Bismarck, N.D. – The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) unnecessary and duplicative proposed rules for venting and flaring could reduce production on impacted leases, reduce state tax revenues and cost thousands of private royalty owners millions in lost royalty income, according to the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC).

“The industry supports the goals of capturing greater quantities of associated gas and reducing waste but this one-size-fits-all federal process could come at a huge cost to North Dakotans while providing few – if any – benefits,” said Tessa Sandstrom, communications manager for the NDPC.

Early industry estimates anticipate production could decrease by more than 20 percent from more than 2,780 affected wells. This would cost the state $23.8 million in oil and gas severance taxes and North Dakota mineral owners more than $39.1 million in lost royalty income if the rule were fully implemented.

“The BLM claims that they could collect $23 million in additional royalty revenues for the federal government, but even if that were true, it would be at the expense of more than $62.9 million in tax revenues and royalty income in North Dakota alone,” said Sandstrom.

“North Dakota already has some of the most comprehensive regulations addressing flaring in the nation. Over the past two years, North Dakota has adopted a series of strict gas capture targets. At the same time, the industry has voluntarily made huge strides in natural gas capture by investing more than $13 billion in natural gas infrastructure since 2006. As a result, flaring has declined even as natural gas production increased.

“This progress has been despite federal regulations, which is often responsible for delays preventing industry from building infrastructure needed to capture more gas. BLM’s staff, time and resources are already overtaxed. Implementing rules and regulations that are already covered by state or other federal agencies is unnecessary and will only further burden employees and dilute their ability to perform their duties. BLM and other federal agencies could make a larger, more immediate impact on reducing flaring by instead fixing permitting, infrastructure and pipeline delays.”

About the North Dakota Petroleum Council
Since 1952, the Petroleum Council has been the primary voice of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The Petroleum Council represents more than 500 companies involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production, refining, pipeline, mineral leasing, consulting, legal work, and oil field service activities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Rocky Mountain Region. For more information, go to

Media Contact:
Tessa Sandstrom, Communications Manager  | ND Petroleum Council


By Kevin Smith, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Chevron Gas station prices, unleaded gas $4.53 with Super unleaded at 4.69 on the corner of La Crescenta Ave. and Honolulu Ave. in Montrose, Ca on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. (Keith Birmingham Pasadena Star-News)

Southland gas prices have risen dramatically in recent days, and one industry expert figures they’ll remain above $4 a gallon until September.

The average price for a gallon of regular gas in Los Angeles County was $4.30 Wednesday, up 17 cents from a week ago and up 26 cents from a month ago, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

California’s average price for regular was $4.19 a gallon Wednesday, topped only by Hawaii’s average price of $4.32 a gallon.

“I think it will level off now, but prices won’t fall below $4 a gallon until September,” said Bob van der Valk, senior editor for the Bakken Oil Business Journal. “It’s because of the lack of supply … there’s just no backup supply.”

Jeffrey Spring, a spokesman for the Automobile Club of Southern California, linked the price hikes to several factors.

“Most of our refineries should be through with the turnaround maintenance that’s involved when they convert from winter-grade to summer-grade gas,” he said. “But two refineries — the Chevron refinery in El Segundo and the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance — will still be down for a couple more weeks.”

Van der Valk said the Tesoro Golden Eagle Refinery in Martinez is also experiencing problems. Those issues have served to reduce California’s supply of gasoline. Refineries are also exporting more gas overseas, Spring said, which further erodes California’s in-state supply. Spring also noted that ethanol costs have risen because producers are having a hard time getting enough tanker cars to move their product by rail.

“Many of those cars have been diverted to move oil from the Bakken Reserve in North Dakota,” he said. California has 20 refineries that collectively produce about 42 million gallons of gas per day.

The state’s refineries produced more than 6.4 million barrels of gas for in-state use for the week that ended April 4, according to the California Energy Commission. That was down 4.1 percent from the previous week but up 2.3 percent from the same period a year ago.

Production of non-California gas for export rose 35.8 percent for the week that ended April 4 to more than 1 million barrels, the commission reported. Year-over-year production of gas for export rose 19.5 percent.

Despite the price spike, business was brisk at the Woodland Hills 76 Station at the northwest corner of Topanga Canyon and Burbank boulevards on Wednesday where regular was flowing at $4.30 a gallon, midgrade at $4.39, premium at $4.48 and diesel at $4.00.

Drivers were mildly surprised to discover this fill-up was going to cost more than the last one but realized it’s become a common occurrence this time of year.

Canoga Park residents Scott and Ilene Hastie, heading to the beach with their two grandchildren, were filling the tank of their 1987 Toyota Land Cruiser. “It’s still going,” said Ilene Hastie as the dollars continued rolling on the pump’s counter. The bill eventually came to $86.91 cents. “It usually doesn’t cost this much,” she said.

Ilene Hastie and husband Scott finish filling up their Toyota Land Cruiser stopping on their way to the beach at a gas station in Woodland Hills. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)


Woodland Hills resident Dean Atkinson, a general contractor, was topping off his Chevy Silverado truck with diesel when the pump’s meter hit $95.

“This truck, I get about 12 miles to the gallon if I’m pulling a trailer. If the wind is behind you, you might get 15,” said Atkinson, who spends about $1,000 a month on fuel for the Chevy and a Toyota Tacoma. He had just returned from a trade show in Las Vegas and towed a 21-foot trailer. The fuel tab for that trip was about $300.

He’s got a cost-cutting plan.

“It’s at the point now where I will drive the smaller truck when I can. That one gets about 22 miles to the gallon,” he said.

Woodland Hills resident Allen Rivas, who works behind the counter, said that prices there actually down from Tuesday after rising about 20 cents in the last week or so.

No one has complained, he said.

“Nobody. They need it,” he said of the fuel.

Don Garrison is also feeling the squeeze. Garrison, who owns Simply Discount Furniture in Santa Clarita, said his company makes about 50 deliveries a week throughout the Santa Clarita Valley, Antelope Valley, Ventura and Los Angeles.

“It’s definitely affected us, but we haven’t passed that along to our customers yet,” he said. “We’re trying to absorb the costs to keep our prices down. But it really depends on the amount of time that the prices stay up. If they stay up for say a month … then we’ll have to adjust our delivery charge.”

Playa del Rey Florists is losing money on its deliveries, owner Lance Williams said. The company does about 130 deliveries a week.

“It’s very hard because it comes so fast and there’s nothing you can do to really plan for it,” he said. “It’s almost a non-recoupable item because there is only so much someone is willing to pay for delivery.”

On Tuesday, the cheapest Los Angeles-area price could be found at an Arco station at 15705 Nordhoff St. in North Hills, which posted regular at $3.98 a gallon. But prices at some of the region’s other outlets were alarmingly high.

A Chevron station in Los Angeles and a Mobil station in North Hollywood both were selling regular for $5.19 a gallon. And scores of other locations listed regular at $4.89 or higher.

Kevin Smith“We really didn’t think prices would get this high,” Spring said. “We’ll just have to hang on tight to our wallets because we’re over $4 a gallon by a significant amount.”

Reach the author at or follow Kevin on Twitter: @SGVNBiz. Retrieved:

By:  Bob van der Valk

Since October 16, 2013 West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil decreased in price from $102.49 to $94.11 a barrel, for an 8.2 percent loss, with more to come on the horizon.  Good news for consumers with oil companies having enough on hand in cash reserves to make it through yet another pricing adjustment as happened in July 2008.

The question on the Oil Producing Export Countries (OPEC) controlling the world’s energy market has been resolved.  It has been exactly 40 years since Saudi Arabia and other members of OPEC imposed an embargo on exports of crude oil.  Since 1973 US consumers have seen gasoline prices go from $.369 to almost $5 per gallon.

oils-bearish-patternCrude oil has rallied back up over to $100 a barrel since the early days of 2009 when West Texas Intermediate crude oil bottomed out at $32 a barrel.  Since then the price has been influenced by wars and rumors of wars as well as being threatened by domestic terrorist attacks such as the Boston Marathon bombing earlier this year.


More downside should be expected for crude oil and the dive is just beginning now. Major technical support lies at $60-$62, and oil may not bottom until it falls to as low as $40

The weekly Department of Energy inventory report shows a rise for seven straight weeks.  Last week, they rose 5.2 million barrels. Over the past four weeks, inventories have risen by 22 million barrels, the second largest increase since February 2009.

DOE Statistics for the Week Ending November 1, 2013:

DOE Stocks 11/1/2013 10/25/2013 11/2/2012 Stocks v. Last Week Stocks v. Year Ago
Crude Oil (Excluding SPR) 385.4  383.9   374.8  1.5 10.6
Gasoline 210.0 213.8  202.4 -3.8  7.6
Distillates 117.8 122.7 118.1  -4.9 -0.3
Propane/Propylene 62.1  64.8 73.6 -2.7  -11.5
Total Petroleum Products 731.5 741.4 724.2 -9.9 7.3
Total Petroleum Stocks 1,116.9  1,125.3 1,099.0  -8.4 17.9
Natural Gas (Bcf)* 3,814 3,779 3,926 35 -112

Table covers crude oil and principal products.  Other products, including residual fuel oil and “other oils” are not shown, and changes in the stocks of these products are reflected in “Total Petroleum Products”. Statistics Source: Energy Information Administration “Weekly Petroleum Status Report” available at

With domestic oil production on the rise, the good news is North America will become energy secure by the end of 2014. OPEC has slowly been losing control on pricing the world’s crude oil requirements.

Bob van der Valk lives in Terry, Montana and is the Senior Editor of the Bakken Oil Business Journal as well as Fuel-pricing Analyst for US petroleum distributors and retail station owners. He can be contacted at:


Wind River Hotel and Casino Ad Banenr

Industry representatives will work to find solutions to infrastructure needs

Bismarck, N.D. – The North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC) members have formed a task force to spearhead the industry’s efforts to significantly reduce natural gas flaring in the state’s Bakken oilfields.

“We recognize that natural gas is an efficient, clean and valuable resource, and that’s why the industry has invested more than $6 billion in new pipelines, processing plants and other infrastructure to move it from the wellhead to the marketplace,” said Terry Kovacevich, NDPC chairman and regional vice president for Marathon Oil. “This is a significant investment, but we are committed to making North Dakota the model of a modern, efficient and technology-driven oilfield.”

Since 2007, when the Bakken was confirmed to be a prolific and world-class resource, gas plant capacity has increased by 340 percent from 227 million cubic feet per day to more than 1 billion cubic feet per day. Despite this significant growth, production continues to outpace capacity due partly to challenges in building appropriate infrastructure and partly because it was not until recently that experts began to fully comprehend the volume and composition of natural gas trapped in the Bakken.

“We have to remember that the Bakken is still a very young play, and this is just one factor in why production has outpaced our ability to build the infrastructure needed. Furthermore, the Bakken is unlike any other play in the world and requires solutions specifically tailored to its geology, climate, landscape and resources,” said Kovacevich.

Members of the task force will pool the knowledge and experience of companies operating in the Bakken and identify solutions to better optimize the resource at the wellhead and increase and improve existing infrastructure to transport gas for processing elsewhere. The group will also focus on educating the public and working collaboratively across stakeholder groups, including government agencies, the Three Affiliated Tribes, researchers, landowners and key industry players.

The Flaring Task Force will address the North Dakota Industry Commission (NDIC) at 1:15 p.m. on Oct. 22, 2013, and will present a report to the NDIC later this year with recommendations for a collaborative effort to reduce flaring.

“This is a very complex issue without any single simple solution,” said John Paganis, commercial director for Murex Petroleum and co-chair for the Task Force. “Our task force will offer balanced, effective solutions for policy makers and regulators to ensure we keep oil development on pace while making the investments in infrastructure and new technologies to capture more of our natural gas.”

“The member companies of the NDPC want to responsibly develop the natural resources in North Dakota and America.  We also want to optimize the development of our oil and natural gas resources in North Dakota, but this will take significant investments of time and money and will require collaborative efforts between the industry, landowners, government agencies and a number of other key stakeholders,” said Kovacevich. “North Dakotans have a long history of sitting down and working together to find solutions that will meet the needs of all. We are confident that with time, all of the key stakeholders can work together to reach our goals of reducing flaring.”

Since 1952, the Petroleum Council has been the primary voice of the oil and gas industry in North Dakota. The Petroleum Council represents more than 500 companies involved in all aspects of the oil and gas industry, including oil and gas production, refining, pipeline, mineral leasing, consulting, legal work, and oil field service activities in North Dakota, South Dakota, and the Rocky Mountain Region. For more information, go to

Contact:  Tessa Sandstrom, Communications Manager, North Dakota Petroleum Council
– ### –

Opinion Article

“Phelim We Hardly Knew Ye”

By: Bob van der Valk
Dateline: Terry, Montana
June 27, 2013

This opinion article deals with FrackNation as a pro-hydraulic fracturing for oil & gas documentary. Comments, other than my own, were made by individual landowners in the Pennsylvania area where the controversy about hydraulic fracturing had its inception.

Bob van der Valk

FrackNation’s Phelim McAleer has been able to hit Josh Fox’s Gasland and Gasland Part II movies with his best shot making his points about hydraulic fracturing not being the cause for underground water contamination.   Neither is the methane produced by the drilling process resulted in any of the health problems purportedly suffered by land owners where the drilling has been done.

For the last two years Phelim McAleer has made it his life’s calling chasing Josh Fox around the country peppering him with embarrassing questions about ridiculous charges being made in the original Gasland movie.  Gasland was nominated for an Oscar as the Best Documentary of 2010.  Most, if not all, of the charges made by emotionally and financially driven opponents to hydraulic fracturing drilling for natural gas have been debunked by Federal and State agencies, which became involved by reacting to the public attention Gasland initially received.

Recently Phelim McAleer has been showing his FrackNation up against Gasland Part II.  This is leading up to the HBO-TV premiere of Gasland Part II on July 9, 2013. FrackNation will be shown again on AXS-TV July 10, 2013 both of them will get high viewer ship for both cable channels.

What has been lost in this conversation about hydraulic fracturing is the US becoming energy secure once again of having to import crude oil from countries with governments hostile to our way of life. Neither Josh Fox nor Phelim McAleer one have oil industry experience and are continuing this unnecessary raucous to promote themselves.

Sherry Hart

After the Binghamton, New York, February 10, 2013 showing of FrackNation a question was asked by Craig Stephens addressing Phelim McAleer, the producer of FrackNation, about the December 15, 2010 “Dimock Consent Order and Settlement Agreement” (COSA):

Similar to what has happened since the beginning of the Dimock saga, the actual contents and findings of the COSA frequently get overlooked while pro-drillers and drilling opponents continue to banter with each other about the water being poisoned, no it wasn’t, etc.   Phelim’s brief answer to Cabot’s move to settle was that it was a case of corporate business as usual and happens all the time.  Partly true, but anyone who has been following the Carter Road allegations and its resulting mounds of paperwork and legal filings for the last couple of years are familiar with a few things above and beyond his answer:

The PA DEP claimed identification of the migrating gas as being from Cabot’s wells primarily using “presumptive guilt”, based only on proximity to the well, and explains their findings in a the original COSA dated November 4,2009 ( which states starting in January 2009 PA DEP collected samples from water wells providing water to 13 homes which showed elevated levels of dissolved methane as well as identified combustible gas in the headspaces of seven of those water wells.

After the COSA was established, Cabot hired an independent consultant to perform a separate investigation.  According to a review of data on the same exact wells determined to be problematic by PA DEP, Robert W. Watson, Ph.D./P.E. and Associate Professor Emeritus of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering and Environmental Systems Engineering, etc. concluded that Cabot was using procedures for drilling, casing and cementing wells even at that time which met or exceeded the requirements of the Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Act, were adequate to protect the drinking water, and which did not cause or allow methane migration into the drinking water. ( – page 2 and again in the Conclusion on page.

Based upon those findings, and mostly those findings alone, because all of the water supplies were within 1,300 or less feet of a Cabot well and because those wells were drilled within the preceding six months, PA regulations deem a determination of guilt can be made.  (page 3-4, articles J-K): The Pennsylvania Oil & Gas Act: A Summary of Statutory Provisions dated March 2009, Section 208: Protection of Water Supplies (58 P.S. § 601.208) (page 4) states, in part, “There is a refutable presumption that a polluted water supply located within 1,000 feet of a well is caused by the well.”  This Summary was written prior to pre-drill tests becoming mandatory, which if anything could well be the most important lesson learned in Dimock.

Other information that could be pertinent is in the legal filings of the lawsuit itself:

1) The Dimock litigants fired their original lawyer when another better known litigation firm offered to take them on as clients.  They walked out leaving $650,294.18 in legal fees unpaid. 2) When the revised COSA was finalized, settlement amounts of the plaintiffs totaled $2,234,160. (2011-11-30 2010 COSA Settlement amounts.jpg).  Amounts of the settlement varied depending on individual property appraisals.  These funds were put into an escrow account to be claimed by December of last year.  There were no restrictions put on this money; it was free for them to collect and they could still continue with their lawsuit and water deliveries would continue.  (2011-12-16 DEP and Cabot Rev Consent Order and Settlement Agreement.PDF)
3) Their original lawyer caught wind of this settlement and put a lien on the escrow account for the outstanding fees the litigants had not paid. (2011-01-12 Motion to demand fired attorneys fee.pdf)
4)  All those persons within the determined effected area and not involved in the lawsuit, claimed their money.  None of the litigants did because doing so would mean paying their first lawyer.  This got muddled in their lies of how Cabot was forcing them to sign non-disclosure agreements and quit the lawsuit… all of which is written into the contract that the money is theirs – no restrictions on it.
5) In August, most of the litigants settled, but do have to abide by a gag order regarding the settlement amounts or findings.  Also, the money contained in the escrow account set up per the COSA goes back to Cabot.  Thus Dan Dinges statement, “The aggregate value of the settlements are not a material item with respect to Cabot’s financial statements,” (statement found in the article referenced below.)   I believe there is currently only one remaining holdout, Ray Kemble, who spoke to the Philadelphia Inquirer soon after the settlement offers were made and accepted by the majority of the litigants.  He mentions what his settlement offer was and it appears it was pretty close to the same amount originally offered him in the COSA. (Per “Kemble is angry at just about everybody – Cabot, regulators, his own lawyers, and his ex-wife, who accepted the settlement, thereby reducing the amount offered to him. He said he would only see $79,000 from the deal, after legal fees.”  His ex-wife was entitled to half the amount offered, thus twice the amount Kemble states he was offered is $158,000.  Originally the COSA provided for a settlement offer of $185,712.00.
6) Thus, it appears the litigants were offered just slightly less the amount originally offered without having to access the funds that had liens on them, probably due to lawyer’s cuts, etc.  Settlement discussions began soon after the third set of water test results were released showing, once again, the water tested within acceptable drinking water standards.

This is why Phelim’s response fell far short and was merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Robin Fehrenbach Scala 

Are you hearing that Phelim is actually on the other side?  Or is it a setup so both can profit from the argument and their respective films?  Having met and argued with Josh Fox even before his film came out, I know he is a liar and expect no truth to ever come from his mouth.

It was later that I was contacted by Magdalena Segieda, who is the Director and Producer of FrackNation, in an effort to find people in my area who were drilled and would talk on camera for the film. I met her first and we made some initial contacts, then Phelim and the film crew came out and spent a whole day in my house getting possible scenes with me and Sherry Hart talking about our issues and showing us working the boards and contacting landowners and politicians. (Of all those hours we appear for exactly 2 seconds maybe, which we were happy about).

HBO is trying to justify their financial backing of Gasland and Part II (and Fox in general) so it seems like a good time to spread information, which could be used against Phelim or make him seem like he is just as bad as Fox.

 I also provided money to be executive producer and was involved from before the film was a film. There IS one way to prove who is right, and that is to follow the money. If HBO is really paying for ANYTHING they could prove it. But they won’t.  I trust HBO less than a guy sitting on a street corner with a hat waiting for spare change. Ask them to prove it. They can’t.

By the way, HBO DOES NOT put up those posters.  Phelim does and has since the beginning. It started from his first argument with Josh, where he asked if Josh knew about methane being in the water since the dawn of time, and Josh said, “It is not relevant”

Game On!

Now Phelim makes sure that if Gasland Part II is being shown, FrackNation is also being shown in the same town, biting at the bit for the debate with Josh, but there’s no point holding his breath!

At least HBO did not pay for FrackNation or any part of it or any advertising for it. They DID pay for Gasland and Part II and are now sucking eggs over it.

I never read the account about the arrest of the Julia Mineeva, the former Russian TV anchor, at the premiere of Gasland Part II or if her arrest for trespassing was a set up.  I do know that Josh Fox set up his own arrest (complete with his cameras rolling) at a committee hearing in the House of Representatives so he could use it in Gasland Part II.

The only reason I feel I can stand up for Phelim (though I could be wrong…it is always possible to be wrong) is due to his behavior on all other occasions where I have been with him or them, watching how they react.

See, I am the type who would make the movie and then go broke because I did not attempt to make money for travel and distribution. The movie would then be a waste of time and investor money.

I would hope that Phelim is making SOME kind of money so he does not go broke (as I would, which is stupid) trying to get the word out.

If anyone is being a money hog and pretending to actually care, it is Josh Fox, who will admit it to anyone everywhere except when asked during a screening.

Being a landowner in PA and NY, I felt like I hit the lottery when Phelim and company contacted me to help make the movie. I had no way to educate the public on my own and attempts to find a spokesperson died after speaking to an agent for an hour while finding out what it would cost to get the person I wanted.

Bob van der Valk

FrackNation exposed Josh Fox for the publicity seeker he is. The oil industry needs to have a serious discussion about the urban lies being spread by the likes of Josh Fox. Phelim did a good job on FrackNation and accomplished just that. He is a journalist and should have stuck to bringing out the true facts about hydraulic fracturing.  But we need an independent journalist to tell the true story on how to go about making the US energy secure. The next frontier will be in California with the Monterey Shale Formation coming into play. Their potential reserves of oil & gas is 3 times bigger than Marcellus, Eagle Ford & the Bakken combined.

Robin Fehrenbach Scala

You just explained your position so it makes total sense to me. Phelim has become the story.

Thanks for continuing our conversation until I could “get it”.

Bob van der Valk

God bless the USA!

This editorial was written with the assistance and input of:

  • James Asbury – Mansfield, Pennsylvania
  • Robin Fehrenbach Scala – Factoryville, Pennsylvania
  • Sherry Hart – Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania

Disclosure: Bob van der Valk, Robin Fehrenback Scala and Sherry Hart donated funds to the Kickstarter program and are credited as Executive Producers of FrackNation.

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Click here & be heard by US Secretary John Kerry. … do it right now, it only takes 30-seconds.

Please approve the Keystone XL pipeline as quickly as possible. Every day we continue to delay this important piece of U.S. energy infrastructure inhibits our economic growth and weakens American security.

As a military veteran and a well-known supporter of military personnel, veterans and their families, you understand the importance of protecting our national security. Approving the Keystone XL pipeline would directly enhance America’s security, diminishing our dependence on unfriendly foreign oil states and strengthening our relationship with our next-door neighbor and longtime ally, Canada.

The full Keystone XL pipeline would bring in an additional 830,000 barrels of North American oil per day, reducing our need to import oil from places like the Middle East. With Keystone XL, our crude imports from Canada could reach 4 million barrels per day by 2020, twice the amount we now import from the Persian Gulf.

Canada will develop and market their oil reserves regardless of what we do about Keystone XL. It just makes sense to approve this pipeline and bring that fuel to the U.S., to grow our economy, provide jobs for our workers and power our businesses and homes. Americans have waited nearly five years for this pipeline to be approved and for America’s government to increase our energy security. After all the delays, it is time to act.

For almost three decades you exhibited strong leadership in the U.S. Senate. Bring that same leadership to the Department of State and approve the Keystone XL pipeline without delay.

Pump prices:

A fractional story.

The biggest single component of retail gasoline prices is the cost of the raw material used to produce the gasoline – crude oil. That price has been between $80 and $120 a barrel, depending on the type of crude oil purchased. With crude oil at these prices a standard 42 gallon barrel translates to $1.90 to $2.85 a gallon at the pump. Excise taxes add another 49 cents a gallon on average nationwide. So the price for gasoline is already at $2.40 or more per gallon even before adding the cost of refining, transporting, and selling the gasoline at retail outlets. Crude oil costs account for about 68 percent of what people are paying at the pump. Excise taxes average 13 percent. That leaves just 19 percent for the refiners, distributors, and retailers.

Industrial and Agricultural Stock Photographer

The U.S. is enjoying a startling revival of its oil & gas industry. Millions of jobs and billions in revenues have been unleashed by tech-centric drilling on private and state lands. Domestic oil production has reversed a 40-year decline. There’s so much natural gas in production that ports planned a few years ago to handle imports are now being redesigned for exports.

But the primary technique responsible for this largesse, simplistically known as “fracking,” has become embroiled in controversy over safety claims. Activists are trying to get it banned wherever they can — by town, city, or state — and simultaneously to encourage onerous new federal regulations that could throttle the industry.

Much of the alarmism can be traced to a widely excerpted clip from GasLand, a 2010 documentary. It shows well water, drilled near fracked gas fields, flowing from a kitchen sink, aflame. Actually, the water in question “contained biogenic methane” not attributable to hydraulic fracturing. But GasLand writer/narrator Josh Fox says that fact isn’t “relevant.”

This particularly egregious distortion is likely what animated Irish investigative journalist Phelim McAleer to dig deeper into GasLand’s claims. McAleer’s resulting documentary, FrackNationopens January 7 in New York City. FrackNation is an elegant antidote to GasLand, andcoincidentally to Matt Damon’s new Promised Land, the latter a “clumsy crusade against fracking,” according to a recent NRO review.

McAleer begins witha revealing public exchange with Fox at a GasLand screening in 2011, then visits the residents of the bucolic farmlands where fracking is done, or could be done. (Full disclosure: McAleer also interviews my colleague, Manhattan Institute senior fellow Robert Bryce.) Fox repeatedly refuses an interview, so McAleer executes a Michael Moore–style ambush. Fox scurries away, and gets security to remove McAleer and his team from a public building. In running, Fox only indicts himself.

FrackNation eviscerates one after another of Fox’s claims, including an assertion that breast-cancer rates soared around Texas’ shale-oil fields. The AP has reported the Texas Cancer Registry shows no such fact.

McAleer’s gentle manner and Irish brogue are well-suited to this often emotionally charged issue. Still, at one point McAleer is threatened with potential violence by a woman who has claimed her well water was contaminated by fracking but refuses to share with McAleer the EPA test that showed otherwise. With a Freedom Of Information request, McAleer pried loose the EPA video documenting that agency’s contentious meeting with the homeowner.

The issue for McAleer is not just the unreasonable alarmism on display, but its effect on the people who are denied the game-changing economic benefits wherever fracking is blocked.

Of course there are local environmental considerations with oil and gas that warrant caution, as with many industries. But the issues — from road wear-and-tear, to noise and surface management of fuel and waste — are not unique to fracking.

For the record, a comprehensive review in the Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum reached the same conclusion as McAleer: “ . . . hydraulic fracturing is a safe and effective way to recover oil and gas from shale formations.” Even exiting EPA head Lisa Jackson told Congress there are no “proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water.”

It’s worth pointing out that for every hard-hat job in the field, this boom creates six related jobs from manufacturing and education to health care and information services.  It generates royalties and taxes that fund social programs, research, education, and infrastructure. The nation stands to gain over four million jobs from expanding hydrocarbon production, as well asover $2 trillion in total economic benefits. That’s a lot to pass up because of distorted hype over fracking.

— Mark P. Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of Unleashing the North American Energy Colossus.

(HELENA) The State of Montana will offer detailed training on a range of topics that includes air quality and discharge permitting, compliance requirements, and best business practices for contractors, opencut mining, materials processors, and the oil and gas industry.

The trainings will be in Sidney on October 1 – 3 at the Mondak Heritage Center, 120 3rd Ave SE,  and will be conducted by representatives of the Departments of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and Transportation (MDT). The trainings are free of charge and open to qualified registrants.

The three-day series is designed specifically to address practices surrounding opencut mining and associated development and growth seen in recent years throughout northeastern Montana.

“This training series provides valuable information that will save owner-operators and contractors time and money as they grow with the region,” said Darrick Turner, manager of DEQ’s Small Business Environmental Assistance Program. “Attendees will come away with a better understanding of the state’s environmental regulations and the permitting processes.”

Topics will include air quality and discharge permitting, and inspections. A full day is devoted to siting and compliance requirements and permitting for opencut operations. Enforcement and transportation issues will also be addressed.

Registration is available by calling 800-433-8773 or by emailing Darrick Turner at:

Gas prices are expected to sky rocket very soon. After a fire broke out this past Monday night at a Chevron Refinery in the San Fransisco bay area, analysts urge drivers to buy their gas now. Bob van der Valk, petroleum industry analyst, has over 50 years of experience in the oil industry. Valk predicted gas prices would rise to $4 during this week and $4.50 by Labor Day. Ridiculous right?!!?

Valk said, “Prices are going to spike as fast as that rocket that left Mars rover on the planet.”  The Chevron Refinery in the San Fransisco area is (or was ) the largest producer of oils on the West Coast, producing up to 240,000 barrels of crude oil daily. The refinery not only sends oils to Chevron stations all over the United States, but also unbranded stations. Gasoline, jet fuel, diesel fuel and lubricants are all produced by the Chevron refinery.

The fire started when a diesel leak ignited the refinery into a blaze; however, officials are still investigating what caused the leak.  In addition, about 200 people had to seek medical help complaining about shortness of breath. The company does not know how production will be affected, although by the looks of everything it does seem our gas prices will rise significantly.

Well, high gas prices are not so unfamiliar to any of us. Unfortunately, this is something we cannot control and we have to buy our gas. Lets just hope when gas prices do rise, they will also fall quickly. Fill up your tanks now!

Retreived from 97.3 The Dawg