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Recent In The News
Below are select, recent articles in the press covering The FracTracker Alliance and/or our work.
GUEST APPEARANCE: Protecting our air, water: We’re all in it together
August 28, 2021 – Finger Lakes Times
Several local publications recently printed another public relations statement by Greenidge Generation. The bitcoin mining operator along the western shore of Seneca Lake in Dresden is trying hard to convince the community that its business model is a net benefit for the region — that is, burning massive amounts of fossil fuels and discharging oceans of heated water into Seneca Lake to ultimately power banks of computers to produce bitcoin. The company says that the carbon offsets it has purchased make it the “first fully carbon-neutral bitcoin mining operation of its kind in the United States.” What Greenidge won’t mention, is that under New York state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, stationary electric sources like power plants cannot avail themselves of offsets; they are not a substitute under state law in moving us to a cleaner, carbon-neutral future. Read More.
Advocates tell DOE that the cost of Appalachian petrochemicals too great
August 24, 2021 – Pittsburgh Business Times
Environmental advocates made their case for environmental justice and the health and economic impacts of ethane and petrochemical development in Appalachia during a public hearing Tuesday convened by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management. DOE has been tasked by the U.S. Congress to produce a report on the potential value of Appalachia-produced ethane, a byproduct of natural gas, production and use in industry domestically as well as its transport internationally for manufacturing. DOE convened Tuesday’s session to get advocates’ and residents’ opinions about the development in a report that will be published by the end of the year. Read More.
Residents in a densely-populated Pittsburgh suburb are demanding public hearings on two proposed fracking wells
August 19, 2021 – Daily Climate
Residents in two Pittsburgh suburbs are demanding public hearings on a proposal to drill two new fracking wells within a mile of an elementary school. The wells, proposed by Apex Energy, would be within one mile of Level Green Elementary School and within two miles of 12,733 residents in Penn Township and Trafford Borough (about 17 miles east of Pittsburgh). The wells would be near several environmental justice communities, which are defined as, which is defined in Pennsylvania as any census tract where 20% or more of the population lives at or below the federal poverty line, and/or 30% or more of the population identifies as non-white. Environmental justice communities often face disproportionately high levels of pollution and negative health impacts caused by the overlapping effects of poverty, racism, and pollution. Read More.
California denies 42 new fracking permits, but approves 1,019 oil and gas permits in 2021
August 8, 2021 – Daily Kos
Less than a month after denying all of Aera Energy’s 21 applications for fracking permits, the Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) denied 42 of California Resources Production Corporation’s applications for fracking operations that the company submitted for review in 2019 and 2020. These wells are located in the Elk Hills, Jerry Slough, Kettleman North Dome, and North Shafter fields in Kern County, the center of oil production in California. The corporation, the largest oil-producing company in California, was formed in April 2014 as a corporate spin-off of Occidental Petroleum. In July 2020, the company filed bankruptcy with $5 billion in debt. It emerged from bankruptcy in October 2020. Food and Water Watch and other advocates noted that the agency cited missing application materials for the denial, making no mention of risks to public health and safety, environmental quality and climate change cited in the previous fracking permit denials for Aera Energy. Read More.
REPORT: The Oil and Gas Leasing Pause Has Minimal Impact
August 5, 2021 – Natural Resources Defense Council
In a newly released report—commissioned by NRDC in partnership with the Center for Western Priorities and eight other groups—the Conservation Economics Institute (CEI) finds that the temporary moratorium on leasing public lands for oil and gas development has negligible economic effects and that oil industry claims of doom was nothing but hyperbole. On January 27, 2021, President Biden issued a sweeping executive order aimed at reinvigorating the United States’ response to the climate crisis. As part of that order, the administration suspended federal oil and gas leasing on public lands and ocean waters temporarily, pending a Department of the Interior (DOI) review of the onshore and offshore federal oil and gas programs. That review process kicked off with a public forum on March 25, 2021, where representatives from Indigenous tribes to industry to front line community members presented their perspectives on the oil and gas programs. Read More.
Rekha Basu: Jessica Reznicek is no terrorist. But the longtime activist is going to serve time as one
August 3, 2021 – Star Tribune
On Aug. 11, 39-year-old Jessica Reznicek will report to a federal women’s prison in Waseca, Minnesota, to begin an eight-year sentence for damaging pieces of machinery involved in construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. She was indicted in September 2019 on nine federal charges related to her 2016 pipeline vandalism — or civil disobedience, as she prefers — pleading guilty eventually to one count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility. She did it, as she told the court, because she feared oil would leak from the pipeline and further contaminate Iowa’s drinking water. She was sentenced in June, four years after she and fellow climate activist Ruby Montoya publicly announced what they had done. (Montoya has also taken a plea but has yet to be sentenced.) After her release, Reznicek will live under federal supervision for three years. She and Montoya also have been ordered to make $3.2 million in restitution to pipeline owners Energy Transfer LLC. Read More.
Radioactive, for 1,600 years
August 1, 2021 – Sandusky Register
It might be that it’s just not something people want to think about. But the fact is radioactive waste from fracking getting shipped to loosely regulated landfills in Ohio has the potential to poison the environment for 1,600 years. Despite efforts from environmental organizations to educate the public about the radioactive risks created by the boom in shale gas fracking since the early 2000s, or documentaries from Public Herald like “Triple Divide” (2013), “Triple Divide (Redacted) (2017),” and “INVISIBLE HAND” (2020) that covered radioactive waste, some Ohioans remain unaware that it is piling up, in many cases, in their own backyards. Sil Caggiano, senior battalion chief for the Youngstown Fire Department, blames the lack of awareness on the state’s protection of the industry. “It’s the third rail of politics here in Ohio,” Caggiano said. “You don’t screw with the fracking.” Caggiano contends his fellow first responders and civilians are not being given the knowledge owed to them by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, also known as SARA Title III. The act requires that states “organize, analyze and disseminate information on hazardous chemicals to local governments and the public.” Read More.
EPA Approval of PFAS for Fracking May Spell a New Health Crisis for Communities
July 30, 2021 – Truthout
For over a month, noxious wastewater has been leaching across the ground on Ashley Watt’s family ranch in the Permian Basin in West Texas where she lives and raises cattle. It started in mid-June, when a well Chevron Corps drilled in the 1960s (and plugged with cement in the 1990s before abandoning it) burst open. The well spewed what Watt described on Twitter as “super concentrated brine and benzene” into her water supply, the Pecos River Basin alluvial aquifer. After a month on site, according to Watt, Chevron plugged the well on July 16, but it failed a pressure test and continued bubbling brine at the surface again just over an hour later. Two calves and four cows have died, as Bloomberg News reported, and the well continues to spray onto the sandy land, where the water table is just over 50 feet below ground. “Anything poured on the surface will be in the water table shortly,” Watt wrote. “This is a desert, and without clean water there is no ranch nor home.” Read More.
CA Permit Approvals For New Well Drills Are Down 64% For The First Six Months; Consumer Watchdog Urges Governor To Seize Golden Opportunity To Move From Fossil Fuels
July 26, 2021 – Yahoo! Finance
Permit approvals to drill or rework new oil wells fell by 64% in the first six months of 2021 over the same period last year, giving Governor Newsom an excellent opening to more decisively transition off of fossil fuels, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance said today. The number of permit applications filed by oil and gas companies also fell by 52%. The overall number of oil and gas permits approved under Newsom now totals 9,014 since he took office in January 2019, according to NewsomWellWatch.com, which is run by the groups and maps all California oil wells, with just 1,019 permits approved, by comparison, in the first six months of 2021. Read More.
Rekha Basu: Jessica Reznicek is no terrorist. But the longtime activist is going to serve time as one.
July 22, 2021 – The Hawk Eye
On Aug. 11, 39-year-old Jessica Reznicek will report to a federal women’s prison in Waseca, Minnesota, to begin an eight-year sentence for damaging pieces of machinery involved in construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. She was indicted in September 2019 on nine federal charges related to her 2016 pipeline vandalism — or civil disobedience, as she prefers — pleading guilty eventually to one count of conspiracy to damage an energy facility. She did it, as she told the court, because she feared oil would leak from the pipeline and further contaminate Iowa’s drinking water. She was sentenced last month, four years after she and fellow climate activist Ruby Montoya publicly announced what they had done. (Montoya has also taken a plea but has yet to be sentenced.) After her release, Reznicek will live under federal supervision for three years. She and Montoya also have been ordered to make $3.2 million in restitution to pipeline owners Energy Transfer LLC. Read More.
Radioactive Material in the Oil and Gas Industry
July 21, 2021 – National Resources Defense Council
Oil and gas extraction activities, including fracking, drilling, and production, can release radioactive materials that endanger workers, nearby communities, and the environment. Radioactive elements are naturally present in many soils and rock formations, as well as in the water that flows through them. Oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) activities can expose significant quantities of these radioactive materials to the environment. Read More.
The Truth About RuPaul’s Relationship With His Husband
July 16, 2021 – The List
If there is one person who dominates the world stage, it’s RuPaul. Not only does the queen of drag need only one name to be identified, but Mama Ru has defined the artistry that is drag in a groundbreaking way. To use his words, “We’re all born naked and the rest is drag.” If one thing is clear, it’s that RuPaul has excelled in a way that many of us only dream of. To be synonymous with an entire industry is a feat that few of us dare to achieve, but RuPaul is a living legend with a pretty massive net worth. “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has made Mama Ru a household name — he has, without question, expanded and redefined the boundaries of drag and has pushed the artistic form into the mainstream. Read More.
Whistleblowers say ‘bad seeds’ undermine pipeline safety
July 15, 2021 – E&E News
Two former pipeline inspectors say they were fired for reporting hazards on a volatile liquids pipeline to Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s massive new petrochemical plant northwest of Pittsburgh. The inspectors, Frank Chamberlin and Susan D’Layne Carite, said they warned Shell managers and even federal regulators in 2019 that the anti-corrosion coating was defective on the company’s Falcon pipeline. That could increase the threat of corrosion, a leading cause of pipeline ruptures. A representative of the coating manufacturer told Chamberlin the protective layer was “unacceptable,” and another person on the project told him it peeled from the pipe during installation. Rather than fixing the problem, he says, Shell ordered them off the project and the contractor fired the two inspectors, who live together in a rural part of upstate New York. The couple’s allegations are contained in their whistleblower complaint they filed with the Labor Department. Read More.
Heart Attack Risk Tied to Drilling/Fracking Operations
July 11, 2021 – Frack Check WV
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. 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.
CA oil industry has used 1.8 billion gallons of freshwater for drilling operations since Fall 2018
July 7, 2021 – Daily Kos
In a new report, Food and Water Research reveals that since Governor Newsom was elected, from Fall 2018 to June 2021, the oil and gas industry used 1,804,566,792 gallons of freshwater, nearly 2 billion gallons, for drilling operations that could otherwise have supplied domestic systems. For a comparison of what that looks like, the nearly 2 billion gallons of water used to drill oil and gas wells in the state would fill about 2,732 Olympic-sized pools or supply local California households with over 72 million showers, according to the report. It also exceeds the amount of water that Californians are recommended to use on a daily, per capita basis during drought, 55 gallons/day. Read More.
Pipeline & Process Services Market Worth USD 4.90 Billion at 5.4% by 2028 Backed by Presence of a Large Number of Oil & Gas Fields in North America
July 7, 2021 – Yahoo! Finance
The global pipeline & process services market size is expected to gain momentum by reaching USD 4.90 billion by 2028. Fortune Business Insights, in its report titled “Pipeline & Process Services Market, 2021-2028.”, mentions that the market stood at USD 3.30 billion in 2020 and is likely to exhibit a CAGR of 5.4% between 2021 and 2028. This is attributable to the rising oil & gas trade activities and the presence of stringent regulations regarding oil & gas pipelines globally. In May 2021, Saudi Arabia reported a 428% surge in overall factory investments. It is termed to be a 27.92% year-on-year growth. The country aims to develop several industries such as petrochemicals, oil & gas, chemicals, mining, and others. Read More.
Newsletter: How many abandoned oil wells threaten your favorite national park?
July 1, 2021 – Los Angeles Times
June has barely come to an end, and parts of California and the West are already suffering through unprecedented heat, punishing drought and rapidly spreading wildfire — a harrowing preview of life on a planet that is only getting more chaotic. In Vancouver, police responded to 65 sudden deaths over four days as temperatures soared. A town even farther north obliterated Canada’s all-time temperature record with a 121-degree reading, which also would have shattered the record high in Las Vegas. Portland broke its heat record three days in a row, ultimately reaching 116 degrees. In Seattle, where fewer than half of homes have air conditioning, the mercury hit 108 degrees, also an all-time high. There are at least 80 deaths being reported as potentially heat-related in the Pacific Northwest, and I’d be stunned if that number didn’t grow. Pay close attention to Spokane, in eastern Washington, where thousands of people lost power as the heat forced an electric utility to implement rolling blackouts. Read More.
US national parks plagued by 31,000 abandoned oil and gas wells leaking potent greenhouse gas methane
June 25, 2021 – Independent
America’s national parks are plagued by tens of thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells, according to new analysis. These orphaned wells, for which the owners have long since vanished or are now insolvent, spew super-potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, along with leaking brine into the groundwater at parks and nearby communities. Dealing with abandoned wells and mines, some which have been unattended for decades, gets support from both Republicans and Democrats along with environmentalists and some industry bodies. Methane is powerful but short-lived compared to fellow planet-heating carbon dioxide, the former lasting about a dozen years while CO2 hangs around for centuries. But in its relatively brief life span, methane traps dozens of times the heat of CO2. Tackling its release is crucial in battling the climate crisis. Read More.
Ohio EPA Extends Air Permit for Proposed PTT Global Cracker Plant
June 23, 2021 – The Intelligencer and Wheeling News Register
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency extended a permit that is necessary for PTT Global Chemical America to move ahead with plans to build an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County. The air pollution permit-to-install, which was granted more than two years ago, initially was set to expire Tuesday; however, PTTGCA sought and received an extension that makes the permit valid through Feb. 24, 2022. PTTGCA filed for the extension on Feb. 19 of this year and received a letter dated Feb. 23 granting approval. The document explains that the extension is due, in part, to the fact that issuance of the permit was appealed. Read More.
G7 LEADERS: STOP PUSHING ALL FOSSIL FUELS & INVEST IN THE CLEAN ENERGY TRANSITION
June 9, 2021 – The Council of Canadians
As governments gather for the G7 Summit to discuss how to build a “strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive recovery,” it is critical that G7 governments put “global ambitions on climate change and the reversal of biodiversity loss at the centre” of their plans1 and stop financing fossil fuels. We are at a pivotal moment in the climate emergency. The devastating local, regional, and global impacts of climate change are already disproportionately affecting frontline communities, Indigenous people, women, youth, social movements, workers, unions, urban movements, and farmers in the global South. The longer action is delayed, the harder it will be to avoid the worst climate impacts and ensure a just transition for workers, communities, and countries. At the same time, the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with the increasing impacts of climate change, have created devastating situations for countries in the global South. Read More.
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.
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
A 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
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