EPA Looks at Fracking Risks to Water: No Data, No Problem?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its long-awaited draft report on impacts associated with hydraulic fracturing on drinking water last week, completing the most extensive scientific review of published data to date. At nearly 1,000 pages, it’s a substantial report. But it’s nowhere near a comprehensive evaluation – or even enumeration – of the risks that oil and gas development poses to both surface and ground water. The biggest issues aren’t what’s in the document, but what isn’t. For all its heft, the biggest lesson in the report is just how little we actually know about these critical risks. First, the report is a review of existing studies. The EPA did almost no original scientific research or fieldwork. Nor does it include much in the way of actual water quality readings – or baseline, pre-drilling data by which to compare. The EPA doesn’t use this data because, for the most part, it doesn’t exist. Contamination risk associated with handling this wastewater is high, and the consequences can be dramatic. In many areas, this produced water is far saltier than sea water. It will kill plants, and can ruin the landscape for decades. It’s often laced with up to hundreds of toxic chemicals (anti-freeze to name just one). Gallon for gallon, in other words, a water spill could be even more dangerous for the environment than an oil spill. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-brownstein/epa-looks-at-fracking-ris_b_7595906.html
What Happened to 160,000 Fracking Jobs in Pennsylvania ?
Somehow Pennsylvania lost 160,000 gas industry jobs overnight. What happened? Did drillers flee at the specter of a new tax on production? Not quite. Although companies have been laying off workers and cutting costs–lackluster market conditions don’t explain this shift.
PA: Cecil approves shale gas compressor despite residents’ concerns
After a protracted legal battle, the Cecil zoning hearing board Monday night voted unanimously to approve the construction of a Marcellus shale natural gas compressor station. But, in an effort to appease both sides on the thorny issue, the board approved a raft of conditions designed to protect the health and welfare of residents. “We can’t be divided by this issue,” said resident Chris O’Connor, one of several dozen who turned out for Monday’s meeting. “The next generation will have to live with the consequences of these actions.” The three-member zoning board said it was left with little choice, after exhausting its legal appeals and trying to prevent MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources from moving forward with plans to build a compressor station along Route 980 near its intersection with Route 50. The zoning board was set to approve the project last month, but the Denver-based company offered to delay a decision by the board for 30 days while the list of conditions was ironed out between the parties. The board was under a court order to approve the project by May 30.
PA: Middlesex board upholds legality of zoning ordinance to allow gas well drilling
An attorney for two environmental groups and four Middlesex residents vowed to appeal a decision Wednesday by the township’s zoning board to uphold the municipality’s zoning ordinance and a drilling permit for a controversial gas well. “It’s the first inning,” said Jordan Yeager, representing environmental groups the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Clean Air Council and four township residents. The parties challenged zoning approved by township supervisors in August, which allows for drilling in about 90 percent of Middlesex. They also challenged a drilling permit issued to Rex Energy for a site off Denny Road , owned by Bob and Kim Geyer, who live in adjacent Adams . Both sides in the controversy said they expect the likely court battle to set a precedent and help define the extent to which municipalities in Pennsylvania are allowed to oversee and regulate hydraulic fracking. http://marcellus.com/news/id/124450/middlesex-board-upholds-legality-of-zoning-ordinance-to-allow-gas-well-drilling/
North Dakota’s oil production has peaked: Kemp
LONDON – North Dakota ’s crude oil output has peaked, according to the latest production data published by the state government, as the slump in prices takes its toll. The state produced 1.17 million barrels per day (bpd) in April, down from a peak of 1.23 million in December, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) reported on Friday. The former rapid growth in production has stalled and current output is no higher than it was in September 2014. Falling production comes as no surprise: the number of rigs drilling for oil in the state has declined by more than 60 percent since September. Unlike production numbers published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration and the Railroad Commission of Texas, North Dakota ’s figures are based on well records rather than estimates and are subject to only small revisions in subsequent months.
Texas: Site of Arlington Fracking Fluid Leak Could Soon Reopen
An Arlington gas well site that leaked thousands of gallons of fracking fluid in April could soon resume drilling. All operations at Vantage Energy’s Lake Arlington Baptist Church site along Little Road have been suspended since that leak occurred. The company said a well head component malfunctioned, causing a back flow of fracking fluid to spill out. No natural gas leaked from the well, but the incident forced dozens of families in the area to evacuate their homes. http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Site-of-Arlington-Fracking-Fluid-Leak-Could-Soon-Reopen-307732141.html
Texas: Oil field job cuts cross 150,000
Job slashing from the oil bust reached a staggering 150,000 at the end of May, according to energy recruiting firm Swift Worldwide Resources.
In a recent Fuel Fix publication, Swift elaborated that when compared globally, the United States has seen the “the fastest and steepest decline.” Layoffs have slowed dramatically as oil prices have just begun to regain some footing and companies have adjusted accordingly. The recruiting firm tracks both public and non-public data, and it is possible the industry’s layoffs surpass what the UK-based company has estimated, Swift CEO Tobias Read said in the report. http://eaglefordtexas.com/news/id/153361/oil-field-job-cuts-cross-150000/
Texas: Pipeline company investigates explosion
CUERO — In the 62 years she has lived in DeWitt County, the heart of Eagle Ford Shale country, Dorothy Arndt had never seen anything like Sunday’s pipeline explosion, and she hopes she never does again. The air felt like an oven when she stepped outside in her nightgown. “The heat knocked me back,” Arndt, 84, said. “I looked across the way, and I saw a huge, huge ball of fire.” Cattle broke through the fence trying to escape the heat, the asphalt road bubbled and power lines melted, cutting electricity to 130 homes after a natural gas pipeline ruptured about 8:15 p.m. Sunday west of Cuero. Officials with Energy Transfer Partners and the Texas Railroad Commission have not determined the cause of the explosion, which shot flames hundreds of feet into the air through a 42-inch steel pipe.
CO: Oil, gas spill reports for June 15
The following spills were reported to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in the past two weeks.
Noble Energy Inc. reported on June 9 that historical impacts were discovered beneath a water vault during a facility upgrade outside of LaSalle. It is approximated that less than five barrels of produced water released. It was determined that the cause of the leak was equipment failure. The facility was shut in and removed. Remediation activities will be initiated
– Bonanza Creek Energy Operating Company LLC reported on June 9 that piping on a heater treater was corroded, outside of Briggsdale. About 15 barrels of produced water released. Roughly five barrels of produced water were released outside of containment. A vacuum truck was dispatched to remove pooled water and the impacted road base wellpad surface. Samples of soil will be collected to confirm compliance with COGCC standards.
– Carrizo Niobrara LLC reported on June 9 that a mist of oil and water was released after a jet pump sustained a cracked nipple, outside of New Raymer. The wind carried the release onto an adjacent pasture. It is approximated that less than 100 barrels released. Immediately, the well was shut in and clean up efforts began within hours of the release.
– DCP Midstream LP reported on June 8 that a leak originated from a pipeline, outside of Kennesburg. The leak was discovered when condensate began bubbling up from a shallow line. The line was shut in and blown down. It is approximated that more than a barrel of condensate released. Activities to remediate the leak are in progress.
– EOG Resources reported on June 3 that an electrical contractor broke the sight glass on the oil phase of a treater, outside of Grover. Approximately five barrels of oil sprayed from the treater, before the sight glass could be isolated. Approximately three barrels of oil released in secondary containment and approximately two barrels of oil released outside of containment. A vacuum truck was dispatched to remove free standing oil. The equipment and soil were cleaned with a hot water wash. An excavation may be used to rid the area of stained soil.
– PDC Energy Inc. reported on April 19 that during plugging and abandonment procedures, a historic release was discovered beneath a produced water vessel, outside of Eaton. It is approximated that less than five barrels of oil spill, condensate spill and produced water spill released. A photoionization detector was used to screened for volatile organic compound. Impacted material was removed and transported for disposal. Groundwater was not encountered. At the time of this release, COGCC did not require a 72-hour notification of historic impacts, if groundwater was not encountered.
WI: Frac sand towns question whether rules protect them against silica pollution
BLOOMER, Wis. — Every time Victoria Trinko checks her mail, she wipes a crust of sand from the letterbox. When she comes inside from a day on the farm, her face feels gritty, and she can chew the sand that has deposited in her mouth. Her voice used to crack when she tried to speak, until she bought and installed four air filters around her home. “My voice is better, but I’m living in, like, a bubble,” she said. Wisconsin farmers Victoria Trinko and Ken Schmitt worry that their health has been compromised by sand mine development. Photo by Pamela King. Across the street from Trinko’s farm, an industrial sand mine is digging out material that will be used by oil and gas producers as proppant in hydraulic fracturing operations across the country (EnergyWire, June 2). But in the industry’s rush to provide that sand, some neighbors of the mines say their health concerns have been ignored. Exposure to respirable crystalline silica — tiny particles produced by blasting, cutting and drilling — is chief among those fears. Inhaling just a small amount of the dust over time can lead to silicosis, an irreversible lung disease. Although sand producers are regulated under the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the industry has played an integral role in formulating an update to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s crystalline silica rule. The final rule is still forthcoming, but a proposed version cites an occupational health program created by the National Industrial Sand Association (NISA), which calls for periodic workplace and medical monitoring. Where the industry group and OSHA diverge, however, is on how much exposure is permissible. OSHA recommends, over an eight-hour period, a level of 50 micrograms of respirable crystalline silica per cubic meter of air, which halves the current threshold for general industry, including for energy firms that use the sand.
This Week In Energy: BP Claims Tectonic Shift Underway In Energy
Last year may have been a “watershed” moment for world energy consumption. That assessment comes from BP’s (NYSE: BP) just released 2015 Statistical Review, which provides a roundup of the global energy picture as well as future projections of supply and demand. BP says that a “tectonic shift” is underway, and 2014 may have been the year in which we all look back and see it as a pivotal moment for energy markets. Global supplies continue to climb, and the U.S. has produced a massive amount of oil and gas from shale. OPEC is producing at elevated levels and so is Russia . Non-OPEC energy, largely made up of US shale, has undermined the influence of OPEC, a shift that could last many years. An era of energy abundance could be here to stay. But it is on the demand side that a potential revolution is taking place. BP notes that 2014 saw shockingly slow rate of growth in global demand for energy, expanding by a mere 0.9 percent. And a lot of that boils down to China , which saw its demand for energy grow at its slowest rate since the end of the last century. At the same time, renewable energy is the fastest growing source of new energy supply. Global greenhouse gas emissions also expanded at the slowest level since 1998. Taken altogether, we are living in a time that is seeing huge changes in energy flows, and 2014 could have been the inflection point.
Pennsylvania fracking operator faces record $8.9M fine for alleged water contamination. Pennsylvania regulators plan to levy a record fine against a shale gas operator that reportedly failed to correct a well that leaked methane into nearby water supplies. Harrisburg Patriot-News, Pennsylvania. 17 June 2015.
GREENFIELD >> Several hundred residents of Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin counties and state and municipal officials attended the second state Department of Public Utilities hearing on a…
Pipeline giant Kinder Morgan on Wednesday appealed a Georgia transportation official’s decision that put its proposed billion-dollar Palmetto Pipeline project in limbo last month. In its 58-page…
A massive blaze caused when a natural gas pipeline burst released thousands of pounds of gas vapor. Officials are still investigating what caused the pipeline to rupture Sunday near Cuero. No one…
It looked like it was going to be a big deal. House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger (R-Clarksville) and Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) were both behind the podium, scheduled to talk about the…
Fracking and water: Quantity, not just quality, a concern. Growing water use for fracking could strain water reserves, according to new research from the FracTracker Alliance, a non-profit organization that compiles data, maps and analyses about the impacts of the oil and gas industry. Midwest Energy News, United States. 17 June 2015.
The peer-reviewed study, “A Comprehensive Analysis of Groundwater Quality in the Barnett Shale Region,” was published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. The…
A comprehensive study of potential groundwater pollution from “unconventional oil and gas drilling” found widespread pollution in North Texas private and public drinking water. “The UT Arlington team tested 550 water samples collected from public and private water wells in North Texas’ Barnett Shale region over the past three years. It found elevated levels of 10 different metals as well as the presence of 19 different chemicals compounds including so-called BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene and xylenes) compounds associated with hydraulic fracturing. The study also found elevated levels of methanol and ethanol. Download the study HERE
A massive leak of fracking fluid poured into the streets of Arlington, Texas, two months ago and forced the evacuation of a hundred homes. Now city officials have taken Vantage Energy to task for its “unacceptable” handling of the 43,000-gallon spill…
Fracked natural gas from Florida Power & Light Co’s joint venture with PetroQuest Energy in Okalahoma is now flowing to FPL’s power plants. Customers are paying for the $191 million project through..
An underdog Texas city that tried to ban hydraulic fracturing bowed to heavy political and legal pressure Tuesday night and repealed its landmark ordinance after seven months. Denton made headlines…
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) – A federal judge is pressing U.S. officials to explain why it’s taken three decades to decide on a proposal to drill for natural gas just outside Glacier National Park in an area…
The movement of gas has become a surprisingly contentious issue in Oregon, yet the outrage can be selective. On one hand, proposed export facilities – notably the Jordan Cove project in Coos Bay and…
Report warns public must be given their say on fracking. The Scottish public must be given a genuine opportunity to influence the decision-making process on fracking and other unconventional gas developments, according to a report. Glasgow Herald, United Kingdom. 17 June 2015.
World could peak emissions by 2020, IEA says. But will it? It’s possible for world leaders to cut carbon and boost renewables enough that global emissions hit their upper limit in the next five years. The question is whether that goal is politically feasible through UN climate talks. Christian Science Monitor. 17 June 2015.
I’ve long thought about “energy independence.” You know, putting the U.S. in the position of not having to depend on anyone else for anything. Not having to owe anyone anything, either. Goodbye to..
Hillary would charge new fees for fossil fuel extraction. If elected, Clinton vows, she would seek to make the United States a “clean energy superpower” and pay for the transition in part with “additional fees and royalties from fossil fuel extraction.” High Country News. 17 June 2015.
As Hillary barnstorms South Carolina talking jobs, locals are mixed on what she can bring: ‘What’s she done for me? What’s President Obama done for me?’ Clinton speaks in South Carolina about jobs…
Canadians who think the world needs more Al Gore are in for a treat. Global warming’s guru will be in Canada next month, speaking at the rather grandly named “Climate Summit of the Americas”…
Americans are again getting more worried about the climate. Concern over global warming, having fallen after the financial crisis and President Obama’s election, has risen recently, Pew finds. New York Times. 17 June 2015.
How climate change deniers got it right – but very wrong. It turns out the climate change deniers were right: There isn’t 97 percent agreement among climate scientists. The real figure? It’s not lower, but actually higher. MSNBC. 17 June 2015
Catholic News Service WASHINGTON (CNS) — In a new Pew Research Center survey conducted prior to the release of Pope Francis’ encyclical focusing on the environment, U.S. Catholics were asked their…
But that stance puts many U.S. Republican lawmakers further to the right than the pope — whom some regard as “too liberal” — on an issue that is regularly debated in Congress and that President…
Pope doesn’t shy away from specifics in leaked climate encyclical. Contrary to some earlier predictions, Pope Francis delves into the scientific details of global warming and weighs in on specific policy ideas for curbing emissions. Science. 17 June 2015.
Pope’s views on climate change add pressure to Catholic candidates. As the steamy hurricane season descends on Miami, the city’s Roman Catholic archbishop, Thomas G. Wenski, is planning a summer of sermons, homilies and press events designed to highlight the threat that a warming planet. New York Times. 17 June 2015.
If there were a headquarters for U.S.-based opposition to Pope Francis’ climate change plans, it would be Chicago. That’s the home of the Heartland Institute, a libertarian public policy think tank.
Weather Channel launches climate series featuring conservatives, government leaders. The popular weather website and television network the Weather Channel has launched a dramatic video series on the impacts of climate change from the global security perspective featuring a bevy of conservative voices. ClimateWire. 17 June 2015.
This piece originally appeared on Recently, the Washington Post reported new data showing something most of us already sense: that increased polarization on Capitol Hill is due to the way the…
Barack Obama’s climate change initiative: $4 billion for clean energy. The White House unveiled Tuesday $4 billion in private-sector investment commitments to clean energy, doubling expectations. Christian Science Monitor. 17 June 2015.
GOP uses spending bills to move against EPA rules. Republicans in both chambers moved bills Tuesday to cut the Environmental Protection Agency budget and block several of its new regulations. The Hill, District of Columbia. 17 June 2015.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush formally announces his campaign for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination during a kickoff rally in Miami on Monday. (REUTERS/Joe Skipper) WASHINGTON, Iowa –..
WASHINGTON, Iowa (AP) – Jeb Bush cautioned against blending politics and religion Wednesday, signaling he will not necessarily heed the pope or pander to social conservatives on policy in his campaign…
Economically speaking, all 237 GOP presidential candidates are selling the same Magic Beans. Everybody knows the script. Tax cuts for wealthy “job creators” bring widespread prosperity. Top off…
The big four banks have lent six times as much to fossil fuels as they did to renewables since 2008. Photo: Jesse Marlow The big four banks have lent more than $36 billion to Australian fossil fuel…
Impoverish the world’s poor. There’s an argument over what trade agreements do to workers in the nation’s rich countries, but there is no question they have a positive impact on people in the poorer..
Why green spaces are good for your kid’s brain. In what appears to be the first study of its kind, a team of researchers find myriad benefits for schoolchildren who go to schools that feature lots of green spaces and natural scenery. Washington Post. 17 June 2015.
Chatham County, North Carolina, agrees to take coal ash landfill for $19 million. Chatham County officials have agreed not to oppose a coal ash landfill planned in their county in exchange for nearly $19 million from Duke Energy. Raleigh News & Observer, North Carolina. 17 June 2015.
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — A program designed to promote ethanol and biodiesel fuels will be expanded to companies using plant-based plastic, rubber and fiber in manufacturing products such as bottles…
Drinking water in Canadian cities not always tested for all contaminants. Many Canadian cities are falling short of testing drinking water for all possible harmful contaminants, and experts say the long-term consequences could be detrimental to people’s health, a CBC News investigation has found. CBC Canada. 17 June 2015.
STOCKHOLM (AP) — The growth of renewable energy outpaced that of fossil fuels in the electricity sector last year, with a record 135 gigawatts of capacity added from wind, solar, hydropower and other…
Charge your phone with your bike. Biking is super environmentally friendly, reduces congestion on already choked urban arteries and has health benefits, too. But if you weren’t already sold on the idea of becoming a two (or three) wheeler, here’s another benefit to add to the list: Cycling can also charge your favorite gadgets. OZY. 17 June 2015.
Big batteries, energy storage key to renewables’ future. As a new law moves the state toward renewable energy sources that could lessen its dependence on fossil fuels, Hawaii may join several other states in rolling out a secret weapon – big batteries. Climate Central. 17 June 2015.
Bacteria muscle into renewable energy conversation. Ozgur Sahin dreams of a future when panels floating on lakes and oceans generate renewable energy. But the panels the biophysicist from Columbia University has in mind don’t harvest wind or sunlight. Chemical & Engineering News. 17 June 2015.
Rising green energy levies ‘risk public backlash.’ Rising green levies on energy bills risk causing a public backlash that will undermine efforts to tackle climate change, a leading left-wing think tank has warned. The Telegraph, United Kingdom. 17 June 2015.
At site of 1970s transmission fight, a push for solar. A Colorado-based solar company has begun an ambitious plan this week to enroll 5,000 Minnesota homeowners by December in its community solar garden program. Midwest Energy News, United States. 17 June 2015.
Earth’s largest groundwater aquifers are past ‘sustainability tipping points.’ Humanity is rapidly depleting a third of the world’s largest groundwater aquifers, with the top three most stressed groundwater basins in the political hotspots of the Middle East, the border region between India and Pakistan, and the Murzuk-Djado Basin in northern Africa. Mashable. 17 June 2015.
China bets on ‘sponge cities’ to cope with flooding and drought. China used to rely on drainage systems to remove rainwater. But as extreme weather events increase, Chinese city planners have begun to give equal attention to new climate-resilient urban designs. ClimateWire. 17 June 2015.
California’s drought offers Canada lessons in crisis prevention. California’s struggle to ration water as it grapples with nearly four years of drought could be a glimpse into Western Canada’s future. CBC Canada. 17 June 2015.
L.A. County’s plan to capture stormwater could be state model. Amid a worsening drought, California water officials adopted new rules Tuesday aimed at capturing and reusing huge amounts of stormwater that have until now flowed down sewers and concrete rivers into the sea. Los Angeles Times. 17 June 2015.
Coalition: California farmers illegally taking river water. A group of public water agencies that serves millions of Californians asked the state on Tuesday to order farmers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta to stop irrigating their crops amid the relentless drought. Los Angeles KPCC Radio, California. 17 June 2015.
New NASA data show how the world is running out of water. The world’s largest underground aquifers – a source of fresh water for hundreds of millions of people – are being depleted at alarming rates, according to new NASA satellite data that provides the most detailed picture yet of vital water reserves hidden under the Earth’s surface. Washington Post. 17 June 2015.
North Carolina State researchers explore future of climate change on ecosystems. Scientists wonder how plants and animals will cope with gradually rising temperatures in the decades to come. An experiment in Orange County is giving researchers a glimpse into a warmer future. Raleigh WRAL TV, North Carolina. 17 June 2015.
Assam tea and climate change. Bad news for tea drinkers – a cup of tea is falling victim to the vagaries of the world’s changing climate. The famous tea of Assam, northeast India, is becoming increasingly difficult to grow as temperatures rise and rainfall is more unpredictable. Times of London, United Kingdom. 17 June 2015.
Palm giant Golden Agri renews green push after criticism on land use. Singapore-listed palm giant Golden Agri-Resources has renewed its commitment to sustainability to address customer concerns after an international body accused one of its Indonesian subsidiaries of breaching land acquisition rules. Reuters. 17 June 2015.
Superwheat Kernza could save our soil and feed us well. The Kansas-based Land Institute gets ready to debut its first perennial food, with the help of bakers, chefs, and distillers. Civil Eats. 17 June 2015.
Go veggie to save the planet, says world champion freerunner Tim Shieff. “You vote with your money for what you want to support. If you buy less meat and support the animal agriculture industry less, they’ll change,” says freerunner and activist Tim Shieff. The Guardian. 17 June 2015.
The internet of seals: how sensors for elephant seals tackle climate change. Smart connected trackers are making it easier to study animals – and find out how the world is reacting to global warming. The Guardian. 17 June 2015.
Ecologist to discuss warming and trout. The biggest danger to native trout, according to aquatic ecologist Clint Muhlfeld, is non-native populations like rainbow and lake trout. Invasive species mate with native species in a process called hybridization, which, once started, is “irreversible.” Jackson Hole News&Guide, Wyoming. 17 June 2015.
From climate change to polluted waters to pythons, there’s always something threatening the beauty and serenity of the Everglades ecosystem. The latest monster is a fungus, and it’s killing trees at a..