Sunday, May 29, 2011

Scientists find Shale Gas in Drinking Water near Industrial Drilling Sites

First scientific study of its kind -- Gas industry refuses to share data
The gas industry justifies the benefits of extracting shale gas by drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in terms of providing energy, economic stimulation and jobs. Also, some landowners have benefited by earning income from gas leases and royalties.

However, other landowners claim that, subsequent to nearby drilling and fracking, their drinking-well water became contaminated by flammable gas. Gas industry representatives dismiss the claim that fracking might make drinking water flammable.

Lighting water on fire "is a parlor trick that really has nothing to do with hydraulic fracturing," said Jim Smith, a spokesman for the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York State in a Wall Street Journal report. Instead, he said, it's caused by naturally-occurring methane that gets into some water supplies regardless of whether there's nearby drilling.

Despite such gas industry claims, there was no scientific evidence as to whether or not contamination of drinking water with natural gas is linked to nearby drilling and fracking. But there is now.

Scientists at Duke University measured
the dissolved gas levels in 60 drinking water wells in the Marcellus and Utica shale drilling areas in northeastern Pennsylvania and southern NY state. In a paper published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they reported that water samples taken closest to the gas wells had an average of 17 times higher than the methane levels detected in water samples taken further from active drilling. The maximum level was 58 times higher (see graph, below). Methane is the major component of natural gas. The average methane level detected was in the range of "action levels for hazard mitigation" recommended by the U.S. Office of the Interior (graph, large gray rectangle), and many water wells had levels far above that range.
Methane in well water is both a safety and health hazard. The gas escapes from water at the tap, the shower head, the washing machine and into the air of homes, where it can become flammable and even explosive. Methane can also cause headaches, nausea, brain damage and, at very high levels, death by suffocation. Potentially dangerous levels of methane were found in well water near drilling sites in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Some Pennsylvania homeowners whose wells became contaminated after nearby drilling and fracking had demonstrated earlier that their well water contains flammable gas.

At recent presentations on shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing sponsored by the Geology Department at the University at Buffalo, some of which are now available online, several speakers representing the gas drilling industry stated emphatically that the ability to light well water on fire is due to biogenic methane, i.e., methane produced on the surface of the ground by bacteria (e.g. gas from swamps, bogs, rotting plants).

Industry representatives also claimed that flammable water is not due to thermogenic methane, i.e., methane produced deep underground in the shale millions of years ago from decomposition of buried organic matter at high temperature and pressure.

But neither of these gas industry claims are backed by scientific studies on the water wells in Pennsylvania. So which type of methane is responsible for the high concentrations in drinking-well water? Is it biogenic methane present at the surface, or thermogenic methane present deep underground in the shale?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Grow NY Solar Industry to Create Jobs, Reduce Pollution, and Stimulate Economy

NY Solar Industry Development & Jobs Act
Solar energy accounts for the production of less than 0.02% of New York's electricity, according to the
NY League of Conservation Voters. Instead of attracting investment, New York has diverted capital and clean energy jobs to neighboring states with smarter energy policies. [Photo courtesy of Solar Liberty]

The New York Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act of 2011 will dramatically change that situation. This legislation also represents a vital step in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign to help New York transition to cleaner, more sustainable energy while also promoting economic growth.

  • Sets a goal of developing over 5,000 megawatts of solar power capacity in New York by 2025.
  • Produce 22,198 direct and induced jobs, not including potential manufacturing jobs and other indirectly induced jobs.
  • Generate enough to clean, renewable energy to power 1 million New York homes or 50,000 schools, improving the quality of New York's air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information at the NY League of Conservation Voters website, click here.

Locally, the bill has been endorsed by the Buffalo News editorial board and the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

More Than 100 Corporations, Groups Sign On To Solar Effort
GE, Mitsubishi, Saatchi & Saatchi, Staples and many other corporations and groups support legislation that would transform New York's economy with a robust solar energy program. More than 100 memorandums in support of the Solar Industry Development & Jobs Act were submitted to key members of the Senate, Assembly and Governor's Office.

VIDEO: Buffalo -- For Real

Discover gorgeous landscapes, a world-class art museum and some of America's greatest architecture. Yes, this is Buffalo. For Real.

Video by John Paget, script by Ed Healy at Visit Buffalo Niagara and narration by Saul Elkin. Check out the website for Visit Buffalo Niagara

Speaking about Buffalo, if you question the new brand "For Real", just look at this NY Times article title:
Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo.
It's a recent opinion article about Buffalo-area Democrats and the NY26 special election. Talkin' Proud about Buffalo ... For Real!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Community Forum: Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

"Gas Wells: What You Don't Know Could Hurt You"

Information Program on

Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing for Natural Gas

WHEN: Thursday, May 19, 2011
WHERE: Senior Center,
Town of Colden, NY [Map]
HOST: Mike Essrow

  • 7:00pm - Welcoming Remarks and Introduction of Panelists
  • 7:15pm - A film excerpt from "Split Estates" [Video]
  • 7:40pm - Presentations by Dennis Holbrook, Norse Energy Corp., and Brad Gill, Independent Oil and Gas Association of NY
  • 8:00pm - Presentations by Elise Able, Community Activist, and Albert Brown, Community Activist
  • 8:20pm - Questions for Panelists - Questions from Guests (less than 1 minute long), followed by Responses from panelists
  • 9:00pm - Wrap-up
For earlier reports and videos about Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing, click here.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Friday, May 6, 2011

Annual Awards Dinner - Sierra Club, Niagara Group

The Sierra Club, Niagara Group, Annual Awards Dinner will be held on Wednesday, May 11 at the Eagle House Restaurant, 5578 Main St., Williamsville [Map].
Doors open at 5:45 PM with dinner served at 6:30 PM.
  • The Blake Reeves Award will be presented to Rita Yelda of WNY Drilling Defense/Frack Action Buffalo and Sarah Buckley of POWR for their work this past year on the issue of hydrofracking for natural gas.
  • The Bruce Kershner Award will be presented to Bill Nowak for promoting green jobs and renewable energy and for his service to New York as former legislative aide.
  • The Volunteerism Award will be presented to Steve Rost in thanks for his constant assistance in mailing out communications to our members.
Renewable Energy will be the topic of our speaker Bill Nowak, who will give a twenty minute powerpoint presentation.

Contact Bob Ciesielski at 893-0180 / rmciesie@yahoo,
or Virginia Snider at by Monday May 9.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Clean Air Coalition -- Annual Dinner on Thursday

Annual Dinner Invitation

Tickets available until Tuesday!

Reserve your ticket now:purchase online here, or email, or call 852-3813.

DATE: Thursday, May 5
TIME: Doors open at 6:30
LOCATION: Buffalo Yacht Club, 1 Porter Ave. Buffalo

Keynote Speaker: Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D. -- Internationally-recognized expert on the environmental links to cancer.

Clean Air Coalition of Western New York
341 Delaware Ave.
Buffalo, New York 14202

Carbon Nation -- The Movie

Carbon Nation -- a climate change solutions movie that doesn't even care if you believe in climate change!

We know there's a problem, but how do we get everyone to do something about it?

Watch the trailer and see:

Carbon Nation is what the messaging on climate and clean energy must become, according to GRIST.

The Carbon Nation website is here.

APTURE Tutorial

My Blog uses APTURE, a utility that allows readers to dig deeper into any subject without leaving the Blog post.

Just select any word or phrase using the mouse (hold down the left mouse button and drag across the word or phrase to select). In the example below, after selecting
SHALE GAS FRACKING, an icon labeled "Learn More" appears.

Release the left button of the mouse, and hover the mouse cursor over the Learn More icon. The icon will gradually change color, as APTURE searches the Web and the Blog. Shortly thereafter, a small window labeled with the selected words, SHALE GAS FRACKING, will open as shown below.

The "Explore" tab in the small window shows some results of a Web search, in this case a Wikipedia article on "Shale gas" (also found a less relevant result on "Local Gas Stations").

If you scroll down the small window, you'll see the results of searching my Re-ENERGIZE BUFFALO Blog, i.e., "Results from". You can scan the results and click on any one of interest to open it in a new window.

Scroll down further yet, and you'll see the results of a Web search using Bing. Again, you can click on any one of the entries to open it in a new window.

You can switch from the "Explore" tab at the top of the small window, to the "Videos" tab, to see the results of searching YouTube.

You can switch from the "Videos" tab to the "Images" tab, to see the results of searching Google images.

To close the small window, click on the "X" in the top right corner.

That's it. Happy searching!