Thursday, August 30, 2012

Pipeline companies seize land in Texas at will

This story from the Texas Observer reports on how easy it is for transnational pipeline corporations to invoke eminent domain law to seize private property.

EagleRidge seeking variance to Denton's moratorium

This is information forwarded by Cathy McMullen:

The City of Denton, Texas, will hold a public hearing to decide upon four gas well moratorium variance requests filed by EagleRidge, Inc. Specifically, EagleRidge, Inc. is requesting that the moratorium on gas well drilling be lifted for four of its applications currently pending with the City’s Gas Wells Inspections Division.

The four areas are as follows:
  • The property located west of Interstate Highway 35 and east of South Western Boulevard, referred to as the Rayzor West 3H gas well pad site (GWP08-0029);
  • The property located west of Interstate Highway 35 and south of West University Drive, referred to as the Rayzor West 9H gas well pad site (GWP10-0013);
  • The property located west of Interstate Highway 35 and south of Jim Christal Road, referred to as the Rayzor West 10H gas well pad site (GWP10-0014);
  • And, the property located west of Interstate Highway 35, north of Airport Road and east of Precision Drive, referred to as the Rayzor West 12H gas well pad site (AGWP08-0029).
The public hearing will be held on September 11, 2012 at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chamber at City Hall, 215 E. McKinney Street, Denton, Texas 76201. Members of the public are encouraged to attend the hearings and express their views.
You can also post your views online at this site: Gas Well Moratorium | Engage Denton by MindMixer
Click here for a DRC op-ed about EagleRidge, Inc.
You can cast your vote about this decision on the Engage Denton website.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Texas to Study Health Risks of Fracking

This State Impact story discusses a planned study by the Texas Department of State Health Services to look at existing data on possible health impacts from fracking.

Another State Impact story discusses the possible link between drilling/producing and smog.

Fracking too Important to Foul Up

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Shale Gas Pioneer George P. Mitchell have an editorial in the Washington Post that attempts to give voice to the "sensible center" in a polarized debate by advocating "common-sense regulations." They see five main reasons to support fracking: 1. stabilizing and lowering energy prices; 2. creating jobs; 3. reducing dependence on coal; 4. allowing greater integration of renewables into the grid; and 5. reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

They are giving money through their philanthropies to support responsible state-level regulations:
"We will encourage better state regulation of fracking around five key principles:
l Disclosing all chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process;
l Optimizing rules for well construction and operation;
l Minimizing water consumption, protecting groundwater and ensuring proper disposal of wastewater;
l Improving air pollution controls, including capturing leaking methane, a potent greenhouse gas; and
l Reducing the impact on roads, ecosystems and communities."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Energy In Depth Tells Josh Fox How to Be a Responsible Journalist

Here is a letter from the industry group Energy In Depth offering film maker Josh Fox (who is producing Gas Land 2....due out soon) 7 tips for making his movies accurate and truthful.

Boulder County adopts Precautionary Approach to Drilling

This story in the Denver Post reports that Boulder County, CO is looking to adopt a "first do no harm" approach to gas development there. Here is a key excerpt:

Planning Commission vice chairman John Gerstle told Boulder County commissioners on Wednesday night that it boils down to a county expectation that oil and gas companies will "first, do no harm" when drilling their wells in unincorporated areas and producing oil and gas from the wells once they've been drilled.
In general, Gerstle told commissioners Cindy Domenico, Will Toor and Deb Gardner, "we want to make sure we don't harm anything" when oil and gas operations get under way -- whether it's the health and safety of Boulder County residents, or the environment.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Alec Baldwin on fracking

This is an interesting little piece from the actor, Alec Baldwin, who has taken a stand against fracking.

Fracking and Academic Freedom

There is another story, this time in the Boulder Weekly, about the influence of the oil and gas industry on academic freedom and integrity. The piece does a nice job of trying to dig down to questions of what constitutes responsible academic behavior, especially in terms of speech acts to the press, and the role of industry money in academic research. The focus is on Dr. Geoffrey Thyne, who was released from two positions (one at the Colorado School of Mines) and the other at the Wyoming Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute) supposedly for remarks he made that the industry did not like.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Denton City Council to discuss draft ordinance

It looks like the draft ordinance for Denton is about to be made public. Council will have a closed session on Tuesday - you can find their agenda here, and below is an excerpt of the key text:

3.Consult with and provide direction to City’s attorneys regarding legal issues and strategies associated with Phase I and proposed Phase II Gas Well Ordinance regulation of gas well drilling and production within the City Limits and the extraterritorial jurisdiction, including Constitutional limitations, statutory limitations upon municipal regulatory authority, moratorium on drilling and production and claims associated therewith, including variance requests for relief from the moratorium, statutory preemption and/or impacts of federal and state law and regulations as it concerns municipal regulatory authority and matters relating to enforcement of the ordinance.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Fracking critics accused of misusing science

This AP article turns the tables on all the accusations against industry that it is passing off their own preferred worldview as the scientific truth. The claim here is that fracking critics are guilty on the same charge.

Texas Sharon has a reply to this article.

A Review of Shale Gas Regulations by State

Resources for the Future (RFF) has published a document with maps depicting state regulations on a variety of aspects related to shale gas development. Here is their brief description:

Experts in RFF's Center for Energy Economics and Policy are analyzing regulations and surveying regulators in the 31 states that have significant shale gas reserves or where industry shows interest in shale gas development. The maps in this project show the preliminary results of these efforts for approximately 20 important regulatory elements in each state in the continental United States. As relevant regulations are passed, the maps will be updated accordingly. A final report that includes all updated maps and additional analysis will be released in fall 2012.

The purpose of these maps is to provide an overview of the regulatory patterns, similarities, and differences among states—not to authoritatively compile any given state's regulations or fully analyze any specific regulation. Note that the maps only show uniform, state-level regulation. Local regulation and, importantly, regulation via case-by-case permitting are not currently included, but may be added later. For comparison, the American Petroleum Institute's (API) best practices are also included in the maps where applicable.

Global Warming's Terrifying Math

Bill McKibben has a fantastic and scary piece in Rolling Stone about climate change. This is a good way to frame the politics of shale gas: "Think of two degrees Celsius as the legal drinking limit – equivalent to the 0.08 blood-alcohol level below which you might get away with driving home. The 565 gigatons is how many drinks you could have and still stay below that limit – the six beers, say, you might consume in an evening. And the 2,795 gigatons? That's the three 12-packs the fossil-fuel industry has on the table, already opened and ready to pour."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More on Frackademics

This piece in the Buffalo News (originally a Bloomberg piece) gives a quick overview of the most controversial academic studies of fracking with (often undisclosed) industry sponsors. The studies range from health and environmental risks to tax policies.

You can find more on this topic on the Shale Schock Media blog and on Texas Sharon's blog.

Longmont is being sued over its fracking regulations

The state of Colorado is suing the city of Longmont for its new ordinance, which bans fracking in residential areas. This is another battle in the legal war to determine the power of home-rule municipalities to regulate shale gas development.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

UTA Study and Conflicts of Interest

Much has been written lately about the UT Austin Energy Institute Study on fracking that found no evidence of groundwater contamination (for example, an editorial in Nature; Andrew Revkin's Dot Earth New York Times Opinion Column; Scientific American; and StateImpact Texas). It turns out that the lead author, Charles 'Chip' Groat, associate director of the University of Texas at Austin Energy Institute, failed to disclose that he holds a significant number of shares in the Houston-based Plains Exploration & Production Company. This lack of full disclosure has tainted the study and adds more fuel to the science-politics rancor surrounding fracking.

You can find the Energy Institute's study here.

Research on Fracking's Health Impacts is Under-funded

This story from the San Francisco Chronicle should be no surprise...there remains an impasse between anecdotal claims of negative health impacts and industrial denial of any problems. Funding for independent research remains low.