MDN decided to “take one for the team” and attend Promised Land, the new anti-fracking movie by Matt Damon and Gus Van Sant, this past weekend. Prior to attending, MDN had read a number of reviews from both pro- and anti-fracking writers. Almost all of those reviews said the same thing—this movie was no China Syndrome for the fracking movement. That is, Promised Land will not be a watershed movie that wins the hearts and minds of average Americans, turning them against fracking (see Anti-Drillers Disappointed with Promised Land).
We have to agree with that assessment. However, we’ll be more charitable than many anti-fracking critics by saying overall, we thought it was a decent flick, as movies go. But then, we like sentimental “the good guy wins” kinds of movies.
Spoiler Warning: This review gives it all up. If you haven’t seen the movie yet and plan to go, don’t read this review just yet. Go and see the movie, then come back and read this review. So let’s get down to it…
Dan Fitzsimmons, president of the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York (JLCNY), received a letter from NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens last week (see a copy embedded below). It seems Gov. Andrew Cuomo personally asked Martens to respond, in writing, to the JLCNY’s concerns about the latest delay in the release of new fracking regulations—the delay to allow for a public health review. The latest number on the NY moratorium clock (on the right) shows New York’s ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing is 4 years, 5 months and 15 days old—so far. The patience of New York’s landowners is wearing thin.
According to the letter, Gov. Cuomo and Martens want the JLCNY to know, well, nothing new that we don’t already know! It’s the gesture itself that’s important—the fact that Cuomo and Martens took the time to write. Martens’ gesture in sending the letter gives the JLCNY reason to be “cautiously optimistic that the DEC will soon complete the SGEIS and regulations,” according to an email MDN received from Fitzsimmons.
A court battle that started in early 2012 has a happy conclusion for energy giant Dominion. More than a year ago, Dominion filed for a permit to liquefy natural gas and export it from their facility at Cove Point, Maryland—60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C. Dominion has Japanese customers ready and waiting to buy natural gas from the U.S. But a 1970s legal settlement granted the Sierra Club with the power to reject significant changes to the facility. True to character, the Sierra Club objected in April (see Sierra Club Will Try to Block Maryland LNG Export Terminal).
On Friday, a Maryland judge ruled in favor of Dominion, which means Dominion can now proceed with their plans to invest up to $3.5 billion in the facility (an regional economic tsunami) to get it ready to export Marcellus Shale LNG from Cove Point.
A controversy is brewing in Stark County where a private landfill wants to build a 12-mile pipeline to carry landfill liquids (called leachate) to the Canton municipal sewage treatment plant for treatment and disposal into the Nimishillen Creek, which in turn runs into the Tuscarawas River. The “problem” is that the landfill accepts Utica Shale drill cuttings—leftover mud, rock and dirt from drilling operations.
One Stark County official, Councilwoman-at-large Mary Cirelli, is concerned the drill cuttings at the landfill will create leachate with high levels of radioactivity and if treated at the Canton sewage plant, it will contaminate the Tuscarawas River. Similar scenarios with concerns over radioactive drill cuttings has played out in Marcellus Shale locations as well (see this MDN story). Those locations, which now accept drill cuttings, have no reported instances of radioactive leachate.
From now on, Jefferson County, OH commissioners will force companies drilling Utica Shale wells in the county or companies building natural gas pipelines in the county that need to construct or repair public roadways, to use higher-priced laborers. Jefferson County commissioners are bowing to pressure from the Laborers International Union.
New road use agreements, which are required for constructing new wells and pipelines, must have a “prevailing wage requirement” according to the Jefferson County engineer, who says it’s a mandate from the state Attorney General’s office:
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who loves the money from “foreign” oil and gas companies (foreign as in Oklahoma and Texas) flowing into the state, but doesn’t care for “foreign workers” from those states, and Gov. John Kasich who wants to tax gas drillers more so he can spread the wealth around to everyone, is behind the eight ball when it comes to leasing state-owned land for shale gas drilling.
Kasich is more than a year behind in appointing a five-member commission to oversee leasing of state park and state forest mineral rights:
A few weeks ago the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a “progress report” on their multi-year study of hydraulic fracturing and it’s potential impact on water supplies (see EPA’s Fracking Study Progress Report – Dec 2012).
Last week, during an online presentation, an EPA official said the water test sample results/data they’ve gathered to date, including results from testing done in Pennsylvania, will be released “a number of weeks from now”:
Chesapeake Energy takes security in and around it’s drill sites seriously—so much so they employ 24 full-time security officers to conduct roving patrols in an eight-county region in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania.
Security for Chesapeake, however, involves far more than driving by a drill site and rattling a chained fence…