Bluedaze: Drilling Reform Texas Sharon Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:09:19 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Today was a bad news day for fracking Wed, 22 Oct 2014 22:09:19 +0000

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This is a very busy time for me with early voting in Denton. The “Responsible Drilling” hired guns at the polls are misleading voters about how to vote so they must be constantly watched. And today has been a busy day for some rather bad news for fracking. I’m popping in there with some random thoughts about today’s news.

First up:

New Report: FRACKING’S TOXIC LOOPHOLE: Thanks to the “Halliburton Loophole,” Hydraulic Fracturing Companies Are Injecting Chemicals More Toxic than Diesel

Using information from FracFocus, the Environmental Integrity Project found that the fracking industry is using chemicals with 10 to 50 times more benzene than diesel. Remember that only 1/4 teaspoon of benzene will contaminate an olympic sized pool of water. One example from Texas:

Between August 22 and 28, 2014, Blackbrush O&G, LLC, injected nearly 150,000 gallons of base fluid containing up to 9% benzene – or 14,300 gallons –into a well in Dimmit County, Texas. That is as much benzene as contained in 14.3 million gallons of diesel fluid with a maximum concentration of 0.1% benzene.

Next, we could have done something earlier but we pretended there was a debate and waited three years:

Energy Department: U.S. must act now on methane emissions

This is the same Energy Department whose leader, Dr. Chu, proclaimed the Howarth/Ingraffea study as not credible. Seems Chu was wrong and Howarth/Ingraffea were right. Too bad we wasted three years and allowed more methane to vent from the wells into the air.


We released some FLIR videos yesterday taken in and around Denton that show the emissions are a chronic problem. Important to note that natural gas is methane. So Denton is doing it’s part to speed up the climate crisis. Think about that then vote FOR the ordinance to prohibit hydraulic fracturing in the city limits of Denton.

Industry likes to claim that FLIR videos only show hot air. Are we supposed to believe that industry, state and federal regulators are spending millions for cameras that show hot air? (rhetorical question) I made a home video that shows no hot air:

Texas received some Doctor’s orders from the top toxicologist in the state:

No running, no gardening and don’t walk your dog because you need to stay inside. No joke, Texas air is that bad.

Texas’ Top Toxicologist: EPA’s New Smog Regulations Unnecessary, Just Stay Indoors

Pièce de résistance

The last bit of news tells us that McCarthyism is alive and well in Denton, Texas. There are two video interviews of councilman Roden who busts some of the misinformation being circulated by all 2 of the “Responsible Drilling” advocates in Denton along with their buddies from industry.

Fracking is scary

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If you need help reading your water test results, contact me Tue, 21 Oct 2014 15:57:40 +0000

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If you receive results from water testing and you don’t know what it means, I can help with that.

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Study: Higher concentration of gas wells means more hospital visits for residents Sun, 12 Oct 2014 21:03:57 +0000

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“Our studies indicate that over time an increasing number of wells is significantly correlated with inpatient rates of hospitalization,” Penning stated.

The study has not been released yet but the results were revealed recently to a Senate Policy Committee meeting.

Ruth McDermott-Levy, associate professor and director of the Center for Global and Public Health at the Villanova University College of Nursing, has been researching health needs in communities in Pennsylvania where fracking is taking place and supports Senate Bill 790.

There is a relationship between certain air pollutants and lung cancer and heart disease, she said. The air pollution doesn’t just come from drilling sites, but from support facilities including compressor stations, dehydration stations and truck transport, she said.

Study: more gas wells in area leads to more hospitalizations link fixed

At a public forum last night, Tom Giovanetti, The not from Denton Master Debater, dissed a recent report from ShaleTest that showed benzene in Denton’s McKenna Park. He claimed that harmful effects of benzene decays in hours and hinted that the benzene could be coming from wood.

Giovanetti ignored some important information. elephantThe ShaleTest report was released with FLIR videos showing emissions of volatile organic compounds coming from the tanks and an explanation that the air sampling was taken as close as possible to the emission plume.

Condensate tanks and produced water tanks all come with a vent. The purpose of the vent is to allow volatile organic compounds to escape into the air. Each pad site is allowed to vent 25 tons of volatile organic compounds per year. But the industry is not required to meter the emissions escaping from the vents so it’s all just guesswork and honor system

The ShaleTest study is not the first time high levels of benzene have been detected in McKenna Park. During fracking and completion of the gas wells across the street benzene was detected on three different occasions.

Benzene was detected on three different days at 4.81 ppbv, 16.2 ppbv, and 55.4 ppbv, all are exceedences of the long-term ESL exposure limit (Center for Disease Control says long-term is one year) and one exceeds the short-term limit (short-term is typically 15 – 30 minutes).  LINK


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Dirty tricks and deceptive polling anger Denton residents Sat, 11 Oct 2014 15:49:21 +0000

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The fracking industry is covering Denton in layers of slick, deceptive mailers and now they are doing more manipulative polling calls. All this is only serving to anger Denton residents.

shooting-yourself-in-the-footFrom Facebook:

Just received a very interesting survey call. The industry folks must be nervous. The caller invoked Putin and Russia, and Al-qaeda and Al Jazzera in trying to get me to try to change my mind about how I intend to vote on November 4. Misinformation and scare tactics don’t work with this lady, folks. VOTE FOR THE BAN ON THE FOURTH!!!!!!!


She also asked me if I would still vote for the ban if I knew that Obama and the democratic party were giving money to the Denton leaders that supported the ban. As if! Obama is pretty much pro-gas, so far, so that was pretty stupid!

You cannot believe, Dear Readers, the dirty tricks the opposition is pulling out of their sleaze bag. Someday soon, I hope I can share ALL those with you. Until then, carry on. These dirty tricks are a sign of desperation.

UPDATE:  Here is the latest mailer which burns with irony since high levels of benzene were detected in McKenna Park more than once. (Larger version HERE)

OppoMailer OppoMailer

Side 2 (larger version HERE)


 UPDATE 2: Just heard that donations are flowing in at in response to the latest dirty tricks.

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In the beginning: Fracking in Denton Thu, 09 Oct 2014 17:49:53 +0000

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In the beginning…

Cathy McMullen evacuated Wise County because she was surrounded by fracking. She moved to Denton where she thought it would be safe.

Shortly after Cathy, I evacuated Wise County because we were surrounded by fracking. We moved to Denton where we thought we would be safe.

I didn’t know Cathy and she didn’t know me.

Range Resources put up a t-post with a ribbon on it in the field across from McKenna Park near Cathy’s new home. Anyone who has lived with fracking knows what the beribboned t-post means. You are about to get fracked!  Cathy learned that Range planned to frack five wells a few blocks from her new home.

She started rounding up neighbors to fight back. Somehow–serendipity–she rounded me up. This was before I started working for Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project.

The meetings started as a group of mothers meeting in living rooms. Mothers who didn’t want to see their children exposed to fracking harms and didn’t want to see the character of Denton ruined.

Flare_ParkRange Resources flare as viewed from McKenna Park. Photo credit: Cathy McMullen

A few times, those living room meetings included City Councilmen, Gregory Dalton or Jim Englebrecht. There were also doctors, and more doctors who stood up against drilling so close to homes, parks and medical facilities. We all became part of the Denton fracking opposition and we started speaking and making citizen presentations at City Council meetings. Gradually, the opposition grew.

In August 2009, I moved to an apartment complex across the street from Evers Park and close to my work at UNT’s Research Park. Later I rented an apartment from Denton’s new mayor, Chris Watts.

One day Cathy called to tell me that Range Resources was dumping their sewage into the field behind the drill site across the street from McKenna Park. Dumping raw sewage is a big money saver for the industry but it is illegal. Cathy and I called that sewage dumping event DoodyGate. Here’s the poop on DoodyGate. Cathy and I walked through the muck wearing sandals to capture the essence of DoodyGate on VIDEO.

In May 2011, I accepted a full-time position as Texas organizer with Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project. I am grateful that Earthworks has allowed me time to help the Denton Community, a place I still call home, as they faced increased mistreatment by the oil and gas industry. Earthworks helps communities like Denton when we are asked. Denton asked for Earthworks’ help.

DoodyGate took place over five years ago. We are still meeting in living rooms but the conversation has changed. This website has chronicled much of what has happened in Denton the past five years. It is easy to see that industry has brought this opposition on themselves. We tried to be reasonable and responsible but they refused any limitations on their activities.

Denton will soon be the first city in Texas to vote to ban hydraulic fracturing. No matter how the election turns out,  the conversation has forever been changed. Nowhere else will the fracking industry be able to run over and abuse residents like they have in Denton. Never again.


Some additional highlights from the past.

Denton Succumbs to Greed. Range Resources to Drill 5 Wells
Denton passes Phase I of drilling ordinances 7-0

7,812 pieces of Barnett Shale pollution emitters in Denton County

Denton drilling task force
Denton public health and safety at risk from weak gas well ordinance
Report: Investigate environmental causes for breast cancer
The news about the Denton blowout is worse than you think.
Fracking executive confirms: Homeland Security thinks fracktivists are terrorists
Evacuations caused by EagleRidge gas well venting across the street from UNT Apogee Athletic Stadium
Denton voted to increase noise levels at gas well sites
Caught on video: Petition circulators deceive Denton residents

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Update: The not from Denton Master Debater Fri, 03 Oct 2014 18:57:16 +0000

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Frack Free Denton has participated in a number of forums of which some are called “debates.” Because banning fracking in the City of Denton is a local issue about local control of a damaging, heavy industrial process that has been allowed in our backyards, only local Denton residents who are members of the Frack Free Denton board have participated in the “debates.”

The opposition to the ban has been represented by an imported, industry lobbyist, Tom Giovanetti, who is President of Institute for Policy Innovation. He has not shown a sense of decorum in the debates or in his online presence. Frack Free Denton has appeared at these forum/debates with Giovanetti, at least, twice now with two more such events scheduled.

When yet another event was offered, Frack Free Denton happily accepted with the stipulation that the opposing view be presented by a board member of the local opposition–opposing board member against supporting board member. Not an unreasonable request to keep a local issue local, especially since Frack Free Denton will have appeared with Giovannetti four times.

Giovanetti Tweeted that Frack Free Denton is afraid of him.


This got me to wondering two things:

  1. Who is afraid of whom? Where is the local opposition hiding?
  2. Who is Giovanetti?

Who Are you?

alice-with-caterpillar2Being the curious type, I channeled the Caterpillar. And, as often happens with the players in the oil and gas industry, I found a rabbit hole of familiar characters.

You might remember that I have mentioned Rex Tillerson, ExxonMobil CEO, and Dick Armey previously

I was there in Bartonville, Texas with Rex and Dick.

The first time Rex Tillerson and Dick Armey addressed the Town of Bartonville about the water tower whose toxic emissions and activities would trespass onto their property causing health problems, loss of enjoyment of property, water contamination and diminished property value, I was there. It was a night I will never forget and this is how I remember it.

Tillerson and Armey are all for fracking until it, or it’s infrastructure, ends up in their backyards.

So, here’s what all that has to do with Giovanetti:

His think tank, Institute for Policy Innovation, was founded by Dick Armey and is funded by ExxonMobil. I’m sure there is more to this rabbit hole but, for the moment, I’m out of time to dig.

Here is a video taken Tuesday of a midnight stroll in a Denton neighborhood.

Update: It’s worse than I thought.

There has been a Twitter exchange in which Giovanetti had a bit of a meltdown. He says he is not a lobbyist. I say he is. Read this New York Times opinion piece then you decide.

On Opinion Page, a Lobby’s Hand Is Often Unseen

Here are a few Cliff Notes? One of his colleagues, Susan Finston, at the Institute for Policy Innovation was caught red handed pretending to be a “research associate” and penning opinion pieces favorable to the drug industry as such. Later it was discovered that she was a registered lobbyist. The paper said it was not told of the conflict of interest when it printed the opinion.

Doug Bandow, a scholar for the libertarian Cato Institute and a columnist for the Copley News Service, resigned from both after acknowledging that he had received as much as $2,000 an article from Mr. Abramoff for writing in support of his lobbying clients, including Indian tribe casinos. Mr. Abramoff is now the focus of a federal corruption investigation involving his gifts to members of Congress.
But the payments by Mr. Abramoff and a closer review of the work of the Institute for Policy Innovation, a group founded in 1987 by a former House Republican leader, Dick Armey of Texas, are evidence that the ties may be much closer than research organizations, conservative and liberal, would prefer to admit.

Giovanetti didn’t see the problem but and says that lobbyists can change hats often. He said this

“anyone working with I.P.I. must disclose any pertinent lobbying relationships and conflicts of interest whenever they act on behalf of I.P.I., including published projects.”

But then he did this

Asked if the institute had accepted money from pharmaceutical manufacturers or any drug companies affiliated with Ms. Finston, Mr. Giovanetti would not comment.

But, that’s not all.

Abramoff’s Toxicity Spreads to Right-Wing Think Tanks
By: National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy
posted on: December 19, 2005

The slime oozing from disgraced and indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has seeped into some of the nation’s most prominent conservative think tanks, including the Cato Institute and the Institute for Policy Innovation. Collectively, those two organizations brought in $5.1 million from foundations over the past several years.

Eamon James covers the latest dimension to the Abramoff scandal in “Op-Eds for Sale,” which appears in the December 16, 2005 edition of BusinessWeek. In this article, James describes the relationship between Abramoff and Doug Bandow, who writes a column for the Copley News Service and was (until last week) a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Over the past decade, Abramoff paid Bandow around $2,000 each for “12 to 24” columns that cast Abramoff’s lobbying clients and their policy positions in a favorable light. Bandow resigned from Cato last week, and claims that the think tank had no knowledge of his arrangement with Abramoff. Copley has suspended Bandow, pending its own investigation of the matter.

In the Institute for Policy Innovation case, Peter Ferrara, a senior policy adviser at the Institute, admits that he also received money from Abramoff to write op-eds that are favorable to Abramoff’s clients. According to James, Ferrara stated, “I do that all the time. I’ve done that in the past, and I’ll do it in the future.” Tom Giovanetti, the Institute’s president, agrees with Ferrara, stating this practice is not wrong or unethical. Hmmmm…what’s that saying about “absolute power…”?

What did I tell you about the rabbit hole? It’s another sink hole.

More from a Facebook friend:

Here are a number of other articles. Giovanetti’s institute seems to be all over the place, but the common theme is pseudo-scholarly articles that support some big business interests. In 2012 they brought in $957K in donations and had two employees, Giovanetti and Mark Miller.

The price of Integrity

IPI’s Tom Giovanetti defends view that drug reimportation is harmful

More…way more

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Oil & Gas Toxics Detected Near Playgrounds across the Barnett Shale Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:37:59 +0000

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Hazardous Chemicals from Oil and Gas Development Detected Near Playgrounds across the Barnett Shale

Carcinogen levels violate TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits

Denton, TX, – Independent air tests at five separate playgrounds across the
Barnett Shale have revealed hazardous chemicals associated with oil and gas development at all five. At three of the playgrounds, carcinogens were present at levels exceeding TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits.

“The oil and gas industry claims that they’re drilling responsibly,” said ShaleTest president Tim Ruggiero. He continued, “These tests show they’re not.”

The tests were of part of a study conducted by, an independent nonprofit formed to test air and water in drilling-affected communities for those who can’t afford to fund such tests themselves. As part of the study, ShaleTest performed state of the art air modeling that shows that some of these hazardous chemicals travel for miles.

“Although emerging science confirms that fracking-related air pollution is a health risk, there’s no agreement yet on ‘how close is too close’,” said Calvin Tillman, ShaleTest’s Director. He continued, “these results suggest that sometimes ‘miles away’ can be too close.”

In Denton, Texas, where voters will decide whether to ban fracking in the November election, fracking ban opponents claim that a vote against the ban is a vote for “responsible drilling”. The Denton playground, located in McKenna Park, is one of the playgrounds at which carcinogens were found in excess of TCEQ’s long-term ambient limits.

“The City of Denton promised us air monitoring. But we’d never have known about toxic benzene at McKenna Park violating the TCEQ long term exposure limit if it hadn’t been for independent testing,” said Denton Drilling Awareness Group president Cathy McMullen. She continued, “After years in pursuit of responsible drilling with industry, and state and City government, we now know from personal experience that responsible drilling is a sham. That’s why the only way Denton residents can protect their families is to vote for a ban on fracking in November.”

View full report here.

Links to Gasfinder videos.

This is not the first time toxics have been detected in McKenna park.

The community near McKenna Park collected small donations and hired an environmental scientist to conduct several sets of air monitoring during fracking and flaring.

Note: When this air testing was conducted, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) used Effects Screening Levels (ESL) to determine exposure limits. Now they use the Air Monitoring Comparison Values (AMCV).

Benzene was detected on three different days at 4.81 ppbv, 16.2 ppbv, and 55.4 ppbv, all are exceedences of the long-term ESL exposure limit (Center for Disease Control says long-term is one year) and one exceeds the short-term limit (short-term is typically 15 – 30 minutes).

Benzene is a dangerous chemical and the World Health Organization says, “Benzene is carcinogenic to humans, and no safe level of exposure can be recommended.” But benzene was not the only chemical detected at McKenna Park. Eleven different chemicals were detected and 16 tentatively identified compounds where detected some over long-term/short-term detection limits.

Here are the results:

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Documentation shows air pollutants from fracking in Denton. Thu, 25 Sep 2014 01:48:39 +0000

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Have you been reading the crazy comments in the online version of the Denton paper? No matter how the opposition tries to spin things, there is documented proof of air contamination and Dentonites are being exposed to a cocktail of nasty chemicals.

Read about three examples and why this is so important to health at


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VIDEO: Denton mineral owner testimony of fracking horrors Sun, 21 Sep 2014 18:14:43 +0000

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This is testimony given at the Denton City Council hearing for the ban on hydraulic fracturing.

Patricia Andrews is a 23-year resident of Denton, Texas, a landowner and a mineral owner. She signed a lease and experienced fracking on her property.

The well was not profitable and it was noisy and destructive. Forcing contractual obligations for clean up took considerable effort. Worst of all, a perfectly healthy horse was found dead, five feet from a leak of fluids at the well site.

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Crude oil bomb trains have little oversight in Texas Sat, 13 Sep 2014 13:23:23 +0000

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These trains are rolling right through your towns. Even Denton… The crude from shale formations is more explosive than regular crude. It might be all those highly flammable, explosive fracking chemical they pump into the formation. I’m betting that plays a roll.

Anyway, is your town prepared for a catastrophe from a bomb train? Do you live in the blast zone?

Crude oil rides Texas’ rails with little oversight

But in Texas, home of the country’s most prolific production, biggest proved oil reserves and most expansive refining capacity, crude oil rides the rails with little oversight. To fulfill the minimum requirements of a federal emergency order, state public safety officials have agreed to receive some information about potentially volatile crude arriving from a subterranean formation in North Dakota. They do not, however, assess the cargo originating in Texas, passing through from other places or moving toward the great global hub of Houston. They do not test its flammability. They do not, in any significant detail, track its quantities, movements or destinations.

Now, as federal officials begin testing some wells in South Texas for the same explosive properties found in northern samples, some experts say the state may be taking a serious safety risk by turning a blind eye to the crude churning through its rapidly expanding rail networks.

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M 2.9 earthquake in North Texas Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:37:27 +0000

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There was a M 2.9 quake just north of Irving early this morning. There is no fracking near the epicenter but plenty just a little to the west.

Event Page

NBC5 news reports

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