Water Abuse in the Fracking Process

- by Alex Lotorto, Energy Justice Network

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"509","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"384","style":"width: 263px; height: 384px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"263"}}]]Water is used in shale gas development from cradle to grave, however, most people don't think about it beyond the issues of groundwater contamination.

Procuring and bringing raw materials like silica sand, steel, cement, and fracking chemicals to the well locations requires an incredible amount of manufacturing, transportation, and plant fuel, which are water intensive fuels to produce.
 
Each well requires 5-9 million gallons of water to be fracked. Water is also used to create oil-based drilling muds that are injected downhole when the well is first drilled to lubricate the drill bit. For pipelines, the most prevalent way infrastructure is tested for integrity is hydrostatic testing, where water is used to pressurize the lines and test for leaks.
 
Water withdrawals are approved by states and in some cases by federal river commissions. Because the water is combined with fracking fluid, sand, chemicals, and underground contaminants, much of it never returns to the water cycle. In fact, between 50 to 80 percent of the water used in fracking remains deep underground, forever entombed.

In 2012, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, comprised of governors' representatives from PA, MD, and New York, as well as the White House, approved a three million gallon per day water withdrawal in Jersey Shore, PA that required the removal and relocation of 32 mobile home resident families.

Drought conditions in Texas' Barnett Shale and California's Monterrey Shale regions force residential, commercial, and agricultural consumers to compete with the needs of fracking companies.

If well casings fail or fissures communicate with groundwater supplies, contamination of rural landowners' drinking water can occur. In 2009, 18 water supplies in Dimock, Pennsylvania were found by the Pennsylvania DEP to have been contaminated by drilling mud, fracking chemicals, and methane. Three remaining families are suing the driller, Cabot Oil & Gas, for damages and are going to federal jury trial this November with the support of Energy Justice Network.
 
Waste streams from the drilling create water contamination issues. Increasingly, the industry brags about "recycling" water, or "beneficial reuse," which entails filtering the drilling mud and fracking waste through an accordion press, similar to cheesecloth, to remove the solids. This allows the remaining liquid to be reused with more water in future frack jobs. What the industry doesn't tell you is that the solids are sent to municipal landfills that discharge their leachate into surface waters.
 
Another popular way of disposing of liquid waste from fracking is deep underground injection wells, known as Class II wells, permitted by the EPA. This method of disposal has been linked to earthquakes by Ohio state geologists because the "slick water" as it's known by the industry, can lubricate faults.
 
Finally, water is intensively used by gas power plants that are being built at an alarming rate to generate steam and cool the plant. Cooling water is discharged into surface water and can cause disruption to local ecosystems that are sensitive to temperature like trout fisheries. The consumption of water can also compete with the needs of local water consumers in times of drought, when utilities may be required to raise rates.

Eviction of Mobile Home Park for Fracking Water

- by Alex Lotorto, Energy Justice Network
 
[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"507","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"360","style":"width: 333px; height: 250px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"480"}}]]Riverdale Mobile Home Park was located on the Susquehanna River in Piatt Township, Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania. Residents were ordered to leave the park in March 2012 by Aqua PVR LLC, a project of Aqua America, a private water utility, and Penn Virginia Resources, a natural gas pipeline company. 
 
The property was purchased in order to build a water withdrawal pump station and water line that would withdraw three million gallons per day for use in hydraulic fracturing by Range Resources, a Texas-based Marcellus shale drilling company. Each shale gas well requires five to nine million gallons of water to force open the rock, allowing the gas to flow out.
 
Aqua America's facility takes 6,000 water truck trips off the road each day, according to Aqua America, which displaced truck drivers, parts suppliers, fuel deliverers, mechanics, and service employees from their jobs in Lycoming County. The Marcellus shale industry hasn't proposed any relief, solution, or alternative to this loss of employment opportunities for Pennsylvania residents. 
 
The facility's two permits were approved by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, a federal commission made up of Governors Corbett (R-PA), Cuomo (D-NY), O'Malley (D-MD), and President Obama.
 
The capacity of the park was 37 units and in March 2012, 32 families lived there. The initial offer from Aqua America included $2,500 for residents to move by April 1 and $1,200 for residents to move by May 1.
 
Immediately after the tragic story of Riverdale hit the press with the help of volunteers, Aqua America extended the deadline for $2,500 in compensation until June 1st.
 
A series of town halls, vigils, and picnics were organized by residents with some help from volunteers from around northeast and central Pennsylvania in opposition to the project. Residents and allies even held protests at Aqua America's headquarters in Bryn Mawr, at their shareholder meeting, and in front of Aqua's CEO Nick DeBenedictis' mansion in Ardmore.
 
Unfortunately, many residents felt forced to leave the park for reasons including fear of losing the $2,500 offer, uncertainty of what Aqua would do on June 1, and termination of their leases.
 
At the time of the final vigil on May 31, only seven families remained at Riverdale. Those families invited and hosted volunteers from all over Pennsylvania and surrounding states that evening to stay until morning when construction was scheduled to begin in an effort dubbed "Hands Across Riverdale."
 
They issued the following demands:
We demand that Aqua America sit down with the residents and their representation to negotiate in good faith a fair deal that...
1. Permits the remaining residents to stay living at Riverdale Mobile Home Park.
 
2. Provides those residents who have left with just compensation to cover their expenses.
 
3. Allows for the return of all residents who have left and wish to return.
 
On June 1, no construction vehicles came and road barricades boldly stated, "We Will Fight For Our Homes" and "Aqua America Kills Community." The following day, Aqua America sat down to negotiate with three pro-bono lawyers representing residents at the company headquarters in Bryn Mawr. A tentative agreement was reached and the residents were informed of the terms the following week. 
 
Details of that agreement are not publicly available at this time but it did include a "gag order," or non-disclosure agreement forbidding the residents and their children from speaking about the incident.
 
For a total of 12 days, Riverdale blossomed once again behind the barricades, despite all the suffering already endured. Volunteers joined to cook, run security shifts to prevent looting, move sheds, salvage building materials, plant a garden, provide child care, leaflet Jersey Shore and Williamsport, and to blast the story of Riverdale all over social networks.
 
On the twelfth day, Aqua America sent a subcontracted security firm to secure the site. Activists blocked the road in defiance, demanding that Aqua America continue to negotiate with residents in good faith. State police arrived on scene and ordered the protesters to move. There were no arrests. A chain link fence across the front of the park was constructed and later, a barbed wire fence surrounding the pump station construction area was added.
 
Round the clock security guards were stationed at the front of the park, which was lit with light towers resembling a prison. Construction proceeded even with the seven families remaining at Riverdale, including four young children. Finally, the $10,000 raised through online crowdfunding helped the residents move and relieved those who had already left with some financial burdens.
 
Former residents are scattered around the area. Many of the seniors were forced from independence into senior care centers. Three senior residents have passed away since, dislocated from the riverside community they chose to spend the rest of their life.
 
Some residents moved their homes to less desirable and more expensive parks, some are renting more expensive apartments and mobile homes, some are on the low-income housing waiting list, and others are staying with family and friends.
 
The story of Riverdale illustrates how little the gas companies, the governors, and President Obama care about the livelihoods of poor people when it comes to fossil fuel extraction.

Keep Corporate Polluters at Bay, Please Donate Today!

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"360","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","style":"width: 222px; height: 318px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"335"}}]]Energy Justice Network is one of the few national nonprofits in the U.S. organizing with grassroots communities to say NO! to all forms of dirty energy, from fracked gas, to coal plants, to biomass and waste incineration, to nuclear power.

Over 2014, we have raised $89,700 from individual donors, only $10,300 away from our goal of $100,000! Will you contribute $15-$150 for 2015 so we can keep helping communities like yours chase corporate polluters out of town?

We know there are a lot of organizations out there clamoring for your financial support, but here's what's different about Energy Justice Network:

1)   Grassroots- We offer our organizing expertise to communities fighting dirty energy proposals, empowering their advocacy, not taking it over. We provide the know-how gleaned from decades of experience pushing back against predatory polluters, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel in your advocacy.

2)   Bang For Your Buck- Our lean and mean staff of sixmeans the vast majority of your tax-deductible donation directly funds grassroots community support work, instead of wasteful organizational overhead. Your money funds the organizing, networking, and informational resources needed to protect communities like yours from corporate polluters. 

3)   Taking the Hard Line- We believe that any energy source requiring a smokestack or cooling tower does more harm than good to the community that hosts it. We work to develop national solidarity to support only genuinely clean energy projects that don’t pollute the air or depend on finite and unsustainable resources.

Since 1999, Energy Justice Network has been there for you to provide community organizing support, networking, research, trainings, legal and technical support, policy analysis, and so much more! Will you help ensure we can build on this support in 2015 by donating today?

You can scour the nation and not find as focused, effective, and efficient organization as Energy Justice Network to support with your tax-deductible donation. We hope we can count on your help this year by making a $15-$150 donation for 2015!

In Solidarity,

Mike, Traci, Aaron, Alex, Josh, and Samantha

A Dollar a Day Keeps the Smokestacks Away

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"356","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"480","style":"color: rgb(73, 73, 73); font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; line-height: 20.671998977661133px; width: 444px; height: 444px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;","width":"480"}}]]This is not just another fundraising letter.  We want to remind you of all the services we provide to help YOU protect your community from corporate polluters.  After all, Energy Justice Network exists to empower, inform, advise and support grassroots activists to win victories -- transforming communities from dumping grounds for dirty energy and waste industries into vibrant places where clean solutions can flourish.

We're excited that 2014 has been our best year yet, with 16 victories that we helped make possible.  It's also been our best year for individual donations, totaling about $80,000 so far.  Our goal is to reach $100,000 by the end of the year.  Please help if you can by making a donation of $15-150 for 2015!  We plan to expand our capacity to better serve the many communities seeking our support over the coming year.

How we help you win:

Community Organizing Support and Advice - We've "been there and done that" and can help you get a community group organized and on a path to victory.  We can help with strategy development, outreach plans, how to use open records laws and public hearings to your advantage, social media strategies, corporate research, designing flyers and websites, and much more.

Getting Networked! – We can put you in touch with other grassroots activists who you might want to know in your area, or those elsewhere who have fought the same company, technology or fuel, so you can learn from their experience.  We also use conference calls and email discussion lists to help you connect on specific issues.  We have lists on natural gas, nuclear, coal, several types of incineration (separate lists for trash, biomass, tire and poultry waste incineration), ethanol biorefineries, electric power transmission lines and more.

Information / Research – We document the problems with technologies that communities face, making complex info into useful factsheetspowerpoints and articles available through our newsletter, Energy Justice Now, and throughout our Energy Justice.net and EJnet.org websites.  We have access to legal and science journal databases, and data from industry conferences that we can tap to help you.

Speaking / Trainings - Need a speaker, trainer or workshop presenter?  We do trainings for students, community groups and conferences on a range of topics and skills.  See Mike and Alex's topic lists for a guide.

Limited Legal and Technical Support - We help communities stop polluters with local ordinances, and understand many complex technical and legal issues.

Energy Justice Map - Our interactive mapping site tracks existing, proposed, closed and defeated dirty energy and waste facilities, the corporations behind them, and the people and groups fighting them.  It allows you to share information on polluters you're fighting, let people find your group through our site, and learn what polluters are in (or planned for) your area. 

Our new JusticeMap.org site is the first to enable easy race and class demographic mapping, and is being integrated into our mapping site, so you can easily build environmental justice maps, showing if polluters are targeting low-income or communities of color.  Our newest EJ mapping tool allows you to evaluate environmental justice trends in entire industries.

Policy Analysis and Development - With an eye for loopholes that would allow polluting industries to continue to harm communities, we've pushed to strengthen energy, waste and climate policies at all levels of government, and among our environmental allies.

Working with Students and Youth - We have a long history with the student environmental movement, from working with the Student Environmental Action Coalition since the 1990s, to co-founding Energy Action Coalition in 2004, to founding state-wide student environmental networks in Pennsylvania and Ohio.  Our new Energy Justice Shale Initiative has brought students and recent college graduates together in a group house to work with shalefield residents fighting fracking, compressor stations and pipelines in the most fracked community in the nation, in northeastern Pennsylvania.  

An Energy Justice Shale Convergence is planned for mid-March to train students and others to support local residents in Susquehanna County, PA.  We have other campus organizing resources compiled here.

Activist Calendar - Share your events on our calendar!  It's the only one to organize events by geography, so if you sign up for our map and want event updates by email, you'll see all the major events, and only have to see the local ones for your area.

Action Alert System - Tired of using online petitions like change.org where you don't get all of the contact info from those who sign?  So were we, so we made our own system, which Energy Justice member groups can also use (joining is free!).  You'll get the full contact info from all who sign, and can target state or national legislators by district, or other email targets.  Unlike change.org, the message will go to the target, and direct from the signer's email.  Messages and alerts can include links and images, too!  Contact us if you're interested.


How do we provide all of this with a skeleton crew of two full-time and four part-time people and almost no overhead costs?  Let's just say, we're good at what we do, and are the best investment you can make to support grassroots work over the coming year!  Please make a generous donation of $15-150 for 2015.  Regular, monthly donations (no matter how small) are even better!

...and if we're the ones who should be supporting you, please be in touch and we'll join you on the path to victory!

Happy Holidays!

Mike, Traci, Aaron, Alex, Josh and Samantha

Fracking Wastewater Treatment Facility Proposed in Pennsylvania

 - by Nicole Mulvaney, December 10, 2014, Times of Trenton

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"342","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","style":"width: 222px; height: 167px; margin: 3px 10px; float: left;"}}]]An Israeli water recycling company is proposing a hazardous waste treatment facility about 6 miles southwest of Trenton across the Delaware River in the Keystone Industrial Port Complex.

Elcon Recycling Center, which has an office in West Windsor, went before representatives of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection Wednesday night detailing plans to construct the facility on 22 acres at 100 Dean Sievers Place.

Rengarajan Ramesh of Elcon said the facility will use environmentally sustainable technology to transform industrial liquid waste into clean water, cutting down more on solid waste and lowering air emissions compared to other industry practices.

“It will be a completely sealed system to the point there are no odors coming out,” Ramesh said.

Elcon’s proposal is unrelated to the hazardous waste incinerator proposed earlier this year in Bristol, Pa. and later put on hold.

About 90 to 95 percent of waste Elcon treats is water that has not been used in the fracking process and can be reused, Ramesh said. The existing site is considered a brownfield and Elcon plans to improve conditions there, he said.

But members of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Pennsylvania League of Women Voters said Elcon would annually treat 210,000 tons of raw hazardous waste, including mercury, lead and cadmium.

Red papers reading “hazardous waste” with a circle and line through the middle were handed out by group members present at the meeting.

Incineration would produce 39 tons of air emissions containing pollutants such as hydrochloric acid and nitrous oxide that could make their way to areas of Mercer County and Bordentown, environmentalists said.

What the Frack? Scraping the Bottom of the Oil Barrel is Not Good to the Last Drop

- by Mark Robinowitz, PeakChoice.org

The toxic impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas have been subject to public debates, protests, and lawsuits, among other tactics to stop these dangers. But the other half of the fracking story, which has had much less attention, is the exaggeration of recoverable reserves.

[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"257","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"319","width":"480"}}]]

The fracking industry claims shale gas will fuel 100 years worth of USA consumption of “natural” gas. Massive amounts of drilling in the past several years have increased gas production above the 1973 natural gas peak. Gas has significantly increased its share of the electric power grids, lowering coal combustion and helping damper plans for new nuclear reactors.  

One of fracking’s dirty secrets is fracked wells decline far faster than conventional wells. Fracking a well also requires more money, technical talent and resources than conventional wells.  

Two of the three top gas fracking regions in the USA have peaked. Barnett Shale near Fort Worth, Texas has peaked and plateaued. Haynesville in Louisiana and Arkansas has peaked and declined sharply. The largest fracking region -- Marcellus in Pennsylvania -- has not yet peaked and provides nearly a fifth of all USA natural gas. Nationally, about forty percent of natural gas is from fracking.  

Fracking for oil has reversed the decline of USA oil extraction since the 1970 peak. The Bakken shale in North Dakota has fueled wild claims of alleged energy independence and even proposals to export oil to Asia. However, Bakken has not even offset the decline of the Alaska Pipeline, which has dropped three fourths from its 1988 peak and is approaching “low flow” shutdown. Fracking in south Texas has also raised Texan oil production but the state’s peak was still back in 1972 -- a reason huge efforts have been made for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

Post Carbon Institute has published reports documenting how fracking estimates have been exaggerated. They were vindicated in May of this year when the Department of Energy admitted plans for oil fracking in the Monterey Shale in California had been exaggerated and downsized the estimated resource by ninety-six percent (96%). Post Carbon’s montereyoil.org website has details.  

We are in a paradox at this time of Peak Everything and Climate Chaos. If we keep burning fossil fuels we will continue to wreck the biosphere, but if we suddenly stopped that would wreck civilization, which could accelerate ecological destruction (how many forests would be burned for electricity, for example). Fossil fuels allowed our population to zoom from under a billion to over seven billion today.

Fracking, deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and tar sands extraction in Canada have delayed gasoline rationing. We are in the eye of the energy crisis hurricane, perhaps for a few more years.

The Limits to Growth study in 1972 predicted peak resources around the turn of the century, followed by peak pollution as dirtier resources were used as higher quality resources were depleted. Fracking, tar sands, mountaintop removal and other desperate destructions seek to maintain the exponential growth economy now that the easier to extract fossil fuels are in decline.  

Using solar energy for two decades taught me that renewable energy could only run a smaller, steady state economy. Our exponential growth economy requires ever increasing consumption of concentrated resources (fossil fuels are more energy dense than renewables). A solar energy society would require moving beyond growth-and-debt based money.

After fossil fuel we will only have solar power, but that won't replace what we use now. We need to abandon the myth of endless growth on a round, and therefore, finite planet to have a planet on which to live.

Humanity does not face the question of whether to use less fossil fuels to reduce greenhouse gases, since we have reached the limits to energy growth due to geological factors. How we use the remaining fossil fuels as they deplete determines how future generations will live after the fossil fuels are gone. Will we use the second half of the fossil fuels for bigger highways or better trains? Relocalization of food production or more globalization? Resource wars or global cooperation?

Mark Robinowitz is author of “Peak Choice: cooperation or collapse” at PeakChoice.org

To Win Ohio and Pennsylvania, Obama Must Oppose Fracking

by Alex Lotorto

This morning, I was sipping coffee and watching Sunday morning talk shows with my parents. We talked about the presidential election when my dad muted the commercial breaks that consistently included fossil fuel industry commercials.

My mom put it simply, "I made phone calls, put up posters, and worked at the [Obama] campaign office in 2008. I won't do that again if he supports fracking. He needs to protect our clean water, public health, and well-being."