Friday, June 17, 2011

UPDATED! Attacks on Josh Fox by Mike Knapp of Knapp Acquisitions-Vile Hypocrite Extraordinaire

It was reported recently in the news that a trailer on the land of the family of Josh Fox, (the director of the Oscar nominated film Gasland) was burned. You can read more about the incident here:

and here:

The Pennsylvania DEP gave the Fox family a citation for "un-permitted disposal/burning of solid waste". The fire, however is being investigated by police, and Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshall Russ Andress stated that the trailer was burned while Fox was on the road and "There's nothing to suggest either he or his family had anything to do with it". The fire is still under investigation but that has not stopped the people that are looking to profit from gas drilling in Pennsylvania to wage a media slur campaign to discredit Josh Fox.

In addition to the usual snarky campaigns waged on supposed misdeeds of the anti-drilling crowd offered up by Energy In Depth---the gas industry's biggest buffoonery of misinformation; a newcomer on the scene by the name of Mike Knapp, the sole proprietor of Knapp Acquisitions, (working out out of Armstrong, Butler, Clarion, Indiana and Jefferson Counties in Western Pa) has taken up the mission to add to this flurry of pro-fracking flotsam by discrediting the Fox family on Twitter and on his company website by offering up the following "letter" that spells out the grave hypocrisy that Fox has supposedly perpetrated on us all. Knapp writes the following: (you can download the original here: )

March 24th, 2011

Dear Interested Party:

We have recently obtained documents which show that Josh Fox, director of anti-natural gas drilling documentary
Gasland which won at the Sundance Film Festival last year and was nominated for an Oscar this year, has been illegally using his property (which he featured heavily in Gasland as a pristine nature sanctuary) as a dumping ground.

Damascus Township, Wayne County, Pennsylvania has issued multiple environmental citations and orders dating back as long ago as 2006, directing Fox to remove large amounts of junk, auto parts, scrap metal, used manufactured goods, and a dilapidated trailer from the property, warning specifically that burning the trailer would be in violation of clean air and clean water laws. Damascus Township officials inspected the property in August for compliance. Instead, they found the trailer burned and no trash removed.

Link to Township enforcement notice, with pictures:

Upon finding this, they notified the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) of the environmental violations. On March 4th, 2011 the DEP sent registered correspondence to Michael Fox, father of Josh and legal owner of the property. Fox failed to contact the DEP to remedy the situation.

Link to DEP notice:

Fox had taken no action until a story was released in the local paper documenting the above, at which point in time Fox called the state police to report arson. Fox claimed he was unaware of the trailer being burned. This is hard to believe as the property is rather small (20 acres) and the trailer in question was in close proximity to the main house. Regardless, the years of neglect and gross negligence on his part speaks volumes as to his true motivations behind “Gasland”.

Link to original news story:

Mr. Fox’s documentary has been widely dismissed by the industry, the scientific community, and state regulators as factually inaccurate, blatantly self-promotional, and disingenuous. Mr. Fox’s blatant disregard for the environment on his own property further solidifies the argument that his documentary is more about money and exposure for its director than seeking to truthfully inform its viewers.

We hope that you will help us to bring light to the truth behind Josh Fox and Gasland, as they are causing unfounded hysteria which is hindering the United States from its goal of energy independence and environmental reform which can be achieved by safely tapping into our domestic natural gas reserves.


Mike Knapp


Knapp Acquisitions & Production LLC

Kittanning, PA

Even if the Fox family was found to have perpetrated any and all of the "offenses" contained within this letter, it hardly translates to speaking "volumes as to his true motivations behind “Gasland”. Mike Knapp implies that Gasland is all about Mr Fox "making money" and getting "exposure". If Mr. Fox was only looking to make some money, I suspect he would have signed himself a big lease by now, or tried to start an acquisition company like his accuser and really rake in the bucks while having the same "disregard for the environment" as Mike Knapp does. How so? I offer the following:

On Mike Knapp's company website, he offers landowners a host of promises:

"We respect your land and your resources, and we value the environment as much as you do. We drink the same water and breathe the same air as you. We remember VIVIDLY how the coal industry treated the region, and we will fight to ensure that never happens again."


"There is no shortage of bad information surrounding natural gas well drilling and its impact on the environment. The fact is that drilling can be completed safely and with minimal environmental impact if done correctly. We support legislation and regulations that will hold drillers to the standards that will ensure our lakes and rivers will not be impacted negatively by natural gas drilling operations. The industry continues to address such misinformation and has made significant strides in solving the few valid environmental concerns that gas well drilling raises. Please see below for a plethora of good info, right from the horses’s [sic] mouth."

Mike Knapp says he is all about facts, regulations, protections. "Get the facts, all the facts are here", etc...well here are some FACTS about the drilling companies Mike Knapp works with some FACTS that the Pennsylvania DEP has collected on those drilling companies and their "commitment to the environment". Think your lease with Knapp is a safe bet? Think your farm and land will be protected? Think again.

Violations listed for the drilling companies he represents-- MDS Energy and First Class Energy :

For 2010 -MDS ENERGY had 6 violations and 3 Fines

4/6/2010- MDS ENERGY LTD in Armstrong County- VIOLATION #584594
Code 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2' freeboard in an impoundment

4/07/2010 Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty Fine: $ 26,000.00

5/14/2010- MDS ENERGY in Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587171
VIOLATION Code 102.4 Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec 206(c)(d)

Violations noted:
1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.
2- Inadequate E&S plan.
3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.
Culverts not properly stabilized which resulted in sediment entering culverts and eventually entering nearby stream.

Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty FINED $5,000.00 Aug.31, 2010.

5/14/2010 -MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587172
VIOLATION CODE 102.4 INADPLN Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec

5/14/2010 -MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587173
VIOLATION CODE- 401CSL Discharge of Pollution Material into waters of the Commonwealth.

Violations noted:
1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.
2- Inadequate E&S plan.
3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.

5/14/2010 -MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587174
401CSL Stream discharge of IW, includes drill cuttings, oil, brine and/or silt.

Violations noted:
1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.
2- Inadequate E&S plan.
3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.

5/14/2010 MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587175
VIOLATION CODE 691.401WPD Failure to prevent sediment or other pollutant discharge into waters of the Commonwealth.

Violations noted:
1- Failure to minimize accelerated erosion and sedimentation.
2- Inadequate E&S plan.
3- Discharge of Industrial Waste to the Waters of the Commonwealth.
Steady flow of sediment laden water exiting the culvert and entering directly into the stream.

05/24/2010 MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #587943 VIOLATION CODE - 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2' freeboard in an impoundment; freeboard limit exceeded in pit. Water level closer than 2' from top of pit.

5/24/2010 Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty Fine: $ 26,000.00

8/20/2010 MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #598511
VIOLATION CODE 78.60B Tophole water discharged improperly.
Discharge to stream Channel. Violation of 78.60(b)(5)


6/3/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #564197
VIOLATION CODE-102.4 Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec 206(c)(d)

6/3/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #564198
VIOLATION CODE 102.4INADPLN E&S Plan not adequate

6/3/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #564199
VIOLATION CODE 78.83GRNDWTR Improper casing to protect fresh groundwater
E&S and casing violations

12/30/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #579096
VIOLATION CODE 205A Drilling w/in 200 ft of building or water well w/o variance

12/30/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #579097
VIOLATION CODE 207B Failure to case and cement to prevent migrations into fresh groundwater

12/30/09- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #579098
VIOLATION CODE 210UNPLUG Failure to plug a well upon abandonment
No bldg. waiver, abandoned & Incorrect casg. & cement


1/22/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #531304
VIOLATION CODE: 201F Failure to notify DEP, landowner, political subdivision, or coal owner 24 hrs prior to commencement of drilling

2/01/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #534649
VIOLATION CODE: 201F Failure to notify DEP, landowner, political subdivision, or coal owner 24 hrs prior to commencement of drilling

4/29/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Armstrong County VIOLATION ID #537870
VIOLATION CODE: 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2' freeboard in an impoundment

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548244
VIOLATION CODE: 205B Drilling w/in 100 ft of surface water or wetland w/o variance

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548245
VIOLATION CODE: 102.4 Failure to minimize accelerated erosion, implement E&S plan, maintain E&S controls. Failure to stabilize site until total site restoration under OGA Sec 206(c)(d)

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548246
VIOLATION CODE: 102.4INADPLN E&S Plan not adequate

9/11/08- MDS ENERGY LTD Clarion County VIOLATION ID #548247
VIOLATION CODE: 78.56FRBRD Failure to maintain 2' freeboard in an impoundment

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

You can also read the following about Knapp's deal making with respect to landowners and leases:

Not a flattering portrait to be certain. Knapp is essentially a middleman looking to profit off everyone else's deals. He brings nothing to the table but inflammatory rhetoric and he and the drilling companies he works with are only out for one thing. Quick Money.

By their fruits you shall know them.

What is truly offensive about Mike Knapp is that he is so full of himself and his mission to make a quick buck that he rushes off to judgment about an issue that has less than nothing to do with the much larger and more important issue of the safety of gas drilling. Knapp then compounds that offensiveness by waging a public ad hominem attack on Fox and his family without just cause, and further, turns out to NOT look at the very LARGE and UGLY plank in his own eye by ignoring the very FACTS he claims to be so adamant about.

The FACTS are that the gas drilling companies that work with Knapp Acquisitions are NOT SAFE and NOT RESPONSIBLE for the environment and are ANYTHING BUT respectful of "your land and your resources". They DON'T in fact, "value the environment as much as you do" .

Knapp is nothing but a shill for the gas industry and for himself. A blatant liar and twister of information-- as evidenced by these continual environmental violations by his affiliates that make Mr. Fox's burned out trailer look like a gum wrapper thrown on the floor by comparison.

When they give out the award for the biggest hypocrite in the USA, Mike Knapp should definitely win. His latest attempt at a PR plundering of Mr. Fox has earned him the biggest booby prize for stupidity known to mankind. Energy in Depth and the other Marcellus Shale Shills will certainly be proud of him.

June 17th 2011

In the continuing saga of slanderer Mike Knapp, once again reading comprehension has been pushed to the back and foolishness has been given a front seat. Mr. Knapp somehow determines that Josh Fox being the recipient of a "speaking fee" is somehow disingenuous; Knapp posted on Twitter the following rant:

"#MarcellusTruth @gaslandmovie director Jo$h Fox charging $7,500 for speaking appearances, plus airfare. Must be nice!"

Mr. Knapp's first error was in his lack of ability to read the referenced document that he provided the link to, located HERE. In it, anyone with a modicum of intelligence can read the FACT that Mr. Fox usually charges $7500 but would be accepting the amount of $5000 plus $300 for airfare for this particular speaking engagement at a college. So once again, Mr. Knapp has created a slanderous posting and passed it off as what he terms "marcellus truth"...whatever that means. Anyone that can READ knows that Mr. Knapp's post does NOT read as truth but rather is slander and lies to discredit Mr. Fox.

Mr. Knapp makes the further error of somehow deeming a $7500 speaking fee as being excessive. A quick search on the internet turns up a document here that demonstrates that speaking fees can vary from $1000 to over $100,000 depending on the speaker, the venue, and the subject. The fact that Mr. Fox is at the LOW end of this spectrum is even more evidence that Mr. Knapp is nothing short of a slanderer, and a pretty boneheaded one at that, because he compounds his rhetoric without checking simple facts beforehand--a true sign of someone desperate to discredit at any cost.

The facts are that Mr. Fox should charge a reasonable fee, as he IS, in FACT an Oscar nominated director, which is not much different than being an author or an actor that was called upon to speak at a college. The reality actress Snooki was paid $32,000 to speak at a college and I am certain that whatever she said had nothing to do with the future of our environment, making what Mr. Fox has to say a bargain at any price.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Finally, Some Honesty in the Natural Gas Industry

James (Chip) Northrup, a former gas/oil industry manager, discusses some of the major problems of using high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (hydrofracking) gas drilling methods in New York State, one of them being the risk of gas migration through faults in NY State rock formations. Many of these faults are un-mapped and drillers would not be able to determine in advance where these faults might be, posing a great risk to anyone within sight of a drill rig, and maybe even miles away. NY State also gets the occasional earthquake; earthquakes can crack casings, or form new cracks in the existing formation that was fractured, and thereby allow seepage of gas into drinking water. Rock is not solid. It moves. So if any gas drillers out there think they can predict where rock is going to move and how, they should go out to California and help out the folks trying to predict where the next earthquake is going to happen. There was also a recent story about fracking CAUSING earthquakes to happen, so NY State had better take a hard look at this video before it decides any type of high-volume horizontal hydrofracturing is SAFE, both today and in the future when the earth moves.

Thanks to Sustainable Otsego for providing this video-visit them HERE and HERE for more info

James Northrup - (Full 27 Minutes) from Sustainable Otsego on Vimeo.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Oil and Gas Anonymous- Join Today!

Many people have spoken of our "addiction" to fossil fuels and it appears that our dependence on oil and gas can be likened to an addiction in that we seem to deny that we have problem with respect to the damage that has been done to the environment over the many years due to the use of fossil fuels. It is true that petroleum has given us so much...everything from this keyboard I am typing on to the ability of you to see this blog post. The technology that brought us all of the trappings of modern society was made possible by our use of fossil fuels...but like any drug, there is great harm that can be overshadowed by the great good that it does.

Vicodin relieves pain, but continual use of this wonder drug, that has given life back to countless people, can also cause addiction, damage to the body and brain, and death. So too, with fossil fuels. We have had a wonderful run with this technology, but the time has come for us as a nation and as a world, to start saying admit that we have a problem. That is the first step in any addiction, and this addiction to oil and gas is no different. Once we admit that we have a problem with the continued use of fossil fuels then we can all work toward finding the best alternatives, and putting all efforts into making certain that we can get off these addictive drugs. The recent Gulf oil spill should be a turning point for us. It should demonstrate that going for the "difficult to get at" oil may not be worth it both in monetary and environmental terms. Our futures and future health of this planet should not be dictated to by the oil and gas industry nor by those that seek to make this a "slow transition" or advocate "bridge fuels". That is like telling an alcoholic to "try and drink less". It doesn't work. We have to go cold turkey, meaning that we have to make the hard choice to do whatever it takes to come up with a better idea. And maybe we all need to enroll in OGA...Oil and Gas Anonymous and start doing the 12 Steps....

1. We must admit we are powerless over oil and gas— and that our lives have become unmanageable due to spills, blow outs, and toxic waste.

2. We need to believe that a Power (called alternative energy) is greater than ourselves and could restore us to sanity.

3. We need to make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the higher power of alternative energy and seek new sources for energy.

4. We need to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves,and not believe the hype about "bridge fuel" and empty promises of jobs from fossil fuels.

5. Admitted to ourselves, and to other human beings the exact nature of the wrongs that we have perpetuated on the environment and on ourselves due to the use of fossil fuels.

6. We must be entirely ready to have the higher power of alternative energy remove all the defects of character that the oil and gas industry has perpetuated on us.

7. Humbly ask that scientists and industry endeavor to remove our shortcomings of a continuing dependence on fossil fuels.

8. Make a list of every single violation perpetuated by the oil and gas industry and force them to make amends for all of them.

9. Made direct amends to the environment wherever possible, except when to do so would injure it further; reverse the damage of fossil fuels wherever it exists.

10. Take personal inventory to right the wrongs that fossil fuel dependence has created and promptly admit them and change our behavior to sustainable practices.

11. Seek regulations and legislation and improve our conscious contact with politicians to demand that they protect us from oil & gas industry.

12. Having had an Eco awakening as the result of these steps, we will carry this message to other nations until a sustainable world exists.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Don Siegel Will Save Us All

Its nice to know that scientists are willing to go to bat for a cause that they believe in, but what is perplexing is how little scientists are willing to go through to really understand their position fully. When they don't think through every aspect of their position it can create a lot of damage when that position gets published in a newspaper for public consumption. In a recent article on Syracuse Post Standard, Donald Siegel, a professor at Syracuse University, made some very disturbing comments with respect to the issue of gas drilling in NY. I think that Dr. Siegel is not fully appreciating all of the issues involved. This was our exchange on that newspaper's comment section. You can see the original here:

Some Scientists Say Hydrofracking Benefits Outweigh Risks

Post By Dr Siegel:

I'm having some difficulty responding to individual posts (my responses seem to have not been placed next to the post I wanted to respond to!).

Ok. I fully understand that there are legal issues that need to taken care of with respect to hydrofracking. I hope to collaborate with a lawyer to clarify the legal issues. I fully support DEC monitoring of drilling and evaluation of backflow fluids. I fully recognize that when accidents happen, such as Dimmock, that the people who are affected need to get compensation and the wells sealed and so on.

But, as a scientist, I make my technical decisions on what will work and not work based on evidence, much as I do in my everyday life. If I get really sick, I go to my doctor, not take just herbal remedies. If my car breaks, I take it to a mechanic. And so on. My entire life, and I suspect the entire lives of even those who decry shale bed methane production are led by using evidence to guide them. Now, my doctor might be wrong and my mechanic a crook, but I think, based on evidence, that they are not, at least most of time.

I have just served on a panel of the National Academy of Science on coal bed methane and environmental effects of it. They hydrofrack and horizontally in this technology too. I saw only a few accidents, out of tens of thousands of successful wells. I saw little serious environmental harm, and drove the width of the Powder River Basin where most of the local controversy has been.

EPA came in and said it was an environmentally safe extraction method, and I fully anticipate that EPA will do the same for our shale bed methane. Despite the public fear of the backflow water from the drilling, has trivial amounts of water produced with the gas compared to the Wyoming coals.

But even so, I urge development of methods to reduce the salty backflow water that might have to be stored for a while in lined pits. Just last week I heard from the Department of Energy that onsite processing of the salty water is almost ready, with reduction of the amount of backflow water by 85%.

I rather think all this debate deals with a measure of regional environmental justice. That is, the Northeast has been the beneficiary of cheap energy without an iota of environmental cost (compared to that for others). But, this cheap and environmentally no-cost energy has been at the expense of massive environmental cost in the states just south of us, where the majority of streams have been acidified by strip mined coal, and table top mining now fills valleys and streams with rubble. Not over a small area, but regionally. Then, there is the Gillette strip mine in Wyoming from which we also get large amounts of New York Energy.

So I ask those who both reject the success of methane extraction elsewhere, and its logical success in New York, why they accept the continuing degradation of their neighboring states' environments to provide New York with its cheap energy?

Isn't there a measure of communal justice such that we New Yorkers might accept take a small environmental risk and temporary inconvenience to our "sightscapes" and "soundscapes", to help those places where environmental destruction by strip coal mining continues? Or, do some New York environmentalists only care about their own environment so much that they don't want even small change for the benefit of all?

I agree that society HAS to move to renewable energy and soon before climate crisis becomes so bad there is no way out. I actually sometimes lose sleep over this. We have to reduce our carbon emissions quickly, and natural gas burning compared to coal or oil cuts it by half. It's the least we should do.

But those who damn scientists need to know that these very scientists cannot magically make renewable resources to drive the energy economy as fast as they would like. Science is not magic.

And there are costs to every renewable people want to have. Solar? How about covering large swaths of deserts to get enough? Where will we strip mine to get the metals for the batteries? Where will be dump the spent heavy metal from the batteries? Distributed solar? How can we build an energy infrastructure fast enough to do it?

Wind? How about thousands of windmills mantling ridge and off shore Lake Ontario? Do you want to really see sightscape changes? Talk wind. And of course, doing wind farms do deplete bird and bat populations to some extent.

Nuclear? Forgetaboutitt. Except in Europe and China and India.

My point? There is no free lunch when it comes to energy. At least now. There are environmental costs, and meaningful ones, with every energy solution we have short of cutting back, conserving. This too would be a way but it won't happen unless the price of gas at the pump and our electric bills double or triple. If it did, our economy would tank because, unlike Europe (where gasoline prices are twice ours), American no longer has public transportation to fill the gap.

So, I ask, what doable solution do those against shale bed methane offer as a meaningful solution to cut greenhouse gases? As I said in my interview with the Post Standard, it's easy to say "No, No, No" to new energy development and foster fear and develop false analogies.

Speaking of which, the terrible oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico hardly constitutes a valid comparison to shale bed methane development. If a shale bed well fails, the environmental harm remains local. We know this from what we have seen throughout the country in coal and shale bed methane wells--local issues. A massive oil spill on the ocean to even the most casual observer could logically lead to a regional problem, which it has. But liquid oil flowing on water is not gas methane, and drawing that analogy to propagate fear seems wrong to me.

My response:

Hi Dr. Siegel, Sorry you are having problems responding to individual posts. Sometimes science doesn't work out as planned. There can be unforseen problems with technology-who knew?

Instead of lawyer collaborations, perhaps you might better serve the populace if you enlighten us all with your hydro-geology wisdom and use any further attempts at propaganda (oops..I meant editorials...sorry) to directly explain the actual science behind why you think the process of gas drilling in shale in NY is so safe. Notice I didn't say "fracking". I want you to consider the ENTIRE process of the drilling and not just appease our concerns that "fracking" is safe.
Fracking has become a catch-all term that gets bandied about as the real culprit of "fear mongering" when it is really the entire process of what is about to happen in NY that has people that are looking at the SCIENCE, or lack thereof, very concerned.
You might be able to convince someone that a single hydro-fracking job is safe, but you will have a more difficult time if you try to convince someone that numerous instances of high volume horizontal hydrofracturing in shale, with the intensity needed to sustain the gas industry investment in NY is in fact safe, or warranted, when all aspects of water use, frac fluid disposal, emissions, truck traffic, road damage, environmental accidents, etc. are factored into the equation.

This type of all encompassing scientific research was NOT done by the EPA when it looked at coalbed methane. That science, was just termed by EPA's Jackson as being merely a review, and not an assessment of the actual methodology that would be used in NY or the Marcellus region. A study of the science of gas drilling in the Marcellus, including all the direct and indirect impacts, has NOT yet been undertaken and therefore for you to claim that the science has been settled is a serious flaw in your argument, not withstanding the fact that there are many geological differences between coalbed methane and shale, that you should be well aware of, AND differences in technology that have come about since the EPA last looked at the issue.
Your analogy of the gas industry to the medical profession is interesting in that the last time I checked, Aubrey McClendon of Cheasapeake did not have to take the Hippocratic Oath of "first do no harm". I would like to point out that the gas industry typically does not work in that fashion, preferring to "frack now, pay later". So it is pretty insulting to my physician friends for you to make this comparison, and I hope you are not planning any major medical procedures any time soon, lest your doctors subscribe to gas industry mores and treat you with any unproven methods they have and then sit back and wait for the malpractice suit to come.
I have some more problems with some of what you have written here, but I need to check on some facts before I make any more commentary on your science.

Hi Again Dr. Siegel

Dr. Siegel,
I am very happy to hear that you "saw" only a "few" accidents, out of tens of thousands of successful wells while working on coalbed methane. Even the Texas railroad commission only "sees" a third of their wells every year so I am quite impressed that you took the time to do visual inspection of tens of thousands of wells.

It would be in the best interests of science, however, if we did not trust entirely your anecdotal visual inspection and seek to verify precisely how "few" a "few" turns out to be over a period of time, lets say 10 to 20 years, just to make certain. Wouldn't that be much more scientific?

Canadians have been doing coalbed methane development now for a few years, and their results have not been as rosy. They in fact decided in March of 2006, to make baseline testing of water wells mandatory before drilling occurs in coalbed methane. Alberta has undertaken a mapping program to make certain that all groundwater sources are mapped before drilling. Wouldn't you agree that the SAME type of regulations should apply in the US or at the very least, in NY, just to be on the safe side?

In Canada, after about 6000 wells were drilled, they started to see problems. Farmers near Strathmore were struggling with noise pollution, degraded landscapes and land use problems. 40 activist groups sprouted in order to force Canada to adopt national water standards and to begin collecting information on the drilling and its effects on groundwater. At the end of the day, it would appear that at least some Canadians do not share your opinion of the safety of coalbed methane development.

Your comment on water use during hydrofracturing needs clarification. Individual water applications and consumptive use rates vary widely in coal development, and you did not specify what application you were comparing to hydrofracturing. Was it coalbed methane drilling in Wyoming? Coal gasification in Wyoming? Coal hydrogenation-liquifaction? Or should we assume the term"Wyoming Coal" means all coal operations in Wyoming? Wouldn't that comparison be kind of unfair, given that much of the water used in many coal operations is brine water and NOT fresh water? Your assertion that high volume horizontal hydrofracturing in NY uses less water than "Wyoming Coal" might have to be re-worked, notwithstanding the fact that one might want to consider use over a period of years when wells are re-fracked, or compare water use as a function of how much energy is derived from the water used.

I am happy to hear that on site processing of brine water is "almost" ready. They say that a lot about cures for cancer too. Even with this technology, however, unless its MANDATORY, few drillers will use it, as the cost will probably be prohibitive initially. No on site water recycling procedures that I have read about deal with the radioactivity issues found in some areas; have you read something different? I would be surprised if that issue was solved by recycling.

You ask why someone would accept the continuing degradation of their neighboring states' environment to provide NY with its cheap energy. I would answer that I don't accept it.

If a state wishes to extract its resources and sell them to me at a fair price, then I owe them nothing in the way of "communal response". I have no say in their choice, other than if I object to their practices then I can choose to purchase from some other state. Unfortunately, gas is not a commodity where I have a lot of choice in what state I do business with. They don't label it on the bill as coming from PA or Colorado or Canada. So I am pretty certain your argument is not really practical. With any luck, NY could decide to come up with better ideas for energy rather than spreading around the environmental degradation evenly as you suggest. Two wrongs don't make a right. A "temporary inconvenience" to our "sightscapes and soundscapes" may be more than someone should bear when they have to listen to 85 decibel compressor stations for the next 30 years. That really doesn't sound temporary to me.

The reality is that gas drilling will forever change the landscape of NY, and this should not be done just to equalize some perceived environmental injustice picture that you have in your head. One might make the case that NY is more enlightened about environmental justice and therefore will choose to save the gas for future generations until the technology to get it out can be less invasive. Another case could be made that depriving coal workers in mining states of their livelihood before alternative employment for them is put in place is another form of injustice. I might also add that the present marketplace for gas is only being driven by profits for the gas industry and NOT by any concerns for the well being of the American citizen, or any environmental justice, I can assure you. Seek out information on Nigerian fossil fuel extraction and Shell if you don't believe me.

You are correct that we have to reduce our carbon emissions quickly, and it appears that natural gas compared to coal cuts emissions by half, UNLESS you factor in all the other indirect sources of carbon emissions from gas extraction; then it is actually much less than half, and if you add the byproducts of leaking pipelines and compressor stations you will see the picture is a lot less certain than you paint it. If you have the view that natural gas is some kind of "transition fuel" than you are making a Faustian bargain with our state and its environmental future.

If you are truly losing sleep over the emissions issue, than you should heed the suggestions of Dr. Ingraffea and advocate for a SLOW measured response to this gas rush, so that the state and the country does not fall into another fossil fuel trap that it can't get itself out of.

Economically, gas as a "transition fuel" makes no sense except for those that will profit from the transition directly, namely the gas industry and their shareholders. For everyone else, like the auto industry and the electric companies, a transition to gas means new infrastructure and increased costs, and banking on an uncertain commodity with wildly fluctuating prices and unforseen costs that the oil spill in the Gulf now proves can happen.

You may not like that comparison of the Gulf spill to fracking, but if you put 60, 000 wells in NY it will not be LOCAL damage we are talking about when enough of these wells have problems. Everyone will know someone with an issue about gas drilling, and we will ALL have to suffer the increase in methane emissions, as air pollution is NOT LOCAL.

The only "transition" fuel that benefits our country is one that makes fossil fuel obsolete, or close to it. That means higher fuel costs are indicated to truly represent the true costs of scarcity, and impact on our environment, be it gas, oil or nuclear. This true cost, this high cost, will foster a response in our economy so that the American ingenuity that sent us to the moon can come up with a RENEWABLE fuel (or fuels) that meets our needs, and/or a better technology to do more with what we have, with our present infrastructure. As Thomas Friedman posits, what America needs now is a GREEN revolution similar to our computer revolution--something that can bring back our economy and position our country as the leader in green energy. This will not be easy to do, but it can be done. It will only get done, however, if the marketplace is allowed to work, and people pay the true costs of using fuels that cost us all more in the long run. That means right now we need heavy regulations on the industries that pollute, mandatory best practices, and extraction taxes and bonds that raise costs for fuel extraction and prompt individuals to make better choices with their energy dollars, and slow down fossil fuel extraction until the "science" catches up.

There are no false analogies or fear in being against high volume horizontal hydrofracturing in NY. Just a measured response, considering ALL the risks and rewards, indicated that NOW is NOT the time to do this. We can do better, we should take the time to do better, and DEC and the Governor should not sell out the state at WAY below what its worth, just because that's what every other state is doing. Let PA make all the mistakes. We can revisit the question of WHEN, in a few years time after more of the DATA has come in. Until then, it is poor science, and poor policy to move forward. Drill when the commodity is scarce, when the landowners have a better idea of the risks and rewards, and when the technology has improved.

That position, would allow all of us, across the state, to sleep better at night.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

See What's Coming to NY! Gas Drilling's Rural Impact

The good people of Colorado have been dealing with this gas boom for a few years now, and have discovered that there are many problems that they didn't anticipate coming along with their gas drilling boom. NY State should learn from Colorado's mistakes. Everything that glitters is not necessarily gold. It could be a lump of coal, or in this case--a cubic foot of gas.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Never a Single Case? How about 15!

The Natural Resources Defense Council has complied a list of incidents where drinking water has been contaminated and hydraulic fracturing is a suspected cause. There are many, many, other cases around the country, but these 15 represent a group where the evidence was provided by a homeowner with knowledge that a nearby well was recently fractured and specifically included that information in reports, according to the NRDC.
This is one of the biggest problems--to determine that fracturing had occurred in the area where the water well was located. Many times, people are unaware what is going on down the road from their property, so it can be difficult to point the finger at the gas drilling, unless you know what is happening, and when it happened. That is why the gas industry has gotten away with this for so long--people have to know, and to care what is happening around them, and be vigilant.

Original story from NRDC located here:

Incidents where hydraulic fracturing is a suspected cause of drinking water contamination-Amy Mall's Blog

If you are aware of any other incidents PLEASE contact Amy Mall at the above link, and Contact the EPA Eyes on Drilling Hotline at 1-877-919-4EPA.

1.Arkansas: In 2008, Charlene Parish of Bee Branch reported contamination of drinking water during hydraulic fracturing of a nearby natural gas well owned by Southwestern Energy Company. Her water smelled bad, turned yellow, and filled with silt.

2.Arkansas: In 2007, the Graetz family in Pangburn reported contamination of drinking water during hydraulic fracturing of a nearby natural gas well owned by Southwestern Energy Company. The water turned muddy and contained particles that were “very light and kind of slick” and resembled pieces of leather.

3.Colorado: In 2001, two families in Silt reported a water well blow-out and contamination of their drinking water during hydraulic fracturing of four nearby natural gas wells owned by Ballard Petroleum, now Encana Corporation. Their drinking water turned gray, had strong smells, bubbled, and lost pressure. One family reported health symptoms they believe are linked to the groundwater contamination.

4.Colorado: In 2007, the Bounds family in Huerfano County reported a pump house exploded and contamination of drinking water during hydraulic fracturing of nearby wells owned by Petroglyph Energy.

5. New Mexico: A 2004 investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found two residents who reported that the quality of their water was affected by hydraulic fracturing.

6. New York: In 2007, the Lytle family in Seneca County reported contamination of drinking water the morning after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby natural gas well owned by Chesapeake Energy Corporation. The water turned gray and was full of sediment.

7.New York: In 2009, the Eddy family in Allegany County reported contamination of drinking water during hydraulic fracturing of a nearby well owned by U.S. Energy Development Corporation. The water turned "foamy, chocolate-brown."

8.Ohio: In 2007, there was an explosion of a water well and contamination of at least 22 other drinking water wells in Bainbridge Township after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby natural gas well owned by Ohio Valley Energy Systems. More than two years later, over forty families are still without clean drinking water and are waiting to be connected to a town water system.

In 2009, the Zimmerman family of Washington County reported contamination of drinking water after hydraulic fracturing of nearby natural gas wells owned by Atlas Energy. Water testing on their farm found arsenic at 2,600 times acceptable levels, benzene at 44 times above limits, naphthalene at five times the federal standard, and mercury and selenium levels above official limits.

10. Pennsylvania: In 2008, two families in Gibbs Hill reported contamination of drinking water after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby natural gas well owned by Seneca Resources Corporation. Their water had strong fumes, caused burning in lungs and sinuses after showering, and caused burning in the mouth immediately upon drinking.

11.Pennsylvania: In 2009, families in Bradford Township reported contamination of drinking water after hydraulic fracturing of nearby natural gas wells owned by Schreiner Oil & Gas. The drinking water of at least seven families has been contaminated.

12.Pennyslvania: In 2009, the Smitsky family in Hickory reported contamination of their drinking water after hydraulic fracturing of nearby natural gas wells owned by Range Resources. Their water became cloudy and foul-smelling. Testing found acrylonitrile, a chemical that may be used in hydraulic fracturing. The EPA is now investigating this incident.

13.Texas: In 2007, three families who share an aquifer in Grandview reported contamination of drinking water after hydraulic fracturing of a nearby well owned by Williams. They experienced strong odors in their water, changes in water pressure, skin irritation, and dead livestock. Water testing found toluene and other contaminants.

14.Virginia: Citizens reported drinking water contamination after hydraulic fracturing. Water was murky and had oily films, black sediments, methane, and diesel odors. Individuals experienced rashes from showering. The Buchanan Citizens Action Group reported over 100 documented complaints of adverse effects of hydraulic fracturing and the Dickenson County Citizens Committee reported ground water quality deteriorated throughout the county as a result of the large number of hydraulic fracturing events.

15.Wyoming: Families in the small town of Pavillion have been reporting contamination of their drinking water for at least ten years. Hydraulic fracturing has been used in the many wells in the area owned by Encana Corporation. Drinking water has turned black, smelled bad, and tasted bad. Individuals report medical symptoms they believe are related to water contamination. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is investigating and has found contamination in 11 water wells, including toxic chemicals that may be from hydraulic fracturing fluids. Further tests are needed to determine the source of contamination.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Never a Case of Contamination?

I suppose these folks are lying about their water being affected by hydraulic fracturing. That's what the boys over at Energy in Depth would tell you- "never been a single case of water contamination" they rant. Well then these people in the video must be making up the fact that both of them have come down with health problems since they began drinking that brown water that flows out of their tap and ruins metal coffeepots and porcelain toilets. But the gas drillers tell them the water is safe to drink. If it ruins the coffeepot, what is it doing to your body?

It is becoming quite apparent after seeing a number of these personal stories on video, that there is more than just coincidence in these occurrences. There are more problems with drilling than the gas industry wants to admit to and I only hope that more and more people start coming forward-or better yet, more and more lawyers start suing, because if we expect our State and Federal governments to protect us from this menace of gas drilling--we better think again.

Video courtesy of Arkansans for Gas Drilling Accountability