Category Archives: Fracking

U.S. Geological Survey: Fracking Waste Is the Primary Cause of the Dramatic Rise in Earthquakes

By Jen Hayden
Beaver County Blue via DailyKOS

Feb 23, 2015 – The U.S. Geological Survey has backed-up what scientists have been suggesting for years–that deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes:

    Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity that has caused considerable public concern as well as damage to structures. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes.

    Instead, the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs. These modern extraction techniques result in large quantities of wastewater produced along with the oil and gas. The disposal of this wastewater by deep injection occasionally results in earthquakes that are large enough to be felt, and sometimes damaging. Deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes and the corresponding increase in seismic hazard in the central U.S. 

    “The science of induced earthquakes is ready for application, and a main goal of our study was to motivate more cooperation among the stakeholders — including the energy resources industry, government agencies, the earth science community, and the public at large — for the common purpose of reducing the consequences of earthquakes induced by fluid injection,” said coauthor Dr. William Ellsworth, a USGS geophysicist.

Emphasis added. In the last five years alone, Oklahoma has detected a staggering 2500 earthquakes. Scientists involved in the study are calling for a dramatic increase in transparency and cooperation:

    “In addition to determining the hazard from induced earthquakes, there are other questions that need to be answered in the course of coping with fluid-induced seismicity,” said lead author of the study, USGS geophysicist Dr. Art McGarr. “In contrast to natural earthquake hazard, over which humans have no control, the hazard from induced seismicity can be reduced. Improved seismic networks and public access to fluid injection data will allow us to detect induced earthquake problems at an early stage, when seismic events are typically very small, so as to avoid larger and potentially more damaging earthquakes later on.”

‘Fracking’ Not So Danger-Free After All…Where Are Our Wind Turbines and Solar Arrays?

Fracking Fliud ‘impoundment’ in Washington, PA

Range Resources to pay $4M for violations at Western Pa. Impoundments

By Katie Colaneri

Beaver County Blue via NPR.org

Sept 18, 2014 – Range Resources will pay a $4.15 million fine for violations at six wastewater impoundments in Washington County. It is the largest penalty the state has imposed on a shale gas driller, the Department of Environmental Protection said Thursday.

The violations include leaks of flowback fluid – the liquid that comes back out of a well after hydraulic fracturing – into soil and groundwater. The DEP said drinking water supplies were not affected. Residents living near Range’s Yeager impoundment in Amwell Township dispute that claim and have filed suit against the company.

The Yeager impoundment is among the five the company has agreed to close as part of a consent agreement reached with the state. Range will also upgrade two others to meet what the DEP calls “next generation” standards.

“This landmark consent order establishes a new, higher benchmark for companies to meet when designing future impoundments, which is an environmental win for Pennsylvania,” said DEP secretary Chris Abruzzo in a press release.

The Texas-based company issued a nearly two-page statement outlining an “update” to its water management plans in Pennsylvania, including “thicker and better engineered liners” and real-time leak detection systems for two impoundments.

“While the company is deeply disappointed that these violations occurred, Range is excited to implement newly established best practices and technologies that have been jointly developed with the DEP over the last several months and years,” the statement reads.

Western PA: Fracking Study Finds New Gas Wells Leak More Than Old Ones

By SETH BORENSTEIN

Beaver County Blue via Associated Press

WASHINGTON DC, July 3, 2014 — In Pennsylvania’s gas drilling boom, newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones, according to a study of state inspection reports for 41,000 wells.

The results suggest that leaks of methane could be a problem for drilling across the nation, said study lead author Cornell University engineering professor Anthony Ingraffea, who heads an environmental activist group that helped pay for the study.

The research was criticized by the energy industry. Marcellus Shale Coalition spokesman Travis Windle said it reflects Ingraffea’s "clear pattern of playing fast and loose with the facts."

The Marcellus shale formation of plentiful but previously hard-to-extract trapped natural gas stretches over Pennsylvania, West Virginia and New York.

The study was published Monday by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

A team of four scientists analyzed more than 75,000 state inspections of gas wells done in Pennsylvania since 2000.

Continue reading Western PA: Fracking Study Finds New Gas Wells Leak More Than Old Ones

Reasons to Dump Corbett, Strengthen Regulators and Tax Frackers—If You Needed Them

Central Pa. firm charged with improperly disposing drilling waste

Beaver County Blue via The Associated Press

June 6, 2014 – HARRISBURG — A north-central Pennsylvania waste cleanup firm and its owner improperly disposed of toxic natural gas drilling waste, the state attorney general’s office said in charges filed today.

Minuteman Environmental Services and Brian Bolus, who owns the Milton-based company, were charged in Union County with unlawful conduct, while Mr. Bolus was also facing conspiracy charges, prosecutors said.

Mr. Bolus, 43, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Witnesses told a grand jury that between 2010 and 2013, employees washed out trucks or equipment containing drilling wastewater, mud or cuttings onto the ground at company properties in Harrisburg and Milton. Prosecutors said they have evidence it drained into a small waterway by the Harrisburg property. They also said drilling waste was stored in leaking containers on company properties.

State environmental regulators said they had not issued permits for the activity.

“Brian Bolus and Minuteman blatantly exploited hard-working employees, dozens of businesses and the environment,” Attorney General Kathleen Kane said in a statement.

A 48-page grand jury presentment also recommended other charges against Mr. Bolus, two related firms and his mother, father, brother, sister and father’s fiancee stemming from other alleged conspiracies that do not involve environmental crimes.

In one alleged conspiracy, prosecutors accused Mr. Bolus and Minuteman of overbilling clients, including many of the major natural gas exploration companies that have flocked to Pennsylvania in the last five years to explore the Marcellus Shale, the nation’s largest-known natural gas formation. The alleged overbilling reaching into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, in a separate alleged conspiracy, Bolus family members were essentially ghost employees at firms owned by Brian Bolus or his father, allowing them to submit a half-million dollars in fraudulent health insurance claims and drive up insurance premiums for company employees, prosecutors said.

All told, three companies owned by Brian Bolus and three companies owned by his father were charged, prosecutors said.

The investigation became public in May 2013, when the FBI and state Department of Environmental Protection searched Minuteman’s office in Milton.

Gov. Tom Corbett visited Minuteman in 2012 as part of an effort to drum up support for his state budget proposal, calling the company “an American success story.” The Central Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce named Minuteman its business of the year in 2012.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/#ixzz343DPtiGl

Arrogance of Power: Frackers Gagging Susquehanna Citizen From Speaking Out

An Injunction Against the First Amendment

By Walter Brasch

Beaver County Blue via Moderate Voice

March 20, 2014 – Vera Scroggins of Susquehanna County, Pa., will be in court, Monday morning.

This time, she will have lawyers and hundreds of thousands of supporters throughout the country. Representing Scroggins to vacate an injunction limiting her travel will be lawyers from the ACLU and Public Citizen, and a private attorney.

The last time Scroggins appeared in the Common Pleas Court in October, she didn’t have lawyers. That’s because Judge Kenneth W. Seamans refused to grant her a continuance.

When she was served papers to appear in court, it was a Friday. On Monday, she faced four lawyers representing Cabot Oil and Gas Corp., one of the nation’s largest drillers. Seamans told the 63-year-old grandmother and retired nurse’s aide that to grant a continuance would inconvenience three of Cabot’s lawyers who came from Pittsburgh, more than 250 miles away. He also told her she might have to pay travel and other costs for the lawyers if she was successful in getting a continuance.

And so, Cabot presented its case against Scroggins.

The lawyers claimed she blocked access roads to Cabot drilling operations. They claimed she continually trespassed on their property. They claimed she was a danger to the workers.

Scroggins agreed that she used public roads to get to Cabot properties. For five years, Scroggins has led tours of private citizens and government officials to show them what fracking is, and to explain what it is doing to the health and environment.

Continue reading Arrogance of Power: Frackers Gagging Susquehanna Citizen From Speaking Out

Environmentalists Call for Ban on Fracking in Ohio After Earthquakes

Photo: Environmental groups are calling for a ban on fracking in Ohio after a series of small earthquakes erupted near an active fracking site last week.

By Mike Ludwig
Beaver County Blue via Truthout

March 18, 2014 – Ohio regulators ordered the Texas-based firm Hilcorp Energy to shut down its fracking operations in rural northeastern Ohio after five temblors ranging from 2.1 to 3.0 in magnitude were recorded March 10 and March 11 in the area. The US Geological Survey reported that the epicenter of the first and largest quake was directly below a landfill where Hilcorp was fracking. Local residents felt the quakes but did not report any serious damage.

Officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), which regulates oil and gas production in the state, said initial data indicated that the earthquakes were not related to drilling wastewater injection wells, which have been linked to small earthquakes in Ohio, Oklahoma and other states. If investigators link the quakes to Hilcorp’s production operations, it would be the first time that the fracking process has directly caused documented earthquakes in Ohio, if not the entire United States.

Fracking involves forcing millions of gallons of water and chemicals into underground wells to break up rock and release oil and natural gas. Wastewater that returns to the surface during the operation often is disposed of in underground injection wells. Ohio has become a popular destination for the waste, and more than 180 injection wells store waste across the state.

Continue reading Environmentalists Call for Ban on Fracking in Ohio After Earthquakes

Josh Fox’s ‘Gasland’ Sequel Opens

A Return Tour Through a Land of Abandoned Homes and Broken Promises

By Alison Rose Levy

Beaver County Blue via Alternet

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org [3].

April 22, 2013 – Gasland Part II, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, takes us deep into the heartland of America, a land overtaken by gas extraction via fracking. The iconic and recurring depictions of water-on-fire seen in the first Gasland, in the new film serve as postcards from a travelogue through a land of broken promises, abandoned homes, and extinguished rights.

The first Gasland, (which was released in 2010 and nominated for a 2011 Academy Award) became this country’s wake-up call about fracking, the first prod for millions to look beyond the industry-engineered PR facade. Banjo music played throughout the soundtrack revealed director Josh Fox’s chosen musical instrument. But Fox became a kind of Pied Piper for a growing grass roots movement that questioned the need for fracking. Challenging the inroads claimed by the multinational gas and oil industry, fractivism is a popular and youth-driven pushback that these powerful industries are neither accustomed nor equipped to deal with.

Gasland and Gasland Part II (and films like them) unmask the human debt incurred by an array of corporate Goliaths. It turns the lens on those joining the ranks of the Davids—ordinary citizens that awaken from the American dream to discover their way of life has been redefined by impersonal corporate entities, intent on constructing new superhighways towards profits‑—right over the lives of tens of thousands of people.

Gasland Part II continues Fox’s exploration by offering textured, in-depth profiles of half a dozen or so families in geographically diverse locations, from Australia, to Wyoming to Pennsylvania. Fox’s camera takes us into the homes of straight-talking folks who worked hard to secure their corner of the heartland.

Continue reading Josh Fox’s ‘Gasland’ Sequel Opens

Activists Oppose Shale Drilling in Lawrence County

Fracking protesters gather Sunday before a giant papier-mache pig along Mount Jackson Road in South Beaver, Lawrence County. The protesters chose the pig because of a drilling site019s proximity to a nearby organic farm, where pigs are raised, and what they termed a 01Cpiggish gas industry. (Julia Rendleman/Post-Gazette)

By Janice Crompton 

January 28, 2013 – Maggie Henry won’t feed her livestock soybeans because she is worried that the beans have been genetically modified. Instead, the organic farmer from South Beaver, Lawrence County, grows her own wheat and other grains to feed her pigs, chickens, cows and other livestock.

But that isn’t Mrs. Henry’s chief concern these days.

Just 4,100 feet from Mrs. Henry’s green pastures lies a gas well operated by Shell Appalachia.

And Mrs. Henry isn’t the only local resident concerned about the well, where a group of about two dozen activists staged a protest Sunday afternoon.

With shirts that read "Protect Farms for our Future," four of the protesters latched themselves to a 7-foot by 12-foot papier-mache pig, meant to represent the "piggish gas industry," Mrs. Henry said, as well as the livestock at her farm.

Continue reading Activists Oppose Shale Drilling in Lawrence County

Fracking In Pennsylvania Sets Up Dilemma For Locals:

Quick Money Or Long-Term Health Concerns?

By Lynn Peeples

Huffington Post

POINT MARION, Pa. — Dave Cogar counts down the days until he’s fracked.

Through a haze of cigarette smoke at the Brass Rail bar here, he laments about living on welfare. He still finds jobs where he can — working construction or fixing computers around this small town south of Pittsburgh — but he says he’s fallen short of creating the life he wants for himself and his teenage son.

So he’s come to the conclusion that natural gas hidden in the Marcellus Shale, thousands of feet beneath his rural Pennsylvania land, may offer him a second chance.

About a year ago, he signed a lease with Chevron, one of a handful of energy companies vying for rights to tap the abundant underground gas in this area. Now Cogar awaits an anticipated windfall of up to $300,000 a year for the next decade or so, according to his own estimates using figures a lease salesman ballparked for him, as well as the written conditions of his lease. The money won’t flow in until Chevron starts injecting pressurized fluids into the ground to fracture shale rock and forage for gas, the controversial process known as "fracking," but Cogar believes it will happen soon. Chevron declined to discuss the details of their agreement with Cogar.

"It should be safe, and the money looks good. Now it’s just the waiting. Like Tom Petty says, that’s the hardest part," said the bald-headed and goatee-chinned Cogar between sips of beer. He began belting lines from the song — and other Petty classics — a few moments later, attracting the attention of fellow bar patrons.

The natural gas rush is on in Pennsylvania, as well as in a growing number of other shale gas-rich states such as Texas, Wyoming and Colorado. New York and Illinois are primed to join in. For residents living near the drilling, the easy money to be had by ceding their land to drillers often competes with their concerns about drilling’s impact on their health and well-being.

Continue reading Fracking In Pennsylvania Sets Up Dilemma For Locals:

Western PA Cows in Trouble, Too

Livestock Falling Ill in Fracking Regions, Raising Concerns About Food

By Elizabeth Royte
Beaver County Blue via Food and Environment Reporting Network

In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying.

While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.

Earlier this year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.

The authors compiled 24 case studies of farmers in six shale-gas states whose livestock experienced neurological, reproductive, and acute gastrointestinal problems after being exposed—either accidentally or incidentally—to fracking chemicals in the water or air. The article, published in New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy, describes how scores of animals died over the course of several years.

Continue reading Western PA Cows in Trouble, Too