Sunday, May 1, 2011

Fracking is an Earth cracking, water destroying practice

"FRACK is a Four Letter Word!"

"Natural Gas Extraction is Clean Energy"

"Natural Gas is a Renewable Resource"

"Fracking Fluids are only Water with a few Secret Ingredients"

"Refilling the Drilled Places with Sand, Restores Structural Stability to the Crust"

"CAT Engines that are placed on-site to keep the Gas Wells Pumping are Individual Point Sources"

...and other Fairy Tales you hear from Shale Extractors to keep them from being regulated. The scariest part of these Tales is that the money that is being made by a handful of people, makes them greedy and dangerous enough that the Agencies that are supposed to Regulate them, turn a Blind Eye to the long-term and extensive damage done by Fracking.

In March of 2008, I was working for the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. I was fairly new at my job, working in the Air Compliance & Enforcement Division as a lowly Secretary II. On that fateful day, a Mr. (Roberts?) called into the Agency to make a complaint against the "Fracking" companies that were heading into Arkansas. This gentleman was dying, he had worked in Natural Gas Extraction in the State of Texas, and due to exposure from the silica, he was terminally ill.

Mr. Roberts also warned that as an avid Sportsman; fishing and hunting, we would lose our aquatic life and our streams and creeks would be destroyed. He sounded a little crazy, let me tell you. Some of the terms and terminology was brand new to me, and I have been around the Environmental Industry for years. He told me he could prove everything he was saying, and I began receiving emails into the Air Division, outlining the illegal behavior, and devastating practices done by these "sub-contracted" Gas Well Frackers.

Part of the documentation sent, was from the Texas Department of Environmental Quality who had worked for years to bring the fracking companies into compliance, and to get them working within the permitting system of TDEQ and the EPA. They were never successful, and amazingly, all of this moved right into Arkansas, just like this caller said. I personally had conversations with Texas Department of Environmental Quality and they warned me, just like Mr. Roberts.

I was in the Air Division, and should never have received this call, but it is the practice of ADEQ to be intentionally "not helpful" to Citizens when they call in, "it takes too much time". ADEQ has a division called Public Outreach & comment on that. At the time, there was a wonderful environmentalist, "D", who worked in POA and I passed all of this complaint information to him.

Because of the complaint call, we were able to track the new Fracking company to Russellville, Arkansas, where Public Outreach and Assistance would walk the Frackers through the permitting processes they may need. It seem as if everything was in control, being monitored, and good. I did the final follow up with Mr. Roberts and he kept insisting that we were going to be sadly fooled when this was over.

It was more than simply a Water issue. Once the Earth has been fractured, and the Gas is flowing, a well-head must be formed, where CAT Engines are placed to continue pumping the Gas. These CAT Engines are a Pollutant Source, but somehow the Industry was able to get an exemption no other Industry gets, and that is to count each one of these Engine sources and a single point source of pollution and not count their cumulative sources in a given area. Not only that, but some of the toxins that are emitted from these engines was not even counted during the permitting process, although it is standard in other States.That in my opinion is criminal.

The ADEQ, Outreach and Assistance associate, "D" that had been with the Agency for many years, ended up leaving several months after this all transpired. I can only imagine the pressure that came to rest on him, to let the Gas Extractors alone. 

The Director of ADEQ, appointed by Governor Beebe, was well aware of the extra strain and budget constraints that would come from Gas Well Extraction in the Water Division, but during a "meet & greet" session with the Air Division, she had no idea that over 1000 air permits had been applied for and given on CAT Engines, increasing complaint calls, stack testing and inspections required in Air.

No idea... By the time I left, there were well over 1,000 permits issued to Southwest Energy, Chesapeake, and several other Natural Gas Companies whose ownership and names changed on a regular basis.

When I left the agency in June of 2009, many of the permits were owned by the entity which recently built a new ballpark in North Little Rock, AR. It may not seem like this is on topic, but the thing is, two 2 air Permitting Engineers in the Air Division, also are in the employee of this entity, and these two, help out at the Beer Brewery and ballpark, working the concession stands, and have worked several other positions with the entity. This was disclosed to the Director's office, and they did not feel this was a conflict of interest.

This entity also owns and controls all media in Arkansas. A CEO of this entity, also sits on Governor Beebe's Blue Ribbon Committee for Highway Development...the same development that will be "transparent, after it is finished..." I am sure there is not a conflict of interest... right?

My last two months were a horror show to me, as I witnessed hundreds of 404 (Short term use water permits) issued to the fracking/gas well companies, without regard for the environment, and successfully bypassing public scrutiny. These permits allow the frackers to trench 2 miles of 22" pipe under every stream and tributary in Arkansas even endangered ones. Progress and prosperity, right?

(link) High Pressure Fracture Fluid Testing Document
(link) Drilling Fluid U.S. Patent 5333698
(link) Patent Storm - US Patent 5362713
High Performance Environmentally Friendly Fluids