A Quick Whirl Around The Fracking World

*US.  Our Environmental Protection Agency is now “accepting public comments on whether or not to require fracking companies to disclose the toxic chemicals they use.”  Hard to believe, isn’t it, that they are not required to list each and every one, to say nothing of in what amounts,  in what combinations and where they are being used?  You can add your support to such a requirement here.

*CA.  So, the feds plan to “resume oil and gas leasing in California” since a report has “found little scientific evidence that fracking and similar extraction techniques are dangerous.”  What the scientist in charge of the research said is quite a bit different:  “researchers . . . had no data on the quality of water near fracking sites [so] We can’t tell you what we don’t know.”  Doesn’t seem the US Bureau of Land Management is too interested in what we don’t know, does it?   That could change.

*CA.  It’s cleared the Legislature and is on its way to Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for signature.  That would be a bill “requiring more disclosure about crude oil shipments” rolling through California  cities, hills and dales on the way to refineries.  The order requires railroads to “provide state and local emergency officials with information about oil and hazardous materials” on trains, and  concentrates specifically on “the volume of oil and timing of the shipment beforehand” when it’s Bakken crude.

*CA.  Resistance to fracking is growing in the state as the historic drought intensifies.  Latest community stirred into action is San Benito County which gets all its water from the ground.  A film, “The Triple Divide”, has become a dramatic part of presentations by The Coalition to Protect San Benito.

*IA.  Major controversy as  Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, TX, announced a “$3.7 billion, 1,100-mile Bakken Pipeline” scheduled for completion by 2017.  This pipeline is planned to run diagonally through IA, from the northwest tip of the state to its southeast border with IL, across 17 counties, through “the heart of farming country in northwest Iowa, crossing multiple waterways which provide drinking water to millions of Iowans”.  It “is a huge concern.”  There are already 41,000 miles of pipeline in IA.  Public meetings scheduled for this fall have been re-scheduled for December.  (See also ND and SD)

*IL.  After a year of reworking its earlier draft rules for fracking, in response to more than 31,000 comments and 43,000 pages, the IL Department of Natural Resources has posted revised rules.  They are here.

*LA.  Halliburton, Dick “Dick” Cheney’s old outfit, has agreed to pay the US $1.1 billion for its contribution to the huge mess left when BP’s oil well in the Gulf of Mexico sprung a leak,  killed 11 workers, and poisoned the waters for miles and miles.  Subject to US District Court approval, Halliburton will deliver the $1.1 billion in three separate installments.  Transocean is paying $1.4 billion and BP $28 billion “so far”.  This “settlement protects Halliburton from certain punitive damages if the court were to rule later that the company had been negligent or ‘grossly negligent’”.  See next item.

*LA.  A US District Court judge in New Orleans has ruled that “BP was ‘grossly negligent’ in the lead-up to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon” disaster in the Gulf and that Transocean and Halliburton were “negligent”.  The judge also proportioned responsibility for the Gulf of Mexico blowout: 67% to BP, 30% to Transocean and 3% to Halliburton.  It’s estimated this could result in BP paying around $18 billion.  The judge cited BP’s “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct”.

*MN.  Enbridge’s Sandpiper pipeline is planned to run through MN on its way from ND to WI.  Minnesotans have considerable concern “about its impact to the environment and farmland”.  The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has not issued approval of the thing,  yet.  (See ND)

*NC.  It’s not that the Republicans in charge don’t want  fracking in the state.  They do, but they’ve decided fracking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, as well as Camden, Pasquotank and Bertie Counties,  is just out of the question.  So, they’re concentrating on the “basins” –“the Deep River, Dan River and proposed Cumberland-Marlboro” area.

*ND.  State regulators have approved Enbridge’s construction of the Sandpiper pipeline project which will carry 225,000 barrels per day of crude oil from Tioga, ND to Superior, WI, a distance of 616 miles.  (See also MN)

*ND.  Energy Transfer Partners intend to build by 2017 a 1,100-mile pipeline from ND’s Bakken oilfields to IL which will carry between 320,000 – 570,000 barrels per day—that’s in addition to the 783,000 barrels expected by this December.    The Bakken Pipeline would add “143 miles of oil gathering pipelines and 200 miles of larger transmission pipeline” in ND.  And yet, ND’s Public Service Commissioner “said he wasn’t familiar with it.”   (See IA and SD)  CORRECTION:  9/9/14:  According to Energy Transfer Partners, five members of their staff did indeed meet with Patrick Fahn, Director of Compliance with the ND Public Service Commission and members of his staff on 23 Jul 2014.

*ND.  Seems ND’s Public Service Commission has noticed that shipping grain and other perishable agricultural products by rail has slowed because the railroads are carrying the hot item of the moment—oil.  Warren Buffett’s BNSF, as well as Canadian Pacific, are coming under scrutiny in Fargo during “special field” hearings.  BNSF used to fill 8,164 railcars with grain, but that number has dwindled to less than 1,000 this year.  With a bountiful 2014 harvest, and inability to move it, farmers are just about fit to be tied.

*SD.  Energy Transfer Partners’ planned Bakken Pipeline has also taken SD by surprise.   SD’s Public Service Commission Chairman said  “At first it was very much a stealth pipeline type of situation for us”, that they had only recently heard about it from residents who’d been contacted by Energy Transfer Partners.  (See IA and ND)  CORRECTION:  9/9/14:  According to Energy Transfer Partners , six members of their staff did indeed meet with  Karen Cremer, staff attorney, Brian Rounds, analyst and Darren Kearney, utility analyst among others on July 25, 2014. Kristen Edwards, staff attorney with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission orchestrated the meeting.

*PA.  Well, well, a list has emerged with “details of 243 cases in which companies prospecting for oil or gas were found by state regulators to have contaminated private drinking water wells.”  Documents are actually on-line from the Department of Environmental Protection.  It took “lawsuits and numerous open-records requests” to get such info released, but it’s out there now.

*PA.  Finally, a study has been conducted of “141 drinking water wells across the Appalachian Plateaus physiographic province of northeastern Pennsylvania” to determine any impact on drinking water near shale gas wells.  Methane was detected in 82% of drinking water samples, with average concentrations six times higher for homes [less than 1 kilometer] from natural wells”.  Ethane – 23 times higher.  Why did it take so long for studies like this to be undertaken?  Are more planned, including throughout the US?

*PA.  We’re really on a roll in PA, with the state’s Department of Environmental Protection reporting that EQT Corp told them “it sent 21 tons of drill cuttings from its Marcellus Shale wells to area landfills in 2013” while landfill records reveal they received “nearly 95,000 tons of drill cuttings and fracking fluid from” EQT in 2013.  Gee, that’s only a difference of 74,000 tons.  The Department then ran a similar check on Range Resources and found out they underreported about 22,000 tons of the filth, based on landfills’ reports.

*TX.  Are you among the “mounting fracking foes”?  If so, take a bow, for you’re part of a grass-roots opposition that’s “seen as threat to booming shale business.”  What seems to have them most alarmed are those pesky ballot initiatives being circulated around the US, “even in oil-friendly Texas”.  It’s even been said there are a few reports of oil operations being conducted in a manner more sensitive to the locals lately.

*Canada.  Royal Dutch Shell says it just might “not be able to meet promised targets for reducing toxic wastes from oil sands”.  And “called for greater regulatory flexibility.”  Right.  There are penalties for the frackers up in Alberta who do not meet those “promised targets”, but they were waived until 2015 when some report or other is supposed to be produced.   You’ll also be relieved to know that “Shell’s Canadian oil-sands operations meet the company’s internal yardstick for profitability”.  Wonder what impact clean-up costs would have on that yardstick?  BTW,  Shell is not alone; both Syncor Energy and Syncrude Canada also failed to meet their toxic waste reduction targets.

*Canada.  According to Canada’s Transportation Safety Board “dangerous crude oil could still be travelling by rail inside misclassified tank cars, despite assurances from the federal government that the problem has been fixed.”  Too many variables—such as differences in gases and liquids, variations in crude oil and gas from different wells, and from one well over time, etc—have not been taken into account.

*Nova Scotia.  Fracking will be officially banned very soon.  Nova Scotia’s Environment Minister said, after reviewing “numerous studies and reports . . . including the Wheeler Report”, that it’s clear citizens do not want fracking, and legislation will be forthcoming to ban it.

*Everywhere.  Why do we do these things?

Photo by Fracking Injury Lawyer under Creative Commons license