shale gas

EPA's New Fracking Study: A Close Look at the Numbers Buried in the Fine Print

When EPA’s long-awaited draft assessment on fracking and drinking water supplies was released, the oil and gas industry triumphantly focused on a headline-making sentence: “We did not find evidence of widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

But for fracking’s backers, a sense of victory may prove to be fleeting.

EPA’s draft assessment made one thing clear: fracking has repeatedly contaminated drinking water supplies (a fact that the industry has long aggressively denied).

How Many Voluntary Easements Has Energy Transfer Partners Signed With Iowa Landowners For The Bakken Oil Pipeline?

By David Goodner

Texas-based Fortune 500 company Energy Transfer Partners claims to have signed voluntary easement agreements with nearly 60 percent of Iowa landowners in the path of the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline which would transport Bakken crude through the state. But a DeSmog investigation into publicly accessible information has verified less than half that number, casting doubt on Energy Transfer’s claims.

Energy Transfer Partners owns the proposed Dakota Access pipeline, set to carry up to 575,000 barrels of oil per day obtained via hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale basin through North and South Dakota and Iowa and into the southern Illinois town of Patoka. The proposed project has faced stiff resistance from environmentalists, farmers and other Iowans along the proposed route and across the state.

Tories Go It Alone On Shale Gas As Opposition Calls For Fracking Ban

Could the Conservative Party be the last man standing when it comes to promoting fracking in the UK? This week, Chancellor George Osborne reaffirmed the party’s pro-shale agenda, urging Britain not to “turn its back” on shale gas and to “get on with” fracking.

Osborne’s statement during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions' comes a week ahead of a crucial vote by councillors in Lancashire on whether to allow Cuadrilla to frack for the first time in the UK since 2011.

But the opinion amongst the opposition parties appears to be shifting, as Tim Farron and Andy Burnham – both favoured to win leadership of the Liberal Democrats and Labour, respectively – have called for shale gas drilling to be stopped.

Transparency Watchdog Rules Government Must Publish Un-Redacted Fracking Report

A victory for green campaigners comes as the UK’s transparency watchdog rules that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) must release an un-redacted version of its Shale Gas: Rural Economy Impacts report.

Greenpeace appealed to the Information Commissioner’s Office in March to force the department to release the report in full arguing that “a sensible sustainable way forward is required and all information needs to be released to ensure transparency and good choice of solutions for our energy needs going forward.”

The redacted report released last summer was blanked out 63 times within 13 pages, including a whole section on the impact of fracking on house prices. DEFRA now has until the end of July to publish the report in full.

EPA Study: Fracking Puts Drinking Water Supplies at Risk of Contamination

The Environmental Protection Agency has released its long awaited draft assessment of the impacts that fracking has on the nation's drinking water supplies — confirming that the process does indeed contaminate water.

“From our assessment, we conclude there are above and below ground mechanisms by which hydraulic fracturing activities have the potential to impact drinking water resources,” the EPA wrote.

The impacts take a variety of forms, the EPA wrote, listing the effects of water consumption especially in arid regions or during droughts, chemical and wastewater spills, “fracturing directly into underground drinking water resources,” the movement of liquids and gasses below ground “and inadequate treatment and discharge of wastewater.”

The agency wrote that it had documented “specific instances” where each of those problems had in fact happened and some cases where multiple problems combined to pollute water supplies.

Will Re-Fracking be the Shale Drilling Industry's Next Big Move?

With oil prices continuing to languish, companies like Halliburton and Schlumberger have started talking up a way to get more shale oil and gas for less money: re-fracking wells drilled over the past 10 years, kick-starting flagging production and pumping out more shale oil and gas while spending less than the cost of a new well.

Excitement has spread among oil companies and investment analysts alike.

Revealed: Energy Transfer Partners’ 'Pipeline-for-Prostitute' Landman

By Steve Horn and David Goodner

A DeSmog investigation has uncovered the identity of a land agent and the contract company he works with that allegedly offered to buy an Iowa farmer the services of two teenage sex workers in exchange for access to his land to build the controversial proposed Dakota Access pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners.

The land agent who allegedly made the offer is Stephen Titus, a Senior Right-of-Way Agent who works for the Texas company Contract Land Staff, which was contracted by Energy Transfer Partners.

Fracking Industry Celebrates Amber Rudd Promotion to Energy Secretary

Fracking wells will be popping like champagne corks across Britain during the next five years following the promotion of shale gas supporter Amber Rudd to secretary of state for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

While green groups have welcomed her position on renewables, oil and gas industry lobbyists have told DeSmog UK they are delighted with the appointment. The shale gas industry has been eagerly awaiting the post-election fracking go-ahead.

Rudd is the UK’s first female energy secretary. She enters the position with a to-do list chock-full of high-priority items including the Paris climate negotiations in December, carbon capture and storage, and nuclear power. But, with Cuadrilla’s impending Lancashire planning application decision due next month, fracking will be one of the first issues Rudd must tackle.

Widely-Used Tool Can Lowball Methane Pollution Rates, Scientists Report, With Huge Implications for Climate Policy

An EPA-approved methane sampler widely used to measure gas leaks from oil and gas operations nationwide can dramatically under-report how much methane is leaking into the atmosphere, a team of researchers reported in a peer-reviewed paper published in March.

The researchers, one of whom first designed the underlying technology used by the sampler, warn that results from improperly calibrated machines could severely understate the amount of methane leaking from the country’s oil and gas wells, pipelines, and other infrastructure.

“It could be a big deal,” study co-author Amy Townsend-Small, a geology professor at the University of Cincinnati, told Inside Climate News, adding that it’s not yet clear how often the machine returned bad results, in part because figuring out whether there’s an error would have required using a different kind of device to independently test gas concentrations at the time levels were originally recorded.

Dimock, PA Lawsuit Trial-Bound as Study Links Fracking to Water Contamination in Neighboring County

A recent peer-reviewed study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has confirmed what many fracking critics have argued for years: drilling operations associated with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking) for oil and gas can contaminate groundwater. 

For the study, researchers examined groundwater contamination incidents at three homes in Pennsylvania's Marcellus Shale basin in Bradford County. As The New York Times explained, the water samples showed “traces of a compound commonly found in Marcellus Shale drilling fluids.”

The study's release comes as a seminal lawsuit demanding recovery for such damages winds its way to a jury trial later this year in the U.S. District Court in Scranton, PA. That case pits two families from Dimock, PA, located in neighboring Susquehanna County, against Texas-based, industry giant, Cabot Oil and Gas Corporation.

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