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--- Fracking news update

Published by waner in fracking · 25/4/2015 19:46:00
Tags: fracking
Fracking companies going bankrupt

Bloomberg Business News is reporting that "Half of U.S. Fracking Companies Will Be Dead or Sold This Year."

Half of the 41 fracking companies operating in the U.S. will be dead or sold by year-end because of slashed spending by oil companies, an executive with Weatherford International Plc said.

There could be about 20 companies left that provide hydraulic fracturing services, Rob Fulks, pressure pumping marketing director at Weatherford, said in an interview Wednesday at the IHS CERAWeek conference in Houston. Demand for fracking, a production method that along with horizontal drilling spurred a boom in U.S. oil and natural gas output, has declined as customers leave wells uncompleted because of low prices.

Fracking -- a feminist issue?

As the Washington Times recently reported:

In an April 6 lecture at the University of Pittsburgh, biologist Sandra Steingraber of New Yorkers Against Fracking described the fight over oil and natural gas development as a feminist issue.

“Fracking as an industry serves men. Ninety-five percent of the people employed in the gas fields are men. When we talk about jobs, we’re talking about jobs for men, and we need to say that,” Ms. Steingraber says in a video posted on YouTube by the industry-backed group Energy in Depth.

“The jobs for women are ‘hotel maid’ and ‘prostitute,’” she says. “So when fracking comes into a community, what we see is that women take a big hit, especially single women who have children who depend on rental housing.”

Not surprisingly, the fracking industry answered:

Supporters of the industry swung back by citing a 2014 report from the American Petroleum Institute, which found that women filled 226,000 oil, gas and petrochemical industry jobs, or 19 percent of those jobs.

Is fracking increasing the radon in our homes?

West Virginia Public Broadcasting is reporting on a study that suggests a possible link between fracking and radon gas in homes:

A new study of a radioactive, carcinogenic gas has grabbed the attention of news outlets and both pro and anti-fracking groups alike. The study published earlier this month says increases of radon gas in people’s homes in Pennsylvania coincide with the horizontal drilling boom. Some geological researchers in the region are skeptical while others aren’t at all surprised.

--- More front-page PR for GreenHunter

Published by waner in fracking · 6/2/2015 09:52:27
Tags: Intelligencerfracking

Fair and Balanced

Today, Managing Editor John McCabe, ignoring the previous sloppy reporting on the subject by his "newspaper," took his turn defending GreenHunter on the front page of the Intelligencer: "GreenHunter Disputes Coast Guard Assertion Over Barging Drilling Waste." Like the previous two reports from Casey Junkins, McCabe's report is mostly a reworking of GreenHunter's recent PR releases. (Actually, 222 words of the 480 word article are not even a reworking -- they are direct quotes from GreenHunter press releases.) McCabe does include a one-sentence quote from Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Chad Saylor and he mentions Lt. Commander Joe Klinker (so he can claim to be "fair and balanced") but most of the report is devoted to airing GreenHunter's position.

--- Rewriting PR releases rather than actually reporting from the Intelligencer

Published by waner in fracking · 5/2/2015 09:33:46
Tags: Intelligencer


Yesterday, in the middle of the front page, with the largest font on the page, the Wheeling Intelligencer proclaimed "GreenHunter Gets Coast Guard's OK."  (see below)

Today, buried in the bottom left corner of the front page, the Wheeling Intelligencer tells us "Coast Guard Denies Giving GreenHunter Permission."

What happened? I don't know for sure but let me speculate. Reading between the lines of today's story, yesterday's report was most likely a rewrite of a press release from GreenHunter since one of the Intelligencer's primary functions is to be an outlet for the public relation's releases of the fossil fuel industry. Still, the announcement of the Coast Guard's approval would be big news and you would think that Casey Junkins would have double-checked with the Coast Guard before publishing. Obviously not -- we had to wait for a reporter from a real newspaper to ask the Coast Guard about the approval. Katelyn Ferral from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published an article online at 2:48 PM yesterday:

The U.S. Coast Guard has denied statements by GreenHunter Resources that it has given the Texas-based water management company clearance to ship wastewater from shale drillers by barge along the Ohio River.

I noted it below and by 10 PM last night a number of additional sources had picked-up or linked to Ferral's article.

Today's article does include some quotes from a Coast Guard official and it sort of tries to explain what happened. Luckily for Junkins, the Intelligencer's policy appears to be to never question what an energy company says or does and so he probably won't have to write a column publicly apologizing for his error.

--- Did Green Hunter get the Coast Guard's OK?

Published by waner in fracking · 4/2/2015 17:25:47
Tags: fracking

This is interesting!

Both of today's Wheeling papers carried the news that the Coast Guard had approved Green Hunter's application to ship frack waste on the Ohio River. Casey Junkins quotes Green Hunter's CEO:

"The U.S. Coast Guard approval is a significant win for both GreenHunter Resources and our valued clients," said Kirk Trosclair, chief operating officer for GreenHunter Resources, parent firm of GreenHunter Water. "Our ability to transport disposal volumes via barge will significantly reduce our costs, improve our margins and allow us to pass along savings to our clients."

At 5:30 PM I decided to see who else was covering the story. Imagine my surprise when I found this in the Pittsburgh Trib-Review:

The U.S. Coast Guard has denied statements by GreenHunter Resources that it has given the Texas-based water management company clearance to ship wastewater from shale drillers by barge along the Ohio River.

The Coast Guard said Wednesday that it had not taken final action on a 2012 request by GreenHunter Resources “to transport shale gas extraction wastewater and has not classified this cargo for shipment.”

I will follow this.

--- Fracking updates

Published by waner in fracking · 4/2/2015 16:17:44
Tags: fracking

Pennsylvania violations on a daily basis

From DeSmog Blog:

According to a new report by Environment America titled “Fracking Failures: Oil and Gas Industry Environmental Violations in Pennsylvania and What They Mean for the U.S.,” ever since those four companies “told the public they would adhere to higher standards” in 2013, they have collectively committed as many as 100 violations of Pennsylvania’s existing oil and gas regulations.

And that is hardly the whole story in terms of what Environment America found: “In Pennsylvania, fracking companies violate rules and regulations meant to protect the environment and human health on virtually a daily basis. Between January 1, 2011, and August 31, 2014, the top 20 offending fracking companies committed an average of 1.5 violations per day.”

A series on the boom and bust of fracking

I missed this when it was originally printed last month -- The Washington Post published an excellent series on how communities can deal with a natural gas boom.  From the introduction:

But with gas prices so low — and other forms of energy, especially oil, becoming much less expensive — the future of communities who bet their future on fracking is uncertain. They are at risk of falling into what  researchers have called the “resource curse,” where local economies over invest in a cash cow, only to sacrifice industries that might provide more sustainable growth over the long term, like tourism or manufacturing.

The series looks at Tioga County in Pennsylvania but it doesn't take much imagination to see how it applies locally.

--- Fracking updates

Published by waner in fracking · 14/9/2014 20:15:16
Tags: fracking

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the results of a Yale University study of nearby Washington County (PA) fracking

According to the article:

Washington County residents living near Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites reported having significantly more health problems, including upper-respiratory illnesses and skin rashes, than those living farther away, according to a study released Wednesday by Yale University researchers.

The study, which randomly surveyed 492 people in 180 households with private water wells, found 39 percent reported upper-respiratory symptoms if they lived within a kilometer, or a little more than half a mile, from a well site, compared to 18 percent who reported such symptoms and lived more than a mile away.

Those living within a kilometer of a shale gas drilling and fracking site were four times as likely to suffer from skin problems as those living more than 2 kilometers away, although the percentages — 13 percent compared to 3 percent — were lower.

Even though the study admits that it did not prove causation, it certainly provides some chilling statistics.  The study's results were picked up by a number of sources including USA Today.  You can read the Post-Gazette article here.  

Columbus Dispatch reports that a new study puts fracking workers at risk with exposure to benzine

As the article states:

Oil and natural-gas workers on fracking sites are exposed to potentially unsafe levels of benzene, a colorless gas that can cause cancer, according to a case study by a federal agency.

The study, first published at the end of August in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, found that workers on oil and gas sites were most likely to be exposed to the chemical when they opened hatches during a phase of fracking known as “flowback.”

--- fracking news update

Published by waner in fracking · 15/8/2014 15:28:51
Tags: frackingcoal

Matthew McFeeley’s at Switchboard writes about WV and drinking water

"It’s time for the EPA to step in and ensure that drinking water nationwide is protected from toxic oil and gas waste.  That means the EPA must take action to prevent endangerment of drinking water sources when a state is not enforcing the law, as in West Virginia. And, if the state still does not comply, EPA should revoke the state’s authority to oversee these wells altogether."  

Continue reading here.

Chris Mooney in Mother Jones explains "Why the Scientific Case Against Fracking Keeps Getting Stronger"

And you knew this was inevitable: "Enviros Blamed for Bursting Frack Bubble."

In the article, Richard Heinberg explains the fracking companies’ hype:

Step 1.  Borrow money and use it to lease thousands of acres for drilling.
Step 2.  Borrow more money and drill as many wells as you can, as quickly as you can.
Step 3.  Tell everyone within shouting distance that this is just the of a production boom that will continue for the remainder of our lives and the lives of our children and that everyone who invests will get rich.
Step 4.  Sell drilling leases to other (gullible) companies at a profit, raise funds through Initial Public Offerings or bond sales, and use the proceeds to hide financial losses from your drilling and production operations.

Heinberg explains what will soon follow "in four despicable acts:"

Act 1.  Fracking boom goes bust as production from shale gas and tight oil wells stalls out and lurches into decline.
Act 2.  Oil and gas industry loudly blames anti-fracking environmentalists and restrictive regulations.
Act 3.  Congress rolls back environmental laws.
Act 4.  Loosened regulations do little to boost actual oil and gas production, which continues to tank, but the industry wins the right to exploit marginal resources a little more cheaply than would otherwise have been the case.

Heinberg doesn’t mention it but his drama certainly applies to "the war on coal."  (We're currently in the middle of Act 2.)  Heinberg has extensive experience in the industry - it's a good read.

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