FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A natural gas extraction company controlled by energy giant Exxon Mobil sought to prove Wednesday that it is not to blame for a recent rash of small earthquakes in North Texas, telling a powerful state agency that it believes the earthquakes occurred naturally.
XTO Energy submitted evidence to the Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the state's massive oil and gas industry, during a hearing that will test the agency's willingness to suspend permits for injection wells based on seismology. The wells store wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, which has opened vast reserves of natural gas in North Texas but critics blame for causing small earthquakes.
Hydraulic fracturing does not inherently contaminate groundwater supplies, according to a draft Environmental Protection Agency report released Thursday, but opponents of the process found enough evidence to cite the report as proof that fracking can't be considered safe.
The 998-page draft assessment finds that, even though fracking and related activities have had “no systemic, widespread impact” on drinking water, there has been a limited number of instances in which fracking-related activities such as well integrity and wastewater disposal have been linked to drinking water impacts, including well contamination.
A draft report released Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency says hydraulic fracturing has not led to “widespread, systemic” effects on drinking water, but there are some potential "vulnerabilities" stemming from poor practices.
While the study found some specific cases where the process affected drinking water, including some well contamination, “they were small compared to the large number of hydraulically fractured wells across the country.” Those cases stemmed from inadequate well integrity and poor wastewater management.
Other potential for risks include withdrawing water from low-resource areas and fracking directly into reserves containing groundwater.
The study analyzed the flow of water throughout the drilling process, from acquisition of water to chemical mixing, well injection, and wastewater collection and disposal.
The agency will finalize the study following a public comment period and a Science Advisory Board review.
Fracking ban supporters continue to look into possible legal challenges to a new state law blocking Denton, Texas from interfering with drilling, while protesters have been picketing a well site, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A judge has halted the approval of fracking operations in North Carolina until a higher court weighs in on the legality of the appointment of several boards that manage state resources and the environment.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Stephens' decision earlier this month prevents the Mining and Energy Commission from approving drilling units for hydraulic fracturing until the state Supreme Court decides a separate case regarding how the state panels are formed. No drilling units had been approved before the judge issued his order.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a prohibition on cities and towns imposing local ordinances preventing fracking and other potentially environmentally harmful oil and natural gas activities.
The much-watched measure sailed through the GOP-controlled Legislature after voters in Denton, a university town near Dallas, banned hydraulic fracturing locally in November.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas moved Monday to ban its own cities from imposing prohibitions on hydraulic fracturing and other potentially environmentally harmful oil and natural gas drilling activities within their boundaries — a major victory for industry groups and top conservatives who have decried rampant local "overregulation."
Lawmakers in America's largest oil-producing state scrambled to limit local energy exploration prohibitions after Denton, a university town near Dallas, passed an ordinance in November against hydraulic fracturing or fracking, attempting to keep encroaching drilling bonanzas outside their community.
Dismissing a story in Canadian media that a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is imminent, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the State Department is still reviewing the proposed project, The Hill reports.
Environmentalists plan to protest the Obama administration approval of drilling in Arctic waters when the president visits Alaska, while the state’s governor and others plan to push for more oil and gas production, National Journal reports.
Despite New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina – hailed by President Obama in a visit Thursday – the federal government is still falling short when it comes to improving flood defenses, according to an analysis from the Georgetown Climate Center, E&E reports.
Oil was rising again Friday after prices a day earlier racked up the biggest single day increase since March, 2009. U.S. benchmark crude for October delivery was up $1.56 to $44.12 a barrel on the Nymex, while in London Brent jumped $1.18 to $48.74, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Seeo – a California-based developer of electric car batteries that holds a licence for patents from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – has been acquired by international car parts company Robert Bosch, Reuters reports.
An analysis prepared for the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy -– which was funded by the American Petroleum Institute and America’s Natural Gas Alliance -– found that New England could end up paying $5.4 billion more for energy if the region fails to upgrade its infrastructure, the New Haven Register reports.
Hercules Offshore didn’t appeal a move by Nasdaq to have its stock deslisted from the exchange in the wake of its Chapter 11 filing, so the company stock – trading for 7 cents a share Thursday afternoon – is now handled in the over-the-counter market, FuelFix reports.
In the heart of Colorado’s drilling boom, Weld County saw the highest rate of job growth in the country even though the state adopted air pollution rules seen as a precursor to those under consideration at the Environmental Protection Agency, E&E reports.