Comments about 2011 rdSGEIS submitted to the NYS DEC

It is simple. Do not allow hydro-fracturing in New York State. There is no proven way to safeguard the lands, waters, air, or people of New York State from the greed of the gas companies. Corporations exist only to enlarge their own wealth, and have ALWAYS proven to do it at the expense of the public. There will never be enough DEC enforcement available to keep the corporations in line, and there is no way to mitigate the problems of contamination once they have happened. Vast areas—vital to the economy of New York State—will become inhabitable once the scarring of the land, the contamination of the water supplies, and the movement of the very earth itself is unleashed by these for-profit-only entities. Gone will be the farms, the farm land, and the clean water necessary to keep their animals and crops alive. Gone will be the beautiful landscapes, the cities teeming with life, the institutions of higher learning, the honest labor that has kept the people of New York State ahead of those in so many other states. Wiped out by a plague of greed. And when the gas is gone, the corporations who killed the state will disappear just as rapidly as a puff of methane. They will not tarry to clean up the destruction they have wrought. No corporation ever has bothered to clean up after themselves unless forced to—and even then they are more likely to utilize lawyers to sweep the mess under the rug than actually clean the mess itself. No corporation will return the lands, air, water, and the creatures who dwell thereon to the way they were before. The poor who are left behind know the lasting legacy of the corporations’ greed for generations. They are the ones who die young of cancer, who will be sickened by the poison of heavy metals and toxic chemicals which those corporations WILL leave behind. That burden on our health care system, on our government agencies, and on the State’s very vitality, is something that no review document can ever put a high enough price tag on. There is plenty of wealth in New York State without tapping the rocks which lie deep underground. If we wish to harvest that resource, it is not going anywhere, we can wait for 10, 20, 50 years. It will still be there. And if we wait for at least 20 years, then we will be able to gain from the wisdom of Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Kansas, and many other states which have let the monster eat away at their table, before realizing what destruction that monster leaves behind.

Frack! Can The Energy Giants Learn From Independent Gas Companies?

Shareholder activists are pointing the way to greater environmental responsibility by gas drillers.


By Sanford Lewis, Attorney

Natural gas often is touted as a bridge fuel, leading a transition to cleaner energy sources. But recently it also has a lot of attention for the extraction practice known as “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking,” which has stirred environmental controversy and threatens to undermine its growth as an energy source. Under pressure from investors and environmentalists, some of the smaller independent energy companies have begun to improve disclosures and environmental precautions. In contrast, the energy giants Exxon Mobil and Chevron are more resistant and face resolutions in their upcoming shareholder meetings. Can they learn from the best practices of the independents?

“Hydraulic fracturing” injects high volumes of water, chemicals and particles underground to create fractures through which gas can flow for collection. The American Petroleum Institute estimates that 60 to 80 percent of natural gas wells drilled in the next decade will require fracking.

The documentary “Gasland” has helped to increase the visibility of this issue. Once you have seen it, it is hard to forget the image of a homeowner igniting natural gas emanating from his kitchen faucet and the implication that it was caused by local gas drilling operations.

Investors are particularly concerned about the lifecycle impacts of hydraulic fracturing operations. Each fracked well requires moving millions of gallons of water, chemicals and wastewater; environmental hazards posing business risks are present at every step in the process. 

Investors have voiced their concerns about these business and environmental risks through an effort coordinated by the Investor Environmental Health Network and Green Century Capital Management. The investors have sought disclosure of risks and environmental precautions being taken by natural gas companies – and have had striking success at several companies. This season, shareholder proposals filed at some of the natural gas companies have been withdrawn in exchange for better disclosure of precautionary policies and practices. In other instances, because of proactive measures by companies, shareholders made the decision not to file a proposal.

Some notable corporate disclosure examples include:

  • The Annual Report (Form 10-K) of Southwestern Energy contains disclosures about its efforts to use less toxic fracturing fluids.
  • Talisman Energy has set a best practice example on disclosure of violations, disclosing environmental regulatory violations in Pennsylvania on a special website.
  • Range Resources has described its effort to ensure effective contractor oversight in the drilling process.
  • Cabot Oil & Gas discloses, prior to drilling, it tests private wells in the vicinity of its operations, providing baseline data to ensure no change in contamination levels occurs as a result of its operations, as well as accountability if it does.

In contrast, Exxon Mobil and Chevron, which have both recently acquired substantial natural gas extraction and fracturing operations, have proven least cooperative with investors and are not proactively expanding disclosure and environmental accountability on these issues. Shareholder proposals on hydraulic fracturing are pending this season at both energy giants, as well as at smaller companies Energen, Carrizo Oil & Gas and Ultra Petroleum. Exxon Mobil attempted to assert to the SEC that a few paragraphs contained in its sustainability report sufficed to address hydraulic fracturing. But the SEC agreed with the shareholder proponents, that the existing disclosures did not fulfill the request of the shareholder proposal.

No doubt concerned shareholders are having an impact on the disclosure and operational practices of natural gas extraction companies. The question remains whether during the upcoming annual meeting season, the laggards will continue to resist more proactive disclosures and precautions or use the meetings as an occasion to announce the adoption of best practice examples developed by other companies.

About Sanford Lewis

Sanford Lewis is counsel to the Investor Environmental Health Network, as well as to investing institutions and funds that have filed proposals on the potential risks and environmental impacts of natural gas extraction.

Talkback Readers: Do you think shareholder activism can push the energy giants to be more environmentally responsible? Weigh in on Talkback!

FRAC'ing Proved Safe: For at least a week.

I like that the study seems to actively ignore the fact that actual people tend to live in one place for more than just a short period of time. They also point out that although the air wasn’t proven to be harmful, it is going to stink like an unpleasant shade of methane in the area until they stop frac’ing.

Amplify’d from


See this Amp at

136 earthquakes in the last 30 days in Oklahoma

There have been 136 earthquakes in Oklahoma in the last 30 days. I was curious if there was any connection between the locations of the earthquakes and gas drilling operations (many of which are fracked wells). I went to the Oklahoma Geological Services Web site and took a couple of maps which I superimposed on one another. The results are shown in this picture:


The blue squares are the vertically drilled wells, the red stars are the horizontally drilled wells, and the yellow squares are the locations of the earthquakes for the 30 days ending 12/3/11.

I also found the following report: “Examination of Possibly Induced Seismicity from Hydraulic Fracturing in the Eola Field, Garvin County, Oklahoma”, Austin A. Holland, Oklahoma Geological Survey, August 2011 Oklahoma Geological Survey Open-File Report OF1-2011:

Here’s it’s Summary:

"On January 18, 2011, The Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) received a phone call from a resident living south of Elmore City, in Garvin County, Oklahoma, that reported feeling several earthquakes throughout the night. The reporting local resident had also offered that there was an active hydraulic fracturing project occurring nearby. Upon examination there were nearly 50 earthquakes, which occurred during that time. After analyzing the data there were 43 earthquakes large enough to be located, which from the character of the seismic recordings indicate that they are both shallow and unique. The earthquakes range in magnitude from 1.0 to 2.8 Md and the majority of earthquakes occurred within about 24 hours of the first earthquake. Careful attention and significant effort was put into obtaining the most accurate locations possible and gaining a reasonable estimate in the error in locations. The nearest seismic station is 35 km away from where the earthquakes occurred. Formal errors in location are on the order 100-500 m horizontally and about twice that for depth. Examination of different velocity models would suggest that the uncertainties in earthquake locations should be about twice the formal uncertainties. The majority of earthquakes appear to have occurred within about 3.5 km of the well located in the Eola Field of southern Garvin County. The Eola Field has many structures, which may provide conduits for fluid flow at depth. The well is Picket Unit B well 4-18, and about seven hours after the first and deepest hydraulic fracturing stage started the earthquakes began occurring. It was possible to model 95% of the earthquakes in this sequence using a simple pore pressure diffusion model with a permeability of about 250 mD (milliDarcies). While this permeability may be high it is less than those reported for highly fractured rock. The strong correlation in time and space as well as a reasonable fit to a physical model suggest that there is a possibility these earthquakes were induced by hydraulic-fracturing. However, the uncertainties in the data make it impossible to say with a high degree of certainty whether or not these earthquakes were triggered by natural means or by the nearby hydraulic-fracturing operation."

Maps from: superimposed on


The people of Gnomeland have rallied around an anti-fracking platform. It took them a while to organize but Gnomeland mayor, Hirum Clipclop, read up on the laws and decided that he and the village trustees would write a resolution to ban fracking within the village boundaries based on the Home Rule statute. They hoped to get their resolution filed with the state before the state gave the a-okay paving the way for statewide hydrofracturing for natural gas. 

This American Life Kills Your Confusion about Fracking...

My goodness, I just love this show more and more as time goes by. This American Life is one of the great contributions to the American media and this week they decided to dissect the issue of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas

The episode is an insightful, terrifying and educational look inside the debate on fracking and will give anyone who is left confused about the subject a bit of clarity. They talk to both sides and discover the truths behind the damage, the politics and the misconceptions about the process. I highly recommend a listen. 

Head here to check this episode out for free! 

Fact! Fracking Is Unhealthy

Gas extraction produces a range of potentially health-endangering pollutants at nearly every stage of the process, according to a new paper by the California nonprofit Physicians Scientists & Engineers for Healthy Energy, released last week in Environmental Health Perspectives, a peer-reviewed journal published by the National Institutes of Health.

The study compiled existing, peer-reviewed…

View On WordPress

Taxing by the acre

A question came to my mind this morning that I didn’t know if anyone (or any legislatures) had considered….

What if someone could compile a dollar figure for all the side effects of fracking on a given piece of land….say someone leased a acre to a gas company, and there was a (insert appropriate figure based on studies done from areas/acres which were already being fracked) percent chance of spills, a (insert appropriate figure) percentage decrease in revenues to the local area from tourism, a (insert appropriate figure) dollar amount to cover increases in road maintenance, toxic spill cleanup, etc…. and you could compile all these numbers in such a way as to break down the costs per acre (town costs divided by number of acres in the town, for example).

Once you had that dollar figure broken down by acre, the idea would be to get the local governing bodies to impose a tax in that amount on any revenues received by a land owner from oil & gas leases. It would be a win-win for everyone. Land owners would not be kept from signing leases, gas companies would not be kept from buying leases, local governing authorities would reap greatly increased tax revenues from those who have income (from the lease signings) to support those taxes… and the burden of the taxes (which, as you might guess, might turn out to be more per acre than the revenue itself) would keep land owners from seeing any benefit from signing leases in the first place.

Has anyone worked on real-costs-per-acre and how to tax for them yet? I would be happy if you would pass this idea around.

The Dangers of Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic Fracturing is advertised as a benefit to the United States failing economy, however at what cost to the American Citizens and the environment? I don’t agree that while there are a few economic benefits, they are worth exposing people to radioactive and dangerous chemicals.

“Hyrdro-Fracking” is the use of millions of gallons of water pumped into shale to cause cracking which releases natural gas. The water is mixed with various chemicals which help break up the shale rock in the earth’s outer layer.1 This process is beneficial for retrieving natural gas in an efficient manor for energy.2 However, it is contaminating our clean water with the chemicals that are used and putting people around the hydraulic fracturing sites at risk of exposure to radiation and air pollution.3 There are various reasons why this process needs to had a bad effect on the environment.

Hydraulic fracturing has an effect on public health, drinking water, and the habitats of fish and other wildlife. The air emissions caused from “hydro-fracking” are found to be at around the same level of danger to public health as coal mining. This is because of the methods used to “hydro-frack“. Which include diesel engines, compressor stations, and flaring. All of these have air pollution effects. Also, there is hazardous liquid and solid waste from hydraulic fracturing that is kept on site and then transported on public roads to sewage plants and municipal landfills.

1 Citizens Campaign for the Environment – “Natural Gas Hydro-Fracking in Shale” 5/2/2012

2 Chevron: Natural Gas From Shale – “Unlocking Energy from Shale Rock Formations” 5/2/2012

3 Citizens Campaign for the Environment – “Natural Gas Hydro-Fracking in Shale” 5/2/2012

If this waste is not properly disposed of it can have severe radiation effects, from the shale, on the areas around the sites.1

The hydraulic fracturing effect on the clean water supply is also very negative. According to a report on the water used there are approximately five-hundred ninety six chemicals which include damaging chemicals. Naphthalene is one of the chemicals used, which happens to be a blood poison. Other chemicals include Xylene and Carbon disulfide which are neurotoxins.2

Resulting from the chemical induced water is a radioactive byproduct which the companies that drill for the natural gas in the shale have no real plan of disposing. These companies do not have a plan for treating the water in order for it to be redistributed into public pipes for consumption.3 This means that the amount of clean water in the world is decreased due to hydraulic fracturing. Hardly a worthy trade for a supply of energy when there are other energy methods that can be used such as solar and hydro power. There have been instances where evacuations have taken place due to wells on these sites exploding. Residents in these areas are effected greatly by the aftermath. Water in these areas is so contaminated by the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing that they can actually set their water on fire. Although there are some benefits from hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing in the United States would benefit the economy in a few different ways. Due to the fact that the shale is in the United States we would rely less on foreign imported oils. This would cause an economic boost because the public would be buying internally and less money would be going to imported oils from different countries such as those in the Middle East.

1 Ibid.

2 GetFacts Not Hype – “The Dirty Truth Behind Hydrofracking” 11/4/2010

3 Citizens Campaign for the Environment – “Natural Gas Hydro-Fracking in Shale” 5/2/2012

It would also create more jobs. However, these jobs would be working on the hydraulic fracturing sites. Which would be exposing the workers to radioactive chemicals and polluted air.4

Other benefits from the hydraulic fracturing include less emissions from carbon dioxide. This would help accelerate the United States to a carbon-light environment. Although the carbon dioxide would be decreasing, the amount of clean water supply would still be diminishing. So the trade for less carbon dioxide would be less relevant because clean water is needed to survive.5 Even though the percentage of carbon dioxide in the environment would be going down the amount of air pollution, due to the carcinogens that are emitted from the compressor stations, would be increasing. Among these carcinogens is Benzene which can cause cancer and is notorious for causing bone marrow failure.6

Hydraulic fracturing poses a threat to such laws as the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The act of hydraulic fracturing poses a threat on all of these laws. However, they have been allowed to break these laws due to the fact that they are obtaining natural gas. This goes against the right of the people in the surrounding areas of the sites. Farmers who’s cattle is exposed to the air pollution and water pollution from hydraulic fracturing may be sold to the meat markets. Therefore, this would expose even more people to the toxins from hydraulic fracturing sites. People have a right to choose what they are exposed to. Since hydraulic fracturing is not friendly to the environment, people, or wild life, it should not persist.

4 Chevron: Natural Gas From Shale – “Unlocking Energy from Shale Rock Formations” 5/2/2012

5 Chesapeak Energy – “Hydraulic Fracturing” 2012

6 GetFacts Not Hype – “The Dirty Truth Behind Hydrofracking” 11/4/2010

Though hydraulic fracturing will achieve energy sources it is not safe for the environment. The byproduct that is left over from the chemical induced water is dangerous and radioactive. Air is polluted due to the machines that are used. They emit chemicals such as Benzene which is very harmful to anyone that is exposed to it. Water that is affected by the chemicals used can be set on fire, no one should be consuming water that is flammable. Hydraulic fracturing is not friendly to anyone or anything in any environment and should be stopped from continuing and a more efficient and safe manor for obtaining the natural gas in the shale should be devised.

Residual hydraulic fracturing water not a risk to groundwater, study says

Hydraulic fracturing—fracking or hydrofracturing—raises many concerns about potential environmental impacts, especially water contamination. Currently, data show that the majority of water injected into wells stays underground, triggering fears that it might find its way into groundwater. New research by a team of scientists should help allay those fears.

via - latest science and technology news stories