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Archive for November, 2010
Source: by Jennifer Mueller | Causes
This weekend 60 Minutes aired an investigative story about the dangers of a largely-unregulated method of extracting natural gas from shale miles below the Earth’s surface – known as “fracking” – and the dangers it poses to drinking water, our health, and the environment.
If the BP spill taught us anything, it’s that exploring for energy has safety risks, but that can get lost in all the excitement,” begins Lesley Stahl of CBS’s “60 minutes” in her segment. Stahl explores the controversies surrounding this new drilling method, from the undisclosed toxic chemicals pumped into the ground to the extract the gas to the safety record of the industry. It’s not pretty.
Secrecy and Toxins in Shale-Gas Extraction
“The industry doesn’t have to disclose what’s in the tens of thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals they use when they fracture the shale because of the so-called ‘Halliburton loophole’,” explained Stahl.
“The 2005 energy bill completely exempted the natural gas industry and fracking technology under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It’s an outrage!” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The first thing the industry should do is disclose what chemicals are being used in fracking and then limit the toxic chemicals to the point of zero,” urged Brune.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has just begun to study the effect of fracking chemicals on groundwater. They have requested that the major natural gas companies disclose their fracking fluid formulas; all but Halliburton complied. So last week, EPA was forced to subpoena the information.
Take Action: The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act
Very simply, S.1215 and H.R. 2766, The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act, would repeal the industry’s exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Use this Sierra Club online action form email your member of Congress in support of the bill.
This must be the same Ad firm T. Boone Pickins uses.
Two advertising geniuses come to help the Chevron executives plot to trick you into thinking they are going green when they are doing the exact opposite.
For more information please go to http://chevronthinkswerestupid.org/
All but one of the hydraulic fracturing companies that received voluntary information requests in September have agreed to submit timely and complete information to help the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conduct its study on hydraulic fracturing.
Halliburton is the only one that failed to provide EPA the information necessary to move forward with the study so the agency issued a subpoena for the information. One week after EPA announced the subpoena, Halliburton announced a new microsite that, among other things, discloses some information about the identity and common uses of the additives and constituents generally involved in the hydraulic fracturing process.
EPA’s congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study will look at the potential adverse impact of the practice on drinking water and public health. The agency is under a tight deadline to provide initial results by the end of 2012 and, according to the agency; the thoroughness of the study depends on timely access to detailed information about the methods used for fracturing.
EPA announced in March that it would conduct this study and solicit input from the public through a series of public meetings in major oil and gas production regions. The agency has completed the public meetings and thousands of Americans from across the country shared their views on the study and expressed full support for this effort.
On Sept. 9, EPA reached out to BJ Services, Complete Production Services, Halliburton, Key Energy Services, Patterson-UTI, RPC, Inc., Schlumberger, Superior Well Services, and Weatherford, seeking information on the chemical composition of fluids used in the hydraulic fracturing process, data on the impacts of the chemicals on human health and the environment, standard operating procedures at their hydraulic fracturing sites and the locations of sites where fracturing has been conducted. Eight of those companies have either fully complied with the request or made unconditional commitments to provide all the information on an expeditious schedule.
The microsite introduces a new fracture fluid system that uses materials sourced from the food industry. The company’s new service will use ultraviolet light instead of additives to control bacteria and another system will treat wastewater at the well site so that it can be reused.
“Halliburton has just made available new web pages to emphasize our forthright disclosure of the additives and constituents that are used for several typical wells in Pennsylvania. We believe this effort represents an important and substantive contribution to the broader long-term imperative of transparency,” said David Adams, vice president of Halliburton’s production enhancement product service line.
While the initial focus of the disclosure pages are limited to activities taking place in Pennsylvania, where development of the Marcellus Shale is already well under way, the company is committed to continuing to provide hydraulic fracturing fluid disclosure information for every U.S. state in which Halliburton’s fracture stimulation services are in use, the press release stated.
Source: Environmental Protection
Every once in a while a dialogue comes through (via comments) on a post that is worthy of further debate. Below is just the kind of dialogue I’m refering to. I hope you will agree.
Thanks for your coverage.
The internal DHS Study Committee (SSRA) was about as close to an “inside job” as you could assemble and virtually all of the panelists had glaring conflicts of interest and personal stakes in seeing this project move forward.
Both of the USDA “independent experts” on the SSRA, Drs. Cyril Gay and Randall Leavings, were also members of the initial NBAF site visit team. Their efforts as site visit team members, largely informed the decision of siting NBAF in Kansas. They may have also met with Senator Pat Roberts during their 2007 site visits in Kansas.
SSRA members Steve Bennett, Dr. Michelle Colby, Dr. Bruce Harper and Dr. Joanne Jones-Meehan are all DHS employees. The notion that they would cast a skeptical eye towards a pet project of the DHS Secretary is laughable.
SSRA member Dr. David Brake is a contractor for DHS at Plum Island and his firm would have a vested financial stake in an expanded DHS countermeasure enterprise at NBAF.
SSRA member Dr. Josh Fine (SAIC) is also a contractor for DHS at Plum Island. His firm, SAIC, could potentially stand to gain a windfall if selected to provide SETA contract support at NBAF.
SSRA member Dr. Ted Schroeder is a professor at Kansas State. No conflict of interest there;) SSRA member Dr. Charles Hobbs is a “senior scientist emeritus” at the Lovelace Respiratory Reserach Institute. Lovelace’s President and CEO, Dr. Robert Rubin, was appointed in 2007 by then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius to serve on the “NBAF in Kansas Task Force.” Of course, there is no chance that Dr. Hobbs would come out against a major policy goal of his instiution’s President and CEO.
Other than the two HHS members, the SSRA panelists were riddled with ethical, professional, personal and financial conflicts of interest.
Citing health and environmental concerns, the Pittsburgh, Pa., city council voted unanimously Tuesday to ban natural gas drilling within the city limits. It is the first such ban in a Pennsylvania city.
The 9-0 vote received a standing ovation, according to the Associated Press .
Pittsburgh sits on the Marcellus Shale, the gas-rich rock formation that has triggered a drilling boom in the eastern United States. The drillers use a technique known as hydraulic fracturing  or fracking, which shoots fluids underground at high pressures to release gas from bedrock. ProPublica has written more than 70 articles documenting the hidden costs of fracking .
The Pittsburgh bill was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit advocacy group.
“Commercial extraction of natural gas in the urban environment of Pittsburgh poses significant threat to the health, safety and welfare of residents and neighborhoods within the city,” the ordinance said. “[Drilling] allows the deposition of toxins into the air, soil, water, environment and the bodies of residents.”
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who has indicated he opposes the measure, has 10 days to review it before the ban goes into effect. If he vetoes the bill, six council votes would be needed to override him.
Yesterday, the city council in the Pittsburgh suburb of South Fayette passed a zoning ordinance that banned drilling in residential and conservation areas.
A report released today by the National Research Council, solidified concerns brought forth by two grassroot, non-profits who opposed and fought the placement of the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) from being sited in North Carolina and Georgia. Both groups, the Granville Non Violent Action Team (GNAT) and AthensFAQ brought forth the same credible arguments presented in the NRC’s report. The report titled: “Evaluation of a Site-Specific Risk Assessment for the Department of Homeland Security’s Planned National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas” (that’s a mouth-full) was completed by DHS in June 2010.
The NRC report finally sheds some much-needed light on DHS’s flawed methodology and skewed data the agency used to justify the NBAF’s risk to near-by communities and livestock populations.
Upon review of the DHS assessment, the National Research Council found “several major shortcomings.” Based on the DHS risk assessment, there is nearly a 70 percent chance over the 50-year lifetime of the facility that a release of FMD could result in an infection outside the laboratory, impacting the economy by estimates of $9 billion to $50 billion. The present Research Council report says the risks and costs of a pathogen being accidently released from the facility could be significantly higher. The committee found that the SSRA has many legitimate conclusions, but it was concerned that the assessment does not fully account for how a Biosafety-Level 3 Agriculture and Biosafety-Level 4 Pathogen facility would operate or how pathogens might be accidently released. In particular, the SSRA does not include important operation risks and mitigation issues, such as the risk associated with the daily cleaning of large animal rooms. It also fails to address risks that would likely increase the chances of an FMD leak or of the disease’s spread after a leak, including the NBAF’s close proximity to the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine clinics and KSU football stadium or personnel moving among KSU facilities.
Matt DeGennaro of AthensFAQ sums the report up quite nicely, “WE TOLD YOU SO” (and all we had was Google). Critical thinking suggest this report should lay to rest once and for all, the federally funded bio-hazard, right? No, not if the Kansas Congressional Delegation has its way.
“The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has chosen Manhattan as the site for the new NBAF. The construction of this cutting edge facility must move forward to safely conduct critical research to protect our nation’s agriculture sector and food supply. The National Research Council’s study is helpful to DHS as it continues in its design phase of the NBAF facility. We are also pleased that it confirms the importance of building a new NBAF to protect our nation. However, we are concerned that some of the findings do not seem to account for mitigation and safety plans that DHS has already said will be put in place. These efforts should not be discounted. We are confident this facility will be the safest research laboratory in the world and its mission is critical in order to protect our nation’s food supply.”
Absent critical thinking, politicos from the Kansas Congressional Delegation obviously can’t read ! U.S. Senator Pat Roberts knows first hand what an outbreak of FMD would do to his state. Sen. Roberts you see was the President of the U.S. during a government exercise known as Crimson Sky. Here is what he said about the mock FMD outbreak during a Senate Hearing ( To Review BioSecurity Preparedness and Efforts to Address AgroTerrorism Threats).
Back in 2002, I joined an exercise held by the department called Crimson Sky. That was sort of a misnomer because it followed the experience of Great Britain in regards to their problems with their livestock herds. They used that method in regards in incinerating the animals, which is probably the worst thing you could have done, as we found out.
There wasn’t anybody else in town, so I played the role of President in this exercise, and it simulated the intentional introduction of foot and mouth disease in five different locations. By the way,the person who did that was from Iraq, at least in the exercise. The impact was incredible. In 6 days, if you do not detect the disease, that is when this or the effects of the disease first become obvious, and then it is too late. All of our exports stop. People in the cities discovered that their food doesn’t come from grocery stores, and panic set in. The markets went crazy.
Basically, we had States calling out the National Guard. That is when we had the National Guard in the States, not over in Iraq and in Afghanistan and everywhere else, setting up all sorts of border situations so livestock in Texas couldn’t go to Oklahoma; Oklahoma couldn’t go to Kansas; Kansas couldn’t go to Nebraska; etc.,etc. It got pretty rough except everybody finally realized that all of the States were involved and we had to do something.
As President, I stopped the movement of all livestock. The Secretary of Commerce said you couldn’t do that. So I fired him, and it felt very good. But it was absolute chaos and not only for 1 year and not only for livestock, but every crop. So if you talk about a real problem, that was a real problem.
So, Chuck, can you tell me are you still conducting these kind of exercises? You probably don’t want to have me play President, but at any rate, are we doing the exercises that we need to do in conjunction with your compatriots up there on the panel, and has that impacted the way you do business?
Senator ROBERTS. We had to terminate almost every herd in America. I mean that was the end result. It was an incredible experience when you really finally got down to the final answer to stop what was going on. We had to call out the National Guard and call out the military. Quite frankly, we ran out of ammunition. It was a mess, and then you had PETA on television, and I can’t describe the utter chaos that happened.
See folks this is the bottom line; Federal grant dollars have a way of creating amnesia. Here we have a person who knows first hand the economic damage caused by a mock- outbreak of FMD in the state of Kansas but continues to push for the NBAF. I don’t live in Kansas but if I did I’d be concerned, very concerned. Maybe real-life is too much for some people to believe, but when you involve their wallets everything changes, doesn’t it Sen. Roberts?
A FREE showing of the Sundance Award Winning Documentary film Gasland co-hosted by Clean Water for NC and the Granville Non-Violent Action Team (GNAT). The showing will include a brief discussion of how hydraulic fracturing for natural gas from deep deposits could effect your region of North Carolina and what action we can take to help prevent impacts to groundwater, quality of life and landscapes!
Bring a friend—it’s free and light refreshments will be available. Donations to help cover the cost of future showings and action are welcome, but not required. See you there!
For further information on the scheduled showings, please call Clean Water for NC (919) 401-9600 or GNAT (919) 575-5198.
HBO aired “Gasland” in June, they have a very comprehensive slideshow from the documentary you can check it out here.
Will the boom in natural gas drilling contaminate America’s water supply? NOW talks with filmmaker Josh Fox about ‘Gasland’, his Sundance award-winning documentary on the surprising consequences of natural gas drilling.
In the debate over energy resources, natural gas is often considered a “lesser-of-evils”. While it does release some greenhouse gases, natural gas burns cleaner than coal and oil, and is in plentiful supply—parts of the U.S. sit above some of the largest natural gas reserves on Earth. But a new boom in natural gas drilling, a process called “fracking”, raises concerns about health and environmental risks.
This week, NOW talks with filmmaker Josh Fox about “Gasland”, his Sundance award-winning documentary on the surprising consequences of natural gas drilling. Fox’s film—inspired when the gas company came to his hometown—alleges chronic illness, animal-killing toxic waste, disastrous explosions, and regulatory missteps.