Gas Leases vs. Mortgages
The following is an excerpt from Ian Urbina’s latest article in the “Drilling Down” series in The New York Times. For the full story, see www.nytimes.com, 10/19/2011.
As natural gas drilling has spread across the country, energy industry representatives have sat down at kitchen tables in states like Texas, Pennsylvania and New York to offer homeowners leases that give companies the right to drill on their land.
Over the past 10 years, as natural gas has become increasingly important to the nation’s energy future, Americans have signed more than a million of these leases.
But bankers and real estate executives, especially in New York, are starting to pay closer attention to the fine print and are raising provocative questions, such as: What happens if they lend money for a piece of land that ends up storing the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool filled with toxic wastewater from drilling?
The Fracking Industry’s War on the Truth
In an article published 10/20/2011 on the Reader Supported News website, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. explains why he is now against the rush to drilling in New York.
Superb investigative journalism by the New York Times has brought the paper under attack by the natural gas industry. That campaign of intimidation and obfuscation has been orchestrated by top-shelf players like Exxon and Chesapeake, aligned with the industry’s worst bottom feeders. This coalition has launched an impressive propaganda effort carried by slick PR firms, industry-funded front groups and a predictable cabal of right-wing industry toadies from cable TV and talk radio. In pitting itself against public disclosure and reasonable regulation, the natural gas industry is once again proving that it is its own worst enemy.
I confess to being an early optimist on natural gas. In July of 2009, I wrote a widely circulated op-ed for the Financial Times predicting that newly accessible deposits of natural gas had the potential to rapidly relieve our country of its deadly addiction to Appalachian coal and end forever catastrophically destructive mountaintop-removal mining….
My caveat was that the natural gas industry and government regulators needed to act responsibly to protect the environment, safeguard communities from irresponsible practices, and to candidly inform the public about the true risks and benefits of shale-extraction gas.
The opposite has happened. (Read the full article at readersupportednews.org.)
Philly to Sue DRBC
The Philadelphia City Council has unanimously passed a resolution to sue the Delaware River Basin Commission, demanding cumulative impacts of high-volume hydraulic fracturing be studied and forbidding fracking for now. For complete story, visit http://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2011/10/13.
Albany OKs Drilling Ban
Albany city lawmakers brushed aside fears of costly lawsuits from the oil and gas industry Monday night and narrowly approved a ban on gas drilling inside city limits, a move aimed squarely at the controversial drilling technique known as hydrofracking. For complete story, see www.timesunion.com, 10/18/2011.
Air Quality Managers “Crushed” Says Former DEP Regional Director
“Up until two weeks ago, George Jugovic led the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s southwest regional office. On Wednesday, Jugovic told lawmakers at a hearing in Delaware County (Pa.) that his air quality managers were “crushed” by the volume of air emission permit requests. That increase in permits comes from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operations, which require the use of combustible engines to extract the gas and push it through pipelines.
Jugovic testified at a hearing on the impact of natural gas drilling on air pollution. He says within the last year, in the southwest region alone, his department issued permits for the release of 13,000 tons of nitrogen oxide related to the Marcellus Shale industry. Nitrogen oxide creates ground level smog. Companies requested the permits for compressor stations, which are needed to pump the gas through distribution pipelines.
Many Officials Hold Leases with Shale Drillers
During a contentious meeting in South Fayette (Pa.) recently, the township’s zoning hearing board delayed a decision about a challenge mounted by gas driller Range Resources after calls for several members of the board to recuse themselves from discussions because they have signed leases with the Texas-based driller.
The situation isn’t unique to Pennsylvania. Communities situated on the Marcellus Shale throughout New York are being governed by Town Boards with the same conflicts of interest. For the South Fayette story, the www.post-gazette.com, 10/16/2011.
Dimock Water Still Fouled
According to a Wall Street Journal article published 10/15/2011, three years after Dimock (Pa.)residents first noticed something wrong with their drinking water, they can still light it on fire. Read the full story at wsj.com.
Gasping for air… In Sublette County, Wy. residents have been complaining about contaminated air. Discoveries of emissions from the gas drilling process have prompted strong anti-fracking diatribes from the community. “Industry has done a lot of great things and they’ve really stepped up to the plate,” said Stephen Smith, Mayor of Pinedale, Wy. “But it’s my job to represent the concerns of the people here, and they are concerned.” Emissions have been decreased by a quarter over the last three years, but citizens are becoming more and more irritated, realizing that the whole process could be detrimental.
Paved with good intentions… To halt the damage on Route 97, the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway Committee (UDSB) has requested a ban on drilling-related traffic because of the hazards it poses regarding unsafe travel, damage to the road, and the highway’s aesthetics. The UDSB proposal exempts trucks involved in agriculture, bluestone and lumbering.
Pipeline fire in Kenya… Officials in Kenya estimated 100 dead as a result of an oil pipeline fire on 9/12/2011. When the pipeline leak appeared, crowds flooded the scene to salvage all the precious oil they could. During the town’s routine garbage burning, which takes place near the river, the wind blew flames toward the oil which ignited.
Yellowstone spill This summer, just weeks after a seemingly satisfactory inspection, an Exxon Mobil pipeline exploded, sending 42,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River, with disastrous affects on the wildlife and surrounding communities. The cause of the accident has not yet been determined, but some point to the understaffing of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which has far too few inspectors and resources to enforce safety regulations.