Environmental Defense Fund

December 4, 2013

Strong Rules On Fracking In Wyoming Seen as Model

Source: The New York Times, November 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

In energy-friendly Wyoming, oil and gas companies are getting a clear message: Drill, baby, drill — but carefully.

Last week, state regulators approved one of the nation’s strongest requirements for testing water wells near drilling sites. The measure is intended to address concerns that groundwater can become contaminated from drilling activities.

It is the latest of several groundbreaking regulations related to energy production issued by Wyoming, which in 2010 became the first state to require disclosure of some of the chemicals used in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

”I am not going to accept the question of do you want a clean environment or do you want energy,” said Gov. Matthew H. Mead, a Republican who championed the water-testing regulation. ”The fact is that in Wyoming, we want and need both.”

Wyoming ranks about fourth among states in natural gas production and eighth in oil production, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

The new water rule, which takes effect in March, will require oil and gas companies to test wells or springs within a half-mile of their drilling site, both before and after drilling. The tests will measure a range of factors, including temperature, bacteria, dissolved gases like methane and propane, and roughly 20 chemical compounds and elements including barium, benzene, strontium and nitrates.

The rule comes after another measure that took effect this month requiring drilling companies to monitor for certain air pollutants at new oil and gas production sites, and fix any leaks. The requirement applies only to an area in western Wyoming that struggles to keep ozone in check.…

November 22, 2013

Environmental complaint added to lawsuit against Port of Vancouver

Source: The Columbian (WA), November 19, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Three environmental groups that sued the Port of Vancouver alleging its approval of a lease for an oil transfer facility violated state open public meetings law have broadened their lawsuit to charge the port also violated state environmental laws.

In their updated complaint, originally filed on Oct. 2 in Clark County Superior Court, Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club and Northwest Environmental Defense Center charge the port failed to follow the state’s Environmental Policy Act. The port’s failure is partly because it approved the lease before completing an environmental impact statement, the groups say in court documents.

The port denies all of the accusations. It says a state agency — not the port — is conducting the oil project’s environmental examination. It also says the open public meetings charges have little or no practical value because the port held a second public hearing and took a new vote on the lease.

The fresh jousting in court between the port and the environmental groups represents yet another development in the ongoing public strife over the proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to build an oil-by-rail transfer terminal at the port.

The $110 million project would be the largest such facility in the Northwest, capable of handling as much as 380,000 barrels of crude per day to be shipped to refineries. The lease involves 42 acres and is worth at least $45 million to the port over an initial 10 years.…

September 17, 2013

Bombshell Study Confirms Low Methane Leakage from Shale Gas

Source: http://energyindepth.org, September 16, 2013
By: Steve Everley

For years, critics of hydraulic fracturing have alleged that “methane leaks” from development are not only astronomically high, but also make natural gas from shale a climate “disaster” and “gang-plank.” But a new, highly anticipated report from the University of Texas and the Environmental Defense Fund might put that theory to rest – at last, and for good.

The UT-EDF study released today looked at 190 onshore natural gas production sites in the United States. During completion activities (including hydraulic fracturing), the authors found that emissions were “nearly 50 times lower than previously estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency.” Based on its findings, the researchers estimate that total annual methane emissions are “comparable” to EPA’s estimates.

The UT-EDF study’s findings (along with data from the latest EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory) suggest a leakage rate of only about 1.5 percent, if not less than that. That rate is comfortably below the threshold required for shale to maintain its obvious and significant climate benefits.

Background

In 2011, a few activist-researchers from Cornell University (Howarth, Ingraffea, et. al.) released a study purporting to show high levels of methane “leakage” from natural gas systems, including wells that had been hydraulically fractured. The Cornell study suggested as much as 7.9 percent of natural gas developed from shale was leaking into the atmosphere.…

February 7, 2013

Nontoxic fracking fluids being developed

Read here about the development of nontoxic fracking fluids being developed to address environmental concerns.

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December 27, 2012

Impact of fracking on air pollution still debated

Source: Vindicator, Youngstown, OH, December 26, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The amount of air pollution associated with hydraulic fracturing continues to be a point of contention among environmentalists, industry leaders and scientists.

Scientists have been divided about the potential air-quality benefits of natural gas compared with coal when fugitive emissions — gas that escapes from drilling operations — are included. Industry officials state that natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel available, while environmentalists have focused on methane being a greenhouse gas that, if unburned, has a greater impact on global warming than carbon dioxide.

A recent study published by professors Francis O’Sullivan and Sergey Paltsev from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology indicated that fugitive emissions of methane from fracking are about 0.5 percent in most shale plays. The highest ratio was 0.8 percent to 1 percent in the Haynesville Shale, because of its “over-pressurized reservoir.”

“Our main estimate of actual fugitive emissions is based on a ‘current field practice’ gas handling scenario, where 70 percent of potential fugitives are captured, 15 percent vented, and 15 percent flared. This we believe is a reasonable representation of current gas- handling practices in the major shale plays,” according to the study.…

December 26, 2012

In Barnett Shale, monitors make sure that the air we breathe is safe

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram, December 23, 2012
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Early next year, a sophisticated air quality monitor is expected to go into operation near O.D. Wyatt High School in Fort Worth, the 11th such device deployed to measure pollutants in the Barnett Shale.

The monitors, four of which were installed this year in Arlington, Mansfield and Rhome in Wise County, are part of a network of machines designed to reveal exactly what’s in the air we breathe every day. Some of the chemical compounds measured can be health risks, and others can contribute to ozone formation.

The recent expansion of state air monitors was announced in 2010 by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality after prodding by legislators. The 2011 Legislature allocated millions annually to install and operate them.

Since they’ve been in operation — decades for measuring ozone and other urban emissions, years for measuring compounds related to natural gas production — the data show two principal trends: Levels of chemical compounds related to natural gas development do not represent an immediate health threat and the region’s ozone has been steadily improving, although not necessarily as fast as in other U.S. metro areas and certainly not enough to comply with federal standards.

That’s not to say that there are no problems or that the monitors are perfect. Hazardous emissions do occur.

In the past three years, the Environmental Protection Agency has carried out 28 inspections of natural gas facilities in the Barnett Shale.…