Earthworks’ Founding Story

March 5, 2013 • Alan Septoff

Twenty-five years ago in 1988, Wyoming architect and Sierra Club activist Phil Hocker teamed up with the greatest Interior Secretary in the history of the United States Stewart Udall, Sierra Club Executive Director and Chairman Michael McCloskey, prominent non-profit attorney Thomas Troyer, and former National Wildlife Federation President Thomas Kimball to form Mineral Policy Center.

Wrong. A fracking company HAS volunteered to participate in EPA’s study.

January 25, 2013 • Alan Septoff

Sometimes, you are just wrong. Not inaccurate. Not mischaracterized. Just wrong.

Unfortunately for me, that is what I was in describing the fracking industry’s universal unwillingness to participate in prospective testing (before drilling/fracking and after) case studies in the Environmental Protection Agency’s research into the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water sources.

Frackers, not EPA, are dodging water contamination issue

January 8, 2013 • Alan Septoff

CORRECTION: An important part of this blog post is incorrect. One fracking company, Chesapeake Energy, has volunteered to take part in a prospective (before drilling/fracking and after) case study with EPA.

  The AP ran a story yesterday titled EPA's Fracking Study May Dodge Water Contamination Frequency Issue. That title is misleading.

Because if EPA’s final draft doesn’t address the frequency of water contamination, it will be fracking companies -- not EPA -- that did the dodging.

Study of Hydraulic Fracturing and Its Potential Impact on Drinking Water Resources, is the first extensive federal scientific inquiry into the impacts of fracking.  Earthworks applauds it.

As part of that study, EPA wants to test groundwater quality near an oil or gas well drill site, before drilling/fracking and after.  It’s only common sense that a study of fracking’s impacts on water would involve testing whether fracking impacts water.

GAO report supports Earthworks’ fracking enforcement findings

October 12, 2012 • Alan Septoff

Last month the Government Accountability Office issued a new report Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Key environmental and public health requirements.

Regarding obstacles to enforcement, GAO’s findings – which they drew from interviews with pertinent federal and state agencies – corroborate several of Earthworks’ findings in our recent report, Breaking All the Rules: The crisis in oil & gas regulatory enforcement. Although the GAO report is more federally focused, the findings highlight themes common across state and federal regulatory agencies. Including:

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The President has lost his way on natural gas

September 7, 2012 • Alan Septoff

Whatever the overall merits of President Obama's speech last night, it made one thing clear: the President has lost his way on natural gas.

Obama -- in declaring his goal to foster the creation of 600,000 natural gas jobs by the end of his second term -- effectively hammered the last nail in the coffin of the pretense that natural gas (i.e. shale gas) is a "bridge" to a clean energy economy. 

On psychological operations: what it means that the fracking industry is using military tactics in communities

November 9, 2011 • Alan Septoff

Riffing off revelations by Earthworks' Texas Sharon that the fracking industry is using military tactics in shale gas communities, today DeSmogBlog posted an excellent story explaining what military psychological operations are and how they've been used in our communities.

You should read the whole thing.  But some highlights:

Not a good neighbor: fracking industry admits to waging war on communities

November 8, 2011 • Alan Septoff

For a long time, the hydraulic fracturing-enabled drilling industry has been fighting a war to be accepted in communities around the country.

They've been losing the war.

That is, the more they've operated, the more they've polluted, and the worse name they've received.  Thanks to the good work of community groups, Josh Fox, DeSmogBlog, ProPublica, the New York Times, and many, many others, the word has gotten out that you allow the drilling industry into your community at the peril of your drinking water, clean air, and the very fabric of your community.

So industry was (and still is) faced with a choice:

Senator Cantwell does right by wild salmon. Let’s send her some thanks.

September 16, 2011 • Alan Septoff

Say thanks to Senator Cantwell for her support of Alaska’s Bristol Bay


Salmon spawing in the Bristol Bay watershed.
Photo: Nick Hall

This week Senator Cantwell (WA) sent a letter to the EPA urging the agency to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay – home to our nation’s largest wild salmon fishery.

10 billion tons of toxic mine waste

The Bristol Bay watershed is at risk from the proposed Pebble Mine, which would dispose of up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste at its headwaters.

EPA protection Needed

The Senator has asked the EPA to use its authority under section 404c of the Clean Water Act. This provision gives it authority to prohibit or restrict the disposal of mine waste into rivers, streams or wetlands, if science shows it will harm the fishery.