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Write letters to prisoners Marie and Eric

6/14 update: Five folks showed up to this event, and everyone wrote one letter to Eric and one letter to Marie. We hope that these letters will be ten of many that let them know that they are supported.

Prisoner support… when writing a letter actually matters…


This Saturday, June 11th, has been declared an international day of solidarity with Marie Mason and Eric McDavid, who share the unfortunate distinction of having the longest standing sentences of any environmental prisoners in the US. You can visit Marie’s support page and Eric’s support page to learn more about their cases. Even if you don’t agree with their tactics (Marie supposedly trashed some stuff, and Eric didn’t actually do anything), I think it is clear that the state used fear mongering and other under-handed methods in what amounts to political persecution.

Here in Austin, DGA and Treasure City Thrift are meeting at Spiderhouse (2908 Fruth St., near Guadalupe & 29th) from 4pm to 6pm to write letters to Marie and Eric. We will have pens, paper, envelopes, stamps, their addresses, and guidelines for writing to prisoners. All you need to bring is yourself, and a desire to send a nice note to some folks who care deeply about the state of our wonderful planet.

Perhaps you’re thinking, “Oh, Revo, I don’t know what to write about! I don’t even know them!” Well, that’s ok. You can write about anything! I’ll probably write about a particularly pleasant walk in the woods I took recently. You could copy a poem from a book, or write your own poem, or your favorite joke, or make a drawing, or tell them all about how you’re totally crazy for your new boyfriend/girlfriend/puppy. It really doesn’t matter. The point is to write a nice note to let them know that we are thinking of them.

Here’s the Facebook event page.

Since state repression and imprisonment is part of any serious resistance movement, any serious culture of resistance needs to have prisoner support. If you’re interested in learning more, Anarchist Black Cross Federation has been at it for about a hundred years. If ABC is not really up your alley, there’s also Amnesty International.

On a personal note, many of my heroes have spent a lot of time in jail, so I am looking forward to writing some notes with some friends. A fine way to spend an afternoon!



PS: You might also want to check out Critical Resistance, a prison abolition organization.

END:CIV at Occupy Austin

E N D : C I V
Resist or die!

A powerful and important film about the most important topic ever: how to stop this culture from killing the planet. Based partly on the work of Derrick Jensen.

If your homeland was invaded by aliens who cut down the forests, poisoned the water and air, and contaminated the food supply, would you resist?

Sat. 11/5, 9:30pm @ Occupy Austin
Please join us for discussion afterwards.

(facebook event page)

Making Green a Threat Again

Please attend this event, and support the important work of Rainforest Action Network, Rising Tide North America, and Monkeywrench Books.

What: Making Green a Threat Again: Direct Action Against Climate Change

Who: Scott Parkin with Rainforest Action Network and Rising Tide North America will be speaking about his experiences on direct action organizing in the North American climate movements.

Where: Monkeywrench Books (110 E. North Loop, ATX)

When: December 20, 7:30pm-9:30pm

From the Facebook event page: The wealthy few are destroying our climate, our eco-systems and our communities. They destroy Appalachia’s mountains for profit they make from coal. They poisoned the Gulf of Mexico for profit they make from oil. They are destroying communities from New York to American West for profit they’ll make from natural gas.

Now frontline communities and allies from across the continent have risen up against the fossil fuel industry. In the past year alone, from Washington D.C. to the streets of St. Louis to highways and byways of rural Idaho, the fight against fossil fuels has intensified with massive amounts of direct action and grassroots organizing.

Texas is quickly becoming one of the battleground states in the fossil fuel wars. Natural gas “fracking” polluting communities North Texas with no end in sight. New coal plants under construction around the state. The Keystone XL Pipeline being built from Alberta to the Texas coast that would flow billions of gallons of oil directly through rural East Texas. It’s time to grow and build a direct action climate movement in the Lone State.

DGR Speakers in Austin

Facebook event page

Deep Green Resistance starts where the environmental movement leaves off:
industrial civilization is incompatible with life. Technology can’t fix it, and shopping – no matter how green – won’t stop it. Those who profit from the death of the planet won’t cease voluntarily.

We are out of time. Another two hundred species went extinct today. And catastrophic climate change has begun.

If we really accept the seriousness of our situation, what would that mean for our strategy and tactics? Deep Green Resistance has an answer, a plan of action for anyone determined to fight for this planet – and win.

Come join us for an afternoon with local and national Deep Green Resistance organizers Premadasi Amada, Xander Knox and Dillon Thompson. We’ll be presenting the analysis and strategy of this budding movement, and discussing Occupy the Machine – Stop the 1%, an ad hoc umbrella coalition, spearheaded by DGR, that is organizing to shut down sites of destruction of the land
and people permanently using serious, sustained direct action campaigns.

Deep Green Resistance had the honor recently of conducting a video interview with long-time peace activist and organizer with Veterans for Peace, Doug Zachary. Zachary, an Austin resident and now a DGR member himself, describes personal experiences seeing and feeling the tragedy of industrial civilization’s destruction of habitat and life.

This interview was conducted for a DGR documentary in progress, On the Side of the Living.

Texas Rises in Solidarity with #Ferguson and #MichaelBrown


Hundreds of people across Texas have staged rallies across the state in solidarity with those in Ferguson, Mo., rallying for justice after the racist police murder of Michael Brown.

Hundreds rallied in Austin to show support for victims of police violence.

In Dallas, where police have killed several Black men in recent years, local politicians unveiled plans Aug. 18 to more thoroughly investigate police shootings. Dallas police representatives have been publicly critical of cops in Ferguson.

In Houston, residents rallied in front of the Houston Police Department in solidarity with Ferguson protests.

As Will Falk writes, “Whether we like it or not, our communities ARE war zones. How else do we account for a black man being killed by cops and vigilantes every 28 hours? How else do we account for more black men in prison than were enslaved in 1850? How else do we account for the fact that one in four American women will be raped in her lifetime? How else do we account for the fact that in America a solid percentage of rape perpetrators are cops? How else do we account for 100 – 200 species a day going extinct? How else do we account for carcinogens in every mother’s breast milk? How else do we account for the 250 trees – with lives as valuable to them as your life is valuable to you – cut down around the world a second?”

More cities in Texas are expected to announce demonstrations soon.

Austin’s Wheatsville to Vote on Booting Anti-Woman Eden Foods


Member-owners of Austin’s Wheatsville Co-op have gathered enough signatures to remove products of Eden Foods off its shelves, amid revelations of Eden CEO Michael Potter’s anti-woman views.

Eden Foods was among the companies that called for blocking the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act, siding with Hobby Lobby in its case before the Supreme Court. Wheatsville owners collected 500 signatures to have Eden Foods removed from the co-op.

The Austin Chronicle reports on the vote and Potter’s extreme perspective, which the company reflects.”Eden’s stance on contraception goes well beyond Hobby Lobby’s opposition to the four forms of contraception the craft giant views (without scientific backing) as abortifacients,” the paper says. “Devoutly Catholic Potter, and by extension Eden, opposes all forms of contraception.”

Eden Foods is among green capitalism’s major players, with products intended to seemingly promote sustainability as a product choice. As consumers are seeing more often, conscientious, environmentally friendly consumerism is increasingly becoming a ploy of the rich to sell their wares, even when the companies don’t adhere to the values they imply when pitching their products. Salon has written on the green capitalist company’s far-right politics. It detailed the organic foods firm’s agenda in the wake of its Supreme Court partnering against the ACA:

Until now, Eden Foods’ conservative advocacy litigation has remained mostly under the radar, even as their marketing seems designed to appeal to liberals, from the slogan ”Organic agriculture is society’s brightest hope for positive change” to the ’60s imagery and the use of the word “revolution” in some of its print marketing. The company’s mission statement includes its goal to “contribute to peaceful evolution on earth,” “to maintain a healthy, respectful, challenging, and rewarding environment for employees,” and to “cultivate sound relationships with other organizations and individuals who are like minded and involved
in like pursuits.”

It’s not the first time a company with a nebulously progressive image has actually been led by someone whose politics would horrify many of its customers. John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods, has publicly campaigned against the Affordable Care Act, including recently referring to it as “fascism.” And Lululemon’s executive adulation for Ayn Rand became famous when the yoga products company printed bags asking, “Who is John Galt?” But while those companies have been raked over the coals, Eden Foods’ efforts have largely gone unnoticed.

Eden Foods’ employees are covered under Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Michigan, but until recently, Potter was able to exclude what the insurance company deemed (hilariously) “Lifestyle Drugs.” (Some rare consistency: The exclusion also included Viagra.) But once Potter became aware that the company’s plan had begun to cover contraception in accordance with the Obamacare regulations, he teamed up with Thomas More Law Center to sue. The center focuses on violations of “religious freedom,” including in connection with the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” They also represented Pastor Terry Jones, who became famous for his plan to burn Qurans on the anniversary of 9/11.

They filed suit on March 20, 2013, against Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and other government parties, demanding an exemption, despite the fact that Eden Foods is a for-profit company. Two days later, District Court Judge Denise Page Hood denied an emergency motion to be exempted, writing, “Courts have held that the Mandate in question applies only to the corporate entity, not to its officers or owners, and that as to the individual owners, any burden imposed on them individually by the contraception mandate is remote[.]” She added, “The purpose of the Women’s Preventive Healthcare Regulations is not to target religion, but instead to promote public health and gender equality.”

ThinkProgress pointed out later that Potter’s dispute with his company providing female employees the appropriate coverage had nothing to do with religion, but rather an objection that government had set rules.

A general election ballot to boot Eden Foods from Austin’s major co-op happens between September 1 and November 3.

We are really excited that a documentary film is being done about Deep Green Resistance! This video is the introduction and features spoken words by Saba Malik and Rachel. Please share widely.

Deep Green Resistance is a social-justice environmental organization, with a coherent strategy for the environmental movement. We are 100% volunteer-run. Our website has now been translated into several languages, including Russian – check it out: www.deepgreenresistance.org

We are a pro-woman organization, and we stand in solidarity with feminists, people of color, and indigenous peoples. We have published guidelines for activists to be better allies with each other and with marginalized groups, and you can read these guidelines by going to our website and clicking on the “What We Do” tab.

We have a membership process for full-fledged membership, and more informal opportunities for volunteers.

We remain focused on solidarity with the Wild, and Love is our Cause.

“It’s Fracking Crazy…. And This Is Why We Are Reading News Reports of Civil Disobedience and Destruction of Fracking Equipment”

“When most people ask, “How can we stop global warming?” they aren’t really asking what they pretend they’re asking. They are instead asking, “How can we stop global warming without stopping the burning of oil and gas, without stopping the industrial infrastructure, without stopping this omnicidal system?”  The answer:  you can’t.”  ~ Deep Green Resistance

173 towns in New York have passed a ban or moratorium on fracking. Nationwide in the U.S., some 364 communities have taken action.  And the demonstrations in Balcombe, Sussex England will likely turn away fracking from Britain.

Hydraulic Fracturing 101

Within the past decade, the combination of hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling has opened up shale deposits across the country and brought large-scale natural gas drilling to new regions, making profitable otherwise prohibitively expensive extraction.   Fracking has already destroyed Barnhart, Texas, and more fracking is on its way – unless there is a successful resistance.


Fracking involves much trucking in and out of machinery and disruption of life on the surface level of the land where many creatures live.  Below the surface, fracking violently drills through land integrity to a depth most people can hardly imagine (6000-7000) feet – the size of a high mountain in reverse. Fracking introduces poisonous chemical agents into the earth and groundwater – which cycles back into the people and creatures who live in the area.   It is also industrially intensive, with no long-term studies that prove its “safety” for future generations who live on the land.  In fact, we are seeing both the poisoning of precious groundwater and the stealing of massive amounts of water itself for the industrial process of fracking.

Technical Info:  The fracking process occurs after a well has been drilled deeper than most people can imagine – 7000 feet, like a Sierra mountain in reverse.    Steel pipe (casing) that has been inserted in the well bore is perforated within the target zones that contain oil or gas, so that when the fracturing fluid is injected into the well it flows through the perforations into the target zones. Eventually, the target formation will not be able to absorb the fluid as quickly as it is being injected. At this point, the pressure created causes the formation to crack or fracture. Once the fractures have been created, injection ceases and the fracturing fluids begin to flow back to the surface.

Materials called proppants (e.g., usually sand or ceramic beads), which were injected as part of the frac fluid mixture, remain in the target formation to hold open the fractures. Typically, a mixture of water, propellants and chemicals is pumped into the rock or coal formation. There are, however, other ways to fracture wells. Sometimes fractures are created by injecting gases such as propane or nitrogen, and sometimes acidizing occurs simultaneously with fracturing. Acidizing involves pumping acid (usually hydrochloric acid), into the formation to dissolve some of the rock material to clean out pores and enable gas and fluid to flows more readily into the well.

Where do the chemicals go?  Some studies have shown that anywhere from 20-85% of fracking fluids may remain underground. Used fracturing fluids that return to the surface are often referred to as flowback, and these wastes are typically stored in open pits or tanks at the well site prior to disposal. https://www.propublica.org/article/new-gas-wells-leave-more-chemicals-in-ground-hydraulic-fracturing The process of fracturing a well is far from benign, and easily qualifies as malignant.  Here’s an overview of some of the issues and impacts related to the highly industrialized well stimulation technique which fractures the deep shale of the earth’s surface.

Water Use– In 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 70 to 140 billion gallons of water are used to fracture 35,000 wells in the United States each year. Yes, you read that right:  many billions of gallons of water.  http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/0/D3483AB445AE61418525775900603E79/$File/Draft+Plan+to+Study+the+Potential+Impacts+of+Hydraulic+Fracturing+on+Drinking+Water+Resources-February+2011.pdf

This is approximately the annual water consumption of 40 to 80 cities each with a population of 50,000.

Fracture treatments in coalbed methane wells use from 50,000 to 350,000 gallons of water per well:http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/pdfs/hfresearchstudyfs.pdf, while deeper horizontal shale wells can use anywhere from 2 to 10 million gallons of water to fracture a single well:http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/es903811p The extraction of so much water for fracking has raised concerns about the ecological impacts to aquatic resources, as well as dewatering of drinking water aquifers: http://www.gosanangelo.com/news/2011/jun/25/one-scarce-resource-for-another-water-151-and-of/ It has been estimated that the transportation of a million gallons of water (fresh or waste water) requires 200 truck trips. Thus, not only does water used for hydraulic fracturing deplete fresh water supplies and impact aquatic habitat, the transportation of so much water also creates localized air quality, safety and road repair issues.

–Sand and Proppants–

Conventional oil and gas wells use, on average, 300,000 pounds of proppant:http://www.icis.com/Articles/2011/08/15/9485305/us-shale-boom-fuels-growth-in-proppants-market.html coalbed fracture treatments use anywhere from 75,000 to 320,000 pounds of proppant:http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/uic/pdfs/cbmstudy_attach_uic_ch03_cbm_practices.pdf and shale gas wells can use more than 4 million pounds of proppant per well. Frac sand mines are springing up across the country, from Wisconsin to Texas, bringing with them their own set of impacts. Mining sand for proppant use generates its own range of impacts, including water consumption and air emissions:http://www.earthworksaction.org/earthblog/detail/frack_sand_mining_doesnt_just_suck_it_blows#.Ua4o0ZyUDgw as well as potential health problems related to crystalline silica: http://www.wisconsinwatch.org/2011/07/31/sand-mining-surges-in-wisconsin/

–Toxic Chemicals–

In addition to large volumes of water, a variety of chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing fluids. The oil and gas industry and trade groups are quick to point out that chemicals typically make up just 0.5 and 2.0% of the total volume of the fracturing fluid. When millions of gallons of water are being used, however, the amount of chemicals per fracking operation is very large. For example, a four million gallon fracturing operation would use from 80 to 330 tons of chemicals. As part of New York State’s Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) related to Horizontal Drilling and High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing in the Marcellus Shale, the Department of Environmental Conservation complied a list of chemicals and additives used during hydraulic fracturing.

Many fracturing fluid chemicals are known to be toxic to humans and wildlife, and several are known to cause cancer. Potentially toxic substances include petroleum distillates such as kerosene and diesel fuel (which contain benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals); polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; methanol; formaldehyde; ethylene glycol; glycol ethers; hydrochloric acid; and sodium hydroxide. http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/uic/pdfs/cbmstudy_attach_uic_ch04_hyd_frac_fluids.pdf Very small quantities of some fracking chemicals are capable of contaminating millions of gallons of water. According to the Environmental Working Group, petroleum-based products known as petroleum distillates such as kerosene (also known as hydrotreated light distillates, mineral spirits, and a petroleum distillate blends) are likely to contain benzene, a known human carcinogen that is toxic in water at levels greater than five parts per billion (or 0.005 parts per million). Other chemicals, such as 1,2-Dichloroethane are volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Volatile organic constituents have been shown to be present in fracturing fluid flowback wastes at levels that exceed drinking water standards.

For example, testing of flowback samples from Pennsylvania have revealed concentrations of 1,2-Dichloroethane as high as 55.3 micrograms per liter, which is more than 10 times EPA’s Maximum Contaminant Level for 1,2-Dichloroethane in drinking water.


VOCs not only pose a health concern while in the water, the volatile nature of the constituents means that they can also easily enter the air. According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Healthy Environments and Communities, organic compounds brought to the surface in the fracturing flowback or produced water often go into open impoundments (frac ponds), where the volatile organic chemicals can offgas into the air. http://www.fractracker.org/2010/08/potential-shale-gas-extraction-air-pollution-impacts/

When companies have an excess of unused hydraulic fracturing fluids, they either use them at another job or dispose of them. Some Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs) include information on disposal options for fracturing fluids and additives. The table below summarizes the disposal considerations that the company Schlumberger Technology Corp. (“Schlumberger”) includes in its MSDSs. As seen in the table, Schlumberger recommends that many fracturing fluid chemicals be disposed of at hazardous waste facilities. Yet these same fluids (in diluted form) are allowed to be injected directly into or adjacent to USDWs. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, hazardous wastes may not be injected into USDWs.


Moreover, even if hazardous wastes are decharacterized (for example, diluted with water so that they are rendered non-hazardous), wastes must still be injected into a formation that is below the USDW. http://www.epa.gov/ogwdw/uic/pdfs/study_uic-class1_study_risks_class1.pdf Clearly, some hydraulic fracturing fluids contain chemicals deemed to be “hazardous wastes.” Even if these chemicals are diluted it is unconscionable that EPA is allowing these substances to be injected directly into underground sources of drinking water.

–Health Concerns–

Human exposure to fracking chemicals can occur by ingesting chemicals that have spilled and entered drinking water sources, through direct skin contact with the chemicals or wastes (e.g., by workers, spill responders or health care professionals), or by breathing in vapors from flowback wastes stored in pits or tanks. In 2010, Theo Colborn and three co-authors published a paper entitled Natural Gas Operations from a Public Health Perspective: http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/files/Oct2011HERA10-48forweb3-3-11.pdf

Colborn and her co-authors summarized health effect information for 353 chemicals used to drill and fracture natural gas wells in the United States. Health effects were broken into 12 categories: skin, eye and sensory organ, respiratory, gastrointestinal and liver, brain and nervous system, immune, kidney, cardiovascular and blood, cancer, mutagenic, endocrine disruption, other, and ecological effects. The chart below illustrates the possible health effects associated with the 353 natural gas-related chemicals for which Colborn and her co-authors were able to gather health-effects data.

Health effects chart

Natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing chemicals with 10 or more health effects

• 2,2′,2″-Nitrilotriethanol • 2-Ethylhexanol • 5-Chloro-2-methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one • Acetic acid • Acrolein • Acrylamide (2-propenamide) • Acrylic acid • Ammonia • Ammonium chloride • Ammonium nitrate • Aniline • Benzyl chloride • Boric acid • Cadmium • Calcium hypochlorite • Chlorine • Chlorine dioxide • Dibromoacetonitrile 1 • Diesel 2 • Diethanolamine • Diethylenetriamine • Dimethyl formamide • Epidian • Ethanol (acetylenic alcohol) • Ethyl mercaptan • Ethylbenzene • Ethylene glycol • Ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (2-BE) • Ethylene oxide • Ferrous sulfate • Formaldehyde • Formic acid • Fuel oil #2 • Glutaraldehyde • Glyoxal • Hydrodesulfurized kerosene • Hydrogen sulfide • Iron • Isobutyl alcohol (2-methyl-1-propanol) • Isopropanol (propan-2-ol) • Kerosene • Light naphthenic distillates, hydrotreated • Mercaptoacidic acid • Methanol • Methylene bis(thiocyanate) • Monoethanolamine • NaHCO3 • Naphtha, petroleum medium aliphatic • Naphthalene • Natural gas condensates • Nickel sulfate • Paraformaldehyde • Petroleum distillate naptha • Petroleum distillate/ naphtha • Phosphonium, tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)-sulfate • Propane-1,2-diol • Sodium bromate • Sodium chlorite (chlorous acid, sodium salt) • Sodium hypochlorite • Sodium nitrate • Sodium nitrite • Sodium sulfite • Styrene • Sulfur dioxide • Sulfuric acid • Tetrahydro-3,5-dimethyl-2H-1,3,5-thiadiazine-2-thione (Dazomet) • Titanium dioxide • Tributyl phosphate • Triethylene glycol • Urea • Xylene

While Colborn and her co-workers focused on chemicals used in natural gas development, the chemicals used to fracture oil wells are very similar or the same. Looking at some of the oil wells that have been developed in the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, the fracturing fluid mixtures include some of the chemicals shown by Colborn to have the potential to cause 10 or more adverse health effects. Information posted hydraulic fracturing fluid chemicals on the FracFocus web site indicates that Bakken Shale oil wells may contain toxic chemicals such as hydrotreated light distillate, methanol, ethylene glycol, 2-butoxyethanol (2-BE), phosphonium, tetrakis(hydroxymethyl)-sulfate (aka phosphonic acid), acetic acid, ethanol, and napthlene.http://fracfocus.org/

–Contamination and Devastation of Surface Water and Soil 

Spills of fracturing chemicals and wastes during transportation, fracturing operations and waste disposal have contaminated soil and surface waters. This section provides a few examples of spills related to hydraulic fracturing that have led to environmental impacts. Two spills kill fish: In September 2009, Cabot Oil and Gas spilled hydraulic fracturing fluid gel LGC-35 twice at the company’s Heitsman gas well. The two incidents released a total of 8,000 gallons of the fracturing fluid, polluting Stevens Creek and resulting in a fish kill. LGC-35, a well lubricant used during the fracturing process. A third spill of LGC-35 occurred a week later, but did not enter the creek. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=13595&typeid=1 Fracturing fluid taints a high quality watershed: In December 2009, a wastewater pit overflowed at Atlas Resources’ Cowden 17 gas well, and an unknown quantity of hydraulic fracturing fluid wastes entered Dunkle Run, a “high quality watershed”. The company failed to report the spill.

In August 2010 the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) levied a $97,350 fine against Atlas Resources.http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=13595&typeid=1 Another fracturing fluid spill impacts a high quality waterway: In May 2010, Range Resources was fined was fined $141,175 for failing to immediately notify the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection when the company spilled 250 barrels of diluted fracturing fluids due to a broken joint in a transmission line. The fluids flowed into an unnamed tributary of Brush Run, killing at least 168 fish, salamanders and frogs. The watercourse is designated as a warm-water fishery under Pennsylvania’s special protection waters program. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=11412&typeid=1 Fracturing fluids affect soil and irrigation ditch: In October 2005 a valve on the wellhead of a Kerr-McGee well in Colorado failed. As a result, between168 and 210 gallons of flowback fluids sprayed into the air and drifted offsite, primarily onto pasture land, resulting in a visible coating that was as much as 1/2 inch thick. http://test.earthworksaction.org/index.php/issues/detail/colorado_contamination_incidents#KERRMCGEE

–Groundwater Contamination and Devastation–

As mentioned previously, hydraulic fracturing is used in many coalbed methane (CBM) production areas. Some coal beds contain groundwater of high enough quality to be considered underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a final study on Evaluation of Impacts to Underground Sources of Drinking Water by Hydraulic Fracturing of Coalbed Methane Reservoirs. In the study, EPA found that ten out of eleven CBM basins in the U.S. are located, at least in part, within USDWs. Furthermore, the EPA determined that in some cases, hydraulic fracturing chemicals are injected directly into USDWs during the course of normal fracturing operations. (Read Laura Amos’s story to learn how hydraulic fracturing has affected her family’s life.) Calculations performed by EPA in the draft version of its study show that at least nine hydraulic fracturing chemicals may be injected into or close to USDWs at concentrations that pose a threat to human health. T

he chart below is a reproduction of the data from the EPA draft study. As seen in the chart, chemicals may be injected at concentrations that are anywhere from 4 to almost 13,000 times the acceptable concentration in drinking water. Not only does the injection of these chemicals pose a short-term threat to drinking water quality, it is quite possible that there could be long-term negative consequences for USDWs from these fracturing fluids. According to the EPA study, studies conducted by the oil and gas industry, and interviews with industry and regulators, 20 to 85% of fracturing fluids may remain in the formation, which means the fluids could continue to be a source of groundwater contamination for years to come. https://www.propublica.org/article/new-gas-wells-leave-more-chemicals-in-ground-hydraulic-fracturing The potential long-term consequences of dewatering and hydraulic fracturing on water resources have been summed up by professional hydrogeologist who spent 32 years with the U.S. Geological Survey: http://www.earthworksaction.org/library/detail/expert_testimony_on_hydraulic_fracturing_impacts/#.Ua4ty5yUDgw As mentioned previously, anywhere from 20-85% of fracking fluids remain in the ground. Some fracturing gels remain stranded in the formation, even when companies have tried to flush out the gels using water and strong acids.

Also, studies show that gelling agents in hydraulic fracturing fluids decrease the permeability of coals, which is the opposite of what hydraulic fracturing is supposed to do (i.e., increase the permeability of the coal formations). Other similar, unwanted side effects from water- and chemical-based fracturing include: solids plugging up the cracks; water retention in the formation; and chemical reactions between the formation minerals and stimulation fluids. All of these cause a reduction in the permeability in the geological formations. For more details on the studies that have looked at stranded fracturing fluids and the potential for hydraulic fracturing to affect underground sources of drinking water, see Our Drinking Water at Risk, Oil and Gas Accountability Project’s review of the EPA’s study on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing of coalbed methane reservoirs on drinking water. http://test.earthworksaction.org/index.php/library/detail/our_drinking_water_at_risk#.Ua4t_ZyUDgw

–Air Quality–

In many oil and gas producing regions, there has been a degradation of air quality as drilling increases. For example, in Texas, high levels of benzene have been measured in the air near wells in the Barnett Shale gas fields. These volatile air toxics may be originating from a variety of gas-field source such as separators, dehydrators, condensers, compressors, chemical spills, and leaking pipes and valves. Increasingly, research is being conducted on the potential air emissions released during the fracturing flow back stage, when wastewater returns to the surface. Shales contain numerous organic hydrocarbons, and additional chemicals are injected underground during shale gas drilling, well stimulation (e.g., hydraulic fracturing), and well workovers. The Pittsburgh University Center for Healthy Environments and Communities (CHEC) has been examining how organic compounds in the shale can be mobilized during fracturing and gas extraction processes.

According to the CHEC researchers, these organic compounds are brought to the surface in the fracturing flowback or produced water, and often go into open impoundments (frac ponds), where the waste water, “will offgas its organic compounds into the air. This becomes an air pollution problem, and the organic compounds are now termed Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP’s).” http://www.fractracker.org/2010/08/potential-shale-gas-extraction-air-pollution-impacts/ The initial draft of the New York draft supplemental environmental impacts statement related to drilling in the Marcellus Shale (which is no longer available on-line) included information on modeling of potential air impacts from fracturing fluid wastes stored in centralized impoundments.

One analysis looked at the volatile organic compound methanol, which is known to be present in fracturing fluids such as surfactants, cross-linkers, scale inhibitors and iron control additives. The state calculated that a centralized fracturing flowback waste impoundment serving 10 wells (5 million gallons of flowback per well) could have an annual emission of 32.5 tons of methanol. The U.S. EPA reports that “chronic inhalation or oral exposure to methanol may result in headache, dizziness, giddiness, insomnia, nausea, gastric disturbances, conjunctivitis, visual disturbances (blurred vision), and blindness in humans.” http://www.epa.gov/ttn/atw/hlthef/methanol.html Open pits, tanks or impoundments that accept flowback wastes from one well would have a much smaller emission of volatile organic compounds (VOC) like methanol than facilities accepting wastes from multiple wells. But there are centralized flowback facilities like those belonging to Range Resources in Washington County, Pennsylvania that have been designed for “long-term use,” and thus, are likely to accept wastes from more than one well.http://thedailyreview.com/news/wastewater-recycling-poses-risks-of-odors-leaks-and-spills-1.858825

New York’s air modeling further suggested that the emission of Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) from centralized flowback impoundments could exceed ambient air thresholds 1,000 meters (3,300 feet) from the impoundment, and could cause the impoundment to qualify as a major source of HAPs. Methanol is just one of the VOCs contained in flowback water. The combined emissions from all VOCs present in flowback stored at centralized impoundments could be very large, depending on the composition of the fracturing fluids used at the wells.

Data released on flowback water from wells in Pennsylvania reveal that numerous volatile organic chemicals are returning to the surface, sometime in high concentrations. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection looked for 70 volatile organic compounds in flowback, and 27 different chemicals showed up. In a health effects analysis conducted by Theo Colborn and others, 37% of the chemicals used during natural gas drilling, fracturing and production (for which health data were available) were found to be volatile, with the ability to become airborne. Colborn and her co-authors compared the potential health impacts of volatile chemicals with those chemicals more like to be found in water (i.e., chemicals with high solubilities). They found that “far more of the volatile chemicals (81%) can cause harm to the brain and nervous system. Seventy one percent of the volatile chemicals can harm the cardiovascular system and blood, and 66% can harm the kidneys,” producing a profile that “displays a higher frequency of health effects than the water soluble chemicals.” The researchers add that the chance of exposures to volatile chemicals are increased by case they can be inhaled, ingested and absorbed through the skin. http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/files/Oct2011HERA10-48forweb3-3-11.pdf

Citizens of the gas field are experiencing health effects related to volatile chemicals from pits. In 2005, numerous Colorado residents experienced severe odors and health impacts related to flowback and drilling pits and tanks in Garfield County. According to Dion and Debbie Enlow complained to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission about odors from a Barrett wellpad upwind from their home. The pad had four wells that were undergoing completion/hydraulic fracturing. Dion Enlow complained to the company that the smell was so bad that “I can’t go outside and breathe.” In Pennsylvania, a fracturing flowback wastewater pit just beyond June Chappel’s property line created odors similar to gasoline and kerosene, which forced her inside, left a greasy film on her windows, on one occasion created a white dust that fell over her yard. Chappel and her neighbors lived with the noxious odors until they hired an attorney and Range Resources agreed to remove the impoundment.

In March 2010, a fracturing flowback wastewater impoundment in Washington County, Pennsylvania caught fire and exploded producing a cloud of thick, black smoke that could be seen miles away. For several days prior to the explosion nearby citizens had tried to alert state officials about noxious odors from the impoundment that were sickening their families, but “their voicemail boxes were full.”http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/11/09/us-fracking-suit-idUSTRE5A80PP20091109

–Chemical-laced Waste Disposal, or Not–

It has been reported that anywhere from 25 – 100% of the chemical-laced hydraulic fracturing fluids return to the surface from Marcellus Shale operations. This means that for some shale gas wells, millions of gallons of wastewater are generated, and require either treatment for re-use, or disposal. http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/Petroleum/projects/Environmental/Produced_Water/00975_MarcellusFlowback.html In 2009, the volume of fracturing flowback and brines produced in Pennsylvania was estimated to be 9 million gallons of wastewater per day, and this figure was expected to increase to 19 – 20 million gallons/day in 2011. The sheer volume of wastes, combined with high concentrations of certain chemicals in the flowback from fracturing operations, are posing major waste management challenges for the Marcellus Shale states. Also, the US Geological Survey has found that flowback may contain a variety of formation materials, including brines, heavy metals, radionuclides, and organics, which can make wastewater treatment difficult and expensive.http://md.water.usgs.gov/publications/fs-2009-3032/ According to an article in ProPublica, New York City’s Health Department has raised concerns about the concentrations of radioactive materials in wastewater from natural gas wells. In a July, 2009 letter obtained by ProPublica, the Department wrote that “Handling and disposal of this wastewater could be a public health concern.” The letter also mentioned that the state may have difficulty disposing of the waste, that thorough testing will be needed at water treatment plants, and that workers may need to be monitored for radiation as much as they might be at nuclear facilities.http://www.propublica.org/article/is-the-marcellus-shale-too-hot-to-handle-1109

Options for disposal of radioactive flowback or produced water include underground injection in Class II UIC wells and offsite treatment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has indicated that Class II UIC injection disposal wells are uncommon in New York, and existing wells aren’t licensed to receive radioactive waste. In terms of offsite treatment, it is not known if any of New York’s water treatment facilities are capable of handling radioactive wastewater. ProPublica contacted several plant managers in central New York who said they could not take the waste or were not familiar with state regulations. Pennsylvania state regulators and the natural gas industry are also facing challenges regarding how to ensure proper disposal of the millions of gallons of chemical-laced wastewater generated daily from hydraulic fracturing and gas production in the Marcellus shale. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/environment/what-can-be-done-with-wastewater-360358/

Drinking water treatment facilities in Pennsylvania are not equipped to treat and remove many flowback contaminants, but rather, rely on dilution of chlorides, sulfates and other chemicals in surface waters used for drinking water supplies. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/newsroom/14287?id=13775&typeid=1 During the fall of 2008, the disposal of large volumes of flowback and produced water at publicly owned treatment works (POTWs) contributed to high total dissolved solids (TDS) levels measured in Pennsylvania’s Monongahela River and its tributaries:http://www.netl.doe.gov/technologies/oil-gas/Petroleum/projects/Environmental/Produced_Water/00975_MarcellusFlowback.html Studies showed that in addition to the Monongahela River, many of the other rivers and streams in Pennsylvania had a very limited ability to assimilate additional TDS, sulfate and chlorides, and that the high concentrations of these constituents were harming aquatic communities.

Research by Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority experts suggests that the natural gas industry has contributed to elevated levels of bromide in the Allegheny and Beaver Rivers. Bromides react with disinfectants used by municipal treatment plants to create brominated trihalomethanes, which have been linked to several types of cancer and birth defects. http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/breaking/pa-marcellus-wastewater-shouldnt-go-to-treatment-plants-294068/#ixzz1b9rPzTqm In August of 2010, Pennsylvania enacted new rules limiting the discharge of wastewater from gas drilling to 500 milligrams per liter of total dissolved solids (TDS) and 250 milligrams per liter for chlorides. The number of municipal facilities allowed to take drilling and fracking wastewater has dropped from 27 in 2010 to 15 in 2011. Disposal of drilling and fracking waste water is going to continue to present a challenge to local and state governments as more wells are developed across the country.

–Chemical Disclosure–

One potentially frustrating issue for citizens is that it has not been easy to find out what chemicals are being used during the hydraulic fracturing operations in your neighborhood. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, in the late 1990s and early 2000s attempts by various environmental and ranching advocacy organizations to obtain chemical compositions of hydraulic fracturing fluids were largely unsuccessful because oil and gas companies refused to reveal this “proprietary information.” http://www.earthworksaction.org/files/pubs-others/200201_NRDC_HydrFrac_CBM.pdf

In the mid-2000s, the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and The Endocrine Disruption Exchange (TEDX) began to compile information on drilling and fracturing chemicals from a number of sources, including Material Safety Data Sheets obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests of state agencies.  http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/chemicals.introduction.php TEDX subsequently produced reports on the toxic chemicals used in oil and gas development in several western states including Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming and Colorado, and worked with the Environmental Working Group to produce a report on chemicals injected into oil and gas wells in Colorado. In 2006, the first effort to require disclosure of chemicals was launched. In June of 2006, the Oil and Gas Accountability Project submitted a letter to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) on behalf of five citizens organizations in Colorado. The groups asked that state agencies require disclosure of the chemicals used and monitoring of chemicals and wastes released by the oil and gas industry in Colorado. Since that time the Oil and Gas Accountability Project and others have worked to get disclosure bills passed in states across the country. Wyoming, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Texas now require a certain level of disclosure, although trade secret laws still prevent full disclosure in most states.

–Hydraulic Fracturing Best Practices?  No Practice–

From a public health perspective, if hydraulic fracturing stimulation takes place, the best option is to fracture formations using sand and water without any additives, or sand and water with non-toxic additives.  From a biosystems perspective, there is nothing non-toxic going on with fracking, even if so-called “non-toxic” additives, such as used by the offshore oil and gas industry, were to be implemented.   It is common to use diesel in hydraulic fracturing fluids –  diesel contains the carcinogen benzene, as well as other harmful chemicals such as naphthalene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. According to the company Halliburton, “Diesel does not enhance the efficiency of the fracturing fluid; it is merely a component of the delivery system.” It is technologically feasible to replace diesel with non-toxic “delivery systems,” such as plain water. According to the EPA, “Water-based alternatives exist and from an environmental perspective, these water-based products are preferable.” But groundwater & aquifer depletion being the problem that they currently are, across the globe, using more water for fracking is no solution. Oil and gas wastes are often flowed back to and stored in pits on the surface. Often these pits are unlined. But even if they are lined, the liners can tear and contaminate soil and possibly groundwater with toxic chemicals. As mentioned above, toxic chemicals are used during hydraulic fracturing operations. The same chemicals that are injected come back to the surface in the flowed-back wastes.

–Tips for Landowners & Land Lovers—

Obtaining fracking chemical information: The law requires that all employees have access to a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS), which contains information on health hazards, chemical ingredients, physical characteristics, control measures, and special handling procedures for all hazardous substances in the work area. The MSDSs are produced and distributed by the chemical manufacturers and distributors. It should be noted that MSDSs may not list all of the chemicals or chemical constituents being used (if they are trade secrets). Landowners may be able to obtain copies of MSDSs from company employees, the chemical manufacturers, or possibly from state agency representatives.

Prior to the enactment of some state laws regarding the disclosure of hydraulic fracturing and other drilling chemicals, there were two sources of information on chemicals used during oil and gas development. These sources were: Material Safety Data Sheets and Tier II reports. Now, limited chemical information can be obtained, as well, via web sites such as Frac Focus or state agency sites. But criticisms have been raised regarding fracturing fluid registries, such as they do not provide enough detailed information on chemical concentrations and volumes, nor do they provide information in a format that is easy to use. -Matearial Safety Data Sheets (MSDSs): The law requires that all employees have access to Material Safety Data Sheets, which contain information on health hazards, chemical ingredients, physical characteristics, control measures, and special handling procedures for all hazardous substances in the work area. MSDSs are produced and distributed by the chemical manufacturers and distributors. Citizens may be able to obtain copies of MSDSs from company employees, chemical manufacturers, local or state agency representatives, or via some web sites. -Tier II Reports: The federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) requires facilities that store chemicals to report products that contain hazardous substances. Some chemicals do not have to be reported, if they are below a certain threshold. Theo Colborn of The Endocrine Disruption Exchange has enumerated several problems with the information in MSDS and Tier II reports.http://www.endocrinedisruption.com/files/Oct2011HERA10-48forweb3-3-11.pdf


  1. Hazen and Sawyer, December 22, 2009. Impact Assessment of Natural Gas Production in the New York City Water Supply Watershed. p.5.
  2.  In October of 2004, OGAP filed a Freedom of Information Act request with EPA to obtain the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) supplied to the agency by hydraulic fracturing companies. (Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552, Request Number HQ-RIN-00044-05). The information in this table were contained in MSDS sheets from Schlumberger.
  3.  The Frac Focus web site does not allow users to link to lists of chemicals published for individual well sites. To view data on the Bakken Shale wells, go to FracFocus web site and Search: North Dakota. Dunn County. Marathon. Edward Darwin #14-35H. Fracture Date: 7/14/2011; and Search: North Dakota. Dunn County. ConocoPhillips. Intervale 31-35H well. Fracture Date: 8/9/2011.

– See more at: http://www.earthworksaction.org/issues/detail/hydraulic_fracturing_101#.UhRGr0bv7TM See more at: http://www.earthworksaction.org