Controversial billboard depicting contaminated water comes down

The Sautners from Dimock put up a billboard that has a picture of their dirty water and the words “FIX IT” on Rt. 29 in the heart of Cabot Oil & Gas territory. As soon as it went up, they held a press conference.  Angry pro-gas neighbors were also there –  and Cabot spokesman George Stark.

Read the details here: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/controversial-billboard-depicting-contaminated-water-comes-down-1.1184658#axzz1UBDbLfOQ

Letter to the Editor, Aug. 29, 2010

A Letter to the Editor, Towanda, PA:

Loss of one resource for another?

EDITOR: Being a licensed Pennsylvania water well driller for the past 40 years and being born and raised in the Towanda area, I feel I must respond to the stories I keep reading about the gas drilling companies shifting the blame of water well problems to poor well construction and local water well drilling.

One such story was in this week’s Sunday Review (Aug. 22, 2010). And before I begin I want it known that any subsequent mention of the Chesapeake company shows no hostility towards them or their representatives. With mutual respect and dual acknowledgement of experience, I do believe that natural gas extraction and water well drilling can harmoniously coincide in Northeast Pennsylvania.

First of all, if a water well is not constructed properly, there are problems from day one and not 10, 20 even 50 years later.

Referring to Sunday’s article, Brian Grove of Chesapeake stated he does not believe, the facts, implicate its drilling operations is causing the water issues at hand. We have not spoken with any of the Paradise Road residents, but, the fact is, we have recently received many calls from local homeowners regarding disturbances in their water wells that began after nearby gas drilling activity had started. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognize the time line coincidence and figure out gas drilling activity probably has caused these water well issues.

Again referring to the Sunday article, Mr. Grove wrote, affected water wells are drilled into shallow aquifers. Most of our calls pertain to rock wells, but our answer to his comment is, this is Pennsylvania, not Texas! In many local areas, residents depend on the shallow aquifers because the deeper water is salty, or sulfury, and not compatible to human consumption. What a shame to disturb their only potable water resource.

And Mr. Grove’s insinuation that poor water well construction could be causing current water well issues is a direct disrespect to me, my father before me, and other local reputable water well drillers. Speaking for myself and my father’s memory, we have drilled thousands of water wells during decades of business in Northeast Pennsylvania. Our continued good reputation is testimony that we do successfully construct quality water wells. I invite Mr. Grove to call me to discuss well construction but not to come into my hometown and discredit my work. Mr. Grove stated that Chesapeake has offered to drill replacement water wells of “superior construction standards.” A recent telephone conversation with Chesapeake representative Larry Wooten makes me question what he means by “superior construction standards?”

Mr. Wooten called in regards to me drilling a replacement well on my neighbor’s property. He quizzed me about my practices and prices. When I told him I use a steel drive shoe on the bottom of my casing to seal contaminates from entering the well, he told me they never use them and thought this contaminant seal was an unnecessary added cost. Again, this is Pennsylvania, not Texas. I believe embedding a steel drive shoe into rock formations is necessary to superiorly construct a Pennsylvania water well.

To end, we believe Northeast Pennsylvania is both blessed and cursed by the Marcellus Shale mineral deposits which lie underneath our homes. The excitement of gas lease funding and large drilling rigs coming to our area has been replaced by damaged roads; delayed travel and traffic snarls; streams sucked dry by convoys of trucks, driven by persons foreign to our area, who may skillfully drive Texas flatlands but have difficulty maneuvering our hilly serpentine roadways; residential sweet water invaded by methane that is blowing off well caps; local families displaced by gas workers; and other changes affecting our work and lifestyles.

Unlike cautious New York state, we think Pennsylvania jumped the gun and has allowed natural gas drilling companies into our area too soon, in too large of numbers, and with too few regulations in place. The saying, you don’t know the worth of the water until the well is dry, sounds like a reality to us. Our drinking water is being affected and millions of gallons of water are being extracted from our streams, rivers and municipal wells with insufficient recharge. Well, Sen. Casey, we agree it is high time to protect our water, our people and our future.

Thomas and Loraine Cummings Water Well Drilling

Towanda

http://thedailyreview.com/opinion/letters/letter-to-the-editor-aug-29-2010-1.980232

Heartbreaking Stories Warn New Yorkers of What May Be in Store if the State OKs Controversial Gas Drilling

Written by Maura Stephens

…Most of these Pennsylvanians told us they rue the day they signed the gas leases. Some of them “inherited” gas leases — or bought property on which there was a mineral rights lease they were unaware of — and now are paying the consequences.
Their stories were heartbreaking. This is some of what they told us, including several things not mentioned in other articles I’ve read about fracking:
1) There is no longer any privacy on their own property.
Posted signs are a thing of the past; there’s no way to guarantee that anyone would pay attention to them. The gas drillers have access to leased land 24/7, 365 days a year, because there is always something to deal with on a gas pad. The land owners no longer have privacy or the ability to walk at will on their own property. One woman told us she and her teenage daughter feel like prisoners in their home. They used to walk around in bathing suits or pajamas in the privacy of their 100-plus-acre farm. That’s no longer an option — they stay inside with the blinds drawn even on nice days because they never know when and where a stranger will be walking around the property.
2) The gas companies can pretty much do as they please.
There is no consultation with the landowners about placement or size of the pads, or the numerous roads that have to be cut into the property, or drainage fields, or pond sites, or planned building sites. One farmer, who had dreamed of this since his elder son’s birth in 1983, gave his son and new daughter-in-law three acres on which to build a house, on a lovely corner of his farm. The newlyweds were just about to begin building the home they’d designed when the gas company decided to drill on the very same spot. The family had no way of fighting the gas company, which refused to change its drilling location. The young man and his bride were forced to rent an apartment in town. Subsequently the drilling contaminated the well that provided drinking water to the family and farm animals. And although the site did not yield gas, the land is no longer usable for farming or placing a home. The farmer, incidentally, had bought the land in the early 1980s without realizing a gas company held mineral rights to it via a 1920s lien.
3) The gas companies do not respect the land.
The gas companies have in numerous documented cases torn out mature stands of trees — 20, 30, 60, 80 years old — leaving the tree carcasses scattered about the land. “These guys just don’t care,” one landowner told us, close to tears. “They treated my farm like a garbage dump. They moved their bowels in the woods and left their filthy toilet paper behind. They threw all their rubbish around — plastic bottles, McDonald’s bags, you name it. I used to always kept this place manicured. It’s been my pride and joy. But now, it’s a rubbish heap. I’m still finding junk they left around, long after the fracking ended.”
4) There’s light and noise nonstop.
“No amount of money can buy you sufficient sleep,” said a farmer. “It’s bright and loud, all the time. Not that I’d sleep anyway. All I do is worry about the land and the water and what we are going to do.”
5) Their property has lost its value.
“We can’t drink our water,” said the same farmer. “We can’t reclaim the land. They’re putting my farm out of business. The land is worthless. Nobody would want it, like this.”
6) They can no longer fish in their streams and ponds.
So many of these waterways have been poisoned by fracking waste, runoff, spillage, or dumping, that fishers are afraid to eat the fish they catch. One farmer, who told us he’d planned to stock his farm pond with seven varieties of fish that he would raise and sell to other landowners, has lost this income stream because his pond was polluted by fracking.
7) The water is dangerously unsafe.
“A primary reason we chose to live in this area,” says a woman from central New York, “is that is has abundant clean water. The western half or two-thirds of the United States, and the Southeast — the entire rest of the country — has precious little water. But we have always had plenty of fresh, safe, available water. Now we are threatened with gas fracturing, or ‘fracking.’ The contaminants released in the fracking process are carcinogenic (cancer-inducing) and even radioactive. Everyone around here depends on our wells for safe drinking water. Now how can we ever drink our water again? City water is no safer.”
To read the full blog, click here

http://chenangogreens.org/home/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=0&Itemid=70&limit=9&limitstart=18

Refracking wells?

In an Q and A interview in the Williamsport Gaurdian, Richard Adams , a spokesman for Chief Oil and Gas said—
“Re-fracking is not a common event in the Barnett or any other shale field at this time and I would not expect it to be common in the Marcellus at any point in the future.”

If this were true, it would be a good thing.

If a well is only fracked once, then the number of fracks would equal the number of wells but if wells are refracked every few years the number of fracks grows exponentially larger than the well count.
Each refrack uses more water than the last, 25% more is the given figure.  Each refrack generates a new load of highly contaminated waste water. Each refrack restresses the well casings with 6000 to 8000 pounds per square inch of pressure.  Each refrack invites the danger of surface contamination by spilled or leaked concentrated chemicals.

When some folks in the Barnett Shale area of Texas were asked if Adam’s statement was true they gave these replies.

“Baloney!  I don’t have time to find references now but they are available. They don’t have to get a permit so no one really keeps track but it’s common knowledge.”

“Chk (Chesapeake) has told folks they plan to refrack many times over the life of the reserves..like every 3 or 4 years.”

“If they are on the lease side trying to say you will make lots of money…,and they refrack When they are talking about the environmental side, they say the opposite.”

“FALSE.  One of the pad sites near my home is refracked regularly due to several wells on the site. The frack trucks are also a common site on the highway. Ubiquitous is the word.”

“Absolutely they will refrack  and have already at many wells. The Industry folks I talked to relayed the probability of  every 3 to 5 years  depending on the well.”
And here’s what the industry has to say about it.

“It has been established that only 10% of GIP [gas in place] is recovered with the initial completion. Refracturing the shale can increase the recovery rate by an additional 8% to 10%. Simple reperforation of the original interval and pumping a job volume at least 25% larger than the previous frack has produced positive results in vertical shale wells.”

source:  Halliburton. Jan. 2007. “Developing Gas Shale Reserves .“ Advances in Unconventional Gas. A Hart Energy Publication. p. 28.
Focus on the Marcellus Shale By Lisa Sumi
FOR THE OIL & GAS ACCOUNTABILITY PROJECT/
EARTHWORKS, MAY 2008
According to Halliburton, an oil and gas service company:
It is important to note that a well drilled in the Marcellus shale may have to be fracked several times over the course of its life to keep the gas flowing, and that each fracking operation may require more water than the previous one.

From a Devon investor report: (Devon is one of the major gas exploration companies in the Barnett shale)

In addition to the refracs, we have also drilled and completed several wells on 250-foot spacing rather than the 500-foot spacing that our existing proved reserves are based on. If the early success of the first several wells drilled on 250-foot spacing continues, there may be substantial additional reserves to be recognized in the Barnett Shale over the coming years.

Our gas drilling in the Barnett Shale and Selma Chalk continues to provide additional production and reserves as we continue to test the limits of each field, whether it is from down spacing, extending the limits of each field or refracking of existing wells. (emphasis added)

As an example of a successful refrac, Devon Energy has reported on a well from which production had declined from 2,000 mcfe/day to 500 mcfe/day after 4.5 years. A re-frac restored production to 1,600 mcfe/day initially, declining to 1,000 mcfe/day after 3 months, and has probably doubled the remaining reserves from this well.
I suppose this information speaks for itself.

DEP – Notice of new rulemaking for gas well construction

The following is an extract of a DEP release from January. You may already have seen this, but might not have considered officially commenting to DEP on their rulemaking. I urge you and any organization you represent to do so. Gas industry representatives may attempt to weaken or delete some – or all – of these regulations. Public input will help to support DEP’s efforts to put these regulations in place.


In order to protect Pennsylvania’s residents and environment from the impact of increased natural gas exploration across the state, Governor Edward G. Rendell announced today that the commonwealth is strengthening its enforcement capabilities…. … DEP’s work to amend Pennsylvania’s oil and gas regulations will strengthen well construction standards and define a drilling company’s responsibility for responding to gas migration issues, such as when gas escapes a well or rock formation and seeps into homes or water wells. Specifically, he said the new regulations will:

• Require the casings of Marcellus Shale and other high-pressure wells to be tested and constructed with specific, oilfield-grade cement;
• Clarify the drilling industry’s responsibility to restore or replace water supplies affected by drilling;
• Establish procedures for operators to identify and correct gas migration problems without waiting for direction from DEP;
• Require drilling operators to notify DEP and local emergency responders immediately of gas migration problems;
• Require well operators to inspect every existing well quarterly to ensure each well is structurally sound, and report the results of those inspections to DEP annually; and
• Require well operators to notify DEP immediately if problems such as over-pressurized wells and defective casings are found during inspections.

“These new draft regulations, which were developed through open meetings with experts in the industry, are designed to give Pennsylvanians peace of mind by bringing our state’s requirements up to par with other major gas producing states or, as in the case of the well casing requirements, to a level that is even more rigorous,” said Governor Rendell.

The new regulations will be offered for public comment on Jan. 29 before going through DEP’s formal rulemaking process.

In commenting to DEP about these new regulations, consider whether it is appropriate for  the industry to police itself when there have been so many documented instances of failure to do so in Pennsylvania and other gas-producing states.
Specifically, the regulations noted above that say the following are situations where a regulatory agency may be a more appropriate entity to oversee this aspect of drilling in order to protect the public and the environment.
- “Require well operators to inspect every existing well quarterly to ensure each well is structurally sound, and report the results of those inspections to DEP annually.”
- “Require well operators to notify DEP immediately if problems such as over-pressurized wells and defective casings are found during inspections.”
Consider the following with regard to the regulation that says: “Clarify the drilling industry’s responsibility to restore or replace water supplies affected by drilling.”
If a home’s water supply is damaged in quality and/or quantity by gas drilling – whether the supply comes from a private or public source – it should be replaced in toto. It’s unacceptable to replace only drinking water but not water that is needed for other household purposes, such as washing, or for irrigation. A property’s value can be significantly diminished by lack or water or water that is polluted. It appears that the regulation on this matter would insure appropriate replacement. Public input would underscore the importance of this regulation.
Consider whether the mechanism to determine whether a water supply has been adversely affected by drilling is fair to the property owner.
In order to comment on these regulations, here’s what DEP says.
Interested persons are invited to submit comments, suggestions or
objections regarding the proposed amendments to the Bureau of Oil and Gas, P. O. Box
8765, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8765 (express mail: Rachel Carson State Office Building,
5th Floor, 400 Market Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101-2301).
Comments submitted by facsimile will not be accepted.
Comments, suggestions or objections must be received by the Department by March 2, 2010.
Electronic Comments: Comments may be submitted electronically to the Department at
ra-epoilandgas@state.pa.us and must also be received by the Department by March 2,
2010.
A subject heading of the proposal and a return name and address must be included
in each transmission. If the sender does not receive an acknowledgement of electronic
comments within 2 working days, the comments should be retransmitted to ensure
receipt.
To read the original announcement, click here:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=3115&typeid=1

To read the details of the rulemaking, deadline for public comments and where to send them, click here:

DEP plugs 259 abandoned oil and gas wells

Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger today reported the department last year managed 14 project sites in nine counties that successfully plugged 259 abandoned oil and gas wells. That work, he said, is important not only to protect the environment, but the public’s safety, as well. “Abandoned wells create passageways for pollution to enter and contaminate drinking water. They also can allow natural gas to enter water supplies or build up in a home, which can create a dangerous enclosed space,” Hanger said…. Pennsylvania has the highest number of abandoned wells in the Appalachian region and is one of the top five states nationally. The department has documented more than 8,600 wells throughout the state that were abandoned prior to passage of modern oil and gas drilling regulations….


Some might ask what insures that the taxpayer won’t be footing the bill for plugging wells abandoned if currently operating companies go bankrupt?

To read the full article, click here:

http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=8901&typeid=1

The Frac Act

This link will take you to a site that is tracking the Frac Act. You can go there now and then and see exactly where this bill stands and that very little has happened with it since it was introduced in June 2009.

http://www.govtrack.us/users/events.xpd?monitors=bill:s111-1215

The Frac Act is a set of bills that would help regulate and control the oil and gas drilling industries ability to bypass the Safe Water Drinking Act, The Clean Air Act and give the EPA the power to make regulations about the process of hydraulic fracturing. For more info you can check out these links.

http://www.propublica.org/feature/frac-act-congress-introduces-bills-to-control-drilling-609

http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-1215

The Senate met on Nov. the 9th and the House meets on Nov. the 16th regarding this bill. If you are concerned with the loopholes that currently exist, which allow the gas and oil industry to get away with water pollution and well contamination (amongst other things) please contact your Senators and Congressmen about this importance of the Frac Act. Remember that this bill needs to go into action on a federal level (and is being voted on as such) so contact your federal representatives about it, not state.

 

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