Join 3,382 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Lucky Act 13
March 14, 2012 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Pennsylvania has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. This American Life on fracking in Pennsylvania. Fracking: Anatomy of a Free Market Failure. Previously in Pennsylvania.

Earlier this month: “A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth,” Ohio oil and gas regulators said today.

From Guernica in December: As a Fortune 500 company’s fracking activities in rural West Virginia leave a polluted and drastically altered landscape, locals are fighting back.
posted by gerryblog (88 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite

 
I mean, my god.

Physicians are barred from informing patients about the dangers of petrochemicals, but forced to conduct transvaginal ultrasounds to "inform" patients of what's involved in an abortion.

I swear, dystopia isn't right around the corner. It's pretty much already here.
posted by darkstar at 5:57 PM on March 14, 2012 [135 favorites]


The only "good" thing I've heard about the fracking in New England is that it's putting the fear into the politicos of NYC that unless they stop this the city will have cancer water.
posted by wcfields at 5:57 PM on March 14, 2012


Welllllllll.......that ruined my night.
posted by slapshot57 at 6:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Physicians are barred from informing patients about the dangers of petrochemicals, but forced to conduct transvaginal ultrasounds to "inform" patients of what's involved in an abortion.

Corporations are people, but not female people.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [49 favorites]


Corporations are people, but not female people.

Well, clearly we need some female corporations. Where do you check a corporation to ascertain its gender?
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:04 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


For some reason Governor Corbet flies under the media radar but he's as much of a right-wing dick as Walker, Kasich or Perry.
posted by octothorpe at 6:05 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Where do you check a corporation to ascertain its gender?

The dicks usually seem to be at the top.
posted by Riki tiki at 6:09 PM on March 14, 2012 [101 favorites]


“Pittsburgh is going to be the Gettysburg in this fight,” Shields predicted. “This will be the place where it will all go down.”

Johnstown is a better analogy. Corporate irresponsible use of nature kills innocent people leading (we hope) to reform.
posted by stbalbach at 6:10 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


This sucks. It's up for the landowners to be properly informed about the operations and they can only do this if the operating company is transparent (there are some good operators out there, but behaviour like this doesn't help their cause any).

Fracking isn't a "dangerous new technology" though, it's been used for decades in the industry both offshore and onshore, people only started paying attention when the wells started being drilled in their backyards with the move into Shale Gas. NIMBYism applies here in a lot of cases. Fracking is perfectly safe when used in the appropriate way - this includes deciding which reservoirs it shouldn't be used in due to proximity to the water table. The problem with a gold rush is that you get a lot of operators coming in without the experience to do it safely and cleanly.

Economics help though, with gas trading at $2.26 currently, a lot of the operators are curtailing their programs until the price goes up again. This gives opponents time to do their research and get organized. Compel the operators to execute safely and cleanly and they will. If the cost of doing it safely is prohibitive, then they'll opt to not drill, which is also a win.
posted by arcticseal at 6:12 PM on March 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wow. It's like they're done tearing up every democratic principle and have worked their way back to the Magna Carta.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:13 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Okay, but, jobs!" - Corbett
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:15 PM on March 14, 2012


Where do you check a corporation to ascertain its gender?

I would start with the share price. "Gender-diverse management teams" significantly outperformed average results, exhibiting 70% greater appreciation in share-price over male-dominated firms.

Perhaps we can reverse that to The Dick Tax: "male-led companies underperform by 30%".

[ Full study; McKinsey ]
posted by nickrussell at 6:17 PM on March 14, 2012 [18 favorites]


The South has Mississippi. The North has Pennsylvania.

What has to happen is that the Pennsylvanians who have had enough of this need to find out where the senior executives - or most senior people - who are living in Pennsylvania, and march in front of their homes. Put their faces on posters. Shame them into oblivion! Same goes for any PA legislator or political consultant who is responsible for making this happen. Shame them! Make a pariah out of every one of them. Name their names! (no violence!)
posted by Vibrissae at 6:18 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, clearly we need some female corporations. Where do you check a corporation to ascertain its gender?

But again, how do you know they're all female? Does someone go into the park and, uh... pull up the corporations' skirts?
posted by shakespeherian at 6:18 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


The physician thing is blatantly unconstitutional.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 6:19 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some less frothing stories

Lexology

Observer-Reporter.com
"Cecil joins neighbors in gas law opposition "

Impact Fee for PA--NPR
posted by Ideefixe at 6:20 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You know what? In 20 years they'll be strip mining major cities just to get at the coal. It'll be cheaper than the higher cost of carbon for the 99.5% of people who don't live in a place to pay the 0.5% to move somewhere else, especially when you don't have to pay them directly but simply buy a few "national energy resource land expropriation" laws.

This is just the beginning.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:23 PM on March 14, 2012


Dear Governor Corporate,

Fuck you.

Sincerely,
Fuck you.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 6:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I keep reading things that I think are unbelievable. I do not think that word means what I think it means.

We're screwed. Truly.
posted by blurker at 6:29 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


When you have companies who are violating existing environmental regulations, then they should be prosecuted with the full weight of the law: "coming out of the effluent pipe of that plant was discharge of nine pollutants, essentially all in excess of nationally recognized human and/or aquatic health standards.".

The problem then is that you have academics and lawmakers who are in hock to the people who fund their ice hockey teams or next run for political office. We need to agitate enough to give them the backbone to stand up for the law and enforce the existing regulations (tighten them if possible).
posted by arcticseal at 6:30 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Make executives and politicians drink the fucking water.
posted by glaucon at 6:31 PM on March 14, 2012 [23 favorites]


“This growing industry will provide new career opportunities that will give our children a reason to stay here in Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.

I see it as a reason to leave PA, because there won't be any clean drinking water.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 6:31 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


There's no reining it in now, folks. Corporations are running roughshod over everyone but the rich.
posted by BlueHorse at 6:37 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just saw they want to do the same thing in Wisconsin.
posted by gerryblog at 6:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I live in Pittsburgh. It was just named an "it" city, presumably to attract young hip people.

The fact that the three rivers are loaded with petrochemicals needs to get out there.

How can I have my tap water tested? Not for my safety but so I can tell people.
posted by glaucon at 6:40 PM on March 14, 2012


Where do you check a corporation to ascertain its gender?

If you are being bent over and getting it from behind you have a good idea of the gender at that time.
posted by rough ashlar at 6:49 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


I always wondered what they meant in Battlestar Galactica when they said, "We're frakked."
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 6:54 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The people running these companies should be required to hand in their Capitalism Membership Cards. Clearly they're incapable of succeeding without enormous assistance from The State.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 6:58 PM on March 14, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sinful.
posted by zagyzebra at 6:58 PM on March 14, 2012


You know, I've been wondering for years - at what point will their supporters realize that the GOP is not on their side? I know there will always be a hardcore base that nothing can be done about, but this, along with the whole transvaginal procedure thing, along with multitudes of other anti-woman bills that have come to light in recent weeks....are we reaching the point that people are waking up to the fact that the GOP couldn't care less about them? I mean, saying that doctors are not allowed to tell you things that pose a very real risk to your health is not something that can be politicized. It is just wrong and people recognize that. The GOP don't really even try to hide it anymore. I know we hated him in the mid-90s as well, but I guess I could have never imagined back then that Newt Gingrich would not only come out and say that child labor laws are stupid, but knowing that there are people that actually agree with it. At what point do we, as a nation - both liberals and (what remains of the sane) conservatives - just agree that these extreme kind of views have no reasonable place in modern society, do not represent the majority of people - who are more moderate - and decide that from here on forward only the adults can play.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:12 PM on March 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


Corbett is very unpopular in Pennsylvania, but he get what he wants because both houses of the legislature are in the hands of the Republicans. Apathy is the only reason why, since Democrats hold a solid voter registration edge. Obama won the state three years ago.

But it seem like the rabid right and the corporate shills are the only ones heard from in the media, and the big energy outfits are dumping millions into PR and influence. Word is, they bought Penn State with a hockey rink, and get lots of friendly research.

However, the loss of local control from Act 13 has got folks upset, even in my neck of the conservative rural woods. It just rubs country people the wrong way, even some of those who salivate at the idea of royalties and jobs from the gas boom.

But here's the thing...a boom is just a boom, and some folks are waking up to that as the market price of natural gas keeps dropping. And now, stories of spills and aquifer contamination are starting to multiply. This could all shake out very badly for Corbett and his cronies if the Democrats can manage to rebound. Unfortunately, the state Democratic party is weak and - being almost as corrupt as the Republicans - uninspiring.
posted by tommyD at 7:16 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, in Canada...
posted by ODiV at 7:19 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I miss Pittsburgh. But I do not miss PA government.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 7:28 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


The older I get the more I believe that armed revolution is the only way to turn back the tide of the corporate state.

Either that or moving to the Netherlands and just throwing in the towel.
posted by photoslob at 7:37 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


So when Republicans talk about states' rights, they really mean the state's right to fuck over their citizens, local laws be damned.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 7:39 PM on March 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


So when Republicans talk about states' rights, they really mean the state's right to fuck over their citizens, local laws be damned.

Of course. The idea being, if you don't like how the state you live in works, you'd move to a state where it does. Everyone can seek out their own personal utopia, completely sorting out the population into like-minded people who will feel comfortable by being surrounded by "their team".

The problem is, of course, that this is an impossible arrangement and won't work as long as there is a call for the Federal government to regulate interstate commerce and such. If, say, food safety laws in one state are different from those in another, then is the Federal government supposed to require all food shipped from the less stringent state be forced to meet the regulations in the more stringent state? Or just to ban all such trade going from less stringent states to more stringent all together?

What about interpersonal arrangements? We already have problems where same-sex couples who are married in one state will find that they don't have basic rights like hospital visitation and such if they visit a state-level DOMA jurisdiction.

At some point, either the whole states rights thing breaks down under its own legion of disparate demands and allowances, or else you have to allow some web of overarching Federal jurisdiction to keep the union functioning.

What happens if fracking in PA leads to contaminated water in other states? At what point does one state's right to do this kind of thing turn into a federal issue due to the requirement of usable water by all things living on this planet to survive?
posted by hippybear at 7:49 PM on March 14, 2012 [7 favorites]


Of course. The idea being, if you don't like how the state you live in works, you'd move to a state where it does. Everyone can seek out their own personal utopia, completely sorting out the population into like-minded people who will feel comfortable by being surrounded by "their team".

Right. My point was that at the state level this is supposedly a key belief, but go down one level to municipal and local governments and those concepts get tossed out the window.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 7:56 PM on March 14, 2012


You know, it occurs to me, it's a damn good thing this wasn't how we reacted when we first learned that CFCs were making the ozone layer disappear.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:57 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh hey I was just (re)reading about Pennsylvania in Bill Bryson's enormously enjoyable A Walk In The Woods, and apparently it's a massive industrial shithole already?
posted by tumid dahlia at 8:02 PM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've not yet been to Mexico, but I hear it has a bad reputation for corruption.
Is Mexico as bad as this? Is abuse written into the very law of the land, bypassing the usual need for criminal private armies and thugs to force this kind of shit on people?
posted by -harlequin- at 8:16 PM on March 14, 2012


Mexico's version of corruption largely involves bribes and such to get officials to look the other way and get around regulations and laws.

Our version is much more insidious, as it allows the corruption to actually affect the laws themselves, resulting in an actual weakening of the system, as opposed to in Mexico where the regulations remain in place but are circumvented.
posted by hippybear at 8:21 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Fracking isn't a "dangerous new technology" though, it's been used for decades in the industry....

This is said a lot, but it's misleading. The idea of fracturing rock to increase the flow of oil and gas has been around since the very early days of the industry. In the early oil boom days in northwest Pennsylvania (starting in the 1860s) they would drop nitroglycerine and other explosives down the hole to fracture the rock. A lot of people lost lives and limbs doing so.

But the kind of fracking (drillers spell it "fracing" but pronounce it "fracking") using high-pressure water, sand and chemicals to extract gas from deep shales is relatively new. Geologists have known the Marcellus and other deep shales held lots of gas for many decades, but getting that gas out had to wait for the development of the the high-pressure hydrofracturing and horizontal drilling techniques used in Pennsylvania for about four years now and in the Texas Barnett Shale, in Wyoming and a few other places for about ten years or so.
posted by tommyD at 8:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


Oh hey I was just (re)reading about Pennsylvania in Bill Bryson's enormously enjoyable A Walk In The Woods, and apparently it's a massive industrial shithole already?

Well, Pennsylvania's been trashed and reclaimed a couple of times now. Most of it is downright beautiful at the moment, and there are a few folks who hoped it might stay that way for a while.
posted by tommyD at 8:31 PM on March 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


tommyD, I'm a driller and I call it fracing, I was using the terminology that the articles were using. If we're getting specific, it should be a completions guy who answers this question, since drillers just deliver the wellbore.

The technique is not new, it's an evolution of existing technology. There's been progress made towards using less chemicals, using more environmentally friendly chemicals and proppants, but they cost more - which is why the price of gas is pertinent. Companies want to drill and complete their wells as cost effectively as possible. Low gas prices means that companies are now stepping away from gas and back towards liquids.

If they are regulated properly and use of the best technology is mandated, then it is possible to drill and complete the wells with reduced environmental impact. I used to drill gas wells in Germany and this is possible if the government takes the lead. The issue is cost, and the will to enforce the best practices for operation. All that is needed is political will and public support to enforce the practices, which is why drilling in Norway is so heavily regulated with a strong push towards environmental compliance. Vote in people who will look after Pennsylvania's best interests rather than their backers and we'll be making progress.
posted by arcticseal at 9:00 PM on March 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


hippybear: I know this one! It involves a lot of men in blue coats, a lot of men in grey coats, and ends with a lot of people dead and large chunks of the country on fire.
posted by Grimgrin at 9:07 PM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: It involves a lot of men in blue coats, a lot of men in grey coats, and ends with a lot of people dead and large chunks of the country on fire.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:40 PM on March 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


MetaFilter: It involves a lot of men in blue coats, a lot of men in grey coats, and ends with a lot of people dead and large chunks of the country on fire.

And a lot of people in green coats sitting around asking questions about what just happened.
posted by hippybear at 10:08 PM on March 14, 2012 [13 favorites]


The estimated 150 billion cubic meters of natural gas that are being flared and vented annually is equivalent to about 25 percent of the United States’ gas consumption or 30 percent of the European Union’s gas consumption per year. And the annual 35 bcm of gas flared in Sub-Saharan Africa alone could generate half of that continent’s power consumption.
From here.

I will begin to believe the value of natural gas is worth some fraction the kind of human, social and environmental impact they're willing to inflict for it, the day after all natural gas flaring is stopped.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:27 PM on March 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


Agreed. Flaring is wasteful and should be stopped. Any plan for new developments should have a mandated plan to eliminate flaring.
posted by arcticseal at 10:44 PM on March 14, 2012


1: Start a gas company.
2: Start drilling in the backyards of the politicians who voted for this, as well as in the parking lots for the churches they attend.
3: Profit?
posted by iviken at 11:22 PM on March 14, 2012 [8 favorites]


And a lot of people in green coats sitting around asking questions about what just happened.

A bunch of guys with wedge issues get beaten by a mixed-race wunderkind with a good long game?
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 11:57 PM on March 14, 2012


This is some evil shit. Someone should ask the campaigning senator from Pennsylvania what he thinks of this, and whether he would support such travesties on a national scale.
posted by Edgewise at 12:28 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


This American Life again proves its awesomeness. The money I plunked down for the show's app on the App Store ranks as one of the better purchases I've made there. (encourage, encourage!)
posted by JHarris at 1:33 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Damn. I am reminded of the time that the Sindh governor, who just happened to be a former director of Shell, passed an ordinance exempting oil and gas exploration from the ban on any kind of industrial or mineral exploration activity in the Kirthar reserve.
posted by bardophile at 2:56 AM on March 15, 2012


Just saw they want to do the same thing in Wisconsin.
Not exactly, they don't want cities to be able to ban "sand mining". The resulting sand is used in fracking, but mining it doesn't sound as dangerous. All they're doing is digging up sand.

Interestingly, Texas has a lot of Fracking, but the laws in the state actually require disclosure and stuff. It blows my mind that they would actually try to prevent doctors from telling their patients that they may be sick due to pollution, or whatever.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 AM on March 15, 2012


It involves a lot of men in blue coats, a lot of men in grey coats, and ends with a lot of people dead and large chunks of the country on fire.

And a lot of people in green coats sitting around asking questions about what just happened.


I am concerned to avoid the need for a lot of men in baggy white suits.
 
posted by Herodios at 3:57 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


One thing I noticed with interest - the article quoted three people saying, essentially , "we Americans have a right not to live like [Nigerians or indigenous people who get so badly exploited]." Of course no one means "it's completely okay for Nigerians to be at the mercy of Shell because they are from Africa", but it's a weird little rhetorical device.

I guess it's smart to remember that what a corporation will do to a Nigerian is what they'll do to you as soon as they can get away with it, so better stand up for the Nigerians now.
posted by Frowner at 4:18 AM on March 15, 2012 [15 favorites]


It's good to stand up for the people in the third world, but make sure that while you're doing that, plutocrats don't sneak up and turn you into the third world. Some say "think globally," some say "think globally act locally," but I say if everybody thinks locally and acts locally, globally will take care of itself. The Nigerians, when it comes down to it, will have to take the lead in dealing with Shell, because Shell, at the moment, wants to get away with whatever it can in Pennsylvania.

In the middle of this shales gas boom/crisis, one of the Pennsylvania-based environmental groups put out a call to save the whales. Literally, whales. While the whales may indeed need saving, there are no whales in Pennsylvania, but there are strip mines, sloppy drillers, superfund sites going untouched, some of the country's oldest nuke plants, coal-fired power plants poisoning our children, and corrupt politicians poisoning our government. The whales, I'm afraid, are going to have to wait.
posted by tommyD at 4:59 AM on March 15, 2012



Just saw they want to do the same thing in Wisconsin.


Wisconsin is getting a little scary. Senator Grothman and Senator Donald Pridemore are sponsoring a bill that would mandate that state child abuse prevention agencies list single and unmarried parenthood as a prescursor to child abuse.

There, I named names.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 5:00 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have family in the county south of Pittsburgh, who have already "sold" their mineral rights. Pittsburgh is a democratic city, the counties surrounding us, not so much. My family calls it "God's country" - it's beautiful rolling hills and acres of farmland. And the more rural it gets, the more Republican it swings.

I admit I didn't read these particular articles in depth, but when Corbett says "yay jobs" there are a lot of people down there who agree with him. When the first dividend checks started to get mailed, there was a lot of gossip at the local diner discussing amounts. One farmer made it pretty well known that he would end up paying more in taxes on his gas rights in one year than he had ever made annually farming. Just the taxes he was paying. Good lord. For many of those rural dwellers, this is a complete greedy paradigm shift in lifestyle. And Range Resources are freaking marketing geniuses. They know who they're dealing with in that county and hit it on an individual level to touch as many people as they can. (For example, 4-H donations, big splashes at the agricultural fairs...)

My family didn't want to sell their rights. The way their land is parceled, they were surrounded by people who jumped at the chance for the money. So do they take the money, ethically? (They had their well checked before the drilling so that they have a baseline, and have the money earmarked for future repairs if they need them.)

Pittsburgh is another story however. We're a city. And more people are willing to fight. I'm willing to pay higher taxes for the right to live in the city (suburbanite coworkers balk at the 3% difference), and I don't want to have my water tainted (further). Hell, right now I can't get into my neighborhood on one of the major roadways because of a landslide, that a lot of people believe is due to residual mine subsidence. We've made mistakes before, and we need to learn from them.
posted by librarianamy at 5:14 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I grew up in rural PA. It was a beautiful, safe place to be a kid.

.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:15 AM on March 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


I guess it's smart to remember that what a corporation will do to a Nigerian is what they'll do to you as soon as they can get away with it

If there is one thing I wish I could get through to a whole lot of people (including the Teabagger members of my own family), it would be this. There appears to be a belief that the multibazillionaire CEOs and their servants, whether radio talk show hosts or local managers, are somehow "just folks" deep down - that because one of them likes Big Macs or rides around in an open-topped convertible in a small-town Fourth of July parade that they're "one of us". So many people can't conceive of the idea that these "good ol' boys made good" most likely look at them like insects - or that their heroes look at the Foxcomm factories in China or the dark Satanic mills of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain not with horror, but with longing and hope that someday, America, too, will look just like that.
posted by jhandey at 5:43 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


Johnstown is a better analogy. Corporate irresponsible use of nature kills innocent people leading (we hope) to reform.

And like the Johnstown flood, the citizens will be paying for it for years to come.
posted by metl_lord at 5:45 AM on March 15, 2012


I spent my early years in rural Penn, and it was gorgeous. I've always had the idea that someday I'd go back. How do laws like this impact the Quakers and other religious communities that reject modern life?
posted by dejah420 at 6:00 AM on March 15, 2012


My ex-boyfriend has been up in northern central PA drilling for gas for the past few years. He attempted to explain it to me, but of course he tended to frame it in pure economic terms, rather than environmental impact. As he was a geologist, I always found that strange, but he wasn't the brightest crayon in the box and his motivations were usually purely financial. I helped him get that job; now I feel slightly guilty.

Especially after spending time listening to stories from my best friend that grew up in Westmoreland County, right outside of Allegheny. He has tried to describe the economic hardship of rural PA, the mining and the factories and the farmland. To a WASPy military brat that grew up mainly south of the Mason-Dixon, the plight of the rural Northerners is very foreign to me. I do know that he was raised dirt poor, and his parents and grandparents worked and worked and worked; he brought his family south because he wanted his kids to have more options and a better life. I also know that his stories seem romantic, with beautiful forests and trails and miles and miles to explore; whenever he goes home to visit, he always sends me pictures and I'm in awe of the views he has from the porch on the family farm. I don't think he'd like to see the area torn up; sometimes he fantasizes about retiring there. I always tease him about taking me up there and wandering around in the woods; he says it's so different from anything I've seen and "one day" he says it'd be pretty cool to share it with someone that would appreciate it as much as he does. OTOH, he has a much more detailed understanding of how economically depressed the area is; how no one has any money and there are no jobs and these people have had very little in the way of financial opportunity for so many years. He's a :::cough::: Republican, but that's just how he was raised, and I believe he'd ultimately like for the people he's closest to to have the comfortable life he leads. And all those Yankees can't be carpetbaggers; there's enough of them down here already.

IDK exactly how he feels about all of this, or even if he's more than slightly aware. I think it would be an interesting discussion topic.
posted by sara is disenchanted at 6:13 AM on March 15, 2012


I might believe that fracking is a safe and effective fuel extraction technique...if it didn't quite literally cause earthquakes.
posted by ZsigE at 6:28 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


One tremor of magnitude 2.3 hit the Fylde coast on 1 April, followed by a second of magnitude 1.4 on 27 May.

Just to be clear, this is about as much shaking as a medium sized truck driving down a highway. Fracking does not in the overwhelming majority of cases cause earthquakes. There have been a few instances (one in Arkansas, one in Texas, one in Pennsylvania mentioned by one of the linked articles in the comments) where wastewater disposal wells triggered seismicity and was promptly shut in and stopped. Again, we're talking very small earthquakes.

I would strongly recommend reading the NPR link provided by Ideefixe. Impact Fee. This describes what is actually in the law. The idea that the law is a carte blanche for any and all drillers to frack the hell out of a beautiful, pastoral countryside is hyperbole, and I'm disappointed by how hysterical some of the commentary in this thread is.

Meanwhile in Canada, indeed, a more-or-less decent overview of the state of hydraulic fracturing and the various controversies surrounding it, Fear of Fracking, from last Saturday's Globe and Mail.

It will be interesting to see the results of the various major EPA reviews that are set to conclude soon. Hopefully, they will do so without political interference.

Finally, Arcticseal is quite right. Companies drilling for shale gas now are losing money -- new wells are only being drilled in order to hold leases. There's going to be some pretty big shakeups in the industry as the weak hands fold. Drilling activity will slow down in most places, though the Marcellus is likely to remain attractive given how close it is to major markets.
posted by bumpkin at 7:06 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am concerned to avoid the need for a lot of men in baggy white suits.

Surely you mean professional baggy white suits. There's a plugin for that.
posted by hippybear at 7:14 AM on March 15, 2012


There's really nothing in the article that's specific to fracking. Oil development leads to roads, trucks, accidents. Some stupid and lazy operators anger a handful of vocal locals with a victim complex. Oil exploration and development companies, like banks and used car dealers. write contracts, releases, and waivers that are required by law but are obfuscatory. They don't want their consultants talking outside of channels. And so on and so forth. The dreaded "frack gas" has an odor. And so on.

None of this is unique to fracking and most of it is not even unique to the oil business.
posted by Xoebe at 7:15 AM on March 15, 2012


argh, should be a comma between "dealers" and "write". Gonna hydraulic fracture my keyboard.
posted by Xoebe at 7:16 AM on March 15, 2012


It will be interesting to see the results of the various major EPA reviews that are set to conclude soon. Hopefully, they will do so without political interference.

Could you expand on what you mean by "political interference" in this context?
posted by jhandey at 7:20 AM on March 15, 2012


There's a reason a lot of people (especially those in politics) call everything outside Pittsburgh and Philadelphia "Pennsyltucky." There's a very real possibility PA goes to the GOP in this year's elections. The thought that it could be as much, if not more, of a swing state than VA and NC kind of frightens me.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:24 AM on March 15, 2012


Economics help though, with gas trading at $2.26 currently, a lot of the operators are curtailing their programs until the price goes up again.

I'm not quite getting this. Aren't gas prices near their 2008 peak?
posted by malocchio at 7:25 AM on March 15, 2012


How do laws like this impact the Quakers and other religious communities that reject modern life?

I think you might have us confused with the Amish. The Amish have cooler hats than the guy on the Quaker Oats box.
posted by jhandey at 7:30 AM on March 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not quite getting this. Aren't gas prices near their 2008 peak?

At the risk of being pedantic - Gasoline is oil + refining margin, Natural Gas prices off of supply and demand in the accessible markets. In the short term the two are only vaguely related in the US. In the long-term they should gravitate around BTU equivalency - but even that implies infrastructure and demand changes just magically appearing.
posted by JPD at 7:41 AM on March 15, 2012


Errrr....yeah, we are talking nat gas. Never mind!
posted by malocchio at 7:46 AM on March 15, 2012


How is it stopped? A hullabaloo with Whiskey II (near about Pittsburgh at any rate).
posted by Slackermagee at 9:51 AM on March 15, 2012


This is pretty pertinent - Shell Building Refinery in Pennsylvania
posted by JPD at 9:55 AM on March 15, 2012


Wow. It's like they're done tearing up every democratic principle and have worked their way back to the Magna Carta.

It's not just "like" that.
"All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived," is the bill's one sentence.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:09 AM on March 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The result of a previous energy-industry "job-creation" effort.
For the next two decades, workers battled the fire, flushing the mines with water and fly ash, excavated the burning material and dug trenches, backfilled, drilling again and again in an attempt to find the boundaries of the fire and plan to put the fire out or at least contain it.

All efforts failed to do either as government officials delayed to take any real action to save the village. By the early 1980s the fire had affected approximately 200 acres and homes had to be abandoned as carbon monoxide levels reached life threatening levels. An engineering study concluded in 1983 that the fire could burn for another century or even more and "could conceivably spread over an area of approximately 3,700 acres."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:16 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


"All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived"

Wow again. Does that mean you have to be a Baron or better to even have any standing?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:26 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Upon seeing the bill, New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Ray Buckley said he was "mostly speechless." "I appreciate all the hard work the Republican legislators are putting into the effort to make them look like extremists," he said. "Saves us the trouble."

Hah!
posted by darkstar at 11:05 AM on March 15, 2012


An engineering study concluded in 1983 that the fire could burn for another century or even more and "could conceivably spread over an area of approximately 3,700 acres."

Ahh, a hundred-year-long fire. Surely THIS is a sign of American exceptionalism!
posted by darkstar at 11:07 AM on March 15, 2012


One thing I noticed with interest - the article quoted three people saying, essentially , "we Americans have a right not to live like [Nigerians or indigenous people who get so badly exploited]." Of course no one means "it's completely okay for Nigerians to be at the mercy of Shell because they are from Africa", but it's a weird little rhetorical device.

I thought the comment was more along the line of "now we know what it feels like"?
posted by jokeefe at 11:12 AM on March 15, 2012


Perhaps we can reverse that to The Dick Tax: "male-led companies underperform by 30%".

It's not the preponderous of dicks that is the problem rather it's the lack of diversity.
posted by Mitheral at 1:12 PM on March 15, 2012


The South has Mississippi. The North has Pennsylvania.

Okay, as a Pennsylvanian living in Pittsburgh, I take a bit of offense to that.

Pittsburgh largely has three concentrations of voters; Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and everything in between. It's a large state; maybe seven hours drive from end to end without traffic. The cities tend to vote relatively left; the mountains in between, which are much less populous, but *huge*, tend to vote far right.

The issue here is that we have a lot of people in the area in between the major cities that don't have any jobs. Pennsylvania in the 1980's was incredibly similar to Detroit five years ago, except that Pennsylvanians didn't get sh*t for a "bailout" from the government; they had their jobs sent elsewhere, and that was that.

Until the people in the rural areas have the opportunity for a good job again, large numbers of them are going to vote for governors who support fracking, because jobs pay for bottled water, and people would rather work than not.
posted by talldean at 7:16 PM on March 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mark Ruffalo Addresses Fracking On 'Colbert Report' Interview
posted by homunculus at 11:16 AM on April 1, 2012


For Pennsylvania's Doctors, a Gag Order on Fracking Chemicals
*Patrick Henderson, energy executive for Penn. Gov. Tom Corbett, says that others' interpretation of the law is inaccurate. Doctors will still be allowed to share information with their patients. "The health professionals can utilize this information in whatever manner needed to care for or treat their patients – including unfettered discussion with their patient and any others needed to ensure the patient receives the care they need," said Henderson. Doctors could share the information with their patient, but would not be able to relay information about the specific formula used in fracking fluids more broadly.

However, the actual terms of the confidentiality agreements have not yet been drafted, and there seems to be pretty wide confusion in the state about what exactly the bill as signed into law would mean.
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2012


« Older The Man Who Broke Atlantic City...  |  Whilst searching for more imag... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments