It seems that Tom Pyle, president, Institute for Energy Research http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/, has launched a direct attack against concerned citizens in Doddridge County via a “letter-to-the-editor” he wrote that appeared in the Charleston Gazette recently. It compelled Tom Bond to respond to Mr. Pyle via Tom’s op ed below titled “Anxiety of Doddridge County people”
Mr. Pyles’ original letter to the editor of the WV Gazette, (which fueled Tom’s response is just below Tom’s article) as well as my response which is directly below Mr. Pyles original letter.
It is quite encouraging to know that Mr. Pyles was so moved (i.e. unnerved) by our Doddridge “activism” that he decided to write about us all the way from Washington, DC (where he obviously hasn’t a clue of what we are seeing here at “ground zero.” ) At least we know that the industry is hearing us!
Read on below .... and then right below Mr. Pyles letter-to-the-editor, I offer to him a few factual challenges of my own, that he might want to consider when dishing out any of his industry propaganda about us in the future.
Tom Pyle, president, Institute for Energy Research published a letter to the editor, presumably in the Charleston Gazette, which was reprinted in the Daily Update for the 19th of October. His little spiel had to do with "activists congregated in Doddridge County." Using a few of the industry's oft-repeated phrases, he accuses West Virginians of "anxiety." The crowd that congregated that day was almost entirely Doddridge folk. Having some knowledge of the event myself (I drove by it, and know several of the people involved) I decided to look up the man and his organization.
The institute for Energy Research is a far-right tax-free subsidiary of the petroleum industry, funded by tax deductible contributions. Exxon-Mobile is among them. ERI doesn't have academic connections. They are connected to the Cato Institute and the Koch brothers empire. Climate warming denial is a part of their agenda, along with deregulation of utilities and the claim that conventional energy sources are almost unlimited. Low-cost energy is their principal argument for using hydrocarbon energy.
Pyle was formerly Director of Public Relations Policy at Enron.
What these people don't seem to realize is everywhere they go opposition is self-generating. If you love the earth we live on, you don't want to see it destroyed. Evidence of the cost when drillers come in is just too overwhelming to ignore. Lacking money to throw at this problem, our time, work and our bodies are what we use.
by S. Tom Bond
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Here is the letter (below) by Pyles that Tom Bond was responding to in his above commentary:
Hydraulic fracturing no environmental threat
Anti-hydraulic fracturing activists congregated in Doddridge County to challenge the safety and environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing. The fact is: Hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for more than 60 years.
Recent advances in hydraulic fracturing technology have unlocked unprecedented amounts of natural gas. So abundant is natural gas on this continent that there's enough to supply America's electricity needs for the next 575 years at current usage, according to the Institute for Energy Research's North American Energy Inventory. Production of these vast resources is expected to support as many as 6,000 direct jobs for West Virginians by 2014.
The discredited film "Gasland" and flawed EPA groundwater studies -- recanted by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson herself -- have resulted in some confusion among the public. Far from an environmental threat, cleaner-burning natural gas was a major contributor to a drop in U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's June energy report.
Anxiety evoked by new technology is nothing new. Yet West Virginians should not allow unsubstantiated fear to reverse the train of progress.
Tom Pyle, president, Institute for Energy Research
A rebuttal of Mr. Pyles letter coming straight from the keyboard
of this Doddridge County citizen....
You are trying to compare apples to oranges. It takes 80,000 gallons of fresh water to frack a “conventional shallow, vertical well.” 4-6 MILLION gallons of fresh water to frack a Marcellus well. Previously, mostly water and foaming agents, (that were quite so terribly deadly) were used in the drilling of those shallow conventional wells.
Marcellus frack fluid requires a far more toxic cocktail of chemicals in order to break up the shale (care to disclose them to us for EVERY Marcellus well site drilled?) Or does the industry still need to hide behind the exemptions that Halliburton’s buddy and former CEO, Dick Cheney gave the fracking industry in 2005?
A congressional report released to congress on April 18, 2011 titled: “Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing” lists more than 750 chemicals, many, many of them extremely toxic and known carcinogens. These include benzene, lead, methanol, silica, ethylene glycol, toluene, formaldehyde, phenol, benzyl chloride, sulfuric acid, ethylene oxide, just to name a few.
Your industry has to be exempt from 7 key pieces of EPA legislation in order to be able to frack a Marcellus well. These include the Safe Drinking Water Act, The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act –”The Super Fund Act,” The National Environmental Policy Act, and the Toxic Release Inventory of EPCRA. Seven major exemptions from federal EPA protections in order for your industry to be able to do what they do! If fracking is as safe as you say it is in your letter......... then put your industry back under those EPA regulations like EVERY other industry in the nation must operate under!
2. Then Pyle states: “Production of these vast resources is expected to support as many as 6,000 direct jobs for West Virginians by 2014.” Just 6,000 direct jobs by 2014!!!!
Your industry is pumping BILLIONS of dollars from “just beneath the surface” and that’s all you can offer? Six thousand jobs??? By the way, most people ought to be scratching their heads trying to figure out how drilling down 7,000 to 8,000 feet deep into the earth and then moving the drill bit horizontally several thousand more feet in various legs can be described as “just beneath the surface.” How much of these billions of dollars in profits for the industry is REALLY staying in the state to benefit the people of WV? People who sacrifice so much of their quality of life, their lands, property values, drinking water, health and safety when these Marcellus wells go in all around them, in order to enable your industry? And why, if WV is the second richest state in natural resources (coal, lumber, oil and gas) are we so poor a state with just about the lowest standard of living, poorest health, and limited opportunities for employment (other than driving one of your water/fracking/brine trucks or shoveling silica sand? ) How about locating some of your corporate headquarters here, training and employing our people to be the engineers, secretaries, office managers, skilled technicians, environmental consultants, project managers, etc., instead of bringing those workers in from out of state?
3. Pyles talks about what he refers to as the discredited documentary “Gas Land.” But does he want to talk about real truth behind the industry sponsored documentary called “Truthland” starring Shelly Depue, while we are on the subject of “discrediting” a documentary? Did not the industry bankroll the production of “Truthland?” Just as they bankroll research that supports their fracking?
And the reference to EPA administrator, Jackson dismissing a flawed ground water study of many years past.... how about we start studying something more current....like the ground water around these Marcellus sites in WV, and in particular Cherry Camp and Indian Run Roads in neighboring Harrison County, perhaps some over in Wetzel and other counties that we know about that have alleged water contamination issues post-Marcellus drilling?
4. Next comes his assertion that: “Far from an environmental threat, cleaner-burning natural gas was a major contributor to a drop in U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's June energy report.” Shall we factor in the extremely mild winter last year which resulted in significantly lower energy usage? And also, the below $2 price of natural gas that has led to a decline in production and the industry not pumping full speed at many compressor stations, as possible factors influencing this report of decline in “energy-related carbon dioxide emissions” he refers to?
5. And last, but not least, Pyles, in the closing remarks in his letter-to-the-editor seems to imply that those in Doddridge (who exercised their right to free speech and assembly so as to raise fracking awareness) were perhaps showing anxiety and were victims of “unsubstantiated fear” when he stated:
“Anxiety evoked by new technology is nothing new. Yet West Virginians should not allow unsubstantiated fear to reverse the train of progress.”
May I correct his statement and suggest that it read instead: “Anxiety evoked by new UNPROVEN technology is nothing new.” That would be more appropriate because those in Doddridge County he refers to as fracking “activists” have concerns about the “unknowns” associated with this unconventional drilling technology. There are just too many of them. Marcellus shale fracking is an unproven technology in terms of knowing any of the long term impacts on our drinking water, health and environment. The industry experimented with various drilling methods after discovering the Marcellus shale region and its potential as an major energy resource. They developed the process of “high volume slick-water hydraulic fracking” (only as recent as 1997-early 2000s) and then plowed full speed ahead without really proving the technology to be safe to people and environment.
Environmental researchers never had a chance to get in there first (in places such as Washington Co, Green County, and Bradford County PA) to do any baseline studies of drinking water and people’s health, before the drilling frenzy got underway. Is it any wonder that the industry is quick to say “prove it’s us” when there are allegations of drinking water contamination, health impacts, and other adverse effects of shale drilling? How many of those allegations from residents living near well sites and compressor stations have been silenced by out of court settlements with gag orders? THAT is where the anxiety leading to our activism comes from, Mr. Pyles.
by Diane Pitcock