A Letter to Governor Sandoval

— originally drafted by Christian Gerlach and edited by Vickie Rock

Dear Governor Brian Sandoval,

Can you please explain why the Nevada Division of Water Resources has denied new water wells to farmers and ranchers due to drought in northern Nevada, yet that same Division has approved permits for oil companies like Noble Energy, a corporation that plans to use millions of gallons of our ground water to hydraulically fracture in a known seismic zone?

Farmers and ranchers actually return something of value to humanity.  Frackers, on the other hand, infuse our limited water resources with hundreds of nasty chemicals, including known carcinogens like benzene and glycol-ethers (precursors to plastics).  In that process, the water consumed by frackers is rendered unusable, except for more fracking.

Governor, you are allowing state agencies, that are supposed to protect our citizenry and natural resources, to disregard measures that ensure the public’s safety. SB390, as passed, makes it such that companies like Noble Energy can literally frack Nevadans, without any fear of recourse for any misdeeds or damage the create environmentally or ecologically.

The Desert Research Institute (DRI) is being paid by Noble Energy to do studies on the areas that are going to be fracked.  And, according to the Nevada Division of Minerals, the results of DRI’s study can be kept confidential at the request of Noble Energy for potentially, an undisclosed amount of time. Studies are NOT being done independently of Noble Energy, and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection won’t be required until 2015 to come out with its own study of fracking’s impact.  How is this not a conflict of interest? Something that puts people’s livelihoods on the line? The people of rural Nevada don’t have the luxury of LakeTahoe or LakeMead. Northern Nevadans have water wells that could easily be poisoned through fracking processes.

On March 13th 2013,  KNPR’s State of Nevada had Rayola Dougher, a senior economic adviser for the American Petroleum Institute, as a guest. She misled KNPR’s listeners as to the safety of fracking.  Ms. Dougher failed to mention that the process is exempt from seven major federal regulations:

Really?  Please explain how SB390 which you signed into law will protect our municipal water supplies.  I’d love to hear or read that explanation.

Another fact, which was taken offline by Nevada Public Radio (@KNPR), is that a man by the name of David Focardi commented about the interview.  Mr. Focardi commented that he had worked on oil rigs in Nevada and that there was fresh water up to 14,000 feet deep. I reached out to Mr. Focardi, but he has yet to answer any of my correspondence.

According to Mr. Lowell Price of the Nevada Division of Minerals, fracking would take place in the 7000 to 9000 foot depth range.  And while our ground water aquifers may be at depths of say 14,000 feet, our “ground” is riddled with fault lines. Those fault lines mean that there may not be an impervious layer of rock between where hydraulic fracturing is proposed to take place and the actual aquifer feeding our communities with drinking water.  Those fault lines may also provide connections between subterraneous channels and the different aquifers of water supporting our communities.  Once that water is contaminated, what happens to our communities.  The only good that may come from fracking, if you really can call that “good” — is that I guess that would mean you won’t be grabbing any of that water from contaminated northern Nevada aquifers for use in Las Vegas and its suburbs.  But then, that’s a whole different letter for another day.

Fracking processes require thousands of gallons of water-laden frack fluid PER MINUTE pumped under high pressures into deep horizontally drilled oil/gas wells.  Frack fluid could be released through a fault line or a fracture created by fracking into municipal ground water. When I spoke to someone at the Desert Research Institute they said that a geological study is being done and any “study” would remain the proprietary information of Noble Energy.  So, even if Noble Energy or the Desert Research Institute found fault lines they won’t be required to tell anyone about it.  Reliance on secret and proprietary studies conducted by organizations that would have significant incentive to conceal any information that might have an adverse effect on approval, is tantamount to malfeasance in governance on your part.

I realize that if Noble Energy had to release information as to where the oil is, that could allow other oil companies to come in and undercut Noble Energy.  But there needs to be a work-around to ensure our water resources are not placed at risk.  The risk to human health and life should matter more than any sum of profit for a single corporation.

So I ask you Governor why frack with us or allow others to do so? There is already oil drilling in Nevada done without Fracking. Why must we frack? I say bring oil jobs to Nevada if you must, but don’t frack!  Now the reason I post this is because of what you promote, Governor Sandoval.  You keep saying it’s about jobs and that Hydraulic Fracturing would bring jobs to Nevada. The truth is, these jobs won’t be widespread nor will they sustainable lest there are thousands of oil/frack wells, like there are in Texas or North Dakota.  But, Mr. Governor, we do NOT have the water resources to make that happen.  And what water we do have, won’t be usable for human consumption once Frackers are done with it.  So. Mr. Governor, when all is said and done, what jobs you create would be for naught, as without drinkable water, Nevadans will no longer be able to live anywhere near the wastelands created by the Frackers.

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A Deadly Power Surge

Fracking might be profitable, but whether it’s good for anything else is doubtful.

— by Jill Richardson

Jill Richardson

Jacki Schilke was suffering from symptoms ranging from rashes, pain, and lightheadedness to dental problems and urinating blood. The formerly healthy, 53-year-old cattle rancher’s body was under assault from a list of toxic chemicals as long as your arm.

But Schilke’s lucky — so far — compared to five of her cows. They died.

Richardson-Fracking-Oly-Pentax

The rancher’s problems might become worse in time, since the chemicals causing her acute problems are also linked to chronic, deadly diseases like cancer.

What’s afflicting Schilke and her cows? The oil and gas drilling craze known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. As The Nation magazine and the Great Plains Examiner reported last year, Oasis Petroleum started fracking on land three miles from her ranch in 2010. Oasis got money, the world got more energy from the gas they drilled, and Schilke got sick. Now, she won’t even eat her own beef.

If the results of fracking were virtually unknown a decade ago, before it became a common practice in states like Pennsylvania and Schilke’s home of North Dakota, there’s no mystery remaining now.

It shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, when you pump a cocktail of toxic chemicals into the ground to dislodge fossil fuels, there’s a cocktail of toxic chemicals in the ground. And some of those toxins don’t stay put. Those toxic chemicals make their way into the water, the soil, and the air, and they’re EXEMPT from regulation under the Clean Water Act.  You can thank Dick Cheney for that reckless action.

And the toxins flow from there — into the living things that rely on the water: the soil, the air, plants, animals, and us. We’re fracking our food.

Yet President Barack Obama is a big fracking supporter. He called natural gas a form of “clean energy” in the big address on global warming he delivered in June, touting the nation’s production of more natural gas “than any other country on Earth.” Then he said, “We should strengthen our position as the top natural gas producer because, in the medium term at least, it not only can provide safe, cheap power, but it can also help reduce our carbon emissions.”

Right. Compared to other forms of dirty energy, natural gas might reduce our carbon emissions. But at what cost?

If our only energy options were oil, coal, and natural gas, we’d be in a rotten Catch-22. Luckily, we have more choices than that. There are growing solar, wind, and geothermal options. Perhaps the most overlooked alternative is increasing efficiency.

I visited the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City, two years ago. The school had made a big effort to reduce its energy use. In one building, I saw a hallway that used to have its lights turned on all the time. The builders had never even installed switches to turn them off.

Decades ago, energy was “too cheap to meter.” It seemed cheaper to just leave the lights on all the time than to wire them to be turned off. That’s changed. After some retrofitting, the lights can be turned off.

How many other buildings and homes have no light switches, insufficient insulation, or old, power-guzzling appliances? How many are still being built without taking advantage of the most up-to-date methods that curb energy use?

Obama proudly spoke of doubling America’s use of solar and wind power in the last four years, with plans to double them yet again. He’s right. We increased wind and solar energy from less than 1 percent of our energy in 2007 to less than 2 percent in 2011. (Meanwhile, our reliance on natural gas crept up from 28 percent to 30 percent of total energy consumption, and our total use of energy overall rose in those four years by 9.4 percent — with most of the increase coming from dirty sources.)

Fracking might be profitable, but whether it’s good for anything else is doubtful. Emissions during the fracking process outweigh any benefits of reduced emissions when the fuel obtained is burned. Besides, how does fracking American land make sense if it’s poisoning our food and water supply with chemicals that give us cancer?

Let’s solve our energy problems by increasing efficiency and by turning to truly clean sources of energy: renewable options like solar, wind, and geothermal power.


OtherWords
columnist Jill Richardson is the author of Recipe for America: Why Our Food System Is Broken and What We Can Do to Fix It.  OtherWords.org.  Photo Credit:  Oly-Pentax/Flickr

Tell Me Again How Corps Have Our Best Interests at Heart and that Fracking is Good

Just as a fracking operation is starting up in Elko County, and … just as President Obama is getting ready to nominate a new Secretary of Energy to run the Department of Energy, a post on Truth-Out reminds us ‘why’ this appointment is so important.  The rumored name for the appointment just happens to be a proponent of fracking … so … if he were to be appointed, how likely do you believe it would be that regulatory action would be taken against Energy Corporations doing verifiable damage to our environment?  Here’s an excerpt, but please take a moment to click the link below and read the full article.

“Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is a controversial drilling technique that is facilitating an oil and gas boom in Ohio and nearby states. Fracking produces large quantities of chemical-laced waste fluids and mud.

Ben Lupo, owner of D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating, pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal felony charges under the Clean Water Act.

On the night of January 31, state investigators acted on an anonymous tip and caught Lupo’s employees dumping oil and gas drilling waste – fluid, mud and oil – into a storm sewer that empties into a tributary of the Mahoning River, according to the Justice Department …”

Read the full article here

It’s Time Put the Brakes on Exporting Fracked Gas

Nationally —

Right now, communities across the country are already fighting the fracking industry for clean air and clean water. And the stakes have gotten even higher with the potential for more fracking — all so the natural gas industry can export liquefied natural gas (LNG) to other countries.

The natural gas industry is working every angle — drilling in local communities with abandon while pressuring federal, state, and local policy makers to change laws so they can drill even more. This has got to stop. President Obama needs to make sure there is a time out on LNG exports.

Send your letter today! Tell President Obama to put the brakes on exporting fracked gas.

TakeAction

President Obama is only hearing one side of the story from the Department of Energy, and it favors the natural gas industry. DOE’s recent study on the economics of fracked gas exports completely ignores the public health, environmental, and climate costs of an export rush. The study also shows that the middle class loses if gas is exported — our wages fall and our utility bills rise, while the gas companies get rich.

Let’s remind President Obama of all the other costs: the cost of buying drinking water because your well is polluted with fracking chemicals, lost work days because your child is sick due to respiratory problems, and increasing utility bills to heat our homes while communities are left to pay the price for fracking.

Here at Home in Nevada — 

Houston-based, Noble Energy, has amassed leases of 350,000 net acres  in Elko County on both public and private lands, and is currently drilling exploratory wells around Tabor Flats, just west of Wells.  Fracking has been proven to cause earth quakes and we all know that Wells is an area known to be sensitive to earthquake activity.  The Nevada Wilderness Project has expressed some serious concerns about  Noble Energy’s activities — “We believe that the environmental and social repercussions and possible geological implications … must be investigated in great detail before exploration through fracking can be permitted on public lands.”

Wells-Fracking-Area-LVRJNoble Energy intends to access to oil or gas otherwise trapped deep in the ground through “fracking” — in other words,  by injecting a liquid solution of water, sand and chemicals (which have been found to contain some extremely toxic chemicals and carcinogens) into a well that at high pressure fractures the shale, allowing oil or gas to flow back through the hole.  And … while they say they’re doing this well below any water tables, many folks across the nation where “fracking” has already begun are finding that those chemicals have percolated up into the water table and contaminated their wells and aquifers.

We don’t have all that much water to spare, and now companies like Noble Energy intend to consume vast amounts of water and potentially contaminate what remains for human and wild life consumption.

As if fracking could get any worse for arid Nevada, each fracked oil well consumes millions of gallons of water and turns it into toxic wastewater. But that isn’t stopping Noble Energy from planning a massive 350,000 acre, $130 million fracking project in Elko County.

The project requires approval from Governor Sandoval to move forward. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to green-light the disastrous project, so it’s urgent that Nevada residents speak out against the project now.

Tell Governor Sandoval: Don’t frack Nevada.

Sign-the-Petition-gold.fw

Fracking involves blasting millions of gallons of water, deadly toxic chemicals, and sand underground to break apart shale formations, releasing tiny bubbles of oil and gas. Much of the water remains underground forever while the rest, with its toxic chemicals and radioactive material, returns to the surface.

This wastewater can’t be disposed of in conventional water-treatment facilities, so it’s often dumped in massive open ponds that create dangerous air pollution or in deep injection wells that cause earthquakes.

Fracking will only exacerbate Nevada’s already dire water crisis, as it’s done in other Western states. In Colorado, for instance, fracking already consumes more water than Fort Collins, the state’s fourth-largest city, and the fracking industry routinely outbids farmers for water rights.

Wastewater is only one of the many threats that fracking poses to nearby residents. Fracking-related chemical spills and well casing failures contaminate drinking water, and fracking generates cancer-causing air pollution and smog. Plus, each fracked oil well requires hundreds of trips by diesel trucks, increasing traffic fatalities and respiratory illnesses in nearby communities.7

Shockingly, this dangerous practice remains virtually unregulated at the federal level, where Dick Cheney and Halliburton managed to pass sweeping loopholes exempting fracking from most major environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act.8 As a result, the burden of regulating fracking has fallen on states, which have, without exception, badly failed to protect their citizens.9

It’s important to act now to prevent fracking before it starts in Nevada, and before Nevadans find themselves facing similar public health crises as heavily fracked states like Colorado, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Resources:
1. Bruce Finley, “Drilling spills reaching Colorado groundwater; state mulls test rules,” The Denver Post, December 9, 2012
2 Henry Brean, “Oil/gas search: Fracking comes to Nevada,” Las Vegas Review-Journal, January 16, 2013
3. “Study shows air emissions near fracking sites may pose health risk,” University of Colorado Denver Newsroom, March 19, 2012
4. Becky Hammer, “Fracking’s Aftermath: Wastewater Disposal Methods Threaten Our Health & Environment,” NRDC Switchboard, May 9, 2012
5. Mark Harden, “Fracking in Colorado uses a city’s worth of water, enviro report says,”Denver Business Journal, June 20, 2012
6. Jack Healy, “For Farms in the West, Oil Wells Are Thirsty Rivals,” New York Times, September 5, 2012
7. “Hydraulic Fracturing 101,” Earthworks
8. Lauren Pagel and Lisa Sumi, “Loopholes for Polluters,” Earthworks, May 16, 2011
9. Steve Horn, “Regulatory Non-Enforcement by Design: Earthworks Shows How the Game is Played,” DeSmogBlog, September 27, 2012

Speak Out Against Fracking in Nevada

Fracking is a dangerous method of oil and gas extraction that contaminates water and puts nearby residents at risk of serious illnesses, including cancer and asthma. And it’s coming to Nevada.

As if fracking could get any worse for arid Nevada, each fracked oil well consumes millions of gallons of water and turns it into toxic wastewater. But that isn’t stopping Noble Energy from planning a massive 350,000 acre, $130 million fracking project in Elko County.

The project requires approval from Governor Sandoval to move forward. He’ll be under tremendous pressure to green-light the disastrous project, so it’s urgent that Nevada residents speak out against the project now.

Tell Governor Sandoval: “Don’t frack Nevada!”

Sign the Petition

Ohio Fracking Wastewater Test Reveals Toxic Mess

— by , originally published on Care2 | July 8, 2012

Ohio Fracking Wastewater Test Reveals Toxic Mess

The natural gas industry, and it’s supporting case of puppet politicians, continue to claim that fracking has no negative impact on the environment or local drinking water supplies. There are many incidents of flammable water and poisoned streams that refute these claims, of course, but neither the industry or the government agencies that should be regulating them seem to care.

In big fracking states, many members of the public are alarmed that natural gas companies are blasting thousands of gallons of chemically-enhanced water into the ground just to get at natural gas deposits. Not only does the injection of these chemicals pose serious health risk, but then there’s the frightening question of what happens to the wastewater when frackers are done with it.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the five most common disposal options for fracking wastewater currently in use are: recycling for additional fracking, treatment and discharge to surface waters, underground injection, storage in open air pits, and spreading on roads for ice or dust control. “All of these options present significant risks of harm to public health or the environment. And there are not sufficient rules in place to ensure any of them will not harm people or ecosystems,” explains the NRDC in a recent report.

West Virginia and Pennsylvania are big fracking states, but they happily ship most of their wastewater for disposal in Ohio injection wells. Only recently did West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection take samples of the brine to find out exactly what they were burying in Ohioans’ back yards. The results were shocking (or not):

The lab results indicate high levels of alpha particles, arsenic, barium and toluene, among other contaminants, and are cause for the brine to be classified as “hazardous,” according to Ben Stout, professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University who interpreted the results. Stout labeled the results as “eerily similar” to brine samples taken by West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection. He describes heavy metals found in the sample as “grossly above standard,” citing skyrocketing arsenic and barium levels that exceed the primary standard for acceptable drinking water concentrations by 370 and 145 times, respectively.

The fact that environmental protection agencies at the state and federal level are allowing these substances to be dumped in areas where they can then seep into water supplies is outrageous. These agencies have a simple job: to protect the environment and human’s health above all else. Yet they would rather play the “wait and see” game instead of confronting these companies and holding them accountable for their actions.

Fracking should stop unless and until the gas companies can prove it has ZERO negative impact on local drinking water supplies.


Read more and sign the petition at: http://www.care2.com/causes/ohio-fracking-wastewater-test-reveals-toxic-mess.html#ixzz209lPUKfA

Reprinted with permission of the author, Beth Buczynski.