The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group on Mitigation of Climate Change recently released its “Summary for Policy Makers.” Climate, energy and social justice groups* commend the IPCC for clearly acknowledging the close link between economic growth and increased greenhouse gas emissions but warn that the report falls far short on translating this insight into meaningful, holistic and bold pathways to mitigation. They point to the disproportionate influence of economists, engineers and environmental managers, and a dearth of climate scientists, ecologists or other experts from key relevant disciplines in the group.
The groups are particularly concerned that large-scale bioenergy and biofuels, waste incineration, nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) are referred to as “low carbon” in mitigation models, despite concerns raised elsewhere that some of those technologies are risky, unproven and could actually make climate change worse . They are also decry IPCC’s support for increased use of fossil gas over the next few decades  and by their endorsement of failed market mechanisms, including cap and trade .
Tom Kucharz, Ecologistas en Accion asked: “Why did IPCC include natural gas as climate mitigation, despite growing evidence that methane emissions make fracking as bad or worse for the climate even than coal? How can IPCC seriously consider nuclear power to be an acceptable choice even as we are facing the consequences of the Fukushima disaster? And how can they class waste as a climate-friendly fuel for incinerators and cement plants when it results in toxic air emissions and increases overall resource and such energy use? Such claims are indicative of the narrow obsession with carbon accounting that disregards planetary systems and biodiversity, human rights, public health and, even methane emissions in the case of natural gas.”
Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch and Global Forest Coalition further elaborates: “The IPCC’s position on bioenergy is confused: They acknowledge concerns that large-scale bioenergy can increase emissions, destroy livelihoods and damage the environment. Yet they still class it as ‘low-carbon’ and even refer to bioenergy with carbon-capture and storage (BECCS) as a credible means of removing carbon from the atmosphere which they deem essential to meeting stabilization targets.It is a shame they put so much stock in something that would make things worse rather than better.”
Teresa Perez, World Rainforest Movement, adds: “The IPCC lists cap and trade and “Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation” (REDD) amongst potential policy solutions, in spite of the fact there is no convincing evidence at all that either have reduced emissions. Market mechanisms only lead to further privatization and land grabs – and leave our future to the whims of financiers.”
The groups call for a more holistic assessment of real climate change solutions, not more “Business As Usual” economic analyses that imply we should accept a dead planet, or the suffering of millions if it is “more affordable.” Real solutions must actually work. Also they must respect human rights and the rights of nature, protect the planetary systems on which continued human existence depends, put control over energy, food and water in the hand of accountable local stewards, fairly address overconsumption to meet basic needs for all, not just the greed of a wealthy few. Achieving real mitigation requires breaking free from the oppressive pressures of a globalized economy and a deregulation programme that only serves the wealthy corporate elite while sacrificing people and the planet’s ecosystems.
* Supporting groups include Biofuelwatch, Ecologistas en Accion, Econexus, ETC Group, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA), Global Forest Coalition, Global Justice Ecology Project, Rainforest Rescue/Salva la Selva, Sobrevivencia (Friends of the Earth Paraguay), Timberwatch, and World Rainforest Movement
Contacts: Rachel Smolker, Biofuelwatch/Global Forest Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org
Teresa Perez, World Rainforest Movement, (Uruguay), email@example.com
Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch/Global Forest Coalition, firstname.lastname@example.org
The STILL unfolding WV Elk River spill tragedy, including ties of company owner to mining company seeking OH permits
April 7, 2014: “Nearly three months after an industrial chemical spill left 300,000 West Virginia residents without tap water for about a week, researchers have found that the accident continues to affect the water and air quality in the Mountain State.” More…
A summary, updated 2-24-14, with links to the still unfolding Elk River chemical spill, revealed 1-9-14, and associated corporate crimes that date back decades:
2-13-14: Owner of Freedom Industries, J. Clifford Forrest, revealed as owner of Rosebud Mining Company, which is seeking to deep mine and strip mine in Carroll County, OH. Canton Repository: Richard C. Salhi, attorney for Carroll Concerned Citizens, sent a letter Monday to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, asking it to place a hold on new coal mining permit requests by Rosebud, because its owner, J. Clifford Forrest, also owns Freedom Industries, the company responsible for the Jan. 9 spill near Charleston, W.Va….”We strongly believe that Mr. Forrest’s role in the Freedom Industries fiasco necessitates that your department subject this application to greatly enhanced scrutiny if Carroll County is to be protected from the type of sordid events being revealed in Charleston,” Salhi wrote in the letter, addressed to ODNR Director James Zehringer. More…
And from Billmoyers.com 1-24-14: ”Among other donations, last year, Forrest personally maxed out his contribution to Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), who sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He also donated to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who sits on both the House subcommittee on railroads, pipelines, and hazardous Materials and the subcommittee on water resources and environment….” More…
2-11-14: Downstream Strategies finds contamination in 40% of homes sampled one month after the spill Think Progress: “…All of the homes tested had followed the prescribed flushing procedure — several of them multiple times, said Evan Hansen, principal at Downstream Strategies, the environmental consulting firm that carried out the testing.
“’I’m not surprised that MCHM is still being detected,’ said Hansen. ‘In talking to people in the area, people are still reporting smells and some people are reporting reactions with their skin, so it seems clear that in some locations, the water isn’t clean yet.’
“Last week, several schools in the area were forced to close after staff and students complained of the licorice-like smell characteristic of crude MCHM. One teacher reportedly fainted, and “several students and employees complained of lightheadedness and burning eyes and noses.” More…
“This past week also featured a press conference by state and federal officials seeking to explain their response to the spill (a video of the entire press conference is available in four parts here; it’s worth watching).
“Yesterday’s Charleston Gazette features the latest in a long series of outstanding front-line reports by Ken Ward, Jr., and his colleagues, who have closely followed every twist and turn of both the spill and the government’s response to it. Yesterday’s article makes clear the extent to which federal officials were winging it in the hours and days after the spill was discovered as they rushed to set a “safe” level for MCHM in tap water….”
The article explains the extremely limited data on which a decision to announce a “safe” level was made. The author concludes:
“I also believe, in the face of the extremely limited data available and the enormous uncertainties involved, CDC should have refused to recommend a ‘safe’ level and made clear there was no scientific basis for setting one. Instead, CDC and the state of West Virginia should have told affected residents to avoid contact with the water until the chemical could not be detected—something they did for pregnant women a week into the spill…” More…
And from the top, the “beginning” of the story:
10,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol and other chemicals that make up MCHM crude as well as a mix of glycol ethers (PPH) leaked from a tank and under a minimal containment area and flowed into Elk River, compromising water supplies of eight counties and Charleston at first and then all water supplies downstream. A federal disaster was declared and the capital shut down for several days. Water could not be used to drink, bathe, or in cooking. As of midweek, hundreds of visits to hospitals were reported. From WVGazette: “…Initially, the DEP reported that it had no permits for the operation, and that Freedom Industries did not require any permits. The DEP said the company did not manufacture any products, that the operation was ‘chiefly a storage facility’ with ‘no emissions’ and that ‘the materials it stores are not considered hazardous.’” [Note: the 10,000 gallon figure was only revealed weeks after the spill as was the presence of the glycol.]
Sound familiar? The “not hazardous” designation is based not on lack of hazard but on lack of regulation by one agency. According to OSHA, the chemical is hazardous. It is known to damage the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs at high exposures. It has not been evaluated for carcinogenicity or other long-term effects.
From WV Gazette (What is ‘Crude MCHM’? Few know, 1-10-14): ”Material-safety sheets from several manufacturers list little in the way of health information. Toxicological databases provide few answers. ’No specific information is available in our database regarding the toxic effects of this material for humans,’ one chemical fact sheet explains. ‘However, exposure to any chemical should be kept to a minimum. Skin and eye contact may result in irritation. May be harmful if inhaled or ingested.’ Carcinogenic effects? No information available. Mutagenic effects? No information available. Developmental toxicity? No information available..The lack of health guidelines or regulatory limits isn’t that unusual, either. Few chemicals are actually regulated by safe-drinking-water or other water-quality rules, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has tested only about 200 of the 84,000 chemicals in the agency’s inventory. ‘Most chemicals in commerce we know very little about,’ said Celeste Monforton, a George Washington University public-health researcher. ‘This stuff is in the water now, and people have ingested it, and we just don’t know. It’s very concerning.’” At least 169 people sought medical attention and at least ten were hospitalized, according to state officials as reported in the New York Times.
1-12-14, Crisis ‘pulls back the curtain’ on water threats, Sunday Gazette-Mail: ”…the only permit Freedom Industries appears to have had from the state Department of Environmental Protection is an industrial stormwater permit, meant to cover runoff from the site. The permit included no specific discharge limits for any chemicals, leaving it up to company “best management practices” with enforcement by DEP inspections. DEP officials, though, have said that — prior to Thursday’s leak — the site hadn’t been inspected since 1991….OSHA has never inspected the company, records show.”
An article in the New York Times concludes, “Cindy Rank, chairwoman of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy’s mining committee, said that the coal lobby has wielded great influence in crafting state environmental regulations. ‘Accidents are always preventable. For the most part I think that’s true in these disasters that keep happening,’ she said. She recalled negotiations over a groundwater protection bill from the early 1990s. ‘We swallowed hard and allowed the coal industry to get away with a lot in that bill,’ she said.” More…
The lack of scientific information, protective regulation, and government oversight in the operations of this industry is abhorrent. This “incident,” with its close parallels to fracking and its waste transportation and storage (as at the Green Hunter facility in New Matamoras, OH, immediately adjacent to the Ohio River), should certainly be yet another wake-up call to the scale of risks involved. Oh, and Freedom Industries, the company responsible for contaminating the water of 300,000 Kanawha Valley residents and sending dozens to hospital, was “founded by a two-time convicted felon, benefited from the 2009 federal stimulus and at least two of its executives have longstanding ties to the Charleston business community.” The business also has close business ties to the Koch brothers. 1-13-14
Updates: the CDC designation of 1 part per million as the maximum level of safety in drinking water is based on a single unpublished study by the chemical’s manufacturer “in which rats were fed MCHM until it killed them,” according to Dr. Letitia E. Tierney, commissioner of the state Bureau for Public Health, as reported in the New York Times. A bit primitive and inadequate for a “safety standard,” isn’t it? No long-term effects evaluated. No assessment of potential effects on humans, especially vulnerable populations such as infants and children and health-compromised populations. No peer-reviewed results. No objectivity of the data. No real data at all in this “standard”!
Time Magazine weighs in the role of the weak, outdated Toxic Substances Control Act in the WV crisis. 1-14-14
The story continues…Charleston Daily Mail reports Influx of ER visits reported following lifted ‘do not use’ advisories 1-15-14 and further information on CDC’s subsequent recommendation that pregnant women not drink the water until no MCMH was detectable by water authorities. 1-16-14
Ben Stout, biologist at Wheeling Jesuit University, explains that MCHM is hydrophobic so extremely difficult to flush out of hot water tanks and pipes. 1-18-14
Water privatization and influence of the coal industry on government in WV play a huge role in the scope of problem, reported in Ecowatch: “The fact that 16% of the state’s population depends on [WV American Water Company's] Kanawha Valley Water Treatment Facility for drinking water is a central factor in the scale of the disaster and, as the Public Service Commission paper trail demonstrates, the coal industry has a lot of culpability in that situation as well. But still other factors have led to the expansion and consolidation of WVAWC’s service territory, which is why the moral of this story applies beyond coal country…” Read more… 1-17-14
Freedom Enterprises declares bankruptcy. Surprise, surprise. Freedom Enterprises also has a history of tax evasion and criminal convictions of its executives. “…On July 27, 2005, Kennedy, the founder of Freedom and Poca, pled guilty to federal income tax evasion for not paying the government more than $1 million he had withheld from employee paychecks….Freedom owes $3.6 million to its top 20 unsecured creditors, according to bankruptcy documents. The company also owes more than $2.4 million in unpaid taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, and the IRS has placed at least three liens on Freedom’s property, demanding payment. The unpaid taxes date back to at least 2000, according to a lien filed in 2010. Under the bankruptcy code, Chapter 11 permits a company to reorganize and continue operating…The West Virginia Bureau of Employment Programs has placed at least two liens on Freedom’s property, for about $4,000 in unpaid unemployment compensation insurance. Those liens were filed in 2002 and 2003. On Jan. 9, the day the leak contaminating the Elk River was discovered, Freedom and its subsidiary, Etowah River Terminal, also owed nearly $93,000 in Kanawha County property taxes, about half of which was due on Oct. 1, 2013, and had become delinquent…” More… (Sunday Gazette-Mail) 1-18-14
1-21-14, Authorities learn that another chemical, PPH, a polyglycol ether, was also in the tank. More information to come, we can be sure.
This was one one of several chemical spills in the region that week. The Ohio River near Belpre, Ohio, experienced a “minor” [sic] fish kill after two chemical leaks from Kraton Polymers. And CBS reports 150 gallons of fuel oil leaking into the Delaware River (1-16-14).
A former WV coal miner puts this spill in the context of the ongoing devastation by the coal industry of West Virginia and its water supply: “We’ve Been Dumping Those Chemicals In The Water For Decades“ Business Insider 1-21-14
1-29-14: U.S. Chemical Safety Board Chair calls for regulatory reform and immediate action by US EPA to prevent further devastating accidents like Elk River. Note: This urgent “reform” wouldn’t protect us from fracking and frack waste accidents, since frack industry materials have been exempted from hazardous waste regulation.
See also Bill Moyers’ Bumbling, Blame and Bankruptcy in Wake of West Virginia Chemical Spill. An excerpt: “According to The Wall Street Journal, a company called Chemstream Holdings paid $20 million and is now the sole owner of Freedom Industries. Chemstream Holdings is owned by Pennsylvania coal magnate J. Clifford Forrest, president of Rosebud Mining Corporation.
“Barrett notes that separate West Virginia filings also list Forrest as the manager of two of the companies that merged with Freedom last month.
“Forrest and Rosebud are heavy political donors. According to Open Secrets, during the 2012 election cycle, Rosebud and its officers donated almost $600,000 to Republican candidates, PACs and outside spending groups.
“Among other donations, last year, Forrest personally maxed out his contribution to Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), who sits on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. He also donated to Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican who sits on both the House subcommittee on railroads, pipelines, and hazardous Materials and the subcommittee on water resources and environment….” More…
Waste injected in Ohio in 2013:
Total waste injected= 16,354,784 bbls or 686,900,928 gallons
From in-state: 8,076,820 bbls
Out of state: 8,277,964 bbls
Top 10 receiving county’s bbls (a barrel is 42 gallons):
As of 3-3-14, Ohio had 234 permitted Class II injection wells with 202 of them active.
source: spreadsheet provided by ODNR through public records request
Charges Reduced for The Athens 8 Arrested at the K&H Injection Well Rally
The eight farmers and local business leaders charged with criminal trespass for blocking trucks carrying frack waste to the K&H Partners’ Athens County injection well site in February took a plea deal this morning in Athens Municipal Court. The eight pled to a lowered charge of disorderly conduct, a minor misdemeanor, and received a $150 fine, $100 of which was suspended. Those arrested include Kip Rondy, owner of Green Edge Farms; Michelle Ajamian, owner of Shagbark Seed and Mill; Christine Hughes, owner of the Village Bakery, Smiles Welch, a local pastor, Sean Pavlac, Timothy Fultz, Caprice Huffman and Liz Florentino.
Kip Rondy read the following statement at the hearing:
“Your Honor, we, the persons now before the Court, are persons of reason who have done all that we could within the statute of the law to prevent the destruction of our natural, economic and social environment. The Commissioners of Athens County, as well as the City Council of Athens Ohio, have unanimously enacted a resolution opposing the development of an additional injection well at the K&H site. K&H at present is daily injecting 2,100 barrels of toxic, radioactive waste at its location in Troy Township. Much of that said waste is being generated by out-of-state fracking operations. The new proposed injection well at the K&H facility will allow for the disposal of an additional 4,000 barrels of waste, daily. Despite appeals form the citizenry of the Athens community, the aforementioned actions of both the elected county and city officials, documented earthquakes, and other significant environmental damage at other injection well sites within the boundaries of the state of Ohio, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has proven to be unresponsive in addressing these community concerns. ODNR has failed in its duty as protectorate of the citizenry and the resources delegated to them by statute. The ODNR has failed to hold public hearings concerning the proposed injection well, ignored and denied lawful information requests, and continues to act in a capricious and arbitrary manner concerning the citizens’ stated objections. It is then, when we the Citizenry of Athens county, facing the real and permanent threat to our aquifer, our air, our earth – when the will of lawfully elected officials is ignored – that the acts of civil disobedience before the court today are not merely justified, but become obligatory. Citizens so informed must, at some level, engage in civil disobedience on behalf of themselves, future generations, and society at large.”
Retired Athens County Municipal Judge Douglas Bennett said, “I’m resisting the urge to quote Harry Shearer, what the frack.” Shearer hosts a weekly syndicated public radio show. Bennett also commented “Speaking as a taxpayer, I was reading in the Wall Street Journal that Ohio has the lowest tax rates on oil and gas in the nation.” Bennett also jumped in when Attorney Grace thanked Prosecutor Eliason for working with K&H to arrange the plea deal, saying, “K&H is not a party to the matter here, which is between the defendants and the state of Ohio.” He dismissed the protesters by thanking them.
The K&H2 permit is under appeal by Athens County Fracking Action Network, following unanimous votes last fall by the Athens City Council and Athens County Commissioners to oppose permitting of the well, the second at the Troy Township site owned by K&H Partners of West Virginia. Rally organizers want K&H and ODNR to revoke the permit and ban injection wells in Ohio and in Athens County specifically.
A support rally led by the Activist Choir followed the sentencing near the steps of the Athens County courthouse. Organizers included members of Appalachia Resist and Athens County Fracking Action Network. Further information, including an in-depth timeline of the legal battle over the K&H 2 well, can be found at acfan.org/injection-wells and appalachiaresist.wordpress.com.
Earlier statements from some of the Athens Eight:
Athens News coverage 3-24-14
Athens OH, March 20, 2014 –– Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) filed a mandamus legal complaint this week in Franklin County Court of Appeals against Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for failure to comply with ACFAN’s public records request. The public records request made by attorney Richard Sahli on January 16 seeks documents necessary to support ACFAN’s January legal appeal of the K&H2 injection well permit.
“The state has tried to dismiss our appeal without providing us access to public records,” stated ACFAN member and former Athens County Commissioner, Roxanne Groff. “This is unconscionable but unfortunately consistent with ODNR’s wanton disregard of its legal responsibility to the public whom it is entrusted to serve and protect.”
This is the third time Mr. Sahli has had to file legal complaints in three separate request actions over the past year. The first two were from actions filed by the Sierra Club. He stated, “Ohio courts have held that a single week’s wait can be unreasonable when it comes to public records. We have waited two months.” He added that he had previously sent a follow-up letter to ODNR seeking a prompt response to ACFAN’s request. His letter was not answered.
Sahli explained, “The public records law is all about an agency’s public accountability. This is my third public records suit against ODNR in a year. If the Administration felt responsible to the public, no one would need to file multiple lawsuits against the same agency in the same year.”
ACFAN member, Heather Cantino, added, “This is yet another example of ODNR thumbing its nose at the public’s right to be involved in making this administration comply with state law. Ohio law still requires some level of public accountability, which ODNR continually ignores and denies.”
ACFAN’s appeal of K&H2 challenges the legal basis for ODNR’s permitting of a second well at the Troy Township Athens County site where K&H1 receives more than 100,000 gallons daily. K&H2 would receive as much as 170,000 gallons a day. Following ACFAN’s notice of appeal, ODNR filed a motion to dismiss, claiming lack of jurisdiction. ACFAN filed a counter motion restating its legal right of appeal. The Oil and Gas Commission met on March 12 but took no action on the case nor set a date set to consider the matter. ACFAN’s appeal is the only appeal of an injection well ever to have been filed in the state.
Links to documents and prior press coverage at acfan.org/injection-wells/
Fracking impacted residents demand Energy Secretary include affected communities in methane pollution “roundtables”
First closed door “roundtable” convenes today at 4 pm
Washington, D.C., March 19 – At 4pm today Energy Secretary Moniz is responding to President Obama’s directive to develop a “coordinated interagency methane strategy” by holding a closed-door meeting without public notice that excluded communities directly impacted by methane pollution.
“Closed door meetings excluding impacted community members seem to be routine with the Obama administration, and this routine is no longer acceptable,” said Jill Wiener of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy. She continued, “If decision makers continue to ignore realities on the ground we can expect the oil and gas industry to continue to profit at the expense of the health and welfare of ordinary Americans.”
“Having experienced the oppressive and unnatural air near flaring, and the blinding headaches caused by venting, I find it terribly unfair for impacted communities to be denied a spot at the table,” said Jenny Lisak of Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air.
“In the real world where our backyards are being fracked, it’s clear that government and industry promises don’t amount to a hill of beans,” said Cathy McMullen, President of Denton (Texas) Drilling Awareness Group. She continued, “so long as the Obama administration excludes impacted communities from its decision-making about methane pollution, our only option is to take matters into our own hands and ban fracking community by community.”
Community groups and environmental advocacy groups today will deliver a letter to Secretary Moniz stating that “it is essential that those who have been impacted by methane flaring, venting and leakage into nearby air and water at well sites and adjacent to compressor stations and other infrastructure are represented at all future meetings.”
The letter also calls for
Letter signers are all members of Stop the Frack Attack, a national network of people impacted by fracking as well as members of the non-profit community. It is a social movement hub and network for concerned citizens to come together and work together to protect communities from the impacts of fracking and spur the transition to a clean, renewable energy future.
For more information:
“The pipeline that oozed oil into the Oak Glen Nature Preserve near Cincinnati, Ohio a week ago leaked more crude oil than originally estimated—about two times more.
The Ecowatch article also mentions the magnitudes larger spill this week off Texas: “This week, an even larger spill took place in Texas City, TX when a barge carrying more than 900,000 gallons of oil collided with a 585-foot ship on the Houston Ship Channel, one of the world’s busiest waterways.
Environmentalists are concerned about the impact the spill could have on the bird population. Thousands of shorebirds are still in the area. The Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary is just east of the spill site. It is known to attract 50,000 to 70,000 shorebirds to its muddy, flat terrain.”
Original post: March 18, 2014–An oil pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics Partners LP leaked at least 240 barrels–– 10,000 gallons––of crude oil into a marsh in the 374-acre Oak Glen Nature Preserve adjacent to the Great Miami River north of Cincinnati. The pipeline was not shut off for almost five hours after the rupture was discovered, according to Reuters.
The Miami Herald reports, “Officials said the oil had been contained, but workers were building barriers to make sure potential rainfall didn’t spread the oil, [Ohio EPA spokeswoman Heather] Lauer said. She also said there was work being done to make an access road for heavy equipment…
Ecowatch, 3-1-14: Following a push by the Obama Administration and House Speaker John Bohener to fast-track natural gas exports as leverage against Russia in the growing tensions between the nation and Ukraine, Americans Against Fracking and allied organizations today called on President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and the U.S. Congress to reject plans to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas.
As exporting oil and gas overseas will accelerate fracking in the U.S., more than 200 organizations signed on to the letter, urging lawmakers to protect U.S. communities, their economies and their vital resources from fracking.
“ExxonMobil and other oil and gas giants should not be controlling our foreign policy,” said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “We cannot sacrifice communities here in the U.S. for illusory-short term foreign policy objectives. We strongly urge Congress and the Obama Administration to say ‘no’ to oil and gas exports.”
Exporting oil and gas overseas is expected to lead to an increase in natural gas prices for American consumers and will also accelerate the pace of drilling and fracking, according to analysis by Food & Water Watch. Moreover, building the infrastructure necessary to support natural gas drilling and exportation will require significant economic investment.
But U.S. supplies of tight oil are expected to last seven years, and that’s only if the oil and gas industry is granted unfettered access to drill and frack. Food & Water Watch estimates that if U.S. consumption of natural gas stays constant at 2010 rates, U.S. supplies of the resource will only last about 22 years.
Fracking carries significant environmental, economic and public health effects. In addition to polluting water resources, the process also releases methane into the atmosphere. A potent greenhouse gas, methane is at least 25 times more efficient than carbon dioxide at trapping heat over a 100-year time frame, and causes between 79 to 105 times the climate forcing of carbon dioxide over a 20-year time frame. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration found that the rate of methane leakage in at least two active gas fields is much higher than the U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory’s current estimate.
“Accelerating fracking in order to ship oil and gas overseas will only exacerbate climate change,” said Jesse Bacon of Environmental Action. “Fossil fuels are a short-sighted, polluting form of energy. They should have no place in fueling our planet, or our foreign policy.”
The recently released Defense Department Quadrennial Defense Review lists climate change as a significant and growing security threat. The review cites climate change in several places and states: “The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.”
The report goes on to explain, “These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions—conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.”
“President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry should be looking out for Americans, not the interests of the oil and gas industry,” said Russell Greene of Progressive Democrats of America. “They need to stand strong and not cave to pressures from the oil and gas industry when navigating this delicate diplomatic matter.”
A small group of pundits and politicians with close ties to the fossil fuel industry are using the crisis in Crimea to demand that the United States promote natural gas exports as a quick fix for the volatile situation. But such a solution, experts say, would cost billions of dollars, require years of development, and would not significantly impact the international price of gas or Russia’s role as a major supplier for the region. Rather, the move would simply increase gas prices for American consumers while enriching companies involved in the liquified natural gas (LNG) trade….
“…left undisclosed…is the huge financial stake in the debate for Koch Industries. A brochure for the company shows that Koch has deeply expanded its footprint into the natural gas market, and is now actively engaged in shipping, sourcing and marketing LNG, in addition to becoming a leader in developing financial instruments related to natural gas.
“…In perhaps the most ironic twist of this public debate around how to respond to Russia’s incursion into Crimea, American lobbyists with ties to Russia are calling for a solution that would not only shield Russian gas oligarchs, but enrich them… More…
In responding to the twelve recent quakes in NE Ohio suspected of being caused by fracking, including a 3.0 magnitude one, that led to a Lowellville fracking operation being shut down by ODNR order, an ODNR geologist admitted ODNR’s extreme lack of data on geology and seismic risks in areas where it has permitted hundreds of fracking and injection wells. According to a March 16th article in the Columbus Dispatch:
The county has one known fault line running through it — in its southwestern corner, said Mark Baranoski, a geologist with the state’s Division of Geological Survey.
“We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about the basement in Ohio,” he said.
There might be many other fault lines that won’t reveal themselves until additional earthquakes are recorded.
Following the 2011 earthquakes near Youngstown, researchers found that a fracking-waste injection well linked to them had been drilled on an ancient fault line. (more…)
According to this and a March 14th article in the Dispatch, scientists with Columbia University’s seismology center say fracking, with its high pressure injection of liquids, is likely responsible for the quakes. They dispute ODNR’s denial of the significance of the recent seismic activity and of its likely connections to fracking and/or injection wells:
Natural Resources logged five earthquakes on Monday and Tuesday. Agency spokesman Mark Bruce said the additional earthquakes that Columbia monitored were incidental.
“Ohio’s increased monitoring network records micro-seismic events that happen around the state almost daily (and) are not felt,” he wrote in an email.
Kim, however, said they are significant and that a connection is likely.
“We need to think about what happened two years ago in Youngstown,” Kim said. “Maybe (recent fracking) activity is triggering earthquakes.”
From January 2011 to February 2012, researchers recorded more than 100 earthquakes there that eventually were linked to the pumping of fracking waste deep underground into an injection well in the Youngstown area.
In January 2012, the state halted the disposal of fracking waste in injection wells within 5 miles of the Youngstown well. At first, the state said there was no connection between the injection well and the temblors.
Kim published research that linked fracking-waste injection wells in the Youngstown area to the earthquakes.
This week, ODNR officials said injection wells were not to blame for the Lowellville earthquakes.
John Armbruster, a Columbia seismologist who monitored the area around the Youngstown injection well in 2011, said there are similarities between the most-recent earthquakes and those in 2011 and 2012.
“These are behaving like earthquakes that were caused by (fracking-waste) injection,” he said. But linking them might be difficult — the state does not have accurate data on the depth of the most-recent earthquakes. Depth was one of the ways experts linked the 2011-2012 earthquakes to the injection well. More…
A March 13th Dispatch article also cites Arthur McGarr, a U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist, who is leading a national study of earthquakes and injection wells. According to the Dispatch, “McGarr said long-term disposal can cause temblors as far as 15 miles away. Even closed wells could cause earthquakes, he said.”
Note: There are two inaccuracies in otherwise excellent, informative coverage in these Dispatch articles:
1) Contrary to a statement in the March 13 article, ODNR does not “monitor seismic information at every well before, during and after waste was pumped below ground.” They do not do this anywhere in the state other than in the vicinity of the the Youngstown 2011 quakes. It would require on-site monitoring equipment, which is not in place.
2) Injection wells are not necessarily deeper than fracking wells. The K&H 1 and 2 wells are open holes below 2000 feet, much shallower than many frack wells.
Big Oil push for crude exports spells disaster for climate, report reveals. Impact of lifting export ban would equal lifetime emissions of 42 coal plants
by Lauren McCauley, staff writer, Common Dreams 3-4-14:
A push by Big Oil interests to lift the decades-old ban on crude oil exports would effectively release over 4 billion tons of additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to a report published Monday by an environmental watchdog group.
“Allowing U.S. crude oil exports will result in increased profits that will in turn result in increased oil production,” the report argues.
According to the report, an average projected increase in U.S. crude oil to $10 per barrel would lead to an additional 9.9 billion barrels of production between 2015 and 2050. That production would release over 4.4 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which is equal to the lifetime emissions of 42 coal plants.
“Big Oil’s leading lobbyists from ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute have led the charge to relax the ban, and they have spending big in Washington to push their agenda,” report authors note.
“The industry push for exports is a symptom of the President’s disastrous ‘all-of-the-above’ energy plan, that puts the interests of Big Oil over the interests of the American people,” saidDavid Turnbull, campaigns director of Oil Change. “Removing the crude export ban would be a disaster for the climate, just as the building the Keystone XL pipeline and any energy policy choice that incentivizes the production of more fossil fuels.”
The leading proponent on Capitol Hill is Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who in early January “professed her support for easing restrictions,” Reuters reports. Murkowski has received over three-quarters of a million dollars from the oil industry in recent years. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a big business lobby group, has also taken up this push.