Monday, February 14, 2011

Response To The Attacks on Gasland

It has been disappointing to see the endless attacks on Josh Fox and Gasland by the paid liars for the natural gas industry. Up until this point I have been somewhat silent on the matter. However, this foolishness has really gone far enough. The natural gas industry acts as though, everything they do works as designed, and they would never take a shortcut in the interest of profits. Having a unique experience of dealing with several of these companies, I can unequivocally say, that is a lie.

Most of these companies will fight tooth and nail to keep from spending a few thousand dollars on a piece of safety equipment, but when they get sued, they will hire the biggest, most expensive law firm in town. In turn the biggest law firm in town knows that this is a case they will lose, but will bill the company fifty thousand before they settle. When I was growing up on the farm, my daddy called that "stepping over a dollar to pick up a nickel". Therefore, this whole idea that they want to be "good neighbors" is just another lie. They are only going to be good neighbors and responsible corporate citizens when they are forced too, or embarrassed into it. And when things go wrong they will shrug their shoulders and say it wasn't them and expect us to simply take their word for it.

The approach they are taking with Gasland is exactly the same approach as they have taken for years, but the average person never hears about it. Of course with the magnitude of Gasland, we all can see their tactics. I have read letter after letter from this industry disputing any claim that does not promote their product.

The natural gas industry keeps stating that the flaming water in Gasland was "naturally occurring" methane. They further state that the state officials in Colorado have validated this story. I am sure that there is "naturally occurring" methane. However, I have yet to see something like this in an area, that drilling was not present. In the matters that I am familiar with, there were other chemicals present that are not "naturally occurring". Don't forget that state officials said everything was fine in Niagara Falls, NY, better known as "Love Canal".

Our state governments bureaucrats receive below average compensation for their specialties, and therefore does not attract the top notch employees of any given field. If they should by chance get a "pick of the litter" employee, they will move on to something better, whenever something better comes along. Therefore, you likely have people running state organizations that simply would not make it in the real world, and certainly would not be in charge of anything. As Reagan once said "we are being governed, by people who cannot govern themselves". Unfortunately, these organizations are the ones that we depend on to keep us safe, and they are failing. I have seen failure at all levels in the State of Texas, but it is not isolated here. If you should ever be in the unfortunate position of needing a state agency to protect your rights, you will quickly see just how right I am about this.

For example we are monitoring the pollution in DISH...monitoring. The State of Texas has spent $250,000.00 on a permanent air monitor in DISH, that clearly shows that whatever is happening at the compressor site is not staying at the compressor site. However, after a year and half on the job, the benzene level at the monitor was the highest ever recorded on February 12, 2011 at 8:00 AM, and by no means do I think that the monitor reading was anywhere near accurate, most likely well below what was actually present in the area. However, they will do nothing about this, it has been well over a year, and I am not sure how much better off we are for it.

Another clear example is the private well water in DISH that was contaminated with drilling mud. The mud did not show up in the water until the gas drilling was started close to the home, it tested positive for all of the known chemicals in drilling mud, the Railroad Commission documents show a substantial loss of drilling mud during drilling, and guess what? The Railroad Commission found that this could not possibly have been caused by drilling...there are your tax dollars at work. Therefore, it is clear that our state organizations are not or will not protect private citizens. They are either not smart enough, do not have the experience, or are mandated to keep their head in the sand.

Our state officials are likely to get exposed by a plaintiff's attorney real soon. With all of the lawsuits out there, it is only a matter of time before they have will have to face depositions and an attorney that will bring down this house of cards they are building. I can only hope that we get some of them in a courtroom, where their testimony will become a matter of public record. This will clearly show that we have the bottom 10 percent in our state governments. Many of the state agencies involved in DISH, have brought their dog and pony show to the citizens of DISH. They acted as though they were talking down to bunch of country bumpkins. However, these country bumpkins shredded these highly educated skilled state employee to bits, and made them look like fools (there are some youtube videos out there of the meetings). It was not long before they were looking for the door. Most of the state agencies will no longer allow their employees to attend a DISH town meeting.

This idea that methane seepage from a natural gas well could not cause someone to ignite their water, and this is only caused by "naturally occurring" methane, is a bold face lie. Several agencies have found that methane has seeped into aquifer from a gas well, including Dimock, PA and Parker County, TX, just to mention a few. The same industry reps that are attacking Josh, have stated on camera, that if gas wells casings are not properly installed they will be compromised, and further acknowledge the importance of the gas well being properly cased. Internal industry documents also show that improperly cased wells can allow the "product to escape". Therefore, for them to state that this is naturally occurring is a lie. Also, it wasn't like there was only one family that could light there water on fire in Gasland, there were numerous people that could do this trick, all in areas of active drilling, and all had other chemicals present. Maybe the paid liars forgot to mention that.

Having been intimately involved with this industry a couple of things are very apparent, one of which is that they never do things the way that they are supposed to, and the other is that the "company suits" have no idea what happens on the ground. For example, Enterprise Texas Pipeline, which is the same company that killed an employee in the Mont Belvieu, TX when their gas processing plant exploded recently, installed a pipeline in DISH a couple of years ago. When this line was installed, after of course they took the land against the will of the property owners, they did nothing that they agreed to do in the easement agreement. For example, sufficient fencing was to be installed around the trenches to prevent livestock from getting killed or injured. This was part of the easement agreement or the contract with the property owners, and they did not comply with this. They also crossed a creek, and were required to return it to its original condition, again they did not. After I brought this to the attention of several in the organization, I was set to meet with the officers of the company. They began the meeting by telling me that all of the concerns were corrected and would not happen again. Imagine their surprise when I slid several photos that had been taken right before the meeting clearly showing that they had not taken care of any concerns. What this shows is that first, they do not do what they are supposed too, can not follow simple instructions, and that the senior management have no idea what is really happening on the ground.

Many of the problems we have had in DISH, were due to reckless actions by employees on the ground. The releases, leaving condensate tanks open, leaving valves open, not recognizing pending failures, intentional releases, etc. On many occasions I asked myself, "can these guys do anything right". In my view, they either do not have or do not follow established procedures when doing these jobs. I mean for crying out loud, they had a barbecue grill in the middle of a natural gas processing plant in DISH, how dumb can they really be? This reckless abandonment is not limited to the pipeline crews or companies. Tim Ruggiero has documented the entire drilling process on his property and has recorded many reckless mistakes that happened. Drilling mud spills, condensate spills, methane leaks, Braden head pressure, and these are just the things I know about. Tim has a much longer list of the simple things the drilling crews could not do properly. Someone used the term that this industry "could tear up a bowling ball with a fly swatter"...I agree.

The fact of the matter is that this process is a delicate process, in which everything needs to be done exactly right to work properly. When things are not done properly bad things happen, I know this and so does the industry. Does anyone remember Deep Water Horizon? When those responsible are not held accountable for their mistakes, there is nothing to encourage them to do it better next time. Even when they are fined, it is nothing compared to the profits made at a single location. Therefore, there is simply no incentive to do it right, or develop safer technology, and it has gone on for so long that it is ingrained in their culture. We have allowed this and propagated these actions for way too long.

The endless attacks on Josh are baseless, foolish, and as Tim would say either a lie or a half truth, like most of the other things that come from the industry paid liars. What Josh has done with Gasland is nothing short of amazing, and the attacks from this industry are not going to stop that. He gave a voice to people who did not have a voice, he helped people who no one else would help, and he helped bring a nation and quite possibly the world together on this issue. Sorry, the cat is out of the bag and no matter how hard you try to get it back in there...it is out. Growing up on the farm, my daddy would have described what this industry is doing to Josh in one word..."chickenshit"...and I agree.

Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX (940) 453-3640

"Those who say it can not be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it"

Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS: Reading email while the tap water burns

Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS: Reading email while the tap water burns

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Statement from Josh Fox in response to recent attacks by the Gas Industry

Dear friends-
Here is my response to the recent Gas Industry attacks. I hope you can spread it around! I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!!!!
Josh

AN OPEN LETTER TO JOURNALISTS FROM GASLAND DIRECTOR JOSH FOX IN RESPONSE TO ATTACKS BY GAS INDUSTRY

February 7, 2011 -- With the recent Oscar nomination of my documentary film GASLAND, Big Gas and their PR attack machine hit a new low in its blatant disregard for the truth.

In an unprecedented move, an oil and gas industry front group sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saying that the film should be ineligible for best documentary feature.

We are honored and encouraged by the Academy’s nomination. It is terrific to be acknowledged as filmmakers by the film world’s most prestigious honor. But perhaps more than that, I believe that the nomination has provided hope, inspiration and affirmation for the thousands of families out there who are suffering because of the natural gas drilling. The Oscars are about dreams, and I know that for all of us living with the nightmare of gas drilling the nomination provides further proof that someone out there cares.

Now Big Gas wants to take that away, as they have shattered the American dream for so many.
GASLAND exposes the disaster being caused across the U.S. by the largest domestic natural gas drilling campaign history and how the contentious Halliburton-developed drilling technology called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking threatens the water supply of millions.

Fracking is a whole-scale industrialization process that pumps millions of gallons of toxic material directly into the ground. Thousands of documented contamination cases show the harmful chemicals used have been turning up in people's water supplies in fracking areas all over the map.

We stand behind the testimonials, facts, science and investigative journalism in the film 100 percent. We have issued a point-by-point rebuttal of the group’s claims (“Affirming Gasland”), posted on our website: www.gaslandthemovie.com.

It’s not just us they’re after. The gas industry goes after anyone who tries to punch a hole in their lie. Last week the same pro-drilling group, Energy in Depth (EID), attacked an investigative piece on drilling pollution by ProPublica, the highly credible public interest journalism organization.

And just last week, T. Boone Pickens, the most visible promoter of gas fracking, went on The Daily Show claiming that he personally has fracked over 3,000 wells and never witnessed any contamination cases, even when Jon Stewart asked him about GASLAND point blank. He simply stated over and over again the industry lie, that fracking is safe. Not a single word of acknowledgement, or responsibility for the claims of thousands and the threat posed to millions.

The gas industry believes it can create a new reality in which their nationwide onshore drilling campaign isn’t a disaster. But no amount of PR money or slick ads can keep the stories of contamination coming from thousands of Americans from being any less true.

On Monday, Congressional investigators called out frackers for pumping millions of gallons of diesel fuel directly into the ground, exposing drinking water sources to benzene and other carcinogens. This makes EID’s specious and misleading attack on the science and data in GASLAND especially ironic since Halliburton stonewalled Congressman Henry Waxman’s investigation into fracking, refusing to provide data on their use of diesel and other harmful chemicals injected in the fracking process.

There are major watershed areas providing water to millions of Americans that are at risk here, including the watershed areas for New York City and Philadelphia. The catastrophe has been widely covered not only in GASLAND, but also by hundreds of news stories, films and TV segments. This is a moment of crisis that cannot be understated.

Even before its release, the power of the film was not lost on the industry. In the March 24th edition of the Oil and Gas Journal, Skip Horvath, the president of the Natural Gas Supply Association said that GASLAND is “well done. It holds people’s attention. And it could block our industry.”
GASLAND was seen by millions and I personally toured with the film to over 100 cities. In affected areas, people came to the screenings with their contaminated water samples in tow. They came to have the truth they know shared and confirmed

As Maurice D. Hinchey, U.S. Representative (NY-22) recently said, “Thanks to GASLAND and the millions of grassroots activists across the country, we finally have a counterweight to the influence of the oil and gas industry in our nation's capital."

Big Gas is blocking the truth in their pursuit of hundreds of billions of dollars of profit. Their clear goal is to ensure our nation remains addicted to fossil fuels for the rest of this century. They seek to stifle the development of truly renewable energy.

They’re playing dirty in more ways than one, attacking the film and the testimonials and science in it instead of taking responsibility and addressing the contamination, destruction and harm that they are creating. I now know how the people in my documentary feel, to have the things they know to be true and the questions they are raising so blatantly discounted and smeared. It is truly unfortunate that the gas-drilling industry continues to deny what is so obvious to Americans living in gaslands across the nation.

Josh FoxDirector, GASLAND
www.gaslandthemovie.com
Media Contact: Josh Baran – jcbaran@gmail.com – 917-797-1799
Josh Fox is based in New York City and will be in Washington, D.C. on February 17. He is available for interviews. DVD screeners for the media are available.Share
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GASLAND NOMINATED FOR BEST DOCUMENTARY OSCAR!http://www.gaslandthemovie.com
GASLAND out on DVD available NOW!
Buy it on Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Gasland-Josh-Fox/dp/B0042EJD8A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1294692880&sr=8-1

Barnett Shale: Explosions rock Texas natural gas facility

Barnett Shale: Explosions rock Texas natural gas facility

Thirty lawmakers ask Perry to declare funding for Barnett Shale air monitors a legislative emergency (Updated) - PoliTex

Thirty lawmakers ask Perry to declare funding for Barnett Shale air monitors a legislative emergency (Updated) - PoliTex

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Dallas Observer Article

http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2011/02/oscar-nominated_gasland_direct.php#

Gas Drilling Technique is Labeled Violation

January 31, 2011
Gas Drilling Technique Is Labeled Violation

By TOM ZELLER Jr.Oil and gas service companies injected tens of millions of gallons of diesel fuel into onshore wells in more than a dozen states from 2005 to 2009, Congressional investigators have charged. Those injections appear to have violated the Safe Water Drinking Act, the investigators said in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency on Monday.

The diesel fuel was used by drillers as part of a contentious process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves the high-pressure injection of a mixture of water, sand and chemical additives ­ including diesel fuel ­ into rock formations deep underground. The process, which has opened up vast new deposits of natural gas to drilling, creates and props open fissures in the rock to ease the release of oil and gas.

But concerns have been growing over the potential for fracking chemicals ­ particularly those found in diesel fuel ­ to contaminate underground sources of drinking water. “We learned that no oil and gas service companies have sought ­ and no state and federal regulators have issued ­ permits for diesel fuel use in hydraulic fracturing,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman of California and two other Democratic members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, in the letter. “This appears to be a violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

Oil and gas companies acknowledged using diesel fuel in their fracking fluids, but they rejected the House Democrats’ assertion that it was illegal. They said that the E.P.A. had never properly developed rules and procedures to regulate the use of diesel in fracking, despite a clear grant of authority from Congress over the issue.

“Everyone understands that E.P.A. is at least interested in regulating fracking,” said Matt Armstrong, a lawyer with the Washington firm Bracewell & Giuliani, which represents several oil and gas companies. “Whether the E.P.A. has the chutzpah to try to impose retroactive liability for use of diesel in fracking, well, everyone is in a wait-and-see mode. I suspect it will have a significant fight on its hands if it tried it do that.”

Regardless of the legal outcome, the Waxman findings are certain to intensify an already contentious debate among legislators, natural gas companies and environmentalists over the safety of oil and gas development in general, and fracking in particular. Oil services companies had traditionally used diesel fuel as part of their fracturing cocktails because it helped to dissolve and disperse other chemicals suspended in the fluid. But some of the chemical components of diesel fuel, including toluene, xylene and benzene, a carcinogen, have alarmed both regulators and environmental groups.

They argue that some of those chemicals could find their way out of a well bore ­ either because of migration through layers of rock or spills and sloppy handling ­ and into nearby sources of drinking water. An E.P.A. investigation in 2004 failed to find any threat to drinking water from fracking ­ a conclusion that was widely dismissed by critics as politically motivated. The agency has taken up the issue again in a new investigation started last year, although the results are not expected until 2012 at the earliest.

The House committee began its own investigation in February last year, when Democrats were in the majority. In Monday’s letter, Mr. Waxman, along with Representatives Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Diana DeGette of Colorado, said that they were so far “unable to draw definitive conclusions about the potential impact of these injections on public health or the environment.” Still, the investigators said that three of the largest oil and gas services companies ­ Halliburton, Schlumberger and BJ Services ­ signed an agreement with the E.P.A. in 2003 intended to curtail the use of diesel in fracking in certain shallow formations. Two years later, when Congress amended the Safe Water Drinking Act to exclude regulation of hydraulic fracturing, it made an express exception that allowed regulation of diesel fuel used in fracking.

The Congressional investigators sent letters to 14 companies requesting details on the type and volume of fracking chemicals they used. Although many companies said they had eliminated or were cutting back on use of diesel, 12 companies reported having used 32.2 million gallons of diesel fuel, or fluids containing diesel fuel, in their fracking processes from 2005 to 2009. The diesel-laced fluids were used in a total of 19 states. Approximately half the total volume was deployed in Texas, but at least a million gallons of diesel-containing fluids were also used in Oklahoma (3.3 million gallons); North Dakota (3.1 million); Louisiana (2.9 million); Wyoming (2.9 million); and Colorado (1.3 million). Where this leaves the companies in relation to federal law is unclear.

Mr. Waxman and his colleagues say that the Safe Drinking Water Act left diesel-based hydraulic fracturing under the auspices of E.P.A.’s “underground injection control program,” which requires companies to obtain permits, either from state or federal regulators, for a variety of activities that involve putting fluids underground. No permits for diesel-based fracking have been sought or granted since the Safe Drinking Water Act was amended in 2005. Lee Fuller, a vice president for government relations with the Independent Petroleum Association of America, said that was because the E.P.A. had never followed up by creating rules and procedures for obtaining such permits and submitting them for public comment.

The agency did quietly update its Web site last summer with language suggesting that fracking with diesel was, indeed, covered as part of the underground injection program, which would suggest that permits should have been obtained. But Mr. Fuller’s organization, along with the U.S. Oil and Gas Association, has gone to court to challenge the Web posting, arguing that it amounted to new rule-making that circumvented administrative requirements for notice and public commentary. The E.P.A. said Monday that it was reviewing the accusations from the three House Democrats that the companies named were in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act. “Our goal is to put in place a clear framework for permitting so that fracturing operations using diesel receive the review required by law,” Betsaida Alcantara, an E.P.A. spokeswoman, said in an e-mail message. “We will provide further information about our plans as they develop.”