Falling prices devastate boom towns
March 14, 2012, Greenwire As the price of natural gas falls to a 10-year low, energy companies are fleeing gas fields across the country and leaving behind areas that had once boomed from the industry. In Louisiana's DeSoto Parish, a traditionally poor area, companies started popping up after the 2008 discovery of the Haynesville Shale. But the drilling rigs in the parish have dwindled from 54 a year ago to just 24 last week. And as the drillers depart, so does the money they spent in the community. Hotels and recreational vehicle parks built to accommodate energy workers sit empty, restaurants have seen sales collapse and local landowners have seen their royalty checks from drilling companies fall by half. Sales tax revenue for the parish and the school district has begun to fall. "We are expecting it to continue decreasing," school superintendent Walter Lee said. "We just don't know when it's going to level off." A similar trend is playing out in areas from Texas and Arkansas to Pennsylvania and Wyoming, as companies turn from natural gas to oil. "Natural gas is just killing us right now," said Bill Mai, co-chairman of Wyoming's Consensus Revenue Estimating Group. "The bigger problem is we don't foresee quick turnaround, unless pretty much the whole country goes into an ice age at this point" (Daniel Gilbert, Wall Street Journal [subscription required], March 13). -- JE
The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom
March 1, 2012, Rolling Stone Magazine Jeff Goodell The Big Fracking Bubble: The Scam Behind the Gas Boom exposes the dynamics driving Chesapeake’s Energy’s desire to Drill Baby Drill. It turns out that Chesapeake, lead by self-made billionaire Aubrey McClendon is really in the business of buying and selling land. A few years ago McClendon was quoted as saying to Wall St. analysts, “I can assure you that buying leases for x and selling them for 5x or 10x is a lot more profitable than trying to produce gas at $5 or $6 per million cubic feet.” Since leaseholders are required by law to drill on land within three to five years after acquiring the rights or wind up forfeiting the lease, it is critical to Chesapeake that drilling starts in New York State as soon as possible, so that the leases they own will have value on the “secondary” market. However, the business model that Chesapeake and other gas companies are following is very precarious. In order to acquire more land, they need more capital upfront, then they must drill or lose it; the more gas they drill, the lower the price of gas and the further it reduces their revenues. This becomes difficult to sustain especially if the wells underperform or if the gas turns out not to be as valuable as they thought. The article makes the case that fracking is as much about producing cheap energy as the mortgage crisis was about helping realize the dreams of middle-class homeowners…
Canadian Farmers Call for a Fracking Moratorium
Canadian Farmers Call for a Fracking Moratorium February 24, 2012 On February 24, 2012, the National Farmers Union in Canada called for a moratorium against fracking. Jan Slomp, a dairy farmer and coordinator for the NFU in Alberta says that many farmers in her area have either experienced problems with their water wells or have neighbors whose wells have been affected by drilling. “We are in the heart of Alberta’s oil and gas country where our ability to produce good, wholesome food is at risk of being compromised by the widespread, virtually unregulated use of this dangerous process,” Slomp told the press. Unfortunately, she said, “not many stories of contaminated water are made public because the oil and gas companies usually force farmers to sign confidentiality agreements in return for replacement of their water wells.”…
Gas Industry/Environmental Groups Alliance Fractures
Alliance between natural gas industry, environmental groups fracture February 20, 2012 – The Washington Post By Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson Just four years ago, shale gas king Aubrey K. McClendon told shareholders of Chesapeake Energy that “finally, we made some new friends this year.” The chief executive sketched a vision of working hand in hand with “leading environmental organizations” on issues “where our interests might be aligned.” He said, “We believe this collaboration is unique in the industry and will benefit both Chesapeake and these environmental organizations for years to come.” New friendships grew old, then cold. Environmental groups that once took money from McClendon — or considered doing so — to make a common cause against coal power, have stepped back as they weigh the environmental perils of extracting natural gas from shale, a business in which McClendon’s Chesapeake Energy is a leader...
Campaign Against Climate Science
Leak Offers Glimpse of Campaign Against Climate Science February 15, 2012 - New York Times by Justin Gillis and Leslie Kaufman Leaked documents suggest that an organization known for attacking climate science is planning a new push to undermine the teaching of global warming in public schools, the latest indication that climate change is becoming a part of the nation’s culture wars. The documents, from a nonprofit organization in Chicago called the Heartland Institute, outline plans to promote a curriculum that would cast doubt on the scientific finding that fossil fuel emissions endanger the long-term welfare of the planet. “Principals and teachers are heavily biased toward the alarmist perspective,” one document said. While the documents offer a rare glimpse of the internal thinking motivating the campaign against climate science, defenders of science education were preparing for battle even before the leak. Efforts to undermine climate-science instruction are beginning to spread across the country, they said, and they fear a long fight similar to that over the teaching of evolution in public schools…..
Industry Influence Squelches Science of Gas Drilling Impacts
A case study in how industry influence squelches the science of gas drilling impacts February 9, 2012, Earthworks Blog By Judy Jordan Garfield County Oil and Gas Boom 2000-2009 In 2007, Garfield County was the most heavily drilled county in Colorado and was one of the most heavily drilled areas in the entire Rocky Mountain region. With some 2000 wells permitted per year, by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), the area was a flurry of heavy trucks, dust, and conflict. In addition to the usual beefs between surface owners and industry, which are proliferating throughout the shale plays today, Garfield County had seen one of the country’s first publicized cases of water contamination resulting from oil and gas activities....
Natural Gas and the News
Most messages on fracking ‘brought to you by our sponsors’ Extra!, FAIR - Fairness & Accuracy in Reportiing, February 2012 By Miranda Spencer When it comes to natural gas extraction via “fracking,” TV journalism has some serious competition: energy industry commercials. Like ads for political candidates that run concurrently with broadcast news coverage of the presidential race, ads promoting natural gas (and other fossil fuels) have long been running in concert with news segments about the topic, most recently touting the prospect of a “boom” made possible by the controversial extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing of the shale sprawling beneath more than 30 U.S. states. During the past three years, Extra! found, there has been exponentially more propaganda for the wonders of natural gas on our screens each night than theoretically objective news segments about natural-gas extraction...
Millions spent in Albany Fight to Drill for Gas
Millions Spent in Albany Fight to Drill for Gas November 25, 2011 - New York Times By Thomas Kaplan ALBANY — Energy companies have been pouring millions of dollars into television advertising, lobbying and campaign contributions as the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo enters the final phase of deciding when and where to allow a controversial form of natural gas extraction that is hotly opposed by environmental groups. Companies that drill for natural gas have spent more than $3.2 million lobbying state government since the beginning of last year, according to a review of public records. The broader natural gas industry has been giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the campaign accounts of lawmakers and the governor. And national energy companies are heavily advertising in an effort to persuade the public that the extraction method, commonly known as hydrofracking, is safe and economically beneficial. Environmental groups, with far less money at their disposal, are mounting a more homespun campaign as they warn that hydrofracking — a process in which water mixed with sand and chemicals is injected deep into the ground to break up rock formations and release natural gas — could taint the water supply and wreak untold environmental ruin....
New Report by Agency Lowers Estimates of Natural Gas in U.S.
New Report by Agency Lowers Estimates of Natural Gas in U.S. New York Times, January 28, 2012 By IAN URBINA WASHINGTON — Just how much natural gas is trapped underground in the United States? The difficulty and uncertainty in predicting natural gas resources was underscored last week when the Energy Information Administration released a report containing sharply lower estimates. The agency estimated that there are 482 trillion cubic feet of shale gas in the United States, down from the 2011 estimate of 827 trillion cubic feet — a drop of more than 40 percent. The report also said the Marcellus region, a rock formation under parts of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, contained 141 trillion cubic feet of gas. That represents a 66 percent drop from the 410 trillion cubic feet estimate offered in the agency’s last report.
August 9, 2011, New York Times: Cuomo Weighs Ending State Limits on Casino Gambling
Cuomo Weighs Ending State Limits on Casino Gambling
By THOMAS KAPLAN
Published: August 9, 2011
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, suggesting it was time for the state to “come to grips” with the proliferation of gambling in New York and neighboring states, said Tuesday that he was weighing the legalization of commercial, non-Indian casinos in New York State.
Mr. Cuomo’s comments come as the state’s racetrack casinos, which have electronic slot machines but not the more lucrative table games, prepare to mount a high-profile lobbying effort to push the State Legislature to let them expand into full-fledged casinos.