• NYS KILLS HVHF DEAD: Banning fracking this past Wednesday was a huge win after years of effort. Of course, we know this is a beginning and not an end. But to answer some of the questions we've been getting, it is most definitely an end to this type of drilling; when it becomes DEC statute next year, it will not require confirmation by the legislature or Governor and it will be very difficult to reverse. "Legally binding" are the key words in Marten's statement (below). However, to address another set of member questions, unless Martens decides to go over and above (we'll have to read the exact policy once released) the DEC is not expected to ban low-volume or vertical drilling, which was never covered by the moratorium. Injection wells, which are overseen by the EPA, are also not covered by this ruling. (See the You Are Here map for the location of three known injection wells in upstate NY.) These types of drilling remain legal in NY, and could be an excellent new target for those groups that have focused primarily on getting a ban.
• FREEDOM INDUSTRY CHIEF LOSES HIS FREEDOM: Last February, Sane Energy reported on our trip to West Virginia shortly after the massive chemical spill by Freedom Industries poisoned the drinking water supply for the capitol city. Toured around by our friends from OVEC, we witnessed first-hand what a major city attempting to function without potable water was like. Now, four former executives, including president Gary Southern, who famously guzzled bottled water on camera the night the spill was discovered, have been indicted under the Clean Water Act. Dick Cheney, we're looking at your Christmas Future, babe.
• TWO NAILS FOR ARTIC DRILLING: 1) President Obama withdrew Bristol Bay, a major source of wild seafood, from consideration for leases and, 2) Chevron canceled its drilling plans for the Beaufort Sea, citing the high cost of deepwater drilling versus the low price of oil. However, Imperial Oil, a joint venture with Exxon, says it has not made a final decision on whether to drill Beaufort. Maybe Exxon and Chevron are just slower taking a hint compared to Shell, which canceled its arctic drilling last January, after a court ruled that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)–the federal agency that permits offshore drilling–intentionally downplayed the impacts it would have on the fragile Arctic Ocean environment. Even industry analysts called Shell on its blunders. Shell's retreat was hinted at last year, when outgoing chief, Peter Voser, told the Financial Times that he regretted the company's investments in American oil and shale, saying, "Unconventionals did not exactly play out as planned."
• SPEAKING OF UNCONVENTIONALS NOT PLAYING OUT AS PLANNED: The Post Carbon Institute (PCI) has released a study comparing industry claims with actual production numbers and calculated their own predictions for the future of American shale oil and gas. PCI's number crunching indicates not a "100-year supply," but rather a peak in the Marcellus by 2016 (almost all other shale plays have already peaked) and a steep drop off by 2040. The full report can be viewed here.
This latest study echoes pioneering work that drew the same conclusion of overhyped industry claims done by Deborah Rogers, Art Berman, Jannette Barth, and 4 cabaleros from upstate New York, which was confirmed in a study released by the League of Women Voters in 2014.
If shale gas peaks in 2016, does that mean the industry will stop drilling then? No; in fact, it means they will attempt to drill MORE wells to keep their production numbers up, while they desperately try to convince Wall Street there's enough gas to export. Of course, by the time LNG export terminals and all the required pipelines could be built, the shale plays will be in steep decline.
Our job then is to stop all the infrastructure we can, as fast as we can. Please join us in that fight!