Thursday, March 29, 2012

Debating the Science on Health Impacts

There is a recent Public Radio International story out about the Colorado School of Public Health study (linked in a post below). It notes that Energy In Depth and other oil and gas interests are questioning the study aggresively. See this Denver Business Journal report for links to the industry critiques of the study.

We are in a condition of post-normal science, where science is being used as a tool in a political debate rather than a means to resolve it. Contestation, should we make decisions when both the values and the science are debated?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dallas Forum on Fracking

I have been trying to keep better tabs on developments in Dallas as their process is very closely mirroring ours (in terms of timing and issues). Here is an article in the Dallas Morning News about a recent forum pertaining to their draft ordinance.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

New Study on Health Impacts of Drilling

There is a new study (full text free) out in the journal Endocrine Reviews about endocrine-disrupting chemicals used in natural gas development. Article about it here.

This combined with the Colorado School of Public Health study (blogged below) may be tipping the balance in Denton's assessment of the "scientific defensibility" of various ordinance revisions proposed by DAG and the official task force....we shall see.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Task Force for the People?

The Denton Record Chronicle ran this piece of mine on Sunday. I argue that Denton's drilling task force is polarized and dysfunctional. Rather than generating ideas to work around constraints they are pointing to those constraints as signs that reform is unwise and too costly. The majority on the task force speaks in the name of the industry and wants nothing about the current ordinance to change. This is a shame. I hope our City leaders push back on the task force and demand more creative options for making fracking a friendlier neighbor.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

DAG Wilma Subra Presentation Posted Online

Thanks to Jim Wall, this video of Wilma Subra's presentation, sponsored by DAG at UNT, is now posted.

New Study on Health Impacts of Shale Gas

Just got word of this new study from the Colorado School of Public Health. Abstract pasted here:

Human Health Risk Assessment of Air Emissions
1 from Development of Unconventional
Natural Gas Resources
Lisa M. McKenziea, Roxana Z. Wittera, Lee S. Newmana, John L. Adgatea
aColorado School of Public Health, University of Colorado – Anschutz Medical Campus,
5 Aurora, Colorado, USA
6 Address correspondence to L. McKenzie, Colorado School of Public Health, 13001 East 17
7 Place, Mail Stop B119, Aurora, CO 80045 USA. Telephone: (303) 724-5557. Fax: (303) 724-
8 4617.

Background: Technological advances (e.g. directional drilling, hydraulic fracturing), have led

11 to increases in unconventional natural gas development (NGD), raising questions about health

12 impacts.

Objectives: We estimated health risks for exposures to air emissions from a NGD project in

14 Garfield County, Colorado with the objective of supporting risk prevention recommendations in

15 a health impact assessment (HIA).

Methods: We used EPA guidance to estimate chronic and subchronic non-cancer hazard indices

17 and cancer risks from exposure to hydrocarbons for two populations: (1) residents living >

18 mile from wells and (2) residents living
≤ . mile from wells.

Results: Residents living ≤ . mile from wells are at greater risk for health effects from NGD

20 than are residents living >
. mile from wells. Subchronic exposures to air pollutants during well

21 completion activities present the greatest potential for health effects. The subchronic non-cancer

22 hazard index (HI) of 5 for residents
≤ . mile from wells was driven primarily by exposure to

23 trimethylbenzenes, xylenes, and aliphatic hydrocarbons. Chronic HIs were 1 and 0.4. for

24 residents
≤ . mile from wells and > . mile from wells, respectively. Cumulative cancer risks

25 were 10 in a million and 6 in a million for residents living
≤ . mile and > . mile from wells,

26 respectively, with benzene as the major contributor to the risk.

Conclusions: Risk assessment can be used in HIAs to direct health risk prevention strategies.

28 Risk management approaches should focus on reducing exposures to emissions during well

29 completions. These preliminary results indicate that health effects resulting from air emissions

30 during unconventional NGD warrant further study. Prospective studies should focus on health

31 effects associated with air pollution.



Key Words: natural gas development; risk assessment; air pollution; hydrocarbon emissions

Friday, March 16, 2012

New York Times on Hazards of Fracking

I just came across this story by Ian Urbina from Feb. 2011. It is an extensive article in the NYT, with links to confidential EPA documents and other resources. The main theme is drilling waste water in PA, especially concerns that radioactive elements are getting into the drinking water supply.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Local Control - PA's Act 13

This is a good article about the controversial Act 13 in Pennsylvania, which appears to strip local control over shale gas development from municipalities.

History of Shale Gas Technology

I have been interested in learning more about the history of the technologies  (fracking and horizontal drilling in particular) that have made the shale gas boom a reality. Here are a couple of finds so far:

Breakthrough Institute Interview with Dan Steward, former VP of Mitchell Energy:

Forbes Interview with George Mitchell:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

How to Frack Responsibly

An interesting piece by Joe Nocera in the New York Times. He points to the Environmental Defense Fund as taking the appropriately pragmatic approach to fracking. It is valuable and here to stay, so we must need to make it more environmentally friendly. Yes, of course, but how much? And how much will that cost? The question is not whether to make it more environmentally friendly - it is: What counts as being suffciently environmentally friendly?

Response to Chesapeake from Deborah Rogers

Deborah Rogers, who gave a presentation to DAG last August, has a response to Chesepeake's comments on the recent Rolling Stone article (previous post).

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Fracking Bubble...?

Rolling Stone has just published this article claiming that flipping land is more profitable than selling gas when it comes to the shale gas revolution.