Watchdogs Turn Up the Heat on Gas Drillers
The Securities Exchange Commission, the New York State Attorney General and communities across the country have upped their scrutiny of the gas industry as appalling information rolls in about the human health and environmental dangers from land based drilling for gas and the tactics of the companies that drill.
If the NC House of Representatives is considering an override of Governor Perdue’s veto of S709 the Energy Jobs Act (better known as the Dirty Energy Act by many), it should consider some important developments surrounding the highly controversial practice where hundreds of chemicals and millions of gallons of water are used to drill a minimum of one mile into shale deposits.
S709 would speed up the development of dirty energy and lift the ban on gas drilling in North Carolina, threatening the water supply of 1.1 million people.
Here’s some new information that matters:
• The US Geological Survey (USGS) significantly lowered estimates by the US Department of Energy (DOE) about how much gas could be recovered from shale. The DOE estimate was 410 trillion cubic feet in April, now the USGS estimate is 84 trillion cubic feet. The DOE used an erroneous methodology for its estimate. With 300 trillion less cubic feet available, the economics of hydraulic drilling (known as fracking) are in serious question – one energy research firm called it a ponzi scheme.
• This 300 trillion cubic foot revelation was followed by the Republican Governor of NJ, Chris Christie, agreeing to a one-year moratorium on fracking in his state.
• Then the Securities and Exchange Commission asked (not yet required) the oil and gas industry to confidentially disclose fracking chemicals and measures taken to mitigate environmental impacts.
• NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman subpoenaed several energy companies over potentially bloated claims made about the gas yield in shale drilling as NYS has over $45 million of its pension invested with these companies.
• A mysterious 5-page memo was found in Ohio that instructs gas lease buyers on misleading tactics to lure landowners into agreeing to drill on their property. This information has spurred a state investigation in these practices.
The heat continued to rise at a conference last week in Philadelphia where the industry touted, “this is red, white and blue energy.” The mayor of Pittsburgh, leader of the first city to pass a ban on fracking, was on hand to support hundreds of protestors. And closer to home in Pittsboro, a packed house listened to the former mayor of Dish, Texas and dairy farmers from Pennsylvania discuss the impacts of gas drilling on their communities.
If our representatives are reading the latest on fracking, they would be hard pressed to override the Governor’s veto. Republican Rep. John Blust who commented in June “I think it’s time to get cracking on fracking,” are you reading?