I need to recap the recent bad news for fracking because it’s coming fast and furious and I will need to find it later.

First, listen to my favorite fracking song. The Trade by Anne Hills.


Why the Scientific Case Against Fracking Keeps Getting Stronger
Anthony Ingraffea argues that fugitive methane emissions turn natural gas from a climate benefit into yet another strike against fossil fuels.
—By Chris Mooney for Mother Jones
Fri Aug. 15, 2014 5:00 AM EDT

About an hour of an audio interview of Tony Ingraffea talking about fracking.

For those who say we can regulate our way around this, just give us time and we’ll fix the problems—I’m sorry. We’ve had 100 years of commercial oil and gas development at very large quantities, around the world. Time is over. We’ve damaged the atmosphere too much, and it would take too long, it would take decades and billions of dollars, to begin to fix the problems that we know have existed for decades. And by then, it will be too late.

Ingraffea admits we will need fossil fuel for a while but we need to use it for specialty uses where we haven’t figured out an alternative like fuel for planes.


The Downside of the Boom
North Dakota took on the oversight of a multibillion-dollar oil industry with a regulatory system built on trust, warnings and second chances.
By DEBORAH SONTAG and ROBERT GEBELOFF for the New York Times NOV. 22, 2014

Very cool graphics. Sad story that reminds me of just about everywhere they have tried fracking. Ingraffea’s quote from above applies well here. Fracking at this magnitude cannot be regulated.


Also from the New York Times, forced pooling gone wild, money laundering, political intrigue, bribery and the impact on people and the environment of North Dakota.

Where Oil and Politics Mix
After an unusual land deal, a giant spill and a tanker-train explosion, anxiety began to ripple across the North Dakota prairie.
By DEBORAH SONTAG New York Times NOV. 23, 2014

Outsiders, he explained, simply need to be educated out of their fear of fracking: “There is a way to explain it that really relaxes people, that makes them understand this is not a dangerous thing that we’re doing out here, that it’s really very well managed and very safe and really the key to the future of not only North Dakota but really our entire nation.”

Like the people in Denton, some in North Dakota feel they have quite a good education in fracking and all the destruction and misery it brings.


TCEQ memo proves toxic chemicals are being released in the Eagle Ford Shale
Barry Davis, KENS November 20, 2014

Once again, TCEQ investigators find hazardous air pollution at such high levels they fear for their safety. This time the TCEQ didn’t evacuate like they did before. This time they donned respirators, and they still had health impacts. Welcome to our world.

The TCEQ sent investigators down to look at the facility after numerous complaints from a nearby homeowner. Several times during the three day investigation, the Mobile Response team had to put on respirators and documented instances where they both had “adverse health effects” including “moderate to severe skin irritation.”

The people in this story have been suffering for a long time with no relief from the TCEQ.


Texas Drilling Brings Health Complaints, but Little Enforcement

The commission said it was stepping up enforcement in both shale regions. Although its inspectors have been sickened at least twice, it does not believe airborne emissions from oil and gas drilling pose a threat to human health.

The TCEQ has only issued 6 fines in the past 2 fiscal years. That’ll teach ‘em to mess with Texas!


From Marketplace:
The problem with fracking
by Scott Tong
Monday, November 24, 2014 – 08:31

“I’ve seen it personally firsthand,” says Ed Hirs, managing director of the Houston-based oil and gas firm Hillhouse Resources. “We’ve had wells on production since 2009, 2010 that have been plugged and abandoned here in 2014, because they are not producing enough to cover their cost.”

His firm barely profited in shale, he says. So it returned to drilling old-school conventional oil, where a good well returns $5 or even $10 for each dollar invested.

Fracking for shale oil, he says, is a fad, like that scene where the cruise ship tilts to one side.

“They all ran to the shale side of the boat,” says Hirs, who teaches economics at the University of Houston. “That was the fashion of the day. We see this in other industries as well.”


My favorite article brings stories from Weld County Colorado.

Breaking Ground: Hydraulic Fracturing in Weld County, Colorado
This is a website where the story of fracking in Weld County is told in several chapters.

“I had never had somebody just run over me like this. I’m an American, I have property, I have rights. And here comes corporate America saying, ‘No, we’re just going to do what we want.’ I had lived a sheltered life until that moment.” – Eric Ewing, Weld County resident

I was in Weld County in September with the FLIR camera and had the pleasure of meeting Eric Ewing. He is surrounded by all kinds of facilities, each spewing all manner of hazardous and toxic pollution that affect his family’s health.

“You can see clouds of exhaust and pollution floating around out here and you can smell it too.” – Eric Ewing, Weld County resident

This is a video of a processing plant near his home.

“When I moved here, I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s fine, drill in my backyard,’” Ewing said. “I don’t want to be one of those guys. Well, now they’ve done my backyard, my side yard, my other side yard and now my front yard, and I say, ‘Just keep it out of my house,’ and they won’t even keep it out of my house.”

This is a Noble Energy well near his home.

“I have a sore throat, headaches, hypertension, my eyes burn, difficulty sleeping, dizziness, and nausea,” Ewing said. “My daughter has a rash and open sores. It can’t be a coincidence based on the amount of oil and gas activity around here.”

Eric’s children can no longer play in their yard.


The latest from Denton:





I no longer report every frackquake that happens in this area. Who can keep up with them all? And unlike in the beginning when anyone suggesting a link to fracking and earthquakes was shouted down, now days it’s an accepted fact. But the M3.3 quake in Irving last night and a few responses on Twitter requires that I revisit the issue with some random facts and opinion.

We have known for 60 years that injection can induce earthquakes.

Injection is injection, folks. Fracking wastewater injection, injection for enhanced recovery and fracking itself, which is also injection, have all been linked to earthquakes. For fun, scientists used to inject fluid and try to predict the magnitude of earthquake the injection would cause. See Healy, et al., 1972.

WasteWater injection:

  • Wastewater injection has produced quakes of M4 and M5.
  • M3 to M5 quakes have been scientifically linked to wastewater injection wells in: Arkansas (M4.7), Colorado (M5.3), Ohio (M3.9), Oklahoma (M5.7), and Texas (M4.8).

Fracking injection:

  • Fracking intentionally cracks rock/shale.
  • Fracking has produced quakes of M2 and M3.
  • Oklahoma in 2011 – 116 quakes from M0.06 to M2.9 occurred near a well being hydraulically fractured.
  • British Columbia 2009 to 2011 – 38 quakes from M2.2 and M3.8 caused by fracking fluids injection into a fault.

Other induced quakes:

  • 18 M3 > quakes in Snyder area may have been triggered by CO2 injections.
  • Eagle Ford Shale – 62 probable quakes, complex geography, seismic activity associated with injection and extraction.

guinea pigThe scary things about induced earthquakes:

The scariest things about these induced earthquakes is that this is an experiment and no one knows what will happen next.

  • Induced seismicity may be delayed for many years,
  • may not end for years after injection ends and
  • may occur many miles from the injection point.
  • The maximum possible magnitude of induced earthquakes is unknown.

Who profits and who pays?

Homes in Texas are built to withstand wind not earthquakes. Small earthquakes that would not be noticed in California, can cause expensive damage to homes in Texas and most Texans do not have earthquake coverage. The media normally reports that no “significant” or “major” damage was caused by these frackquakes. Significant and major are relative terms as the people in the frackquake zones have learned. Families who have foundation damage, cracks in ceiling and walls, or doors and windows that no longer close, find the repairs are expensive and often out of reach. They are stuck with a big mortgage for a damaged home.

The industry’s response is the same whether your water is fouled, you air polluted or your home has structural damage: “You can’t prove we did it.”

For most Texans property ownership is how we achieve the American Dream:

  • work hard
  • invest in property
  • sell that property for a profit
  • invest in more property
  • eventually retire to smaller property and augment retirement with profits from property investments.

That’s why private property rights are a huge issue in Texas. What we have learned about fracking during this “boom” is how our private property value and our enjoyment of our property can be damaged by fracking:

  • trespass of smelly, hazardous and toxic air pollutants onto our property that diminish our ability to enjoy our property and can cause health impacts,
  • trespass of fracking chemicals into our water diminishing the quality and sometimes poisoning it beyond use,
  • trespass of bright lights and noise that make it difficult or impossible to sleep,
  • danger in our neighborhoods, damage to our roads and trespass of dust from truck traffic and
  • structural damage to homes from frackquakes

Americans who find themselves in fracking zones simply because of where they live geographically are being sacrificed for the supposed good of the collective whole. But there are now an estimated 15 million Americans who live near fracking.

I’ve said this many times: The opposition grows in direct proportion to industry’s expansion. This should be a wake-up call to industry and our government that something needs to change. Instead they threaten us when we use democracy to protect our property and families. How much longer can this go on?

Note: The facts in this blog post are rock solid. If you want to explore further there are good resources such as the impeccably sourced paper, “Fracking Industrialization and Induced Earthquakes” and Earthworks report on frackquakes, On Shaky Ground.

Update: there was a M2.5 frackquake this afternoon in the same area. Event Page

Update 2: there was a M2.3 frackquake very early this morning. Event Page


Texas: Our Democracy at Risk

by TXsharon on November 19, 2014

in Denton, Phil King

Texas legislature: put your money where your mouth is

Tell Phil King that if he tries to overturn the Denton fracking ban,
he IS big government

Denton-vintage-CalvinTexas Representative Phil King was elected promising to fight big government and protect local control.

“We should always trust people over big government. Local control and limited government must be the first resort, not the last.” — philking.com/about

He is well on his way to breaking his promise, and becoming the biggest hypocrite in Texas in the process.

Because, now that Denton’s voters have banned fracking by ballot initiative, Rep. King wants to prevent other cities from doing the same, and maybe overturn Denton’s ban in the process.

Denton’s ban vote was a landslide. The people who know fracking best – there are over 270 fracked wells in Denton, some only 200 feet from homes – said no.

And the voters who did so were majority Republican, and elected Republicans in the same election. Before Denton’s ban, King was for small government. Now he says citizens shouldn’t be able to decide how, when, where, or even if fracking happens in their cities.

TAKE ACTION: Tell Rep. King to respect democracy! Tell him principles are what you believe in, even when people disagree with you.

Thank you!


On October 18, 2014, Cathy McMullen and I took air samples at the EnerVest drill site on Masch Branch and Hampton in Denton, Texas. Wind direction was ENE at 4.5 mph.

The downwind sample detected 18 toxic and hazardous gases and methane. Benzene was detected over the TCEQ’s Air Comparison Monitoring Value for long-term exposure.

Canister #AC00848 – Downwind – 11:30am

Methane 3.2 ppm

1. Dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC 12) 0.42 ppb
2. Acetone 3.6 ppb
3. Trichlorofluoromethane 0.20 ppb
4. n-Hexane 25 ppb
5. Benzene 1.5 ppb
6. Cyclohexane 5.0 ppb
7. n-Heptane 9.0 ppb
8. Toluene 3.7 ppb
9. n-Octane 4.7 ppb
10. Ethylbenzene 1.4 ppb
11. m,p-Xylenes 3.9 ppb
12. o-Xylene 1.6 ppb
13. n-Nonane 5.9 ppb
14. Cumene 0.36 ppb
15. n-Propylbenzene 0.97 ppb
16. 4-Ethyltoluene 1.1 ppb
17. 1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene 0.88 ppb
18. 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene 3.0 ppb

To learn how a mix of chemicals, even at low levels, can effect your health, see Chemical toxicology in the fracking zone and Study: Co-exposures of two chemicals at safe levels doubles chances of cancer.

The upwind sample detected three toxic and hazardous gasses and methane.

Canister #003497 – Upwind – 11:35am

Methane 3.9 ppm

1. Dichlorodifluoromethane (CFC 12) 0.42 ppb
2. Acetone 4.8 ppb
3. Trichlorofluoromethane 0.20 ppm

Map of sampling locations:


The TCEQ will dismiss this air test saying it is a one-time exposure so health effects cannot be expected. But we have FLIR videos that show these kinds of emissions are occurring over the long-term in Denton. We also have numerous air samples where benzene and other hazardous gases were detected over TCEQ limits.  Most of this air testing was done by citizens or at their expense. Neither the city nor the state have implemented any kind of air monitoring program. This testing shows a pattern of long-term exposure for the citizens of Denton that is consistent with findings in other areas.

Scientific studies from research groups are finding much larger volumes of toxic air pollutants near oil & gas operations than state and federal regulators estimate, and people living near these operations are having health impacts.

Researchers assess emissions from Colorado oil and gas fields
By Mark Jaffe, 11/16/2014
The Denver Post

What researchers are finding is that the levels of chemicals such as benzene and toluene, which may pose health risks, can be higher around oil and gas sites than in big cities.

If you live in the gas patch or care about climate, please read the entire article. Here are a few things that jumped out at me.

A University of Colorado study measured levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, over the Front Range oil fields seven times higher than state estimates.

A study in Utah’s Uintah Basin, also by CU scientists, found benzene levels above a long-term exposure health standard in three-quarters of the 329 air measurements made.

“We are looking at emissions that are significantly larger — perhaps 50 percent larger,” than state estimates, said NOAA’s Tans.

Bottom up (measurements taken on the ground) can pinpoint the source of the leaks but scientists who do top down (measurements taken from the air above facilities) say bottom up studies consistently underestimate emissions.

The EnerVest rig foreman explained to a news reporter and me that the gas buster removes gas from fluids and mud that have been used downhole while drilling in the formation. EnerVest was allowing this gas to vent from the gas buster into the air, but routing the gas through a flare is a safer method.

Principle of Operation of Mud Gas Separator:
“The free gas then is moved into the flare line to reduce the threat of toxic and hazardous gases…”

As the rig foreman explained, they had a flare for the gas buster on site but chose to not connect it and use it.

Here is a FLIR video I took that shows the toxic and hazardous gases venting into the air from the gas buster at the EnerVest drill site.

Venting from the gas buster was not the only source of emissions from this rig as is clearly shown in the other FLIR videos.

9-9-2014 http://youtu.be/SG48hMXV3Ss
9-30-2014 http://youtu.be/RNhJMJ_rYkI
10-9-2014 http://youtu.be/qbyCAias2MI
10-11-2014 http://youtu.be/AdlvF3VbceI

“Responsible Drilling” like the unicorn is a myth.


Frack Free Denton: Moving forward to the next phase

by TXsharon on November 16, 2014

in Denton

We won!

In a landslide vote, a solidly Republican city that tried for years to find a way to live with fracking voted to ban it because they have learned that fracking is not compatible with a healthy city. And it’s common sense that healthy neighborhoods and a healthy city make a healthy economy.

Now you may be wondering: what’s next? Because we all know this ain’t over. Staying true to their threats and arrogant pattern of bullying communities, industry and the state filed lawsuits hoping to crush democracy. They have vowed to retaliate until Denton becomes nothing but tumbleweeds and crickets.

“The citizens of Denton, Texas have voted themselves into what will most definitely end up as the legal equivalent of a field of quicksand. The ground-rumbling they will hear won’t be earthquakes, but the stampede of lawyers running to the area to join in the plethora of lawsuits….

“The real losers here are the citizens of Denton who…. now face a future of nothing on their land but tumbleweeds and crickets.”
Chris Faulkner, the CEO of Breitling Energy

The quicksand metaphor was not a wise choice. Years ago I was riding along the beautiful Brazos River with some friends. One horse started bogging down in quicksand. The mare panicked and tried to rear on her hind legs and lunge out of the sand. Her thrashing only caused her to sink deeper. My friend never let go of the reins. She talked to the mare in a soothing voice until she became calm. When her weight was more evenly distributed the mare stopped sinking and floated on the sand until we were able to pull them both out with a rope.

In Denton we never let go of the reins. We distributed the weight evenly, talked each other through the roughest spots and if someone needed it, we threw them a rope. Quicksand doesn’t scare us.

The Denton Drilling Awareness Group is assembling a superior legal team that is already working on legal strategy to answer the lawsuits. An announcement about that will be coming soon.

In the meantime, we still have plenty of work ahead and we need every person to stay involved. Some people might say we need to “stay the course.” But having spent most of my life on a horse, I’m going to go with lyrics from a John Denver song sung by Chuck Pyle my favorite guitar pickin’ “Zen Cowboy.”

Keep her steady cowgirl
Don’t let go of the reins
You are ready now girl
Never mind the growin’ pains

We won because we are a family. We can’t compete with the industry’s money but we have people, people who will…

  • build racer coffins and push and cheer the same,
  • show up with their kids at porch parties and polka rallies in the park,
  • gather to celebrate hanging banners, light show displays and participate in flash mobs
  • knock on doors and circulate information,
  • stand for hours in the blistering sun guarding the polls,
  • stand for hours in the freezing rain guarding the polls,
  • write letters,
  • do research, make maps and build spreadsheets and data input forms,
  • give their hard earned money and precious time,
  • do what it takes to keep their families and their city safe.

We won because we kept it local and found a message that resonated with young and old and everyone in between.

What we do now is more of the same.reins

  • We still need to write letters to the editor and op-eds, but we need to expand our reach to papers in all parts of Texas.
  • We still need blog posts based on research.
  • We must remind Phil King that he was elected on this promise “We should always trust people over big government. Local control and limited government must be the first resort not the last.” We will make it easy for you to remind him.
  • We need to make sure the city knows we aren’t going away and will support them in keeping their promise to vigorously defend legal challenges to the ban.
  • We need LOTS of people to visit your representative Myra Crownover in her office, by phone and letters so she can continue to support allowing the legal process to work.
  • We will all need to travel to Austin. We’ll get buses and make it fun for everyone. Bring the kids!
  • We need to keep highlighting all the negative impacts from fracking.
  • We need to keep fundraising.
  • We need you all to stay excited, engaged and to help spread our weight evenly.

Keep ‘er steady.


Verified: Fracking 200′ from homes is protection Texas Railroad Commission style

November 13, 2014

People in Denton tried for years to find a way they could live with fracking. We tried to negotiate with industry for reasonable rules that would keep their fracking pollution from trespassing onto our property and into our children’s bedrooms. We got no help from the local or state government or from the state regulatory […]

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Denton fracking ban: Media takes the Jim Crow bait

November 8, 2014

To all the media who thought the sketchy press release from the oil and gas industry and an anecdotal rumor from one student was news, here is your assignment —–> The industry’s typical plan of attack–bullying, scare mongering and burying the city with misinformation–backfired, so they are looking for some way to explain away the […]

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Random thoughts with updates about the Denton fracking ban.

November 5, 2014

The vote to ban fracking in the city limits of Denton was a landslide. Do not forget that the people of Denton have been struggling for five years to achieve some level of “responsible” from the oil and gas industry. This did not happen because of one bad operator. That suggestion is complete and utter […]

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A Medical Perspective on Oil and Gas Development

November 3, 2014

This is a presentation given in Mansfield, TX by Anne C. Epstein MD, FACP Lubbock TX Board of Health. This presentation clearly shows that fracking is a serious threat to health and should never be in neighborhoods. Health Risks of Oil and Gas- Development

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Denton: Fatal vapors sign could come to your backyard soon

November 2, 2014

This is a sign from a frack site 200′ from a family’s backdoor. Thirty-percent of Denton city limits is permitted to allow fracking 200′ or less from homes. Vote FOR the proposition to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the city limits of Denton.

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Verified: frackers think status quo is “responsible drilling”

October 31, 2014

Yesterday residents in Denton were treated to yet another mailer from the people who support “Responsible Drilling.” This one, from the wife of one of the two board members, was particularly offensive. See larger version HERE The mailer reminded me of a quote I saw yesterday in a video about the BP spill. “Somebody ought […]

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