Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Fracking Goes South: Oil and Gas Industry (and NFL Owner) Lick Their Chops Over Chattanooga Shale

Energy
Fracking Goes South: Oil and Gas Industry (and NFL Owner) Lick Their Chops Over Chattanooga Shale

Tennessee Riverkeeper

By David Whiteside

Hydraulic fracturing is expanding in the South. The gas drilling companies are licking their chops over an area known as the Chattanooga Shale which spans across Alabama, Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Kentucky. As of February 2013, there are fracking wells in Anderson, Campbell, Fentress, Morgan, Overton, Pickett, Scott and Union counties in Tennessee.

According to industry websites, at least six gas drilling companies are looking at mineral rights and property leases in the Volunteer State. Atlas Energy has bought up 105,000 acres in eastern Tennessee. The company believes that this property could contain up to 500 potential horizontal drilling locations. The message is clear: “the Dirty South” is open for business to the gas industry.

Moccasin Bend of the Tennessee River and Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Chattanooga sits atop the Chattanooga Shale gas deposit, which spans four states.

In addition, the University of Tennessee (UT) has plans to start a controversial fracking project and is seeking a $500,000 contract from oil and gas companies. This UT proposal intends to move forward the school’s plans to enter research on hydraulic fracturing, and drill at least one well in the first year of the project. The school is trying to lease a portion of more than 8,000 acres of land it owns in Scott and Morgan counties. The University claims it will use the revenues from the lease to fund its planned scientific research on the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing. UT, like the oil and gas companies, has attempted to avoid certain regulations. For example, UT has requested a waiver of appraisals that assess the value of land and its mineral commodities, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.

The extraction of shale gas and coalbed methane involves a process known as hydraulic fracturing. Hydraulic fracturing forces a pressurized fluid mixture including water, acid, surfactant, gel, chemicals and silica sand into the Earth around coal seams. The fluids create underground fissures in targeted coal seams and surrounding rock and shale, and phenolic resin-coated sand holds the fissures open, allowing natural gas to flow toward the surface. Advances in fracking and horizontal drilling, as well as higher natural gas prices, increased the amount of shale-gas wells and made them more profitable. Gas companies can drill vertical or horizontal wells. The first use of hydraulic fracturing was in 1947, but horizontal wells did not appear until 1998, where they were first drilled in the Barnett Shale in Texas. The success of these horizontal wells, opened up the door for more aggressive fracking throughout the country.

Groundwater contamination is a major concern for people living in rural areas near hydraulic fracturing operations. Natural gas is known as a clean burning fuel. However, when considering the full cycle costs of this form of energy—from drilling to waste disposal to consumption and back door politics—it is not so clean after all. 

A representative from Atlas Energy stated that the Chattanooga Shale is too fragile for high-pressure water fracking treatment, so nitrogen gas will replace some of the water. Currently, Tennessee’s regulations do not require drillers to monitor the water quality of nearby wells or notify neighbors, unless they pump in more than 200,000 gallons of water. Tennessee regulators have acknowledged that the majority of fracking wells in the state take only about 175,000 gallons of water. Therefore, the drilling companies can avoid testing wells or notifying local citizens during the drilling process.

The Governor of Tennessee, Bill Haslam, is an oilman and stands to profit from petroleum and gas. The Haslam family of Knoxville, Tennessee has amassed a fortune from the business, Pilot Travel Centers, which the family founded in 1958. The family merged the business with Flying J in 2001 and the Haslam family continues to run the company out of Knoxville.

In 2012, the Haslam family purchased Western Petroleum and Maxum Petroleum. Both companies are among the nation’s major suppliers of fuel to the gas drilling and fracking operations in the U.S. The Haslam family will also start installing natural gas fueling pump stations to some of the corporation’s fueling stations. In 2013, they plan to have 100 truck stops capable of fueling 18-wheelers with liquefied natural gas. 

Pilot Flying J truck stop CEO Jimmy Haslam, brother to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, discusses his profit potential from fracking in this video:

Pilot Flying J President and CEO Jimmy Haslam discusses his corporate interests
in fracking.
Jimmy is the brother of Tennessee Governor, Bill Haslam. Jimmy Haslam
owns the Cleveland Browns.

The stage is set for more fracking in Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Kentucky. Unfortunately, like so many other states, fracking regulations are lenient and full of loopholes in the South. Oversight from citizens and the government is extremely difficult, as the oil and gas companies shroud their fracking chemicals and extracting process from local landowners and communities. For now, the best citizens can do is to stay informed on the issue and participate in the process by supporting local environmental nonprofits. People need to get more involved in the political process by electing local, state and federal politicians who will work to strengthen oil and gas regulations, and not profit from these non-renewable energy companies at the public’s expense.

For more information, contact Scott Banbury at the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club at [email protected] or 901-619-8567.

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

 

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less

Trending

New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less
Woodpecker

Colombia is one of the world's largest producers of coffee, and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged. According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve.

Read More Show Less