fracking rigBy Peter Galuszka

Controversial hydraulic fracking appears to becoming a distinct possibility in areas south and east of Fredericksburg on land that is famed for its bucolic and watery splendors along with being the birthplaces of such historical figures as George Washington, James Monroe and Robert E. Lee.

After several years of exploring and buying up 84,000 acres worth of leases from Carolina to Westmoreland Counties, a Dallas-based company that uses a post office box as its headquarters address participated in the first-ever public discussion of what its plans may be.

According to the Free-Lance Star, the meeting was put together by King George County Supervisor Rudy Brabo to air concerns and hear plans of Shore Exploration and Production Co., which is based in Dallas and has offices in Bowling Green. Its headquarters address is registered with the State Corporation Commission as P.O. Box 38101 in Dallas.

About 100 people attended the meeting April 14, but judging from the newspaper’s account, not many questions were answered. Participants repeatedly asked Shore CEO Ed DeJarnette what his plans were regarding fracking and who would be responsible for damages if something went wrong.

DeJarnette responded that his firm is merely buying up leases and is looking to sell them to other gas drillers and operators. The state’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy issues permits one at a time and is responsible for enforcing them, he said.

Hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling have touched off a revolution in the American energy industry in recent years, particularly in the Marcellus Shale gas formations that stretch in the Appalachians from New York State to southwest Virginia. The methods have also been used to reach rich shale oil deposits in North Dakota and other western states.

Fracking has been used as a drilling process for years according to media accounts and authors such as Gregory Zuckerman whose recent book “The Frackers” covers the process’s increasingly widespread use in the past several years.

Among concerns are that the toxic chemicals mixed with water and then pumped hundreds of feet underground could eventually ruin groundwater serving streams and wells. Other concerns are that the inevitable “flowback” in drilling will require surface ponds to handle toxic waste. In places such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia where fracking is permitted, quiet country areas are badly disturbed by the roar of diesel generators at drilling sites and from trucks that are constantly delivering drilling supplies. Methane can leak from drilling rigs, further complicating global warming issues, and flash fires can be problems. Fracking can also consume great amounts of water which often has to be trucked in.

On the plus side, holders of mineral leases can receive great sums in royalties and various taxes and other payments can boost local tax coffers. Natural gas is cleaner and less deadly source of energy than coal, plays a big role in electricity power generation in the Mid-Atlantic.

At the King George meeting, DeJarnette told the audience that he preferred using nitrogen as an element in fracking rather than water, but there were few details in the newspaper story.

While providing scarce details on who would actually handle the drilling, how it would be done and who would be responsible for damages, DeJarnette repeatedly emphasized the monetary benefits and jobs fracking would bring.

If it proceeds, fracking in the Taylorsville Basin would likely be confined to Virginia, which is more business-friendly than Maryland where the basin also extends. The field stretches across the Potomac River into Charles, St. Mary’s, Calvert and Anne Arundel Counties but Maryland has a moratorium on fracking until it can be studied further.

DeJarnette says he wants drilling to start by late this year or in 2015. Major oil firms explored the Northern Neck area and found some evidence of oil and gas deposits there in the 1980s.

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16 responses to “Fracking the Mother of Presidents”

  1. I just had a silly thought… and that is .. of the opponents or would-be opponents of fracking – how many are lefty liberals?

    How many, for instance are Obama supporters or like ObamaCare?

    How many of them voted for Obama and McAuliffe?

    how many are dues-paying members of the Sierra Club or like-minded group?

    Here’s my take – maybe 10%… the rest are typical rural conservatives who pretty-much vote the GOP line.

    here.. take a look:

    KG votes solid GOP.. even for wacko GOP.. so what’s this really about?

  2. Breckinridge Avatar

    I’m sure if he were around today GW would happily invest in this, or allow it on part of his (then) vast land holdings. That man was a true capitalist. Monroe probably likewise. Lee’s economic views are unknown to me. After the war he could have used the bread.

    Peter, what a string of innuendo and the sky is falling hyperbole. My Goodness! Nitrogen! Don’t that use that in TNT? That’s just as evil a Carbon Dioxide (which is also filling all our lungs at this very moment.) Nobody drills nothing in this country without an EPA permit and to his credit so far Obama’s EPA has not shut this down. Yes, it is because they want to shut down coal instead. I personally will lose no sleep over the end of burning coal for electricity, as long as this reasonable and reasonably safe alternative is allowed to proceed. I’m sure the very same concerns appeared in print somewhere in pre-Rockefeller Pennsylvania as those first oil wells were sunk, and in those days the environmental concerns were almost non-existent. Is Pennsylvania an uninhabited wasteland these days? Or those parts of California where the oil pumps dot the countryside? Naaah.

    1. Washington may well have established the Virginia Way. I heard a story that, while President, Washington directed the government to find a location for a federal armory in Virginia. Several times, it came back with recommendations that he disapproved. Finally, someone figured out that Harpers Ferry would be a good location as the President owned some land there. The new recommendation was quickly approved by Washington. So Gerry Connolly and SAIC are in very good company.

      1. Breckinridge Avatar

        Try a book called “Six Frigates” and you’ll be amused that the first six contracts were farmed out to shipyards all up and down the East Coast, rather than having one yard build them. Nothing new about the games you see in federal procurement.

        1. can you say Crony Capitalism?

          Washington’s “Heroic Enterprise:” The Patowmack Canal

          oh and for the FAUX libertarian types – delve into how a continuous right-of-way along the river was obtained…

  3. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Normally, I accept other views but your comment is just so flat wrong I have to respond. I never said I was against fracking in my post. I am merely reciting coverage from the Free Lance Star. As for nitrogen that’s what was said. There are lots of residents’ questions about who’s really going to drill. As for the impact of fracking on communities, I would dare to say that you have no idea what you are talking about. Your suggestion that Obama and the EPA are shutting down fracking is just nonsensical. The shale gas and oil boom has happened WHILE OBAMA WAS IN OFFICE.

    Look, if you can’t comment intelligently, why not go watch Fox News?

    1. Not to butt into this exchange, but just a small point of factcfor the purpose of clarity… Breckinridge did not suggest that Obama was shutting down fracking. In fact, he said the opposite: “Nobody drills nothing in this country without an EPA permit and to his credit so far Obama’s EPA has not shut this down. “

    2. Breckinridge Avatar

      I almost never watch Fox News. I’ll swear it off completely if you throw away your Blue Virginia talking points. As Jim noted, I know that this technology is expanding under Obama and I even noted it was for a reason you would applaud. Your initial post was aimed at emotion, not reason. So what if the company has a post office box for an address? Does that mean it is shady, undercapitalized or has a poor safety record? On its face is means nothing. Lots of companies have PO boxes (often in Delaware.) Innuendo.

      1. these are Ad Hoc companies.. who are trying to secure leases that they think once they have them and the permits will gain significant value and can be resold at great profit to the actual development companies.

        this is the typical way that such things are done because if big companies did it – it would be more difficult and the lease prices would skyrocket.

        nothing particularly nefarious about it.. companies that secure leases form .. get the leases and go away.. usually folks in the industry who know what needs to be done to be successful at getting the leases and permits.

  4. I never thought we’d have this debate in Virginia. But here we are… My natural inclination is to favor fracking — it brings economic activity and jobs into the state. And the rural communities who would benefit from the royalties could really use the extra income.

    But there are real environmental issues surrounding fracking. I don’t know how worried we should be. I suspect there is a lot of hysteria but there are likely to be legitimate issues as well.

    I would suggest that Governor McAuliffe convene a regulatory working group, akin to the group that Governor McDonnell pulled together to study uranium mining, to assemble the best scientific and technical knowledge about fracking safety and environmental issues in order to promulgate reasonable regulations. Better to start this process now than to wait a year or two when drillers want to start drilling.

    1. Breckinridge Avatar

      The big environmental issue is the high volume of water required. Fresh water is a valuable commodity and the supply is limited in some of the areas where this commodity can be exploited. Which I suspect is why they are talking about injecting nitrogen (78 percent of the atmosphere, so hardly in short supply or a problem if it leaks back into the atmosphere.)

      1. this same technique is the fundamental basis of “clean coal”. they plan on pumping the CO back into the earth…

        hmmm.. is there a win-win here?

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    “akin to the group that Governor McDonnell pulled together to study uranium mining,?””

    What a frigging joke, McDonnell’s uranium group was. It was made up exclusively of energy companies, equipment makers and lobbyists and absolutely NO environmentalists or community activists or officials of Hampton Roads cities where the drinking water from mining might jeopardized.

    A McD-style group on fracking would probably be limited to Chesapeake Energy, Exxon,, Shore, the Koch Brothers and assorted lobbyists and lawyers bankrolled by the energy sector.

    It’s the Virginia Way!

    1. well.. McAuliffe _could_ show how it OUGHT to be done.. an opportunity and a way to make inroads into the rural white guy vote…

      remember when Dems were rural populists?

  6. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    Excuse, me but having a post office box for a mailing address does make a difference. If I live in the area and my well water is poisoned where am I supposed to send my lawsuit? To a post office box? You really MUST know who is doing what. The Free Lance Star reports that this supposed energy firm is buying leases and wants to flip them. To whom? Who is going to actually be doing the drilling? Are we really so stupid as to let some people buy up leases, tell us how much money we are going to make when we really don’t know who’s actually going to do the work?

    The XYZ company in energy is as old as the hills.

    1. re: “flipping leases”.

      this is a very common practice – the big companies don’t want their names involved .. in part because the price goes up if people think it is a big rich company ….

      the King George Landfill was created this way. A small company that specialized in getting the leases and the permits go the project through all the hoops then sold the rights to a big company that then developed it.

      it’s common…

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