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Recent FracTracker News

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

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.

In-Depth: Bill would ban most foreign oil in California

April 4, 2022 – 10 News ABC San Diego

A new bill in the California Legislature would effectively ban almost all of the foreign oil imported into California. Senate Bill 1319 would prohibit oil imports “if the source of the oil is a foreign nation with demonstrated human rights abuses… or a foreign nation with environmental standards that are lower than those in California.” State Sen. Shannon Grove, a Republican from Bakersfield, is the sponsor. She says the bill would help the environment by favoring oil produced in California, which has stricter environmental rules for drilling and oil production. “What you can do is produce oil under the strictest and most environmental quality regulatory processes to make it safe,” she says. According to the California Energy Commission, the state imported 56.2% of its oil from foreign countries in 2021. Alaska provided 14.9% of California’s oil. In-state oil accounted for 28.9%. Grove says the state should decrease its dependence on foreign oil to help the environment and the economy. Read More.

Tennessee bill to preempt local bans on fossil fuel projects nears finish line with modifications

March 29, 2022 – Nashville Public Radio

The preemption bill designed to expedite fossil fuel projects advanced Thursday after a 16-4 vote by the Tennessee House Commerce Committee — but not without changes. The latest version of the bill offers communities some ability to protect their water through Tennessee’s drinking water program via new amendments. “We were pleased to see those amendments accepted. But ultimately, the goal of the bill was to preempt local control, so that’s why we stayed against it,” said Sarah Houston, the executive director of Protect Our Aquifer. The nonprofit fought a proposed oil pipeline in Memphis last year because of its threat to local drinking water. Chairman Kevin Vaughan, R-Collierville, the bill sponsor, maintained that this bill, and thus new fossil fuel infrastructure, was necessary for the state’s energy reliability. “If you’re an opponent to fossil fuels or you want to see innovation and you want this country to change its energy policy, what better way than to seek a ban at a local level,” Vaughan said. Read More.

Award Nominee ‘Toxic Tours’ Maps Plastic Pollution Stories In Communities Around The World

March 22, 2022 – Forbes

“Toxic Tours” have been organized by environmental justice groups in their communities for decades. An online platform with the same name offers a window into the daily reality of frontline communities plagued by single-use plastic. The “Toxic Tours” platform stretches from sea to plastic-polluted sea and was conceived by #breakfreefromplastic member organizations who have been doing those real-life tours for years. They include Antwerp Shalegas Free, Center for Coalfield Justice, East Yard Communities for Environmental Justice, FracTracker Alliance, Friends of the Earth Scotland and Sierra Club Delta Chapter. The stories about plastic production were filmed by environmental justice groups from around the world, says Von Hernandez, global coordinator of #breakfreefromplastic. Frontline communities are invited to reach out and add their stories. Read More.

Chemical recycling: ‘Green’ plastics solution makes more pollution: Report

March 22, 2022 – Mongabay

A host of cutting-edge plastics processing technologies, known collectively as ‘chemical recycling,’ are releasing large quantities of toxic and hazardous substances into the environment. But the majority — while making fuel and chemicals — are producing no recycled plastic, according to a recent report by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). With over 240 million metric tons of new plastics generated every year, a growing global mountain of plastic waste now threatens to destabilize Earth’s operating system,  potentially closing the habitable window of climate and biogeochemical conditions that human civilizations have relied upon for survival over the past 12,000 years. The United States is one of the world’s top plastic producers, but less than 9% of what it makes is currently recycled, mostly through the established process of mechanical sorting and shredding. Read More.

As a Senate Candidate, Mehmet Oz Supports Fracking. But as a Celebrity Doctor, He Raised Significant Concerns

March 20, 2022 – Inside Climate News

When Dr. Mehmet Oz appeared as a guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox News show nine days ago to give his thoughts about the worsening humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, the celebrity doctor covered expected ground, discussing the plight of civilian victims of the war and the “dwindling” supplies of food, water and medicine in the country. But the conversation ended with Oz expressing his full support for fracking in Pennsylvania. Oz spoke from a town hall meeting in Hershey, Pennsylvania, where he is campaigning as a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate. Flanked by an American flag and the blue state flag of Pennsylvania, with a handful of supporters sitting behind him, their faces blurred out of focus, Oz talked about the grim reality of the war and the toll it’s taken on children in Ukraine. Read More.

Environmental Problems of Guernsey Power Station in Ohio

March 19, 2022 – FrackCheck WV

I met Kevin Young, a resident of Guernsey Co. Ohio, who’s life has been completely upended by the construction of the Guernsey fracked gas power station, owned by Caithness Energy LLC. This is the largest new fracked gas power plant in the US. The plant sits on top of an abandoned coal mine, which contains thousands of shafts that run underground for miles. To stabilize the mine, the company carved injection wells every 25 feet over the site and filled them with huge amounts of toxic coal ash mixed with what residents suspect to be fracking waste water. Fracking wastewater, also called brine or produced water, contains toxic chemicals and radioactive isotopes. For months as the mine was filled, toxic coal ash filled the air, covering every surface in Kevin’s home. Since construction began two years ago, his wife Marlene has been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. I saw the dust, which was very sticky and not like regular household dust. It felt like it had been stuck on with glue. This is what Kevin and Marlene were breathing. Read More.

Recent Press Releases

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

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

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