Category: Durham


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.

Take Action: Support a repeal of the natural gas industry exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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.

Related Reading: 9 Out of 10 Natural Gas Wells Use Unregulated, Polluting Drilling Method

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.

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.

 

Plum Island Animal Disease Center (Unedited) Satellite Image

 

Save_PIADC writes:

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.

Continue reading

Source: by Marie C. Baca | ProPublica

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 [1].

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 [2] 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 [3].

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).

Senator ROBERTS.
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?

Sources: NOW ON PBS | GASLAND

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.

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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.

Kudos goes to Robert K. Schaeffer of Manhattan, Kansas  for a moment of critical thinking regarding the National Bio and Agro Defense Factiliy, (NBAF) and it’s risk to the community of Manhattan,KS.

NBAF risk

Proponents of National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility argue that the risk is low of accidentally or intentionally releasing lethal pathogens (anthrax, plague) from the germ lab. But it is not up to government officials to assess the level of risk. Instead, the private insurance companies that provide coverage to households and businesses in Manhattan will determine the level of risk.

If insurance companies view the risk of NBAF as low — as rare as an earthquake in Kansas — households might pay about 5 percent more on their insurance policies, about $40 a year, according to insurance company estimates. Together, the 19,170 households in Manhattan would pay $766,800 a year, or $7.6 million over the next 10 years, to protect themselves from a big government project that puts their lives and property at risk.

But if insurance companies view the risk as high — as risky as a major quake in California — households could see their insurance premiums rise by 60 percent or $480 a year, which would amount to $9.2 million annually or $92 million over the next 10 years.

Federal and state officials should answer these questions: Will insurance companies provide coverage for the risks associated with NBAF? How much will premiums increase for households, businesses and Kansas State University? And what will they do if companies refuse to offer coverage or if they charge prohibitive rates?

ROBERT K. SCHAEFFER

Manhattan

Clearly the NBAF will be a money-maker for all “Businesses”, but what of the communities who will host and fund the facility? Folks in Butner, North Carolina and Athens, Georgia  have already spoken, been there and have a T-shirt.  What’s the old saying “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is?  Wake-up Kansas! The threat of Foot and Mouth disease for farmers should be a pricey proposition, don’t you think? Or do you?

By now, we have all been subjected to the political pundits going back and forth on whether or not the Government’s stimulus package has been affective. So for grins and giggles, I thought it would be interesting to see the numbers for Granville County, NC  specifically and thanks to ProPublica and  Jennifer LaFleur those numbers are now public. 

Pro Publica found that the feds site “Recovery.gov” did not include thousands of records. So they crafted their own Recovery Tracker , which  includes all the data used on the government’s stimulus Web site, Recovery.gov, plus the thousands of records the feds didn’t include. They “cleaned out the cobwebs” and provided “the most comprehensive publicly available analysis of stimulus spending”.  

The state of North Carolina received $9,091,903,161, out of that funding Granville County received $17,283,319 which is $303 dollars per capita based on our current  county population of 57,044. How those funds were allocated is a bit puzzling to me but what do I know, I’m not a politician just a critical thinker. Feel free to comment.

Map taken literally means 9-10″ of snow for Granville County
YeeHaw!

 

 

The 12z models today have trended towards a colder solution for our weekend storm, with perhaps more snow than ice falling across most of NC. These trends would suggest that the heaviest snow band may actually shift south a bit and cover the Triangle, with the ice area shifting south as well. Lets take a quick review of the major 12z weather models.
 
12z GFS: The GFS was colder and slower than its previous 6z run and in turn showed more wintry precipitation over the southeast . Taken literally, the model shows heavy snow from central and southern Virginia into northern North Carolina through southern Kentucky, northern Tennessee and back into Arkansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma. This model would imply a foot or more of snow for southern Virginia and northern NC with the Triangle getting 6-8 inches of snow, with some freezing rain and sleet mixed in as well. Significant ice would fall from the central NC coastal plain through the southwest piedmont and sandhills into the southern piedmont, upstate SC, and northern Ga. The bulk of the precipitation for the Triangle falls Friday night and then tapers off later Saturday.

Continue reading “Late Week Snowstorm Update

 

Adrian Gibbs, the virologist who said in May that swine flu may have escaped from a laboratory, published his findings today, renewing discussion about the origins of the pandemic virus.

The new H1N1 strain, which was discovered in Mexico and the U.S. in April, may be the product of three strains from three continents that swapped genes in a lab or a vaccine-making plant, Gibbs, and fellow Australian scientists wrote in Virology Journal. The authors analyzed the genetic makeup of the virus and found its origin could be more simply explained by human involvement than a coincidence of nature.

Their study, published in a free, online journal reviewed by other scientists, follows debate among researchers six months ago, when Gibbs asked the World Health Organization to consider the hypothesis. After reviewing Gibbs’ initial three-page paper, WHO and other organizations concluded the pandemic strain was a naturally occurring virus and not laboratory-derived.

“It is important that the source of the new virus be found if we wish to avoid future pandemics rather than just trying to minimize the consequences after they have emerged,” Gibbs and colleagues John Armstrong and Jean Downie said in today’s eight- page study.

Gibbs and Armstrong are on the emeritus faculty at the Australian National University in Canberra and Downie is affiliated with the Centre for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology Laboratory Services at Sydney’s Westmead Hospital, according to the study.

While the exact source of the new H1N1 strain is a mystery, their research has “raised many new questions,” they said. The authors compared the genetic blueprints of flu strains stored in the free database Genbank and found the pandemic virus’s nearest ancestors circulate in pigs.

‘Simplest Explanation’

While migratory birds may have acted as conduit for their convergence, human involvement in bringing them together is “by far the simplest explanation,” Gibbs said in a telephone interview today.

Gibbs wrote or coauthored more than 250 scientific publications on viruses, mostly pertaining to the plant world, during his 39-year career at the Australian National University, according to biographical information on the university’s Web site.

“Knowing Adrian Gibbs, he will have thought through it pretty logically and come to that conclusion,” Lance Jennings, a clinical virologist with Canterbury Health Laboratories in Christchurch, New Zealand, said in a telephone interview. “It’s up to someone else to try and prove it or disprove it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Simeon Bennett in Singapore at sbennett9@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: November 24, 2009 04:10 EST

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more about “Open Thread Scott Morris charged with…“, posted with vodpod

 

 

Kelly has been found. My  Prayers go out to the Family and Friends of Kelly Currin Morris, as sad as this day is at least Scott Morris is closer to his judgement day and where he belongs finally. He was arrested last evening (11/17/09) and according to the SBI Final Deposition Report he was charged with First Degree Murder and Fraudulently Burning a Dwelling. You can read his arrest warrant here .

 

I am sure there is a special place in Hell waiting for Scott if the allegations prove to be true.  As for Kelly, she can rest now in heaven.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts for Kelly’s family and friends, support is heartfelt and needed now more than ever.

 

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