In Missouri, Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder has denied “a bid by a landowners group to suspend the state of Illinois’ new rules for high-volume oil and gas drilling”.
The presiding judge in this case has a history of accepting questionable campaign donation money from plaintiff’s lawyers who happen to have “the majority of trial slots on the docket” cases where Crowder would be ruling.
These attorneys who donated to Crowder were representing 3 of “the county’s biggest asbestos firms”.
Crowder returned the monies and was adamant that these donations were not “inappropriate”.
Crowder cited that the landowners “failed to show they would suffer immediate harm” if the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) were to go ahead.
The plaintiffs stated that according to the rules set by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) are “procedurally flawed” due to the rejection of consideration for scientific studies to be entered into the rule making process; as well as not allowing residents to have questions answered by a member of the IDNR panel during statewide public hearings.
Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SIAFOE) joined the landowners in the suit and are planning an appeal of Crowder’s ruling.
Annette McMichael, spokesperson for SIAFOE commented : “At this point, I don’t consider anything a significant setback. We’ve had so many setbacks in the year and a half since the bill was signed, but we just keep forging ahead. We are never, ever going away.”
One of the most recent scientific studies on fracking came out of Cornell University (CU) who discovered that “newer and unconventional wells leak far more often than older and traditional ones” which could mean all across the nation methane is leaking into the environment due to fracking.
After analyzing 41,000 injection wells and 75,000 state inspection sites, this study show that “older wells — those drilled before 2009 — had a leak rate of about 1%. While most were traditional wells, drilling straight down, unconventional wells — those drilled horizontally and commonly referred to as fracking — have replaced traditional well since 2006.”
Since 2009, the leak rate was measured at 2% and unconventional wells leak at 6% with the height of leaking being 10% coming from horizontally drilled wells in the northeastern area of Pennsylvania.
The researchers wrote : “In aquifers overlying the Marcellus and Utica shale formations of northeastern Pennsylvania and upstate New York, we document systematic evidence for methane contamination of drinking water associated with shale-gas extraction. In active gas-extraction areas (one or more gas wells within 1 km), average and maximum methane concentrations in drinking-water wells increased with proximity to the nearest gas well and were 19.2 and 64 mg, a potential explosion hazard; in contrast, dissolved methane samples in neighboring nonextraction sites (no gas wells within 1 km) within similar geologic formations and hydrogeologic regimes averaged only 1.1 mg. Average values of dissolved methane in shallow groundwater were significantly less negative for active than for nonactive sites.”
The study concludes “that greater stewardship, data, and—possibly—regulation are needed to ensure the sustainable future of shale-gas extraction and to improve public confidence in its use.”
Earlier this month, the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) and the Texas General Land Office have filed injunctions to prevent the ban on fracking from being enacted in Denton, Texas after residents voted to have the practice banned in their city.
Thomas Philips, former justice for the Texas Supreme Court and partner with Baker Botts law firm which represents TXOGA, said that residents of Denton do not have the authority to ban fracking because the Texas State Constitution (TSC) gives the state the right to decide on energy extraction and methods used within the state borders.