MDN Weekly Update – Jan 29, 2012: Are You Serious Mr. President?

poll resultsLast week’s MDN poll asked about the hot button question of whether or not you think the EPA should have a role in investigating water contamination in Dimock, PA. Although our weekly MDN polls often get criticized by anti-drillers, the MDN audience does not always think the way editor Jim Willis does! This week’s poll is evidence. More of you think the EPA has a role than those of us who don’t think so (including Jim). Here are the results:

Should the federal EPA investigate the Dimock, PA water contamination case?

Yes (52%, 142 Votes)
No (44%, 120 Votes)
Not sure (4%, 11 Votes)

Total Voters: 273

This Week’s Poll: Is President Obama Now a Fracking Shale Gas Supporter?

Just last week MDN wrote a “rant” about the out-of-control Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and their latest attempt to smear hydraulic fracturing by inserting themselves into an investigation at Dimock, PA (see this MDN Weekly Update). EPA wants to control oil and gas drilling in this country, and their illicit ticket to ride is by trying to find at least one case where fracking has resulted in chemical contamination of ground water supplies. They’re looking for just a single case (of out an estimated 19,000 wells that will be fracked this year). Just a single, solitary case out of the hundreds of thousands of wells that have been fracked going back 50 years. Anything! Of course even if the EPA were to find a single case, it would still be statistically zero, but oh what a hatchet job the environmental extremists and media could do with a single case!

So MDN found it amusing, and we’re sure the EPA was apoplectic, when President Obama essentially said in his State of the Union address this past week that fracking is good and will result in 600,000 jobs (see this MDN story). But MDN is also suspicious of election year conversions. Most pro-drilling organizations and landowner coalitions have hailed Obama’s words in his speech, and since, as turning a corner. It’s given new hope to landowners in New York State that perhaps Gov. Andrew Cuomo will now have enough political cover to move forward with lifting the moratorium in that state (“hey, Obama says it’s OK).

MDN remains a hardened skeptic. “Show me the money!” Or in this case, “Show me you’re serious!” How can the President prove he is serious about shale gas drilling and his stated support of fracking? The first thing he can do is tell the EPA to butt out of Dimock. It is his EPA. The EPA, like it or not, is an arm of the presidency. It is an agency in the Executive branch of government. That means Obama is the boss. If he wanted to, he could tell Lisa Jackson to quit fiddling around in Dimock. Second, while he’s at it, he could tell Lisa to end the multi-year study of fracking the EPA is currently conducting. Fracking has been studied to death already—the EPA will learn nothing new. But the not-so-subtle threat is that the EPA will gin up enough suspect data to make a grab at regulating oil and gas drilling through the back door by controlling fracking. And where there’s a threat of government interference, there’s uncertainty, and where’s there’s uncertainty, companies are slow to invest and move forward. And when companies are slow to invest and move forward, less business is done and fewer jobs are created. Fracking is already heavily regulated in the individual states where it’s used. We don’t need the EPA usurping the states and adding yet another layer of regulation, smothering the industry.

Although oil is not natural gas, the two are closely tied together. Fracking has resulted in an unprecedented renaissance of oil drilling in our own country—witness the miracle of the Bakken fields of North Dakota. ND now has the lowest unemployment rate in the country and has had the lowest unemployment for what, going on two years now? Why? Fracking. ND is producing boatloads of oil. One of the ways to get oil from where it’s drilled to where it needs to be processed and sold is via pipeline. Obama effectively killed the Keystone XL pipeline that would have come from Canada, and along the way, would have gone through the Bakken and taken that oil, along with cheap Canadian oil, and transported it to the Midwest and the Gulf Coast. Want to prove your serious about fracking Mr. Obama? Reverse course and grant the permits to allow the Keystone pipeline to be built. That would be a huge way to show you’re serious about fracking and energy production in this country.

Saying something and doing something are two different things. We’ll take Obama’s statements supporting shale gas drilling and fracking, but it would be so much better if his actions backed up his words. Don’t hold your breath.

What do you think? Is Obama now a genuine convert and supporter of fracking and shale gas? Or is this just an election year stunt to get votes? Register your vote in this week’s poll along the right side of any page.

Below are the most recent “top 5” lists and the calendar of Marcellus-related events for the next two weeks.

Happy reading,
Jim Willis, Editor

P.S. MDN is working on a new permits report that will be published soon (in February). Keep watching MDN for details in the coming weeks. This new report is better than the last by orders of magnitude!

Five Most Viewed Stories This Past Week (Jan 22nd – Jan 28th)

  1. Major Chesapeake Announcement: Shifting from Dry to Wet Gas (1/23/12)
  2. Obama State of the Union: Safe Fracking will Create 600K Jobs (1/25/12)
  3. NG Prices React to Chesapeake’s Announcement to Cut Production (1/24/12)
  4. Record-Breaking 19K New Wells to be Fracked in 2012 (1/23/12)
  5. Broome County, NY Landowners Get Big Payment from Talisman (1/25/12)

Five Most Viewed Stories Last 30 Days (Dec 29th – Jan 28th)

  1. Teamsters Marcellus Pipeline Workers Walk Out on Strike (1/4/12)
  2. Major Chesapeake Announcement: Shifting from Dry to Wet Gas (1/23/12)
  3. Ohio Offers Shell Cracker Plant $1.4B in Tax Incentives (1/2/12)
  4. Exxon Buys 13,200 Acres of Utica Shale Leases in Ohio (1/9/12)
  5. Fracking Fluid Spill in Bradford PA Result of Sabotage (1/11/12)

MDN Calendar (Jan 29th – Feb 11th)


New York




  • Anonymous

    You don’t seem to have a clue about how moderate politics works.
    The more Obama says he’s in favor of natural gas, the MORE you can expect the
    EPA to get involved, not less.

  • Anonymous

    I have to believe that a majority supporting an EPA examination of Dimock’s water quality is irritating to those paranoia feed listeners of Fox and Rush, but I think it shows that people just want someone keeping an eye on the industry, even people who want drilling. What those Obama haters don’t get is he a pragmatist at heart who has been bitten too often when he extended a compromising hand to Congressional Republicans. Now, in an election year, he has learned well the Winston Churchill comment “To compromise is to risk falling between two stools”

  • Anonymous

    Obama is a SHAM, on top of that an out right liar. He has put this country in a severe state of debt more than every President combined that took this office and he did it in three years!! 14 Trillion and counting. The highest unemployment, the highest foreclosures, lowest GDP. He got up to the podium for the State of the Union address with this confidant attitude and a speech of his successes like this country is thriving and moving full steam ahead.Nothing could be further from the truth!!  He has no true game plan for the future, just empty words and promises. He will put us so far into debt borrowing from china and printing money that it will be fiscally impossible for US to get out of. We must be responsible people and see this President for what he is.Just because he says something (no one does it better than him) doesn’t make it fact. We must truly vote for change or expect the worse. Obama is slicing our armed forces to bare minimums and leaving us vulnerable to the extremists countries.He has taken responsibility for achievements that he had nothing to do with.Make November count its our only hope.

  • Anonymous

    It would not be hard to get on board with gas well fracking.  I think all that people are looking for is a certain amount of certainty that they won’t be plagued by futuire health and environmental problems. Unless their is nothing to hide this process should answer to all the regulatory agencies that all other agencies face.  I think the industry paranoia that forms a bias as witnessed by JIm on this site, who in spite of evidence and the lack of quality investigation still insist that there is not even one instance of this process contaminating an aquifer.  It is this hard nosed bias and the expensive PR propaganda that raises red flags with those of us who were on board because we want to see the prosperity that was promised but we don’t want to sacrifice the health and well being of our children and grandchildren.  It was this site that turned me from a pro gas recovery advocate in my community to a slow down and take precaution attitude that seems to be growing at least in my community.  An accumulation of evidentuary bias on this site along with snide remarks aimed at those who are aprehensive, as well as, total denial of any type of consequence associated with the drilling, fracking and injection wells has created doubts about any honesty at all eminating from this site.  Jim, you may want rethink your approach to the people who came on this site, not as cheerleaders for the promise of big money. but for some common sense information to evaluate the the pros and cons of the gas recovery process becuase we also want prosperity for our children but are not willing to sacrifice their health for a payday.

  • Anonymous

    Maverick47, I have asked for ” Proof” from all the anti’s that post on this site that the Hydrofracking process (when performed according to State standards and under the watchful eye of each States Environmental Protection Agency) has contaminated any Aquifers,Wells, Streams, etc. I did not receive one response. Why? because there has been no such proof, only allegations.There are over 100,000 wells being drilled successfully right now in this country( do your homework on that number), you will only here in the media about the few that have had any problems, why? because negativity makes good news and sells papers.The Gas industry maybe somewhat paranoid because public perception is everything, The Sierra Club, the Wozniaks,etc that bombard the media and websites with false accusations and hype are getting into uninformed peoples heads and causing those opinions to change.People that do not have any stake in natural gas and do not follow it as closely as you or I and rely solely upon what they are fed by the media.Think about the numbers of accidents that have occurred in the Oil industry, Coal industry,Nuclear industry, people are human and there will be spills, trucks that overturn and spill chemicals all over, shady companies that try and cut corners to save money,human error, that happens everywhere and in all aspects of business.Are we suppose to condemn the practice and not extract the resource because a spill could happen or a company cut a corner ( Cabot,Dimock,PA)? The pro aspect of drilling safely in this horrible economy, with the OPEC strangle attached, and the promise and assurance of thousands of jobs will give your children and grandchildren a chance at the American dream. Both you and I in our lifetime were able to have had and seen both sides. Blaming Jim for being a messenger of fact with a little of his opinion inserted should not be “your” scapegoat for bashing. If you can write some facts about your findings of ” contamination” on this site that can be “confirmed” I’m listening. Otherwise,this is mainly a pro site,and you will not get any slack from me. You may want to get on those Anti sites if your looking for some feel good feed back. But your not paying my bills, are you? I’m pissed off  that there are people infringing on my Constitutional and State rights to do what I want on MY land. I’m sick and tired of liberal NY politics that appeases those special interest groups and OPEC billionaires( that throw millions of dollars in their coffers) halting progress. I see the media has gotten to you, I don’t believe half of what they say until I investigate it myself. Quick facts for you, in Dimock Pa., there were improperly installed casings by Cabot, caused leakage,Not caught by PADEP  both hopefully should get hammered for it. In Wyoming wells were tested “prior” to fracking and Methane Gas was present in all of them. The media will hype anything until it has been proven wrong, then of course they will not report that finding, they just move on to the next lie.Kinda like Obama

  • Anonymous

    This is case from W.Va.  It can be founf in a reprot in the Charleston Gazzette and backed up by an EPA report.  It appears that many other contamination incedents have been settled and records sealed that could verify additional contaminations. I will follow up with proof of atr and soil contamination as well as earthquakes linked to injection wells and fracking.  I want you to know that four months ago I was writing editorials promoting the gas recovery process tha has recently begun in my community.  All I am asking for is for things to slow down so that we can get a handle on consequences that have been played down since the drillers first came to town. 

    The report concluded that hydraulic fracturing fluids or gel used by the Kaiser Exploration and Mining Company contaminated a well roughly 600 feet away on the property of James Parsons in Jackson County, W.Va., referring to it as “Mr. Parson’s water well.”
    “When fracturing the Kaiser gas well on Mr. James Parson’s property, fractures were created allowing migration of fracture fluid from the gas well to Mr. Parson’s water well,” according to the agency’s summary of the case. “This fracture fluid, along with natural gas was present in Mr. Parson’s water, rendering it unusable.”
    Asked about the cause of the incident, Mr. Wohlschlegel emphasized that the important factor was that the driller and the regulator had not known about the nearby aquifer. But in comments submitted to the E.P.A. at the time about the report, the petroleum institute acknowledged that this was indeed a case of drinking water contamination from fracking.
    “The damage here,” the institute wrote, referring to Mr. Parsons’ contaminated water well, “results from an accident or malfunction of the fracturing process.”
    Mr. Wohlschlegel cautioned however that the comments provided at the time by the institute were not based on its own research and therefore it cannot be sure that other factors did not play a role.
    In their report, E.P.A. officials also wrote that Mr. Parsons’ case was highlighted as an “illustrative” example of the hazards created by this type of drilling, and that legal settlements and nondisclosure agreements prevented access to scientific documentation of other incidents.
    “This is typical practice, for instance, in Texas,” the report stated. “In some cases, the records of well-publicized damage incidents are almost entirely unavailable for review.”
    Bipartisan federal legislation before Congress would require judges to consider public health and safety before sealing court records or approving settlement agreements.
    Dan Derkics, a 17-year veteran of the environmental agency who oversaw research for the report, said that hundreds of other cases of drinking water contamination were found, many of which looked from preliminary investigations to have been caused by hydraulic fracturing like the one from West Virginia. But they were unable to learn more about them.
    “I can assure you that the Jackson County case was not unique,” said Mr. Derkics, who retired from the agency in 1994. “That is why the drinking water concerns are real.”

  • wacoyaco

     OK, Maverick47, you wrote it not me, you named one (1) case,and I’m sure there are a few others, but lets talk about haw many have been drilled successfully without any environmental impact. My number of over 100,000 wells nationally is not made up, it is fact. when you are drilling down 1 mile into the earth, then going horizontally there are unknowns and variables( that’s why its called exploration) that will happen and take place, rock formations that change,along with the hazards of the trade that happen,.accidents, flaws in drilling, flaws in casings construction, spills, etc. There will be isolated cases of contamination like you wrote and that just can not be predetermined or avoided. There have been many accidents in drilling for oil also, but we still do it.Why? because we need it, period. So we accept that those accidents do and will happen and try to correct them along the way and not to repeat them again.I said this before on previous posts but even though we as a society know cigarette smoking causes cancer and KILLS you, people still do it and it kills millions every year,pollutes our air, yet it is accepted, to me it’s insane and should be outlawed .But, here we have a natural resource that is a game changer for our nation as a whole, it will benefit every American,it will change our future in the energy game, help our economy to get out of a 6 year recession , supply  our children and their children with better air and less carbon emissions, get off the OPEC nipple,Do I have to go on and on about those benefits, yet we beat it down because of a few incidents.I do feel for Mr. Parsons contaminated well, it does suck, but lets also look at his positives. He probably received a hefty lease payment for them to drill on his land, didn’t he? I’m also sure that the gas they are extracting out will give him a nice monthly check on top of that.he would have never seen that kind of money, ever.I also believe that the drilling company responsible will either take care of his water situation for him or relocate him. Either way, Mr. Parsons made the decision to let drilling be done on his property, and he profited greatly.  I’m sure he was aware of the possible risks that “may” occur. Maverick, there are no guarantees in life. When I went for surgery the doctor told me he would try and fix my leg, but couldn’t give me a guarantee he could. I still chose the surgery, and he did a great job!! Simply put natural gas exploration and development benefits blow away any downside. When you look at percentages of leakage or well issues around the country the percentages are fractional.I would also point out again, that most issues were due to faulty implementation, not the process. There will be learning curve that must happen in order to diagnose and correct issues like Mr. Parsons issues, however, in gas exploration or any natural resource for that matter that is extracted from our earth by us humans, there will be accidents, and you will never get 100 % safety record.

  • Anonymous

    Just so everyone knows that gel you speak of is mined out of the ground in Wyoming. It’s completely natural.