Posts tagged "Josh Fox"
U.S. Shale is Undermining Russia’s Gas Monopoly
Monday, October 8th, 2012 | 0 Comments
**Cross-posted from EnergyInDepth.org**
The Associated Press has a recent must-read story about how hydraulic fracturing is “shaking up world energy markets from Washington to Moscow to Beijing.” The premise is one we’ve covered here at EID before, but it simply cannot be overstated: developing natural gas from shale is not only an unquestionable economic and environmental winner for the United States, but also re-centering global energy markets away from Russia and the Middle East and toward the United States and North America.
From the AP:
The Kremlin is watching, European nations are rebelling, and some suspect Moscow is secretly bankrolling a campaign to derail the West’s strategic plans.
It’s not some Cold War movie; it’s about the U.S. boom in natural gas drilling, and the political implications are enormous.
Like falling dominoes, the drilling process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is shaking up world energy markets from Washington to Moscow to Beijing. Some predict what was once unthinkable: that the U.S. won’t need to import natural gas in the near future, and that Russia could be the big loser.
“This is where everything is being turned on its head,” said Fiona Hill, an expert on Russia at the Brookings Institution, a think tank in Washington. “Their days of dominating the European gas markets are gone.”
The U.S. presidential campaigns have already addressed the strategic potential.
A campaign position paper for Republican Mitt Romney said he “will pursue policies that work to decrease the reliance of European nations on Russian sources of energy.”
In early September, President Barack Obama said the U.S. could “develop a hundred-year supply of natural gasthat’s right beneath our feet,” which would “cut our oil imports in half by 2020 and support more than 600,000 new jobs in natural gas alone.”
The story also includes some he-said-she-said allegations about the Russians possibly funding environmental efforts in Europe to ban or restrict hydraulic fracturing. It’s a plausible theory, given how continued shale development means more competition for Russian gas giant Gazprom, and the fact that “Gazprom owns media companies throughout Russia and Europe that have run stories examining the environmental risks of [hydraulic fracturing].” But it’s also a theory for which little tangible proof currently exists.
In any event, the AP notes: “Regulators contend that overall, water and air pollution problems are rare,” something most of us interested in the facts already knew (see this list of statements from regulators for more proof). And it was none other than Lisa Jackson, current Administrator of the U.S. EPA, who recently said: “In no case have we made a definitive determination that [hydraulic fracturing] has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
In sum, hydraulic fracturing is a safe and tightly regulated process that is creating jobs and undermining Russia’s control over European energy markets, all while helping to deliver a clean and affordable source of energy to American consumers.
Credit Card Pitchman Shouldn’t Quit His Day Job
Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 | 0 Comments
***Cross posted from Energy in Depth***
Alec Baldwin – yes, that Alec Baldwin – recently took to the Huffington Post to explain what he deems to be “The Truth” about hydraulic fracturing. There was only one problem: Mr. Baldwin’s claims, like most of his movies and his persona as Jack Donaghy in “30 Rock,” are not exactly based on or in reality.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in his decision to uncritically reprint what Gasland star Josh Fox emailed him to say – which unfortunately didn’t include any mention of what state regulators have said about hydraulic fracturing, or what U.S. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said on multiple occasions. Heck, even President Obama – for whom Mr. Baldwin has astrong political affinity – has given high praise to developing natural gas from shale.
Nonetheless, we decided to highlight and debunk (yet again) the items Josh Fox suggested he repeat:
BALDWIN: “This 2009 piece from ProPublica that refers to a Garfield County, Colorado, study that contradicts certain gas industry assertions about methane in drinking water.”
FACT: The first summary conclusion listed in that study (which can be found here) states quite clearly: “Impacts from petroleum activity are not currently present at levels that exceed regulatory limits.” Why is this line important? Because it is indicative of what opponents routinely try to hide from the public: Namely, that the presence of a particular substance does not necessarily indicate a threat.
As any expert or regulator would acknowledge, it’s the exposure or concentration that determines whether something is toxic or unsafe. For just one example, hydrochloric acid would burn someone’s skin if applied directly, yet it’s one of the most common chemicals added to swimming pools – and we’re pretty sure Alec Baldwin is doing fine.
BALDWIN: “This 2011 report from Scientific American that describes significant aquifer contamination from fracking fluids in Wyoming.”
FACT: The report listed here is actually a reference to EPA’s testing in Pavillion, Wyoming, the same testing that produced a shoddy “draft report” for which peer review had to be suspended so EPA could re-test its wells, a decision made after experts identified significant flaws with EPA’s sampling procedures. And just weeks after releasing that draft report, EPA’s Region 8 administrator Jim Martin told a Congressional panel:
“We make clear that the causal link [of water contamination] to hydraulic fracturing has not been demonstrated conclusively, and that our analysis is limited to the particular geologic conditions in the Pavillion gas field and should not be assumed to apply to fracturing in other geologic settings.”
So, even if the EPA had somehow linked contamination to hydraulic fracturing (which it didn’t, but Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Fox want us to believe it did), extrapolating its findings to other parts of the country would be inappropriate – precisely what Mr. Baldwin was attempting to do by mentioning it in his column!
Also, as a point of fact, this “report” was actually just a cross-posting of an article on ProPublica. Anyone who reads through the entire piece would see this italicized disclaimer at the bottom: “From ProPublica.org (find the original story here); reprinted with permission.” Mr. Baldwin apparently didn’t want to use the same source twice, so he pretended that another source (which has a more official sounding name, Scientific American) reported those details.
BALDWIN: “A 2011 New York Times article that refers to the potential “first crack in the armor” of Rex Tillerson’s claims about fracking-related contamination.”
FACT: The Times’ piece was at one point heralded by opponents of hydraulic fracturing as a sort of silver bullet, as it supposedly provided an example of the process contaminating ground water. To reach this conclusion, the New York Timesteamed up with the Environmental Working Group to highlight a well drilled in Jackson Co., W.V., in 1982 that was linked to water contamination. But the West Virginia-based laboratory commissioned to investigate the well said that it “did not conclude that hydraulic fracturing caused the contamination…” Even EWG admitted “it is possible that another stage of the drilling process [other than hydraulic fracturing] caused the problem.”
It’s also worth noting that the report of the incident was written by an EPA contractor in the 1980s, several years after the alleged incident occurred. Why is that important? Just a few months ago, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson stated publicly: “In no case have we made a definitive determination that [hydraulic fracturing] has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.” If the EPA’s report actually said what Mr. Baldwin and Mr. Fox think it says, then why would Lisa Jackson state that her agency has never made such a conclusion? Perhaps that’s why the example is barely mentioned anymore – except by those like Mr. Baldwin who are ideologically committed to The Cause.
BALDWIN: “This article from Food and Water Watch in April of 2012.”
FACT: First of all, it’s interesting that Mr. Baldwin would italicize “Food and Water Watch” as if it’s a news outlet. F&WW is an activist organization, funded by the Park Foundation, and wholly committed not to safe natural gas development, but to an outright ban on hydraulic fracturing.
Second, and more importantly, the “article” referenced is document where FWW claims that developing natural gas from shale isn’t really creating that many jobs, and the economic growth associated with development is a fantasy. While it’s odd that an organization would attack hard-working men and women in a particular industry by pretending they don’t simply exist, it’s also completely false. A report from IHS-CERA noted that, in 2010, natural gas development from shale supported one million jobsthroughout the economy. In the Barnett Shale in north Texas, natural gas development has generated nearly $6 billion in tax receipts for the state. In 2011, the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas supported 47,000 jobs and generated more than $3 billion in salaries and benefits to Texas workers and their families. Realtors admit that shale development is strengthening the housing market, and state data from Pennsylvania shows that Marcellus Shale development supports more than 238,000 jobsacross the Commonwealth.
BALDWIN: “And this article from a March, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.”
FACT: This is the same Rolling Stone article that not only regurgitated debunked talking points from opponents, but also used others’ content without citing them. The author, Jeff Goodell, even misattributed quotes from “experts” in order to advance a convenient narrative.
But the most significant problem with the Rolling Stone piece was its willingness to ignore or even deliberately contradict clear and well-understood scientific facts. Goodell claimed a 2011 study from researchers at Duke University provided “the first clear evidence that [hydraulic fracturing] was contaminating drinking water” – even though the researchers stated clearly that “we found no evidence for contamination of the shallow wells near active drilling sites from deep brines and/or fracturing fluids” (emphasis added).
Goodell even went so far as to claim, based on a New York Times story, that operators were “dumping millions of gallons” of radioactive wastewater into rivers and streams, “largely without regulatory oversight.” But former Pennsylvania DEP secretaryJohn Hanger said that “testing of drinking water at the tap and in stream totally debunked the main radiation narrative of the New York Times article.” Hanger later wrote that there is “no radionuclide pollution of drinking water in Pennsylvania. Zero. None…But that truth will never catch up to the lie cleverly spread and repeated.” (You can read Hanger’s full dismantling of theRolling Stone article here.) Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D) suggested the purpose of the original New York Times piece was nothing more than to “gratuitously frighten Pennsylvanians,” and on the facts it was “a mighty swing and a miss.”
BALDWIN: I’ve got more if you want it.
EID: Please, humor us!
Mr. Baldwin’s article was not intended to form a scientific basis for future study, or even to use available science to prove a point. To his credit, Mr. Baldwin actually admitted as much, stating: “I am quite certain that not many minds will be changed here.” Instead, the article was – like so much written by activists who oppose hydraulic fracturing – designed to spread fear and foment doubt in the public’s mind about what most would consider settled science. Creating that kind of uncertainty doesn’t require a factual or even a scientific basis; it only requires appeals to emotion, some targeted headlines, and a manufactured assumption of guilt for the industry.
In short, what Mr. Baldwin presented in his short column is nothing new, and the information he presented has been and remains debunked. That Mr. Baldwin, as a Hollywood actor, has a major megaphone to repeat those claims does not make them true. But, repeating those claims does have the unfortunate effect of shifting the public debate away from facts and science – exactly the opposite of what you’d expect of someone claiming to state “the truth” about anything.
But then again, if your goal is to undermine the clear safety record of hydraulic fracturing, facts and science must be absent by necessity, because relying on them would contradict your preconceived narrative.
And by the way: Isn’t there a photographer somewhere Mr. Baldwin can be assaulting rather than writing ridiculous columns like this?
For Josh Fox, the Sun Also Rises
Friday, June 22nd, 2012 | 0 Comments
They say that 82.3 percent of statistics are made up on the spot. Watching the video released by Gasland star Josh Fox this week – cleverly titled “The Sky is Pink” — one wonders whether that figure might be in need of a slight upward adjustment.
Set aside the distracting, out-of-focus camerawork and characteristically creepy, overwrought narration, and the argument that Josh and his team attempt to put forth goes something like this: No natural gas well is safe. All of them fail and leak. And most damning: Industry studies and memoranda – memos previously buried in industry “drawers” — prove it. Memos so confidential, it took us a full three minutes to find them online (more on those later).
In fairness, Fox doesn’t say that every well is destined for failure. In a column submitted to the USA Today last summer, Fox argued that five percent of wells experience “an immediate failure of the concrete casing.” Eight months later, in February, that figure had jumped eight-fold, with Fox telling DemocracyNow! that “casing that protects the groundwater cracks in 40 percent of the cases.” That same month, he suggested to Al Jazeera that the actual failure rate was closer to “50 percent” (20:16). In his new film (09:23), he settles on a new number: 16.7 percent. Hey, at least we’re improving, right?
Of course, not mentioned anywhere in the new 18-minute film is the Aug. 2011 report issued by the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC), a study that draws on real-world field data and case descriptions from regulators representing two of the most heavily drilled states in the country: Texas and Ohio. According to that study, more than 220,000 oil and natural gas wells were drilled and completed (fractured) in these two states over the past 25 years, 16,000 of them horizontal wells targeting deep shale formations.
Take your pick from any of the failure rates that Fox has cited over the past year: If he’s right – or even close to right – shouldn’t there be thousands of confirmed cases of water contamination from faulty wells and compromised casings? Unfortunately for Josh (but fortunately for everyone else), the GWPC report tells a very different story.
According to the report, available here, more than 34,000 wells were drilled and completed in Ohio over a 25-year period from 1983 to 2007. In total, 184 incidents were recorded over that span in which oilfield activities – all categories – were found to have contributed to an adverse impact to groundwater. That’s one incident for every 184 wells drilled.
Break the numbers down further, though, and you find that of those 184 incidents, only 12 were related to failures of or gradual erosions to casing or cement. That’s one recorded incident for every 2,833 wells drilled, representing a failure rate of 0.03 percent. And according to the report, greater than 80 percent of all incidents happened in the 80s and 90s – with very few problems registered as modern technology and updated regulations came online over the past decade. Of note: not a single event relating to the fracturing process was found to have affected groundwater.
From the report (p. 46):
Stimulation by hydraulic fracturing has been a routine part of completing most oil and gas wells in Ohio since 1951. During the study period (1983-2007), the DMRM estimated that 27,969 oil and gas wells were stimulated by hydraulic fracturing. … During the 25 year study period, the DMRM did not identify any groundwater contamination incidents caused by hydraulic fracturing.
So that’s the story in Ohio, how about Texas? According to GWPC and the Texas Railroad Commission, more than 187,000 wells were drilled and completed in the Lone Star State from 1993 to 2008, including 16,000 horizontal wells. Two-hundred and eleven cases of groundwater disturbance tied to oilfield activities were recorded in that span, or one incident for every 889 wells drilled.
Just as in Ohio, none of those were related in any way to hydraulic fracturing. And very few were generally related to the integrity of the well either – a total of 21, according to the report. That boils down to an error rate of 0.01 percent – a far cry from the estimates put forth by Josh and his gang.
Speaking of those estimates: from whence did they actually come? In his video, Fox cites five “industry” documents – memos and PowerPoint presentations he says reinforce his view that mass well failures are not only a common occurrence, but an inevitable one. In the film, he says these documents “fell off the back of a truck” (07:35) – implying that they were previously kept secret, locked away in the “drawers” of the industry (presumably he means the wooden variety!).
In fact, every one of these documents is readily available online – here, here, here, here and here. As you can see, most of them are modeling papers; short, technical commentaries in petroleum engineering journals (some more than a decade old) that deal with best practices mostly in the context of well integrity issues (in abandoned wells, mostly) far offshore.
In one such document, prepared almost a decade ago, and which essentially runs as an advertisement, the authors argue that their products can help operators reduce casing pressure volumes in the Gulf of Mexico.
To Fox, this represents evidence of well failures en masse. But as any legitimate petroleum engineer will attest, detection of pressure in a casing string doesn’t necessarily mean that the well doesn’t work – and it certainly doesn’t portend environmental ruin. Thanks to remedial actions referred to in the industry as “work-over” activities, these issues are commonly and easily addressed. Which is why, in contrast to what Fox says, it’s simply not the case that thousands of wells are failing every day, contaminating tens of thousands of potable water sources. No matter how much he may wish it were so.
Another document that elicits great excitement in the Fox video is a PowerPoint deck delivered by Mark Boling of Southwestern Energy in Nov. 2010 – a presentation in which EID’s Lee Fuller and Scott Anderson of the Environmental Defense Fund also participated.
As you can see in the video of the event itself, there were no earthshattering revelations that came to light on this panel. It is indeed true, as Mr. Boling indicated, that a well that’s improperly cased and/or cemented can in rare cases act as a conduit for methane gas (which is not considered a health threat by EPA) to migrate into formations where it otherwise wouldn’t belong. No news there.
Of course, that’s true whether you’re talking about an oil well, a gas well, a geothermal well, or a well that’s intended to produce water. But in a typical sleight-of-hand, Josh represents these remarks as major, monumental news – suggesting in his video that the same conduits that could allow methane to migrate are also allowing fracturing fluids to emerge from two miles down up into potable drinking water supplies above.
Incidentally, that’s a charge that has been categorically rejected by dozens of state regulators and engineering and academic experts. Even EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has called it out for what it is — a lie – telling reporters in April that “in no case have we made a definitive determination that the [fracturing] process has caused chemicals to enter groundwater.”
Of course, no mention of any of this is made in the film released this week. But then again, the film’s really not about hydraulic fracturing, is it? A quiet concession by Fox, perhaps, that his previous strategy of focusing his entire campaign on attacking a well completion technology with a demonstrable, 65-year track-record of safety probably isn’t the best play moving forward.
Faced with what’s become a mountain of evidence and steady stream of credible testimonials that directly contradict just about every single thing he says, Fox has decided to double-down on his thesis, continuing to fly around the country (and even the world) with an eye on promoting his upcoming sequel to Gasland. We suppose that’s his right. But that doesn’t mean he is right. In this case, as it turns out, the sky is actually pink – presaging the twilight of a national campaign that, from the start, has been built on a foundation of distortion and disinformation.
Or, at least, isn’t it pretty to think so?
Ohio vs. “Anywhere but Here”
Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 | 0 Comments
This weekend showcased the Ohio premiere of the new film Truthland – a movie that sets the record straight on the safe practices and processes used in oil and natural gas development. Drawing in over 200 folks – Ohioans to be specific – the event was a sharp contrast from what we found at the No Frack Ohio demonstration featuring Josh Fox and Bill McKibben which featured many out of state activists.
The irony of these activists coming to Ohio to demand revisions in our state’s oil and gas regulations should not be lost on anyone. Especially following the second major overhaul of our state regulations in as many years with the recent passage of Senate Bill 315.
With that said, EID-Ohio was on the scene for both events, and we were able to capture some thoughts from both sides of the spectrum over the course of both days.
Our event featured many committed Ohioans like Linda Woggon, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce:
If you’re like me, you give into your fears so many times. Instead, if we could pick up ourselves and go find out the truth, we would know why oil and gas exploration and production is so important for Ohio. It’s going to mean so much for our economy and people that need jobs—Linda Woggon, Ohio Chamber of Commerce (:16)
Also joining us was Ben Ebenhack Professor of Petroleum Engineering from Marietta College:
I was very favorably impressed by Truthland, I think it was a balanced and reasonable approach to addressing some of the myths that are being spawned around the shale development and I think this is a great event to try to bring people together to think about it and to learn a little bit more about what’s really going on—Ben Ebenhack, Marietta College Petroleum Engineering Professor (:10)
Tom Byers, Organizer for the Local 18 International Union of Operating Engineers also joined us to celebrate the economic revival Utica Shale development has helped bring to the Buckeye State.
A lot more facts in this movie than Gasland—Tom Byers, Organizer for Local 18 International Union of Operating Engineers (:11)
We were also lucky enough to have Mayor William Healy of Canton, OH share some insight into how Utica Shale development is helping his community.
We’re very excited in the city of Canton about the oil and gas exploration and the opportunities that it’s bringing to our community with the job creation—William Healy, Mayor City of Canton (:33)
Sarah Tipka, a local independent oil and natural gas producer, also joined the many Ohio experts who gathered to discuss the responsible development of the Utica Shale.
I was very impressed about the presentation. In the Truthland movie she rebutted every claim and did it in a captivating and sometimes humorous point of view. We plan to take copies of the movies and have them in the library of our town—Sarah Tipka, local producer (:11)
Of course, these weren’t our only visitors. The picture below shows COSI packed with Ohioans eager to learn about shale development.
Just a day later many folks claiming to be from Ohio joined the Fox and McKibben rally. Even though local media claimed Ohioans were a strong presence at Sunday’s Fox and McKibben rally, we met up with plenty of out of state visitors.
Along with videos, there were plenty of out of state license plates to be found. Here are a few of many.
As you can see, our footage over the weekend is telling. While Ohioans celebrated the opportunities Utica Shale development is providing many out of state protesters marched through Columbus as they sought to advance their ideology based solely on their own opinions. It was an interesting weekend to say the least and we are sure there will be many more to come.
A Tale of Two Events
Monday, June 18th, 2012 | 0 Comments
More than 200 local residents came out to the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus this weekend for a screening of the new, fact-based documentary “Truthland,” The event, co-hosted by EID, OOGA, Ohio’s TEA Party to representatives from local labor coalitions. And they were joined by residents, landowners, chamber of commerce representatives and even the mayor of Canton.
The crowd was captivated by the movie which highlighted Shelly’s travels in search of the facts surrounding natural gas development. In her quest for answers, Shelly traveled to six states, meeting with a number of experts and colorful characters along the way. If you still haven’t seen the movie, it’s definitely worth watching and can be viewed at www.truthlandmovie.com
Following the screening, a group of local experts gathered to share their views and insights into how the Utica is benefitting Ohio. The panel was just as diverse as those in attendance and included Canton mayor William Healy, Local 18 organizer Tom Byers and Marietta College professor Ben Ebenhack, among others. Each panelist discussed issues of importance ranging from the mechanics of energy development to employment opportunities experienced as a result of those activities.
One of the best quotes of the day came from Linda Wotton, Executive Vice President of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
“I came today to COSI to see Truthland and I thought it was one heck of a movie. I was so inspired by Shelly and she traveled around the country seeking out the truth. I know, if you are like me, you’ve given into your fears so many times. Instead if we can just pick up ourselves and go find out the truth we would know why oil and gas exploration and production is so important for Ohio. It’s going to mean so much to our economy and for people that need jobs.” -Linda Woggon, Ohio Chamber of Commerce
Also in attendance was Mayor William Healy of the City of Canton, the proclaimed “Utica Capital of Ohio”. Mayor Healy discussed Truthland and the benefits natural gas development has provided to Canton.
“We are very, very, excited in the City of Canton about the oil and gas explorations and the opportunities that is bringing to our community with the job creation and the opportunity to bring natural gas and produce more energy for our region,” – Mayor William Healy, City of Canton
Of course, as Ohioans gathered to celebrate the economic prosperity Utica Shale development has brought to the Buckeye State a group of demonstrators gathered across town to spread fear and mis-information based on the well worn myths put forward by Josh Fox in Gasland. Led by Fox himself, along with Bill McKibben, these protestors gathered to urge a ban on a process that has been conducted without a single flaw or environmental incident in Ohio while helping to reduce our unemployment rate from 9.2 percent in December 2010 to 7.4 percent today.
Of course, those who attended Fox and McKibben’s event on Sunday could be forgiven for not knowing much about Ohio’s current employment situation – as it turns out, most folks we came across at that event weren’t even from Ohio, as the short video we put together (below) makes plain:
“My name is Jack and I am from Brooklyn, NY and I support the ban on fracking, the proposed ban on fracking in the State of Ohio, and in any state.” – Jack from Brooklyn
All jokes aside, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a second to thank the hundreds of Ohio residents who came to COSI to see Truthland and show their support for responsible resource development in the Buckeye State. Of course, we also want thank everyone who participated in the day’s events — as well as the International Union of Operating Engineers- local 18 chapter, the Ohio Tea Party, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the Ohio Shale Coalition, OOGA, OOGEEP, ANGA and API.
Tags: ANGA, API, Center of Science and Industry, COSI, Crude Oil, EID, EID-Ohio, Energy In Depth, Energy in Depth - Ohio, Gasland, Gasland movie, Josh Fox, Local 18, Mayor William Healy, Mike Chadsey, natural gas, Ohio Chamber of Commerce, OOGA, OOGEEP, OPC, Shelly, Truthland, Truthland movie, Utica Shale
Shelly’s Truthland Experience in Her Own Words
Friday, June 15th, 2012 | 0 Comments
Who am I? My name is Shelly, I have been married to my husband Philip for 30 years. I am a mom to our four children, ages 20 – 25, and a grandma to our beautiful granddaughter. I am a teacher by trade and a dairy farmer by marriage and choice. We currently have four generations living on our place which has been continuously farmed for 122 years. We love our home and want to take care of it for future generations.
When we were told we had natural gas under our farm we felt very blessed. But what about all we heard about fracking and water problems? Then there was the movie Gasland; was what we saw in that film really true? We had to know, it was after all our livelihood and potentially our health at stake.
The science teacher in me had many questions. I owed it to my family to find out just what the truth was. Natural gas was new to our area, but not to our nation. So to get our questions answered, I needed to go where the “experts” were. These people had been dealing with the gas industry and the environment for years.
As I went along questioning the many people I interviewed, it became very evident that concerns regarding fracking and contaminating our drinking water were unfounded. Expert after expert said the process is inherently safe and the statistics show this to be true. I was amazed that even the “environmentalists” stated that natural gas, even if not perfect, is the best energy choice we have at this point and time. It is abundant and here, a domestic energy source that needs to be utilized for our nation’s benefit.
The more people I interviewed, the more relieved I was. That’s not to say that I wasn’t nervous anticipating negative reports from agencies like the PA DEP and EPA, but I wanted to keep an open mind. If the evidence pointed a different direction, I needed to accept that. To my surprise, they agreed. Natural gas is clean, efficient, and cheap. All this made our decision regarding leasing our farm to the gas company a “no brainer”, hands down.
It is my hope that anyone that will take the time to follow this and the movie Truthland in its entirety will draw the same conclusions I have. Open your mind, eyes, and ears, examine the evidence presented and let it speak for itself.
Tags: Citizens for Water, climate change, Dimock, Energy, Energy In Depth, environment, Gasland, Haynesville Shale, hydrofracking, Josh Fox, Marcellus Shale, Mark Ruffalo, Natgas truth, Ohio, Pennsylvania, power, Susquehanna County, Truth, Truthland, Truthland movie, Utica Shale, Water Defense, water is life
Mark Ruffalo- High on Hyperbole, Light on Facts
Friday, June 15th, 2012 | 0 Comments
If you haven’t heard, Mark Ruffalo is a main attraction in anti-natural gas industry efforts these days. Lately, Ruffalo has appeared just about anywhere he can rallying against the safe and responsible development of onshore energy by dropping tired, ill-informed hyperbolic one liners .
Of course this type of behavior is nothing new for Ruffalo, former star of Mirror, Mirror III: The Voyeur and The Kids are Alright. His theater, of course, isn’t limited to the silver screen. In fact, he has brought his talents to the smallest of screens as noticed in a video supporting Josh Fox and Bill McKibben’s Father’s Day rally in Columbus. In this video Ruffalo makes many irresponsible claims, the first of which is that hydraulic fracturing is not safe.
People understand that hydraulic fracturing is not safe, and that no matter what the gas and oil industry tells them, they are not willing to leave a toxic legacy for their children.—Mark Ruffalo (:17)
We have documented the numerous regulatory bodies, technological advances, studies, and safety precautions the industry has taken in order to ensure unlocking these vast resources is done safely. Experts across the country have indicated that hydraulic fracturing is safe. In the interest of brevity we won’t provide a full list, but here are a few studies from the U.S. EPA, U.S. Department of Energy and the Groundwater Protection Council to get you started, in addition to those we mentioned before. Also, appearing in Cleveland earlier this year Ken Salazar, current U.S. Secretary of the Interior, stated:
“Hydraulic fracking can be done safely and in fact is being done safely in most cases,” – Ken Salazar, Secretary of Interior
We tend to agree with Mr. Salazar (full remarks available here) over Mark Ruffalo. After all, the current Interior Secretary has spent over a decade in public service and according to his biography has been involved in every major bipartisan legislative effort on energy since 2005, including helping craft the Renewable Fuels, Consumer Protection, and Energy Efficiency Act of 2007. Sounds like more of an energy expert than a movie star who still hasn’t played an effective lead role but merely supports others that do. But I digress.
Next, Ruffalo claims shale development will leave a “toxic legacy for children” when in fact, quite the opposite has been demonstrated. In Denton County, Texas (home to his Gasland buddy Calvin Tillman) a health assessment showed that while oil and gas production increased in the prolific Barnett Shale, the overall health of people in the community improved and that residents were not exposed to harmful elements beyond the normal population.
Biological test results from a Texas Department of State Health Services investigation in Dish, Texas, indicate that residents’ exposure to certain contaminants was not greater than that of the general U.S. population.—Texas Department of State Health Services
Ruffalo continues with his false claims:
People know that not only does fracking poison our water, it also poisons our air with cancer-causing fumes and fills our rivers with radioactive wastewater. And it even causes earthquakes like the one that shook Youngstown last New Year’s Eve.—Mark Ruffalo (:26)
This has been debunked countless times, but once again: EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has said there is no confirmed case of groundwater contamination linked to hydraulic fracturing. She is, of course, backed up by Scott Kell of ODNR and studies by numerous academic
Lastly, the actor made a vain attempt to link hydraulic fracturing to a series of “earthquakes” in Youngstown. As EID-Ohio has covered extensively, this is certainly not the case. These events were associated with one underground injection well out of over 100 in the state. This situation was investigated and addressed shortly after it occurred.
What I found the most disturbing, but not surprising, of Ruffalo’s video plea was this claim:
They are demanding American communities be put before corporate profits—Mark Ruffalo (1:24)
He must not have visited the new numerous companies hiring hundreds of people or read the plans for new steel mills. Companies big and small are making Ohio their home and showing their presence at job fairs around the state. Steel and manufacturing are seeing a major resurgence after a decades-long absence. However, this is just the beginning.
There’s also families like the Rufener’s, a family of dairy farmers who were able to use the money from their lease to reinvest in their business and build a state of the art milk parlor. Landowners, local businesses, and entire industries are reaping the benefits of Utica Shale development which is doing more to grow Ohio’s economy than any other sector. In fact, it has helped bring our unemployment rate down to it’s lowest level since 2008. Sounds like there are plenty of benefits for Ohio- and American- communities.
A Call to Action – Truthland Comes to Columbus: Sat., June 16
Monday, June 11th, 2012 | 5 Comments
We hope you and your family will join us on Saturday, June 16th at 12:00p.m. at COSI for a day celebrating Ohio’s resources and the Ohio premiere of the new film, Truthland. The premiere comes at a pivotal time in the conversation here in Ohio on how best to develop our state’s abundant natural resources
As the title would suggest, Truthland is a response to the myths and distortions that play a leading role in the HBO documentary Gasland. But more than just setting the record straight via a new (for our industry) and compelling medium, what makes the film so interesting to watch is the star of the film herself: a mother and farmer from Pennsylvania named Shelly, who, shortly after watching “Gasland,” sets out on a cross-country tour in search of facts (including a stop here in Ohio) – meeting a number of colorful characters along the way (and also some pretty knowledgeable experts).
While it’s unfortunate that propaganda films such as Gasland have had such an impact on the public conversation, our efforts in separating fact from fiction remain imperative. As we convene with family and friends in Columbus to support an industry that is driving Ohio’s economic recovery, just down the road those who oppose oil and natural gas development will be gathering to promote the same distortion of fact that has clouded the truth about our state’s long and proud tradition of safe, responsible energy production.
We know it’s no small task to ask you to join us on this weekend, especially with Father’s Day that Sunday. But the star of the film herself – Shelly – will be joining us for the day’s proceedings, along with a panel of Ohio experts who will lay out the facts and science behind the development here in the state. For this reason, we ask you to invite other friends and supporters for an afternoon of family fun (COSI passes provided to first 200 guests), good food and good cheer for a good cause –supporting the industry that supports Ohio and its economy.
As Josh Fox, Bill McKibben and the rest of their out-of-state buddies descend upon Columbus to advance their campaign of misinformation, we can stand together to ensure fact is separated from fiction, and the continued climb back to Ohio’s prosperous days continue. We look forward to seeing you on June 16.
Please, join us in supporting Ohio’s future – join us to Support Ohio Shale.
Support Ohio Shale:
12:00 p.m. Saturday, June 16
Center of Science and Industry, Gallery III
333 W Broad St
Columbus, OH 43215
Lunch & COSI passes provided
Screening will begin at 1:00PM, with discussion panel to follow
For questions please contact EID Ohio Campaign Manager Mike Chadsey at Mike@eidohio.org
Tags: Center of Science and Industry, COSI, Crude Oil, Dad's For Drilling, Energy in Depth - Ohio, Gasland, Josh Fox, natural gas, Shelly, Support Ohio Shale, Support Our Shale, Truthland, Utica Shale
A Fox in Sheep’s Clothing Creeps West Toward Ohio
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012 | 6 Comments
I know a few folks on the Energy In Depth team and they asked me recently if I had heard about Josh Fox’s upcoming trip to Ohio and what I thought about it. Well, I’ve done some Josh Fox debunking of my own (see here, here, and here) and I am happy to offer my thoughts again. Plus as a resident of southwestern Pennsylvania, and as a professional in the natural gas industry, I know a thing or two about shale.
Western Pennsylvania/eastern Ohio has always been a blue collar region. A region I’m proud to call home. Born from the toil of its tempered inhabitants are the steel industry, which built our cities… the coal industry, which for decades has kept the lights on for millions of Americans… and the oil and gas industry, which perhaps more than anything else is responsible for the comfortable standard of living that society enjoys today. It’s a region that’s not afraid to roll up its sleeves and get to work. A region that has little use for excuses, and much use for rolling up sleeves and getting the job done. Mother Nature provides us what we need to survive, but has little sympathy for those who refuse to help themselves.
When the Marcellus Shale came to town, it was greeted with open arms. An outpatient, non-invasive alternative to the neck to navel open heart surgery that is the coal mining that we’ve long since become accustomed to. Five to eight acres of surface disturbance can drain 1,200 acres of gas, as opposed to 1,200 acres of disturbance to reach 1,200 acres of coal via surface mining. This Marcellus gas burns much cleaner than coal, and places where coal couldn’t burn…in cars, trucks, and buses. It was cheap, it was clean, and it was ours – and in such abundance that the decades old dream of energy independence and the shackles it shed were no longer a dream, but an inevitability.
But you don’t just discover you’re sitting on the second largest energy field in the world without garnering some attention. And in today’s world, attention is a marketable commodity. Enter Josh Fox. Fox, an unknown theater director from New York City, with no knowledge whatsoever of the natural gas industry, saw an opportunity to spin Marcellus mania to his gain. In the information vacuum that existed in the first years of development, Fox jumped in head first. Facts and truth meant little, while sensationalism and outright fabrication ruled the day in the early stages of Marcellus development.
Fox’s home spun “documentary” was just that: sensationalism and outright fabrication. He peddled his wares and found a buyer. The Park Foundation, a huge endowment which has spent millions to try to ban hydraulic fracturing, has subsidized him beyond his wildest dreams. HBO coughed up a sweet $750,000 to Fox for Gasland 2. Fox even charges $7,500 to college kids to show up and speak at their school (not counting first class airfare to and from New York City). Fox went from unknown starving artist to a big bankroll celebrity activist almost overnight, and why quit a gig that pays like that, right?
Looking for a new battleground (and the cameras and free media attention that comes with it), and in turn a new batch of suckers to sell his snake oil to, Fox has settled his crosshairs on Ohio. Hard working families, farmers, and property rights be damned! Ohio residents, Mr. Fox will soon be in your back yard, using and abusing local folks to advance his narrative (and his wallet), just like he did in Colorado and Pennsylvania.
To the good people in Eastern Ohio, I hope you decide to listen to the facts, and dismiss the for-profit hyperbole. Listen to the science. Gain perspective and context. Look to us on your eastern border. Natural gas development is no longer in the incubation stage here, and we’re still alive to tell about it. In fact, we’re quite better off. Our kids have a place to work, over a billion dollars of new tax revenues have been generated, our heating and electric bills are lower, and maybe most importantly, we’ve regained our identity. Once again, our region has the opportunity to fuel the world through our hard work and determination. And with today’s technology, we don’t have to choose between the environment and the energy.
Press your legislators for good, practical regulations and a fair tax climate. Trust, but verify. If you do so, you will be rewarded with jobs, cleaner air, deeper tax coffers, healthier children, and a more secure nation….all
of which can be wisely parlayed to ensure that the rising tide raises all ships. Learn from our mistakes and our successes. And for goodness sake, when Josh Fox comes skulking around in your bad yard to tell you what you should and should not be allowed to do with your resources, tell him to shed his sheep’s clothing, pack it up, and drive his posterior back to New York City… and while you’ve got his ear, feel free to remind him that it was our families that burned our gas and coal in our mills to make the steel that built it.
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