Tag Archives: local regulation

New study shows much higher number of oil well spills than previously reported

Warning: This article is based on peer-reviewed scientific research. Science deniers may want to read elsewhere.

A new study by US scientists shows that as many of 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year. According to the study, there were at least 6,648 liquid releases from these wells over a ten-year period from 2005-14 in just four states — North Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.

Around 50% of spills were related to the storage and movement of fluids via pipelines. According to Dr. Patterson, “The causes are quite varied. Equipment failure was the greatest factor, the loading and unloading of trucks with material had a lot more human error than other places.”

Over half of spills in North Dakota occurred at wells that had recorded a previous incident.

In a fragile ecosystem highly dependent on concentrated sources of water like the Beartooth Front, this data is highly alarming. It argues for local regulation that protects water, air, and soil required for agriculture and ranching. Continue reading

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Bankruptcies gash the oil industry as clean energy growth surges; a lesson for the Beartooth Front

It is often important for communities to understand macroeconomic trends in making local decisions regarding business development and growth. This is certainly true in the energy sector, where long-term trends are clear. Along the Beartooth Front, these trends are particularly important in light of what has transpired over the last two years.

2015 was not kind to oil and gas operators. Between the filings of WBH Energy Partners on January 3 and Swift Energy on December 31, a total of 42 oil and gas companies filed for bankruptcy last year, with a combined total debt of $17.85 billion. These are levels last seen during the Great Depression, with many more to come in 2016.

While the oil and gas industry is deeply depressed, the clean energy industry is growing quickly. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance clean energy investment surged in 2015 to a record high of $328.9 billion, up 4% from 2013 and 3% from the previous record set in 2011. Global investment in clean energy has grown by nearly six times in dollar terms since 2004.

These trends are clear. Clean energy is replacing coal, oil and gas. The pace is gradual today, but market forces and government action will accelerate the change over the next two decades.

The oil market will probably recover in the short term, and there will probably be another boom. Another oil developer will come knocking on our door along the Beartooth Front, promising jobs and riches.

But we shouldn’t be fooled.

To read more, click the link.

Continue reading

Posted in Clean energy | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Important new study shows link between fracking chemicals and reproductive and developmental toxicity

A new study from Yale University released this week shows that a large number of chemicals found in fracking fluid and wastewater are associated with reproductive and developmental toxicity.

The study, “A systematic evaluation of chemicals in hydraulic-fracturing fluids and wastewater for reproductive and developmental toxicity,” was published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology on January 6, 2016. In the study, the authors systematically evaluated 1,021 chemicals identified in fracking fluids, wastewater, or both for potential reproductive and developmental toxicity to identify those with the potential for human health impacts.

They researched each against a database, and discovered the following:

-Toxicity information was lacking in the database for 781 chemicals (76%).
-Of the remaining 240 substances, evidence suggested reproductive toxicity for 103 (43%), developmental toxicity for 95 (40%), and both for 41 (17%).
-Of the 157 chemicals associated with toxicity, 67 either already have or have been proposed for a federal water quality standard or guideline.

This data points clearly to the need for local regulation of oil and gas drilling along the Beartooth Front and in other local communities. Continue reading

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A personal story: Dennis Johnsrud, Williston, ND

Today’s post is one of a series of personal stories on this site about how the shale oil and gas boom has affected the lives of the people in the communities that are touched by drilling.

The first thing Dennis Johnsrud hears anytime a pipeline company wants to site a line on his property is that they are there to ‘work with the farmers.’

“It’s a red flag to me now,” Johnsrud says on a fair-weather Thursday afternoon in a wheat full of golden stubble. “The last 10 guys said that, and it never happened.”

There is a trail of broken promises tracking through Johnsrud’s fields. He says he’s telling his story because, if farmers won’t speak up, the story will only be told by the other side, and no one will realize the realities farmers are facing in an economy that is increasingly harsh and unforgiving to the families who have shepherded this land for generations.

Click to read more of Johnrud’s story, which reminds us that Montana, even more than North Dakota, provides few protections for private ownership rights against the oil and gas companies. The need for local landowners to set regulations for how drilling is done on their properties is greater than ever. Continue reading

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The regulation of Arctic Ocean drilling, with implications for the Beartooth Front

As President Obama heads off to Alaska this week, he has focused on climate change. Alaska is suffering greater effects of global warming than any other state in the United States.

His presence there highlights recent conflicts between the Administration and environmentalists over drilling in the Arctic Ocean. Shell was awarded a permit this month to drill two exploratory wells there. The potential benefits are great because the area contains 20% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves, but the dangers of a spill in such a remote and inaccessible area are frightening.

Obama justified the decision in his weekly address by saying that, despite our progress in moving to renewable energy, we need to continue to drill for fossil fuels. Given that, it is better we find domestic sources than foreign ones, and the regulation put on Arctic drilling makes the possibility of a spill very small.

In a sense, we face similar choices along the Beartooth Front, where drilling is allowed, but the environmental risk is great. Continue reading

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You’ve probably never heard of the Wilks brothers. They’re about to take away your property rights.

Will you be surprised when the Wilkses fund a 2017 legislative effort in Montana to strip local communities of their right to regulate what happens on their own land?

You shouldn’t be. Continue reading

Posted in Fracking informaation | Tagged , , , , , | 19 Comments

Beware: The oil and gas industry has a national game plan to limit local regulation of drilling

Oklahoma has a problem with man-made earthquakes caused by injection wells associated with fracking. You’ve read it on this site many times, most recently on Monday of this week, and Oklahoma’s elected leaders have publicly admitted this is true. So … Continue reading

Posted in Politics and History, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 7 Comments