We WON a bargedock comment extension! — please send additional comments (even if you sent some in the first round) by Aug. 24. They can be sent electronically.
Yea!! The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers quietly extended the comment period on the GreenHunter bargedock proposal to Aug. 24. We won!! It was our 340 comments that did it. THANKS TO ALL WHO WROTE!…Now we ask you, please, to send additional comments with more detail and more specificity, even if you already sent in comments. MODEL COMMENTS HERE; abbreviated version HERE. COMMENTS CAN BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY.
The Corps’ guidance is specific — the more specific and detailed the comments, the more they will be considered in the decision to authorize an Environmental Impact Statement, which we need for further public input and TIME so this disaster doesn’t get permitted.
We’ve posted some lengthy model comments HERE. Guidance material is included. Feel free to e-mail acfanohio AT gmail.com for a Word doc version to make it easier to copy and paste. Use as much or as little or use as a model for your own.
Feel free to use the abbreviated version below (pdf HERE).
Be sure to include LRH-2013-848-OHR in your subject line. Comments due by Aug. 24.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Public Notice No. LRH-2013-848-OHR
502 Eighth Street, Huntington, West Virginia 25701-2070
Via email to Teresa Spagna, email@example.com
RE: Comments on Sect. 10 Permit Application #LRH-2013-848-OHR (GreenHunter Meigs County Docking Facility)
Dear Ms. Spagna:
I hereby submit my comments in strong and informed opposition to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issuance of a permit to GreenHunter Water, LLC for construction and operation of a barge unloading and pipeline facility in Meigs County, Ohio, to deliver “bulk liquids” generated by hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operations to upland facilities.
I request a public hearing and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on this matter, owing to its significant, likely or even certain and largely irremediable impacts, especially on public water supplies, water conservation, and air and water quality as well as on public safety and the needs and welfare of the people throughout the eleven-state region who would all be affected by impacts of the project. The unloading and storage of vast quantities of highly hazardous, highly flammable, explosive, toxic radioactive chemicals on the Ohio River are a matter of extreme public interest. In addition to chemicals used in the drilling and fracking process, mercury and other heavy metals, high salinity (chloride at up to 196,000 mg/l), radioactivity (for example, EPA reports liquid Marcellus Shale waste to contain radium 226 at concentrations of up to 16,030 pCi/l; the MCl is 5 pCi/L), and hydrocarbons are at significant levels in frackwaste..
More than 3 million people rely on drinking water supplies downstream of this project. Vast volumes of unidentified and unidentifiable mixtures of highly toxic, radioactive material would likely cause untold and irremediable catastrophe from barge accidents, explosions during off-loading, leaks and spills, which are increasingly common. Spills, leaks, explosions and fires are occurring with increasing frequency at frack chemical and frackwaste transfer sites. They are therefore likely occurrences if this project were to be permitted. Chemical mixtures in the recent week-long Monroe County frackpad fire included chemicals for which testing protocols are not even developed. How can downstream water suppliers know whether these chemicals are in their systems if there are no testing protocols yet available? How can firefighters know how to handle emergencies? The C-8, Elk River, Toledo, and Opossum Creek 70,000 fishkill disasters are all ongoing disasters that would be dwarfed by the scale of disaster that could occur at this facility.
The project has no benefits to the region. Its reasonably foreseeable detriments are of great public consequence and must be considered in a public hearing and an EIS.
I look forward to notice from you of further opportunities for public comment and public hearings in communities that would be affected by this proposal.
COUNTY and STATE
 See for example U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce, Minority Staff, Chemicals Used in Hydraulic Fracturing (April 2011), identifying 750 chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, including 29 chemicals that are known carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, or listed as Hazardous Air Pollutants; US General Accountability Office, Information on the Quantity, Quality, and Management of Water Produced During Oil and Gas Production, GAO-12-56, January 2012; PADEP “Permitting Strategy for High Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) Wastewater Discharges,” April 11, 2009; Warner, N.R. et al, , Impacts of Shale Gas Wastewater Disposal on Water Quality in Western Pennsylvania?, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2013(47):11849–11857 (pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es402165b)
 New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement on the Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Regulatory Program, Well Permit Issuance for Horizontal Drilling and High-Volume Hydraulic Fracturing to Develop the Marcellus Shale and other Low-Permeability Gas Reservoirs, September 2011, Table 5.9; Appendix 13; Marvin Resnikoff, Ph.D., Radioactive Waste Management Associates, “Comments on Marcellus Shale Development”, October 2011; USEPA letter from Shawn M. Garvin, Regional Administrator to The Honorable Michael Krancer, Acting Secretary, PADEP, 3.7.11; US General Accountability Office,Information on the Quantity, Quality, and Management of Water Produced During Oil and Gas Production, GAO-12-56, January 2012.
Updated blog post here.
Please tell the US Army Corps of Engineers NO!! to a frackwaste barge dock on the Ohio River in Meigs County!
Send comments to Project Manager Teresa Spagna (firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also attorney Terry Lodge’s comments to Corps with extensive legal arguments and endorsing organizations, submitted 7-28-14.
The proposal by GreenHunter, a Texas-based frackwaste company, is to build a barge off-loading facility on the Ohio River in Portland, Meigs County. The dock would unload as much as 1 million barrels, or 42 million gallons of frack waste at once. After storage in aboveground tanks, the waste will be trucked to injection wells around the region. Barging of liquid frack waste has not been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, which received as many as 60,000 public comments opposing the proposal.
The dock proposal has not been given official notice in state or local media. The online notice posted by the Corps June 27 specifies that public comments must be hard copies and received at the Corps’ Huntington office by July 28, which has, due to over 340 comments submitted, been extended to Aug. 24. Also, a subsequent verbal and written statement by Teresa Spagna, Project Manager with the Corps, assures us that E-MAIL COMMENTS ARE ACCEPTABLE.
Ohio has experienced TWO fracking explosions and fires this summer, one in Monroe County in which twenty fracking trucks burned for a week and which led to a “significant fishkill,” according to ODNR, and another in which a frackwaste truck at Envirotank’s Belpre facility exploded and burned three men. One remained in critical condition as of July 3. Both explosions involved transfers of hydrocarbon-laden frack liquids. Imagine an explosion from abarge carrying a half-million gallons of frackwaste at a site that is storing hundreds of thousands of gallons of this toxic radioactive waste. What would a spark igniting an off-loading bargeful with a half-million gallons of flammable frackwaste do to the riverside and downstream communities and the 5 million people who drink this water?
This proposal affects all Ohioans and the region — it would open the floodgates to GreenHunter and other corporations that have no stake in Ohioans’ health and communities. Has ODNR ever said ‘no’ to an injection well permit? NO! (Ohio permits injection well in days, compared to states under USEPA permitting requirements, which can take years to permit. )
Please e-mail Corps Project Manager Teresa Spagna (email@example.com) to object to the proposal, request an extension of the comment period to October 31, and ask the Corps to hold a public hearing. Comments are due Aug. 24.
RE: LRH 2013-848-OHR must be included in the e-mail subject line.
Extensive model comments with citations here. Or feel free to use the following TALKING POINTS for your comments.
1. Since the Coast Guard has not ruled on the transporting of liquid frack waste on the Ohio River, such barge traffic on the river is illegal at this time. Preparing a huge transport terminal creates bias and affects the Coast Guard’s decision.
2. No Environmental Impact Assessment or Statement has been conducted by a nonbiased third party group. [Green Hunter itself has “retained the services of a malacologist to conduct a mussel survey (5 species are endangered)” –in other words, the corporation is paying for its own study of mussels only, the results of which will thus be influenced by the corporation.] The Army Corps of Engineers should order a complete EIS (Environmental Impacts Statement). The safety of the public and the environment requires knowledge of the extent to which the barge dock and its use by frack waste-transporting tanker barges will endanger the entire Ohio River system. The EIS, by law, should concentrate on the key issues of the environment, public health, social impacts, and potential for long-term and/or catastrophic contamination to one of the nation’s greatest river resources. The EIS should consider all relevant information with professionalism, rigor, fairness, objectivity, and impartiality, and should be subject to independent checks and verification. It should not be “bought” by the corporation seeking the permit and use of our river.
3. The Army Corps of Engineers should deny a permit to Green Hunter for the construction of this barge dock for the following reasons:
A. The Corps should prevent an entire terminal to be completed and to go into operation with details of its construction and use maintained behind a screen of business confidentiality;
B. The Corps should prevent undue pressure placed upon the U.S. Coast Guard in considering whether to allow liquid frack waste transport on the Ohio River;
C. The Corps should consider the health and safety of a river whose water quality affects 11 states: Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Missouri, and three lower tier southern states;
D. The Corps should provide more time to assess short and long term damages of fracking wastes, (many of which cannot be remediated) to trained scientists in all areas of energy exploration, water management, chemical and petrochemical fields, public health, and the environment as well as elected officials, government regulatory agencies, and citizens;
E. The Army Corps should understand the construction of the barge dock and its facility of pipelines, above-ground tanks, and other facility infrastructure as a clear path to expand the fracking industry—the GreenHunter barge dock project gives the green light to the transport of 105,000,000 gallons or more annually of toxic, flammable, and radioactive drilling wastes for injection into dozens of Ohio injection wells and solid waste disposal in area landfills;
F. The Corps should refuse to participate in a business plan to “offload” onto the public and the states the true costs of bulk shipping on inland waterways while only one corporation, GreenHunter, profits.
The Corps should reject this permit proposal until such time as Ohio has completed the rules process for facilities that will store, recycle, treat or dispose of liquid frack waste. At this time Ohio has no rules regulating these facilities.
Send your comments to Teresa D. Spagna firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: LRH 2013-848-OHR- Permit Application from GreenHunterMUST be included on subject line. Please include your name, address, and county of residence in your e-mail.
Please copy to Senator Sherrod Brown. Contact form at brown.senate.gov/contact
Athens County Fracking Action Network acfan.org, acfanohio AT gmail.com
Scientists: Fracking Polluted Texas Family’s Drinking Water
EARTHWORKS PRESS RELEASE: JUNE 6, 2014
[On June 5] a Texas TV station broke the news that new independent analysis refutes the oft-repeated claim by the oil and gas industry that “there’s never been a confirmed case of fracking polluting drinking water”.
Using data from Texas regulators, WFAA, the ABC affiliate in Dallas reported that two independent scientists confirmed fracking in Parker County, Texas by the oil and gas company Range Resources polluted resident Steve Lipsky’s drinking water with dangerous levels of methane from the Barnett Shale.
This is familiar news to people living with fracking across the country. Beyond confirming that fracking does pollute drinking water, the independent reviewers also demonstrate that Texas regulators are more interested in protecting the oil and gas industry than the public.
“Texas regulators should be ashamed of themselves,” said Sharon Wilson, Earthworks Texas organizer. She continued: “Whether it’s the Railroad Commission and drinking water, or TCEQ and air pollution, these agencies have shown that Texas communities cannot rely on the state for protection against fracking and drilling companies that threaten their health.”
The Parker County case is not the first example of fracking polluting drinking water:
- The Canadian province of Alberta’s government has verified fracking pollution of drinking water
- The U.S. EPA stands by preliminary results indicating fracking polluted an aquifer near Pavillion, WY, before it handed its investigation over to the state of Wyoming and the company liable for the pollution.
- The U.S. EPA regional staff linked fracking to drinking water contamination in Dimock, PA, but were forced to prematurely stop the investigation.
“It’s time for the U.S. EPA to come clean about how fracking pollutes drinking water,” said Jennifer Krill, Earthworks Executive Director. “The EPA knew about this water pollution, as it did in Wyoming and Pennsylvania. But at the moment of truth, EPA withdrew in all cases rather than definitively declare that fracking pollutes drinking water.”
Wilson concluded: “It’s no wonder that communities across the country, from Texas to California, from Colorado to New York, are trying to ban fracking. We can’t trust our government to protect us. We certainly can’t trust the oil and gas industry. There is no other alternative.”
Earthworks is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions.
Statement on EPA Draft Plan Released June 2, 2014 on “Carbon Pollution Emission Guidelines for Existing Stationary Sources: Electric Utility Generating Units” RIN 2060-AR33
Robert W. Howarth, Ph.D.
David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology & Environmental Biology
Cornell University, Ithaca, NY June 7, 2014
I have carefully read the 645-page Draft Plan. There is much to commend in the Plan’s goals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to promote more production of electricity by renewable sources and more efficient end use of electricity. However, the Plan has a fundamental flaw: it addresses only carbon dioxide emissions, and not emissions of methane, another critically important greenhouse gas. This failure to consider methane causes the Plan to promote a very poor policy – replacing coal-burning power plants with plants run on natural gas (see pages 33-34) – as one of the major four building blocks of the Plan. Recent research indicates that the greenhouse gas footprint of generating electricity from natural gas can exceed that of coal-fired plants (Alvarez et al. 2012; Howarth et al. 2014 and references therein). The Plan should be revised to reflect the importance of methane and the extent of methane emissions from using natural gas. While phasing out coal is a desirable goal, replacing coal with natural gas trades one problem for another, reducing carbon dioxide emissions but increasing methane emissions to such an extent as to cause even greater global warming.
“Methane” is mentioned only five times in the 645 pages. The first time is on page 59, where it is stated that EPA could not monetize the consequences of nitrous oxide and methane emissions, and that the Plan therefore focuses only on carbon dioxide emissions. The second time is footnote #13 on page 59, where it is stated that “although CO2is the predominant greenhouse gas released by the power sector, electricity generating units also emit small amounts of nitrous oxide and methane….” Note that in both the first and second mention of methane in the Plan, nitrous oxide comes before methane, even though methane is far more important in global warming (IPCC 2013). Further note that the Plan seems to limit the focus to emissions at electric-power generating plants rather than include full life-cycle emissions. The third time is on page 174, where the Plan states “we have also analyzed potential upstream net methane emissions impact from natural gas and coal for the impacts analysis. This analysis indicated that any net impacts from methane emissions are likely to be small compared to the CO2 emissions reduction impacts of shifting power generation from coal-fired steam EGUs to NGCC units.” And the fourth and fifth times are late in the Plan, where it is mentioned that methane is emitted from landfills and where natural gas is defined.
Early in the Plan (page 19), the focus on carbon dioxide is justified by stating “CO2 is the primary GHG pollutant, accounting for nearly three-quarters of global GHG emissions1 and 82 percent of U.S. GHG emissions.2 These statements do not accurately reflect the most recent and best science on this topic. Footnote #1 refers to the IPCC (2007) report and is based only on comparing methane emissions and carbon dioxide emissions on a 100-year time scale. In the more recent IPCC (2013) synthesis, the IPCC explicitly states that “There is no scientific argument for selecting 100 years compared with other choices,” and that “The choice of time horizon …. depends on the relative weight assigned to the effects at different times.” Because the short-term dynamics of the climate system are far more responsive to methane than to carbon dioxide (UNEP/WMO 2011; Shindell et al. 2012), comparing methane and carbon dioxide on shorter time scales is essential if we are to avoid warming the Earth to temperatures that greatly increase the risk of tipping points in the climate over the coming 15 to 35 years (see Howarth et al. 2014 and references therein). At these shorter time scales, the IPCC (2013) states that the global emissions of methane are actually greater than (slightly, for the 10-year time frame) or 80% of (for the 20-year time frame) those of carbon dioxide in terms of their influence on global warming; at both of these shorter time scales, carbon dioxide is responsible for less than half of global GHG emissions, not three-quarters.
Similarly, the statement that 82% of US greenhouse gas emissions are due to carbon dioxide (referencing footnote #2, which is the EPA greenhouse gas inventory) is highly misleading. This also is based solely on comparing methane and carbon dioxide on a 100-year time scale, and further uses outdated global warming potentials (from earlier versions of the IPCC, not from IPCC 2013, where the global warming potential for methane has been substantially increased). Also, the best available evidence indicates that the EPA estimates for methane emissions in the US are much too low (Miller et al. 2013; Brandt et al. 2014; Howarth et al. 2014). EPA aggravated this by reducing their methane emissions for the natural gas industry by a factor of two in 2013, despite increasing evidence that their estimates were already too low (Miller et al. 2013; Brandt et al. 2014; Howarth et al. 2014). The Inspector General for the EPA has called for an improved approach by EPA for estimating methane emissions from the oil and gas industry (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General 2013).
In addition to ignoring the global-warming consequences of methane and natural gas, the Plan does not adequately consider the public health consequences. The Plan states that “actions taken to comply with the proposed guidelines will reduce emissions of CO2 and other air pollutants, including SO2, NOx and directly emitted PM2.5, from the electric power industry” (page 51). Reducing these pollutants – which largely come from combusting coal – is desirable. However, the use of natural gas is leading to highly elevated levels of ground-level ozone in many areas as well as elevated concentrations of benzene and other toxic and carcinogenic hydrocarbons. The Plan completely ignores these other pollution issues.
A sound government policy on climate simply cannot focus solely on carbon dioxide and ignore methane. The number one source of methane pollution in the US is the natural gas industry (Howarth et al. 2012), and the US should take urgent steps to reduce this methane pollution. The Plan will require substantial revision using better quality and more recent science to consider both carbon dioxide and methane emissions.
Alvarez RA, Pacala SW, Winebrake JJ, Chameides WL, and Hamburg SP. 2012. Greater focus needed on methane leakage from natural gas infrastructure. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi 10.1073/pnas.1202407109.
Brandt AF, Heath GA, Kort EA, O’Sullivan FO, Pétron G, Jordaan SM, Tans P, Wilcox J., Gopstein AM, Arent D, Wofsy S, Brown NJ, Bradley R, Stucky GD, Eardley D, and Harriss R. 2014. Methane leaks from North American natural gas systems. Science 343: 733-735.
Howarth RW. 2014. A bridge to nowhere: Methane emissions and the greenhouse gas footprint of natural gas. Energy Science & Engineering, doi 10.1002/ese3.35 onlinelibrary.wiley.
Howarth, R. W., D. Shindell, R. Santoro, A. Ingraffea, N. Phillips, and A. Townsend-Small. 2012. Methane emissions from natural gas systems. Background paper prepared for the National Climate Assessment, Reference # 2011-003, Office of Science & Technology Policy Assessment, Washington, D.C. eeb.cornell.edu/howarth/publications/Howarth et al 2012 National Climate Assessment.pdf
IPCC. 2007. IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (AR4), Working Group 1, The Physical Science Basis. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. www.ipcc.ch/
IPCC. 2013: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. www.ipcc.ch/report/
Miller SM, Wofsy SC, Michalak AM, Kort EA, Andrews AE, Biraud SC, Dlugokencky EJ, Eluszkiewicz J, Fischer ML, Janssens-Maenhout G, Miller BR, Miller JB, Montzka SA, Nehrkorn T, and Sweeney C. 2013. Anthropogenic emissions of methane in the United States. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi 10.1073/pnas.1314392110
Shindell D, and others. 2012. Simultaneously mitigating near-term climate change and improving human health and food security. Science 335: 183-189.
UNEP/WMO. 2011. Integrated Assessment of Black Carbon and Tropospheric Ozone: Summary for Decision Makers. United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization. Nairobi, Kenya.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General. 2013. EPA needs to improve air emissions data for the oil and natural gas production sector, EPA OIG, Washington, D.C.
ATHENS GROUPS SEEK FEDERAL INTERVENTION, CLAIM ILLEGAL NEGLIGENCE IN OHIO INJECTION PROGRAM
Athens, OH June 4, 2014 –– Today Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) and Appalachia Resist! (AR!) appealed to USEPA administrator Gina McCarthy for federal intervention in Ohio’s underground injection program. “We…ask you to immediately undertake a review of the following apparent violations and dangerous operations at the K&H # 2 (Permit No. 34009238230000) in Athens County, Ohio. This report is being made by Appalachia Resist! and the Athens County Fracking Action Network on behalf of citizens of Athens County, Ohio,” the letter states, going on to cite repeated violations and problems with K&H Partners’ wells near Torch Ohio and repeated outcry by Athens residents, including the Athens County Commission, for activity at the site to be stopped until drinking water protection can be assured.
Among problems and violations cited are an unexplained disappearance of more than 200 bags of cement down the hole of the newly drilled K&H2 well and contamination of soil and a nearby stream during the drilling process. “There has been no investigation about the cause of the loss of cement. ODNR reports no consultation with headquarters or state geologists or engineers regarding the problem with the cement, why it might have failed in this geologic setting, and whether or not this poses a threat to the environment or to public health and safety,” the letter states. Regarding the water and soil contamination, the letter states, “As documented in the January 17th inspection report, during construction of K&H2, the drill rig accidentally and unexpectedly hit water in the Sandstone formation 1432 feet down. As the pit began to take on water, nearby water and soil were contaminated. The Ohio EPA Spill Response team was called. The well operating company, Central Environmental Services, used a vacuum truck to attempt to remove contaminated water from the site. Inspection reports show that initially at least 12 tons of contaminated soil and water were removed. Inspection reports show that on January 18th the well operating company used the contaminated soil to build a containment wall around the well pit before being told to remove it. All in all, they removed at least 20 tons of contaminated soil and water from the site.”
ACFAN steering committee member Andrea Reik, stated, “This situation is outrageous. Citizens of this community were ignored by ODNR when we raised concerns about the shoddy and inadequate K&H injection well application, which was just rubber-stamped by ODNR. Our calls for geologic and seismic testing were ignored. Now months later we learn about a spill, stream contamination and concrete ‘lost’ during well construction. Our worst fears have been confirmed.”
Madeline ffitch, of Appalachia Resist!, remarked, “When state regulators prioritize corporate out-of-state profits over the health of local people, repeatedly ignoring our concerns, this is the sort of behavior that pushes local people to enact civil disobedience and direct action in order to be heard. We will continue to appeal through conventional avenues of redress, but cannot afford to wait any longer to take action.”
The letter calls McCarthy and USEPA “to exercise the oversight authority available to … correct the problems with management of the Class II UIC [Underground Injection Control] program. Section 1431 of the SWDA [Safe Drinking Water Act] gives the administrator broad powers to take action to prevent an impending dangerous situation from materializing once she has information that the ‘state and local authorities have not acted to protect the public health.’ It is apparent the K&H2 UIC in Troy Township, Athens County already poses an imminent threat to the community, even more so once it starts to inject waste.”
The letter concludes, “ODNR Oil and Gas personnel continue to demonstrate they have neither the skills nor inclination to manage their Class II UIC program consistent with 21st Century demands and standards. It is imperative that you review this dangerous situation and take appropriate action. We await your response and actions.”
ACFAN also filed a legal appeal of the K&H2 permit in January and is awaiting action by the state Oil and Gas Commission, expected on June 12. The groups are pursuing obtaining public records from the relevant state agencies, which have so far withheld documents until court intervention led to release of some from ODNR. Other ODNR and all OEPA documents are still being sought. (link to appeal: acfan.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/ACFAN-notice-of-appeal-of-KH2-permit.pdf)
Letter to USEPA at appalachiaresist.wordpress.com.
E-mail string between Tomastik and industry consultants also at eenews.net/assets/2014/06/03/document_ew_01.pdf and eenews.net/assets/2014/06/03/document_ew_02.pdf in connection with E&E article of 6-3-14 by Mike Soraghan, E&E reporter: “DISPOSAL: Ohio official deems injection well comments ‘crap’”eenews.net/login?r=%2Fenergywire%2F2014%2F06%2F03%2Fstories%2F1060000598
UPDATE: A day following the ACFAN/AR! appeal to USEPA, Appalachia Resist! member Crissa Cummings locked herself to the gate at the K&H Partners waste facility near Torch, Ohio, shutting down operations for several hours. Coverage on NBC4, Columbus and at ohio.com, Ecowatch, Athens News, and Athens Messenger.
I am writing you urgently just a day after a House Committee voted to approve legislation that will fast track exports of fracked natural gas. Articles out today report that the Senate may attach similar provisions to a bill slated to be heard as early as next week. Hence, time is of the essence, and I urge you to take action. Our speed must match that of the ever-changing gas-rush rhetoric itself.
First, we were told that fracking was the path to U.S. energy independence. But, out on the shale play, bust has followed boom very closely. According to Bloomberg News, drilling and fracking operations must spend $1.50 on oil extraction for every dollar they get back. And productivity is not living up to the hype. In North Dakota’s Bakken shale, 2,500 new wells a year must be drilled and fracked just to maintain a steady output of a million barrels of oil a day. (In Iraq, to get the same amount, you need only 60 wells.)
Then, we were told that fracking was the bridge to a low carbon future. But that promise met death by a thousand leaks. According the latest science, shale gas wells, when drilled, release 100 to 1,000 times more climate-killing methane than previously estimated. And the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has made clear that, precisely because of system-wide fugitive methane emissions, widespread expansion of shale gas extraction will only lead to runaway planetary warming.
Now we’re told that liquefying the results of fracking, and shipping it across the oceans will help with the current crisis in Ukraine. But exported Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) will not be sent in spherical tanks from the United States to Ukraine as a kind of special aid package. Instead, it will be sold on the global market – counties in Asia currently pay the highest price – and even in the rosiest of oil and gas industry concocted scenarios, could not arrive in Ukraine in time to have any impact there.
Now consider that LNG must be chilled and stored at minus 259 degrees Fahrenheit—a cryogenic feat that requires immense amounts of fossil-fuel energy and makes LNG 30 percent worse for the climate than good old, room-temperature gas.
Proposals for 29 U.S. LNG export terminals are now in the works. Each one will cost several billion dollars, take years to construct—and lead to more fracking.
Oh, and then there’s this: LNG facilities are known terrorist targets. Little wonder. LNG is famously explosive and the fires so created burn hotter than other fuels and are not extinguishable by any firefighting tactic.
If evidence and common sense were driving our energy policy, we wouldn’t need to educate our neighbors and elected officials about all these terrifying facts…
Click here for the LNG Fact Sheet.
To that end, we need you to help get folks to write and call their members of Congress—in both the Senate and the House—and urge them to stop the export of fracked gas in the form of LNG. Click here to see how our friends at the Center for Biological Diversity are doing the same.
…it’s critical that we tell our elected representatives to oppose existing legislation which expedites the approval of a slew of liquefied natural gas exports. In the U.S. House of Representatives, this GOP-backed legislation takes the form of H.R. 6, the “Domestic Property and Global Freedom Act.” In the Senate, it’s S.B. 2083, the “American Job Creation and Strategic Alliances LNG Act.”
And if you want talking points above and beyond what you find on the AAF LNG fact sheet, consider these from our friend, Naomi Klein.
Here’s a number for your Senator: 866-661-3342
Go tell it on the mountain.
To the unfractured future,
Sandra Steingraber, PhD
Science Advisor, Americans Against Fracking
This is for real. Check it out:
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, email@example.com
Teresa Perez, World Rainforest Movement, (Uruguay), firstname.lastname@example.org
Almuth Ernsting, Biofuelwatch/Global Forest Coalition, email@example.com
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