Former Mobil VP Warns of Fracking and Climate Change Friday.


By Ellen Cantarow, Truthout | Interview

Few people can explain gas and oil drilling with as much authority as Louis W. Allstadt. As an executive vice president of Mobil oil, he ran the company’s exploration and production operations in the western hemisphere before he retired in 2000. In 31 years with the company he also was in charge of its marketing and refining in Japan, and managed its worldwide supply, trading and transportation operations. Just before retiring, he oversaw Mobil’s side of its merger with Exxon, creating the world’s largest corporation.


The first in a modest Long Island German-American family to graduate from college (the US Merchant Marine Academy), Allstadt got a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia University then was hired by Mobil. Before his retirement he wasn’t aware of a new, sophisticated form of rock fracture, high-volume hydraulic fracturing, developed only in the late 1990s. “It just wasn’t on our radar at that time,” he said. “We were heavily focused on developing conventional oil and gas offshore in deep water.”


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Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Proposed ban on fracking in Va. forest sparks debate



Kim Sandum is driving on a one-lane gravel road inside the George Washington National Forest, the largest federally protected forest on the East Coast. She points to a trout stream gurgling over rocks and shallows not 20 feet from her rolling minivan.

“Can you imagine all those big trucks operating in close quarters like this?” she asks, shaking her head. “Earth-moving equipment everywhere, water lines stretched out on the ground. Workers actually drilling in here! I mean, there’s no way.”

Sandum, executive director of the Community Alliance for Preservation in Rockingham County, has seen crews horizontally drilling for natural gas before, using a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It was not a pretty scene, she said.

“It’s like the sudden industrialization of a rural area,” Sandum recalled of her trip to a drill site in a small town in nearby West Virginia. “It was a mess. I didn’t meet anyone there who was happy that drilling was going on.”

Sandum is among a chorus of Shenandoah Valley residents, farmers, local officials, environmentalists and outdoor enthusiasts who support a proposal from the U.S. Forest Service to ban horizontal drilling and modern-day fracking on the nearly 1 million acres of the George Washington forest, located mostly in Virginia but also touching West Virginia.

The forest service recommended the move two years ago in what officials thought would be a routine updating of its 15-year management plan.

Instead, their draft stirred oil and gas companies to try to block the ban, has deepened a national debate about domestic energy production on public lands, and has exposed Virginians to the controversy surrounding fracking.

A final plan is expected to be released by the end of the month.

If enacted, it would be the first drilling ban in the U.S. government’s vast inventory of woodlands, coming at a time when President Barack Obama has expressed support for an “all of the above” energy policy that encourages gas drilling, including more of it on public lands.

While the ban focuses on horizontal drilling, it also effectively would bar modern fracking, a method in which large quantities of pressurized water, sand and fluids – including some toxic materials, such as hydrochloric acid – are injected into mining wells to break up stubborn rocks and allow natural gas to escape for harvesting.

This new type of “hydro-fracking” requires hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per well. It has proved successful in tapping previously inaccessible gas deposits in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, New York and other states. But its environmental and social impacts have been highly contentious and still are being sorted out.

Among environmental groups, fracking has become a new bogeyman. Activists in several European countries are demanding an end to the practice altogether, and American conservationists warn of drinking water contamination, the release of greenhouse gases such as methane, spills of polluted groundwater, and shattered landscapes.

In the George Washington forest, opponents say that drinking water for more than 247,000 residents in nearby towns and counties would be at risk, as well as for millions of others in metro areas farther downstream, such as Richmond and Washington. Those freshwater streams and reservoirs all drain into the James River and Potomac River watersheds, which later empty into the Chesapeake Bay.

In the eastern United States, fracking occurs mostly in a huge saucer-shaped geological feature known as the Marcellus Shale. This underground layer cake of stone and mineral brushes the western edges of Virginia on a line roughly defined by Interstate 81.

The Virginia piece is considered thinner and less productive than in other states – and does not come close to the sandy, watery geology beneath Hampton Roads.

Being on the outer rim, wells do not require as much pressurized water to prime and often utilize nitrogen instead of toxic fluids, but their strike-it-rich success is limited, said George Kozera, president of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association, a trade group.

“Not many people are going to drill on the edge when you can drill in the middle” of the Marcellus Shale, in states such as West Virginia and Pennsylvania, Kozera said.

Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has pledged to make Virginia “the energy capital of the East Coast,” has criticized the proposed drilling ban, saying it would quash jobs and curtail a national goal of energy independence.

McDonnell also is taking issue with the forest management plan for setting aside scant places for wind energy – only about 30,000 acres after site restrictions are factored in. As with gas wells, the governor said, windmills also would not likely be developed in the forest.

At least one wind project has been shelved so far; it called for 130 turbines atop a scenic mountain ridge at the northern entrance to the Shenandoah Valley.

“Specifically, the restrictions on wind energy and natural gas development are unsupported in facts, science or environmental protection requirements,” the Republican governor wrote in a letter to the forest service.

State agencies, including the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy, have said the ban would be “overly restrictive” and that drilling can be done safely by companies adhering to existing state regulations.

They note that conventional wells that go straight into the ground – as opposed to horizontal wells that go down and then curve and run along gas seams for as long as a mile – have been plumbed for decades in southwest Virginia without incident. Some of those wells are found in the Jefferson National Forest and have been primed with an older but similar form of fracking dating to the 1940s.

Oil and gas interests are urging defeat or modification of the proposed ban, worried that it might set a precedent for other national forests and public settings. They point out the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a comprehensive study of fracking and water quality, and that no ban should be considered until the research is completed, estimated for next year.

The ban is “unjustified and inconsistent with the current administration’s efforts to increase U.S. energy security and control emissions of greenhouse gases,” wrote Halliburton, the Texas-based energy giant, in a letter to the forest service.

Ken Landgraf, a planning officer for the Washington and Jefferson national forests, has heard the arguments and lobbying for years now. His office in a bland commercial park near Roanoke Regional Airport is full of maps, papers, files and chairs for impromptu meetings.

He can trace the origins of the drilling ban to a 2010 meeting in Rockingham County, where another Texas company had quietly leased land near homes in the town of Bergton and was seeking county approval for an exploratory well.

County officials knew little of the project, and residents grew anxious at the prospect of drilling with so few details on the table. With oil and gas prices high, and with energy companies scouting for more well sites along the Marcellus Shale, Landgraf knew it would be wise to address drilling in the updated management plan.

“I can say we have had no problems with the conventional wells in the Jefferson (forest), but what we’re talking about here are not conventional wells,” he said. “We saw a need to get ahead of this, to get something on paper specific to our local circumstances.”

He recalled how during the energy crisis of the 1970s, almost the entire forest was quickly leased by oil and gas speculators. A few wells were sunk, but after some poor test results, fears of gas fields sprouting up next to trout streams never materialized. After 10 years, the leases lapsed, and the investors went home.

Ban advocates are aware of this poor-performing past but say the stakes are too high not to take action. Eleven cities and counties near the forest have spoken out against fracking, worried about threats to water resources, clean streams and rural character.

“It’s just not an appropriate use of a national forest,” said Lynn Cameron, co-chair of Friends of Shenandoah Mountain, a conservation group. “There are plenty of other places to go and drill. Why come in and ruin the success we’ve had here for the past century?”

Landgraf said the forest service has spent much of the past two years responding to the more than 53,000 public comments about the proposed ban. Mostly, he said, the service has tried to determine whether horizontal drilling and its related fracking could be done in areas without harming the environment and recreational opportunities within the forest.

No other national forest has drilling restrictions, and most do not control the mineral rights to what lies in the ground; those are mostly left to private lease buyers. About 12,000 acres in the George Washington forest are currently under lease to oil and gas companies, with about 80 percent controlled by R&R Royalty Ltd., a Texas firm. Phone calls to R&R offices in Corpus Christi, Texas, were not returned.

In the heart of fracking and drilling country on the East Coast, in Pennsylvania, the Allegheny National Forest has achieved a kind of detente with drill operators and state regulators, said Kathy Mohney, a public affairs specialist for the forest.

Mohney said she is unaware of any chronic water contamination within the forest from a surge in drilling activity in recent years, but added, “there’s always some impact. We’re trying to coexist here, and a lot of it comes down to the relationships you develop with the operators, the state and environmental groups.”

There has been litigation and one criminal spill, Mohney recalled, in which an angry former employee of an energy company intentionally dumped wastes into a forest waterway.

“It’s a challenge,” she said. “We do the best we can.”

Sarah Francisco has been closely watching the forest debate as an attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center in Charlottesville. She said there is interest in fracking in a national forest in Alabama and on private property in North Carolina in the central part of the state around Durham and Winston-Salem.

Francisco worries about many potential impacts to the Washington national forest. During an interview at her downtown office, she mentions several: methane gas oozing into drinking water supplies; the handling of wastewater known as “flowback,” which bubbles to the surface during drilling; and about how operators would store such wastes in open pits and then permanently get rid of them.

The flowback often is rich in salts and can contain naturally occurring radioactive components, as well as remnant fracking fluids. It is supposed to be handled by a certified disposal facility, though for years, the material was trucked in other states to sewage treatment plants lacking the technology to process it effectively.

Francisco hopes the George Washington plan encourages other national forests to consider drilling limits and stirs conservationists to start asking questions.

Drilling and fracking “really have not been part of the local economies around these forests,” she said. “There’s no existing infrastructure for it, the impacts could be huge and there’s not a lot of public support for it. That doesn’t sound like a recipe for success to me.”

Scott Harper, 757-446-2340, scott.harper@pilotonline.com



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Written by Administrator in: Energy,Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Antero tank farm moves for no one



By Tara Zrinski, Shalereeporter.com

New Milton, W.V. — On March 18, Antero Resources issued its 2012 financial and operational results.

This highlighted the company holdings of 305,000 net acres in the Marcellus Shale and 88,000 acres in the Utica Shale.

Boasting a sky-rocketing production increase of 9 percent, Antero’s March daily production of 390 million cubic feet blows away the 2012 daily average of 239.

Antero operates 13 Marcellus rigs, all of which are in West Virginia, and it expects to add another by year’s end. Antero ascent in the natural gas industry, however, is blemished by the complaints of a Doddridge County landowner.

William Trent has been battling Antero Resources over the placement of a water “tank farm” 63 feet from the bedroom window of his disabled son Jake.


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Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Opportunity for input — National Research Council Project on Risk Management and Governance Issues in Shale Gas Extraction


See link below for opportunity to list your concerns ……


The National Research Council of The National Academies (National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine) is conducting a project to look into the risks associated with extracting natural gas from shale deposits using technologies of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (commonly called fracking).  The project is supported by the National Science Foundation.

About the Project

Scientists involved in the project will summarize available knowledge about risks of fracking and about ways such risks might be effectively and consistently managed. Our hope is to advance understanding and help to better inform national discussions about the future use of fracking technologies.

The first step in this project is to identify the range of issues about fracking that concern Americans. To do this, we have examined research and news reports, and through this message, we are canvassing a wide-range of potentially concerned individuals and groups across the nation that may have concerns about issues related to fracking. We want to learn about public concerns because we believe that science should address those concerns. We also want to identify fracking-related issues or concerns about which people would like to learn more. The National Research Council will use this input to help choose the issues its project will address.

Although we will not be able to address all the issues and concerns that are raised, we will commission papers to summarize the scientific knowledge on selected issues and have the papers presented and discussed at two workshops this year. The workshops will be open to the public, space permitting, and they will be webcast. The papers and presentations from the workshops will be made available to anyone on the project’s website. More information about the project is already available there, and updated information will be posted periodically and at the end of the project.

What we Would Like to Hear from You


We are interested in your concerns about any aspect of fracking, including the technologies, the ways they are or may be used, the effects of their use, the ways they are or may be regulated, etc.

We invite you to submit your concerns by entering them in the boxes below.  We encourage you to submit as many concerns as you have, and to share this invitation with others in your community or organization. However, this is not a scientific survey. We are not trying to find out which concerns are most common.  Also, our interest at this point is in learning what people’s concerns are rather than in getting ideas about how to address the concerns.

Your input is very important to us and we are grateful for your taking the time to respond. A few questions ask about you, but your responses will remain completely anonymous. We want to reach as many people as possible who may have concerns about fracking or want to know more about fracking. For that reason, we are distributing this email request widely and we encourage you to forward it to people you think would be concerned and likely to participate. We would appreciate receiving responses by March 19, 2013.

Thank you,


Paul C. Stern (Study Director)

Professor Mitchell Small, Carnegie Mellon University (Study Chairperson)



Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Western PA Cows in Trouble, Too



Livestock Falling Ill in Fracking Regions, Raising Concerns About Food

By Elizabeth Royte
Beaver County Blue via Food and Environment Reporting Network

In the midst of the domestic energy boom, livestock on farms near oil-and-gas drilling operations nationwide have been quietly falling sick and dying.

While scientists have yet to isolate cause and effect, many suspect chemicals used in drilling and hydrofracking (or “fracking”) operations are poisoning animals through the air, water, or soil.

Earlier this year, Michelle Bamberger, an Ithaca, New York, veterinarian, and Robert Oswald, a professor of molecular medicine at Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine, published the first and only peer-reviewed report to suggest a link between fracking and illness in food animals.

 Read more..



Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Toxicologists are Taking a Harder Look at Fracking and Health



Taking a Harder Look at Fracking and Health

Article from John Hurdle, New York Times, Green blog, 1-21-13


Marcellus Fracking Site

PHILADELPHIA – A coalition of academic researchers in the United States is preparing to shine a rigorous scientific light on the polarized and often emotional debate over whether using hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas is hazardous to human health.

Some five years after the controversial combination of fracking and horizontal drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and surrounding states got under way, a team of toxicologists from the University of Pennsylvania is leading a national effort to study the health effects of fracking.


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Written by Administrator in: Air Quality,Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

Famed NY Shale Town Bans Fracking


Ben Smith ?@BuzzFeedBen

The town of Marcellus, of shale fame, just banned fracking http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2013/01/marcellus_board_votes_unanimou.html

Marcellus bans gas and petroleum exploration in town’

Town of Marcellus, NY – The Marcellus town board voted unanimously Monday to ban the exploration and production of natural gas and petroleum in the town.



Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

The Truthiness of “Promised Land,” Five Things to Know Before You Go


Promised Land,” Hollywood’s new movie about fracking, hits theaters nationally today. The film, starring Matt Damon as a land man, has already begun playing in Philadelphia and New York City, and StateImpact had this review of it last week. The gas industry has been nervous about how they’re portrayed in the film, and the Marcellus Shale Coalition has purchased ads to run in theaters seeking questions from viewers.

Today, we’re sorting fact from fiction. Here’s five things we think you should know before setting out to watch the film.


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Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |

EPA Settles Clean Water Act Case for Wetlands Violations in West Virginia


Release Date: 11/29/2012

Contact Information: Donna Heron 215-814-5113 / heron.donna@epa.gov

PHILADELPHIA (Nov. 29, 2012) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has entered into a Clean Water Act (CWA) administrative consent agreement and final order (CAFO) with PDC Mountaineer, LLC (PDCM) to resolve violations involving construction activities at Marcellus Shale gas extraction facilities in northern West Virginia.

The settlement requires PDCM to pay a penalty of $177,500. Also, the company is restoring and/or completing mitigation projects at four sites pursuant to three separate CWA administrative orders incorporated into the CAFO.

EPA conducted two site inspections on December 11, 2011, and March 28, 2012 at the D’Annunzio Well Pad and the Hudkins Well Pad in Harrison County, W. Va. Section 404 of the Clean Water Act requires persons wishing to discharge fill material into wetlands or streams to obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In this case, the company failed to apply for or receive a Section 404 permit. In addition, information subsequently provided by the company revealed more violations along the course of two pipelines which will ultimately transport gas extracted by PDCM.

Unpermitted activities included the filling, relocating and placement of culverts in streams and the filling of wetlands. The violations at the four sites resulted in adverse impacts to nearly an acre of emergent and forested wetlands. There are permanent impacts to more than 1,500 linear feet of stream, and temporary impacts to more than 3,000 linear feet of streams. Mitigation for the wetland and stream impacts includes a combination of restoration, mitigation, and the purchase of wetland credits from a mitigation bank. The affected wetlands and streams ultimately flow into the West Fork River, which is part of the Monongahela River Basin.

Wetlands are a scarce resource in West Virginia, occupying less than 0.4 percent of West Virginia’s land surface area. Since 1780, over 24 percent of West Virginia’s wetlands have been lost. Wetlands are vital to protecting the integrity of our rivers and estuaries by providing a natural filtration system for pollution before it gets into rivers, lakes and ponds, and by preventing flooding after storms. They also provide important fish and wildlife habitat. While progress has been made in recent years to reverse the trend, wetlands continue to be threatened.

The streams involved in this case were mostly headwater streams, the small creeks and streams that are the origin of most rivers. Headwater streams function to store floodwater, reduce sediment, and provide an important source of freshwater dilution to downstream waters.

PDCM is headquartered in Bridgeport, W.Va, and is a joint venture between PDC and Lime Rock Partners, L.P., a private equity firm. It was formed to explore and develop Marcellus Shale gas deposits.

As part of the settlement, the company did not admit to violating the CWA.

For more information about wetlands and permitting requirements:




Written by Administrator in: EPA,Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling,Water Quality |


By John McFerrin

On September 8, 2012, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, and the Sierra Club (WV Chapter) sponsored a conference in Morgantown on Wellness and Water: Health Impacts of Fossil Fuel Extraction. About 100 people attended.

The conference was a combination of scientific presentations about health impacts and eyewitness accounts of what it is like to live near mining or drilling operations.

The keynote speaker was Wilma Surber. She is a scientist, with degrees in microbiology and chemistry and president of a company that does environmental testing.

After a brief overview of how hydraulic fracturing works, she dove into the heart of her presentation: what one is likely to find when testing air and water near drilling sites. She also discussed the health effects of exposure to these chemicals.

The information in the presentation was grim. She said that the Wastes generated by the exploration, development and production of crude oil and natural gas are “exempt” by Federal law from being regulated as hazardous waste. Yet 10 to 70% of the large volume waste and 40 to 60% of the toxic associated waste are Hazardous by analysis.

Her presentation included a listing of the contaminants that are present in what are known as “produced water” or “produced fluids.” This is the water that is present along with the gas and is brought to the surface as part of the producing the gas. They included organic chemicals, heavy metals, sulphur containing compounds, salt water minerals, and radioactive materials.

Although there is much contention among people and companies, she listed several items where there is agreement. She said that the oil and gas industry admits that there are spills and leaks which contaminate Surface water, ground water resources, soils, and air. The industry also admits that there are failures of casing and cementing that cause these impacts upon water, soil, and air. Casing is a series of metal pipes that extends from the surface to the producing formation. Cementing is the cement that is inserted between the casing and the rock it passes through. It is supposed to seal off the casing from the surrounding rock and any groundwater it might contain.

The industry stops short of admitting contamination of groundwater as a result of fracturing.

She also discussed surveys of health impacts felt by people who live close to gas wells or compressor stations. She presented a list of some forty two conditions which people had reported.

Her conclusion was that shale gas development has resulted in human health impacts to a large number of individuals living and working in the areas of shale development as well as large quantities of environmental damage and disruption

She further concluded that state regulatory programs are not adequate to regulate and control the rapidly developing shale technologies being implemented within the individual states.

In addition to the keynote speaker, the conference featured experts and academics Jill Kriesky, Ben Stout, and Michael Hendryx.

Michael Hendryx, Jill Kriesky, and Ben Stout Photo by Chuck Wyrostock

Dr. Kriesky, of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, talked about the health impacts of hydraulic fracturing. She included discussion of a recent legislation that inhibits physicians from sharing information about possible health impacts of fracking. She recommended that there be more studies of potential impacts, implementation of air and water monitoring regulations at fracking sites, strong chemical disclosure regulations, and a health registry and public health education programs.

Mr. Stout talked about the importance of data collection. He recommended that anyone in a fracking area test their water daily for conductivity. If the water becomes contaminated there will be an immediate and dramatic increase in conductivity. He is also building a database of background water quality data. This makes it possible to know what the water was like before fracking.

Dr. Hendryx talked about the health impacts of mining, particularly mountaintop removal mining. He said that he has authored or co-authored more than twenty studies in peer reviewed journals that documented public health problems for people living near mining operations. He said that the health risks are greater for people living near the mines. This is true even after considering other health risks such as smoking, poverty, obesity, age, or access to health care. He called the epidemiological data of health impacts “overwhelming” and said that mountaintop mining should be stopped.

The most moving part of the conference was the descriptions of the problem by people who live near mining or drilling. Theirs were stories of ordinary people, just minding their own business, living their lives when they were intruded upon by drilling, mining, road dust, or a compressor station. They were of choking dust, noise that makes sleep impossible, and illnesses that they and their families had never had before.

If you missed the conference you can see most of it by going to http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=vjDBCyf8Ypo&feature=endscreen. That takes you to one of the presentation as well as links to other presentations. Follow all the links and you will have seen the whole conference (minus introductions, question and answers, directions to the bathrooms, etc.)



The West Virginia Highlands Conservancy has joined with Sierra Club, West Virginia Chapter; Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition; West Virginia Environmental Council; Friends of the Cacapon River; Christians for the Mountains; Eight Rivers Council; Greenbrier River Water Association; SaveTheWaterTable.org; West Virginians For A Moratorium On Marcellus (WV4MoM) and Coal River Mountain Watch in calling for a moratorium on drilling for gas in the Marcellus shale until certain conditions are met.

The groups did not request a permanent end to all drilling. They recognize the possibility (only theoretical at this point) that natural gas drilling could be done right. Today, however, it is not being done safely. It has to stop until changes are made which would make this possible.

To reach this goal, the groups asked that no new permits be issued until there are several changes in the way the drilling is done. The groups recognize that the Legislature enacted some drilling requirements in December, 2011. Those requirements are not, however, remotely adequate to provide the basic protections needed by West Virginia citizens.

These are the steps that the groups requested be taken:

1. No new permits should be issued until Department of Environmental Protection inspections of drilling operations and gas wells become mandatory. The WV DEP must determine the number of active wells that an inspector can effectively oversee and limit the number of permits issued to the corresponding number of inspectors on staff.

2. No new permits should be granted until tracers are added to the hydraulic fracturing fluids so groundwater contamination from drilling operations can be identified.

3. No new permits should be issued until a closed-loop process is mandated for drilling and hydraulic fracturing. In order to protect the state’s surface and groundwater, no waste or flowback, solid or liquid should be applied to or buried on the land.

4. No new permits should be granted until all hazardous materials are disposed of in hazardous waste facilities.

5. No new permits should be issued until Home Rule is honored. Local towns and counties must be allowed to control whether, where and when hydraulic fracturing is done in their communities, including control of the roads and hours where trucks hauling drilling equipment and supplies are allowed to operate.

6. No new permits should be issued until air pollution emissions are monitored and regulated and pollution controls are required on all gas facilities.

7. No new permits should be issued until West Virginia citizens are guaranteed a permanent replacement if their source of clean water becomes contaminated at any time within 1 mile of a natural gas drilling operation unless another source of pollution can be proven.

The groups’ request was delivered in September, 2012, to Governor Tomblin and to Jeff Kessler, President, West Virginia State Senate, and Richard Thompson, Speaker, West Virginia House of Delegates, who were at the Capitol for interim meetings.

Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling,The Highlands Voice |

Commission backs moratorium on permits for Marcellus gas wells


Pamela Pritt


Although gas drilling companies are not knocking on Pocahontas County’s borders to explore for natural gas in the Marcellus shale formation, the county commission Tuesday bolstered local environmental groups’ call for a moratorium on permits for Marcellus gas wells.

Beth Little represented 8 Rivers Council. Little said the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection does not have enough inspectors to handle statewide drilling sites, or abandonment of gas wells. 8 Rivers Council, as well as the Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Christians for the Mountains and the Greenbrier River Water Association and others, developed seven points they use as evidence that a moratorium should be in place:

•No new permits should be issued until DEP inspections of drilling operations and gas wells become mandatory. The WVDEP must determine the number of active wells that an inspector can effectively oversee and limit the number of permits issued to the corresponding number of inspectors on staff.


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Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling |


By Beth Little

Fracking has become an international issue with demonstrations in multiple states, the US capitol, and other countries.

In California a surfer paddled 300 miles down the coast this summer to raise awareness about fracking (http://www.surfermag.com/features/frack-off-california-paddle/includes awesome pictures) and the Center for Biological Diversity launched federal litigation challenging the Bureau of Land Management for failing to properly evaluate hydraulic fracturing’s threats to endangered species on public land leased for oil and gas activities in California.

New York has had so many rallies it’s impossible to keep track of them all. This August over 1000 people showed up in Albany, the state capitol, to tell Governor Cuomo to ban fracking.

Earth First got into the act in Pennsylvania by shutting down an EQT drilling site with a blockade and a couple of treesitters.

Protesters marched through downtown Columbus and temporarily occupied the front hall of the Ohio Statehouse. The group Don’t Frack Ohio organized the protest and three days of workshops, which featured big name speakers such as “Gasland” director Josh Fox and climate author Bill McKibben.

Representatives from several environmental groups in WV (including the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy) traveled to Washington, DC on July 28 to join with over 5000 members of groups from around the country in the FRACK ATTACK rally featuring Josh Fox, Bill McKibben, Sierra Club President Allison Chin, and Dish TX mayor Calvin Tillman in front of the Capitol followed by a march in blistering heat to deliver frack water to the American Natural Gas Alliance and the American Petroleum Institute.

Along with these actions, and many more, moratoriums and bans have been passed in towns (such as Lewisburg, WV), counties (such as Boulder, Co), states (such as Vermont), and even nations (such as France – they want to protect their wine by keeping their water safe).

Those calling for a ban have become convinced that fracking is inherently unsafe and will eventually pollute the groundwater with toxic chemicals migrating through the earth. The more moderate voices call for moratoriums until studies are completed and/or better regulations are in place to avoid the growing number of spills, accidents, well contaminations and health problems. Not to mention the nightmare for those living where gas development is happening.

The oil and gas industry has spent and continues to spend millions of dollars on campaign contributions and lobbying to influence our political leaders. They tout the increased jobs and tax revenues and cloak their rhetoric with claims of providing domestic energy for

100 years and freedom from dependence on foreign oil, while they move ahead with plans to export natural gas to Asian markets where the price is higher.

The Obama administration has paid lip service to a concern about regulations, but has done nothing to slow down the drilling frenzy or block the exports. Meanwhile, Republicans are calling for even less regulation and more drilling in more areas for both gas and oil. It looks like the earth is going to be one big pin cushion with pipelines everywhere and more and more spills and accidents until we have no clean water left anywhere.

Written by Administrator in: Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling,The Highlands Voice |

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