They don’t call it a “shale gas play” for nothing. As a matter of fact, truer words have never been spoken by that industry.
Since there has been a lot of lobbying recently by well-heeled fossil fuel industry gents, trying to make their case that fracking ought to be a part of every Kentuckians healthy diet, I decided to take a closer look at one of their star players, William Daugherty. I won’t bore you with all the details. Suffice to say that that it’s a wonder anything can be unearthed about him at all, especially considering the fact that Mr. Daugherty changes his corporations’ names more than a chameleon changes color walking through a crayon factory.
To illustrate my point, I’m going to use one of Mr. Daugherty’s more recent attempts to promote his dirty business. This one was via letters to the Editor of newspapers circulating here in the Commonwealth. What IS hiding behind that curtain? My comments and links to relevant documents are in blue text, while his letter remains in black text:
“There has been a lot of heated rhetoric about fracking in Madison County. A community discussion on important issues is always a good thing. But it should be based on facts. Great idea, Mr. Daugherty. And since YOU suggested it…
In my 30-year career in the oil and gas industry, I have fracked over 1,000 wells in Kentucky and hundreds more in West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio.In his original letter to the Editor of the Lexington Herald Leader, you’ll notice that he uses a “period” to break up the sentences which leaves the reader with the implicit impression that Mr. Daugherty’s record is spotless. Look at it here:
The simple placement of a “period” between those two sentences allows him to link HIS dodgy safety record with the two sentences which follow, so that, technically, he’s not lying. Examples like these, carefully worded so that they are easily defended, are common in this industry. As you will see by the examples I’ve laid out, his record is far from perfect. This one is from Virginia:
and this abandoned coal mine was in Jackson County, Kentucky:
So, his attempt at linking his record in this industry to the next sentence is a bit like sleight of hand. Don’t be fooled by carefully constructed sentences and statements that allow the fossil fuel industry to lie while APPEARING to be truthful. Stringent regulations govern Kentucky’s oil and gas industry. Not stringent enough and this guy is working very hard to further weaken them. Signiﬁcant precautions are taken to prevent spills and protect groundwater.
The oil and gas industry is subject to the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act as well as numerous state regulations from the Kentucky Division of Oil and Gas, the Kentucky Division of Water and the Kentucky Division of Air Quality. Again, by very carefully wording this first sentence, Daugherty has managed to tell a half truth. As he is well aware, in 2004, then Vice President Dick Cheney managed to enact what is referred to as the Halliburton Loophole which prevents the EPA, through the Safe Drinking Water Act, from regulating the injection of fracking fluids. The EPA does have SOME limited authority over the oil and gas industry, which they managed to put to good use in citing Daugherty for polluting. You can read about that action here.
I can point to countless studies that prove hydraulic fracturing doesn’t create the environmental calamities industry opponents claim. A study by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Lab found there was no migration of methane from fractured wells into freshwater aquifers. This study, as well as others coming out of NETL, are seriously tainted by the influence peddling, much of it explicitly stated, some of it not, of the fossil fuel industry who literally sponsor and in many cases, decide the direction of, research performed throughout the DOE. Additionally, the head of NETL, Anthony Cugini, came under investigation after the initial publication of the study referred to above for altering data, falsifying evidence, having multiple conflicts of interest and obstructing the investigation into his activities at NETL. He was subsequently escorted out of the building by security, and was later indicted by a grand jury. Before the investigation was completed, Cugini was found dead under very suspicious circumstances (later classified as a “suicide”). NETL and the Department of Energy are essentially a mouthpiece for the fossil fuel industry.
Just last September, the New York Times, reporting on a National Academy of Sciences study, wrote “researchers found no evidence that fractured shale led to water contamination.” And the very next sentence, which Daugherty didn’t bother quoting, states that “Instead, they said cement used to seal the outside of the vertical wells, or steel tubing used to line them, was at fault, leading to gas leaking up the wells and into aquifers.” This is like saying, “researchers found no evidence that arsenic poisoned the children at the playground because it was actually the barrel HOLDING the arsenic, which had holes in it, that was at fault.” Here is the actual NY Times article.
Can Kentucky strengthen its regulations on the oil-and-gas industry in light of new drilling technologies? Yes, and it should. With no help from Daugherty who is simply there to lobby in favor of fracking, of course.
That’s why the oil and gas industry has been collaborating for several months with state regulators, the Kentucky Resources Council, the Environmental Quality Commission, the Kentucky Farm Bureau and the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce to propose new laws governing the industry. That is, of course, NOT why the oil and gas industry is collaborating with state regulators. The term “badgering” should be substituted for “collaborating.” For an example of the type of “new laws” the oil and gas industry proposes, you can read about FracFocus (through the Department of Energy) which is one of Daugherty and his ilk’s proudest achievements. Their completely bogus website is quite literally hosted by a PR firm, and the much lauded “database” of chemicals used to frack is absolutely worthless. Daugherty was part of that ridiculous con game, which is voluntary for fracking companies to participate in, and is mocked as not only unhelpful, but downright misleading and dangerous due to its misinformation and omissions.
I have been part of this working group and a broad package of consensus reforms will be introduced in this session of the Kentucky General Assembly to ﬁll gaps in the current regulatory framework. Hilarious.
Kentucky’s oil and gas industry contributes $1 billion to the state’s economy. We provide 3,200 jobs and generate over $40 million in tax revenues to the state general fund and local government budgets. Minus the funds associated with cleaning up his mess.
More important, we put money into the pockets of everyday Kentuckians. Landowners who partner with the industry to develop their minerals get a royalty payment. Except when they DON’T because they are forced to litigate to rectify dodgy contracts which sometimes net them nothing, as in here and here.
These royalty payments provide income for family budgets, help put children through school and support seniors in retirement. Except when he doesn’t fulfill his obligations to actually PAY those royalties or when he makes it so difficult to receive reliable information. In that case, “family budgets” tuition payments and senior citizen’s retirement is unimportant.
Do fracking opponents intend to deny this income opportunity to Kentuckians who don’t share their opposition to oil and gas development? If so, they should admit it and defend their position. Hmm. Sounds a bit hypocritical when Daugherty won’t even ADMIT that he’s got abandoned mines all over the place. But it’s difficult to trace his trail of recklessness and destruction since he’s changed his company’s names so many times and each of THEM have countless subsidiaries.
Here are just some examples of his companies and their transformations :
[~1979] Catalina Energy and Resources (Canadian) changed to:
[~1981] Alaska Apollo Gold Mines (Canadian) changed to:
[~1998] Alaska Apollo Resources (Canadian) changed to:
Daugherty Resources (still Canadian) which had a subsidiary
called Daugherty Petroleum, which, in turn, had subsidiaries (to name just a few) like Sentra Corporation, Galax Energy Concepts (THAT one had quite a story behind it), Kentucky Gas Partners, Sentra Utility Development Group, and Red River Hardwoods which got THEIR names changed to:
[~2004] NGAS Resources and NGAS Production
The last one (NGAS) was sold off just in time (which led to a legal mess for Magnum Hunter) to Magnum Hunter, which led to a brand new company for Mr. Daugherty which doesn’t sound anything like all the others which preceded it (the newest is called Blackridge Resource Partners) which is a darn good thing because I think that even Daugherty got confused during this interview:
I don’t know. Maybe it was handed down by family or something, but one thing is sure: it’s a mess of abandoned this, polluted that, lawsuits here, there and everywhere. He probably just didn’t want to mention the Canadian part in his interview (above). Who knows? But he sure was eager to ditch Canada and get down here and do some real wheeling and dealing…
For those who want to get the facts…wait for it: I recommend checking out the websites of the Ground Water Protection Council (Gwpc.org) and the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (Iogcc.publishpath.com). And believe me, there is hardly ANYTHING factual about GWPC or IOGCC. For more on some of the damage they’ve done, go to the “tag cloud” on this website, and click FracFocus.org and you can check out this story about their shenanigans.
I graduated from Berea College and lived in the Berea area for 16 years. Berea and its surrounding area are one of Kentucky’s treasures. Except for the ones he abandons, like in Hopkins County in 1994, and in Edmonson County in 1995.
The community deserves a fair presentation of the facts related to oil and gas development (FINALLY, a true statement!) and a discussion beyond the mere generation of fears based upon unsupported statements. Like the statements I have tried my best to support here.
Bill Daugherty is managing partner of Blackridge Resource Partners in Lexington.” Which is probably in the process of a name change as I write this.
(Links referenced in this article are below)
Hopkins county 1994
Edmonson county 1995