Posts tagged "Bloomberg"
Top Ohio Oil & Gas Regulator Lauds State Regulation
Thursday, April 18th, 2013 | 1 Comment
This week, Rick Simmers, Chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources — Division of Oil & Gas Resources, traveled to Washington, DC, to explain to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee that Ohio’s hydraulic fracturing and Class II injection well program is properly regulated by the state — and has a track record to prove it. As Energy In Depth has extensively covered, Ohio imposes more stringent regulation than even the federal EPA, which has jurisdiction over injection wells. When the state improved their oversight with Senate Bill 315, existing regulation was already lauded by STRONGER, an EPA-supported review group composed of state regulators and other experts.
Simmers told the committee that his inspectors can enforce regulation properly because they live in operating areas and can reach emergencies and inspections quickly. He said Ohio has issued 596 permits for horizontal development in the Utica Shale, and of those, 293 have been drilled and 81 and have been completed. He said their team of fifty field inspectors is doing a great job and can hire more if needed:
“We welcome any review of our program because we’re doing a great job. We are both better suited and better situated to run this program than the federal EPA.” —Rick Simmers (Official testifies on Ohio fracking oversight, 4/17/13)
When the D&L Energy and Hardrock Excavating incidents were brought up during the testimony, Simmers explained they could be used as an example of ODNR doing its job:
“If it was not for the on-the-ground efforts of ODNR’s oil and gas inspectors, this criminal and environmentally threatening illegal activity of dumping oilfield waste directly into the Mahoning River could still be occurring. Only with the proper resources and experienced staff could this type of action have been executed so swiftly.” —Rick Simmers (Official testifies on Ohio fracking oversight, 4/17/13)
Without proper research, some would disagree Ohio is doing a great job. An out-of-state reporter from ShaleReporter.com — part of the Beaver County Times – claimed that Ohio is essentially a disaster zone with little to no regulatory oversight:
“Despite a history marked with fracking catastrophes, Ohio still wants to retain oversight of its hydraulic fracturing and wastewater disposal industry.” –Rachel Morgan (Ohio tells feds: Stay off fracking, 4/18/13)
Ohio has no history of “fracking catastrophes” — convenient how the specific examples of incidents from fracking were omitted, isn’t it? — and that’s due to strong state oversight. Morgan instead focuses on the dubious fracking-earthquake nexus that she tried to invent a few months ago, citing a handful of specific events instead of the thousands upon thousands of wells that have operated without incident. But why would an actual reporter bother with such details?
For the sake of discussion, however, let’s now look at just how stringent Ohio’s regulation of oil and gas truly is, contrary to the narrative that ShaleReporter.com wants us all to believe.
Energy In Depth has made many comparisons between ODNR’s regulation and the federal regulation it bests. Since Ohio received primacy of the UIC program in 1983, over 200 million barrels of brine have been processed without a single case of groundwater contamination. Environmentalists recently expressed a desire for oversight by the federal government, which means they are ironically pushing for more lax regulation (albeit with an EPA they feel they can manipulate much more easily). Here are some examples of how ODNR’s rules are more stringent than the federal EPA’s:
|Comparison of Ohio’s Class II Brine Injection Regulations with USEPA Regulations|
|Ohio Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management||United States Environmental Protection Agency|
|Unannounced inspections, on average, every 11-12 weeks.||One inspection done per well each year by EPA consultant.|
|Continuous mechanical integrity monitoring or monthly mini-tests to demonstrate continuous mechanical integrity.||Demonstration of mechanical integrity at least once every five years.|
|Injection volumes greater than 200 barrels per day require a ½-mile area of review of all other wells. Less than 200 barrels per day is a ¼-mile radius.||All Class II wells shall be cased and cemented to prevent movement of fluids into or between underground sources of drinking water.|
|ODNR has the authority to require seismic testing and monitoring.||Federal code does not specifically address seismic testing and monitoring.|
As far as well casing standards, Ohio leads the nation in well construction regulation, boasting 54 standards in place:
It’s encouraging to see Ohio’s top oil and gas regulator lauding the state’s well researched legislation and regulation. Ohio’s laws exceed those of the federal government for a reason. The state needs inspections, safety, and rules to insure our resources are developed properly and our economic revitalization continues, and the data prove that the state is meeting that challenge.
Tags: Bloomberg, Class II injection well program, Energy in Depth - Ohio, EPA, Hydraulic fracturing, Injection Wells, natural gas, ODNR, Ohio, Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Rick Simmers, U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, Utica Shale
Bloomberg Misses the Mark on Utica Development
Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 | 4 Comments
In its recent coverage of the Ohio shale industry, Bloomberg News suggested that the oil and gas industry is leaving Ohio in droves. It’s fitting that baseball season is underway, because the report was an unequivocal swing and miss.
The central problem with Bloomberg’s narrative is that it only focused on oil development, and thus completely ignored the amazing story of the natural gas liquids (NGLs) activity occurring in eastern Ohio. And that liquids story is nothing to cast aside so easily. In fact, thanks in large part to NGLs, the oil and gas industry is already helping Ohio return to economic prosperity, employing 38,000 people in the state — a number that will only continue to grow.
More specifically, the increasing investment in Ohio is due to the vast potential of NGLs in the Utica/Point Pleasant formation in the eastern part of the state. For this reason, Ohio has already seen over $7 billion worth of natural gas processing and infrastructure investment from midstream companies like Momentum, Markwest, Dominion and Caiman Energy. In addition, Ohio currently has 20 different operators developing in the Utica Shale of eastern Ohio. Major companies like Halliburton, Schlumberger and Baker Hughes are also setting up shop here in Ohio to provide well servicing for the operators.
If Bloomberg News thinks companies are packing up and leaving the state, it would certainly be news to these multi-billion dollar firms who are investing in Ohio for the long haul.
So what, exactly, does Bloomberg consider evidence for a mass exodus from Ohio? The story observes that four of the biggest operators have “put up all or part of their acreage for sale,” apparently unaware of the virtual truism in that statement (selling just one acre would be encapsulated in a “all or part of their acreage” proclamation, for example).
In case you think we’re just being dismissive, let’s look at Chesapeake Energy, the first company cited by Bloomberg. Chesapeake has leased more than a million acres in the Utica Shale/ Point Pleasant formation, but Bloomberg failed to mention that, instead only stating that the company put up 94,000 acres for sale — which is less than ten percent of Chesapeake’s total leased acreage. Chesapeake has also spent over $3 billion in the Utica to date. Adding insult to injury for Bloomberg’s investigative reporting division, the company has repeatedly said they wanted to focus on their core area of Carroll, Harrison and Columbiana Counties.
The lack of context extended into other areas of the story as well. The Woods McKenzie analyst cited by Bloomberg estimated that, by 2017, the Utica will be producing 200,000 barrels of oil a day. Unfortunately, that number was compared to the massive Eagle Ford Shale in Texas, which is projected to be producing more than 1.1 million of oil per day in 2017. What was ignored, though, is that 200,000 barrels per day is nothing trivial for Ohio, especially considering the fact that the state produced only 13,000 barrels of oil per day before the Utica Shale opportunities manifested themselves.
That’s right: Thanks to the Utica, Ohio’s oil production is set to increase fifteen fold by 2017 — a fact that a major news organization suggests is some sort of failure!
Look, the fact is this: Companies are going to focus on the NGL window while they continue to work on developing more and more of the oil window in the Utica. That doesn’t mean they’re leaving in droves; on the contrary, these companies are putting up billions of dollars in capital to develop wells, build infrastructure, and even prove the next wave of fields.
Need more proof? BP, Hess, Chevron and XTO are setting up shop and developing here in Ohio. Other major companies like Chesapeake, CONSOL, Rex Energy, PDC Energy and Gulfport, meanwhile, continue to post significant production numbers throughout eastern Ohio. And thanks to their continuing investments, Ohio’s economy is on the rebound as we become a major player in the energy space.
Those facts may not make for the conflict-inspired headlines that unfortunately define the current news media, but we Ohioans know better, and the state is better off because of what the industry has done for all of us here in the Buckeye State.
*UPDATE* EPA Data Show 66 Percent Drop in Methane Emissions from Oil and Gas
Saturday, February 9th, 2013 | 0 Comments
**Cross-posted from Oil, Gas Production Among Top Greenhouse-Gas Sources.”
—Original post, February 7, 2013—
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest report on greenhouse gases (GHGs) shows a significant drop in methane emissions from natural gas development, as compared to EPA’s prior data. The latest reporting from EPA suggests methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems were 82.6 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent in 2011. Last year, EPA’sGHG Inventory – which assessed data for 2010 – estimated that natural gas systems alone emitted more than 215 million metric tons, while petroleum systems added another 31 million metric tons.
Taken together, EPA’s latest data on petroleum and natural gas suggest a 66 percent decline in methane emissions from the agency’s prior estimates. Here are some other noteworthy findings from EPA:
- Oil and natural gas systems now emit fewer methane emissions than waste facilities, which include landfills and water treatment plants.
- NOTE: EPA previously said petroleum and natural gas systems “are the largest source of CH4 [methane] emissions from industry in the United States.” That obviously has changed.
- Total GHG emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems are roughly ten times smaller than the largest source: power plants.
- Emissions from power plants declined from 2010 to 2011, due in large part to the increased use of natural gas.
- Overall GHG emissions in the United States declined by about three percent from 2010 to 2011.
It is worth noting, however, that it’s difficult to make an exact apples-to-apples comparison between EPA’s previous estimates of total methane emissions from oil and gas and the data released this week. The agency’s latest data represent “85-90 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions,” according to the EPA, as they exclude smaller sources in the existing categories. The data also exclude agriculture, which can be a significant source of methane: EPA’s prior inventory of GHGs, released in 2012, showed enteric fermentation from livestock and manure management were two of the top five sources of methane in the United States.
Nevertheless, the bigger picture is certainly good news: greenhouse gas emissions are falling in the United States, led in part by an affordable and abundant fuel like natural gas. And given all of the attention on methane emissions, it’s great to see that the current data suggest a significant decline from the agency’s previous estimate.
Of course, you’d probably never know many of these facts if you accepted the media’s take on EPA’s data.
E&E News said the report revealed “massive methane emissions” from the oil, natural gas, and coal sectors, identifying only the methane-as-CO2-equivalent number for petroleum and natural gas systems – 82.6 million metric tons. As mentioned above, 82.6 million metric tons is two-thirds less than EPA’s prior estimate, some helpful context that was unfortunately ignored. Scientific American re-posted the E&E story, adding that methane emissions are “on the rise” in the United States, apparently unaware of the actual data related to oil and natural gas.
A separate piece for E&E led with the statement that petroleum and natural gas systems “accounted for 40 percent of the methane emissions reported to the U.S. EPA in 2011.” Again, no mention of the drop in EPA’s estimates, nor the acknowledgment that landfills, treatment plants, and other waste facilities had overtaken oil and gas with higher methane emissions.
But the worst offender was Bloomberg, which ran with the headline, “Fracking Seen by EPA as No. 2 Emitter of Greenhouse Gases” – a demonstrably false characterization. (That’s disappointing, too; the story that followed the bogus headline was actually decently written and captured a lot of the critical details from EPA’s report.)
Petroleum and natural gas systems were listed by EPA as the second largest GHG emitter, although the difference in emissions between number one (power plants) and number two was enormous: 2.2 billion tons versus 225 million tons. Petroleum and natural gas systems also include things like LNG import facilities, offshore oil and gas wells, pipelines and compressor stations – none of which could ever accurately be described as “fracking.”
In fact, several facilities studied were in places like the North Slope of Alaska and even Hawaii, where no hydraulic fracturing is even occurring. Additionally, some of the midstream infrastructure analyzed throughout the country has been in operation for decades and was constructed long before the “shale boom” ever began.
Even worse for Bloomberg is that EPA’s page explaining all of the components of its “petroleum and natural gas systems” category never once mentions the words “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking.” That means the EPA said nothing about emissions specifically from hydraulic fracturing, rendering absurd Bloomberg’s suggestion that the process was somehow “seen by EPA” as the number two emitter.
But don’t just take our word for it. John Quigley, the former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, said of Bloomberg’s headline: “Imprecise language misinforms and clouds the discussions we should be having and the actions we should be taking.” A reporter for SNL Energy tweeted: “Bloomberg appears to be labeling ALL oil and gas activity as #fracking. Kind of a stretch, dontcha think?”
Interestingly, FuelFix.com (a blog for the Houston Chronicle) ran Bloomberg’s story and even used the same headline. A few hours later, however, the blog changed the headline to “Houston companies among top polluters on federal list” – not exactly a sparkling gem, but certainly a far cry from the previous misappropriation of emissions to hydraulic fracturing. It’s also telling that even a news outlet running a Bloomberg wire story was not comfortable using Bloomberg’s designated headline on its website.
Despite the media’s penchant for alarmist headlines and what often appears to be an insatiable need to link every aspect of oil and gas development to hydraulic fracturing, the facts are clear: EPA’s latest report on greenhouse gas emissions made several reassuring observations, including declines not only in greenhouse gases across the entire country, but also in methane emissions from oil and gas systems specifically.
Bloomberg’s Misleading Hydraulic Fracturing Poll
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 | 0 Comments
Measuring public opinion can be a tricky task. The answers you get really depend on who you ask, and how you ask the question, and – less appreciated – where in the interviewing process you ask the question. Ask the wrong group of people a question, or ask the question in the wrong way, or ask the question after a series of other questions, and the results of your public opinion poll won’t accurately measure public opinion.
Unfortunately, a recent Bloomberg National Poll that found an increase in public support for more regulation on hydraulic fracturing appears to have made all three mistakes – asking a question of the wrong group of people, asking it in the wrong way, and asking it after a series of other questions that may have affected the results. As a result, this poll doesn’t add any substance to the debate over hydraulic fracturing, and is actually quite misleading.
The Dec. 13 Bloomberg poll found 66% of the American public wants “more” regulation of hydraulic fracturing – the technology that makes the production of oil and natural gas from deep shale formations possible. That’s an increase of 10 percent since September. There were more than 20 questions in the survey, which took in a wide range of subjects, including the meaning of President Obama’s election win, why Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge makes Republican lawmakers resistant to raising taxes, and which Democrats would make good presidential candidates in 2016. To conduct the poll, Bloomberg surveyed 1,000 people randomly selected across the country.
Mistake #1 – Asking a national audience about state-by-state issues
It’s understandable that when fielding a national poll, Bloomberg would want to add a question about hydraulic fracturing – in some eastern U.S. states, it’s a topic that’s in the news a good bit. But sampling a group of 1,000 randomly selected adults from all across the country doesn’t provide a meaningful measure of public sentiment toward hydraulic fracturing and the American energy production it makes possible.
In recent years, opponents of the oil and gas industry have intensely lobbied the news media to nationalize the debate over shale development to support a political outcome – the federal government taking regulation of fracturing technology away from the states. It hasn’t worked, and states remain the primary regulators, as they have been since fracturing was first pioneered in the 1940s. As a result, the debate over hydraulic fracturing is also very state-centric, and this issue isn’t covered or talked about equally across the country. In some states, it’s a hot topic, and in others, it’s barely discussed at all. In Florida, few have probably even heard of the thing.
Rather than ask 1,000 randomly selected adults from across the country about hydraulic fracturing, a more relevant exercise would have been polling in states where tight oil and gas development is actually relevant. Had Bloomberg done this, they may have found the public more evenly divided on the question. For example, recent polls from New York have found much narrower margins on questions tied to hydraulic fracturing – 42%-38% support (Siena College Poll), and 44%-42% support (Quinnipiac Poll).
Again, it’s understandable that Bloomberg wanted to write a story about what “the American public” thinks about hydraulic fracturing. But besides generating some (of its own) headlines, polling a national audience fails to provide any meaningful information about how public opinion in individual states may influence regulation in those states. Just as national opinion polls don’t show who’s winning the battleground states during a presidential election, a national poll about hydraulic fracturing tells you nothing about how the issue is being handled state by state.
Mistake #2 – Asking a clearly biased question
The National Council on Public Polls has the following warning for reporters who write about poll numbers:
“You must find out the exact wording of the poll questions. Why? Because the very wording of questions can make major differences in the results. Perhaps the best test of any poll question is your reaction to it. On the face of it, does the question seem fair and unbiased? Does it present a balanced set of choices?”
In other words, how you ask the question can influence the answer you get. Let’s take a look at the question in Bloomberg’s poll:
“A process known as ‘hydraulic fracturing’ or ‘fracking’ involves injecting liquids into the ground. It has resulted in a significant increase in production of natural gas, accompanied by a steep drop in its price. Critics have said it is linked to tainted water supplies and earthquakes. Based just on what you know, do you think there needs to be more regulation or less regulation of fracking?”
This question is hardly neutral. It starts with a poor explanation of hydraulic fracturing, and follows with a description of natural gas production and price trends that’s devoid of any context about job creation and economic growth – topics that most Americans care deeply about. Then the question quotes misinformation from oil and gas critics, and doesn’t even mention what supporters of hydraulic fracturing say. The net result is a question that invites someone to express support for more regulation, because if they don’t, they’re effectively expressing support for “tainted water supplies and earthquakes.”
Bloomberg’s pollsters should rewrite this question to be fair to all sides of the debate. As a starting point, they need look no further than the news copy from the Bloomberg reporter who wrote up the results of the survey:
“Industry groups for chemical, fertilizer and steel companies are trumpeting gains for the U.S. economy as natural gas supplies become more accessible. Low-cost natural gas could generate $72 billion in capital investment as petrochemical companies relocate or boost investments in the U.S., according to the American Chemistry Council.
‘This trend is vital to America’s prosperity,’ Rayola Dougher, chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, told reporters yesterday. ‘However, costly or duplicative regulation of hydraulic fracturing could be incredibly’ harmful, she said.
And while it’s perfectly reasonable to reference environmental concerns in a question about oil and gas development – or any commercial activity, for that matter – the question shouldn’t simply parrot alarmist and ideologically motivated allegations from anti-industry activists. On “tainted water supplies,” Bloomberg’s pollsters should review what environmental regulators have been saying for years, and the expert conclusion of Stanford University geophysicist Mark Zoback, an advisor to U.S. Secretary Steven Chu on hydraulic fracturing:
“…the injection is typically done at depths of around 6,000 to 7,000 feet and drinking water is usually pumped from shallow aquifers, no more than one or two hundred feet below the surface. Fracturing fluids have not contaminated any water supply and with that much distance to an aquifer, it is very unlikely they could.”
As for earthquakes, Bloomberg’s pollsters should also read the National Research Council’s recent study, which concludes “[t]he process of hydraulic fracturing a well as presently implemented for shale gas recovery does not pose a high risk for inducing felt seismic events.” And they should talk to U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Bill Ellsworth, who set the record straight after his research was misrepresented by the news media: “We don’t see any connection between fracking and earthquakes of any concern to society.”
Finally, notice that Bloomberg’s question said nothing about the current state of regulation. So when they reference “more regulation or less regulation” … that’s compared to what, exactly? The question provides no information on what regulations are currently in place. For all the respondents know, hydraulic fracturing could be unregulated altogether. This is especially possible among those respondents in areas where “hydraulic fracturing” is rarely if ever discussed (see Mistake #1).
This is actually very important, because despite Bloomberg’s lack of context, the reality is that shale development is heavily regulated. For example, here’s how the U.S. Department of Energy and state-led Ground Water Protection Council summarized it:
“A series of federal laws governs most environmental aspects of shale gas development. For example, the Clean Water Act regulates surface discharges of water associated with shale gas drilling and production, as well as storm water runoff from production sites. The Safe Drinking Water Act regulates the underground injection of fluids from shale gas activities. The Clean Air Act limits air emissions from engines, gas processing equipment, and other sources associated with drilling and production. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires that exploration and production on federal lands be thoroughly analyzed for environmental impacts.”
And that doesn’t even include all of the strong state regulations in place, many of which have been updated since the above-referenced report was published.
Would the respondents have given the same answer on “more regulation or less regulation” if they were presented with even a paraphrasing of what’s listed here? How can you ask someone to register an informed opinion about whether hydraulic fracturing needs additional regulation when you don’t even provide basic baseline information?
Mistake #3 – “Priming” the respondents
When conducting a public opinion poll, there’s another concern about how you ask the question: where it appears in the survey relative to other questions. According to the American Association for Public Opinion Research:
“In some surveys, the order of the questions may be designed to ‘lead’ the respondent to a kind of conclusion that produces a predictable response. This form of bias would not have been present if the prior questions had not been asked. This is also referred to as setting up a ‘context effect.’”
Among pollsters, this is commonly called “priming.” A respondent’s answer to a question can be influenced by the question asked immediately beforehand, because the earlier question “primed” them to think about a particular topic.
In the Bloomberg survey, respondents to the hydraulic fracturing question were primed not just with a question about environmentalism, but a question about one of the biggest environmental issues of the past 20 years:
“Do you believe the temperature of the Earth is or is not warming because of human activity?”
Anyone who has followed the debate over global warming knows that asking someone whether they blame human activity for rising temperatures is just like asking: “Do you care about the environment, or not?” Asking a question like this immediately before the hydraulic fracturing question primes the respondents to give an answer that’s perceived as environmentally conscious. Coupled with the fact that no information on current regulations was provided, it’s easy to see how respondents were primed for a particular answer.
None of this is to suggest that Bloomberg deliberately misled the public. As described above, it’s understandable why a national news outlet would try to gauge national opinions on a subject like hydraulic fracturing. But the combined effect of a biased question and a primed audience clearly steered the respondents towards the “more regulation” answer.
Youngstown City Council Votes ‘Yes’ on Return to Prosperity
Thursday, October 18th, 2012 | 0 Comments
For the city of Youngstown, Ohio, the Utica Shale has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving.
Last night, after careful study, the Youngstown City Council voted overwhelmingly to permit leasing of the city’s land for oil and natural gas development in order to gain revenues to reduce blight throughout the state’s 9th largest metropolitan area.
The decision comes on the heels of weeks of testimonials and public comment, including input from Rhonda Reda of the already benefiting from Utica Shale development, the agreement will allow for further opportunity to revitalize one of the state’s most proud and storied cities. Today, Ohio’s oil and gas industry is the driving force in an economic recovery that is quickly reducing the unemployment rates across the Mahoning Valley. We covered this in a previous blog post but are providing the numbers again for quick review.
Mahoning Valley/Youngstown-Warren Metro (Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana Counties)
7.8% Unemployment April, 2012
7.4% Unemployment May, 2012
Recent numbers show the jobless rate for the Youngstown Warren metro area dropped to its lowest point since October of 2008. Unemployment dropped to 7.4% for May, that’s compared to 7.8% in April.
Mahoning County saw the biggest change, improving seven tenths of a percent to 7.4%. Trumbull County’s unemployment is 7.2%, the lowest rate in the Valley.
Unemployment numbers for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana Counties are all down and below the national average.
(Jobs Ohio President Mark) Kvamme attributes the growth to eight major industries, including automotive with 50% of all auto workers employed in Ohio or within 500 miles of the border, polymer science with 9% of all U.S. industry jobs in the state, and energy with the state’s continued growth of Utica Shale development.
Kvamme said it’s still too early to tell the overall impact the Utica Shale industry will have on the state. Experts tell him once 100 wells are drilled; you know you have a well defined industry. Currently Ohio has about 30. (Unemployment down for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, 6/25/12)
This positive economic trend is being supported by billions in investments that are pouring into the region to support the state’s burgeoning oil and gas companies.
Some of these investments have already helped the City regain it’s identity as the region’s steel mills are once again humming with activity.
Long absent, the rebirth of the steel and manufacturing industries is breathing new life into Youngstown and is replenishing it’s workforce. With yesterday’s council announcement, Youngstown is now positioned to gain the resources it needs to revitalize areas of the City that have long been neglected. As Bloomberg News reports, Youngstown had been seeking for ways to combat blight and restore the city’s brownfields, however it lacked the funding to do so.
The potential leasing mineral rights provides will go a long way in providing much needed revenue that will be used to remove blighted properties in the metro area. According to today’s CNBC report, removal of 1,100 abandoned homes throughout the City would cost over $4 million.
With this move, lawmakers are seeking to alleviate that burden from the backs of the City’s taxpayers.
This could be something that could help the area not only now, but 10, 20, 50 years from now, just when the steel mills came here. – Mayor Charles Sammarone (2:06)
With this vote Youngstown’s council members have taken the appropriate steps to ensure the city continues to maximize the benefits of the Utica Shale. Thank to the Council’s conscientious deliberation and careful study, the determination to allow the leasing of it’s land for energy exploration will further improve the quality of life and returned appeal of the community.
And it is thanks to the development of Ohio’s natural resources – thousands of feet below – that Youngstown is enjoying it’s restoration of prominence and prosperity. This is a good news story that many in the area have waited to receive for quite awhile.
Ohio Energy Future Defined by Opportunity, Not Politics
Friday, February 24th, 2012 | 0 Comments
Earlier this month, Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke on the need to work together, Republicans and Democrats alike, to ensure the success of Ohio’s shale development and the return to economic prosperity it will provide.
On the energy piece of this, we’re going to have to work together collaboratively, and we have been. Democrats and Republicans understand the big picture here… – Governor John Kasich, State of the State address, 2/7/12
Ditto President Obama. Last month, during the State of the Union address, the president emphasized the incredible potential shale plays all across the country have in the abundant supply of energy and the enormous positive impact it will have in creating new jobs and rejuvenating the economy.
We have a supply of natural gas that can last America nearly 100 years…and my administration will take every possible action to safely develop this energy. – President Barack Obama, State of the Union Address, 1/25/12
This is an opportunity we all share in. A rising tide lifts all ships, right?
But as you may have noticed, it’s an election year. And in good ol’ American tradition, politics is now being injected into every issue and every public conversation out there. Energy development, it seems, and the economic revitalization it is providing, is not immune to this. We can see it nationally, and we can see it at home here in Ohio.
Recently, there has been great effort by activist groups (and, in some cases the media) who would like to characterize or create such a simplistic divide as ‘Right vs Left’ or ‘Republican vs Democrat’ in the greater conversation of energy development; Gasland’s Josh Fox has attempted to lay the blame of his recent arrest at the feet of house Republicans, in spite of the fact that it was a direct result of his failure to follow proper house protocol. Ohio Representative Bob Hagan has tried to tie recent seismic events in Youngstown to the current Republican administration. He even bussed in protestors to the recent State of the State speech to disrupt the annual address. CBS and local anti-energy activist groups have made an attempt, successful in some instances in Ohio, to co-opt the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement into the opposition to oil and gas development.
But it’s not that simple.
I’ve recently spoken with both the Mansfield Tea Party and the Occupy Mansfield groups, and can tell you while there may be deep ideological differences between the two, many of the sentiments on Ohio energy development remain the same. The Occupy group did not inherently oppose energy exploration, nor did the Tea Party group blindly support it. I was invited to speak on the facts by the leadership of both organizations. And I heard the same questions at both events. Surely, there were some folks who had already come with predisposed opinions, but those were not the same ones I came to address. More importantly, they weren’t the ones who came to listen.
Having been to “both sides” of the “aisle” I can tell you – this is not how the opportunity the development of our homegrown resources is defined.
We have a chance to return our state to days of prosperity we have not seen in generations. Shale development has saved Ohio consumers billions on energy costs, brought manufacturing back to places where it has been long dormant for decades, dropped unemployment rates in long depressed regions, and lifted communities that have endured great hardship.
And we are just beginning this journey.
No, this conversation is defined in opportunity; it is an opportunity for our labor force, our unemployed, our college graduates to find work here at home. It’s an opportunity to provide our returning veterans with one of the greatest thanks we can give – an ability to provide for themselves and their families with a good paying job. The conversation we are having here in Ohio is of too great importance to simplify with one word or to characterize as one side vs. the other.
While we are inundated with political and divisive rhetoric from now till next November, let’s leave it at the door when it comes to Ohio’s energy and economic future.
All that is valuable in human society depends upon the opportunity for development accorded the individual. - Albert Einstein
Tags: ABC, Bloomberg, Carroll County, CBS, Chesapeake, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Congressman Bill Johnson, Energy jobs, Josh Fox, Marietta College, Occupy Wall Street, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Ohio veterans, President Obama, State of the State, State of the Union, state rep bob hagen, Steubenville, Tea Party, Youngstown, Zane State College
UPDATE: Cincinnati Lawmaker “Bungles” the Facts on Fracturing
Thursday, January 12th, 2012 | 5 Comments
UPDATE (1/12/12, 3:00pm) On Wednesday, January 11, Rep. Driehaus took the stage at a protest outside the Statehouse in Columbus. It was designed to encourage lawmakers to block the safe and responsible development of the Utica Shale. Citing recent seismic events in Youngstown, which occurred in close proximity to a class II injection well (and not a natural gas operation utilizing hydraulic fracturing), Ms. Driehaus sought to further her efforts to close the door to an industry projected to bring 200,000 jobs to Ohio by 2015. In speaking on the matter, Ms. Dreihaus indicated her primary source of information and inspiration in proposing a moratorium on shale development statewide as the movie Gasland, which we have thoroughly debunked here. We would suggest a better source of information might be agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy, Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, the Ground Water Protection Council and regulators in over 15 states who all have indicated hydraulic fracturing can, and is, being practiced safely in communities throughout the United States.
Ms. Driehaus went on to demonstrate a fundamental lack of awareness in the conversations, and developments already underway thanks to the Utica shale play including any mention of the significant job growth development has brought to the state:
So let’s talk about jobs. And not just the oil and gas jobs, but the Main Street jobs Ms. Driehaus is referring to. Let’s first look to Carroll County, where unemployment has dropped below 10% for the first time in years. We can discuss the hotel and restaurant owners who are opening new ventures and benefiting from increased business thanks to oil and gas workers. We can talk to the dairy farmers who have rebuilt and modernized their business thanks to the income earned through their land lease. Even beyond, we can look to Youngstown and the reemergence of the long-lost steel industry.
Finally, let’s talk about the potential of “Main Street” jobs heading to southern Ohio due to shale development – the Shell ethane cracker. reports southern Ohio as a likely and ideal destination for the plant, bringing with it a $2 billion investment and thousands of jobs along with it. According to C. Alan Walker, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, the plant and related industry could soon rival Andrew Carnegie’s investment in the steel industry.
These are just some of the things that would be impacted by the ill-advised Rep. Dreihaus seeks. And this represents only the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” of the lost opportunity such a policy would bring. .
Yesterday afternoon over at the Capitol, Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) convened a press conference with Rep. Nicki Antonio (D-Cleveland) to announce her intention to file new legislation seeking to institute a statewide ban on the use of hydraulic fracturing, a technology that’s been safely applied to development of energy here in Ohio more than 80,000 times since the early 1950s.
In all seriousness, if even half of the information put forth by these lawmakers yesterday afternoon was true, we’d probably stand up and support a ban right along with them. Thankfully for us, though — and somewhat embarrassingly for them – very little of what was said at the podium yesterday was accurate, and some things, as we note below, were just flat-out bizarre. Here below, a quick fact check on yesterday’s presser from the team here at EID-Ohio:
Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati): “In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by Congress to ensure clean drinking water is free from both natural and manmade contaminants. However, in 2005, the Bush-Cheney energy bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracking.” ( 3:17 )
- As we noted in our fact-check on the recent shale series in the Columbus Dispatch, the process of hydraulic fracturing has never in its 60-year history been regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Here’s a history of the act straight from the EPA .
- SDWA was indeed passed in 1974, so at least she got that right. But what Rep. Driehaus is attempting to argue here is that fracturing had previously been included under SDWA when it was first passed, and only was exempted after the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was signed into law.
- But that’s not true at all. Here’s a letter written by former Clinton EPA administrator Carol Browner, sent to an environmental attorney in 1995. In it, she very clearly states that hydraulic fracturing has never in its history been regulated by SDWA or EPA. According to Browner: “EPA does not regulate – and does not believe it is legally required to regulate – the hydraulic fracturing of methane gas production wells.”
- One more thing about that “Bush-Cheney energy bill” from 2005: It passed the Senate with nearly three-quarters of the chamber’s support (74 votes), including the top Democrat on the Energy Committee; current Interior secretary Ken Salazar, then a senator from Colorado; and President Obama, then a senator from Illinois. In the U.S. House, 75 Democrats joined 200 Republicans in supporting the final bill, including the top Democratic members on both the Energy & Commerce and Resources Committees.
Driehaus: “We’ve learned that Pennsylvania, one of the country’s largest suppliers of natural gas, recently began testing its water when radioactivity levels were found to be too high last year.” ( 3:54 )
- Huge swing and a miss on this one. For starters, Pennsylvania’s natural gas production numbers may be on the upswing these days owing to the Marcellus Shale, but according to the Energy Information Administration, they’re still not even among the Top 15 states nationally.
- More to the point: Earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released the results of an in-stream water quality monitoring survey of several major rivers all across the state. According to DEP : “The tests were conducted in November and December of 2010 at stations downstream of wastewater treatment plants that accept flowback and production water from Marcellus Shale drilling. … All samples showed levels at or below the normal naturally occurring background levels of radioactivity.”
- DEP secretary Michael Krancer : “We deal in facts based on sound science. Here are the facts: all samples were at or below background levels of radioactivity; and all samples showed levels below the federal drinking water standard for Radium 226 and 228.” In other words, the exact opposite of what Rep. Driehaus claimed at her press conference.
Driehaus: “On November 6, 2011, The New York Times reported that the governor of Pennsylvania ordered a moratorium on new drilling permits in state forests.” ( 4:24 )
- Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell instituted a temporary moratorium on the leasing of state-owned forest land in 2010, not 2011. And he did so less than a month after approving a lease sale of 33,000 acres stretching across three Pennsylvania counties. As Gov. Rendell said at the time : “This is a responsible approach that meets our revenue targets …”
- The temporary moratorium was reversed in Pennsylvania after being on the books for only 90 days .
Driehaus: “In 2009, there were more than 493,000 active natural gas wells in the United States. There’s no denying that Ohio is the industry’s next target.” ( 4:55 )
- Believe it or not, the oil and gas industry has been here in Ohio since the late 1850s, developing more than 268,000 wells in that time – more than 80,000 of which were enhanced via the fracturing process. If Rep. Driehaus is worried that Ohio may become the next “target” for the jobs, revenue and opportunity that this industry threatens to deliver here, she unfortunately appears to be about 150 years too late.
Reporter: “In the last legislative session, I believe it was a bi-partisan bill passed that at least backers say is one of the toughest … drilling regulations in the country, why is that not enough, in your eyes?” Driehaus: “Well, you know [pause]. Why wouldn’t we wait for a federal study, knowing what’s … we can’t be blind to what’s going on in other states. We’ve got problems. We’ve had folks lighting their faucet water on fire.” ( 12:30 )
- Here, the reporter is referring to S.B. 165 , widely regarded as one of the most comprehensive pieces of oil and gas legislation ever passed – not just here in Ohio, but anywhere. The legislation updated and modernized the rules and regulations governing safe oil and gas development in Ohio, and was supported by overwhelming and bipartisan majorities in both the House and the Senate. Gov. Strickland signed the bill into law in 2010.
- Unfortunately, Rep. Driehaus appears to have no conception of what this legislation was about. As is seen in the video, Rep. Driehaus pauses for more than two seconds after hearing the question from the reporter, and then simply reverts back to the same talking points she presented earlier in the press conference on “flaming faucets” and hydraulic fracturing.
- Rep. Driehaus also makes frequent references to the prudence of listening to the federal EPA on issues related to hydraulic fracturing. In May 2010, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson delivered the following testimony to the U.S. Senate: “I am not aware of any proven case where the fracking process itself affected water.”
- Rep. Driehaus also references the flaming faucet scene from the anti-shale documentary “Gasland” as proof that fracturing is contaminating water supplies. But last year, top environmental regulators from Colorado released a fact-sheet on the film completely debunking that particular scene. According to the regulators : “Laboratory analysis confirmed that the [Gasland well] contained biogenic methane typical of gas that is naturally found in the coals of the Laramie–Fox Hills Aquifer. This determination was based on a stable isotope analysis, which effectively ‘finger-printed’ the gas as biogenic, as well as a gas composition analysis, which indicated that heavier hydrocarbons associated with thermogenic gas were absent.”
Driehaus: “The United States EPA is undertaking a study. Why wouldn’t we, as intelligent, responsible legislators, want to wait until the conclusion of that study … why wouldn’t we wait until that information is available? ( 13:07 )
- Although this may be news to Rep. Driehaus, EPA released the findings of a five-year investigation into hydraulic fracturing in 2004 – a study that was originally commissioned under the Clinton administration. EPA’s conclusion :“[A]lthough thousands of [coalbed methane] wells are fractured annually, EPA did not find confirmed evidence that drinking water wells have been contaminated by hydraulic fracturing fluid injection into CBM wells.”
- EPA explains its methodology for the 2004 study: “In addition to reviewing more than 200 peer-reviewed publications, EPA also interviewed 50 employees from state or local government agencies and communicated with approximately 40 citizens … EPA made a draft of the report available for a 60-day public comment period in August 2002.”
- In 2010, Democrats in Congress asked EPA to undertake a new study, specifically focused on the relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water. It’s a study supported in full by the industry. But notably, not even the Democrats who authored that amendment in Washington have asked for fracturing technology to be banned pending the release of EPA’s new report. So why is Rep. Driehaus?
Driehaus: “We may not understand, but we do know some of the risks, people are lighting their faucets on fire. We’ve seen it. I mean – I don’t know if you’ve seen, I’ve seen now a couple different movies – or, really, they’re like documentaries, of this very thing.” ( 13:33 )
- Rep. Driehaus essentially admits here that her legislation is being informed by something she saw on HBO. But here’s what other folks are saying/have said about the veracity of Gasland:
- Fmr. top environmental regulator in PA: “In an interview with The Inquirer on Wednesday, [DEP secretary John] Hanger was harshly critical of Fox, whom he called a ‘propagandist.’ … Hanger dismissed Gasland…as ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and ‘a deliberately false presentation for dramatic effect.’” (Philadelphia Inquirer, June 24, 2010 )
- Financial Times: Claims in the film are “absurd”: “By failing to evaluate the claims of his interviewees more carefully, [Josh Fox] has left himself open to the kind of takedown carried out by Energy In Depth .” (Financial Times, Jan. 2011 )
- Longtime NYT Editor, columnist: Gasland is “one-sided, flawed … in the Michael Moore mode.” (Peter Applebome, June 9, 2010 )
- Towanda (PA) Daily Review: “If you want a relatively quick overview of the natural gas phenomenon, watch the 60 Minutes program. And by way of contrast, see “Gasland” and learn for yourself the difference between a responsible report and a hatchet job.” ( Jan. 1, 2010 )
Rep. Nicki Antonio (D-Cleveland): “A companion to the legislation that Rep. Driehaus has just talked about it … is legislation that I intend to introduce in the next few weeks to call for some detailed information to be given to us about the components of that cocktail, if you will, that gets used when the chemicals are all put together, in the water, for the fracking process.” ( 5:31 )
- Greater than 99 percent of the fluid is composed of water and sand , and the small fraction of what remains includes many common industrial and even household materials that millions of American consumers use every day.
- By both weight and volume, the most prominent of these materials is a substance known as “guar.” Sounds scary, right? It’s actually an emulsifying agent more typically found in ice cream. In fact, the ice cream industry hasn’t been too pleased with us recently, since, thanks to shale, we’ve been using a good bit of the stuff as of late (though the guar bean growers don’t seem to mind).
- As it relates to disclosure of materials, on the federal level, operators are bound by requirements of the Community Right-to-Know Act (passed in 1986), which mandate that detailed product information sheets be drawn up, updated, and made immediately available to first-response and emergency personnel in case of an accident on-site. In Ohio, section 1509.10 of the state oil and gas act mandates that companies make these information sheets available to state officials.
- More recently, an effort led by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) culminated in the creation of FracFocus — a searchable, nationwide database with specific well-by-well information on the additives used in the fracturing process.
Activist Tish O’Dell, whose recent mayoral campaign platform was focused on “attract[ing] quality, revenue generating businesses to Broadview Heights”: “It’s interesting that places have banned fracking already, and France is one of the countries that has banned fracking in their country. … But it is a French company that is building the plant in Youngstown, Ohio, the steel plant to make fracking tubes. So do you think that they want the energy? Yes, they want the energy. Do they care if they pollute Ohio to get the energy? Probably not. So to me, I think we really need to start putting two and two together.” ( 9:33 )
- We hardly even know where to start on this one. Ms. O’dell is referring to the V&M Star steel plant in Youngstown, which is currently undergoing a $650 million expansion that’s responsible for 350 new, high-paying jobs for folks in that part of the state.
- V&M Star is one of the main manufacturers of the high-quality pipe operators need to produce and deliver Ohio energy to Ohio residents. When news of the expansion was formally and finally released in 2010, Democratic U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan referred to it as an “unprecedented announcement” and “a watershed event for the Mahoning Valley.”
- Youngstown Vindicator: “V&M’s confidence in the Mahoning Valley and its work force could herald a turning point for the region, said Girard Mayor James Melfi. ‘Our economy has had its ups and downs,’ Melfi said. ‘Maybe in our Valley’s history, yesterday was the bottom and today is the day we start our climb back up to the top.’” ( June 29, 2010 )
[personal note: As a die-hard Bengals fan, the last thing I'd want is for the title of this post to be construed as some sort of knock against Who Dey Nation. Nothing can be further from the truth -- not even Rep. Driehaus' erroneous claims about hydraulic fracturing. Go Bengals.]