Tag Archives: hydrofracking

Breaking News: Bill legalizing fracking in NC will be taken up in May session

Three energy bills will reach the General Assembly next month

By Craig Jarvis
cjarvis@newsobserver.com

RALEIGH A state Senate committee on energy policy on Wednesday approved a proposal to legalize fracking in North Carolina in a little more than two years, and during that period establish a new regulations to ensure the environmentally sensitive process of natural gas extraction is done safely.

The unanimous vote by the five-member committee advanced a package of three bills dealing with fracking, criticizing federal energy policy while urging opening exploration off the coast in the Atlantic Ocean, and establishing a pilot program to grow fuel-producing grasses. The bills will be introduced in the General Assembly’s short session in May.

Fracking is slang for hydraulic fracturing, which extracts natural gas from deep underground by drilling down and then horizontally and shooting pressurized water, sand and chemicals into shale formations.

Committee chairman Sen. Bob Rucho, a Republican from Mecklenburg County, said the comprehensive legislation is an important step for the future economy of North Carolina. He said it would ensure that energy exploration and production is developed in an environmentally responsible manner.

But environmental groups were critical of the proposed fracking legislation. They favor the approach recommended last month by a bipartisan trio of House members who called for delaying fracking until more is known about the risks, at least several years down the road.

“It’s like driving a car 90 mph down the freeway with no brakes, no safety belts and a cliff looming ahead,” said Molly Diggins, executive director of the state’s Sierra Club chapter.

Diggins said she’s concerned that the proposal would invalidate local ordinances, prohibit public disclosure of industry records for two years, ease restrictions on groundwater contamination, weaken the regulatory powers of the state Department of Natural Resources and the state Environmental Management Commission, and create a new regulatory board that includes industry representatives.

Elizabeth Ouzts, state director of Environment North Carolina, said the emphasis on energy development should be on wind and solar resources. “It’s a shame and shows Sen. Rucho and his committee are out of touch with the rest of North Carolina.”

The Clean Energy and Economic Security Act would establish four new government entities: an energy jobs council, an interagency task force to develop compressed natural gas fueling facilities, a joint legislative commission to oversee energy policy, and – most importantly – an oil and gas board that would regulate the industry.

Rucho said he met with Gov. Bev Perdue on Tuesday and gave her an overview, and that others would be sitting down with her to discuss the package in more detail. Perdue has come out in favor of fracking, but vetoed an energy bill last year because it ordered her to enter into a compact with Virginia and South Carolina about offshore exploration and revenue sharing. This bill would soften that requirement: Instead of a compact, the governor would have to develop a “strategy” with those neighboring governors, and report back to the General Assembly by the end of this year on how to develop a regional compact. The governor would also be “strongly encouraged” to join a coalition of coastal state governors that has called for a coordinated effort on energy issues.

A spokesman for the governor said Perdue continues to believe that fracking must be done in a way that protects health and safety.

Rucho said he and others have also been meeting with Rep. Mitch Gillespie, a Republican who called for the go-slow approach, and House Speaker Thom Tillis in hopes of getting similar legislation through the House. Rep. Mike Hager, a Republican from Rutherfordton and a fracking proponent, said after the meeting he thinks it stands a good chance in the House. He said he thinks the proposal allows plenty of time to ensure fracking is safe and regulated.

“We think two years is pretty slow,” Hager said. “If I’m not mistaken, this is a process that has been in existence since the late 1940s or early 1950s. How much longer do we need to take?”

Rucho praised the report DENR issued earlier this year concluding that fracking could be done safely as long as the proper regulations were in place. He said the legislation will continue to be revised and will likely end up with even more safeguards than DENR recommended.

The package of proposed laws came out of four meetings by the Legislative Research Commission’s Committee on Energy Policy Issues, and its work is now done. Besides Rucho, its members were Sen. Harris Blake, a Republican from Moore County; Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Republican from New Hanover; Sen. Bill Rabon, a Republican from Brunswick, and Sen. Michael Walters, a Democrat from Robeson.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/04/18/3182433/bill-legalizing-fracking-in-nc.html#storylink=cpy

Monday April 16th: Fight The Frack Workshop And Show

Protest DENR Report on Fracking Tuesday March 27th

Join Croatan Earth First! in Protesting the DENR Report!
Tuesday March 27th:  Meet outside East Chapel Hill High School by 5:15 p.m. at 500 Weaver Dairy Rd.  It’s important to show up on time to sign up to speak before the hordes of pro-gas people take up all the public statement time like in last week’s hearing in Sanford.  After signing up,  join us outside for a demonstration.  We’ll supply the banners, chants, signs, and snacks.  No signs are allowed inside the meeting, so we recommend decorating or spray-painting a t-shirt to wear with anti-fracking slogans on it.  The hearing will begin inside at 6:30 p.m. and last until 9:30 p.m.  Talking points in response to their study can be found here.  We found it particularly disturbing that DENR had no plan for what to do with the millions of gallons toxic, “produced” water created in the process.  There are no safe options.  Deep well injection is illegal in NC, and the other option is shipping it out of state to ruin the water in other communities or sending it to water treatment facilities that admit they are not equipped to filter out these salts, chemicals, and radioactive materials.

Help us spread the word, link to this page on your facebook!

DENR Shale Gas Report Released

Contrary to the industry’s history and all common sense, DENR has concluded that fracking “can be done safely in NC,” …  “as long as the right protections are in place.” We disagree!  Every fracking operation around the country has shown the opposite to be true: spills, blow-outs, toxic chemicals in the aquifers and rivers, city water supplies contaminated, cattle deaths, drinking water wells contaminated, strange neurological diseases and cancers developing in affected communities…  We are unwilling to accept these risks for a small economic boom that will bust in the following 40 years.  That’s not even one lifetime, and the people and animals living in the Piedmont will the experiencing the consequences many years into the future.  Natural Gas energy is an unacceptable trade-off.  Links to the documents are below for your perusal.  After this report, it’s important for every person who doesn’t want their land and water to be fracked to show up for these meetings and speak their mind.  Join our demonstrations outside and go inside with a prepared speech.  The land, water, animals, communities, and future generations in North Carolina are depending on you to speak out! Continue reading

This week’s news coverage

Channel 17 Protesters Greet Lawmakers

Group protests natural gas drilling: News coverage from Sunday night’s demonstration on ABC 11.

Dozens of Protesters Gather in Capital

EPA Finds Fracking Chemical in Wyoming Gas Drilling Town’s Aquifer

Wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical used in fracking.
By Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica
Nov 13, 2011

Drill rig in a natural gas field in Wyoming/Credit: SkyTruth, flickr
As the country awaits results from a nationwide safety study on the natural gas drilling process of fracking, a separate government investigation into contamination in a place where residents have long complained that drilling fouled their water has turned up alarming levels of underground pollution.

A pair of environmental monitoring wells drilled deep into an aquifer in Pavillion, Wyo., contain high levels of cancer-causing compounds and at least one chemical commonly used in hydraulic fracturing, according to new water test results released yesterday by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The findings are consistent with water samples the EPA has collected from at least 42 homes in the area since 2008, when ProPublica began reporting on foul water and health concerns in Pavillion and the agency started investigating reports of contamination there.

Last year—after warning residents not to drink or cook with the water and to ventilate their homes when they showered—the EPA drilled the monitoring wells to get a more precise picture of the extent of the contamination.

The Pavillion area has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade that the drilling—and hydraulic fracturing in particular—has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment, loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.

The gas industry—led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion—has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination. EnCana has, however, supplied drinking water to residents.

The information released yesterday by the EPA was limited to raw sampling data: The agency did not interpret the findings or make any attempt to identify the source of the pollution. From the start of its investigation, the EPA has been careful to consider all possible causes of the contamination and to distance its inquiry from the controversy around hydraulic fracturing.

Still, the chemical compounds the EPA detected are consistent with those produced from drilling processes, including one—a solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE)—widely used in the process of hydraulic fracturing. The agency said it had not found contaminants such as nitrates and fertilizers that would have signaled that agricultural activities were to blame.

The wells also contained benzene at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols—another dangerous human carcinogen—acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel.

The EPA said the water samples were saturated with methane gas that matched the deep layers of natural gas being drilled for energy. The gas did not match the shallower methane that the gas industry says is naturally occurring in water, a signal that the contamination was related to drilling and was less likely to have come from drilling waste spilled above ground.

EnCana has recently agreed to sell its wells in the Pavillion area to Texas-based oil and gas company Legacy Reserves for a reported $45 million, but has pledged to continue to cooperate with the EPA’s investigation. EnCana bought many of the wells in 2004, after the first problems with groundwater contamination had been reported.

The EPA’s research in Wyoming is separate from the agency’s ongoing national study of hydraulic fracturing’s effect on water supplies, and is being funded through the Superfund cleanup program.

The EPA says it will release a lengthy draft of the Pavillion findings, including a detailed interpretation of them, later this month.