No big surprise here. The Big Oil & Gas Mafia and it’s paid protectors in Congress have completely manufactured their claim that the “Obama EPA” has treated them unfairly. The truth is the Obama EPA has far fewer enforcements against them than the Bush EPA.
FACT CHECK: Oil stats belie tough enforcement talk
They will do and say anything to avoid operating in a responsible manner.
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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Tim Ruggiero says
400,000 wells. TCEQ has 500 Inspectors, TRRC has 153, and the EPA has…TWO. That’s TWO for all of Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. 87 enforcement actions last year, 51 this year., up against how many hundreds and hundreds of complaints? Wonder how many of those paltry 51 enforcement actions were incidents reported by the operators? Yeah, it’s a veritable Industry Inquisition going on out there.
The article misses the mark but how ironic. TX – now you look like the hypocrite. The numbers show the new sheriff in town was talking tough while cozying up to industry. Enviro hacks should be singing Bush’s praises for a tough EPA. Speaking of the devil, anybody heard from Al? Wont be long before he cashes in. BIG ENVIRO will be showering him withthe money Or maybe a run for office?
Are you for real?
Randy Verret says
Basic fact is these agencies have ALWAYS been short-handed. It is the responsiblity of the OPERATOR to conduct themself in a fully compliant & responsible fashion. You have 250 MILLION cars in the US…Think you have enough police to (really) cover that? Of course not. Adherence to the rule of law is what separates the US from most other places. You cannot rely on government authority to be everywhere at all times. That is just not realistic. The public has every right to expect the highest performance out of the oil & gas industry and when mistakes are made, they are timely corrected. Unfortunately, there are a few sub-standard operators in this business. It is no different in ANY other business. It’s (also) OK for private citizens to play the watch dog role. It’s not OK to misrepresent facts and demonize…It’s NEVER that simple. Let’s EVERYBODY raise the bar. Fossil fuel production is going to be around for a long while if anybody is still interested in enjoying any kind of modern lifestyle. Let’s make intelligent choices and have civil discourse. Leave the “Hatfields & McCoy’s” where they belong…on the History Channel…
Name some good, responsible operators.
They are all responsible to their shareholders to maximize profit and that directly conflicts with responsible operations.
I’m all for raising the bar. Tell industry to call off their attack trade organizations. Blogs like mine were created out of necessity.
Randy Verret says
There are PLENTY of good operators out there and YOU KNOW IT. You claim to have worked in the industry and you ran across good, responsible people. You are going to deny that? When it comes to oil & gas, I honestly think you no longer have the capacity to see ANYTHING except what is wrong. When you look through that type of “prism” ALL DAY, EVERY DAY then there is little chance of reaching you with any sensible commentary. Ever try to approach ANY company in the spirit of cooperation? Might be SHOCKED at what you’d find with a little less hostile approach. ATTACK (generally) cuts both ways…
Actually, Randy, I do not know any good operators. I did work in the industry but we were in a different side. The people I worked with directly were, for the most part, lovely. Our clients were atrocious. That’s why I left despite the very high salary.
As a mineral owner, I would love nothing more than to see industry start operating in a responsible manner but I’m just not seeing that.
I have approached people who work for industry in a spirit of honest cooperation and found that they are also concerned about the reckless operations of their employers. I never mention that here because I so appreciate their candidness with me and I don’t want to cause them any problems.
I think you should practice what you preach.
Randy Verret says
I do (actually) practice what I suggest. Ask my wife about how many late nights & “lost” weekends I’ve had at work! This is not an easy job on my end, either. It is a relentless existence (at times) to run a high quality compliance program. I have been pretty lucky. I suppose my perspective reflects that. My company is on the OGJ top 400 list and I (surely) cannot speak for every operator, but I do believe lots of those companies have “good eggs” just like mine. I hope (someday) you’ll get to a better place. I don’t mind the industry scrutiny. I’d just like to see everybody play fair…
Randy—HAVE YOU EVER BEEN RUN FROM YOUR HOME BECAUSE OF O&G ACTIVITIES–so that you and your wife (and kids if you have ’em) can not live in your residence????????
Stephanie Moore says
As someone who has been on both sides, I can agree with Randy. There are some bad eggs, not the operators per say, more likely the contractors. Now, I would say some people on this blog are a little crazy, maybe not thinking very objectively. Not the best way to resolve conflicts, especially when the chips are stacked against you. You know when you want something to happen so badely, you truly believe it could happen, how that can make you sort of blind? Thats what i see in the posts on this blog.
I am of the opinion that instead of talking about, or
Stephanie Moore says
…you should just do it. Thats why i studied my butt off to be a petroleum engineer. Know i get to find news ways to do it more effeciently and safely
Thanks Stephanie, when you find someone doing more safely, send me a picture.
Andy Mechling says
OK, let’s try this thing.
As per your suggestion to Sharon Wilson above, I would like to approach you about how we all might be able to work together to make things better, for the sake of everyone in the surrounding communities, and for the country as a whole.
Specifically, I wonder how you might feel about conducting real-time continuous air quality monitoring at your facilities – and providing public access to the data stream(s).
Is this something you might be willing to do in a pro-active way? Do you need for there to be a regulatory mandate? . . . or are you actually willing to become that conscientious operator that you claim to be?
As you must know, monitoring technologies have come a long way in recent years. Your big proud outfit has an opportunity here to prove to everyone – on an ongoing basis – that you are not polluting the air around those facilities. I personally hope that you will be willing to seize this opportunity. You see, your neighbors Want to trust you,
If you are not willing to conduct meaningful monitoring on your own properties; might you be willing to help fund some permanent monitoring in the neighborhoods near your facilities? Near the schools perhaps? I think most folks would genuinely appreciate this sort of thing.
Again, what I am talking about here is continuous monitoring, not grab sampling. Why not let the vendors come in and pitch their products to the community? Let communities decide which devices to deploy , and how . . . as if they held a stake.
If the only sampling that takes place in the community is being carried out by entities intent on suing your industry; and if the only sampling you guys are doing is to ward off those lawsuits, truth will continue to be the casualty, and nobody wins – besides the boatload of attorneys.
Please know, Randy, that there are many of us out here who want nothing at all to do with lawyers. With that said, we are absolutely in need of the truth at this point, and he ball is in your court.
Would you like to discuss advances in electronic air pollution monitoring? This is what I know. Can we focus on the science, and leave politics aside? If so, Sharon’s blog work’s for me fine.
By the way, I also hope Sharon is able to get to a better space, and soon. Someplace where judges are honest, courtrooms are for criminals, and saltwater doesn’t explode in the rain.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Andy Mechling firstname.lastname@example.org 541 660 8964
Randy Verret says
Andy, In short, I personally have NO PROBLEM with continuous air monitoring (per se). There is a lot of conflicting data, no doubt. I think we are (probably) a few years away from having detailed data available to the public (on-line) in any real time fashion. I would agree with the way the monitoring is playing out, legal staffs are the only active participants, unfortunately. Understand one thing. Air is not my strongest suit (in regulatory) as I have the least amount of experience in this component area. I am currently on a very steep learning curve. Many other specialists are much more qualified in this arena (than me). All that said, as far as SCIENCE, I welcome it! There is no room for politics in ANY legitimate scientific research, in my view.
A couple further qualifications are in order. I have resided close to oil & gas operations in the past, but not recently. My company is currently not operating in the Barnett. I wandered onto this blog a few months back through a link to “Bakken Watch.” I guess you could call me a “casual” visitor to this site. For the record, my outfit (primarily) operates in western (rural) North Dakota. I have a lot of (past) permitting experience in south Louisiana and Texas (Dist 2,3,4,5 & 6) over a ten+ year period, but nothing in the last 2-1/2 years. Not sure how I can help you…Thoughts?
Andy Mechling says
Randy, thanks for getting back.
Too bad you don’t know your stuff on air pollution issues. I thought maybe, . . . with you being in “compliance” and all, . . . but oh well.
Yes, your industry wants us all to be “a few years away” from public access to real time air data in the gas patch. This is understandable, but deeply regrettable, in my view.
Thank you for being honest about your lack of expertise regarding air pollution monitoring. Perhaps you could refer one of the other “specialists” you refer to – to this blog? or to my email.
I continue to believe that detailed public discussions of air quality issues are in everyone’s best interest. I will continue to try to engage people from all walks in exactly these types of discussions.
As you know, Andy, we already know quite enough about fracking and air pollution to know how dangerous it is. We don’t yet know all the different chemicals that are being emitted but we know enough to know it causes great harm.
Randy Verret says
Perhaps I’m not as qualified to have an opinion as I am not as familiar with air regs. Regardless of what you might think, NO ONE is an expert on everything. Air is not my strongest suit and I concede that. I know my own limitations. Talk to me about the Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, UIC guidelines, 404B (wetlands), BLM regs, NEPA, field & spacing rules, force pooling, leasing, down hole operations & storm water management and I do have a lot of direct experience and extensive training in those areas. As I mentioned, I’m on a steep learning curve (particularily) on Subpart OOOO & W and ongoing air rules. It’s a big waterfront…
Andy Mechling says
Someday, toxic gas detectors will be as common as smoke detectors. Do you have a carbon monoxide monitor yet? I bet you do, Do you spend alot of time thinking about it? I bet you don’t.
Carbon monoxide monitors make sense because they save lives and they are cheap and reliable. Some folks could care less. Some folks sleep easier. That’s good enough for me.
Did You Know? The first electronic stand-alone real-time monitor for carbon disulfide was introduced in 1944, and was based on UV spectrometry. (google “Electric Patrolman”) Try to find a device with these capabilities in 2012.
You say “talk to me” about the Clean Water Act? Thanks but, what’s there to talk about? We want you to comply. That’s it.
If your industry has been granted exemptions from all of the key reporting requirements, what good is a Clean Water Act? What purpose does it serve if the very biggest polluters and the very most questionable practices are exempt from any type of oversight? In a democracy.
I understand that the exemptions your industry enjoys are legal in nature. You are perfectly within your rights to withhold information from the public about the toxic substances released into our communities. Please understand that many of us are uncomfortable with this, and mean to see it changed.
I do have several questions about the Underground Injection Control wells, and am hopeful and grateful for the opportunity to ask you about these.
We know that in Type II injection wells, oilfield and refinery waste streams are injected into underground formations at high pressure for the purposes of disposal, or EOR.
My first question is just about this. Have you ever done any of this type of EOR? What can you tell us about it?
I know that UIC for EOR is not the same thing as fracking. The actual fracturing process is recognized as unique. I’m not trying to put you on the spot here, and I realize this is a politically charged topic, but some of this is genuinely confusing.
How exactly does UIC for EOR differ from such things as “well completions” or “workovers” or “flowback operations”? From what I know of these processes, I fail to see a distinction between these processes and UIC for EOR. – other than said regulatory distinction – Can you help straighten me out here?
Last year, a new category of UIC wells, “Class VI”, was introduced by EPA. As you know, these are wells designed for the disposal and sequestering of carbon monoxide, and all new exemptions for reporting of waste streams involving CO have been introduced.
Randy, do you have any experience with these Type VI wells? Can you tell us anything about their use in the field?
I am mostly curious as to how these Type II wells, or Type VI wells, might relate to the practice of “acid gas”, or “sour gas” injection. Are you guys doing any acid gas injection? Are these wells regulated as Class II or Class VI?
Across the border from you there in Canada, acid gas injection projects seem to be relatively more common, and somewhat less secretive, if no less controversial.
One reported incident in Wisconsin, on Dec 24 of last year, has me especially confused and concerned. Randy, what the hell was that?
A disposal well that erupts and sends a plume of (reportedly) 80% H2S straight up into the atmosphere. They smelled that plume from the Canadian border. 80 PERCENT H2S? Huh???
800,000ppm? How in the world? They put that through a pipeline? Brought that in by truck? Is this a Class II well? Class VI?
Comfort me Randy. Convince me I shouldn’t be gravely concerned about situations like this. All across this country.
Interesting comment, Andy, as always.
One thing that fascinates me is how tons of toxic chemicals can be pumped downhole but, when they come back up as Flowback they are no longer toxic because drilling waste has a non-toxic loophole.
Andy Mechling says
Precisely. Now you get it.