NAT GAS Act encourages development without proper regulation

April 8, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Just recently, the New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act (NAT GAS Act) was introduced in Congress to provide incentives for natural gas production. And, once again, the NAT GAS Act aims to increase our use of natural gas without addressing the impacts of natural gas on communities and water supplies across the country. This legislation also increases our reliance on another fossil fuel by creating new infrastructure for natural gas, keeping us dependent for years to come.


While natural gas may be cleaner burning than other fossil fuels, like coal, it comes with a host of environmental and public health problems. Polluted water and air threaten people that live in gasland communities. The natural gas industry is exempt from many of our bedrock environmental laws, ranging from the law that governs the fate and transport of our hazardous wastes to the law that governs our drinking water sources.

Gas industry influence on a Wall Street Journal article?

March 1, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

As I sat and watched the Oscars last night, I was disappointed that Gasland didn't win best documentary.

My disappointment turned to outrage when I read that the Wall Street Journal may have removed an oil and gas executive quote from their most recent story on the Gasland Oscar controversy.

According to Josh Fox (Gasland's director) and some of his other friends out in the proverbial gaslands, the WSJ removed this quote from their story:

"We have to stop blaming documentaries and take a look in the mirror,"said Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for gas producer Range Resources Corp."

(A screen capture of the original story with that quote included can be found here.)

Why would the Wall Street Journal remove this quote?

Hollywood comes to Washington to talk fracking

February 18, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Today, Oscar nominees Josh Fox and Mark Ruffalo were on Capitol Hill to talk to members of Congress about the destructive impacts of natural gas drilling.

Mark Ruffalo, Josh Fox, Maurice Hinchey speaking before the Capitol dome

Both live in the Catskills region of New York/Pennsylvania, where gas drilling in the Marcellus shale has sparked a huge controversy and left some communities, like Dimock, PA, permanently scarred.

Obama administration aims to end sweetheart deal for mining industry

February 15, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Released today, the FY 2012 Obama administration budget endeavors to end the taxpayer boondoggle known as federal hardrock mining policy. On behalf of Earthworks and all of the communities we work with in hardrock mining country, I d like to thank the President Obama for taking on this industry that has taken advantage of the antiquated 1872 Mining Law for far too long. The 1872 Mining Law, which lacks both royalties and protections for communities and precious western water resources, has left this country with at least $50 billion dollars in unreclaimed mine sites with no industry contribution to help deal with the problem.

The Obama administration proposes two things that would change the way that mining operates on public lands. Both of these changes would move us a step closer to cleaning up the mess that has been created by the current mining law.

First, the administration proposes a reclamation fee on the production of hardrock minerals based on the volume of material mined. This money would then be distributed through a competitive grant program to states where remediation is needed. This $200 million a year would go a long way in addressing the serious safety and water quality issues at many abandoned mine sites throughout the West.

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Dieselicious! The continuing saga of diesel in our drinking water

February 10, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Last week, ProPublica reported on the continuing saga of the use and regulation of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing.

Now that a Congressional investigation has revealed that 32 million gallons of diesel fuel were used to frack wells in 19 states between 2005 and 2009, the oil and gas industry is backtracking on their past claims that they were no longer using diesel fuel. In fact, they are changing their tune entirely and saying that not only are they using diesel to fracture oil and gas wells, but that it s perfectly legal for them to do so.

Here on the Energy in Depth website (which is the mouthpiece for much industry rhetoric), it says, in relation to diesel use, the truth is, you won t find any of it in the solutions used during the hydraulic fracturing process...

Lee Fuller, the Executive Director of Energy In-Depth, previously told ProPublica that the use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing would trigger federal oversight by EPA under the SDWA.

EPA working within current law to regulate diesel in fracking fluid

January 28, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

UPDATE | UPDATE II

Yesterday, the Greenwire (published in the New York Times)* erroneously reported that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued new regulations for the use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking).

What the EPA did do: use its website to highlight existing law that authorizes EPA to prevent the injection of diesel fuel underground during fracking. EPA took this step only after companies like Halliburton were caught doing so.

The EPA's authority to regulate the use of diesel to protect drinking water from oil and gas related pollution is actually well established.

EPA, diesel, fracking, and transparency: a clarification.

January 28, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Last week, I blogged about the EPA using its authority under the 2005 Energy Policy Act to regulate the use of diesel in hydraulic fracturing, and used a Greenwire story published in the New York Times on the issue to highlight the issue.

While the EPA is within its authority under current law to regulate the use of diesel in fracking as part of the current regulations for Class II wells under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), I do feel that the EPA could have gone about its announcement around this issue in a way that was more transparent.

By adding language to their website without an official announcement, the EPA kept the public and industry in the dark about something that did not and should not have been kept a secret.

It would have been in the public interest (and would have created far less controversy) if the EPA had created a participatory process with a public announcement regarding the regulation of diesel fuel used for hydraulic fracturing.

It would also have been in the public interest for the EPA to have begun to deal with this issue back in 2005 when the Energy Policy Act was passed and their regulatory authority to regulate this practice was made clear.

State of the Union reaction: natural gas is not clean energy

January 26, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

I was heartened by the President s desire to end the massive subsidies we currently dole out to the oil industry, and invest in renewable energy. While we attempt to wean ourselves from all dirty energy sources, we need to end the subsidies, close the loopholes and institute policies that regulates fossil fuels in a way that best protects our communities and water resources.