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Oh, Canada’s Become a Home for Record Fracking

Posted on Dec 28, 2011
Toban Black (CC-BY)

By Nicholas Kusnetz, ProPublica

(Page 3)

“The community was used as a test tube,“she said. “I was used as a test tube.”

Earlier this year, Ernst sued Encana, Alberta Environment and Water and the Alberta Energy Resources Conservation Board, which regulates drilling, alleging that Encana’s drilling was negligent and that the government agencies had covered up the company’s contamination and failed to enforce regulations.

Ernst, who is asking for about $33 million Canadian in damages and return of wrongful profits, has vowed she will not accept a settlement that includes a confidentiality agreement, as others have done.

“Somebody has to do this,“she said.


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Alan Boras, a spokesman for Encana, said the company would not comment on the case.

The Energy Resources Conservation Board denied a request for an interview. In written responses to questions, spokesman Bob Curran said he could not comment on the specifics of Ernst’s case, but the agency is confident it has conducted itself appropriately.

Carrie Sancartier, a spokeswoman for Alberta Environment and Water, would not comment on Ernst’s allegations because of the lawsuit but said there have been no confirmed cases of gas drilling contaminating water wells in the province.

Muehlenbachs, whose work has been used in several government investigations, said that is “simply false.” He said he’s analyzed thousands of cases of gas leaking up well bores and knows of at least a dozen cases of water contamination.

Alberta has introduced several measures to safeguard water from shallow drilling. In 2006, it established a buffer zone between shallow gas wells and water wells and required drillers to test nearby water wells before drilling into an aquifer.

Nevertheless, last January, as part of a review of drilling regulations, the Energy Resources Conservation Board said shallow fracking poses a risk to groundwater.

Is ‘Communication’ a Risk?

There have been no reports of groundwater contamination related to new drilling in British Columbia.

Increasingly, however, there are reports of something called “communication”—events in which a fracture travels through the ground and connects two gas wells.

Ken Paulson, chief engineer at the province’s Oil and Gas Commission, said these events do not pose a contamination risk. Other experts say their principal impact is to undermine production.

But opponents of expanded shale drilling say instances of communication show that drillers lack a full understanding of what happens when wells are fracked closer together, increasing the risk of contamination. Anthony Ingraffea, an engineering professor at Cornell University, said that if a fracture hit a natural fault, it could allow contaminants to enter aquifers.

Communication has occurred in the U.S. as well: Regulators in Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan and Pennsylvania reported such events to Canadian officials as part of the Energy Resources Conservation Board’s regulatory review.

Documents provided to ProPublica show that energy companies have reported 25 cases of communication in British Columbia since 2009. Companies are not required to report such events, so the list isn’t comprehensive, Paulson said.

In May 2010, the province’s Oil and Gas Commission issued a warning when a drilling company inadvertently shot sand from one fracking job into another well being drilled more than 2,000 feet away.

The advisory said the operator contained the resulting jump in pressure within the well but warned of a “potential safety hazard.” When communication occurs, Paulson said, the biggest concern is that an operator could lose control of a well and cause a blowout.

Concerns Over Water Consumption

As the debate over communication continues, Parfitt and other Canadian environmentalists have raised more immediate concerns about water use.

Fracking requires lots of water—on their biggest reported fracking job, Apache and Encana used an average of 28 million gallons of water per well.

While the oil and gas industry says it is responsible for 1 percent or less of British Columbia’s overall water use, environmental advocates say that may not reflect the full extent of the industry’s consumption or long-term needs.

Drillers use both surface and groundwater. Access to surface water is regulated by two agencies that issue long-term licenses or year-long permits. Overwhelmingly, energy companies have chosen to obtain permits, which require less regulatory review.

Most groundwater withdrawals aren’t regulated at all. Drillers need permits to sink water wells, but there are no limits on the amount of water that can be taken from them. They can also purchase water from other well owners, so there’s no way to track overall use.

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By prosefights, January 2, 2012 at 7:29 am Link to this comment

Earthquake in Youngstown, Ohio interrupts natural-gas drilling operations
Ohio has suspended the underground disposal of wastewater from natural-gas drilling operations “indefinitely” in the Youngstown after a series of 11 recent earthquakes, including one on Saturday with a magnitude of 4.0.

nmgco page -
You +1’d this publicly. Undo
Nmgco is supplying gas with only 869.4 BTU/ft3? ... NMGCO should have some technical experts qualified to comment on whether Ms Hammelman’s and Mr ...;=&gs;_sm=&gs;_upl=&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=890a274ff6b690bf

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By prosefights, January 1, 2012 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

McDONALD, Ohio (AP) — Officials said Saturday they believe the latest earthquake activity in northeast Ohio is related to the injection of wastewater into the ground near a fault line, creating enough pressure to cause seismic activity.

The brine wastewater comes from drilling operations that use the so-called fracking process to extract gas from underground shale. But Ohio Department of Natural Resources Director Jim Zehringer said during a news teleconference that fracking is not causing the quakes.

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By purplewolf, January 1, 2012 at 1:05 am Link to this comment

4 pt. earthquake in Ohio today and yes they were fracking there. As for all the TV ads telling then sheeple that it is totally safe. Bull. As for the people refusing to let the frackers back on their land, the courts will back big energy. Some people who had a contract with 1 of these companies sold it sold to another companies and the contract had run out. The land owners had the right to get a better price for the use of their property, the other company refused and it ended up in court and the courts let big energy pay the people the old rate that was about like 3 cents per acre. Other people water in the home became contaminated so the companies promised to supply them with clean water as long as they were there drilling, the clean water lasted for a few weeks and the company reneged on that. The homeowners have tap water that catches fire when you turn on the tap, water is all kinds of colors willed with unknown chemicals and dirt. I can see where the Mayan predictions might just happen if we keep disrespecting the only home we really have.

“After the last tree is cut down,the last animal is slaughtered and all the waters poisoned,only then will you realize you cannot eat money.” Old Native Indian saying, Buffalo Spirit.

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By prosefights, December 30, 2011 at 3:45 pm Link to this comment

Snyder, Texas has another fracking earthquake

Featured on TV news in Lubbock Friday morning December 30, 2011

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By drbhelthi, December 30, 2011 at 2:11 pm Link to this comment

If fracking is safe and environmentally sustainable, why has ground water become polluted in all areas where fracking has been done?  All areas where fracking has occurred.

Fracking = the systematic polluting of ground water and aquifers.
Fracking = the systematic polluting of ground water and aquifers.

The systematic polluting of ground water and aquifers ?

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By SteveL, December 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm Link to this comment

US Geothermal Power Potential 10x That Of Coal Power Plants, New Analysis Shows

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By John Boyle, December 29, 2011 at 10:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And _ _ _ _ they’ve just started fracking in the 51st state.
Only difference being that WATER is the most precious resource on the driest habitable land mass on Earth.

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By prosefights, December 29, 2011 at 5:28 pm Link to this comment

“The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work,” an analyst from IHS Drilling Data, an energy research company, wrote in an e-mail on Aug. 28, 2009.

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By berniem, December 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm Link to this comment

There goes my misconception about Canada being sane!

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By Big B, December 29, 2011 at 11:14 am Link to this comment

Thw frackers are just about finished raping western pa and are about to pull up stakes and move on to Ohio.

who would have ever thought that, instead of spending our time and money developing alternative energy sources, we would dig, suck, mine, and burn everything we could get our hands on.

Oh that’s right, I did. and just about everybody else too.

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By SarcastiCanuck, December 29, 2011 at 11:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

When I was young I thought we here in Canada were better than other countries in the world(especially the U.S.),when it came to caring for the environment.Now I understand that money rules and the rest comes second.Canada is now becoming an energy leader in the world and our land,water and our people will pay the devil’s price down the road.We are now No better than anybody and have rightfully earned any scorn towards us….Like DrBones said,it always comes down to MONEY.

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By Roger Lafontaine, December 29, 2011 at 10:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

We’re all in a mad rush to destroy ourselves in order to extract some $$$$$ out of the planet. Who invented $$$$$ anyway? We did, in order to facilitate trade or something. Now that very obsolete invention has become totally destructive, and guess what we’re going to hang on to it until it kills us, every last one of us. That is the limit of human intelligence. The sky’s not the limit anymore, profit is.

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By Paul McGuire, December 29, 2011 at 6:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

A familiar story, this digging for precious materials
at the expense of those even more valuable. It’s time
to dig that old dog-eared copy of God’s Little Acre out
of the pile of books in the attic.

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By Anarcissie, December 28, 2011 at 9:45 pm Link to this comment

Canada has generally been a natural-resources colony for U.S.-based corporations.  When I was there in the 1970s it was logging: square miles of old-growth forest could disappear overnight with nary a peep of protest.  Now—well, I guess there’ll be rainbows in Canadian water before long.

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By tapxe, December 28, 2011 at 8:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, I disagree…

Frack all you want.


I haven’t stepped on the north American continent and won’t again for a long time.

if you’re a jew, would you go to nazi Germany?

I’m not a jew, just a liberty loving causasian and ameriKa is much worse than the nazis ever were (Ok not towards the jews…  who BTW, run ameriKa, finance, media, gov’t, etc. - into the ground -) and because I am a vocal dissident, I am blacklisted, etc, the works.

Let them self destruct, and fracking is a great way to achieve that in very little time.

Once the Ogallala aquifer is dead (on its way real fast already), ameriKa is completely finished, no more bread basket, etc…

The faster, the better.

Self destruct from within, that’s as close to divine justice as you can get.

As for all the morons still living there…  Fuck’em.

If they lack the wherewithall to stand to tyranny (I openly call for armed insurrection) that has eviscerated the US Constitution, they’re not worthy of Liberty and will get what they deserve.

As for me, not that you’d care, I am doing just fine in tropical paradise with world class free health care and university for the kids, etc, etc.  The economy is down somewhat, but we’re still prospering.

Best decision I ever made to move my family out of uSSa shortly after the 9-11 writing on the wall became very clear.

Love it or leave it?

I left it because I love America and I can’t stand and won’t have any part in what she’s morphing into.

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By NZDoug, December 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm Link to this comment

Why can’t they process the crap in Canada and use the mother truckers to ship it?

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By PatrickHenry, December 28, 2011 at 4:35 pm Link to this comment

Fracking = Polluting groundwater.

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By Blueokie, December 28, 2011 at 3:51 pm Link to this comment

Ottawa should just drop the pretense and change its name to Houston du Nord.

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By Dr Bones, December 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Looks like energy prices should plummet given all the drilling to babies are doing.  Best bet is to invest in clean water! It always comes down to MONEY!

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By diamond, December 28, 2011 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

I live in an area where fracking is a developing nightmare and farmers have started a campaign called ‘lock the gate’ to deny these companies admission to their land. They even want to drill at a religious retreat with a convent and monastery and it’s not out of the question that they will drill in urban areas too. The process of fracking is destroying water supplies and may eventually impact on the main source of agricultural water supplies. I don’t know whether or not they are going to turn up one day and tell me they’re drilling on my land and I have no way to stop them because you only own the land, not what’s under it. It’s yet more proof, if any is needed, that national governments and state governments are powerless to represent voters or protect their interests and the power is now all in the hands of corporations and corporations, as Charles A. Reich pointed out in ‘The Greening of America’, are insane.

Only an essentially mindless entity, he writes, an organism lacking all human values would ‘cut the last redwoods, pollute the most beautiful beaches, invent machines to injure and destroy plant and human life…To have only one value (corporate value) is, in human terms, to be mad’. And the mad are now calling the shots.

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By gerard, December 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm Link to this comment

All I can think of to say is:  “Keep your fracking hands off my Mother!

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