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Frac Out of Focus: Industry and the slippery slope of voluntary disclosure

By Gwen Lachelt

May 26, 2011

The oil and gas industry s latest attempt to dodge the disclosure bullet is through a website named Frac Focus. The website, launched last month, states that already 42 companies are participating in an effort to provide the public with objective information on hydraulic fracturing, the chemicals used, the purposes they serve and the means by which groundwater is protected. While there is plenty of information on fracturing, the website falls short on the very issue of disclosure, of all things.

Frac Focus is voluntary, not mandatory, and simply maintains the status quo: companies can hide the chemicals used in their proprietary blends or secret fracking recipes under Trade Secret provisions.

In December 2003, a few months before the first, and highly controversial, EPA study on fracking was released, three companies signed a voluntary agreement with the EPA to stop using diesel fuel in coalbed methane gas wells. A Congressional investigation released this February has revealed that 32 million gallons of diesel fuel were used to frack wells in 19 states between 2005 and 2009.

That voluntary agreement was simply an attempt to throw the public a bone before the 2004 EPA study was released stating that fracking posed little to no risk to the environment. Today, we get a new version of an old trick. Frac Focus is another attempt to sidestep full disclosure and thwart passage of the federal FRAC Act which proposes to repeal the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act and require the full public disclosure of the chemical constituents used drilling operations.

Full disclosure, no exemptions.

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Tagged with: fracking, drilling, natural gas, disclosure, clean water not dirty drilling


No Dirty Gold activists hammer Costco s Facebook page

By Nick Magel

May 25, 2011

Costco

On May 16, Change.org, in support of EARTHWORKS No Dirty Gold Campaign, released a multipronged social media action against Costco. Change.org redeveloped an online petition calling for Costco to sign onto the Golden Rules principles that has since garnered over 27,000 signatures. Accompanying the morning s petition blitz was a creative bomb of Costco s Facebook page, where responsible gold mining activists changed their profile pictures in order to spell out No Dirty Gold on Costco s Facebook homepage.

 

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No Dirty Gold activists hammer Costco s Facebook page

By Nick Magel

May 25, 2011

On May 16, Change.org, in support of EARTHWORKS No Dirty Gold Campaign, released a multipronged social media action against Costco. Change.org redeveloped an online petition calling for Costco to sign onto the Golden Rules principles that has since garnered over 27,000 signatures. Accompanying the morning s petition blitz was a creative bomb of Costco s Facebook page, where responsible gold mining activists changed their profile pictures in order to spell out No Dirty Gold on Costco s Facebook homepage.

 

Costco often uses social media like Facebook and Twitter to communicate with its customers. This social medium is one of Costo s most public faces. Likewise, Costco customers actively use Costco s Facebook page to interact with the company they shop with. As Costco s customers visited the company s Facebook page that morning, many began to ask questions about all the No Dirty Gold messages that kept popping up. What s with all these gold posts? and why is Costco buying dirty gold? were some of the common questions that everyday shoppers began to ask the company. We hope Costco will answer their customers questions by signing on to the Golden Rules.

 

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Investors Take Action for Oil and Gas Accountability

By Jennifer Krill

May 23, 2011

The activists' rite of spring has arrived, this year with a new crop of shareholder resolutions looking to reform the oil and gas industry. In 2011 investor-owned oil and gas companies are considering a series of proposals calling for greater transparency and disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing.

Shareholders have filed resolutions to address fracking at 9 companies total: ExxonMobil, Chevron, Ultra Petroleum, El Paso, Cabot Oil & Gas, Southwestern Energy, Energen, Anadarko and Carrizo Oil & Gas. "Oil and gas firms are being too vague about how they will manage the environmental challenges resulting from fracking," said New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli in a January press release. DiNapoli's office filed a resolution with Cabot Oil & Gas asking for a specific plan to reduce or eliminate hazards from fracking. This week, shareholder advocacy group As You Sow will be moving resolutions at ExxonMobil, Chevron, and Ultra Petroleum.

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Tagged with: fracking, drilling, natural gas, activism, investor


Natural Gas: a "bridge" to where?

By Bruce Baizel

May 23, 2011

Credit: xdmag
Credit: XDmag

Now, as the issues of shale gas and hydraulic fracturing have focused attention on this sector, significant questions have emerged about the practicality and desirability of using natural gas as a bridge fuel.

One of the most interesting of the recent analyses of these questions is a report by David Hughes.  He suggests that a convergence of interests between the natural gas industry looking to hype a new production prospect with investors, the energy policy establishment looking for a new energy source to support future economic growth and large environmental interests looking for a simple way to lower carbon emissions gave rise to the natural gas as bridge fuel mantra.

The most interesting part of his report is a close look at the production numbers for natural gas and an assessment of whether it is even possible for natural gas to serve as a bridge fuel.  His bottom line:  that the bridge fuel concept for natural gas represents wishful thinking and is not possible to achieve.

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Tagged with: drilling, natural gas, bridge fuel


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