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Recent In The News

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

Wiener says he’ll move to ban fracking in California, following Newsom’s lead

September 24, 2020 – The San Francisco Chronicle

A trio of California lawmakers plans to introduce a bill to ban the controversial fossil fuel drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in an effort to expand the state’s fight against climate change. State Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, said he’s working with two other legislators on the matter after Gov. Gavin Newsom embraced a plan this week to phase out new fracking. The details are not yet sorted out, but Wiener told The Chronicle he would like to introduce the bill as soon as lawmakers reconvene in December. Read More.

Newsom orders 2035 phaseout of gas-powered vehicles, calls for fracking ban

September 23, 2020 – Los Angeles Times

Emphasizing that California must stay at the forefront of the fight against climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday issued an executive order to require all new cars sold to be zero-emission vehicles by 2035 and threw his support behind a ban on the controversial use of hydraulic fracturing by oil companies. Read More.

Climate Justice Advocates Criticize Newsom’s Executive Order for Not Addressing Oil Drilling

September 23, 2020 – The Daily Kos

California Governor Gavin Newsom today signed an executive order (EO) requiring sales of all new passenger vehicles to be zero-emission by 2035, along with additional measures to eliminate harmful emissions from the transportation sector. In response, representatives of the Last Chance Alliance, a coalition of hundreds of environmental, climate justice, social justice and public interest groups, said the executive order fails to address in-state oil drilling, “ignoring supply-side policy to address the climate crisis.” Read More.

As Climate-Driven Wildfires Ravage California, Gov. Newsom Pressured to Ban Fossil Fuel Fracking

September 23, 2020 – Between the Lines

Thus far in this early stage of the year’s fire season, five times more acres in California have burned compared to last year’s destructive fires. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, talking with the press amid smoldering ruins of a burned down home, declared, “This is a climate damn-emergency.” But activists and experts in California point out that Newsom’s administration has been fanning the flames of the climate crisis. 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 More.

Group Plans to Sue Governor Newsom Over Illegal California Oil Wells

September 21, 2020 – Daily Kos

As the Western States Petroleum Association and Chevron continue their capture of California regulators in a year of record heat, record fires and an unprecedented pandemic, the Center for Biological Diversity on September 21 notified California Governor Gavin Newsom of its intent to file a lawsuit to halt illegal permitting of oil and gas wells in California. Read More.

Power Up: California may be burning. But it’s also still drilling for oil

September 15, 2020 – The Washington Post

Much of the ire over the fires raging across the Pacific Northwest has thus far been directed at President Trump. But frustrations with California’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom are also bubbling over his own climate policies. Trump went to California yesterday, where Newsom challenged him to accept climate science, which shows that human-made climate change has made the West more vulnerable to extreme blazes. Trump instead blamed the multiple wildfires on lack of good forest management. Read More.

Pre-COVID natural gas extraction hit record high in Pennsylvania

September 15, 2020 – Beaver County Times

Pennsylvania drillers extracted a record-high volume of natural gas last year, while the number of new wells drilled declined from the year prior. Unconventional natural gas drillers extracted 6.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in 2019 – more than 10% higher than 2018, according to a new oil and gas report released by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. More than 1,700 drilling permits were issued, primarily at unconventional wells. Read More.

California Well Abandonments Outpacing Drilling Permits

September 9, 2020 – Natural Gas Intelligence

California oil and natural gas permits for well abandonments to date this year are twice the number of new drilling permits being sought, according to regulators. The California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) said it has received the lowest number of well stimulation permit applications since late 2016 when state Senate Bill 4 took effect. Forty-eight permits had been approved, with six denied and 248 pending third-party review. Read More.

Conservation Groups Oppose Exxon’s Plan to Restart Offshore Rigs Idled by Refugio Oil Spill

September 6, 2020 – Elk Grove News

Exxon’s offshore rigs have remained idle since the Refugio Oil Spill, but the oil giant, responsible for the infamous Exxon Valdez disaster off Alaska in 1989, had plans to restart its offshore drilling platforms in Santa Barbara County and truck that oil through California. Read More.

Ventura County approves nation’s first 2500 foot health and safety setback from oil wells

September 2, 2020 – Daily Kos

After years of community members organizing and going to hearing after hearing, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors in an on-line 14-hour final hearing last night voted 3 to 2 to tentatively approve the nation’s first 2500 foot health and safety setback from oil wells as part of their General Plan. Read More.

California Legislature’s end-of-session scramble leaves environment bills on cutting room floor

September 2, 2020 – Desert Sun

Monday at midnight marked the deadline for California lawmakers to pass bills out of the Legislature. But in a session replete with the COVID-19 pandemic, racial justice and wildfires, numerous bills were left to die on the cutting room floor. Among them was the majority of the environmental agenda in what some legislators, environmentalists and public health advocates labeled a disappointment. Read More.

Permits To Drill New Oil And Gas Wells Zoom Up 190% In The First Six Months Of 2020 Under Gov. Newsom In Worrisome Trend, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance Report

September 2, 2020 – PR Newswire

As COVID-19 cases shattered California daily records in the second quarter of 2020, oil regulators under Gov. Newsom also shattered records for dispensing new oil and gas production well drilling permits, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance said today. Read More.

Approvals for new oil and gas wells up in California

September 2, 2020 – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Despite pushing back against the Trump administration’s plan to expand oil extraction in California, the state has issued 190% more new oil and gas drilling permits in the first six months of 2020 than were approved under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first six months in office, two advocacy groups said Wednesday. Read More.

California Permits to Drill New Oil and Gas Wells Increase 190% in First Six Months of 2020

September 2, 2020 – Daily Kos

As the California Resources Corporation and other oil companies filed for bankruptcy and COVID-19 cases shattered California daily records in the second quarter of 2020, oil regulators under Governor Gavin Newsom approved over 1500 new oil and gas production well drilling permits, Consumer Watchdog and FracTracker Alliance revealed in a report released on September 2. Read More.

Ventura County leads in effort to expand oil setbacks with vote looming Tuesday

August 29, 2020 – Ventura County Star

Ventura County supervisors are headed Tuesday toward adoption of some of the largest setbacks ever enacted to separate oil wells from neighboring homes and schools in California, including a buffer of 2,500 feet that officials believe would be the biggest in the nation. It’s a concept that Audrey Nicholson can embrace. She lives in what she calls “oil country,” near a string of petroleum facilities that stretches north of her home on the edge of Ventura. Read More.

Rumors of RuPaul’s fracking ranch may be surprising to some – but not his Wyoming neighbors

August 28, 2020 – The Guardian

It was not the way most people would have expected an interview with RuPaul, host of RuPaul’s Drag Race show, to pan out. During a conversation on NPR earlier this year, RuPaul sparked concerns that oil companies may be fracking on his 60,000-acre ranch in eastern Wyoming. A “modern ranch, 21st-century ranch is really land management”, he said, and one aspect of that is to “lease the mineral rights to oil companies and you sell water to oil companies”. Read More.

Pipeline protests: A decry of fossil fuels, not a voice for the environment

August 21, 2020 – Oil & Gas 360

Pipelines transporting crude oil, natural gas, and refined products have been a controversial topic for lawmakers, environmental groups, and energy producers throughout the last decade. Since pipelines are the cleanest and safest method of transporting hydrocarbons, the logic behind these protests remains lost on many individuals. But, what the general public must understand is that many protesters are not necessarily trying to shut down pipelines, they are trying to eliminate the use of fossil fuels and force an immediate shift to renewable energy. Read More.

The three CA Senate Democrats who voted against setbacks bill took $142,206 from Big Oil & Gas

August 19, 2020 – Daily Kos

Three California Senate Democrats who voted with Republicans against an amended version of AB 345, a bill that would require the establishment of an environmental justice program at the California Natural Resources Agency, received $142,206 in donations from oil and gas corporations. Read More.

Refinery Shutdown, County Staff Critique Jeopardize ExxonMobil Offshore Drilling Plan

August 13, 2020 – Daily Kos

May 19 of this year marked the fifth anniversary of the massive Plains All American Pipeline spill near Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County that resulted in the idling of Exxon’s three offshore oil platforms that rise like sentinels from the coastal waters. Read More.

CA Senate Committee Votes 4 to 5 Against Bill to Create Health and Safety Zones Around Oil Wells

August 6, 2020 – Daily Kos

Sacramento – California, a state that politicians and the mainstream media constantly tout as “green” and “progressive,” still doesn’t have health and safety setbacks around oil and gas wells like Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Dakota and other oil and gas producing states do. The  Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water yesterday voted 4-5 against AB 345 (Muratsuchi), a bill that would help to create health and safety buffer zones for the nearly 1.8 million Californians who currently reside in highly polluted areas close to oil and gas wells across the state. Read More.

United Domestic Workers Co-Sponsors AB 345 on Day Before Senate Committee Hearing

August 5, 2020 – Daily Kos

The United Domestic Workers of America (UDW/AFSCME 3930) has just announced they’ve joined as co-sponsors of an amended version of Assembly Bill AB 345 (Muratsuchi), legislation originally designed to require 2500 foot health and safety setbacks from oil and gas wells in California. Read More.

Tired of Wells That Threaten Residents’ Health, a Small California Town Takes on the Oil Industry

August 3, 2020 – Inside Climate News

In September 2018, Estela Escoto sat down with a team of lawyers and community organizers and weighed her options … Escoto, president of an environmental justice group called the Committee for a Better Arvin, was frustrated, but not surprised. For years, she and the committee had been struggling to keep oil and gas development out of their neighborhoods. Read More.

NCAC URGES TRANSPARENCY IN COVID-19 DATA COLLECTION

July 27, 2020 – National Coalition Against Censorship

NCAC has joined Open the Government and two dozen organizations in urging Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to rescind an order to hospitals requiring them to send daily COVID-19 data reports to HHS, a change that creates urgent concerns about transparency, accountability, and the politicization of data. Read More.

‘Tired of being the canary in the mine’: pressure grows to push oil and gas wells away from homes

July 22, 2020 – The Guardian

Experts say that more than a decade of research – including two new studies out of California, and one on a Texas community – has made it clear that current setback distances, in states where they exist, are inadequate to protect public health. Read More.

As California Oil Giant Files for Bankruptcy, Environmental Justice Groups Urge Governor to Plan for Just Transition

July 18, 2020 – Elk Grove News

The California Resources Corporation (CRC), the largest oil and natural gas exploration and production company in the state, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, potentially leaving California taxpayers on the hook for a massive cleanup. Read More.

CalGEM Regulators Divest Oil Stocks In Wake Of Consumer Watchdog Conflicts Probe

July 16, 2020 – Consumer Watchdog

Oil and gas regulators at the California Geologic Energy Management Division (CalGEM) no longer hold oil stocks or other interests in the sector that they regulate in a radical departure from past practices, Consumer Watchdog said today. A new conflict of interest policy at the division’s parent agency, the Department of Conservation (DOC), now prohibits such investments without explicit written approval by DOC’s director. Read More.

California’s Department of Conservation rolls out new ethics policy after years of complaints

July 15, 2020 – Desert Sun

The California Department of Conservation, which has for years weathered accusations of a cozy relationship with the oil industry, has quietly introduced a new ethics policy that has drawn praise from advocates of good governance. Read More.

Babies born near natural gas flaring are 50 percent more likely to be premature: Study

July 15, 2020 – Environmental Health News

Living near fracking operations that frequently engage in flaring—the process of burning off excess natural gas—makes expectant parents 50 percent more likely to have a preterm birth, according to a new study. Read More.

California Regulators Approve 12 New Permits for Chevron to Frack in Kern County

July 14, 2020 – Counterpunch

As Tribes, conservationists and environmental justice advocates were celebrating a federal ruling temporarily halting operations by the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline, anti-fracking activists in California were disturbed that California regulators are continuing to approve new permits for fracking in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More.

Support amplifies for proposed state methane rule

June 24, 2020 – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

All of the 32 speakers at Tuesday evening’s virtual public hearing voiced degrees of support for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s proposal to limit emissions of methane and volatile organic compounds at shale gas operations. Read More.

New report finds increased threat from radioactive oil & gas waste in North Dakota

June 18, 2020 – Earthworks

A new report released today by the national environmental nonprofit Earthworks reveals that North Dakota’s massive surge in fracking wastewater production, also known as “produced water,” has potentially increased North Dakotans exposure to carcinogens, heavy metals, and radioactivity. Read More.

Shell’s Falcon Pipeline Dogged by Issues with Drilling and Permit Uncertainty During Pandemic

June 15, 2020 – DeSmog Blog

Over the past few months, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders, Shell Pipeline Company has pressed onward with the construction of a 97-mile pipeline running through Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Shell plans to use the Falcon pipeline to supply its $6 billion plastics plant currently being built in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, with ethane, a raw material pulled from shale wells in the state and from neighboring Ohio. Read More.

Bike Messengers

June 12, 2020 – Grist

On Saturday, as protests demanding racial justice and an end to police violence took over New York City, a separate but related demonstration wound its way through Brooklyn echoing those cries and adding a few more. This other protest took place on bikes, as a few dozen New Yorkers rode the route of a partially constructed natural gas pipeline. Read More.

Proof of Harm To CA’s Unborn From Proximity To Oil Wells Proves Need For Barrier Between Wells And People, Says Consumer Watchdog

June 4, 2020 – Consumer Watchdog

The first definitive study showing perinatal harm from oil production in California to pregnant mothers proves that the state must institute a barrier of 2,500 feet between residents and oil wells and stop issuing new oil permits for wells within that zone, Consumer Watchdog said today. 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