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Foes of the 300-mile proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline that would slice through prime forest and farmland in Virginia and West Virginia have intervened in the federal permitting process. Our 2016 webinar series will begin on January 20 with a discussion about energy efficiency.
At the request of the state of Tennessee, the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is considering banning surface coal mining on roughly 67,000 acres in the Cumberland Mountains. 2016 is shaping up to be a key year in Virginia as the forces to move the state to cleaner energy sources gain momentum. Help us continue to protect the mountains for future generations – become a member of Appalachian Voices today! MEMBER SPOTLIGHT Selfless Sisters Tootsie and Teddy Jablonski are long-time volunteers who share a positive spirit and a fierce determination to protect the natural places they love.
In the past week, we’ve covered three separate issues where anti-fracking activists categorically reject any scientific conclusion that differs from their preconceived ideology: air emissions and methane leaks, groundwater contamination, and public health. Without a doubt, the most commonly cited source of this claim is anti-fracking activist Tony Ingraffea, who has claimed frequently that “industry documents” reveal astronomical leakage rates from existing wells.
The reality, however, is that these anti-fracking activists are deliberately misleading the public about well integrity and failure rates.
One of Ingraffea’s “industry documents” is a decade-old chart from the now defunct Minerals Management Service. The situation gets even more embarrassing for so-called “Godfather of Cement” Tony Ingraffea and his activist following, though. The entire basis for claiming “half of all shale wells leak” is data that refer neither to shale wells nor leaks. As it turns out, activists claiming high leakage rates have such a dubious case that they can’t even get their own stories straight.
The last point is noteworthy, because Fox and many others have tried to establish their credibility by saying the Society of Petroleum Engineers is their source.
If we look at real data, we can see why opponents have had to resort to such raw and deliberate deception. An August 2011 report from the Ground Water Protection Council examined more than 34,000 wells drilled and completed in the state of Ohio between 1983 and 2007, and more than 187,000 wells drilled and completed in Texas between 1993 and 2008. Most of those incidents, by the way, occurred before modern technology and updated state regulations came online over the past decade. Granted, a failure rate of anything above zero percent leaves room for improvement, and there have been casing failures in different basins across the country.


The industry has also adopted and published a series of recommendations and best practices. Simply put, opponents hope the public is too stupid to do its own research to discover just how divorced from reality their claims are. I am neither strongly one way or another but I don’t understand what pressure is going to drive anything into the water after the fracturing pressure is taken away. Appalachian Voices was one of 17 groups who filed the legal protest, citing harm from climate change and increased fracking caused by the project. In passing the omnibus spending bill, the federal government included tens of millions of dollars for job training, abandoned mine cleanup and other economic diversification efforts. A panel of experts will answer your questions and discuss ways that you can lower your monthly bills and reduce your carbon footprint. Department of Environmental Quality seems determined to hold sway over the state’s environment.
The McAuliffe administration is moving apace on a plan to shrink the state’s carbon footprint, the second largest utility in Virginia dropped out of an industry-backed, climate-denying lobby group, and the legislature will consider a host of energy bills, some good, but some bad. 1-April 1: Celebrate the centennial of the North Carolina State Park system by contributing to this poetry contest. 20: Ask our panel of experts questions about how energy efficiency can reduce your carbon footprint. 27-30: The 25th annual conference offers informative courses and field trips, practical sessions, networking, and more.
18-20: Save the date for this annual conference to encourage dialogue, research, scholarship and creative expression in the Appalachian region.
In this latest installment, we’ll look at activist claims on well integrity, “leaky” wells, and failure rates. But we continue to see activists claim excessively high failure rates as a means of scaring the public and, by extension, trying to shut down development altogether. Yoko Ono penned a letter to the editor in the New York Times leveraging Ingraffea’s “research,” and we all know about Josh Fox’s short film “The Sky Is Pink” that relied heavily on that same information.
You probably haven’t heard much about MMS in the context of hydraulic fracturing, because its jurisdiction was offshore, not onshore where the big shale plays are actually located. The data presented in that chart were not examples of leaks, but rather instances of what’s known as sustained casing pressure (SCP).
The data show only 12 incidents in Ohio related to failures of (or graduate erosions to) casing or cement – a failure rate of 0.03 percent.


These are serious issues, and strong rules and regulations are in place to address and minimize those risks.
The Marcellus Shale Coalition has a document outlining responsive actions, and the American Petroleum Institute has a lengthy list of well construction and integrity guidelines, which include actions designed to minimize or, more often, completely eliminate the risk of well integrity failure.
It is purely a manufactured story line; a series of misleading or outright false claims designed to instill doubt in the public’s mind about the safety of shale development. Though I have heard a lot about correlation with earthquakes, which, given the process is called, shale formation fracturing, seems pretty likely. There is, after all, a great financial interest in making sure that the technologies involved work and produce consistently well. Battling with residents and federal regulators on the pace of coal ash cleanup and plans for addressing climate change, the agency has taken every opportunity to highlight how external forces are getting in its way.
The Sierra Club has encouraged its members to read Ingraffea’s work on failure rates, and Food & Water Watch similarly claims that 50 percent of “fracking wells” will leak over a 30-year period. In fact, the chart was an assessment of deepwater oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico, and the caption explicitly stated that “land locations” were excluded.
Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the oil and gas industry knows that SCP is the accumulation of pressure in a well; it’s not the same thing as a leaking well, nor does it necessarily indicate the well is leaking. Because the same article that included Ingraffea’s bombshell chart was written entirely to explain how the industry can prevent, reduce, or address SCP.
In fact, major producing states like Texas are moving forward with updated regulations on well construction to make sure these and other potential risks are managed properly. It is not a discussion of risk or even risk management, much less an attempt to have a reasonable dialogue about safety. Pennsylvania, which is on track to become the second-largest gas producing state in the country, updated its regulations in 2011.
Finally, during his media tour for Gasland Part II, Fox told Platts that the rate is actually 35 percent worldwide, citing the Society of Petroleum Engineers.
Those who pursue liquids know that CNG is bad news already and so I think that Continental Resources and Devon are commendable.



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