Topic: Hydraulic fracking

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Texas task force notes benefits of fracking, calls for more data

The Task Force on Environmental and Community Impacts of Shale Development in Texas on Monday released a 204-page report analyzing fracking’s impacts on the state. The Task Force, a group sponsored by The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas and comprised of individuals from varied backgrounds in the energy and environmental community, lauded the economic benefits of fracking but also called for better oversight of its effects.

The report first notes the revolution that was the shale boom—that is, the proliferation of horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing in the oil and gas industry—and the significant economic and … Continue Reading

Latest USGS study finds fracking is not a current threat to drinking water

In a study published May 31, 2017, the United States Geological Survey concluded that unconventional oil and gas production in the Eagle Ford, Fayetteville, and Haynesville shale formations is “not currently a significant source of methane or benzene to drinking water wells.”

Researchers sampled over one hundred drinking-water wells in the frack zones of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. This produced two key observations about the quality of the water. First, over 90 percent of the wells containing methane had concentrations below the government’s proposed threshold of 10 milligrams per liter. And even then, “most of the methane detected in groundwater … Continue Reading

“Crude and imperfect” expert report enough to survive summary judgment in Arkansas subsurface trespass

The 8th Circuit held on Monday, May 22, 2017, that the Arkansas district court abused its discretion when it granted summary judgment for the defendants in a subsurface trespass case. The appellate court instead held that the plaintiffs’ “crude and imperfect” expert report was not flawed to the point of exclusion and also held that, even without the report, the plaintiffs had raised a fact issue for the jury.

In 2009, Southwestern Energy approached the Stroud family seeking to use a plugged well on their property as a waste water injection site. The Strouds declined and Southwestern began injecting water … Continue Reading

US BLM asks 10th Circuit to pause review of Obama-era fracking rule

On Friday, the US Bureau of Land Management asked the Tenth Circuit to pause its review of an Obama-era rule on fracking. The rule, if implemented, would restrict fracking practices on federal and tribal lands.

The move comes at a time when the BLM and other agencies are reconsidering their positions in light of the new administration.

In June of last year, a federal district court judge overturned the rule, stating the BLM exceeded its authority in issuing the rule in light of the fact that Congress never directed the agency to regulate fracking. The BLM appealed, but now finds … Continue Reading

UK High Court dismisses challenge to fracking planning permission

On 12 April 2017, the High Court dismissed a judicial review application challenging the decision of the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, to allow fracking in Lancashire.

As reported in our blog of 22 November 2016, community group ‘Preston New Road Action Group’ (PNRAG) brought the application for judicial review of the decision to grant planning permission for fracking at the site near Little Plumpton, Lancashire (the Plumpton Site) under section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The challenge was based on grounds that the decision to grant the planning permission was … Continue Reading

Northern Cross sues Yukon over fracking moratorium

Earlier this month, Northern Cross Limited, a company based in the western Canadian territory of Yukon, sued the Yukon government over its moratorium on fracking.

The company, which has been exploring the Eagle Plains region in the north of the territory, says the moratorium is a de facto “expropriation” of the company’s oil and gas interests.

The company owns fifteen exploration permits in the Eagle Plains area and has identified a wealth of unconventional resources in the region—resources that would require hydraulic fracturing to extract, the company’s Statement of Claim says.

The Yukon government, however, banned fracking in all but … Continue Reading

Maryland bans fracking

Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans hydraulic fracturing in the state. The move comes a week after the state’s legislature passed the bill.

Maryland currently has no fracking activity inside its borders, leading many to label the move political—that is, a play to constituents without much consequence. But the western part of the state sits atop a portion of the Marcellus Shale, and industry for a while now has considered the prospect of drilling in the state.

Environmentalists praise the governor’s actions, but opponents of the law defend fracking and its safety. They … Continue Reading

PA federal judge vacates controversial fracking verdict

In a win for industry, a Pennsylvania federal judge on Friday vacated a controversial fracking verdict in the highly publicized case Ely v. Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. The verdict was against the great weight of the evidence and shaded by the plaintiffs’ attorney’s missteps, said the court in its decision.

Last March, a Pennsylvania jury awarded the plaintiffs in the case $4.24 million for loss of the use and enjoyment of their property, namely their water supply, which injury the plaintiffs alleged stemmed from the defendant’s fracking operations in the surrounding area. On Friday, the court set aside … Continue Reading

Trump tells US Interior to reconsider fracking rules

President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order with broad implications for the oil and gas industry. Among its provisions, the order requires the US Department of the Interior to reanalyze its fracking regulations.

The executive order, entitled Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth, announces a shift in American environmental policy. It establishes as paramount in the new administration domestic energy production, economic growth, and American job creation. It requires that the executive branch review its regulations, policies, procedures, and the like to determine their effect on domestic energy growth. Where appropriate, it requires officials to suspend, revise, or … Continue Reading

PA DEP addresses possible link between local earthquakes and fracking

Pennsylvania’s environmental regulators last month addressed a potential link between a string of small local earthquakes and hydraulic fracturing in the Utica Shale. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) released a report in February analyzing together four small-scale earthquakes, which occurred in April 2016 in Lawrence County, and fracking operations in the surrounding area.

The relevant well pad, the report states, is located within five miles of most of the reported epicenters of the earthquakes. Fracking began at the pad almost a month before seismic activity was recorded in nearby townships.

Says the DEP in the report, “There is … Continue Reading

PA Department of Environmental Protection’s negotiating power fracked

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) may see new challenges in negotiating settlements with purported violators of Pennsylvania’s Clean Stream Law.  A recent Pennsylvania appellate court ruled that ongoing penalties are impermissible for a single waterway leak from fracking activities under the state’s Clean Streams Law.  The Clean Stream Law punishes violators for pollution released into state waters.

In EQT Production Co. v. DEP, a natural gas production company sued the DEP for interpreting the Clean Stream Law to allow the DEP the ability to impose a minimum $1.2 million penalty for a leak from a gas well pad that … Continue Reading

Challenge to UK planning permission for fracking

Community group ‘Preston New Road Action Group’ (PNRAG) has taken further action to challenge the government’s decision to allow fracking of shale gas at a site near Little Plumpton, Lancashire (the Plumpton Site).

As reported in our blog of 21 October 2016, PNRAG sent a letter before action last month to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, requesting that the government reconsider its decision to allow a planning permission for fracking at the Plumpton Site.

Javid has refused to reconsider the government’s position and PNRAG has now issued formal legal proceedings at the High Court. … Continue Reading

Researchers zero in on how fracking can cause earthquakes

A new academic study reveals two ways hydraulic fracturing by oil and gas operators can cause earthquakes in Alberta, Canada. Researchers at the University of Calgary’s Department of Geoscience have discovered that tremors induced by hydraulic fracturing can occur through pore pressure increases and by stress changes.  The study “Fault Activation by Hydraulic Fracturing” has been published in Science, one of the world’s leading peer‑reviewed academic journals.

The study has been described as revealing an “exquisitely detailed picture” of the timing and dynamics of seismic events in an area about 30 kilometers west of the town of Fox Creek, Alberta. … Continue Reading

Green light for more UK exploratory shale gas wells

Nottinghamshire County Council’s Planning and Licensing Committee (the Committee) has approved plans to drill the county’s first exploratory shale gas wells. The approval which permits drilling two wells to explore the rock geology near Misson was approved by a majority of seven votes to four.

Island Gas Ltd (IGas) submitted its planning application for the works in October 2015. The Committee’s decision on 15 November 2016, comes after an extensive period of consultation involving over 40 organisations and 2,600 individual representations. The chair of the Committee, John Wilkinson, commented that ultimately, the Committee were satisfied that IGas had demonstrated they … Continue Reading

Community Group challenges UK Government’s fracking decision

As reported in our blog post dated 7 October 2016, the Government recently ‎overturned Lancashire County Council’s refusal of planning permission for fracking at a site near Little Plumpton in Lancashire.

The appeal was granted by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government on 6 October 2016 allowing the appellant, Cuadrilla, to carry out drilling and hydraulic fracturing at the site; a decision on a second site at Roseacre Wood was deferred so as to allow more time to consider the scheme’s traffic impacts.

Now, community group ‘Preston New Road Action Group’ is seeking to challenge the Government’s … Continue Reading

UK shale: fracking looks set to be part of the future

In a landmark decision, the UK Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid (the SoS), has overturned the decision of Lancashire County Council (the Council) to refuse planning permission to extract shale gas at a site near Little Plumpton, Lancashire (the Plumpton Hall Farm Site).

Planning applications submitted by the oil and gas company Cuadrilla Resources (Cuadrilla) for shale gas development at the Plumpton Hall Farm Site and at a second site at Roseacre Wood (the ‎Roseacre Wood Site) (together, the Sites) were rejected by the Council’s Development Control Committee last year. Noise and traffic impacts … Continue Reading

Oklahoma shuts down wastewater disposal wells after recent earthquake

For years, the oil and gas industry has been blamed for the increase in seismic activity in various areas of the United States. Previous posts on this blog have tracked the allegations that hydraulic fracturing operations have contributed to seismic activity. A recent earthquake over the weekend has again sparked a debate regarding the alleged connection between hydraulic fracturing and seismic activity.

On Saturday, a 5.6-magnitude earthquake occurred in Oklahoma. The epicenter of the earthquake was located 9 miles northwest of Pawnee, Oklahoma, but reports suggest that several states felt the impact of the earthquake. In light of the earthquake, … Continue Reading

Australia: Ban on Unconventional Gas Exploration and Development in Victoria

The Victorian Government has recently announced that by the end of 2016 there will be a complete ban on unconventional gas exploration and development (including coal seam gas and fracking). This follows the Victorian Government’s imposition of a temporary ban on conventional and unconventional onshore gas exploration and development in 2012. The rationale for the decision is that it will prevent any adverse effects from fracking developments on Victoria’s prominent agricultural sector.

As part of its decision, the Victorian Government has extended the temporary ban on conventional onshore gas explorations and developments until 2020. However, offshore gas exploration and development … Continue Reading

EPA Fracking Study Attacked

On August 11, 2016, EPA’s Science Advisory Board (SAB) challenged EPA’s recent determination that hydraulic fracking mechanisms did not lead to “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”  In June 2015, EPA released its hydraulic fracking study, formally known as “Assessment of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing for Oil and Gas on Drinking Water Resources (External Review Draft),” performed by an independent panel of various groups that included academic scientists, industry and environmental groups.  As previously discussed on the Hydraulic Fracking Blog, EPA determined that hydraulic fracking did not largely impact drinking water in … Continue Reading

UK Shale Wealth Fund- payments direct to affected households

Plans for a Shale Wealth Fund were announced in last year’s autumn statement with proceeds expected to be shared between community trusts and local authorities. However, the Shale Wealth Fund Consultation launched on 8 August 2016 includes the possibility of funds being paid directly to local residents in host areas.

It is proposed that communities could receive up to 10% of tax revenues derived from shale exploration in their area with the new fund potentially delivering up to £10 million per eligible community.

The consultation emphasises that the purpose of the Shale Wealth Fund is to ensure that “the benefits … Continue Reading

Fracking judicial review

On 7 July 2016, local community groups Frack Free Ryedale and Friends of the Earth applied to the High Court to judicially review the decision made by the North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) regarding Third Energy’s permit to frack in Kirby Misperton.

The decision to allow fracking was made despite the fact that 99 per cent of the responses to the NYCC’s consultation rejected the proposal.

The applicants for the judicial review have relied on the following two grounds:

1) in reaching its decision, the NYCC had not considered the environmental impact of burning shale gas to generate electricity and … Continue Reading

The Bureau of Land Management appeals hydraulic fracturing decision

As discussed in a prior post, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl recently struck down the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) hydraulic fracturing rule. In the BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule, the BLM imposed stricter rules on well casing, wastewater storage, and chemical disclosure. Judge Skavdahl held that the BLM lacked the authority to enact the rule. On Friday, the BLM filed its notice of appeal of Judge Skavdahl’s decision. The appeal is currently pending before the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Prior to the BLM’s recent appeal, the BLM and the other groups supporting the BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule … Continue Reading

Recent Hydraulic Fracturing Rule Invalidated

Last year, the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) issued a rule heightening the requirements placed on hydraulic fracturing operations on federal and tribal land. Specifically, the BLM heightened the rules for well casing and wastewater storage and required the disclosure of chemicals used in the fracking process. The BLM’s hydraulic fracturing rule was challenged by Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, Utah, the Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the Western Energy Alliance. In September 2015, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl stayed the implementation of the rule pending the result … Continue Reading

New Brunswick Extends Fracking Moratorium Indefinitely

The Canadian Province of New Brunswick’s Energy Minister has announced that the current moratorium on hydraulic fracturing will continue indefinitely.

The moratorium was put in place in December 2014 until five conditions have been met. The five conditions to allow hydraulic fracturing are:

  • a social licence is in place;
  • clear and credible information is available about the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on public health, the environment and water, allowing the government to develop a country-leading regulatory regime with sufficient enforcement capabilities;
  • a plan is in place to mitigate the impacts on public infrastructure and to address issues such as waste
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