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Fracking updates

Lisa Sorg has another piece out on the fracking of NC. This one deals with the lease agreements. He overview story from a few issues back is here.

Drilling companies have struck one-sided deals with North Carolina landowners, say agricultural, energy and legal experts who have seen the contracts. These contracts promise to pay property owners bonuses and royalties far below rates commanded in other states. And, depending on the wording, property owners could be financially responsible for the costs of cleaning up environmental damage, fines for zoning and land-use violations and other legal fees–costs that could far exceed the royalty payments.

The RAFI blog also has this post today about the effort to get landowners some protection against the predatory language in the lease agreements.

Landowners can’t wait. There are already approximately 100 leases accounting for over 9,400 acres of mineral rights in Lee County that have been signed. These leases contain predatory clauses that

* Put the liability for ALL environmental damage on the landowner,
* Do not compensate the landowner for any damage to his/her property,
* Allow the landowner to be sued by his/her neighbor if the company pollutes the land, and
* Allow the company to come on the landowner’s property at any time with no notice and drill anywhere on the property.

Fracking, Offshore drilling bill passes NC Senate

After a brief debate the NC Senate has passed an energy bill that sets up offshore drilling and fracking for natural gas in NC. The bill, S709, was sold as a jobs bill.
In selling it, supporters managed to bring up 9/11 and somehow spin it as a positive that NC will get the same kind of deal as the Gulf States. Also in the debate it was mentioned that before the BP spill last year there had never been a major spill (huh?). In the zombie lies department, Senator Bob Rucho re-animated the idea that spills are nowhere near the volume as ocean floor seepage.
This oft-used talking point was thoroughly debunked during the Deepwater Horizon spill.
From an article by Dr. Cutler J. Cleveland, a Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at Boston University, in the Oil Drum:

The Deepwater Horizon site releases 3 to 12 times the oil per day compared to that released by natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico. By May 30, the Deepwater Horizon site had released between 468,000 and 741,000 barrels of oil, compared to 60,000 to 150,000 barrels from natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico over the same 39 day period.

Natural seeps are not constantly active; the volume of oil released can vary considerably throughout the day and from day to day. As a result, only a small area around the source is actually exposed to “fresh” non-degraded oil, which is its most toxic state.

On fracking, the Indy’s Lisa Sorg has a post up on the new Duke University study of areas in Pennsylvania that have been experiencing it first-hand.

“Essentially, the closer you are to a natural gas well, the more likely you are to have methane in your well,” said Rob Jackson, one of the scientists involved in the study. “What surprised me was the consistency of the results.”