By Gwen Lachelt
October 2, 2012
When I fly across country I try to get a window seat so I can get a bird’s eye view of America. In the past 30 years that view has changed. Vast landscapes, once agricultural land, public land or neighborhoods, have been transformed into industrial zones for oil and gas production. For as far as the eye can see, large portions of Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and other states, are now industrial grids of well pads, pipeline corridors, compressor stations and roads. Sometimes it’s hard to see the homes, schools, farms, ranches, and in my part of the world, the Navajo Chapter Houses, for the oil and gas infrastructure.
In New Mexico, a state with tens of thousands of oil and gas wells already, the bird’s eye view is changing, dramatically. Layered on top of historical oil and gas fields is a new and more intensive development – shale. Once thought too deep and too expensive to produce, advances in horizontal hydraulic fracturing have allowed companies to tap shale oil and gas reserves thousands of feet below the surface. These wells require more land, more water and more chemicals for drilling and fracking. And apparently, they require bigger pits for drilling and fracking wastes. Actually, in southeastern New Mexico, they don’t call them pits anymore. They call them Frack Lakes.
September 28, 2012
The most fundamental truth uncovered in Earthworks’ just-released report Breaking All the Rules: the Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulation, is that states are falling tragically short in enforcing their own oil and gas development rules.
It is good to see that John Hanger, ex-Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), does not argue that truth.
But even if the numbers shift a bit in some months, the key question that was the impetus to this research remains:
"Can the public have confidence that their health, air and water are being protected?”
Citing different numbers does not even begin to answer this question because the Pennsylvania DEP addressed its enforcement inadequacies in the same manner that allowed the problem to develop in the first place: DEP looked at the amount of drilling as something outside their control, and defined their ability to govern that drilling in terms of the limited resources available to them.
September 28, 2012
On an average summer, about half of the ice cover of Greenland thaws at its surface. This July, 97% of the surface ice of Greenland melted.
The first days of autumn are often a time to reflect on the fruits of summer, and these recent events in Greenland require nothing less.
China, which currently controls 90% of the world’s rare earth metals, reported in June that it is serious about acquiring new deposits, and is looking to Greenland.
By Bruce Baizel
September 26, 2012
We have released a national report about state enforcement of oil and gas regulations. The national report examines the current state of oil and gas enforcement in Colorado, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
This report arose from discussions with oil and gas agency decision-makers, inspectors, members of multi-stakeholder oil and gas organizations, former management-level industry employees, oil and gas and environment attorneys, members of conservation organizations, and representatives of academic institutions - all around the question of what makes enforcement effective.
September 24, 2012
The debate over shale gas often focuses on staid things like price per million cubic foot, corporate governance, and production figures. Then there’s the human side, the growing number of people nationwide whose lives have been forever changed by the rush to drill. Their views are expressed not in spreadsheets, but in tragically true stories of poor health and polluted water and air.
Last week in Philadelphia, hundreds of citizens, activists, and energy and environmental experts gathered to voice Shale Gas Outrage over the heavy burdens being placed on communities and the environment. Philadelphia was one stop in the journey to Stop the Frack Attack, kicked off by Washington, DC, Columbus, OH, and Albany, NY, and followed soon by Harrisburg, PA and many other places.