Tag Archives | Fracking

What the Frack Is Happening Under Long Beach?

Bosc d'Anjou (CC BY 2.0)

Bosc d’Anjou (CC BY 2.0)

Joshua Frank writes at OC Weekly:

Perhaps you’ve driven past them at night: several towering panels lit up like a psychedelic art installation, with a 45-foot waterfall gushing down the side and onto the boulder-strewn, pedestal-shaped, very-much-manmade island. The brightly painted structures seem harmless enough–if a bit out of place several hundred feet offshore from Long Beach’s affluent Bluff Park neighborhood–but what goes on behind the palm-lined façade is profoundly controversial and potentially very dangerous.

Built in 1965, the four THUMS islands–so named for the companies that first developed the sites: Texaco, Humble, Unocal, Mobil and Shell–were designed by esteemed landscape architect Joseph Linesch, who had a knack for turning blight into eye candy. While Long Beach’s Gas & Oil Department (LBGO) operates the islands, a wholly owned subsidiary of Occidental Petroleum (known as Occidental Long Beach Inc.) is contracted to perform the work of extracting fossil fuels from beneath the ocean floor.

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Eau de Fracking? Companies Try to Trademark Scents

One imagines that if the frackers pay their lobbyists enough, the US Patent & Trademark Office will somehow find a way to issue a federal trademark for fracking scents. I kid you not, this is really happening, as described by the Wall Street Journal:

Federal trademark officials in Alexandria, Va., recently received an unusual package: a hand-delivered parcel containing vials of a clear liquid that smelled of oranges.

The sender wasn’t a crank. It was a corporate trademark lawyer representing Flotek Industries Inc., a Texas producer of hydraulic-fracturing fluids used to extract oil and gas from rocks deep in the earth.

Scent-bottles 01

The little bottles in the box were samples of a branding brainstorm that might be called eau de fracking: a specially developed scent that is supposed to make Flotek’s product smell like a glass of OJ. Flotek says its customers have come to associate the orange scent with its line of fracking chemicals and wants the U.S.

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New York Bans Fracking

Andrew Cuomo by Pat Arnow croppedWhat is this, good news day? Just a dream? Governor Andrew Cuomo follows President Obama’s decision to open up to Cuba with a ban on fracking in New York State, reports the New York Times:

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration announced on Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the controversial method of natural gas extraction.

State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health.

That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting convened by Mr. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

The question of whether to allow fracking has been one of the most divisive public policy debates in New York in years, pitting environmentalists against others who saw it as a critical way to bring jobs to economically stagnant portions of upstate.

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Fracking Chemicals, Brought to You By Susan G. Komen

Baker Hughes

Baker Hughes

And yet, another reason for me not to support the Komen Foundation.

via Mother Jones:

Here’s some news that frankly, I initially thought was a spoof: for the second year in a row, breast cancer charity Susan G. Komen for the Cure—which caused massive outrage when it defunded Planned Parenthood in 2012—has partnered with Baker Hughes, a leader in the fracking industry. The Houston-based oilfield services company will donate $100,000 to Komen over the year and sell 1,000 pink-painted drill bits used for fracking.

According to Baker Hughes’ “Doing Our Bit for the Cure” campaign website, “The pink bits serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find the cures for this disease, which claims a life every 60 seconds.”

The irony here is that one of the primary criticisms of fracking is that the fracking process injects possible and known carcinogens, including benzene, formaldehyde, and sulfuric acid, into the ground and surrounding environment.

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Texas Family Wins Big Lawsuit Against Frackers

PIC: Ostroff Law (CC)

PIC: Ostroff Law (CC)

A Texas ranching family was awarded nearly $3 million in a lawsuit against Aruba Petroleum, a company running a fracking operation near their property. Health problems began to occur soon after. Ranchers fighting a powerful entity engaged in an ethically ambiguous enterprise? I’m sure that Cliven Bundy’s pals will be lauding their victory. Right? Right?

Via the LA Times?

In a landmark legal victory that centered on fracking, a middle-class north Texas ranching family won nearly $3 million from a big natural gas company whose drilling, they contend, caused years of sickness, killed pets and livestock, and forced them out of their home for months.

Tuesday’s $2.95-million civil verdict by a six-person Dallas jury is thought to be the first of its kind in the nation. Other landowners have sued over drilling and reached settlements, but legal experts think this is the first jury verdict.

Robert and Lisa Parr filed suit against Aruba Petroleum Inc.

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Fracking Linked To Increase In Oklahoma Earthquakes

page1-311px-United_States_Shale_gas_plays,_May_2011To no one’s great surprise, scientists have linked the elevated seismic activity in Oklahoma to increased oil and gas exploration, especially hydraulic fracturing (a/k/a tracking). From the Independent:

Between 1975 and 2008, Oklahoma recorded an average of no more than six earthquakes per year, yet now it is the second most seismically active of the contiguous United States, beaten only by California. Scientists have linked this surge in seismic activity to a parallel increase in oil and gas exploration, including fracking.

In 2009, there were almost 50 quakes in Oklahoma. The following year, that number leapt to more than 1,000. Most were not “felt” earthquakes – those of magnitude 2.5 and above, which can be detected by humans. However, the state’s annual record of 222 felt quakes, set in 2013, has already been broken this year, with 253 so far. Seismologist Austin Holland of the Oklahoma Geological Survey told Reuters: “We have had almost as many magnitude 3 and greater already in 2014 than we did for all of 2013… We have already crushed last year’s record for number of earthquakes.”

Earthquakes rarely cause damage unless they are of magnitude 4 or higher.

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Wastewater Injection Triggered Oklahoma’s Earthquake Cascade

Pic: USGS (PD)

Pic: USGS (PD)

Becky Oskin writes at LiveScience:

One of Oklahoma’s biggest man-made earthquakes, caused by fracking-linked wastewater injection, triggered an earthquake cascade that led to the damaging magnitude-5.7 Prague quake that struck on Nov. 6, 2011, a new study confirms.

The findings suggest that even small man-made earthquakes, such as those of just a magnitude 1 or magnitude 2, can trigger damaging quakes, said study co-author Elizabeth Cochran, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

“Even if wastewater injection only directly affects a low-hazard fault, those smaller events could trigger an event on a larger fault nearby,” she told Live Science.

The Prague earthquake was the largest of thousands of quakes that rattled Oklahoma in late 2011. Three were magnitude-5 or stronger. The 2011 quakes struck along the Wilzetta fault, a fault zone near Prague. Earthquakes break faults like a boat plowing through thick ice — the fault zips open as the earthquake ruptures the fault, and then seals itself shut behind.

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