Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hydraulic Fracturing ~ Collection of information sources


updated August 14, 2013 - to add this cautionary tale from Texas.  

Considering, Swift Energy Company is proposing to drill in the heart of "The Dry Side" where we are already experiencing an increasingly serious water situation, for instance, the only public well near Marvel is threatening to dry up and local water officials seem powerless to do anything about it.  

The area water table is dropping fast... where is Swift Energy Company going to get it's water?... and what will happen to that water after they've use it and soiled it?  

This is an issue that needs to be addressed - before giving Swift the green light.
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"A Texan tragedy: ample oil, no water"
Fracking boom sucks away precious water from beneath the ground, leaving cattle dead, farms bone-dry and people thirsty.
"... Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted. 
Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry's outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse. 
In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart's case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking. ..."
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[updated 2/22/2013]

I attended a local meeting recently, held by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission as part of the regulatory process for an energy company that plans to come into our area to drill a couple test holes; do some fracking; with an eye towards commercial development.

I don't know much about "Fracking"  My gut instincts are skeptical towards it, but then I've never done any serious studying on it, so I'm in no position judge.  I'll admit to being impressed with some of the statistics and other information the oil/gas people were sharing.  At home, after the meeting, my initial searches kept reinforcing the feeling that: well, perhaps the dangers have been over hyped after all.  But then other stuff started coming across conflicting with the confident security displayed by the many pro-drilling websites.

At the moment I remain agnostic  ~  but since a neighbor and friend asked me to do my thing on this issue and compile a collection of informative sources to share with others ~ 
Here it is, without any further commentary.
Contents: 

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Natural Gas Exploration by Fracing
Park County Concerned Citizens and Property Owners
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The Facts Behind the Frack
Science News
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Fracking Safety: Scientific Truths Are Emerging
Storify.com 
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Safety Rules for Fracking Disposal Wells Often Ignored
By Abraham Lustgarten ~ ProPublica
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The Truth about Fracking 
Scientific American  ~  Chris Mooney
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The Do-It-Yourself Approach to Tracking Gas Drilling
By Andrew Revkin ~ New York Times
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Drilling Down - The New York Times series
Links to five stories in this series
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Is Fracking Safe? 
The Top 10 Controversial Claims About Natural Gas Drilling
By Seamus McGraw ~ Popular Mechanics
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Swift Foundation* Endorses Investor Report on Fracking
by Swift Foundation ~ January 17, 2012 
*NOT AFFILIATED WITH SWIFT ENERGY COMPANY
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Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us
by Abrahm Lustgarten ~ ProPublica, June 21, 2012
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The Best Watchdog Journalism On Fracking
by Blair Hickman and Cora Currier ~ ProPublica
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News from the recent NYT v State Health Dept. dust up.
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I found a couple new items today (2/22/13) and they seem do the best job of describing the actual operation I've yet to find, lots of informative diagrams.

Natural Gas Exploration by Fracing

South Park Project - El Paso Staff


Concerned Citizens and Property Owners
This site has been started to provide information to all Park County citizens and property owner about the Hydraulic Fracturing, (Fracking), process used to develop natural gas.  This web site will provide information about the down side of Fracking for natural gas. 
 Much of the information given to us by Oil and Gas Companies is presented in the best light that they can put forth.  Sadly, they don't provide a complete picture of all the negative aspects that are associated with developing natural gas sources. We will provide the information that these companies dismiss or deny as credible.
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The Facts Behind the Frack
Scientists weigh in on the hydraulic fracturing debate 
By Rachel Ehrenberg ~ Science News ~ September 8, 2012
To call it a fractious debate is an understatement. 

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, wrenches open rock deep beneath the Earth's surface, freeing the natural gas that's trapped inside. Proponents argue that fracking-related gas recovery is a game changer, a bridge to the renewable energy landscape of the future.  
{...} 
While the dangers are real, most problems linked to fracking so far are not specific to the technology but come with many large-scale energy operations employing poor practices with little oversight, scientists contend. Whether the energy payoff can come with an acceptable level of risk remains an open question. 
{...}  
Section headings:  
What is hydraulic fracturing? 
Does methane leak into water? 
Is fracking fluid hazardous? 
Does fracking cause earthquakes? 
Is it worth it? 
Fracking footprint


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Storify.com
Fracking Safety: Scientific Truths Are Emerging
This Storify chronicles the ongoing scientific investigation and debate at the front lines of battle over fracking.
The debate over whether fracturing deep shale layers to release natural gas has reached fever pitch in the U.S., and scientists are speaking out. Using chemicals and water to crack a shale layer once, far below ground, to liberate gas may pose little risk to drinking water supplies near the surface. But fracking the layer multiple times from one well site, which is common, raises the chance that drinking water could be contaminated. 
Writer Chris Mooney reveals the scientific evidence for and against claims about the dangers of fracking in his November feature article in Scientific American. But the debate is ongoing. Furthermore, regulators in New York--at the epicenter of argument--are expected by December to lift an existing ban and allow fracking under certain rules, which are currently open to public comment. Test results about potential contamination are also due from the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012. 
To bring you the latest news and views, I've started this Storify document. It will update scientific findings, regulatory moves and political decisions that could make or break fracking's future. Come back each week to see the latest. 
An animated music video by people outside of Scientific American offers a surprisingly concise summary of the primary concern about drinking water (and it has a good groove):

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Safety Rules for Fracking Disposal Wells Often Ignored
ScientificAmerican ~ Energy & Sustainability
By Abrahm Lustgarten and ProPublica ~ September 20.2012
The growing number of wells used to dispose of wastewater from fracking are subject to lax oversight. 
On a cold, overcast afternoon in January 2003, two tanker trucks backed up to an injection well site in a pasture outside Rosharon, Texas. There, under a steel shed, they began to unload thousands of gallons of wastewater for burial deep beneath the earth. 
 The waste – the byproduct of oil and gas drilling – was described in regulatory documents as a benign mixture of salt and water. But as the liquid rushed from the trucks, it released a billowing vapor of far more volatile materials, including benzene and other flammable hydrocarbons. . . 
. . . What happened that day at Rosharon was the result of a significant breakdown in the nation's efforts to regulate the handling of toxic waste, a ProPublica investigation shows.
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The Truth about Fracking [Preview]
Scientific American ~ Energy & Sustainability ~ Feature Articles
By Chris Mooney ~ October 19, 2011

Fracturing a deep shale layer one time to release natural gas might pose little risk to drinking-water supplies, but doing so repeatedly could be problematic. 
Is fracking polluting our drinking water? The debate has become harsh, and scientists are speaking out. 
Anthony Ingraffea, an engineering professor at Cornell University and an expert on the controversial technique to drill natural gas, has had much to say, especially since he attended a March meeting in Arlington, Va., hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  
There he met scientists from top gas and drilling companies: Devon Energy, Chesapeake, Halliburton. All had assembled to help the agency determine whether fracking, accused of infusing toxic chemicals and gas into drinking-water supplies in various states, is guilty as charged.  
The answer lies at the center of escalating controversy in New York State, Pennsylvania, Texas and Colorado, as well as Australia, France and Canada. . . 
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The Do-It-Yourself Approach to Tracking Gas Drilling
By Andrew C. Revkin ~ November 14, 2012 ~ New York Times

4:25 p.m. | Addendum on methane leaks added | Given that government resources for environmental regulation (and just about everything else) will be constrained for a long time to come, I’ve been enthusiastic about efforts by the public to take a D.I.Y. (do it yourself) role in tracking pollution or resource issues, whether on the ground or online. 
That’s why I loved learning last year how Jamie Serra, a 26-year-old employee of the state legislature in Pennsylvania, created the useful Web site Fracktrack.org as a way to organize masses of data on drilling permits, violations and other activities related to the natural gas drilling rush in that state. 
And it’s also why I was excited today to see a national mapping effort along the same lines created by the organization SkyTruth. The information mapped by SkyTruth mainly comes from data that are voluntarily submitted by gas companies to the FracFocus chemical disclosure registry that I wrote about last year. But a lot more transparency is still needed. 
For instance, the industry has thousands of water test results from before and after wells were drilled that it does not share with independent scientists.
Read more on the SkyTruth data base here and click around the map above.
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Drilling Down - The New York Times series

Articles in the Drilling Down series from The New York Times examine
the risks of natural-gas drilling and efforts to regulate this rapidly growing industry. . .

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MAY 15, 2012 | LONG HOURS FOR TRUCKING 
Deadliest Danger Isn’t at the Rig but on the Road 
By Ian Urbina 
Documents: The Oil Field Exemptions   
Graphic: Death on the Job
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DEC. 1, 2011 | LANDOWNERS AND LANDMEN 
Learning Too Late of Perils in Gas Well Leases 
By Ian Urbina
Documents: Oil and Gas Leases and a Guide to Lease Terms 
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OCT. 19, 2011 | THE FINE PRINT 
Rush to Drill for Natural Gas Creates Conflicts With Mortgages 
By Ian Urbina 
 Documents: Mortgages and Gas Leases 
 Graphic: Contamination From Drilling
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AUG. 3, 2011 | EVIDENCE SURFACES 
A Tainted Water Well, and Concern There May Be More 
By Ian Urbina 
Documents: A Case of Fracking-Related Contamination  
Graphic: Contamination From Drilling
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JUNE 27, 2011 | WIDESPREAD SKEPTICISM 
Behind Veneer, Doubt on Future of Natural Gas 
By Ian Urbina 
S.E.C. Shift Leads to Worries of Overestimation of Reserves   
 Federal Officials Quietly Question Shale Gas
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Is Fracking Safe? The Top 10 Controversial Claims About Natural Gas Drilling
By Seamus McGraw ~ Popular Mechanics
http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/energy/coal-oil-gas/top-10-myths-about-natural-gas-drilling-6386593#slide-1
Members of Congress, gas companies, news organization, drilling opponents: They've all made bold claims about hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the U.S. supply of underground natural gas. We take on 10 controversial quotes about natural gas and set the record straight.

Claim No. 1
"WE ARE THE SAUDI ARABIA OF NATURAL GAS."
SEN. JOHN KERRY, D-MASS., MAY 2010  
Less than a decade ago, industry analysts and government officials fretted that the United States was in danger of running out of gas. No more. Over the past several years, vast caches of natural gas trapped in deeply buried rock have been made accessible by advances in two key technologies: horizontal drilling, which allows vertical wells to turn and snake more than a mile sideways through the earth, and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.  
Developed more than 60 years ago, fracking involves pumping millions of gallons of chemically treated water into deep shale formations at pressures of 9000 pounds per square inch or more. This fluid cracks the shale or widens existing cracks, freeing hydrocarbons to flow toward the well.   [link to the rest of the story] 
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Swift* Endorses Investor Report on Fracking
by SWIFT FOUNDATION on JANUARY 17, 2012 



In January 2012, Swift Foundation joined more than 40 organizations representing over $55 billion in assets to support a new report on corporate responsibility in fracking. The report written by the Investor Environmental Health Network and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility  offers best practice recommendations on reporting and reducing the risks and impacts from natural gas production from shale formations. 
The report is called, Extracting the Facts: An Investor Guide to Disclosing Risks From Hydraulic Fracturing Operations. You can find links to the report and supporting materials on IEHN’s webpage: http://www.iehn.org/publications.reports.frackguidance.php 
. . . Importantly, it is a resource for companies to respond to the Securities and Exchange Commission’s growing interest in the environmental risks from fracturing operations, and will also help companies seeking to implement a U.S. Department of Energy advisory panel recommendation that companies “adopt a more visible commitment to using quantitative measures as a means of achieving best practice”.{...} 
“As questions about hydraulic fracturing mounted from investors, the public, local municipalities, and federal regulators, companies called for greater clarity around what to measure and what to report,”  said Steven Heim from Boston Common Asset Management.  . . . 
Heim continued, {...}“While industry often claims business risks are minimal and community concerns are unfounded, explosions, contamination incidents, and millions of dollars in fines are clear evidence that many things can and will go wrong until the proper safeguards are put in place,” said Larisa Ruoff of Green Century Capital Management. . . ."
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Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us
There are more than 680,000 underground waste and injection wells nationwide, more than 150,000 of which shoot industrial fluids thousands of feet below the surface. Scientists and federal regulators acknowledge they do not know how many of the sites are leaking. 
{...} 
Another way wells can leak is if waste is injected with such force that it accidentally shatters the rock meant to contain it. 
A report published by scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the University of Texas said that high pressure is "the driving force" that can help connect deep geologic layers with shallower ones, allowing fluid to seep through the earth.{...}There are upwards of 2 million abandoned and plugged oil and gas wells in the U.S., more than 100,000 of which may not appear in regulators' records. Sometimes they are just broken off tubes of steel, buried or sticking out of the ground. 
Many are supposed to be sealed shut with cement, but studies show that cement breaks down over time, allowing seepage up the well structure. 
{...} 
Leaking wells can simply go undetected. One Texas study looking for the cause of high salinity in soil found that at least 29 brine injection wells in its study area were likely sending a plume of salt water up into the ground unnoticed.{...}A 1987 General Accountability Office review put the total number of cases in which waste had migrated from Class 1 hazardous waste wells into underground aquifers at 10 — including the Texas and Pennsylvania sites. Two of those aquifers were considered potential drinking water sources. 
In 1989, the GAO reported 23 more cases in seven states where oil and gas injection wells had failed and polluted aquifers. New regulations had done little to prevent the problems, the report said, largely because most of the wells involved had been grandfathered in and had not had to comply with key aspects of the rules. 
{...} 
Ultimately, the energy industry won a critical change in the federal government's legal definition of waste: Since 1988, all material resulting from the oil and gas drilling process is considered non-hazardous, regardless of its content or toxicity. 
{...} 
According to the model, vertical movement of underground fluids shouldn't be possible at all, or should happen over what scientists call "geologic time": thousands of years or longer. Yet a 2011 study in Wisconsin found that human viruses had managed to infiltrate deep aquifers, probably moving downward through layers believed to be a permanent seal. 
According to a study published in April in the journal Ground Water, it's not a matter of if fluid will move through rock layers, but when.
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The Best Watchdog Journalism On Fracking
by Blair Hickman and Cora Currier ~ ProPublica ~ April 6, 2012,
On Monday, April 9, we’re hosting a live discussion at New York City’s Tenement Museum on “The Perils and Promise” of using hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas. So, to get the conversation going, we collected some of the can’t-miss watchdog journalism on fracking.
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And that's just the start of it.  Check out the results for a search of "fracking":  http://www.propublica.org/search/search.php?q=fracking
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But wait, there's more:



Is Fracking Safe? Unpublished NY State Health Dept Report Says Yes
BY Roxanne Palmer | January 03 2013 
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Is Fracking Safe? Democracy Now! Hosts Debate on Controversial Natural Gas Drilling Technique As NY Moratorium May Expire
huffingtonpost ~ 01/04/2013 
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NYT Puts Story of Leaked 'Fracking Is Safe' Report Covered Up for a Year on Page A19
By Tom Blumer | January 06, 2013

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If anyone knows of information sources they feel I should add to this list 
please leave a comment.

1 comment:

Carol Cure said...

March 12 at 10:00 a.m. is the La Plata County Commissioners' next meeting at which they will discuss a possible moratorium on fracking. It appears from reporting in the Durango Herald that Gwen Lachelt might be leaning toward such a ban, but that Bobby Lieb and Julie Westendorff are not at all convinced. I would urge everyone who cares about our county's environment and our health and safety to attend this meeting and express your views.