“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.”
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.
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.
Oil and gas drillers ran afoul of regulators on average 2.5 times a day in three energy-intensive states for mistakes such as wastewater spills, well leaks or pipeline ruptures during the boom in hydraulic fracturing.Online records in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Colorado showed regulators issued 4,600 citations from 2009 to 2013, the Natural Resources Defense Council said Thursday in a report. The report excluded violations in 33 other states with drilling because such records aren’t available on the Internet.
The five healthiest counties in West Virginia, starting with most healthy, are Pendleton, Jefferson, Monongalia, Pleasants, and Upshur. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, and Mercer.
For decades, people in southern West Virginia have suffered from elevated rates of health problems like lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects. In McDowell County, for example, life expectancy for females is about 73 years, approximately eight years below the national average.Although many attribute these problems to the poverty of the region, scientists and epidemiologists have been looking at a different culprit. Beginning in 2006, more than two dozen studies have explored the possibility of a link between the region’s illnesses and mountaintop removal mining, a common term for the surface mining of coal.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced that the state would conduct an official review of those studies, under the leadership of the state Bureau for Public Health’s commissioner, Dr. Rahul Gupta.
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.
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.
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.
On keeping WV water safe:
This should help:
A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. has been fined $2.3 million for allegedly polluting waterways as part of hydraulic fracturing operations.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department said Monday that XTO Energy Inc. dumped sand, dirt, rocks and other fill materials into West Virginia streams and wetlands at eight sites without permits, in violation of the Clean Water Act.
From the Huntington News:
Nearly a year after the Elk River MCHM spill left 300,000 West Virginians without water, the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection reported that tens of thousands of above ground tanks will have not reported on their inspection status.
Can we quit with the stuff about how businesses in WV spend too much time dealing with needless government regulations?
An update on repealing WV's prevailing wage law
A couple of posts down, I wrote about the possibility that the new Republican legislature will repeal the prevailing wage laws in the state. Of course, our local "newspapers" endorsed the idea. In a recent state news search I came across this interesting article:
WV Contractors Say "Don’t Repeal the Prevailing Wage"
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Many of the state's construction contractors say repealing West Virginia's Prevailing Wage law is a terrible idea.
The new Republican leadership at the legislature says it wants to do away with the law, which mandates that construction workers on public projects make the going rate for their specialty in a given area.
Kim Carfagna, president and CEO of Jarvis, Downing & Emch, says for decades the prevailing wage has been key to his company’s ability to maintain a high-quality workforce.
He says without it, low-cost, out-of-state contractors will try to under bid local companies.
"You're bringing in out-of-state contractors that will undercut our projects," he maintains. "The safety issue comes into it, the quality issue comes into it.
Does anybody care about safety and quality?
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.”
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.