Thursday, February 27, 2014

Big Oil and Bad Air: Link Between Fracking and Toxic Air Emissions in Texas

Residents who live near areas of oil and natural gas fracking have long complained that the industry has poisoned their water with toxic chemicals. Now a new investigation is shedding light on another concern: air quality. The new report, "Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale: Big Oil & Bad Air on the Texas Prairie," is the result of an eight-month investigation by InsideClimate News, the Center for Public Integrity and The Weather Channel. We speak to David Hasemyer and Lisa Song, two of the reporters who worked on the investigation.

Aired February 27, 2014.

I heart Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman!

Monday, February 24, 2014

In New York there are Six Nations Against Fracking

Published on Feb 24, 2014
While California faces crazy droughts, coal ash spills into North Carolina's rivers and dangerous chemicals have poisoned water in West Virginia, the moratorium against toxic hydro-fracking goes into a fourth year in New York state. Born and raised in Queens my water is still safe to drink. So who's been fighting against multi-billion dollar gas companies since the beginning?

Directed & Edited By Messiah Rhodes
Co-Produced By Ashlee Blake Shaista Husein Deborah Wallace Executive Produced By Jim McKay Hannah Weyer International WOW Company Music Courtesy Of A Tribe Called Red "Pbc (feat. Sheldon Sundown)"

Additional Footage CSPAN Democracy Now Two Row Wampum Renewal The Real News Richard Benenge Special thanks to Emily Bishop Hugh Burnam Tamra Cook Jessica Dolan Frieda Jacques Regina Jones Jessica Martin Haudenosaunee Confederacy Two Row Wampum Renewal New Yorkers Against Fracking


Friday, February 21, 2014

Geology Rules!: Dr. Anthony Ingraffea

Published on Feb 7, 2014

Okay, this is a full lecture and takes an hour and a half!  Listen to as much as you have time for!  There is a prize for anyone who gets to the end!!!  (Prize:  The satisfaction of giving the time to an important issue!)

In this talk, Anthony Ingraffea explores myths and realities concerning large-scale development of the unconventional natural gas/oil resource in shale deposits. On a local scale, these concern geological aspects of the plays, and the resulting development and use of directional drilling, high-volume, slickwater, hydraulic fracturing, multi-well patterned-cluster pad arrangements, and the impacts of these technologies on waste production and disposal, and possible contamination of water supplies. On a global scale, the talk addresses the cumulative impact of unconventional gas development on greenhouse gas loading of the atmosphere. Finally, Ingraffea discusses green alternatives to shale gas.

Anthony Ingraffea is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University where he has been since 1977. His research concentrates on computer simulation and physical testing of complex fracturing processes. He has authored with his students and research associates over 250 papers in these areas, and is Director of the Cornell Fracture Group.

Albert S. Colman, assistant professor in the University of Chicago Department of Geophysical Sciences, introduced Ingraffea.

This event is presented by the Center for International Studies, the Program on the Global Environment and the Environment, Agriculture and Food Working Group as part of "Global Energies: A Public Inquiry into the Ecology, Science and Politics of Energy in the 21st Century."

Learn more about the series:

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Gas Industry Apology For Explosion: Free Pizza

A young gas worker, age 27, an expectant father, was killed February 11th, in Greene County, PA, when there was an explosion on  a Chevron well pad.  The explosion caused a fire which burned out of control for 4 days.  Ian McKee's body was reduced to bones which were finally discovered this week after the fire was out.  Chevron sent out gift certificates for pizza and soda to nearby residents in an attempt presumably to mollify any strong negative reactions.  Read more here to see some comments from these pizza certificate recipients.  Kudos to Protecting Our Waters for its coverage of this news.

Here are two comments from people:

“Worst apology ever: Sorry our fracking well exploded. Here’s a free pizza,” one angry Twitter user wrote Tuesday.
“Nice community relations: if you are frightened by fire and explosion, relax, have a pizza!” another tweet stated.

This Blogger's comment (that's me!):  It is a very common tactic to try to appease the victims or soon-to-be victims of the serious, sometimes fatal, consequences of the gas industry.  I truly think the industry thinks people are generally willing to be manipulated by little gifties.  The people who have been harmed are not in any way gullible or uneducated or anything else one might say about them.  They are us, you and me.  If I am not among them yet, it is just luck, and I could easily join their ranks in the near future.

Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Soil, not Free Pizza!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Nuns Say No To Fracking and Gas Pipeline in Kentucky

A 200-year-old order of Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Loretto, battle the construction of a pipeline that would transport toxic gases through their Kentucky homeland.


JUDY VALENTE, correspondent: For two hundred years, since the time of pioneer homesteaders, the Sisters of Loretto have lived among the rolling hills of central Kentucky. They taught in rural schools and to this day farm and raise cattle on 700 acres of prime agricultural land.
SISTER MARIA VISSE: That word “trust,” I think, is what binds us to this land. This is what we’ve been entrusted with. And so, over the years, we’ve always tried to respect what the land gives. VALENTE: The sisters would have liked to continue quietly caring for their land but for this—the process known as fracking, the hydraulic fracturing of bedrock followed by the forcing massive amounts of pressurized water, chemicals, and sand into the earth to release oil and natural gas. Fracking for natural gas is becoming increasingly common throughout the U.S. Much of the gas is then shipped to the Gulf of Mexico for export. That means there has to be pipelines to not only transport the gas, but its more toxic and flammable byproducts— propane, butane, and ethane, which is where the Loretto sisters come in. When Catholic sisters began speaking out against the transport of natural gas byproducts through underground pipelines, they generated national attention.
SISTER CECILIANA SKEES: Even in Alaska. For instance, Las Vegas, Louisville several times, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Austin, Texas, San Francisco, Portland, Oregon, I mean, you name it, there it is. These pipelines could pollute the air, could ruin the water and ruin the land, and you can’t have food if you don’t, if you can’t grow it on the land.
VALENTE: In a classic David-versus-Goliath battle, the Loretto sisters managed to beat back an effort by the Williams Company of Tulsa and their partners to place a pipeline underneath their land. Since then, these 70-plus-year-old sisters have become the unlikely face of opposition to both fracking and to the pipelines that carry their byproducts.
SISTER MARIA: We are hoping to accomplish a process of education that will help people to understand what they’re dealing with. What are we doing to our natural resources? And who owns the natural resources? I mean, that’s the big question behind this, because I feel now that corporations feel that they own the air, own the water, own it enough that they can pay to take a piece of it. VALENTE: This part of the country is known as the Kentucky “Holy Land.” It got that name because four major religious orders are located here, including the famous Abbey of Gethsemani, America’s oldest monastery, where the monk and spiritual writer Thomas Merton lived. It is also home to the Dominican Sisters of Peace and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. All three orders joined the Loretto sisters in opposing the Bluegrass pipeline. The result: the pipeline builders now have to largely skirt the counties where these religious orders are located—this, despite offering payments reportedly as high, in one case, as $350,000 to purchase easements from property owners. The Williams Company declined to comment on camera, but issued this statement: “We are experts at designing, building, and operating pipelines in a safe and reliable manner. Our highest priority is the safety of the public and our employees. We can assure the public that we will meet or exceed all the federal safety requirements.”
SISTER MARIA: I guess my fear is damage to the environment, and damage that is difficult to repair—and maybe even not able to repair—of soil, of water, or air. We were given a place on this planet, these trees, this grass, these animals, ourselves, to be healthy people, to be balanced and healthy, and I see an imbalance in what’s happening both to our resources and to ourselves. VALENTE: In these parts, it’s not just what grows on top of the land that’s important. It’s also what’s under the land: porous limestone known as carst, and water which are integral for distilling bourbon. This is also the bourbon capital of America. The Makers Mark distillery is just down the road from the Loretto sisters. Jim Beam and Four Roses distilleries aren’t far away. Those companies, so far, are remaining out of the fray about the pipeline. Dominican Sister of Peace Clare McGowan is a local environmental activist:
SISTER CLAIRE MCGOWAN: The pipe is three-sixteenths of an inch. That’s not a very thick pipe. They only require three feet of soil on top of that pipe. On farmland, where somebody’s out plowing, somebody’s out disking, somebody’s out with a combine, it seems to be pretty easy that accidentally that pipe could be ruptured.
VALENTE: There have been several pipeline explosions in recent years, including one in eastern Kentucky in 2004, that destroyed five homes and injured 12 people. That pipeline wasn’t operated by Williams Company, but by one of its competitors. For its part, Williams Company has paid more than $300 million in fines since 2003 for violations ranging from failure to report financial information to improper maintenance of its pipelines. In its statement the company said, “While our goal is zero leaks, our leak record during the past decade is much lower than the industry average.” Williams said that despite the sisters' opposition, it has purchased easements for 50 percent of the route and plans to complete construction of the pipeline through Kentucky by the end of 2015. Like the teachers they have long been, the sisters are transforming the conflict over the pipeline into a learning experience. SISTER CLAIRE: What we’re hoping for is an immediate awareness that we have to start the transition to renewable energy sources.
VALENTE: Meaning?
SISTER CLAIRE: Meaning solar, wind, water power—the ways of producing energy that do not require the use of fossil fuels.
SISTER SUSAN CLASSEN: So we have a lot of dead cedar trees in the woods, and so we went out and hauled in some of those cedar logs.
VALENTE: So this cabin is a marvel of recycling and reuse?
VALENTE: The Loretto sisters welcome hundreds of guests to their property each year. They talk about sustainable farming and recycling to preserve resources. They built a series of cabins made of wood and recycled materials for guests to use on spiritual retreats. Susan Classen is director of the sisters’ Cedars of Peace retreat program.
 SISTER SUSAN: The recognition that we humans need nature, that the spirit of God in nature settles our spirit, it brings us back to a grounding place, so that our action in the world can really come from a place that’s been energized by God.
SISTER MARIA: People that come for retreat, they say, “I come to the bottom of the hill, and already I can feel there’s a peacefulness that’s here with me.” Over the years, think of it, from 1824, how many people have come here to find something that’s outside of me but that makes me more me, that makes me more whole. I’m going to come, I’m going to look at the trees, I’m going to quiet my mind, and I’m going to be at peace for a while.” That pipeline goes in, you would destroy that tranquility that I feel is needed.
VALENTE: The sisters say they aren’t surprised by the attention their protest has generated. Nor should people be surprised at their willingness to speak out. They say it’s just what Catholic sisters do. For Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly, I’m Judy Valente in Loretto, Kentucky.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Fracking Debate at Cornell University Feb. 4

Published on Feb 5, 2014
With Tom Shepstone, Scott Kurkoski, John Conrad vs. Anthony Ingraffea, Sandra Steingraber, Walter Hang. Fracking II: Should We Lift the Ban ? Sponsored by the Cornell Forensics Society. Professor Sam Nelson moderating...