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Video: "Gasland" Director Josh Fox Arrested at Congressional Hearing on Natural Gas Fracking

democracynow.org - The Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Josh Fox was handcuffed and arrested Wednesday as he attempted to film a Congressional ... Via Youtube

Fracking Linked to Increased Hospitalizations for Genital and Urinary Issues

Fracking may put Pennsylvania communities at greater risk for skin, genital, and urinary diseases, according to new research. The study, which was published in the...

UK court rules against government policy on fracking

UK’s high court rules that government policy on fracking is unlawful. Read more

The Fracking Industry Encroaches on Southwest Texas

Church in Fort Davis, Texas, at the base of the Davis Mountains.Julie Dermansky for DeSmogSue and James Franklin run a rock and mineral shop...

Fracking Filthy Fuel | Dissident Voice

Burning fossil fuels is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE), and, greenhouse gas emissions (water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4),...
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Video: Oil & Gas Industry Giants Spend Millions in Attempt to Defeat Anti-Fracking Proposition...

https://democracynow.org - Colorado voters have managed to get a statewide anti-fracking measure on the November ballot. Proposition 112 would require ... Via Youtube
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Video: Micro quakes hinder fracking firm’s work, will rules be relaxed?

A fracking company in Britain is calling for rules on gas exploration to be relaxed, despite a string of tremors resulting from its drilling...
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Video: ‘Fracking Three’ released as judge slams original ruling as ‘manifestly excessive’

READ MORE: https://on.rt.com/9gok Three anti-fracking activists who were jailed for blocking access to Cuadrilla's Preston New Road site in Lancashire have ... Via Youtube

‘Fracking Three’ freed as court of appeal declare original ruling ‘manifestly excessive’ — RT...

Three anti-fracking activists who were jailed for blocking access to Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site...
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Video: Keiser Report: Fracking Financial Crisis Lurking (E1277)

Check Keiser Report website for more: http://www.maxkeiser.com/ In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss the next financial crisis lurking ... Via...

Fracking Wastewater Spikes 1,440 Percent in Half Decade

“Previous studies suggested hydraulic fracturing does not use significantly more water than other energy sources, but those findings were based only on aggregated data...

Women in Asia Are Confronting Fracking in the US to Eliminate Plastic Byproducts

Heaps of plastic waste cover the shores of Manila Bay in the Philippines. Myrna Dominguez remembers when an abundance of fish inhabited its waters...
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Video: Keiser Report: Fracking and Russian Trolls (E1227)

In this special double header episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy compare the real data and future for fracking using actual balance...

Despite Disappointing Returns, Oil Driller Pushes Ahead With Fracking Near Rare Texas Wildlands

If you ask the CEO of Apache Corp., his company made in 2016 the kind of once-in-a-lifetime find that every oil driller dreams of: a massive...

Seneca Nation fights fracking treatment plant — RT US News

The Seneca Nation has come out against a proposal that would see 42,000 gallons of fracking...

America Dumps Its Fracking Waste in My Ohio Town

My southeastern Ohio town in the Appalachian foothills is a small, rural place where the demolition derby is a hot ticket, Walmart is the biggest store,...

Anarchists Bragged in April about Sabotaging Railroad Tracks to Block Fracking

ISIS shouldn't be the only terrorist group under suspicion for the Amtrak derailment in Washington this morning. Right now the cause...

Babies born near fracking sites suffer lower birth weight, poorer health – study —...

Published time: 14 Dec, 2017 19:44 The 29,000 babies born each year in the US whose...

Trump administration sued for allowing ‘unlimited’ dumping of fracking waste into Gulf of Mexico...

Published time: 10 Dec, 2017 00:04 The Trump administration is being sued by an activist organization...

Police evict anti-fracking protesters from encampment in Olympia, Washington — RT US News

Published time: 29 Nov, 2017 18:33 Dozens of police, dressed in riot gear and backed up...

Why One Native Family Is Donating Their Fracking Proceeds to Benefit Indian Country

The environmental damage versus the income producing benefits of locating fossil fuel projects in Indian Country has divided some resource-rich Native American nations --...

GOP senator claims Russia behind anti-fracking ads

Published time: 28 Sep, 2017 04:03 The House Committee investigating whether Russia tried to influence US...

BLM Fracking Rule Reinstated by Court of Appeals

Earthjusticehe Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver today vacated a lower court ruling that found the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had exceeded...

Fracking Debate Ramps Up Again in Illinois With First Permit Application Under New Rules

Four years ago, the Illinois legislature passed a law to regulate high volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, after months of contentious negotiations between oil industry interests,...

New York's Fracking Ban Was Supposed to Set a Precedent — but Governor Cuomo...

Anti-fracking protesters gather outside of the auditorium before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his fourth State of the State address on January 8,...
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Video: Oscar-Nominated Actor James Cromwell Speaks Out Before Jail Time for Peaceful Anti-Fracking Protest

https://democracynow.org - Oscar-nominated actor James Cromwell is reporting to jail at 4 p.m. today in upstate New York after he was sentenced to a...

Fracking waste contaminates Penn. watershed with radioactive material

Stream sediments in Pennsylvania downstream from two fracking wastewater treatment facilities were found to contain radioactive...
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Video: Tina Rothery “This Election Is Our Best Chance, To Stop Fracking Destroying The...

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j8c8LhmJ3o&w=580&h=385] Please Support The Show – http://paypal.me/richieallen https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in ... Via Youtube

Colorado must protect health & environment before allowing fracking, court rules

The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed a lower court decision on fracking, siding with a group...

Trump administration to overturn fracking controls on public land

Published time: 16 Mar, 2017 23:55Edited time: 17 Mar, 2017 09:08 Court filings indicate that the US...

Architect of Federal Fracking Loophole May Head Trump Environmental Council

Confidential sources have told Politico that Bill Cooper — current congressional staffer and former fossil fuel industry lobbyist and attorney — is under consideration to head...

Chevron, Aera Energy Sue to Block Monterey County, California's Voter-Approved Ban on Fracking

Last November, voters of Monterey County, California, passed a fracking ban known as Measure Z with 56 percent of the vote, despite being outspent...

Pruitt Ignored Cries to Regulate Fracking in Oklahoma. Now Residents Face Big Oil on...

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, during a confirmation hearing with the Senate Environmental and Public Works committee in Washington, January 18,...

"Biggest Oil Find" of 2016 Puts Crown Jewel Texas Oasis in Crosshairs for Fracking

The prospect of fracking where water is so scarce raises questions about what Americans are willing to sacrifice in the pursuit of fossil fuels....

Green charity defiant after fracking firm complains to advertising watchdog

Green charity Friends of the Earth denies it was forced to stop publishing an anti-fracking leaflet after energy giant Cuadrilla complained to the advertising...

California sues feds over claims offshore fracking had no environmental impact

Citing risks to public health and marine life, California’s state attorney and the state Coastal Commission...

Obama's Grand Finale on Fracking Is Too Little, Too Late

An oil-drilling rig near Douglas, Wyoming, on November 22, 2013. A federal judge on June 21, 2016, struck down an Obama administration regulation on...

Oklahoma residents sue energy companies over fracking quakes

A group of Payne County residents has filed a class-action lawsuit against five energy companies over...

North Dakota fracking co slapped with $2.1mn fine over pollution of Native American reservation

A North Dakota oil drilling company has agreed to pay a $2.1 million fine imposed by...

Dozens of fracking companies sued over record-breaking Oklahoma earthquake

Residents of the small Oklahoma town of Pawnee have filed a class-action lawsuit demanding 27 fracking companies pay for the effects of a 5.8-magnitude...
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Video: Standing Rock Sioux Pediatrician: Threat from Fracking Chemicals is “Environmental Genocide”

http://democracynow.org - In an extended interview with one of the first people arrested in the resistance movement against the Dakota Access pipeline, Dr. Sara...

Fracking gets go ahead, as govt overrules locals in ‘denial of democracy’

Fracking will go ahead in the UK despite objections after ministers overruled a local government...

US fracking giant subpoenaed by DOJ over land purchase, royalty payments

America’s second largest natural gas producer is under investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ)...

EPA Plans to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico

An offshore platform in the Gulf of Mexico. Under current Environmental Protection Agency standards, offshore platform operators can dump unlimited amounts of...

Oklahoma sees dozens of fracking water wells shut down after major earthquake

The authorities in Oklahoma have shut down 37 wastewater wells used by the fracking industry to...

Ohio Residents Clash With State and County Government in Fight to Ban Fracking Via...

A 2012 anti-fracking protest in Ohio. (Photo: Josh Lopez / 350.org) For years, local Ohioans have been told by courts and elected officials...
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Video: Texas earthquakes likely linked to fracking activity – US environmental agency

The US environmental protection agency has linked earthquakes in the state of Texas to fracking activity. RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-air Subscribe to RT! Via Youtube

Why Did Clinton Just Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her Transition...

Hillary Clinton has announced former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. Salazar is a former U.S. senator...
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Video: Why Did Clinton Just Tap a Pro-TPP, Pro-KXL, Pro-Fracking Politician to Head Her...

http://democracynow.org - Hillary Clinton has announced former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar as the head of her transition team. Salazar is a former U.S. ... Via...

New York City set to ban use of fracking waste water

New York City lawmakers have approved a new bill to ban the usage of waste water...

Fracking leaks a major factor in US methane 'hot spot' – NASA

Using airborne thermal infrared spectrometers, a NASA-led team has found 25 leaks due to fracking natural...

EPA science advisers push agency to provide more evidence that fracking is safe

The Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific review board wants the agency to provide more evidence for its...
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Video: Anti-Fracking Activist Tina Rothery Sued For £55,000 By Cuadrilla..For Protesting!!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5dLzSD-aecs&w=580&h=385] Please Support The Show – http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube

Trump rumored to be picking fracking billionaire as energy secretary

If Donald Trump becomes president, America may get a ‘fracker-in-chief’ as its energy minister. Harold Hamm,...
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Video: Gulf of Fracking: 76bn gallons of toxic waste water reportedly dumped into...

The Gulf of Mexico has a troubled past of pollution particularly since the Deep Water Horizon spill in 2010, when 4.9 million barrels of...

US ‘didn’t really study’ impact of toxic chemicals when allowing offshore fracking – activist...

US authorities “didn’t even know what they were allowing” when permitting companies to conduct offshore fracking...

Caustic fracking chemical spills in San Antonio train derailment

A derailed train has spilled approximately 1,000 gallons of sodium hydroxide in San Antonio, Texas, according...

Obama quietly approves hundreds of offshore fracking drills in Gulf of Mexico

The Obama administration has granted hundreds of offshore fracking permits in the Gulf of Mexico, allowing...

Has the Fracking Industry Already Won the 2016 Election?

The most recently available polls on national support for fracking show that 51 percent of Americans are opposed to it, versus only...

How Obama, Clinton, & the DNC forced fracking on the world

This week’s decision by a federal judge to strike down the Obama administration's efforts to regulate,...

Obama-appointed judge destroys chances of federal regulation on fracking

Imposing federal regulations on fracking – one of the Obama administration’s most ambitious targets – has...
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Video: Can Bernie Sanders Help Rewrite Democratic Platform to Ban Fracking & Keep Oil...

http://democracynow.org - As the Democratic platform committee meets in Washington, we speak to Michelle Chan, spokesperson for Friends of the Earth Action. Via Youtube

2 federal agencies open fracking door for California

Fracking is getting a new lease on life in oil-rich California, much to the dismay of...

The Trouble with Fracking Fiction

A character in Jennifer Haigh’s latest novel, Heat and Light, allegedly poisons her daughter but tries to convince her husband and friends that the...

‘Declaration of war’: North Yorkshire fracking approval sparks outrage

Anti-fracking campaigners have lambasted North Yorkshire council for unleashing an assault on citizens’ rights to...

Humans causing Texas quakes since 1925, long before fracking – study

Just as the world is coming to terms with the dangers of fracking and the effects...

Fracking's Air Pollution Puts Infants and Children at Risk of Developing Heart, Lung Problems:...

(Photo: Justus Hayes; Edited: LW / TO) A newly published peer-reviewed study concludes that air pollution from fracking puts people's lungs, hearts, and immune systems...

Florida fracking fightback: St Petersburg joins push against controversial drilling

Fracking faces strong opposition in the US city St Petersburg, which is on the verge of...

Colonel Sanders: Bernie heads to Kentucky after anti-fracking speech in ND

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders will rally with thousands of voters in Bowling Green, Kentucky Saturday...

North Dakota contaminated with radioactive materials from fracking – study

A new study has revealed significant contamination of soil and water in North Dakota from radioactive materials, heavy metals and corrosive salts as a...

Unconventional no more: Two-thirds of natural gas comes from fracking

In just 15 years, gas produced from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has grown from 7 percent...

‘Invalid and unenforceable’: Colorado court rules for state power over city fracking ban

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that state power over oil and gas industry regulation preempted local...

Colorado Supreme Court Strips the Constitutional Right To Enact Local Fracking Bans

DENVER, Co. - Today, the Colorado Supreme Court struck down the rights of Coloradans to protect their health, safety and wellbeing from fracking through...

UK public's support for fracking hits record low, renewables support surges – survey

Public support for fracking has hit a record low among Brits, while support for the...
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Video: ‘Waiting for moratorium on fracking’ – Australian MP who set river on fire...

Fracking should be banned as a “global threat” as it causes methane leaks contaminating water in the communities near gas wells, says Jeremy Buckingham,...
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Video: River on fire! Aussies literally set water ablaze near fracking site

A Queensland river near a fracking site exploded into flames after a coal seam gas (CSP) protester sparked a kitchen lighter above the water...

Could a Democratic President End Fracking?

Kaye Fissinger, a supporter of her town's fracking ban, holds a sign promoting the ban at the site of a planned oil...

‘Wake-up call’: Study finds fracking can pollute underground drinking water

A Stanford University study shows that fracking can pollute underground drinking water. Using publicly available data...
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Video: Vanessa Vine on How The UK Government Is Redefining Fracking To Suppress Opposition...

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VelPXGJe-ZQ&w=580&h=385] Please Support The Show – http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieallenshow http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenShowMedia Tune in at ... Via Youtube

Fracking Creates Massive Radioactive Waste Problem

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) openly acknowledges that fracking fluid contains “thousands of chemicals”, but nowhere is there mention of radioactivity in its risk...

EPA has not been watching fracking sites for groundwater contamination

A report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that regulators at the Environmental Protection Agency...

Majority of Americans oppose fracking – poll

More than half of Americans are opposed to fracking in pursuit of oil and gas, according...

Fracking earthquakes could cause devastation for millions of Americans

For the first time, USGS includes human caused seismicity in predictive map Lauren McCauley Oil and gas drilling has made parts of the central United States...

ALEC-Backed Lawmakers Stymie Anti-Fracking and Pro-Pot Ballot Initiatives

Activists pushing anti-fracking ballot initiatives in Michigan are being held up by state lawmakers. (Photo: Daniel Foster / Flickr; Edited: JR /...

Walden pond cabin built for Thoreau-inspired fracking pipeline protest

More than a century and a half after his death, early environmentalist and author Henry David...
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Video: Keiser Report: Greek Tragedies in Fracking Sector (E887)

Check Keiser Report website for more: http://www.maxkeiser.com/ In this episode of the Keiser Report, Max and Stacy discuss Greek tragedies in the fracking ... Via...

Fracking Becomes an Issue in Presidential Primaries

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump at campaign rally in New Orleans. (Photo: Julie Dermansky) Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary...

’Gasland’ families win $4.24mn fracking lawsuit

(RT) - A federal jury has ordered Cabot Oil & Gas to pay more than $4.24...

Pushing Carbon Tax and Fracking Ban, Sanders Lays Down Gauntlet on Climate

"I hope that Secretary Clinton would join me if we are serious about climate change, about imposing a tax on carbon on the fossil...
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Video: Bernie Vs. Hillary: Who Will Stop the Fracking?

Fracking causes water contamination, Bernie Sanders says “no” to fracking, Steve Horn of DeSmogblog.org says, Hillary has received over 4.5 million in ... Via Youtube

Natural Gas Becomes a Fracking Mess

Until late last year, Laura Gideon’s family lived in Porter Ranch on the outskirts of Los Angeles. “We didn’t ever want to leave,” Gideon...

Watch as UK police storm peaceful anti-fracking protest camp

Nine activists who oppose the controversial fracking technique for extracting gas from the ground were arrested by UK police Tuesday. Protestors took control of the...

Video: Tina Rothery: “Oklahoma Earthquakes Prove Fracking Should Be Outlawed Immediately!”

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cTJg1G0QWjw&w=580&h=385] Please Support The Show — http://richieallen.co.uk/ https://www.facebook.com/therichieall... http://www.youtube.com/RichieAllenSho... Tune in at 8pm GMT Mon ... Via Youtube

New Study Highlights Big Unknowns of Public Health Harm From Fracking’s Chemical Cocktail

Researchers had information on reproductive and developmental toxicity for only 24 percent of over 1,000 chemicals they looked at by Andrea Germanos Add this to the body...
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Video: We are Sacrifice Zones: Native Leader Says Toxic North Dakota Fracking Fuels Violence...

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHsU2uAks2Q&w=580&h=385] "What we're dealing with is a death by a thousand cuts," says North Dakota indigenous leader Kandi Mossett of the impact of the...

New Environmental Inspectors Offered Free Industry-Funded Classes on Fracking

At an industry conference in Philadelphia last month, oil and gas executives gathered to hear about a little-known public relations effort with a very...

EU Fracking Guidelines Fail to Protect Citizens

EU guidelines on how member states carry out shale gas exploration and production are failing to protect the environment and the health of citizens,...

From Anti-Fracking Movement to OPEC: Shale Drives New Geoeconomics of Oil

The emergence of fracking has modified the global market for fossil fuels. But the plunge in oil prices has diluted the effect, in a...
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Video: Vivienne Westwood drives tank to Cameron’s house, declares war on fracking

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkabzpoAZkI&w=580&h=385] Famous fashion designer and British icon Vivienne Westwood drove a tank to British Prime Minister David Cameron's house in Oxfordshire, Friday, to protest...

Video: Vivienne Westwood drives tank to Cameron’s house, declares war on fracking

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UkabzpoAZkI&w=580&h=385] Famous fashion designer and British icon Vivienne Westwood drove a tank to British Prime Minister David Cameron's house in Oxfordshire, Friday, to protest...

Fracking Fallout: New Analysis Reveals Over 100 Million Gallons of Toxic Wastewater Spilled Since...

Associated Press investigation finds more than 180 million gallons of fracking byproduct spilled from 2009 to 2014, tainting agricultural land, poisoning drinking water, and...

Video: Tina Rothery Talks Fracking, Jeremy Corbyn’s Campaign & The Sexualization Of Children.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBdHyXEJM9A&w=580&h=385] Please Support The Show — http://richieallenshow.com/donate/ http://richieallenshow.com/ https://www.facebook.com/richieallenshow ... Via Youtube

Pennsylvania Family Deals With Water Contamination Linked to Fracking Industry

The Chichura family has flammable well water, most likely due to a fracking job gone wrong in Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County. Their water well, along...

Living near fracking wells raises risk of heart failure, nerve damage, cancer and more,...

The health risks associated with unconventional oil and gas drilling (UGOD), i.e. hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," have been of concern to many since the...

UK government rips up restrictions on fracking

By Trevor Johnson The UK government decision to allow fracking in and around Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), places designated by law for the protection...
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Video: Top Financial Expert: Fracking Bubble May Burst

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2brzlDvu7vc&w=580&h=385] Financial expert breaks down how China will have a bounce back up before they fall hard. http://harrydent.com/ Help us spread the word about...

Video: Meredith McLeod Reporting On New York Banning Fracking For The Richie Allen Show!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SV8M1WDRB4g&w=580&h=385] Please Support The Show — http://richieallenshow.com/donate/ http://richieallenshow.com/ https://www.facebook.com/richieallenshow ... Via Youtube

Can Simply Living Near a Fracking Site Send You to the Hospital?

Residents living near shale gas wells are more likely to be admitted to hospitals for heart, nervous system, and other medical issues by Nadia Prupis People living...

EPA study whitewashes the effects of fracking

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. By Philip Guelpa The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the final draft...
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Video: Denton Gears Up For Bigger Fight Over Fracking

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UniOIlhtqc&w=580&h=385] After last month's decision to repeal Denton's ban on fracking, activists are looking to build a coalition of cities across the state of...

Texas-sized Hypocrisy Served Up in Denton Over Fracking Ban

Last February, Texas Governor Greg Abbott delivered his first State of the State and made some promising proclamations. “It’s time for property owners —...

Cuadrilla fracking application rejected by Lancashire Council

(RT) - Lancashire County Council has unanimously voted to reject a planning application for fracking in the region. Residents and environmentalists, who have been protesting...

Official: Fracking Causes Earthquakes

The surge in earthquakes shaking Oklahoma, Texas and other parts of the nation's mid-section are likely caused by million of gallons of toxic oil...
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Video: How the Media & EPA Mislead the Public on Fracking

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfNRU0xNFC8&w=580&h=385] Environmental activist Josh Fox, who was recently kicked off of Fox News, says a recent EPA study contradicts itself on fracking safety. Via Youtube

Fracking causes lower birth weights – study

(Common Dreams) - In an alarming new study, University of Pittsburgh researchers revealed that pregnant parents who live in close proximity to fracking wells are...

Fracking Protests Continue in Texas as New ALEC-Backed Law Bars Towns From Banning Drilling

Democracy Now! - The city of Denton, Texas is in a showdown with Big Oil after it tried to pass a ban on fracking...
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Fracking Documentary Preview: Don’t Frack With Denton

This is the opening chapter of Don't Frack With Denton, a documentary about how an exploited but tenacious and creative town managed to upstage...
Reuters / Terry Wade

Fracking linked to rise in Texas quakes

Another slam-dunk for the anti-fracking lobby, as new evidence draws a more direct link between hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes in North Texas. The study...

Fracking’s Joy Ride Will End

The White House fracking regulations announced last month appear to curtail environmentally destructive practices while maintaining higher oil production with lower prices. In reality,...

Anti-fracking coalition responds to Senate hearing on oil regulations

The California State Senate today held an oversight hearing in Sacramento to examine why California oil regulators issued hundreds of illegal permits that allowed...

Oklahoma knew fracking caused earthquakes but stayed quiet to appease energy industry

Oklahoma has suspected for years that fracking caused earthquakes, but they stayed quiet about the connection under pressure from the oil industry. The Oklahoma Geological...

Internal Documents Reveal Extensive Industry Influence Over EPA’s National Fracking Study

In 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched an ambitious and highly consequential study of the risks that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, poses to...

Fracking Industry Showdown Preceding Stricter Fugitive Emissions Ordinances in Mansfield, Texas

Sharon Wilson, Earthworks’ Gulf Regional Organizer, described FLIRcamera footage she shot of a fracking industry site on January 29 in Mansfield, Texas, as ‘the...

Fracking Boom Expands Near Chaco Canyon, Threatens Navajo Ancestral Lands and People

Beneath a giant methane gas cloud recently identified by NASA, the oil and gas fracking industry is rapidly expanding in northwestern New Mexico. Flares...

US media in propaganda war with global anti-fracking activism

As 2014 comes to a close the American mainstream media has represented the most aggressive attack on global environmental movements that defend peoples’ right...

New York State Just Banned Fracking

After years of wrangling between environmentalists, lawmakers, and fossil fuel companies, New York's top public health administrator said he would ban fracking in the...

Fracking ban goes into effect in its birthplace

An unprecedented ban on fracking went into effect Tuesday in Denton, Texas, a town of 123,000 located on top of the natural-gas goldmine that...

Fracking a ‘Violation of Our Basic Human Rights’, Argues New Report

RICHARD HEASMAN A hard hitting report commissioned by the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation was delivered this week to David Cameron and called on the...

Bush Family and Its Inner Circle Play Central Role in Lawsuits Against Denton, Texas...

STEVE HORN On November 4, Denton, Texas,became the first city in the state to ban the process of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) when 59 percent of voters...

Texas Regulator Says She Won’t Honor Town’s Fracking Ban

Statement by Railroad Commission Chairwoman is just latest attack on ban since it passed one week ago Sarah Lazare A Texas regulator declared last week she...

Bush Family and Its Inner Circle Play Central Role in Lawsuits Against Denton, Texas...

On November 4, Denton, Texas,became the first city in the state to banthe process of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) when 59 percent of voters cast...

Federal Reserve Policy Keeps Fracking Bubble Afloat and That May Change Soon

In August 2005, the U.S. Congress and then-President George W. Bush blessed the oil and gas industry with a game-changer: the Energy Policy Act...

First Texan City Bans Fracking

Voters in Denton, Texas approved a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on Tuesday, making the city the first in Texas to outlaw the...

How Putin Became a Central Figure in the First Ever Vote to Ban Fracking...

Steve Horn and Alexandra Tempus On September 8, a Texas state regulatory agency sent a letter to United States Secretary of State John Kerry, suggesting...

Fracking triggered 400 earthquakes in Ohio

A new study on the practice of hydraulic fracturing has found a direct connection to some 400 micro-earthquakes in an Ohio town. This is...

9 Good Reasons to Ban Fracking Immediately

The natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, has simultaneously become a cash cow for unimaginably wealthy energy companies,...

Fracking Firm Pretends to Care About Cancer, When In Fact Fracking Chemicals Cause It

It's a bit hypocritical given that the chemicals released from fracking operations actually cause cancer. Sandra Steingraber What do you get when you cross a breast cancer charity...

Regulators Shut Down Toxic Fracking Sand Mine They Say Was ‘Running Wild’

The incident illustrates lack of local oversight at the beginning of shale gas extraction cycle Deirdre Fulton Wisconsin regulators have shut down a frac sand mine...

Siemens Spends $7 Billion To Enter US Fracking Market

German engineering giant Siemens AG said Monday it will buy US oil services company Dresser-Rand for $7.6 billion, a move that will give the...

Fracking Industry Resorts to Crude Caricatures and Economic Nationalism

Ryan McMaken The hydraulic fracturing (fracking)  industry is fighting regulations or outright bans against fracking in a variety of states and localities. There are many...

UK Protesters Launch Widespread Actions Against Fracking

Targeting both industry and government, series of direct actions kicks off week-long anti-fracking camp in Blackpool, England Lauren McCauley Targeting everything from government offices and university...

Stop Fracking Our Oceans, Californians Say

Miyoko Sakashita Contaminated water, polluted air, increased earthquake risk: As fracking has expanded across America, this dangerous form of oil and gas production has caused...

Critic: Censored Report Shows UK Government has ‘Something to Hide’ About Fracking

Department of Environment report on fracking impacts redacted 62 times in just 13 pages Lauren McCauley Critics of fracking in the United Kingdom assailed the British...

Judge Throws Out Colorado City’s Fracking Ban

Fort Collins voters put a five-year ban on fracking in November, but a judge ruled that it 'impeded the state's interest' Andrea Germanos Developing... Voters in Fort...

Boss Who Ordered Employees to Dump Fracking Waste in River Hit With Prison Sentence

Contractor given 28-month prison sentence, $25,000 fine by U.S. district judge Andrea Germanos The owner of a Youngstown, Ohio-based company was sentenced on Tuesday to over two years...

UK enslaved to money… and fracking

William Blake was thinking of Jesus when he wrote these seminal words, but many English rural dwellers are thinking of Blake's prose now as...

Residents with Neglected Fracking-Related Health Complaints Urge Action from Attorney General

Harrisburg, Pa. — Today, individuals from around Pennsylvania who had fracking-related health complaints ignored by the state’s Department of Health (DOH) shared their stories...

Colorado Judge Lets Fracking Trump Public Health

Boulder County district court judge strikes down city of Longmont's fracking ban Andrea Germanos A Colorado district court judge on Thursday invalidated the city of Longmont's fracking ban,...

Pennsylvania Fracking Regulators ‘Woefully’ Unprepared, Says State Audit

Environmental group: “The auditor general has confirmed what Pennsylvania residents have long been experiencing: The impacts of gas development are real, intense, and not being...

New York State of Fracking: Court cases. A governor’s moratorium. Pending health study.

A quick guide to the state of fracking in New York. Naveena Sadasivam New York is one of a handful of states around the country that...

CA Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

State’s drought has forced farmers to rely on groundwater, even as California aquifers have been intentionally polluted due to exemptions for oil industry. Abrahm Lustgarten California...

A Fracking Boondoggle

The public would pay a heavy price for a $4 billion gas export terminal in Maryland at Cove Point. Tracy Fernandez Rysavy A few years ago,...

5 Shocking Places Where Fracking Is Taking Off

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Will South Africa Allow Shale Gas “Hydraulic Fracking” in the Karoo?

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News – South Africa is possibly moving forward with a plan to allow Shell Oil Company to explore and develop natural gases through the highly controversial ‘Hydraulic Fracking’ technology in the region of Karoo. The South African based company that produces liquid fuels, chemicals and electricity ‘Sosal’ is optimistic that that the shale gas industry would develop under the current government. Australia’s Sunbird Energy has been exploring and developing oil and gas projects in South Africa, notably the Ibhubesi Gas Field in the West coast.

Fracking is a water-intensive process where millions of gallons of fluids of water, sand, and chemicals (some known to cause cancer) are injected underground at high-pressure to fracture rocks surrounding an oil or gas well. This releases the extra oil and gas from the rock that flows directly into the well. Establishing new well sites also takes drilling and encasing the well where the process of fracking begins. It uses trucks that operate heavy equipment and material that is needed to remove toxic waste. Where toxic waste will be disposed of is another issue. Fracking contributes to air and water pollution and devalues the land it operates on. Fracking technology threatens the air we breathe and the water we drink. But the South African government and Sasol are interested in developing the economy, but fracking technology poses numerous health risks and in the long-term destroys the environment. Karoo has a number of towns that amounts to a population of 71, 000 who live in close proximity to the proposed fracking sites that are dependent of natural ground water. The decision to allow fracking would cause major problems as acid drainage from the mines would contaminate food and water supplies.

In a report by iafrica.com, an online news source stated that “Sasol is keen to invest in South Africa’s shale gas industry once it gets going, the petrochemical group’s CEO David Constable said. The move could challenge major oil player Royal Dutch Shell, which is reportedly one of the front runners to explore the Karoo area for shale gas.” The Karoo is a natural region that consists of two main areas. The Little Karoo is often associated as the wet Karoo and the Great Karoo consists of mainly dessert. Fracking is proposed for the latter. “Fracking in the Karoo could unlock one of the world’s biggest gas reserves and the government is keen to development the industry, as it views it as a potential game changer for the country’s economy” the report said. It would develop profits for the energy sector in the short-term but destroy South Africa’s natural resources located in the Karoo. According to Bernama, a news agency based in Malaysia reported that the South African government will conduct research in respect to the economic and social impacts of Fracking technology. The report ‘South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province Launches Study on Impact of Shale Gas Development’ stated the following:

The government of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province has set wheels in motion preparing for massive exploration and production of shale gas in the Karoo Basin, which covers some 600,000 square kilometres in central and southern South Africa and contains thick, organic rich shales.

The provincial government has embarked on a 16 million-Rand (US$1.49 million) research project with the Nelson Mandela University to determine the socio-economic implications of shale gas development in the province.

The Karoo is one of the few major basins in the world where the natural baseline is still intact and the provincial government views the pending extraction of shale gas there as a potential game-changer of the province’s economic fortunes.

According to the iafrica.com report it said that “In late 2013, the government lifted its moratorium on fracking in the Karoo but also imposed new regulations to govern shale gas exploration.” It is an indication that South Africa is on board to move ahead with shale gas fracking technologies since they already implemented regulations Shell Oil Company would have to follow under the South African government. “I am very excited because of the technologies we can bring to the table. We’ve got shale gas upstream experience in British Columbia,” Sasol chief executive David Constable said in a Fin24 report.” Sasol wants to tap into the natural gas industry “We want to get involved and participate and monetize that gas in country with gas to liquid, gas to power, gas to chemicals,” he said. Constable said that Sasol’s experience in British Columbia would enable it to frack the Karoo in “an environmentally friendly fashion.” According to ‘e news channel Africa (eNCA), the South African government is looking forward to the new technology as it claims that it will create new jobs creation and cost-efficient energy resources for the public:

Government is excited about major game-changing discoveries of untapped potential for petroleum development, spanning both off-shore and on-shore, including shale gas. We will move ahead decisively, yet responsibly, with the exploration of shale gas,” said Shabangu. She said government won’t simply brush aside the concerns of activists and communities in the Karoo. “There’ll be a public campaign to visit communities who may be affected to explain what will happen,” she said. Shabangu said the final regulations for the exploration of shale gas are being finalised and will be published shortly

Maybe the South African government should visit shale gas ‘fracking’ sites around the world especially in places like Texas or Pennsylvania that is causing major health problems. An online anti-fracking website called www.nyagainstfracking.org quoted Dr. Sheila Bushkin, MD, MPH of the Institute for Health and the Environment at University at Albany on what the impact of shale gas fracking:

These stories from Pennsylvania are very alarming,” she said. “The perspective of the gas industry fails to show adequate concern for the long-term health and quality of life of people. When you listen to the personal experiences of actual residents of Pennsylvania and other states where fracking has gone forward, you will hear stories of dead cows, pets, sick children, poisoned water and other serious health and environmental problems. These stories confirm our need for much greater research and evidence-based scientific facts”

Let’s hope South Africa would reverse its course for the sake of the South African population and its natural resources. According to www.news24.com, “Multinational Royal Dutch Shell states that fracking in the Karoo for shale gas may not be financially viable” since it is not confirmed how much natural gas is actually available in the Karoo. Shell Oil Company knows that fracking is not environmentally safe for the health of the community it directly affects, but profits over human life do take precedence in this situation.

Sanctions on Russia’s Energy Sector: Shale Gas ‘Fracking’ Will Invade Europe?

Timothy Alexander Guzman, Silent Crow News - Fracking will be “good for our country,” was a statement made by British Prime Minister David Cameron at a recent Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague according to the UK based news agency The Guardian.  Cameron believes that the fracking industry will have the public’s support since reliance on Russia’s energy sources will be halted if sanctions are imposed due to the political crisis in the Ukraine.  The Obama administration is also proposing a joint US-EU trade deal with its European partners that would reduce Europe’s dependence on Russia’s energy resources.  The Guardian reported Cameron’s statement regarding shale gas fracking in Europe:

The prime minister said that once wells are up and running later this year, there would be more public enthusiasm, and exploiting shale gas reserves could help Europe wean itself off reliance on exports from Russia” and that “The Ukraine crisis has increased the urgency of European efforts to find alternative sources of energy to reduce the leverage Russia’s oil and gas supplies give it across the continent 

Has the Ukraine crisis opened the doors for shale gas fracking in Europe? The United States and the European Union are currently negotiating an agreement since July of 2013. In a recent report titled ‘No Fracking Way: How the EU-US trade agreement risks expanding fracking’ by Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute among others stated what the Transalantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is capable of in terms of the rights of corporations involved in the fracking industry:

The TTIP deal threatens to give more rights to companies through a clause called an ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ (ISDS). If included in the deal, this would enable corporations to claim damages in secret courts or ‘arbitration panels’ if they deem their profits are adversely affected by changes in a regulation or policy. This threatens democratically agreed laws designed to protect communities and the environment. Companies which claim their investments (including expectations of future profits) are affected by a change in government policies could have the right to seek compensation through private international tribunals. US companies (or any company with a subsidiary in the US) investing in Europe could use these far-reaching investor rights to seek compensation for future bans or other regulation on fracking. These tribunals are not part of the normal judicial system, but are specifically set up for investment cases. Arbitrators have a strong bias towards investors – and no specialised knowledge about our climate or fracking. Companies are already using existing investment agreements to claim damages from governments, with taxpayers picking up the tab. Investor-state dispute settlement is becoming increasingly controversial as mining and energy firms use it to challenge public policies. For example, the Swedish energy giant Vattenfall is seeking more than €3.7 billion from Germany in compensation after the country voted to phase out nuclear power; Pacific Rim, a Canadian-based mining company is demanding US$315 million in compensation from El Salvador after the government refused permission for a potentially devastating gold mining project4; and Lone Pine Resources is suing Canada for Cdn$250 million over a fracking moratorium in the Canadian province of Quebec 

“Claim damages in Secret courts” should be worrisome for communities all across Europe who is in opposition to fracking on their lands. The European Commission’s fact sheet ‘Investment Protection and Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement in EU agreements’ describes one of the provisions within the agreements:

In addition, in EU trade agreements the key investment protection standards are drafted in a detailed and precise manner, in particular making clear that the States’ right to regulate is preserved. 

In this context clarifications to two key provisions are made: 

Firstly, ‘indirect expropriation’ is one of the most controversial provisions in the investment protection system. Indirect expropriation is when government measures, while not directly taking property away, have the effect of doing so (e.g. the removal of a license required to operate a factory). This provision has been used by some investors to challenge public authorities’ bans for health reasons of chemical products or the introduction of new stricter environmental legislation. 

Future EU agreements will provide a detailed set of provisions giving guidance to arbitrators on how to decide whether or not a government measure constitutes indirect expropriation, thus aiming at preventing abuse of the system.  

In particular, when the state is protecting the public interest in a non-discriminatory way, the right of the state to regulate should prevail over the economic impact of those measures on the investor. These much needed clarifications will make sure that companies cannot be compensated just because their profits have been reduced through the effects of regulations enacted for a public policy objective. The Commission has negotiated provisions with Canada and Singapore which makes this clear, and the language will also be included in future agreements

If the European Union and the United States finalize the TTIP agreement then the anti-fracking opposition will grow through a grassroots movement. With Austerity measures being met with protests and violence throughout Europe, fracking would sure add fuel to the fire in an already tense situation. This past week the “March of Dignity” in Spain took place ending in violent clashes between the police and protesters. In the UK, anti-fracking protesters are growing despite PM David Cameron’s recent statement when he said that “I think something positive should come out of [the situation in Ukraine] for Europe which is to take a long hard look at its energy resilience, and its energy independence. And I hope it will lead to some really useful work being done” he continued “Britain is not reliant on Russian gas to any extent, it’s just a few percentage points of our gas intake. But the variety around Europe is very, very wide. Some countries are almost 100% reliant on Russian gas so I think it is something of a wake-up call and I think action will be taken.” New energy sanctions imposed on Russia will affect the European Union economically, environmentally and politically as the realization of the fracking technology breeds grassroots awareness in Europe’s already fragile state.

European leaders are not interested in democracy for the Ukrainian people or in their own countries economic woes; it is interested in profits that would generate jobs and growth. The UK based ‘The Independent’ reported in 2012 what Lord Browne, a former BP chief executive, who is a director of the shale gas “fracking” company Cuadrilla said regarding shale gas fracking “We could potentially double the reserves of gas in the UK, we could add 50,000 jobs maybe, and probably even reduce the price of gas.” In an article released by www.ecowatch.com in 2013, disagrees with the shale gas fracking industry’s assessment on job creation. “Industry supporters have exaggerated the jobs impact in order to minimize or avoid altogether taxation, regulation and even careful examination of shale drilling” said Frank Mauro, executive director of the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York” according to the article:

Shale drilling has created jobs, particularly in Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and cushioned some drilling-intensive areas in those states from the worst effects of the Great Recession and the weak recovery. As this report documents, however, the number of shale jobs created is far below industry claims and remains a small share of overall employment

Fracking will be at the expense of local communities throughout Europe that would eventually lead to violent demonstrations against their governments who are interested in corporate profits over the people and the environment. Sanctions on the resource rich Russian Federation will backfire on the citizens of the European Union most of all. The US-EU plan to surround Russia with American and NATO bases over the crisis in the Ukraine is not the only intended goal.  It also supports the idea to force the European community to accept shale gas fracking as an alternative right under their feet without depending on Russia’s natural resources.  How convenient!

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Common Dreams Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community. Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Source:...

Protectors Vs Destroyers – Canadians Unite to Stop Fracking in New Brunswick

For the past two weeks, an unprecedented coalition of Acadians, Anglophones and members of the Elsipogtog First Nation have blockaded a compound in the...

Protectors Vs Destroyers – Canadians Unite to Stop Fracking in New Brunswick

For the past two weeks, an unprecedented coalition of Acadians, Anglophones and members of the Elsipogtog First Nation have blockaded a compound in the...

Canada Anti-Fracking Protests: First Nations Confront Harper Government

This week's anti-fracking protest has put Canada's First Nations at the forefront of Canada's political life, injecting spirit back into our moribund political scene....

Federal Police and New Brunswick Government Assault First Nations Anti-Fracking Protest

On October 17 the RCMP launched a violent assault on a blockade protest against shale gas fracking company on the outskirts of the New...

Canadian Government Usurps First Nations Land Rights. Oil and Gas Fracking supported by RCMP...

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.”— George Orwell Canada's colonial past is present, however much...

Serving a Corporate Agenda: Canada’s RCMP Brutalize Indigenous People for Opposing Fracking on Their...

Moncton, New Brunswick – I have been camping at the current blockade along highway 134 since the inception of the encampment, filing almost daily reports for the Media Coop. During June and July of this year, when protests against shale gas exploration in New Brunswick were of far less national interest, I was doing the same.

Around 6am yesterday morning, October 17th, RCMP forces again blocked off both sides of the anti-shale gas encampment along highway 134, this time with an as yet unseen amount of police force. For numerous days prior, RCMP were allowing first walking traffic, then one lane of automobile traffic, to pass freely through the blockaded area. Anti-shale activists, as a measure of good faith, and in deference to emergency vehicles in particular, had days earlier removed two felled trees that had completely blocked off vehicular traffic.

The move, of course, allowed traffic flow to resume to near normal. It also allowed unhindered access to RCMP, who as it will be made clear were scouting out the area and making plans for an ultimate take-down of the traffic-slowing, but completely peaceful, protest.

Yesterday, I first heard that the roads were blocked off by someone screaming in a tented area near the entrance gate to the compound that housed SWN Resources Canada’s seismic testing equipment, in the vicinity of where I was camped. At the time, I was asleep.

I could hear police beginning to identify themselves, and a rustling through the trees that suggested numerous bodies moving around. RCMP, I surmised, were everywhere, and the always possible event of the RCMP serving SWN’s injunction against blocking their equipment was upon us.

SWN, the Texas-based gas company, had earlier been given a ten day extension to their injunction against the encampment, due to expire on October 21st. We had heard that the injunction had been printed in Irving-owned newspapers. Due to Irving’s collusion with SWN (the compound in which SWN’s equipment was housed, for example, is Irving-owned), there had been something of a ban on Irving newspapers. We had also been advised by various sources that peace would remain at the encampment until at least Friday, October 18th, when a public hearing against the injunction was set to occur at the Moncton courthouse.

Clearly not.

I grabbed my car keys and ran the 100-odd metres towards the Mi’kmaq Warrior encampment.

What I saw was surprising.

The ditch opposite me was already filled with 20-odd police in tactical blue uniforms, pistols already drawn. Three police officers dressed in full camouflage, one with a short-chained German Shepherd, were also near the ditch.

In the far field, creeping towards the Warrior encampment – which was comprised of one trailer and about ten tents – were at least 35 more police officers. Many of these wore tactical blue and had pistols drawn. At least three officers were wearing full camouflage and had sniper rifles pointed at the amassing group. The Warriors, for their part, numbered about 15.

Through a police loud speaker towards the highway 11 off-ramp, an officer began reading the injunction against the blocking of SWN’s seismic equipment. This was all before dawn.

Still in the pre-dawn dark, about seven molotov cocktails flew out of the woods opposite the police line stationed in the ditch. I cannot verify who threw these cocktails. They were – if it matters – lobbed ineffectively at the line of police and merely splashed small lines of fire across the road. A lawn chair caught fire from one cocktail. Two camouflaged officers then pumped three rounds of rubber bullet shotgun blasts into the woods.

Shortly after, three so-called warriors with a journalist in tow – who claim to have arrived two nights ago from Manitoba – appeared to have determined that the situation was too extreme for them. Two of them have since been identified as Harrisen Freison and ‘Eagle Claw’. They promptly ran down the road towards the far end of the police blockade. Until last night no one had ever seen these individuals before.

About ten minutes later, with tensions now becoming highly escalated between the encroaching line of police in the field adjacent to the encampment and the Warriors now on a public dirt road, two officers approached Seven Bernard, chief of the Warrior Society. They attempted to serve Bernard with SWN’s contentious injunction. Dozens of guns from all angles were pointed at all of us.

Seven Bernard began to walk away from the officer attempting to serve him the injunction. If it matters, the officer in question was the same Sergeant Rick Bernard who had earlier in the summer arrested me on charges of threats and obstruction of justice – both of which amounted to nothing and were subsequently dropped.

Sergeant Bernard threw the injunction at his namesake, saying: “Consider yourself served.”

I could hear the RCMP surrounding us speaking about someone having a gun. I did not see any Warrior carrying a firearm. I can say with certainty, however, that no live round was ever fired by the Warrior side. If, as the RCMP are now claiming, that a single shot was discharged, it was not from this altercation.

Before continuing, it is important to note that the Warrior encampment was on government – or Crown – land. Crown land, legally, is being held for Canada’s indigenous people, in this case the Mi’kmaq people. Through negligence of the Crown, this is often forgotten, especially by Canada’s non-indigenous populations.

Equally as forgotten is the fact that none of Canada’s Maritime provinces are ceded land. The Crown is tied to the original indigenous inhabitants – and their land – through treaties of peace and friendship. Nothing more.

It is also important to note that the entire encroaching police formation was focused on a group of about 15 Warriors, all of whom were now on a public dirt road, away from SWN’s so-called blockaded equipment.

The injunction was meant to focus on protestors blocking access to SWN’s equipment on highway 134. All of the subsequent arrests at this end of the altercation were made on Hannah Road.

With RCMP forces having entirely overwhelmed any remaining activists at the compound gate, the question must be asked:

Why focus on a small band of Warriors, clearly away from all of SWN’s equipment and entirely incapable of reforming a blockade, with over 60 guns of various calibre drawn on them?

Indeed, a van belonging to one Lorraine Clair from Elsipogtog First Nation had the evening before been removed from the compound gate. It was the main blocking factor to SWN’s – or anybody’s, really – access to their equipment.

Tensions at this stand-off further escalated when a group of Elsipogtog youth began running up the dirt road towards the Warriors, and police. It is unclear how the youth, on foot, had managed to come up a back road towards a highly volatile situation. The police attempted to halt the approaching youth, for what reason is unclear.

Mi’kmaq Warrior Suzanne Patles, in a last ditch attempt to defuse a situation now spiralling into a screaming match with police guns pointing in every direction, ran into the middle of the field screaming: “We were given this tobacco last night!”

Now crying, in her hand she held a plug of tobacco, provided to her by RCMP negotiators wrapped in red cloth as a traditional token of peace the night before.

Skirmishes then broke out in every direction. From the highway side, District War Chief Jason Augustine was being chased by numerous police. In front of me, everywhere really, Warriors were being taken down by numerous RCMP officers in various clothes. Rubber bullet shots were fired by the RCMP, and both Jim Pictou and Aaron Francis both claim that they were hit – in the back and leg respectively.

I continued to try photographing what had quickly become a chaotic scene until one officer in camouflage and assault rifle pointed at me, saying: “He’s with them. Take him out!”

I was taken to the ground and arrested.

Myself and approximately 25 individuals then spent a varying amount of time at the Codiac detention centre. Some of us, apparently on a haphazard basis, were provided blankets and mattresses. Others spent about 20 hours on hard concrete.

At about 12am, I was taken for fingerprinting and told my charge would be obstruction of justice, for running at an altercation (taking photographs all the while, mind you). I was refused release when I could not procure a $500 note of promise.

An hour later, I was brought back to the release desk. My charge was now mischief, with conditions to stay 1 kilometre away from SWN’s equipment and personnel.

I refused to sign these documents at this point, preferring to see a judge the next day. At approximately 3am I was told that all charges against me had been dropped and that I would be read SWN’s injunction and then released.

I refused to sign the injunction, and at 3:15am was released into the Moncton night.

I can only assume that my ever-reducing charges were due in no small amount to a public outcry over once again arresting me while covering the ongoing seismic testing story in New Brunswick.

I give thanks for this continued support.

Again, one must wonder at the RCMP’s pre-sunrise, decidedly violent, means of attempting to enforce an injunction against blocking SWN’s equipment. Again, one must reiterate that neither members or the Mi’kmaq Warrior Society or anyone else was anywhere near the newly-unblocked compound gate. Nor were they at all capable of reforming any blockade style formation.

Again, it must be reiterated that Lorraine Clair’s van the main impediment to accessing the equipment had been removed the night before.

Instead, with guns drawn, the RCMP appeared intent on provoking a violent climax on the near three-week blockade.

I say in no uncertain terms that it is miraculous that no one was seriously injured yesterday, indeed killed. The RCMP arrived with pistols drawn, dogs snapping, assault rifles trained on various targets, and bus loads of RCMP waiting from across the province and beyond.

As solidarity actions spring up across the country, yesterday’s actions have perhaps invited a far greater climax to New Brunswickers fight against shale gas.

Finally, while the mainstream media will go far to paint this as a “Native” issue, it is vital to remember that the blockade, until yesterday, had been supported by various allies from across the province. It is also key to note that an original 28 groups, representing New Brunswickers from all walks of life, had demanded an end to all shale gas exploration or development.

This all occurred long before images of bandana-ed Indigenous people, who veracity as true grassroots activists and not provocateurs is now being closely examined, ever set fire to a single RCMP squad car in Rexton.

Canadian Police Use Military Tactics to Disperse Indigenous Anti-Fracking Blockade

Oscar León, TRNN Producer: Thursday, October 17, 2013, in New Brunswick, Canada, indigenous protesters refused to comply a judge injunction ordering them to surrender the siege of SWN equipment store.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved in, fully armed, 200 men strong, arresting many elders. Pictures of agents in camouflage with automatic assault weapons and dogs flowed trough Twitter and other social media websites.

SWN Resources Canada is a Houston-based energy company working on shale gas extraction using fracking, a system that injects water and chemicals to the ground to harvest gas.

Scientists and activists warn that such procedure can contaminate the ground and the water supply. The company had been conducting seismic testings with the trucks detained inside the compound by the activists.

Miles Howe, a reporter for the Media Co-op, was among those arrested. He published:

"We are currently surrounded by about 75 cops, all guns drawn. Several are in military fatigues. Rubber bullets have been fired in the woods. Molotovs were thrown earlier from warrior side. Currently still in standoff."

The Globe and Mail reported that after the protesters refused to disperse, the police used tear gas and rubber bullets. RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) reported 40 arrests. This is a statement in the RCMP website:

"The New Brunswick RCMP has arrested at least 40 people for various offences including firearms offences, uttering threats, intimidation, mischief, and for refusing to abide by a court injunction on Route 134. . . ."

The Real News spoke to Pamela Ross, one of the activists that had been in the blockade.

Pamela Ross, Protester, New Brunswick, Canada: This has been a peaceful protest all along, and people have been misled on what the whole warrior society and what warriors, First Nations warriors are in the first place. You know, they're protectors of the people. So that's why the warriors were the first people arrested, because they are willing to put themselves out in front of everybody else.

Everyone's protesting because the government of New Brunswick, originally the Liberal government of New Brunswick, introduced shale gas fracking to New Brunswick. And people were totally against it. And then an election came around, and the Conservative government was very critical and criticizing the Liberal government, you know, about the shale gas, and a lot of people voted for them because they thought that the Conservative government was against it. But the Conservative government has turned around, and they seem to be all for it as well.

León: A live shot was reported, but neither side took responsibility for it. Five police cruisers were set on fire after the initial raid. Images like this one published in News World YouTube channel circled around the internet and TV newscasts. While it is presumed that Mi'kmaq people did it, until now no evidence has surfaced onto who set the cars on fire.

This is a video of the aftermath of the arrest published by Chris Sabas, an independent reporter working in Toronto with Christian Peacemaker Teams. She had been following the story.

The siege that started on Sunday, September 29, 2013, after months of active nonviolent direct action by native Acadian [incompr.] communities, and after years of campaign against shale gas, protesters draw the line.

Worth mentioning is Submedia's TV coverage of the blockade. This is part of one of their special reports from the side of the blockade.

Unidentified: We have Mi'kmaq, we have Acadians, we have English. So we all came together. That's why we became a unity camp. Before, we were like this, we weren't getting along, until when they started messing our water. Then we became this.

León: This is a video by Chris Saban of Chief Aaron Sock entering the blockade.

Elsipogtog Chief Aaron Sock and several council members were among those arrested on October 17. This marked the end of a blockade maintained for more than two weeks. But it does not end the resisting of the indigenous people and the activists and citizens.

After the arrest, demonstrations of people protesting in solidarity were reported by mainstream media as well as social networks. Ontario Provincial Police reported that 30 to 40 First Nation protesters [inaud.] and shut down Highway 6 in southern Ontario between the communities of Hagersville and Caledonia.

Just one day before, speaking on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II,--

David Johnston, Gov. Gen. of Canada: I bear the happy wishes and deep affection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada.

León: --Governor General David Johnston, in the annual Speech from the Throne in Parliament Hill, Ottawa, pointed at the immense importance raw natural resources have for the Crown and the Commonwealth.

Johnston: Since Canada's earliest days, our economy has been built on our abundant natural resources. Directly and indirectly, the natural resource sector employs 1.8 million Canadians, many in skilled, high-paying jobs. Resource development generates $30 billion annually in revenue that supports health care, education, and programs Canadians cherish. Canada's energy reserves are vast, sufficient to fuel our growing economy and supply international customers for generations to come.

León: The Canadian indigenous fight to preserve its resources from industrial exploitation has many similar characteristic compared to those of the South American indigenous. In Colombia, Brazil, Peru, and Ecuador, they all advocate for the necessity to balance civilization's growth and the well-being and preservation of our planet and its biosphere.

For The Real News, this is Oscar León.

Protests Sweep Canada Following Paramilitary Assault on Indigenous Fracking Blockade

Police raid on New Brunswick fracking blockade (Photo: APTN reporter Ossie Michelin, via Twitter)Protests are sweeping Canada following Thursday's assault by paramilitary-style police on members of indigenous Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and local residents as they blockaded a New Brunswick fracking exploration site.

The group had barricaded a road near the town of Rexton in rural New Brunswick since September 30 to block shale gas exploration by SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co, that is moving forward without the community's consent or consultation.

Thursday morning, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stormed the protest, donning camouflage uniforms, wielding rifles, and bringing police dogs to the site. Kathleen Martens with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reports, "[a]t least four RCMP cruisers were burned" in the chaos following the raid.

The RCMP announced that 40 people had been arrested, citing a court injunction against the protest.

"The RCMP is coming in here with their tear gas - they even had dogs on us," Susan Levi-Peters, the former chief of the nearby Elsipogtog aboriginal reserve, told Reuters. "They were acting like we're standing there with weapons, while we are standing there, as women, with drums and eagle feathers. This is crazy." The media is reporting that some protesters threw molotov cocktails at the police, who reportedly tear gassed the crowd.

In the immediate aftermath of the violence, people across Canada mobilized to show solidarity for the besieged blockade, with APTN reporting that First Nations people across the country are putting a call out for an immediate show of support for the Elsipogtog members.

APTN reports that solidarity activists blocked a bridge in Listuguj, and supporters from Six Nations blocked part of a highway near Caledonia on Thursday. Organizers with IdleNoMore in Lethbridge, Alberta held a march through the city immediately following the raid. Solidarity demonstrations also took place in Washington, DC and New York on the doorstep of the Canadian consulates.

PowerShift.ca lists over two dozen actions across the country, including solidarity flash mobs and mass marches.

“Protesters in Rexton are standing up to a Texas company that wants to profit on the backs of New Brunswickers while placing the water and the environment at risk,” stated Emma Lui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation are on the frontlines of defending water and the land for everyone, and this should not be criminalized.”

As events continue to unfold, people are using Twitter to post news updates, photos and commentary:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

Protests Sweep Canada Following Paramilitary Assault on Indigenous Fracking Blockade

Police raid on New Brunswick fracking blockade (Photo: APTN reporter Ossie Michelin, via Twitter)Protests are sweeping Canada following Thursday's assault by paramilitary-style police on members of indigenous Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation and local residents as they blockaded a New Brunswick fracking exploration site.

The group had barricaded a road near the town of Rexton in rural New Brunswick since September 30 to block shale gas exploration by SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co, that is moving forward without the community's consent or consultation.

Thursday morning, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police stormed the protest, donning camouflage uniforms, wielding rifles, and bringing police dogs to the site. Kathleen Martens with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network reports, "[a]t least four RCMP cruisers were burned" in the chaos following the raid.

The RCMP announced that 40 people had been arrested, citing a court injunction against the protest.

"The RCMP is coming in here with their tear gas - they even had dogs on us," Susan Levi-Peters, the former chief of the nearby Elsipogtog aboriginal reserve, told Reuters. "They were acting like we're standing there with weapons, while we are standing there, as women, with drums and eagle feathers. This is crazy." The media is reporting that some protesters threw molotov cocktails at the police, who reportedly tear gassed the crowd.

In the immediate aftermath of the violence, people across Canada mobilized to show solidarity for the besieged blockade, with APTN reporting that First Nations people across the country are putting a call out for an immediate show of support for the Elsipogtog members.

APTN reports that solidarity activists blocked a bridge in Listuguj, and supporters from Six Nations blocked part of a highway near Caledonia on Thursday. Organizers with IdleNoMore in Lethbridge, Alberta held a march through the city immediately following the raid. Solidarity demonstrations also took place in Washington, DC and New York on the doorstep of the Canadian consulates.

PowerShift.ca lists over two dozen actions across the country, including solidarity flash mobs and mass marches.

“Protesters in Rexton are standing up to a Texas company that wants to profit on the backs of New Brunswickers while placing the water and the environment at risk,” stated Emma Lui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “Indigenous communities like the Elsipogtog First Nation are on the frontlines of defending water and the land for everyone, and this should not be criminalized.”

As events continue to unfold, people are using Twitter to post news updates, photos and commentary:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

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Energy Nominee Ernest Moniz Criticized for Backing Fracking and Nuclear Power; Ties to BP,...

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President Obama’s pick to become the nation’s next secretary of energy is drawing criticism for his deep ties to the fossil fuel, fracking and nuclear industries. MIT nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz has served on advisory boards for oil giant BP and General Electric, and was a trustee of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, a Saudi Aramco-backed nonprofit organization. In 2011, Moniz was the chief author of an influential study for MIT on the future of natural gas. According to a new report by the Public Accountability Initiative, Moniz failed to disclose that he had taken a lucrative position at a pro-drilling firm called ICF International just days before a key natural gas "fracking" study was released. Reaction to his nomination has split the environmental community. Advocacy groups such as Public Citizen and Food & Water Watch are campaigning against Moniz’s nomination, but the Natural Resources Defense Council has praised his work on advancing clean energy based on efficiency and renewable power. We speak to Kevin Connor of the Public Accountability Initiative and ProPublica reporter Justin Elliott, who have both authored investigations into Moniz’s ties to industry.

TRANSCRIPT:

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama’s pick to become the nation’s next energy secretary is drawing criticism for his deep ties to the fossil fuel, fracking and nuclear industry. Obama nominated MIT Professor Ernest Moniz last month to replace outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I could not be more grateful to Steve for the incredible contribution that he’s made to this country. And now that he’s decided to leave Washington for sunny California, I’m proud to nominate another brilliant scientist to take his place, Mr. Ernie Moniz. So, there’s Ernie right there.

Now, the good news is that Ernie already knows his way around the Department of Energy. He is a physicist by training, but he also served as undersecretary of energy under President Clinton. Since then, he has directed MIT’s Energy Initiative, which brings together prominent thinkers and energy companies to develop the technologies that can lead us to more energy independence and also to new jobs. Most importantly, Ernie knows that we can produce more energy and grow our economy while still taking care of our air, our water and our climate.

AMY GOODMAN: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Ernest Moniz’s nomination as energy secretary on April 9th. Reactions to his nomination has split the environmental community. Advocacy groups such as Public Citizen and Food & Water Watch are campaigning against his nomination, but the Natural Resources Defense Council has praised his work on advancing clean energy based on efficiency and renewable power.

Much of the criticism of Moniz centers on his extensive ties to industry. He has served on advisory boards for oil giant BP and General Electric and was a trustee of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, a Saudi Aramco-backed nonprofit organization. In 2011, Moniz was the chief author of an influential study for MIT on the future of natural gas. According to a new report by the Public Accountability Initiative, Moniz failed to disclose that he had taken a lucrative position at a pro-drilling firm called ICF International just days before the study was released.

We’re joined now by two guests. In New York, Justin Elliott, a reporter at ProPublica, he recently wrote a piece called "Drilling Deeper: The Wealth of Business Connections for Obama’s Energy Pick." And in Los Angeles, we’re joined by Kevin Connor, director of the Public Accountability Initiative, a nonprofit watchdog group which recently published a report called "Industry Partner or Industry Puppet? How MIT’s Influential Study of Fracking Was Authored, Funded, and Released by Oil and Gas Industry Insiders." We invited MIT to join us on the show or send a comment to read on air, but we did not receive a response.

Kevin Connor, Justin Elliott, we welcome you to Democracy Now! Justin, let’s begin with you. Talk about Ernest Moniz’ record.

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Right, well, I mean, and to some extent, this is kind of the classic revolving door situation. As President Obama mentioned when he nominated him to be energy secretary earlier this month, Moniz was an undersecretary in the department in President Clinton’s second term. After, he went back to MIT, but he also took a number of positions on boards of large energy companies or advisory councils, as you mentioned, that includes BP. It included a uranium enrichment company called USEC.

And I think there’s sort of two reasons why this is important. One is, some of these companies do business with the Energy Department and seek contracts and loan guarantees from the department. The other is, people in the environmental community think that this may inform how Ernest Moniz sets research priorities, so people are concerned that he’s—that he’s going to call for research on fossil fuels to the detriment of research on renewables, for example.

AMY GOODMAN: BP. Talk about his relationship with BP.

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Well, there’s kind of two prongs on that front. One is, personally, Moniz did a six-year stint—paid, although BP won’t tell me how much—on BP’s science advisory council. It’s not really clear what he did. They don’t—BP doesn’t have to reveal much about it in their public SEC filings. At the same time, BP is one of the main funders of the MIT Energy Initiative. I think they have given—given or pledged a total of $50 million over the past few years. So he’s clearly—he’s clearly close to that company.

AMY GOODMAN: And how typical is this for a university professor?

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Well, I think, in the science—in sciences and, in particular, in sort of the energy secretary, it’s increasingly—it’s increasingly common. I mean, Steven Chu, the outgoing energy secretary, who’s also an academic, actually also had close ties to BP. BP had given a bunch of money to Steven Chu’s lab at the University of California, Berkeley, and Chu picked a BP executive to be one of his undersecretaries. And Chu was later involved in the government’s response to the Gulf oil spill. So, I mean, I think this is—this is certainly common if you’re going to be picking an academic who’s involved in energy, and particularly fossil fuel research.

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to turn to comments of the executive director the Natural Resources Defense Council, or NRDC. Earlier this month, Peter Lehner posted on the NRDC blog a "To-Do List for the New Energy Secretary." In it, he wrote, quote, "As a scientist, Moniz is obviously a firm believer in the power of clean energy technology. [MIT’s Energy Initiative] projects under his tenure included windows that generate electricity, batteries built by viruses, and a biofuel made from yeast. But he also believes that technology must be complemented by policy in order to effect real change. As he said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in 2006, in order to address global warming, we must 'have the will to take more than baby steps.'" NRDC is supporting Moniz’s nomination.

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Right, Amy, and it’s completely true. Moniz has spoken in favor of renewable energy. I mean, I think the best way to sort of interpret his nomination is that he fits in with what Obama has called his "all-of-the-above" energy policy, which is to embrace things like fracking, continued use of oil, nuclear energy, but also develop wind and solar. And I think that that’s where Ernest Moniz is on energy policy.

AMY GOODMAN: Let’s turn to our guest in Los Angeles, Kevin Connor, and what you found in your report. Talk about the report that you did that looks at—well, the title of the report is "Industry Partner or Industry Puppet? How MIT’s Influential Study of Fracking Was Authored, Funded, and Released by Oil and Gas Industry Insiders."

KEVIN CONNOR: Sure. Moniz’s nomination prompted us at the Public Accountability Initiative to take a closer look at an influential study that MIT did on "The Future of Natural Gas," as it was called, in 2011. It was issued by the Energy Initiative, which Moniz was the director of. And it gave a very pro-gas—put a very pro-gas spin on fracking and shale gas extraction, said that natural gas was a bridge or will be a bridge to a low-carbon future, said that the environmental impacts related to fracking are challenging but manageable, and also endorsed natural gas exports, which is a very industry-friendly position to take.

It immediately, you know, prompted some criticism from people who pointed to the fact that the report was actually industry-funded, much like the initiative itself. But it was extremely influential. It was designed to influence policymakers. Moniz testified before Congress on the report. It had immediate impact, as well. And it came at a critical time for the industry, which was facing significant questions about the safety of fracking, the relative environmental impacts of fracking. And we took a closer look at the study and found that beyond just the industry funding of the study, there were significant conflicts of interest that went undisclosed in the report itself and in presentations of the report, and those involved Moniz and several other key authors of the study. So, as it turns out, it was not only just funded by industry, it was also authored by industry representatives.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Connor, I wanted to turn to a 2011 press conference at the MIT Energy Initiative, where Ernest Moniz introduced the study now under contention, "The Future of Natural Gas." In his opening remarks, Professor Moniz emphasized the report’s independent of its sponsors and advisers.

ERNEST MONIZ: I do want to emphasize a disclaimer, if you like, that while their advice was absolutely critical, they are not responsible for the recommendations and the findings. We have not asked for endorsement. We asked for their advice; we received it. But the results, then, are our responsibility.

AMY GOODMAN: Later in the presentation, co-chair Anthony Meggs introduces the MIT report’s findings, saying environmental impacts associated with fracking are, quote, "challenging but manageable." However, Meggs failed to disclose he had joined the gas company Talisman Energy prior to the release of the study.

ANTHONY MEGGS: ... messages are very simple. First of all, there’s a lot of gas in the world, at very modest cost. As you will see, gas is still, globally speaking, a very young industry with a bright future ahead of it. Secondly, and perhaps obviously at this stage, although not so obvious when we started three years ago, shale gas is transformative for the economy of the United States, North America, for the gas industry, in particular, and potentially on a global scale. Thirdly, the environmental impacts of shale development, widely discussed and hotly debated, are—and we use these words carefully—challenging but manageable.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Connor, your response?

KEVIN CONNOR: It’s absolutely outrageous for the Energy Initiative, for Moniz and MIT to pretend this is independent of industry, well, first of all, given the fact that the sponsors of the report are all, you know, industry organizations and companies like Chesapeake Energy. Moniz was attempting to say that it was somehow insulated from the influence of these gas companies, when in fact authors of the study, such as Moniz and Meggs, were—had industry positions at the time.

Meggs’s quote there is particularly insidious, the fact that he is saying that fracking is safe for the environment, when he had actually joined Talisman Energy, a gas company, one of the most active frackers in the Marcellus Shale, a month before the study was released. So he is speaking to a roomful of journalists there, presenting a report designed to influence policy, and not disclosing that he is on the industry payroll. That is perhaps the last person in that room who should be presenting that finding or having anything to do with authoring that kind of report. And yet MIT and Moniz thought it was appropriate to put that spokesperson forward. So, it just goes to the fact that MIT was really sort of presenting an industry brochure here with a lot of pro-gas, industry advocacy talking points, and not revealing that there were significant conflicts of interest here.

AMY GOODMAN: Justin Elliott, would you like to weigh in?

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, one thing to note is, Ernest Moniz is getting a confirmation hearing next month, and as part of that, he has to release a personal financial disclosure, and also, at some point later, he’ll have to—an ethics agreement will become public. So we should actually learn more about his current and recent involvement in these companies and possibly also stock holdings and that sort of thing, so it should be interesting. I think this story isn’t over yet.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break and come back to this discussion. Our guests are Justin Elliott—he’s a reporter with ProPublica—and Kevin Connor, who has put out a report on—from the Public Accountability Project called "Industry Partner or Industry Puppet? How MIT’s Influential Study of Fracking Was Authored, Funded, and Released by Oil and Gas Industry Insiders." This is Democracy Now! We’ll be back in a minute.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: In October of 2009, Obama’s energy secretary nominee, Ernest Moniz, introduced Tony Hayward, CEO of BP, before he delivered a speech at the MIT Energy Initiative. This took place six months before the BP Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

ERNEST MONIZ: Tony, I think it’s fair to say, without getting into great details, faced a significant number of challenges at that time of transition and is, these days, getting quite good press, I might say, in terms of having the company operating well, producing and maintaining, I think, its stance, taken quite early, in terms of recognizing the need and acting on the need to address climate risk mitigation, for example, with its diversified portfolio. We are very pleased to have BP here as a member of the Energy Initiative—in fact, the founding—founding member of the MIT Energy Initiative. And in fact, as President Hockfield said just a few minutes ago to Tony, that that confidence shown in where we were going here at MIT, in terms of our focus on energy and environment, was very, very important, and we really appreciate that early support and the continuing relationship. In fact, many of you may know that besides the Energy Initiative, BP has a major presence in terms of a Projects Academy and Operations Academy with the Sloan School of Engineering. And in fact, I just heard, again, in the discussion a few moments ago, that 300 of BP’s 500 senior executives have, one way or another, interacted with MIT, so it’s really quite a substantial relationship.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s energy secretary nominee Ernest Moniz speaking in October 2009, praising BP CEO Tony Hayward six months before the BP oil spill. Justin Elliott of ProPublica?

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: I mean, one of the things that surprised me, actually, as I was researching this story, is the extent to which the MIT Energy Initiative is working with industry. I mean, it’s well known that they and other energy research projects get industry funding. But if you look at their annual reports and even their website, they say, if you give us money as a company, we will help you achieve specific business goals. So, I mean, in a lot of the coverage of Moniz, he has been presented as an academic, which he is, but in some ways I think the traditional categories are sort of failing us—sort of academic versus business executive. I mean, this really is a part of—I mean, it’s not formally part of BP, but they’re working as essentially a subcontractor for BP. So I think that’s really—and again, I mean, President Obama specifically praised Ernest Moniz’s ties with business when he introduced him. So, I mean, it’s up for interpretation whether or not these ties are a good thing, but I think that’s really the proper way to see his background and who he is.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Connor, I wanted to ask you about the broader issue of what some call
"frackademia," gas-industry-funded academic research. In February of 2012, a year ago, University of Texas Professor Charles Groat published a study that suggested fracking did not lead to groundwater contamination. However, the study did not disclose Groat’s seat on the board of major Texas fracker Plains Exploration and Production Company, for which he was reportedly given $400,000 in 2011. That’s more than double his university salary. I want to go to a clip of Professor Groat explaining his study’s finding.

CHARLES GROAT: The immediate concern with shale gas development and hydraulic fracturing was that fracturing at several thousand feet below the surface would put chemicals into groundwater that people drank that would be very bad for your health, and so people were very much opposed to hydraulic fracturing from that point of view. So, an important part of our study was to determine whether or not there is any direct, verified evidence that hydraulic fracturing itself was producing contaminated waters that ended up in that process in groundwater. Our preliminary finding is we have found no demonstrated evidence that that—demonstration that that has happened.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin Connor, your response?

KEVIN CONNOR: Well, as you noted, Groat, when he was saying this, had a serious stake in a gas company called PXP, $1.6 million stake, made several hundred thousand dollars a year, over $400,000 a year in 2011, and was going before the public and saying fracking is safe, without disclosing any of these related interests. I mean, there’s some question as to whether someone with that sort of stake in the industry should be working on this at all, but at the very least it should be disclosed to the public, to journalists.

And because Groat didn’t disclose it, it resulted in a lot of blowback in Texas. The journalists were very concerned that Groat had not highlighted this for them when the report was released, and it resulted in quite a bit of media coverage. The University of Texas ended up commissioning an external review of the study, which concluded that the study should actually be retracted and noted that Groat’s conflict of interest was quite serious and should have been disclosed. So, the sorts of transgressions that we see at MIT have actually resulted in real accountability at other universities. Groat actually retired as a result of this episode. And the director of the Energy Institute at Texas, which is sort of an analog to MIT’s Energy Initiative—the director actually resigned in the wake of this external review. So there have been real consequences. There has been real pushback against this trend at other universities. And there’s some question as to whether that will happen with MIT.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, going back to Moniz, because you’re talking about Groat here, not to be confused with the energy secretary nominee of President Obama, talk about what he makes at MIT, both as a university professor but also his outside funding.

KEVIN CONNOR: I’m actually not sure of his salary at MIT. I don’t believe it’s publicly disclosed there, though it will be released in his financial disclosures. But as a board member at ICF International, which is an oil and gas—well, it’s a consulting firm with a significant energy practice and significant oil and gas ties—he’s made over $300,000 in the past two years since joining the board. This is a position where he attends several meetings a year. It’s certainly not a full-time position, and yet he’s making over $150,000 a year in stock and cash compensation. So these are not insignificant financial ties he has.

AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Justin Elliott, Ernest Moniz is a nuclear physicist. Can you talk about the significance of that for energy policy, if he were to become the next energy secretary?

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Sure. I mean, actually, the Department of Energy, the majority of its budget goes to maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, and also they’re in charge of cleanup of old nuclear waste. He’s been a strong and public supporter of nuclear power. And that’s actually the area where some of these business ties get into areas of potential conflicts. As I mentioned earlier, he was previously on an advisory council of a uranium enrichment company called USEC, one of the—one of the largest, and they’ve been seeking a $2 billion loan guarantee from the Energy Department to build a centrifuge plant in Ohio. That’s been on hold for a few years while they look into it further. So, it will be interesting to see whether Moniz has to recuse himself from that or whether it gets mentioned in any of the congressional hearings, but that’s certainly one of the big areas the Energy Department is active in.

AMY GOODMAN: Professor Moniz wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2011, "It would be a mistake, however, to let Fukushima cause governments to abandon nuclear power and its benefits." He wrote, "Electricity generation emits more carbon dioxide in the United States than does transportation or industry, and nuclear power is the largest source of carbon-free electricity in the country."

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Right. And again, I mean, I think this is in keeping with President Obama’s, quote, "all-of-the-above," unquote, energy policy. I mean, this is—this is Obama nominating someone as energy secretary who is in keeping with the administration’s stated policy.

AMY GOODMAN: President Obama has long been pro-nuclear power—in fact, is the one who is restarting nuclear power plants after, what, some 40 years of the last one being built.

JUSTIN ELLIOTT: Right. And I think the only reason that effort has stalled is the price of natural gas, because of fracking, going down so low that nuclear power plants have become less economically feasible than they were five years ago.

AMY GOODMAN: Final comments, Kevin Connor, as you release your report, director of Public Accountability Initiative, the report that you did called "Industry Partner or Industry Puppet?" has MIT responded? And were you able to speak with Professor Moniz?

KEVIN CONNOR: I did call the Energy Initiative but was not able to speak with Dr. Moniz. And the Energy Initiative did actually respond, through a spokesperson, with a statement that didn’t really speak to questions I had raised about how the conflicts of interest surrounding the report were managed and disclosed. One critical conflict of interest I didn’t note earlier was that one of the study authors, John Deutch, was on the board of Cheniere Energy, a liquefied natural gas company, LNG export company. That wasn’t disclosed in the study. The study actually endorsed natural gas exports. He has a $1.6 million stake in that company. MIT Energy Initiative—

AMY GOODMAN: Central Intelligence Agency?

KEVIN CONNOR: —basically had no response, just said that the authors aren’t biased, which is hard to believe, given these connections.

AMY GOODMAN: Kevin, John Deutch, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency?

KEVIN CONNOR: Exactly. Former director of the CIA was actually a study author here and is on the board of the only company in the U.S. to receive permits to export LNG from the lower 48 states. And again, this study endorsed LNG exports on fairly—a fairly thin basis of evidence and didn’t disclose this connection, which is really, again, quite outrageous.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to leave it there; of course, we’ll continue to follow the nominee. The confirmation hearings will take place on April 9th. Justin Elliott, ProPublica reporter, and Kevin Connor, I want to thank you very much for being with us. Justin wrote "Drilling Deeper," looking at "The Wealth of Business Connections for Obama’s Energy Pick." And Kevin Connor wrote the study, "Industry Partner or Industry Puppet? How MIT’s Influential Study of Fracking Was Authored, Funded, and Released by Oil and Gas Industry Insiders." We will link to it at democracynow.org.

This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. And when we come back, we’ll be joined by a well-known anchor here in New York, Cheryl Wills, who in this month of Women’s History Month—and we’ve just come out of African-American History Month—we’ll talk about what she found about her family. She wrote the book, Die Free: A Heroic Family Tale. Stay with us.

On the News With Thom Hartmann: Judge in Wyoming Ruled Against Making Ingredients Used...

In today's On the News segment: County District Judge in Wyoming ruled against environmental groups fighting to make public the list of toxic ingredients used in hydraulic fracking fluid public; Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann is under investigation; IRS spent 60,000 tax payer dollars to produce a "Star Trek" video parody under the guise of employee training; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...

You need to know this. Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the landmark Proposition 8 case, Hollingsworth v. Perry. The case concerns California's discriminatory law, which bars same-sex couples from being married in that state. Already, both the California District Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have concluded that Prop 8 violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution. However, Dennis Hollingsworth – of the anti-gay-marriage group ProtectMarriage.com – is pressing on with the fight to uphold Prop 8. The law was passed in 2008 by a slim majority of California voters, and it has been tied up in the courts for years. During that time, a stay has been issued, blocking additional same-sex couples in California from marrying. The Supreme Court must consider two questions in today's case – whether the law is unconstitutional, and whether the anti-gay group even has standing to argue the case. If the justices decide to uphold the lower courts' rulings, it would represent a huge victory in the fight for full LGBT equality, but there's no telling how this court will rule. Tomorrow, the justices will hear arguments in another landmark equality case, United States v. Windsor, which challenges the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, and rulings on both are expected later this year. Hopefully, the conservative-leaning court will recognize that gay rights are civil rights, and that everyone in our nation should have the right to marry the person that they love.

In screwed news... You don't have the right to know you're being poisoned. At least, not in Wyoming. Yesterday, County District Judge Catherine Wilking ruled against environmental groups fighting to make public the list of toxic ingredients used in hydraulic fraking fluid. According to Judge Wilking, Wyoming's state oil and gas supervisor was authorized to withhold the information, because the list of chemicals is considered a trade secret. Halliburton, one of the companies involved in the 2010 BP Gulf Disaster, argued that if they disclosed the makeup of their fracking fluids, competing companies would be able to reverse engineer the toxic sludge. So, not only does Halliburton get to control the controversial hydraulic fracturing industry in Wyoming, but this ruling allows them to socialize all external costs. Without knowing what chemicals are used in the process, people can't blame Halliburton when they get sick, or when their groundwater becomes contaminated. And it will be John Q Taxpayer picking up the tab when people can't cover healthcare or clean up related costs. Corporate power in our nation is out of control. It's even worse that Judges like Caterine Wilking are making that power even stronger.

In the best of the rest of the news...

Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe took a stand to protect voters. On Monday, the democratic governor vetoed a voter ID bill, which he said could disenfranchise voters. Beebe said, "I cannot approve such an unnecessary measure that would negatively impact one of our most precious rights as citizens." The Republican-dominated state legislature plans to override the veto, as they have with two recent anti-abortion bills. If they again succeed in obtaining a veto-proof majority, the new law will require county clerks to provide photo ID's to any registered voter that does not currently have one, and it will cost the sate an estimated $300,000. Similar laws are being challenged in other states, and legal battles are expected if Arkansas enacts the measure. Even if state Republicans press on with their efforts to disenfranchise voters, it's great to see that Governor Beebe is fighting to protect the democratic process in his state.

Walmart is getting what they pay for. The mega-retailer's bottom-of-the-barrel wages are leading to disorganized stores, long-lines, and empty shelves. And customers are choosing to shop at other retailers to avoid the chaos. Mr. Ton, an associate professor at MIT Sloan School of Management, studied the problem, and said "[customers] are mad about they way they were treated or how much time they wasted looking for items that aren't there." He explained that retailers think wages are an easy cost-cutting target, but that history shows the resulting deterioration of customer satisfaction often leads to a decline in sales-growth. In other words, people get frustrated by the lack of adequate staff and merchandise, and they go to other stores instead. So, it looks like Walmart's low-wage strategy may be backfiring. We can only hope that as more customers flee from the low-cost retailer, that management will catch on, and start paying workers a living wage.

Minnesota Representative Michelle Bachmann is under investigation. The Office of Congressional Ethics is looking to allegations of misusing campaign funds during her 2012 presidential run. According to the Washington Post, Peter Waldron, who worked as Bachmann's national field coordinator, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing the lawmaker of using PAC funds to pay her campaign staff. Her attorney, William McGinley, says they "are confident at the end of their review, the OCE Board will conclude that Congresswoman Bachmann did not do anything inappropriate." The review is expected to last 30 days, during which four board members will decide whether to refer the matter to the full Ethics Committee. After the Congresswoman's numerous attempts to repeal Obamacare, and her anti-muslim witch-hunt of Hilary Clinton's top staffer, it's nice to see Michelle Bachmann spending some time in the hot seat.

And finally... The Internal Revenue Service doesn't top the list as American's favorite government agency. So, people are especially angry over the IRS spending 60,000 tax payer dollars to produce a "Star Trek" video parody under the guise of employee training. The public learned of the space parody after Charles Boustany, chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, demanded the IRS hand over information about it's video production budget. The IRS released a statement saying, "the space parody video from 2010 is not reflective of overall IRS video efforts." The agency did, however, defend a separate video parody of "Gilligan's Island," saying it provided valuable employee training. Seriously...they really did.

And that's the way it is today – Tuesday, March 26, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.

New ‘Voluntary Standards’ Don’t Make Fracking Safe

In the debate over our energy future, I keep coming back to the question of whether or not fracking can be done safely. There is no question that once out of the ground, natural gas burns cleaner than coal but the actual process of fracking to date has documented evidence of water contamination, increased risk of earthquakes in areas not prone to earthquakes, and mysterious health problems in fracking communities. Adding to this, fracking results in significant methane release and because methane is a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, there is no net climate benefit to using natural gas that is extracted by fracking.

But, could fracking be regulated and made safe? A new collaboration between environmentalists and oil and gas companies is attempting to set higher performance standards for fracking in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. The Center for Sustainable Shale Development lists Chevron, Shell, and the Environmental Defense Fund among the 11 partners that have been brought together. So far, the group has released an initial set of 15 performance standards that reduce gas well flaring, develop groundwater protection plans, implement no-leak valves and piping, and recycles 90 percent of the wastewater. There are also some disclosure requirements for the fracking fluids, but still allows for a “trade secret” exclusion that only requires the relevant chemical family name be disclosed.

These standards go beyond what is currently required, but that says more about the lack of adequate regulations than the work of the Center. The Center will certify companies meet their performance standards but there is no requirement that a fracking company must be certified before it can operate in a state. Environmental and community groups have criticized the collaboration because ultimately, natural gas is still a fossil fuel and continued reliance on it will do nothing to stop the climate crisis. In addition, Sandy Buchanan, the director of Ohio Citizen Action said, "This deal in no way represents the interests or agreement of the people being harmed by fracking in Ohio."

While the Center’s efforts are better than nothing, they don’t really change whether fracking can be done safely. What happens to fracking operators that aren’t certified or who violate a performance standard? They would possibly get rebuked by the Center, which has no legal or regulatory enforcement power. This is, in fact, the definition of greenwashing. Oil and gas companies can claim to abide by these higher standards but there is no guarantee or repercussions if they don’t comply.

The Center’s new standards are not a game changer. They do not change the fact that natural gas is a finite resource. They do not make fracking safer because they are not enforceable. If anything, they provide cover for oil and gas interests that want to derail the transition to a clean economy powered by renewable energy.

The fact remains that we will have to transition to a renewable energy economy and the longer we wait, the harder and more expensive it will be. Instead of putting all these focus and energy into a dead-end fossil fuel, we should be investing that focus and energy into building out a renewable energy economy.

Three New Bills Seek to Halt California Fracking

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - March 22 - Three California assembly members have introduced bills to halt hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state and mandate review of the threats the practice poses to the environment and public health. Fracking uses huge volumes of water mixed with sand and dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas. The controversial technique — currently unregulated and unmonitored by state officials – has been used in hundreds and perhaps thousands of California oil and gas wells.

Reflecting growing concern about fracking’s threat to the environment and public health, Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) and Adrin Nazarian (D-East San Fernando Valley) have put forward three pieces of legislation — A.B. 1301, A.B. 1323 and A.B. 649 — that would halt fracking in California until the state determines whether and under what conditions fracking can be done without threatening human health and the environment. Moves to halt fracking in California are supported by the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Environment California and Clean Water Action.

“We applaud these legislators for their leadership in working to protect Californians from a dangerous fracking boom that could be devastating for the state,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity. “State regulators have shrugged off fracking’s dangers, so it’s up to lawmakers to stop oil companies from polluting our air, contaminating our water and undermining our fight against climate change.”

The New York state assembly recently voted to ban fracking for two years, and Vermont's governor signed a fracking ban into law last year.

“Given that fracking is inherently unsafe and poses a direct threat to our communities, we welcome legislation that provides for a comprehensive statewide moratorium,” said Food & Water Watch Pacific Region Director Kristin Lynch.

Fracking has been tied to water and air pollution in other states, and it releases huge quantities of methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas. More than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone, and oil companies are gearing up to frack oil deposits in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation that lies beneath some of the state’s most productive farmland and important wildlife habitat.

“Fracking is an environmental nightmare,” said Dan Jacobson, legislative director of Environment California. “It pollutes our water, contaminates our air, destroys our beautiful places and keeps us addicted to fossil fuels. We need to ban fracking now.”

Fracking routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, and trimenthylbenzene. A 2011 report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee found that more than 750 different chemicals are used in fracking fluid and that many are toxic, carcinogenic, or otherwise hazardous.

"We commend these legislators for stepping up on this critical issue,” said Andrew Grinberg of Clean Water Action. “Our state needs to put a halt to fracking, and ensure that this dangerous practice does not harm California's water, air, health and communities."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Three New Bills Seek to Halt California Fracking

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - March 22 - Three California assembly members have introduced bills to halt hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the state and mandate review of the threats the practice poses to the environment and public health. Fracking uses huge volumes of water mixed with sand and dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas. The controversial technique — currently unregulated and unmonitored by state officials – has been used in hundreds and perhaps thousands of California oil and gas wells.

Reflecting growing concern about fracking’s threat to the environment and public health, Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Holly Mitchell (D-Culver City) and Adrin Nazarian (D-East San Fernando Valley) have put forward three pieces of legislation — A.B. 1301, A.B. 1323 and A.B. 649 — that would halt fracking in California until the state determines whether and under what conditions fracking can be done without threatening human health and the environment. Moves to halt fracking in California are supported by the Center for Biological Diversity, Food & Water Watch, Environment California and Clean Water Action.

“We applaud these legislators for their leadership in working to protect Californians from a dangerous fracking boom that could be devastating for the state,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity. “State regulators have shrugged off fracking’s dangers, so it’s up to lawmakers to stop oil companies from polluting our air, contaminating our water and undermining our fight against climate change.”

The New York state assembly recently voted to ban fracking for two years, and Vermont's governor signed a fracking ban into law last year.

“Given that fracking is inherently unsafe and poses a direct threat to our communities, we welcome legislation that provides for a comprehensive statewide moratorium,” said Food & Water Watch Pacific Region Director Kristin Lynch.

Fracking has been tied to water and air pollution in other states, and it releases huge quantities of methane, a dangerously potent greenhouse gas. More than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone, and oil companies are gearing up to frack oil deposits in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation that lies beneath some of the state’s most productive farmland and important wildlife habitat.

“Fracking is an environmental nightmare,” said Dan Jacobson, legislative director of Environment California. “It pollutes our water, contaminates our air, destroys our beautiful places and keeps us addicted to fossil fuels. We need to ban fracking now.”

Fracking routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene, and trimenthylbenzene. A 2011 report from the House Energy and Commerce Committee found that more than 750 different chemicals are used in fracking fluid and that many are toxic, carcinogenic, or otherwise hazardous.

"We commend these legislators for stepping up on this critical issue,” said Andrew Grinberg of Clean Water Action. “Our state needs to put a halt to fracking, and ensure that this dangerous practice does not harm California's water, air, health and communities."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Guest Post: The “Fracking” Revolution Comes to China

Submitted by Elliot Brennan of The Diplomat,

As shale gas fever sweeps through Beijing, analysts are looking at the costs and benefits of extracting what is increasingly a controversial source of energy. But for China, with its growing middle class, the immediate and long-term demand for energy has the potential to spark a revolution in shale gas before sufficient and safe technological know-how and regulations are developed.

A very vocal debate continues to rage in the U.S. and Europe as to the environmental consequences of shale gas extraction. Meanwhile, China’s National Oil Companies (NOCs) continue to purchase and buy into North American oil and gas companies with specific expertise in shale gas extraction. For better or worse, China’s shale gas revolution looks set to be thrust into the public spotlight, both at home and abroad.

Extracting shale gas is tricky. Shale, a sedimentary rock that is typically highly porous and has low permeability, traps hydrocarbons as it is formed. To remove the gas, shale formations must be stimulated, most commonly using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The technique involves pumping water, sand and chemicals at high pressure into the shale formation, cracking the rock and allowing the gas to be released to the surface. The 1 to 3 million gallons of water that are pumped into the shale formation must then either be recycled or pumped into water disposal wells in subsurface rock formations.

In addition to these skill-intensive practices, the extraction process also demands three-dimensional seismic surveying, which evaluates potential subsurface resources, and horizontal drillingtechnology. Both demand expertise and experience, yet the capability of most companies outside of North America, including China’s National Oil Companies (NOCs), to safely and effectively perform such high-tech extraction is limited.

The emergence of shale gas is a game changer. Countries that have traditionally relied on hydrocarbon exports for political clout (the Persian Gulf, Russia, Venezuela) will inevitably lose some of their petro power. Europe could become less energy dependent on Russian supply by importing liquid natural gas (LNG) from North America and by exploiting the potentially significant shale gas deposits in Poland and other countries. Australia, which has significant deposits and much of the pre-existing infrastructure to begin extraction, could see its clout in the energy politics of the region increase– forcing a significant redraft of Canberra’s “Australia in the Asian Century” White Paper.

In effect, the “shale revolution” signals the end of the peak oil debate. New technology means new resources, which in turn could mean a new geopolitical map. However the mere presence of the resources doesn’t mean that their extraction in the short-term is viable, a problem China knows all too well.

China’s oil fields are drying up. The International Energy Agency’s (IAE) World Energy Outlook for 2010predicts China will import 79% of its oil by 2030, a figure that demonstrates the pressing need for China to develop new energy sources. Enter shale gas and the “unconventionals.”

Estimates of China’s shale gas resources differ. China’s Ministry of Land and Resources estimates reserves of 886 trillion cubic feet (tcf), while the U.S. Energy Information Administration puts the country’s resources at 1,275 tcf. The upper estimates would mean China sits atop more shale gas than the U.S. and Canada combined. According to China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, by 2015 China should be extracting 6.5 billion cubic meters of shale gas per year, with a view of producing 100 billion cubic meters by 2020. China’s goal is to meet 10 percent of the country’s energy demands from shale gas the same year. To successfully meet the goal, China’s oil and gas industry needs to bridge its large knowledge deficit. Despite some progress, recent successes in domestic extraction technology have been modest.

Under the Shale Gas Development Plan for 2011-2015, shale gas has been labeled by the Ministry of Land and Resources as a separate mineral from conventional hydrocarbons. This move frees shale resources from the clutches of “the big three;” Chinese state-owned majors – China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation (Sinopec) and China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) – allowing Beijing to redistribute exploration contracts. Importantly, the move encourages competition among state-owned majors, local enterprises and foreign companies.

China’s NOCs, while not state-run, benefit from state financing. Their capital flows during the global downturn in 2008 gave them the flexibility to expand globally. For China’s NOCs, establishing partnerships with other international oil companies allows them to diversify risks and gain technical know-how through the supply chain.

At home and abroad China is making waves. The opening of a recent tender to foreign companies demonstrates the extent to which the often go-it-alone Chinese Communist Party feels it needs to secure a rapid and successful energy boom. Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron, Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum are alljointly surveying the key provinces of Sichuan and Guizhou with local companies. As part of the new tender, other joint ventures are expected to follow.

Flush with state financing, China’s NOCs have in recent years begun buying up stakes in North American energy companies and their subsidiaries. Some of their recent buy-ins have been the purchase of Nexen and a stake in Devon Energy Corp, one of the founders of shale gas extraction. Such purchases allow China’s NOCs to absorb expertise. While this in itself isn’t enough to meet their energy needs, it is a step toward building capacity for China’s NOCs in shale gas exploration and extraction.

China’s NOCs have been known to employ a “market-for-resources strategy,” whereby access to China’s market is granted to a resource holder in exchange for imports of resources from that country. This now looks to be morphing into a “market-for-know-how strategy.” In the early stages of coal bed methane exploration in China, foreign groups contributed 70 percent of the funding. With already significant foreign involvement, the shale gas industry looks set to emulate this model.

However, the all-important extraction process of shale gas, hydraulic fracturing, just as its name suggests, needs water – and large amounts of it. So while shale could provide energy, it will require large volumes of water that will be costly both to consume and to recycle. Water scarcity remains a key concern for the Chinese government, while water pollution is an increasing worry for the Chinese public. One recent report noted that already “up to 40 percent of China’s rivers were seriously polluted” and “20 percent were so polluted their water quality was rated too toxic even to come into contact with.”

Experts warn that China will face growing water shortages in coming years. Water-intensive industries such as mining are competing for increasingly scarce water sources. Low rainfall in the northwest of the country, where much of the shale is believed to be, means these areas will have to rely on limited and finite groundwater. In the face of these shortages, China established a special 25 million USD fund for a cloud seeding program in 2012 to operate in “areas prone to drought and haze.” Water can be transported into China’s northwest via pipeline but that would be costly and require significant new infrastructure, such as desalination plants and pipelines that would likely need to stretch across the country for thousands of kilometers – a similar feat to the 4,200 km Xijiang to Shanghai gas pipeline.

Shale gas has approximately half the carbon content of coal. For China, the replacement of coal for gas in power generation could reduce emissions and pollution.  It would kill two birds with one big stone, as criticism grows over the country’s pollution levels both in air and water. However, some warn that shale gas may also reduce investment in renewable energy sources.

In the U.S., environmental concerns dominate the debate. Public concern over water contamination and the release of harmful gases during shale gas extraction are gaining increasing media attention. This has been exacerbated by claims that research commissioned by industry-friendly lobby groups in the U.S., such as the American Petroleum Institute and the American Natural Gas Alliance, have muddied the water on the environmental impact of shale gas extraction. However, according to an IAE report, Golden Rules for a Golden Age of Gas, the environmental risks inherent in the process can be easily mitigated. The report outlines the “golden rules” required to address the environmental and social impact of developments in unconventional gas. It predicts that major risks can be decreased and safety improved if the cost of drilling and completing of a shale gas well is increased by 7 percent.

A dozen or more chemicals may be added to the water and sand pumped into a shale-gas well, including radioactive tracers that help assess the formation and relevant fractures. While these tracers are strictly monitored under guidelines handed down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the U.S., in China the regulations may be less stringent. In addition, other radioactive material may be dislodged in the fracking process and may have to be disposed of from flowback water.

If strict regulations are not in place to seal the well from leaching, aquifers and ground water may become contaminated by run-off chemicals, methane or radioactive minerals displaced in the process. A 2011 US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report suggests that fracking may have resulted in the contamination of ground water.

Recent and successful protests in China to stop the construction of a chemical plant in Ningbo demonstrate growing public concern about some government-backed developments. The October 2012 protests followed other victories to stop the construction of petrochemical plants in Xiamen and Dalian. In Dalian, some 10,000 protesters took to the streets. With a growing middle-class, increasing internet and social media access, and more public involvement and activism in key local concerns, the government and local authorities will likely have to be accommodating of public displeasure in order to maintain stability as China grows. A Tiananmen-style alternative appears unlikely as it could backfire, both at home and abroad.

If the current hype proves correct and gas prices remain strong, China’s shale gas could be just the energy boom that Beijing seeks. It could allow China to meet its ambitious growth targets. As many commentators have suggested, however, shale gas may prove less of a blessing and more of a “resource curse,” spelling environmental disaster and nationwide instability. Either way, as Sino-American partnerships are forged and shale gas extraction in China ventures into unchartered waters, one thing is certain: The world will be watching.

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Renowned Science Writer Sandra Steingraber Puts Her Body On the Line to Defend Against...

Steingraber says civil disobedience is a last-resort show of bravery that can change the outcome -- but you have to get there before the bulldozers do.

Photo Credit: © Benjamin Gervais / The PPC

March 21, 2013  |  

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Watkins Glen, New York made Yahoo! Travel’s top 10 list of America’s coolest small towns. This Finger Lake village is described as having “Award-winning wineries, awe-inspiring gorges and waterfalls, and a racetrack that draws visitors to auto-racing events.” The story mentions hiking, NASCAR and “crisp Rieslings.”

Here’s what it doesn’t say about this dream town: it’s at the heart of the battle over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for unconventional shale gas in the Marcellus. 

Companies aren’t drilling for gas here, but they’re drilling into the land in order to store fracked gas. Sandra Steingraber was among a group of individuals willing to put her body between drilling rig trucks and their destination on shores of Seneca Lake on Monday. Steingraber was arrested for her bravery, which is but one step in her evolving journey as a scientist, writer, and now activist.

Steingraber is a renowned scientist, currently a scholar in residence in Ithaca College. She’s also a lyrical writer, author of four books: Post-Diagnosis (written after being diagnosed with bladder cancer at age 20); Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment (later optioned as a film); Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood; and most recently Raising Elijah: Protecting Our Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis.

On World Water Day, this is a good time to reflect on the threats of drought and water contamination, in which fracking plays a key role. Steingraber talked with AlterNet about the health effects of fracking, her own personal connection to the issue, and what keeps her up at night. (Spoiler: it’s cement, but more on that soon.)

Tara Lohan: If I’m reading the news correctly, it looks like you were arrested earlier this week.

Sandra Steingraber: Yes, I was.

TL: How did you get involved in that action?

SS: It has an odd trajectory. I was writing about three other people who were arrested for civil disobedience at that same facility last September. One of them, the night before, showed up on my front porch and asked me if I would come the next morning to bear witness to what he was about to do and be available to talk to the press about compressor stations, which was something I was researching. I was happy to talk about the kinds of chemicals that compressor stations put into the atmosphere and what the problem is with this whole project. The whole project being a storage facility for fracked gases that a company called Inergy from Kansas City is trying to build. The plan they have for this part of the world is to use depleted salt caverns where salt mining has been done for probably a century at least, and use it as a storage facility for gas from the fracking fields in Pennsylvania. The idea is that the gas would be pressurized to the point of liquidification, then injected into salt caverns.

So I went last September and served as a sort of science writer/interpreter and witness and what impressed me was that the three people who chained themselves to this fence were not young people. The youngest was my age and I’m 53, she was a nurse. And then there was Rev. Gary Judson who is a retired Methodist minister who is 72 and he spoke eloquently about the underground geology of these caverns, about the history of salt caverns being used to store liquified petroleum products and their terrible track record with catastrophic accidents in other states. And then there was also the moral and ethical issue of using these caverns to store something toxic and explosive knowing that they have cracks and fissures and that this is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. He, himself was an avid fisherman and he felt strongly that this was a treasure and we are called to defend creation.

Fracking Protesters Arrested Blockading Dirty ‘Inergy’ Site

12 protesters have been arrested in Watkins Glen, New York after demonstrating against the development of a natural gas and liquid petroleum storage facility, a harbinger of a hydraulic fracturing industry eager to spread across the state.

Photo source: Ecowatch The protesters blockaded the entrance to the planned facility, which belongs to energy company Inergy, locked arms, and unfurled a banner reading “Our Future is Unfractured, We Are Greater Than Dirty Inergy”.

The blockaders were eventually arrested by local police and charged with a trespassing violation.

The site is "one example of numerous fracking infrastructure projects that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have allowed to slip in the back door while New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo debates allowing the controversial and extreme process of horizontal hydraulic fracturing," the group behind the action Our Future Is Unfractured stated Monday.

“It is wrong to bury explosive, toxic petroleum gases in underground chambers next to a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. It is wrong to build out the infrastructure for fracking at a time of climate emergency. It is right for me come to the shores of Seneca Lake, where my 11-year-old son was born, and say, with my voice and with my body, as a mother and biologist, that this facility is a threat to life and health,” stated Sandra Steingraber, who was arrested at the demonstration.

“This isn’t just a local issue—when students stand shoulder to shoulder with communities on the front-lines of the fight against extreme projects like Inergy’s, we’re one step closer to stopping fracking, and one step closer to protecting my generation’s future from poisoned water and devastating climate change,” said protester Dennis Fox, a Cornell University Sophomore.

The Inergy site is close to Seneca Lake—New York State’s largest fresh water body and a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

A 250+ person rally opposing the facility is expected to begin at the Watkins Glen Village Marina at 5:00 PM Monday.

Click here for live updates from the group and watch footage from the blockade's livestream below:


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NY Assembly Passes Two Year Fracking Moratorium, Senate Hoped to Follow

In a roll call vote of 95-40, the New York State Assembly has passed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking"), the toxic horizontal drilling process through which oil and gas is procured that's found within shale rock basins across the country and the world.

The bill, if passed by the Senate and signed off by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, would close the state's doors to the oil and gas industry's desire to begin operating in New York's portion of the Marcellus Shale basin until May 2015. New York has had a moratorium on the books since 2008. 

This is the third time the Assembly has passed such a bill, with similar moratorium bills passing in 2010 and 2011, but then dying a slow death in the Senate and never reaching the Governor's desk, meaning the de facto moratorium has remained in place

Could the third time be a charm in 2013 in the Empire State?

Signs point to "quite possibly," because the bipartisan Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) bloc of the Senate - which shares control of the Senate with the Republicans - has come out in support of the bill's passage, according to the Associates Press (AP).

"We have to put science first. We have to put the health of New Yorkers first," Sen. David Carlucci (D-38) and an IDC member told the AP.

Activists see it as a temporary reprieve and a victory for now. Alex Beauchamp of Food and Water Watch told the Albany Times-Union:

Hundreds of New York health professionals agree with the State Assembly that we should not move forward without a full, comprehensive examination of the health impacts of fracking...Moving forward would simply enrich oil and gas companies that want to ship their gas overseas and their profits to Texas at the expense of New York’s public health and environment.

The oil and gas industry, unsurprisingly, is up in arms. New York Petroleum Council Executive Director Karen Moreau told the Times-Union

Today’s vote by the State Assembly to further delay natural gas development is tantamount to telling the people of the Southern Tier to ‘Drop Dead.’ Once again, Albany politicians are putting politics before science, and the special interests before the people. The people of New York deserve better, to say the least

Given New York's ability to fend off the industry's desires to enter the state for going on five years, all eyes in the fracking stratosphere will be on the Senate and Cuomo - a potential 2016 Democratic Party presidential candidate - in the coming days and weeks.

© 2013 DeSmog Blog

“Obama’s Department of Fracking and Nukes”

WASHINGTON - March 5 - KARL GROSSMAN, [email]
Author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, Grossman just wrote the piece “Obama’s Department of Fracking and Nukes,” which states: “With the nomination of Ernest Moniz to be the next U.S. Secretary of Energy, President Barack Obama has selected a man who is not only a booster of nuclear power but a big proponent of fracking, too. …

“Moniz, a physicist and director of the MIT Energy Initiative, which is heavily financed by energy industry giants including BP and Chevron, has long advocated nuclear power. He has continued arguing for it despite the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex, maintaining that the disaster in Japan should not cause a stop in nuclear power development. …

“Obama’s stance as president on nuclear power has been a change from his position as candidate Obama. ‘I start off with the premise that nuclear energy is not optimal and so I am not a nuclear energy proponent,’ Obama said campaigning in Iowa on 2007. He went on that unless the ‘nuclear industry can show that they can produce clean, safe energy without enormous subsidies from the U.S. government, I don’t think that’s the best option. I am much more interested in solar and wind and bio-diesel and strategies [for] alternative fuels.’ As he told the editorial board of the Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire that year: ‘I don’t think there’s anything that we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up and irradiate us and kill us. That’s the problem.’”

Grossman said today: “It is outrageous that President Obama has selected Moniz — who despite the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters is still zealously promoting nuclear power while pushing the toxic process of fracking as well — as energy secretary. And this a week before the second anniversary of the Fukushima catastrophe. What happened to Obama’s call in his recent State of the Union address for ‘clean’ energy?”

See Grossman’s TV program “Chernobyl: A Million Casualties” and his Huffington Post piece, “Fracking and Radium, the Silvery-White Monster,” Grossman is the host of the TV program “Enviro Close-Up,” a professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, and the recipient of numerous awards for journalism, including the George Polk Award.

Maryland One Year Closer to Fracking

WASHINGTON - March 5 - “The death of the bill to ban fracking in Maryland, Senate Bill 514, today brings Maryland one year closer to fracking.

“It's outrageous that Maryland officials continue to believe that we can study fracking and somehow make it safe. By killing the bill, the Senate leadership just gave a huge gift to the oil and gas industry, which is waiting on Maryland’s doorstep.

“We’ll continue to work to ban fracking in Maryland and support policies that lead to development of renewables over environmentally damaging fossil fuels."

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Fracking our Future: the Corrosive Influence of Extreme Energy

fracking

by Frack Off

Following in the wake of shale gas and coal-bed methane (CBM) extraction is the spectre of underground coal gasification (UCG). But if we adopt these wholesale we could close off any hope of stepping back from the climate change brink, says campaign group Frack Off

The earthquakes caused by the first attempt to frack a shale gas well in the UK, almost two years ago, were a wake up call that has implications far beyond the damage caused to Cuadrilla’s well-bore. When your plan for getting gas is fracturing rock two miles under the Lancashire countryside, you know the cheap and easy energy is long gone.

The signs have been there for many years, from oil rigs pushing out into deeper and deeper water to the vast tar sands mining operations in Alberta, getting energy is taking increasing amounts of effort. People have been slow to connect the dots but now with the exploitation of unconventional gas threatening to spread thousands of wells, pipelines and other industrial infrastructure across the country, the issue of this relentless rise in energy extraction effort is finally beginning to get the attention that it deserves.


Like yeast growing in a vat, the fundamental question has always been whether industrial society will be poisoned by it’s own waste (alcohol in the case of yeast) before it runs out of resources (sugar). While significant attention has been paid to the relentless build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, worrying about running out fossil fuels has been very much a fringe activity.

The answer to this question has now become somewhat clearer, though it is much more nuanced than most people would expect. Rather than destruction by environmental crisis (“climate change”) or economic crisis (“peak oil”) we face an intricately linked combination of the two (“extreme energy”). This is not to deny the importance of either climate change or peak oil, but they not only have the same cause but are happening in the context of each other, so neither can be viewed in isolation.

Unsustainable energy

As our society’s unsustainable consumption of energy depletes easier to extract resources, it is driving the exploitation of evermore extreme and damaging energy sources. From fracking to the push to build a string of new biomass power stations which will devour the world’s remaining forests and the plans for a wave of new, more dangerous, nuclear power stations, energy extraction is becoming much more destructive.

In the past the dominant environmental impact of exploiting fossil fuels was the impact of the carbon emissions associated with burning them but as the effort required for energy extraction has grown, so have the environmental consequences of the extraction processes themselves. The poster child for this effect are the Athabasca tar sands in Alberta, but across the globe, from the Arctic Ocean to the rainforests of Borneo, energy extraction is driving increasing environmental destruction.

A common propaganda tool is to portray such concerns as a stark choice between economic growth and environmental preservation, but in reality extreme energy is as damaging to people’s economic well-being as it is to the environment.

As extraction effort grows, a greater fraction of economic activity must be allocated to the energy sector. In a market economy the mechanism by which this is achieved is, of course, rising energy prices, which will have the effect of diverting resources away from other activities.

In the last decade the fraction of the global economy devoted to energy extraction has almost tripled, to over 10 percent of GDP. If the use of more extreme extraction methods increases then an even greater proportion of the worlds resources must be sacrificed to these efforts.

This path leads to a world where energy extraction dominates the economy, and the majority of the population lives in its shadow. Look at the Niger Delta to see what such a world looks like.

The greatest threat

In the UK unconventional gas is by far the greatest threat. Despite the North Sea in terminal decline and increasing pressure on imports there is an insidious push to increase our dependence on gas. Fracking is seen as the way to achieve this but even if is feasible, it would require drilling of tens of thousands of wells and the devastation of the huge swathes of countryside. This will result in toxic and radioactive water contamination, air pollution, severe health effects in human and animals and increased greenhouse gas emissions all for a very short term hit of extremely expensive gas.

Following in the wake of shale gas and coal-bed methane (CBM) is the even more dire spectre of underground coal gasification (UCG) which involves partially burning coal underground and bringing the resulting gases to the surface. UCG has an even worse record of environmental contamination and could potentially emit enough carbon to raise global temperatures by up to 10 degrees Celsius.

A wholesale adoption of fracking and associated methods would close off perhaps our last chance to step back from the brink. Extreme energy requires a dedication to energy production to the exclusion of all else, which would radically alter the structure of our society.

Increasingly, more expensive energy infrastructure must be built, which will divert huge amounts resources away from worthwhile activities. It will quickly become the case that the largest single consumer of the energy produced will be energy extraction processes themselves. We will end up on a treadmill running faster and faster just to stand still as everything falls apart around us.

The decision we face is between prioritising abstract notions of profit and growth or the real well-being of communities and ecosystems. The two can no longer pretend to coexist.

Useful Links

Frack Off: www.frack-off.org.uk

ALEC Sham Chemical Disclosure Model Tucked Into Illinois Fracking Bill

Illinois is the next state on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)'s target list for putting the oil industry's interests ahead of the public interest.

(Photo: silverfuture via Flickr) 98 percent funded by multinational corporations, ALEC is described by its critics as a "corporate bill mill" and a lobbyist-legislator dating service. It brings together corporate lobbyists and right wing politicians to vote up or down on "model bills" written by lobbyists in service to their corporate clientele behind closed doors at its annual meetings.

These "models" snake their way into statehouses nationwide as proposed legislation and quite often become the law of the land. 

Illinois, nicknamed the "Land of Lincoln," has transformed into the "Land of ALEC" when it comes to a hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") regulation bill - HB 2615, the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation Act - currently under consideration by its House of Representatives. "Fracking" is the toxic horizontal drilling process via which unconventional gas and oil is obtained from shale rock basins across the country and the world.

HB 2615 - proposed on Feb. 21 with 26 co-sponsors - has an ALEC model bill roped within this lengthy piece of legislation: the loophole-ridden Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act.

As covered here on DeSmogBlog, this model bill has been proposed and passed in numerous statehouses to date. If the bill passes, Illinois' portion of the New Albany Shale basin will be opened up for unfettered fracking, costumed by its industry proponents as the "most comprehensive fracking legislation in the nation." 

"If At First You Don't Succeed, Dust Yourself Off and Try Again"

This isn't ALEC's first fracking-related crack at getting a model bill passed in Illinois. In 2012, the Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act - introduced as SB 3280 - passed unanimously by the Illinois Senate but never passed the House. 

SB 3280 isn't merely an ALEC model, but is a Council of State Government's (CSG) model, too, as covered here on DeSmog.

The "disclosure" standards' origins lay in the Obama Department of Energy's (DOE) industry-stacked fracking subcomittee, formed in May 2011 "to study the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and determine if there are ways, or even a necessity, to make it safer for the environment and public health." 

As exposed by The New York Times in April 2012, these "disclosure" standards were originally written by ExxonMobil, first passed in Texas in June 2011, and now serve as both an ALEC and CSG model bill for the states. I say "disclosure" - as opposed to disclosure - because the bill includes loopholes for "trade secrets," ala the "Halliburton Loophole" written into the industry-friendly federal Energy Policy Act of 2005. 

Section 77 of HB 2615, titled "Chemical disclosure; trade secret protection," also includes the same trade secrets exemption from the ALEC/CSG ExxonMobil-written model bill. 

Ever persistent, ALEC has taken the late pop diva Aaliyah's words to heart with regards to chemical fluids "disclosure," at first not succeeding and dusting itself off and trying again

The FracFocus Façade

The oil and gas industry has chosen FracFocus as the entity to oversee the chemical disclosure process. An August investigation by Bloomberg News revealed that FracFocus offers the façade of disclosure while the industry tramples roughshod over communities nationwide.  

"Energy companies failed to list more than two out of every five fracked wells in eight U.S. states from April 11, 2011, when FracFocus began operating, through the end of last year," wrote Bloomberg. "The gaps reveal shortcomings in the voluntary approach to transparency on the site, which has received funding from oil and gas trade groups and $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy."

In reality, FracFocus is a public relations front for the oil and gas industry, as we reported here in Dec. 2012, explaining

FracFocus' domain is registered by Brothers & Company, a public relations firm whose clients include America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Chesapeake Energy, and American Clean Skies Foundation - a front group for Chesapeake Energy.

Another Nov. 2012 Bloomberg investigation revealed that oil and gas corporations "claimed trade secrets or otherwise failed to identify the chemicals they used about 22 percent of the time," according to its analysis of FracFocus data for 18 states.

Cosponsors Tied to ALEC, CSG

Five of the 26 Illinois House cosponsors are ALEC members: Reps. David Reis (R-119), Mike Fortner (R-95), Jil Tracy (R-93), Dennis Reboletti (R-97), and Patricia Bellock (R-94). 

Further, three more cosponsors have ties to CSG. Rep. Ann Williams (D-11) and Rep. Pam Roth (R-75) both attended CSG Midwest's 2012 Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD). Two of the sponsors of BILLD in 2012 included BP America and Enbridge Energy. Another, Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-97), is a 2005 CSG Midwest BILLD alumni.

The bipartisan "group of 26" took a total of $53,060 before the Nov. 2012 election, data collected from the National Institute on Money in State Politics shows.      

How Will IL Regulate Fracking with 12 Inspectors?

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn's 2012 budget included Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cuts to the tune of 13.5-percent for fiscal year 2013. The DNR is the regulatory body tasked to referee the fracking process under HB 2615, an agency which in the past decade has lost over half of its budget

"Our agency has essentially been cut in half over the last decade. There are a lot of ramifications...You're going to see a noticeable difference in the maintenance. It won't be the fault of the people that work for us," DNR Director Marc Miller said at a Feb. 2012 public forum in a foreshadowing manner. "It will be because we don't have the resources."

There are 12 inspectors in IL to oversee fracking regulation enforcement, among myriad other regulatory duties, down from 28 in 2005, as revealed in a recent Freedom of Information Act conducted by ProPublica.

"What we are looking for is a sustainable solution," Miller said at the public forum. "We want to get to the point of having revenue we can count on to plan and to be able to do the programs we're supposed to do for the public."

Yet Miller believes more DNR cuts from Quinn are in the works in forthcoming budgets.

Earthworks pointed out in a Sept. 2011 report titled, "Breaking All the Rules: the Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement" that numerous states - akin to Illinois - are vastly understaffed, underfunded and unable to do their jobs to protect the public. Predictably, this has led to under-enforcement, lending the oil and gas industry a free pass to contaminate without accountability.

And even with enforcement, Earthworks pointed out that because the penalties for breaking the law are so minimal, the industry simply passes this off as a tiny "cost of doing business."

Bill Endorsed by Sierra Club/NRDC 

Despite this reality, two major green NGOs - the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) - have come out in cautious support of the bill. 

"NRDC is working to transition as quickly as possible to a clean energy future based on energy efficiency and renewable energy, but as long as we have to have dirty fossil fuels, our communities need the strongest rules in place," NRDC's Henry Henderson wrote in blog post, offering the important caveat that "Those rules are only as good as their enforcement, which needs to be robust and strict. And that is another issue that we will be following if this bill moves forward."

No concerns are raised about Section 25 of the bill dealing with setbacks and prohibitions.

This section lends the industry the ability to conduct fracking operations within 1,500 feet of groundwater sources and 500 feet of schools, houses, hospitals, nursing homes, and places of worship. It also enables the industry to frack within 300 feet of rivers, lakes, ponds and reservoirs.   

These regulations do not take into account the fact that the horizontal drilling portion of the fracking process extends between 5,000 and 10,000 feet. The sobering reality: none of these things would be protected under this bill's current language

Sierra Club, which came under fire last year for taking $26 million from gas giant Chesapeake Energy to fight against coal, sang a similar tune.

"We may not be able to decide whether fracking comes to Illinois, but we absolutely must decide to make sure we are as protected as we can be," Sierra Club's Jack Darin concluded on The Huffington Post, despite the fact that fracking has yet to begin in the state. 

Other Groups Call for a Moratorium, Support Alternative Bill 

Other groups are fighting for a different recently-introduced moratorium bill, SB 1418, which has one sponsor so far, Sen. Mattie Hunte (D-94).

That effort is being led by the Illinois Coalition For A Moratorium on Fracking, whose members include Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE), MoveOn.org Illinois, Progressive Demcrats of America (PDA) Chicago and Illinois, Stop the Frack Attack on IL, Rising Tide, and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) Chicago. 

"The moratorium will allow two years for a science-based investigative task force to look at current and ongoing studies on fracking," the Coaliton's press release in support of SB 1418 reads. "As new research continues to uncover more harmful effects of high-volume fracturing, both in the surrounding area and to the climate, ICMF, SAFE, and many other environmental organizations are committed to supporting studies on the procedure."

SAFE, one of the Coalition members, will play host to a one-day summit called "The Fracking Truth" on Mar. 1 to rally people in support of the moratorium bill.

‘Forward’ on Fracking? Obama Scientist Makes Industry-Friendly Push for Gas Drilling Bonanza

One of Obama's top scientific advisers has signaled that the White House is poised to make a major push for the controversial practice of known as fracking--which environmental campaigners say is a betrayal of a truly clean energy agenda and evidence that the administration still misunderstands the severity of the climate dangers associated with all forms of fossil fuels.

Green groups, progressives, and environmentalists, though not unaware of Obama's long held "all of the above" approach to US energy may still be shocked to hear the degree to which the administration is gearing up for a push of the practice that studies show have dramatic negative impacts on the environment and communities close to drilling operations.(Photo: Star Tribune) The signals by Prof. William Press, an astrophysicist who heads the government-funded American Association for the Advancement of Science, were made at both an industry conference this week and in an interview with the Observer in the UK.

"The gas industry is straining to develop underground natural gas reserves across the nation and would love to know the exact rules and constraints by which it can carry out fracking in different states," Press told the Observer's Robin McKie. "Once they know that, they can get on with it."

Press then indicated that Obama "could use executive orders to outline those rules in the very near future and so initiate widespread gas fracking in the US."

Green groups, progressives, and environmentalists—though not unaware of Obama's long held "all of the above" approach to US energy—may still be shocked to hear the degree to which the administration is gearing up for a push of the practice that studies show have dramatic negative impacts on the environment and communities close to drilling operations.

As economist Robert Pollin said in response to Obama's State of the Union earlier this week, the good news was the president's commitment to a clean energy future. The bad news? His continued commitment to a dirty energy future.

"Let’s get serious here: Natural gas is not a clean fuel," Pollin said.

"Yes, emissions are only half as bad as with coal, and it is also modestly cleaner than oil. But that isn’t good enough. If we allow our natural gas production to expand significantly—or even to stay where it is today—there is no way we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by anything close by the 40 percent that is necessary by 2030, and by 80 percent as of 2050."

State level fights against fracking are ongoing in Texas, Ohio, Pennsylvanian, New York, and elsewhere as local communities fight back against gas giants trying to cash in on the fracking boom.

But Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, says the practice should be stopped in its tracks, not expanded. "Any position short of a ban on fracking is hurting the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency solutions in the long term," she said, "saddling us with 50 years of infrastructure to continue fracking for gas that will be exported around the world."

As McKie reports, the claim that natural gas is actually cleaner or less carbon intensive than coal or oil is disputed by environmentalists and scientific study:

Greenpeace says no proper analysis has been done on gas leakage from fracking sites. In particular, there is a fear that methane – which is a far more dangerous greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide – may be escaping from wells and adding to the warming of the atmosphere. Campaigners also claim that there have been more than 1,000 cases of groundwater contamination in the US because of fracking and have urged a moratorium on underground drilling.

And as Common Dreams reported last month:

New research on "alarmingly high methane emissions" brings further environmental scrutiny to natural gas extraction including fracking, and illustrates how the boom in the industry may well be a plan for climate disaster.

The findings, led by researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), were presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, the journal Nature reports, and reiterated data the team first noted in February of 2012 that 4% of the methane produced at a field near Denver was escaping into the atmosphere. The team also presented preliminary findings from a Utah study that suggested an even higher rate of methane emissions—9% of the total production.

NOAA describes methane as 25 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than CO2.

"We were expecting to see high methane levels, but I don’t think anybody really comprehended the true magnitude of what we would see," says Colm Sweeney, who led the aerial component of the study as head of the aircraft program at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder.

All of this happens amidst a growing climate movement in the US that is putting laser-like focus on the Obama administration to match presidential rhetoric with meaningful executive action. This is best highlighted by the ongoing fight around the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, against which campaigners say they will determine if Obama is willing to show courage by defying the fossil fuel industry's demand for building the pipeline.

On Sunday, over 200 organizations—led by 350.org, Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus—are holding a rally in history in Washington, DC to apply public pressure on the president to oppose—"once and for all"—the Keystone XL project.

But the larger focus of the rally, called Forward on Climate, is to demand that Obama and his colleagues in Congress take notice of the changing political tide across the country in addition to the changing climate.

"We’re having the largest rally in U.S. history on climate change in the National Mall this Sunday," said Sierra Club president Michael Brune. "And it’s coming at a time where there are several important decisions that the president will make: about mountain top removal, about fracking across the country, about drilling in the arctic, whether or not to build a deadly and destructive pipeline."

"What we’re seeing is a resurgence of committed, passionate Americans who are willing to advocate and fight for clean energy," Brune said.

So the voices are loud and clear. The questions remain: Will Obama listen to those leading the climate fight? And will he follow?

New York Fracking Gag Order Violates Freedom of Speech

SANFORD, NY - February 12 - The Town of Sanford, New York, is violating its residents’ First Amendment right to free speech by placing a gag order on discussion of proposed fracking in the state at town board meetings, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

“If people are silenced by their own elected representatives, how can they trust them to act in their best interests?” said NRDC senior attorney Kate Sinding. “The Sanford Town Board has taken away residents’ right to speak up on one of the most controversial and daunting issues facing them today, in the very forum designed to give them that opportunity. This is particularly troubling given the board’s history of unwavering support for fracking.”

On September 11, 2012, the Sanford Town Board unanimously passed a resolution forbidding further discussion about natural gas development during the public participation portion of Town Board.

The September vote was the most recent in a series of “pro-fracking” town board resolutions that actively lobbied the state to move forward with proposed natural gas extraction. As early as Governor Paterson’s administration, the Town Board urged the governor and legislature to open the state up to development. Last May, the board passed a resolution urging Governor Cuomo to lift the de-facto moratorium on fracking. Then on September 5th — days before the gag order passed—Town Supervisor Dewey Decker signed on to a letter urging Governor Cuomo to legalize fracking in the state.

In addition, the Sanford Town Board has shown ongoing support of fracking industry activities within its borders. These include leasing town land to an oil and gas company, and granting industry access to town resources for use in development.  Between 2008 and 2010, Sanford leased town land to XTO Energy for oil and natural gas extraction and licensed the company to use local roads for fracking-related activities.  Between 2011 and 2012, the town passed a resolution in support of Bluestone Gas Corporation’s application to build a local pipeline, granted Bluestone a waiver for certain road and insurance requirements and entered into an agreement with the company for road-use privileges. 

“At the September 2012 Sanford town meeting, when the board chose to cut off discussion of fracking and related issues, they ended any chance that I might have to affect the future value of my home, or the quality of the air I breathe, or the water I drink,” said Sanford resident Mike Musante, who attended the September meeting. “Without debate there is no democracy, only rule by autocrats.”

“I have not accepted that this board decision is legal or ethical. I feel bullied, stifled and frustrated. We should not have to fight for our basic First Amendment right of assembling peacefully and verbally petitioning the government. I plan to take that substantial energy of frustration and work toward a government that is responsive to the people,” said Barbara Lester, a Sanford resident. 

“We regret that the Sanford Town Board, in removing public participation from the democratic process, has left no alternative but litigation,” said Tom Wilinsky of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

NRDC and CCSE filed their lawsuit on behalf of their members who are residents of Sanford, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Sanford is located in Broome County, in New York’s Southern Tier, along the Pennsylvania border and deep within the Marcellus Shale formation. It is a small, rural town with a population of about 2,400.

WATCH: Video of Silenced Sanford Residents on Kate Sinding’s blog, "You're silencing us" - Protecting Free Speech Rights in Sanford, New York.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

New York Fracking Gag Order Violates Freedom of Speech

SANFORD, NY - February 12 - The Town of Sanford, New York, is violating its residents’ First Amendment right to free speech by placing a gag order on discussion of proposed fracking in the state at town board meetings, according to a lawsuit filed today by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

“If people are silenced by their own elected representatives, how can they trust them to act in their best interests?” said NRDC senior attorney Kate Sinding. “The Sanford Town Board has taken away residents’ right to speak up on one of the most controversial and daunting issues facing them today, in the very forum designed to give them that opportunity. This is particularly troubling given the board’s history of unwavering support for fracking.”

On September 11, 2012, the Sanford Town Board unanimously passed a resolution forbidding further discussion about natural gas development during the public participation portion of Town Board.

The September vote was the most recent in a series of “pro-fracking” town board resolutions that actively lobbied the state to move forward with proposed natural gas extraction. As early as Governor Paterson’s administration, the Town Board urged the governor and legislature to open the state up to development. Last May, the board passed a resolution urging Governor Cuomo to lift the de-facto moratorium on fracking. Then on September 5th — days before the gag order passed—Town Supervisor Dewey Decker signed on to a letter urging Governor Cuomo to legalize fracking in the state.

In addition, the Sanford Town Board has shown ongoing support of fracking industry activities within its borders. These include leasing town land to an oil and gas company, and granting industry access to town resources for use in development.  Between 2008 and 2010, Sanford leased town land to XTO Energy for oil and natural gas extraction and licensed the company to use local roads for fracking-related activities.  Between 2011 and 2012, the town passed a resolution in support of Bluestone Gas Corporation’s application to build a local pipeline, granted Bluestone a waiver for certain road and insurance requirements and entered into an agreement with the company for road-use privileges. 

“At the September 2012 Sanford town meeting, when the board chose to cut off discussion of fracking and related issues, they ended any chance that I might have to affect the future value of my home, or the quality of the air I breathe, or the water I drink,” said Sanford resident Mike Musante, who attended the September meeting. “Without debate there is no democracy, only rule by autocrats.”

“I have not accepted that this board decision is legal or ethical. I feel bullied, stifled and frustrated. We should not have to fight for our basic First Amendment right of assembling peacefully and verbally petitioning the government. I plan to take that substantial energy of frustration and work toward a government that is responsive to the people,” said Barbara Lester, a Sanford resident. 

“We regret that the Sanford Town Board, in removing public participation from the democratic process, has left no alternative but litigation,” said Tom Wilinsky of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.

NRDC and CCSE filed their lawsuit on behalf of their members who are residents of Sanford, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York. Sanford is located in Broome County, in New York’s Southern Tier, along the Pennsylvania border and deep within the Marcellus Shale formation. It is a small, rural town with a population of about 2,400.

WATCH: Video of Silenced Sanford Residents on Kate Sinding’s blog, "You're silencing us" - Protecting Free Speech Rights in Sanford, New York.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has 1.2 million members and online activists, served from offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Beijing.

Local Fracking Bans Under Attack in NY

Common Dreams Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community. Independent, non-profit newscenter since 1997.To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Hundreds Rally in NY: ‘Not One Fracking Well’

(Photo via FrackAction)Hundreds of anti-fracking activists a packed legislative hearing in Albany, NY on Monday to demand that Governor Cuomo protect the state's air and water supply and not lift the ban on the controversial drilling practice known as fracking.

“New Yorkers don’t want the gas industry to poison them and ruin New York. We know that once the gas industry ruins our water, food and environment, we will be left with an enormous mess after the fracking industry is gone,” said Alex Beauchamp of Food & Water Watch. “We hope Governor Cuomo will listen to the loud opposition voices and protect us and the generations to come from such a true health and human rights disaster.”

Anti-fracking group, Frack Action, wrote on their Facebook page: "As [Department of Environmental Conservation] (DEC) Commissioner Martens testifies this morning in Albany, the hearing room is packed with a long line out the door of New Yorkers opposed to fracking. We're in Albany today to say NOT ONE WELL!"

After the hearing, protestors—including actor Mark Ruffalo and Gasland director Josh Fox— gathered on the Capitol steps to ask the Cuomo Administration to open the secret health review being conducted by the Department of Health for public comment and participation.

Frack Action reports, "Rather than undertake a comprehensive health impact assessment of fracking that would involve transparency and public participation, the Administration instead hired outside experts to review its own controlled internal health review that was written by the administration."

Earlier in the day, the Siena Research Institute released new poll data showing New York voters are split (40-40 percent) on the issue of fracking, with opponents significantly more passionate in their position than supporters. Associated Press reports, "in the Southern Tier region where drilling would most likely start, the poll showed 48 percent opposed." 

In a letter to the editor of the Times Union, Albany resident Judith Brinks writes:

I've attended Albany City Council and Albany County Legislature meetings and listened to gas company representatives say how safe fracking is and how there is nothing harmful in the chemicals they are using. I've experienced the opposite.

Very good friends lived just below the New York state line in Pennsylvania, and I watched the land and the health of my friends deteriorate as the fracking machinery invaded the territory until my friends felt they had to leave. My friends were lucky to sell their homestead and move to Ithaca where they are counting on New York to be smarter and more responsive to its citizens than Pennsylvania. I certainly hope their trust is well-placed.

_____________________

The Surprising Connection Between Food and Fracking

Big Ag is lining up to be a powerful ally of the natural gas industry -- here's why.

January 30, 2013  |  

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The following article first appeared in Mother Jones. For more great content from Mother Jones, sign up for their free email updates here. 

In a recent  Nation piece, the wonderful  Elizabeth Royte teased out the direct links between hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and the food supply. In short, extracting natural gas from rock formations by bombarding them with chemical-spiked fluid leaves behind fouled water—and that fouled water can make it into the crops and animals we eat.

But there's another, emerging food/fracking connection that few are aware of. US agriculture is highly reliant on synthetic nitrogen fertilizer, and nitrogen fertilizer is synthesized in a process fueled by natural gas. As  more and more of the US natural gas supply comes from fracking, more and more of the nitrogen fertilizer farmers use will come from fracked natural gas. If Big Ag becomes hooked on cheap fracked gas to meet its fertilizer needs, then the fossil fuel industry will have gained a powerful ally in its effort to  steamroll regulation and fight back opposition to fracking projects.

It was the N of the era: In the 2000s, nitrogen production moved offshore as US natural gas prices rose. Source: USDA

Today, Trinidad and Tobago, an island nation off the coast of Venezuela and our leading source of imported N, is in the same position the US found itself in the early 2000s: Its supply of conventional, easy-to-harvest natural gas is wearing thin. In 2012, the International Monetary Fund  estimated (PDF) that at current rates of extraction, the nation had sufficient natural gas reserves to last until just 2019.

Meanwhile, the fracking boom has made US natural gas suddenly abundant—and driven prices into the ground. A Btu of US natural gas now now costs 75 percent less than it did in 2008, the  New York Times recently reported. Meanwhile, nitrogen fertilizer prices  remain stubbornly high, propped up by strong demand driven by high crop prices. Those conditions—low input prices plus elevated prices for the final product—mean a potential profit bonanza for companies that use cheap US natural gas to make pricy N fertilizer for the booming US market.

Not surprisingly, as Kay McDonald of the excellent blog  Big Picture Agriculture shows, the industry is starting to move back to the United States to take advantage of the fracking boom. McDonald points to a $1.4 billion project announced in September by the Egyptian company Orascom Construction Industries to build a large new nitrogen fertilizer plant in Iowa close to a natural gas pipeline. According to the  Wall Street Journal, "cheap U.S. natural-gas supplies and the nation's role as the world's most important food exporter" drew the Egyptian giant into the US market.

That same month, US-owned agribusiness cooperative CHS announced it was investing $1.2 billion to build a nitrogen plant in North Dakota. An  Associated Press article gave a taste of the potential profits in such an operation: "Natural gas prices are now at about $2.50 per thousand cubic feet. At those prices, it takes about $82 worth of natural gas to make a ton of anhydrous ammonia, which is selling for about $800 per ton."

And then there's US fertilizer giant CF Industries, which in November announced a $3.8 billion expansion of existing nitrogen fertilizer plants in Louisiana and Iowa, a move designed to "take advantage of low natural gas costs and high grain prices,"  MarketWatch reported

Now, it should be noted that it isn't just the promise of windfall profits that are driving these investments. Energy prices are highly volatile, and the industry is wary of the risk involved with plunking down billions in hopes of future gain. Enter the taxpayer: These projects are being underwritten by public money at the national, state, and local levels. As a reward for expanding its Iowa plant, CF Industries won more than $70 million in tax incentives from the the state, and $161 million in property taxes over 20 years from Woodbury County, which houses the plant, the  Sioux City Journal reports. Louisiana will chip in  several million dollars in tax breaks for the company's expansion there, too.

Fracking Industry Goes After “Promised Land” Film

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Before Gus Van Sant's latest film Promised Land even premiered, the energy industry was up in arms, gearing up to counter the film's apparent anti-fracking stance with a barrage of "community" responses (read: thinly veiled corporate PR). James Schamus, chief executive of Focus Features the distributor of the film, expressed shock about the attacks on Promised Land: "We've been surprised at the emergence of what looks like a concerted campaign targeting the film even before anyone's seen it." With blogs, astroturf websites, Facebook pages, internet ads, and theater ad buys in advance of the movie, the industry is working hard to spin the conversation in a more fracking-friendly direction.

The film chronicles the story of a gas industry salesman, played by Matt Damon, and his attempt to convince the residents of a rural Pennsylvania town to agree to fracking development. The questions raised by actors in the film mirror the debates taking place in communities across the country. What type of chemicals are used in fracking? What is the effect of fracking on air and water? While the industry may make a few struggling families rich, what is the cost for the community as a whole?

Conveniently, the fracking industry has launched a number of websites to answer these questions for you.

Energy in Depth Launches "Real Promised Land" Site

The fracking industry was caught unprepared by the brilliant, 2010 documentary Gaslands by Josh Fox, whose indelible images of tap water bursting into flames introduced fracking to the American public. Having learned their lesson, the industry was not eager to repeat its mistakes.

Before it was even released, Energy in Depth (EID) took issue with the new movie, which is not a hard-hitting documentary like Gaslands and has more romantic content than factual content. Through a new website titled RealPromisedLand.org, EID rolled out "real stories" from "real Americans" about their positive experiences with fracking. Videos from Ohio, Colorado, Texas, and Pennsylvania highlight seemingly ordinary citizens who have benefited from fracking development in their area. On their glossy Facebook page you can learn that: "the natural gas industry takes all the safety measures possible in order to protect the earth and water from any contamination" and other tall tales.

The website does not disclose that EID was launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America to serve as the PR mouthpiece for the gas industry. As CMD has documented, EID is funded by the likes of Shell, BP, Chevron, and XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. EID has also privately described itself, in a memo, as the "online resource center to combat new environmental regulations."

Industry Buys Ads for PA Movie Theaters

The Marcellus Shale Coalition, the drilling industry's biggest trade group in Pennsylvania, cut ads to run before the film aired in Pennsylvania theaters. The ads direct viewers to their website, learnaboutshale.org, which seeks to dispel the "complete work of fiction" they call Promised Land. Would-be viewers of the film are implored to engage in a "straightforward" and "honest" conversation on natural gas. Folks worried about fracking's impact on water will not be told what chemicals are used or how many wells have been contaminated, but they will be reassured that water sources will be just fine -- as long as the drillers follow all state and federal regulations.

"Propaganda Specialists" Fight Anti-fracking Narrative

"To be honest," said Schamus of Focus Films, "if I could afford the kind of propaganda specialists the fracking industry has sent after our little movie... They're pretty impressive at what they do."

Curiously, none of the countless websites and articles published against Promised Land have countered any of the movie's factual claims about hydraulic fracturing. The attacks against the film are more centered on the notion that the film's narrative is flawed, not that it presents false information.

Despite finding no factual errors in Promised Land, the gas industry will not take bad PR lying down. In response to Gasland, the industry produced a film called Truthland. We can't wait to see what their next "blockbuster" will be, Broken Promises?

Americans Against Fracking Commends Maryland Legislators for Introducing Statewide Fracking Ban

WASHINGTON - January 29 - Statement From Americans Against Fracking Advisory Committee Member, Biologist, Ithaca College Distinguished Scholar in Residence and Author Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.

“Americans Against Fracking, a national coalition dedicated to banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and drilling associated with fracking for oil and natural gas in the United States, commends Delegate Shane Robinson and Senator Karen Montgomery for having the courage to introduce legislation in Maryland that bans hydraulic fracturing statewide. 

“With this legislation, the State of Maryland would become a shining example of how to stand up to the powerful oil and gas lobby. It shows that Maryland’s legislators find the livelihoods and health of their constituency to be more important than the profits of oil and gas companies.  

“Americans Against Fracking represents over 160 public health, consumer, environmental and faith-based organizations that want to protect American communities from the economic problems and environmental dangers associated with fracking.”

Including organizations such as Berks Gas Truth, Breast Cancer Action, CREDO Action, Catskill Mountain Keeper, Center for Biological Diversity, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Democracy for America, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, Frack-Free Stark County, Illinois People’s Action and National Nurses United, Americans Against Fracking supports federal state and local efforts to ban fracking and to stop practices that facilitate fracking like natural gas exports, frac sand mining and pipeline construction.

Americans Against Fracking is composed of the following groups: http://www.americansagainstfracking.org/members/. For more information about Americans Against Fracking, visit www.AmericansAgainstFracking.org

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Americans Against Fracking Commends Maryland Legislators for Introducing Statewide Fracking Ban

WASHINGTON - January 29 - Statement From Americans Against Fracking Advisory Committee Member, Biologist, Ithaca College Distinguished Scholar in Residence and Author Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.

“Americans Against Fracking, a national coalition dedicated to banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and drilling associated with fracking for oil and natural gas in the United States, commends Delegate Shane Robinson and Senator Karen Montgomery for having the courage to introduce legislation in Maryland that bans hydraulic fracturing statewide. 

“With this legislation, the State of Maryland would become a shining example of how to stand up to the powerful oil and gas lobby. It shows that Maryland’s legislators find the livelihoods and health of their constituency to be more important than the profits of oil and gas companies.  

“Americans Against Fracking represents over 160 public health, consumer, environmental and faith-based organizations that want to protect American communities from the economic problems and environmental dangers associated with fracking.”

Including organizations such as Berks Gas Truth, Breast Cancer Action, CREDO Action, Catskill Mountain Keeper, Center for Biological Diversity, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Democracy for America, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, Frack-Free Stark County, Illinois People’s Action and National Nurses United, Americans Against Fracking supports federal state and local efforts to ban fracking and to stop practices that facilitate fracking like natural gas exports, frac sand mining and pipeline construction.

Americans Against Fracking is composed of the following groups: http://www.americansagainstfracking.org/members/. For more information about Americans Against Fracking, visit www.AmericansAgainstFracking.org

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

US Chamber CEO Donohue: Fracking Is Our Future, Safety Nets Be Damned

If you want to understand the source of the world's problems, follow the Davos coverage by CNN and Bloomberg News for a few days. Not only will they tell you what the source is, they'll prove that your instincts are right about billionaires and thos...

Del. Shane Robinson and Sen. Karen Montgomery Introduce Statewide Ban on Fracking

Annapolis, MD - January 24 - Today, Delegate Shane Robinson (D-39) introduced new legislation in Maryland’s House of Delegates that would institute a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Consumer advocates Food & Water Watch, part of a coalition of 22 environmental groups who co-signed a letter to Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly supporting a ban, has worked closely with Del. Robinson and Sen. Karen Montgomery on the ban bill’s development. The legislation, which will be cross-filed by Sen. Montgomery next week, is being introduced on behalf of Marylanders who believe that fracking is inherently unsafe.

Fracking is now a legitimate concern for all Marylanders. A recent U.S. Geological Survey report outlined additional gas basins, potential targets for expansion of the oil and gas industry into central and southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore — all part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed — in addition to two western counties. Advocates of the bill say a moratorium and additional studies will not make fracking safe in Maryland.

“Maryland should not invest taxpayer money into funding studies about fracking — those resources should instead be put towards renewable energy,” said Maryland Del. Shane Robinson. “We need not look further than our neighbors in Pennsylvania to see the kind of destruction fracking is capable of bringing to our residents and our environment. The only way to truly protect Maryland from the risks associated with fracking is to ban it throughout the state, and I plan to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to make that happen.”

“Fracking is touted as a moneymaker for Maryland,” said Senator Karen Montgomery. “What is not counted in the equation are the severe environmental problems not addressed, including groundwater contamination by unknown contaminants and the inability to safely dispose of used and contaminated fracking wastewater.”

“We commend Del. Robinson and Sen. Montgomery for introducing legislation that would actually protect Maryland against the inherent dangers of fracking,” said Mitch Jones, director of the Common Resources Program for Food & Water Watch. “The oil and gas industry could turn Maryland into a sacrifice zone for a few years’ worth of shale gas. As we’ve seen in other states, and in Washington, energy companies have successfully lobbied to receive exemptions from regulations such as the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means they don’t have to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process to state regulators and the public. We can’t rely on a flawed regulatory regime to protect our water and the health of our families. This bill puts public and environmental health before industry profits.”

“The case against fracking is compelling based on its damage to the environment and our health alone,” said Megan Cronin, Clean Water Advocate at Environment Maryland. “But, fracking’s negative impacts on our environment and health come with heavy “dollars and cents” costs as well. From increased demand for public services to renewing and replacing public infrastructure, from the public health costs due to air and water pollution to the depletion of natural resources, the costs of fracking are too high. Maryland needs to ban fracking now, before it’s too late.”

Fracking is the dangerous and controversial method of injecting water, sand and chemicals underground at extremely high pressures to break up rock formations, allowing oil or gas to flow more easily into a well. Drilling and fracking have resulted in widespread cases of water contamination and local air pollution problems across the country. Disposal of the massive amounts of fracking wastewater from each new well poses problems as well. Health professionals across the country have voiced concern about the potential health effects on communities where drilling and fracking is occurring and highlighted the lack of cumulative health impact assessments.

The 22 groups who support a ban on fracking include ARK Church, Centre for Wellness, Baltimore Green Forum, Spirit and Nature Group Gunpowder Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Centennial Caroline Street United Methodist Church, Climate Change Initiative of Howard County, Community Research, Crossroads Community Food Network, East Baltimore Community Corporation, Inc., Energy Justice Network, Environment Maryland, Food & Water Watch, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Maryland PIRG, McElderry Park Community Association, Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Assateague Coastkeeper, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, Patuxent Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper, Severn Riverkeeper, Young Democrats of Harford County, and Young Democrats of Montgomery County.

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Del. Shane Robinson and Sen. Karen Montgomery Introduce Statewide Ban on Fracking

Annapolis, MD - January 24 - Today, Delegate Shane Robinson (D-39) introduced new legislation in Maryland’s House of Delegates that would institute a statewide ban on hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Consumer advocates Food & Water Watch, part of a coalition of 22 environmental groups who co-signed a letter to Governor Martin O’Malley and the Maryland General Assembly supporting a ban, has worked closely with Del. Robinson and Sen. Karen Montgomery on the ban bill’s development. The legislation, which will be cross-filed by Sen. Montgomery next week, is being introduced on behalf of Marylanders who believe that fracking is inherently unsafe.

Fracking is now a legitimate concern for all Marylanders. A recent U.S. Geological Survey report outlined additional gas basins, potential targets for expansion of the oil and gas industry into central and southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore — all part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed — in addition to two western counties. Advocates of the bill say a moratorium and additional studies will not make fracking safe in Maryland.

“Maryland should not invest taxpayer money into funding studies about fracking — those resources should instead be put towards renewable energy,” said Maryland Del. Shane Robinson. “We need not look further than our neighbors in Pennsylvania to see the kind of destruction fracking is capable of bringing to our residents and our environment. The only way to truly protect Maryland from the risks associated with fracking is to ban it throughout the state, and I plan to work with my colleagues in the Legislature to make that happen.”

“Fracking is touted as a moneymaker for Maryland,” said Senator Karen Montgomery. “What is not counted in the equation are the severe environmental problems not addressed, including groundwater contamination by unknown contaminants and the inability to safely dispose of used and contaminated fracking wastewater.”

“We commend Del. Robinson and Sen. Montgomery for introducing legislation that would actually protect Maryland against the inherent dangers of fracking,” said Mitch Jones, director of the Common Resources Program for Food & Water Watch. “The oil and gas industry could turn Maryland into a sacrifice zone for a few years’ worth of shale gas. As we’ve seen in other states, and in Washington, energy companies have successfully lobbied to receive exemptions from regulations such as the Safe Drinking Water Act, which means they don’t have to disclose chemicals used in the fracking process to state regulators and the public. We can’t rely on a flawed regulatory regime to protect our water and the health of our families. This bill puts public and environmental health before industry profits.”

“The case against fracking is compelling based on its damage to the environment and our health alone,” said Megan Cronin, Clean Water Advocate at Environment Maryland. “But, fracking’s negative impacts on our environment and health come with heavy “dollars and cents” costs as well. From increased demand for public services to renewing and replacing public infrastructure, from the public health costs due to air and water pollution to the depletion of natural resources, the costs of fracking are too high. Maryland needs to ban fracking now, before it’s too late.”

Fracking is the dangerous and controversial method of injecting water, sand and chemicals underground at extremely high pressures to break up rock formations, allowing oil or gas to flow more easily into a well. Drilling and fracking have resulted in widespread cases of water contamination and local air pollution problems across the country. Disposal of the massive amounts of fracking wastewater from each new well poses problems as well. Health professionals across the country have voiced concern about the potential health effects on communities where drilling and fracking is occurring and highlighted the lack of cumulative health impact assessments.

The 22 groups who support a ban on fracking include ARK Church, Centre for Wellness, Baltimore Green Forum, Spirit and Nature Group Gunpowder Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, Centennial Caroline Street United Methodist Church, Climate Change Initiative of Howard County, Community Research, Crossroads Community Food Network, East Baltimore Community Corporation, Inc., Energy Justice Network, Environment Maryland, Food & Water Watch, Greenbelt Climate Action Network, Maryland PIRG, McElderry Park Community Association, Montgomery Countryside Alliance, Assateague Coastkeeper, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, Patuxent Riverkeeper, Potomac Riverkeeper, Severn Riverkeeper, Young Democrats of Harford County, and Young Democrats of Montgomery County.

Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit consumer organization that works to ensure clean water and safe food. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and by transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Unregulated Fracking in California

SAN FRANCISCO - January 24 - The Center for Biological Diversity went to court today to compel California regulators to enforce an existing state law that should protect people and the environment from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a rapidly spreading new method of oil and gas extraction. The lawsuit filed this morning in Alameda County Superior Court says the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has allowed fracking to expand without legally required oversight.

California law applies safeguards and disclosure requirements to any underground injection carried out by the oil and gas industry, the lawsuit points out, and fracking clearly involves injection. Yet the state does not yet regulate or even monitor this controversial practice.

“A looming fracking boom threatens to transform California, creating serious pollution risks to our air, water and climate,” said the Center’s Vera Pardee. “Existing rules clearly cover fracking, but state officials don’t regulate or even track this dangerous way of extracting oil and gas. The state needs to stop ignoring the law and start protecting our environment.”

Fracking involves blasting massive amounts of water and industrial chemicals, mixed with sand, deep into the earth at pressures high enough to crack apart geologic formations, causing fractures that let oil and gas move into the wells and to the surface. 

More than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone, and recent advances in fracking techniques are driving a growing interest in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation holding an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil.

Reports have documented the dangers of fracking, including more than 1,000 instances of water contamination around the country. Fracking also emits hazardous air pollutants and methane, a potent greenhouse gas. It has the potential to induce seismic activity in one of the nation’s most earthquake-prone states.

California’s existing oil and gas regulations cover all forms of underground injection and clearly apply to fracking. While fracking was exempted from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005 by what is known as the “Halliburton loophole,” no such exemption exists in California law.

Compliance with California’s existing oil and gas regulations would require disclosure of all fracking chemicals, as well as engineering studies and tests to evaluate the potential for underground migration of fracking fluids. State regulators would also need to ensure that fracking is conducted in a way that prevented, as far as possible, damage to life, health, property, and California’s water and other natural resources.

In response to growing public concern, state regulators have issued a “discussion draft” of new regulations that would cover fracking; but these regulations have not yet been formally proposed, much less finalized.

“At present, industry fracks whenever and however it deems fit, and that practice has to stop,” said Pardee. “State regulators must implement the requirements that are already in place to provide better protection for the air we breathe and the water we drink.”

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

Groups In Court Today Seeking Fracking Chemical Information

WASHINGTON - January 22 - In an effort to help protect the public from exposure to toxic chemicals, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks and Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) went to court today to ask a judge to require the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) to disclose information about chemicals used during the controversial oil and gas development process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Under regulations approved in 2010, Wyoming became the first state in the nation to require well operators to disclose the identities of chemicals that are mixed with water and injected into the ground during fracking. But since the regulations were adopted, the Commission has approved some 50 secrecy requests, shielding identifying information about over 190 different chemicals, by Halliburton and other oil and gas service companies.

Attorneys with the public interest environmental law organization Earthjustice argued the case today in Natrona County District Court for the State of Wyoming, asking a judge to rule whether WOGCC acted illegally in granting the trade secrets requests and arguing that companies must reveal the identities of chemicals used during fracking.

The case could set a broad legal precedent—as the states of Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Montana, and Michigan all have fracking chemical disclosure regulations similar to Wyoming’s on the books.

The following is a statement from the groups involved in the case: “We went to court today because the public has a right to know what chemicals are being transported, stored, and injected underground during fracking. Some of these chemicals can be harmful enough to be associated with cancer, nerve damage, and other public health concerns. We appreciate Wyoming’s leadership in making more of this information available. But without a complete list of fracking chemicals, it’s much more difficult for residents to determine whether their drinking water has been contaminated by oil and gas development. We are arguing that protecting public health should be the state’s priority. We hope the court agrees.”

Groups In Court Today Seeking Fracking Chemical Information

WASHINGTON - January 22 - In an effort to help protect the public from exposure to toxic chemicals, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Earthworks and Center for Effective Government (formerly OMB Watch) went to court today to ask a judge to require the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC) to disclose information about chemicals used during the controversial oil and gas development process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Under regulations approved in 2010, Wyoming became the first state in the nation to require well operators to disclose the identities of chemicals that are mixed with water and injected into the ground during fracking. But since the regulations were adopted, the Commission has approved some 50 secrecy requests, shielding identifying information about over 190 different chemicals, by Halliburton and other oil and gas service companies.

Attorneys with the public interest environmental law organization Earthjustice argued the case today in Natrona County District Court for the State of Wyoming, asking a judge to rule whether WOGCC acted illegally in granting the trade secrets requests and arguing that companies must reveal the identities of chemicals used during fracking.

The case could set a broad legal precedent—as the states of Texas, Arkansas, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Montana, and Michigan all have fracking chemical disclosure regulations similar to Wyoming’s on the books.

The following is a statement from the groups involved in the case: “We went to court today because the public has a right to know what chemicals are being transported, stored, and injected underground during fracking. Some of these chemicals can be harmful enough to be associated with cancer, nerve damage, and other public health concerns. We appreciate Wyoming’s leadership in making more of this information available. But without a complete list of fracking chemicals, it’s much more difficult for residents to determine whether their drinking water has been contaminated by oil and gas development. We are arguing that protecting public health should be the state’s priority. We hope the court agrees.”

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