FracTracker Alliance News

AS SEEN IN

If you are a journalist interested in our research or in interviewing one of our staff for a news piece, please contact  FracTracker’s Manager of Communications Shannon Smith.

Press Kit

Includes logos, staff photos, and contact information

PRESS LIST SIGN UP

NEWSLETTER SIGN UP

Recent In The News

Below are select, recent articles in the press covering The FracTracker Alliance and/or our work.

PA needs protective buffers from fracked gas development | PennLive letters

June 4, 2021 – PennLive

Shale gas and petrochemical infrastructure has been harming Pennsylvania residents for years. These industrial projects are being built far too close to where people live, work, and gather. Fracked gas is extracted next to schools and homes. Human health suffers. Natural resources are threatened. Air pollution flows from shale gas wells and related facilities (e.g. compressor stations, processing plants, etc.), causing adverse health effects, especially in vulnerable populations like children and the elderly. Fracking chemicals are showing up in blood samples from children living in shale gas regions. Rare cancer clusters have surfaced in fracked areas. Study after study shows an increased risk of negative health outcomes with increased proximity to oil and gas development, most notably when it’s within a half mile. Read More.

Spills are threat to surface water in Ohio

June 4, 2021 – The Bargain Hunter

Once again Ohio’s politicians are promoting another set of bills that will harm the health of the residents of the state and contribute to long-term contamination of the environment. HB 282 and SB 171 “would enact section 1509.228 of the Ohio Revised Code to establish conditions and requirements for the sale of brine from oil and gas operations as a commodity and to exempt that commodity from requirements otherwise applicable for brine.” The main benefactors of this legislation would be the owner of the company that sells AquaSalina, a substance made from waste brine, and the oil and gas industry that generates millions of gallons of toxic brine that will be used to make a deicer or a substance to control road dust. Read More.

Truth To Power | Erica Jackson | Fractracker Alliance | May 21, 2021

May 21, 2021 – Foward Radio on SoundCloud

On today’s episode of Truth To Power, we talk with Erica Jackson of Fractracker Alliance.

Erica leads FracTracker Alliance’s outreach efforts and supports the mapping and data needs of communities impacted by oil and gas development. Utilizing FracTracker’s online platforms, outreach programs, and mapping and data expertise, Erica engages the public in fracking issues and provides resources to support local organizations and campaigns. Her work – in partnership with local allies – focuses on the Ohio River corridor and other regions confronted by fossil fuel harms. Listen here.

Report: CA legislators responsible for SB 467’s defeat received $288,607 from fossil fuel interests

May 20, 2021 – Daily Kos

On April 27, Amy Moas of Greenpeace began a series of pieces profiling some of the many ways that the fossil fuel industry exerts pressure across California’s government with a well-written and well-researched piece, “California’s Fossil Fuel Friendships – Part 1. Votes for Polluters over People.” … In her first piece, she reported on the 4 lawmakers holding up crucial health protections for more than 2 million Californians living near drilling, focusing on two bills —  AB 345 in 2020 and SB467 in 2021- that would have required health and safety setbacks around oil and gas wells for the first time. Read More.

Living Near Fracking Wells Is Linked to Higher Rate of Heart Attacks, Study Finds

May 12, 2021 – Ecowatch

Living among fracking wells is linked to higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths due to heart attacks, according to a new study. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Research, compared heart attack rates in Pennsylvania counties with fracking to demographically similar counties in New York where fracking is banned. “There’s a large body of literature linking air pollution with poor cardiovascular health and heart attacks, but this is really the first study to look at this from a population level related to fracking,” Elaine Hill, a researcher at the University of Rochester Medical Center and one of the study’s co-authors, told EHN. Read More.

California to ban new fracking permits by Jan. 2024, phase out oil extraction by 2045

May 12, 2021 – IndyBay

On April 23, Governor Gavin Newsom took action to ban new fracking permits by January 2024 and to phase out oil extraction in California by 2045. The Governor directed the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division to “initiate regulatory action to end the issuance of new permits for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) by January 2024.” In addition, Governor Newsom requested that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) “analyze pathways to phase out oil extraction across the state by no later than 2045,” according to a press release from the Governor’s Office. His latest directive contradicts the Governor’s previous claim that he didn’t have the executive authority to ban fracking — and that it was the Legislature’s role to do it. Read More.

Study: Fracking Leads to Higher Heart Attack Risks

May 12, 2021 – Verywell Health

Doctors have criticized fracking (hydraulic fracturing), a drilling method used to extract natural gas or oil from the earth, for contributing to health issues like asthma, birth defects, and even cancer.1 Now, a new study is linking the practice to heart attacks. Researchers reviewed data from 2005 to 2015 on unconventional natural gas development and acute myocardial infarction—a heart attack—in counties in New York, where fracking is banned, and Pennsylvania, where it is not. The researchers found that heart attack rates were higher in Pennsylvania residents. Areas with higher fracking activity were associated with 1.4% to 2.8% increases in heart attack hospitalizations, varying a bit per age group and per level of fracking activity. Read More.

Thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells in Ohio can be hidden. Drones Could Help Find Them – Energy News Network

May 10, 2021 – OLT News

After successful trials using drones to uncover abandoned oil and gas wells, authorities in Ohio are looking to expand their use and speed up the remediation of hundreds of sites across the state. Ohio has approximately 1,000 sites in its orphan well inventory. There are probably “a lot more,” said Eric Vendel, chief of the oil and gas resource management division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The hope is that the drones equipped with magnetometers could help locate wells that are not yet on the state’s radar. Read More.

New Lawsuit Challenges ‘Fast-Track’ Permits Used for Oil and Gas Pipelines Nationwide

May 5, 2021 – DeSmog Blog

Five environmental groups have filed a lawsuit in a Montana federal court alleging that the way that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues permits for oil and gas pipelines nationwide violates some of the country’s cornerstone environmental laws. This new lawsuit, filed May 3, is the most recent round in a nearly decade-long battle, sparked under the Obama administration, over how regulators approach the environmental impacts from oil and gas pipelines and the extent to which the public gets a say in the permitting process. That battle centers on whether pipeline builders should be allowed to use a generic permit, known to regulators as Nationwide Permit 12 (NWP 12), when pipelines cross rivers, streams and wetlands. Read More.

Groups ask feds to renew Falcon Pipeline scrutiny

May 5, 2021 – Beaver County Times

Residents and environmental advocates are demanding more transparency from federal regulators tasked with investigating Shell Pipeline Co.’s Falcon Pipeline. The People Over Petro Coalition on Tuesday held a virtual meeting urging the federal Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to hold a formal public hearing related to its ongoing oversight of the Falcon pipeline. Representatives from PHMSA, a U.S. Department of Transportation agency, said they would relay the request to PHMSA’s public affairs division. “We deserve to know our government, on all levels, is working to keep us safe after they permitted this pipeline to come into our region,” said Heaven Sensky with the Center for Coalfield Justice during Tuesday’s meeting. Read More.

More details about Falcon pipeline investigation emerge

May 5, 2021 – Farm & Dairy

More details were released about the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s investigation into issues with Shell’s Falcon pipeline. In a May 4 letter sent to FracTracker Alliance, PHMSA said that it looked at photos of the two pieces of pipe, but could not substantiate a whistleblower’s claims that the pipeline had been built with a defective corrosion coating. Falcon pipeline travels travels through Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. “One photo showing a pipe with scratch marks on it, which PHMSA determined that the coating had indeed been damaged but did not constitute a safety issue,” said Erica Jackson, manager of community outreach and support with FracTracker Alliance, during a virtual public meeting, held May 4, hosted by The People Over Petro Coalition. Read More.

Letter: Shell needs to answer questions

May 5, 2021 – Ellwood City Ledger

Pipelines leak, spill, rupture and explode all too often, and the two-legged Falcon Pipeline that now reaches into southern Beaver County is no exception. So if, as state environmental regulators tell us, witnesses have reported Shell’s firings of workers who have spoken out about defective corrosion coating protection on the Falcon — and possible falsification of records — it’s time to ask questions. How many such workers have been silenced? How many issues were not reported for fear of retaliation? Patrick McDonnell, secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, has warned that these issues “pose a possible threat of product release, landslide, or even explosion” for more than 8,700 people living within 1.25 miles of a pipeline poised to carry 107,000 barrels per day of highly volatile ethane much too close to their homes and schools. According to Fractracker Alliance, corrosion failure is the second leading cause of incidents for hazardous liquid pipelines like the Falcon, and a review of federal data over nearly two decades exposes Shell’s safety record as one of the nation’s worst. Read More.

Your Not-So-Friendly Neighborhood Oil Well

April 29, 2021 – Planetizen

“Every year, upward of 140 million barrels of oil are extracted from the state of California,” writes Judith Lewis Mernit for Yale Environment 360. But “unlike more rural oil-producing states, where oilfields might be uninhabited but for the people who work on them, drilling in California happens to a large degree in residential settings.” “In Signal Hill to the south near Long Beach, drilling rigs butt up against playgrounds,” while a wall obscures an active oil well just behind the Beverly Center, a posh mall in Los Angeles. “In addition to drilling operations, refineries in the Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay areas, handle some of the dirtiest oil in the world, from Alberta’s Athabasca oil sands to the state’s own carbon-heavy crude,” writes Mernit. According to a 2020 analysis by FracTracker Alliance, over 7 million Californians live within a mile of an oil or gas well. Read More.

First Responders: Prepared for LNG Emergencies? The Evidence Is Not Reassuring

April 27, 2021 – Delaware Currents

Hazardous materials regularly roll through Northeastern Pennsylvania communities by rail and road and it’s left to local first responders to be ready for when things go wrong. Haz-mat incidents vary in degrees of danger, records show. Commonly, crews are called to overturned trucks leaking diesel fuel. Infrequently, there are more serious incidents, such as a chlorine leak at a water plant, a broken mercury thermometer or a potentially lethal gas unleashed from a mix of household cleaners. And sometimes calls can take unexpected turns. Read More.

Climate activists applaud Gov. Newsom’s fracking ban but caution it still a ‘half-measure’

April 24, 2021 – Press TV

Climate action advocates have cautiously praised California Governor Gavin Newsom’s plan to ban hydraulic fracturing by 2024, but stressed that the move is still a half-measure as it allows continued oil drilling for the next two-and-a-half years. The Democratic governor announced on Friday that he had directed California’s top oil regulator to implement regulation to stop issuing new fracking permits by 2024, as part of a broader policy to completely cut out oil extraction by 2045. “The climate crisis is real, and we continue to see the signs every day,” Newsom said in a Friday press release. “As we move to swiftly decarbonize our transportation sector and create a healthier future for our children, I’ve made it clear I don’t see a role for fracking in that future and, similarly, believe that California needs to move beyond oil.” Read More.

California’s New Fossil Fuel Pledge ‘Significant’ But Still a ‘Half-Measure,’ Say Climate Advocates

April 23, 2021 – Common Dreams

Climate campaigners on Friday cautiously applauded California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s moves to cut off new hydraulic fracturing permits by 2024 and evaluate phasing out oil production by 2045, while also stressing that the timeline still needs to be accelerated. The embattled Democratic governor of the world’s fifth-largest economy directed the state Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management (CalGEM) Division to initiate regulatory action to stop new fracking permits and requested that the California Air Resources Board (CARB) analyze how to stop extracting oil statewide. Read More.

Consumer Watchdog Applauds Fracking Ban, Calls For More Steps As First Quarter 2021 Oil Permit Approvals Plunge

April 23, 2021 – PR Newswire

Governor Newsom’s ban on fracking in 2024 is a step in the right direction, and with the number of permit approvals falling dramatically so far this year, he has a perfect opening to take even stronger steps, Consumer Watchdog said today. “We applaud Newsom’s executive action to ban fracking, but he shouldn’t kick the can down the road another three years,” said Consumer Advocate Liza Tucker. “The ban should be immediate. And Newsom should move on establishing a 2,500-foot setback between frontline communities and oil drilling operations. An anticipated rule from CalGEM on that is long overdue.” Read More.

California becomes largest oil producer in world to commit to total O&G phaseout, ban fracking — but not soon enough

April 23, 2021 – Price of Oil

Today, Gov. Newsom announced a ban on new fracking projects by 2024 and directed the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to analyze pathways to phase out oil extraction across the state by no later than 2045. The Governor’s announcement comes after years of pressure from environmental justice, public health, labor and climate organizations across California, who call on Newsom to stop issuing new oil and gas drilling permits, phase out existing oil extraction, and establish 2,500-foot setbacks between oil wells and sensitive land uses. While the announcement sets a vision for a managed decline of fossil fuel extraction, it sets a sluggish pace that fails to keep pace with science-backed timelines necessary to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Read More.

A Gas Pipeline Runs Through It: Brooklyn Faces Massive Grid Project

April 23, 2021 – Patch

In Brooklyn, construction is underway for a 7-mile pipeline meant to reinforce the city’s natural gas system. Environmental activists have waged countless protests against the project run by National Grid—gaining political allies, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who announced opposition in December. Groups fighting the plan want to end all construction of fossil fuel infrastructure to reduce carbon and other emissions that lead to climate change and pollute the local air. Two-thirds of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, the bulk of that originating from natural gas in residences. Natural gas makes up more than 60% of energy sources in multifamily buildings, according to a December 2020 report from the Urban Green Council. Read More.

California governor seeks ban on new fracking by 2024

April 23, 2021 – Yahoo! News

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday said California will stop issuing fracking permits by 2024 and halt all oil drilling by 2045, using his authority to take on the state’s powerful oil and gas industry in a year he will likely face voters in a recall election. Newsom’s order is the beginning of a lengthy rule-making process that, if successful, would make California the largest state to ban fracking and likely the first in the world to set a deadline for the end of all oil production. “California needs to move beyond oil,” Newsom said in a news release, arguing it would “create a healthier future for our children.” Read More.

Leaking Oil and Gas Wells: A Ticking Time Bomb

April 22, 2021 – Exposed by CMD

They could be in your town or the next town over. Or both. Nobody knows. They’re contributing to health problems across the country, to climate change, and to other environmental problems. They are wells that oil and gas companies drilled to extract fossil fuels and then simply abandoned. Oil extraction techniques have been around since before the Civil War. In general, the well-drilling process involves pumping fluid at high pressure into deep-rock formations to free oil and natural gas. Read More.

House Committee on Oversight & Reform, Subcommittee on the Environment: Hearing on “The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis,” Written Testimony of Jill Antares Hunkler, seventh-generation Ohio Valley resident

April 21, 2021 – Congressional Documents & Publications

It is an honor to have this opportunity to share the truth about fossil fuel extraction in Appalachia. I respect the members of this subcommittee and appreciate your courageous leadership in service of the people. My intention is to share this truth: Continuing to subsidize the fossil fuel industry will not only perpetuate the climate crisis, but the plastics pollution, environmental justice and public health crises, as well. I consider myself a fracking refugee. I was forced from my home at the headwaters of the historically pristine Captina Creek Watershed in Belmont County, Ohio, after being surrounded by oil and gas infrastructure and the associated pollution from a compressor station, 78 fracking wells, a transfer station and an interstate pipeline with numerous gathering pipelines, all within a five-mile radius of my home. Read More.

Shell Falcon Pipeline Under Investigation

April 14, 2021 – Paint Square

Following probes initiated last year by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell, state and federal agencies are now investigating the safety of Shell Pipeline’s Falcon project. Expected to begin operations next year, the Falcon Pipeline stretches 98 miles through Southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio. Once operational, the pipeline will deliver ethane to the cracker plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, to refine the natural gas liquid into plastic pellets. After the infrastructure is completed, oil giant Shell plans to operate both the pipeline and the cracker plant. Read More.

200 Groups to Biden: Align Federal Fossil Fuel Programs With U.S. Climate Goals

April 14, 2021 – Common Dreams

Hundreds of climate, Native American, religious, business and conservation organizations today called on the Biden administration to do a comprehensive environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws to align federal fossil fuel programs with U.S. climate goals to curb global warming. The letter asks the Interior Department to evaluate a legal finding of climate harm from fossil fuel expansion. It describes how the administration can use existing laws to end new fossil fuel leasing onshore and offshore and manage a just, orderly decline of production consistent with its goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Read More.

VISION scorecard reveals only 9 CA legislators are climate and environmental justice champions

April 12, 2021 – Daily Kos

On April 7, the environmental justice coalition VISION released a comprehensive scorecard assessing the oil and gas records of California legislators over the past nine years. Despite the Legislature’s constant portrayal of itself as the nation’s “green” and “progressive” leader, only 9 state legislators emerged as “champions” in the scorecard. Even more alarming, nearly 50% of Assemblymembers received an “F” grade for their ties to the fossil fuel industry. According to VISION, “It is the first and only scorecard to take into account the past nine years of service, cumulatively scoring legislators’ key votes on environmental justice provisions and major financial contributions received from the oil and gas industry.” Read More.

“Someone Decided It Was Okay to Poison Us”

April 11, 2021 – Mother Jones

Nalleli Cobo was nine years old when her nose started bleeding, off and on throughout the day, and often into her pillow at night. Then came the headaches and heart palpitations; for a while, her doctor had her wear a heart monitor. “I got to the point where I couldn’t walk,” Cobo, who is now 20, says. “My mom had to carry me from place to place.” Read More.

LNG From Pennsylvania to New Jersey: 400 Tanker Trucks a Day

April 10, 2021 – Delaware Currents

A plan to bring liquified natural gas from Wyalusing, Pa., to a port in Gibbstown, N.J., has focused largely on the potential hazards of transporting as much as 3 million gallons of the highly flammable product at a time by rail. But the project sponsor also has plans to send as many as 400 tanker trucks per day, each carrying 10,000 gallons of LNG, crisscrossing Pennsylvania and New Jersey roadways, passing through or near small cities and communities with congested roads. That’s significant given that project proponents, federal government and risk evaluators of the LNG-by-rail project have repeatedly said that the likelihood of a failure of an MC-338 cryogenic highway tanker is greater than that of a specialized rail tanker. Read More.

California AG believes proposal to drill for gas in Suisun Marsh is not ‘in the public interest’

April 4, 2021 – Daily Kos

In California, so-called “protected areas” on both land and water are often NOT protected from oil and gas drilling. The classic case of this is the privately funded Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative that failed to protect the ocean from oil and gas drilling, fracking, military testing, corporate and government pollution and other human impacts on the ocean besides fishing and gathering. As I’ve discussed in article after article, what passes for “protection” in California is often overseen by the very same industries that have caused environmental destruction in the first place. In one of the biggest West Coast environmental scandals of the past 20 years, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) served as the CHAIR of the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create “marine protected areas” in Southern California at the same time that she was lobbying for increased offshore drilling. Read More.

The Oil Well Next Door: California’s Silent Health Hazard

March 31, 2021 – Yale Environment 360

Nalleli Cobo was nine years old when her nose started bleeding, off and on throughout the day, and often into her pillow at night. Then came the headaches and heart palpitations; for a while, her doctor had her wear a heart monitor. “I got to the point where I couldn’t walk,” Cobo, who is now 20, says. “My mom had to carry me from place to place.” Doctors were stumped as to what was wrong. “I’d always been a healthy little girl,” Cobo recalled. “And then all of a sudden I’m meeting cardiologists and neurologists and all these other -ologists, and no one could figure out what I had.” Only after being sick for four years, in 2013, did she get a possible answer. Physicians for Social Responsibility, a public-health nonprofit, sent a toxicologist to Cobo’s South Los Angeles community to talk about how certain chemical byproducts of oil extraction, among them benzene and hydrogen sulfide, can cause symptoms similar to what Cobo was experiencing. Read More.

‘Cancer-causing’ chemicals found in children living near fracking well sites following two-year investigation

March 31, 2021 – Independent

Politicians and environmental activists are demanding action on fracking after a two-year investigation revealed alarming levels of toxic chemicals linked to the drilling method in children. A series of in-depth reports, published by non-profit Environmental Health News (ENH) this month, looked at the health impacts on five, non-smoking families living within miles of fracking sites in southwest Pennsylvania. The US has become world leader in fossil fuel production due to fracking, or hydraulic fracturing. The technique recovers gas and oil pockets from shale rock by drilling horizontally and then injecting gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground at high-pressure. Read More.

Shell’s Falcon pipeline under investigation by state, federal agencies

March 24, 2021 – Farm and Dairy

Shell’s Falcon pipeline is under investigation by state and federal regulators after a whistleblower reported issues with the construction of the line. According to documents acquired by the environmental group FracTracker Alliance through a public records request, a whistleblower contacted the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHSMA, in 2019 with allegations that the pipeline may have been built with a defective corrosion coating. Other environmental concerns brought up by the whistleblower, a former Shell employee, were referred to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Read More.

Culver City Council votes 4-1 for resolution urging CA to close down SoCalGas Playa del Rey facility

March 22, 2021 – Elk Grove News

The Culver City Council on March 8 voted 4 to 1 on a resolution calling on the Gavin Newsom Administration to develop a timeline and plan for closing down the neighboring SoCalGas natural gas storage facility in Playa del Rey at the Ballona Wetlands. Council Members Alex Fisch, Daniel Lee, Yasmin-Iman McMorrin, and Albert Vera voted for the resolution, while Grant Eriksson voted against it. The vote took place two days before Governor Newsom’s state of the state address at the State Capitol. It also occurred the night before the Kern County Board of Supervisors voted 5 to 0 to go in the opposite direction from Culver City, approving an ordinance to fast-track over 40,000 new oil and gas wells. Read More.

Advocacy group says Shell’s Falcon Pipeline under investigation for safety issues

March 17, 2021 – Beaver County Times

Shell’s controversial multistate pipeline is under investigation by several state and federal agencies for issues that an environmental advocacy group said poses serious threats to public safety, workers and natural resources. FracTracker Alliance, a nonprofit that focuses on the oil-and-gas industry, obtained documents that indicate an investigation into safety matters with the Shell Falcon Pipeline involving the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the state Attorney General, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to a release, the investigation focuses on potential “noncompliance with construction and public safety requirements and alleged cover-up of incidents that could put the public at risk.” A Shell Pipeline spokesman said that government and regulatory agencies have provided oversight throughout the construction process. Read More.

DEP pointed feds to whistleblower complaints about Shell pipeline

March 17, 2021 – StateImpact PA

Federal and state regulators are investigating a whistleblower’s tip that Shell used defective corrosion coatings on its Falcon pipeline, which will feed the company’s Beaver County ethane cracker. The tip ping-ponged its way through state and federal agencies, according to a February 2020 letter from Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell to a top federal pipeline safety official. The letter states the DEP was also aware of alleged falsification of records and retaliatory firings in connection with the complaint. Read More.

Falcon Pipeline, which provides natural gas to Shell cracker plant, under investigation for possible corrosion

March 17, 2021 – Pittsburgh City Paper

Last year, a natural gas pipeline being constructed through Southwestern Pennsylvania garnered the attention of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection, who then notified federal agencies in charge of regulating pipelines and other environmental concerns. In a February 2020 letter to the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, Pa. Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Patrick McDonnell wrote that issues “pose a possible threat of product release, landslide, or even explosion.” Read More.

Federal, state agencies probe Shell’s Falcon pipeline after whistleblowers’ allegations

March 17, 2021 – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Early last year, Penn­syl­va­nia’s top en­vi­ron­men­tal of­fi­cial tried to raise an alarm at the high­est level of the fed­eral agency re­spon­si­ble for pipe­line safety. “I write to you re­gard­ing a very se­ri­ous pub­lic safety mat­ter for Penn­syl­va­nia,” the let­ter from Patrick McDon­nell, sec­re­tary of Penn­syl­va­nia’s Depart­ment of En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion, be­gan. The DEP, he said, had cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion that some sec­tions of Shell Pipe­line’s Fal­con proj­ect “may have been con­structed with de­fec­tive cor­ro­sion coat­ing pro­tec­tion.” He also men­tioned wit­nesses with “first-hand knowl­edge of bad cor­ro­sion coat­ings, fal­si­fi­ca­tion of records and re­ports, re­tal­ia­tory fir­ings and other ac­tions by Shell.” Read More.

The Storage and Transportation of LNG: What Could Go Wrong?

March 11, 2021 – Delaware Currents

Lonnie E. Click, a fire chief in Benton County in southern Washington, was at his desk when he first heard the call: an explosion at a liquified natural gas storage facility. The call was outside his jurisdiction but, based on what he was hearing on the radio, he decided to head to the scene. From atop a hill, Click could see smoke coming from the plant 20 miles away. Federal investigators would later describe a “rolling detonation” at the facility on March 31, 2014, that set off a large fire and explosion that injured five workers and could be felt up to six miles away. The explosion was so forceful that pieces of metal greater than 2,000 pounds were propelled more than a quarter of a mile, Click recalled at a 2016 conference. Read More.

Fractured: Readers respond on fracking reporting

March 9, 2021 – Daily Climate

In “Fractured” we followed the stories of five families living in or near fracking country in southwestern Pennsylvania. All are coping to various degrees with unexplained illnesses, anxiety, depression, social strain. Tests of their urine found biomarkers that suggested high levels of exposure to toxic compounds commonly used in fracking operations – ethylbenzene, styrene, toluene. We found chemicals like benzene and butylcyclohexane in drinking water and air samples. These five families are not alone. We asked readers and organizations to share their stories. Here’s how they reacted. Read More.

Contending with unseen hazards

March 9, 2021 – Australian Mining

More than 39,000 kilometres of natural gas transmission pipelines are sprawled across Australia, three times the distance between the country and the North Pole. Energy infrastructure company APA Group owns and controls nearly 40 per cent of Australia’s pipelines and services many remote mine sites. As the country’s largest transporter of natural gas, the company supplies and delivers around half of the nation’s annual gas usage through high pressure pipelines. From outback locations to urban environments, the pipelines are built and operated to the highest standards to transport the gas safely and withstand human activities around them. But they are by no means immune to high-impact activities and rupture incidents. Read More.

17 key environmental bills on the 2021 agenda in California’s Legislature

March 4, 2021 – Desert Sun

California’s legislative session came to a wild ending in 2020 when the clock ran out on major bills. Key pieces of environmental legislation were among those that died on the floor, and conservationists are hoping 2021 brings a different story. At the time, Mary Creasman, CEO of the California League of Conservation Voters, said, “We only have until 2030 to prevent the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis and prepare for what’s happening, and right now there’s no clear vision or agenda from leadership in Sacramento on how to tackle this challenge.” Read More.

The Shift to Renewable Energy Can Give More Power to the People

March 4, 2021 – The New Yorker

The pandemic has driven a lot of people outdoors: reports show that park visits are up around the world and parking lots at hiking trails are packed. That’s understandable—by now you’d need to chop down a sizable forest to print out the studies showing that time in nature reduces stress, cuts healing times, and enhances the functioning of the immune system. As Sadie Dingfelder wrote in the Washington Post in December, “I’ve always found it relaxing and rejuvenating to be outdoors, but the anxiety and isolation of the pandemic, the uncertainty of civil unrest and, oh, I don’t know, the potential crumbling of American democracy have made me crave nature like a drug.” Read More.

Pennsylvania Families Exposed to Unusually High Levels of Oil and Gas Industry Chemicals, Report Finds

March 3, 2021 – DeSmog Blog

A groundbreaking four-part report by Environmental Health News (EHN) offers new scientific evidence that living near oil and gas development can expose people to a wide array of hazardous and carcinogenic chemicals — not just those living near shale drilling and fracking, but also those living near older conventional oil and gas wells. Read More.

Fractured: Buffered from fracking but still battling pollution

March 1, 2021 – The Daily Climate

On a balmy evening in September of 2019, eight women gathered around a conference table in a small office about 25 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. Sunlight streamed through large windows, casting a warm glow over a side table set with coffee, biodegradable cutlery, and three kinds of pie. “Eat pie, ladies,” commanded a tall, middle-aged woman with silver-streaked hair. As a mother of four and the outreach coordinator for the nonprofit organization hosting this event, Ann LeCuyer was comfortable telling people what to do. She’d spent the last four years helping the group, Protect PT* (short for Protect Penn-Trafford), work to keep fracking out of the small municipalities of Penn Township, Trafford, and surrounding neighborhoods. Read More.

Disposal of Fracking Wastewater from PA, WV & OH Raises Issues

February 27, 2021 – FrackCheck WV

Judy Burger of Belmont County, Ohio stands next to her home, where across the road two frack waste injection wells are being constructed. She fears noise and pollution from constant truck traffic. Each well drilled using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas production creates tens of millions of gallons of wastewater, called produced water or brine. In Ohio, much of that wastewater is disposed of in underground injection wells, including waste from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. As the number of injection wells grows in Ohio, local communities want some control over where these wells are located. Read More.

Gavin Newsom Has a Big Oil and Gas Problem

February 26, 2021 – Future Human

On the outskirts of Bakersfield, California, it doesn’t take much effort to stumble upon an oil or gas well. “You don’t have to drive far, especially once you get out into those rural areas,” Julie Solis, who lives in the city, tells Future Human. “The rural communities are really where they’re getting hit the hardest.” Two of Solis’ four children attend school at Bakersfield College, which is on the edge of town. Right across the street is the massive Kern River Oil Field, where there are active oil and gas wells less than a mile away. Kern County, like many places in liberal, climate action-friendly California, is a hotbed for oil and gas drilling, with over 35,000 active oil and gas wells, according to 2019 data from FracTracker Alliance, a watchdog nonprofit that monitors the activities of the oil and gas industry. Read More.

Pa. sends a lot of fracking waste to Ohio. People there want more say in where injection wells go

February 22, 2021 – StateImpact PA

Each well drilled using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for oil and gas production creates tens of millions of gallons of wastewater, called produced water or brine. In Ohio, much of that wastewater is disposed of in underground injection wells, including waste from Pennsylvania and West Virginia. As the number of injection wells grows in Ohio, local communities want some control over where these wells are located. Read More.

CA Senators Wiener and Limón introduce bill, SB 467, to ban fracking and require 2500 foot setbacks

February 17, 2021 – Daily Kos

Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) today introduced legislation, Senate Bill 467, to ban fracking and other destructive oil extraction methods and to require setbacks between oil extraction and homes and schools in California. You can expect the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron, Aera Energy and California Resources Corporation to spend big money lobbying to oppose this legislation, like they have done with every bill introduced into the Legislature to ban fracking and to require a 2500 foot health and safety setback between oil and gas wells and homes and schools. Read More.

Consumer Watchdog Applauds Bill To Ban All Dangerous Forms Of Oil Extraction Including Hydraulic Fracturing

February 17, 2021 – PR Newswire

Consumer Watchdog today welcomed newly introduced state legislation—SB 467—to ban fracking and a host of other more commonly employed and dangerous techniques used to coax stubborn-and-hard to reach oil and gas out of the ground. “This bill is the quickest and soundest way to ensure a transition away from oil and gas production in California while the Newsom Administration endlessly studies how to accomplish the task,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker. “It employs common sense in a step-by-step approach that also considers the needs of oil workers in the context of protecting public health and the environment.” Read More.

Big Oil Spent $10 million Lobbying California Officials in 2020

February 17, 2021 – CounterPunch

The powerful oil industry lobby in California in 2020 spent less on lobbying in California than it did in 2019, but still managed to defeat legislation it opposed and getting CalGEM, the state’s gas and oil regulatory agency, to double the number of new oil production well permits approved in the state. The top four oil industry lobbyist employers — the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), Chevron, Aera Energy and California Resources Corporation — spent $10,192,047 lobbying the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies to advance Big Oil’s agenda in 2020, according to data posted on the California Secretary of State’s website by February 1. Read More.

SoCal marine protected areas, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta threatened by oil and gas wells

February 16, 2021 – Daily Kos

A recent report by Kyle Ferrar of the Fractracker Alliance confirms my extensive reporting on how the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative in Southern California, chaired by Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) President, did little or nothing to protect the marine environment from oil and gas drilling. The report also reveals the threat to the ecosystem presented by oil and gas production wells on state land on Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. This is particularly alarming considering that Newsom Administration is currently fast-tracking construction plans for the Delta Tunnel, potentially the most environmentally destructive public works in California history. Read More.

Lawmakers opposing order to pause new oil leasing received $13 million from fossil fuel interests

February 13, 2021 – Daily Kos

While some analysts have claimed the bankruptcy of several oil companies and the collapse of oil prices last year during the pandemic signaled the “end” of the fossil fuel industry, you wouldn’t know that from the millions of dollars the Big Oil and Big Gas have poured into the campaign coffers of federal lawmakers to oppose any effort to transition to clean energy. Fossil fuel executives and oil and gas industry political action committees have poured millions into the campaigns of lawmakers now criticizing the Biden administration’s efforts to move the country away from fossil fuels and build a clean energy future, according to a new Public Citizen report. Read More.

Frac Sand Mining is Disturbing Thousands of Acres in the US

February 13, 2021 – Frack Check WV

The perils of fracking are well documented, but the impacts from mining frac sand are less widely known. In this OpenHour, we speak with the people fighting for clean air and water, fertile farmland, & sustainable livelihoods in fenceline communities from across the midwest. Fracking is an extractive technology that has spread across massive landscapes and unzoned, small towns in the USA as industry has purchased up land rights to conduct operations. Mining for silica sand, use of chemicals, and local water all are pumped into the ground to release small pockets of oil & gas. We will hear directly from community members who have been bringing their communities together to unite in the struggles for healthy homes and justice amidst broken promises from frac sand companies. Read More.

The Kern County Planning Commission Votes In Favor Of Gas and Oil Ordinance Despite Public Outcry

February 12, 2021 – Valley Public Radio

After hearing more than 100 public comments, the Kern County Planning Commission voted Friday to pass the recommendation for a proposed oil and gas ordinance that would allow the permitting of up to 40,000 new oil and gas wells over the next 20 years. Representatives from the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the League of United Latin American Citizens spoke in favor of the ordinance citing jobs for Latinx community members as a top reason. But the majority of the comments voiced concern over the new ordinance. Read More.

Kern Co. Planning Commission to vote on proposed ordinance to allow 67,000 new oil wells!

February 11, 2021 – Indy Bay

The Kern County Planning Commission tonight will vote on a proposed ordinance to allow 67,000 new oil and gas wells to be drilled in Kern County over the next 20 years. This will nearly double the number of wells already there. After a pandemic year in which the Gavin Newsom administration doubled the number of new oil production wells in California, the Kern County Planning Commission tonight will vote on a proposed ordinance to allow permitting of more than 67,000 new oil and gas wells over the next 20 years with no additional environmental review. Read More.

Appalachian Fracking Boom Was a Jobs Bust, Finds New Report

February 11, 2021 – DeSmog Blog

The decade-long fracking boom in Appalachia has not led to significant job growth, and despite the region’s extraordinary levels of natural gas production, the industry’s promise of prosperity has “turned into almost nothing,” according to a new report. The fracking boom has received broad support from politicians across the aisle in Appalachia due to dreams of enormous job creation, but a report released on February 10 from Pennsylvania-based economic and sustainability think tank, the Ohio River Valley Institute (ORVI), sheds new light on the reality of this hype. Read More.

Appalachia’s fracking boom has done little for local economies: Study

February 11, 2021 – Daily Climate

Appalachia’s fracking boom has failed to deliver on promises of jobs and benefits to local economies, according to a new study. The study, published today by the Ohio River Valley Institute, a nonprofit think tank, revealed that while economic output in Appalachian fracking counties grew by 60 percent from 2008-2019, the counties’ share of the nation’s personal income, jobs, and population levels all declined. The analysis concluded that about 90 percent of the wealth created from shale gas extraction leaves local communities. Read More.

Big Oil spent $10 million lobbying CA officials as new oil production well permits doubled in 2020

February 5, 2021 – Daily Kos

The powerful oil industry lobby in California in 2020 spent less on lobbying in California than it did in 2019, but still managed to defeat legislation it opposed and getting CalGEM, the state’s gas and oil regulatory agency, to double the number of new oil production well permits approved in the state. The top four oil industry lobbyist employers — the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), Chevron, Aera Energy and California Resources Corporation — spent $10,192,047 lobbying the Governor’s Office, Legislature and regulatory agencies to advance Big Oil’s agenda in 2020, according to data posted on the California Secretary of State’s website by February 1. Read More.

California Governor Gavin Newsom, Despite Pledge, Signed 1,709 Oil and Gas Production Permits

February 1, 2021 – Newsweek

Out of all the Joe Biden administration’s suite of executive orderson climate signed on Wednesday, advocates in California have latched on to one in particular: a promise to halt new oil and gas lease sales on public lands and offshore and to review existing leases. Some of them hope that the move could inspire similar action by California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s administration, which has so far approved more than 8,000 oil and gas permits on state lands. Read More.

Recent Press Releases

Below are select, recent press releases by FracTracker Alliance and/or our partners.

Straight Talk on the Future of Fracking Jobs in Pennsylvania

September 28, 2020 – FracTracker Alliance and The Breathe Project

The Breathe Project and FracTracker Alliance released a fact sheet today refuting the conflated numbers being touted by pro-fossil fuel organizations and political candidates regarding fracking jobs in Pennsylvania. In some cases, the natural gas jobs in the state have been inflated by 3500 percent. Read the full press release, and get the fact sheet.

Two Advocacy Groups Challenge California Oil Regulator To Correct The Record On True Oil Drilling Permit Numbers

September 22, 2020 – Consumer Watchdog

Consumer Watchdog and the FracTracker Alliance challenged the state’s Oil and Gas Supervisor Uduak-Joe Ntuk “to be honest with the public about the data” on oil drilling in the state. They stated his refusal to acknowledge data published by the Department of Conservation’s Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) “sullies CalGEM and reflects poorly on an Administration that claims desperately to want to stem the cruel tide of climate change.” Read the full press release and the full letter to Ntuk.

Falcon Pipeline Construction Releases over 250,000 Gallons of Drilling Fluid in Pennsylvania and Ohio

June 17th, 2020 – FracTracker Alliance, Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services – Pittsburgh, PA

An investigation by FracTracker Alliance and Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services reveals that construction of Shell Pipeline Company LP’s Falcon Ethane Pipeline System has caused over a quarter million gallons of drilling fluid to be spilled in at least 70 separate incidents in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The total amount could be much larger. Read the full press release.

Prizio, Fitzgerald announce critical oil & gas lease data to be made publicly available

December 4, 2019 – FracTracker Alliance, Pittsburgh, PA

Allegheny County Council Member Anita Prizio announced today that the county government’s Real Estate Division will provide public access to digital data regarding parcels subject to oil and gas leases in the county. Read the full press release.

FracTracker to host 5th Annual Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship event opposite major US shale energy conference in Pittsburgh

October 2, 2019 – FracTracker Alliance, Beaver, PA

 On October 22nd, 2019, FracTracker Alliance will host an award ceremony and reception in Beaver, Pennsylvania that honors environmental stewards working in the United States. Four individuals will be presented with the Community Sentinel Award for Environmental Stewardship along with a cash prize. Read the full press release.

New Interactive Online Map Tracks 380 Million Barrels of Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Waste: Report Finds Increase in Transportation and Disposal of Dangerous, Radioactive Waste

September 11, 2019 – Earthworks, Pittsburgh, PA

new report by Earthworks, with mapping support by FracTracker Alliance, documents a massive 1,500 percent increase in the volume of toxic, often radioactive waste generated by Pennsylvania oil and gas operations between 2003 and 2018. Earthworks calculates that in 2018 alone, the fracking boom generated 69 million barrels of liquid waste and 1.4 million tons of solid waste, a 20 percent increase in liquid and 35 percent increase in solid waste from 2017. Read the full press release.

FracTracker Releases Six New Maps Detailing the Petrochemical Build-out in the Ohio River Valley

July 11, 2019 – FracTracker Alliance, Pittsburgh, PA

FracTracker Alliance released six new maps using over 16,000 data points. The maps reveal the vast network of natural gas and petrochemical infrastructure currently in the Ohio River Valley, as well as proposed facilities and storage sites that connect to petrochemical processing. FracTracker’s accompanying analysis, found here, provides in-depth context to this nascent buildout that threatens to turn the Ohio River Valley region into a massive petrochemical hub. Read the full press release

Watchdogs Call For Resignations & Permit Freeze As California Oil Regulators Approve Surge In Well Permits While Personally Invested In Oil Companies

July 11, 2019 – FracTracker Alliance and Counterpunch

Los Angeles—A review of state conflict of interest forms shows that eight regulators managing the state’s oil and gas well approval and inspection process have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in the oil companies they regulate. One of the regulators is among the top three in command at the State’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR). Read the full press release

Sweeping New Report on Global Environmental Impact of Plastics Reveals Severe Damage to Climate

Study Recommends Solutions, Including Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics

May 15, 2019, FracTracker Alliance, CIEL, Environmental Integrity Project, GAIA, 5Gyres

Washington, DC — In 2019 alone, the production and incineration of plastic will add more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere—equal to the pollution from 189 new coal-fired power plants, according to a new report, Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet. The rapid global growth of the plastic industry—fueled by cheap natural gas from hydraulic fracturing—is not only destroying the environment and endangering human health but also undermining efforts to reduce carbon pollution and prevent climate catastrophe. Read the full press release

Delaware Riverkeeper Network Releases New Hydraulic Fracturing Reports

Experts Examine Impacts of Fracking on Health and Economics in Pennsylvania

May 13, 2019, Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Bristol, PA – Two new reports are being issued today by Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) examining the impacts of unconventional gas drilling (employing hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”) in Pennsylvania. The commissioned reports are entitled “Categorical Review of Health Reports on Unconventional Oil and Gas Development; Impacts in Pennsylvania”, authored by Fractracker Alliance (linked here: https://bit.ly/30kqe4u) and “The Economic Costs of Fracking in Pennsylvania”, authored by ECONorthwest (linked here: https://bit.ly/2JCO7yz). Read the full press release