Fracking headlines

December 10, 2013

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Fracking by the Numbers: Key Impacts of Dirty Drilling at the State and National Level [Report]

Environment America
Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has fused two technologies—hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—in a highly polluting effort to unlock oil and gas in underground rock formations across the United States.

As fracking expands rapidly across the country, there are a growing number of documented cases of drinking water contamination and illness among nearby residents. Yet it has often been difficult for the public to grasp the scale and scope of these and other fracking threats. Fracking is already underway in 17 states, with more than 80,000 wells drilled or permitted since 2005. Moreover, the oil and gas industry is aggressively seeking to expand fracking to new states—from New York to California to North Carolina—and to areas that provide drinking water to millions of Americans.

This report seeks to quantify some of the key impacts of fracking to date—including the production of toxic wastewater, water use, chemicals use, air pollution, land damage and global warming emissions.

Read Press Release

Download Report
(3 October 2013)

Monterey Shale isn’t all it’s fracked up to be

Chris Nelder, Smart Planet
We’ve seen this movie before.

In February, coverage of California’s Monterey Shale exploded in the mainstream press. "The Next Oil Boom," shrieked CNBC. "Vast Oil Reserve May Now Be Within Reach," declared The New York Times. Investor’s Business Daily wondered if it could "save California." The Economist quoted the president of a small oil producer in the region, Santa Maria Energy, as saying that the formation would be "California’s way out of the ‘fiscal toilet’." Fox News gushed about the region’s potential for "making California the country’s top oil producer and revving up the state’s economy like a smaller shale-oil deposit did for North Dakota."

As usual, the purveyors of this pablum were mainly interested in generating buzz, not investigating the reality. And as usual, it worked…

Now, some 10 months after the ballyhooing in February, Canadian geoscientist David Hughes has blown the Monterey Shale story to bits, with a report offering the "first publicly available empirical analysis of actual oil production data from the Monterey Formation," published by Post Carbon Institute and Physicians, Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy…
(4 November 2013)
Link to the report

West Virginia Landfills Will Now Accept Unlimited Amounts Of Often Radioactive Fracking Waste

Katie Valentine, Think Progress
A memo released earlier this year in West Virginia gives the state’s landfills the ability to accept unlimited amounts of fracking waste, the AP reports.

The memo will create an exception for the state’s natural gas industry to longstanding laws on landfill waste, which stipulate that landfills can only take 10,000 or 30,000 tons of solid waste each month, depending on their classification. Now, fracking operations can send unlimited amounts of their solid waste — known as “drill cuttings” and composed of dirt, water, sand and chemicals — to landfills each month.

This exception has environmentalists in the state concerned. The Marcellus shale formation, which sits under much of West Virginia, has been found to have a higher level of radioactivity than other formations — last year, nearly 1,000 trucks hauling Marcellus Shale waste to Pennsylvania landfills were stopped after setting off radioactivity alarms. But unlike Pennsylvania, where waste that is deemed too radioactive is sent to radioactive waste disposal sites out of state, West Virginia doesn’t require waste to be tested for radioactivity.

Bill Hughes, chairman of the Wetzel County Solid Waste Authority in West Virginia, told the AP he thinks the state needs to look into the potential health risks of drill cuttings. This October in Wetzel county, a landfill that before was only able to accept 9,999 tons of solid waste each month accepted more than 40,000 tons, about 75 percent of which was from drill cuttings.

“Landfills have never seen a ton of waste they don’t want to take,” Hughes said. “Our state just sort of trusts the garbage guys.”

But while some residents of West Virginia question the state’s new rules, they aren’t the only ones to struggle with the problem of solid fracking waste. According to one report, Ohio’s municipal landfills are filling up with fracking wastes from other states, creating a “serious problem” in the state…
(8 December 2013)

Too Big to Believe: Top Economists Doubt California Oil Industry’s Jobs Figures

Robert Collier, James Barba , The Next Generation
This is Part 5 in our series on the Monterey Shale. In Part 1, Next Generation researcher Robert Collier outlined the technical challenges of developing the Monterey Shale oil field – and how a technique known as “matrix acidizing” may be the key to its development. In Part 2 we explored the risks of widespread HF use, and in Part 3 and Part 4 we took a look at the potential impacts of Monterey Shale development on California’s emissions goals.

The oil industry has been inflating its projections of jobs that could be created by a potential new California oil boom, according to independent economists who have reviewed the industry’s research and who say the state should cast a more skeptical eye on claims of a potential new oil boom in the Monterey Shale.

These economists’ view is bolstered by a little-publicized study from a top oil research firm that found little likelihood of a resurgence in oil production in California over the next one to two decades. Up until now, the runaway growth of shale oil and gas production in North Dakota, Texas and Pennsylvania have led some analysts to predict that California’s shale oil deposits, estimated to be the nation’s largest, could spawn a gusher of economic growth.

The oil industry has helped promote this vision, predicting millions of new jobs, a statewide boost in personal income as well as billions of dollars in tax revenues for the state and local governments. The most optimistic – and most widely publicized – of the economic projections are contained in a study published by researchers at the University of Southern California, and funded by the state’s main oil lobbying group. Several leading California economists have criticized the study’s methodology, baseline data and conclusions as “unreliable.”…
(5 December 2013)

Colorado Cities Sued Over Fracking Bans by Oil, Gas Group

Andrew Harris, Bloomberg
The Colorado Oil & Gas Association sued the cities of Fort Collins and Lafayette claiming their voter-enacted bans on the extraction of oil and natural gas are preempted by state laws regulating those resources.

The association seeks court orders permanently blocking the bans, according to copies of the complaints it provided. The filings couldn’t be immediately confirmed in Larimer and Boulder county court records.

Fort Collins voters on Nov. 5 chose to forbid all hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas for five years, according to the industry group’s complaint against the city, while Lafayette voters amended their city charter to bar oil and gas extraction.

“With 95 percent of all wells in Colorado hydraulically fractured, any ban on fracking is a ban on oil and gas development,” association President Tisha Schuller said in a statement announcing the filing…
(4 December 2013)

Tags: Economy, energy industry, Energy Policy, Fracking, Pollution, Shale gas, tight oil