The Fracking News – Dumping Frackwater

The Fracking News

DEP has proposed to use natural gas frack water for roadway pre-wetting, anti-icing,  roadway de-icing, as well as a dust suppressant and stabilizer for unpaved secondary roadways. Think that’s a terrible idea?  DEP is accepting public comment concerning these proposals.

Concerned citizens may submit comments to Scott Walters, Chief, General Permits, Div of Municipal and Residual Waste, Bureau of Waste Management, PO Box 8472, Harrisburg, PA 17105.  Comments may recommend revisions to and approval or denial of the proposed amendment and renewal.  Comments are due by Nov 16th 2011.

The list of municipalities across the Marcellus shale that have banned fracking continues to grow. This week, the towns of SyracuseAlbany, and Napoli in NY, as well as Forest Hills, PA passed community rights ordinances.  State College is also pushing for a vote on the matter.  These towns are a growing movement to push back on corporate bullies.  For some communities like South Fayette, progress is complicated due to serious conflicts of interest.

The Citizens Marcellus Shale Commission released their final report this week, based on hearings across the state. They call for a more robust drilling tax, more transparency in the industry, and minimum setbacks for gas wells and water wells. They also called for a moratorium on drilling in all public-owned lands, including state forests, parks, and game lands, to analyse impacts. Read a summary here; Read the entire report here.  According to the League of Women Voters, The state was and still is not prepared to limit the risks and impacts of drilling.”   Here’s one good analysis from CHC’s friends at Sustainability Now Radio.  

Also this week, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania recommended that owners of water wells within 3000 feet of gas drilling should have more legal protections. You can find their full report on the impact of Marcellus Gas Drilling on Rural Drinking Water here.

There’s plenty of reason why the recommendations keep coming – the science to say fracking is safe just isn’t there.  This has researchers playing catch-up: “Everything from air quality, to forest fragmentation, to habitat impacts, to water quality impacts….I think there’s just a lot that’s unknown right now.”  

While there’s some agreement that natural gas is better to burn that coal, or diesel, or oil, no one thinks that we’re developing gas as a transition fuel. Except for Mike Krancer at the DEP – he just awarded $4.4 million in “alternative energy” grants, but over 80% went to natural gas projects.

The BOOM!  Eastern Ohio is swarming with landmen buying up five year leases in the Utica, and poor areas are looking for economic opportunity.  Indiana County’s own Consul Energy is investing. However, not everyone is excited about the boom – “History suggests that such booms ultimately make the rich richer and leave the working class about as it was.”   Ohioans are also worried about all of PA’s frack water going into their wells.

The BUST! The Barnett Shale in Texas is drying up. In it’s wake are cancer clusters.

In waste water news, the EPA announced they’ll be writing new rules governing wastewater disposal from drilling sites – it’ll take 3 years. Fortunately, in PA we don’t even try to treat wastewater, the industry has voluntarily suspended bringing frackwater to treatment plants – so they say the EPA’s action won’t matter.

The industry here in PA has also pledged to disclose frack fluid chemicals, no kidding!! This is good news, but we should trust but verify – in other places it turns out they’re not telling the truth.

All this matters for home values.   Concerns have surfaced that gas drilling could lower property values. Realtors don’t know what a property with a gas well will be worth: “It would be difficult to obtain financing due to the potential hazard.”

A really good question that banks are asking: “What happens if they lend money for a piece of land that ends up storing the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool filled with toxic wastewater from drilling?”  The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) won’t issue loans for homes closer than 300 feet from an active or planned drilling site.

Here’s an extended story about drilling the family farm, and regrets from a landowner in Colorado.

Pipelines are so unregulated that they’re going to lead us straight to the apocalypse – here’s what it looks like. Maybe it’ll start with earthquakes.

And lastly today some support from The Occupy movement.  They seem to get it  – they’ve targeted PNC bank for funding fracking today. Here’s another fracking bank.  Do you know the best way to send a message to your bank?


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