Fracking-PA

petition sign

The Easy Way — NOT Most Effective Way

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Sign a petition or write a letter? It is true that many signatures on a petition is meaningful but such petitions also has its limits. Legislators look at the petition signatures and note the number but essentially ignore what activists see as their “powerful voice” they intended the petition to represent.

It’s a case of “the easiest way is also not the most effective.” Clicking on to a form letter ends up to be not only a very soft message to the targeted audience. Moreover, the person signing thinks that they have done their good deed of the day and takes no further action. For example, last year, almost 4,000 comments were submitted to a legislator in Pennsylvania and 95% of them were rejected as “form letters.” That doesn’t mean they didn’t represent some level of people’s voices but were not as meaningful.

When you look at what citizens did in NC around fracking regulations, where they worked to get specific comments from people who may have use a model predefined set of issues, but many comments were personalized, you get a very different story. According to an article in the NC paper News Observer the N.C. Mining and Energy Commission is plowing through a mountain of public comments on its proposed fracking standards with less than a month left to fine-tune the safety rules for shale gas drilling. State officials estimate that more than 100,000 comments flooded in by the Sept. 30 deadline and the finally tally could approach 200,000.

The number of submission was so large that the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials are not sure they have sufficient memory space on the agency’s hard drives to post the comments online for public view. DENR have assigned at least eight extra staffers, including from Gov. Pat McCrory’s office, to sort through public remarks and enter them into a database.

That action made a difference at a very high level. However the people power could have been even stronger if everyone said a little more than “don’t frack.” According to the commissioner, “about half of the comments are repetitive ‘don’t frack’ and they don’t really count, if you know what I mean.”

This was successful with the chairman of the commission saying, there is no question that we will recommend some adjustment to the rules, how much is not clear. It was the volume and the individual comments not just signing on to a model set of comments that made the difference and has moved the needle. So think about giving people talking points to actually submit individual comments that are not all exactly the same and you may see the difference, next time you want to move a person with authority or regulations. Some people will only act with a sign-on but encouraging one more step, making that step as easy as possible could increase your power. No one ever said that activism was easy, but it’s not all that hard either.

As the Global Frackdown draws near, actions are taking place on every continent, including Antarctica!

3 Days Until the Global Frackdown!

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Image from Food and Water Watch


As the Global Frackdown draws near, actions are taking place on every continent – even Antarctica, as shown in the picture above!

One of the powerful things about the Global Frackdown is how it links together campaigns happening across the world and the images that we are able to share with each other and the world is a big part of that. Food & Water Watch will be working to put together an album of high quality images from actions across the world to share. To include photos from you actions, please email photos to photos@fwwatch.org (we won’t be able to include them all, but we’ll do the best we can!) Also – remember to join the Global Frackdown main facebook event page and invite your networks. It is also a good place to post photos: https://www.facebook.com/events/1578033332337030/

Get down with the #GlobalFrackdown this Saturday and join the movement to #BanFracking in your community! http://fwwat.ch/1rFSmIC

Mahoning River Tributary

Citizen Groups Urge W.Va. Governor to Rethink Oil and Gas Drilling Under Ohio River

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Yesterday, citizen groups on both sides of the Ohio River sent a letter to W.Va. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, requesting that he withdraw a proposal that would allow drilling for natural gas under the Ohio River. They also requested a meeting with the governor.

In late August, the groups alerted one another to a disturbing legal notice in area newspapers: Until September 25, the W.Va. Department of Commerce, Division of Natural Resources is taking bids that will allow the successful bidder to drill for Marcellus- and Utica-shale-derived natural gas beneath the Ohio River in Pleasants, Marshall and Wetzel counties.

Although a news report quotes W.Va. Governor Early Ray Tomblin as saying, “The proposed development is in the best economic interests of the state and will not unreasonably disrupt use and enjoyment of the Ohio River or the division’s opportunities to develop other mineral interests in the area,” the citizen groups are highly skeptical of the wisdom of drilling under the Ohio River.

“The 981 miles of the Ohio River provide drinking water to more than five million people. Ten percent of the country lives in the Ohio River Basin. Considering the multiple dire water situations we are seeing nationwide — such as drought out west, coal-chemical contamination of 300,000 people’s water supply in West Virginia, drinking water at peril from fracking waste around the country — we should be doing everything possible to safeguard our water. Drilling under the Ohio River is a huge risk,” says Roxanna Groff of the Athens County Fracking Action Network.

Groff’s group and several others recently successfully worked together to convince the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to extend the comment period on a fracking waste barge dock permit proposed for Portland, Meigs County, Ohio.

In coming together to question this latest threat to the Ohio River, the groups point out that since 2005, according to federal law (42 U.S. Code § 15941), “No Federal or State permit or lease shall be issued for new oil and gas slant, directional, or offshore drilling in or under one or more of the Great Lakes.”

“There are protections for the water in Lake Erie needed for drinking water in the northern part of the state — why not the same protections for the water in the southern?” says FreshWater Accountability Project Managing Director Leatra Harper.

“One state’s governor shouldn’t be able to sell off drilling rights at the peril of the millions who depend on the Ohio River for drinking water,” says Mary Greer of Concerned Citizens Ohio, based in Portage County.

“Fracking related activities have been causing earthquakes and there’s a fault line running under the Ohio River,” says Teresa Mills with the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. (See http://www2.ohiodnr.com/portals/geosurvey/ohioseis/images/faultbig.gif.)

“We’ve heard before that some outrageous plan is ‘safe’ when it wasn’t. There needs to be a comprehensive environmental study done before drilling under the Ohio River is even considered,” says Patricia Jacobson with FaCT-OV.

“How can one division of state government rush into such an enterprise without consulting the people of West Virginia, or indeed anyone living in any downstream state, as well as the federal government? How can it be in the best economic interests of a state to jeopardize a major source of drinking water for millions of people?” says Robin Blakeman of the Huntington, W.Va.-based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

In reporting on the proposal, the website FrackCheckWV.net wrote, “Drilling and fracking above or near the Ohio River will result in hundreds of acres of disturbed land, toxic chemical leaks, increased water pollution run-off and contaminated storm water, as well as significant air pollution from diesel trucks, pumps and/or compressors, gas leaks and flares. The chances of fires, explosions, fish kills, worker injuries, and public health exposures are very real.”

The Department of Commerce will hold a public opening of all bids on Friday, September 26, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 525, 1900 Kanawha Boulevard East, State Capitol Complex, Building 6, Charleston, W.Va.

Groups signing the letter: Athens County (OH) Fracking Action Network, Concerned Citizens Ohio, CHEJ, FaCT-OV, Fresh Water Accountability Project, OVEC, Southwest Ohio No Frack Forum, Wetzel County (W.Va.) Action Group and the WV Chapter of the Sierra Club.

benzene exposure site

Benzene Exposure Can Exceed Workplace Standards Fracking Sites

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Findings suggest that benzene exposure can exceed the NIOSH REL and STEL and present an occupational exposure risk during certain flowback work activities. Based on these preliminary studies, primary point sources of worker exposures to hydrocarbon vapor emissions are opening thief hatches and gauging tanks; additional exposures may occur due to fugitive emissions from equipment in other areas in the flowback process (e.g., chokes, separators, piping, and valves), particularly while performing maintenance on these items. The NIOSH research found that airborne concentrations of hydrocarbons, in general, and benzene, specifically, varied considerably during flowback and can be unpredictable, indicating that a conservative approach to protecting workers from exposure is warranted. Hydrocarbon emissions during flowback operations also showed the potential to generate flammable and explosive concentrations depending on time and where measurements were made, and the volume of hydrocarbon emissions produced. Read more.

coal train

Oregon Rejects Proposed Export Terminal

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Oregon has rejected Ambre Energy’s plan for barging coal down the Columbia River to be exported to China, the fourth Northwest shipment terminal project to bite the dust.

The denial of a dock permit by the Oregon Department of State Lands leaves just two proposals on the table, the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham, and the Millennium Terminal at Longview on the Columbia River.  Read more.

cove point victory

Md. Court Ruling Likely to Delay Cove Point LNG Export

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“For months, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network and our partners have been warning that corporate leaders and elected officials were cutting dangerous corners in the permitting process for the proposed fracked gas export facility at Cove Point in southern Maryland. Thankfully this week a Calvert County circuit court judge agreed with a big part of our argument. Judge James Salmon ruled with the AMP Creeks Council that Calvert County commissioners had illegally exempted mega-company Dominion Resources from a host of local zoning ordinances.

“At a minimum, this ruling will likely cause real delay in the ability of Dominion to begin major construction of this controversial $3.8 billion fossil fuel project. The ruling should certainly give pause to the Wall Street investors that Dominion is seeking to recruit to finance this expensive, risky project. As fracked-gas exports grow increasingly controversial nationwide, we believe the court ruling in Calvert County this week is just the opening step in exposing the truth about this unsafe, climate-harming, and economy-damaging facility.

“On behalf of CCAN’s supporters and concerned citizens nationwide, we congratulate the attorneys at the AMP Creeks Council in southern Maryland for their extraordinary—and now successful—legal work in this case.”

Contact: Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org

Diana Dascalu-Joffe, 240-396-1984, diana@chesapeakeclimate.org

fracking general

Government Fails, Public Health Suffers & Indistry Profits

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In an unprecedented investigation of oil and gas operations and government oversight in Texas’s Eagle Ford Shale, Earthworks reports a toxic mix of irresponsible industry operators and negligent regulators, and the families who suffer the consequences - Read report here.
http://www.earthworksaction.org/library/detail/reckless_endangerment_in_the_eagle_ford_shale#.U-OjSqP-J8F

fracking-linked-water-contamination-federal-agency_1

Germany Wants To Ban Fracking

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Germany is seeking a ban on shale gas and oil drilling over the next seven years because of worries that the practice could pollute drinking water and damage the environment. Read full story.

Ohio Fracking Protest

Groups Demand Ohio Injection Well Be Closed

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Concerned Citizens Ohio and CHEJ contend that the Kovach injection well in Shalersville Township, OH has improperly received wastes for years to be injected into rock formations underground. The groups are asking the U.S. EPA to issue an immediate order to stop further injection. and filed a complaint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency against an injection well in northern Portage County for allegedly accepting millions of gallons of drilling wastes improperly. Read more here.

covepoint-ferc-slide

Obama Stop Exporting Our Energy

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Some people support fracking for the issue around jobs while others are totally opposed. I’m not going to talk about that debate but rather about the larger issue that gets lost in the overarching debates. One “talking point” that consistently resonates with the American people is they want to be energy independent. The public buys into this position put out by the fracking industry. Yet it’s a lie because you can’t have energy independence if you are exporting the resources. The fact is that the U.S. economy, in order to grow, must have an abundance of low cost energy. To keep our energy prices low it makes no sense for President Obama to approve export terminals for natural gas.

If we allow our resources to be exported overseas to other foreign markets then our domestic costs of gas will increase, there is no debate over that, and instead of attracting new industry both our jobs and economic opportunity will continue to move out of this country. In the Asian market the worker costs are low because they don’t pay a living wage or offer benefits to workers in many of the countries that U.S. gas will be sold. However, their energy costs are high.

If we stop the export of our gas to other nations America might be in a better position to attract new industries or at a minimum keep and expand the industries we have. Exporting is a foolish idea that provides the opportunity for corporations who are selling the gas to make huge profits while keeping America in a less competitive edge. Why does this make any sense to our leaders in Washington?

CHEJ has been very supportive of groups working to prevent fracking harms. Additionally, we have supported the efforts of groups like Chesapeake Climate Action Network who are fighting the export terminal in Maryland. At this time that terminal has received a delay while the Environmental Protection Agency, one of the departments that contributes to assessments of LNG projects, asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a 30-day extension to conduct a review of Dominion Resources Inc’s Cove Point liquefaction project. The additional time “will allow the agency to compile comments from its regional associate internal reviewers and the required need for EPA headquarters’ review,” the EPA said in a June 3rd letter to FERC.

It is time that Americans stand up and speak out louder to the administration about jobs. We want our low costs energy to stay in America to create the economic incentive to attract new industry and to keep and expand our existing industries. Our men and women have fought too many wars over oil and energy let’s to do what the gas industry is saying in their propaganda making America Energy Independent by keeping our gas in America. There is no way we can achieve energy independence when we ship our energy resources out of the country. So get involved and tell the White House no to export, whether you are opposed to fracking or supporting fracking we can likely agree that shipping our energy resources overseas is a bad idea.