August 6, 2010

TopEnviro Regulator in Okla. Sets the Record Straight on HF: "Never Seen AnythingApproaching this Unfounded and Growing National Hysteria." Bob Anthony, chairman of the OklahomaCorporation Commission, writes (8/6) in theOklahoman, "In more than 20 years as a corporation commissioner, I’ve neverseen anything that approaches this current unfounded and growing nationalhysteria. Simply put, hydraulic fracturing (HF) is an essential oil and gasproduction technique used for reservoir stimulation. Ironically, given theopposition in the name of the environment, HF is also used for environmentallyfriendly applications such as geologic storage of carbon, developing waterwells and "green" geothermal energy and even cleaning up Superfundsites. Opponents portray hydraulic fracturing as some horrible practice thatendangers our water supplies, polluting them with cancer-causing chemicals. Infact, 99 percent of the materials injected are water and sand. Other HFingredients are no stronger than chemicals found around the house. Furthermore,the fracturing process takes place thousands of feet below treatable (meaningpotentially drinkable) groundwater, with layers of rock in between. We’ve usedHF for some 60 years in Oklahoma, and we have no confirmed cases where it isresponsible for drinking water contamination – nor do any of the other naturalgas-producing states. Maintaining regulation of oil and gas at the state levelis essential. Doing the job properly requires knowledge of the unique geologyand hydrology of formations.

Meanwhile,Top Enviro Regulator in PA Lambasts New York Senate for Ridiculous VoteTargeting HF – "Perhaps They Should Stop Buying Our Gas."  Wilkes-Barre(Pa.) Citizens Voice (8/6) reports, "When the New York State Senate passeda nine-month moratorium on a crucial natural gas drilling technique lateTuesday, legislators there held up Pennsylvania, state regulators and a smallSusquehanna County community as models for how not to drill for gas in theMarcellus Shale. The senators’ criticism raised the ire of PennsylvaniaEnvironmental Protection Secretary John Hanger, who defended the state’senvironmental regulations on Thursday and criticized New York for riding themoral "high horse while consuming Pennsylvania gas." "If theyare so ashamed of what’s gone on here perhaps they should stop buyingPennsylvania gas," Hanger said. "I think because the state ofPennsylvania was so thirsty to get this development opportunity they did nothave enough infrastructure in place, making sure they were inspecting the wellsproperly, making sure that landowners were protected," Thompson, D-Buffalo,said Tuesday night. [Hanger] described two years of work the department hasdedicated to strengthening Pennsylvania’s drilling standards and enforcement,including doubling the size of its gas enforcement staff while "New Yorkhas added nobody."

Ratepayersin North Dakota Shocked to See Their Utility Bills Jump 50% in a Quarter – AllBecause of Addition of Wind, PUC Commish Says. AssociatedPress (8/6) reports, "Otter Tail Power Co.’s North Dakota customers willsee higher electric bills as the utility adds more wind power to its energysources, state regulators say. Beginning Sept. 1, a separate charge assessed toratepayers to pay for Otter Tail wind energy projects will increase the monthlybill by almost $1.40 for a residential customer who uses 750 kilowatt-hours ofelectricity, state Public Service Commission filings say. For that customer,the wind energy charge would rise from $2.76 monthly to $4.13, an increase ofalmost 50 percent. The "renewable energy rider" is listed separatelyon customers’ bills. Commissioner Tony Clark said the charge is intended toallow Otter Tail Power to begin recouping development costs for wind projects.But it does have its drawbacks, Clark said. "It makes wind perhaps look alittle boutique, or that we’re treating it a little different," he said."It’s certainly not intended to be that way." Fergus Falls,Minn.-based Otter Tail Power has about 57,000 North Dakota electric customers.It serves the cities of Wahpeton, Devils Lake and Jamestown, as well as anumber of rural communities. About 18 percent of the utility’s electricitycomes from wind turbines

BipartisanGroup of Senators Ask EPA’s Lisa Jackson to Be Reasonable – Just This Once – onCapricious New Air Rules Targeting Places Where Real People Work. TheHill (8/5) reports, "A bipartisan group of Midwestern and Gulf Coastsenators are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to rethink the agency’srethinking of national smog limits. EPA normally reviews national air qualitystandards every five years or more, but the agency "has proposed tosignificantly tighten the standards that were adopted less than two years ago,with no new data prompting EPA’s reconsideration," seven senators wrote EPAAdministrator Lisa Jackson in a letter dated Thursday. "We believe thatchanging the rules at this time will have a significant negative impact on ourstates’ workers and families and will compound the hardship that many are nowfacing in these difficult economic times," according to the senators led bySens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and George Voinovich (R-Ohio).  Others on the letter are DemocraticSens. Mary Landrieu (La.) and Claire McCaskill (Mo.), and Republican Sens.Richard Lugar (Ind.), Kit Bond (Mo.) and David Vitter (La.). They say that "manystates" only recently are becoming compliant with EPA’s 1997 ground-level ozonelimits. "Attaining that standard required costly mandates on businesses, whichgreatly restricted the ability of local communities to grow their economies,"the senators wrote. States are still trying to meet a tougher 2008 EPArequirement, they argue, while EPA is looking to toughen that even more. "Thisis unacceptable," the senators wrote.

Bewarethe Herd: Not Many Folks Interested in Suing BP for Texas City Back Before theSpill – Now? 3,400 People Literally Come Out of the Woodwork. HoustonChronicle (8/5) reports, "On Wednesday, more than 3,400 people lined thehallways and sidewalks around the Nessler Center to sign on to a $10 billionclass-action lawsuit filed Tuesday in Galveston federal court by Friendswoodattorney Anthony Buzbee. The lawsuit alleges the release of 500,000 pounds ofchemicals – including 17,000 pounds of benzene – has jeopardized the health andproperty values of people who live and work in the area. At the nearby Collegeof the Mainland, a separate town hall meeting drew a crowd of 600. "I’venever seen anything like this," Buzbee said, looking at the lines waitingto enter a large room at the civic center where lawyers helped people fill outpaperwork. "I can’t believe this is mass hysteria and that everybody hereis a faker," Buzbee said. Word of the lawsuits spread this week, propelledin part by rumors that BP was cutting checks to head off the benzene claimsfrom the $20 billion fund established to pay claims related to the oil spill.BP spokesman Michael Marr said those rumors are untrue. On Wednesday afternoon,a family used a convenience store copy machine to make dozens of copies oflegal contracts. A clerk said the machine had been in constant use by would-beplaintiffs.

MustRead: Pipeline Company Works with Enviro Group to Protect Sage Grouse – Cool,Right? Not According to Local Commissioners: "You Went to Bed with the WorstThere Is." Elko(Nev.) Daily Free Press (8/5) reports, "A settlement between environmentalgroups and El Paso Corp. over the Ruby Pipeline Project has caused "worry,concern and anger," the president of El Paso Western Pipeline Group toldElko County Commissioners Wednesday. About 30 people attended the commissionmeeting and heard about two-and-a-half hours of discussion about the RubyPipeline Project and, particularly, El Paso Corp.’s agreement with WesternWatersheds Project and the Oregon Natural Desert Association. El Paso Corp.didn’t expect "the firestorm that has erupted over this deal," saidJim Cleary, president of El Paso Western Pipeline Group. "You guys wentinto bed with the worst there is," Commissioner John Ellison told El PasoCorp. representatives, referring to the company’s $20 million agreementfinalized last month with the two groups. Money will go into the Sage GrouseHabitat Conservation Fund over a 10-year period and will be used for habitatprotection. In exchange, the environmental groups will drop litigation opposingthe pipeline project.

MustScoff: VP of Crayola Announces New Solar Installation at Plant – Because "MyBet in the Future Is Expensive Energy" – What About the PRESENT?! LehighValley Express-Times (8/5) reports, "Even as Crayola LLC finished puttingits 15-acre solar farm online Thursday, the crayon maker was already planningon doubling the size of the array in the next two years, a company officialsaid.  Peter Ruggiero, executivevice president of Crayola’s global operations, said the company wants to expandthe solar system behind their township factory to 30 acres, which is themaximum allowed by the state. Using solar energy behooves Crayola because it is an environmentallysound business practice and will save the company money in the long run,Ruggiero said.  "My bet is thefuture is expensive energy," Ruggiero said. Township supervisors Thursdaynight unanimously approved a five-acre expansion of the solar farm. The rest ofthe planned expansion will be implemented in future phases.  "It’s a wonderful endeavor for ourbusinesses to become more environmentally conscious," said SupervisorsChairman Erik Chuss. "The board is very supportive of these efforts andwould love to see more of them in the township.

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