I’ve heard of onshore and offshore gas and oil spills but never before have I heard heard of a blowout at a natural gas facility. But yesterday in Pennsylvania, that’s exactly what happened (and is still happening):
A blowout at a natural gas well in rural northern Pennsylvania spilled thousands of gallons of chemical-laced water on Wednesday, contaminating a stream and forcing the evacuation of seven families who live nearby as crews struggled to stop the gusher.
The Chesapeake Energy Corporation lost control of the well site near Canton, in Bradford County, around 11:45 p.m. Tuesday, officials said. Tainted water continued to flow Wednesday afternoon, though workers finally managed to prevent any more of it from reaching the stream.
That “tainted water” is the water used in hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. Fracking is what allowed the guy in the movie “Gasland” to set his tapwater on fire. The water contains a variety of chemicals to assist in splitting the rock formations under the ground to release the gas. And now thousands of gallons of water contaminated with these chemicals flowed into a local stream the feeds the Susquehanna River which then flows into the Chesapeake Bay.
And, hey! Speaking of Chesapeake, did you catch which company is responsible for this? Ironically, it’s the Chesapeake Energy Corporation. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because its co-founder and CEO is none other than Aubrey McClendon, the skabillionaire that it trying to build a luxury condo development smack dab in the middle of Michigan’s Saugatuck Dunes. I wrote about that yesterday. Recall that he’s an in-law and golfing buddy to Congressman Fred Upton, EPA-hater extraordinaire.
In a strange turn of events, McClendon was on my radio yesterday afternoon for another, unrelated story. Saugatuck Township is has decided to pay the court costs of two of its clerks. They are in court for misdemeanor charges because, at a vote last May on raising Township taxes to defend themselves from McClendon’s lawsuits, the final vote was in favor of raising taxes and won by only two votes. Two clerks opened a ballot box to inspect it on the orders of the County Clerk. That, apparently, breaches the protocol and makes a recount impossible. So our Republican State Attorney General Bill Schuette cited the two women with the criminal charges of vote tampering. They face up to 90 days behind bars, a $500 fine or both and the court case is today.
The NPR piece (you can listen to it HERE) showed McClendon to be the greedy, self-interested developer that he is. One Township resident described him this way: “[H]e’s trying to change the rules, and he’s rich enough. He personally has more income every year than this community has. So he can paperwork-us-through-court to death, bankrupt the community and get his way.”
And he also owns a company that had a giant, polluting natural gas blowout in Pennsylvania that is in the news today. Funny how things like that work out, isn’t it?
I’m just sayin’…