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Monday, December 2, 2013

“A secret's worth depends on the people from whom it must be kept.” ― Carlos Ruiz Zaf√≥n, The Shadow of the Wind

,

On November 22, I returned from a tour of the North Carolina shale basin to attend the Mining and Energy Commission meeting dreading another long day.

 Never let it be said that I can't be surprised, especially at a family reunion. Although there are still  problems with the draft chemical disclosure rule being considered by the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission (MEC),  it was sent back to the drawing board, again, and is not likely to come up for consideration until January 2014. You can listen to the audio here: November 22 Mining and Energy Committee Meeting

Some of the fundamental problems with the disclosure rule include:



  • Limiting those who have standing to challenge a confidentiality claim.
  • Making emergency responders and medical providers wait up to two hours for urgently needed information.
  • Requiring a trade secret challenge to be brought to the North Carolina business court, which costs $1000.00 just to get it considered, and is very difficult to navigate without an attorney.This  adds to costs
  • It is not clear how signing a confidentiality agreement will constrain a medical provider. For instance, can they even tell the patient what they have been exposed to?
  • Industry holding the information which could cause unnecessary delays during an emergency. 
  • With industry holding all the cards- who is accountable to the people of North Carolina?
There was spirited debate, with MEC Chairman Jim Womack pointing out that the industry would take advantage of and abuse trade secret exemptions unless it was clear that there would be penalties for doing so, and a way for trade secret claims to be reviewed. Commissioner Rao strongly felt that industries that claim trade secret exemptions should be able to explain how they protect them in house, and should be prepared to sign a document stating (under threat of some yet to be decided penalty for fibbing) that the substance, process, etc, is truly a trade secret. The only dissenters were Commissioners George Howard and Charles Holbrook, which is not new, or surprising.


Commissioner Howard, who has repeatedly reminded other MEC members that "they were not proscribed to protect health and safety" by the General Assembly, made an about- face when discussing the trade secret/chemical disclosure rule stating, "What bad outcome are we seeking to avoid? If there's not public safety of health implications to that, why are we here?" 


Commissioner "Industry might not come here" Holbrook expressed his concern that well, industry might not come here. Commissioner Rao explained, again, that companies have in-house practices to protect business sensitive information and should have no problem explaining them to whatever state agency is inquiring. Rao went on to say, "By golly, of that means they don't come here, I'm sorry."

We must all remember, that no matter what is disclosed, or when, it will not keep our groundwater, our air, our land, and our politics from being contaminated.

Stay tuned kids- the next round starts this week- committees meet December 5, and the full Commission meets December 6, 2013.


Friday, November 8, 2013

BREDL No Toxic Trespass-No Fracking Way! Tour Featuring Lois Gibbs, Executive Director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice

Friends,

While I am working on what may be three new blog posts I wanted to make you aware of an exciting upcoming event. BREDL is bringing Lois Gibbs to North Carolina November 18-21, 2013! Lois is known as the mother of grassroots activism and is well-known for her part in the struggle to clean up her community at Love Canal. Recent Newsweek article here:  Love Hurts

NO Toxic Trespass! NO Fracking Way! Tour
Sponsored by Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Cumnock Preservation Association, No Fracking in Stokes and Pee Dee WALL

Featuring Lois Gibbs, Founder and Executive Director of the
Center for Health, Environment and Justice
November 18-21, 2013
o   November 18: Winston-Salem- Tour kick-off Press conference at 11:00 am, City Hall, 101 N Main St, Winston-Salem, NC, 27101.
Germanton, Stokes County- Community meeting at 7:00 pm, Germanton United Methodist Church, 3615 NC 8 & 65 Hwy, Germanton NC, 27019.
o   November 19:  Sanford, Lee County- Press conference at 11:00 am, Lee County Courthouse (Tentative), 1408 S Horner Blvd, Sanford, NC, 27330.
Candlelight vigil and community meeting at 7:00 pm, Cumnock Union United Methodist Church, 851 Cumnock Rd, Sanford, NC ,27330.
o   November 20:  Raleigh- NC State University (Tentative)
Pittsboro, Chatham County- Public Forum at Central Carolina Community College
Multi-Purpose Room 7:00-9:00 pm, 764 West St, Pittsboro, NC, 27312.

 November 21: Wadesboro, Anson County- Press conference at 1:00 pm,  followed by meet and greet at  Hampton B. Allen Library, 120 South Greene Street, Wadesboro, NC 28170.

Luncheon (Location TBA)
For Tour Information Contact:
Lou Zeller: (336) 982-2691 mailto:bredl@skybest.com
Beverly Kerr: (336) 376-9060 mailto:beverlykerr@triad.rr.com
Kate Dunnagan: (919) 417-4939 mailto:katedunnagan@gmail.com
Therese Vick: (919) 345-3673 mailto:therese.vick@gmail.com



Lois Marie Gibbs,
CHEJ Executive Director
In 1978, Lois founded the Love Canal Homeowners’ Association, and CHEJ in 1981. Her vision has guided our efforts to provide critical organizing and technical assistance to communities engaged in their own environmental struggles. Lois sits on numerous Boards and Advisory Committees. She is the recipient of an honorary Doctorate from SUNY at Cortland, Haverford College in May 2006, Green Mountain College 2009 and Medaille College in 2010. Received the 1990 Goldman Environmental Prize, the 1998 Heinz Award, and the 1999 John Gardner Leadership Award from Independent Sector.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Water, Water Everywhere, and Not a Drop to Drink : Part One




Tom Reeder, Director of the Division of Water Resources

Who is this man and why is he so angry?

Good Morning Dear Readers,

Its been a while since my last post and a lot has happened. This will be the first of several posts updating you on family activities and some actions of our distant cousins at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. For your reading and listening pleasure, I include a recent development around DENR turning down start-up funds to evaluate pre- drilling monitoring of surface waters in the shale basin.

DENR turns down grant for water monitoring in gas drilling areas

North Carolina has turned down a pair of federal grants, one of which would have helped monitor water quality in areas where drilling for natural gas is likely to take place, provoking criticism from advocates who say the cash-strapped agency needs the money.

Water Regulator Defends Return of Grants


Speaking before the state Mining and Energy Commission Friday morning, state water quality chief Tom Reeder offered a passionate, sometimes caustic, defense of his recent decision to return $580,000 in federal grants. 


Some insight on the Division of Water Resources Director can be found here: A Message from Tom Reeder

After listening to this, it seems as if "helping and serving the citizens of this state" means helping and serving permittees, not people. Not one single word about the communities that polluting facilities affect. He drops the L-word- saying that the North Carolina Legislature has a bulls-eye on the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, can you say intimidation?


The Aftermath:


I was at the Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) on Friday when Director Reeder presented his rationale for the Division of Water Resources' (DWR) refusal of the grant money. Not having had an opportunity to review the grant (and neither had MEC members!), I listened carefully. Mr. Reeder said again and again that there had been no coordination with the MEC by the grant writers, that it didn't even include groundwater, and that "studies have a shelf life."

These are my thoughts:

1. Part of DENR's reasoning for refusing the grant was the lack of the Division of Water Quality's coordination with the Mining and Energy Commission. Ummmm, MEC members had not been informed or consulted by DENR when they refused the grant, nor had they been provided with a copy prior to the Friday meeting.

2. Mr. Reeder said that DWR would do a study for the MEC as they needed it for less than the $200,000+ listed in the grant proposal- and even include groundwater. And that the Division had "plenty of money." Really? Over the past 12 months, on issues BREDL is working on  DENR agencies have refused public hearings requested by affected communities, and recently held a public hearing on a major issue affecting many North Carolina backyards in Raleigh, at 3pm, on a weekday, citing "costs."

"DENR spokesman Tom Mather says department finances are limited and don’t always allow for multiple public hearings." - Groups protest proposed air toxics changes

4. Staff responsible for applying for the grant were not allowed to explain their rationale for seeking it, was EPA consulted?

5. Will this refusal have repercussions for future EPA grant funding?

6. Until the whole truth is exposed- we can only guess at the real reasons for North Carolina being the first state in the Southeast to refuse an EPA grant, ever.

Follow the breadcrumbs...or maybe the water droplets...




Thursday, August 29, 2013

This Land is Their Land

Chart showing what forced pooling will do to Lee County landowners- Rural Advancement Fund International(RAFI) 

Friends,

While I don't generally post my own comments on things here sticking instead to my extended family's, I wanted to share with you what I said at the close of the Compulsory Pooling Study Group's last meeting. As many of you know, the Study Group, which is conducted by Dr. Ray Covington, decided to recommend keeping North Carolina's forced pooling statutes on the books with some suggested additions. Here's a link to the News and Observer article:

Officials OK rule to force fracking on NC landowners

 The members of the Mining and Energy Commission who are eligible to vote on study group recommendations are Ray Covington, Jim Womack, Charles Holbrook, and Charlotte Mitchell. Mitchell cast the lone "no" vote. This study group deliberated carefully but there was never any question of them deciding we should not keep the law, some "talked purty" but having been there for most meetings I can say that in reality, it just wasn't on the table.

This is a pretty good description of forced pooling:


“[To be] Forced Pooled is the act of being forced by state law into participation in an oil and/or gas producing unit. Pooling is a technique used by oil and gas development companies to organize an oil or gas field.
When two or more separately owned tracts are embraced within a drilling unit, or when there are separately owned interests in all or a part of the drilling unit, then persons owning such interests may pool their interests for the development and operation of the drilling unit. It is sometimes the case that not all interests within a drilling unit are in agreement about development. In that case, a party interested in development can make an application to the concerned state authority for forced or involuntary pooling."

Among the recommendations are:

  • No surface disturbance allowed for any unleased owner compelled into a pool
  • A 200% risk penalty for those that are forced into a pool (I will explain that later-its not so great, you are being punished because you did not want to participate)
  • Parcels from 1-10 acres will have no risk penalty


Many spoke out eloquently and passionately during the time allotted for public comment, in addition to Study Group resource members Grady McCallie of the North Carolina Conservation Network and James Robinson of RAFI. When the audios are up I will share them in another blog post.

.I had written my remarks the night before,  but rewrote them twice during the course of the meeting. This is what I said:

" I recognize the hard work and soul searching that this Study Group has gone through to try and make forced pooling "fair." I thought a lot on what I would say today, most of last night in fact. I could speak on percentages, or other numbers, but no matter where they land on the scale it simply makes a worse policy bad, especially for those who do not want their property rights violated. 

You have spoken of fairness, but the unprecedented power and influence of this industry precludes fairness. Forced pooling cannot be made right and will never be fair. Let us be clear, we are not merely talking about convenience, or economics, or wastefulness, we are talking about justice, and allowing a for-profit industry to take away personal freedoms with the blessing and assistance of the government.

Fifty years ago today, Dr. Martin Luther King gave a speech reminding the country that the "American Dream" was not yet available or accessible to all. He was speaking of those disenfranchised in America. He stated, "I have a dream that one day this Nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men [and women] are created equal." Personal freedoms and equality are seldom on the radar when the gas companies come to town."


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Hallibeerton

'Nuff said, y'all.

And friends,somewhere in North Carolina, enshrined in some little folder...named "Haliburton [sic]" (With apologies to Arlo Guthrie)






Friends,


Please join me in welcoming two new members to the family, D. Bowen Heath, and Benne Hutson! They are both of the McGuireWoods law firm. Its past time that I introduced them-they've already been visiting members of my extended family, I am forgetting my manners 

Here's a link to their website:


  • Benne Hutson was recently appointed as chairman of the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission by Governor Pat McCrory.

  • D. Bowen Heath was a registered lobbyist for Halliburton in 2012, as well as the Koch Companies and others in 2011 and 2012. See the Institute for Southern Studies' list here:
The Corporate Lobby


On with the story....

On June 27 2013, I sent a substantial public records request to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) asking for documents from DENR Secretary John Skvarla, Assistant Secretary Mitch Gillespie, Mining and Energy Commissioner (formerly vice-chair) George Howard and others around the chemical disclosure controversy. It took almost a month to get it, and then a couple of weeks for me to sort through the four discs, one of which contained this little file:




In case you forgot-


Here are links to the N&O stories about the controversy:

"Halliburton’s local lawyer, D. Bowen Heath of the McGuireWoods firm in Raleigh, referred questions to the Texas corporation’s media department. Halliburton spokeswoman Susie McMichael said by email that key people were in meetings or traveling."


"Therese Vick, an organizer with the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, chastised the commission for the sinister appearance of its dealings with Halliburton.
“The fact remains that these rules on chemical disclosure were debated, talked about and publicly commented on over months, and where was the industry then?” Vick said Friday. “Why did they not come to this podium and speak for three minutes or less?”
From MEC Commissioner George Howard's calendar

Well, I don't know where they were that week, but I know where Bo was on December 5, 2012. He was having a beer with George! I wonder if it had fracking fluid in it?


More to come...












Thursday, July 25, 2013

Come on Feel the Noise





Zee zee zee zum zum buzz buzz buzz buzz in the eardrum ~Wire



Friends, fracking is well, its loud. To get an idea of how loud visit this link: Hollenbeck Well Site Susquehannah County Pennsylvania


On July 12, 2013, North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) interns Colleen Brophy and Franklin Wolfe made a presentation on noise, dust odor, and light to the Local Government Regulation Study Group. Link to audio here: Local Government Regulation Study Group July 12, 2013. The presentation is in part one.

Hydraulic fracturing operations are extremely noisy; equipment, heavy trucks on the site, drilling and other activities will result in “frequent to continuous noise.”  Additionally, the almost non-stop noise from heavy trucks (approximately 90dBA per truck passing by) will contribute to the noise level in affected communities. Drilling and flaring will generate the loudest sounds. Drilling activities can produce around 115 decibels (dBA) at the well pad. This is louder than a jackhammer or a helicopter. Drilling operations can go on up to two months; sometimes 24 hours a day.  The noise could exceed 55 dBA as far as 1800-3500 feet away. [1] Exposure to 85 decibels for over 8 hours at a time can cause hearing loss. [2]
Besides its effect on hearing, exposure to loud and continuous noise can “induce hearing impairment, hypertension and ischemic heart disease, annoyance, sleep disturbance, and decreased school performance.”[3]

Here are some highlights from the presentation. Link here Noise Abatement, Odors and Dust, Lighting:

  • Natural gas development involves significant amounts of noise, especially during the initial phases of well pad construction, drilling, hydraulic fracturing and site reclamation. These activities typically last two or three months per well pad, and involve heavy machinery, large trucks and generators that could impact nearby communities.
  • Any increase in decibels is actually experienced 10 times louder. For an example a 5 decibel increase is actually 50 times louder
  • Any noise greater than 75 decibels (db) is unacceptable in a residential area according to HUD guidelines
  • Composite estimates are from distance of 50-2000 feet from the operation (it was not clear in the audio I was listening to exactly where the starting point was, levels listed below will be at 50 and 2000 feet) .
    • Access road construction: 89-57 db
    • Well pad construction: 84-52 db
    • Horizontal air well drilling: 76-44 db
    • Hydraulic fracturing
      • Diesel pumper trucks (op1):99-67
      • Diesel pumper trucks (op2): 104-72
  • Some parts of the process can go on for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
This and other information is being considered to establish rules for setbacks, which according to current thinking among Commissioners, will likely be around 100 feet. When talking about the setbacks,study group Chair Charles Taylor said: "I think that's something we gotta look at as you look at Don Kovasckitz' model (see an earlier blog post), you've got...you stifle the opportunity for industry to participate." Taylor went on to say that the 100 ft. number was not set in stone, but it was a place to start. Commissioner Charles Holbrook chimed in, "Right. I think its really important to do that." 

As usual, not much care and concern expressed for the neighbors of these operations, all the warm fuzzies are saved for the industry. 

From where I sit, we're going to need a lot of earplugs.








[1] “Oil and Gas Development Impacts.” Tribal Energy and Environmental Information Clearinghouse. http://teeic.anl.gov/er/oilgas/impact/drilldev/index.cfm. Accessed 4 June 2013.
[2] Goines, Lisa RN, Hagler, Louis MD. “Noise Pollution: A Modern Plague.” Southern Medical Journal. 2007; 100 (3): 287-294. http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/554566_3.  Accessed 4 June 2013.
[3] Passchier-Vermeer, W. Passchier, W.F. “Noise Exposure and Public Health.” Environmental Health Perspectives. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1637786/?tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract. Accessed 4 June 2013.A presentation on noise, odor and dust given by interns with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources identified and estimated just how loud the process is.
http://portal.ncdenr.org/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=b546b980-bdb8-40a8-af55-3bbb1487e8de&groupId=8198095

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Really?


Really?

"DOE study: Fracking chemicals didn't taint water" 

   

Get ready for the ridiculousness.


How many times do you think this "landmark" study will be mentioned at next weeks Mining and Energy Committee meetings? I know my extended family pretty well, and I am fairly certain that it will be mentioned at least 10 times. The $64,000 question is, will anyone mention that these findings are from ONE site, and only from ONE year. It can also be assumed that Echelon, the owner of the well which allowed tracers to be used and some monitoring would not volunteer a problematic site. 


Cracks in the report:

The biggest fracture is that the study is confined to one site which was volunteered, additionally, study results are premature and give a skewed picture of the significance of the findings.

Dr. Rob Jackson from Duke University says:

"He called it a "useful and important approach" to monitoring fracking, but cautioned that the single study doesn't prove that fracking can't pollute, since geology and industry practices vary widely in Pennsylvania and across the nation."


Where can the study be reviewed?:

I tried to find the actual results, and have not been successful. Industry tends to cherry-pick studies, kind of like picking your sins.

Little Information on the site:


No information on how long the well has been in operation, it could be too early to tell.

North Carolina's Shale Deposits Are Different:

The shale in North Carolina is not located as deeply as others. The Cumnock Formation is less than 3000 feet down in Lee and Chatham Counties. In some places it is above ground.
Link Here: http://nc.water.usgs.gov/projects/shalegas/overview.html



Ummm this is important?:

In some media accounts, this wasn't even reported on.


"Seismic monitoring determined one hydraulic fracture traveled 1,800 feet out from the well bore; most traveled just a few hundred feet. That's significant because some environmental groups have questioned whether the fractures could go all the way to the surface. The researchers believe that fracture may have hit naturally occurring faults, and that's something both industry and regulators don't want."

The Triassic basin is highly fractured and contains diabase dikes: "The groundwater system is composed of weathered regolith material at land surface (Chapman and others, 2005) and underlying bedrock sedimentary rock layers . Differential weathering along lithologic contacts and bedding planes may enhance permeability in the aquifer. Additionally, secondary features including faults, joints, and diabase dikes may enhance permeability through openings, associated fracturing, or weathering near these features. The presence of diabase dikes suggests potential "cooking" of the natural gas, but can often be a boundary for subsurface flow and "pooling" of groundwater." USGS


Link Here:http://nc.water.usgs.gov/projects/shalegas/overview.html


From where I sit, I wonder if I can throw one of those flags every time I hear somebody crowing about this very limited study. You know the flag...


Wednesday, July 3, 2013

GASLAND Part II Official Trailer, Premieres July 8th 2013 on HBO - YouTube

GASLAND Part II Official Trailer, Premieres July 8th 2013 on HBO - YouTube

Listen, do you want to know a secret?

Last week's Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) meetings were even more like a family reunion than usual, including the squabbles. Despite the humorous events on Thursday (ask me about hairballs) it was pretty darn prickly on Friday.


Commissioner George Howard: "Little red flags go up when we say we're going to have the strongest chemical disclosure rule in the nation."
Hmmmm, this seems to be an about face, Commissioner Howard keeps crowing about the MEC developing the strongest this and that, lets see what happens with set-backs and the baseline water testing. I digress.

Several in the audience probably got tired of the chorus that myself and another attendee kept repeating every time we heard "best", ""strongest", "farthest reaching" mentioned with resulting attaboys all around. Almost in unison we would say, "For Now."  These utterances were prompted by the North Carolina Senate's attempted pre-emption of the draft chemical disclosure rule. This drew fireworks from several MEC members- with one noticeable exception (who will be revealed later in this post), and resulted in a memorandum being sent from the MEC to Senator Phil Berger, President  Pro-Tem, and House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Here's an excerpt:

"This one simple change has reinvigorated anti-drilling fervor
across the state; an outcome the MEC has worked tirelessly to avoid. The introduction of this language at a late stage in the legislative session--as an insertion into an omnibus environmental bill rather than into the draft energy bill--and its introduction without any coordination with the MEC circumvent the rulemaking process and erode the confidence among many commission members that their work is appreciated."

Link to complete memo below:
http://www.smithenvironment.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/H94-Concerns_MEC-Memo_30Jun2013-1.pdf

DISCLAIMER: While I wrote as fast as I could, some of what was said will be paraphrased, and if any errors in my interpretation are found, please contact me and I will correct them.

Now, for the fun part. The heated discussion began with Commissioner Charles Taylor. Taylor expressed that he thought the MEC had reached consensus on trade secrets/chemical disclosure, and that he was surprised by H94 and its language. Taylor said, "I think [events have] diminished the role of this Board significantly. [Its an] insult to staff and to this Board." Taylor stated that all members of the Commission were equal. He went on to say that it was a "gross injustice to deviate from this process." Commissioner George Howard, visibly upset and very defensive, responded to what was a thinly-veiled reference to his possible involvement in the controversy. Howard is a former colleague of North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary John Skvarla. DENR has been adamantly opposed to holding the confidential records. Howard and Womack got into it several times, interrupting one another and Commissioner Charles Holbrook even admonished them to talk one at a time. If Howard did not want those assembled to think he had any part in the end-run on the Commission, he did a poor job.

The Senate amended H94 on the floor July 2 which makes a worse bill bad, reflecting their sensitivity to the Mining and Energy's concerns. Here's where some of the problems lie:


  • The initial draft rule did not go far enough, even though it was pulled from consideration by MEC Chairman Jim Womack (ironic, isn't it?).
  • There is no process for the MEC or DENR to object to or challenge claims of trade secret protection identified in the amended bill. 
  • Former DENR Assistant Secretary Robin Smith points out that: "State regulators could see information on fracking chemicals,  but could not receive the information in writing and keep it on file with other information on the fracking operation. While that approach may make the industry more comfortable, it will make it very difficult for  DENR staff to have the information needed  to provide adequate oversight for drilling operations– a problem that would be compounded over time by staff turnover.  Allowing a DENR staff person to see the  list of  fracking chemicals  when fracking begins does not ensure the availability of that information to staff five years later."
  • FracFocus has come under criticism for information that is full of errors, information that is incomplete, and information that is not provided in a timely manner. Commissioner Ken Taylor pointed out that one of the problems with FracFocus was that it takes too long, and that the information is needed up front, not after the fact.
Repeat after me: the molecule does matter. Vendors have refused (and will continue to refuse to ) disclose information to medical providers and emergency responders resulting in treatment delays and hampering adequate and appropriate response to spills, fires and accidents .Databases are not kept current; layers of bureaucracy and lack of accountability will continue to result in increased risk to the public and emergency personnel. 

Here's a quote for you that pretty much sums up a recent conversation with someone in fire service. Among other things they told me that if it is not known what they (first responders)  are dealing with, the volunteers/personnel will be pulled off the scene:

"If you're not going to release to us what it is we're not going to handle it." 




So, what's the real issue? From where I sit, industry is scared to death that the general public will be horrified to find out exactly what and how much of what  is being injected into the earth. It does not bode well for North Carolina when the industry has this much power before one horizontal well is drilled. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Stay Tuned...


New posts coming soon!   



Link to the next meetings of the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission:

Wednesday, June 26, 2013



Hate to say I told you so, but I told you so.

UPDATE ON CHEMICAL DISCLOSURE CONTINUED

"The blades are long, clenched tight in their fist, aimin' straight at your back, and I don't think they'll miss..." Backstabbers by the O'Jays

I couldn't sleep last night. I was mulling over this continuing debacle around chemical disclosure, what it portends for future rules and the political will to enforce them if fracking is allowed to happen in North Carolina.


Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) Chairman Jim Womack in the News and Observer:

 "I feel, No.1, a little bit disappointed, and No. 2, blindsided." 

More from the article: 

"Womack, a Lee County commissioner and Army veteran who earned a Bronze Star in Operation Desert Storm, called the trade-secret exemption a cop-out. “You can’t have the industry come in and say, ‘It’s a trade secret so I’m not going to disclose it,’ ” he said. “Someone needs to verify the assertion of a trade secret; otherwise it’s ripe for exploitation.”

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/25/2988546/nc-senate-committee-says-full.html#storylink=cpy


Friends, this was how some MEC members felt in May when they were blindsided by Mr.Womack's decision to pull the draft chemical disclosure rule from consideration. I was skeptical of Chairman Womack's reassurances that we were moving towards a "full disclosure rule" and endured a bit of a lecture from some MEC members about my comments to the Commission. Afterwards, Vice Chairman George Howard took me to task for being critical of what had occurred. As I recall I told Mr. Howard that I wondered just what we would be giving up. (If you would like to hear my comments, the link is pasted below. Public comment is at the end of Audio 3).
http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mining-and-energy-commission/mec-05-3-2013

Someone made an end-run around the Mining and Energy Commission.process; is this what we can expect in future?

Chairman Womack, I agree that its a cop-out and ripe for exploitation. From where I sit, "a few of your buddies, they sure look shady."






Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Holy Crap Batman"

UPDATE ON CHEMICAL DISCLOSURE:

The News and Observer just reported that an "NC Senate committee says full chemical disclosure not required to frack." 

Link here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/06/25/2988546/nc-senate-committee-says-full.html

Lets go to the way-back machine (from the June 7th blog post): "Chairman Womack indicates that we will have a "full disclosure" rule. I leave it to you, dear reader to form your own conclusions."

Hmmmmm. Perhaps its now time to introduce you to another fracking family member. Former Representative Mitch Gillespie (background info at the link), now Assistant Secretary of Environment for the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

This latest news makes the following comments clear:

Chairman Jim Womack (JW): It would be helpful to know, if one of you guys would be so kind as to go to Mitch, and say, "what do you think?" 'Cause if Mitch says...[discussion about being involved in collecting and dispersing impact fees]..."

~ JW continues~

"Yeah, well, somebody, somebody needs to carry that, get that up to vet it with Mitch. {Certainly] want to know, 'cause he's, he's already poured water on a couple of other ideas we've had."

Its scary out there...

From S820: "The Commission shall formulate recommendations that maintain a uniform system for the management of such activities, which allow for reasonable local regulations, including required setbacks, infrastructure placement, and light and noise restrictions, that do not prohibit or have the effect of prohibiting oil and gas exploration and development activities, and the use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for that purpose, or otherwise conflict with State law."

Today's title seems appropriate for this particular part of the blog  as it is a compilation of a couple of meetings,  and  indicative of the attitude of some North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission members towards extraneous issues, like setbacks.

During the Local Government Study Group meeting June 7 (remember the knock on wood?) Commission member Charles Holbrook was heard to say, "Oh, its scary."  Mr. Holbrook's remark came during discussion of Lee County GIS coordinator Don Kovasckitz's presentation to the full MEC earlier that morning on severed estates, setbacks, well placement and other issues facing Lee County.

Charles Holbrook (CH): "Yeah, uh I think looking at the map Don Kovasckitz presented today, if, if you're not really careful in how you do the setbacks you [could] freeze yourself out of being able to operate anywhere."

DK's presentation was indeed enlightening. These are screenshots showing some of the layers of setbacks (from a wellhead).Setbacks are in red:


This image shows the areas excluded applying New York's recommended setback between a well-head and water supply well of 2640 feet.

This image shows excluded areas using Texas' 467 foot setback of a well-head from property boundaries

This image shows excluded areas if the minimum setbacks were applied to all features, surface water, wells, roads, etc.













All that crap...


This is the statement that North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) Chair Jim Womack used to describe historic sites and other "extraneous" stuff.. His comment came during a discussion of permitting costs at the "Funding Levels and Potential Funding Sources" study group on June 17.

Link to audio: http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mining-and-energy-commission/06-17-2013-funding

You can find his quote near the end of "Audio 2."

Here is a transcription of the quote:

Jim Womack (JW): "...what is it? The Department, uh, what's the other one that does all the cultural stuff, Cultural Resources-looks at historic sites and all that crap, Indian burial grounds; you know all that stuff." {Serious backpedaling heard...]

The next MEC committee meetings are June 27th, and the full Commission meets the 28th. Better get the deviled eggs made, don't think an angel-food cake would work for this pot luck.