Good News New York – NY City Mayor Bloomberg philanthropic arm is coming to the rescue.
All of your concerns about Fracking have been heard! You can pack up your signs, shut down your blogs, give your phones a rest and go home.
Ummm…..not really, and it may mean getting more signs, going on a blog blitz, consider having the phone attached to your head and forget going home for a rest.
Bloomberg and George P. Mitchell (a fracking pioneer) have teamed up with the Environmental Defense Fund and created the Regional Centers for Excellence (RCE). The New York Times reported on August 24, 2012 that “Bloomberg Backs ‘Responsible’ Extraction of Gas and Pays to Help Set Up Rules”
In an op-ed article in The Washington Post on Friday, the mayor came out strongly in favor of natural gas extraction through the controversial drilling process, known as fracking, as a way to lower utility bills, spur economic growth and reduce the nation’s dependence on coal. But the mayor said the drilling should take place under “common sense” regulations, to minimize environmental harm.
To “jump start” that effort, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Friday that it was giving a $6 million grant to the Environmental Defense Fund to help secure strong rules in 14 states that account for 85 percent of the gas reserves accessible through fracking.
Let’s take a look at the players.
Michael Bloomberg: Michael Bloomberg succeeded Rudy Giuliani as mayor of New York City in 2002. He was a general partner at Salomon Brothers when he was let go in 1981 (after a merger), and that same year he founded Innovative Market Systems (later Bloomberg LP). In 2011, he donated $330 million to such groups as the Sierra Club, the Alliance for the Arts and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Bloomberg and Beyond Coal Campaign: With a $50 million commitment over four years, Bloomberg Philanthropies is joining the Sierra Club in its effort to effectively retire one third of the nation’s aging coal fleet by 2020, replacing it with clean energy. The partnership, announced July 21, 2011, reflects Bloomberg Philanthropies’ vision on climate change: that progress will come not from national governments and international bodies, but instead by driving action at the city and local level.
The gift will allow the campaign to expand from 15 to 45 states – and among other things, help Sierra reach their goal of cutting 30% of coal energy production by 2020.
This is the second major climate initiative by Bloomberg Philanthropies following the recent involvement and investment in the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40).
George P Mitchell: Per Forbes 400 – The father of natural gas shale drilling, George Mitchell was the first to use hydraulic fracking to crack open the Barnett shale field in Texas. He opened the door to development of shales worldwide. In 2002 Mitchell sold his company, Mitchell Energy & Development, for $3.5 billion to Devon Energy, where he remains the biggest shareholder.
In 2006, Devon Energy acquired Chief Oil & Gas. Chief Oil & Gas has approximately 195 wells permitted, located on 108 well sites with 103 wells drilled or being developed in the Pennsylvania area of the Marcellus Shale. Chief Oil & Gas led in 2011 with 174 violations.
Environmental Defense Fund (EDF): Per “About Us ” Page – We’re dedicated scientists, economists, attorneys and other professionals.
The Environmental Defense Fund Comes Out In Support Of Fracking | Business Insider | Rob Wile | Sep. 12, 2012
The Environmental Defense Fund’s chief counsel has written a blog post detailing the non-profit’s support for hydraulic fracturing of natural gas.
The EDF is well known for pouring money into global warming, clean air and oil spill cleanup fights.
In the case of fracking, Brownstein says, it mainly comes down to eliminating coal.
“We fear that those who oppose all natural gas production everywhere are, in effect, making it harder for the U.S. economy to wean itself from dirty coal,” he said.
Collaborating with Bloomberg, Mitchell and EDF is the Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC). The Marcellus Shale Coalition will be a collaborator along with civic leaders, environmental groups and others.
The MSC is an industry group.
Per “Who We Are”: The Marcellus Shale Coalition (MSC) works with exploration and production, midstream, and supply chain partners in the Appalachian Basin and across the country to address issues regarding the production of clean, job-creating, American natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica Shale plays.
We provide in-depth information to policymakers, regulators, media, and other public stakeholders on the positive impacts responsible natural gas production is having on families, businesses, and communities across the region.
We don’t know who the civic leaders, environmental groups and others will be, however if it’s anything like Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale Advisory Commission – it’s a safe bet industry interests will be heavily represented given the current collaborators all agree on fracking.
“Sensible and Responsible” Drilling
Bloomberg Backs ‘Responsible’ Extraction of Gas and Pays to Help Set Up Rules | By MIREYA NAVARRO | NY Times | August 24, 2012
Mr. Bloomberg wrote the article with George P. Mitchell, the Texas gas producer who pioneered the technology of hydraulic fracturing of shale rock, combined with horizontal drilling, in the 1990s. They wrote that their intention was to promote “the sensible center” in the charged debate over fracking.
On Friday, September 21, 2012, at the Marcellus Shale Insight conference in Philadelphia, a panel of industry representatives discussed Bloomberg’s “sensible center”, how it may change gas exploration and public perception. Bloomberg feels establishing a “NEW SET OF GAS INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES” will increase public confidence.
New Set of Gas Industry Best Practices? Why the sudden need for a “NEW SET OF GAS INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES” when we have been told the industry does use “best practices”?
As we dig into the initial story a bit more, we find this isn’t so much about creating a “NEW SET OF GAS INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES” as it is about public relations.
Excerpt (emphasis added) : Kathleen McGinty of Weston Solutions Inc., a former secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said “transparency allays what could become ugly fears.”
In the end, a sound process and industry adoption will go far in improving the industry’s image among skeptics, Mr. Brownstein said. The industry, he fears, underestimates the resistance to drilling and fracking in some parts of the country.
“If you step outside your industry you will find a tremendous amount of skepticism,” he said. “This is driven by the thought that neither regulators nor the industry have their arms around this.”
The MSC has complied “Recommended Practices”. NOTE: These are RECOMMENDED practices, not REGULATIONS, or LAWS or any other legally enforceable variant. Compliance is voluntary and there are no consequences for non-compliance. In other words – ALL FLUFF and NO STUFF.
The Recommended Practices include:
- Pre-Drill Water Supply Surveys: The objective of a pre-drill survey is to establish a baseline for conditions that existed prior to drilling. Groundwater may contain some natural impurities or contaminants even with no human activity or pollution.
- Supply Chain: These recommended practices address relevant considerations and guidelines for Supply Chain.
- Site Planning, Development and Restoration: Through months of research, stakeholder outreach, and collaboration amongst MSC member companies, the coalition recently released its first Recommended Practice, which offers guidance on site planning, development and restoration.
I would not be surprised if much of MSC’s “Recommended Practices” end up in the “Sensible Center’s NEW SET OF GAS INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES”.
Although the Sensible Center is emerging from Bloomberg’s pocket, it won’t be confined to New York. The EDF wants to extend the Sensible Center’s reach to include Pennsylvania and 14 other states, presumably the states with the highest amount of fracking. Except in certain areas of the fracked states, like NYC’s watershed?
Mayor Bloomberg has long opposed fracturing in or near the city’s watershed in upstate New York, largely in the Catskills, which supplies drinking water to nine million people in the city and nearby counties.
Or Bucks and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania?
A temporary moratorium has been placed on gas drilling in Bucks and Montgomery counties due to a provision attached to a bill passed in the state Legislature on Saturday.
Bucks County Republicans, led by Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, R-10, attached the provision to the fiscal code (SB 1263) which six senators from outside Bucks and Montgomery counties opposed.
And the rest are part of Terry Engelder’s Sacrifice Zones?
Finally, Michael Krancer, Secretary of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection states the the Sensible Center needs to be careful and NOT ASK drillers to CHANGE their operations based on stakeholders review. Given the money and players, asking drillers to change is highly unlikely.
Unless the Sensible Center’s NEW SET OF GAS INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES translates into real regulations with teeth, the NEW SET OF GAS INDUSTRY BEST PRACTICES is the no more than the next new set of fluffy talking points.