Opponents of hydraulic fracturing will rally in Annapolis today to press lawmakers for a moratorium on the controversial drilling practice in the state. Read more.
“This bill is to offshore wind power in the Mid-Atlantic what the early railroads were to American transportation,” said Mike Tidwell from Chesapeake Climate Action Network. The Maryland Senate today passed the Maryland Offshore Wind Energy Act of 2013 (HB 226) by a vote of 30 to 15, pushing this landmark clean energy law over its final major hurdle, and ensuring it will reach Governor O’Malley’s desk.
Great victory. Now need everyone’s help at rally March 13th at the capital to push for BAN ON FRACKING. Click here for more information.
In Maryland, today’s Senate passage of the offshore wind bill follows House passage two weeks ago. The bill is the culmination of a broad, unprecedented grassroots campaign. Over the past two and a half years, hundreds of environmental, health, labor, business, faith and student groups, and thousands of ordinary Marylander voters, joined together to push lawmakers in Annapolis to take this step forward and make offshore wind power a reality in Maryland. “>Read more.
Backed By Silver, Assembly Bill Would Delay Fracking Permits 1 Year. A bill quietly introduced today in the state Assembly would prevent state environmental regulators from issuing drilling permits for natural gas in the Marcellus and Utica shale regions until a full review of the health impacts can be assessed. Read more.
Ohio has an amazing way to make the radioactive waste produced by the oil/gas industry just disappear. How you ask, just mix the radium 226 and 228 with dirt until the levels are only 5 picocuries above background. There are two other options that Ohio gives industry, send the waste to a low level waste site in Oregon or to a landfill in Michigan that takes the radioactive waste below 50 picocuries. Gee, wonder which one is cheapest for the oil/gas industry.
Ohio also is considering allowing the “beneficial use” of drill cutting. They say nothing about testing of this toxic, radioactive waste. Save landfill space is their cry. One way Ohio is saving space is by using the drill cuttings as landfill cover. Did Ohio consider that this waste may become airborne? Remember this is Ohio.
Maybe we should require that the multimillionaires of the oil and gas industry live next to the landfills or injection wells that take the drilling waste. Just like during the Roman Empire when an architect built one of the still standing arches they were pretty sure that the arch was safe to walk under because, when they built one, the empire made the Designer/Architect stand under it while they removed the supports after construction.
THE LANDSMAN COMETH
This is a narrative of what happened to two Pennsylvanian dairy farmers told by Bob Scroggins of New Milford, PA. Their plights, as told separately by two women, are woven together as one, each filling in the blanks of the other for a complete picture. We’ll give them the singular name, Barbara. This is her story.
Barbara wasn’t getting any younger. Running the farm this year was more difficult than last year and next year would be harder still. She wanted to somehow retire but how? Then came that knock on the porch door. It was the landsman.
After some small talk, the landsman told me I was walking on money. A mile down was a deposit of natural gas. There is a new way to extract it, he explained, that was minimally invasive. Of course there would be some surface disruption but not much and it would be over quickly. Then the gas would flow and so would the money from royalties.
How much money? A lot of money over the 30-year life expectancy of the well, answered the landsman. It seemed like the answer to my prayers. I could not only retire but could possible become a “shaleionaire.”
The landsman was likable, forthright, and sincere. I trusted him. That was my first mistake. He handed me a two-page contract to sign with assurance that it was in my interest.
I glanced over the small print, then signed it. That was my second mistake. Paragraph 15, had I read it, would have given me pause for thought: “no promise on behalf of either party shall be binding unless agreed to in writing.” In other words, what the landsman said, no matter how misleading or false, had no legal standing.
Several months later I woke up to find 18 trucks idling on my land. Bulldozers leveled a drill pad, and a rig went up not far from my backdoor. I should have counted myself lucky. Paragraph 4 read: “no well may be drilled nearer than 200 feet to any dwelling house.” The rig was 500 feet away.
Then came the fleets of trucks carrying water, sand, chemicals, rig parts, heavy-duty construction equipment, diesel engines, fuel, pumps, exotic machinery. This was a 24/7 operation against which I was a helpless observer.
But paragraph 4 was warning enough: “Lessee shall have the right to construction . . . all facilities to discover, produce, store, treat and/or transport production.” And paragraph 8 gave them the right to “ingress and egress.”
In plain language, the gas company had the right to do whatever it wanted whenever it wanted.
My back pasture became an industrial zone.
Then it got worse.
I noticed that the water in the cow trough stopped freezing on cold nights. This affected the cows as well as the marketability of their milk. My tap water turned milky white, then became gelatinous, the faucets sputtered with methane. It was undrinkable.
The gas company agreed to provide water provided I sign a non-disclosure agreement. I didn’t sign. I wanted people to know what was going on.
My royalty check for the first month of production was $1,400. I calculated that based on the volume of gas extracted it should have been more. But that was because I didn’t read paragraph 3: “the amount realized from the sale of gas less all costs of post-production expenses.”
The landsman’s 30-year well production prediction turned out to be two years after which it twindled to 20 percent along with the royalties. My last check was for $70.
The market value of my farm fell 85 percent. My health suffers from the contaminated water I am forced to use for brief showers. The fumes, constant noise from traffic and flaring, and glaring floodlights at night all take their toll.
There is also the anxiety caused by the possibility of the gas company filing a mechanic’s lien. This is a claim on my property incurred by unpaid subcontractors to the gas company.
And if things get a little too sticky for the gas company, there’s paragraph 10: “the lessee shall have the right to surrender this lease after which all payments and liabilities cease.” But the lease denies me the right to opt-out. That, as I found out, is in paragraph 9.
New Milford, PA
Two studies, from completely different states were recently released concluding the same thing. Both said there was no cause for alarm. Their findings . . . every elevated health abnormality was more likely due to something other than the chemicals in the environment. Poof the words on the paper report deflected the problems. Yet that is not what the studies honestly found.
Enough already . . . real people, with real families need honest answers. However, when there is a question or a real statistical finding of an abnormality the health authorities, as to not upset the corporate polluters or their friends in government, assumption that it’s more likely be a meteor, like recently seen in Russia, than due to chemical exposures in the air or soil. O.K. maybe not the meteor but the answers are just as foolish. The cause for high disease is almost never related to the obvious, 500 pound toxic elephant in the room, nor do the recommendations falls on the side of precaution and cleaning up the environment.
In North Birmingham a recent study around soil and air contamination suggested that the levels of chemicals would not be harmful to health unless you had pica children. Pica children are young and frequently because of age put hands and other things into their mouths. O.K. but the soils samples came from an elementary school grounds, just the place you would find pica children. Just wash their hands and teach them not to place their fingers in the mouth. Poof deflected. It’s the children’s fault and parents for not training the children well enough to keep their hands away from their mouths.
The second study came from New York. The NY State Department of Health undertook a study in Tonawanda where air contamination from multiple industries have been an on-going problem. They found high rates of cancer and birth defects. The study found cases of bladder cancer in the area were 24 percent higher for men and 81 percent higher for woman compared to the rest of New York State, excluding New York City. And women living in the neighborhood had 93 percent more leukemia cases than the rest of the state. Lastly, they found 30 percent more birth defects than the rest of New York State.
The analyses of birth outcomes in the study area compared to birth outcomes in NYS showed some elevations that were relatively smaller than the cancer elevations. Preterm births were elevated in the overall study area. Total heart defects as a group were also elevated, but major heart defects were not elevated.
Then poof the results went away! How? Doctors are better at reporting in the region then in other regions of the state. The report said, “the health investigators compared the birth outcomes in the study area to birth outcomes in Erie and Niagara Counties, the elevations declined substantially. This is consistent with other evidence suggesting this area has more complete reporting than elsewhere in the state.” Poof deflected.
Cancer results the health department said, “factors include smoking, family history, and occupational exposures, as well as others. In the general population, smoking is the most important risk factor for both lung and bladder cancer. We do not know the individual medical and exposure histories for the people included in this study.” Deflected again. So because the victims themselves could have cause the problem and we don’t know if they did the default is, these are sad people who are likely making themselves sick.
If only families living in contaminated areas could create that same magic and poof make the toxic, cancer causing and birth disrupting chemicals go away. Or pretend that contamination in school property will somehow not hurt young children even though the entire property, building and play area is intended for small children.
I walk with these parents, sit in their living rooms and listen as they try and struggle with the pain of their sick loved one and the disappointment they have for those who are supposed to protect and defend American families from criminals and their poisons.
It is hard to respond when parents, women ask over and over again, “why?” It’s not right when can’t smoke in buildings and restaurants (a very good law) but industries can just violate the law, poison people and government covers up the problems just as the tobacco industry did for decades. I never thought I’d see the day when the American people through our tax dollars hired scientists that mirror those that our elected leaders despised-tobacco scientists.
The message to all those fighting for justice and hoping that science may provide some evidence, it won’t – not because it can’t but because our scientists lack the back bone. Our struggles, although should be won on science alone, are clearly political fights and these two studies are just more proof.
THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH COMMISIONER DR. SHAW SAYS HE NEEDS MORE TIME TO COMPLETE HEALTH REVIEW FORCING THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION TO MISS KEY DEADLINE In an incredible victory for Mountainkeeper and activists across New York State – Dr. Shaw, the State Department of Health Commissioner sent a letter to Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens stating:
“As we have been reviewing the scope of these studies, I have determined — and prudence dictates — that the DOH Public Health Review will require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues. My team and I will be in Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days for first-hand briefings on these studies and their progress, which will assist in informing the New York review. I have also extended the term of the DOH outside expert researchers to continue to assist my review. I anticipate delivering the completed Public Health Review to you within a few weeks, along with my recommendations.”
Ohio EPA documents indicate workers with Hardrock dumped brine into the storm sewers on Lupo’s direction. The material was dumped from a Hardrock tanker, according to reports. Read more.