Longtime no post. Here are my excuses:

  • busy
  • broken computer

But this post should make up for my absence.

Today Alan Septoff, Earthworks Communication Director, our driver and I were illegally detained by Mr. John W. Bones, President, Black Marlin Energy Services in Smiley, TX and his wife.

We were on a road marked with a county road sign and did not trespass onto any private property. I never trespass. I’m a 5th generation Texan so I know quite a bit about trespass and the law.

The driver of our vehicle who prefers to remain nameless, turned onto a paved road with no signage other than a county road sign. If there is a county road sign on the road and nothing that says private drive, one would assume it is a county road. We stopped adjacent to the Black Marlin Energy Services gate where workers were washing down the outside and inside of industry trucks and the flowback tanks that haul fracking and drilling waste. We were just watching the process and snapping a few pictures. I observed the facility with the FLIR camera but did not record anything.

Suddenly a rather large and extremely hostile man, Mr. Bones, rushed to the car and demanded we leave. He reached into the car and grabbed my camera which was not recording. There was some argument about the legalities of taking pictures on a county road which he claimed he owned along with all 4 of the homes on the road. He told us to leave, but when we decided to leave, Mr. Bones and his tiny wife stood in front of the car and would not allow us to leave, illegally detaining us on the road that was marked as a county road. Mrs. Bones called the Sheriff. Several times we tried to leave but each time the Bones couple stepped in front of the car. Mrs. Bones called us communists.

The Sheriff’s Deputy, M. Cowan arrived to try and sort it all out. It was obvious that he knew we really had done nothing wrong, but he had to navigate the treacherous terrain created by a bully who has some political clout in the tiny town.

fishyDuring the conversation, we learned that the road Mr. Bones claimed was his property was maintained by the county, meaning the taxpayers pay for the maintenance of his supposedly private road. We also learned that he didn’t exactly own all 4 of the homes on the road.

At some point, Mr. Collie Boatright, a markedly less hot-headed partner in the facility, showed up. He seemed embarrassed by his partner and wife who were clearly out of control. He seemed to understand the potential PR nightmare.

Mr. Bones said that he was warned we were in the area by the owner of a recycling facility on a main road where we stopped to take video. The recycling facility owner was very nice and answered our questions. I asked him for a tour and he said he might arrange one for a little later in the day and asked for my card so he could contact me about it. Obviously he activated some kind of network alert and warned all the facilities in the area about us. I knew the industry did this but now I have confirmation.

Mr. and Mrs. Bones wanted the deputy to arrest us for “industrial espionage.” He explained that he deals with state law and industrial espionage is federal law so they would need to call the FBI. They said they intend to press criminal charges. As far as I can tell, the Bones family were the only ones who broke the law by illegally detaining us.

More to come on this from Alan.

 

 

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Proof fracking has contaminated water with diesel.

by TXsharon on August 14, 2014

in Aruba

Let me remind you once again:

Please see the pre fracking water test that shows Tim and Christine Ruggiero’s water was clean and safe.

Please see the post fracking water test that shows Tim and Christine Ruggiero’s water was contaminated with high levels of MTBE.

MTBE is an additive used in diesel fuel.

 

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Flash water fire burns four people

by TXsharon on August 6, 2014

in Palo Pinto

It was a flash fire of water that came suddenly gushing from a water well and sent four people to the hospital one of whom is a 4-year-old.

Flash fire burns four people; methane contamination in water source possible cause
Mineral Wells Index, August 5, 2014
By TODD GLASSCOCK

The fire’s cause was not known, he said, but there is a possibility methane had contaminated the water and had contact with something that caused the gas to ignite. Flash fires, in general, are caused by the ignition of a mixture of air and a combustible substance, such as a flammable gas.

People have asked if there is fracking in the area. Seems so.
Oran area

Palo Pinto County is where a gas well explosion in 2005 left a crater the size of a football field. The flash was seen 100 miles away.

From the Denton Record Chronicle:

Blowouts, while uncommon and the result of various factors, come with great risks. In December 2005, an operator lost control of a Barnett Shale gas well being drilled near Brad in Palo Pinto County. The ensuing explosion blew a 750-foot-wide crater in the ground, and the fire burned uncontrollably for several days. Workers had left the site when trouble began hours before, but one crew member was injured when the flames engulfed his truck as he sat nearby.

What a horrible, horrible thing.

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Despite the really crazy rhetoric coming from industry, based on established Texas law and federal law, the Denton fracking ban is not illegal and is not a taking.

Earthworks commissioned a legal opinion from Jordan Yeager the attorney who successfully defended Pennsylvania’s cities’ right to regulate fracking. You can read that legal opinion below.

My comments at the public hearing summarized that opinion. Here is an excerpt:

In order to show that this ordinance is a taking under Texas law and federal law, the proponents of this industrial activity would have to show either:

  1. That the regulation eliminates all economically beneficial or productive use of the property,
  2. or that the regulation creates a taking under factors established by the U.S. Supreme Court that balance private economic interests with the community’s right to protect the public

Proponents of fracking would fall flat under either test.

First, a prohibition on hydraulic fracturing does not eliminate all economically beneficial use. It does not even eliminate all mineral extraction uses, or impact the existing production from wells that have been fracked already. Many other lawful uses of the property will remain.

Second, under the Supreme Court’s multi-factor approach, Denton’s interest in protecting water supplies and other community interests would be a strong basis for a prohibition on fracking while at the same time, the prohibition would have a limited impact on mineral rights owners because it would not affect existing royalty streams flowing from already-producing wells, nor would it impact the extraction of oil and gas without the use of hydraulic fracturing. Finally, the City can persuasively argue that no one has a reasonable expectation to invest in an activity that is inherently polluting and injurious to the community, and that, at a minimum, carries uncertain risks due to the current state of science.

If the industry had operated here with anything approaching reasonableness we wouldn’t be here. But they haven’t. Now they resort to what they do best: bullying and scaremongering.

A closer look at the legal opinion, reveals federal case law that upholds a city’s right to prohibit an industry that is a nuisance.

…the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld an ordinance that prohibited brick kilns in a city without requiring evidence of a nuisance. Hadacheck v. Sebastian 239 U.S. 394 (1915). Here, Denton can show that hydraulic fracturing has and continues to pose serious impacts on “the health and comfort of the community” that strongly suggest that hydraulic fracturing is nuisance.

Denton has more than a strong suggestion that hydraulic fracturing is a nuisance. We have proof from the State of Texas that hydraulic fracturing has created a nuisance in the city of Denton. 

The state regulatory agency issued a Notice of Violation saying that an operator created a nuisance situation in neighboring backyards during fracking operations. The TCEQ issued a Notice of Violation to EagleRidge at their Bonnie Brae A4H Unit on Vintage Blvd. in Denton, Texas, on May 5, 2014. The alleged violation reads:

Investigation 1151847:

Failure to prevent the discharge from any source whatsoever, one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and or such duration as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of property in violation of 30 TAC §1014. It was documented that Eagle Ridge Operating LLC, Bonnie Brae A4H site allowed odors generated through fracturing and flowback operations to impact nearby receptors between January 24, 2014, through February 13, 2014, through an odor log, written statement and investigator observations. Odor impacts were documented at a level that constitutes a nuisance as per TCEQ Nuisance Odor Investigations. Unpleasant odors discharged by the Bonnie Brae A4H site are documented to have occurred for more than four hours at a moderate intensity on a weekly basis. Offensive odors discharged by the Bonnie Brae A4H site are documented to have occurred once for more than 12 hours at a strong intensity.

The state has declared fracking a nuisance and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a city’s right to prohibit industries that create a nuisance.

On February 9, 2014, which was during the EagleRidge violation time frame, the Denton Drilling Awareness Group (DAG) took an air sample in the backyard of one of the “receptors” mentioned in the Notice of Violation. From the DAG press release:

The summa canister test, a method also widely used by Texas and federal regulators, was taken
from a Denton resident’s backyard less than 425 feet from an EagleRidge fracking operation. The tested residence is one of many adjacent to the same fracking operation. The summa test, performed near the end of the flowback process, showed that residents were exposed to levels of benzene pollution exceeding state long term exposure limits and six other compounds including acetone.

On May 5, EagleRidge sent a statement to CBS11 in response to the DAG press release.

“The company is also committed to being environmentally responsible and points to the fact that it has been in compliance with state and local government standards relating to safe drilling, fracing and ongoing operations and that it has no violations.

That is obviously not true.

But this was not the first time EagleRidge has received a violation in Denton.

On April 23, 2013, the Texas Railroad Commision sent a request for legal enforcement to their legal department for failure to notify the district office immediately per SWR 20 (a) (I), when EagleRidge lost control of the well and had a blowout in another Denton neighborhood.

On September 11, 2012 Eagleridge Operating, L.L.C. receive an enforcement action regarding the Corbin Lease, for failure to properly dispose of waste when EagleRidge dumped waste in Hickory Creek in violation of Statewide Rule §3.8(d)(1).

Despite the despicable behavior of this one operator, it is important to remember that the Denton ban is not about one “bad apple.” Years of experience and mountains of evidence shows that the despicable behavior is industry wide. This is an industry that will not follow rules.

 

Comments Regarding the City of Denton's Proposed Hydraulic Fracturing Ordinance

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The fracking industry and their supporters have accused the Frack Free Denton grassroots organization that is seeking a ban on fracking in the Denton city limits of receiving money from Russia.

…Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Barry Smitherman sent the Denton City Council a letter denouncing the ban. In the four-page letter, Smitherman suggests that Russia may be behind the effort,…

If you heard a woman’s mAnIciAL laughter this morning I confess it was mine. I’ve been too busy with local Texas issues lately to focus deeply on the happenings in Europe. This morning a friend pointed out that any sanctions the U.S. places on Russia will likely have an effect on U.S. oil companies consorting with Russia. Exxon and Shell won’t like it if President Obama messes up their consorting. For more information on U.S. fracking industry consorting in Russia, see the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Update: Exxon CEO, Rex Tillerson shares a joke with Russian leader, Putin.
Putin-Exxon-Mobil-Agrees-Arctic-007

Vladimir Putin meets with Chevron management.

Halliburton, BP and Russian Black Gold – a history BP and Halliburton involvement in Russia.

Picture: Royal Dutch Shell CEO Ben van Beurden Bows to Putin.

Caption: For over a 100 years, Shell has been driven by unscrupulous greed as its sole motivator. Shell funded Hitler and the Nazis party and has subsequently done business with a string of evil regimes, including General Sani Abacha, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein and the Mad Mullahs of Iran. Putin is but the latest power mad egomaniac to be treated like royalty by Shell. Bowed to and fawned over on Good Friday by the overpaid bootlicker, Ben van Beurden.

President Vladimir Putin met with ConocoPhillips chief Jim Mulva

VLADIMIR PUTIN: Mr Mulva, I am very pleased to see you again, this time in Russia. As far as I know, your business is developing successfully. You cooperate with many of our major oil and gas companies. I would like to see relations between Russian and American business develop more dynamically, especially in such a strategic sphere, as energy. I have been told that you are involved in investment and have certain plans in this direction. I would like to express my hopes that this area of your work will be as successful as everything that you have done so far.

JIM MULVA: Mr President, allow me to thank you for those very warm words. I would like to say that we are working very energetically to invest considerable sums in the energy dialogue. We have conducted huge work since our last meeting, which I think took place nine months ago. I would like to say that this work is very intense, and we are creating a very good investment climate with your help and support. We hope that this will allow us to make long-term investments in the Russian economy. We will develop our work with major companies representing Russian business.

BP Profits On Sale Of TNK-BP As Production Surpasses 3 Million Barrels A Day

Hide yo kids! Hide yo wife! Cause they fracking errybody.”

Time for another confession from me:

SharonwithFFDPutin

My name is Sharon Wilson and I enjoy spending a leisurely Sunday riding my horse with shirtless Russian leaders (shirtless version HERE) even when said leaders show poor horsemanship (get off that horse’s mouth fer crine out loud and, OMG, feed him something).

Update 2: Other members of Frack Free Denton also enjoy spending time with Russian leaders.

cathyputin

I wonder what Mr Smitherman and all those industry hacks who made similar accusations when addressing the Denton City Council Tuesday will say about Exxon and Shell et. al. consorting with Russia. It will probably sound something like THIS.

I confess that very little time and effort went into this post.

Update: This post has been updated with additional information sent to me by readers about U.S. frackers and their involvement with Russia.

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As fracking moves in Alpine may be first in Texas to ban

July 17, 2014

Residents in the Big Bend area are sending out an SOS. Fracking has been slithering ever closer to the Big Bend area and residents in Alpine and Marfa are not happy about it. Last week I received emails from a Marfa resident saying they were staging blockades to prevent the city from selling water for […]

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Denton Council to residents: We broke it. You fix it.

July 16, 2014

I don’t know how many reporters I spoke with yesterday before the Denton City Council voted to either adopt the citizen initiative to ban fracking in the city or rejected it but I told each one the same thing: The Denton Council has never shown any political courage on this issue. Why would we think […]

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Denton resident who owns minerals supports fracking ban

July 14, 2014

I received this beautifully written essay from a mineral owner who is a Denton resident. If someone offered to give you $10, but in exchange, you would have to agree to put a child at increased risk for leukemia, would you do it? What if the dollar amount were larger, such as $100? Or $1,000? […]

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Caught on video: Petition circulators deceive Denton residents

July 13, 2014

The fracking industry is waging a “shock and awe” attack on residents of Denton, Texas. After a decade of being bullied by an industry that refuses to follow any rules, residents are saying, “We’ve had enough” and seek to ban fracking in the city limits. The ban initiative goes before the city council on Tuesday […]

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Oilfield worker critical after abandoned well explodes in Robertson County

July 10, 2014

Robinson Robertson County aka Booger County. From KTBX Bryan/College Station. The injured young man is 25-years-old and has burns on his head and neck. An updated report says he is in critical condition. I’m betting we never find out what happened and I’m also betting that well was leaking. An oil field worker was airlifted […]

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Stuck on Stupid: Fracking industry’s “new” public relations strategy

July 10, 2014

The American Petroleum Institute has new guidelines for how to be better neighbors and corporate citizens. In issuing the “community engagement guidelines,” API seems to be tacitly acknowledging that oil and gas companies were slow to respond to mounting grassroots concerns about hydraulic fracturing and sending a message that the industry needs to do more […]

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