Fire Earth

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Philadelphia: Public Health Prevails Over Private Wealth

Posted by feww on March 26, 2010

NO MORE FRACKING!

Philadelphia urges ban on hydraulic fracturing technique, or ‘fracking’

Philadelphia officials asked the Delaware River Basin Commission on Thursday to stop prospectors using the hydraulic fracture (fracking) shale gas extractions in the City’s watershed, until a full environmental impact assessment is conducted.

The commission, which comprises of representatives from Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, as well as federal officials, is responsible for protecting the Delaware River Basin over 360 miles from its headwaters all the way to the Delaware Bay.


Map Of Shale Gas Basins In The United States. Click image to enlarge.


The Middle Delaware River above Walpack Bend. Credit: NPS/George Ratliff

Background: Natural Gas Drilling in the Delaware River Basin

Much of the new drilling interest taking place in northeastern Pennsylvania and southern New York is targeted at reaching the natural gas found in the Marcellus Shale formation, which underlies about 36 percent of the Delaware River Basin.  Because Marcellus Shale is considered a tight geologic formation, natural gas deposits were not previously thought to be practically and economically mineable using traditional techniques.  New horizontal drilling and extraction methods, coupled with higher energy costs, have given energy companies reason to take a new interest in mining the natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale.

However, these new extraction methods require large amounts of fresh water to fracture the formation to release the natural gas.  A significant amount of water used in the extraction process is recovered, but this “frac water” includes natural gas and chemicals added to facilitate the extraction process, as well as brine and other contaminants released from the formation. —DRBC

The City Council, in a unanimous resolution, has formally asked the Commission to stop all fracking operations in the watershed and deny a drilling permit to Stone Energy Corp, a Louisiana-based energy company prospecting for natural gas, and all others that propose to use fracking to extract shale gas in the Basin which  supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people, including 2 million plus in the Philadelphia metro area.

“Stone Energy began operations in a protected area of the river basin without the necessary approvals, and now has applied for permits to drill for gas, extracting water it needs from a tributary of the river, the council said.” Reuters reported.

“We call on the Delaware River Basin Commission to halt Stone Energy’s operations, and not approve their application, or any other applications, until a full environmental impact assessment of fracking in the Delaware River Basin has been conducted,” the council said in a unanimous resolution.


A glass of water taken from a residential well after the start of natural gas drilling in Dimock, Pennsylvania, March 7, 2009. Dimock is one of hundreds of sites in Pennsylvania where energy companies are now racing to tap the massive Marcellus Shale natural gas formation. But some residents say the drilling has clouded their drinking water, sickened people and animals and made their wells flammable. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer. Image may be subject to copyright.

Stone Energy

Stone Energy spokesperson, Tim O’Leary, was reported as saying that fracking posed no danger to the drinking water in the region.

“Stone Energy believes that hydraulic fracturing technologies are a safe and proven method of accessing ample domestic sources of clean natural gas needed by the United States,” O’Leary said.

“Concern about possible ground water contamination from hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking,’ has led New York City to call on state authorities to prevent drilling in the city watershed. U.S. Congress members have introduced a bill that would require energy companies to disclose chemicals they use in fracking.” The report said.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has expressed ‘serious reservations’ about the prospect of fracking in the New York City watershed, said on March 18 it will conduct a national study of the process.”

“I knew the responsible thing to do was to send a strong message that drilling should not occur without an environmental impact statement,” said Philadelphia City Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who sponsored the resolution.

“Energy companies exploiting vast reserves of shale gas in Pennsylvania and other states say there has never been a proven case of water contamination from fracking, and that the toxic chemicals are injected through layers of steel and concrete thousands of feet below drinking-water aquifers.” The report added.

The energy companies clearly aren’t telling the truth!

‘Diarrhea water’

Fire Earth had earlier noted that

In Dimock, Pennsylvania, drilling for natural gas has clouded the drinking water, sickened people and animals and made their wells flammable.

EPA admits water contaminated near gas-drilling sites

Now, for the first time ever, EPA scientists have revealed that drinking water wells  near natural gas [and oil] drilling operations contain chemical contaminants. They found dangerous chemicals in the water from 11 of 39 wells tested near the Wyoming town of Pavillion in March and May 2009.  Unfortunately, their report  falls shy of concluding what causes the contamination, though it admits the gas drilling is a potential source.

Kudos to Residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania

Residents of Dimock, a small rural Pennsylvania town, have sued Cabot Oil & Gas Corp, claiming the company’s natural-gas drilling has contaminated their wells with deadly chemicals, causing sickness and reducing their property values

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