. A 30-day comment period from the date of this publication will exist for the submission of comments. A protest to a proposed action shall be filed with the Department within 30 days of the date that notice of the proposed action was published under 25 Pa. Code § 127.424 (relating to public notice). A protest shall include the name, address and telephone number of the person filing the protest, identification of the proposed permit issuance being opposed (Operating Permit 63-00631) and a concise statement of the objections to the permit issuance and the relevant facts upon which the objections are based.
A public hearing may be held, if the Department, in its discretion, decides that such a hearing is warranted based on the information received. All persons who have properly filed a protest under 25 Pa. Code § 127.426 may appear and give testimony. The applicant, the protestant and other participants will be notified of the decision to hold a hearing by publication in the newspaper or by the Pennsylvania Bulletin, or by telephone, where the Department determines such notification by telephone is sufficient.
Written comments, protests and requests for a public hearing should be directed to Nick Waryanka, Air Quality Engineer, Department of Environmental Protection, Southwest Region, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. For additional information concerning the permit or the issuance procedure, contact Mr. Waryanka at (412) 442-4172.
OIL AND GAS MANAGEMENT
E32-07-007: CNX Gathering, LLC—280 Indian Spring Road, Suite 333 Indiana, PA 15701 Project Location—Center Township, Indiana County, ACOE Pittsburgh District. CNX Gathering, LLC is proposing to construct a centralized Impoundment known as the Suburban Indiana Centralized Impoundment (to support its natural gas drilling operations in the area. The project has a total disturbed area of 32.4 acres, which includes one (1) 8,856-foot-long permanent access road. The project is located within the Indiana USGS 7 1/2 Minute Quadrangle Map. The project will include the installation of three (3) 24 RCP Culverts on Tributary 44805 to Cherry Run and the installation of an 7 x 15 box culvert on Tributary 44804 to Cherry Run. Floodway impacts to an unnamed tributary to Trib 44084 to Cherry Run will also occur as a result of the creation of this permanent access road. The project will also impact two (2) PEM wetlands with the installation of the box culvert on Tributary 44084 to Cherry Run and the placement of fill for the access within another PEM wetland. The project is a Joint Permit Application due to the proposed project not meeting the terms and conditions of the General Permit 07 (Minor Road Crossings). The project will result in two (2) PEM Wetland crossings resulting in approximately 0.015 ac of permanent impact, three (2) streams resulting in 174 linear feet of permanent impact and an additional 0.28 ac of permanent floodway impact. The project will also result in 0.34 ac of temporary floodway impact. The table describes each crossing that will result from the construction of the Suburban Indiana Centralized Impoundment:
American Lung Association Contradicts Its Own Mission
May 22 – The American Lung Association has acknowledged that fracking causes massive amounts of cancer-causing air pollution, and has urged stronger regulations, but after receiving hefty donations from a fracking company, the ALA switched to falsely promoting gas as “cleaner than other fossil fuels.”
“Sobering Statistics Tell Story About Reality of Women’s Lung Cancer” was the headline of a May 15 blog post written by Harold Wimmer, president and CEO of the American Lung Association (ALA), for the Huffington Post. Wimmer was touting the ALA’s recently announced initiative “to make lung cancer in women a public health priority, drive policy change and increase research funding.” Businesses and organizations around the country are sponsoring events to support this campaign.
These well-intentioned groups, and the public, deserve to know the shameful truth about the ALA. The organization claims to work to reduce lung diseases, yet partners with the single worst contributor to air pollution (and global climate disruption) – the fossil fuel industry, which actually causes respiratory and other illnesses.
Santa Cruz Triumphs as First County in California to Ban Fracking
May 22 – Santa Cruz County in California triumphed Tuesday to become the state’s first county to ban fracking. The county’s board of supervisors voted 5-0 to prohibit fracking, as well as gas and oil development within its boundaries.
“We congratulate the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors for their historic vote towards protecting California’s air and water, and for setting a positive example for other counties and Gov. [Jerry] Brown,” said Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch.
N.C. Senate introduces another bill on oil and gas exploration and development
May 20 – The new controversy concerns penalties in the bill for unauthorized disclosure of oil and gas industry trade secrets. First, the bill allows the owner of the trade secret to require a doctor or fire chief receiving the information for emergency response purposes to enter into a confidentiality agreement that may set out remedies for breach of the agreement including “stipulation of a reasonable pre-estimate of likely damages”. Without any further explanation of how the stipulation would be used, it sounds like a stipulated penalty that could make it unnecessary for the company to establish actual economic damages in court.
The bill also makes unauthorized disclosure of an oil and gas industry trade secret by any person a Class I felony if the person knew the information was a trade secret. (Class I felonies carry a presumptive sentence of 4-6 months — but you may be eligible for community service or supervised probation.) By contrast, current state law protecting trade secrets does not impose a criminal penalty for unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized acquisition or even unauthorized use of trade secret information. Aside from questions about the reasonableness of the penalties proposed in Senate Bill 786, it is clear that the bill creates much more severe penalties for disclosure of oil and gas industry trade secrets than state law imposes for unauthorized disclosure or use of other types of trade secrets.
Work Underway to Close Fayette Fracking Waste Pit
May 19 – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection says materials from a pit holding waste of the oil and gas industry, including fracking waste, is being taken to the Raleigh County landfill. The DEP says work is underway to reclaim above ground waste pits months after the state agency ordered it shut down.
The pits were used to remove sediments from the oil and gas waste before injecting underground. The DEP ordered the pit closed after the operator failed to submit a plan to bring it up to code. Although the DEP did not find the pit to be leaking, officials say it needed to be upgraded.
Four Fatalities Linked to Used Fracking Fluid Exposure During ‘Flowback,’ NIOSH Reports
May 19 – Initial government field studies on hydraulic fracturing operations suggest that workers could be exposed to hazardous levels of volatile hydrocarbons from used fracking fluids, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said May 19.
At least four workers have died since 2010, apparently from acute chemical exposures during flowback operations, which involve transferring, storing and measuring fluids that return to the surface after fracking, NIOSH said in a blog post.
EPA changes course on injection well approval
May 19 – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of withdrawing its February approval of a 7,300-foot-deep injection well being drilled to permanently store shale gas drilling waste water near DuBois, Clearfield County. Facing widespread public concerns that the Windfall Oil & Gas Inc. Zelman No. 1 injection well could trigger earthquakes and cause groundwater contamination, the EPA last week said it had asked its Environmental Appeal Board to grant a “voluntary remand” of the five-year permit.
David Sternberg, an EPA spokesman, issued a statement saying the remand request was made to allow the agency to “further consider public comments” and “assure that the substantive and procedural requirements of the federal regulations have been met.” He said the agency, after reconsidering the public comments, could decide to reissue the permit under the same or similar conditions, draft a new permit that would require a new public comment period or deny the permit. There are 10 federally permitted waste-water injection wells in Pennsylvania. By comparison, West Virginia has 65 deep disposal wells.
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
+++++++++++++++DEPARTMENT OF CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES
May 17, 2014 Pennsylvania Bulletin
Railroads claim national security in keeping oil train routes secret, but feds say not so
May 16 – As crude oil shipments have proliferated and raised safety concerns across the country, railroads have refused to acknowledge their routes and frequencies, details that anyone patient enough to stand trackside could learn. Railroads companies have claimed that they’re prohibited by federal law from divulging those details for national security reasons. But they’re not. Oil trains are big and obtrusive. They’re a mile long or more. They haul more than 100 tank cars, labeled on all four sides with placards that identify what’s inside.
Asked about where oil trains go, companies including Union Pacific and BNSF Railway Co. have said federal law classifies crude oil as “sensitive security information,” information that’s not classified but not public, part of a post-Sept. 11 security push. Those rules limit public disclosures of a narrow set of risky commodities including poisonous gases, radioactive material and explosives like dynamite. Crude oil isn’t classified as a sensitive security commodity, a U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman, Michael England, confirmed.
Lebanon Against Pipeline group gets advice in fighting new natural gas pipeline
May 14 – ANNVILLE — Farmers Ivan and Peter Hanson, of South Londonderry Township, have been working for years to plant trees as riparian buffers along streams to prevent erosion and improve water quality. But the prospect of a 42-inch gas pipeline coming through their land could wipe out those efforts.
They were among about 50 people who attended an informational meeting Wednesday night at Lebanon Valley College on the proposed Williams Partners’ Central Penn South pipeline that could run 27 miles north-south through western Lebanon County. Williams Partners says the pipeline location has not yet been chosen, but a preliminary 600-foot-wide study corridor exists. Survey permission has been requested from about 500 landowners in Lancaster County, 200 in Lebanon County and 150 in Schuylkill County.
Heinz Endowments could be cutting ties with controversial shale center
May 14, 2014 – The Heinz Endowments is no longer providing financial support to the controversial Center for Sustainable Shale Development — a nonprofit whose mission is to find best practices for tapping the energy resources of the Marcellus Shale region. Susan LeGros, executive director of the Downtown-based center, said the city’s second-largest foundation, which backed the center’s creation in 2013, has been dropped from its list of partners and philanthropic supporters because it is “not currently funding us.”
Before and after the launch of the center, the Heinz Endowments came under intense criticism from environmentalists who believed its partnership with the oil and gas industry was in direct conflict with the organization’s long-standing support of environmental causes. Many observers believe the widespread criticism and outcry led to a staff shakeup at the endowments last summer that included the dismissal two key employees and eventually resulted in the resignation in January of its former president, Robert Vagt, who has long had investments and career connections in the oil and gas industry.
By Joyce Gannon / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Natural gas helicopter flights blamed for mass deaths of breeding rabbits
May 14 – WILLIAMSPORT — A low-flying helicopter used in connection with Marcellus Shale natural gas seismic tests is being blamed in a lawsuit for the the mass deaths of rabbits being raised in Lycoming County for breeding, showing and sale. Susan Knowlden made the accusation in a lawsuit filed Tuesday in county court against CGG Land Inc. CGG’s American corporate offices are in Houston, Texas, but it has offices in Harrisburg and Philadelphia.
Knowlden, who does business as Jasmire Creations, claims in the spring of 2012 she had more than 300 rabbits on the property north of Trout Run she owns with her husband Terry. She blames the deaths of 168 of them on helicopter flights. The court complaint states the rabbits were specially bred through many generations to develop prized bloodlines. When the Knowldens in May 2012 learned CGG would have a helicopter flying low over their property, they said on multiple occasions they advised the company rabbits are sensitive to noise.
By John Beauge / Special to PennLive
Residents evacuated after wellhead leak in Mt. Pleasant Township
May 14 – A small leak coming from a producing natural gas well in Mt. Pleasant Township prompted a brief evacuation of about 35 residents from their homes near the site Wednesday morning, a state Department of Environmental Protection spokesman said. Emergency crews were notified at 7:14 a.m. of leaking methane from the producing vertical well on the Herman pad at 6 Snedeker Lane and issued the evacuation order 10 minutes later.
The leak at the well, operated by Range Resources, was brought under control quickly, Poister said. A DEP inspector was at the site during the leak and took air samples to investigate if the environment was affected, he said. Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said the Herman well was drilled in 2009 and was producing at the time of the leak.
By Mike Jones / Observer-Reporter
64 groups ask for gas industry emission restrictions
May 13, 2014 – Sixty-four environment and community organizations have asked the federal government to limit air pollution emissions from the rapidly expanding oil and gas industry that are impacting many of the nation’s urban areas, including Pittsburgh. “It may be true that burning gas for electricity is cleaner than coal, but the process of producing that gas is still creating a lot of toxic pollution,” said Tim Ballo, an attorney with Earthjustice.
According to a petition, filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday by Earthjustice, a public interest law organization representing the groups, 150 million Americans in 180 metropolitan areas live near oil and gas wells or in shale gas plays where hazardous chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and respiratory disease are released into the air. And an estimated 45,000 new wells are expected to be drilled each year through 2035.
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Safety over Secrecy Act Introduced
May 13, 2014 – Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has introduced legislation to protect the health and safety of American citizens by limiting the ability of big corporations to demand that plaintiffs remain silent about their experiences as a condition of settling their disputes. Currently, for example, natural gas companies facing lawsuits from citizens who claim their water has been contaminated by the extraction process can require citizens to keep details of their cases secret in exchange for a cash settlement.
Whitehouse’s bill, the Safety over Secrecy Act (S. 2317), could help to limit the use of confidentiality agreements in cases involving hazards to public health and safety. “While confidentiality agreements can be useful tools to protect sensitive information and trade secrets, too often they are used to hide important safety concerns from regulators, policymakers, the news media, public health experts, and the general public,” Whitehouse said in a prepared statement submitted to the Congressional Record. “Under current law, judges are not specifically required to consider the public interest when determining the enforceability of confidentiality agreements. In cases involving hazards to public health and safety—and only in those cases—this bill would change that, and would require judges to balance a party’s specific interest in confidentiality against the public interest in disclosure of information when approving or enforcing confidentiality agreements.”
+++++++++++++++Appeals court to hear arguments on 4 sections of Act 13
May 13 – A state appeals court will hear arguments on Wednesday about whether several sections of Pennsylvania’s contested drilling law can survive after the state Supreme Court struck down key aspects of the law late last year. The challenges to the state’s 2012 update of the oil and gas law, known as Act 13, have been narrowed to only a handful of issues after the Supreme Court ruled in December that the law unconstitutionally limited local governments’ right to say where well sites, compressor stations and other oil and gas facilities can be located. The high court told the Commonwealth Court to consider if the rest of the law can stand without the zoning rules.
Now, the parties have whittled the fight to four issues they will debate before the judges:
By Laura Legere / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
DEP air monitoring at well fire questioned
May 7 – The Clean Air Council, on behalf of several conservation and environmental groups, has submitted a letter to state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Chris Abruzzo questioning DEP’s air quality monitoring report regarding the Chevron well explosion in Dunkard Township. “PA DEP’s sampling protocol suffered from numerous inadequacies that could have prevented the investigation from detecting harmful levels of pollution,” the council said.
DEP should have evaluated impacts based on the most vulnerable individuals, including the elderly, children and those with existing medical conditions, it said. The council also maintains 24-hour averages used by DEP underestimate exposure to potential peak concentrations, including any plumes of high concentration levels of pollutants, and should not be used to evaluate acute exposure to pollutants. DEP completed insufficient air samples to support its conclusion the fire did not produce “pollution spikes” harmful to human health, the council said.
By Bob Niedbala / Observer-Reporter
+++++++++++++Junk Bonds Fuel the Shale Boom
May 1 – Rice Energy, a natural gas producer with a low credit rating, raised $900 million in a bond sale in April, $150 million more than it originally sought. Investors snapped up the bonds even though the Canonsburg (Pa.)-based company has lost money three years in a row, has drilled fewer than 50 wells (most named after superheroes and monster trucks), and said it will spend $4.09 for every dollar it earns (before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) in 2014.
“This is a melting ice cube business. If you’re not growing production, you’re dying.”—Mike Kelly, Global Hunter Securities. Rice Energy’s April bond offering was rated CCC+ by Standard & Poor’s, seven steps below investment grade. S&P says that of the 97 energy exploration and production companies it grades 75 are rated below investment grade.
Colorado doctor seeks volunteers who live near gas wells for new study
May 5 – A Roaring Fork Valley doctor has recently conducted blood and urine tests on a family in Silt who claim to have been made sick by nearby oil and gas activities. Dr. John Hughes, of the Aspen Integrative Medicine group, who conducted the tests on the Silt family, also said that testing is to be expanded and that he is seeking volunteers from among those living near natural-gas facilities in western Garfield County.
Hughes is teaming up with a research program with the University of Oklahoma to conduct blood tests on people living near oil- and gas-extraction facilities. He’s planning to facilitate a study headed by researcher Dr. Jay S. Hanas, of the school’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He said his results from 11 Erie residents had revealed “high levels of ethylbenzene,” a volatile organic compound typically associated with gas-drilling activities.
Shale Gas Plagued By Unusual Methane Leaks
May 5 – According to a spate of recent scientific studies from the United States and Australia, the shale gas industry has generated another formidable challenge: methane and radon leakage three times greater than expected. In some cases the volume of seeping methane, a greenhouse gas that traps heat 25 times more effectively than carbon dioxide, is so high it challenges the notion that shale gas can be a bridge to a cleaner energy future, as promoted by the government of British Columbia and other shale gas jurisdictions.
Methane seepage seems most pronounced in areas where industry has been fracturing seams of coal, a resource much richer in methane than shale rock, or where there are existing underground coal mines. One of the first studies to sound the alarm on the under-reporting of methane emissions by industry and regulators was partly supported by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last year.
Fine Print on Baker Hughes New Fracking Fluid Disclosure Policy Draws Skepticism
May 5 – Back in 2008, Cathy Behr, a nurse who worked at a Durango, Colorado hospital was hospitalized after suffering a cascade of organ failures. Days earlier, Ms. Behr had treated an oil and gas field worker who arrived in the emergency room doused in a fracking chemical mix called Zeta-Flow, the fumes from which were so powerful that the emergency room had to be evacuated. All told, 130 gallons of the apparently noxious fluid had spilled onto the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, an EPA report later noted, although the spill was never reported to local officials.
So what’s in Zeta-Flow? Because the formula for the chemical, marketed as increasing gas production by 30 percent, is considered a trade secret, oilfield services company Weatherford International was never required to make the full answer public. This secrecy was one of the first issues to be raised by public health officials investigating fracking pollution claims, who pointed out that without knowing what chemicals are used by the industry, it’s difficult or impossible to know what toxins to test for.
Beverly Hills becomes first in California to ban fracking
May 7 – (Reuters) – City leaders in celebrity-filled Beverly Hills voted on Tuesday to ban fracking, becoming the first municipality in California to prohibit the controversial technique for extracting natural gas and oil from underground rock deposits.
The unanimous vote by the Beverly Hills city council gives final approval to fracking ban, which was given the initial go-ahead by the panel last month. Council members, five of whom voted in favor of the ban, did not publicly discuss the measure on Tuesday. It will take effect on June 6.
|Natural gas futures – weekly outlook: May 5 – 9May 4 – On the New York Mercantile Exchange, natural gas for delivery in June lost 0.95%, or 4.5 cents, to settle at $4.658 per million British thermal units by close of trade on Friday. Natural gas fell to $4.672 per million British thermal units earlier in the session, the lowest since April 28.
Futures were likely to find support at $4.648 per million British thermal units, the low from April 28 and resistance at $4.823, the high from May 1. Natural gas prices tumbled 2% on Thursday after the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in its weekly report that natural gas storage in the U.S. rose by 82 billion cubic feet last week, above forecasts for an increase of 75 billion cubic feet.
Living near a gas drilling site is not pleasant
May 4 – The April 27 Forum article “Our Plan for Deer Lakes” by John Applegath, Range Resources senior vice president, is sugar-coated propaganda.
I have lived with and continue to live with the 24/7 disruption of quiet living 800 feet from my home. I had almost a year and a half of 24-hour noise, flaring and gas fumes, along with promises that it would be over “in six months,” then “18 months,” then “just a few more months.” It is never-ending with the trucks and 18-wheelers, and let me not forget the diesel pickup noise. There are no holidays … these people think nothing of Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, Easter, Fourth of July, etc.
Drilling is just the start. Four years later it still continues and will continue until the wells are depleted.
Roads and improvements are only those that benefit the truck traffic. These trucks like their half to be in the center of the road.
Environment? I have aerial pictures of the site 800 feet from my home. They have buried a sludge/waste pit on the platform. The 16-to-20-foot screen that was erected (for so-called noise abatement) seems to me to be nothing but a screen to conceal the activity that could be seen from the ground.
Range is spending a fortune with its advertising to spread the propaganda of benefits. It is making a fortune. Otherwise, why would it have funds for all the propaganda?
The only people who are happy with Range are those who have mineral rights and wells on their properties. The rest of us have to bear unpleasantries such as being run off the road, hearing the noise and putting up with the gas being expelled.
Ask the neighbors who have to bear the fact of having a well drilled within 500 feet of their homes … you can thank Gov. Tom Corbett for that gem.
JOSEPH G. HAMM
Letter to the Editor – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Exxon and Chevron trailing in U.S. fracking boom
May 4 – “The big oil companies were late to invest in shale. They’re trying to play catch-up,” says Brian Youngberg, an analyst at Edward Jones, noting smaller and more nimble companies got into fracking more quickly. He says the multinationals are now investing in new shale developments, but since they’re so big, it’s difficult for any single project to shift their overall bottom line.
Exxon, the nation’s largest oil company, said Thursday that it produced 5% less natural gas in the United States during the first three months of 2014 than it did in the same period a year ago. Its domestic production of crude oil and other liquids rose 1.6%. Chevron, the second-largest U.S. oil company, reported declining production. On Friday, it said it produced 4% less oil and 3% less natural gas in the United States during 2014’s first quarter than it did a year ago.
Scientists Warn of Quake Risk From Fracking Operations
May 2 – Underground disposal of wastewater from fracking may pose a much greater risk of causing dangerous earthquakes than previously believed, particularly in areas of the U.S. Southwest and Midwest where earthquake faults have not been mapped extensively, seismology researchers said at a conference Thursday. Worse yet, scientists are not yet able to predict which wastewater injection sites are likely to pose risks to buildings or critical structures such as power plants, and do not yet know what operators might do to mitigate the hazard.
The warning comes as evidence continues to accumulate that the activities associated with the North American oil and gas boom can lead to unintended, man-made tremors, or “induced seismicity,” as researchers call it. Fracking itself has been linked to quakes. More often, though, the cause is injection of fracking wastewater into disposal wells.
Is North Texas Gas Well Putting Cancer-Causing Chemicals In The Air?
May 1 – DENTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Air samples taken near a gas well in Denton showed increased levels of benzene, along with other chemicals, according to data released by the Denton Drilling Awareness Group on Thursday. The data, and infrared video of vapor releases from energy company facilities, comes days before the group is expected to officially file a petition to ban the fracking process in the city.
The air testing was done in a backyard in the Vintage neighborhood on the city’s south end. The neighborhood has been a focal point for the fracking fight in Denton, with gas wells within just a few hundred feet of homes. A California lab showed benzene readings at 6.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air. That is two points higher than the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s limits for long-term exposure risks.
Oil well explosion kills two workers, injures nine in West Texas
April 30 – Two oil well workers died and nine suffered minor cuts and bruises Wednesday after a high-pressure explosion in a West Texas county that is lightly populated but richly saturated with oil. The two bodies were found about 20 feet from a wellhead that was being replaced, Loving County Sheriff Billy Hopper told The Times. The blast did not trigger a fire.
Their deaths bring the number of workers killed in Loving County’s oilfields to seven since 2006, he said. Ortega and Magdalena were among about a dozen workers at the site as independent contractors for RKI Exploration & Production, which owns the well where the blast occurred Wednesday morning.
Low levels of radiation detected at impoundment
May 2 – Low levels of radiation were detected inside a piece of equipment at a Marcellus Shale wastewater impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township. About 20 inches of water and four inches of sludge with “above-background” radiation levels are being held inside a roll-off box at the Carter impoundment on Fort Cherry Road. The impoundment, owned and operated by Range Resources, holds recycled water used in the hydraulic fracturing process.
Range Resources discovered the radiation earlier this week when a contractor cleaned out the impoundment’s weir tanks, which allow solids to settle as water flows into the impoundment. Sludge from those tanks was transported to a Range facility and tested for radiation before heading to a landfill. Once radiation was detected, the company applied for and was granted a Department of Transportation exemption to transport the materials back to the Carter impoundment for short-term storage.
By Emily Petsko – Observer-Reporter
Container Marked “Radioactive” at Range Resources Impoundment in Washington Co. Spurs Calls To DEP, Inspector Investigating
May 1 – DEP spokesman John Poister said there was “material that raised some concern” at the Carter impoundment in Mt. Pleasant Township, and that the department was awaiting the results of soil characterization tests that Range Resources is conducting. He said there was an issue with the weir system at the impoundment, which he said is used to filter solids out of water used in the fracking process.
Residents who live near the impoundment became concerned when they saw blue containers at the impoundment with stamps reading DOT SP 11406. An Internet search shows that these containers are used to transport radioactive waste. Asked if those containers were actively being used by Range Resources to remove and transport radioactive waste, Poister said he did not know, but that the company would be required to have a permit known as a Form U in order to do so. “I have not seen a Form U,” he said.
Republicans in Congress Are Trying to Gut Local Fracking Regulations
May 1 – Capitol Hill on Tuesday was home to a rare sight: House Republicans preparing a bill they say will strengthen the authority of the EPA. But a coalition of public health experts, environmentalists, and state officials argue that the bill, called the Chemicals in Commerce Act, is a Trojan horse that would kneecap state rules on toxic chemicals across the country without giving the EPA any authority to pick up the slack. Opponents of the Chemicals in Commerce Act warn that the bill would weaken oversight of fracking fluids in particular, as these are almost exclusively regulated by state agencies.
The bill, which is still a draft, is outwardly aimed at fixing the shortcomings of the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. Almost all the most critical regulation of toxic chemicals, as a result, takes place at the state level. But the Chemicals in Commerce Act would prohibit states from enforcing those laws if the EPA has already taken action on the chemical in question—either by allowing the chemicals onto the market or by regulating them through TSCA.
Fiery train wreck in Virginia brings demands for tighter regulation of crude oil shipments
May 1 – LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) — The latest in a string of fiery oil-train wrecks brought renewed demands Thursday that the Obama administration quickly tighten regulations governing the burgeoning practice of transporting highly combustible crude by rail. With production booming in the Bakken oil field along the U.S. northern tier and in Canada, some experts say stronger rules to head off a catastrophe are long overdue. Bakken crude ignites more easily than other types.
A CSX train carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota derailed Wednesday in downtown Lynchburg, sending three tanker cars into the James River and shooting flames and black smoke into the air. About 50,000 gallons of oil was missing, but it was unclear how much burned up and how much spilled into the river. There have been eight other significant accidents in the U.S. and Canada in the past year involving trains hauling crude, and some of them caused considerable damage and deaths.
Pittsburgh region still gets poor marks for air pollution
April 29 – The American Lung Association’s annual air quality report shows a mixed bag, with the Pittsburgh region’s air still bad but noticeably improving, although unhealthy, ground-level ozone increased. The “State of the Air 2014” document, released today shows that levels of fine particle pollution, or soot, in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area and statewide were at their lowest levels since the national clean air advocacy organization began compiling air quality data 15 years ago.
Despite the overall air quality improvement, the Pittsburgh-New Castle-Weirton region’s ranking for fine particle pollution levels fell from eighth worst in last year’s report to sixth worse this year, and it again failed to meet national air quality standards for fine particle pollution, the report said. The region’s ranking for ozone — which can pose serious health impacts, including worsened asthma and other respiratory disease, heart problems and premature death — also worsened during the 2010-12 period, moving from 24th in the nation last year to 21st worst this year.
By Don Hopey / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Marcellus Waste Radioactivity In Water Leaching From Landfills
April 21 – CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Tests show that wastewater from gas field landfills contains radioactivity. That is raising concerns about the disposal of Marcellus Shale drill cuttings. Bill Hughes, chair, Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority, said tests on water leaching from the Meadowfill landfill near Bridgeport show widely varying levels of radioactivity, sometimes spiking to 40 times the clean drinking water standard.The radioactivity occurs naturally in the drill cuttings and brine that come from Marcellus gas wells, he said, so it is in the waste dumped in Meadowfill and other landfills. “We are putting radioactive waste in a bunch of landfills in large quantities, and we don’t yet know the long-term danger of doing this,” Hughes said.
|Company suspends construction of NGL pipelineApril 28 – A pipeline that would have taken natural gas liquids from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays to the U.S. Gulf Coast has been suspended, according to Tulsa-based Williams. Williams said today it would suspend investment in the proposed Bluegrass NGL pipeline, which would have transported liquids such as ethane and propane from the so-called wet gas regions of the shale plays in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
The project, a joint venture between Williams and Houston-based Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, is being nixed due to“an insufficient level” of commitments from natural gas producers in the region. The project was formalized last year and would have gone into service in 2015.
Stephanie Ritenbaugh / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Paper trail for Pa. shale waste leads to ex-IBM site in NY Official dismisses DEP record of cuttings shipped upstate
April 26 – Shale gas development also involves a viscous solution called drilling mud, and solid waste, including drill cuttings tinged with varying degrees of metals, solvents, and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) from deep in the ground. It’s a matter for record that drilling cuttings from the Marcellus Shale tend to be radioactive, and the New York State Department of Health has advised officials from the DEC to devise a testing protocol to ensure hot drilling waste is handled and disposed of properly. Drill cuttings, like flowback, are also exempt from federal hazardous waste handling laws, and they often end up in landfills, like Seneca Meadows.
And that’s how shale gas dregs can end up Endicott, or countless other places where landfill leachate is treated. The shipping of leachate to private plants is not, in itself, sinister, or even especially newsworthy. It’s the exemptions, loopholes, and lack of disclosure about its contents that makes it a problem and rightly invites the attention of activists and media watchdogs. According to records filed with the state Department of Environmental Protection, the Seneca Lake Meadows landfill was the final destination for Marcellus Shale drill cuttings from 196 wells drilled in Pennsylvania during 2010 and 2011. After tracking this bit of information down on their own, some Endicott residents and area activists wanted to know if this potentially radioactive drilling waste stream ended in Endicott via the importation of Seneca Meadows leachaete.
Families Sue Frackers for $120 Million
April 25 – In the Arkansas case, in Faulkner County Court, Barbara Ramsey et al. sued the DeSoto Gathering Company. The plaintiffs “live adjacent to natural gas compressor and transmission stations” DeSoto operates, specifically, the Midge CPF-2 station in Pangburn and the Scotland CPF-2 station in Scotland, Ark. “The entire process of purifying, compressing and transmitting shale gas through gas transmission pipelines constitutes an industrial development, which is incompatible with residential living,” the complaint states. “The compressor units areinjuriously loud and produce harmful levels of noise and toxic emissions. The noise produced by these compressor units is so loud that persons living next to those industrial facilities are harmed and injured by the noise, vibration, odor and pollution.
“The compressor stations emit huge amounts of methane and hydrogen sulfide, as well as other flammable, malodorous and noxious gases, chemicals and compounds, directly into the air. These substances are emitted are then allowed to flow freely off of the compressor station property and into the surrounding air and atmosphere.” The plaintiff families say they bought and lived in their homes for many years before DeSoto built the compression stations. What’s more, they say, “Employees of the Defendant are aware that compressor stations like Midge 2 have exploded and caught fire, causing injuries and deaths in the immediate vicinity of the compressor stations.
|$3 Million Verdict in Texas Fracking CaseApril 22 (DALLAS) — Plaintiffs Bob and Lisa Parr won a $3 million jury award in the first fracking verdict in Texas April 22. The Parrs sued Aruba Petroleum in 2011 for fracking operations which fouled the family’s 40-acre ranch property, their home and quality of life, sickened them and their pets and livestock. The verdict included $275,000 for the Parr’s property loss of market value and $2 million for past physical pain and suffering by Bob and Lisa Parr and their daughter, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, $400,000 for past mental anguish.
“They’re vindicated,” said Mr. Matthews. “I’m really proud of the family that went through what they went through and said, ‘I’m not going to take it anymore. It takes guts to say, ‘I’m going to stand here and protect my family from an invasion of our right to enjoy our property.’ It’s not easy to go through a lawsuit and have your personal life uncovered and exposed to the extent this family went through.”
Parr – 11th Amended Petition:
Fracking decreases property values as much as 15%
April 22 – The proliferation of the wells and the increase in natural gas drilling in residential areas presents a unique set of problems for homeowners and mortgage bankers alike. Because of the unknown and potentially dangerous elements involved in fracking, property values for homes with gas wells drop by as much as 15%.
There have been accusations of contaminated water, polluted air, and even earthquakes being cause by fracking. Studies are still being done on all of these, but with the amount of unknown consequences piling up, property values are going down.
|Washington County Pa. crash sends fracking water into streamApril 21 – The tractor-trailer owned by 1923 Transportation LLC, owned by Zappi Oil of Washington and transporting off-road diesel fuel, was traveling south on Henderson Avenue (Route 18) when it slammed into the first tank truck owned by Highland Environmental LLC in Somerset. That truck, in turn, slammed into a second Highland Environmental truck, both stopped at Oak Grove Road. The first water tanker overturned and spilled 400 gallons of the brine.
The two tank trucks were hauling fracking water between two Range Resources wells in Washington County. The intersection remained closed until about 6 p.m. Monday while storm drains were being vacuumed. Mr. Poister said a larger amount of contaminated soil along the roadway than initially thought had to be removed and decontaminated. Nearly 1,300 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from the fuel tank truck.
Alberta Moves to Strike Down Ernst’s Fracking Lawsuit
April 18 – An Alberta government lawyer argued in court this week that Jessica Ernst’s lawsuit on hydraulic fracturing and groundwater contamination should be struck down on the grounds that it would open a floodgate of litigation against the province. “There could be millions or billions of dollars worth of damages,” argued Crown counsel Neil Boyle.
Seven years ago, oil patch consultant Ernst sued Alberta Environment, the Energy Resources Conservation Board and Encana, one of Canada’s largest shale gas drillers, over the contamination of her well water and the failure of government authorities to properly investigate the contamination.
|PA DEP Issuing Notice of Violation to Range Resources for ‘Significant Leak’ at Washington County ImpoundmentApril 17 – Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister on Thursday afternoon confirmed that a notice of violation would be issued to Marcellus Shale drilling company Range Resources for what he said was a “significant leak” at the John Day Impoundment in Amwell Township, Washington County. Poister said Range Reported reported the spill Wednesday, and that the company hired a consultant to help determine what remediation steps are necessary. A DEP inspector is also on scene.
Poister said the notice of violation would go out “very soon” for the leak, which Range Resources officials told DEP was detected during an inspection. Salt was found in the soil, Poister indicated. He said Range Resources would have to remove a “significant amount of soil” because of the leak. The DEP will be working with the Southpointe-based company, he said, to ensure the site is completely remediated, and to ensure corrections are made to prevent similar incidents in the future. He said the notice of violation will also include a civil penalty.
April 19, 2014 – Pennsylvania Bulletin
Southwest Regional Oil and Gas Manager, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4745
Permit # 95-7-37312-26, Marchand Centralized Impoundment. CNX Gas Company LLC, 280 Indian Springs Rd Ste 333, Indiana, PA 15701. Applicant CNX Gas Company LLCproposes a project to operate and maintain March and Centralized Impoundment as a centralized wastewater impoundment to store 53.23 ac-ft or 17.35 MG (million gallons) fracturing fluids for the six Crawford W 5B~5G wells, three Marchand 3H~3J wells, five Sub Indiana 3A~3E wells, and future other wells in the area.
PA Quadrangle: Marion Center; Latitude: N 40° 51′ 15.57″, Longitude: W 79° 2′ 4.76″, in North Mahoning Township, Indiana County. ACOE: Pittsburgh District State Water Plan Subbasin 17-D, Mahoning Creek Watershed (HQ-CWF).
|New legitimacy to concerns about fracking and healthApril 15 – While scientists and area residents have been sounding the alarm about the health impacts of shale gas drilling for years, recent studies, a legal decision and public health advocates are bringing greater legitimacy to concerns. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves drilling vertically, then horizontally, into shale rock to obtain methane or natural gas. Water, chemicals and sand are blasted into the drilled wells, creating cracks in the adjacent rock and releasing the gases into the well. The process requires dozens of chemicals for various purposes, including reducing heat and suspending drill cuttings to avoid clogs.
Fracking is booming in northeastern BC, where more than 7300 shale gas wells have been drilled, as well as in Alberta and New Brunswick. The provinces of Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia have imposed moratoriums on fracking until more evidence about its effects on the environment and health is available. But the epicenter of fracking is south of the border, in Pennyslvania, where officials have embraced the economic opportunity of the Marcellus shale deposit, one of the largest in the world. The industry’s sway in that state led to 2012 gas drilling legislation that featured a medical gag rule; physicians were permitted to investigate fracking chemicals, but barred from disclosing information to patients.
Prenatal Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon Exposure and Child IQ at Age 5 Years
Effect of prenatal exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons on neurodevelopment in the first 3 years of life among inner-city children
Birth Outcomes and Maternal Residential Proximity to Natural Gas Development in Rural Colorado
EPA releases results of Pavillion, Wyo. water well testing
Southwest Pennsylvania Environment Health Project
Fracking in BC: A public health concern
Methane leaks erode green credentials of natural gas
Corbett administration stonewalls state park and forest drilling Right-to-Know request
April 14 – HARRISBURG, April 14 – The Corbett administration has failed to provide any details about its plan to raise $75 million through additional so called “non-impact surface drilling” in state parks and forests.
State Rep. Greg Vitali had filed a Right-to-Know request, asking the administration what state lands were under consideration for leasing and what companies had contacted the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources about leasing additional state lands for Marcellus gas drilling.
“It is clear that the Corbett administration knows far more that it is telling about its drilling proposal and wants to keep the public and the legislature in the dark for as long as possible,” said Vitali, the Democratic chairman of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. “The governor’s proposal cannot be properly considered by the legislature without this information. Additionally, the public needs this information to give us their input.”
Vitali made the request on March 5. In a letter Vitali received today, DCNR called the request “overly broad and not sufficiently specific.”
“This is nonsense,” Vitali said.
Vitali said his request was limited in scope, only seeking information related to the drilling plan referenced by Corbett in his Feb. 4 budget address. Vitali said he only requested information from October 2010 to March 2014.
Vitali had also requested how the DCNR arrived at the $75 million revenue figure. DCNR’s response letter indicated it had no information on how the $75 million figure was calculated.
“This would not reflect well on the Corbett administration if that, in fact, was the case,” Vitali said.
Vitali said an appeal is planned.
Right to Know request:
Anti-fracking demonstrator chains himself to drilling rig
April 14 – An anti-fracking protestor has scaled a drilling rig and chained himself to it at a Doncaster area gas plant this morning. Police have been called to the Daneshill gas drilling site near Lound after a man, named by protest organisers as Will, climbed the derrick and draped a banner with the words “No Fracking” from its summit.
A protest camp has also been established across the road from the site. Pete Kennedy, campaigner for Frack Free South Yorkshire, said: “Will has locked onto the rig following grave concerns about the impact of gas extraction on the environment and local communities.
Ban On Fracking Waste Clears Committee
April 14 – HARTFORD — State lawmakers worried about toxic byproducts from natural gas drilling wells in other states persuaded the legislature’s judiciary committee Monday to approve a ban on “fracking” waste coming into Connecticut for storage or treatment. The panel voted 34-6 in favor of the measure, which now heads to the Senate.
The legislation faces potential competition from another proposal backed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy for more state regulation of fracking waste. A third bill would put a two-year moratorium on allowing natural gas drilling byproducts to enter this state. Malloy has been promoting natural gas as a cheaper, cleaner alternative fuel for Connecticut than oil or gas.
|DEP releases emissions data from natural gas productionApr 12 – Pennsylvania carbon monoxide emissions increased in 2012, possibly because of increased natural gas production, according to a state report. The state DEP last week released 2012 annual emissions data for the natural gas industry, which included emissions from natural gas production, processing operations and compressor stations.
The emissions report found a 7.27 percent increase from 2011 in carbon monoxide emissions. The data also showed an 8.51 percent increase in PM 2.5, a smaller type of particulate matter; and a 3.99 percent increase in PM 10, a larger type of particulate matter. There was also a 42.7 percent increase in volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DEP Fines Range Resources Appalachia LLC
WILLIAMSPORT — The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that it has fined Range Resources-Appalachia LLC of Fort Worth, Texas, $75,000 for a July 2012 manufactured brine spill of 3,066 gallons at its Cornwall Mountain Hunting Club Unit A well pad in Lewis Township, Lycoming County.
“This was a significant spill that Range reported to the department but did not properly remediate until nearly a year later,” DEP Director of District Oil and Gas Operations John Ryder said.
The department’s investigation determined that a leak from the manhole cover on a manufactured brine storage tank caused the brine to flow off the well pad, over an access road and into an unnamed tributary leading to Trout Run, a high quality stream. However, there is no evidence the brine reached Trout Run.
Range reported the leak occurred during a rainstorm, resulting in a mixture of brine solution and rainwater entering storm water swales, trenches and retention basins around the well pad. Due to the volume of the solution that leaked and mixed with heavy rainfall, the structures were overwhelmed, allowing the fluid to travel down to the unnamed tributary.
Range submitted a final closure report to DEP on June 21, 2013, which was approved by the department on July 9, 2013. The company removed 1,294 tons of contaminated soil from the impacted area, which was properly disposed at the Wayne Township Landfill in Clinton County.
DEP staff documented existing contamination and remediation issues at the site in eight inspections between July 24, 2012 and March 28, 2013. Three Notices of Violation were issued to Range. All violations noted during this time were included in the penalty agreement.
For more information, visit www.dep.state.pa.us or call 570-327-3636.
|WV DEP Shuts Down Antero Site in Doddridge County Following Tank RuptureApr 11 – Production at Antero’s Marsden Well Pad in Doddridge County has been shut down following a production tank rupture Friday morning.
Preliminary reports from Department of Environmental Protection inspectors said the cause of the tank rupture was likely from a buildup of pressure inside the tank.
WBOY TV Channel 12
Ohio geologists link small quakes to fracking
Apr 11 – COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.
A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica Shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault.
UN set to warn countries over ‘dash for gas’
Apr 10 – The chancellor and prime minister have promoted gas as a clean option for powering the UK. But a draft report for the United Nation’s third panel on climate change says gas cannot provide a long-term solution to stabilising climate change.
Gas is only worthwhile if it is used to substitute a dirty coal plant – and then only for a short period, it says. Instead the world should be trebling or quadrupling the share of renewables for electricity, the authors say.
Gas Workers Risk Silica Exposure
Apr 10 – WHEELING – Breathing only a tiny amount of silica dust per day – enough, roughly, to cover Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s nose on a dime – can put a worker at risk for myriad health problems, according to Michael Breitenstein of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Research by his agency, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows many workers at natural gas wells where hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, takes place are being exposed to the substance in much higher quantities.
Federal judge allows seismic testing in Hempfield
Apr 10 – A Westmoreland County township can’t interfere with a Texas company when it uses public roads to conduct seismic testing this month, a federal judge ruled Thursday. ION Geophysical of Houston sued Hempfield after the township’s board of supervisors voted to halt negotiations for a seismic testing agreement.
The company contends the township lacks authority to block the testing because it hasn’t passed an ordinance regulating it, and that the board’s decision to stop talks violated the company’s due process rights because ION had no way to appeal the refusal.
Chevron blocked DEP from scene of fatal Pa. gas explosion, fire for two days
Apr 9 – When a Chevron natural gas well exploded in Greene County, killing a worker, the company blocked personnel with the state Department of Environmental Protection from accessing the site for nearly two days. The DEP acquiesced, despite its regulatory authority. Now, that issue is one of nine violations the DEP outlined in a letter to Chevron last month.
The fire started early on Feb. 11 and continued to burn for five days. When a DEP emergency crew first arrived on the scene in Dunkard Township, Chevron told them to stay away from the site and not to drive their vehicle on the access road. The crew was also blocked from parking an emergency vehicle at a nearby command center.
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
Certified Mail 7000 1670 0005 1026 2874
March 18, 2014
Chevron Appalachia LLC
This is a Notice of Violation for events that occurred at the Lanco pad in Dunkard Township, Greene County, in February 2014. There are three Marcellus Shale conservation wells on this location, identified as the Lanco 6H (Permit No. 059-25887), Lanco 7H (Permit No. 059-25888), and Lanco 8H (Permit No. 059-25889). These wells are owned and operated by Chevron Appalachia, LLC (‘Chevron’).
On February 1 1, 2014, during activities to prepare the Lanco 7H for production, an explosion and fire occurred at the Lanco 7H, which caused other equipment to burn. As a result of the explosion, fire, and resultant heat, the Lanco 6H well head was damaged and also ignited.
During these events, one individual died and another was injured on the well site. These fires burned until sometime on February 15, 2014. Gas was emitted uncontrollably to the air until the wells were capped on February 23, 2014, for the 7H well and February 25, 2014, for the 6H well.
In addition to gas emissions, the Lance 6H and 7H wells discharged production fluids into the air and onto the well pad until the wells were capped. On multiple occasions during these events, Chevron failed to provide access to properly identified Department personnel and agents to the Lanco well site, access road, and vicinity.
As a result of the above, and based on the Department’s observations and investigation to date, Chevron is responsible for the following violations:
1. Failure to use efforts and endeavors to effectively prevent explosions and fires, a violation of Section 3219 of the Oil and Gas Act, 58 Pa. C.S. 3219.
2. Failure to construct and operate a well to ensure that the well integrity is maintained and health, safety, environment, and property are protected, a violation of 25 Pa. Code
3. Hazardous venting of gas, violations of 25 Pa. Code 78.74, 79.15.
4. Failure to prevent waste of gas due to blowout equipment not in good working condition, a violation of -25 Pa. Code 79.12.
5. Failure to provide to provide access to a permitted oil and gas facility to properly identified Department personnel and agents, a violation of 58 Pa. C.S. 3258(a), and the express conditions of the well permits which allow entry without notice or a search warrant.
6. Emission of fugitive air contaminants without approval, a violation of 25 Pa. Code
7. Open burning outside of an air basin, a violation of 25 Pa. Code
8. Construction, modification, or operation of an air contamination source without Department approval, violations of Sections 6. 1(a) and 6.l(b) of the Air Pollution Control Act, 35 P.S. and 25 Pa. Code 127.11 and 127.402.
9. Discharge of production fluids onto the ground, a violation of 25 Pa. Code 78.54, A and 78.57, and a. violation of Section 301 of the Solid Waste Management Act, 35 P.S. 6018.301.
Violations 1, 2, 3, 5, and 9, above, constitute unlawful conduct under Section 3259(1), (2), and (3) of the Oil and Gas Act, 58 Pa. C.S. Violations 3 and 4, above, constitute unlawful conduct under Section 12(a) of the Oil and Gas Conservation Law, 58 P.S. 412(a).
Violations 6, 7, and 8, above, constitute unlawful conduct under Section 8 of the Air Pollution Control Act, 35 P.S. 4008. Violation 9, above, constitutes unlawful conduct under Section 610(4) of the Solid Waste Management Act, 35 PS.
Each day that each one of the violations listed above occurred could constitute a separate violation. All violations are subject to the enforcement and penalty provisions as provided in the relevant statutes. 58 Pa. C.S. 3256; 58 P.S. 412; 35 P.S. 4009.1; 35 PS. 6018.605.
These events also constitute a well control emergency. The Department may pursue its costs in responding to these events under the Oil and Gas Act and the Air Pollution and Control Act. 58 Pa. OS. 3254.1, 3256; 35 P.S.
Please submit a Written response to this Notice of Violation Within 10 business days.
Investigation of these events is ongoing. Your full cooperation with the investigation is required by law. 58 Pa. C.S. 3258, 3259(3). Additional violations may be identified. This NOV, therefore, does not constitute final evaluation of these events and may be expanded.
This Notice of Violation is neither an order nor any other final action of the Department of Environmental Protection. It neither imposes nor waives any enforcement action available to the Department under any of its statutes. If the Department determines that an enforcement action is appropriate, you will be notified of the action.
If you have any questions in this matter, please Contact me at 412.442.4000.
Pa. DEP Notice of Violation letter to Chevron (PDF – 260KB)
Moundsville Man Dead At Noble Energy Site
Apr 7 – MOUNDSVILLE – Marshall County Sheriff Kevin Cecil said a 37-year-old city resident believed to be working in the natural gas industry was found dead at a Noble Energy pump station along Big Wheeling Creek at about 6 a.m. today. “At this point, no foul play is suspected,” Cecil said. “He was found by himself. Nothing appears to be out of the ordinary.”
Cecil said he would not release the man’s name until his family is notified of the death. He said the body will be sent to the West Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. “It is pretty unusual for a 37-year-old to die of natural causes,” Cecil said.
Mortgage lenders increasingly worried about fracking
Apr 3 – Yesterday we looked at the clear evidence that fracking in a community causes property to lose significant value. Today we turn our attention to documenting how the mortgage industry, recognizing how drilling adds risk and reduces value, is beginning to tighten policies on lending on properties that have wells on or near them, or that are subject to leasing.
As more and more Americans live closer to oil and gas wells, what lending institutions are most worried about are the additional risks brought by drilling. While some lending institutions continue to make loans in oilfields, the number of banks that are applying stringent conditions or refusing to make loans to properties associated with oil and gas drilling is increasing.
|Pipeline Rupture at Oak Grove Site Leads to Fire
Unrelated Drilling Accident Kills Man in Belmont CountyApr 6 – BELMONT, OHIO – A natural gas industry worker died Saturday after a piece of equipment crushed him at the Rice Energy drilling site in Belmont County. Lucas said the 43-year-old man from Victoria, Texas, died at the scene. The accident occurred on the company’s Big Foot Pad. In an unrelated incident, a 12-inch natural gas pipeline in Marshall County ruptured and caught fire about 8am Saturday.
This is not the first problem Marshall County has experienced because of natural gas processing infrastructure. About a year ago, a 24-inch pipeline leading to the Fort Beeler plant ruptured about 4 miles south of Cameron along Reid Ridge Road. Also, a Sept. 21 blast at the Blue Racer plant occurred when vapors formed a cloud that was “ignited by an unknown source.
CASEY JUNKINS and SHELLEY HANSON
Update: Official: Mortgage lenders refuse loans on fracked property
Is your property leased for unconventional drilling and fracking? Sorry, no mortgage for you. Do you have unconventional drilling and fracking as a neighbor? Sorry, your property has been devalued.
Mortgage institutions are refusing mortgages on properties that are leased for unconventional drilling and fracking and on properties with wells on them. It seems they don’t care much for the split estate either.
April 5, 2014 Pennsylvania Bulletin
Southwest Regional Oil and Gas Manager
Permit # 95-7-60915-23. Range Resources—Appalachia LLC, 3000 Town Center Boulevard, Canonsburg, PA 15317.
Project proposes to operate and maintain the Loffert Centralized Impoundment Dam as a centralized wastewater impoundment to collect and store 15.3 million gallons MG (47.1 ac-ft) of fracturing fluids and freshwater for the use and re-use of hydraulic fracturing water, to the Inches Unit 4H, Parees Unit (2H, 3H), and Dalbo Unit (1H, 2H, 3H).
PA Quadrangle; Midway, Latitude: N 40° 21.4003 Longitude: W 80° 18.3191 Smith Township, Washington County. Pittsburgh ACOE District, State Water Plan Basin 20-D, Raccoon Creek Watershed (WWF).
GPS: 40 21.4003 -80 18.3191
A Green Ruling: Franklin Kury and the 40-year fight for clean air and water in Pennsylvania
As Dernbach began to explain that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had just issued a ruling in a case involving the pre-emption of local zoning ordinances, Kury learned for the first time that the recent and rapid expansion of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale had produced for him a thoroughly unexpected gift. “I have never been involved in oil and gas,” said Kury. “It was the first time I had any knowledge of the case.”
The case – Robinson Township v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania – was already being trumpeted in a slew of press releases that afternoon as a great victory over the natural gas industry. The lawsuit – which had been filed by an eclectic group of environmentalists and local government officials from around the state, including Washington County’s Robinson Township – challenged key portions of Act 13 of 2012, the predominantly Republican legislation that was supposed to address both environmental and gas industry concerns over drilling in the Marcellus shale.
|Understanding exposure from natural gas drilling puts current air standards to the test
Click here for Document (544KB)
Residents want Mars Area school board members to continue fighting gas well
Apr 2 – Even though members of the Mars Area School Board voted not to allow drilling under district schools, their roles are not done, residents told board members Tuesday. Residents who are fighting the permit for a gas well on a farm near the campus urged board members to join them.
“The issue is far from over. There is a large group of very dedicated individuals doing everything they can to prevent this from being beside our school,” said Jackie Smathers. “If we had the school board behind us, supporting us, that would be very powerful.”
Planned Chesapeake Bay port would switch to gas exports, controversy
Apr 2 – The plan to export gas has raised questions across the state about whether the plant will be a boon for the economy or cause significant damage to the environment.
On the Dominion property, the main change will be the addition of a liquefaction plant that will cool the American-drilled natural gas and turn it into a liquid at 260 degrees below zero. The process reduces the gas volume and makes transporting it more efficient.
Capital News Service
Pa. Farm Bureau takes on natural gas drilling companies in royalty disputes
Apr 1 – Disputes over royalty payments for oil and natural gas drilling have involved several farmers in rural parts of the state. The Pennsylvania Farm Bureau is now calling on lawmakers to take action.
Farm Bureau President Carl Shaffer said some members have explained how they’re losing money they say is legally theirs. Jim Gore, a farmer in Bradford County, said he has documentation revealing about a 15% reduction in his overall royalty check in 2013 for so-called “post production costs.”
Cicio: Obama plan to export natural gas to Europe won’t work
Apr 1 – The Ukraine-Russia crisis has Congress and the Obama administration rushing to consider monumental changes to accelerate exports of natural gas that will permanently and negatively affect the energy landscape for natural gas domestically, due to OPEC-linked liquefied natural gas prices.
The potential knee-jerk reaction has unsettling consequences for natural gas-intensive industries like chemical, refining, steel and aluminum that are dependent upon affordable natural gas and power – and will in fact, raise costs for homeowners and farmers alike. Congress should take a measured approach to liquefied natural gas exports and protect the American consumer from the unfair OPEC LNG energy tax.
Paul N. Cicio
|Massive Explosion Rocks Washington State Natural Gas PlantApr 1 – A liquefied natural gas pipeline plant suffered an explosion and fire at 8:19 a.m. PDT in Plymouth, Washington Monday morning. The Tri-Cities Herald reports that four people were injured. Williams Northwest Pipeline spokesperson Michele Swaner said one employee was injured from burns.
The cause is still uncertain, but fire officials said that it began with an explosion in a building, and then a natural gas pipeline ruptured, which sent shrapnel into a “huge” storage tank, leading to a risk of a much larger explosion. People living three to six miles away from the plant said they could feel the first explosion. Everyone within a two mile radius of the plant was evacuated.
UT gas-drilling study raises possible links between fracking and Flower Mound’s ‘cancer cluster’
Mar 31 – I missed this story last week but it is the reason natural gas drilling belongs as far away from urban populations as possible.
The study raises legitimate questions about what we don’t know based on what we do know about the impact of certain chemicals used in exploration on human beings and the politics of natural gas drilling and regulation.
New Jersey: New Legislation Aims to Put a Stop to Fracking Before It Begins
Mar 31 – The Legislature is taking another crack at preventing hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, to be used to drill for natural gas in New Jersey. Most of the environmental community is mobilized against the process.
The latest bill (S1376), sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth), would establish a moratorium on fracking in the state until Congress removes several exemptions from environmental laws, including statutes intended to protect water supplies, the air, and the nation’s superfund law aimed at cleaning up toxic waste sites.
S1376 – Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing text:
|BLM seeks public input on proposed Mary’s River gas exploration
Mar 24 – ELKO, Nevada – The Bureau of Land Management, Elko District, Wells Field Office is making the Mary’s River Oil and Gas Exploration Project Environmental Assessment (EA) available for review until April 23. The proposed Noble Energy (Noble) project would conduct gas exploration drilling in the Tabor Flats area, west of Wells, as part of its current oil and gas leases. The EA and Noble’s Master Surface Use Plan are available at www.blm.gov/rv5c
Noble proposes to drill and complete a maximum of 20 wells on public and private lands located approximately four miles northwest of Wells. The project could last more than two years and hydraulic fracturing would be used in the proposed exploration drilling. Construction associated with the project includes drill pads and new roads as well as maintenance or upgrades to existing roads to allow for drill rig and support vehicle traffic.
The project area includes a total of 39,445 acres including 20,622 public land acres (52 percent of the project area), 2,603 acres (7 percent) of private surface with BLM-administered subsurface mineral rights, and 16,220 acres (41 percent) of private lands and minerals. The proposed operations will comply with all applicable federal Onshore Oil and Gas Orders and do not include any wild horse areas.
If you have any issues or concerns please email them to MarysRiverEA@blm.gov or if you need more information contact Bryan Mulligan, Assistant Field Manager at (775) 753-0276..
Lismore protesters to be chained to cement blocks to stop gas drilling
Mar 31 – Protesters are preparing to chain themselves to cement blocks in northern NSW on Monday to prevent Metgasco workers from starting exploratory drilling for gas in the area. It is one of a wave of protests against gas and coalmining across the state.
The groups are affiliated with the Lock the Gate Alliance, which is involved in protests at Whitehaven Coal’s proposed Maules Creek mine and a Santos CSG drilling site in the Pilliga forest. A spokesman for the group, Adam Guise, said most of the 200 people at a protest camp on a property near Bentley, 15 kilometres north-west of Lismore, had gathered there since mid-December.
Lock the Gate Alliance:
|1960s-era rail cars hauling crude oil badly need makeover as accidents multiply92,000 DOT-111 cars carry hazardous materialMar 29 – “The same old clunkers are still out there,” said Fred Millar, a Washington, D.C., consultant to the rail industry. “They’re Pepsi cans on wheels.” For more than 20 years, safety officials have warned about these cars as accidents involving them have multiplied. One of the worst was in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July 2013, when 47 people died after a runaway train carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota exploded, decimating the town.
Now, state, federal and industry officials are demanding that regulations be put in place to improve the safety of the cars, which are “subject to damage and catastrophic loss of hazardous materials” when trains derail, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. After two recent derailments in Pennsylvania — one in Westmoreland County, one in Philadelphia — involving the cars and crude oil, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Are Colorado oil and gas wells ready for the next flood?
Mar 29 – The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission recently issued a report with several sound recommendations for stricter regulations covering drilling operations in floodplains — including an important requirement for remote “shut-in” capability so workers don’t have to be at a site to close the main valve to the underground resource.
In a natural disaster, getting to a drilling site may well be impossible. And yet closing the main valve will usually be enough to avert a leak under pressure that continues throughout the crisis and possibly beyond. Among other important proposals: Companies wouldn’t be able to protect wells and equipment in flood plains with only earthern berms, which can be breached by rising waters. Steel berms would be required. Actual experience last fall proved steel berms far superior for protection of wells and equipment and containment of spills.
Denver Post Editorial
Gas drilling allowed on Project 70 state park lands
Mar 30 – Fifty years ago, Pennsylvania voters approved a constitutional amendment to authorize borrowing so the state could purchase land for recreational, conservation and historical purposes. The result was the Project 70 bond program from 1964 to 1970, which led to the addition of thousands of acres to expand state parks, state historic sites, game and fish commission areas and municipal park and recreation areas. The program gave priority to land purchases in counties where less than 10 percent of the land was in public ownership or there was an urban area of 25,000 residents or more.
Project 70 money was used to purchase land for 22 state parks, including Lackawanna, Lehigh Gorge, Shikellamy, Locust Lake, Nescopeck and Mt. Pisgah in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Project 70 helped make possible the great expansion of the state park system in the 1960s and 1970s under the direction of Dr. Maurice Goddard, the longtime top state environmental official. Project 70 is relevant today due to a unique condition on lands purchased with its money. Any land acquired through Act 70 can’t be used for other purposes aside from recreation, conservation or historical use without approval first from state lawmakers.
Project 70 Land Acquisition and Borrowing Act:
|Judge Dismisses Hurricane Landfill Case Involving MCHM Wastewater
Mar 28 – HURRICANE, W.Va. (WSAZ) — The fight in court to keep wastewater from Freedom Industries out of a Hurricane landfill is over for now. Concerns were raised after people learned the wastewater contained some amount of the chemical MCHM.
On Friday, a judge dismissed the case for a permanent injunction because he said there wasn’t much of one. In court, attorneys representing Hurricane city officials pushed for a permanent injunction and wanted to state their case, but the judge’s ruling was not in their favor. The judge dismissed the case.
WSAZ Channel 3
BP Doubles Initial Size Estimate of Lake Michigan Oil Spill
Mar 27 – Three days after spilling crude oil into Lake Michigan, BP has doubled its spill estimate to between 470 and 1228 gallons. The leak happened at its refinery in Whiting, Ind. Although some of the oil has been cleaned up, it’s unclear how much is left in the lake, a drinking water source for about seven million Chicagoans.
Located just across the Illinois-Indiana state border, Whiting is home to the sixth largest refinery in the U.S. The refinery just went through a $4 billion “modernization project,” giving it “the capability of processing up to about 85 percent heavy crude.” That’s up from its original 20 percent, says BP’s website.
Obama unveils plan to slash methane emissions
Mar 28 – The White House on Friday unveiled its plan to track and cut methane emissions, specifically targeting the oil and gas sector, landfills, coal mines and agriculture. The Obama administration said its goal is to slash the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.
“Today, methane accounts for nearly 9 percent of domestic greenhouse gas emissions. And although U.S. methane emissions have decreased by 11 percent since 1990, they are projected to increase through 2030 if additional action is not taken,” the White House said.
Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions (296KB PDF)
The Benefits of Fracking – The Daily Show
Mar 27 – Features some citizens in Bradford County PA and Triple Divide co-producers.
Pro-Fracking Guest: Appearing On The Daily Show ‘Felt Like Three Hours Of Waterboarding’
Mar 28 – The “Daily Show” ran a segment on hydraulic fracturing on Thursday night that featured its “correspondent” Asif Mandvi interviewing people on the controversial oil and gas extraction process known as “fracking.” Mandvi talked to Marita Noon, a former Christian speaker and the executive director of New Mexico-based Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy.
In a prebuttal, Noon thanked the “Daily Show” for letting her speak about hydraulic fracturing, but said the experience of being interviewed for the show “felt like three hours of waterboarding.” Mandvi also talked to some residents of Bradford County, Pa. for the segment, who said that fracking has ruined their access to clean water. “Fracking has ruined our quality of life,” one resident told Mandvi.
The Huffington Post
Company sues Hempfield for denying seismic testing
Mar 27 – A seismic testing company claims in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday that a Westmoreland County township has violated its due process rights by refusing to allow the company to conduct tests along its roadways and rights-of-way.
ION Geophysical Corp. of Houston, Texas, claims that because Hempfield doesn’t have an ordinance regulating or banning seismic testing, it doesn’t have the authority to prohibit it.
Allegheny County posts lease for gas drilling beneath Deer Lakes Park
Mar 27 – Allegheny County posted the lease for gas drilling beneath Deer Lakes Park to its website today. Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced last week that the county had reached an agreement with Range Resources and Huntley & Huntley to drill for gas beneath the park.
The proposed lease calls for the county to receive a bonus payment of $4.7 million, as well as an additional $3 million that will go to a parks improvement fund for the county’s nine parks. The county will also receive 18 percent in royalties, which the county has estimated will equal $3 million annually.
Father files lawsuit over son’s oilfield death
Mar 26 – MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The father of a Montana man who was crushed to death in a North Dakota oil field accident in January 2013 has filed a lawsuit against the owners of the drilling rig and the well site, alleging the companies failed to provide for the safety of subcontractors.
The Missoulian reports Randall Winter filed a lawsuit on Monday against Pioneer Drilling Services Ltd of San Antonio, Texas, and Whiting Petroleum Corp. of Denver over the death of his son, 22-year-old Kyle Winter of Kalispell, who worked for Heller Casing.
PA Shale Gas Wells Cost Thousands in State Road Damage, Study Alleges
Mar 28 – For every natural gas well in Pennsylvania targeting the Marcellus Shale, the heavy truck traffic it requires could be causing up to $23,000 in damage to state roadways, according to a study commissioned by the Rand Corp. and conducted in part by Carnegie Mellon University.
In an 11-page report, “Estimating the Consumptive Use Costs of Shale Natural Gas Extraction on Pennsylvania Roadways,” researchers found that — based upon Marcellus Shale development data from 2011 — estimated first-order costs from heavy truck traffic on the state-maintained roads amounted to $13,000-$23,000 per well for all state roadway types.
NGI’s Shale Daily
Estimating The Consumptive Use Costs of Shale Natural Gas Extraction on Pennsylvania Roadways:
|Oil and gas majors now cutting back in U.S. shale gas fields
Mar 18 – Yesterday Chesapeake Energy, the second largest U.S. based oil and gas company, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission to sell off its oilfield services unit which does the majority of the company’s oil and gas exploration, hydraulic fracking and drilling. Stung with high costs and mired in more than $20 billion in debt on its U.S. shale operations, the company continues to sell off billions in its assets base as it struggles to right itself.
Its actions follow a developing trend of cutbacks, spin- offs, divestures and write downs for oil and gas majors operating in U.S. shale formations. In the last 10 days, British Petroleum, Chevron, ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell have all announced they will be spending less on oil and gas exploration in the U.S.
Fracking’s Earthquake Risks Push States to Collaborate
Mar 27 – Several U.S. states are banding together to combat the mounting risks of earthquakes tied to the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.
Regulators from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio met for the first time this month in Oklahoma City to exchange information on the man-made earthquakes and help states toughen their standards.
Pennsylvania DCNR to release drilling impact report next month
Mar 27 – A state conservation agency plans to release a voluminous report next month about its efforts to monitor the environmental impact of natural gas drilling in the state forests. The monitoring of gas drilling will continue after the report comes out, Ellen Ferretti, secretary of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, told an advisory council Wednesday.
DCNR started the drilling monitoring program in 2011, after the agency leased thousands of acres of state forest land for deep Marcellus Shale drilling in separate auctions in 2008 and 2010. The forthcoming report has been a topic of debate since Gov. Tom Corbett proposed additional gas drilling in state forests and in state parks as part of his 2014-15 state budget.
Chesapeake Gas Wells Backing $880 Million in Loans Underperform
Mar 26 – Chesapeake Energy (CHK:US) Corp.’s Sahara natural gas field in Oklahoma in producing less than expected, undermining fuel sales backing $880 million in loans and notes. Output from 3,300 Chesapeake-operated wells in the Sahara field was 12 percent below projections during the six-month period ending in February, Moody’s Investors Service said in a note to clients yesterday.
It’s the second time in three months that deteriorating production has triggered alarm bells at the credit agency. In December, Moody’s downgraded ratings on $360 million in Chesapeake borrowings backed by wells in the Barnett Shale formation in Texas. Chesapeake’s production growth (CHK:US) slowed to 3.4 percent in 2013 after growing at double-digit rates in 11 of the prior 12 years.
Civil trial for unpaid Marcellus Shale bills gets under way
Mar 27 – What is expected to be a lengthy civil trial involving millions of dollars in allegedly unpaid bills for pipeline work related to Marcellus Shale drilling got under way Wednesday before Judge Charles Burr. Conshohocken-based Utility Line Services Inc. claims it is owed $17,718,804 in unpaid invoices and more than $7.8 million in lost profits and unreimbursed costs from PVR Marcellus Gas Gathering LLC.
Attorney Bruce Ficken, representing ULS, said in an opening statement that the disputed payments involve work ULS did in laying 17 miles of 30-inch natural gas pipeline for PVR as part of a three-phase project in Lycoming County. The company has since had to close its doors, said Ficken, laying off more than 600 workers and selling equipment off at auction. The trial has been scheduled to continue through April 11.
Readers worry proposed pipeline could be harmful
Mar 21 – Say the words “Spectra Energy” and watch the email inbox light up. Spectra is the company that is partnering with Florida Power & Light to build a natural-gas pipeline through three states, including Florida and parts of Lake, Sumter, Marion, Polk and Osceola counties. The company is well known for building pipelines, and a spokesman said last week that it has a better safety record for onshore pipelines than does its competitors.
Folks who live around Spectra’s projects don’t feel the same way. Take Mike Benard, a New York resident whose property in Pennsylvania was taken by Spectra in an eminent-domain proceeding to build a 12-billion-cubic-foot underground reservoir for natural gas on 43 acres, complete with a 5,000-horsepower compressor station and 13 injection and withdrawal wells. His biggest quarrel with the company is that, backed by the federal government, Spectra runs over the rights of property owners.
Mar 24 – North Texas family members have won a $2.1 million verdict against a pipeline company after their parcel of land lost value because an easement was taken for a gas line. This marks the third time Texas property owners recently have prevailed in similar eminent domain cases. The Johnson County dispute represents a fundamental debate between the pipeline industry and Texas landowners: Does a pipeline devalue only the narrow easement strip or some larger portion of the overall property? The jury agreed that land outside the easement lost value.
“This verdict sends a strong message that pipeline easements often cause significant damages to property beyond the easement area,” says Austin-based eminent domain attorney Luke Ellis. “Unfortunately, many Texas landowners don’t realize that they have a constitutional right to seek just compensation for such damages.” The dispute began in 2007 when Peregrine Pipeline Co. sued Eagle Ford Land Partners to gain a mile-long easement for a natural gas pipeline. The family’s appraisers and lawyers countered that damages should account not only for the easement strip, but also for the loss in value to the remaining property.
Florida Legislature: Fracking smacks a partisan wall
Mar 25 – A legislative bill that would require oil companies to disclose the chemicals used in a controversial drilling process called fracking has hit a partisan brick wall, its sponsor says. Rep. Ray Rodrigues, R-Estero, doesn’t think House Bill 71 will pass. The chilly reception is due to partisan politics in an election year, Rodrigues claims. Fracking is not occurring in the state now, but Rodrigues said his research indicates that fracking is a real possibility in Florida’s future, particularly Southwest Florida. He wants the state to be prepared. Rodrigues’ disclosure bill would put a regulatory process in place so the state Department of Environmental Protection can have a registry of chemicals, “should fracking take place in the state,” he said.
When Rodrigues filed the same bill in 2013, it proceeded smoothly through legislative committees and passed the House by a large majority. However, the legislative session ended without the bill reaching the Senate floor. Opponents say the problem is a companion bill, House Bill 157, which would allow companies to withhold some chemicals used in the fracking cocktail if they were considered trade secrets. The same companion bill was proposed by Rodrigues last year, but he said it did not have enough support to generate the required two-thirds vote to pass the House.
Florida HB 71:
Florida HB 157:
Ready or not, Pa. confronts ‘forced pooling’
Mar 24 – Pennsylvania regulators abruptly postponed a hearing Friday on whether an oil and gas producer can compel property owners to allow drilling beneath their land, the latest twist in an eight-month saga over so-called forced pooling. Pennsylvania legislators declined to include forced pooling in the 2010 state law regulating natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale field. The idea was too controversial; Gov. Tom Corbett (R) later referred to it as “private eminent domain.”
Since July 2013, though, a Houston oil and gas producer has been pushing Pennsylvania to allow forced pooling in its portion of the Utica Shale, using a 53-year-old state law. It’s the first time the law has been used in about 30 years, and the first time ever for an unconventional field, a state spokeswoman said.
Anti-fracking activist takes on Cabot Oil and Gas in court
Mar 24 – Montrose, PA (WBNG Binghamton) Anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins defended herself against a restraining order imposed by Cabot Oil and Gas at the Susquehanna County Courthouse. Outside of the courtroom, Scroggins stood firm on her right to protest near the large drilling platforms in Northern Pennsylvania.
Scroggins said no matter the decision in her case, she wouldn’t stop her work against what she calls the ‘dangerous industrialization’ of the Northern Tier. “If I have to go to jail to protect my planet and my life and to expose this industry,” Scroggins said. “Yes.”
Story & Video:
Ohio toxins flowed into Pennsylvania…
Fracking company owner pleads guilty to ordering toxic waste dumped into Mahoning River
Mar 24 – The owner of a Youngstown oil- and gas-drilling company pleaded guilty today to ordering an employee todump tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste into a tributary of the Mahoning River. Benedict Lupo, 63, of Poland, Ohio, could be sentenced up to three years in federal prison and be ordered to pay restitution of more than $3 million, plus fines of up to $1 million for his crimes.
U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent scheduled sentencing for June 16. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Beeson said he would seek the maximum penalty of three years in prison for Lupo, plus an as-yet undetermined amount of fines and restitution. Defense attorney Roger Synenberg said Lupo is extremely ill, and he would ask the judge to take that into consideration when sentencing his client.
Research Shows Some Test Methods Miss 99% of Radium in Fracking Waste
Mar 24 – Every year, fracking generates hundreds of billions of gallons of wastewater laced with corrosive salts, radioactive materials and many other chemicals. Because some of that wastewater winds up in rivers after it’s treated to remove dangerous contaminants, regulators across the U.S. have begun to develop testing regimens to gauge how badly fracking wastewater is polluted and how effective treatment plants are at removing contamination.
A newly published scientific study, however, shows that testing methods sometimes used and recommended by state regulators in the Marcellus region can dramatically underestimate the amount of radioactive radium in fracking wastewater. These test methods can understate radium levels by as much as 99 percent, according to a scientific paper published earlier this month in Environmental Science and Technology Letters. The tests, both recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency for testing radium levels in drinking water, can be thrown off by the mix of other contaminants in salty, chemical-laden fracking brine, researchers found.
Oil and gas drilling in the Wyoming Range, orphaned wells and more
Mar 24 – The U.S. Forest Service announced Friday it plans to study the environmental impact of oil and gas operations in the Wyoming Range. The study will decide whether to make around 44,000 acres outside Bondurant open to oil and gas leasing. The Wyoming Range, which runs parallel the Idaho-Wyoming boarder, has long been the subject of contention between environmentalists and industry. The Forest Service initially proposed leasing land for oil and gas in the region in 2005.
The proposal met fierce opposition from a coalition of sportsmen, conservation groups and residents and ultimately led to passage of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, which made 1.2 million acres in the mountain range off-limits to oil and gas leasing. The same coalition worked to raise $8.75 million to buy and retire oil and gas leases on 58,000 in 2012. Environmental interests were quick to announce their opposition to drilling in the 44,000 acres to be studied by the Forest Service.
Wyoming Legacy Act of 2007:
Price of natural gas causes spike in home gas, electricity bills
Mar 24 – Big bills have been coming from the utilities, particularly National Grid and NYSEG, but the bulk of the price spikes are being caused by natural gas. It’s now not only used to heat homes but generates most of the electricity used in your furnace, lights, and appliances.
Fred and Carol Tuttle in Ransomville couldn’t believe it when they got their latest bill from National Grid. They expected a spike with the long cold winter we’ve had, but their $255 electric bill jumped more than the propane, which heats their small mobile home. “Electric bill went up 50 percent, and propane is up 33 percent. Propane was $209, and it went to $309,” Fred said.
BLM Seeks Input on Proposed Mary’s River Gas Exploration
Mar 24 – The Bureau of Land Management, Elko District, Wells Field Office is making the Mary’s River Oil and Gas Exploration Project Environmental Assessment available for review until April 23. The proposed Noble Energy project would conduct gas exploration drilling in the Tabor Flats area, west of Wells, as part of its current oil and gas leases.
The project area includes a total of 39,445 acres including 20,622 public land acres (52 percent of the project area), 2,603 acres (7 percent) of private surface with BLM-administered subsurface mineral rights, and 16,220 acres (41 percent) of private lands and minerals.
Mary’s River Oil and Gas Exploration Project Environmental Assessment:
Timely study of Colorado oil and gas drilling
Mar 23 – Though opponents call House Bill 1297 a fishing expedition to find something wrong with oil and gas operations, how can there be any harm in reviewing medical literature to determine whether health concerns exist?
The legislation sponsored by Rep. Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, would spend about $567,000 over three years to study health effects of oil and gas operations in Adams, Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties. Researchers would screen already collected data to see if there is cause for more detailed epidemiological studies.
House Bill 1297:
Ohio & the ‘Pressure Bubble’…
Residents: Quakes, fracking are linked
Mar 23 – The state says there were five earthquakes in Mahoning County this month. Geologists, however, say there were 12. They would be among the few earthquakes in the United States linked to fracking. A series of earthquakes in Mahoning County in 2011 was tied to a fracking-waste-injection well near Youngstown. That well was shut down by the state.
During the fracking process, fluids bubble back up with the gas. Oil and gas wells also produce saltwater contaminated with metals and radioactive materials trapped underground for millions of years. That waste often is injected into deep wells.
|Climate Scientists: We’re Alarmed. Here’s Why You Should Be, Too.
Mar 20 – This week, the world’s largest general scientific society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has issued an uncharacteristically blunt call to action on climate change. The must-read new report by the AAAS’s Climate Science Panel, “What We Know” has several simple messages.
Bottom line: If a generally staid, consensus-oriented body like the AAAS is alarmed, then we all should be. As climatologist Lonnie Thompson explained back in 2010: “Climatologists, like other scientists, tend to be a stolid group. We are not given to theatrical rantings about falling skies.”
PDF of report:
|++++++++++++March 15, 2014 Pennsylvania Bulletin
Central Office: Bureau of Waterways Engineering and Wetlands, Rachel Carson State Office Building, Floor 3, 400 Market Street, P.O. Box 8460, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8460
D63-145. Range Resources—Appalachia, LLC, 3000 Town Center Blvd, Canonsburg, PA 15317. Range Resources is proposing to construct, operate, and maintain Carns SR 50 Impoundment Dam in the South Fork Cross Creek Watershed (HQ-WWF) for the purpose of storing recycled water associated with natural gas production.
The dam will be constructed off-stream and will have no wetland or stream impacts. (Avella, PA Quadrangle; Latitude: 40.287; Longitude: -80.385) Cross Creek Township, Washington County.
FEDERAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL ACT, SECTION 401
Applications Received under the Dam Safety and Encroachments Act (32 P. S. §§ 693.1—693.27) and section 302 of the Flood Plain Management Act (32 P. S. § 679.302) and Requests for Certification under section 401(a) of the FWPCA.
Southwest Regional Oil and Gas Manager, 400 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-4745 Permit # 95-7-60915-7-A,Carol Baker Impoundment Modification. Range Resources-Appalachia LLC, 3000 Town Center Blvd, Canonsburg, PA 15317.
CAROL BAKER IMPOUNDMENT
Applicant Range Resources-Appalachia LLC proposes to modify Permit # 95-60915-7 to reconstruct, operate and maintain a 14.1 million gallon Centralized Impoundment to collect, store and reuse wastewater for fracturing natural gas wells, Chiarelli Unit 6H permit No. 37-125-27127 and other permitted wells listed in the application.
Project is located off Arden Road in Chartiers Township, Washington Co (USGS PA Quadrangle: Canonsburg). Project has disturbed 21.0 acres, with 2.23 acres redisturbed. The stormwater runoff drains to Tributary 37110 of Chartiers Creek, a Warm Water Fishery, State Water Plan Basin 20F Ohio River.
Quadrangle: Canonsburg N: 40° 13.506 W: -80° 16.221 in Chartiers Township, Washington County. ACOE: Pittsburgh District Chapter 93 Type: Chartiers Creek, Warm Water Fishery.
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