As you know by now, the Big Gas Mafia held a much ballyhooed media/PR conference to get their fracking story straight to combat all the bad press and their failure to convince the American public that they can frack safely. I paid to attend that conference and wore my name badge the entire time.
Transparency was a big theme–hiding/spinning wrongdoings just escalates the public distrust. Yet here they are with the media equivalent of a spill — admissions that they’re using and encourage use of military tactics against American citizens. Yet, rather than owning it and admitting wrongdoing and addressing the problem they are instead trying to divert and obfuscate.
I've spent most of the day talking to reporters about the PSYOPS story that broke yesterday and has now gone viral. This is the most fun version of the story.
I'm not a good note taker which is why I thought I would record parts of the conference. After the first panel, I decided to record the entire thing. And Matt Pitzarella of Range Resources and Matt Carmichael of Anadarko got caught with their pants down -- recommending using military tactics on communities.
Their attempts to spin out of the mess they created has been tragicomic.
This past weekend, The Texas Tribune, the nonprofit news site that enjoys a higher profile in the journalism world (than it would otherwise) thanks to its partnership with The New York Times, held a lecture-and-networking event on the University of Texas campus in Austin.
I was invited to appear on a panel after the showing of the documentary Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future.
I knew the film depicted natural gas drilling in the Haynesville Shale as an economic miracle for folks in north Louisiana and East Texas, with barely a mention of environmental health risks. I said yes, received an enthusiastic confirmation letter requesting my bio, which I sent in, a request to sign the “Talent Agreement,” and a list of the panel members.
When I choose a banker, I want one with enough savvy that he would never say the following:
“Call me naïve, but I’m inclined to trust the industry to be good stewards of this land until they prove me otherwise.”
Naïve? Nah, that’s a profound lack of judgment and ignorance of the historical abuses of the oil and gas industry.
Yesterday, just before I left to speak at the Dallas Drilling Task Force public meeting, I received an email from the ABCAlliance. The contents of that email changed what I planned to say to the task force.
Here's what I said: I am Sharon Wilson. I live at XXX. I lived for sixteen years in Wise County where fracking the Barnett Shale was born. I worked in the oil and gas industry for twelve years. I now work for EARTHWORKS' Oil and Gas Accountability Project. I work with the people who are impacted by natural gas extraction.
How many of you have read Flowback: How the Texas Natural Gas Boom Affects Health and Safety? [Shockingly, not many hands went up and my question was met with looks of bewilderment.] I hope all of you will read it because it documents what has happened to families and communities in the Barnett Shale. It includes letters of concern from scientists, doctors and toxicologists.
I planned to tell you some stories from Flowback. But just I received an email that changed my plan. I receive emails like this all the time. Here is What Happened Today in Argyle, Texas.
From the email:
I drove to the Haynesville Shale last Tuesday, to the Church of the Living God where the EPA was holding a community meeting. The residents in this area on the Texas-Louisiana border are still, after more than two decades, trying to get one simple thing: safe drinking water.
I first met David Hudson in 2006, not long after, "What Lies Beneath," a story by Rusty Middleton about water contamination in DeBerry, Texas from oil field disposal wells appeared in the Texas Observer. Hudson was already a veteran in dealing with contaminated water.
Photo: Car Lust
When I was sixteen, I announced my intention to buy a new VW Beetle for a monthly payment of only $125. That s when I first learned about associated costs. It was several years before I could finally afford a new, red, VW Beetle and all the associated costs.
Did you think that industry was telling you the whole story about the amount of water they use to frack a natural gas well?
In the Barnett Shale, estimated frack water usage ranges between 2.5 to 9 million gallons per frack. The Eagle Ford Shale average, according to the Texas Water Development Board, is 7.5 million gallons per frack. We don t know exactly how much water they use because most of the estimates come from industry. We do have the little dab of information from the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District that revealed industry used 1,146,598,272.73 gallons of groundwater in 2009. But that only considers the metered sources. There were many cases where industry took water from unmetered sources with no enforcement action or fines.
When they say fracking goes miles deep and miles wide, they aren t kidding.
Recently I learned that EOG, aka Enron Oil and Gas, is planning to start a frack sand mining and processing plant in Cooke County near the beautiful Saint Jo. The planned 1,400-acre facility will handle all stages of production and transportation. Although EOG has only applied for and has not yet been granted the permit by TCEQ, they have already done a lot of construction and water well drilling at the proposed site. You can see aerial photographs acquired through the efforts of local citizens at the Save The Trinity Aquifer blog spot.