Wednesday, January 26, 2011

PA fracking blowout spews fluid onto state forest lands

The following article appeared in the Star Gazette on 1.25.2011.
Talisman Energy may face heavy penalties  
By G. Jeffrey Aaron

Talisman Energy has resumed its Marcellus drilling operations in Pennsylvania, a week after one of the company's gas wells experienced a blowout that caused an uncontrolled discharge of sand and fracking fluids onto state forest lands in Tioga County.

As a result of the incident, Talisman shut down all of its hydraulic fracturing operations in North America while it conducted an internal investigation into the cause of the Jan. 17 blowout. Those operations have since resumed, with Talisman's Pennsylvania drilling program being the last to be brought back online.

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has requested Talisman provide answers to nine questions related to the blowout as part of its investigation into the incident. The investigation could result in civil penalties levied against Talisman.

The well where the blowout occurred is on Pennsylvania State Forest lands in Ward Township, about nine miles southeast of Mansfield.

"There is certainly the possibility of a civil penalty that would be determined at a later time," DEP spokesman Daniel Spadoni said. "But we need to have the investigation concluded to our satisfaction before the civil penalties would be addressed."

Talisman, based in Calgary, Alberta has five days from receipt of letter, called a notice of violation, to submit the information requested by the DEP. The letter was dated Monday.

Among other items, the DEP wants Talisman to submit a sampling plan for the site, information on any fluids released during the blowout, an analysis of the incident's cause, changes in all of the company's Marcellus operations as a result of the incident and when those changes will be implemented.

DEP is also asking why it was notified shortly after 1:30 p.m. Jan. 17 when the incident began a little after noon.

"This was a serious incident that could have caused significant environmental harm had it not been brought under control," DEP North-central Regional Director Nels Taber said in a statement. "DEP is conducting a thorough investigation to determine why this incident occurred."

To read the remainder of the article, please click HERE.

Gas drilling isn't as "clean" as previously thought

Really?  Anyone who lives in an area where they're drilling has known this since Day 1.  The industry has spun a marvelous tale of how natural gas is the second coming--describing it as "clean" and even "green."  If I see another commercial about it I just may throw my tv out the window!  Natural gas might burn cleanER than oil but now there is finally evidence showing that when taking into account the entire lifecycle from extraction through burning, the benefits of natural gas are negligible at best.  Click HERE to read the latest chapter in Abraham Lustgarten's provocative series on the natural gas industry for ProPublica: "Climate Benefits of Natural Gas May Be Overstated."

So instead of investing billions of dollars and destroying millions of acres, decimating property values (not to mention any tourism industry that might have existed pre-drilling), ruining wells, and risking the health and well-being of people, wildlife, and pets....WHY aren't those billions of dollars being invested in something that does none of the above: solar power, wind power or something yet to be discovered?  Last night's State of the Union address touched upon how the United States needs to out-educate, out-innovate, and out-build; we can't expect to lead the pack again if our focus is on the fossil fuels of last century.