Friday, July 31, 2009

Waste Water Pipelines. How safe are they?

Waste water pipelines carry the contaminated water from the gas wells to a central trucking or water impound site. In the case below, it was a 6 inch pipe running from a drilled gas well. It contaminated a lake in a park killing fish, salamander, crayfish and aquatic insect life. What if it had been under someones house, garden or pool? Typically they are about 4 feet deep.

I received an e-mail saying that Argyle just approved Williams Production's use of a similar system. I am trying to confirm that.

This type of system is used to keep truck traffic from the drill site down. But a pipe running under homes, parks, and schools carrying drilling waste just doesn't seem any better. Since the gas drilling companies don't have to disclose what is in their drilling and fracking fluid, do we really want this waste water going under our neighborhoods?

I wonder if any other towns might be thinking of this type of system??????

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Even those in the Oil and Gas Industry Believe Water Is An Issue

Even a year ago, some in the industry were concerned about water usage and contamination. They admit large amounts of water is needed and not reusable. They also acknowledge continuing drought conditions as a concern. It is the OPINION of the Texas Railroad Commission that waste water is the most common oilfield waste in the state.

Large amounts of fresh water are used in hydraulic fracturing. The water returns to the surface with dissolved salt in it, rendering it unusable. E&P operations in the Barnett shale use about 120 million barrels—5 billion gallons—of fresh water annually. Disposal costs an average of $2 to $9.50 per barrel.

According to the Texas Railroad Commission, waste water is the most common oilfield waste in the state.

“That’s water that is lost forever,” says Marty Walter, vice president of field operations for STW. “With much of the Western U.S. facing continuing drought conditions, the industry has a lot of eyes on it over water issues.”

Water-quality issues were behind a special meeting of producers involved in the Marcellus shale play by Pennsylvania state officials. Their concern over the loss of fresh water has the state studying possible new laws governing water use. The opening of the Marcellus shale has companies and state and local officials at odds on such areas as what kind of permits are needed for companies to draw large amounts of fresh water from streams and lakes for drilling.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oil and Gas is spending millions to lobby for their industry

The amount of money being spent by Gas and Oil Industry to lobby for their industry is way up from recent years.
Instead of spending some of their profits to drill for Gas the right way, they would rather waste millions on lobbying to keep the right to jeopardize the health of American Citizens and our environment.

"The oil and gas industry's top spending in the second quarter comes after first-quarter numbers showed the sector on pace to shatter previous spending totals. The industry in the first three months of the year spent $44.5 million on lobbying, compared with $30.1 million in the same period a year earlier. If the pace set by this year's first quarter continued, it would result in a $178 million lobbying total for the year.
Oil and gas in 2008 spent $130 million, a record at that time."

The Oil and Gas Industry is also contributing in a big way to politicians.
Below is an article that lists some of the campaign donations from Exxon Mobile to Kay Bailey Hucthinson to the tune of $82,070 from 1989 to 2006.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Serious Problem: We Can't Drink Natural Gas!!

This is getting serious. There is a statewide drought going on and the water usage of residents in many Texas towns is being closely monitored. Meanwhile the gas drilling companies get to continue their excessive waste and contamination of our most precious and life sustaining resource....FRESH, CLEAN, DRINKING WATER!!!

Just below the CNBC article is a great article called Hydraulic Fracturing: Your Money or Your Life. It talks about how gas drilling is impacting our environment in more ways than water waste.

Natural gas drilling is permanently altering our hydrological cycle. Using a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, 1 to 5 million gallons of potable water, mixed with chemicals and sand are pumped under pressure down the drilling hole to release the gas trapped deep in the earth. During its lifetime, a well may be refracked as many as 18 times.

Of course we will never know exactly how much water the gas industry uses since they get to self report their usage.

Fox estimates that the recent natural gas drilling expansion has wasted over 40 Trillion gallons of potable water. That figure only considers the initial fracking. Since water usage is largely self reported by the industry, no one knows the true figure. The water used to produce natural gas is not sustainable.

Police are patrolling neighborhoods in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio looking for citizens who are violating the water restrictions. Many are being fined. There are towns in Texas that could be out of fresh drinking water soon.

All this and no mention of any restrictions for the one process that wastes and contaminates more water than humans or any other industry, the GAS DRILLING AND THE HYDRAULIC FRACKING PROCESS. Folks, we can't drink natural gas.

Drought turning Texas as dry as toast
Water restrictions lead to extreme conservation efforts

John Davenport / Zuma Press

DALLAS - Off-duty police officers are patrolling streets, looking for people illegally watering their lawns and gardens. Residents are encouraged to stealthily rat out water scofflaws on a 24-hour hot line. One Texas lake has dipped so low that stolen cars dumped years ago are peeking up through the waterline.

The nation's most drought-stricken state is deep-frying under relentless 100-degree days and waterways are drying up, especially in the hardest-hit area covering about 350 miles across south-central Texas. That's making folks worried about the water supply — and how long it might last.

"The water table's fallin' and fallin' and fallin,' like a whole lot of other people around here," said Wendell McLeod, general manager of Liberty Hill Water Supply Corp. and a 60-year resident of the town northwest of Austin. "This is the worst I can recall seeing it. I tell you, it's just pretty bleak."

There are 230 Texas public water systems under mandatory water restrictions, including those in and near San Antonio, Dallas, Houston and Austin. Another 60 or so have asked for voluntary cutbacks. Water levels are down significantly in lakes, rivers and wells around Texas.

Liberty Hill's Web site urges its 1,400 or so residents in all-red letters to stop using unnecessary water with this plea: "If we follow these strict guidelines, we may have drinking water." The town's shortage eased some with the arrival this week of 35,000 gallons a day from a nearby water system, but residents are still worried.

77 Texas counties in severe drought. According to drought statistics released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 77 of Texas' 254 counties are in extreme or exceptional drought, the most severe categories. No other state in the continental U.S. has even one area in those categories. John Nielsen-Gammon, the Texas state climatologist at Texas A&M University, said he expects harsh drought conditions to last at least another month.

In the bone-dry San Antonio-Austin area, the conditions that started in 2007 are being compared to the devastating drought of the 1950s. There have been 36 days of 100 degrees or more this year in an area where there are usually closer to 12.

Among the most obvious problems are the lack of water in Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan near Austin, two massive reservoirs along the Colorado River that provide drinking water for more than 1 million people and also are popular boating and swimming spots. Streams and tributaries that feed the lakes have "all but dried up," according to the Lower Colorado River Authority.
Lake Travis is more empty than full, down 54 percent. All but one of the 12 boating ramps are closed because they no longer reach the water, and the last may go soon. The receding waters have even revealed old stolen cars shoved into the lake years ago, authorities said.
There's no threat to the area's drinking water supply, Rose said, but there are increased boating hazards from the "sometimes islands" that pop up when the water's low, increased risk of wildfires, and more interactions between humans and wildlife.
"We're seeing deer and armadillo and other animals in places we don't typically see them," he said. "They're starving for water and food."

At the Oasis, a popular restaurant with a deck overlooking Lake Travis, the islands are even starting to grow heavy vegetation.
"You can see all the white on the rocks where the waterline used to be," said Becca Torbert, a server at the restaurant who says the boat traffic is down, but the water is down even more.

San Antonio policing water offenders. San Antonio, which relies on the Edwards Aquifer for its water, is enduring its driest 23-month period since weather data was recorded starting in 1885, according to the National Weather Service. The aquifer's been hovering just above 640 feet deep, and if it dips below that the city will issue its harshest watering restrictions yet.

The city's not just sitting around, though. A total of 30 off-duty officers and other employees are working overtime to patrol the city looking for people illegally watering. Since April, about 1,500 people have been cited and ordered to pay fines ranging from $50 to over $1,000. Residents also are encouraged to rat out water scofflaws on the 24-hour Water Waste Hot Line.

"We don't go out in a car with sirens blazing or anything like that, but we do take the report and send out a letter saying 'You've been reported for not following water rules,'" said Anne Hayden, spokeswoman for the San Antonio Water System.

There have been smatterings of light rain in the area this week, but not enough to make much difference. But hopefully, the end is in sight. Victor Murphy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said an El Nino system is developing in the Pacific Ocean. That phenomenon is usually followed by increased rainfall in Texas in the fall.
McLeod, from Liberty City, hopes his little town can hang on till then.
"I don't know how we can," he said. "I try not to look too far ahead."

Hydraulic Fracturing: Your Money or Your Life

Natural gas drilling is permanently altering our hydrological cycle. Using a process called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, 1 to 5 million gallons of potable water, mixed with chemicals and sand are pumped under pressure down the drilling hole to release the gas trapped deep in the earth. During its lifetime, a well may be refracked as many as 18 times. The water that returns—30 to 70%--is called flowback and can contain the drilling chemicals plus hydrocarbons from the formation and naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM). This toxic witch’s brew requires disposal, usually into an injection/disposal well where it is injected deep into the earth under a “containment” barrier—a permanent withdrawal from our overall water budget. People laughed at me or dismissed my theory—easily intimidated, I shut up. I read Principles of Hydrogeology by Dr. Paul F. Hudak and contacted him with my question. Below is his reply:

Disposing used water into deep injection wells essentially removes it from the active hydrologic cycle. Conceivably, it could return to the active cycle at some very distant point in the future (speaking in geologic terms, well beyond human time frames.) This presumes no leakage through the well casing or nearby abandoned and unplugged wells, which could facilitate upward migration.

Dr. Paul F. Hudak Department of Geography University of North Texas.

"I believe this practice plays a big role in driving our perpetual drought." Josh Fox traveled across the country filming his upcoming documentary, Water Under Attack. In the trailer to his documentary, Fox estimates that the recent natural gas drilling expansion has wasted over 40 Trillion gallons of potable water. That figure only considers the initial fracking. Since water usage is largely self reported by the industry, no one knows the true figure. The water used to produce natural gas is not sustainable. Water recycling technology is available but only a tiny fraction of drilling water is recycled.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Gas leak from and XTO gas well in Grand Prairie

I am sure the residents of this Grand Prairie neighborhood might not agree that gas wells are "safe enough" to be in neighborhoods. How about near a park or school where kids are playing and breathing in the "hazy air" the residents reported seeing?

The reports below mention that the well was spewing ODORLESS GAS in the air. I wonder how long it was spewing before someone noticed since no one could smell the gas. Good thing no one decided to "go out for a smoke"!!!!

Gas Lake Nearly Forces Grand Prairie Evacuation
Grand Prairie firefighters came close to evacuating a whole neighborhood because of a gas leak near Joe Poole Lake last night. Around 9 p.m. residents along Grand Peninsula Drive, on the west side of the lake, began noticing a haze in the air. It turned out to be from an XTO Energy gas well and the Grand Prairie Fire Department was making plans for an evacuation when XTO
crews got the leak capped.

Grand Prairie well leaks gas
11:51 PM CDT on Thursday, July 23, 2009
A Grand Prairie neighborhood was nearly evacuated after a gas leak was discovered in the 2900 block of South Grand Peninsula.
The odorless gas began spewing from a XTO Energy well around 9 p.m. and created a haze in the sky. The Grand Prairie Fire Department became concerned and was close to evacuating nearby homes when the leak was capped.
XTO Energy is searching for the cause behind the leak.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Let's be Neighborly

NOTE: Tonight I spoke at an HOA meeting, here in Flower Mound. Here are my remarks:

Whenever I speak, I always start with the exact same comments. They are: I represent the Flower Mound Citizens Against Urban Drilling, a group of concerned residents who believe that gas drilling in highly residential areas is a threat to the public safety, the public health and the overall quality of life here in Flower Mound.

We are NOT against all gas drilling—but only that which will adversely affect the public safety, the enjoyment of our homes, and our overall quality of life.

That last statement is such an important aspect of our core beliefs that I want to repeat it…..We are NOT against all gas drilling, only that which will adversely affect the public safety, the enjoyment of our homes, and our overall quality of life.

Over the past year and a half, I think we’ve all learned far more about urban gas drilling than we ever wanted to know. Rather than spending a lot of time on a detailed discussion of the myriad of hazards related to urban gas drilling, I’d like to make an appeal to you—as one neighbor to another.

In the simplest of terms, I’d ask that you refuse to support anything that could bring harm to a neighbor.

This concept (looking out for your neighbor) is relevant in this discussion, because some of us are very close to potential drill sites, while others are quite some distance away-- yet those that are a fair distance away have the ability to weigh in on drilling decisions that will highly impact others. In other words, if you lease your minerals because you know that the planned drill site will be far away from your home—what about the person whose home is near the drill site?

I don’t know about your neighborhood, but the storm in the first part of June hit our neighborhood hard. We were without electricity for 2 whole days. But it was the oddest thing, because it was just our side of the street. I don’t even think the lights flickered on the other side of the street.

You know what happened? As soon as it was safe, the neighbors on the “lucky” side of the street were right there with us—plugging in extension cords to run fans and refrigerators—ice—room in their refrigerator--a cool place to stay….

You see, we’re neighbors and we look out for each other

Let’s look at this another way…what if you found out that a XXX movie theatre was proposed a several blocks down the street, but right next door to someone’s home? Or a fertilizer plant. Or a pig farm. You’d be up in arms, right?

How is an urban gas well any different? Urban gas drilling is considered heavy industry. And worse than that, it’s not even subject to the Federal Clear Air or Federal Clean Water Acts. It can take place without environmental impact studies.

It could bring hundreds of truck loads of water, sand, and equipment down your streets where 5 year olds wobble along on their bikes on training wheels.

And the noise….do you know that many people who live nearby wells sites ask to be relocated during the drilling phase? The developers will tell you that yes, it can be annoying for the first few days of drilling, but then they’re gone. What they don’t tell you is that the well sites can contain many horizontal lines. Each one has to be drilled individually. And then later, it will have to be re-fracked to stimulate additional production.

And water…you know I come from West Texas and water is an unbelievably precious resource. Do you know each well that’s drilled can require as much as 5M gallons? And once used, besides whatever’s in the fracing fluids, it contains salt at a level that will sterilize the soil if spilled. And it will be spilled….it has to be trucked away and forced back into the ground through an injection well out in the country….where it may leak into farmers’ and ranchers’ water supplies.

And then, what about the pipeline that would be necessary to transport the gas to the nearest collection line? Where would that be laid? Whose property would have to be acquired through eminent domain? Just because you think that they won’t be drilling near you, that doesn’t mean you won’t have a pipeline running through your front yard. Don’t think it can happen? Look at what happened to the folks on Carter Ave. over in Ft. Worth.

And finally, let’s talk about the economics of gas drilling…..$2,500/acre signing bonus. Well I have a good sized lot (I think), but it’s only a ¼ acre, so that would be $625. Less federal income tax…probably less than $500. Then the royalties…goodness…gas is something under $4 now…what would that be, $10/month? Double it. $20/month?

You also hear that urban gas drilling doesn’t have a negative impact on home values. Let me ask you a simple question? If you were in the market for a home and you had a choice between a house next to a gas well and a house NOT next to a gas well? Which would you choose? The Metroplex is a big place and there are a LOT of places you can live where you would have to deal with urban gas drilling.

I’ve heard many, many times that it’s inevitable and that there’s no reason to fight it, because they’re going to win anyway. I disagree. This may be Texas where O&G is King, but it’s not China or North Korea…we’re Americans and we have the right to stand up and protect our property and our well-being.

Flower Mound is fortunate in that our Town leaders have passed a strong O&G ordinance. But we have to be vigilant: 1) keep the ordinance strong and 2) make sure that the O&G Board (which approves variances) continues to deny variances requests for proposed sites in highly residential areas.

Some people believe the large landowners’ stance that they have a “right” to develop their minerals—even if it is to the detriment of their neighbors. Again, I disagree. As freedom of speech does not give one the right to yell “FIRE” in a crowded theatre, property ownership does not give one the right to develop it in a manner that causes harm to a neighbor. Otherwise, why are their ordinances which preclude me from turning my back yard into a salvage yard, a used car lot, or a firing range?

This group has always encouraged people to speak using only the facts. Don’t get up and say that gas drilling causes cancer—unless, of course you’re credentialed and you have scientific evidence to back it up. Talk about what you know.

Here’s what I know. I did not buy a nice home in a beautiful residential area of Town expecting that a gas developer would bring heavy industry into my neighborhood. But there’s more to it than that. I don’t want a gas well drilled a few hundred feet from your house either. Or, your church, or your child’s school.

I promise you I’ll be a good neighbor, will you?

Huge oil and gas field found and California and talk about lifting 40 year moratorium

Occidental Petroleum has discovered a new oil field in California. They say it could be the biggest oil and natural gas discovery in 35 years. It is in Kern County and the Central Valley of the State. The California Aqueduct runs through this area and carries drinking water to 20 million people. This area is a large agricultural area that supplies produce to many Americans.

The Kern River is a 164 miles long and is fed by snowmelt and runs through the Central Valley. It is diverted for irrigation, recharging aquifers and the California Aqueduct. It is also a huge recreational area with rafting, camping, hunting, and fishing.

According to the report, "The California field is also richer in oil than natural gas, which sells at a lower cost on the open market, making it a more profitable find than ones such as the Barnett Shale in Texas."

Now they want to end a 40 year moratorium on offshore drilling

Californians beware. Water is already a huge issue in the state.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sound Familiar? Gas Wells Near Homes, Parks and Hospitals.

With all the land in Denton, why the need to drill next to homes, a hospital and a park? Rayzor Ranch is 410 acres but the developers want to drill 5 wells on 3 acres that are next to a densely populated neighborhood, a park, and a hospital. Future development include mixed use with condos, homes, apartments, and shops. Unfortunately Denton doesn't have the Oil & Gas Ordinance Flower Mound has. Let's hope in September a Denton Judge doesn't change our O & G Boards ability to enforce the ordinance. (Red Oak and Riverwalk vs The Town of Flower Mound O & G Gas Board of Appeals).

As of 10:00 pm tonight the Denton City Council hadn't got to this issue yet. Maybe they are hoping the citizens will get tired of waiting and go home.

Here is video from CBS 11 news tonight

Article that appeared in the Denton Records Chronicle today.

Gas wells sought at Rayzor
Mixed-used project might include drilling if council OKs plan

09:05 AM CDT on Tuesday, July 21, 2009
By Lowell Brown / Staff Writer
The Denton City Council today will consider the latest plans for the Rayzor Ranch development, including a request to drill up to five gas wells across the street from McKenna Park.
A public hearing and vote are scheduled on the plan, which would allow Fort Worth-based Range Production Co. to drill gas wells on 3 acres that are undeveloped inside the planned Rayzor Ranch Town Center south of U.S. Highway 380. The proposed gas well site is north of Scripture Street and across Bonnie Brae Street from the city park and a residential neighborhood.
The property’s zoning allows gas drilling if the council approves a special-use permit. The Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the permit in June with conditions meant to limit the effects of noise and traffic at the site.

Some neighbors are opposing the drilling, saying it will bring noise and heavy-truck traffic and lower their quality of life.
“No. 1 would be the noise; No. 2 the increase in traffic,” said Brett Darr, who lives on nearby Panhandle Street and is circulating a petition against the drilling that he said has more than 70 signatures. “You know how bad it is on Bonnie Brae already, and if you have heavy equipment going in and out of that area, those roads aren’t ready for that weight.”
Darr also said he’s worried about residents’ safety after a series of minor earthquakes recently hit Cleburne, the site of extensive natural gas drilling. Researchers are studying whether drilling could have caused the earthquakes.

Any drilling on the Rayzor property would be safe, said Mary Curliss Patton, regulatory manager for Range Resources, the parent company of Range Production.
“We’re one of the leading operators in the Barnett Shale, and we’re quite experienced in urban drilling,” she said. “We don’t see any safety concerns with drilling the well at the location.”
The site would support one to five gas wells, depending on the success of the first well, Patton said. The company would erect sound walls to mitigate the noise from the drilling, she said.

What: Denton City Council meeting
When: 3:30 p.m. work session, 6:30 p.m. regular session today
Where: City Hall, 215 E. McKinney St.
Why: The agenda includes a public hearing and possible vote on a plan to allow gas well drilling on a 3-acre site within the Rayzor Ranch development, across the street from homes and McKenna Park.

Patton said that although city rules do not require a minimum distance between gas wells and parks, the city parks department had reviewed the company’s drilling application. City parks director Emerson Vorel was unavailable for comment.

The proposed gas well site eventually could be surrounded by homes or townhomes to the north and offices to the west and south, according to a concept plan for Rayzor Ranch Town Center.
The site is just north of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Denton. Hospital president Stan Morton said in a written statement that hospital officials were unaware of the drilling plan but did not believe it would interrupt the hospital’s day-to-day business.

Resident John Piott said most of his neighbors on Stanley Street, which parallels Bonnie Brae to the east, didn’t know about the drilling plan until Darr started circulating his petition.
“The main rub here is that with something of that magnitude, only a handful of people were notified,” Piott said, adding that he wouldn’t oppose the drilling if the wells were moved farther from homes.

The city planning department sent certified notices of the public hearing to five property owners within 200 feet of the site, along with 22 “courtesy notices” to residents within 500 feet, according to city planner Nana Appiah in a written report to the council. A legal notice in the Record-Chronicle on July 5 also advertised the hearing.

The drilling company has secured consent to drill from the owners of the two homes closest to the proposed wellheads, Range Resources’ Patton said in a letter to the city urging passage of the plan.
She also pointed out that the proposed drilling site was designated for gas production in site plans the council already approved.

Also today, the council will consider several changes to approved plans for Rayzor Ranch, a proposed 410-acre mixed-use development at Interstate 35 and U.S. 380. They include more detailed criteria for signs; revised landscaping requirements, in part to reflect changes in road and utility construction; and new architectural standards for junior anchor stores in the retail area north of U.S. 380.

Another requested change — to withdraw an approved master plan and replace it with a conceptual plan — is still pending before the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The changes are the latest requested for the development. The developers have worked to get Rayzor Ranch back on track after a change in financial backers, drainage problems and other woes delayed progress after the official groundbreaking in August 2007.
Construction is under way on Rayzor Ranch Marketplace north of U.S. 380, where a Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club and other retail stores are planned.
The developers could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Today’s council agenda also includes:
• A public hearing and possible vote on a plan to allow the development of The Lodge at Pecan Creek, a 192-unit apartment complex, on about 16 acres near the northeast corner of Old Highway 77 and Shady Shores Road. The property’s zoning allows up to 400 multifamily units, according to city records.
• A public hearing and possible vote on a plan to allow construction of the Villas at North Lakes, a 100-lot residential community on nearly 31 acres at the southwest corner of Hinkle Drive and Windsor Street. The applicant, Wade Trim of Grapevine, needs a special-use permit to allow townhouses, which are expected to make up nearly half of the development.
• A discussion on closing the city’s utility customer service office at Golden Triangle Mall and extending operating hours at City Hall East.
• A report on the status of the city’s applications for aid under the federal stimulus act.
LOWELL BROWN can be reached at 940-566-
6882. His e-mail address is .

Sample Letter to Send to Congress for Frac Act

Here is a sample letter to send to our Senator and Representative to urge them to co-sponsor the Frac Act. Voicing concerns do make a difference. We just did during our legislative session by letting our elected officials how we felt about HB2110, HB4144, HB4441, and HB4654. Use this letter below or compose your own....just write!!

Dear Senator/Representative:

We urge you to co-sponsor S. 1215/H.R. 2766, the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act. This important legislation would repeal an exemption in the Safe Drinking Water Act for an oil and gas technique called hydraulic fracturing. It would also require public disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluids.

Oil and gas production is present in 34 states, and a consistent national standard is needed for this practice. Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluids into oil or gas wells at very high pressure in order to crack open the underground formation and allow oil or gas to flow out more easily. These fluids often contain toxic chemicals, some of which remain underground. The pressure places stress on the oil or gas well and can lead to unpredictable consequences. Our organizations represent communities across the country, some of which have already suffered drinking water contamination linked to hydraulic fracturing operations. Reports of drinking water contamination come from Colorado, Texas, Arkansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Alabama, among others.

While states regulate oil and gas production, state rules vary widely and a federal floor is needed. As stated in a recent study from the Hastings College of the Law, “….many of the state regulatory schemes date from earlier waves of resource extraction, and have not kept pace with changed technologies, nor with a deepening concern for public health and the environment.” For example, a recent report issued by the Ground Water Protection Council found that some states do not require a well’s surface casing to be set through the deepest ground water zone.

In 2005, Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the SDWA to the benefit of Halliburton and other oil and gas companies. It is time to close the Halliburton Loophole and hold the oil and gas production industry to the same standards as any other industry. Most states have primacy for regulating underground injection and would therefor have considerable flexibility under this legislation to tailor their rules to local conditions. Every American deserves to have their drinking water source protected from endangerment under federal law.

The right balance needs to be established between oil and gas development and protection of our precious natural resources. Instead of that balance, however, provisions of some of our most critical federal environmental laws have exemptions for oil and gas production. In addition to the Safe Drinking Water Act, there are loopholes in the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. These loopholes should be closed.

We hope you will co-sponsor this sensible and important legislation

Monday, July 20, 2009

Earthjustice-Natural Resources Defense Council Halliburton Loophole Fact Sheet

Earthjustice – Natural Resources Defense Council
Oil and Gas Accountability Project – Western Organization of Resource Councils
Congress Should Close the Halliburton Loophole
Hydraulic fracturing should be regulated under theSafe Drinking Water Act

Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of fluids, often containing toxic chemicals, into oil or gas wells at very high pressure. These pressurized fluids are used to crack open the underground formation to allow oil or gas to flow more freely and increase production. Studies show that, while some of the injected fluids are returned to the surface, some remain underground. In some cases, they are injected directly into underground sources of drinking water (USDWs).1 Our nation’s drinking water sources are extremely precious resources; according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, approximately half of the total U.S. population and 95% of our rural population obtain drinking water from underground water sources.

Fracturing is highly variable and unpredictable, and can lead to unintended consequences, such as contamination of drinking water. This practice should be regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) like other forms of underground injection. Yet, in 2005, Congress exempted hydraulic fracturing from the SDWA to the benefit of Halliburton and a handful of other hydraulic fracturing companies. It's time to reverse this hand-out to special interests.

1. Closing the Halliburton Loophole would not shut down drilling or mandate a burdensome new permit process.Legislation to close the Halliburton loophole would not require new regulations, environmental impact statements, or additional individual permits for each well. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations already exist for underground injection activities, and current EPA rules allow a state to incorporate hydraulic fracturing into the existing permitting process for each well. In Colorado, operators already have to provide information on whether fracturing will be used. Colorado’s new Comprehensive Drilling Plan, an optional approach, does not require individual permits and instead allows planning for an entire geographic area in advance. Alabama currently has a permit process for hydraulic fracturing that has not reduced drilling activity.

2. Closing the Halliburton Loophole would not require disclosure of proprietary trade secrets or confidential business information.Legislation to close the Halliburton loophole would not require disclosure of specific proprietary formulas. Even if legislation required disclosure of the chemical constituents injected underground, a list of ingredients is not proprietary – one need only look at the ingredient list on a can of Coca-Cola to know that is the case. Pennsylvania already requires operators to provide a chemical analysis of hydraulic fracturing fluids used in each operation, a requirement with which companies currently comply.2

3. Closing the Halliburton Loophole would provide a minimum federal standard to prohibit drinking water contamination and shine a light on hydraulic fracturing.Oil and gas production now occurs in 34 states. Every state has different standards, and their strength and effectiveness vary widely. A recent report from the Hastings College of the Law concluded that “….many of the state regulatory schemes date from earlier waves of resource extraction, and have not kept pace with changed technologies, nor with a deepening concern for public health and the environment.”3
See Page 2 for examples of drinking water endangerment linked to hydraulic fracturing from around the country.

1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Evaluation of Impacts to Underground Sources of Drinking Water by Hydraulic Fracturing of Coalbed Methane Reservoirs, “ June 2004.
2 Section M, Pennsylvania “Application Addendum and Instructions for Marcellus Shale Gas Well Development.”
3 “Selected Topics in State and Local Regulation of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production,” available at:

Examples of drinking water endangerment linked to hydraulic fracturing:

TEXAS: In late 2007, three families near Grandview, Texas noticed changes in their well water just after a natural gas well within a couple of hundred yards of their properties was hydraulically fractured. Within days, five goats and a llama had died. All three families noticed strong sulfur smells in their water, which became unusable. At first their water ran dry, and then the water returned with extremely high pressure, blowing out pipes. Showering caused skin irritation. The Railroad Commission of Texas acknowledged that testing of well water found toluene and other contaminants.4 The families now haul water for themselves and their animals.

PENNSYLVANIA: In the summer of 2008, contamination of a drinking water well used by two families in Gibbs Hill occurred after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby natural gas well. Donna Burger, a nurse, smelled strong fumes and experienced burning in her lungs and sinuses after showering. Her fiancé Clint Yates drank water and felt immediate burning in his mouth. The artesian well that provides the water for these families had run clean and strong for over 100 years. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection found that pressure in the gas well had exceeded the pressure in the surrounding fresh groundwater system and that there had been unpermitted discharge of hydraulic fracturing fluids.5

OHIO: The Payne home in Bainbridge exploded in December, 2007; fortunately, no one was injured. The Ohio Division of Mineral Resources Management determined that hydraulic fracturing of a natural gas well with inadequate cementing had not been sufficiently monitored and had allowed natural gas to migrate through fractures in the bedrock into overlying aquifers and eventually into a local water well.6 At least 22 other drinking water wells in the area were contaminated with methane. Groundwater is the primary source of drinking water for 98 percent of the population in this county.

COLORADO: The water well of the Amos family, near Silt, blew out during hydraulic fracturing of nearby gas wells. Their drinking water turned gray, had strong smells, and bubbled. The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission determined that the Amos well was contaminated due to inadequate well structure that resulted in higher than normal well pressures and gas migration into groundwater. While water testing found methane had migrated to the Amos water well, the COGCC never tested the water for chemical additives in hydraulic fracturing fluids.7 Two years later, Laura Amos was diagnosed with primary hyperaldosteronism, a rare condition that has been linked in laboratory testing to 2-butoxyethanol -- a chemical that she learned had been used in the hydraulic fracturing near her home.

ALABAMA: The McMillian family water well in Northport became contaminated the day after hydraulic fracturing of a well less than 800 feet from their home. Their drinking water turned gray, bubbled, contained black oily globs, and had strong odors. The water appeared to clear, but again became discolored with strong fumes after another nearby well was fractured later the same week. Testing confirmed the presence of methane gas in the water well, indicating migration between the gas well and the water well. The Alabama Oil & Gas Board never tested the McMillian water for chemical additives in hydraulic fracturing fluids and stated it did not have a complete list of such chemicals. EPA testing did not begin until more than 9 months later, and did not account for seasonal hydrological conditions. The McMillians hauled their own water until they installed a filtration system.8

For more information, please contact:
Earthjustice: Jessica Ennis 202-667-4500, x202
NRDC: Amy Mall 720-565-0188
Oil & Gas Accountability Project/EARTHWORKS: Lauren Pagel 202-887-1872, x207
Western Organization of Resource Councils: Sara Kendall 202-547-7040

4 Letter from Jeff Lauman to Todd Thompson, May 16, 2008.
5 Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Notice of Violation, Insp. ID 1727711, Enforcement ID 237069.
6 Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mineral Resources Management, Report on the Investigationof the Natural Gas Invasion of Aquifers in Bainbridge Township of Geauga County, Ohio, September 1, 2008.
7 Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Administrative Order by Consent, Cause No. 1V, Order No. 1V-298, March 2006.
8 Petition for Promulgation of Rule Withdrawing Approval of Alabama's Underground Injection Control Program, Submitted to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency by Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, May 3, 1994.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Information on the Frack Act bills in US Congress and Senate

Here is information on the bills in the United States Congress and Senate to amend the exemption of the Oil and Gas Industry from the Clean Water Act. These bills will make them have to tell what is in the fracking fluid. This could prevent contamination like in Midland with Hexavalent Chromium in their water.
Or accidents that caused 16 cattle to drop dead after eating from a pasture where drilling waste had spilled into.
There are have been many more incidents and accidents reported.

The O & G Industry is pushing hard for these bills to fail. At this time, not 1 Texas Senator or Representative has signed on to co-sponsor this bill. We know Texas has always been an Oil and Gas State but that doesn't mean that we should allow it to be done dangerously and without any accountability. It is important that we let them know that water, our most important resource, is very important to all Texans.
S.1215 Title: A bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal a certain exemption for hydraulic fracturing, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Sen Casey, Robert P., Jr. [PA] (introduced 6/9/2009)
Cosponsors (1)
Related Bills: H.R.2766 Latest Major Action: 6/9/2009 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works.
H.R.2766 Title: To repeal the exemption for hydraulic fracturing in the Safe Drinking Water Act, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep DeGette, Diana [CO-1] introduced6/9/2009)
Cosponsors (14)
Related Bills: S.1215 Latest Major Action: 6/9/2009 Referred to House committee. Status: Referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Erin Brockovich Investigates Hexavalent Chromium Contamination in Midland, Texas

Here is a link to the story and video from the CBS News Early Show. Remember the contamination of Hinkley, California? Here is just a few items from the article.

The process is becoming "very daunting very quickly" because there are more homes affected than originally believed.

"I never thought I'd see another Hinkley, California," Brockovich told CBS News in Midland, “but I’m afraid I might be wrong." Hexavalent Chromium, Brockovich said, is now being found in significant amounts in the water of over 40 homes in Midland. "The only difference between here and Hinkley," Brockovich said, "is that I saw higher levels here than I saw in Hinkley."

Brockovich said the immediate concern for people in the contaminated areas is for their children.
"The children have so many unexplained problems," she said. "I sat down with a family ... and it was actually really heart wrenching. Their 7-year-old child has stomach tumors. They’re very concerned that he had an unusual cancer ... and (the mother) is so frightened what the future holds for that child." She added, "...In the long term (residents are) all terrified that they could come down with cancer."

Brockovich claims to have evidence that oil drilling activity is to blame.

Here is another news article that appeared in the Houston Chronicle today

Here is some info on Hexavalent Chromium and the Oil and Gas Industry from Dr. Jerry Michael Neff, Marine Biologist and Ecologist. This information was from an article that was published in 2000. Before the "Halliburton Loophole" and exemption from the Clean Water Act of 2005. Since the O & G Industry doesn't have to tell us what is in the drilling and fracking fluids anymore.....

"The most toxic drilling muds are those that contain high concentrations of hexavalent chromium, diesel fuel or surfactant. (Neff, J. M. 1987. op. cit. p.520)"

Friday, July 10, 2009

How many gas wells in the State of Texas? And how many are getting inspected?

After seeing this, now I know why the Texas Railroad Commission does such a lousy job of regulating the Gas and Oil Industry. It is physically impossible for the TRC to keep up with regular inspections on gas and oil wells. As of a year ago, the TRC only had 83 inspectors as reported in a Star Telegram article

Richard Varela, the commission's executive director, said the agency does the best it can with limited staff. There are 377,000 wells in Texas, each with associated pipelines, tank batteries and other equipment. And there are only 83 inspectors. That's about 4,500 wells per inspector.

The great state of Texas is in trouble. We need better regulation and accountability.

Click on the link below to see how many gas wells are in Texas. This is just gas wells and does not include oil wells and injection wells.

Smelly Gas Substance Spews on Keller Neighborhood

Gas drilling companies keep saying that it is the "clean burning" fuel. Some residents in Keller might feel that there is nothing "clean" about natural gas drilling. Encana claimed the substance wasn't toxic but Ms. Hall's vegetation died after the yellow drizzle from the malfunctioning gas well fell on her yard.

Smelly Substance Rains Down on Keller Neighborhood

A malfunctioning gas well spewed a smelly mixture of salt water and natural gas into the air of a Keller neighborhood Monday evening.
Resident Lindy Hall said she and her family were shocked when they saw the substance spewing out of the gas well about a football field away from her back yard.
"Everybody was just going, 'What is that? What is that?' And we were watching the geyser," she said.
Encana, the company that manufactures the gas well, said a valve malfunctioned, sending the mixture into the air.
Hall said it smelled awful.
"When I saw the yellow drizzle coming down, we knew something wasn't right," she said.
The next day, she discovered a shiny film on her plants, most of which were dying or wilting away, Hall said.
"God knows what was in that stuff that they dumped in my yard," she said.
Hall said she wants to make sure the substance doesn't have the same effect on her child and pets that it had on her plants.
An Encana representative said the substance is not toxic. The company is investigating why the valve malfunctioned.

Monday, July 6, 2009

No Drilling Expected Under The New Cowboy Stadium?

It appears the City of Arlington has some concerns about gas drilling under the new stadium. According to the City Attorney Jay Doegey, the following was stated in an article in the Dallas Morning News.

Doegey said the city hasn't conducted any research to calculate potential dangers of drilling underneath a megastructure like Cowboys Stadium. But he said there has to be a concern about drilling beneath a structure that expensive ($1.15 billion) and that heavy (more than 805 million pounds).
"Doegey said that when he lived in Southern California, oil extraction had caused some surface collapses and seawater had to be injected into the rock to mitigate that."

I guess it is okay to drill under homes, schools, parks, hospitals, land used for farming and livestock (food sources), near water wells etc., but not under the Cowboy Stadium!

Cowboys Stadium site in Arlington isn't expected to be used for gas drilling
10:34 PM CDT on Saturday, July 4, 2009
By JEFF MOSIER / The Dallas Morning News

Natural gas wells could eventually crisscross the rock formations below almost every part of Arlington, but one area is expected to remain off limits.

City Attorney Jay Doegey said that standard language in contracts with the Dallas Cowboys probably would prohibit drilling under the team's new stadium. He said there are concerns – although they are remote – that drilling could affect the building's structural integrity.
"We don't want the ground to give and cause it to crack or sink," Doegey said about the rock beneath the stadium.

The language was put in the contracts long before five small earthquakes shook Cleburne in a single week in early June. Researchers are looking into whether those and many others recently were the result of extensive gas drilling in the underground Barnett Shale formation.
Earthquakes have been rare in North Texas until recently. Thousands of wells have been drilled in the western areas of North Texas in recent years.

Arlington and the Cowboys' decision to include the language could potentially make it harder – but not impossible – to lease the 200-acre stadium site for drilling. The options are already limited since the property is in a developed area.
Attorney Glenn Sodd, who represented some property owners whose land was acquired for the stadium, said this is the first he's heard of the potential ban. It's of particular interest to him because his last group of clients who settled was allowed to keep some mineral rights through a deal that hadn't been publicized before now.

At stake could be thousands of dollars for Sodd's clients and potentially millions for the city.
By banning drilling under the stadium property, the city could only lease the land to drillers if it were "pooled" with adjacent property. The drilling would have to occur under the other property, but revenue would be split among all mineral rights owners.

There are no immediate plans to lease the stadium land for gas drilling, and the market for such leases has slowed dramatically in the past year. The recession and falling natural gas prices have dropped signing bonuses from nearly $30,000 per acre in some areas to about $2,000 to $2,500 per acre.

Doegey said the city hasn't conducted any research to calculate potential dangers of drilling underneath a megastructure like Cowboys Stadium. But he said there has to be a concern about drilling beneath a structure that expensive ($1.15 billion) and that heavy (more than 805 million pounds).

"I don't know that we would want to take the chance, even if it was a long shot," Doegey said.
Parts of the stadium extend about 120 feet below street level. Gas drilling in the Barnett Shale often happens at a depth of about 1 ½ miles (or 7,920 feet).
Ed Ireland, executive director of the Barnett Shale Energy Education Council, said he's not sure there is any research that would back up the city's stance.
"I'm not aware that there ever has been any correlation between anything that happens on the surface and drilling," he said. "Most of that 8,000 feet is various layers of rock."

Doegey said that when he lived in Southern California, oil extraction had caused some surface collapses and seawater had to be injected into the rock to mitigate that.
Ireland said he's not familiar with what happened in Southern California, but he said that could have been the result of drilling at a shallower depth or a different makeup of the underground formations.

Sodd said he's not too concerned with the city's policy as long as Arlington officials still intend to lease the land eventually. He said that was a significant part of his negotiations with the city.
Arlington officials balked at first, saying that such a deal could potentially allow private property owners to have surface access to the stadium property. One official raised the possible threat of former property owners demanding that a drilling rig be placed in a Cowboys parking lot.
Sodd's clients were among the last to sign a deal with the city, a settlement with no mention of mineral rights. He said he couldn't remember who suggested keeping the mineral rights out of the contract.

While gathering the land needed for the stadium, Arlington bought some property and condemned other tracts. Instead of taking the straightforward route, the city dropped its eminent domain cases against Sodd's clients. He then had a portion of the mineral rights deeded to a company owned by his law firm, according to county records.
Soon after, a deal was struck without having to mention the mineral rights in the public settlement.

Doegey said he wasn't involved in the negotiations on this case. But he said that other property owners weren't as insistent as Sodd's clients about keeping the mineral rights.
Sodd said this type of quiet approach is common in eminent domain cases. He said that many government agencies don't want details of settlements to be released because they could affect negotiations with others.
"If that was their intention, I don't blame them," Sodd said.
Although the mineral rights are now worth only a fraction of what they once were, Sodd said patience could eventually be rewarded.
"The one that is a certainty in the oil and gas business is that prices are going to rise and fall," he said. "The question is not whether it's going to [rise in price], it's when it's going to."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Congress grills experts on Hydraulic Fracking

Here a two videos from the Congressional hearings on the Gas and Oil exemption from the Clean Water Act aka Halliburton Loophole. It is pretty obvious that the Gas and Oil industry are trying to hide something. It looks like the days of secrecy may be coming to an end.

Hydraulic Fracking Chemicals Suspected of Causing Health Issues

This video is evidence of why full disclosure of fracking chemicals is needed!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Citizens Complain About "Bad Odor"

This letter was forwarded to me.

It is in response to bad odors being detected coming from the Cotton Belt Compression Station in the triangle of 635, 121, and 114. DFW Environmental Affairs Department responded to complaints and did testing. They are doing their best to regulate and keep their eye on this common problem. Is it enough? Maybe for DFW airport but not for most North Texans.

This will continue to be a concern as gas drilling gets closer to urban areas. DFW has the money and resources to try to regulate this common problem. Average citizens like us do not. Rural areas of North Texas have been dealing with the problems like this and many others for many years. When this happens in our neighborhoods, it will be more difficult to detect and regulate. Health and safety will be an issue with gas drilling getting closer to highly populated areas and schools. Gas wells are not the only issue with gas drilling. Where there is gas drilling, a compression station and gas gathering pipelines are not far away.

This is good example of why there needs to be better regulation. Texas is in need of a better regulation system. As stated in previous posts, contact the Texas Oil & Gas Accountability Project. They are forming a chapter in Texas. Great progress has been made by lobbying for bills to protect the citizens, air and water in New Mexico and Colorado. They need support to be ready for the next Legislative Session. Many bills were presented to make it easier on Gas and Oil this session and they didn't pass. Gas and Oil will be pushing even harder now. The Gas and Oil industry spent over 44.5 million in the first 3 months of 2009 lobbying Congress and other federal agencies for their industry. $129 million was spent in 2008. Oil and Gas Accountability Project was able to make a difference. Link is below.

This summary of DFW Environmental Affairs Department [EAD] recent response actions to odor complaints associate with Chesapeake Energy natural gas mining project being conducted at DFW Airport provides you an update of DFW Environmental Affair’s efforts to identify and reduce sources of odors and provides you a copy of air grab sample laboratory results for your edification.

EAD staff have confirmed natural gas odors emanating from the Cottonbelt Compressor Station consistent with recent 3rd party complaints. EAD collected air grab samples from the compressor station pad on two occasions to determine the constituents and concentrations of contaminants of concern that may be associated with these presenting natural gas process related odors. EAD concerns were shared with Chesapeake Energy site operations personnel as well as Chesapeake's Fort Worth office project manager. A subsequent site meeting confirmed that odors were emanating from both the glycol and BTEX process treatment units. In response to EAD and Chesapeake Energy operations personnel discussions, Chesapeake Energy enacted a reconfiguring of process piping in an effort to mitigate the odorous fugitive emissions. In response to a subsequent complaint from nearby residents, EAD conducted a second round of air sampling at the suspect Cottonbelt Compressor Station. Laboratory analysis [attached pdf files] indicated the presence of very low concentrations of some of the same constituents evident in the first round of air grab samples.

"One sample approached but did not exceed, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Effects Screening Level (ESL) for benzene. This ESL is not a regulated limit"
Benzene is a known carcinogen.

None of the resultant emission concentration levels are considered by OSHA or NIOSH as a worker safety concern. One sample approached, but did not exceed, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality [TCEQ] Effects Screening Level (ESL) for benzene. This ESL is not a regulated limit. We are committed to reducing sources of emissions even in the absence of compelled regulatory drivers. EAD is also responsive to a TCEQ enforced Nuisance Odor Rule in the interest of mitigating odors generated by sources located on Airport.

This is a common problem with compression stations (as confirmed by the EAD staff to be a common problem in the Oil & Gas Industry and stated below). But we all know gas companies are not forth coming about incidents like this.

DFW Airport’s Board of Directors, executive and senior management team is committed to beyond compliance environmental stewardship Airport-wide. DFW’s Environmental Management System (EMS) provides an umbrella of environmental compliance, and beyond compliance response action policies, procedures, monitoring and verification protocols applicable to DFW Board, tenant and contractor activities across the board. Chesapeake’s Fort Worth based project manager has stated that Chesapeake is working to eliminate the odor sources to the extent possible. EAD staff have been assured by Chesapeake Energy that Chesapeake has the capability and resources to effectively address sources of fugitive emissions. EAD staff research confirmed that compressor station emissions are a common problem throughout the oil & gas industry; and that there are mitigation measures available to reduce industry related sources of emissions.

"EAD will continue to press Chesapeake to further identify and mitigate fugitive emissions etc. etc." It would be more comforting if it were possible to demand it or no drilling but unfortunately for all of us, that isn't how it works. BETTER REGULATION IS NEEDED!

I hope you find this summary of efforts in progress and laboratory results helpful. EAD will continue to press Chesapeake to further identify and mitigate fugitive emissions going-forward and to deploy effective odor mitigation technology and best management practices. Please let me know if you require additional information or clarification at this time.

Dan Bergman, M.S., J.D.,
Vice President Environmental Affairs