Brief review of threats to Canada’s groundwater from the oil and gas industry’s methane migration and hydraulic fracturing by Ernst Environmental Services, June 16, 2013
French Translation of the Introductory Pages by Amie du Richelieu, June 16, 2013
Updates will be ongoing as more contamination information becomes available.
WHAT’S IN YOUR WATER?
Appropriate baseline water testing requires complete chemical disclosure before fracing.
Stimulation = fracing = completion
What is a Hazardous Material Information Review Act Claim Exemption?
Within Canada, any supplier who is required, pursuant to the provisions of the Hazardous Products Act, to disclose the chemical identity or concentration of any ingredient of a controlled product may, if the supplier considers such information to be confidential business information, claim an exemption from the requirement to disclose that information by filing a claim for exemption under the Hazardous Material Information Review Act.
Alberta joins British Columbia in partial disclosure of frac chemicals, by Fracfocus.ca, January 1, 2013.
Secrets permitted, e.g., for one of the 4 wells posted in Alberta so far, as of February 3, 2013:
Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Chemicals, CAS#/MIRC# not provided
Dec 1 2012 – Dec 3 2012, 08-33-053-10W5, Artisan Energy:
CARRIER FLUID N2
CARRIER FLUID TG-740 Not Available
ADDITIVE HB-4 Trican Breaker 0.46%
ADDITIVE HX-2W Trican Crosslinker 0.44%
ADDITIVE Hg-2 Trican Gelling Agent 0.46%
ADDITIVE S-12 Trican Surfactant 0.16%
Source: Screen Capture of FracFocus.ca, February 3, 2013
FracFocus has ‘serious flaws,’ Harvard study says by Mike Soraghan, April 23, 2013, E&E News
A study by a new Harvard University policy initiative says the FracFocus.org website has “serious flaws” as a means of disclosure for hydraulic fracturing chemicals used in oil and gas production, and state governments shouldn’t be relying on it. The study says FracFocus has a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t account for different state requirements, prevents many kinds of searching and gives drilling companies too much leeway to miss deadlines or withhold information as trade secrets.
“States have written tough disclosure requirements, backed by robust public information laws,” said Kate Konschnik, policy director of the Harvard Environmental Law Program. “However, when those same states direct companies to report to FracFocus, they give up a lot of oversight authority. Meanwhile, the public’s ability to seek additional information or challenge trade secret claims is lost when an agency is not in possession of the disclosures.” … Disclosure of hydraulic fracturing chemicals is now required in 18 states. Of those, 11 allow or direct drilling companies to report on FracFocus. … The administrative costs of the website are paid by the American Petroleum Institute and America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and industry officials say it is the best means of disclosure. Many of the aspects of FracFocus criticized by the Harvard study are supported by oil and gas industry groups.
‘An impenetrable interface’
The report , titled “Legal Fractures in Chemical Disclosure Laws,” echoes the complaints of open-government groups, environmentalists and the Obama administration’s “fracking” study panel that FracFocus has serious flaws as means of government-made disclosure. It comes as the Obama administration is expected to endorse FracFocus as a means of disclosure of the fracturing chemicals used on federal public lands (EnergyWire, Feb. 8).
The study says FracFocus “fails as a regulatory compliance tool” because government agencies that use it give up control to the website and the companies. … And, the study says, the site lets operators decide when to conceal chemical ingredients as trade secrets. Because of that, the report says, trade secret claims are widely inconsistent.
Those inconsistencies can be difficult to detect because FracFocus requires users to open the disclosures one at a time as PDF documents, rather than letting users see data on multiple wells in a spreadsheet.
The report calls it “an impenetrable interface that prevents users from accessing more than one disclosure form at a time, thereby virtually eliminating any real search functionality.”
The Harvard researchers used data from the environmental group SkyTruth that “scraped” the information from the site and put it in tabular form. They found that companies often claimed trade secret protection for chemicals at one well that they had already disclosed at another. [Emphasis added]
Source: Legal Fractures in Chemical Disclosure Laws, Why the Voluntary Chemical Disclosure Registry FracFocus Fails as a Regulatory Compliance Tool by Kate Konschnik with Margaret Holden and Alexa Shasteen, April 23, 2013, Harvard Law School
Alberta to start using FracFocus as of December 31, 2012 but not for any of the 171,000 previously frac’d wells – the ERCB publicly and in regulatory documents states that all chemicals are disclosed if requested but this promise does not occur in reality – not even when companies intentionally frac into community drinking water supplies above the Base of Groundwater Protection
“FracFocus was the vehicle we’ve chosen to ensure the information is easily available,” said ERCB spokesman Bob Curran. B.C. energy ministry based the site on FracFocus.org, developed in the United States. Enhanced reporting is required for new Alberta wells as of Dec. 31 but companies have 30 days after the well is fractured to submit and ERCB staff will then have to populate the site, meaning information won’t be visible immediately. Companies are required to report the start and finish dates of operations, fluid system components, the purpose of the components, additive ingredients and the maximum concentrations of each ingredient in the system, said Curran. He added the website will not give prior notification of fracturing [making it impossible to protect groundwater and water wells]…. [Emphasis added]
ERCB Lawyer to Ernst, April 24, 2012: However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids.
FracFocus is just a fig leaf for the industry to be able to say they’re doing something in terms of disclosure Voluntary Fracking Reporting? Bloomberg: Chemicals Not Reported, Half of All Wells “Obscured”
Legal loophole keeps fracturing mixes murky by Jennifer Hiller, February 3, 2013, Fuelfix
Of 12,410 instances of hydraulic fracturing in Texas between April 2011 and early December 2012, companies used terms such as “proprietary,” “secret” or “confidential” 10,120 times while reporting data on the FracFocus.org website, according to data collected through early December by the Houston-based Pivot Upstream Group and analyzed by the San Antonio Express-News. In the Eagle Ford Shale, the South Texas field that has become one of the hottest oil and gas plays in the nation, the trade secret exemption was used 2,297 times in 3,100 fracturing events. [Emphasis added]
Fracking trade secrets would get no protection under draft Alaska rule January 3, 2013
Companies will not be able to keep trade secrets for hydraulic fracturing ingredients if a proposed Alaska rule is adopted. The chemical disclosure rule, part of draft fracking regulations released late last month by the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is similar to other states’ orders in every way except one major issue: trade secret exemptions. … Cathy Foerster, one of three commissioners of the state agency, took the lead on developing the rules and said a trade secret exemption clause was left out on purpose. [Emphasis added]
Testimony on hydraulic fracturing and public disclosure of all chemicals used in the process to The Standing Committee on Natural Resources, Number 033, 3rd Session, 40th Parliament, Evidence presented in Ottawa, November 23, 2010
MP Nathan Cullen: Mr. Dunn, to bring you back to another conversation, we had one of your competitors up earlier committing publicly to disclose the chemicals used in the fracturing process. Is that something Encana is doing right now or is willing to do in the future?
Mr. Richard Dunn (Vice-President, Canadian Division, Regulatory and Government Relations, Encana Corporation): Yes, we’re doing it now.
Sky Truth Fracking Chemical Database released November 14, 2012
Texas, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and five other states require disclosure through FracFocus to respond to public calls for transparency, but with the tools provided by FracFocus, data aggregation and analysis is impossible. Despite these critical shortcomings, the White House has identified this website as a tool for providing transparency. “With this information, SkyTruth provides critical oversight of an industry that has a history of secrecy and of fighting tooth and nail to avoid public disclosure of the toxic chemicals it uses,” said Marc Yaggi, executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance.
“The intelligible disclosure of industry information and data through this SkyTruth action will make the task of research on the effects of fracking much easier,” said Dr. Tony Ingraffea, professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Cornell University. “This large and ever-expanding dataset is invaluable for cross-referencing with other datasets such as health and environmental quality.”
We acquire the data from the website FracFocus.org, which publishes voluntary disclosure reports produced by oil and gas drilling operators. … The database contains details about each fracking operation: location, date, well depth, volume of water, as well as details about chemicals used in the fracking fluid including name, quantity, and Chemical Abstract Service (CAS) number. However, many of the chemical components included in the reports are withheld by the operator as “trade secrets”. … Unfortunately, the voluntary public disclosures available to us on the FracFocus website do not provide anything close to a complete disclosure data set. We do not have reports for all the wells that have been fracked, and in the reports that we do have, many chemical components are explicitly withheld. We are currently researching the disclosure rate to try to estimate how much is missing. …
- We looked at the ongoing, unpermitted use of diesel fuels in fracking, apparently in violation of the Safe Drinking Water act.
- Most recently, we examined disclosure rates in West Virginia and concluded that state and industry data were so incomplete that the disclosure of chemicals used in fracking ranged from only 0% to 31.6%.
APEGGA, Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, Water and Hydraulic Fracturing in Alberta: The Facts November 2011
Almost 167,000 wells have been fractured in Alberta
The Energy Resources Conservation Board has detailed requirements for drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations
Alberta ERCB lawyer Ms. Patricia M. Johnston, Q.C. wrote Ernst in April 2012: However, the ERCB does not currently require licensees to provide detailed disclosure of the chemical composition of fracturing fluids
PIVOT D-Frac Chemical Database by Pivot UpStream Group
D-FRAC is the only comprehensive, aggregated data source for the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing as disclosed by well operators. It represents a quantum leap in analyzing the massive amount of data that drillers and operators are actively disclosing to the public for reporting the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. … Until now, obtaining this data for analysis has been impossible since an aggregated, comprehensive data source has not existed. Even publicly accessible sources of this data have restrictions and limitations that discourage the acquisition of the data in bulk form.
Top Data Contributors by Operator (through Jun 2012)
Petroleum Truth Report by Arthur Berman
THE ENERGY OF SLAVES, Oil and the New Servitude by Andrew Nikiforuk, September 2012, Greystone Books
These self-serving arguments from the world’s petroleum brokers are based on a singular falsehood: that more energy translates into better living. Decades of human slavery peddled the same lies. Eighteenth-century Liverpool and Bristol slave traders contended that trafficking in human energy was “the best traffic the kingdom hath”; the world needed more slaves to end global drudgery and provide the necessities of life. … The rising unhappiness of Americans over the last century has been well documented by a number of scholars. In his famous study Bowling Alone, political scientist Robert Putnam noted that mobility and obsession with material things had come with a high civic price. Based on 500,000 interviews, Putman found that Americans had lost the value of friendship (what oil-funded academics call “social capital”) and conviviality.These self-serving arguments from the world’s petroleum brokers are based on a singular falsehood: that more energy translates into better living. Decades of human slavery peddled the same lies.
Whenever citizens object to chaotic drilling, hydraulic fracturing, water contamination, or environmentally devastating pipeline routes, the oil companies simply pour money into local community organizations, build sports facilities, and fund Republican candidates in the United States. Like petro autocrats, they crudely purchase consent and studiously buy silence. p. 199
Quand des citoyens s’objectent aux forages chaotiques, à la fracturation hyrdraulique, à la contamination de l’eau, ou à des trajets de pipelines environnementalement dévastateurs, les pétrolières investissent généreusement dans des organismes communautaires locaux, construisent des centres sportifs et appuient financièrement des candidats Républicains aux États-Unis. Comme des autocrates pétroliers, ils achètent le consentement des gens et leur silence. Translation by Friends of the Richelieu
All high-energy-use countries, from Communist China to the United States, treat rural areas as dumping grounds for exploitive industries and nuclear waste, using the excuse that no one lives there. p. 89
Tous les pays grands consommateurs d’énergie, de la Chine communiste jusqu’aux États-Unis, considèrent les régions rurales comme des sites de vidanges pour les industries d’exploitation et les déchets nucléaires, prenant comme excuse que personne n’y vit. Translation by Friends of the Richelieu
Heather Mallick’s favourite books of 2012 by Heather Mallick, December 24, 2012, Toronto Star
It was not a splendid year for books, as the great publishing shakeout began. Digital publishing began to overtake ink and paper, publishers went under and authors were poor, no change there. Great fiction was thin on the ground and most of my choices for Best Books of 2012 are non-fiction, many Canadian. But they were wonderful. Take a bow, Andrew Nikiforuk, whose The Energy of Slaves broke new ground. … Physical labour was once done by slaves. Post-abolition, it was done by coal and oil. Fossil fuels are mankind’s new slaves, worked to such an extent that our need of them has made slaves of us. Try doing without electricity for 10 minutes. Try 12. Andrew Nikiforuk, Canada’s greatest journalist, has written a stunning book that approaches the coming disaster in a startling way. We are the plantation slaveowners of the planet. The average North American consumes 23.6 barrels of oil a year, the equivalent of the work of 89 human slaves. As the era of cheap energy reaches its end, what will we do without our slaves? I have never read a better book on the way we live now, on the plain fact that the Industrial Revolution did us in. The fact that The Energy of Slaves has received little attention is proof of the chaos of the publishing industry, journalism and our own self-love. But it sure is nice here on the plantation, 50 appliances sweating away for my personal comfort as I type this. [Emphasis added]
The Hill Times’ List of Top 100 Best Political, Government, Public Policy, and Canadian History Books In 2012 by Kate Malloy, Bea Vongdouangchanh, Chris Plecash, Jessica Bruno, Laura Rykewaert, December 10, 2012, The Hill Times
ANDREW NIKIFORUK, author of The Energy of Slaves: Oil and the New Servitude. “We sit around, scratching our heads, wondering why the global economy seems to be slowing down, why Europe is such a mess, why U.S. oil consumption is actually declining, and why Japan has entered a period of rapid stagnation. A lot has to do with decreasing flows of energy due to the increasing cost of energy.
Expert Panel to Understand the Environmental Impacts of Shale Gas Extraction by Council of Canadian Academies
John Cherry Chair, Associate Director G360 Centre Applied GW Research, Adjunct Prof School of Eng, U of Guelph
Michael Ben-Eli, Founder & Director of the Sustainability Laboratory, New York
Lalita Bharadwaj, Associate Prof, Toxicologist, School of Public Health, U of Saskatchewan
Rick Chalaturnyk, Prof of Geotechnical Engineering, Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering, U of Alberta
Maurice B. Dusseault, PT Prof of Engineering Geology, Dept of Earth and Environmental Sciences, U of Waterloo
Bernard Goldstein, Prof Environmental and Public Health, Graduate School of Public Health, U of Pittsburgh
Jean-Paul Lacoursière, Associate Prof, Chemical Engineering Dept, U of Sherbrooke
Ralph Matthews, Prof Dept Sociology U BC; Prof Emeritus of Sociology, McMaster U
Bernhard Mayer, Prof of Isotope Geochemistry, Dept of Geoscience, U of Calgary
Jennifer Miskimins, Associate Prof, Petroleum Eng Dept, Colorado School of Mines
John Molson, Canada Research Chair in Quantitative Hydrogeology of Fractured Porous Media, Dept of Geology and Geological Engineering, Laval U
Kelly Munkittrick, Sc Director, Canadian Water Network, Prof, Dept of Bio, U of NB
Naomi Oreskes, Prof History and Science Studies, Dept of History, U of California
Beth Parker, Director, G360 Centre Applied Groundwater Research, U of Guelph
Paul Young, FRSC, VP (Research) & Prof Geophysics, U of Toronto
Mark D. Zoback, Prof Geophysics, Stanford U
[Refer also to: Stanford geoscientist Mark Zoback cites critical need for basic research to unleash promising energy sources December 4, 2012: "The recovery of oil is only around 5 percent, so we need to do more fundamental research on how to get more hydrocarbons out of the ground.... That will benefit all of the companies...."
A Revolution Underground: The History, Economics & Environmental Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing by the Canadian Association of Energy and Pipeline Landowner Associations, released April 2012 Executive Summary
Hydraulic Fracturing on Wikipedia
A study published in May 2011 by researchers at Duke University found that “levels of flammable methane gas in drinking water wells increased to dangerous levels when those water supplies were close to natural gas wells.” Water samples from 68 private water wells in the states of Pennsylvania and New York were tested and some were found to have extremely high concentrations of methane: 64 milligrams of methane per liter of drinking water, compared with a normal level of one milligram or lower. [Emphasis added]
Be… without water? by Rob Turgeon, Apple Hill Video Inc., 2011
Be… without water. The sequel. Trailer 3:55 Min by KnowShaleGas, 2012
Saboteurs Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil by Andrew Nikiforuk, October 1, 2002, Macfarlane, Walter & Ross
Winner of the 2002 Arthur Ellis Award for Best True Crime
Winner of the W.O. Mitchell City of Calgary Book Prize
Finalist for the 2002 Governor General’s Literary Award for Nonfiction
Finalist for the Wilfred Eggleston Award for Nonfiction
This is a taut, careful work of nonfiction that reads like a thriller and raises unsettling questions about individual rights, corporate power, police methods, and government accountability.
Entre gallos y la media noche (Between Midnight and the Rooster’s Crow, 2005)
The devil is in the details – an unofficial compilation of news stories relating to Gwyn Morgan (and the Fraser Institute by association)
Legal counsel for SNC Lavalin chairman Gwyn Morgan, issues cease and desist letter to website bearing the same name by Laila Yuile, April 18, 2013 ” The truth has no agenda.”
This news came ironically, on the same day the World Bank announced that SNC Lavalin Inc., had agreed to be banned from bidding on any World Bank financed projects, globally, for 10 years following investigations into allegations of bribery on a World Bank financed project. http://business.financialpost.com/2013/04/17/snc-lavalin-bribery/
Gwyn Morgan has served as the chairman of SNC Lavalin Inc for many years, but it was announced recently that he was stepping down and being replaced following the AGM in May.
Shareholders have been critical of Morgan and the board, because as one shareholder stated: ”the board failed in its oversight duties as certain members of senior management hatched agent payment schemes that should have come to light sooner.” http://business.financialpost.com/2013/04/04/snc-lavalin-says-chairman-three-other-directors-to-be-replaced-at-may-meeting/
Gwyn Morgan has also been an advisor to Premier Christy Clark, a role that has been the subject of much controversy because SNC Lavalin had ongoing business contracts and bidding opportunities outstanding with the province of British Columbia.
Fracking: A Thick Description The right of people to narrate their own lives
The Unist’ot’en Camp is a resistance community whose purpose is to protect sovereign Wet’suwet’en territory from several proposed pipelines from the Tar Sands Gigaproject and shale gas from Hydraulic Fracturing Projects in the Peace River Region.
Fake Environmentalists like Forest Ethics, Pembina Institute, and others who promote Offsetting and other false solutions must be confronted for their activities.
Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition Coalbed methane has never been developed anywhere in the world in a wild salmon watershed.
Reading Children’s Books I took my Power in my Hand – And went against the World – Emily Dickinson (Poem 660)
Don’t frack with JESSICA ERNST! by Julie Ali, March 31, 2013
Gaz de schiste – un poème pour Jessica Ernst translation by Amie du Richelieu, April 6, 2013
to do the work of democracy
and so understand we will not tolerate
any more promotions of judges or subversions
of the judicial process to ensure that this case
is delayed or ended we want justice for Jessica and so we say
Welcome to Ourspringbank
Fighting for a community driven community
POWERS Open Letter to Alberta Premier Alison Redford December 15, 2011
We demand a moratorium on this risky experiment until it has been studied and found safe by independent, unbiased scientists, and the study peer-reviewed.
Lois Frank, grandmother, professor and Blood Tribe member, receives award for her courage fighting fracking and standing up for her rights by Council of Canadians, October 27, 2012, Nanaimo, British Columbia
WATCH Two First Nation women named activists of year
Frack Protester Lois Frank has charges stayed
Crown Stays Intimidation Charges Against Blood Tribe Woman
Crown decides not to prosecute fracking protestor Lois Frank
Blood Tribe member vows to fight charges over anti-fracking protest
Johanne Dion, une citoyenne dévouée August 14, 2012
Afin de souligner les deux ans de travail monial que fait Johanne Dion avec sa revue de presse quotidienne sur les gaz de schiste en Amérique du Nord, la Fondation Rivières aimerait exprimer sa gratitude pour sa participation…. Nous profitons de l’occasion pour vous la présenter en quelques mots en vous suggérant de signer la pétition pour un moratoire complet et durable sur l’exploitation des gaz de schiste. … Dès décembre 2008, elle sonna l’alarme en dénonçant le silence médiatique sur les impacts environnementaux et sociaux de l’exploitation gazière par fracturation hydraulique au Québec.
Johanne Dion, a dedicated citizen August 14, 2012
To celebrate two years of studious work done by Johanne Dion and her daily press review on shale gas in North America, Fondation Rivières would like to express our gratitude…. This gives us the opportunity to let you know her better and ask you to sign the petition for a complete moratorium on shale gas extraction. … In December 2008, she blew the whistle on the Quebec media silence about the environmental and social impacts of fracking method used to extract shale gas.
Développement durable de l’industrie des gaz de schiste au Québec (Government Investigative Report and Public Hearings on Shale Gas Development in Quebec)
Responsible Energy Action concerned about how we obtain and use energy. Our meetings are held the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. At the moment our main focus is the practice of hydraulic fracturing, often called “fracking.” We are trying to educate ourselves and our community on the environmental, health, economic and social aspects.
Fracking Research and New Brunswick, Canada Should we take the bait?
Know Shale Gas NB We have reasonable doubt
Hydraulic Fracturing In New Brunswick: Land And Sea CBC, April 10, 2010.
Prince Edward Island
Don’t Frack PEI
WIND WATER SUN – ENERGY FOR THE LONG RUN
Extreme Energy Initiative Human Rights Consortium, School of Advanced Study, University of London, UK
The Extreme Energy Initiative is the only academic forum in the world to concentrate specifically on the effects of unconventional fossil fuel extraction on society and the environment.
Refer also to: Remembering Rumsey Ranch