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It's been an eventful week in the Land of the Fracked.

Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection suspended a key provision of the air pollution controls for Marcellus shale drilling. That provision would have required the emissions from all the wells in an area to be regulated collectively instead of individually and would have meant stricter requirements. This change comes hard on the heels of Governor Corbett's lifting the ban on new drilling on state-owned land. That ban, ordered by former Governor Ed Rendell, had been in place for about 4 months.

The New York Times gave a huge boost to drilling opponents with the publication of a 3-part series on Marcellus shale drilling by reporter Ian Urbina. Among the revelations: the fracking waste water being "treated" at sewage treatment plants and then released into rivers just a short distance upstream from drinking water intakes. In the cases where test results could be located (documents also posted on the Times' website), the waste water contained very high levels of heavy metals and the radioactive element radium. One of these potentially contaminated drinking water supplies is in the town where I work. Senator Bob Casey and others have called for immediate water testing and water companies say they're going to comply.

In Arkansas where swarms of earthquakes have raised questions about their relationship to injection wells used for waste water disposal, the disposal of waste water in two of those injection wells has been halted, at least temporarily.

Is the tale of woe that is fracking starting to take a turn toward tighter regulation in light of greater public awareness? I earnestly hope so, but only time will tell.

Originally posted to Poycer on Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 06:33 PM PST.

Also republished by DKos Pennsylvania.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I can't leave out the Oscar nomination for (13+ / 0-)

    Gasland. Even though it didn't ultimately win, the publicity from the nomination was invaluable!

  •  Since Injection has/is will be stopped (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trashablanca, carolita, A Voice, Poycer, DawnN

    In Arkansas, 2 wells will be shut, we'll have to see if the Guy Swarm continues, or tapers off. If the quakes taper off then one might assume they were caused by injection, will will gain the attention of geophysicists the world over. Previous studies show liquid induced quakes are under M 1.2. The Guy Swarm has been 2-4 with the strongest of 4.7.

    If the Guy Swarm is connected to the injection of Fracking fluid, that would mean that man can induce not Mag 1.2 and less, but 4.7 and less. Scary thought.

    FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

    by Roger Fox on Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 08:01:18 PM PST

    •  Very scary! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      carolita, A Voice

      It will take much more research to determine whether there is a connection, but a moratorium is definitely in order until we can figure it out!

    •  Only two wells (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      A Voice, Poycer

      all of the others can go on with injections. And this moratorium expires in July. I don't know how much research can be done in 4 months.

      Arkansas does have a law on the books requiring drillers to disclose all of the components in fracking fluids, even proprietary mixtures. I hope they can get compliance without going to court. In any event, 4 months isn't long to demonstrate causation, particularly given the resistance the researchers are likely to meet from the companies.

      We saw how quickly even the suggestion that fracking fluids were involved in the massive bird kill in that same area got shut down. Any mention of it online (including here) elicited a swarm of people insisting it had been "proven" to be caused by fireworks -- a patently ridiculous claim in such a remote area. In reality, nothing was ever "proven," it just went away. The companies counted on the media ADD, and they were right.

      The reason they were the good old days: we were neither good nor old.

      by carolita on Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 09:15:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  USDA killed the birds (0+ / 0-)

        A rancher complained his feed stock was getting crapped on. SO the USDA poisoned the birds.

        Right - 2 wells, one is right on top of the quakes, the other maybe 2 miles away, My diary has a map of the injection wells and epicenters. ALso included are studies that indicate within 3 weeks max, the quakes stop. If they are caused by injection wells.

        FDR 9-23-33, "If we cannot do this one way, we will do it another way. But do it we will.

        by Roger Fox on Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 10:11:01 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Not exactly Battlestar Galactica (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    under the bodhi tree, Poycer

    although somewhat surprising, the verb "to frack" actually seems to be pretty close in both the mineral extraction and the BSG senses:

    • The energy companies frack the local shale, and
    • The people living there get fracked in turn

    You can't govern if you can't tell the country where you are taking it. The plot of Obama's presidency has been harder to follow than "Inception." -- F. Rich

    by mbayrob on Sat Mar 05, 2011 at 08:38:55 PM PST

  •  3 Craig Fergersson's new curse word.. Fracking (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    under the bodhi tree, A Voice

    in a more serious tone, on one hand I love that vast majority republican regions are killing themselves with fracking waste, on the other hand I hate that certain areas have vast knock on effects on other areas...

    like say Delaware river watershed fracking ruining the untreated drinking water of 9 million NY'ers.

    Oil shale technology is much more difficult than NG fracking but its that very delay that developed a smart dry solution to containment and extraction...  shame that they developed this solution to NG first.

  •  also this week ~ (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PAbluestater, Poycer
    The Delaware River Basin Commission approved a 30-day extension of the public comment period for its proposed natural gas drilling regulations on Wednesday.

    Satyagraha 2.0 ~ there is no force in the world that is so direct or so swift in working.

    by under the bodhi tree on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 12:45:49 PM PST

  •  some rather heated responses (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to the times article of the 27th

    Satyagraha 2.0 ~ there is no force in the world that is so direct or so swift in working.

    by under the bodhi tree on Sun Mar 06, 2011 at 01:54:27 PM PST

  •  In WV (3+ / 0-)

    we are in the last week of the legislative session and the gas industry is out in full force with robo-calls and full page newspaper ads painting the pending regulatory legislation as job-killing. It doesn't look good for a strong bill to pass.

  •  The EPA is moving into PA (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    PAbluestater, Poycer

    (finally) with a measure of authority ~

    In a letter sent to the state on Monday, the federal Environmental Protection Agency noted the state’s test results, but instructed officials there to perform testing within 30 days for radioactivity at drinking-water intake plants.

    It also said that all permits issued by the state to treatment plants handling this waste should be reviewed to ensure that operators were complying with the law.

    The E.P.A. asked the state for data and documents so it could check whether current permits were strict enough in requiring monitoring and in limiting the type of pollution the treatment plants can release into rivers.

    “E.P.A. is prepared to exercise its enforcement authorities as appropriate where our investigations reveal violations of federal law,” the letter said.  

    Satyagraha 2.0 ~ there is no force in the world that is so direct or so swift in working.

    by under the bodhi tree on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 06:08:52 AM PST

  •  I had to do a short research task (0+ / 0-)

    on Marcellus Shale for my job (transportation, btw). It turns out that injection is what DEP prefers, but there aren't enough wells in Pennsylvania. Thus, they put the wastewater in the wastewater plants which can't handle it.

    Check out DKos Pennsylvania!

    by terrypinder on Tue Mar 08, 2011 at 11:36:32 AM PST

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