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Energy industry shapes lessons in public schools

Eager to burnish its reputation, the energy industry is spending significant sums of money on education in communities with sensitive coal, natural gas and oil exploration projects. The industry aims to teach students about its contributions to local economies and counter criticism from environmental groups.

These outreach efforts have drawn scrutiny after news in May that Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher of children’s books, distributed fourth-grade curriculum materials funded by the American Coal Foundation. The “United States of Energy” lesson plan, which the foundation paid $300,000 to develop, went to 66,000 fourth-grade teachers in 2009. After critics raised questions about potential bias, Scholastic announced that it will no longer publish the material in question.

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PROFITS OVER PEOPLE ALERT: Lawmakers Call For EPA To Steer Clear Of Gas-Drilling Regulation 


WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- A group of House lawmakers Thursday called for the U.S. government to stay out of regulating natural-gas drilling, saying the responsibility ought to be left to state authorities.

The calls, from lawmakers from Pennsylvania and other states where drilling occurs, came as two federal agencies study the safety of a controversial drilling technique used to extract natural gas.

Industry supporters fear the Environmental Protection Agency, which is conducting a long-term study on how gas drilling affects drinking water, will adopt policies or rules that slow U.S. gas production. A production boom in recent years has been followed by growing concerns about the drilling's environmental impact.

The Energy Department also has convened an advisory panel to study drilling safety. The panel held its first meeting this week.




Local landowners, others repeat fracking concerns

In other states and increasingly in Ohio, natural gas companies have been offering residents up to several thousand dollars per acre for oil and gas leases. But some who have signed the leases have reported illness due to the chemicals getting into their water supplies. In isolated instances, property owners in other states have reported their tap water catching fire due to chemicals infiltrating their wells.

"If people take what the industry offers when they show up on their doorsteps, they're not getting (a deal), even if (fracking) is something they want to do," Phillips said of the leases. "They're not getting as good a deal, and it's allowing a lot more profit to the company and less to the landowners."

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Saving Money and Lungs: Simple fixes could keep tons of drilling pollution out of the air.

Fort Worth Weekly


The Downwinders, in a release, called TCEQ’s proposed cuts in drilling-related pollution “modest” — the removal of 14 tons per day of VOC from the 100-plus tons per day now being emitted by gas industry activities. The release quoted TCEQ conclusions that gas industry pollution now accounts for more tons of VOC pollution annually than all the cars and trucks in the Dallas-Fort Worth area combined. But because the industry has grown so fast, the problem was not addressed in previous versions of the air quality plan.

“That’s a little crumb toward reducing VOCs in the shale,” said Schermbeck, who represents Downwinders on the oil and gas subcommittee of the clean-air panel. Jordan chairs the subcommittee.

Sattler’s report, Schermbeck said, makes it clear that those emissions could be reduced by up to 90 tons per day if the industry adopted practices that would quickly pay for themselves. Sattler, an environmental engineer at the University of Texas at Arlington, helped draw up earlier versions of the North Texas clean-air plan.

One of the easiest things for the industry to fix would also be one of the most rewarding in terms of reducing pollution, Schermbeck said. That would be for the state to require the industry to retrofit its equipment to get rid of the valves and other mechanisms that Schermbeck said “intentionally leak natural gas due to the way that they work.” Those valves, he said, are the “largest source of VOCs in the gas field.”

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Great Video from our Friends in PA

Don't miss this video from Environment America and PennEnvironment about Hydro Fracking in Pennsylvania. They cover a wide range of topics including water quality, property values, farming, state parks, and traffic. Its the best 20 minutes you will spend today!

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