Saturday, June 12, 2010

What happens when a windmill falls in the ocean? A splash.

Bill Maher's "New Rules" segment on yesterday's show promotes a transition to wind and solar power not only for environmental reasons, but to create jobs in renewable energy.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Over 1000 Facebook fans!! Whoo-HOOO!!

Thank you to everyone for spreading the word about "Protect the Endless Mountains..." and our new(er) Facebook partner "How Should We Do the Mountain."  Sometime overnight our Facebook page hit the 1000 fan mark...and it continues to grow!

Keep the conversation going, continue to share information, and if nothing else, live by the quote that serves as our slogan:  "Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little" (E. Burke).

Pass it on!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Comparisons drawn to causes of Clearfield County, Gulf explosions

Gas eruption fallout
Blowout preventer fails after fracking

By Fritz Mayer

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, PA — A geyser of gas and fracking fluid that erupted out of control for 16 hours on June 3 and 4, at times shooting up to 75 feet in the air at a Marcellus Shale drilling operation in Clearfield County, has lead to inevitable comparisons with the continuing hemorrhaging of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

In both cases, failure of the blowout preventer—a series of valves that allow operators to control pressure at the top of the well—was part of the picture, if not the entire story.

In the case of the Clearfield County incident, which occurred about 90 miles northeast of Pittsburgh in Moshannon State Forest, Neal Weaver, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), wrote in an email, “It is clear that the blowout preventer failed, but our investigation will not be limited to just that issue, but the drilling, fracking and post-fracking operations as a whole.”

The company that owns the well, EOG resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Company, called the incident a “control issue” and noted that no injuries resulted from it and no houses were damaged. Critics counter that there are no homes within a mile of the well, and that campers in the area had to be evacuated, and emergency management officials declared a no-fly zone over the area.

The DEP called the incident serious. “The event at the well site could have been a catastrophic incident that endangered life and property,” said DEP secretary John Hanger. “This was not a minor accident, but a serious incident that will be fully investigated by this agency with the appropriate and necessary actions taken quickly.”

Governor Ed Rendell ordered work on all EOG wells temporarily halted, and said that the state would not be relying only on its own experts to determine exactly what caused the explosion, but would also engage outside experts to “get to the bottom of what happened.”

The incident will likely be discussed by lawmakers in Harrisburg as they debate the merits of implementing a natural gas severance tax in the state, and consider whether to pass a moratorium on the leasing of public lands for gas drilling.

Senator Bob Casey, who in 2009 introduced the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, which would require drilling companies to disclose the contents of fracking fluid, said this was a situation that could have been much worse.

Casey said, “Natural gas drilling offers Pennsylvania a great economic opportunity; however, incidents like this blowout are a reminder that there are dangers and that precautions must be taken to protect the health and well-being of Pennsylvanians.”

Other explosions

In an unrelated incident, a Marcellus Shale gas well being drilled in Moundsville, WV, some 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, erupted in flames on June 7, and seven workers who suffered burns were sent to a local hospital and reported to be in fair condition.

The drilling company had been drilling through an abandoned coal mine when a gas pocket suddenly ignited, sending flames up to 70 feet into the air.

The fire was expected to remain burning for several days or more as emergency workers attempted to cap the wells. According to various officials, the fire posed no further threat to buildings or individuals.

In a third incident involving natural gas, a pipeline explosion on June 7 in north Texas killed one worker and sent several others to local hospitals.

The blast was reportedly triggered when a crew installing utility poles accidentally struck the gas pipeline, and sent flames shooting 40 feet into the air.

Click here to view original report, River Reporter 6.10.2010

Gov Rendell: no need to ban new gas drilling

Gov. Addresses Concerns for Gas Well Safety

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell says an overall ban on new Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling isn’t necessary. Rendell made the comments in response to the Marcellus Shale gas well blowout Thursday night in Clearfield County.

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection has launched an investigation into the incident at the Lawrence Township well that shot natural gas 75 feet into the air for 16 hours.  DEP Secretary John Hanger says the investigation will look into the well’s entire history. EOG is barred from drilling or fracking at its more than 70 Pennsylvania wells until the investigation is complete. But the governor says drilling by others can continue....

“Given the degree of monitoring that we have and the checks and balances we have, we can go on and do this,” says Rendell. “Even for EOG, we’re not stopping them from extracting gas. We’re stopping them from any new drilling. They’ve got plenty of wells that are working right now, extracting gas.”

Rendell says current regulations have prevented major disasters for decades of oil and gas drilling, but he says they should be strengthened to minimize the potential for accidents.

He says two sets of bills that would make regulations stricter will soon be voted on by the state’s Independent Regulatory Review Commission. One of those packages would control the disposal of wastewater. The other would try to increase safety in well construction.

Click here to see original article, posted by 90.5DUQ, Pittsburgh's NPR Station on their blog.

DEP Orders EOG Resources to Halt All Natural Gas Drilling Activities in PA

DEP Press Release 6.7.2010

HARRISBURG -- The Department of Environmental Protection today ordered EOG Resources Inc. to suspend its natural gas well drilling activities in Pennsylvania after a June 3 blowout at one of the company’s Clearfield County wells sent natural gas and at least 35,000 gallons of drilling wastewater into the sky and over the ground for 16 hours.

DEP Secretary John Hanger said that while the order bans all drilling and hydrofracturing, or fracking, operations for specified periods of time, the suspension will remain in effect until DEP has completed a comprehensive investigation into the leak and the company has implemented any needed changes.

“DEP staff, along with an independent expert, will conduct a detailed investigation of not just the incident that occurred last week in Clearfield County, but of EOG Resources’ drilling operations, as a whole, here in Pennsylvania,” said Hanger. “The Clearfield County incident presented a serious threat to life and property. We are working with the company to review its Pennsylvania drilling operations fully from beginning to end to ensure an incident of this nature does not happen again.”

The order prohibits EOG Resources from drilling activities up to seven days; from engaging in fracking operations up to 14 days; and from completing or initiating post-fracking operations for 30 days in any wells throughout the state. These actions and operations cannot resume until the department agrees that the investigation has been fully completed.

The results of the investigation will also help determine whether DEP should take additional enforcement action against the company, such as fines or penalties.

Hanger added that EOG Resources has been fully cooperative and in agreement with the department’s ongoing investigation and order.

The leak began at approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, when the well’s operators lost control of it while preparing to extract gas after fracking the shale. As a result, natural gas and flowback frack fluid was released uncontrollably onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. The well was capped at around noon on June 4.  The EOG well pad is located in a rural area near the Penfield/Route 153 exit of Interstate 80 in northwestern Clearfield County, near Moshannon State Forest.

The department’s Emergency Response and Oil and Gas programs responded to the incident, along with the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, and local fire and police departments.

PEMA elevated its activation level to coordinate resources among multiple state agencies and worked with PennDOT and the Federal Aviation Administration to institute a temporary airspace restriction above the well. The restriction was lifted at approximately 1:45 p.m. on June 4.

“Fortunately, the well did not ignite and explode, and there were no injuries to the well crew or emergency responders,” said Hanger. “Our preliminary assessment is that the environmental damage was modest as the frack fluid was contained and did not appear to reach any streams, but DEP is continuing its monitoring efforts because sometimes the impacts of a spill like this are delayed. We have noted that a spring in the area has shown a spike in conductivity and that discharge is being collected by EOG for proper disposal.”

The secretary noted that the company expects to have a more accurate estimate of the amount of fracking water that was leaked after it finishes draining the pits and waterboxes it deployed to collect the fluids. As of June 7, initial estimates totaled 35,000 gallons, although more was certainly released and the company believes this accounts for a majority of the leaked water.

DEP’s preliminary investigation has determined that a blowout preventer on the well failed, but the agency does not yet know if that failure was the main cause of the incident. The blowout preventer has been secured and will be one piece of the investigation.

EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in the Marcellus Shale formation.

Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


Neil Weaver, Department of Environmental Protection

For more information, visit

DEP to investigate last week's well explosion in Clearfield County

DEP Plans Thorough Investigation in to Marcellus Shale Well Blowout in Clearfield County; 
EOG Resources Well Released Fracking Fluid, Natural Gas for 16 Hours 

HARRISBURG -- Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Hanger said today that his agency intends to investigate aggressively the circumstances surrounding a blowout at a Marcellus Shale natural gas well in Lawrence Township, Clearfield County, and take the appropriate enforcement action.

At approximately 8 p.m. on Thursday, June 3, the operators of the well, which is owned by EOG Resources, Inc., lost control of it while preparing to extract gas after hydrofracturing the shale. As a result, the well released natural gas and flowback frack fluid onto the ground and 75 feet into the air. The well was eventually capped around noon on June 4.

“The event at the well site could have been a catastrophic incident that endangered life and property,” said Hanger. “This was not a minor accident, but a serious incident that will be fully investigated by this agency with the appropriate and necessary actions taken quickly.

“When we arrived on scene, natural gas and frack fluid was flowing off the well pad and heading toward tributaries to Little Laurel Run and gas was shooting into the sky, creating a significant fire hazard. That’s why emergency responders acted quickly to cut off electric service to the area.

“Right now, we’re focused on limiting any further environmental damage, but once that work is complete, we plan to aggressively look at this situation and see where things went wrong and what enforcement action is necessary. If mistakes were made, we will be certain to take steps to prevent similar errors from happening again.”

DEP learned of the leak at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Friday after it was informed by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. DEP immediately dispatched its Emergency Response and Oil and Gas program staff to the site.

PEMA, which elevated its activation level to coordinate resources among multiple state agencies, also worked with PennDOT to initiate an airspace restriction above the well, which the Federal Aviation Administration authorized on a temporary basis earlier today. The restriction prohibits flights at and below 1,000 feet of ground level within a three nautical mile radius of the well site. The restriction is in effect until further notice.

The EOG well pad is located in a rural area near the Penfield/Route 153 exit of Interstate 80 in northwestern Clearfield County. Three other wells on the same pad that have been drilled and fractured remain plugged and are not in danger.

EOG Resources, formerly known as Enron Oil & Gas Co., operates approximately 265 active wells in Pennsylvania, 117 of which are in the Marcellus Shale formation.

Dept. of Environmental Protection
Commonwealth News Bureau
Room 308, Main Capitol Building
Harrisburg PA., 17120


Neil Weaver, Department of Environmental Protection

Link to press release on DEPs website.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Crude awaking? A call for real change.

A gas pipeline in rural TX exploded in spectacular fashion today, killing at least 3 and severely burning and injuring numerous others.  Click HERE for story.  So why am I posting a Texas explosion on a blog devoted to natural gas drilling in PA?  Because PA has had their share of explosions already --see the post from this past weekend and previous posts on Dimock.

And yes, this is a blog on natural gas but the fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico has huge repercussions for the gas industry.  Now that there is at least a temporary moratorium on new offshore drilling permits, guess where the oil companies have set their sights?  On natural gas.  In all honesty, I wasn't sure how the Gulf oil spill would effect what's going on in our backyards. Would the "D" word become anathema and things slow down until the newscasts were no longer dominated by the Gulf story?  Or would people finally get the message, realize the full breadth of what ONE accident could do to our world and decide to transition over to renewable energy sources? Granted, Exxon had already purchased XTO last year.  But last week Shell Oil announced it was buying East Resources.  I've heard financial wizards placing their bets on natural gas as the next big ticket for investors.  And today I read how oil companies and their subsidiaries are making campaign donations in record numbers.  Was I idealistic?  I guess I was.  No one could have foreseen the nightmare now playing out before our eyes on the evening news.  But now that it has, the Powers-That-Be still don't get it.

Admittedly and thankfully, spills and explosions aren't the norm but guess what?

It only takes ONE.

The Gulf oil spill is going to get a lot worse before it ever gets any better. All it takes is ONE accident and in this case, the ocean, marshes, beaches, wildlife, entire ecosystems and foodchains, and the livelihoods of a large portion of Louisiana's residents are irreparably damaged or changed.  But wait, it gets better.  Just this ONE accident and this catastrophe has already started to play itself out in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and who knows how far up the east coast.

So am I missing something?  If the pictures of birds choking in oily goop; the images of dead dolphins washed up on shores; the hundreds of thousands of people who will no longer enjoy their livelihoods or life as they knew it--if all of this is not enough to cause a change--then what is?

We have the brightest minds in the world. We can put a man on the moon, but we can't figure out how to transition to renewable energy?  I'm sorry but I refuse to believe that.  Renewable sources like wind and solar power don't pollute wells; they don't explode; they don't kill people; they don't pollute entire oceans.  In fact, they don't pollute at all.  You want REAL clean energy?  We have endless supplies of it and it's just waiting to be harnessed.

We once led the entire world with an Industrial Revolution; why can't we do the same with a Green Revolution?  The Industrial Revolution helped make this country the superpower it once was, but I fear no longer is.  We have the opportunity to effect real, meaningful change here.  It would take an enormous amount of effort, ingenuity, and inspiration. It would not come without great difficulties as not only energy sources but entire workforces are transitioned.  We can do this.  Didn't someone once say, "Yes We Can?"

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tell your senators to support the FRAC Act!

If you haven't already, take a moment to ask your legislators to support the FRAC Act.  "Senators Casey (D-PA) and Schumer (D-NY), and Representatives DeGette (D-CO), Polis (D-CO) and Hinchey (D-NY) have introduced twin bills in the Senate (S 1215) and House (HR 2766) to close the so-called "Halliburton" loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act that allows oil and gas drillers to inject hazardous materials -- unchecked -- directly into or adjacent to underground drinking water supplies.

The exemption is known as the "Halliburton loophole" because former Vice President Dick Cheney, ex-CEO of Halliburton, is associated with its creation. Halliburton developed hydraulic fracturing in the 1940s, and remains one of the three largest manufacturers of fracturing fluids."

Click on the link below to tell your elected legislators how YOU--their constituents--feel about this very important issue: