Investigating the US Gas Boom

I know many of you are becoming very aware of the natural gas boom happening in the Mid Atlantic area. This video covers some old ground but it also discusses some very current issues and is a great intro for anyone who is trying to learn about the problems with the fracking process.

http://www.theecologist.org/trial_investigations/687515/us_natural_gas_drilling_boom_linked_to_pollution_and_social_strife.html

Gas drilling using best management practices

From the Resposible Drilling Alliance:
The Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project has published a best management practices guide for their state’s oil and gas development. This could be a model for state’s newly under pressure for unconventional shale drilling – like Pennsylvania, New York and West Virginia.
According to this guide,

“The challenge facing Texas now is not whether to increase fossil fuel production — energy companies are already on a record-setting pace as they accelerate development.
Rather, the challenge facing us today is how to protect our landowner rights, clean water, air and public health in the face of rapid energy development…


To read the article , click here:

http://earthworksaction.org/publications.cfm?pubID=444

To read the publication on best oil & gas development practices in Texas, click here: http://earthworksaction.org/pubs/Drill_Right_Texas_FINAL.pdf

My Turn by Joe Sestak

Pike County Courier > Opinion

MY TURN By Joe Sestak

Published: December 24, 2009

Caution required in gas drilling

I believe in the responsible development of Pennsylvania’s energy resources, including natural gas, as part of the transition to a cleaner, more renewable and more secure energy supply. In Pennsylvania alone, there are several hundred trillion cubic feet of natural gas — enough to supply this country’s demand for decades to come. Natural gas can boost our economy and cut our dependence on foreign oil. And it also causes less than half the carbon emissions of coal, allowing us to reduce our impact on climate change in the near term.

Our abundant natural resources are a blessing for our Commonwealth. We should never have to sacrifice our health and safety, clean air and water, natural lands, and communities to companies seeking access to our natural wealth. Clear regulations and strict accountability for violators can protect us from abuse and carelessness. Reasonable fees can offset the cost of these protections and provide a sustainable investment in Pennsylvania.

Done improperly, drilling can seriously harm our health and safety, environment, and land values. It should be done only with clear and transparent reporting and strong oversight. That’s why I have written to the Secretary of DEP urging the Department to make its reports on the oversight of the drilling operations readily available to the public.

It’s also important that Pennsylvanians know that this drilling, called hydrofracking, falls under the so-called “Halliburtron Loophole” that was slipped into President Bush’s energy bill in 2005 and allows energy companies to ignore the rules of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. These protections exist for a reason. Fracking involves using huge amounts of water laced with chemicals, and it has already contaminated drinking water in seven counties across Pennsylvania. That’s why I co-sponsored the FRAC Act to close this loophole. I also helped pass legislation calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to look into threats this drilling method poses to our water supply.

Right now, the Pennsylvania legislature and the Department of Environmental Protection have the power and responsibility to protect the people of Pennsylvania from potential harmful effects of drilling. Wastewater regulations that have been proposed by DEP are a start, but much more needs to be done.

New regulations should not favor, by grandfathering, the use of older, less capable treatment processes at the expense of encouraging use of state of the art facilities. Regulations should cover all major components of fracking wastewater so that harmful substances don’t end up in our streams and rivers. Furthermore, the Commonwealth owes it to this, and future, generations to make sure drilling does not cause irreparable harm to our natural resources, especially our protected state lands.

I believe the state legislature and DEP must establish clear and effective regulation prior to further expansion of drilling in order to decide how best to protect our citizens and our natural resources. There is no doubt in my mind that if proper forces come to bare this can be done, and done quickly, so that we can move into a new era of economic prosperity for the Commonwealth while ensuring Pennsylvanians that their health and natural resources are adequately protected.

I am not convinced we currently have strong enough environmental, health, and property safeguards — and I am not satisfied that people will have the access to just compensation should even the best safeguards fail.

Let’s take a lesson from an earlier generation of energy development. Acid mine drainage is the legacy of abandoned coal mines. It has left 2,500 miles of deteriorated streams and 250,000 acres of contaminated land in Pennsylvania at an expense of $15 billion to clean up.

We have a real opportunity in Pennsylvania to benefit from the resources of Marcellus Shale, one of the largest natural gas reserves on the planet. There is no reason to allow this bounty to ultimately turn out to be a net harm for our state and our families.

Let’s not cash in on our resources today in a way that causes disproportionate harm, brings little lasting benefit, and results in a greater cost in the future. This is our state, these are our resources. Let’s utilize them in a way that is best for all the people of Pennsylvania and the generations that follow.

Editor’s note: This statement was delivered by US Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak (D-7-PA) At an Environmental Quality Board Public Hearing on the Proposed Wastewater Treatment Requirements Regulations:

Fighting climate change with natural gas

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/us_us_energy_shift

Here’s a link to an article from the Associate Press that was headlined on Yahoo’s! homepage this morning. Natural gas is finally getting as much media play as reality television programs and Hollywood scandals. That’s good, but not all the publicity shows a true persepective of what’s at stake. This article doesn’t even mention the negative impacts on the environment and communities in the area where drilling is taking place. I don’t think that was the point of the article so I won’t call the Associated Press a lot of nasty names. But, the article does explain a lot of what our country is up against as far as climate change goes. We need to change the way we produce energy; we need to do it quickly; we need to do it cheaply. Natural gas is looking like the best option for that at this point and despite the down side(s) of the gas industry, I don’t think we will be able to fight the idea of tapping into this energy resource  to make the rest of the globe happy as well as prolong our ability to live life as we have known it on this planet.

At this point it would make all the more sense to see some severance taxes, higher well bonds, ANY waste water disposal management plans and safer methods for hydro-fracking of wells. I always wonder if any of the folks who write up these articles live in any of the states where the drilling is going on. Do they have a well in their back yard and a contaminated water well?

How Can the Natural Gas Industry Make Itself Cleaner?

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=121419226&sc=nl&cc=nh-20091216

ANGA & NPR… sitting in a tree…eh, you know how it goes

http://www.npr.org/ombudsman/2009/10/natural_gas_industry_ads_a_per_1.html

Check out this article at NPR’s site. It seems that they have gotten involved (whether intentionally or not, it’s pretty suspicious) with some strong advertising from ANGA (America’s Natural Gas Alliance). ANGA is the organization that has been running the TV, radio and online ads that tote how “clean” and wonderful natural gas is and how it is going to save Americans from their fate worse than death of running out of energy sources. You can go to this link and see their website.

http://www.newnaturalgas.org/

Once you get there a woman will talk to you about how natural gas is going to be the new “smart” way  for this country to be greener and save energy. Then she’ll encourage you to click on the “take action” button and let your congressman or woman know that you want them to include natural gas in the new climate change bill.  Of course, she has offered no real information or ideas, I guess you just have to take her word for it. You can click on some other info links at the top of the page if your still clueless and while the info given is true for the comparisons they offer, they leave out all the truths about hydro-fracking and the way natural gas is recovered from the earth. Although the use of gas might be “cleaner”, ANGA’s website sort of skips over any explanation of an impact on the environment other than clean air.

And to bring these two together; NPR and ANGA. This just goes to show how deep into the pockets of our society the energy companies are. But seriously, who’s surprised? The media is being run by corporate industries? Is this really ground breaking news?

Misleading TV ads

I was watching television for the first time in about  a year and half last night. I happened to be at a friends house, who had their TV on while we repainted her kitchen, and I saw a really disturbing commercial.

The commercial started out by discussing how useful coal was but how dirty  it can be and how bad it is for our environment. The ad also made commentary towards wind and solar power and how they might be good ideas but they were also very expensive and not likely to yield much of anything to the U.S. for decades! After that the ad shows a big drilling rig for natural gas and talks about how clean and safe it is for the environment…and it’s right in our backyards! Yeah, in Tioga Counties back yard and most of PA and NY. Isn’t that nice? We can sacrifice two states water, forests and health, amongst other impacts, for the sake of this whole country running in natural gas…and since we don’t have to buy it from anyone else it’ll be practically free! I could go on and on……

I will try and find a version of it online so all of you can have the opportunity to watch it. This commercial was so very misleading. Hmmm, I think it might have been on Fox too. Surprise, surprise.