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Frackers Fund University Research That Proves Their Case

Jim Efstathiou Jr, Bloomberg
Pennsylvania remains the largest U.S. state without a tax on natural gas production, thanks in part to a study released under the banner of the Pennsylvania State University.

The 2009 report predicted drillers would shun Pennsylvania if new taxes were imposed, and lawmakers cited it the following year when they rejected a 5 percent tax proposed by then- Governor Ed Rendell.

“As an advocacy tool, it worked,” Michael Wood, research director with the non-profit Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, said in an interview. “If people wanted to find a reason to vote against having the industry taxed in that way, that gave them reason to do it.”

What the study didn’t do was note that it was sponsored by gas drillers and led by an economist, now at the University of Wyoming, with a history of producing industry-friendly research on economic and energy issues. The researcher, Tim Considine, said his analysis was sound and not biased by industry funding…
(23 July 2012)

Doing Some Math on Fracking Propaganda

reader bob of upstate New York, Naked Capitalism
A story by the Associated Pressthat tried to do some jusitsu on fracking critics , claiming they were guilty of the same practices they accused the industry of using, namely, using bad science, ironically, it included a pro-fracking example of the same.

While there are many logical inconsistencies within this piece, the one major issue with fracking, waste water, is given a great spin:

An analysis by The Associated Press of data from Pennsylvania found that of the 10.1 million barrels of shale wastewater generated in the last half of 2011, about 97 percent was either recycled, sent to deep-injection wells, or sent to a treatment plant that doesn’t discharge into waterways.

This is artful. Lets start from the beginning of the fracking process. Each well requires between 5-10 million gallons of fresh water (depending on the industry source for the estimate). We’ll give the frackers the benefit of the doubt and go with 5 million gallons of water per well.
(24 July 2012)

Industry money and questionable ethics contaminate UT Austin fracking study

David Wogan, Scientific American
Remember that study out of The University of Texas last February that concluded there wasn’t a direct link between fracking and groundwater contamination? It caught flack for seeming to being too easy on the fracking industry by suggesting that there wasn’t a direct link between cracking shale and groundwater contamination. The study was great news for an industry fighting a PR battle over a politically-charged issue.

However, financial ties to the fracking industry were never mentioned in all of the announcements about the study, and not known until a new study put out Monday by the Public Accountability Initiative. The study’s leader, Dr. Charles “Chip” Groat has significant financial ties to the fracking industry, to the tune of a couple of million dollars. From State Impact Texas:

Groat, a former Director of the U.S. Geological Survey and professor at the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin, also sits on the board of Plains Exploration and Production Company, a Houston-based company that conducts drilling and fracking in Texas and other parts of the country. According to the new report (and a review of the company’s financial reports by Bloomberg) Groat received more than $400,000 from the drilling company last year alone, more than double his salary at the University. And one of the shales examined in Groat’s fracking study is currently being drilled by the company, the report says.

Since 2007, Groat has received over $1.5 million in cash and stock awards from the company, and he currently holds over $1.6 million in company stock, according to the PAI report.

It’s hard for me to read this news because I have taken courses from Dr. Groat and value his wealth of experience. But this is damaging to himself and the University…
(24 July 2012)

Nationwide Mutual Declines to Cover Fracking

John Daly,
Nationwide Mutual has become the first insurance company to decline coverage for claims related to hydraulic fracturing, a controversial energy production known as “fracking.”

In a press statement “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” posted on its website on 13 July, the Columbus, Ohio firm laid out in detail the reasons for its decision. “Gas and oil drilling has been going on in this country for many years in the west and southwest. Fracking is another variation of the gas and oil business. In recent years, oil and gas exploration has come to New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio.”

Seeking to downgrade the possible impression that the statement represents a radical change of direction, the press release continued, “Nationwide has not changed our policies or guidelines, nor are we cancelling policies. Fracking-related losses have never been a covered loss under personal or commercial lines policies. Nationwide’s personal and commercial lines insurance policies were not designed to provide coverage for any fracking-related risks.”…
(20 July 2012)

U.S. calls New York anti-drilling lawsuit premature

Jessica Dye, Thomson Reuters
A lawyer for the U.S. government asked a federal court on Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit brought by New York state challenging proposed natural gas development in the Delaware River Basin.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Levy said New York could not challenge regulations that would allow development to go ahead until those regulations had been finalized.

New York and environmental groups sued the U.S. government in 2011 seeking environmental studies to determine the effect of gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin, which supplies water to about 15 million people…
(24 July 2012)