Archive for November, 2012

Cleaner Burning Explosions?

November 25, 2012

The “Cleaner Burning Fuel” Blows

On Friday evening, a strip club in Springfield, Massachusetts exploded. Thankfully, no one was killed though several people were injured.

According to 22News in Springfield, “Glass flew everywhere…” Unbelievably, the explosion was captured on video:

Did you know there is a city or town named “Springfield” in every one of the fifty United States? The Simpsons live in Springfield, too. And it turns out, the more natural gas is used in buildings, offices and homes, the more likely you are to find a gas leak or explosion in a Springfield near you.   (more…)

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Damned Data! PA DEP Still Withholding Vital Water Test Results

November 23, 2012

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has held out long enough.

It’s time for the state to release the full test results from a Washington County, PA water well near a Range Resources fracking operation. It is, after all, the taxpayers who pay for such testing, and these taxpayers ought to know what pollutants have been identified in their drinking water. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to know to which toxic chemicals you have been exposed, especially when those chemicals have been intentionally omitted from your well water report by the DEP.

Now that the infamousSuite Code 942” has been revealed, the jig is up. Am loathe to moralize, but it sure seems like the right thing to do.

Many groups across Pennsylvania are calling for the release of these results. In Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say, Huffington Post, November 21, 2012, Lynne Peeples reports:

Critics suggest the purported ‘filtering’ of testing data is just one of the ways people are left in the dark about the assortment of heavy metals and other toxic contaminants that may be in their air and water as a result of drilling, hydraulic fracturing and other phases of natural gas production. Recent studies have identified more than 600 chemicals used throughout the process of natural gas production, and often left undisclosed by companies. Additionally, natural but equally hazardous substances can be released from the wells.

Doesn’t DEP get it yet? Dismissing the drumbeats of concerned citizens only makes them louder.  

The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is asking people to please send this letter via the link on their site, or write you own, to those directly responsible for keeping this vital health information a secret. Addresses below.   (more…)

Are We Shocked Yet?

November 18, 2012

Bill Moyers talks about Climate Change and Capitalism with Shock Doctrine author, Naomi Klein.

I believe it’s the biggest challenge humanity has faced, and we’ve been kidding ourselves about what it’s going to take to get our emmissions down to the extent that they need to go down,” Naomi Klein.

EPA Shoots DEP “In The Back” Says Krancer

November 17, 2012

DUG In Deep

PA DEP Secretary Krancer was in Pittsburgh last week, marshaling his forces at the Drilling Unconventional Gas (DUG East) Conference, and peppering his pro-gas speech with an unnerving number of Civil War references. According to Don Hopey in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Krancer “referred to several dozen protesters outside as less imposing than opposition he sees as a Civil War re-enactor.”

Lest we forget, the Mason-Dixon line once divided The Marcellus Shale, too.

Access to the Pittsburgh conference was limited to those who meet DUG’s self-prescribed “press pass policy.” Indeed, it’s only getting more difficult to gain entry to big gas shows, even if you are willing to pony up nearly a grand to register, even if you are a legitimately credentialed member of the press, like Buck Quigley of ArtVoice.   (more…)

PA Fossil-Free Digest – AntiGas NewsClips

November 15, 2012

Another Wild Week in Fracking… 

The true story of the Marcellus Shale Gas Boom is stranger than fiction, full of polemic twists, shocking revelations and methane geysers. Here, an aggregation of the aggravation caused by the gas industry in Pennsylvania in the past week alone. Look out, David Hess, I’ve been taking notes.

AntiGas NewsClips  –  Friday, November 16, 2012:    (more…)

SkyTruth Fills Database With Fracking Chemicals

November 15, 2012

SkyTruth.org and FracTracker.org have teamed up to build the most comprehensive – and functional – database of fracking chemicals on the planet. The new SkyTruth Fracking Chemical Database is a powerful research tool, enhanced by FracTracker‘s stellar mapping technology. Been looking for something a little more practical than the smattering of 27,000 pdfs found on FracFocus.orgthe gas industry’s chemicals registry of choice? Look no further.   (more…)

Dismantling The Fossil Fuel Fantasy

November 14, 2012

 “Fossil fuel is a risk to the planet.”

This statement was debated in early November by Bill McKibben, author and founder of 350.org, and Alex Epstein, Founder and President of the Center For Industrial Progress and former Junior Fellow of The Ayn Rand Institute. The debate was ably mediated by Duke University Law Professor, Bill Brown.

Bill McKibben and Alex Epstein square off on fossil fuels — do they make the planet a worse place to live or a better place to live?  

Full Audio Version provided by ImproveThePlanet, Center For Industrial Progress.

Spoiler Alert! McKibben Shellacked Epstein

I learned of the debate via Stefanie Penn Spear in her recent post on EcoWatch.orgDEBATE: McKibben vs. Epstein—Are Fossil Fuels a Risk to the Planet? 

My daughter and I were outraged that Epstein is capable of taking such a humanistic, anthropocentric position on the issues regarding the health of our planet,” reports Spear. Her article (which was the most media coverage I could  find) and the accompanying comments make for a great debate primer.

Opposing arguments lasted over an hour and a half, but McKibben took the win in the first ten minutes, in his opening statement no less, when he laid out thirteen very good reasons to phase out fossil fuels on the planet, citing references galore:

  1. Energy Evolution Is Required:  We should be grateful for Fossil Fuels, even as the transition beyond them has become the “task of our times.”
  2. Risk to Oceans:  Coral reefs – the lungs of the ocean – are disappearing. The oceans have become 40% more acidic in recent years.
  3. Risk to Cryosphere:  The loss of polar ice caps diminishes the earth’s ability to reflect sunlight.
  4. Risk to Hydrology:  A fundamental change in the way water moves around the earth increases destructive deluges and storms.
  5. Risk to Agriculture:  We are already seeing dramatic decreases in crop yields, and significant  increases in grain prices, as a result of increased global drought. Record numbers of families must now have regular foodless days.
  6. Risk to Other Species: Conservative estimates predict a 70% species reduction as a result of global warming.  
  7. Risk to Coastal Cities:  Storm surges are expected to rise several feet along with sea-levels, making coastal storms more dangerous.
  8. Risk to Forests: Forests, which are like the lungs of our atmosphere as they absorb CO2 and produce Oxygen, are rapidly disappearing.
  9. Grave Risk to Public Health:  400,000 deaths are already attributed to Global Warming, and 4.5 million to Air Pollution.
  10. Risk to Economies and Development:  Numerous studies demonstrate how Global Warming damages GDP.
  11. Risk To National Security:  Climate change, and the scarcity it brings, has the potential to de-stabilize governments.
  12. Jeopardizes Political Freedom and Liberty:  Climate Change challenges the fundamental beliefs ingrained in the American Conservative Agenda as more victims of extreme weather events turn to a centralized authority for aid and relief.
  13. Risk to Democracy:  The fossil fuel industry contributes mightily to political campaigns, with Chevron having made the single largest contribution to a political Super PAC since Citizens United. The result is over $409,000,000,000 in Oil& Gas subsidies.

Serious issues to face! Luckily, some of the best minds are on it. Later in the debate, McKibben shares the good news: “We have the tools we need in order to adapt.

Frack Brine On Montgomery County Roads?

November 14, 2012

DEP’s Permit Pickle

Pennsylvania’s municipal water treatment plants were designed to handle the bio solids of sewage, not the radioactive compounds contained in shale gas drilling waste. They can’t handle the massive volumes of frack flowback produced in our state.

It takes 4.5 to 9 million gallons of fresh water to hydro-frack a single natural gas well. There are more than 30,000 permits awaiting approval in Pennsylvania over the next 10 years. In addition to the 8,982 frack wells currently operating in Pennsylvania, that equals 165 billion gallons of fresh water, largely from the Special Protection Waters of the Delaware River Watershed and the Susquehanna River Basin. Once removed, this water is destined to become toxic, radioactive frack “flowback.” And, by the way, that’s way more water than we actually have.

At first blush, recycling frack flowback – both onsite and at regional treatment plants – seems like the perfect solution. There’s now a long list of companies who want to sell or lease their services to drillers, along with their glorified mobile distillation units. But this, too, poses new problems and raises even more questions about shale gas waste regulation and oversight. Ultimately, waste recyclers still have to deal with the disposal of the super salty waste bi-product known as brine.

So now, recycled frack brine is to be sold – at around $.05 a gallon – to PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) to spray on our roads for deicing in winter, and something called “dust suppression.”

Seriously, dust suppression.

Untreated frack brine has been shown to include barium, radium, strontium and a range of radionuclides. Sometimes, there’s even uranium. (Yes, there’s uranium down there, too.) Flowback may also contain sodium and calcium salts, iron, oil, numerous heavy metals, diesel fuel and industrial soaps. And now this stuff might be on my running shoes, and the wheels of my kids’ bikes. Heavy snows and spring rains will carry these compounds into our rivers and streams, lacing our waterways with toxins. Are you kidding me?

How is it, though they’re using taxpayer dollars to buy this supposedly “clean” brine, that there was no public input?

Because DEP stamped a permit.

(more…)

Slaying The Shale Gas Dragon – Overturning Act 13

November 13, 2012

Everyday, I see an ANGA ad, or I read a slop-ed from a Marcellus Shale Coalition minion, and I wonder how can they say shale gas is “safe” when ALL their triple cement well-bore seals will fail within 70-100 years? How can the U.S. president say it’s safe?

Cement isn’t magical. It won’t last forever.

Is ANGA, or the Marcellus Shale Coalition, or EPA for that matter, planning to replug all the frack wells in every last watershed and aquifer by 2112? In reality, it’s more like “safe for now” or maybe “safe for a few generations” but down the road, the population in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware will have to deal with toxic drinking water.

Safe Fracking: A Modern Myth    (more…)

Dems, Enviros Sweep Southeastern Pennsylvania Seats

November 7, 2012

Are you getting the message, Harrisburg? Don’t frack with Philly! 

While these newly elected officials aren’t all for a ban on fracking (yet) many have taken very pro-environment positions on shale gas drilling. It’s safe to say, they’re all fractivist friendly.

Republicans and Fossil Fuel Phanatics rest assured, fractivists are taking names, determined to hold ALL elected officials accountable to their campaign promises. Clean fracking is pure fantasy, but bi-partisanship is always within reach.