EPA Decides Not to Regulate Fracking Wastewater as Pennsylvania Study Reveals Recent Spike

EPA Decides Not to Regulate Fracking Wastewater as Pennsylvania Study Reveals Recent Spike

SOURCE: DeSmog Blog DATE: April 25, 2019 SNIP: On April 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told two environmental groups that it had decided it was “not necessary” to update the federal standards handling toxic waste from oil and gas wells, including the waste produced by fracking. State regulators have repeatedly proved unable to prevent the industry’s toxic waste from entering America’s drinking water supplies, including both private wells and the rivers from which public drinking water supplies are drawn, the Environmental Protection Agency concluded in a 2017 national study. The corrosive salt-laden wastewater from fracked wells has been spread on roads as a de-icer. It’s been sprayed into the air in the hopes of evaporating the water — a practice that spreads its blend of volatile chemicals into the air instead. Oil industry wastewater has even been used to irrigate crops — in California, where state regulators haven’t set rules to keep dangerous chemicals like the carcinogen benzene out of irrigation water. If equally contaminated waste came from other industries, it would usually be designated hazardous waste and subject to strict tracking and disposal rules designed to keep the public safe from industrial pollution. But in July 1988, after burying clear warnings from its own scientists about the hazards of oilfield waste, the EPA offered the oil and gas industry a broad exemption from hazardous waste handling laws. The decision comes as a new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment, calls attention to the oil and gas waste produced in Pennsylvania for nearly that entire time. The oil and gas industry has...
A Fracking-Driven Industrial Boom Renews Pollution Concerns in Pittsburgh

A Fracking-Driven Industrial Boom Renews Pollution Concerns in Pittsburgh

SOURCE: Yale e360 DATE: March 21, 2019 SNIP: Pittsburgh is a city on the upswing, rebounding this century from its rustbelt past by developing more innovative sectors such as health care, education, and technology. Uber is testing its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh. Carnegie Mellon University is home to a world-renowned Robotics Institute. And the city made an aggressive bid for Amazon’s HQ2, which the mayor viewed as key to moving the Steel City beyond its roots in heavy industry. Progress toward a cleaner, post-industrial future is not linear, however. Although the air in Pittsburgh has dramatically improved from the days when it was one of America’s most polluted cities, it still contains high levels of hazardous pollutants. The rise of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas, now more than a decade old, has exacerbated regional air quality problems. Now, Pittsburgh and the surrounding area are embracing a new wave of industry tied to the fracking boom in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio. Nothing better embodies this surge than a massive, $6 billion ethane cracker currently being built 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh by Shell Chemical Appalachia, a subsidiary of the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell. The facility will process huge quantities of natural gas and natural gas liquids from the prolific Marcellus and Utica shales and turn them into the building blocks of plastic. The plastic pellets produced by “cracking” ethane molecules will then be sold to manufacturers producing consumer and industrial products such as plastic bags, packaging, automotive parts, and furniture. When it comes online in 2021, Shell’s ethane cracker will also add significantly to air pollution in...
B.C. left holding massive bill for hundreds of orphan gas wells as frack companies go belly-up

B.C. left holding massive bill for hundreds of orphan gas wells as frack companies go belly-up

SOURCE: The Narwhal DATE: March 12, 2019 SNIP: Nearly 400 kilometres north of Fort St. John is a large, leaking fracking pond owned by Ranch Energy Corporation, a Calgary-based company that went into receivership last year leaving 700 gas wells in B.C. and a sea of debt. The storage pond is filled with 113,000 cubic metres of sludge and water that may be contaminating soil and groundwater through a documented leak in its outer lining, according to the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission. Twenty months ago, the commission issued an order to Predator Oil BC Ltd., the company that sold Ranch the wells, to empty the pond and test for contamination. But nothing has been done. Ranch’s receiver, Ernst & Young, says it’s an expense the estate cannot afford. The story of Ranch — pieced together by The Narwhal from a review of receivership documents and B.C. Oil and Gas Commission documents — highlights some of the mounting financial and environmental problems created by B.C.’s fracking industry. And that’s even before a fracking blitz gets underway in the province’s Peace region, already covered by thousands of wells, to supply gas for the $40 billion LNG Canada project that will ship liquefied natural gas overseas. Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves the injection of large amounts of water and proprietary chemicals into the ground to release gas. When companies like Ranch become insolvent, the provincial government is left holding much of the substantial clean-up bill for the industry equivalent of a dine and dash. 300 to 500 Ranch wells could still be designated as orphans, leaving the commission responsible for additional...
Fracking the world: Despite climate risks, fracking is going global

Fracking the world: Despite climate risks, fracking is going global

SOURCE: Nation of Change DATE: March 5, 2019 SNIP: The U.S. exported a record 3.6 million barrels per day of oil in February. This oil is the result of the American fracking boom – and as a report from Oil Change International recently noted – its continued growth is undermining global efforts to limit climate change. The Energy Information Administration predicts U.S. oil production will increase again in 2019 to record levels, largely driven by fracking in the Permian shale in Texas and New Mexico. And the U.S. is not alone in trying to maximize oil and gas production. Despite the financial failures of the U.S. fracking industry, international efforts to duplicate the American fracking story are ramping up across the globe. As a major importer of oil and natural gas, it is no surprise that China is trying to exploit its own shale formations, which are rich with oil and gas. China is estimated to have the largest shale gas reserves of any country. However, China’s shale formations present different challenges than those in the U.S., including gas deposits at significantly greater depths. The CEO of Saudi Arabian state oil company Aramco recently dismissed the idea that global demand for oil will decrease anytime soon and urged the oil industry to “push back on exaggerated theories like peak oil demand.” But Saudi Aramco also is gearing up for a shopping spree of natural gas assets, including big investments in the U.S., and increasing gas production via fracking in its own shale fields. Aramco is deeply invested in keeping the world hungry for more oil and gas. Besides Saudi...
Is Drilling and Fracking Waste on Your Sidewalk or in Your Pool?

Is Drilling and Fracking Waste on Your Sidewalk or in Your Pool?

SOURCE: TruthOut DATE: February 21, 2019 SNIP: They’ve spread it on roads. They’ve irrigated almond farms and fruit groves with it. The oil and gas industry’s liquid waste has been used for a variety of commercial and industrial purposes over the years. But never has the “beneficial use” of this waste stream been so grossly applied, or so close to home, as it is today. Meet Eureka Resources and Nature’s Own Source. Both of these companies have attracted attention by processing liquid waste from oil and gas operations and creating commercial products for use in pools and on roads, sidewalks, patios, stairs or anywhere else a consumer may put it. Cargill purchased 4,700 tons of salt from Eureka between May 2015 and December 2016. One of Cargill’s meat processing plants, Cargill Meat Solutions in Wyalusing, Pennsylvania, is less than 10 miles away from Eureka’s wastewater treatment facility, and “processes about 1,500 head of cattle per day,” according to Cargill’s website. In an email, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) wrote that Cargill “advised the Department” that Eureka’s “[c]rystallized sodium chloride” is used by Cargill “to prepare and treat animal hides, resulting from Cargill’s meat packing operations. Cargill prepares the animal hides using one of Eureka’s salt products for commercial sale.” Eureka’s frack salt is also approved for sale as a pool salt. The investigative news team at Public Herald exposed that Eureka’s byproduct is packaged and sold as Clorox Pool Salt. Workers at Eureka’s Standing Stone facility package the salt in Clorox bags and pallet them for shipment via an “unnamed third-party distributor to be sold at regional stores...