Those Fracking Letters to the Editor

June 15, 2011

To the editor,

The Press Enterprise headline, ‘Fracking comes to area” hardly captures what’s coming to Columbia County now that Williams Production Appalachia (WPA) has struck gas “gold.” Let’s not speculate about the pollution threatening our wells, streams, and the Susquehanna River, the millions of gallons of water required for fracturing which will drain our rivers and creeks, further concentrating its carcinogens, the destruction of our roads, the 24/7 noise, congestion, and safety hazards produced by drilling operations and truck traffic, or that neither the gas nor the profits are destined for Pennsylvania. Let’s examine the facts:

The Citizen’s Voice reports that WPA is “poised to become a major player.” In fact, WPA’s spokesperson Helen Humphreys is lying to Sugarloaf Township residents. She claims WPA is “still ‘trying to determine how much gas might be in the rock formation.’” False: “State Department of Environmental Protection records show Williams has recently been issued two gas well permits for Benton and one for Sugarloaf Township in Columbia County… ‘Our plan is to develop those properties, that is, drill on those properties,” Williams spokesman Jeff Pounds said…’” WPA leased 45,000 acres, mostly in Pennsylvania, paying $501 million, and added 10,00 acres in Columbia County—paying only $2,800 an acre. WPA effectively owns the PA State Game Commission who, economically strapped, continues to lease more land to the corporation in Bradford and Lycoming County. WPA owns the Gulfstream, Northwest, and Transco Pipelines—none of which deliver to Pennsylvania, and two of which deliver out of the country—raising the price of natural gas in Pennsylvania.

The Buffalo News reports that since 2008, “Marcellus Shale drillers in Pennsylvania amass[ed] 1614 violations,” “1056 identified as most likely to harm the environment.” WPA ranks at #11 of the 26 top violators: 32 violations/seven wells. A comparatively small operation compared to Chesapeake Appalachia (149 violations/190 wells) or Cabot Oil and Gas (93 violations/73 wells), yet 32/7 makes WPA not only a major player, but a major environmental violator. WPA’s average violation per well is 4.6, #6 of 26—well behind Cabot. Chesapeake doesn’t even make the top 26. Moreover, WPA is listed among the 55% of all gas corporations in Pennsylvania failing to meet production-reporting deadlines in 2010. Specific violations include: “Site conditions present a potential for pollution to waters of the Commonwealth,” “Pit and tanks not constructed with sufficient capacity to contain pollutional substances,” “Failure to properly store, transport, process or dispose of a residual waste,” “Failure to notify DEP of pollution incident,” and that’s just Franklin Township.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 exempts BIG GAS from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. “[S]hale gas drillers don’t have to disclose what chemicals they use.” Nonetheless, “fracking has already been linked to drinking water contamination and property damage in Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wyoming.” Of the 29 common fracking chemicals 13 are known carcinogens, 8 are regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and 24 are hazardous air pollutants. Examples: methanol, formaldehyde, naphthalene, benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene xylene, lead, hydrogen chloride, ethylene glycol, 2-butoxyethanol, and diesel which, according to the EPA “poses the greatest threat to underground sources of drinking water.”

Sugarloaf Township could become the next Dimock whose aquifer is so polluted that “one woman’s water well spontaneously combusted, and horses and pets mysteriously began to lose their hair,” not to mention the obliterated property values of folks who’d like to sell their homes and move. Trouble is, some residents have already sold out. Bigger trouble is that we’re all going to pay for the environmental tsunami that’s coming if we don’t stand up NOW.

Wendy Lynne Lee

July 25, 2011

To the editor,

In June, I detailed the pollution for rivers, streams, ground water, well water, and air produced by hydraulic fracturing, fact that fracking involves draining millions of gallons from Pennsylvania water ways—meaning less clean water to drink and greater concentration of carcinogens in what remains, 13-known carcinogens utilized in producing the “earthquakes” necessary to release the gas from the shale, fact that an unknown number of additional chemicals used are protected as proprietary rights—and hence unknown to the affected public, fact that fracking is exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act, fact the Williams Production Appalachia is lying about their drilling plans for Columbia County, WPA’s alarming record of environmental and safety violations—6 on the list of the top 26 violators in PA, fact that WPA controls 55,000 acres in PA, 10,000 in Columbia County and more in state parks and game lands in Bradford and Lycoming Counties, traffic, vehicular hazard, noise, road and bridge destruction that will accompany WPA’s mammoth presence in townships like Benton, fact that not one fracking dollar of either the product or the profits is destined for Pennsylvania.

Fracking in Pennsylvania is a disaster-in-the-making. Yet only fifteen residents of Benton Township appeared to protest WPA’s proposal for a water withdrawal station near Rt. 487. The zoning board gave approval with nary an outcry. Some local’s biggest worry is they might be milking less than their neighbors from the fracking cash cow. They whine about being taken by “landmen” for low-ball deals, and feign surprise at corporate greed—all the while corporations like WPA cheerily park machinery on their property, letting it sit there like conversation pieces. Will Benton Township supervisors feign the same fake-shock over destroyed roads and bridges? Decimated resources? Plummeting property values? Contaminated wells?

Fracking must be BANNED. There’s no way to adequately control its pollutant waste: “When a well is fracked, a small earthquake is produced …The gas trapped inside is released and makes its way to the surface along with about half of the “fracking fluid,” plus dirt and rock that are occasionally radioactive…Volatile organic compounds…and other dangerous chemicals are burned off directly into the air during this on-site compression process…the returned fracking fluid… is either trucked off or stored in large, open-air, tarp-lined pits on site, where it is allowed to evaporate. The other portion of the fluid remains deep underground—no one really knows what happens to it” (“A Colossal Fracking Mess”). In other words, the massive pollution of both air and water—some of it radioactive, some of it unaccounted for—is the single GUARANTEED product of fracking.

Why didn’t we demand a ban long before the Dimock disaster? Ignorance, jobs, and the bizarre idea promoted by local corporatists like Tom Anderson who insist environmental regulation is some leftist plot. Perhaps they think WPA can be successfully sued. Absurd. Corporations left to regulate themselves and to control that information are virtually un-sue-able. Indeed “wastewater treatment plants…often don’t know the exact makeup of the water they’re treating, nor do they have the capacity to remove all contaminants.” Try to prove your ignite-able tap water’s WPA’s fault. “When you live next to a gas drilling operation… you don’t have any control of your own property,” says a Taylor County man who can no longer graze his horses on his OWN land. Jobs ARE important. So important we’re apparently willing to sell out our kids, state lands, properties, and our health for them. Is the pay going to be enough to make up for the massive losses? Not a chance.

Wendy Lynne Lee

Wendy Lynne Lee | Professor of Philosophy, Bloomsburg University



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38 Comments on Those Fracking Letters to the Editor

  1. It is a testament to the author’s dedication to this cause that she did not allow nary a single historical or scientific fact to muddy the purity of her argument. Clearly explaining the science of it all would be useless. Lets look at some history. Fracing has been used to treat wells since the 40’s. There is not a single incident of fracing ruining a water well. Don’t believe me: During a Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing on “Federal Drinking Water Programs,” Senator Inhofe asked officials from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) if they were aware of any documented cases of hydraulic fracturing contamination. None of the three witnesses could provide a single example. Testifying before the EPW Committee today was Peter Silva, Assistant Administrator for Water, Environmental Protection Agency, Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Environmental Protection Agency, and Matthew Larsen, Associate Director for Water, U.S. Geological Survey. The bottom line is the author and other like minded individuals are being used as Useful Idiots by elements in other energy producing countries to try to shut down shale gas exploration because it truly is an amazing resource that could seriously reduce our need for importing energy. Ignitable tap water? Sure, because Methane exists in some of the same formations as fresh water. “The presence of naturally occurring methane in ground seeps and water wells is well documented throughout New York State. The existence of naturally occurring methane seeps in New York has been known since the mid 1600s.”
    New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement Pg. 4-38
    . . . and so on and so on ….

    • It is a testament to Mr. Caldarelli’s poor grasp of facts and even poorer critical thinking skills that he manages to commit himself to fully fallacious reasoning in the very first sentence of his response to two of my three posts on the subject of fracking. The claim that I have neither the scientific or the historical facts on my side is not merely false, but contradicted by the evidence made plain in those posts. Whatever Mr. Caldarelli’s attempt to discredit the writer (fallacy: ad Hominem), the facts stand on their own. Beyond Dimmock, Pennsylvania:

      “Colorado – 206 chemical spills were linked to 48 cases of water contamination in 2008 alone, ” (ProPublica and Vanity Fair).

      “New Mexico – toxic fluids seeped into water supplies at over 800 drilling sites in 2008,” (Vanity Fair, 2010).

      “Sublette, Wyoming – toxic compounds used in fracking including benzene were found at 1500 times safe level in 88 drinking water wells, documented by the US Bureau of Land Management in July, 2008, Researchers returned in September to take more samples. They were unable to open the water wells – monitors showed they contained so much flammable gas that they were likely to explode,” (Pro Publica, 2008).

      “Dish, Texas — The town hired an environmental firm to collect air samples and found high levels of 15 chemicals used in fracking fluid, including benzene, toluene and xylene. In June, 2010, tests by the Texas Railroad Commission showed high levels of arsenic, barium, chromium, lead and selenium in residential water wells” (Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project).

      “Louisiana – 16 cattle mysteriously and abruptly dropped dead after drinking fluid adjacent to a gas drilling rig” (Pro Publica, 2008).

      “Clearfield County, PA – June 2010, a gas well blew out, releasing over one million gallons of gas and drilling fluid before being contained nearly 16 hours later.”

      “New York Times 2/27/11 – internal documents obtained from the EPA revealed that wastewater from deep shale drilling contains radioactivity at hundreds or even thousands of times the maximum allowed by the federal standard for drinking water. This wastewater is often hauled to sewage plants which are not designed to treat it, and then discharged into rivers. Here in Michigan, the wastewater or flowback fluid will be dumped into injection wells where the upward migration into drinking water and aquifer is highly possible (refer to Arkansas earthquakes – two fault lines run through Northern Michigan. Also refer to Chris Groebbel paper on injection wells in Michigan. Thousands of previously drilled wells could act as a conduit for the upward migration of toxic and radioactive fracking waste into ground water aquifers).”

      There is no more rational question to be asked about whether fracking poses a serious danger to wells and aquifers–and hence to the environment, human health, animal health, the economic solvency of communities, or the social fabric of those communities–than that human beings have contributed to climate change or that natural selection offers the best explanation for the origin and diversity of species. Mr. Caldarelli simply spouts the fracker-party line–and likely knows perfectly well that among the reasons data is difficult to acquire with respect to the specific details and severity of particular disasters is because the compensation property owners whose wells and land have been contaminated are effectively coerced to accept (that–or nothing for land that’s no longer fit to farm) comes with a gag order. I’m sure Mr. Caldarelli also knows that fracking has been exempt from the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2005–a lacuna in the law through which literally billions of contaminated fracking fluids have now passed. These two facts alone undermine any case he could make for the lack of evidence of well contamination.

      The claim that “the author and other like minded individuals are being used as Useful Idiots by elements in other energy producing countries to try to shut down shale gas exploration because it truly is an amazing resource that could seriously reduce our need for importing energy” is, well, just silly–especially in light of the fact that the vast majority of natural gas produced is for export. Who these “elements” are is left as wholly undefined as are Mr. Caldarelli’s own credentials, and it is, in fact, not at all clear just how much natural gas is available in either the Marcellus or the Utica formations. Moreover, the amount is irrelevant: If the energy required to extract the gas equals or exceeds the amount of gas produced, then the only profit possible is selling the gas at top dollar–hence, OUTSIDE the United States. If Pennsylvanians see their way to the use of this gas, it will only be after we buy it back at that top dollar from the frackers.

      What Mr. Caldarelli’s interest is in repeating the natural gas industry propaganda is unclear since his does not identify himself. I was able to locate a driller on-line by that name: “Driller Tony Caldarelli said, “Air hammer drilling is my favorite because it’s faster. I love the hammer because I can drill 7 7/8 inch at 200 feet an hour – that’s about 6 1/2 to 7 rods an hour. I can finish a 2,400-foot hole, move and begin setting conductor on the next hole in 48 hours.” ” I DO NOT KNOW if this is the same gentleman, but if it is, it’s fairly easy to see that he has a vested interest in the continuation of drilling. Perhaps Mr. Caldarelli will clarify this–but it doesn’t really matter. His claims are either factually wrong or incoherent.

      Wendy Lynne Lee, Professor
      Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

      • Pro Publica and Vanity Fair . . . Really? Really! Why would anyone bother with information stated by senior members of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) when you can reference Vanity Fair? I am not the Tony Caldarelli who is a driller, I am the Tony Caldarelli who is a Geologist, so I actually have some understanding of what is going on under the surface of the earth. Without doing the calculus required to explain Darcy’s Law, or going into a diatribe about the Principle of Buoyancy, let me state it like this. If fluids like frac water (and it is almost entirely water and sand with trace amounts of other dilute chemicals) could migrate up from 6 or 7 thousand feet deep, up to the freshwater aquifers tens of feet deep, the the natural gas and oil that the other Tony Caldarelli would be drilling for WOULDN’T BE THERE. Wells have been fraced for 60+ years and now all of a sudden it is a problem, why? Here is why. Because the Shale Gas industry is a game changer in the world energy market, so foreign energy produces (OPEC, the Russians)are stirring up and funding well meaning but uniformed individuals like MS Lee to try shut down shale exploration and maintain their stranglehold on the world energy market. Around Bloomsburg where Ms Lee teaches, there are plenty of gas wells that have been fraced. North Central PA is a working gas field and has been for a long time but it is beautiful, with wonderful natural environments including some of the best trout streams (Trout are an “indicator species” for pure water) in the country. The Oil Creek Valley was destroyed by the early oil industry (who paid attention to the environment in 1860?) but now it is a beautiful state park and Oil Creek is a wonder trout stream where I saw the heaviest hatch of mayflies (another “indicator species,” in this case Ephemerella dorothea)I have ever seen (to include Montana, Idaho etc). Having worked in higher education for almost a quarter of a century, I have encountered many people who choose to express uniformed opinions well outside their discipline and areas of expertise. I’m sure Ms. Lee can give a rousing lecture on whether or not existence precedes essence, but when it comes to understanding Geology . . . ummmmm, not so much.

  2. Response to Mr. Tony Caldarelli:

    1. Among the most remarkable aspects of Mr. Caldarelli’s responses to my posts concerning hydraulic fracturing–fracking (and besides his obvious agitation)–is his glaring omission of either credentials or employer. He says he’s a geologist. Well and good. He also claims he works in higher education–but again, does not say at what institution or in what capacity. Perhaps he’s the “leadership trainer” at Universal Well Services who earned a B.S. in geology from Juniata College in 1982. I don’t know. If he is, however, a B.S. alone does not qualify Mr. Caldarelli to refer to himself as a geologist, and if he is this “Tony Caldarelli” we must weigh what he says carefully since he has an obvious interest in the continuation of fracking–it’s paying his “leadership trainer” salary. I, on the other hand, have absolutely no vested monetary interest in the argument that we should–indeed MUST–ban fracking–although, as I readily acknowledge, I have a moral, political, and philosophical investment in the end of this environmentally devastating form of profiteering.

    2. In point of fact, the articles I site from Pro Publica (, Vanity Fair (, The New York Times (, and a number of other news sources are widely acknowledged to be among the most well-researched and objective thus far on this issue. It is the EPA, the industry funded Penn State report, and the United States State Department that are the subject of extensive criticism with respect to pro-industry bias.

    But should Mr. Caldarelli still be in need of further confirmation about the dangers of this process, he need only consult Scientific American:, whose reference to Cornell University fracking experts, professors Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea make quite clear that the fracking process itself may be MORE polluting even than coal production–particularly given the chemical used and the fracking’s current immunity from regulation under the Clean Drinking Water Act; in other words, massively polluting. From yet another Scientific American article: “A widely distributed study out of Cornell University suggested gas could be just as dirty as coal when the energy-intensive process of extraction is included. When burned, gas produces about half of the carbon emissions of coal. Still, the process of drilling for oil and gas releases into the atmosphere methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas” ( While the industry insists that technology exists to control greenhouse gas emissions, such claims should warrant little but incredulousness from any thinking person given the horrendous record BIG GAS and BIG OIL to date. What is quite clear on the evidence is that fracking “will exacerbate the effects of global warming” ( According to the Cornell Study: “We looked at the greenhouse gas in comparison to conventional natural gas,” Howarth said. “Our research showed that carbon dioxide is only part of the problem, and natural gas, which is mostly methane, is far more potent. Even small leakages have a large footprint, leading to our conclusion that natural gas actually has a bigger impact on global warming” (

    3. Mr. Caldarelli misrepresents both Bloomsburg and Northcentral Pennsylvania with respect to fracking. He is correct that DRILLING has been with us for some time–notably to significant negative environmental effect–but the process properly called fracking is a relative newcomer to the region as a drilling METHOD. Why Mr. Caldarelli should want to misrepresent these facts, I have no idea–other than that he hopes to perpetuate the myth that no serious environmental consequences will come from fracking, a claim clearly and demonstrably false.

    4. The notion that the only issue with respect to the safety and consequences of fracking has to do with the geology of drilling as also false. Even IF this drilling process could be made safe (and it cannot), this point has no bearing on the massive collateral damage wrought on roads, bridges, and communities as the direct result of fracking. Damage for which there is demonstrably little compensation and plainly no adequate restoration. To take a case in point, consider Dimmock, Pennsylvania where residents whose aquifer was destroyed by fracking have now been denied future access to water buffaloes thanks to a governor–Tom Corbett–who, in the pockets of the natural gas industry, has released Cabot from this responsibility and, to add insult to injury, will likely allow the corporation to continue fracking in Dimmock. This example, moreover, puts the lie to Mr. Caldarelli’s “geologically informed” claims and only hints at one variety of collateral damage–the COMMUNITY of Dimmock, a town whose property values have tanked, whose residents are moving out if they can, and whose property tax base to support its public schools will surely suffer.

    5. Mr. Caldarelli also ignores another source of serious danger to environment and health, namely, the construction and potential accident hazard posed by transmission lines and compressor stations. Consider, for example, the pipeline explosion and fire in San Bruno, California, September of 2010, or the fact that children living near compressor stations have been shown to be highly susceptible to nosebleed–traceable to the emission of formaldehyde, an established carcinogenic byproduct of combustion engines ( In addition to the potential hazard posed by toxic leakages anywhere along these pipelines–some thousands of miles long–is that of noise pollution from compressor stations and trucking traffic, and the arguably unconstitutional use of eminent domain laws to infringe on private property rights (for example:

    I could, of course, go on to detail the many and serious forms of collateral damage that will be the byproduct of fracking unless it is banned–not regulated–BANNED. I could talk about the plainly false claim that fracking will brings jobs to Pennsylvania–when not only is it true that as much as 70% of these jobs are filled by imports, but so many in fact that there were few if any apartments or motel rooms available for Hurricane Lee flood victims.

    I could point out that since fracking has come to Pennsylvania, unempolyment has increased: “[t]he state’s unemployment rate rose for a forth straight month in September while payrolls shrank…the state jobless rate increased to 8.3% in August” (Press Enterprise, 10.21.11). I could point out that all the while unemployment is rising, BIG GAS CEOs like Chesapeake’s Aubry McClendon are raking it in to the tune of 112.5 million dollars.

    But the long and short of it is the same: fracking is so potentially calamitous to environment and health that no number of jobs can possibly make up for it–plus the jobs claim is just a lie to protect Mr. McClendon’s big bucks.

    As for the rousing lecture on Jean Paul Sartre’s “existence precedes essence,” you bet. Mr. Caldarelli, I can certainly deliver it. I’ll be teaching Phenomenology and Existentialism next term. Please consider signing up. But be advised. My name is not “Ms. Lee.” It is “Professor Lee” or “Dr. Lee,” and it is VERY telling that you opt not to accord me the recognition of earned title. I do not pretend to be a geologist–but I DO know a good deal about fracking and its collateral consequences. You, on the other hand may (or may not) be a geologist, but what you’re clearly not is interested in objective fact and reasoned argument.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  3. I am aghast at Tony Caldarellis’ either feigned or very real ignorance. Does he really think that the FRACK fluids just stay where he may want them to stay: (6,000 – 7,000 feet down), when the DRILL PIPE that extends from the surface to 6,000 – 7,000 feet down is a blatantly obvious conduit for the FRAK fluid and we all know CASING problems with that pipe have PLAGUED the industry. Moreover anyone with even a passing knowledge knows there are literally thousands of abandoned wells in NY State and PA and each and every one of those wells can be a conduit for the FRACK fluid that is somewhere down there to be transported to aquifer and drinking water. All of the wells extend from the surface to thousands of feet down and yes 6,000 to 7,000 feet so there is in fact MANY ways that FRACK fluid and egress “way down there” and contaminate closer or even at the surface. Well casings often have voids and cracks and yes they do deteriorate with AGE and these will age. Tony, so please take your silly theoretical glasses off and put on your reality glasses and then you will have a better and far more accurate comprehension of how FRACK fluid can, does, and will migrate to places where DO NOT stay put. Only in the perfect world does many millions of gallons of endocrine and carcinogenic fluid stay at 6,000 – 7,000 feet level, even though the well pipe and flawed casing are a mostly likely egress avenue. Tony, when they FRACK and leave all that FRACK fluid in the pipe or casings, why would you ever think the millions of gallons they leave in the casing ONLY stays at 6,000 to 7,000 feet? Isn’t that avoiding reality and avoiding the facts, Mr. Geology but not Mr. Reality?

  4. Just a brief addition to Mr. Maggio’s remarks:

    1. According to the USGS scientists that Mr. Caldarelli thinks are so pro-fracking, we actually find these observations:

    “A U.S. Geological Survey scientist Friday said large earthquakes in unusual places like Virginia and southern Colorado earlier this week aren’t typically associated with the controversial natural gas drilling process called hydraulic fracturing…That process can cause very small earthquakes, but the fracking process doesn’t really, we think, induce large earthquakes, USGS scientist Mike Blanpied said on a video chat. The thing that can induce larger earthquakes is the high-pressure waste fluid injection that’s done in some places.”

    And Mr. Blanpied also points out that “The fluids are often brought back up and stored on the surface for re-use and later disposed of in separate deep-injection wells. And it’s those disposal wells that in the past have prompted investigations by the USGS after rare earthquake swarms in southern Colorado, where in 2001 officials said they could “not rule out the possibility” the wells caused the quakes…“The largest and most widely known resulted from fluid injection at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal near Denver, Colo.,” the USGS states. “In 1967, an earthquake of magnitude 5.5 followed a series of smaller earthquakes. Injection had been discontinued at the site in the previous year once the link between the fluid injection and the earlier series of earthquakes was established…The U.S. Army had been disposing of toxic fluids at depths of nearly 12,000 feet but had to discontinue the process after the quakes” (

    Fracking, in other words, can produce earthquakes–and even small earthquakes can clearly endanger the lining of a deep injection well causing cracks and ruptures that leak frack fluid–and in a fashion that might very well NOT be detected until some point very much later, too late to contain.

    Moreover, as reported by Pro Publica just yesterday (10.20.11):

    “For years, Pennsylvania allowed growing volumes of wastewater to flow into the state’s rivers. As ProPublica reported two years ago, the water’s high salt and mineral content was believed to have elevated pollutant levels in some streams. It also may have clogged industrial equipment, killed fish and caused contamination in drinking water.

    In March, the EPA sent a letter to environmental officials in Pennsylvania expressing alarm at high pollutant levels in the wastewater that was being discharged into the state’s waterways. The agency urged the state to increase monitoring. The next month, the state asked drillers to stop discharging waste unless it was properly treated. By June, state officials said that no waste was being discharged without full treatment.

    In an email to ProPublica, the EPA said that concerns about releases in Pennsylvania and “other information” led the agency to initiate the process to set new national rules. The agency said about 22 billion gallons of wastewater from coalbed methane drilling go into surface waters across the country each year. The EPA does not have data on how much shale gas wastewater is being discharged nationwide” (

    In other words, the EPA KNEW that it’s own regulations for the storage of frack fluids was grossly inadequate, and the EPA KNOWS that whether injection well or open toxic pit that frack fluids are extremely salty, carcinogenic and potentially RADIOACTIVE. This flatly puts the lie to Mr. Calderelli’s claim about the benign nature of fracking waste–and this is from the EPA.

    I don’t know why Mr. Caldarelli wishes to pursue this destitute project top defend an industry that has no defense. But I do know he must be worried that people are waking up a bit–or he would not be here.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  5. So Ms Lee, what makes a “Geologist” then? If someone with academic credentials who works in an industry that uses Geologists and who belongs to professional geologic organizations is not who is. At leas I’ll give Mr. Maggio so me credit, he understands, or appears to, that fracing has never caused problems, even once. There have been very rare cases of poor cement jobs causing problems, but agriculture is a much greater danger to water wells. Of course we need to eat, but then we need to cook too, don’t we. Do you all have any other sources other than George Soros funded Pro Publica? Oh, and Ms. Lee, I worked at your sister institution, SRU. I was a proponent of drilling them because as someone trained in the sciences, I react to the topic with reason, not emotion. Class I Injection Wells? Wow, you’re really stretching to make this an issue. The bottom line is, there is no place in PA (the state with more wells than any state) that’s been ruined by petroleum exploration, no matter what George Soros would have you believe. After all, old George has to make money on his big investment in Petrobras, and a great way to do that is shut down domestic energy production in the US.

  6. It is remarkable that Mr. Caldarelli–in virtually every aspect of this correspondence–fails and/or simply refuses to address any of the facts that I have laid out for him. I can only assume that because he cannot refute these facts and the inferences that follow from them, namely, that fracking is simply too dangerous both in actual process and collateral damage, to be allowed to continue, that he is forced to resort to making up claims and attributing them to his critics. But the evidence continues to mount–and not one iota stands in Mr. Caldarelli’s favor. I am sure this must be very hard for him–as this anger-fueled attempt at a rant demonstrates.

    Two points:

    1. While Pennsylvania continues on its suicidal course to destroy its environment and the health of the human and nonhuman beings who depend on it, New Jersey’s DRBC has made a wise decision, and decided to listen to the voices–like mine–of an informed and thinking opposition. The decision to frack the Delaware has in fact been postponed. No doubt the prospect of an ENORMOUS demonstration of opposition scheduled for Monday, November 21st in the Occupy Wall Street style of nonviolent resistance played a hand in this decision. And GOOD. That is called a democracy in action for the common good.

    As for PA, with the passage of what can only be described as an example of state-sponsored fascism–SB 1100 and HB 1950–which effectively transfers decision making power over permission to frack to the exclusive domain of the State Attorney General’s office (legislation WRITTEN by members of the fracking industry and deliberately fast-tracked by Governor Corbett), removing what little power PA already grants to local townships and municipalities, we can expect to see even MORE of this profiteering at the expense of the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians, even more of fracking’s contribution to climate change, and even more destruction of our communities in the future. The state can grant permission to do precisely what Mr. Caldarelli heralds as a good thing: Frack on PASSHE property, frack 1000 feet from a public school, frack in residential neighborhoods–without any say at all from the people or their elected representatives who live there. Add this to the equally fascist “forced pooling” the state looks forward to passing, the grotesque abuse of eminent domain–and what you have is a prescription for ballooning profits for frackers–and their paid propagandists like Mr. Caldarelli.

    2. I do not deny that Mr. Caldarelli may know something about geology–what I DO contest is whether he really is what he says–he offers few solid credentials, and those I am able to locate do not support the claim that he is a geologist. Moreover, his refusal to address me by my earned title suggests only that he is rather insecure about HIS. My name is Professor Lee, Mr. Caldarelli, and I am beginning to wonder if among your issues is a problem with intelligent, educated women.

    I am happy to let Mr. Maggio speak for himself. Suffice it to say, however, that Mr. Calderelli does not understand Mr. Maggio’s claims, and would be well-advised to review them.

    The shot about George Soros is both cheap and irrelevant. Pro Publica is a well-respected objective publication–and so is the USGS. Mr. Caldarelli prefers, however, to cherry-pick his sources to fit his self-interested aims as a cheerleader for the industry that pays him–and again, must be worried that the tide is turning against this rape of the environment, health, and community–or he simply would not be here. It’s honestly just weird that he ignores the fact that I quote the USGS–and this testifies once again to the point that Mr. Caldarelli is interested in neither reason nor fact–but is instead driven by his own emotional reaction to the possibility that the industry that feathers his nest is morally indefensible.

    The upshot remains as clear as day: We MUST begin to utilize the many renewable forms of energy we have already developed, and can develop further–wind, solar, etc. And we MUST begin to re-conceive our ways of life in a fashion that is not focused merely on conservation, but squarely on a quality of life not driven by the sheer accumulation of things. In truth, the American way of life was never sustainable–and has been so only for as long as we have pretended to this “dream” on the backs of the many “others” whom we continue to exploit at the expense of the planet, and at the expense of human decency. We can and MUST do better.

    Occupy WELL Street.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  7. Ms. Lee contends “Pennsylvania continues on its suicidal course to destroy its environment and the health of the human and nonhuman beings who depend on it.” Wells have been fraced in PA since the 1950s. If there was going to be a problem, we’d know it. The PA DEP has been unable to document one case of Frac water polluting fresh water wells. “I do not deny that Mr. Caldarelli may know something about geology–what I DO contest is whether he really is what he says–he offers few solid credentials.” I’m not sure what this has to do with the debate but I have a BS in Geology, I belong to the GSA and I work in the field of Geology. What I’m not sure of is why MS Lee (excuse me) Dr. Lee, thinks that her professorship in Philosophy extends her some special knowledge of Geology and Petroleum Engineering. Its reassuring to see that Dr. Lee (there is that better?) use the time honored liberal tactic of smearing their opponents (the little quip about “a problem with intelligent, educated women”) with racism, sexism, homophobia etc. When there is no factual argument to be made, (and there so rarely is for people like Dr Lee) a good epithet or two is useful. Dr. Lee’s insistence on honorifics in addressing her is typical of someone who dedicated their life to honing skills and knowledge that is virtually not salable outside of higher education. And Dr. Lee, you are certainly welcome to invest as much of your money in “Green” energy as you like, I would just prefer that my tax dollars not be dumped down the rat hole of “sustainable” energy. (Does “Solyndra” mean anything to anyone?) Of course I would prefer that my tax dollars not be used to fund the salaries of state employed faculty with ridiculous, uniformed opinions either. And for the record Dr. Lee, I would think that your position are silly even if you were a man. 🙂

  8. The only thing more astonishing than Mr. Caldarelli’s continued insistence on the propaganda meme that fracking (that he calls fracing–PLEASE Mr. Caldarelli, see my new post in the December issue of Raging Chicken) is not polluting is his continued insistence on groundless name-calling–and his refusal to just come clean about the fact that he works for the natural gas industry….His blindness to Dimock is just kind of laughable at this point.

    My professorship in philosophy does not make me a geologist. True. But what Mr. Caldarleei appears to be then claiming is that those of us that don’t have degrees in geology should simply let the geologists determine what’s best for us with respect to fracking. But–as his own deeply compromised claims make clear–geologists working for profiteering corporations instead of for the public good are not to be trusted. The scientific evidence makes this patently obvious, and deny it until the cows come home, the blow out in Dimock, the recent spill in Wyoming, the compromised aquifers in Dent Texas, and so on AND SO ON, are unvarnished FACTS.

    When Mr. Caldarelli is faced with these facts, he responds by name-calling and ridicule–the classic refuge of he or she who simply has no evidence on their side. I don’t know what else can be said here: please re-read my posts, Mr. Caldarelli–especially the bulleted items about the FACTS.

    And it’s just a hoot that Mr. Caldarelli apparently thinks himself so expert in philosophy that he can pronounce judgment upon it as a useless discipline. That he thinks higher education is, I gather, for nothing but making oneself “saleable” is a sad–indeed destitute–view of education, and it speaks volumes about what I think to be an indefensible and very dark view of the world, its arts, its literatures, its politics, and its cultures.

    That, of course, he feels driven to open his latest volley with another round of “Ms.” instead of using my name, which includes “Professor” or “Dr.”–an earned title, emphasizes not only his sexism, but his apparent insecurity with his “Mr.”.

    But the most (or only) interesting aspect of Mr. Caldarelli’s latest post is that it’s just not about fracking (or fracing–PLEASE read my new RCP post, Mr. C.!) And while it might be superficially about me, it”s not about me either. it’s about Mr. Caldarelli and his need to defend Mr. Caldarelli.

    So, Mr. Calderelli, should you like to discuss fracking, excellent. Bring it on. The facts are crushing, and they’re all on my side–or, rather, the side of human beings who value their health, their worlds, and their environments. On your side are a tiny handful of very wealthy folks who owe their big bucks to environmental rape, and the states who act as their paid off agents.

    Otherwise, I’ve no good reason to continue to entertain propagandistic redundancies that are demonstrably false.


    Wendy Lynne Lee

  9. I do work for the natural gas industry, I thought that was established. I didn’t say that philosophy is “useless.” In fact all undergrads should take a few hours, I think. I said it was that Philosophy as a discipline is “virtually not salable outside of higher education,” which I believe to be true (am I wrong, where is the huge job market for philosophers?). I don’t recall calling names, I do recall reacting to your insinuation that I am a misogynist. Again the facts are, there is not a single incident of fracing ruining a water well. I agreed with the idea that very rarely (and almost non existent with current practices)problems with the casing and / or cement has caused problems but Dr. Lee prefers to ignore 60 years of data when it doesn’t support her theories. The class warfare thing, by the way is nice and so in vogue.

  10. Just for clarification: I did not refer to you as “misogynist,” Mr. Caldarelli. Sexist–clearly, but that’s merely on its way to misogynist.

    And you are just painfully, ridiculously wrong about the environmental dangers of fracking, casings, and the massive collateral damage made possible via fracking. Indeed, it is now shown that fracking is an even greater threat to climate change that coal-fired power plants. But perhaps you don’t believe in climate change either, or natural selection or a heliocentric universe–or the fact that the wealthy have gotten immensely wealthier at the direct expense of the working poor. But this too is plain demonstrable fact. I have laid out facts over and over here. You merely repeat a phrase, “60 years…”

    So–you’ve answered my query–you have nothing really to talk about.


    Wendy Lynne Lee

    • Dr Lee, I truly appreciate conversing with you. You are the amalgamation of every possible stereotype applied to left wing, out of touch academics. And actually, you are right, I don’t believe in man made climate change though, I do believe what I learned as a Geology student, that the earth as warming as it comes out of the glaciation during the Pleistocene Epoch. I do actually believe in natural selection. For example, I believe that pragmatic people who are competent and who can achieve goals end up working at some useful enterprise during their life and that starry eyed idealist who want to drive Subarus that are woven from hemp and that are fueled with unicorn tears either Occupy Wall Street or become university faculty. As far as the Heliocentric Universe, The last time I checked the sun was not the center of the universe, in fact its not even the center of our galaxy, just our solar system, though I must admit that I would have thought that you believed that the faculty club was the center of the universe. The people who have gotten immensely wealthy in this country have done so because they either created a good or service that was exceptional and enriched us all (Apple, Microsoft) or because they colluded with the government (Solyndra, Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine etc) and did in fact squander our tax dollars. By the way, the path out of being “poor” in America (where Ninety-seven percent of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.) is to work full time and don’t have children unless you are married and over the age of 20. You have not stated facts about fracing, you have stated exaggerated environmental hyperbole. All I’m asking is that you present the document cases where fracing has damaged freshwater aquifers. There have been over a million wells fraced in the USA. Certainly if this practice is dangerous there should be a plethora of examples, right? Dr. Lee, you have a Merry Christmas, sincerely.

  11. Dr. Lee, I found your blog. What a splendid cornucopia of misinformation. Unfortunately I can’t respond to your blog, because correcting the misinformation you spew could be someones full time job, so I will respond here to just one of your erroneous paragraphs. Lets look at what you have to say”

    “Mr. Caldarelli misrepresents both Bloomsburg and Northcentral Pennsylvania with respect to fracking. He is correct that DRILLING has been with us for some time–notably to significant negative environmental effect–but the process properly called fracking is a relative newcomer to the region as a drilling METHOD. Why Mr. Caldarelli should want to misrepresent these facts, I have no idea–other than that he hopes to perpetuate the myth that no serious environmental consequences will come from fracking, a claim clearly and demonstrably false.”

    Fracing is not a form of drilling. It is a well treatment. It has been used since the late 1940’s and it is not new to the oil fields of Pennsylvanian. I’m not sure when the first Hydraulic Fracturing was done in Pennsylvania, but I know people who were working in the 1970’s fracing wells in the North Central PA gas field. Gas wells virtually blanket north central PA but most people are too busy fishing, hunting, camping, bird watching etc in that beautiful environment to even realize that the wells exist. Having said that, I’m not quite sure where the assertion that “DRILLING has been with us for some time–notably to significant negative environmental effect” is grounded in truth. Some environmental impact occurs in all that we do, but compared to all other forms of energy production gas wells have much less environmental impact. I know that Dr. Lee doesn’t believe a thing that I say because I’m not University faculty, so here is a statement from someone who is: There have been “Over 1,000,000 hydraulic fracturing stimulations within the USA without compromising fresh groundwater.” Dr. Terry Engelder PhD, Dept of Geosciences, Penn State University. But he’s probably a sexist too . . Ahahahahahaha.

  12. Dear Mr. Caldarelli,

    It just is difficult to know where even to begin–but one thing is quite clear: You’re not the least bit interested in facts (as I have provided you a cornucopia), or argument (as you resort only to stereotype, ridicule, and insult), or even dialogue (or you’d actually have read and be prepared to respond to the facts and the arguments). Yours is clearly and has always been an ideological mission to defend your turf and your paycheck. In your latest response, for example, you simply ignore the facts about Pennsylvania’s history of contamination from coal and oil–despite the fact that this is about as well-documented as it could be. You then seek to dismiss my arguments via a ridiculous claim that I don’t believe you because you’re not university faculty. No, sir, I don’t believe you because you are plainly and demonstrably wrong. Referencing Terry Engelder (who I have gone to hear) offers you little cover as his arguments have been so fully and roundly defeated by folks like Tony Ingraffia that it’s a little embarrassing for you. Fracking is absolutely part of drilling. To claim it is a well treatment is like claiming that the way a thing is done has no effect on the consequences of what it produces–that, as you know, is manifestly false. Please re-read the USGS on this score–or the myriad cases I have sited. It IS interesting that you astutely avoid any mention of Dimock.

    In any case, I think this has run its course. You have nothing to add that’s not ridicule–and that is because you have no argument. Please let me recommend a YouTube:


    Wendy Lynne Lee

  13. Coal? Of course coal mining has caused environmental damage. Its amazing how you change topics. Coal mining and natural gas drilling are two vastly different things. The fact that you would lump coal mining and drilling for natural gas together is an example of your breathtaking ignorance on the topic. I avoid mentioning Dimock because the discussion here is on Fracing, not on naturally occurring shallow methane. As I understand it, Cabot Oil and Gas is going to start drilling again. Yes, there is naturally occurring Methane in fresh water aquifers. Or as the New York DEP puts it “The existence of naturally occurring methane seeps in New York has been known since the mid 1600s.” Now Tony Ingraffia is the wacko activist from Cornell right? He has been discredited by studies done all over the place like at U of Maryland: “[W]e have demonstrated that the fugitive emissions from the [shale] drilling process are very likely not substantially higher than for conventional gas.”

    “[A]rguments that shale gas is more polluting than coal are largely unjustified.” (Univ. of Maryland, submitted June 2011; published Oct. 25, 2011)

    Carnegie Mellon: “We don’t think [Cornell] is using credible data and some of the assumptions they’re making are biased. And the comparison they make at the end, my biggest problem, is wrong.” (Lead researcher Paula Jaramillo, Aug. 2011)

    The Us Department of Energy: “[The Cornell study] found a large fraction of produced gas from unconventional wells never made it to end users, assumed that all of that gas was vented as methane, and thus concluded that the global warming impacts were huge. As the [Dept. of Energy] work explains, though, 62 percent of that gas isn’t lost at all – it’s ‘used to power equipment.’” (CFR blog, May 20, 2011)

    The Council on Foreign Relations even weighs in: “Alas, [the Cornell] analysis is based on extremely weak data, and also has a severe methodological flaw (plus some other questionable decisions), all of which means that his bottom line conclusions shouldn’t carry weight.” (CFR’s Michael Levi,”

    and many more including, most interesting I think, some of Ingraffia’s own colleagues at Cornell: “We argue here that [Howarth’s and Ingraffea’s] analysis is seriously flawed in that they significantly overestimate the fugitive emissions associated with unconventional gas extraction, undervalue the impact of ‘green technologies’ to reduce those emissions to a level approaching that of conventional gas, base their comparison between gas and coal on the wrong metric, and assume an inappropriate time interval over which to compute the relative climate impact of gas vs coal.” (Cornell professor Lawrence M Cathles III, et al; paper submitted June 2011)

  14. Mr. Caldarelli:

    1. I have not “lumped together” coal mining and natural gas extraction. I have demonstrated that both–in however different ways–are environmentally horrific. The evidence speaks for itself, and I shall not continue to review it with you. You know better, and your penchant for denial is simply not a thing I am qualified to address.

    2. Your understanding of Dimock is stunningly ignorant. Please consult the DEP on this case. Please note particularly the fines leveled against Cabot for well contamination and casing blow out. That Cabot is going to begin drilling there is a grotesque miscarriage of justice.

    3. New York is DEC, not DEP.

    4. The Maryland study unequivocally does not refute Ingraffia, and you have taken this quote entirely out of context.

    5. Paula Jaramillo is already discredited. She works at the behest of the INDUSTRY FUNDED RenewElec (–she works, like you FOR the natural gas industry, and particularly towards promoting the absurd “argument” for natural gas as a transition fuel.

    6. Moreover, ALL of the material you posted in criticism of Ingraffia is from Master Resource, a “free market energy blog,” and hence is entirely biased FOR the gas industry. Master Resource exists as a lobbying source to resist government regulation of Big Energy–what a hoot that you’d think anyone should take THAT seriously! And it gets even better! Master Resources principle advocate is Robert Bradley, Jr: “In 1985, Bradley joined HNG-InterNorth (soon to be renamed Enron) as a Houston-based analyst with Transwestern Pipeline Company, which sold natural gas to the California market. An interstate gas transmission company, Transwestern was regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which provided Bradley with an education into cost-of-service, public-utility regulation.” So, honestly, Mr. Caldarelli–you’ll have to try harder than THIS (

    7. AS for Michael Levi–a proponent of the simply insane Keystone Pipeline that even Nebraska’s Republican governor opposes, he is roundly refuted here: Moreover, even Levi doesn’t support the inflated jobs claims purported by Big Energy:

    8. Site your sources. I do, and I can only imagine you don’t because you know they’re easily discredited for industry bias.

    But here are among the most important issues:

    1. However much you insist on keeping this discussion to the VERY narrow issues revolving around fracking itself, the issues are vastly broader and greater–involving a level of massive collateral damage not only to aquifers and waterways generally–but to roads and bridges from truck traffic.

    2. You entirely ignore the damage done to the property values of persons who lease their land OR who live near persons who have so leased. This evidence is very clear, and I have documented it above and on my blog.

    3. You entirely ignore the damage done to communities divided by those who have sold out (or have been suckered by folks like yourself) and those who maintain that clean water and environmental integrity matter.

    4. You entirely ignore the fact that the amount of energy it takes to frack a well–from inception to completion–costs MORE in the long term than what the well is likely to produce.

    I can only conclude that you try to keep the discussion to the very narrow issues of the fracking itself because you know you have no defense against these other charges. But that, sir, is simply a sophistic move to win–without consideration of the truth.

    The truth is that there is nothing to defend fracking. It is a rape of the environment and the communities that it destroys.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  15. And one brief point, Mr. Caldarelli, about the safety of injection wells, this one from the U.S. EPA. The fines, it must be said, are paltry at best, but the environmental destruction is very very real. (

    Bell Township, Clearfield County, PA
    EXCO Resources (PA), LLC
    300 Ericsson Drive, Suite 200
    Warrendale, PA 15086-5501


    Docket No. SDWA-03-2012-0061

    Water Protection Division
    Office of Drinking Water & Source Water Protection
    Ground Water & Enforcement Branch, (3WP22)
    1650 Arch Street
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
    Comments will be accepted until February 3, 2012.

    NOTICE: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region III is hereby giving notice that it has entered into a Consent Agreement and Final Order (“CAFO”) with EXCO Resources (PA), LLC (“EXCO”) for violations of its Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program Permit and the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Specifically, EXCO violated the terms of its UIC permit by failing to immediately cease injection of brine into the Irvin A-19 Brine Disposal Well (“Irvin Well”) upon discovering that the well had failed mechanical integrity. The CAFO also finds EXCO in violation for failing to provide EPA with proper notice of a mechanical integrity failure and of a well rework. Finally, the CAFO finds that EXCO operated the Irvin Well at a pressure exceeding its permitted maximum injection pressure for a three month period in 2010. The CAFO will require EXCO to properly repair the Irvin Well, demonstrate mechanical integrity of the well, and pay a penalty of one hundred fifty-nine thousand six hundred twenty-four dollars ($159,624). The penalty is based on the gravity of the violations and on avoided expenses associated with the continued injection of brine during the period of failed mechanical integrity. There was no documented contamination to underground sources of drinking water.
    NEED AND DESCEIPTION: In Pennsylvania, the UIC program is directly implemented by EPA. Therefore, EPA is responsible for issuing enforcement actions to address violations of the UIC Program.
    OPPORTUNITY FOR COMMENT: Section 309(g) of the Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1319(g), requires that interested persons be given notice of the proposed penalty and a reasonable opportunity to comment. Procedures by which the public may submit written comments or participate in the proceedings are described in the Consolidated Rules of Practice Governing the Administrative Assessment of Civil Penalties, Issuance of Compliance or Corrective Action Orders, and the Revocation, Termination or Suspension of Permits,(Consolidated Rules), 40 C.F.R. Part 22. The deadline for submission of written public comments is forty (40) days after issuance of the public notice. Comments should be made to:
    Regional Hearing Clerk (3RC00)
    U.S. EPA–Region III
    1650 Arch Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

    Pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 22.13(b), this proceeding is simultaneously commenced and concluded by the issuance of a consent agreement and final order pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 22.18(b)(2). This public notice constitutes notification to the public of the assessment of a civil penalty in a proceeding commenced pursuant to § 22.13(b), no less than 40 days before the issuance of an order assessing a civil penalty.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Interested parties may contact the following EPA representative to learn more about this action:
    Zachary Moor (3RC20)
    U.S. EPA Region 3
    1650 Arch Street
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    Roger Reinhart (3WP22)
    U.S. EPA Region 3
    1650 Arch Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    Top of page

    Lancaster County, Pa
    Armstrong Environmental Services

    1650 Arch Street
    Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103
    Comments will be accepted until January 31, 2012.

    Action: Notice of Proposed Assessment of Clean Water Act Section 309(g) Class II Penalty
    and Opportunity to Comment
    NOTICE: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region III, is hereby giving notice that it has entered into a Consent Agreement and Final Order (“CAFO”) which both commences and concludes the administrative action against Small Tube Products, LLC, 200 Oliphant Drive Ducansville, PA 16635. This CAFO assesses an administrative penalty of seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) under Section 309(g) of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1319(g), for violation of the Clean Water Act by discharging in excesses of the pollutant limits set forth in the facility’s NPDES Industrial Wastewater Discharge Permit No. 10-04. The following further identifies the case and should be included in any written comments submitted:
    Name of Case: Small Tube Products, LLC
    Docket No. CWA-03-2012-0016
    Property located at:
    200 Oliphant Drive
    Ducansville, PA 16635
    OPPORTUNITY FOR COMMENT: Section 309(g) of the Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1319(g), requires that interested persons be given notice of the proposed penalty and a reasonable opportunity to comment. Procedures by which the public may submit written comments or participate in the proceedings are described in the Consolidated Rules of Practice Governing the Administrative Assessment of Civil Penalties, Issuance of Compliance or Corrective Action Orders, and the Revocation, Termination or Suspension of Permits,(Consolidated Rules), 40 C.F.R. Part 22. The deadline for submission of written public comments is forty (40) days after issuance of the public notice. Comments should be made to:
    Regional Hearing Clerk (3RC00)
    U.S. EPA–Region III
    1650 Arch Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029

    Pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 22.13(b), this proceeding is simultaneously commenced and concluded by the issuance of a consent agreement and final order pursuant to 40 C.F.R. § 22.18(b)(2). This public notice constitutes notification to the public of the assessment of a civil penalty in a proceeding commenced pursuant to § 22.13(b), no less than 40 days before the issuance of an order assessing a civil penalty.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Interested parties may contact the following EPA representative to learn more about this action:
    Douglas W. Frankenthaler (3RC20)
    Assistant Regional Counsel
    1650 Arch Street
    U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
    Philadelphia, PA 19103
    Matthew R. Colip (3WP42)
    NPDES Enforcement Branch
    U.S. EPA–Region III
    1650 Arch Street
    Philadelphia, PA 19103

  16. Dr. Lee, that Cabot is going to resume drilling is not a gross miscarriage of justice, its a realization that the problem is safe. You lump coal mining and drilling for natural gas together. I can point to many areas harmed by coal mining (subsidence, acid mine drainage etc) but I cannot point to one area that has been similarly impacted by gas or oil exploration. Yes there have been exceptionally rare occasions, as I have stated before (like the casing blow out Cabot had), that freshwater aquifers have been harmed by drilling, but never by fracing and with the new methods of casing wells the danger of problems are almost non existent. I never mentioned my “understanding of Dimock” I merely cited researchers who though his research was shoddy at best and more likely actually dishonest. That, by the way, is my “understanding of Dimock,” that he is a dishonest zealot who releases biased research to further his political ends. I apologize for referencing the New York DEP without explaining. See, I’m used to dealing with people who have a modicum of understanding about what occurs beneath the earth’s surface. “Geology” doesn’t end or alter at state lines. New York and PA (and WV, Eastern OH, KY, parts of TN etc.)are part of the “Appalachian Basin Province” and without going to deeply into it, lets just say that that means that the geology is similar so that NY findings are relevant to PA (that would be scientific findings, not political ones). But in any case, here is some items from PA:

    Wacko Claim: “[Beth] Voyles said fracturing chemicals seeped into the ground and evaporated into the air from a 15-million-gallon wastewater pond that a drilling company carved into a hill just east of her farm. … Voyles, 53, said the air is polluted and nearby drilling caused her well and a spring used by the family to run dry. The family’s champion barrel horse and prized boxer both died in 2010. She said the horse died after losing more than 100 pounds, and tests showed that the boxer had been poisoned by ethylene glycol.” (“’Fracking’ Future,” Sept. 25 )


    • Pennsylvania DEP lays out very different story in letter to Ms. Voyles: “[O]ver a period of three months, on 24 separate occasions, the Department visited your property and detected no malodors..” (DEP letter to Ms. Voyles, Sept. 22, 2011)

    • More context from PA DEP: “Additionally, last summer, the Department conducted a short-term study of ambient air concentrations of target pollutants near certain Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations in southwestern Pennsylvania [including your property] … Results of the ambient air sampling did not identify concentrations of any compound that would likely trigger air-related health issues associated with Marcellus Shale drilling activities.” (DEP letter to Ms. Voyles, Sept. 22, 2011). According to DEP, the Voyles’ property is located less than 800 feet from a junkyard.

    • DEP reiterates findings in letter to Ms. Voyles’ neighbor: “The methane gas in your water well was clearly identified through isotopic analysis to be drift gas, not natural gas that would be coming from a gas well. … The three hydrocarbons detected at low levels are common reagents in laboratories, are used as solvents and cleaning agents and can be found in groundwater throughout Pennsylvania where there has been residential or industrial development.” (DEP letter to Mr. Loren Kiskadden, Sept. 9, 2011)

    • Voyles’ own veterinarian disputes her statement: “On November 10, 2010, you voluntarily supplied Range Resources with lab results from both your dog and horse veterinarians. Upon review of these results, Range contacted the canine and equine veterinarians. … [I]t was stated by the veterinarian that the test results were inconclusive for anti-freeze [ethylene glycol] poising. … The veterinarian indicated that the horse had toxicity of the liver, which he felt was not related to [ethylene glycol] poising.” (Range letter to Voyles, Jan. 14, 2011)

    • Range doesn’t even use ethylene glycol in its fracturing operations, and tests for metals came up clean: “[F]ollowing conversations with the veterinarians, Range ordered additional testing of your water supplies, including testing for heavy methals such as arsenic, mercury and lead. … Upon review of the information provided [by independent, state-certified Microbac Laboratories], the test results … indicate that both of your water supplies meet all of the EPA minimum primary drinking water standards for all parameters tested. Based on your concerns, we had also tested for ethylene glycol which was not detected in the water from either of your water supplies … In addition, [neither] methane, ethane nor oil and grease were detected in either of your water supplies.” (Range letter to Voyles, Jan. 14, 2011)

    Now Dr Lee, it seems clear that every piece of information I put up here is by people who you discredit for ties to the industry, but I am supposed to believe that Tony Ingraffia speaks the God’s honest (or would that be “Gaia’s honest” ) truth? You say that I ignore damage done to communities. I am asking you where? Where is this damage? There are well that have been fraced all over and with the exception of very rare cases like the Cabot issue (by the way, I focus on fracing because the environmentalist focus on fracing and I have agreed where there has been other issues), there have been no problems and zero widespread issues. You insinuate that I only have my beliefs because I work in the Gas industry, but I came to work for the natural gas industry because I believe in it, not the other way around. Her is my favorite statement of yours:

    “You entirely ignore the fact that the amount of energy it takes to frack a well–from inception to completion–costs MORE in the long term than what the well is likely to produce.”

    You are a philosophy professor. Tell me how we could make money if this is true? This may be the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Now, Ethanol, Wind, Solar, they need propped up by extension government money, and they still can’t compete, but we have to make money. I can’t believe how ridiculous this statement is. I have to post it on my Facebook. Please tell me Dr. Philosophy Professor, if these are your assumptions:

    A. The Oil industry is greedy and wants to make money selling energy
    B. Energy costs money
    C. We use more energy completing wells than the energy the wells produce

    How do we make money?

  17. I am not a Geologist or an academic. In reading all the replies, it is an interesting argument by both sides, but my question is one that Mr. Calderelli has posed several times: Are there incidents where Fracking/Fracing has contaminated ground water?

    If, according to Mr Calderelli, this has been going on since the 50s in PA, wouldn’t we have recorded incidents if it is truly unsafe?



  18. No slater…there is NO evidence that the fracing process has caused ground water contamination. NOW, fracing has caused methane to migrate into the aquifers because of inadequate cement jobs.

    I happened across this site by chance. I am in a unique position as I have deep dived in fracing. I received my Ph.D. from MIT in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.

    I received a grant from several think tanks (Both conservative and, Liberal) and the DOE to do my post-doctoral work on fracing “safety” and create a true risk approach. Basic risk reward. Wendy it is Fracing not fracking as it is derived from fracturing….notice the absence of a K!

    Slater, the risk is not to ground water but surface water. There are 7 layers of cement and casing (pipe) between the ground water and the fracing fluids. That being sampled 100’s of wells flow back water. Tony is correct the chemical are used in very small amounts. Mainly friction reducers and very very small amounts of biocides. To my surprise most of the samples had chemicals below the thresholds of the SDWA. It was as clean as tap water EXCEPT for the one HUGE culprit, SALINE. That’s the irony, it is basically salt water. I did has a few hit one some organic and inorganic contaminants. Also NORM (Naturally Occurring Radio Active Material was a Concern). Not jaw dropping levels but some parts of the formations do contain NORM at low levels. The DEP actually sampled rivers and streams and found no levels above the federal drinking water standard for Radium 226 and 228. I actually read the study and it was statically significant.

    Slater the concern would be this flow back water getting into a stream, pond, and river…surface waters. This would be a concern mainly if a well got out of control. The DEP has passed great legislation with offsets and measures to take to protect surface waters. The risk on location is not the water that is used for fracing but the storage of these chemicals on location. They are normally stored in 300 gallon totes and are always in containment and diked. It would be an issue of soil contamination. Also 80% of the water used stays in the formation. That is one thing I do not like. I want all of a natural recourse not 20%. But in the scheme of things this still is a very small number. Other industries such as golf course use magnitudes more of H2O than fracing in PA.

    All flow back water is treated and reused. The industry in right on the cusp of saying 100% reuse. The water that now cannot be reused is handled by deep injection wells. No flow back water is now taken to a POTYW and returned to surface water. OOOps POTW (Public Owned Treatment Works), your local sewer agency :-). The DEP and the Governor asked for zero surface discharge and the industry has complied.

    From my experience I see the independent producers as more of a risk. They do not have the resources to perform extensive Process Safety reviews. Apply the best technology and use redundancies in the system to ensure incidents are kept at an absolute minimum.

    The super majors on the other hand bring a very different approach. I must disclose the I did have Shell scientist teach parts of my courses. Shell, Exxon, Chevron its safety first and you will do it safely or not at all. In fact I am super impressed with Chevrons total commitment to safety. Their senior management are IN THE FIELD a few times a week talking safety and demanding that the contractors (me) use stop work authority for any concern. I am not sure if Tony has worked with Chevron but if he has he will tell you that when they say we ALWAYS work in a safe and controlled manner…they mean ALWAYS. They empower everyone and really drive Incident Free Operations IFO. I have seen them shut down a process because a truck driver had concerns on slippage of several sites, Work was suspended right then! The independents will not be able to compete with the super major in efficiency and therefore will not be around in 5 years imo. THAT IS A GOOD THING!

    Wendy your letter is out dated diesel has not been used in years…that just one issue. There are dozens and dozens of misunderstood concepts that you write about. It would take me a day to address these inaccuracies. Wendy I was very disappointed that you brought up a feminist slant on Tony. As Tony may be sarcastic he never said anything remotely sexist. I think reading these responses a wise crack or two is all in fun, but labeling a person a racist, sexist, ect. Is not appropriate. I felt it was childish because it was obvious you were angry and threw a stone. You also showed a side of academia that I find very pompous. The whole call me a doctor thing. To put this in perspective….my mother introduces me and says he called a doctor but not the one that helps people, the one that pushes paper 🙂

    From your BIO…Her areas of specialization include feminist theory, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of ecology.

    She is especially concerned to articulate the fraught intersections among and between these very different discourses.

    She teaches Feminist Philosophy (28.308), and is faculty advisor to Phi Sigma Tau, the national philosophy honor society.

    I would never try and talk in specifics about feminist theory or philosophy of the mind as I do not have the breadth of education or experience to speak to these issues.

    When you state: “4. You entirely ignore the fact that the amount of energy it takes to frack a well–from inception to completion–costs MORE in the long term than what the well is likely to produce.” You better be able to back that up???? Please tell me the cost of fracing a well and the return of the average well? That statement floored me. These companies do not take any subsidies that almost all other industries do to get them to come to PA. No Tax breaks, No special side deals. They pay the cost and do get a good return.

    I would highly suggest that you contact a Shell, actually Chevron and ask them to visit a well site and have them walk you through the process.

    Wendy as I looked at your background rate your professor came up. You are, from the reviews, a FANTASTIC Prof! I did giggle when on the first page a student said u were fantastic but were a screaming feminist/liberal :-). I am relatively new to this country and find it interesting how everyone gets into two groups and has absolute knowledge. They just fight and reiterate their point. Absolute knowledge is blind!

    I do not think I will stay in oil and gas for my lively hood…..but I have to say the majors are taking over have the safety of all employees and the community FIRST. I see it every day in the field while doing my work.

    Also I am sorry if my spelling or English is not great. It is not my first language and I learned English 5 over 5 years ago and still find it difficult to communicate.

    • We do work with Chevron. They are incredibly safe. As I stated below, I think for the most part everyone is raising their safety and environmental standards.

  19. Dear Mr./Ms. Slater, for a clear concession about the in fact contamination of groundwater from the folks on the pro-fracking side, please look here:

    Five points:

    1. I will make a response to Tim Worstall of Forbes the subject, in part, of my January submission to Raging Chicken, and a continuation of this series. His argument is abysmal–and would be absysmal AS an argumentative strategy no matter what he was arguing for or against. I will lay this out in careful detail.

    2. I have posted a selection of examples relevant to the contamination of groundwater in a number of my posts here–please consult them again.

    3. To ask whether fracking contaminates groundwater as if this were the only or even the primary question is to misunderstand the issues and their scope. Yes, groundwater IS clearly and irrevocably contaminated, and YES the consequences of this pose serious dangers to the environment, human and nonhuman health, and to the communities that depend on this water. But this is not the only danger posed by fracking. It’s just the one Mr. Caldarelli would have you believe. Here are others:

    (a) That frack fluids–a full half–are allowed to evaporate in open air pits is at least as dangerous as the fracking process itself. This evaporation returns to us in the form of rain, etc–and is profoundly contaminated. It is also a clear propellant of climate change–despite the fact that Mr. Caldarelli denies climate change (and the science here is simply as definitive as the science is for anything).

    (b) That we are seeing an increasing number of trucking accidents involving the spilling of frack fluids OR the illegal dumping of frack waste in state parks is another source of serious contamination Mr. Caldarelli does not want to address. This involves both water and air, and is flatly not containable.

    (c) That fracking requires the removal of literally billions of gallons of water that is not EVER returnable to the water table means that that water is gone forever for any other use–including drinking. And it means that what is left will be in danger of ever more concentrated toxins. The Susquehanna was recently approved by the SRBC (Susquehanna River Basin Commission) for the removal of what will come to 8 billion gallons next year (run on their own specified numbers of gallons and numbers of withdraw actions). That Mr. Caldarelli refuses to address this issue is very telling.

    (d) When you consider the “start to finish” process of this form of natural gas production, the water used, the fracking itself, the trucking, the number of trucks to haul clean water and remove waste given the number of gallons required, the fuel used by those trucks, the emissions of those trucks, the road destruction, the bridge destruction, what’s required to construct and maintain a compressor station, the storage of highly concentrated frack fluids on the site of a compressor station, that these can be built within 1000 feet of a hospital or school, the loss of property value, the fact that second mortgages are now being denied to people who have leased their land, the serious constitutional issues the revolve around forced pooling, the gutting of municipality powers in favor of the state attorney general’s office, and the sheer divisiveness this has generated among folks who have lost control over land they can no longer sell–the cradle to grave story here is one of wholesale disaster. Even if fracking does provide jobs (and this is flatly false–most of these jobs are imports from OK and TX), the long-term consequences cannot provide an adequate defense of a process this devastating.

    4. The way out of our energy dilemma is equally clear-cut: Solar CAN be utilized in vastly greater ways than Mr. Caldarelli acknowledges. Ditto for wind, hydroelectric, photovoltaic, and others. In assuming that we will continue to use the quantities of energy we are currently consuming, he also fails to account for the key to our energy future: smarter use and conservation. Whether we frack our way to environmental destruction or not, the petroleum well is vanishing–Fracking is simply the last gasp of denial before this show comes to an end, We can either begin the hard but creative work of actually thinking about the future free of fossil fuels or we can wretch our way through the ugly and ultimately dishonest rationalizing Mr. Caldarelli and his Fracking-Corporations offer us. But if we think for one minute that these corporations care one iota for human welfare or anything like the common good, we are fooling ourselves. What this is all about is money–money concentrated in the hands of the corporations, the governments, their corrupted agents–like Governor Corbett–and the agencies–like the PA-DEP and SRBC who have demonstrated beyond doubt that they are willing and ready to be bought by the lobbyists who offer their agents jobs post Corbett.

    5. I am now done responding to Mr. Caldarelli. He is immune to both logic and evidence. My hope is that if I have the correct fellow–the excellent blues guitar player–that he is indeed far better at his musical pursuits than he is at objectivity. Despite his ugly and cheap insinuation that I have something to gain for the position I have adopted, nothing could be further from the truth. That is, I have no monetary interest in this correspondence. I DO have this interest–one I will happily go to the mat with anyone to defend: I DO care about the welfare of my fellows and their children. I am deeply invested in the public good. I am in this fight because it is the right fight to wage, and I have the evidence and the reasoning on my side. And that’s it–that’s the pay-off for me.


    Wendy Lynne Lee

  20. I am not as knowledgable on this subject then Mr Calderelli or yourself, from a common man’s understanding of renewable energy and oil/gas drilling, I do not think it is feasible to supply enough energy from some of the sources you list.

    I feel nuclear energy is a clean alternative that we should explore. Driving between Lancaster county and Pittsburgh, I pass the wind farm on the turnpike in Somerset and there is also some solar panels just outside of Harrisburg. The amount of windmills or panels needed to supply us with energy seems to be just as harmful to te environment as these drilling platforms. How many road and trees need to be cut down to build these “farms”. How many fish are killed to harness tidal power and hydroelectric dams and birds killed by spinning blades?

    My suggestion is a combination of both.

  21. To: Slater Waltz, Wendy Lee

    The problem with renewable energy as compared to fossil fuels is the cost to produce. Until this gap is bridged, fossil fuels will continue to be the world’s prime energy source.

    Nuclear power is a great source for energy production, but when we do have a nuclear disaster the consequences are very severe. Our nuclear regulatory policy is substantially poor and the majority of nuclear power plants are currently in default of mechanical integrity. I encourage you to look at the side effects of the BP Macondo spill compared to the Chernobyl disaster. Its worth looking at and as I write this I do not want to portray myself as an advocate to either disaster.

    As far as fracturing goes, it has been around for a long time. My father was fracking wells in the 1970’s for Dowell in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York. Halliburton fracced the first well in the 50’s. I myself am an Engineer in the natural gas business.

    I also encourage you to find information available that relates to global cooling in the 1970’s due to fossil fuels. In a short synopsis, the information presented was false with no scientific data to back up the theory. My point with this is that we as individuals need to be careful where we obtain our information from. It is so easy to pull information up from the world wide web, or to listen to the news and believe doomsday is shortly arriving. Can you remember the last time the news reported something good that was going on in America? Their are alot of advocates out there against drilling and fracking trying to make a quick dollar. One thing that gets overshadowed in this is that we as an industry are researching and developing clean energy and renewable resource advancements. It is only inevotable in time that the world will have to transition to these resources hence renewable.

    To: Wendy Lee

    I think you have every right in America to be concerned about the environment and the future of the well being of your family and friends. I myself care about the environment, my family, and friends. I am an avid outdoorsman and hunter. I was taught to respect the land. If hydraulic fracturing and natural gas drilling were harming the environment and people, the industry wouldnt be allowed to do it. The government would shut it down, just like lead based products. You can’t manufacturer lead based paint and it is not allowed in lipstick.

    I think if you sat down and talked to a geologist, engineer, or professional in the industry would give you valuable information. You may not agree with what they say but at least you would have the opportunity to get factual information from the industry.



  22. Reply to Loutarus Melavicis (about whom I could find no evidence to support the claim he had ever been at MIT, much less a PhD graduate): Please see this response to specifically Chevron:

    You’ll discover among other things that:

    “Although the Company attempts to imply that hydraulic fracturing in general, and specifically at this company, have no material environmental impacts, hydraulic fracturing operations have been linked to significant environmental impacts that could have financial implications for the company and are leading to increased regulatory scrutiny. As a result, the company faces sizable business risks but is currently not providing investors the necessary information to determine if it is successfully managing the associated risks. Shareholders are being asked to vote FOR a report summarizing the environmental impact of the hydraulic fracturing operations of Chevron and potential policies for the Company to adopt, above and beyond regulatory requirements, to reduce or eliminate hazards to air, water and soil quality from those activities. In its opposition statement, the company’s primary arguments against this proposal are:

    Chevron believes that regulations encompassing its hydraulic fracturing operations are sufficient and “well established”. Chevron believes that hydraulic fracturing is safe with only minor environmental impacts.
    Proponent rebuttal and rationale for a yes vote:

    1. State and Federal regulation of fracturing is far from settled and Chevron’s shareholders face significant financial risks due to tightening regulations.
    2. Chevron’s considerable reliance on hydraulic fracturing exposes the company to significant financial and environmental risks associated with the process, particularly in regards to issues related to water and toxic chemicals.
    3. Chevron’s disclosure is insufficient to provide investors the necessary information to determine whether the company is appropriately managing risk.
    4. Sector peers have responded to investor concerns and have begun to provide increased disclosure.”

    This is not speculation, this is FACT. Upshot: Even Chevron shareholders recognize that the risks of fracking outweigh the benefits to THEM:

    “As the use of hydraulic fracturing skyrockets, communities, regulators and investors are growing increasingly concerned about the environmental impacts of this process. Regulation at the state or federal level could have dramatic implications for all companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing, including Chevron, by tightening wastewater disposal requirements potentially restricting areas in which hydraulic fracturing may be performed, limiting materials that may be used, or otherwise increasing costs. In its opposition statement, Chevron states “regulatory protections are well established” and cites the conclusions of a 2009 study which “concluded that ‘state regulations are adequately designed to directly protect water resources.’”

    The proponents contend the above statement by the company and dependence on an old study is misguided because it fails to recognize the significant regulatory tightening that has happened at the state level since 2009 and is proposed at the federal level. Below the proponents document just how swiftly and significantly the regulatory landscape is shifting.”

    In other words, if states like PA, etc, strengthen environmental regulations against what the shareholders themselves KNOW to be the serious risks associated with fracking, they–the shareholders–will not make money.


    “Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Review: In 2009, Congress requested that the EPA carry out a study on the “relationship between hydraulic fracturing and drinking water” and the Agency’s Science Advisory Board encouraged the use of a “life cycle approach.” According to a draft plan released in February 2011, the EPA plans to take a comprehensive look at the fracturing lifecycle and will look at potential impacts to drinking water at every stage in the process. While the full report is not expected until 2014, a preliminary report is expected next year.xv

    As part of this study, the agency sent formal inquiry letters to nine of the leading service providers seeking detailed information on the chemicals and water used and produced in fracturing operations. While the letter from the EPA does allow companies to protect portions of their submissions as confidential business information, if the company does not claim such protections, the information will be made available to the public.

    In its opposition statement, Chevron points to a 2004 study by the EPA which found that fracturing was safe. Investors contend the findings of that study have been contested and, more importantly, EPA has launched its new study at Congress’ request.

    In March 2011, a former official who was at the EPA at the time of this decision was quoted saying the 2004 report “wasn’t meant to be a bill of health saying ‘well, this practice is fine. Exempt it in all respects from any regulation.’”xvi According to EPA employee and whistleblower Weston Wilson, the EPA’s 2004 report was “scientifically unsound.” He continues, “While EPA’s report concludes this practice poses little or no threat to underground sources of drinking water, based on the available science and literature, EPA’s conclusions are unsupportable.”xvii Others at the EPA contend the report’s conclusions have been over-applied. According to one of the study’s three main authors, Jeffrey Jollie, “It was never intended to be a broad, sweeping study… I don’t think we ever characterized it that way.”xviii

    These new developments indicate that the company’s reliance on 2004 data is insufficient and investors require increased transparency and recognition of risk to ensure the company is able to respond to the shifting regulatory climate.”

    And if you think that EXXON gets a pass here, please consider this:


    A striking indication that future regulations have the potential to dramatically influence natural gas development using hydraulic fracturing was contained in the merger agreement between oil giant ExxonMobil and shale gas heavyweight XTO Energy. ExxonMobil protected its right to back out of the deal if state or federal regulations significantly restrict hydraulic fracturing, rendering it illegal or commercially impracticable. This is a clear indication, that the industry recognizes there is substantial risk associated with potentially increased regulation. As a result, investors believe companies should provide a more detailed discussion of such risks to help ensure that companies are sufficiently prepared to respond to these regulatory changes.

    Because Chevron recently made a large acquisition, this proxy season, investors are inquiring about it’s due diligence process in conjunction with its acquisition of Atlas Energy, asking how it addressed such risks. Chevron has not responded either verbally or in writing to our due diligence questions around this purchase.

    The proponents are concerned that regulations are being discussed at the federal level and in various key states, but Chevron is not providing more than broad, vague information on the business implications of the impending regulations nor on how they are preparing for the likely reality of more regulations. We are concerned that our investments may be undermined by company decision-making and policies that could fall behind public and regulatory expectations for environmental protection.

    In other words, the major players have sought nothing other than to resist precisely the regulations they KNOW would be required to protect the environment (and that even this would be effective is HIGHLY unlikely as it pertains ONLY to the fracking process itself and not to the potential for massive collateral damage–please see previous post) because enacting the necessary regulations would be so costly because the risks are so high.

    So just as a reminder of the risks (and Mr. Melavicis is patently wrong about both the amount, the concentration and the kinds of chemicals used–I suggest he consult the EPA sited above on this point):

    “In June 2010, a blowout at an EOG well reportedly spewed gas and wastewater for 16 hours and was described by the Pennsylvania DEP as an event that posed “a serious threat to life and property.”xxi In response, the company was forced to shut down its operations in Pennsylvania for 40 days and pay $353,400 in fines.xxii

    In September 2010, a Chesapeake Energy well caught fire and the company was issued a violation for “failing to prevent the release of natural gas and the potential pollution of waters of the state.” The company’s operations at the site were shut down temporarily.xxiii

    In February 2011, three workers were injured in an explosion at a Chesapeake Energy facility. Employees were dealing with water produced in the hydraulic fracturing process at the time of the explosion.xxivn December 2010, two lawsuits were filed in federal court alleging that Chesapeake Energy and Encana Oil & Gas operations contaminated property owners’ water wells.xxv

    In September 2010, 13 families in Pennsylvania sued Southwestern Energy alleging that their drinking water was contaminated by the company’s drilling operations.xxvi


    In Colorado several years ago, EnCana reached a reportedly multi-million dollar settlement and was fined $266,000 by regulators for release of gas production waste and failure to protect water bearing formations.xxvii

    Cabot Oil &Gas and Atlas Energy Inc. also face lawsuits over alleged water contamination in Pennsylvania.xxviii”

    Not enough?

    “In September 2010, EPA officials warned residents in Wyoming not to drink their water after finding benzene and other harmful chemicals in drinking water wells. Officials also encouraged residents to use fans while showering and washing clothes to prevent a possible explosion.xxix

    In August 2010, the Pennsylvania DEP fined Atlas Resources over $97,000 “for allowing used hydraulic fracturing fluids to overfill a wastewater pit and contaminate a high-quality watershed.”xxx

    According to media reports, Range Resources faced enforcement actions twice in 2009 for the spillage of hydraulic fracturing fluids. In October 2009, the Company faced a $23,500 fine after it spilled close to 5000 gallons of water including fracturing fluids into a protected watershed that was a rich fish habitat.

    In another case, Range spilled more than 10,000 gallons of wastewater and as a result, there was a substantial fish kill and significant clean-up was required.xxxi Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation has experienced significant problems with its natural gas wells and hydraulic fracturing operations.

    In September 2009, Pennsylvania ordered Cabot Oil & Gas to shut down all hydraulic fracturing operations in Susquehanna County. Cabot also faces a lawsuit brought by over a dozen families in Dimock PA which alleges the company’s operations polluted their wells.xxxii

    In April 2010, in an effort to protect the residents of Dimock Township from gas migration from company wells, Pennsylvania ordered Cabot Oil & Gas to pay a $240,000 fine, install water treatment systems in 14 homes where drinking water was contaminated and barred the company from drilling any new wells in the township for a year.xxxiii

    In December 2010, the company agreed to pay residents of Dimock $4.1 million in compensation—paying each of the 19 families alleging damage twice the value of their home (with a minimum payment of $50,000) and paying the state $500,000 to mitigate the expense state agencies incurred exploring the problem.xxxiv

    As for radioactivity: (The New York Times investigation of EPA documents)

    “These documents reveal that wastewater…contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for…treatment plants to handle.” “..federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity…In other words, there is no way of guaranteeing that the drinking water taken in by all these plants is safe.”

    “Gas has seeped into underground drinking-water supplies in at least five states, including Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia, and residents blame natural-gas drilling.” “More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater was produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years…Most of this water—enough to cover Manhattan in three inches of water—was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste.”

    Of more than 170 wells producing wastewater with high levels of radiation, at least 116 reported levels of radium or radioactive materials 100 times as high as the levels set by federal drinking-water standards. At least 15 wells produced wastewater carrying more than 1,000 times the amount of radioactive elements considered acceptable.”

    And as for “recycling”:

    “According to a recent New York Times article, “No one wants to admit it, but at some point, even with reuse of this water, you have to confront the disposal question,” said Brent Halldorson, chief operating officer of Aqua-Pure/Fountain Quail Water Management, adding that the wastewater contains barium, strontium and radioactive elements that need to be removed.”xlii

    According to Pennsylvania regulators, even though companies are recycling substantial portions of their wastewater, more wastewater continue to be dumped into rivers because the number of drilling rigs continues to skyrocket.xliii”

    In other words, it eventually has to be dumped–what’s not evaporated and coming back down as rain, that is.

    And as for the claim about the few chemicals used–flatly false:

    “Hazen and Sawyer noted that well service companies and chemical suppliers providing data for New York State’s draft supplemental generic environmental impact statement for natural gas extraction and hydraulic fracturing (dSGEIS) list 197 chemical products and 260 unique chemicals.xliv”


    “Chevron does not provide any information on its fracturing operations on its website or in its SEC filings.”

    This report simply lays waste to any defense of hydraulic fracturing–which is properly referred to as fracKing.

    Loutarus Melavicis defense of Chevron, et. al, is straight out of the propaganda playbook for the industry, and that he allows industry representatives to teach courses sections for him as if they were something other than propaganda is academically unethical.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  23. To Anonymous:

    The notion that one gets factual information from an industry that stands to gain/has a vested interest in LYING to you is simply ludicrous. It took decades to get lead appropriately regulated; it took decades to get seat belts required in cars. The notion that the government–now more fully corporatized than ever–will without citizen pressure protect us from these corporations is also ludicrous. I am terribly sorry that you have apparently been snookered, but if you have not yet leased your land, I would plead with you to read through the post above from the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  24. Wendy I did all of my undergrad work over seas. My name was misspelled on my Visa….and therefore on everything. Call the department. I would just give you the correct spelling and save you the time but you are to ignorant, call me a sexist.

    Actually many of my classes where taught by Shell employees. Rich Sears is one of them. I owe a lot more to Shell than Chevron in my educational endeavors. But I am in South Western PA and working on many Chevron sites. They have no influence over me but I am very impressed with their committment to Safety! Shell has just as much of a committment but for Chevron it much more personal.

    Is it unethical when Whorton has a proffesor from the financial industry teaching a course? I had no clue about the oil and gas industry. NONE. I was going to do my Post D work either on Fracing or wave ripples in geological deposits….the ripples did not sound as exciting.

    I don’t want to bash other companies, I actually am on many of there sites. But as I stated some of the independents have tried to cut a corner or did not report an incident and they got hammered. The DEP will not tolerate BAD ACTORS.

    I was in the Balkan shale working with HESS….there is very or no oversight in North Dakota. HESS. I was at the Eagleford in Texas, very little oversight. Pennsylvanis have a VERY STRONG oversight.

    Because of you non professional attitude I will go down that road. Your back ground in question you have zero credentials to make any call on scientific theory of any kind. You can only stay in academia with a useless degree! Here are direct quotes from your students. You seem to really like to personally attack in a scientific and professional discussion….so what about these students?? This is just the first PAGE!

    Ms. Lee teaches defending your point of view only if it matches hers. Her class is propaganda for socialism and liberalism

    She isn’t helpful at all. If you copy notes directly from her mouth and then your essays from your notes, she still says you’re wrong. She purposely makes a 100 level class 20 times more difficult than any 200 or 300 level class I’ve ever taken. She’s incredibly biased and her “Devil’s Advocate” game is just her way of saying you’re wrong.

    It is obvious when I read your students comments you have an agenda… thats unethical.

    Oh and you know the old saying if you can’t get a real degree get one in Philosophy in womens studies?????

    It is not acedemic to attack peopel personally but again you really…well are just an other elective course that students have to endure.

    Again only an academic would say that it takes more money to drill and produce a well than than return in financial? Let me clarify, only a women in acedmic studies. There you go Wendy. Thats exactly how you sound. Personally attacking people and not facts is how you go about your arguments. All you do is copy and paste documents or ideas from the internet then go at people personally.

  25. Loutarus, I was waiting to see when Dr Lee attack you personally. You are obviously very knowledgeable, fracing is your specialty after all, so I was wondering when she would attack you personally instead of addressing your argument, which of course she had no actual retort for. You mentioned that you are fairly new to America so you may not have run into this. That is the tactic that radical leftist in America use as they are most often completely devoid of facts to back their assertions. Saul Alinsky wrote a book called “Rules For Radicals” that is the left’s playbook. The book is a celebration of unethical, any means to an end, Machiavellian tactics. I do have a bit of a different take on the impact of the Super Majors entering the Appalachian Basin. I really haven’t seen smaller operations go out of business, they may have adapted to other roles (drilling starter holes instead of drilling whole traditional vertical wells for example) but while doing so, the safety and environmental standards for everyone are improving. Thank you for your input on this blog. And yes Dr Lee, I do play blues guitar. Thank you for your kind words. Happy New Year to you both.

  26. “It is not acedemic to attack people personally but again you really . . . well are just an other elective course that students have to endure.”

    Absolutely Priceless!

  27. To Mr. Melavicis:

    1. Your explanation for refusing to spell your name correctly is beyond absurd. That your name was misspelled on your VISA is no reason whatever to continue the misspelling. The claim that I am “to (misspelled) ignorant” to understand….a misspelling…? Seriously….huh? Surely you can up with a better line of bull-pucky than this.

    2. I have in no way attacked you personally–indeed precisely the opposite is true and Mr. Caldarelli simply continues the projection of this as hominem fallacy. Moreover you have cherry-picked from the very few negative comments posted to Ratemyprofessor–and again: Seriously– Ratemyprofessor? ANYONE can post there. Honestly, if this is your idea of objective or scientific data, well, you might be interested in reading Tarot Cards, having your lifeline read, checking out some Sasquatch sites, or considering the possibility that aliens are responsible for Stonehenge. Anyone who’d like to see my ratings on RMP may look here–and I absolutely WELCOME them to do so.

    I also have no idea what you mean by my “unprofessional attitude.” I have posted substantial excerpts from a well-conducted study. That you cannot respond to the facts no doubt accounts for why you have chosen to go the path of this red herring–trying to make the issues at hand about me instead of about fracking–but your effort here is indeed quite transparent.

    3. Of COURSE, it’s unethical for someone with a vested interest in a money-making enterprise to teach a course that propounds the benefits of that enterprise when they themselves stand to gain monetarily from it. This is called conflict of interest, and it must be strictly resisted–especially in academia. That you “don’t want to bash”
    other fracking corporations says everything there is to say about your motives, namely, the preservation of your job and your own vested monetary interests. It also says everything there is to say about whether anyone ought to take you seriously. Why on earth would they? You will speak for your sponsors.

    4. Neither you nor Mr. Caldarelli have responded at all to the evidence–including that copiously accumulated and well-documented my the Sisters of St. Francis. Here’s why: You CAN’T. It’s CRUSHING for your case. You are welcome to proclaim the safety and public good welfare of Chevron until the cows come home–but the facts are the facts–and they demonstrate beyond any doubt that Chevron is as dirty, exploitive, environment and health-destroying a charlatan as in Hess–or any of the other players.

    5. Let me suggest that if you want to attack me in the future, you learn to spell “academic” correctly. As for Mr. Caldarelli, whatever his expertise with respect to the blues, his references to radical Leftists are right out of a broadcast of Glenn Beck’s–as indefensibly and willfully ignorant as the denial of climate change.

    Now, unless you’d like to discuss fracking–the topic of this thread–I am done. Your attempt as personalizing and distracting the reader from the issue is rather tedious, and insults the reader.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  28. Well Dr. Lee, Happy New Year. I wish to discuss fracing. I am still interested in hearing how a Full Professor of Philosophy can reconcile these statements:

    If these are your assumptions:

    A. The Oil industry is greedy and wants to make money selling energy.
    B. Energy costs money.
    C. We use more energy completing wells than the energy the wells produce.

    How does the energy industry make money?

  29. Dear Mr. Caldarelli:

    I have provided more than an answer to all of these questions. But the short answer is simply this: The Big Energy corporations are (and have always been) more than willing to trade off long-term expense for short term profits. Why? Because–as you certainly know–they will simply externalize these expenses to the taxpayers. HB 1950 and SB 1100 in PA could not make this any clearer than they do. Moreover, the fines thus far leveled against these corporations are a pittance compared to what they “earn” raping the environment and jeopardizing human and nonhuman health.

    Unconvinced? For a very clear and concise laying out of the corporate interests at stake here, please see:


    And now my turn for a question: If you are so convinced that I am wrong, why do you continue to try to engage me? Is it because you know, in fact, that the arguments and evidence I have laid out here are correct? But you need to believe otherwise? Is it because your erstwhile industry–the one that PAYS you–could eventually be jeopardized in some of their big “plays” by anti-fracking activists like me? (and this IS true–follow Keystone, for example, or the decisions made yesterday in Ohio about earthquakes and deep injection wells). Is it a guilty conscience? (well-earned, I might add)…

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  30. Dr. Lee, I’m not sure what your websites of alleged political cronyism has to do with your statement: “You entirely ignore the fact that the amount of energy it takes to frack a well–from inception to completion–costs MORE in the long term than what the well is likely to produce.” I agree that the government is too powerful and we should quit having the government pick their friends for , say $535 million like Solyndra got to develop unusable “green” energy. By the way, one of your websites said that Boone Pickens has a plan using Natural Gas and wind power. Pickens has given up on the wind power as a waste of money, time and resources. Now your statement wasn’t about “money” it was about “energy.” But lets look at money. Tell me where public money has been used to clean up a mess made by the natural gas industry. I would like to know. We have already seen that the “Green” energy uses up ridiculous amounts of tax money for almost no return.

    Lets talk about how people make money in a gas well because I’m not sure what “the Big Energy corporations are (and have always been) more than willing to trade off long-term expense for short term profits” means. Its so simple Full Professors of Philosophy can follow it.

    1. Someone decides that there is “$X” worth of recoverable gas in a particular reservoir (underground rock that holds gas or oil).

    2. It is determined that it will cost . . . say $1/20X to develop that gas

    3. They develop the well and sell the gas. At some point they have made back their initial investment and what they sell after that minus the lifting cost (Lifting cost refers to the cost of producing oil and gas after drilling is complete. Lifting costs includes the following: 1.transportation costs; 2.labor costs; 3.costs of supervision;;
    5.costs of operating the pumps; 6.electricity; 7.repairs; 8.depreciation;
    9.certain royalties payable to the lessor; 10.other incidental expenses) is profit (Ewwwwwwwww Profit!!!!! Ewwwwwwwwwww)

    4. They will continue to produce the well as long as money from gas sales is larger than the lifting costs.

    5. Once the well is now longer profitable the well is shut in (“Turned off”) and they wait to see if prices go up and make the well. profitable. The well could also be retreated (fraced) to increase production (making it profitable again) or it could be plugged and abandoned. (Cement is poured down the well, the well head and other equipment are removed and the land is reclaimed.

    Now, as to why I continue to engage you. Part of it is I enjoy argument, so I have fun. Certainly, if fracing were stopped my industry and the country would be harmed to the benefit of the foreign energy concerns that are funding the nonsense. Truly though, I don’t expect to change your mind or the mind of most anyone who would read “The Raging Chicken.” Mostly why I engage you is that you have provided the best demonstration of the irrational, unreasonable liberal that I could ever hope for. Your intransigence, your immediate charges of sexism (or racism or homophobia), the pompous “academic” demeanor . . . just the whole thing. You have changed the minds of friends of mine when I never could. My moderate and moderately liberal friends thought that my descriptions of people like you were hyperbole, but there you are! I need to actually thank you for that.
    Tony Caldarelli

  31. Dear Mr. Caldarelli,

    That you regard engagement with issues as significant to environmental sustainability, human health, nonhuman health, and community integrity as fracking to be mere fodder for a game–so that you can “have fun”–speaks volumes about your character, your values, and your concern for the public good.

    And you’re right–I should have realized that you weren’t interested in any discussion about the evidence from the beginning. My bad.

    And you’re right again–lots of folks HAVE been educated here, but from the looks of the email I have been getting, you’re simply deluded about what that lesson is. This exchange has been movement-building.

    I wholly understand that it’s frightening for you to witness the development of an actual movement against fracking–but I can also assure you that ad hominem, ridiculing cheap shots at one of its many activists will not deter the message.

    We are on the side of the public good; you are on the side of the cheap shot “fun” and the folks who line your pockets.

    Well and good.

    Thank you for that clarification.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

  32. Tony—

    You write: “…$535 million like Solyndra got to develop unusable “green” energy.” And you write: “the government is too powerful and we should quit having the government pick their friends”. Tony, it is obvious you suffer from grand delusions and are only on the current right wing bandwagon of hating the US government, clearly spending way too much time on ultra right wing blogs, or watching right wing TV and/or listening to right wing radio. When Bush wanted to attack Iraq I am 99% certain you were all red, white and blue then and anyone who said the reasons to attack Iraq were NOT valid you would have screamed they were NOT American!

    Tony, Solyndra failed because the Chinese—who have much greater funding from their government—have crushed US companies in “green energy”, such as solar and wind industries. It is not because “green energy” is as you say “unusable”. Please remove your head from the dirt. Green energy is growing rapidly around the globe. China is a leader here BECAUSE of government funding and support. The US could gain by following the practice. But the US spends so much LESS on “green energy” and supporting green companies, whereas the US gov supports fossil fuel companies far greater and that explains why the US is BEHIND the curve when it comes to smart practices like “green energy”. Wind and solar are growing at approximately 40% world-wide, dear Tony with your head in the dirt. Green energy is growing and it is far smarter and far more sustainable than the old tired, wasteful, horrifically polluting and cancer causing Fossil Fuel Paradigm like you want to keep being “dependent” on. Green energy is very usable and most of the world is aggressively choosing it OVER depending on fossil fuels. It is hardly unusable as you assert, Tony. But just as you want to drill to FRACK you choose to keep your head buried in the same dirt.

  33. Dr. Lee, The fact that you think that anything that I wrote is “movement building” just indicates how far removed from mainstream thought that you and your “movement” is. As far as “cheap shots” . . .who went immediately to the “sexist” comment? Even when Dr. Melavicis tried to be nice, and complementary you responded with bile and of course, he responded in kind. I certainly have received lots of feedback myself, even from people who believed themselves “liberal” that indicated their amazement at what you have written. By the way, I am all too happy to have people invest their money in “green” energy if they wish. I just don’t want tax dollars being wasted on it. witness Spain where each “green job” comes at the expense of 2.2 traditional jobs and helped hasten the collapse of their economy. In Germany, they are looking to reactivate Nuclear plants or build coal fire plants because even though they invested billions in “green” energy, its just not cutting it. In the UK and Minnesota we learned that wind turbines freeze up and stop working when it gets really cold, just when lots of energy is needed to heat homes. Speaking of the UK, here is a recent report by consultancy Verso Economics:

    • The report’s key finding is that for every job created in the United Kingdom in renewable energy, 3.7 jobs are lost. In Scotland, there is no net benefit from government support for the sector, and probably a small net loss of jobs.

    • The main policy tool used to promote renewable energy generation is the Renewables Obligation, which effectively raises the market price paid for electricity from renewable sources. This scheme cost electricity consumers £1.1billion in the United Kingdom and around £100 million in Scotland in 2009-2010.

    • This report uses the Scottish government’s own macroeconomic model for Scotland to assess the impact of identified costs on jobs. A similar model was used by the Scottish government to measure the opportunity cost of the cut in a value-added tax implemented in 2008-2009. Based on this, policy to promote renewable energy in the United Kingdom has an opportunity cost of 10,000 direct jobs in 2009-2010 and 1,200 jobs in Scotland.

    • In conclusion, policy to promote the renewable electricity sector in both Scotland and the United Kingdom is economically damaging.

    Now again, I have no problems if you, Boone Pickens or anyone want to invest in the development of “green” energy. Just don’t flush billions of tax dollars down the drain doing it. What amazes me, is in the last few posts, all I have really challenged you with is to deconflict two of your own positions (and I will continue to perseverate on it):

    1. The Oil industry is greedy and wants to make money selling energy.

    2. We use more energy completing wells than the energy the wells produce.

    How do we make money if we use more energy completing the well, than the well produces?

    Have a good day Dr. Lee.

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