Water is kind of important to any community. In communities that have seen companies that use hydraulic fracturing, it’s becoming a hot commodity:
Texas’s worst drought since record-keeping began in 1895 is fueling a rally in water prices as energy prospectors from ExxonMobil (XOM) to Korea National Oil expand the use of a drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that uses up to 13 million gallons in a single well.
The director of Gasland speaks to a group in Pittsburgh and explains a bit about what is happening in Texas and Pennsylvania. Apparently the pollution was so bad in Pennsylvania that it was the Coca Cola Co. that had to bring it to the attention of state regulators because the water was altering their final product.
“This industry will stop at nothing to deny the fact that they are contaminating watersheds all across America.”
The film Gasland will be screened as part of an informational meeting on June 23 in Greensboro.
This article concerns itself primarily with how hydraulic fracturing could impact the food supply if contamination got out of hand, but this background caught our attention:
Fracking is not a new technology. It was first put into commercial use in 1949 by Halliburton, and that company has made billions from employing the extraction method. But it really wasn’t until 2004 that fracking really took off, the year that the EPA declared that fracking “posed little or no threat” to drinking water. Weston Wilson, a scientist and 30-year veteran of the agency, who sought whistleblower protection, emphatically disagreed, saying that the agency’s official conclusions were “unsupportable” and that five of seven members of the review panel that made the decision had conflicts of interest. (Wilson has continued to work at the EPA, and continues to be publicly critical of fracking.)
A year later, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act with a “Halliburton loophole,” a clause inserted at the request of Dick Cheney, who had been Halliburton’s CEO before becoming vice president. The loophole specifically exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, the CLEAR Act, and from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency, and it unleashed the largest and most extensive drilling program in history, according to Josh Fox, the creator of the film Gasland.
Destructive method of natural gas drilling could come to North Carolina in 2012
GREENSBORO – A coalition of concerned citizens will sponsor on June 23 a screening in Greensboro of portions of the film “Gasland” and a discussion of issues related to hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in North Carolina.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held at Elon University School of Law in downtown Greensboro (Google map here). The meeting will take place in Room 207. The school is at the intersection of Friendly Avenue and Greene Street, located at 201 North Greene Street.
Hydraulic fracturing is a method of drilling for natural gas deposits that are trapped in shale rock formations deep within the Earth. The method involves pumping vast amounts of fresh water into the ground via pipe. The pipe is turned horizontal and the water, mixed with other substances, is injected at very high pressure through outlets in the pipe and into the rock formations. This mixture creates fissures in the Earth, which allows gas to escape and be captured and stored for commercial use.
This method of drilling, both hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, is currently banned by rule in the state of North Carolina. A core group of legislators in both the North Carolina House and Senate have stated a goal of overturning the rule and allowing hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina within the next two years. There are large deposits of shale gas in Lee, Chatham, Rockingham and Davie counties.
Gasland is an independent film made in response to one man’s curiosity about this new method of drilling for natural gas. The film received a Special Jury Prize for Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. It tracks the experiences of residents of a region of Pennsylvania that was opened to hydraulic fracturing just a few years ago.
Representatives from the Deep River Clean Water Society (Lee and Chatham counties), Clean Water for North Carolina and local elected officials will be present to answer questions and facilitate discussion.
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an informal social time, followed by a screening of portions of the film at 7 p.m. At about 8:30 p.m. we will stop the film and have a time for questions and discussion with concerned activists and state Rep. Pricey Harrison of Greensboro, a leader in the effort to protect our state’s irreplaceable natural resources.
Add Rockingham County to the list of county Democratic Parties that have passed resolutions urging caution in proceeding to allow hydraulic fracturing in North Carolina:
The Rockingham County Democratic Party has sent the following Resolution to the North Carolina House Utilities Committee to Protect the Communities of North Carolina from the Harms and Loss of Local Control that Can Result From Unconventional Natural Gas Extraction, or “Fracking”.
A team of scientists from a place called Duke University has published a study that “links flammable drinking water” to the process of hydraulic fracturing as a method of extracting natural gas from domestic sources. This method is rampant in Texas and Pennsylvania. Some legislators in North Carolina intend to overturn a ban on the process in our home state so that this type of drilling can commence in Lee and Chatham counties.
The research was conducted by four scientists at Duke University. They found that levels of flammable methane gas in drinking water wells increased to dangerous levels when those water supplies were close to natural gas wells. They also found that the type of gas detected at high levels in the water was the same type of gas that energy companies were extracting from thousands of feet underground, strongly implying that the gas may be seeping underground through natural or manmade faults and fractures, or coming from cracks in the well structure itself.
Contact Your Representative Today: Fix the Frack Study in Senate Bill 709!
Wednesday, the House Utilities Committee will discuss Senate Bill 709, which promotes off-shore drilling and bad energy policy, in addition to a weak study on hydraulic fracturing. This bill sailed through the Senate, and it’s unlikely that we’ll stop it in the House, but we MAY be able to improve the fracking study portions! Please call your representative TODAY, to tell them we need a much stronger study of WHETHER, not HOW, North Carolina should allow fracking!
A better fracking study bill, House Bill 242, passed the House last week and is now in the Senate. The deadline for the study has been moved back to May 1, 2012, but the bill still lacks important protections:
1) NOTHING in the bill shows the intent to take 2 or more years to consider regulatory changes or to include EPA’s study of fracking impacts on drinking water—that’s the LEAST we need to assure a good decision for NC.
2) The bill includes NO landowner provisions to protect folks who are signing some pretty dangerous mineral rights leases.
Please call or email to ask your Representative before 10 AM tomorrow. Let’s be sure that the language of House Bill 242 is substituted for the weak fracking study language in Senate Bill 709. Also, ask them to hold the bill in committee until landowner provisions are included, and the timeline for consideration of any regulatory changes is put off until inclusion of the EPA study results (ie, 2013 legislative session). S709 may go to a vote in the whole House as soon as THURSDAY, so contacting your representative can strengthen the bill there, too!
This 36 min webinar by Cornell professor Susan Christopherson explores the economic consequences of Marcellus Shale gas drilling. Her preliminary findings indicate that there are large costs to local governments. Roads, health care, and public safety all require increased funding. A boom-and-bust system occurs often resulting in a depressed local economy after the drilling companies complete extraction. Furthermore, no matter where the physical gas well is located, most of the jobs associated with new drilling, especially the higher paid jobs, end up in Texas.
In England, a fracking operation was stopped after scientists from the British Geological Survey suggested the company’s drilling may have caused two nearby earthquakes. The earthquakes were located near Blackpool and registered 1.5 and 2.3 magnitudes. This comes a week after a British parliamentary committee said it found no evidence of problems with fracking and rejected calls for a moratorium on permits.
The trend of legislators moving faster to allow companies to drill before agencies can investigate the safety of fracking continues, but not without a fight. The New York Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission, a regional regulatory agency, arguing that the Commission should not draft regulations before an environmental impact assessment is complete.