MONDAY FRACK MEETING IN GOLDEN
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is hosting a public forum in Golden Monday to discuss fracking techniques on public lands in Colorado. The agency says the event is part of the Department of Interior’s effort to ensure that oil and gas development is occurring on public lands in an environmentally sustainable manner.
Monday’s forum will be from 4 to 9 p.m. at the Denver Marriott West, 1717 Denver West Blvd., adjacent to I-70. Agency officials will the techniques used in hydraulic fracturing, including public disclosure of chemicals used in fracking fluids. The question and answer session with the audienceshould be interesting
The BLM is responsible for all oil and gas leasing on all federal lands in the state, including the extensive natural gas fields of the West Slope, and the Niobrara oil boom in eastern Colorado.
Earlier this month, a congressional staff report prepared for U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., and other Democrats in the House of Rep-resentatives showing that 29 different carcinogens have been found in fracking fluid. Some of those chemicals include benzene, toluene, xylene and ethylbenzene.
The report says energy companies also injected more than 30 million gallons of diesel fuel or fracking fluid containing diesel fuel into oil and gas wells in 19 states. Read the next story to see where Colorado stands.
FEDS TAKING IN-DEPTH RE-EXAMINATION OF PRCESS
The Obama administration, which regards natural gas development as an integral part of its energy agenda, is in the process of forming a broad-based panel to examine potential risks associated with hydraulic fracturing (fracking).
The Secretary of Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), an independent advisory committee that serves Energy Secretary Steven Chu, has been given the responsibility of forming a subcommittee to study the issue. The subcommittee will be supported by the Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Interior Department, and its members will extend beyond SEAB membership to include industry, environmental experts and states, according to the president’s blueprint for a secure energy future, which was released last week.
“The subcommittee will work to identify, within 90 days, any immediate steps that can be taken to improve the safety and environmental performance of fracking, and to develop, within six months, consensus [recommendations] on practices for shale extraction to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.” MORE …
COLORADO RANKS SECOND IN CARCINOGEN-LACED “FRACKING” FLUIDS
The state trails only Texas in terms of the number of gallons of carcinogen-laced “fracking” fluids used in oil and gas extraction between 2005 and 2009, according to a report prepared for congressional Democrats. It says 1.5 million gallons of fracking fluids containing a carcinogen were used in Colorado in the time period examined, compared with 3.8 million gallons in Texas and 1 million in Oklahoma.
It is important to note, however, that the report does not document concentrations of those chemicals, or that the carcinogens, including and benzene and naphthalene, have harmed drinking water supplies near the drilling sites in Colorado.
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is responsible for regulating the industry here, and its executive director reacted to the report with little surprise.
“Generally, we know what kinds of chemicals are in frack fluids,” said Dave Neslin, director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission told the Denver Post. “We’re still looking at it (the report). But from a high level, we know what they are and how they’re used and how they’re used in other parts of our lives.”
Not surprisingly, Rep. Diana DeGette, one of the national politians leading the fracking investigation disagreed, calling the findings alarming and a justification to require all companies to disclose to federal officials what’s in fracking fluid.
“It’s a chicken-and-egg problem. There’s no reporting right now, we don’t know what the harm could be,” she said. “We’ve had a lot of anecdotal information about people thinking they’re being harmed by frack fluid, but since we don’t have a reporting requirement, we don’t know what’s in there. We need to make sure this is all being reported in an open way.”
SHELL OIL PRESIDENT SAYS INDUSTRY NEEDS TIGHTER FRACKING REGULATIONS
Surprisingly, the President of Shell Oil agrees with DeGette’s position. “You are only as good as the worst operator in your industry,” Marvin Odum told an audience at the oil giant’s 2011 Energy Summit last week in Houston.
In order to address criticism and public scrutiny head-on, his company wants strong regulation of the practice, said Marvin Odum. He added that Shell will monitor its own wells carefully and disclose the chemicals used in its fracking fluids. Looks like the goal is to engage with critics and demonstrate to them that when well managed, fracking has benefits that far outweigh any harm.
ENCANA JOINS VOLUNTARY FRACKING DATABASE
“We’re joining www.fracfocus.org to voluntarily disclose fluids used in U.S. hydraulic fracturing operations,” the company said on its Twitter account last week, and included a link to Encana’s public stance on hydraulic fracturing.
Critics say the database doesn’t go far enough and, because of its volantary nature, relies too much on the good will of industry. Encana coming on board will help the momentum, which industry representatives say will gather steam as more companies join the national database and provide specific well information.
The project is a cooperative effort launched by the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission and the Ground Water Protection Council.
Encana is one of the most active natural gas energy companies in the nation, and recently announced plans to expand its Jonah Field operations in southwestern Wyoming by 3500 new wells, pending approval from state regulators. It is also heavily involved in the West Slope of Colorado and developing assets in the Niobrara play of Eastern Colorado and Southern Wyoming.
NATIONAL FRACKING UPDATE
New York — Prompted by the end of the public comment period for the Delaware River Basin Commission’s proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced yesterday that he will sue the federal government if it allows the DRBC’s fracking regs to go into effect without doing a full environmental review of the consequences.
Schneiderman announced his shot over the DRBC’s bow in a press releasse:
“Both the law and common sense dictate that the federal government must fully assess the impact of its actions before opening the door to gas fracking in New York,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “New Yorkers are correctly concerned about fracking’s potential dangers to their environment, health and communities, and I will use the full authority of my office, including aggressive legal action, to ensure the federal government is forced to address those concerns.”