The Greenwashing of an Industry:Swimming in Natural Gas

Gas Flaring

There has never been a better time for natural gas. It is the "other" of fossil fuels, touted as a clean alternative to coal and oil. It can be non-renewable, advocates argue, but it is a bridge or transition of fuel for a happier future. Not surprisingly, the industry has done a great persuade local residents, members of Congress and the general public that there is nothing to worry about. Chesapeake Energy Corporation, one of the major players in natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from New York to Tennessee, it has been announced as the operation environment.

So when Cabot Oil and Gas, a Houston based energy company, was fined for various hydraulic fracturing spill in northeastern Pennsylvania last year, Chesapeake took the opportunity to distance themselves from what had become embarrassing. In addition to spills frack, there were numerous reports of contamination of drinking water wells in Dimock, PA. In the New Year's Day 2009, the drinking water of one resident and exploded, destroying an eight by eight foot concrete slab. Dimock experience had the potential to become a nightmare for the industry, perhaps even derail efforts to drill in the State of New York. "Certainly, when an operation is not complying with regulations issued by the State, which does not reflect well on the industry," said the director of Chesapeake's corporate development division of the company that a group of executives at an event in November .

The natural gas industry has had few problems attracting reinforcements powerful and influential. It has been argued by oil and gas executive T. Boone Pickens, who is the owner of Cabot and Warren Buffett, the oracle itself. At the opening of the Congress of Natural Gas Caucus in October, Pickens, the keynote speaker, said: "We are swimming in natural gas." Dimock residents, many of whom have sued Cabot to poisoning by water, may have a slightly different view of the potential of natural gas. In December, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a consent order requires the company to provide potable water and filtration devices to 13 families within an area of nine square kilometers. Also fined $ 120,000.

More recently, the Wall Street Journal, Chesapeake CEO, Aubrey McClendon, has been touring the country along with the Sierra Club, Carl Pope proclaiming the advantages of natural gas. Its biggest selling point is that it burns cleaner than coal and oil, although the impact of extracting it from deep shale formations is controversial. It also requires the use of large quantities of diesel fuel to keep the compressors and other machines that operate 24 / 7. In response to criticism from local affiliates, especially in New York and Pennsylvania, the Pope asked: "20% of the members happens to live in places where drilling is going to be unhappy?" I am sure that is true. "So much for grassroots organizing.

In early December I went across the Bradford County, Pennsylvania, and stopped in Towanda, the county seat. The small town of about 3,000 people, located on the Susquehanna River, is buzzing with activity. Towanda Motel, at the north end of town, has been completely occupied by employees of Chesapeake since April. There is no vacancy signs hanging from the window of the office and a security guard monitors the enclosure. The company's fleet of shiny white pickups and SUVs can be seen everywhere, precursors of what appears to be a very important mission. Almost everyone I met had leased their land, from the young who owned the Victorian Charm Inn, where I was a woman who worked at the county clerk's office (open Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to accommodate "abstracters" Representatives of the company who comb through the facts that go back to the early 19th century to find out whether there can be no obstacle to the acquisition of mining rights of local landowners). When I asked the owner of a local restaurant if things had improved in Towanda from Chesapeake arrived in the city responded dryly: "Sometimes." Meanwhile, Chesapeake has opened a regional office in what was an Ames Department store on the south side of town.

As I picked my way through a copy of the local newspaper, the daily review. Chesapeake had taken out a full page ad on the subject of hydraulic fracturing, which describes the process as one that "pressure pumps a mixture of 99. 5% sand and water with a small amount of special additives," in a well to break the rock and release gas. The ad goes on to note that "... The additives are compounds found in common household products." They do not recognize, however, that fracking formula, which varies from well to well depending on the region's geology, is considered proprietary and not yet fully know what is being pumped from underground. The industry, which has been exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, CERCLA, and since 2005, has never been forced to publicly disclose the content of the fluids used to fracture wells . The call Halliburton escape, is inserted into the 2005 energy bill was a gift from the Bush-Cheney (Halliburton invented the hydraulic fracturing process), and in essence said that the EPA had no authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

Dr. Theo Coburn of endocrine disruption Bag (TEDx) has compiled what is probably the most comprehensive list of both chemicals drilling and fracturing partly based on samples from a well in Park County, Wyoming, where a gap in the surface of the shell release of drilling fluids in 2006. They have found 435 products containing fracturing chemicals, including ammonium nitrate 344, ethanol, methane and diesel. According to the Web site TEDx, "As natural gas production increases rapidly in the U.S. , Its associated pollution has reached the stage where it is contaminating the vital systems of life support - water, air and soil - and damaging to human health, wildlife, domestic animals, and vegetation " .

Chesapeake has done a good job of maintaining its environmentally friendly image, although two recent breaches show that accidents are perhaps inevitable and Cabot Oil and Gas is not necessarily the exception.

On the eve of New Year, the evidence of a spill or release of contaminating a drill site in Wayne County, PA was reported after aerial photos taken by a group of environmental monitoring, Senior Damascus for Sustainability, revealed damage to trees near a platform as well. The photos show a row of dead, leafless trees that extends from the drilling rig. Chesapeake had not reported the spill, which would be a violation of state law if they were aware of what happened. According to the Times Tribune, a "weathered oil product" was released in a forested area and soil samples indicate that contained high levels of barium and chloride.

Perhaps most damaging was reported in early December of a spill of hydrochloric acid in large haven township, not far from Towanda. The spill was said to have released 295 gallons of acid into the surrounding soil. In the assessment of consent of the DEP contaminated soil is the acid was neutralized with sodium carbonate and hydrated lime, 126 tons of contaminated soil was excavated and approximately 13 817 gallons of hydrochloric acid / water mixture were removed from the well site. According to a spokesman for the DEP, the contaminated soil was taken to a landfill in New Springfield, Ohio. Chesapeake Despite reported the spill to the DEP in February, when it occurred, cleaning and research was published recently in December after the company was fined a civil penalty of just over $ 15,500.

When I arrived asylum Kevin Barrett Township supervisor, who is the corn crop just below the drill site, said the company dealt with the spill in a responsible manner. It was in a remote area of the municipality of about half a mile of a major water source or residence on land owned by a family that lives there. When asked if he was concerned that his corn could be contaminated with hydrochloric acid, said the spill was small and posed no threat to humans, wetlands, or wildlife.

However, according to the DEP report, the estimated leak rate was 7. 5 gallons per hour, but "the staff of Chesapeake did not know how long the tank had been leaking." Chesapeake notified the DEP February 9, 2009 a leak was discovered at about 9 am A DEP representative arrived at 1 pm and the contractor of Chesapeake Emergency six hours later. If we take the figure of the company of 295 gallons of acid spilled which means that the tank was leaking for about 42 hours. Presumably, the tank was leaking hydrochloric acid for about 30 hours before anyone knew anything about it or bother to inform the DEP. This was all contained and disposed of contaminated soil?

Accidents happen, Barrett said. It is part of the price of doing business. Something McClendon and the Sierra Club's Pope might like to Acknowledge As They make the case for an industry Whose green credentials are far from Certain.

"But we have to find a cheap alternative to coal! "Scream the inhabitants of industrial civilization, afraid that perhaps the foundations of his beloved world, hungry for energy are beginning to crumble. Keep screaming, from one form to another is going to end in tears.

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