A new report out today from the group Global Community Monitors is raising
questions about potentially harmful air pollution from large-scale oil and gas
Working with local citizens, the organization
collected 9 air samples in communities near drilling operations in Colorado and
New Mexico. Lab testing turned up 22 toxic chemicals in those samples,
including four known carcinogens. According to the group:
The chemical detected ranged from 3 to
3,000 times higher than what is considered safe by state and federal agencies.
And as the group noted:
Complaints about air quality have also
surfaced in other states around the country, including West Virginia, Arkansas,
Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming … Little information exists to educate and
inform citizens about the chemicals being stored, emitted into the air, ground
or water in close proximity to their homes.
… Loopholes in the Clean Air Act allow
major corporations to circumvent basic protections that put public health
first. U.S. EPA is currently drafting new regulations to control and monitor
air pollution from natural gas development. Congress is debating new
legislation, such as the Bringing Reductions to Energies Air Born Toxic
Health Effects (BREATHE) Act.
Here in West Virginia, the state
Environmental Council has made
monitoring and regulation of air quality at drilling sites one of its priority
issues for any new oil and gas law.
In today’s Gazette, Dr. Paul Nyden has details on
yesterday’s rally at the Capitol, calling for a moratorium on new Marcellus
drilling until new state regulations are in place to govern the practice.
In the Daily Mail, Ry Rivard reports what we
first reported here on Sustained Outrage yesterday — that Senate President
Earl Ray Tomblin, acting as governor, will later today announce plans for the
state Department of Environmental Protection to issue a limited set of
emergency rules on Marcellus drilling.
failure of any Marcellus legislation during this year’s regular legislative
session, Tomblin seemed
happy to basically do nothing on the issue. But then, Republican
gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney last week called
for more regulation on Marcellus drilling (subscription required), saying
the rules were needed to ensure future investment by the industry.
people gathered on the state Capitol’s north steps on Monday to protest
Marcellus Shale drilling practices in West Virginia. Gazette photo by Chip
Also yesterday, state political leaders
continued their quest to lure a “cracker” plant to West Virginia, a move
supporters say would create hundreds of jobs and help turn the Marcellus into
an even bigger economic win for the state.
We’ve yet to really hear any state political
leaders ask any serious questions, though, about whether this Marcellus boom is
really a good thing for the state.
That’s despite concerns already spelled out here
about whether the jobs and economic gains would really be that great or that
And no one in West Virginia seems at all
interested in talking about whether a huge increase in oil and gas drilling is
really that good of a thing if the world is trying to find a way to deal with
the climate crisis (see here,
But beyond even that, shouldn’t West Virginia
leaders who are pressing with all their might to boost drilling consider the
recent reports by The New York Times that perhaps the Marcellus reserves aren’t
exactly as they’re being sold the investors, politicians and the public? Check
out those reports here, here
Among other things, the Times reported:
Natural gas companies have been placing
enormous bets on the wells they are drilling, saying they will deliver big
profits and provide a vast new source of energy for the United States.
But the gas may not be as easy and cheap
to extract from shale formations deep underground as the companies are saying,
according to hundreds of industry e-mails and internal documents and an
analysis of data from thousands of wells.
In the e-mails, energy executives,
industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about
lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even
illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their
reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast
to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that
insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles.
“Money is pouring in” from investors even
though shale gas is “inherently unprofitable,” an analyst from PNC Wealth
Management, an investment company, wrote to a contractor in a February e-mail.
“Reminds you of dot-coms.”