By Lauren Pagel
January 18, 2011
Yesterday, 46 Democrats from the House of Representatives sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar that supports Interior s move towards public disclosure of fracturing chemicals for oil and gas operations on public lands. This letter stands in contrast to the 32 House members that signed a letter urging Interior to put off regulations until after the EPA hydraulic fracturing study has been completed.
As a first step in regulating what happens with oil and gas production on our public lands lands that are owned by you and me disclosure is a no-brainer, from my perspective. Regardless of what the findings of the EPA study might be, citizens deserve to know what chemicals are being by companies operating on lands that are part of our national heritage.
I hope the Interior Department stays true to its mission to protect public lands and the waters contained within them and moves forward with strong disclosure provisions. In addition to disclosure of chemicals involved in hydraulic fracturing, the Interior Department should lead the way by instituting the most stringent regulations for the entire lifecycle of oil and gas production. DoI should require that companies operating on public lands adhere to best practices to protect air, land and water resources.
By Alan Septoff
January 14, 2011
From our friends at the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Association:
Interim Committee Advances Marcellus Shale Legislation
Earlier this week, Subcommittee A of the Joint Judiciary Committee advanced a bill establishing a new regulatory program for gas wells utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Although the committee advanced the bill without a recommendation for passage by the full legislature, this keeps the bill alive. (You can read more here, here and here.) It also means the legislature will have two comprehensive bills to consider. The DEP has finalized its legislation and acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed off on the package (although it will not be a governor's bill and Tomblin did not mention it in the State of the State address).
January 5, 2011
Range Resources lives in an alternate universe where saying something makes it true no matter the facts. Range wrote a letter where they claim the EPA met with them and agreed that they were not responsible for the garden hose turned flamethrower in Parker County. Okay, I ll play: if saying something makes it true, then I m a ballerina.
The EPA was clear when they gave Texans an early Christmas present by issuing an emergency order to protect families in southern Parker County, Texas, west of Fort Worth in the Barnett Shale gas field. The EPA would not take this action lightly, especially in Texas. Their investigation was thorough and included isotopic fingerprinting and a detailed timeline where the finger points directly at Range Resources.
After four months of investigating, the Texas Railroad Commission couldn t say how the gas got in the well water. It took the EPA two months of investigating to determine Range was responsible. But Gene Powell an industry apologist who writes the Powell Barnett Newsletter that even industry calls pro-industry did a quickie investigation and figured it all out in just five days!
January 5, 2011
A new investigation in the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times has shed more light on Wal-Mart's "Love, Earth" jewelry line, and it's not looking so Lovely. In fact, the jewelry's looking rather like dirty gold: it comes at a great cost to jewelry factory workers and to the environment and communities around the mines.
January 5, 2011
The turn of a year signals new plans and possibilities. But as 2011 kicks off, elected officials are wondering how in the face of steep federal and state deficits they'll ever have the funds to realize policy goals.
In the Marcellus Shale region, it s been tempting to plug budget holes with the quick bucks that come from issuing permits and leasing state land for gas drilling. But this stop-gap measure can also mean an increase in drilling, and with it the need for even more revenue to pay the steep costs of gas development (like road damage, toxic clean up, and health problems). Tackling those impacts requires steps many politicians are loath to take, like long-term planning, bold regulatory change and taxing industry.
Pennsylvania and New York are the only oil- and gas-producing states without a severance tax to make companies pay for the resources they sever from the land forever. Resource extraction taxes can offset the financial burden placed on public coffers and, when used appropriately, mitigate damage to drilled communities and the environment. Severance taxes vary widely in basis (value or volume), rate, and exemptions, but don't appear to deter industry from seeking the resources from which they so greatly profit.