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Recent FracTracker News
Below are select, recent articles in the press covering The FracTracker Alliance and/or our work.
‘We don’t feel safe’: US community in shock after record methane leak
March 6, 2023 – The Guardian
More than a billion cubic feet of methane and other toxins were spewed into the atmosphere from a failed storage well at an ageing fossil-fuel facility operated by Equitrans Midstream Corporation on Rager Mountain. Read more.
Oil wells guzzle precious California water. Next door, residents can’t use the tap
Jan. 22, 2023 – The Guardian
The energy fields in Kern County, California, are some of the most productive in the US, generating billions of barrels of oil annually and more than two-thirds of the state’s natural gas. And in a drought-stricken state, they’re also some of the thirstiest, consuming vast quantities of fresh water to extract stubborn oil. But in the industry’s shadow, nearby communities can’t drink from the tap. Read more.
California oil and gas regulator resigns as critics point to drilling permit spike
Jan. 20, 2023 – The Sacramento Bee
California’s official responsible for overseeing the oil and gas industry unexpectedly resigned last week, prompting speculation from environmental advocates that Uduak-Joe Ntuk faced pressure to step down after overseeing a recent spike in new drilling permits. Read more.
Recent Press Releases
Below are select, recent press releases by FracTracker Alliance and/or our partners.
Report: FracTracker Alliance Releases Assessment of Oil and Gas Well Ownership Transfers in CA
May 18, 2023 – FracTracker Alliance
A new report by FracTracker Alliance on well transfers between oil and gas operators (companies) in California shows that the majority of oil and gas wells in California have transferred ownership, with almost all of the transfers occurring since 2010. The analysis shows that larger operators consistently divest from wells near or past the end of their productive lifespans and transfer their ownership to smaller operators. This report established that ownership transfers in the oil and gas industry tend to occur near the end of the productive life of an oil or gas well, with the transfers occurring once the majority of profit is extracted from a well. Read the full press release.
Report: Using Recycled Water for Hydraulic Fracturing Feasible in Colorado
May 5, 2023 – FracTracker Alliance
A new report by FracTracker Alliance on water consumption by oil and gas companies in Colorado finds recycled water could provide most, or all, of the water necessary for hydraulic fracturing operations in the state. Read the full press release.
1st Q Oil Permits Within 3,200-Foot Setback Zone Total 62% Of All New Permits Approved In State Action Condemned By Advocates
April 2023 – Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance
The total number of oil drilling permits approved since Governor Gavin Newsom he took office reached nearly 15,000 in the first quarter of 2023, FracTracker Alliance and Consumer Watchdog said today. The two groups and many others belonging to the Last Chance Alliance condemned the approvals—particularly the 62% of approvals for oil operations within 3,200 feet of marginalized communities. Read the full press release.
FracTracker Alliance Reports High Rate of U.S. Pipeline Incidents, Emerging Issues for Pipeline Transport
Feb. 14, 2023 – FracTracker Alliance
A new report released by FracTracker Alliance examining pipeline incidents reported to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) finds the rate of pipeline incidents in the U.S. continues to average 1.7 incidents per day, a concerning trend as new issues emerge for pipeline transportation. Read the full press release.
Assessment of Rework Permits on Oil Production from Operational Wells Within the 3,200-Foot Public Health Protection Zone
Jan. 25, 2023 – FracTracker Alliance and Last Chance Alliance
FracTracker Alliance has published a report analyzing the potential impact of eliminating oil well rework and workover operations within a 3,200-foot health protection zone on future oil production in the state of California. Read the full press release.
4th Quarter Oil Permit Approvals Show Steep Rise Within Protective Buffer Zones As State’s Top Oil Regulator Steps Down, Advocacy Groups Report
Jan. 18, 2023 – Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance
The state Oil & Gas Supervisor at the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) has been relieved of his job against the backdrop of a 745% uptick in new oil drilling permits issued in the fourth quarter of 2022. Nearly half of these approvals (at least 100) allow producers to drill new wells within the state-mandated health and safety buffer zone of 3,200 feet near communities, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance said today. Read the full press release.
EPA Awards Nearly $500,000 to Groups in the Mid-Ohio River Valley to Support Grassroots Air Monitoring Efforts
Nov. 4, 2022 – FracTracker Alliance receives grant of $495,301 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to enhance air quality monitoring in communities in the mid-Ohio River Valley. Read the full press release.
Community Meeting Updates Residents on PA Health & Environment Studies, Discusses Health Impacts of Shale Gas Development
Oct. 5, 2022 – FracTracker Alliance, Center for Coalfield Justice, Environmental Health Project Mountain Watershed Association, and Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania
A public meeting in Canonsburg, PA, today offered residents an opportunity to learn more about a set of research studies titled the “PA Health and Environment Studies” now being conducted by the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Public Health. Read the full press release.
Pitt School of Public Health, PA Dept. of Health Abruptly Pull Out of Public Meeting They Helped Convene
Sept. 29, 2022 – FracTracker Alliance, Center for Coalfield Justice, Environmental Health Project Mountain Watershed Association, and Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania
At the last minute, the institutions backed out of a public meeting about their own studies on the link between natural has development and childhood cancer rates. The meeting will still take place, and the health studies are still ongoing. Read the full press release.
FracTracker Alliance Discovers Uncontrolled Emissions at 68 Oil Sites Across California
August 22, 2022 – FracTracker Alliance and Last Chance Alliance
A new report released by FracTracker Alliance provides new evidence of fugitive emissions from oil infrastructure at 68 separate sites across Los Angeles, Kern and Ventura counties, many of which are located within residential areas. Read the full press release.
Implications of a 3,200’ Setback in California
April 7, 2022 – FracTracker Alliance
CalGEM (California Geologic Energy Management Division), under the state’s Department of Conservation, has been working on a rulemaking for protective setbacks for more than two years. FracTracker Alliance has completed a geospatial analysis assessing the projected impact of a 3,200’ public health setback from oil and gas extraction operations, as defined by CalGEM’s draft rule. FracTracker’s full report can be found on the FracTracker Alliance website. Read the full press release.
Ohio River Valley Groups React to Federal Regulators’ Warnings Over Shell’s Falcon Pipeline
August 24, 2021 – FracTracker Alliance
Federal pipeline regulators have issued a new warning letter regarding Shell Pipeline Company’s Falcon Ethane Pipeline System. The warning letter comes as The U.S. Department of Energy prepares for a virtual public meeting today, August 24, 2021, on the impacts of petrochemical development to front line communities, particularly development related to production, consumption, export, and use of ethane. Read the full press release.
Mapping PFAS “Forever Chemicals” in Oil & Gas Operations
FracTracker Alliance released a new map identifying the locations of over 1,200 oil and gas wells using toxic “forever chemicals” in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico,Texas, and Wyoming. The wells were identified in a report that Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), with assistance from FracTracker Alliance. The report presents evidence that oil and gas companies including ExxonMobil and Chevron have used per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and/or substances that can degrade into PFAS, in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas in more than 1,200 wells in six U.S. states between 2012 and 2020. PFAS have been linked to cancer, birth defects, pre-eclampsia, and other serious health effects. They are toxic in minuscule concentrations, accumulate inside the human body, and do not break down in the environment. Read more.
Shell’s Falcon Pipeline Under Investigation for Serious Public Safety Risks
March 16, 2021
Shell’s Falcon Ethane Pipeline System (Falcon Pipeline) is under investigation for issues that pose serious threats to public safety, workers, and critical natural resources. The investigation is focused on possible noncompliance with construction and public safety requirements and alleged cover up of incidents that could put the public at risk, according to documents obtained by FracTracker Alliance. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP), the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) have all been involved in investigations into the Falcon Pipeline’s construction, which is designed to deliver ethane to Shell’s petrochemical facility in Beaver County, Pennsylvania for plastic manufacturing. Read more.
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
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