Hydraulic Fracking the Propaganda and Truth

I know I’ve been away from this blog for a while now but it looks like folks are still finding it. The following link was passed on to me, and good for a few laughs despite the depressing topic, and I just had to pass it along. Enjoy and share!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZptKESRzio&feature=youtu.be

EPA Wants to Look at Full Lifecycle of Fracking in New Study – Gas industry not happy

by Nicholas Kusnetz

ProPublica, Feb. 9, 2011, 2:32 p.m

The EPA has proposed examining every aspect of hydraulic fracturing, from water withdrawals to waste disposal, according to a draft plan the agency released Tuesday. If the study goes forward as planned, it would be the most comprehensive investigation of whether the drilling technique risks polluting drinking water near oil and gas wells across the nation.

The agency wants to look at the potential impacts on drinking water of each stage involved in hydraulic fracturing, where drillers mix water with chemicals and sand and inject the fluid into wells to release oil or natural gas. In addition to examining the actual injection, the study would look at withdrawals, the mixing of the chemicals, and wastewater management and disposal. The agency, under a mandate from Congress, will only look at the impact of these practices on drinking water.

The agency’s scientific advisory board will review the draft plan on March 7-8 and will allow for public comments then. The EPA will consider any recommendations from the board and then begin the study promptly, it said in a news release. A preliminary report should be ready by the end of next year, the release said, with a full report expected in 2014.

A statement from the oil and gas industry group Energy in Depth gave a lukewarm assessment of the draft. “Our guys are and will continue to be supportive of a study approach that’s based on the science, true to its original intent and scope,” the statement read. “But at first blush, this document doesn’t appear to definitively say whether it’s an approach EPA will ultimately take.”

The study, announced in March, comes amid rising public concern about the safety of fracking, as ProPublica has been reporting for years. While it remains unclear whether the actual fracturing process has contaminated drinking water, there have been more than 1,000 reports around the country of contamination related to drilling, as we reported in 2008. In September 2010, the EPAwarned residents of a Wyoming town not to drink their well water and to use fans while showering to avoid the risk of explosion. Investigators found methane and other chemicals associated with drilling in the water, but they had not determined the cause of the contamination.

Drillers have been fracking wells for decades, but with the rise of horizontal drilling into unconventional formations like shale, they are injecting far more water and chemicals underground than ever before. The EPA proposal notes that 603 rigs were drilling horizontal wells in June 2010, more than twice as many as were operating a year earlier. Horizontal wells can require millions of gallons of water per well, a much greater volume than in conventional wells.

One point of contention is the breadth of the study. Chris Tucker, a spokesman for Energy in Depth, said he understands the need to address any stage of the fracking that might affect drinking water, but he’s skeptical that water withdrawals meet the criteria. “The only way you can argue that issues related to water demand are relevant to that question is if you believe the fracturing process requires such a high volume of water that its very execution threatens the general availability of the potable sources,” he wrote in an e-mail.

The EPA proposal estimates that fracking uses 70 to 140 billion gallons of water annually, or about the same amount used by one or two cities of 2.5 million people. In the Barnett Shale, in Texas, the agency estimates fracking for gas drilling consumes nearly 2 percent of all the water used in the area.

The EPA proposes using two or three “prospective” case studies to follow the course of drilling and fracking wells from beginning to end. It would also look at three to five places where drilling has reportedly contaminated water, including two potential sites in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, and one site each in Texas, Colorado and North Dakota….

To read this article in full online, view the photos, videos, sidebar topics and access the links within it, click here:

http://www.propublica.org/article/epa-wants-to-look-at-full-lifecycle-of-fracking-in-new-study

FrackTracker

Here’s an exceprt from the blog at Fracktracker, a useful site for info and maps and visuals.

The Environmental Protection Agency has submitted a draft of its Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan, which is to be reviewed by the Science Advisory Board (SAB), a group of independent scientists that works with the agency. According to the EPA’s news release, the focus of the study will be the lifespan of the water, from extraction to disposal of the waste water.

The 140 page draft has been made to the public. The SAB is scheduled to review the plan March 7th and 8th, and the plan will likely be edited based on their input.

Initial results of this study are expected by 2012, with an additional report due by 2014.

Want to see more of this site? Go here: http://www.fractracker.org/

A Comprehensive Website for News Headlines

The below site, while not covering everything, does offers a lot of info in one place.

Newspaper Headlines:

http://www.marcellus-shale.us/Gas-Drilling_NEWS.htm

Oil and Gas Companies Illegally Using Diesel in Fracking

By Adam Federman, Earth Island Journal

Posted on February 1, 2011

The 2005 Bush-Cheney Energy Policy Act famously exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act. But it made one small exception: diesel fuel. The Policy Act states that the term “underground injection,” as it relates to the Safe Drinking Water Act, “excludes the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas, or geothermal production activities [italics added by author].” But a congressional investigation has found that oil and gas service companies used tens of millions of gallons of diesel fuel in fracking operations between 2005 and 2009, thus violating the Safe Drinking Water Act. Hydraulic fracturing is a method of drilling that injects large volumes of water, chemicals, and sand underground at high pressure to break open rock formations and release stores of natural gas. In some cases, however, water based fluids are less effective and diesel fuel or other hydrocarbons may be used.

In a letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, the congressional committee noted that between 2005 and 2009, “oil and gas service companies injected 32.2 million gallons of diesel fuel or hydraulic fracturing fluids containing diesel fuel in wells in 19 states.” None of the companies sought or received permits to do so. “This appears to be a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act,” the letter states. “It also means that the companies injecting diesel fuel have not performed the environmental reviews required by the law.”

Moreover, because the necessary environmental reviews were circumvented, the companies were unable to provide data on whether they had used diesel in fracking operations in or near underground sources of drinking water. Diesel fuel contains a number of toxic constituents including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, which have been linked to cancer and other health problems.

In the last few years, shale gas extraction has increased exponentially, raising fears that drinking water wells and underground aquifers may be at risk. It has become a particularly sensitive issue in the northeast’s Marcellus Shale, which underlies parts of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. Later this month the Delaware River Basin Commission will hold public hearings on drilling in the watershed—a source of drinking water for more than 15 million people.

The EPA is currently conducting its own study of the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies due out in late 2012. But will companies that have violated the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2005 be held accountable?

Matt Armstrong, a lawyer with the Washington firm Bracewell & Giuliani, which represents several oil and gas companies, told the New York Times, “Everyone understands that E.P.A. is at least interested in regulating fracking.” But: “Whether the E.P.A. has the chutzpah to try to impose retroactive liability for use of diesel in fracking, well, everyone is in a wait-and-see mode. I suspect it will have a significant fight on its hands if it tried it do that.”

To read this article online, click here:

http://www.alternet.org/story/149760/oil_and_gas_companies_illegally_using_diesel_in_fracking_

To read the New York Times coverage of this issue, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/01/business/energy-environment/01gas.html

To read the Energy policy Act, click here: http://www.epa.gov/oust/fedlaws/publ_109-058.pdf

To read the letter from the Congressional Committee to EPA Administrator Jackson, click here: http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/index.php?q=news/waxman-markey-and-degette-investigation-finds-continued-use-of-diesel-in-hydraulic-fracturing-f

NOTE: The letter states, “In 2003, EPA signed a memorandum of agreement with the three largest providers of hydraulic fracturing to eliminate the use of diesel fuel in coalbed methane formations in underground sources of drinking water. Two years later, Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act except when the fracturing fluids contain diesel. As a result, many assumed that the industry stopped using diesel fuel altogether in hydraulic fracturing…

According to EPA, any company that performs hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuel must receive a permit under the Safe Drinking Water Act. We learned that no oil and gas service companies have sought—and no state and federal regulators have issued—permits for diesel fuel use in hydraulic fracturing…

In a 2004 report, EPA stated that the ‘use of diesel fuel in fracturing fluids poses the greatest threat’ to underground sources of drinking water….

In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act, which contained a provision addressing the application of Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to hydraulic fracturing. Congress modified the definition of ‘underground injection to exclude’ ‘the underground injection of fluids or propping agents (other than diesel fuels) pursuant to hydraulic fracturing operations related to oil, gas… The effect of this law is to exempt hydraulic fracturing from the underground injection control (UIC) permit requirements unless the fluid being injected is diesel fuel. As EPA states on its website: While the SDWA specifically excludes hydraulic fracturing from UIC regulation … the use of diesel fuel during hydraulic fracturing is still regulated by the UIC program. Any service company that performs hydraulic fracturing using diesel fuel must receive prior authorization from the UIC program….

Natural Gas Company’s Disclosure Decision Could Change Fracking Debate

By MIKE SORAGHAN of Greenwire

A Texas natural gas producer’s decision to voluntarily disclose the chemicals it injects into the ground could prompt other drillers to do the same, and pave the way for regulators to require such disclosure. But Range Resources Corp.’s move also reflects the desire of industry to get out ahead of the issue to prevent federal regulation of the key drilling practice called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. At least one other major driller, Chesapeake Energy Corp., says it is considering disclosing chemicals used in fracking on a well-by-well basis as Range is planning. And members of the industry’s main trade association, the American Petroleum Institute, are finalizing their own proposal for disclosure, an API spokeswoman said yesterday. But it could provide less information than what environmentalists and lawmakers have sought, and also less than what Range is preparing to disclose.

Read the whole thing here:

http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/07/15/15greenwire-natural-gas-companys-disclosure-decision-could-5706.html?pagewanted=all

EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Hydraulic Fracturing

EPA to Hold Public Meeting on Hydraulic Fracturing Research Study In
Canonsburg July 22*

(*PHILADELPHIA** *- July 8, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
is hosting an informational public meeting
in Canonsburg, Washington County, Pa. about its proposed study of the
relationship between hydraulic fracturing and potential impacts on drinking
water.

The meeting will be held from 6-10 p.m., July 22, at the Hilton Garden Inn
in Canonsburg to provide information about the scope and design of the
proposed study, and give the public an opportunity provide input and comment
on the draft study plan.

 Hydraulic fracturing is a process used for extracting natural gas or oil
from shale and other geological formations. By pumping fracturing fluids
(water and chemical additives) and sand or other similar materials into rock
formations, fractures are created that allow natural gas or oil to flow from
the rock – through the fractures – to a production well for extraction.

In March 2010, EPA announced that it will study the potential adverse impact
that hydraulic fracturing may have on drinking water.  In developing the
study, EPA is holding a series of meetings to receive public input about
specific drinking water, human health or environmental concerns that need to
be factored into the study.

To support the planning and development of the study, the agency sought
suggestions and comments from the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB), an
independent, external federal advisory committee. The agency will use this
advice, as well as extensive public input in designing the study.

EPA requests that citizens who are interested in attending to *pre-register
by Monday, July 19.* EPA will also hold meetings about the study on, July 8
in Fort Worth, Texas; July 13 in Denver, Colo.; and, August 12
in Binghamton, N.Y.

Call 1-866-477-3635 toll free to register.  Or register on-line at:
http://hfmeeting.cadmusweb.com.

Those wishing to contribute comments to EPA regarding the proposed hydraulic
fracturing research study may also submit electronic comments to EPA at
hydraulic.fractur@epa.gov ; or send written comments to:

Jill Dean

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Mail code 4606M,

Washington, DC  20460.