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My borrowed wish list for the coming year

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Years ago I found this wish list on One Green Generation webpage.  I saved the list and look at it each year and ask myself, have I made a difference and can I do more?

My Wishes For Change In The New Year:

1. There are wars raging around the world. Palestinians and Israelis are escalating their fight. India and Pakistan are at each other’s throats. All over Africa people are dying from AIDS and other diseases, genocide, war and persecution. There are many severe worldwide human atrocities, and they must change. I can’t fix them on my own. But I can make a difference. And I will.

2. Climate change is the biggest and most everlasting crisis of my time. Entire species are dying in great numbers, impoverished people around the world will be devastated more than they are already, soon this amazingly beautiful and unique planet will become much more chaotic and brutal. So we must significantly alter our personal, political, and corporate lifestyles – because they are not sustainable. This issue is not something to be overwhelmed by, because it is far too imminent to do nothing. We must do all we can to stop the planet from warming. Because we can never go back, and right now we’re losing precious time.

3. There are many root causes of these issues, and I can help change them. Wars happen for a number of reasons, including desperation, deprivation, power, lack of compassion, greed, poverty, a finite energy supply, and naivete or lack of awareness. I will do everything that I can. For instance: I can help spread awareness and provoke action, I can encourage compassion, and I can support people, businesses and NGOs who work toward sustainable energy, redistribute wealth and health and power, and help generate kindness and compassion.

4. On a more personal level, I need to be able to support my family while my husband goes to school in the fall. So the pressure is on me in the next few months to find a way to make money while fostering change. What I find may not be exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life, but it will be a big step in the right direction. Full speed ahead toward finding sustainable work that sustains the world!

5. Of course there are smaller things, too. For instance, I will work to: Spend more quality time with my family, become more compassionate and live more sustainably myself, manage time more efficiently, and learn more about issues and ideas that I want to understand deeply.

It’s time to take myself out of denial, away from the paralysis of thinking that these things are beyond my reach, and that I can’t possibly change the world. I can and I must. Not alone, but with others, I can make a difference. And I will. Now is the time.

Throughout the year I will consult this list. I will work toward each of these wishes, sometimes with big steps and sometimes with baby steps, but always working toward them. In this way I will solve a little bit of the world’s problems this year.

Next year, I will solve a little bit more.

Written by Melinda Briana Epler

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These two states had the same basic information about fracking. They made very different decisions

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By Chris Mooney December 22

Workers tap into Marcellus natural gas at an active Hydraulic Fracturing drilling operation outside of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania operated by Shell. (Photo by Brett Carlsen for The Washington Post)

Last week, New York Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo banned the practice in his state of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” — blasting chemical laden water deep beneath the Earth at extreme pressures in order to crack rock and release natural gas. The move followed a report from the New York Department of Health, finding “significant uncertainties about the kinds of adverse health outcomes” that may be associated with the technology. It found the science on this question was uncertain but worrisome, and that was enough to put on the brakes.

Yet just a month ago, outgoing Maryland Democratic governor Martin O’Malley decided to let fracking go forward in the western part of his state. This, in turn, was based on a report from Maryland’s departments of Environment and Natural Resources, which concluded that with adequate regulation,”the risks of Marcellus Shale development can be managed to an acceptable level.”

So what’s going on here? How can two states comprehensively assess the risks of hydraulic fracturing and then decide on very divergent policies?

Certainly, it’s not that they were looking at radically different science. The reports came out within a month of one another, and given that these are professional state scientific agencies, they probably didn’t miss much of significance to their assessments. And indeed, both reports acknowledge that there are risks from fracking, due to the potential for both water and air contamination — although there is a great deal that we still don’t know about the magnitude of these risks, or the long term effects.

So if the science didn’t divide Maryland and New York, what did? Here are four factors:

The politics. First and most obviously, it is hard not to note that Maryland governor Martin O’Malley is on the way out, to be replaced by a strongly pro-fracking Republican, Larry Hogan. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on the other hand,was just reelected, which surely made his decision easier. So a ban on fracking in Maryland would, in all likelihood, have been a top priority for the state’s new governor to reverse. In New York, the political context is totally different.

Which agency did the report. In Maryland, the Environment and Natural Resources departments did the study, whereas in New York it was the Department of Health, observes Stanford’s Rob Jackson, who has published a number of influential studies on the link between fracking and groundwater contamination. “It’s not surprising that a health department would frame the issue differently — and reach a different conclusion,” said Jackson. Environment and natural resources departments are more likely to balance health and environmental risks against economic promise — but health departments primarily worry about protecting people.

Indeed, Kate Sinding of the Natural Resources Defense Council, which just released a report of its own on the health risks associated with air emissions from fracking-enhanced drilling, points out that Maryland also did a health-focused report of its own. It was conducted by the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health at the University of Maryland, College Park, on behalf of the state. And that report found that in eight separate areas where fracking could have public health effects, the risks were “high” in four of them, “moderately high” in three, and “low” in only one area (earthquakes): “If you actually look at what the health professionals were saying in the two states, they’re pretty aligned,” says Sinding.

The broader and final Maryland report acknowledged these risks, but nonetheless concluded that “best practices and rigorous monitoring, inspection and enforcement can manage and reduce the risks.”

The amount of land at stake. Let’s face it: Maryland also has less at stake, overall, than New York does, simply because a much smaller area is on the table for drilling and fracking. “The thing is, Maryland has a tiny bit of land in play, where New York has a huge amount of the Marcellus and Utica. So, there is a very big difference in scale,” says Alan Krupnick of Resources for the Future.

A simple look at a map proves the point — we’re only talking about a slice of western Maryland, wedged between West Virginia and Pennsylvania, that’s promising for drilling. Here’s a map from the U.S. Geological Survey of the extent of the Utica Shale (maps of the Marcellus Shale lead to a similar conclusion):

This means the benefits, but also the risks, from fracking loom considerably larger in New York. If ten years from now, more science is in and the health risks look even more severe than they do now, there could be many more people at risk in New York.

The precautionary principle. The starkest difference, though, may be that unlike Maryland’s research, the New York health report pretty clearly hews to an approach known as the “precautionary principle,” which suggests that in the face of inadequate scientific information about risks, it is wise to pause and wait for more data, rather than allow potential harm to occur. The precautionary principle was on full display in a statement by acting New York health department commissioner Howard Zucker, who remarked,

I have considered all of the data and find significant questions and risks to public health which as of yet are unanswered. I think it would be reckless to proceed in New York until more authoritative research is done. I asked myself, ‘would I let my family live in a community with fracking?’ The answer is no. I therefore cannot recommend anyone else’s family to live in such a community either.

It is important to recognize that the precautionary principle is not a purely scientific position — nor is it an anti-scientific one. Rather, it represents a risk-aversive orientation towards scientific uncertainty — a conscious decision that unknown risks are too serious to ignore.

That’s why criticisms of New York’s move on “scientific grounds” don’t make much sense. For instance, one blog post at the pro-fracking site Energy in Depth sought to individually critique some of the health-related studies that fed into the New York report. But that’s kind of missing the point: These studies don’t need to be the unassailable “truth” in order for New York to justify its precautionary position. Rather, the state simply needs to be able to point to a body of evidence that, on the whole, raises concern.

Granted, if you were to act in a highly precautionary fashion towards every imaginable risk, nothing would ever happen in the world. A reasonable articulation of the precautionary principle, in contrast, is one in which risks must at least be plausible before they prevent an action — like drilling and fracking — that also has clear economic and other benefits. In this case, though, the risks are plausible, although highly uncertain, notes Stanford’s Rob Jackson. “I do think there’s enough information on the air side and the water side at least to be concerned,” he says — though he emphasizes that there is a great need for longer term health studies, with much larger pools of research subjects.

What all this shows is that these two decisions on fracking, while draped in scientific language, were — in fact — probably not really scientific decisions at all.

Chris Mooney reports on science and the environment.

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NEW YORK STATE BANS FRACKING

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The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.  Read more here.

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Stop Poisoning The Children

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When will we stop poisoning our children?  What is a child’s life worth? I can’t help but ask those questions today as I click through my e-mail box and see the story on fracking related health effects, around birth defects and infertility and another on cancer, respiratory disease and more. As I scroll down there’s a new story by the Center for Public Integrity focused on a study finding childhood leukemia related to the petrochemical industry.

“Children, developing fetuses, they’re especially vulnerable to environmental factors,” says Ellen Webb, the study’s lead author and an energy program associate at the Center for Environmental Health. “We really need to be concerned about the impacts for these future generations.”

The Center for Public Integrity story is almost a mirror image of the story about Woburn,  Massachusetts. Parents in that community in the late 1970’s discovered a cluster of childhood leukemia while taking their children into the hospital for treatment. For those who are familiar with the Woburn story just read the paragraphs below for the article and see the similarities.

“It was December 29, 1998, six years after Jill McElheney and her family had moved next to a cluster of 12 petroleum storage tanks. Jill was escorting her son Jarrett, then 4, to the doctor again. He had spent the day slumped in a stroller, looking so pale and fatigued that a stranger stopped her to ask if he was all right.

It was an encounter Jill couldn’t shake. For the previous three months, she had noticed her once-energetic preschooler deteriorating. He complained of pain in his knee, which grew excruciating. It migrated to his shoulder and then his leg. His shins swelled, as did his temples. At night, Jarrett awoke drenched in sweat, screaming from spasms. Jill took him to a pediatrician and an infectious-disease specialist. A rheumatologist diagnosed him with anemia.

Doctors identified a common form of childhood leukemia. “I heard the words,” Jill recalled, “and I only knew the bald heads and the sadness.”

In the waiting room, family members heard more unsettling news: A neighbor’s child also had developed leukemia.

Days later, Jarrett’s doctor penned a letter to federal environmental regulators about the two cancer patients, highlighting their “close proximity” to Southeast Terminals, a group of 10,000-gallon tanks containing gasoline, diesel and fuel oil.

“Could you please investigate,” the doctor wrote, “whether high levels of chemicals could have contaminated the water, possibly contributing … to the development of leukemia?”

I can remember like it was yesterday, talking with mothers from Woburn literally telling the same story. Why are corporations allowed, now over thirty five years later, to continue to poison our children? These children have parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, names and personalities. They are not just numbers in a report or statistics in someone’s research they are little people and are helpless. It is well past time to stop this madness and protect the most vulnerable among us. Enough is enough our children matter.

Sandra

Sandra Free To Stop The Fracking

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Sandra Steingraber was released from a New York jail shortly after midnight on Wednesday after serving 15 days for blockading the gates to a natural-gas storage facility. Read more.

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County Fracking Ban has Statewide Implications in California

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A San Benito County Fracking Ban Initiative ballot question was on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in San Benito County, California. It was approved.

This measure was designed to prohibit hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, and related gas and oil extraction activities, as well as other “high-intensity petroleum operations,” including acid well stimulation and cyclic steam injection. It also banned any new gas or oil drilling activity – even conventional, low-intensity activity – in areas of the county zoned for residential or rural land use.[1][2]

This initiative was started by the group called San Benito Rising, which needed to collect 1,642 valid signatures to get its initiative on the ballot. On April 22, 2014, San Benito Rising turned in over 4,000 signatures to the county elections office for certification. On May 6, 2014, the city council voted to put the proposed measure on the November ballot.[1][3]

In June of 2014, San Benito Rising was joined by a number of community endorsers to form the new Coalition to Protect San Benito to campaign in favor of the initiative. Andrew Hsia-Coron, an organizer with the Coalition to Protect San Benito, said, “We’re sitting here on this giant deposit of Monterey Shale, so we’re trying to stop it before oil companies even get started and invest in infrastructure.”

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Those who say it cannot be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it.

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Calvin Tillman, Mayor Emeritus, Town of DISH, TX wrote this note after a major win in Texas against the gas industry. I felt his words deserved to be heard beyond my and others in his networks in box. Thank you Mayor Tillman for your dedication to the people you served.

On November 4, 2014, there was a historical vote in Denton, TX, which of course was when the residents voted to ban hydraulic fracturing within the corporate limits of the city. This is a bit shocking considering the political make up of this area and the amount of funding that the industry sunk into defeating this measure. Another interesting thing is the margin of victory for this measure, for all the money that was sunk into this election by the industry, they were not even close to victory. What is also shocking is that candidate races in the area still went heavily to republicans. In the Texas State Representative race for House District 64 which encompasses Denton, the republican Myra Crownover easily won with 64 percent of the vote. So is clear that a large number of republicans supported this ban.

Many years ago, during a meeting with the industry, I voiced my displeasure with the manner in which they did business and told them that if they continued down this path, that no one would want this industry doing business near them. I hate to so I told you so, but I did. Now the question is will they ever learn, and the initial response is “no”, they will never learn. After getting their tails kicked pretty badly in an election where they had all of the advantages, they chose not to change their business practices, and truly try to be the good neighbors they say they are on TV, but they filed a lawsuit. This makes it clear that they’re never going to try and be a good neighbor. Instead of running to make amends for their wrong doings, they try force their way into the neighborhoods, continuing to be bad actors.

At least in places like Denton, this probably could have all been avoided if this industry had one ounce of compassion for the communities they do business in. However, they chose to violate the wishes of the community, resulting in the ban on a technique that was developed a few miles up the road from here. Denton is also a town that has a large industry presence, with several of these companies having offices and other facilities there. However, when you trample all over people private property rights, kill their property values, and destroy their quality of life, you should expect something like this.

Instead of trying to work with the communities that they were pissing all over, the industry runs to Austin for help. To which the Texas Railroad Commissioners came running with bells on. Unfortunately, the trio better known as the three stooges here in Texas, did nothing more than what the industry did, which was like pouring “gas” on a flame, and made the situation much worse. Did anybody ever give those who were working on the ban any respect for their complaints? No, they all just insulted them even more, accusing them being buddies with Putin, and other false and misleading statements, which of course didn’t work, but again fanned the flames.

I was taught something at young age which was; when you find yourself in a hole…stop digging. However, the oil and gas industry and their supporters must have missed that little piece of common sense. The results are that they gave a couple goofballs $800,000.00, which turned out to be a big waste of money. I know this may be a shock to those in the industry, but after years of misleading and lying to people, nobody trusts you. Therefore, when you give money to someone that lies on your behalf, that makes them paid liars, and even a fool can spot a paid liar.

What is even more damning for the industry is that the paid liars are losing the battle in other areas as well. A total of 4 bans on hydraulic fracturing were passed around the country. And these bans were not implement with millions of dollars from Russian backed environmental groups, but rather by a small group of local citizens. Normal people who have regular jobs, but are tired of seeing their property rights trampled all over by an industry who couldn’t care less. One of my most trusted advisers says “there is a billion dollars beneath our feet and they don’t care who they trample on to get it”. This is truly a case of Goliath being taken down with a slingshot and smooth stone.

Of course, the Texas Railroad Commission is not the only one running to the industry’s aid, the other prostitutes will come running with their aid as well. The Texas Land Office has joined the industry filing a lawsuit. The Texas Land Office mission states: “The Texas General Land Office serves the schoolchildren, veterans, and all people of Texas by preserving their history, protecting their environment, expanding economic opportunity, and maximizing state revenue through innovative administration and prudent stewardship of state lands and resources.” Not sure what makes them think they have dog in this fight, other than the fact that most of the Texas elected officials at the state level fight over the opportunity to pimp themselves out to this industry.

State Representative Phil King, of Texas House District 61, who serves on the Energy Resources Committee, has already committed to introducing legislation that removes a Texas municipality’s right to ban hydraulic fracturing. Of course Representative King, is another who will fight for the opportunity to pimp himself out to the industry, and never look his citizens in the eye while doing it. Texas House District 61 encompasses the Azle, TX area where they have had the rash of earthquakes caused by the fracking waste injection wells. However, Representative King did not show up at the meetings held by the state, and has thus far refused to talk with his citizens about these earthquakes. It must be noted that Representative King has multiple ethics violations and is therefore technically a “crook”. He also refuses to look me in the eye when I testify before the Energy Resources committee; therefore, I take him as a coward. He also refuses to take a stand to protect the property rights of hard working Texans.

It is strange that Representative King would choose to remove local control when on his website he states that “Local control and limited government must be the first resort not the last”. However, it is clear that those positions go out the window when we are talking about the Oil and Gas industry. When it comes to this subject, it appears that the Austin cronies are good with an overbearing state government, which takes away local control from municipalities. It is also clear that the Austin Cronies like Representative King, are more than willing to ignore a valid election, and overturn the will of the people. I guess when you are a prostitute for the oil and gas industry, things like local control and limited government, are just buzzwords.

One thing that is missed in all of this by the industry and their prostitutes is that the people who are affected by all of this have property rights also. Our private property rights start where our property line begins, so why doesn’t the industry consider keeping their noise, odors, bright lights, and hazardous chemicals on their side of the fence? They trespass their crap on our property and expect us to take it. The hardworking, honest Texans who voted for this ban don’t want a noisy, smelly industrial site, 200 feet from the backdoor, and those other than the industry and their cronies understand that fact.

The people of Denton passed an ordinance that would have helped protect people’s private property rights, and the industry ignored their wishes. What exactly did the industry expect? Don’t blame the people of Denton for this ban, blame the industry and the prostitutes who support them. Common sense tells you that you cannot keep ramming this stuff down the throats of the people without consequences. So if you’re in the oil and gas industry or are one of their elected prostitutes, it was you who got yourself into this, not environmental groups funded by Russia, but you. The blame is yours, so take the whipping that you deserve.

Calvin Tillman, Mayor Emeritus, Town of DISH, TX

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Can you support the Activist blockading FERC? Call the Chairman today!

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Last July 13th, thousands of us marched on Federal Energy Regulatory Commision (FERC) to demand they get out of the pockets of the fossil fuel industry. The next day 24 activists blockaded the doors to FERC and were arrested. Today, Hundreds of us are back and blocking the doors to the building. We need your support!

Can you call the Chairman of FERC, Cheryl A LaFleur, at 888-328-2271 and demand they recall and reject the Cove Point gas export facility and all future facilities?

We call on FERC to stop playing a part in climate destruction!. Rubber stamping industry pipelines, compressor stations and export facilities contaminates the air, water, land and climate that support all life on Earth. We demand that FERC recall and reject the proposal to build a dangerous gas export facility at Cove Point and to place a moratorium on approvals of other export facilities.

Please let FERC know that the folks outside are supported by 1,000s more around the country. Call chairman LaFleur at 888-328-2271 right now!

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On The Ballot In Several States Ban Fracking

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Environmental groups and concerned community members have taken to the streets in their fight to stop fracking—an extraction process they say threatens environmental and public health. Read more.

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Fracking’s Toxic Loophole

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Thanks to the “Halliburton Loophole,” hydraulic fracturing companies are injecting chemicals more toxic than diesel.

“Because of a gap in the Safe Drinking Water Act, companies are allowed to inject other petroleum products (beyond diesel) without a permit, and many of these non-diesel drilling fluids contain even higher concentrations of the same toxins found in
diesel,” reads a new report by the Environmental Integrity Project. Read the full report here.