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Tracking Fracking Fights

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Welcome to day two of my new blog: Toxic Tracks. Here, I'll be posting short bits of daily news and commentary on environmental health topics. Please send along any thoughts or feedback via email or Twitter.

A few standouts in my tracking of fracking this morning:

  • Natural gas companies are "ramping up" their PR campaigns with the release of Hollywood's controversial new fracking film, according to a column in The Guardian. Richard Schiffman noted that "Promised Land" highlights the "tactics used by drillers to buy up farmland." Industry is responding with a campaign to combat the "work of fiction." They've even sponsored short advertisements to run during movie previews in Pennsylvania theaters.

    Schiffman further hints at potential conflicts of interest with industry funding of universities and shale gas research studies in the state:

  • In addition to endowing science halls, Chevron and other energy companies have been sponsoring research on fracking at some of the nation's leading universities, including several in Pennsylvania, a hotbed of natural gas drilling. But the question is increasingly being asked: can these industry-funded studies be trusted?

  • Pete Seeger and Natalie Merchant were among more than 1,000 activists who filled Albany's Empire State Plaza concourse on Wednesday in an effort to get their ant-fracking message heard by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. According to The Ithace Journal, Cuomo's 80-minute speech made no mention of fracking. The Journal reports:
  • The state Department of Environmental Conservation first launched its review of high-volume hydrofracking in 2008 and a decision on whether to allow it in New York has remained on hold. In September, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens asked the state Department of Health to identify outside consultants to assist with the review.

    The DEC faces a Feb. 27 deadline to finalize proposed regulations for fracking or allow them to expire.

  • Neither side of the fracking debate seems to be happy with the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission's initial approval of a new "setback" rule. The 500-foot buffer between rigs and home or offices is half of what environmentalists proposed and 150 feet greater than the figure sought by industry. Commissioners also passed a new rules this week that will require oil and gas companies to conduct groundwater sampling before and after drilling in the state. The Aspen Business Journal reports:
  • Representatives of the oil and gas industry called the new rules "excessive and unnecessary."

    Environmentalists and residents affected by drilling said they didn't go far enough.

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