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DEQ: ‘Nobody is owning up to it’

By Vickie Welborn • vwelborn@gannett.com • April 29, 2009

SPRING RIDGE – An unidentified substance that apparently flowed from a natural gas drilling site into a pasture is is being eyed as a potential cause of the deaths of 19 head of cattle Tuesday evening, according to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The contaminated area is … adjacent to the well that Chesapeake Energy Corp. is drilling on state Highway 169 near the corner of Keatchie-Marshall Road in south Caddo Parish. Tests to determine the nature of the milky white substance that had pooled into a low area could take a week to complete, Northwest Regional Director Otis Randle said today.

Authorities believe the cows ingested the liquid before dying. Tracks went to and from the puddles, a Caddo sheriff’s office spokeswoman said.

Chesapeake and its fracing contractor, Schlumberger, have denied knowledge of a chemical release on the site, Randle said. “Nobody is owning up to it.”

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More than 100 people crammed into an overflowing meeting room at the Federated Church Tuesday to hear what the state was going to do about problems created by oil and gas well drillers.

Sean Logan, the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s director, had few answers to calm fears. He failed to satisfy the concerns of more than 40 residents whose water wells were damaged by an English Drive gas well drilled in December 2007 that blew one house off of its foundation.

It was for these residents that he called the meeting.

In addition to Bainbridge residents, fire chiefs, public officials and residents came from neighboring communities and as far away as Highland Heights, Broadview Heights and Twin Lakes.

They wanted to see how the state responds to gas well accidents because they face new wells in their own communities.

Logan had no answer for Niki Kakoleck of Scotland Drive.

“What is the state going to do for me and my family?” she asked point-blank.

“I tried to refinance my house today and the bank told me my house has no value,” she continued. “My husband and I paid $180,000 for it before the gas well blew up. Now it has no value. I have to pay an attorney now on top of it.
“We’re on the verge of bankruptcy. I hired a sitter to watch my nine-year-old and 11-year-old so I could come here and hear what you are going to do.”

When Logan repeated that he was ordering a new municipal water line, she cut him off.

“This sucks,” she said. “You guys dropped the ball for me and my family.

Life in a hotel
“You don’t understand what we’ve been through. I had to live in a hotel for a week before Christmas with my kids and two dogs when the gas well blew up. My electric fence I paid a couple thousand dollars for was ruined by your temporary water line.

“The water delivery trucks have ruined my driveway — it’s all cracked now. I have to leave my garage door open two days a week and let strangers come and go in my house to fill the temporary water tank. I worry about the safety of my kids.

“The temporary water line freezes in the winter right in the middle of giving my kids a shower — it stopped. I had to wash soap from them with freezing cold water. I didn’t sign up for the gas well. I’m not getting any royalties from it. What are you going to do for me?”

Lou Wagner of Scotland Drive said he is more concerned about safety than the water line, which Logan said last week that the ODNR would install because drilling has fouled water wells.

“What’s going on with the trapped gas underground?” he asked. “Is it going to seep into my basement and blow up my house? We’re living on a minefield. Even if we had good water you can’t drink it if you’re dead.”

Logan replied that the gas is venting underground.

“Yes, it is — it’s venting into the aquifer,” a woman said as the crowd roared in laughter.

‘No evidence’
Logan said he does not have evidence that the gas is continuing to flow into the aquifer.

“But, you don’t have evidence that it’s not,” said another resident.

Although Logan said, “The buck stops here with me,” he placed most of the blame on the driller, Ohio Valley Energy for not moving fast enough to install a municipal water line.

He called OVE’s actions “egregious” and repeated his pledge of last week to order OVE to install the water line to the homes considered to be affected by the faulty gas well.

Several residents asked how they could find out if their home was among those deemed affected and entitled to the proposed water line. They did not receive a clear answer.

When asked when the water line would be installed, Logan said he would give OVE 15 days to submit a plan.

Last week Jerry Morgan of Geauga County Water Resources Department told Sun News he has seen plans for the waterline from OVE’s engineering firm, but it could take months to get it approved through the county and the Ohio EPA before digging could begin.

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Logan told residents the delay was with OVE.

Who’s to blame?
An insider told Sun News that state and county officials — not OVE –may be to blame for holding up progress on the waterline.

Last week OVE’s president Charlie Masters told Sun News that his company has been trying to bring in the water line since February 2008, but has met with resistance.

Tuesday night, Logan said his technical staff would examine independent laboratory reports on the “black goo” that is showing up in well water where gas wells have been drilled and fracted [sic].

This is a change from his stance April 7 when he said, “It seems to be naturally occurring in Geauga County water.”

At that time, he further stated “It’s well documented that there are problems with well water in Geauga County.”

County officials refuted that statement.

Loud boos
Logan pledged that he would push the envelope of the law to make OVE pay for monthly water bills homeowners would face with a municipal water line.

He was booed when he said although his department issues permits, it has no authority to slow down the drilling by slowing down the number of permits it issues.

He admitted that his department is understaffed and does not have enough inspectors to inspect new wells as they are being drilled, although current rules call for the inspections.

He further said his department does not have the authority to refuse a permit to OVE or any other driller that is caught using faulty practices.

“But you’re the only one who does have control over drillers,” a woman said. “We’re the people, and it’s time you stood up for we the people and stopped standing up for the gas industry.”

“You should just step up,” a man shouted.

Logan said he is working on legislation to change current laws.

State Sen. Tim Grendell and Rep. Matt Dolan attended the meeting.

Grendell told the crowd that he is working on legislation to bring back local control of gas well drilling, while Logan is working with the oil and gas well industry on his proposed legislation.

Attorney Dale Markowitz thanked Logan for meeting with residents. Markowitz also told Logan, “You’re on your last leg.”

Markowitz is representing the 40 residents and Bainbridge Township in their lawsuit against the driller and ODNR.

Dolan declined a resident’s request to speak at the meeting.

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The Daily Review, a Towanda, Pennsylvania newspaper, printed a truly regrettable editorial in their April 12 edition.  It was titled, astonishingly, “Give gas firms a decent chance to do right thing.”   I didn’t know such naivete was still possible.  And I can’t say I can remember ever seeing such smarmy pathos in an editorial.

The people of Bradford County, fortunately, are way smarter than their newspaper’s editorial board.  You can read their comments, as well as the editorial,  here: http://www.thedailyreview.com/articles/2009/04/12/editorial/tw_review.20090412.a.pg4.tw12edit_s1.2440910_edi.txt

This comment stood out:

“Finally, this editorial has opened up a topic of interest to me. Trust. I do not trust Chesapeake Energy. Its less than stellar corporate reputation is reported on regularly by local and national news media, and CHK has done several things to reinforce this reputation since they’ve been in Bradford County. CHK, as a company, is a warrior which uses its well-honed public relations as a shield, and lawyers as its legal gun-wielding army. Every contract presented has legal wording which are the equivalent of burdocks and oil. The burdocks are there so that the contract sticks to you if they want it to, but the oil is there so that CHK can slip out at their discretion. How many people last year thought they had a lease with CHK, just to find that they didn’t? In how many cases did independent landmen (not CHK, of course) lie, evade, or misrepresent facts in order to get a signed lease for CHK’s benefit?

“I went to the March 5th CHK presentation in Athens and was impressed by the people I met.
One of the reasons that I was impressed by the CHK people was that from my corporate training of many years, I recognize consummate professionals upon sight, and the group fit the bill perfectly.

“When I came home I did a little research, and found out why the image had been so impressive. Two of the individuals were media professionals, having worked until just a few years ago for the prestigious Charles Ryan Associates in Charleston. One of these individuals plus another who will be coming to Towanda as the Central Bradford Progress Authority dinner speaker on April 16th are registered lobbyists in the state of West Virginia representing Chesapeake. These are people who are both media and law savvy. Nothing wrong with this, but the average resident in Bradford County needs to know the level of skill and experience of the persons he is working with.

“I found the third individual truly humorous and likeable. He explained that he had previously worked for Columbia Natural Resources and was absorbed into Chesapeake along with the office furniture. After my research, I learned that he, along with Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon, spoke at the glitzy, WV governor-attended 8/23/07 Chesapeake announcement of its planned Charleston WV Eastern Regional HQ building which was an investment of 40 million dollars in Charleston WV. But something bad happened. On May 22nd, 2008, the full verdict including financial damages were announced for Chesapeake’s loss of a WV Supreme Court Case over cheating landowners out of royalties (which it took liability for when it bought out CNR). On May 29th, only seven days later, the true nature of CHK was apparent when its CEO Aubrey McClendon announced that CHK axed the plans for the eastern regional headquarters as a result of the outcome of the state Supreme Court case. Vindictive behavior, no apologies, true reason revealed. CHK knows that the money it has can buy justice, and if it doesn’t, it will retaliate. No big surprise, then, that on 3/2/09, just a few days before the Athens CHK public meeting, CHK announced cutting out 215 jobs in Charleston and demoting the Charleston regional corporate headquarters to a regional field office. Further retaliation against a state government that was clearly not influenced by money.

“On 3/5/09 in Athens, the professional faces of the CHK trio showed no hint of emotion at the CHK Charleston job cuts which must have been troubling them. Even the humorous fellow, a Charleston native who had been inherited by CHK along with the CNR landowner royalty-cheating liability and the office furniture, who had been involved in proudly announcing the Eastern Regional HQ building in his hometown, who had lived through the axing of the building and now was surviving the axing of the jobs, kept his mask on securely. Only 3 days after the public announcement, any pain he or the others must have felt masked by professionalism, the CHK media show at Athens went on flawlessly. Good corporate soldiers doing battle on the front line for a flawed Napoleonic leader.

“Just axing the building plans and jobs isn’t enough for a vindictive CHK CEO. In 2007, a CHK cheap shot against WV had been made in the early days of the lawsuit, this one against hopeful royalty owners. Here’s a quote I picked up from the net.

“’We’re just finishing up the first large three-dimension seismic survey ever shot in West Virginia which, ironically is in Roane County (the county where the lawsuit was filed originally),’ McClendon said. ‘So we’re kind of scratching our heads about what to do with it.  We own most of this acreage already — it’s called ‘held by production by shallower wells,’ he said. ‘So in terms of timing, if we want to sit on this for the next 20 or 30 years, we can certainly do that. I’m not willing at this point to commit to a big new exploration program in the state of West Virginia when I don’t know how the leases that I’ve inherited are going to be interpreted by judges across the state.’

“A comment on a fourth fellow at the 3/5/09 meeting, who presented himself as the new CHK local Tunkhannock recruit. A former Chief of Staff to Lisa Baker, he has a long resume of PA state government experiences. CHK has a desire to manage its relationship with state governments productively. I am sure his contacts will be useful to CHK. The only PA lobbyist I could find listed for Chesapeake in PA is a Robert J. Wilson of the Sandstone Group out of Kansas. I have to wonder whether Chesapeake has some new local lobbyists in mind? Now that same local fellow is recommending that we don’t post and bond. I am left wondering why. What is in it for CHK? I only know, I cannot recognize the burdocks and oil in a legal document. The army of CHK lawyers, armed with their legal guns, will insure that you don’t win. I’ve come to the conclusion that it almost doesn’t matter what the document you sign with CHK says. Their army of lawyers can twist and spin words and meanings, and CHK will win in any case brought against them. And if they don’t, they’ll be hell to pay.

“The plans for the prestigious Charleston Eastern Regional Headquarters are probably still available on their award winning architect’s shelf. If Bradford County cozies up to CHK enough, and the state of PA does likewise, maybe someone can convince CHK to plunk the building down in Towanda on Main Street in the borough-owned lot next to C&N. What a feather in our cap that would be! Maybe that’s what the Central Bradford Progress Authority has in mind as it cozies up to CHK at Thursday night’s annual dinner. Only time will tell.

“Chesapeake’s ethical position is self-expressed in great detail on its website. CHK gives money to good community causes and uses lots of media savvy and more money to shore up its reputation. It’s true reputation, however, leaves much to be desired. And I will not be so trusting as to lower my guard.”

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Saturday, 4/11/09

Calvin Tillman, mayor of DISH, Texas, writes:

Known as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” a SLAPP suit is meant to intimidate, exhaust and silence critics. Widely considered an affront to the First Amendment, 26 states and one U.S. territory have adopted some kind of statutory protection against SLAPP suits. Courts in two other states also adopted such protections, Texas is not among them.

I had never heard of the above mentioned term, until recently. I further found it was illustrated in a recent article in the local newspaper, the Denton Record Chronicle, when discussing Oil and Gas Industry threats. As mayor of the town that is the crossroads of the Barnett Shale, I have been threatened with litigation on numerous occasions, mostly for trying to hold the companies accountable to their promises given to myself and the other citizens here. You see as previously mentioned, they will do or say virtually anything to get their “nose in the tent”. After that getting them to fulfill those promises, especially if you do not have it in writing, can be very difficult. However, even when it is in writing, they will likely not give in easily. For example, we recently had a pipeline company come through here, Enterprise Texas Pipeline.

Enterprise did not meet many of the contractually obligated conditions, such as covering, or fencing around the 12 foot trench that they left open. When you complain to them, the first thing they tell you is that they will compensate you for any damages to livestock, property, etc. Now lets say you have a $ 25,000.00 horse, which some here do, and it falls into the trench and dies. You are legal bound to get payment for that horse, but unless specifically outline prices in the contract you will get offered $ 1,000.00 for your horse. If you want more than that, you have to sue them and spend $ 15,000.00 in legal fees. This illustration can be applied to anything, such as returning property to its state, planting grass, damages to surrounding property, etc. So you may or may not get what has been promise to you, even if it is in writing. Therefore, after you go through this process once you will be reluctant to do it again, because at the end of the day, they know how much it will cost you to fight them and they know at the end of the day you will not gain a dime by fighting them.

If you hear a company say, “we just want to be good neighbors“, be especially cautious, because the knife is about to go into your back. Also, if you notice the companies be especially nice and going above what they legally have to, there will be more to the story. They likely have plans to add additional facilities next to you, or they are trying to get laws passed that benifit them, and they want you to keep quiet. If you are screaming that they are a horrible industry, the lawmakers are less willing to give in to a sales pitch. They say things on one hand, and then typically act in a different manner. So here in DISH, I have tried to force the seven companies who have virtually destroyed our, civil rights, constitutional rights, property values, quality of life, and likely our health, to just do what they say they will do when they are forcing their “nose in the tent”.

On many occasions, as I have pointed out, they will say just about anything to get in without a fight. A fight takes time and time is money, if you hold them up for six months, they may loose millions in revenue from whatever facility the are proposing; therefore they make promises they never intend to keep, and if they do it will only be after a fight. Once a pipeline, compressor, or metering facility is connected and pumping gas, there will be a customer on the end of that line, and shutting down would mean not being able to provide that customer with gas. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that any judge would require them to shut down until they can install noise abatement, control odor, etc. Please note, that I am not suggesting that we shut consumer’s utilities off in the middle of winter, I am simply stating that these companies know the system, and are willing to abuse and exploit it to their full advantage.

Which brings me to the latest threat of litigation from one of these companies which is Crosstex Energy. Crosstex has done some good things here in DISH, and have been fairly friendly in doing. They would like to make one believe that this is because they are “good neighbors”; however, there is much more to the story. Crosstex attempted to sneak a compressor station into our community, without our knowledge. As stated above once they start pumping gas, you are at their mercy. A compressor can be constructed in a manner that makes as much noise as the air conditioning unit on your home or it can omit 80 + decibel of noise. Obviously, the quiet ones cost much more money than the noisy ones. Also, the quiet ones are enclosed, and are more esthetically pleasing than the open ones, which are hideous to look at.

So Crosstex tried to install the cheap one at our expense. However, although I am small town mayor, I do have a little common sense, so something did not seem quite right. So I took a look, and to my surprise, behind a grove of trees, was the pad for a compressor station. Therefore, I red tagged all of their construction vehicles and shut down the operation. I also called the local media to see if they were interested in this. Fortunately, the media was interested, so there were some photos of the red tagged vehicles on the front page of the local paper. This is when they sent the propaganda machine to quiet things down a bit.

You see at any given time these companies have multiple lawsuits against them, so bad press may fuel some young ambitious attorney’s court case against them. It also brings groups who have the same problems together. During the propaganda, there were multiple promises made, which have not been kept. For example, Crosstex stated during a public meeting that they were not going to put in a huge facility, only a “small building to house 600 HP compressor”, not the big eyesores we were accustomed too. However, they will only go so far as to say that they will never add on, but they sure won’t tell you the real plans. So, as things continue on, and the compressor starts pumping gas they come around with another small addition to the site.

When you push back a little they send the propaganda machine back. For me, there are many of these companies that have only designated people that are allowed to meet and visit with me, all others are forbidden from speaking to me. This is usually the best the company has to offer, and won’t slip up and tell the real story. Please note that their goal is not to be good neighbors, but to complete the company’s agenda. So now Crosstex has plans to install another facility that consists of two forty foot towers, which we here in DISH would compare to being snake-bit. Unfortunately, the State of Texas has given these companies extreme authority; therefore, at the end of the day, we will likely have another facility that brings two 40 foot towers. If that is not bad enough, we just ask that they be responsible, and give the town its full rights to require a permit, with reasonable stipulations, and they threaten litigation.

When the propaganda does not work, the next step is …”the bluff”. They wish to see how serious you are about putting up a fight, so they float the litigation option. When they find that this will not work, “the bluff” gets bigger. They will push the corporate attorneys aside for the high priced downtown Dallas law firm that everyone has heard of. These attorneys start by questioning whether certain ordinances even apply to their client, when there is clearly case law that says it does. Then they will state that the town has some how missed a step in the ordinance approval process, and therefore it is not valid, so it cannot be imposed on their client. You might call this rhetoric, because it has no basis, I am not aware of case-law to support these positions. However, it does run up your legal fees, due to your attorney needing to respond.

I must urge everyone to get a qualified attorney to handle any of these matters. You want them to respect the high-priced attorneys, but not fear them. If your attorney gets intimidated by the gas company’s attorney, you may want to be shopping for a new attorney. After you go through “the bluff”, they typically come to the table and attempt to mend the fences they just severed, by threatening to sue you. They know their rights better than anyone else does and therefore when “the bluff” does not work, they will do what the law says they have to do. If they sue, then the process stops, and that will hold up their project, and they will have to do what the law states in the end anyway, so they will do what the law says they have too when it comes down too it.

I suspect that they will weigh the cost of complying with your request, weigh the options of being successful in suing you, and do what is the most economical. For the above said threat, it only came after the message “Another Lie? came out, and therefore, I would speculate that they are really trying to shut me up. The town’s position is based on case law, and has a very good foundation; therefore, they are attempting to “SLAPP” me with a suit.

This message is getting long, but I have an illustration I would like to give you briefly. When the Town of DISH adopted its drilling ordinance, the local Devon Energy Landman, stated that they would comply when the courts said they had too. Some shots went across the bow for a while until the above stated person was banned from speaking with me. I was then passed to the next in line, and started taking with them. Of course, then the high-priced attorney got involved and followed the script above. However, at the end of the day, Devon Energy drilled numerous wells in full compliance with our ordinance, and frankly we have a very good relationship with them now, in comparison with the other companies. We have invited them to city functions, and they have sponsored events, it can be done if they want it to. That is not too say that our relationship will not sour in the future, but for now, I think both sides are content. The one thing that these companies have a hard time grasping is that people typically just want to be shown respect. When you show people respect, you typically get it in return, when you don’t, you also get the opposite.

In closing, I know at the end of the day we will likely have two more forty foot towers, but that does not mean that we have to like it, or be nice to those who continue to destroy our rights, or look for every avenue to protect the little we have left. Fortunately, of all the things that the State of Texas has given to them, forcing us to be nice and courteous to these people is not one of them. As far as “the bluff”, time will tell whether it is really a bluff or not. I may be served any day. However, in watching the various poker tours on TV, I have found that when someone gets low on chips, desperation sets in and they go “all in” with the first decent hand they get. That is where we are at here, that point of desperation, that we have nothing to lose, where no matter, win, lose or draw we have to do something. I urge everyone to educate themselves on their rights; this will be the biggest tool you have.

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”

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Natural Gas Pipeline Explosion

The explosion and fire near Alex closed down State Highway 19.
The explosion and fire near Alex closed down State Highway 19.

Associated Press

Start the slideshow

ALEX, Okla. (AP) — Two people were hospitalized after natural gas pipeline operated by Enogex exploded early Friday morning in Grady County.

Three homes were destroyed by fire after the explosion near Alex and State Highway 19 was shut down.

A man and woman in a mobile home were injured. The man was taken to a Chickasha hospital. His name and extent of his injuries weren’t immediately known.

The woman is identified as Mildred Hull and is reported in good condition in an Oklahoma City hospital with second- and third-degree burns to about 17 percent of her body.

The cause of the explosion isn’t known. Enogex and Oklahoma Corporation Commission inspectors have been sent to the scene.

The pipeline was built in 1975 and transports natural gas from wells northwest of Thomas in Custer County to a production plant south of Alex.


Interview with fire chief:


Grady County Fire Chief interviewed, says he could see it from his house 20 miles away, “A big massive, huge fire ball. The sound, it was unreal.”… “This is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. I’ve been in the fire service for 21 years now.” He says the initial explosion was only part of the problem. “Everything ignited from the heat, even the high line poles on the south side of the road ignited from the heat off that,” he said.  ”The other house across the road ignited from the heat.”

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Community Board No. 2, Manhattan, Resolution

Environment, Public Health, and Public Safety Committee
March 18, 2009

Resolution calling on the New York State Legislature, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and New York State Governor David Paterson to PROHIBIT DRILLING FOR NATURAL GAS WITHIN NEW YORK STATE.

Whereas, Natural gas exploration and production companies, and mineral rights owners, are interested in developing a potentially significant gas resource in the Marcellus Shale through the use of horizontal drilling and a hydraulic fracturing technique known as “slick water fracturing” which requires large volumes of water; and

Whereas, the State Environmental Quality Review Act requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to review the methods used while accessing this natural gas that’s located deep within the Earth; and

Whereas; We heard presentations from experts on this issue, among them: James Gennaro, Chair of New York City Council Environmental Protection Committee; Dr. Stephen Corson, Policy Analyst for Manhattan Borough President and lead author of the Borough President’s report on this issue; Jared Chasow, Legislative Aide for Senator Tom Duane; Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney for Earth Justice’s Northeast Office; Craig Michaels, Watershed Program Director for Riverkeeper; and Joe Levine, Co-founder of NY-H2O; and

Whereas, Our committee screened a film segment by Josh Fox showing recent destructive consequences/affects of this process; and

Whereas, Siobhan Watson spoke for New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and said the Speaker was keenly aware of this issue and hasn’t taken a position yet; and

Whereas, Matthew Borden spoke for New York State Assembly Member Deborah Glick to say she is entirely opposed to this dangerous drilling activity and he distributed copies of her public testimony on the matter; and

Whereas, over 70 people attended this Public Hearing, including board members of Manhattan Community Boards 3, 6, & 7; and

Whereas, Hydraulic Fracturing mixes water with sand and 250+ toxic chemicals; and

Whereas, the 2005 Energy Policy Act exempts companies who employ Hydraulic Fracturing methods from having to comply with many public health laws which were specifically written to protect our natural resources and well being (e.g. Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Emergency Planning & Community Right-to-know Act); and

Whereas, Chapter 376 of the Laws of New York State of 2008 streamlined the permitting process for horizontal wells that use hydraulic fracturing, allowing the development of natural gas drilling sites within Marcellus Shale in New York to proceed more quickly; and

Whereas, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Mineral Resources, Bureau of Oil & Gas Regulation held scoping hearings upstate for a Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, but failed to hold any hearings within New York City despite the fact 90% of our water supply comes from the Catskill and Delaware watersheds; and

Whereas, Chemicals contained in hydraulic fracturing fluids cause a variety of irreversible and catastrophic damages to the air, water, public health, wildlife, and integrity of local communities; and

Whereas, Hydraulic fracturing presents risks of water contamination during drilling operations and during the storage and disposal of millions of gallons of the water and chemical additive mixture required for each well that is created; and

Whereas, Hydraulic fracturing has resulted in contaminated water supplies in other states, including Wyoming and New Mexico; and

Whereas, No amount of careful planning and operation can guarantee that there will be no chemical spills that could flow into reservoirs, underground migration of fracturing fluids toward the water supply, or other accidents resulting from drilling operations; and

Whereas, If the water supply should be contaminated, the City of New York would be required by the Environmental Protection Agency to build and operate a water filtration plant, the cost of which has been estimated to be approximately $10 billion, which would be borne by New York City taxpayers; and

Whereas, Absolutely no evidence has been shown by any organization that fluids used during Hydraulic Fracturing can be completely filtered out of drinking water; and

Whereas, Council Member Gennaro has introduced Resolution No.1850 in the New York City Council that calls for a ban for drilling within our Watershed Area; and

Whereas, There is no possible remedy once contamination has occurred; and

Therefore let it be resolved, this method for accessing natural gas is FAR TOO DANGEROUS to the air, water, public health, wildlife and integrity of local communities to be approved by any Federal or New York State entity; and

Therefore be it further resolved, Manhattan Community Board 2 calls on the New York State Legislature, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and New York State Governor David Paterson to prohibit Hydraulic Fracturing drilling for natural gas within New York State.

Committee vote: Unanimous approval
Full board vote: Unanimous approval

Respectfully submitted,

Jason Mansfield
Chair, Environment, Public Safety, Public Health Committee

Brad Hoylman
Chair, Manhattan Community Board 2


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Thanks to http://txsharon.blogspot.com/2009/04/barnett-shale-industries-dish-it-out-to.html for this story:

From Calvin Tillman, Mayor of DISH, Texas
I continue to bring up the negative illustrations of the impact the numerous pipelines, compressors and metering stations which have forced themselves upon our small community. In fighting the last four years, it has been a hope of mine that at some point the assault on our rights would stop. However, it is becoming more and more apparent that the blows from this industry will continue. Many of you have seen the massive compressors, metering stations and pipelines that we have here. If you could have seen this area five years ago, the footprint was very small. Unfortunately, this sight grows more and more every day. Atmos Energy decided to put their facility here, and unfortunately for us, if you want to sell natural gas to Atmos, you are going to bring it here. Atmos really started this mess, as some describe, they were the camel’s nose in the tent, and from there it exploded and has destroyed the better part of 70 acres of good land. However, it appears as though it is only the beginning, as there is more on the way.

When one of these companies come sniffing around, they too just stick their nose in the tent, and send their paid liars to tell you that a small facility is all it is going to be…and then you hear the rest of the story much later. They tell you that there will be a facility that you will hardly even notice such as Crosstex energy told us a year and a half ago. They tell us that there will only be a small building, that houses a small compressor, and if that was the end, it wouldn’t have been bad. However, now they want to put in some other gas processing equipment that has a couple of tanks that are forty feet high…yes forty feet! So once again the Town of DISH, gets kicked, and they won’t even let us get up. Once they get through with their continued assault, there will be one of the other companies coming to share the bad news of their expansion. It seems as though there is little we can do to stop constant violation of our civil rights. How is it that a for profit company, can decide that we here in DISH are the ones whose property becomes worthless? How is it that our peace and quiet here in DISH is destroyed, for the greater good? How is is that we have to deal with natural gas releases in the middle of the night during a lightning storm (which sound like a jet engine at full throttle)? I foolishly thought that we had protections from these assaults, left to us by the founding fathers of this great nation. I don’t recall the story in the history books that told of the for profit company, who could destroy your way of life, you property rights, and quite possible your health, as many of you know better than me. I was not a great student, but I did manage to stay awake in history, how could I have missed this?

It has now become clear that “enough is enough”, is not a theory these companies believe in. They somehow have been given the power to violate the common people’s rights, and have taken it so far as to believe that they are justified in doing so. I wonder from time to time how they sleep at night? What do they tell there families when they go home at night? Do they tell them that they swindled someone out of there land? How bout the person that lost there retirement which they invested in the property that they threatened into signing over to them? Do they tell their families those stories? More likely, they tell them what good neighbors their prospective companies are, or better yet they tell the story of the great product, and how nice it feels on a cold morning, when that clean natural gas fires up. . Clean natural gas? Come look at the by-products of that clean natural gas here in DISH and judge for yourself. As always, I will do everything I can do, to soften the blow for the citizens here, but it will not be enough. It won’t be long before every camel has their entire body in the tent at our expense. As always, please share this with whoever might be interested.
Calvin Tillman
Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640

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All last summer, while groups and individuals were raising questions about impacts of the new gas drilling, DEC kept telling everyone who would listen that they had everything under control.   But did they?

*After* ProPublica and WNYC started asking pointed questions that DEC couldn’t answer, DEC wrote the following letter to oil & gas operators in NYS.

Read the letter and see if you think DEC was rigorously investigating before granting permits or carefully supervising operations, as they claimed in public.

In fact, read and see if you think DEC was investigating permits or supervising operations at all, let alone rigorously or carefully.

Or if in fact, they were out to lunch the whole time – and lying about it.


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Mineral Resources
Bureau of Oil and Gas Regulation, 3rd Floor
625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-6500
Phone: (518) 402-8056 • FAX: (518) 402-8060
Website: www.dec.ny.gov
July 11, 2008
Re: Hydraulic Fracturing of Shale Formations for Gas Production
Dear [Operator]:
As you aware, there has been much focus in the press and at public forums recently on potential environmental impacts associated with anticipated hydraulic fracturing of horizontal shale wells expected to commence drilling in the coming months. Frac fluid volumes may exceed descriptions in the Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program, which found that the action of drilling an individual well, including stimulation, does not usually have a significant environmental impact. To address concerns regarding larger frac jobs, Department staff seek to compile factual data regarding the use and handling of fluids and materials associated with hydraulic fracturing of shale formations in New York.

The Department’s records indicate that you have recently permitted and/or drilled the vertical shale wells listed below. Please add any additional shale wells you have permitted or drilled in New York which you intend to hydrofracture or have hydrofractured, and provide the information listed below for each well by August 15, 2008. For any listed well which has not been or will not be hydrofractured, please so indicate. We are aware that vertical wells would not require the same volumes of frac fluid as would horizontal wells, but our understanding is that frac fluid composition will be similar. Please describe any anticipated differences, with respect to both fluid composition and fluid handling, between vertical and horizontal shale well hydrofracturing.

API Number Well Name Target Formation
[List of wells] [List of well names] [Formation name]

Staff’s intent is to summarize and reference this information in an evaluation of the effectiveness of current regulatory processes to address the concerns that have been raised. Should any of the responses indicate a need to strengthen controls on any aspects of use and handling of frac fluids, the Department will take appropriate steps to implement such improved controls.
1. Volume and source of fresh water which was or will be used to complete/stimulate these wells.
2. Name, address and contact information for the service provider who designed the frac fluid mix, if not done in-house, and the same information for the service provider who actually performed the frac work, if different.
3. For any instances where water wells did or will provide the source of fresh water, describe construction of these wells, water volumes that were or will be pumped and frequency of pumping. For wells which have already been hydraulically fractured, provide information regarding any baseline water analysis you performed on nearby residential water wells, the distance to such wells and any known impact. For wells which have not yet been hydraulically fractured, provide location and depth information from your files, if any, for residential water wells within 2,000 feet of the wellsite, and the results of any known water analysis or description of any baseline water testing you intend to perform.
4. Description of how each component of the frac fluid was or will be transported, contained and stored on the site, and of any mixing that did or will occur on site.
5. Composition, volume and form of each component of the frac fluid (excluding fresh water) as it arrived or will arrive on the site, prior to any on-site mixing, with concentrations of the fluid constituents expressed in ?g/liter. Please also state any BTX concentrations in parts per billion as well, and specifically state whether diesel fuel was or will be included in the frac fluid.
6. Composition and volume of frac fluid as it was or will be injected, after any mixing, with concentrations expressed in ?g/liter.
7. For wells which have already been hydraulically fractured, flowback volume and results of any analysis that was done on the returned fluids with concentrations expressed in ?g/liter. Please combine the response to this and the previous item in tabular or spreadsheet format.
8. Results of radioactivity testing at the wellsite if any was done.
9. Material and safety data sheets for all frac fluid additives. If you have already provided MSDS sheets to the Department, a notation to that effect will suffice.
10. Sizes and liner specifications of any pits that were or will be used for frac and/or flowback fluid storage on site. Pit liner specifications include trade name of the liner product used, material, thickness, tensile properties, low temperature cold crack, seam strength, and tearing strength. As applicable, describe the method to seal pit liner seams or indicate that the pit liner consisted of one continuous sheet. Describe equipment and procedures that were or will be used to ensure pit liner integrity, including any diverters or baffles. State the length of time that frac and/or return fluids were or will be stored in on-site pits. If tanks were or will be used instead of pits for any
step of the process, please so indicate and provide details.
11. Description of how returned fluids were or will be removed from the site and their ultimate disposition. Specifically identify and provide the location of any ultimate disposal site.
12. Actual or estimated duration of each phase of operations including site construction, drilling, water hauling, hydrofracturing, flowback, disposal of spent frac fluids, and pit reclamation.
13. Actual or estimated duration of well testing and description of actual or estimated impacts to adjacent residents, particularly potential for noise impacts during an extended test.
14. For wells where hydraulic fracturing has already occurred, detail any complaints received from nearby residents, the public, or local governments, the results of your investigation of such complaints, and how they were resolved.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions regarding this request. I look forward to your full response by August 15, 2008. Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation.
[Chief, Permits Section


For the newspaper article that broke the story of the DEC’s incompetence and inattention – the interviews for which apparently spurred DEC to finally ask their industry pals what they’d been up to lately, click:  http://www.propublica.org/feature/new-yorks-gas-rush-poses-environmental-threat-722