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GasLand, Too Small To Matter

Politics / US Politics Jun 22, 2010 - 02:01 PM GMT

By: James_Quinn

Politics Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleAs I watched the documentary GASLAND last night on HBO my blood began to boil. I’m sure my blood pressure went up dramatically during the 1 hour and 40 minute film. After watching our corrupt government decide that the biggest baddest banks on the planet were too big to fail over the last two years and giving my children’s and their children’s money to these behemoth criminal enterprises, I was not surprised to see poor working class Americans treated like dirt by these same corrupt politicians. Big corporations can buy off politicians to ensure profits. The “small people”, as the Chairman of BP likes to call them, are expendable and can be ignored. They are too small to matter.

Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000, when he became VP of the United States. Halliburton had invented a new process for extracting natural gas from shale formations.  The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us.

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well. Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.

This new process opened up much of the US to drilling for natural gas. Every big oil and gas company in America was falling all over themselves to buy up the land rights for drilling. Chesapeake, Encana, Cabot, etc. saw big dollar signs. This is where the story gets interesting. George Bush signed a new energy bill into law in 2005. A loophole was inserted into the bill regarding fracking. The Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.

The industry insists that fracking is safe and does not contaminate drinking water. Why would they need an exemption from the Safe Water Drinking Act if their process doesn’t contaminate drinking water? Did the American public benefit from this loophole? The loophole benefitted Halliburton and the massive gas corporations. This jump started a phenomenal boom in 37 states. My state of PA sits on top of the Marcellus Shale formation. Northern and Western PA are undergoing a drilling boom.

Now the inconvenient truth. The process of capturing this natural gas has consequences:

  • The average well is up to 8,000 feet deep. The depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet. The problems typically stem from poor cement well casings that leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.
  • Generally 1 to 8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times.
  • For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
  • The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.
  • Evaporators evaporate off VOCs and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities.
  • As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.

Since the process is “safe” according to the gas industry, they lease the land from the occupants and drill in people’s front and back yards while the residents continue to live on the property. If the process wasn’t safe, these companies would have to negotiate a purchase price for all the land. This would decrease their profits significantly. Josh Fox lives in a small PA town that sits atop the Marcellus Shale. He received a lease proposal that would have paid him $100,000 if he allowed the company to drill on his property. He decided to find out if the process was indeed safe. He went to a neighboring town where drilling was already being done. He found poor people getting sick. Their drinking water was contaminated and brown. He met people who could light their tap water on fire. The mega-corporations doing the drilling insisted that it wasn’t their fault. Josh then went on a world wind tour of the U.S. to see if these problems existed in other parts of the country. The journey was painful to watch. Homeowner after homeowner detailed sicknesses, brain legions, aches, cancer and horrific smells and air pollution. Multiple people demonstrated the ability to set their tap water on fire.

As I watched the film, it was clear that there are many parallels to the BP disaster in the Gulf. Corporate fascism rules America. Corporations spend billions to generate legislation which benefits their bottom lines. Their lobbyists write the legislation and bribe the corrupt Washington politicians. The American people suffer. The documentary GASLAND  leads me to the following conclusions:

  1. Mega corporations are not inherently evil, immoral, or greedy. The men who run the Mega corporations are evil, immoral and greedy. EPS, profits, and bonuses are what drive corporate executives.
  2. Mega corporations use their political connections, highly paid lobbyists, and vast financial resources to steer legislation in order to reap greater profits.
  3. The people that Josh Fox profiles in his film are poor, uneducated, hard working, and helpless. They are no match for a big corporation. They don’t have the financial resources to fight a corporation with thousands of lawyers and billions of dollars.
  4. Corporations see the “small people” as just another cost of doing business. The deaths of some uneducated country folk are inconsequential to the Harvard MBAs running corporate America.
  5. The gas drilling companies have a checklist on how to rape and pillage the land.
      • They low ball the country bumpkins who occupy the land for the drilling rights.
      • They promise that the fracking process is safe.
      • When they contaminate the wells and people complain, they deny it was their fault.
      • If the complaints persist, they agree to pay for the well water being cleaned.
      • If this doesn’t work, they pay the occupants a lump sum of money and make them sign a legal document saying they can’t speak about the issue with anyone.
      • When people begin to die, they put their high powered legal teams into action fighting every charge until the victim gives up.
      6. The Federal and State regulators of the gas industry have been instructed by their politician bosses that the benefit of the doubt should always be given to the corporations. They generate the tax revenue. They generate the jobs. They make the political contributions. The people drinking the contaminated water can’t have any impact on a politician’s re-election.  

 The unholy alliance between Big Business and Big Government is destroying this country. The “small people” do matter. The time is approaching when the little guy is going to rise up and take back what is rightfully theirs. Some people are waking up. Some people are getting angry. Some people care about the future of this country.

If you want to get angry, tune into GASLAND on HBO this month.

Join me at to discuss truth and the future of our country.

By James Quinn

James Quinn is a senior director of strategic planning for a major university. James has held financial positions with a retailer, homebuilder and university in his 22-year career. Those positions included treasurer, controller, and head of strategic planning. He is married with three boys and is writing these articles because he cares about their future. He earned a BS in accounting from Drexel University and an MBA from Villanova University. He is a certified public accountant and a certified cash manager.

These articles reflect the personal views of James Quinn. They do not necessarily represent the views of his employer, and are not sponsored or endorsed by his employer.

© 2010 Copyright James Quinn - All Rights Reserved
Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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26 Feb 11, 12:46
Gasland: Hydraulic Fracturing

Newco Energy Acquisition Holdings (NEAH), LLC and Senior Energy Industry Executive Karl W. Miller Support Ban on Use of Toxic Chemicals in Hydraulic Fracturing to Produce Oil and Natural Gas

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - February 25, 2011) - Newco Energy Acquisition Holdings (NEAH), LLC and Senior Energy Industry Executive Karl W. Miller today announced their support to ban the use of toxic chemicals in hydraulic fracturing to produce oil and natural gas. Mr. Miller is a major supporter and advocate for the environmentally responsible development and production of Oil and Natural Gas in the U.S.

According to Mr. Miller:

* The Oil and Natural Gas industry has brought a critical self inflicted crisis upon itself by failing to act in an environmentally responsible manner regarding the use of hydraulic fracturing. In one fell sweep, the industry has become the primary target of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State and Federal lawmakers, and most importantly, the general public.

* The injection of toxic chemicals in to Oil and Natural Gas wells, many chemicals which are clearly known to be harmful to the environment, water tables, and human beings represents a catastrophic failure of the Oil and Natural Gas producers in the U.S.

* Given the continued abuse by the natural Oil and Natural Gas and mounting incidents of water table contamination, fires and other drilling related problems in high and low density populated areas, and the pending law that will in essence "kill fracking" by virtue of eliminating the use of toxic chemicals in production wells, leads to the conclusion that the States and Federal Government will in unison and individually start to ban fracking operations across the U.S.

* The first permanent drilling bans will occur in the Eastern U.S. in the Marcellus Shale formation in New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. This geographic area has already been severely damaged by Natural Gas Fracking and substantial legal actions are pending and many more are forthcoming against production companies.

* State and Municipal pension and retirement funds in the States polluted by Oil and Natural Gas Fracking will require their money managers not to purchase and own any producers which have participated in "Fracking," essentially prohibit the purchase or ownership of these producers in public pension fund allocations.

* The EPA will be given absolute control of the Oil and Gas Producers utilizing hydraulic fracturing and any violations involving injecting toxic chemicals into the ground for drilling purposes will be dealt with in a very harsh and financially severe manner. Every Oil and Natural Gas drilling site which has had toxic chemicals utilized should be treated as an "EPA clean-up site" and will be subject to the full powers of the EPA to institute the equivalent of the "Death Penalty" to producers who violate Federal Environmental Law.

* The environmental liabilities that the Oil and Natural Gas Industry have already created by hydraulic fracturing exceed the financial capability of most Producers to cover and environmental litigation and enforcement by the EPA and State Agencies could technically bankrupt many of the producers.

* The full disclosure of specific toxic chemicals which have been utilized in the past and are currently being utilized by Oil and Natural Gas producers will be made into State and Federal Law and violations of the full disclosure law will bring swift and "going concern threatening" penalties.

(See: Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluids:

There does not appear to be any way for the Oil and Natural Gas industry to lobby itself out of this critical problem, which many industry experts consider a death nail to many natural gas producers. Public opinion is overwhelmingly now against "Hydraulic Fracking" and we see the momentum to ban the practice outright in a majority of the U.S. as irreversible.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are those of NEAH and Mr. Miller. Investors should seek the advice of a qualified investment professional prior to making any investment decisions.

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