Pennies From Heaven, Pollution From Hell

November 19, 2014

Recently, my son wrote an essay about hidden costs. He discussed the heavy toll that certain industries, like factory farming and clothing manufacture, take on humanity and our environment when they externalize their true costs. Naturally, it got me thinking about the external costs of fracking.

One of the biggest hidden costs of Marcellus shale gas development will be a significant reduction in the number of clean, fresh drinking water supplies for future generations.

PA watersheds have endured a history of environmental degradation from a variety of sources such as logging, agricultural run-off and acid mine drainage, to name just a few. But while it’s true that many threats to our water supplies are long-standing, we can’t ignore the fact that they now face a much more serious, imminent threat.

The instances of fresh water contamination in Pennsylvania have increased dramatically since hydraulic fracturing began.

As fracking booms, waste spills rise — and so do arsenic levels in groundwaterReporter: Reid Frazier, Writer: Adam Wernic, Living on Earth, Public Radio International, November 18, 2014.

How can we not worry? The business of shale gas is predicated on taking public risks for the purpose of private gain. All it requires, apparently, is a pricey ad campaign and couple of slick publicity stunts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Exercise Your Franchise!

October 28, 2014

Voting Is Good For You images-1

Politically, Pennsylvania is in a race to the bottom.

On one hand, we have incumbent Governor Tom Corbett [R], the devious idiot who has been giving away the farm, both literally and figuratively, to Marcellus shale drilling special interests, to whom he is totally beholden.

Corbett is not only the most reviled governor in the nation, he’s also the highest paid. And that’s on top of all that gas funding. Little wonder democratic challenger Tom Wolf is trouncing “One Term Tommy” in the polls, yet it’s been decades since anyone has unseated an incumbent Republican governor in Pennsylvania, and no one is willing to call this race just yet. In the end, it could all come down to voter turnout. Read the rest of this entry »

Fossil Free USA

August 14, 2014

“He Don’t Own The Sun”

Some of Ohio’s most talented musicians came together on Earth Day, 2014 to record this bluesy, planet-loving song, written by Jenny Morgan of “You Can’t Drink Money” fame. I love that it echoes a strong current among fractivists. Fighting fracking is not simply about stopping the boom/bust cycle of shale gas development, it’s about getting real, and actively moving toward a healthier, more sustainable fossil-free future.

Play it loud.

He can make his billions, but he don’t own the sun.” Video share by Carolyn Harding, radioactivewastealert.org and Cinublue Productions in Columbus, Ohio. Thank you!

Superstar Fractivists, Hottest New Films, and Too Much Truth For The Gas Industry To Handle

June 17, 2014

Virtual Anti-Fracking Filmfest, 2014

When Pennsylvania’s own anti-fracking superstar, Elizabeth Arnold, went on tour in Britain to warn people about the problems faced here and in other shale gas drilling states, she gave this highly informative 20-minute interview. Read the rest of this entry »

Former PA DEP Secretary Krancer Wants Sunoco To Condemn Your Property

May 7, 2014

What’s the fastest way to get approval to build a hotly contested, demonstrably volatile 299-mile gas liquids pipeline through numerous densely populated suburban Pennsylvania municipalities?

First, elevate your corporate status to Public Utility. Then, claim the right of Eminent Domain to bulldoze over local zoning restrictions and the objections of local residents. At least that’s how former Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, Michael L. Krancer, would like to see construction of Sunoco Logistics Mariner East Pipeline proceed. In fact, he’s leading the charge.

Litigate, Baby, Litigate

Read the rest of this entry »

Who’s Gonna Show #OneTermTommy The Door?

May 1, 2014

Good Governors Don’t Frack People

Most Pennsylvania primary elections are sleepy business. Not this one.

On May 20, 2014, an all-important primary election will be held, and it will probably determine the state’s next governor.

A whopping 55-34% of Pennsylvania voters feel that Tom Corbett does not deserve reelection, according to a recent Quinnipiac University pollPolitico Magazine has captioned Corbett “arguably the most vulnerable incumbent governor in 2014.” And, per Stephen Calabria in The Huffington Post on February 26, 2014, GOP Governor Tom Corbett Trails Each of His Democratic ChallengersIt’s one of the few causes for optimism in an otherwise fracked up commonwealth.   Read the rest of this entry »

Big Poisons, No Plan: List of PA Streams with Frack Fluid Spills

April 15, 2014

Van Wagner teaches Environmental Science at Lewisburg High School in Pennsylvania. He’s also an accomplished country-folk musician who has donated his time to teach music to kids at Pennsylvania summer camps. I came across this compelling plea on Wagner’s website:

“I have played music at several summer camps for children who are cancer survivors.  Camp Victory / Camp Dost and Camp Can-Do to name a few local examples.  These children are amazing.  I’m always amazed how grateful they are to me for spending a few hours simply singing with them.  It is I who should be thankful.  These children have smiles worth their weight in gold.  They are filled with joy and know more about love and friendship than most adults.  I challenge any fracking advocate to donate some time at one of these camps.  While there sit down at the dinner table with these kids and try to explain to them why grown-ups want to put more cancer causing chemicals in our environment because of things like energy, stock values and jobs.   Read the rest of this entry »

Fracked In The Head

March 24, 2014

Funny how Exxon owns half the world but they still can’t control the conversation about fracking. Shale gas producers leave themselves wide open. They persist in underestimating the intelligence of average consumers, and we can’t help but ridicule them in return. Of course, there was Chevron’s infamous pizza party after a fatal well explosion in Pennsylvania, and last week the fracking industry attempted to throw itself a 65th birthday party. Never mind that it was low volume, vertical fracking which was invented decades ago, and that high-volume horizontal hydraulic slickwater fracturing wasn’t developed until 2003. “Happy 11th!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. Here’s another history of fracking, one this behemoth industry doesn’t particularly want told, let alone illustrated by some of the country’s wildest minds. The pen is mightier still, thank heaven, and naturally the ink is fossil free. cartoon-by-ron-tandberg Read the rest of this entry »

River of Doubt: Ex-Water Exec Appointed New DRBC Chief

March 11, 2014

What’s it gonna be, Steven Tambini?

As former Vice President of Operations at Pennsylvania American Water, who also previously served on the board of trustees for the American Water Works Association and the Water Resources Association of the Delaware River Basin, the National Association of Water Companies – Pennsylvania Section, Steven (don’t forget the Rancocas Conservancy) Tambini seems like the ultimate water industry insider. Just sayin.

Mr. Tambini’s work on both the Pennsylvania and New Jersey sides of the Delaware River has allowed him to develop and build relationships with regulators and stakeholders throughout the basin,” states the Delaware River Basin Commission press release.

Somebody ought to ask Mr. Tambini to define exactly who those “stakeholders” are. I want to have faith, really, but Tambini’s resume is pretty thin on conservation, and darn heavy on extending private water industry interests. One can’t help but worry that he will be inclined to keep on carrying water for the water industry. Read the rest of this entry »

Frack Bans Expanding

March 4, 2014

Progressive Measures Across U.S. Aim for Local Protection of Land, Air and Water Resources

Leave it to LA to make a big splash. The city of angels just became the largest U.S. city to approve a zoning ordinance against hydraulic fracturing and other well stimulation methods, and the vote was unanimous.

City council unanimously voted Friday afternoon to send a moratorium motion to the city attorney’s office to be written as a zoning ordinance. It will then return to council for a final vote,” reports Brandon Baker in Breaking: Los Angeles Passes Fracking MoratoriumEcoWatch News, February 28, 2014.

I’ve been updating the List of Bans Worldwide page regularly. Thankfully, the list will never be finished. Bans against hydraulic fracking, shale gas processing and waste disposal are proliferating. Pennsylvania has 17 local bans and a statewide moratorium in the works, and many democratic gubernatorial candidates agree with the growing call for a permanent ban in state parks and the Delaware River Watershed. New Jersey has 33 anti-fracking actions currently gaining momentum, and New York has a staggering 218, including a strong statewide moratorium measure. When the tiny town of Marcellus, New York seeks a fracking ban and the right to local zoning, the irony pretty much abounds.

Seems wherever fracking goes, vigorous grassroots opposition springs to life. High volume hydraulic fracturing is a developing industrial technology, and as it expands into more populous regions, shale gas drillers are finding that most people object to noxious air pollution, water contamination, explosions, blow outs, spills, truck traffic, light pollution and earthquakes caused by the injection of millions of gallons of radioactive toxic waste – water that was once fresh, clean and potable. Turns out, no one – not even Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson – wants to live in an industrial sacrifice development zone.

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The Big Ban Theory

A lot of very talented people are working hard to make clean air, non-industrialized un-fragmented land, and protected public water supplies a reality. Luckily, Food and Water Watch keeps a list of their efforts. It’s grown to 407 measures passed in the U.S., and counting.

I’m With Rex Tillerson, Ban Fracking  #ImWithRex via David Fischer

FWW also maintains a handy interactive map.

Plus, here’s yet another budding ban from Texas:

Denton, Colorado: Group seeks ban on fracking, Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe, Denton Record-Chronicle, February 18, 2014

 

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via Moms Clean Air Force

There’s No Replacin’ A River Basin

November 26, 2013

It’s Time To Save The Delaware River From Fracking, For Good

Food & Water Watch wants you to know that the Special Protection Waters of the Delaware River Basin are more endangered than ever.

For the past two years, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has upheld a moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Basin due to massive public outcry. But right now, Carol Collier is calling for a strategy around gas drilling in the basin before she retires as executive director in March. Join us by telling President Obama and the governors of NY, NJ, DE and PA that the only strategy we support is a ban on fracking!

Gas drillers want in. They want to produce and transport, and to frack, baby, frack. DRBC’s Collier has indicated that she intends bring a new drilling “strategy” to a vote before departing her post. It may be her idea of a legacy, though I certainly wouldn’t want all those undisclosed chemicals on my conscience.

President Obama – the man who campaigned on a pledge for a sustainable energy future yet now favors the term “energy independence” – may well deliver the deciding vote on the DRBC via the federal Army Corps of Engineers. Conscience, per se, probably won’t factor much into that decision.

As ever, the only way to protect the Delaware River Basin from the massive impacts of shale gas industrialization is with massive pubic outcry.

Permanent Protection 

Start by adding your name to the the growing list of Americans who oppose expanding our dependence on fossil fuels, along with any plans to allow shale gas drilling the Delaware River Basin. Sign the Food and Water Watch letter addressed to President Obama and the governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania, Protect the Delaware River Basin With a Ban on Fracking

Let legislators know that the only long-term strategy for protecting the Delaware River Basin is a permanent ban on fracking.   Read the rest of this entry »

A Ban In The Basin

November 23, 2013

Take Note: DRBC Wants To Vote On Shale Gas Drilling Regulations

It’s time once again to save the Delaware River basin from the toxic impacts of shale gas drilling.

At the next public hearing of the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), on Tuesday, December 3, 2013, a coalition of concerned advocacy groups will present a scrapbook entitled The Delaware Is Me.

The idea is to celebrate the Delaware River and commemorate another year without fracking. The point is to show the commission why this high-value, highly productive watershed ought to be spared from the ravages of industrial shale gas drilling.

The magnificent, historic Delaware River touches 15.6 million lives, and extraordinary photographs has been literally flowing in. As you may have guessed, no two images – or reasons – are alike. You can glimpse some of the photos and join the event on Facebook at The Delaware Is Me, or follow on Twitter #TheDelawareIsMe.

Better still, attend the public hearing and stand behind watershed advocates and activists in Trenton on December 3rd.

BAN IN THE BASIN

The Delaware Is Me project is co-hosted by Green Door Magazine, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

SB1171 Would Nearly Double Renewable Energy In Pennsylvania

November 14, 2013

Naturally, The GOP’s Gonna Hate It

On November 12, 2013, State Senator Daylin Leach [D-Montgomery/Delaware] introduced new Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards (AEPS) legislation, SB1171, aimed at reducing Pennsylvania’s dependance on fossil fuels. Leach was flanked by State Representative Greg Vitali [D-Delaware], who is sponsoring companion legislation in the house (HB100), and Tom Schuster, who represented about 24,000 Sierra Club members in Pennsylvania.

SB1171 is already supported by the majority of economic and environmental stakeholders in the state, including Blue-Green Alliance, Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition and PennFuture. Makes sense, too, in this age of super storms and carbon thresholds, and given the fact that Pennsylvania is the third highest carbon producing state in the nation, right? Tell it to the Mayberry Machiavellians in Harrisburg, please.

What’s 8% Of Lame?

Under current state law, passed in 2007, Pennsylvania’s power generating utilities must acquire 8% of their energy from renewable sources. Last time I checked, natural gas was not considered a renewable in Pennsylvania, though in Texas the definition gets a little hazy.

Time, technology and other states have passed us by,” said to Leach to Kevin Gavin and Haldan Kirsch in PA Lags In Renewables, on 90.5 WESA NPR Pittsburgh on November 12, 2013.   Read the rest of this entry »

Get Your Phil: Colorado Frackbusters Presents The Truth About Fracking

November 11, 2013

Phil Doe Covers The Water Issue “To The Point Where You’re Gonna Be Pretty Angry” ~ Frackbusters

This short video, Truth About Fracking, features retired U.S. Bureau of Reclamation official, Phil Doe, speaking about fresh water protection to a packed house in Colorado Springs, Colorado on January 10, 2013. It’s part three of four in a series on YouTube. 

Doe is concise, yet his message is sobering and universal. He opens with a quote from British poet, W. H. Audin: “Thousands have lived without love, but nobody has lived without water.”

You should all be concerned about where your water is going… You should protect it.” ~ Phil Doe. Uploaded by GrowthBusters.org.

Being The Change  

Public interest in the event was so great that organizers shared the series online. Thanks to educational outreach events like these, environmental groups in the Rocky Mountain State have successfully raised awareness about the impacts and dangers associated with fracking.

Recently, Colorado voters in three cities approved moratoriums or bans, as was reported by Michael Wines in Colorado Cities’ Rejections of Fracking Poses Political Test for  Natural Gas Industry in The New York Times on Sunday, November 7, 2013; and in Colorado Voters Tell Fracking Industry to Frack Off, and by John Upton in Grist, November 6, 2013.  

For information about “events and happenings related to this issue” in Colorado, or simply to find some inspiration, visit the Frackbusters Facebook page.

What’s It Gonna Be, DRBC?

November 1, 2013

Deciding The Fate Of “The Little Giant”

Outgoing Delaware River Basin Commission Director, Carol Collier, has done an impressive job withstanding extreme political pressure. I’ve been highly critical of the DRBC, yet I do believe Collier deserves our gratitude – as long as she doesn’t do anything rash.

The small interstate agency has received sharp letters of admonition from an impatient, gas-happy governor, experienced even sharper budget cuts, and suffered an uneasy tension with an increasingly feckless PA DEP.  By July, 2013, the working relationship between the two agencies had deteriorated so badly that former DEP secretary, and current gubernatorial candidate, John Hanger informed readers of The Times-Tribune that “DRBC Should Have ‘No Confidence’ In Corbett’s Drilling Oversight.

It’s true, DRBC has approved too many pipelines.  In March 2013, Maya van Rossum, The Delaware Riverkeeper pressed the Commission on the need for greater oversight of planned projects. Deforestation and watershed fragmentation are growing concerns, as are leaks, ruptures and explosions.

dinner_collier_9042

But generally speaking, under Collier’s leadership, DRBC has stood firm in the face the mighty gas extraction lobby, and it has managed to keep them at bay, and protect our vital, shared fresh water resources all this while. For this, we owe Collier our thanks. She must be exhausted.

Carol Collier, DRBC  Credit:  www.nj.gov

At this point, it seems unlikely that Collier, who departs in March, 2014, will rally a vote on gas drilling regulations in the Delaware River basin, but one never knows. All you can do is check the DRBC website from time to time.

Taking the long view, however, has been a hallmark of Collier’s tenure. Meetings are long and tedious, populated by scientists and engineers, and packed with data. Collier has led the agency along this plodding, empirical course for the past 15 years, so there’s little reason to suspect she’s planning to suddenly go out with a bang.   Read the rest of this entry »

Keep Calm And Ban Fracking

October 26, 2013

When it comes to the fight for a sustainable, frack-free future, environmental activist, Daryl Hannah, and United For Action founder and New Yorkers Against Fracking lead organizer, David Braun, are in it for the long haul. Pictured here, in October, at the 23rd Environmental Media Association Awards, these two dynamic friends of the earth got a lot of attention for the fashion they’re promoting.

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Everybody Wants One

Braun posted the photo a few days ago, and now fractivists are clamoring to get their tees.  Sorry, I don’t have a  link, but you can follow this Facebook thread and ask Braun for one personally.

I can share Braun’s eloquent video in which he calls on  President Obama to quit fracking around with our nation’s energy policy.

President Obama, I Worked For You. Listen To The Science!

I can also share this cool word cloud. It was texted out by Food and Watch Watch after the recent 2013 worldwide Global Frackdown. I don’t think you can ever have too many anti-fracking images, what with the latest  gas industry advertising blitzkrieg. Wonder if those shirts come in kid’s sizes…

“So many great reasons people supported the Global Frackdown…” These are most commonly used words describing their reasons:

Global_Frackdown_Mobile_Word_Cloud

Philadelphia Water Drive Starts Today!

September 24, 2013

Pennsylvanians Take A Local Stand To Support People Impacted By Fracking

Imagine finding your tap water has suddenly turned milky, red, or black and sludgy. Imagine taking a shower and finding that it burns your nostrils and stings your skin. Imagine learning that your well water is laced with industrial pollutants such as benzene, toluene and formaldehyde.” -ShaleGasOutrage.wordpress.com

Over 1,000 complaints like these have been filed with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection through the end of 2012. PA DEP has determined that 161 water wells have been contaminated as a result of hydraulic fracturing, with more tests results inconclusive or disputed. And the complaints keep coming. In these impacted households, tap water is no longer safe for consumption, yet the nearest water utility line is often many miles away. People are forced to rely on bottled water to meet their daily water needs. Large blue “water buffalos” have become ubiquitous across the Marcellus Shale region.   Read the rest of this entry »

USGS Warns Of Disinfection Byproducts From Treatment Of Produced Waters

September 6, 2013

You don’t have to be a hydrogeologist to understand the severity of the U.S. Geological Survey’s most recent warning. As the number of suitable sites for deep wastewater injection wells dwindles, and production in the Marcellus ramps up, pressure is mounting on municipal water treatment plants to deal with all the frack waste. But as every good sewage plant operator knows, what goes in, must come out.

Technical Announcement: Disinfection of Energy Wastewater Can Lead to Toxic Byproducts

Contact Information:

U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey

Office of Communications and Publishing

12201 Sunrise Valley Dr, MS 119, Reston, VA 20192

Mike Focasio 703-648-6808

Alec Demas 703-648-4421

Released: 9/4/2013  —  Wastewater treatment plants that process waters from oil and gas development were found to discharge elevated levels of toxic chemicals known as brominated disinfection byproducts, according to a new study by the U.S. Geological Survey.    Read the rest of this entry »

Philly’s Having An LNG Party (And We’re Not Invited)

August 3, 2013

There are two kinds of people in Philadelphia, those who oppose a Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export facility, and those who don’t know about it yet. Oh, right, and then there’s a few who’ve been quietly getting LNG done for years.

Think About It – LNG Is A Bad Idea

Sierra Club Wants to Stop LNG Exports and they’re not mincing words. The new “Beyond Natural Gas” campaign website states: “EXPORTING LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS (LNG) TO OVERSEAS MARKETS IS A DIRTY, DANGEROUS PRACTICE THAT LETS THE INDUSTRY MAKE A KILLING AT THE EXPENSE OF HUMAN HEALTH -

Exporting natural gas would increase fracking and carbon emissions, put sensitive ecological areas at risk, and do nothing to address our country’s energy challenges. Natural gas companies envision a network of winding pipelines and noisy, polluting compressors that connect the drills to the docks, slicing through wild lands, rivers, and backyards. Pipelines and gas wells will inevitably leak or rupture, risking lives and fouling the environment where people live and further polluting the air we breathe and the water we drink.

Included in the post is the link to a recently published Sierra Club report entitled, LOOK BEFORE THE LNG LEAP: Why Policymakers and the Public Need Fair Disclosure Before Exports of Fracked Gas Start by Craig Segall, Staff Attorney, Sierra Club Environmental Law Program, with research assistance by legal fellow, Philip Goo.

Basically, Sierra researchers conclude that “The United States is sleepwalking through one of the biggest energy policy decisions of our time.”   Read the rest of this entry »

Putting Frack-Free Food On The Table

August 2, 2013

A Pennsylvania Gas Worker’s Conscious Dilemma

 “What is to be said for a father of two who lives in southwestern Pennsylvania that needs a job to support his family and the only jobs in this area are in the pipeline/ fracking industry for a person with no other education than a high school diploma? I haven’t done it yet because clearly I am against fracking since I am a member of this group but I also need to keep shoes on my kids feet, a roof over their heads and food in their mouths….moral dilemma”

This comment was posted on the wall of an anti-fracking Facebook page. I’ll leave off his name in case the author does decide to seek a job in the gas industry or related services.

Read the rest of this entry »


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