As MDN had previously speculated, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, under official investigation for using a private email account for official government business in order to avoid archiving requirements, is resigning from the agency she’s headed for the past four (dreadful) Obama years. Jackson has been the leader of what MDN considers to be a rogue government agency—willing to usurp the Constitution and grab power whenever, and wherever it can.
Not everyone on the pro-drilling side of the isle shares MDN’s opinion of Ms. Jackson—some fear a replacement will be even more aggressive—but we don’t see how it could be any worse than the past four years under Jackson.
Early last week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a 278-page “progress report” on it’s multi-year study of hydraulic fracturing (full copy embedded below). The final report is due to be completed in late 2014. The purpose of the study? To try and figure out if there’s any conceivable way the EPA can get its hooks into regulating oil and gas drilling in the U.S.—something Constitutionally left to the individual states to do. The EPA is hoping to prove that fracking somehow, in some way, impacts groundwater, which would let them claim fracking comes under the purview of the Clean Water Act and empower them to regulate drilling.
The Dec. 2012 interim report was issued to keep everyone posted on their progress. It specifically details how the EPA is conducting its research—their methodology—but not any results…not yet. The results of the research and the conclusions/recommendations will come in late 2014. Unfortunately it seems the EPA held private meetings with prominent anti-frackers before releasing the progress report (see Energy in Depth’s excellent analysis here), casting doubt on the EPA’s ability to conduct impartial research.
Here’s the EPA’s press announcement from last week’s release of the progress report:
Hey buddy, can you spare a few (million) dimes? The National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) is looking for someone in the oil and gas drilling industry to help get a now four year-old project off the ground. The NETL unveiled, to great fanfare, the Extreme Drilling Laboratory (XDL) in January 2009 in Morgantown, WV. It’s centerpiece of technology is the Ultra-Deep Single-Cutter Drilling Simulator (UDS), which they call their “rock star.” The UDS is an impressive device that can simulate drilling at 30,000 pounds of force per square inch and temperatures exceeding 480 °F – conditions that would be found at the bottom of very deep oil and gas wells.
Just one tiny problem: Industry isn’t using this marvelous technology to figure out better ways to drill. How come?
The anti-drillers are having a heyday—when it comes to writing new books. First was The End of Country: Dispatches from the Frack Zone by Seamus McGraw, garnering high praise from Bobby Kennedy, Jr. and Tom Brokaw. Then came Under the Surface: Fracking, Fortunes, and the Fate of the Marcellus Shale by former Gannett reporter Tom Wilbur.
There’s now more anti-fracking books flowing than natural gas. There’s even an anti-fracking book for kids, written (appropriately) by a 12-year-old:
The reviews are in and the new, somewhat anti-fracking movie Promised Land, starring Matt Damon, is being universally panned as a dud. At least, it’s a dud if you’re an anti-driller hoping this movie would change the public debate and sink fracking like the 1979 movie The China Syndrome (starring Hanoi Jane Fonda) sunk the nuclear power industry in this country. Promised Land is no China Syndrome—so says those on both the pro- and anti-drilling side of the debate.
The latest to weigh in with a two-thumbs-down on Promised Land is none other than the (very disappointed) New York Times:
In New Jersey, where even the Republicans are Democrats, it’s no surprise that a Republican Assemblyman—Declan O’Scanlon—has introduced a bill into the state legislature that would ban fracking in the state until the federal EPA is done with its analysis of fracking and water (which won’t happen until late 2014 at the earliest). Not that there’s any frackable shale under NJ anyway. Still, it’s the principle of the thing—and the rank hypocrisy of those who profess to be Republicans.