Category Archives: Fracking

Exxon CEO: Don’t frack in my backyard

Exxon CEO says Dont frack in my backyard Exxon CEO: Dont frack in my backyard

The CEO of ExxonMobil – the top producer of natural gas in the US – has joined a lawsuit that challenges the construction of a water tower connected to hydraulic fracturing operations near his Texas home, given that it may reduce the property value.
Continue reading «Exxon CEO: Don’t frack in my backyard»

CEO Rex Tillerson and other plaintiffs claim the hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – project will cause unwanted noise and traffic associated with trucking water from the 160-foot tower to the drilling site, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The tower will provide water “to oil and gas explorers for fracing [sic] shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” according to the lawsuit. The water tower is owned by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation.

Tillerson’s lawyer claims the noise, traffic, and actual fracking does not bother the ExxonMobil CEO, stating that it is the possible depreciation of his $5 million property in Bartonville, Texas that he is worried about.

Fracking is the controversial process of injecting water, sand, and various chemicals into layers of rock, in hopes of releasing oil and gas deep underground. Fracking in a single well can take millions of gallons of freshwater.

Tillerson himself has excoriated fracking regulations amid the practice’s boom across the country.

“This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,” he said in 2012, Reuters reported.

In another 2012 interview – with the Council on Foreign Relations – Tillerson said that natural gas production today has been revamped with new technologies, “so the risks are very manageable.”

Yet fracking’s popularity with energy behemoths like ExxonMobil is finding resistance across the US based on more than property values and noise complaints.

Fracking is exhausting water supplies in areas of the country that are suffering from chronic shortages, including Texas.

The practice has also been linked to an upsurge of earthquakes in many areas of the nation.

A recent study showed that the fetus of pregnant woman living within a 10-mile range of a fracking well is in much greater danger of congenital heart defects (CHD) and neural tube defects (NTD).

Another recent study found that chemicals used in fracking are suspected of being endocrine disruptors, which “could raise the risk of reproductive, metabolic, neurological and other diseases, especially in children who are exposed to” the materials.

On Thursday, a letter signed by over 1,000 doctors and health professionals was sent by Environment America to President Barack Obama, highlighting many other damaging health and environmental effects associated with fracking.

The group’s concerns about fracking included drinking water contamination, carcinogenic air pollution, acute and chronic health effects, and greenhouse gas emissions.

“Given this toll of damage, the prudent and precautionary response would be to stop fracking,” the letter reads. “Instead, the oil and gas industry is seeking to expand fracking at a frenzied pace, even into areas that provide drinking water for millions of Americans.”

Those living within a half-mile of a fracking site “had a higher excess lifetime risk of developing cancer than people living farther away,” the letter says.

For its part, ExxonMobil told The Wall Street Journal that it “has no involvement” in Tillerson’s lawsuit.

As ThinkProgress points out, there is reason to believe that Exxon’s oil and gas development projects have compromised human health and the environment, much less hurt property values.

One recent example is the company’s spill of up to 7,000 barrels of tar sands oil in a neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas nearly one year ago. Locals are still suffering from dizziness, headaches, and nausea – prompting many to move away if their homes aren’t already severely damaged.

“I have friends who still live here. They don’t have a place to go. They have small children…and they’re all sick,” one Mayflower resident told RT recently.

ExxonMobil pays Tillerson $40.3 million a year.

Source: RT

Chevron offers coupons for pizza combo after fracking well explodes

flaming pizza via Shutterstock Chevron offers coupons for pizza combo after fracking well explodes

Last Tuesday, residents of the small town Bobtown, Pennsylvania woke to an explosion and a massive, high-temperature fire, at the site of a fracking well owned by the Chevron corporation. It wasn’t just any fire, either. Wrote the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Feb. 12: Continue reading «Chevron offers coupons for pizza combo after fracking well explodes»

More than 12 hours after an explosion that “sounded like a jet engine going 5 feet above your house,” as one neighbor put it, the fire, fueled by the well’s gas, continued to shoot flames and smoke into the air, causing a hissing sound that could be heard a quarter-mile away.

The heat from the blaze — which caused a tanker truck on site that was full of propane gas to explode — was so intense that first responders from local fire departments had to pull back rather than risk injury.

“They essentially retreated to let the fire burn,” said John Poister, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, which had three people on site investigating.

One person was injured and another presumed dead.

“It was very, very scary,” said a local resident. “You knew somebody had to be hurt somewhere with that explosion.”

One worker was injured following the blast; another employee is still missing. Chevron says it doesn’t know exactly what sparked the fire, but that workers were preparing to run tubing, an act done when readying wells for production.

Five days later, the fire finally went out. Chevron spokesman Kent Robertson told the local ABC affiliate he didn’t know why, but said, “there is not enough fuel being emitted to sustain combustion, and with the cooling of the crane, the ignition source has been removed.”

What is Chevron doing about the explosion?

On Sunday, Chevron Appalachia Community Outreach sent a gift certificate to those who lived in the vicinity of the blast offering them a two liter bottle of soda and one large pizza.

Seriously.

The letter, sent Feb.16, 2014 reads:

Dear Neighbor,

We are sorry to have missed you.  We wanted to provide you with a status update on the February 11 incident that occurred on Chevron’s Appalachia’s Lanoce 7 H well pads in Dunkard Township and see if you had any questions or concerns that we could address.

Chevron recognizes the effect this has had on the community.  We value being a responsible member of this community and will continue to strive to achieve incident-free operations.  We are committed to taking action to safeguard our neighbors, our employees, our contractors and the environment.

If you have any questions, please call our toll free community line at 1-877-847-8408.

Thank you,

Chevron Community Outreach Team

The note included a handwritten gift certificate to Bobtown Pizza for a “Special Combo Only,” or “One large pizza and One 2 liter drink.” It appears below.

Blogger Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News confirmed that Chevron had bought 100 of the certificates, titling his post, “The Chevron Guarantee: Our well won’t explode…or your pizza is free!

“Of course, a cynic would argue that a lifetime supply of pizza — even with those cheesy breadsticks thrown in — wouldn’t be worth the health risks of having a massive fracking rig next door,” he writes. “On the other hand, I see a possible new marketing campaign for Chevron: We guarantee your fracking rig won’t explode, or your pizza is free!”

Chevron also gave $35,000 to several local community organizations in December.

The news was first reported by the website Raging Chicken Press. Following the image of Chevron’s letter is video taken by a helicopter at the scene and a report from Pittsburgh news station WTAE.

Chevron gives free pizza to residents that lived in area where fracking explosion happened Chevron offers coupons for pizza combo after fracking well explodes

WTAE’s report:
0 Chevron offers coupons for pizza combo after fracking well explodes

Source: RawStory

Report: Ohio oil industry paying to educate teachers about fracking

Ohio Fracking school teachers Report: Ohio oil industry paying to educate teachers about fracking

An Ohio association funded by oil and gas drillers has been paying for teacher-training seminars in which industry-funded representatives demonstrate how students can learn about oil and gas extraction in fun ways, the Columbus Dispatch newspaper reported.
Continue reading «Report: Ohio oil industry paying to educate teachers about fracking»

Environmentalists said Saturday that the program, being conducted by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP), is an interference in the state’s public education system by an industry that has come under increasing scrutiny over practices including hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The seminars, which are held around the state, show teachers how to use props such as Twinkies to demonstrate how gas drilling works: Teachers are instructed to ask students to think of the cream in the Twinkie as oil, and a straw to demonstrate how gas drillers find their target.

“It’s $100,000 every time you stick it in,” a workshop leader joked to the Dispatch.

But to environmentalists, the programs are not funny. Some of them say that the seminars are part of the oil and gas industry’s allegedly inappropriate influence in Ohio’s public schools. As more and more controversial fracking wells are drilled in the state, they say schools should not allow an organization with a vested interest in increasing oil and gas production to mold school science curriculums – or should at least give environmental groups the opportunity to present their side of the story.

“The industry is welcome to promote whatever they want, but it seems a little inappropriate to be minimizing the risks of this highly industrial activity using props like Twinkies,” Jack Shaner, deputy director of the Ohio Environmental Council, said Saturday. “Schools should be offering a balanced presentation, not a one-sided traveling medicine man-style show.”

Al Jazeera could not immediately reach the OOGEEP for comment Saturday. A representative had earlier pointed out to the Dispatch that the organization has been educating Ohio residents and science teachers about oil and gas drilling for 16 years.

But the programs have come under increased scrutiny in the past few months after parents discovered that Radio Disney was helping put on shows with OOGEEP across the state. And the controversy surrounding fracking — pumping thousands of gallons of water mixed with chemicals deep into the earth to break up oil and gas deposits — has become increasingly contentious in Ohio, where it has been linked to earthquakes.

The OOGEEP says the programs are meant to promote science, and to reinvigorate interest in the oil and gas industry.

“We do not see kids pursuing careers in science,” OOGEEP head Rhonda Reda told the Dispatch. “That was the real reason (behind the program). The average age in our industry is 55. … These are great-paying jobs with benefits.”

The workshops are often held in hotels, and include numerous hands-on activities such as building miniature oil rigs, and creating “pipeline cleaners” out of cotton and plastic.

Teachers are eligible for legally required continuing education credits for attending.

It is unclear exactly how many of the workshops have taken place, but Rhonda Reda told the Dispatch she had given 300 presentations to civic and community groups in the last two years alone.

Environmentalists are not surprised the OOGEEP is trying to influence teachers and others in Ohio, but they question why the state is allowing a one-sided view of controversial practices to be presented to students.

“I look at Rhonda Reda doing 300 presentations, and I’ve only had one group of students come see our Gasland (an anti-fracking movie) screening,” said Alison Auciello, the Ohio organizer for Food and Water Watch. “We’re certainly not being invited into classrooms.”

Auciello said environmental groups should at least be given an opportunity to present what they see as the downside of fracking — reports of methane leaks, contaminated water and a potential increase in carbon emissions.  She and other environmentalists say the state cannot rely on OOGEEP to provide that information.

“They’re going into schools and trying to recruit people, and not giving them a real scientific education or the whole picture,” she said. “They’re using Twinkies, how innocuous is that? Why don’t they just open up fracking sites to the public forever so they can see what that’s really like?”

Source: Al Jazeera

Fracking is draining water from US areas suffering major shortages – report

fracking water drought shortages Fracking is draining water from US areas suffering major shortages   report

Some of the most drought-ravaged areas of the US are also heavily targeted for oil and gas development using hydraulic fracturing – a practice that exacerbates water shortages – according to a new report.
Continue reading «Fracking is draining water from US areas suffering major shortages – report»

Three-quarters of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled in the US since 2011 were located in areas of the country facing water scarcity, according to research by the Ceres investor network. Over half of those new wells were in areas experiencing drought conditions.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in those wells required the use of 97 billion gallons of water, Ceres found.

“Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country’s most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,” said Mindy Lubber, president of the Ceres green investors’ network.

Lubber warned that the fracking boom across the US puts the industry on a “collision course” with other water users.

Fracking is the highly controversial process of injecting water, sand, and various chemicals into layers of rock, in hopes of releasing oil and gas deep underground. Fracking in a single well can take millions of gallons of freshwater. Much of the drilling has occurred in areas mired in multi-year droughts.

Half of the 97 billion gallons of water used since 2011 for fracking have gone to wells in Texas, a state in the midst of a severe, years-long drought. Meanwhile, oil and gas production through fracking is on track to double in the state over the next five years, the Guardian reported.

The report also found that rural communities in the Lone Star State are being hit hard by the fracking bonanza occurring especially in the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas.

“Shale producers are having significant impacts at the county level, especially in smaller rural counties with limited water infrastructure capacity,” the report said. “With water use requirements for shale producers in the Eagle Ford already high and expected to double in the coming 10 years, these rural counties can expect severe water stress challenges in the years ahead.”

Levels of vital aquifers that serve local communities near Eagle Ford have dropped by up to 300 feet in the last few years.

Many small communities in areas of heavy fracking in Texas are in dire need of water, as supplies have run out in some places or will dry up soon in others. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says 29 communities across the state could run out of water in 90 days, and that many reservoirs in west Texas are at around 25 percent capacity.

In December, the San Antonio Express-News found that fracking was using more water than previously thought. The newspaper reported that in 2012, the industry used around 43,770 acre-feet of water in 3,522 Eagle Ford fracking wells – about the same usage of 153,000 San Antonio households.

“The oil and gas boom is requiring more water than we have,” Hugh Fitzsimons, a Dimmit County rancher and a director of the Wintergarden Groundwater Conservation District, told the Express-News. “Period.”

A separate study published this week found that the industry does a very poor job recycling fracking water in Texas. Researchers at the University of Texas’ Bureau of Economic Geology found that 92 percent of water used in 2011 to frack Barnett Shale in north central Texas was “consumed,” and not recycled. Only about five percent of all water used for fracking in that area has been reused or recycled in the “past few years.”

Other states do not fare well in the Ceres report, either. In Colorado, 97 percent of wells were in areas strapped for water, as demand for fracking water in the state is expected to double to six billion gallons – twice the annual use of the city of Boulder – by 2015.

In California, 96 percent of new wells were located in areas where competition for water is high. A drought emergency for the entire state – which has traditionally dealt with water-sharing and access problems – was declared last month.

The report found similar high percentages of wells built in other states – such as New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming – where water shortages exist.

“It’s a wake-up call,” said Prof. James Famiglietti, a hydrologist at the University of California, Irvine, according to the Guardian. “We understand as a country that we need more energy but it is time to have a conversation about what impacts there are, and do our best to try to minimize any damage.”

Source: RT

The Anti-fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital

fracking The Anti fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital

The Anti-fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital

Vera Scroggins, an outspoken opponent of fracking, is legally barred from the new county hospital. Also off-limits, unless Scroggins wants to risk fines and arrest, are the Chinese restaurant where she takes her grandchildren, the supermarkets and drug stores where she shops, the animal shelter where she adopted her Yorkshire terrier, bowling alley, recycling centre, golf club, and lake shore.
Continue reading «The Anti-fracking Activist Barred from 312.5 Square Miles of Pennsylvania, Including the County Hospital»

In total, 312.5 sq miles are no-go areas for Scroggins under a sweeping court order granted by a local judge that bars her from any properties owned or leased by one of the biggest drillers in the Pennsylvanianatural gas rush, Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation.

“They might as well have put an ankle bracelet on me with a GPS on it and be able to track me wherever I go,” Scroggins said. “I feel like I am some kind of a prisoner, that my rights have been curtailed, have been restricted.”

The ban represents one of the most extreme measures taken by the oil and gas industry to date against protesters like Scroggins, who has operated peacefully and within the law including taking Yoko Ono to frack sites in her bid to elevate public concerns about fracking.

It was always going to be an unequal fight when Scroggins, now 63, made it her self-appointed mission five years ago to stop fracking in this, the richest part of the Marcellus Shale.

Just how unequal became clear on 21 October when the case of Cabot v Scroggins came before a local judge, Kenneth Seamans, in the Montrose court house.

Cabot turned up with four lawyers and nine witnesses, employees of the company and the firm it hired to provide security. Scroggins represented herself. She told the court she had been unable to find a lawyer as the hearing had been called on 72 hours’ notice.

By the time the hearing was over, the judge had granted Cabot a temporary injunction barring Scroggins from all property owned or leased by the company.

“It is hereby ordered that Ms Scroggins is restrained, enjoined and prohibited from entering upon property owned and/or leased by Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation including but not limited to well sites, well pads and access roads,” the injunction reads.

The effect of that ban is far broader than the dry legal language would suggest.

In court filings, Cabot said it holds leases on 200,000 acres of land, equivalent to 312.5 sq miles. That amounts to nearly 40% of the largely rural county in north-eastern Pennsylvania where Scroggins lives and where Cabot does most of its drilling.

The temporary injunction granted on 21 October does not require Cabot to identify or map the lands where it holds drilling leases, putting Scroggins in the bizarre position of having to figure out for herself which areas were off-limits.

Cabot later offered to limit the scope of its exclusion order in court filings seeking to make the injunction permanent. The next hearing on that injunction is scheduled for 24 March.

Scroggins, who now has a lawyer, is fighting to overturn the injunction.

Until then, each trip Scroggins makes outside her home requires a calculation about whether her route will take her on lands or roads leased to Cabot, or a visit to the court house to pore over property records.

“We need a map. We need to know where I can and can not go,” she said. “Can I stop here, or can I not stop here? Is it OK to be here if I go to a business or if I go to a home? I have had to ask and check out every person I go to: ‘are you leased to Cabot’?”

Many of those businesses are, it turns out. Susquehanna County is one of the most active areas in Pennsylvania’s natural gas rush. Eight of the top 10 most productive gas wells are in the county, according to an industry newsletter. All eight belong to Cabot.

Environmental groups say the court – and Cabot – went too far.

“It seems to be an extraordinarily heavy handed reaction by industry and one which was extremely out of proportion to what she has been doing,” said Kate Sinding, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defence Council.

Campaigners claim other over-reactions by industry and police against fracking opponents – such as the arrest last December of two protesters in Oklahoma for “terrorism hoax”, after they unfurled a banner and dropped glitter on the floor of an office tower owned by Devon Energy.

But Scroggins’ lawyer, George Kinchy, says this was the first time to his knowledge that a company has used the full weight of the law against a single activist.

He also said Cabot was lucky Scroggins was not represented by a lawyer at the hearing.

The company was not pressed to demonstrate the gas leases gave it the right to make such absolute decisions about access. “They have no proof that they had the right to exclude her. They didn’t present evidence of leases that gave them the right to treat the property as their own,” he said.

Cabot refused several requests to respond, beyond a brief email statement from spokesman, George Stark. “Cabot has a policy of not commenting specifically on litigation to which it is a party,” the statement reads. “That being said, Cabot supports an individual’s right to free speech and regrets having to seek relief from the court in order to prevent Ms Scroggins from repeatedly trespassing on company property, where she could potentially jeopardise the safety of herself and others.”

However, the company arranged for Tom Shepstone, a consultant who blogs at Natural Gas Now, to speak on its behalf. Shepstone said the injunction was overdue.

“I’m proud of Cabot and what they’ve done because they’re saying we’re not going to take this any longer,” he said.

Cabot in court filings does not accuse Scroggins of violence or of causing harm to property, and she has never been arrested or charged with trespass. She has not chained herself to machinery, or staged sit-ins.

But Shepstone argued Scroggins had upset too many people to be tolerated. “I believe she is a public menace because what she does is she essentially trespasses not so much on property – though she does do that – but she trespasses on the soul of the community,” he said. “She does not allow the people of this community any peace.”

In the five years since fracking came to north-eastern Pennsylvania, Scroggins has been relentless in trying to exposing the risks associated with the industry.

Scroggins and her then husband moved to this very rural area of north-eastern Pennsylvania from Long Island, New York more than 20 years ago, when their children were small. After various careers, Scroggins, now a grandmother, considers herself a full-time activist.

She has visited frack sites – posting up to 500 videos on YouTube. She has called in health and environmental regulators at perceived violations, and she has organised bus tours of frack sites for anyone who is interested – from Yoko Ono and Susan Sarandon to visiting Canadian elected officials.

None of that activity by Scroggins or other activists was illegal, or presented a public danger, according to Jason Legg, the district attorney for Susquehana County.

“I don’t recall any major protests or people trespassing on any property,” he said.

Even by Cabot’s own admission, in court testimony last October, Scroggins seems to have been more nuisance than danger. Her biggest and most repeated offence, according to court testimony, appears to have been parking her car on access roads – and at times even on the narrow public county roads – at angles that required the big water tankers to swerve around her.

Scroggins, who does not appear adverse to confrontation, was also insistent on talking to personnel on site. But in every instance cited by Cabot witnesses, she left the area within 5 or 10 minutes – sometimes after they threatened to call police.

By 2011 those repeat visits to gas sites made Scroggins public enemy number one, so far as Cabot was concerned.

Cabot’s security contractor, Northeast Diversified Services told the court it had posted photographs of Scroggins in their guards’ campers, and had been following the activist since 2011.

“Yes, we follow you, yes, from site to site,” the company’s vice-president, Thomas Tolan, told the court.

Scroggins wasn’t winning friends in the community either. There are landowners in Susquehana County who have made money off leasing their land to Cabot and other gas companies for fracking. “The consensus is basically that it has been a lifeline to an area that was struggling,” Legg said.

In a small town like Montrose, population 1,600, Scroggins’ forceful brand of activism appears to have been too much for some – though she has a hard core of supporters.

In a recent visit to the court house to check on Cabot leases, she was scolded by a court official just for striking up a conversation with the person beside her at the counter.

A few minutes later, Thomas Meagher, the county solicitor, said Scroggins brought her legal problems down on herself by failing to following the “unwritten rules” of civilised discourse.

Scroggins rejects the idea that “nice” has anything to do with it. “I am doing this as nicely as I feel is warranted. I have other concerned citizen friends who play passive and they don’t get anything done more than I do. They are just in the background,” she said. “They are playing passive and nobody even hears about them. Those who want to play that womanly role, they can play it. I don’t have to.”

As for Cabot and her critics in the community, “They can just get used to it,” Scroggins said.

Source:  http://www.alternet.org/authors/suzanne-goldenberg