“We know that our continued reliance on dirty, dangerous fossil fuels, like natural gas, will not solve the climate crisis, even with the best controls in place,” said Deb Nardone, a Sierra Club campaign director, who called the new plan “akin to slapping a Band-Aid on a gaping wound.” Read more.
A Cold Wednesday in March Demonstrated the reach CHEJ has and how much is really accomplished.
A Cold, Windy and Snowy Day Did Not Stop Us.
Wednesday March 6th a storm was brewing across the Midwest and Northeast. Despite the snow and travel warnings CHEJ’s leaders moved forward. Here is what happened on that cold, windy and snowy Wednesday in March.
A day in the life of CHEJ
As I juggle calls from activists across the state of Ohio working on fracking, deep well injection, air pollution, cancer clusters and more I’m freezing outside at and anti injection well rally at the state capital. Cold and tired watching e-mails cross my phone from CHEJ’s home office I realize how much CHEJ does in a day to move the country toward a safe, healthy and justice place for American families.
While I’m in Columbus, Ohio participating with my neighbors and friends to speak out about fracking waste disposal. Even with the nasty weather, over 125 people gather at the state house to ask legislators to stop accepting out-of-state fracking wastes. Ohio now has over 200 injection wells and last year accepted 581,559,594 gallons (that’s right over 581 million gallons) of fracking wastes.
My co-worker is working on greening the market place organized a shareholder action in Arizona around Disney’s use of poison plastic in toys and other children’s products. This morning a shareholder action was held in Phoenix, Arizona. Leaders handed out informational packets to Disney shareholders to ask them to stop using PVC the poison plastic in their toys. Many shareholders had no idea that toys were being made in a way that could harm young children.
Commemorating 35th Anniversary of Love Canal
In New York City
That same evening a celebration and fundraiser was held in New York City with our Executive Director Lois Gibbs. This was our first event of several, commemorations of Love Canal events 35 years ago were underway. Chevy and Jayni Chase joined us as our special guest along with 67 others who braved the weather to celebrate with us that evening. CHEJ surpassed our fundraising goal at the event and launched the Leadership Training Academy. Great time was had by all with great food, drinks, conversations with colleagues and a preview of the new documentary A Fierce Green Fire, The Battle for A Living Planet.
A coalition of environmental and community groups is asking the federal government to consider suspending Ohio’s authority to oversee deep injection of chemically-laced wastewater from oil and gas drilling.
The Center for Health, Environment & Justice and other groups planned to ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday to investigate and audit Ohio’s regulatory program of deep injection wells, operated by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
The call follows February indictments of a northeast Ohio businessman and his employee charging they illegally dumped oil and gas wastes. The two pleaded not guilty Friday.
A series of earthquakes around Youngstown had prompted an effective moratorium on new injection wells in early 2012. The state resumed issuing injection permits in November after imposing new testing, reporting and tracking requirements.
This blog posted by Elisabeth Hoffman is worth sharing especially as activist try to move the state of Maryland to place a moratorium on fracking until studies are conducted that prove fracking is safe. I thought I’d post this instead because it moving.
So, we are taking stock. On the downside: The fracking moratorium legislation for Maryland fell one vote short of getting out of its Senate committee during this General Assembly session.
On the plus side: The Senate committee at least voted. And the vote was sooo close.
And, we are not going away. Or giving up.
That was the message from more than 100 concerned Marylanders at yesterday’s rally in front of the State House in Annapolis. In the pointed words of Mike Tidwell, Chesapeake Climate Action Network’s director, we told legislators: You had better “get to work” to protect communities, the environment and the climate from fracking.
The rally, organized by CCAN, included parents and grandparents, college and high school students and teachers (including a group from Glenelg Country School in Howard County), a couple of babies in backpacks and strollers, nurses and other activists, and Western Maryland residents who live in areas that would be drilled or where natural gas compressor stations are planned.
One of the biggest lessons of the day, though, came from Lois Gibbs, who organized her Love Canal neighbors in the late 1970s when toxic waste buried under their homes and schools started making people sick.
To the crowd at the rally, Gibbs said: “We did not win because we were right. Although we were right. We did not win because we were sick. Although we were sick. We did not win because we had legal rights. Although we had some rights. . . . We won because of people like you.” Science alone is not enough, she said. These will be political battles.
Toxic waste buried in the soil under Love Canal wasn’t supposed to move. But it did, and so will the fracking fluid, she said. “Do not go down this road with blinders on,” Gibbs said.
In Love Canal, 56 percent of children were born with birth defects, Gibbs said. They had extra fingers and toes, for example, or mental retardation, she said.
All the assurances from the natural gas industry that the fracking fluid will never cross into the water table are “hogwash,” she said. As executive director of the Center for Health, Environment &Justice, Gibbs said she has traveled to communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado and Wyoming where drilling is happening. She has seen mothers who can’t bathe their children in the tap water and neighbors who have to raise money to bring public water lines to houses. While the industry makes millions.
“Fracking will kill the environment,” she said. More studies are needed, she said, “so that you don’t end up like the families at Love Canal.”
Also urging the crowd to press on was Garrett County resident Eric Robison, the owner of Eagle Rock Construction and a co-founder of CitizenShale. He said he was heartened by the size of the crowd because three years ago he and just a few others were sitting around a table trying to figure out what to do about the fracking wave headed for their community.
Image Eric Robison of CitizenShale says the governor’s temporary executive order and funding are insufficient. He said the state needs a legislative moratorium to have time to finish the studies called for in Gov. Martin O’Malley’s 2011 executive order. Although O’Malley has included $1.5 million in the next budget for the studies, he said, Environment Secretary Robert Summers has said neither the time nor the money is likely to be sufficient to complete the studies by the time the governor’s executive order expires in 2014.
After the rally, Robison, who is a contractor, said part of the reason he entered this fray is because he works with concrete daily. And concrete fails. Sometimes right away, sometimes years down the road. But it always fails. In fracking, a concrete casing forms the protective barrier between water aquifers and the steel casing that carries the hazardous fracking fluid.
Matia Vanderbilt, also a co-founder of CitizenShale, spoke at the rally a little more than a week after returning from the Frack Attack National Summit in Texas. “We are a piece of the puzzle,” she said, and must demand that legislators “put Marylanders first.”
The legislature “dropped the ball” this year, she said, but the defeat is a “small setback” and we can’t give up. Once the executive order expires, “we are completely vulnerable.”
Vanderbilt, who has lived in Western Maryland for 30 years, said she and others from Garrett County are fighting to protect water, children, farms and businesses. She talked about kayaking, swimming and hiking in the region and encouraged everyone to visit.
“When you come [to Garrett County], you will see why we fight,” she said. Next up: Environment Maryland, Food & Water Watch, CCAN and other groups are co-sponsoring a panel in Annapolis of landowners, farmers and others living with fracking in Pennsylvania. The event is Monday, March 18, at the House of Delegates building, Room 318, starting at 6 p.m. Speakers include: Rep. Jesse White (D), Pennsylvania House of Representatives, 46th District, (invited); Ralph Kisberg, president of Responsible Drilling Alliance, Williamsport, Pa., Margaret Henry, pig farmer from Lawrence County, Pa., and David Headley, landowner with drilling wells on his property in Smithfield, Pa.
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