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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What the Frack?

Recently I have been indulging in award winning, critically acclaimed documentaries, I can't watch enough of them. Last night I finally had the opportunity to watch GasLand. "When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown."Gasland won the 2010 Sundance Special Jury Prize, the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Artistic Vision award, the Audience Award at Thin Line Film Festival, the Special Jury Prize at Sarasota International Film Festival and the Grand Jury Prize at the Yale Environmental Film Festival.

Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs

  How does hydraulic fracturing work?

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

  What is horizontal hydraulic fracturing?

Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.

  What is the Halliburton Loophole?

In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.

  What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to ensure clean drinking water free from both natural and man-made contaminates.

  What is the FRAC Act?

The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness to Chemical Act) is a House bill intended to repeal the Halliburton Loophole and to require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.

  How deep do natural gas wells go?

The average well is up to 8,000 feet deep. The depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet. The problems typically stem from poor cement well casings that leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.

  How much water is used during the fracking process?

Generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times.

  What fluids are used in the fracking process?

For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene. Scientists have identified over 596 chemicals used in the fracking process, 65 are known carcinogens.

  In what form does the natural gas come out of the well?

The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.

  What is done with the wastewater?

Evaporators evaporate off VOCs and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities.

  What is a well's potential to cause air pollution?

As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Greenhouse - Cool Bus #1

Below are some pictures of a greenhouse I have been building. It is located on Erin's property out in the country. We decided to attach it directly to "Cool Bus #1" and I'm currently racing to get it completed before winter weather rolls in.

Starting from scratch

Prepping the soil

Framing onto the bus

Skeleton frame complete...time to start adding the windows

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Summerlee Bioremediation Project

I have been burning the candles at both ends lately, but I wanted to let readers know about a project that I have invested an incredible amount of time and energy into. I have generated $173,000 in grant monies and other matches to fund the Summerlee Bioremediation Project. The picture below is an aerial shot of the 72 acre complex known as the Summerlee Gob Pile, and for now I will showcase a little of Summerlee's history. 

One of the primary tributaries in the headwaters of Wolf Creek originates at the base of a large coal refuse pile.  Coal refuse was hauled and dumped at the Summerlee refuse pile until the late 1970’s.  In 1978, when New River Company/Mountain Laurel Resources abandoned the site, approximately 78 acres of land were covered with coal refuse.  Although it is unclear when the adverse impacts on the water quality of Wolf Creek were first documented (sometime in the late 1970’s), it is clear that the water quality of Wolf Creek has been degraded over time, primarily due to the acid mine drainage (AMD) from past mining practices at its headwaters.  In 1980, New River Company sold the property and “any and all liability” to Mine Management, Inc. for future reprocessing of the refuse pile.  Mine Management Inc. (MMI) failed to obtain water pollution permits, did not treat the AMD, and as a result, the owner was cited under the Clean Water Act (and served two years in federal prison for polluting Wolf Creek).  In addition, beginning in 1984, and again in 1988, 1991, and 1993, the State and Town of Fayetteville filed suit to compel MMI to abate the pollution emanating from the refuse pile.  While the legal battles were on going, the West Virginia Abandoned Mine Land program conducted land reclamation activities on the site.  Land reclamation was completed in 1996 and involved refuse re-grading, placement of soil over the refuse material and re-vegetation of the site.  The work also included controlling surface drainage for the 72-acre refuse pile.  The work succeeded in reducing some of the infiltration of surface water into the refuse, but did not address the treatment of the mine water.  Consequently, the acid mine drainage problem continues at the site.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

North Shore Biking Trip

On August 25th I embarked on a cross country journey that landed me in Bellingham, WA. The trip was a chance to reunite with good friends from college (Seth & Diana), sample northwest biking, and get away from the West Virginia scene for a while. I hadn't kicked it with my good old buddy Seth in five years. He had been documenting his biking trips with amazing photos and video, and telling me how good the riding was. The seed for the trip was planted when Seth said he could get me a bike to demo, a 2010 Transition Blindside to be exact. With the bike crux diffused, all I needed to do was purchase a plane ticket. Fast Forward selector. From the moment Seth met me at the airport I knew there wouldn't be much relaxing going on. Seth is pretty much amped all the time and his passion is biking! We spent 7/10 days riding and sampling the best of Bellingham before heading North to British Columbia.  To the North Shore of North Vancouver we headed, for the infamous wood work of Seymour. Then onto Whistler, B.C, home to the largest bike park on the planet. We purchased the triple-play pass and were not disappointed with our decision to spend 3 days riding the lifts at Whistler! Each area had its own blend of technical stunts, wood features, jumps, berms, rock rolls, rock gardens, steep downhill, beautiful landscapes and vibrant community.  Below are some pictures from the trip with video footage to come soon.

Transition Headquarters / Factory

2010 Transition Blindside

Camp site with a view

Whistler Bike Park

Seth Burke

Lets do another lap!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Captain Thurmond's Challenge ~ Team Rehab

Team Rehab ~ Levi Rose (Bike) ~ Keith Doherty (Kayak) ~ Joe DeGaetano (Run)

Team Rehab took top honors in the Men's Expert Team category and also finished fastest time overall at 2:52:18 ( Bike (59:53) ~ Kayak (59:46) ~ Run (53:09)). Over 80 individuals competed in the race this year.

I suffered a flat tire just before entering the road leading down to the Cunard put in.  I managed to ride the road all the way down with a flat tire, which eventually had me riding on my rim!  When Keith entered the water we were in 10th place, but Keith slayed 7 racers in his 15 ft. speeder! Reaching Fayette Station our team was 3rd overall and 1st in the team category.  Joe quickly caught the two runners in front of him and crushed the 8.5 mile run out of the gorge!

Captain Thurmond's Race Description: "The Captain Thurmond's Challenge Triathalon consists of 28.5 miles of the most extreme whitewater, mountain biking and running in the state and the East Coast. The triathlon can be done as a relay team, solo, or raft team.

Bike ~ The 12 mile bike leg begins with a Lemans start at the Historic Fayette County Courthouse, and leads to Cunard on singletrack trails along the ridge lines of the New River George.

Paddle ~ The 8 mile watercraft leg proceeds from Cunard to Fayette Station through Class III and IV rapids. Raft teams as well as individual paddlers are welcome.

Run ~ The steep 8.5 mile run tests the athletes' endurance going up and out of the gorge. The running leg begins at Fayette Station and finishes at the Fayette County Courthouse."

Below are a few pics from the race.

First one out of the gate!

Like a gazelle....

Broken but not beaten...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Out and About....

Fresh bounty from our "Community Supported Agriculture"~ CSA

Playing around with the panoramic function on my camera 

Hummingbirds @ Erin's grandparent's house in Piney River, VA

Lower New River

Sunset off of Wolf Creek Rd.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Learning to paddle...

Below are a few pics during a trip we paddled from Thurmond to Cunard. Pretty mellow (except for Surprise rapid at the end), but a great way to stay cool.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Rain Barrel Drip Kit Project

About a week ago I constructed a rain catchment system that is tied into gravity fed drip lines and an automated timer. Now my plants get watered every day (4 times)!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ben's Wedding

Come hell or high water we're having a wedding! Tornados, yes a tornado did touch down, nor flash flood warnings could stop Ben and Meghan's wedding. On Saturday, June 5th I witnessed the worst weather I had seen at a wedding in my short career attending weddings. But just as the wedding started to proceed, the weather broke and the skies began to clear, making for great post-ceremonial pictures. Check out a few below.

Travis and I amidst rainy conditions

                                             Meghan and the bridesmaids

Group shot with Erin, Jaime and Izzy

Walking Meghan's friend Lauren (bridesmaid) down the "isle"

Meghan and Ben Denlinger

Monday, May 31, 2010

Ben's Bachelor Party

On the weekend of May 22nd, 13 close friends piled into a 84' x 16' houseboat to gather for Ben Denlinger's Bachelor Party. Lake Cumberland is over 101 miles long, contains 1,255 miles of shoreline, covers 65,530 acres and is the 9th largest reservoir in the U.S. The deep coves make it great for exploring, house-boating and also offer solitude for an otherwise busy lake. The dancing girls never made it to the boat, but the drinking feats that occurred could have only been accomplished by a crew of this stature.

The main quarters

The upper deck complete with hot tub

Ben and Travis warming it up

Ryan Nixon, trip coordinator, he made it all happen!

Ben exploring the coves for some big fish

Mark brought his boat down to bootleg supplies and recon honey holes

The stare down, watcha got?

Let the games begin... one frisbee and a lot of alcohol

The bachelor getting what he deserves

Brad stepped up his acrobatic skills on this trip

good form

Luckily no one got hurt, well except that one guy who went streaking and jumped off the back...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rendezvous Rewind

Last weekend marked the 8th Annual New River Rendezvous, "Ocho Loco."  Eight years ago the festival started as a fund raiser for the New River Alliance of Climbers and a way to centralize climbing communities on the east coast.  Now the event has morphed into the best climbing festival in the country.  Below are some pictures from the festival.

Rendezvous website
DPM Link about the event
The Joy Trip Link about the event


Artistic Jamnation

Erin teaching Yoga

Fayetteville's finest, John Avrete, in the "Dare to Wear Lycra" contest

                                                        Gettin' funky with Freak Bass