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Fracking West Virginia

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Again, I just have a really hard time understanding why we don’t trust the energy industry to look out for our best interests?

In 2007, Berry Energy Inc. of Clarksburg began drilling a conventional, vertical gas well in a section of the Fernow Experimental Forest, a part of the Monongahela set aside for research.

Adams said what unfolded over the next two years was an unexpected opportunity for observation.

Some results were expected, from deforestation and road damage to runoff and erosion. Others, including the dramatic die-off when wastewater was land-applied, were not.

Berry Energy didn’t immediately return messages Monday, but the report says that in June 2008, under a permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, it sprayed 75,000 gallons of treated fracking fluid on the quarter-acre.

Adams said the Forest Service hoped to minimize damage and was only told afterward that the industry standard is to use a much larger area.

“We were surprised when the vegetation responded so quickly because we were told there would be no effect, ‘This is done all the time,'” Adams said. “And there was a very dramatic response.”

Within a few days, all ground vegetation was dead. Within 10 days, the leaves of the hardwoods began to turn brown and drop. Within two years, more than half of the 150 trees were dead, and sodium and chloride concentrations in the soil were 50 times higher than normal.

I know I’m excited to see the destruction of New York forests through Andrew Cuomo approved fracking, not to mention the continued deforestation of wild, wonderful West Virginia.

Via West Virginia Blue.

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  • RFK, Jr. has signed on to be on the oversight committee here in NY.

    I’m comfortable with the plan.

    • richard

      The maority of the committee are strong environmentalists – many members of NRDC in addition to RFK Jr., so much so that the energy industry is accusing the DEC head who appointed them of stacking the committee and trying to sabotage fracking.

      So maybe the charges against Cuomo, that “bastard” to quote Erik, were a bit premature.

      • rumor

        Unless they actually do sabotage fracking, how do you suppose this will actually work out as a net benefit for New Yorkers, or humans in general?

        On the other hand, it could go a long way to providing the appearance of endorsement by prominent political environmentalists.

        • Anybody who believes RFK would lend his name willy-nilly in an “appearance of endorsement” clearly has lost the thread, all due respect.

          RFK’s work in NYS environmental issues is spotless.

          Now, if (as I pointed out a few weeks ago on my blog) you want to make the case that Cuomo was using his ex-wife’s family, I might give some credence to that argument, and would want to keep an eye on developments, but I have not seen where RFK has raised any issue with being linked to this issue.

          As to what benefit fracking might provide, it’s not a bad stop-gap method to buy us some time to develop renewable energy sources. It’s certainly cleaner than drilling for oil, if the fluids injected into the ground (mostly water, but the exact mixture has been kept secret in other places. This would be RFK’s first priority, I’m sure). Natural gas burns cleaner than oter fossil fuels, and since it’s local, the costs of transportation and the infrastructure involved is less risky.

          Goodness knows, electricity is expensive enough here.

          • You definitely have more trust in RFK Jr than I do.

            • Richard

              RFK is just one person (and he was horribly wrong on the autism vaccination debate) but the committee has a majority of strong environmentalists. Why shouldnt we trust them to carefully look into the issue? Is there any reason to assume these people are going to abandon their principles? Or do you just want to keep on bashing anything Cuomo does?

              • DocAmazing

                RFK Jr.’s flailing on vaccines is one nonreassuring feature; so too is the tendency for big environmental organizations to be co-opted by corporate donors (you can still start fights in California by bringing up the Sierra Club).

                I’m not real impressed by claims of safety on the part of the fracking industry.

              • witless chum

                The problem seems to me to be that Cuomo didn’t have to do this. New York is a pretty liberal state and he could have gotten away with just banning fracking. Like Obama with his pre-Deepwater Horizon calling for more off-shore drilling.

                Or am I just showing my ignorance of NY politics?

                • Not so much politics as economics. The central part of the state is hurting severely and that’s where the shale deposits are.

              • RFK Jr. has proven very willing in the past to compromise with energy companies over the desires of local people. He was deeply involved in a deal to allow Conoco into Ecuador that the indigenous locals and grassroots environmentalists rejected because it provided no real accountability for the company.

                This is more complicated than just a blog comment, but in general, while I guess I’m glad environmentalists are on the board, I am skeptical about anyone holding the energy companies’ feet to the fire to do what they are supposed to do.

                Because it almost never happens.

          • “The take-home message of our study* is that if you do an integration of 20 years following the development of the gas, shale gas is worse than conventional gas and is, in fact, worse than coal and worse than oil,” Howarth said. “We are not advocating for more coal or oil, but rather to move to a truly green, renewable future as quickly as possible. We need to look at the true environmental consequences of shale gas.”

            * “Methane and the greenhouse-gas footprint of natural gas from shale formation.” Robert Hogworth and Tony Ingraffea published in Climatic
            Change

            In addition to water and sand, 2-4% of fracturing fluid is generally composed of chemicals such as benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene and naphthalene. Rather nasty stuff if it gets into your groundwater.

  • wengler

    Supporting unsustainable, centralized, environmentally-destructive power is as American as apple pie.

    • Kurzleg

      From a political perspective, it makes perfect sense. By the time the fallout comes into view the politicians are long gone and unaccountable.

  • DrDick

    As someone who grew up in the Oklahoma oil patch and whose father worked for a major oil company, you never trust the energy companies. Nor should you trust any other extractive industry. Northeast Oklahoma, where I grew up, also has a legacy of lead and zinc mining which has poisoned many communities.

  • RepubAnon

    Gee, who’s have thought that salting the earth (by spraying salty water produced by fracking) would harm plant life? Totally unforeseeable…

    See Romans, Carthage, destructive of.

    • Njorl

      Nonsense. Carthage is in upstate NY, the fracking is going on in central NY. Rome, about 75 miles south of Carthage on 26, is closer to the fracking.

  • PhoenixRising

    Upside to salting the earth: area now makes for excellent deer hunting, in season.

    Hoocoodanode?

    • Why? Starving deer are easier to shoot at?

      • rumor

        Well, they are. They hide less, wander more, get more desperate and therefore bold. Deer hunting at the end of a lean winter, for instance, is like shooting fish in a barrel.

      • PhoenixRising

        Um, because they lick salt for minerals, so creating a quarter-acre salt lick will cause deer (and elk if there are any in the region) to line up at that spot.

        • No, I was serious in asking that question. I have a house up by the watershed upstate and like to file little tidbits like this away for reference when I’m up there.

          On my bike. Wearing really friendly orange camo jerseys.

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