By Tim Elfrink
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By Kyle Munzenrieder
By S. Pajot
By Tim Elfrink
By Tim Elfrink
By Kyle Munzenrieder
Expectedly, it ruled that the EPA was wrong, asserting that the gas was naturally occurring. The ruling caused the feds to backpedal.
In the end, Lipsky not only lost his case, but also was countersued by Range, claiming he was part of a conspiracy to defame the company by providing a "misleading" video and falsehoods to the media. Wilson was named as a co-conspirator.
"It's such bullshit," she says. "All [Lipsky] did is send me a video, and it was over a month after the EPA made their ruling. Like most of the blog, I'm just linking to stuff that's already out there. This is how insane and aggressive this company is... Industry can go on and say never once has there been a case where it has been proven, blah, blah, blah. But on the ground, we know better. We know that when they frack, our water gets contaminated."
Where the science of fracking is concerned, engineer Tony Ingraffea and geologist Terry Engelder agree on almost everything except this: "Tony thinks fracking should stop, and I don't," says Engelder, a Penn State geologist credited with discovering the state's potential for fracking. "I believe that economic health has to come before environmental health is worked out. Tony is arguing for environmental health at any cost."
In 2006, Dominion Exploration and Production contacted Engelder, asking whether extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale, which runs from Ohio to Maryland, would be worth its time. Engelder's calculations revealed that nearly 50 trillion cubic feet of fuel lay beneath the ground, making it the largest deposit in the country. "I kept looking at that number, thinking to myself, Merry Christmas, America," Engelder says.
But almost as soon as the fracking boom began in Pennsylvania, so did the disasters. The worst occurred in Dimock, a small town of 1,400 residents. In 2008, Cabot Oil & Gas began leasing land from residents. Even those who refused were told that gas would be extracted from under their land anyway, because Pennsylvania law allowed for drillers to capture gas from nearby properties.
Soon, residents complained that their water had turned brown. Nearby creeks ran bright red with contaminants. Families reported that their children were passing out in the shower. Livestock was dying.
Nearly 8,000 gallons of Halliburton-made "fracking fluid" leaked from faulty supply pipes, making its way into streams and killing fish.
Though Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection fined Cabot $360,000 for contaminating Dimock's water and failing to fix leaks, the federal EPA ruled in May that Dimock's drinking water was safe. The state, meanwhile, continues to insist that fracking isn't hazardous. "There has never been any evidence of fracking ever causing direct contamination of fresh groundwater in Pennsylvania or anywhere else," the DEP's Scott Perry once announced.
But while environmental regulators continue to see no evil, Cornell University engineer Tony Ingraffea is just as vigorous in warning of the dangers. "Four years later, the industry is still trying to figure out what to do with their crap," he says. "Bad things happened. And bad things continue to happen."
His biggest beef is with the industry's misinformation campaign. Despite all evidence to the contrary, gas companies claim it's impossible for fracking fluid to come in contact with drinking water.
"They are simply telling downright lies because they think people are stupid, but this is really street-smart stuff," he says.
One of Ingraffea's studies debunked the natural gas industry's claims of being green. Because fracking wells and holding tanks leak up to a trillion cubic feet of methane gas into the atmosphere each year, their greenhouse effects can prove to be even more polluting than burning coal.
The industry responded as it usually does — by paying handsomely to have his findings refuted.
One major study by MIT — "The Future of Natural Gas" — was funded by the American Clean Skies Foundation. The president of that group is none other than Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, the second-largest producer of natural gas.
Ingraffea sees it as part of a pattern where the industry buys off the country's most prestigious universities "like MIT to do pseudo-science."
Meanwhile, the Natural Gas Alliance, an industry lobbying group, shelled out $80 million to Hill and Knowlton Strategies, the same PR firm used by Big Tobacco to argue there was no link between smoking and cancer.
"The whole goal is to put a little seed of doubt in people's minds," Ingraffea says. "And for those who believe that they can get rich from leasing their land, there is a willing suspension of disbelief. But the real question is: How many bad things can go wrong right in front of your eyes before you finally accept the truth that this stuff is nasty and extremely dangerous?"
While the gas industry is busy paying scientists and politicians to minimize the risks of fracking, it's also greatly exaggerating its economic potential.
Like most opponents, Deborah Rogers didn't pay much attention to the boom until Chesapeake was about to drill a well only 100 feet from her property. After working in finance for years, she quit her job in 2003 to open an artisanal cheese-making operation on land she'd inherited in Fort Worth.
a. mcelroy quotes an Alberta regulator, good old Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, formerly Alberta Environment and Water, formerly Alberta Environment, formerly Alberta Environmental Protection.
Name changes, seems to happen whenever contamination events hit the papers in Alberta. The energy regulator seems partial to name changes as well, I suppose when they get caught spying on Albertans, it makes sense to try and shed their skins.
Alberta Environment makes it sound like our water wells are all energy disasters in Alberta, but if the gas is so prevalent in our water here (which it's not), why do they have to frack it?
In a report published by the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) 1995 and 1996 titled “Migration of Methane into Groundwater from Leaking Production Wells Near Lloydminster” 24,000 historic Alberta water well records were reviewed by the regulator, 17 (0.07%) reported “gas” present before oil and gas development (1935-53), 41 (0.17%) reported “gas” present after (1960-95).
This report is about 2 inches thick, I believe people can contact CAPP to purchase a copy.
Quote from a 1993 Husky report, “Could some part of the problem be attributable to ‘natural sources’ (eg swamp gas), which are using the wellbores as a conduit?”
- “A 2002 field study by Trican Well Service and Husky Energy reported that the percentage of leaking wells ranged from 12% in the Tangleflag area in eastern Alberta to as high as 80% in the Abbey gas field in southern Alberta32. In 2004 the ERCB reported that the number of leaking gas wells in the Wabanum Lake area increased from none in 1990 to more than 140 in 2004.33
- A peer reviewed paper36 published in 2009 by the Society of Petroleum Engineers co-authored by the ERCB states that the regulator ‘records well leakage at the surface as surface-casing-vent flow (SCVF) through wellbore annuli and gas migration (GM) outside the casing, as reported by industry’ and maintains information on ‘casing failures’ but that details are ‘not publicly available.’ The paper reports that ‘SCVF is commonly encountered in the oil and gas industry….high buildup pressures may potentially force gas into underground water aquifers’ and that soil GM occurs when deep or shallow gas migrates up outside the wellbore ‘through poorly cemented surface casing.’ The paper concluded that the factors affecting wellbore leakage ‘can be generalized and applied to other basins and/or jurisdictions.’”
a. mcelroy says: “Thermogenic methane comes from natural gas drilling and it can be tested for as it was in Mr. Mayer's case. The article states the DEC "staff concluded that the gas in Mr. Mayer's well was naturally occurringt" meaning that he had biogenic methane.”
Aren’t biogenic and thermogenic methane both ‘naturally occurring?’ No one put them there. And since companies are frac’ing for both, vertically, horizontally, deep and shallow, with all the leaky energy wells, I imagine it’s a bit of a crap shoot on which one, or both, are responsible for the contamination and blowing up of water wells, water towers and homes.
From “A Primer for understanding Canadian Shale Gas – Energy Briefing Note” by the National Energy Board, November 2009:
“…As mud turns into shale during shallow burial, generally just a few hundred metres deep, in the “nursery”, bacteria feed on the available organic matter (up to 10 per cent of the rock volume but generally less than five per cent) and release biogenic methane as a byproduct (Figure 3). Natural gas is also generated during deep burial while the shale is in the “kitchen”, generally several kilometres deep, where heat and pressure crack the organic matter, including any oil already produced by the same heat and pressure, into smaller hydrocarbons, creating thermogenic methane (Figure 3). Some of the oil and gas manages to escape and migrate into the more porous rock of conventional reservoirs. In fact, the vast bulk of the world’s conventional reserves of oil and gas were generated in and escaped from organic-rich shales. But some oil and gas does not escape, as it is either trapped in the micropore spaces or attached to the organic matter within the shale. For example, the natural gas produced from the Second White Specks Shale of Alberta and Saskatchewan comes from shallow burial (it is shallow enough that gas is still being generated by bacteria), while the natural gas from the Devonian Horn River Basin and Triassic Montney shales was generated during deep burial. The Utica Shale of Quebec has both shallow and deep sections and there is potential for both biogenic and thermogenic natural gas, respectively.
… Vertical wells targeting biogenic shale gas, like in the Colorado Shale, are far less expensive: the resource is shallow and the wells cost less than $350,000 each.
… In the Wildmere area of Alberta, the Colorado Shale is approximately 200 metres thick, from which natural gas has potential to produce from five intervals. … Furthermore, the gas produced in the Colorado has biogenic rather than thermogenic origins.
… Biogenic gas can be found in the Utica in shallow areas, while thermogenic methane can be found in medium-deep and structured shales (Figures 13 and 14). The reservoir has an advantage over others in that it is folded and faulted, which increases the potential for the presence of natural fractures (Figure 4).
Only a handful of wells have been drilled in the Utica, most of them vertical.
… Drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells can be water-intensive procedures; however, there is very limited Canadian experience from which to estimate potential environmental impacts.”
“Calgary-based Mooncor Oil & Gas Corp. wants to develop a resource in Ontario that has been largely overlooked by its rivals: shale gas. …
… What about Ontario’s own shale resources? “The question obviously comes up,” said Terry Carter, petroleum resources geologist with Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources. … Carter said the Marcellus zone doesn’t offer much in Ontario. “Almost all of it is beneath Lake Erie,” he said. “Kettle Point and Blue Mountain would appear to have better potential.” Both have what Carter described as biogenic gas, created when bacteria in fresh water come in contact with organic-rich bedrock. The bacteria eat the organic material and produce methane. ‘The natural gas is being produced in real time, just like in a landfill site,’"
And finally, as a. mcelroy seems so enamoured with what our Alberta regulators have to say, the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) formerly the Alberta Energy and Utilities Board (AEUB or EUB), formerly the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) admits that:
The potential for hydraulic fracturing to contaminate “useable water aquifers” with fracturing fluid chemicals and natural gas “is a recognized risk” – http://www.ercb.ca/reports/r2011-A.pdf
But, as in the US, when those risks become reality, they ignore us, blame nature, and try to bury it. http://www.ernstversusencana.ca/
Mcelroy uses the only tool in his bag. Deny there's a problem until you cannot keep it hidden anymore and then throw money at it. That seems to be the industry answer to everything. Here is the story about the Leightons in PA who have Chesapeake (CHK) gas migrating into their well and into their home from a gas pad over 1/2 mile from their home. DEP says without a doubt that it IS CHK's gas. Its not being quickly handled or resolved by CHK's cheesy vents. http://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2012/08/28/more-than-three-months-later-methane-gas-is-still-leaking-in-bradford-countyThen there iss the story of the Hallowich family also in PA who's home was ruined by Range Resources. After years of fighting they finally reached a settlement that they aren't allowed to speak about because Range insisted the records be sealed. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/10/photogalleries/101022-energy-shale-gas-drilling-pictures
Ask Mcelroy how many Hallowichs there are across the country. How many people have been forced to remain quiet in order to have the problems caused by shale gas drilling "quickly handled and resolved." Truth is that no one knows. Could be 20, could be 2000. No one knows because no one is keeping records of that.
The title of this story is completely misleading and wrong. Wells using high volume hydraulic fracturing (the process called fracking that anti gas drilling activist are against) have been drilled all over PA, Ohio, WV and Texas without environmental disaster or any significant problems. Have some landowners complained, yes? Have many of these complaints been investigated by environmental agencies in these states and been found to be unrelated to natural gas drilling, yes! Have there been very rare instances of problems, yes, but the problems been quickly handled and resolved by natural gas drillers and government agencies. Therefore, have there or will there be any environmental disasters, no! In addition, Mr. Mayer's story here is an example of someone complaining that natural gas damaged their water when it in fact had nothing to do with it!
The problems Mr. Mayer experienced are from naturally occurring biogenic methane. "Methane gas occurs naturally in groundwater aquifers in most geological sedimentary basins worldwide . . . Methane gas exists in a dissolved state in groundwater underground and will “bubble out” when pumped to the surface. For those on private water well supplies, spurting taps is a common result of this phenomenon." Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development http://environment.alberta.ca/02883.html. Thermogenic methane comes from natural gas drilling and it can be tested for as it was in Mr. Mayer's case. The article states the DEC "staff concluded that the gas in Mr. Mayer's well was naturally occurringt" meaning that he had biogenic methane. In the movie "Truthland" (free to watch online) a man in New York lights his water on fire and there was no drilling anywhere near his property. Sound familiar to this story?
One can actually make the inference that Mr. Mayer would benefit from natural gas drilling. In fact, he already has to the tune of $58,200. That was simply his signing bonus for signing a lease on his 97 acre property and no drilling was ever done there. I am guessing most people would not mind getting that much money just for signing their name. Mr. Mayer is actually upset he is not getting more money. The 17% he refers to is his natural gas drilling royalty payment. Landowners get royalty when drillers drill, and then sell, the gas that is underneath your property. The royalty is actually a share of the revenue from drilling, in this case he would get 17% of all revenue from the well. If High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing was allowed in New York Mr. Mayer and the other landowners around him could be receiving thousands of dollars an acre in royalties per year in addition to their original bonus payments. Let's say his 17% royalty netted him $1,000 an acre per year for ten years (modest estimates given the current production of Marcellus wells), that's $970,000! Sounds like he is upset that he's not getting that money and the only way he would get it if from safe natural gas drilling under his property. Landowners in PA, OH and WV are already getting these types of royalties without any environmental or water problems whatsoever. I have met and spoken to many of them but again, as mentioned above, there will always be landowners who complain. Unfortunately many complaints are founded on the jealousy that another landowner is getting more more money than them. This actually seems to be Mr. Mayer's main issue.
In conclusion, Mr. Mayer got $58,2000 (alot of money for most people) for doing nothing and he seems to be upset primarily because he wants more money. The biogenic methane in his well is naturally occuring and if drilling were allowed it would actually give him and thousands of other upstate New Yorkers (including struggling farmers) money in their pockets. Natural Gas Drilling is highly regulated and is being done safely without damage to water supplies or the environment. It should be allowed in New York but unfortunately it has been banned for four years and the ban continues. If the ban is lifted and Mr. Mayer eventually gets his royalty money without any adverse affects you won't hear him complaining about drilling anymore.
Note about me: I work for a Western New York based land service company that serves both oil and gas clients and renewable energy clients. I care about the environment and would not support this process if it really did damage the environment or ruined water supplies. The facts show that this process does not destroy the environment or ruin water supplies and I believe it's important to get that message out because there is alot of misleading and false information out there from anti-drilling activists. There will always be rare accidents, as with any industrial process, but previous accidents that have happened with natural gas drilling have been fixed and did not have any long term impacts. It makes no sense to completely ban an activity that benefits millions of people because there is a risk of an accident, especially ones that can be fixed. Natural gas drilling has already lowered the energy costs for millions of homeowners across the country (just look at your home gas bill) and reduced US carbon emissions to 1992 levels! You can find me at @atmcelroy.
@a.mcelroy bla bla bla...your pay check depends on fracking people. I live in Arlington TX ground zero to 55-60 padsites in URBAN areas. If you care about the truth, then you'd help me advocate for responsible drilling (there is no such thing as safe drilling).
1) use electric rigs
2) invent frac sand catchers that work so we don't have to breathe in toxic, silica dust during fracturing.
3) Flowback into open hatch containers using SCRUBBERS so the steamy, white clouds of hydrocarbons don't go into our neighborhoods and schools.
4) mud farming and spreading brine on roads is NOT safe so test and post the results and prove our food is safe from this run off stuff
5) Green Completion equipment should be immediate or stop until you have the equipment. We should have to wait 2.5 years because man made global warming is happening now. Don't confuse warming and cooling periods with cylical events.
6) Cement casings fail-they rot...migration happens-please invent another material that stands the test of time.
7) Stainless Steel is corroded by brine waters...the two don't mix so don't marry them! If you think that methanol will stop the corrision...then tell my body not to metabolize methanol into formaldehyde...cause once migration happens from rotted casings (injection wells too) and once it take years to get into our water...I don't want to be prematurely injected with formaldehyde like in a morgue-I want to die a natural death.
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