fracking

Fracking Supply Chain a Climate Disaster, Doing Little to Uplift Poor Communities: Studies

Two recent studies further call into question the oil and gas industry's claims of the climate benefits and community benefits of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”).

One of those studies, published in Environmental Research Letters and titled, “Just fracking: a distributive environmental justice analysis of unconventional gas development in Pennsylvania, USA,” concludes that “the income distribution of the population nearer to shale gas wells has not been transformed since shale gas development.”

The other, a report released by Environmental Integrity Project titled, “Greenhouse Gases from a Growing Petrochemical Industry,” examines the post-fracking supply chain and concludes that the petrochemical industry's planned construction and expansion projects announced in 2015 alone are the “pollution equivalent to the emissions from 19 coal-fired power plants.”

Large Methane Leaks Highlight Ongoing Risk to Climate

A new study of the recent methane leak in Aliso Canyon, California confirms that it was the largest methane leak in US history. According to the study, the disaster’s impact on the climate will be equivalent to the effect of annual greenhouse gas emissions from over half a million cars.

Last week at the oil industry gathering CERAweek, Reuters reported Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy revealed that, “Methane emissions from existing sources in the oil and gas sector are substantially higher than we previously understood.”

Also last week, the Texas Observer reported that the combined methane leaks of the Barnett Shale gas fields was actually greater than the volume of the Aliso Canyon disaster — contributing 8% of nationwide methane emissions. And while the Aliso Canyon well has been capped, the Barnett shale emissions continue on.

Top Drillers Shut Down U.S. Fracking Operations as Oil Prices Continue to Tank

It was a tumultuous week in the world of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for shale oil and gas, with a few of the biggest companies in the U.S. announcing temporary shutdowns at their drilling operations in various areas until oil prices rise again from the ashes.

Among them: Chesapeake Energy, Continental Resources and Whiting Petroleum. Chesapeake formerly sat as the second most prolific fracker in the U.S. behind ExxonMobil, while Continental has been hailed by many as the “King of the Bakken” shale basin located primarily in North Dakota.

Proposed Marcellus Gas Pipeline Sparks Protest At Prized Maple Farm

Plans to build a major Marcellus shale gas pipeline were briefly paused this month by a protest launched by a collection of community and environmental activists who gathered on the Holleran-Zeffer property in New Milford, PA.

Pipeline company Williams Partners, LLC plans to start clearing trees on the property as early as this week to make way for a proposed 124-mile pipeline stretching across the Pennsylvania-New York border.

Tree felling for Williams' Constitution pipeline project began in Pennsylvania on February 5, before New York state had finished its regulatory approval process. Environmentalists fear that the company hopes to present New York state with a fait accompli on the Pennsylvania side, which would put pressure on New York regulators to approve the expansion on its side of the border.

High-Profile Trial Begins in Dimock, PA Water Contamination Case

Trial began this week in a case alleging that an oil and gas company contaminated drinking water in Dimock, Pennsylvania. The tiny town is now internationally notorious over claims that drilling and fracking tainted people's drinking water and caused it to become flammable.

This lawsuit is the first such case out of Dimock to reach a jury, nearly a decade after many residents of Carter Road, a short stretch of dirt road in the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania, first noticed that their water seemed to have gone bad.

“We haven't had clean water since he was in kindergarten,” Monica Marta-Ely told reporters during a press conference outside the courthouse on Monday, as she gestured to her 13 year-old son, Jared. “He's in 7th grade now.”

It's a legal case that is as noticeable for the allegations being tried —  that Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. negligently contaminated the water supplying Nolan Scott Ely and his family and that living without water for years was a serious nuisance for the Elys and the Huberts, a family living in a trailer on the Ely's land — as for the claims and evidence that the jury will not hear.

United States On Path to Becoming Major Exporter of Natural Gas Despite Climate Impacts

The Sabine Pass LNG terminal owned by Cheniere Energy in southwest Louisiana offers a glimpse of the challenges facing the growing natural gas industry in the United States. 
 
The first cargo of liquefied natural gas (LNG) was scheduled for export from Cheniere Energy’s new export terminal in Cameron Parish, in January, but the company reportedly delayed its plans by up to two months due to faulty wiring.
 
Following the announcement of the export delay, Cheniere Energy sought $2.6 billion to refinance its adjacent LNG import terminal in Cameron Parish which was impacted by extreme fluctuations in the price of oil and gas. The company built the import facility before the U.S. fracking boom took hold, and was therefore saddled with unnecessary import infrastructure in the new age of abundance of domestic gas availability and the prospect of U.S. exports.

ALEC-Tainted Legislation Designed To Block Local Control Over Fracking Bans Stalled In Florida

An industry-friendly bill in the Florida statehouse designed to nullify existing fracking bans and sharply curtail local control over oil and gas drilling activity is facing pushback.
 
Floridians are pressuring their state senators to vote against Senate Bill 318, which takes away a community’s right to regulate all well-stimulation techniques, including fracking. The pressure is having an impact, as the bill has been temporarily held back.
 

Fend Off Iran? First Company That Exported US Crude Oil Now Exporting Iran's Oil

Proponents of lifting the U.S. crude oil export ban trumpeted the rhetorical question that since U.S. geopolitical rival Iran can export its oil, why can't the United States?

But now that “liquid freedom” has begun to flow from American export terminals to the global market, it turns out the same company that exported the first batch of U.S. crude oil to the global market is now also exporting Iranian oil products. That company, the Switzerland-based Vitol Group, was profiled in an investigative piece on DeSmog late last year. 

“Vitol, one of the world's largest traders in oil and oil products in terms of volumes, has fixed three vessels to load Iranian condensate,” Platts reported on January 29. “The recent removal of sanctions on Iran has resulted in international companies rushing to trade in Iranian petroleum with the latest being Vitol.”

Oil Industry Caused 2005 Swarm of California Earthquakes: Newly Published Study

Oil and gas wastewater disposal has been tied to a series of earthquakes in California for the first time, in a peer-reviewed study published last Thursday.

A string of quakes ending on Sept. 22, 2005 struck in Kern County near the southern end of California's Central Valley  – and the new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, concluded that the odds that those quakes might have occurred by chance were just 3 percent.

Instead, the researchers honed in on a very specific set of culprits: three wastewater injection wells in the Tejon Oil Field. Between 2001 and 2010, the rate of wastewater injection at that oil field quintupled, and up to 95 percent of that wastewater was sent to just that trio of closely-spaced wells, the scientists noted.

Army of Lobbyists Push LNG Exports, Methane Hydrates, Coal in Senate Energy Bill

As the U.S. presidential race dominates the media, it is easy to forget that both chambers of the U.S. Congress are currently in session. The U.S. Senate has put a major energy bill on the table, the first of its sort since 2007.

The 237-page bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) — S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 — includes provisions that would expedite the liquefied natural gas (LNG) export permitting process, heap subsidies on coal technology, and fund research geared toward discovering a way to tap into methane hydrate reserves.

As we saw with the lifting of the U.S. crude oil export ban, which was part of a broader congressional budget bill, a DeSmog investigation reveals that these provisions once existed as stand-alone bills pushed for by an army of fossil fuel industry lobbyists.

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