Your invitation to attend the Philadelphia premiere of “Bidder 70″ on Thursday May 23rd, 2013 at 7 pm at Wooden Shoe Books at 704 South Street, is incomplete.
We told you everything you need to know about this event last week here — Philadelphia Premiere of Bidder 70: Tim DeChristopher and Peaceful Uprising – but we left out the speakers! This lineup represents, again, the growing convergence of the combined forces opposing extreme energy extraction and fighting for our future:
Mountaintop Removal and Divestment Speaker:
Matthew Armstead is a community builder, facilitator, and organizer living in West Philadelphia. He works with Earth Quaker Action Team in a nonviolent direct action campaign to stop PNC Bank from financing mountaintop removal coal mining, and is a Training Associate with Training for Change.
Kevin Starbard has been both an Animal Rights and Environmental activist for over 25 years. He is an assistant organizer for Sea Shepherd Philadelphia, and is in the beginning stages of creating a local chapter of Rising Tide, a grassroots network of groups and individuals who take direct action to confront the root causes of climate change.
The Whole Fracking Enchilada Speaker:
Iris Marie Bloom is a lifelong social justice activist, writer, and peace worker. She worked for American Committee on Africa and War Resisters League in New York before New Society Publishers brought her to Philadelphia. Iris founded Women’s Anti-Violence Education (WAVE) in Philly, and now directs Protecting Our Waters. POW defends our communities, air, water, animal and human health, and climate against shale gas extraction, processing, distribution and use.
OK, since the speakers are supposed to speak for exactly three minutes each, perhaps that’s a bit of a buildup. The vital speakers are Tim DeChristopher and you, in discussion sparked by the documentary film “Bidder 70.” But we thought you’d want to know.
Breaking news: “New US Energy Secretary Promises Review of Natural Gas Export Studies,” announces the Wall Street Journal and dozens of other news outlets.
Will the Secretary be reviewing health and environmental impacts? Raise your voice today to make sure he will.
Liquified natural gas (LNG) exports are the only way the U.S. fracking industry can raise natural gas prices, raise their profit rates, and intensify shale gas development. The track record of this industry hovers in a very low place between abysmal and criminal. And Reuters reports that a new study by the US Geological Survey just came out, showing that U.S. aquifers are now being depleted at triple their usual rate — another reason to stop climate change and stop gigantic fracking water withdrawals for consumptive use. Need to know more about impacts? Just read the last 300 blog posts.
LNG exports mean more pipelines, like the Marcellus gas pipeline which killed two workers and injured others in a flash fire in West Virginia in April 2013.
In short, LNG exports = more fracking and more fracking infrastructure, which is exactly what we don’t need right now. Exports would ensure the increase of this destructive, large-scale toxic industrial experiment — because once export contracts are signed, there’s no stopping them. The damage must be stopped and assessed, not accelerated.
Thanks to shale country resident Rebecca Roter, of Susquehanna County, PA, for initiating this action:
Please call, email, and fax Energy Secretary Moniz today. Demand a Health Impacts Assessment (HIA) for the full life-cycle impacts of extraction, processing, and use of natural gas in every state where shale gas development is underway. Insist that not one more LNG export permit be issued until all the state HIAs, or a national HIA, is done. Further, insist on a comprehensive Cumulative Impacts Study (CIS) — similar to the New York State sgeis, but more comprehensive — in every shale state. To back up your requests, find peer-reviewed literature and a cogent argument for the HIA here.
Urge that not one LNG export permit be granted. Urge that the life-cycle impacts to air, water, soil, health and climate from shale gas development are properly assessed.
- Email: You can send an email to the Secretary of Energy at The.Secretary@hq.doe.gov
- By Phone: 202-586-5000 (Main Switchboard) or use the National Phone Directory for Hearing and/or Speech Impaired: 1-800-877-8339
- By Fax: 202-586-4403
You can join the Facebook Event Page to support this action to Stop LNG Exports here
Review of DEP drilling records reveals water damage to at least 161 PA homes, farms, businesses; murky testing methods
Today, Laura Legere of the Times Tribune has published the first in an important two-part series on water contamination from Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania. The series is based on data the Times had to go to court to wrestle from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, starting in 2011. PA DEP repeatedly argued in court that it doesn’t doesn’t keep gas drilling-related water contamination records in an organized way, and should not be required to provide this vital information to the public. Due to DEP’s record-keeping problems, Legere points out, “there is no way to assess the completeness of the released documents.”
The article begins:
State environmental regulators determined that oil and gas development damaged the water supplies for at least 161 Pennsylvania homes, farms, churches and businesses between 2008 and the fall of 2012, according to a cache of nearly 1,000 letters and enforcement orders written by Department of Environmental Protection officials and obtained by The Sunday Times.
The determination letters are sent to water supply owners who ask state inspectors to investigate whether oil and gas drilling activities have polluted or diminished the flow of water to their wells.
The article is detailed; explores the water-testing scandal PA DEP continues to be embroiled in; and does a good job with some complexities of gas drilling causing spikes in barium, strontium, total dissolved solids (tds) and other substances. Legere’s investigative research confirms that the total number of “officially counted” impacted water wells and springs is much higher than PA DEP has revealed to the public, and shows how and why the actual number of fracking water contamination incidents could easily be much higher than the official story.
With over 320 Pennsylvanians already on the “List of the Harmed,” while PA DEP has denied any connection between gas drilling and impacted water in 77% of the complaints they receive, we believe the official story is significantly understated. With the well casing failure rate going up (to 8.9% in 2012 from 6.2% in 2010) in Pennsylvania, methane migration — just one form of contamination — is clearly becoming even more widespread.
Fracturing mechanics expert Anthony Ingraffea gets the last word:
Anthony Ingraffea, Ph.D., an engineering professor at Cornell University and a vocal critic of the oil and gas industry he once worked for, said that when DEP says it cannot find a connection between water well contamination and nearby gas activity it does not mean there is no link.
“If DEP sent me a letter that said, ‘We can find no connection,’ my natural question as a scientist would be, ‘How did you look?’” he said.
He was concerned by DEP’s practice of counting cases without counting individually impacted water supplies, which he said “makes their statistics look better.”
“It doesn’t help answer the question, which is how many individual families’ private drinking water wells have been contaminated by oil and gas activities,” he said. “No one knows the answer. Who should know the answer? DEP.”
Read the full article here: “Sunday Times review of DEP drilling records reveals water damage, murky testing methods.”
Fracking industry truck drivers have been blowing the whistle for some time, saying that radioactivity alarms are going off “all the time.” Workers report that the radioactivity levels are sky-high, even in empty trucks that have already dumped their load of drill cuttings at landfills. Now the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Associated Press, StateImpact PA, Shale Reporter and other news outlets are revealing some of the numbers supporting an increased urgency to stop dumping radioactive waste all over Pennsylvania.
The basic AP story includes alarming numbers followed by empty reassurances from PA DEP with no data and no information to back up the myth that everything is just fine. No physicians, impacted residents, radioactivity experts or workers are interviewed — just the PA DEP spokesman, Kevin Sunday, whose job is to stifle public outrage. Here is the Shale Reporter version of the AP story:
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gas drilling waste is setting off more radiation alarms at Pennsylvania landfills.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that the alarms went off 1,325 times in 2012, with more than 1,000 of those from oil and gas waste, according to Department of Environmental Protection data.
DEP spokesman Kevin Sunday tells the paper that all the data so far indicates that public health is protected. After an alarm workers flag the waste for special treatment.
The state began requiring radiation monitors at landfills in 2002 because of medical waste. But oil and gas drilling brings up mineral fragments containing naturally occurring radiation.
DEP says past research has shown problems are unlikely. DEP started a review in January to examine radioactivity in drilling waste and on all the equipment that handles it.
One wonders what this “past research is” that indicates that “problems are unlikely.” To the contrary, past research, in fact, has shown flowback returning from Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania with Radium 226 levels thousands of times the safe limit for drinking water. It is well known that fracking waste pits all over PA (like the one in Lycoming County where the plastic liner was found full of over 100 holes) leak toxic radioactive waste into our soil and groundwater every day. Flowback spills are a daily occurrence at frack pads, so routinely so that workers endure 18-hour shifts doing nothing but vacuuming up spills. And Mac Sawyer, a former fracking truck driver and environmental cleanup worker in the Marcellus Shale industry in Pennsylvania, has stated that sometimes “they just disable the alarm” rather than treating flowback or drill cuttings waste with the special care required of radioactive waste. Uranium is mobilized by fracking, along with radium 226.
Radium 226 causes bone, liver, and breast cancer, according to the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). Radium 226 has a half-life of 1,500 years. Radium has also been shown to impact the blood, eyes, teeth, and more. ATSDR reports:
Radium has been shown to cause effects on the blood (anemia) and eyes (cataracts). It also has been shown to affect the teeth, causing an increase in broken teeth and cavities. Patients who were injected with radium in Germany, from 1946 to 1950, for the treatment of certain diseases including tuberculosis were significantly shorter as adults than people who were not treated.
How likely is radium to cause cancer?
Exposure to high levels of radium results in an increased incidence of bone, liver, and breast cancer. The EPA and the National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, has stated that radium is a known human carcinogen.
A number of people, including one 26-year old man, reported losing their teeth by late 2012 after drinking spring water (for years, apparently) that was contaminated by the gas drilling blowout (2010) in Moshannon State Forest. The spring had a sign warning the water is contaminated, but the people who had always drunk from this perfectly good, pristine spring water collected their water from a different point where the sign was not visible. We have not been able to directly confirm reports that a family in that area believes their young daughter died at the age of four after drinking water near where that 2010 blowout, by EOG Resources (the former Enron) occurred. In case you’ve forgotten, that blowout spewed fracking flowback waste and methane high into the air for over 16 hours and “could have been” a “major catastrophe” according to the generally understated John Hanger, then-secretary of PA DEP.
PA DEP is and has been behind the eight ball — to put it mildly — when it comes to monitoring, fining, penalizing and reporting on the fracking industry. Empty reassurances just aren’t enough when workers’ and residents’ health, and environmental well-being, is at stake. In a state that still allows fracking flowback to be dumped on roads legally for “dust suppression” and “de-icing” purposes, where spraying fracking waste on land is reported to continue, and where trucks with toxic radioactive waste are allowed to be labelled “residual,” we’d like to hear some outrage, instead of outrage management, from policymakers, opinion-makers and legislators.
Two-Thirds of Pennsylvanians Support a Gas Drilling Moratorium Now
On the good news side, PA Senator Leanna Washington has joined the list of co-sponsors for PA State Senator Ferlo’s gas drilling moratorium bill. The two-thirds majority in Pennsylvania who support a gas drilling moratorium are starting to wake up and speak up. Radioactive fracking waste is one more reason to step up the support for a moratorium now.
Tim DeChristopher just got out of jail after doing 21 months behind bars for an inspired act of protection: protecting land, protecting climate, protecting our future from destructive oil and gas drillers. While DeChristopher has become a national and international hero for his act of civil disobedience, too little is known about the details of his struggle and the hard, creative work of his supporters. For example, while DeChristopher was behind bars, DeChristopher’s supporters had to mount a successful campaign to prevent him being kept in solitary confinement. He’d written an email “threatening to give money away” — and the feds, in their infinite wisdom, saw fit to punish him for that.
Come learn about the twists and turns of Tim’s commitment and creativity, and enjoy discussion with brief remarks from three resisters: one confronting fracking, one confronting tar sands, and one confronting mountaintop removal. Here’s the description of Bidder 70 from the film’s website:
Bidder 70, a non-fiction film, is the story of Tim DeChristopher and his act of peaceful civil disobedience in a time of global climate crisis. It is the story of one person risking ten years of his future to defend the rest of our lives.
On December 19, 2008, Tim, an intelligent, strongly committed environmentalist and University of Utah Economics student, derailed the Bush administration’s last minute, illegitimate Bureau of Land Management Oil and Gas Sale. Raising paddle # 70, Tim bid 1.7 million dollars and won 22,000 acres of Utah’s pristine wilderness with no intention to drill on or pay for the land.
Tim understood the risk he was taking, but felt the environmental damage and climate crisis was a greater threat to his future than prison. Immediately, the news and internet was saturated with accounts of this ingenious “monkey-wrencher”, lauding him as a hero or branding him a terrorist.
On January 20, 2009, new Secretary of the Interior, Salazar, agreed the BLM auction was held without proper review. He nullified the sale and removed Tim’s parcels and others from future lease. Eventually he invalidated the entire lease auction.
Nevertheless, on April Fools Day, 2009, Utah’s U. S. attorney, indicted Tim on two felony counts with penalties of up to ten years in prison and fines of $750,000. His trial has been postponed four times.
Bidder 70 is Tim’s story: his actions, his trial and his possible prison sentence. It’s the scientists, activists, writers, and movements that influence and support him, and the young people who’ve “got his back”, who’ve joined him in “Peaceful Uprising” a grass-roots direct action organization.
Bidder 70 follows Tim as he maneuvers legal purgatory and tries to get on with his life while pushing for youthful involvement and aggressive action to combat global warming and secure a livable future.
Boosting Creativity in the Movement Against Extreme Energy Extraction
WNEP, NPR/StateImpactPA, and other news media continue to post news about the 9,000 gallons of fracking fluid spilled by Carrizo. Carrizo is committing violation after violation (48 so far), with no conclusion to the investigation of their blowout on March 13th, also in Wyoming County, PA; no known penalties and no interruption of their drilling and fracking operations.
StateImpact reports here: “DEP Allows Driller to Continue Operations Despite Two Accidents in as Many Months.”
ACTION: The Pennsylvania DEP main number at its Harrisburg headquarters, in the Rachel Carson Building, is: Phone: 717-783-2300. Carrizo should not be allowed to frack and its operations should be shut down. Call on PA DEP to fulfill its mission and protect our environment, our health and our communities, not polluters.
WNEP reported on May 1st, 2013, in “Fracking Fluid Cleanup Continues“:
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP – On Wednesday, crews continued to clean up the 9,000 gallons of fracking fluid spilled from a well site in Wyoming County on Tuesday…
One home and some farmland have significant damage.
This comes less than two months after the same company had another big spill that forced several families from their homes.
Trenches are being dug, and big vacuums are sucking up the spill.
Fred Kuntz is a farm hand along Sickler Road, and says the spill has caused him lots of problems on the Windy Hill Cattle farm.
“The back part I can’t mow, because they got it all dug up. Behind his lawn I can’t mow. The field up here, they’ve got it all messed up. What am I supposed to do? Take it day by day,” said Kuntz.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) says a faulty hose came loose at the Carrizzo Oil and Gas site. But the company responded fast and is providing water to residents and collecting water samples.
This is the same company that had another fracking fluid spill less than two months ago on nearby Keiserville road when a drill broke.
“That’s something we’ll take into consideration what, if any, penalties we’ll impose against Carrizo but we are treating the two incidents separate,” said DEP spokeswoman Colleen Connolly…
DEP says Carrizo had not begun fracking at this site just yet and has not been ordered to cease operations.
Newswatch 16 has reached out to Carrizo Oil and Gas several times, but our calls have not been returned.
The academic, scientific and public health authorities often move with agonizing slowness where industrial threats to public health are concerned. One rabid bat will get a much swifter, more complete, expensive and dramatic response from public health authorities, typically, compared to large-scale threats to public health emerging from industry.
In this context, the fact that a physician researcher can get any funding at all to study health concerns related to shale gas drilling in Pennsylvania, and the fact that such a study is picked up by the press, is cause for celebration.
On April 28th, 2013, Dr. Poune Saberi presented the findings of a pilot study about health concerns linked to shale gas development in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, at the American Occupational Health Conference in Orlando, Florida.
On April 29th, United Press International (UPI) published “Study: More fracking health concerns than previously thought“:
PHILADELPHIA, April 29 (UPI) – People living near gas hydraulic fracturing sites are more concerned than had been thought about possible health effects of the drilling, U.S. researchers say.
Dr. Poune Saberi of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and the Center of Excellence in Environmental Toxicology and colleagues collected responses from 72 adults visiting a primary care physician’s office in the hydrofracking-heavy area of Bradford County, Pa.
The study participants volunteered to complete an investigator-facilitated survey. Twenty-two percent of the participants said the hydrofracking might be the cause of such health concerns as sinus problems, sleeping difficulties and gastrointestinal problems.
“Almost a quarter of participants consider natural gas operations to be a contributor to their health issues, indicating that there is clearly a concern among residents that should be addressed,” Saberi said in a statement.
Within the 22 percent of responders, 13 percent viewed drilling to be the cause of their current health complaints and 9 percent were concerned future health problems can be caused by natural gas operations, said Saberi, the principal investigator.
The previous health complaints by participants were thought to be anecdotal in nature as they were individual cases reported publicly only by popular media, the study said.
This study, like the peer-reviewed Bamberger and Oswald study, “Impacts of gas drilling on human and animal health,” (New Solutions: 2012) before it, may contribute to the public’s understanding of the seriousness of shale gas drilling’s health impacts and potential impacts. It’s a drop in the bucket of public understanding of both acute and cumulative health impacts, at this point. And a bucketful of studies are needed to counterbalance the historic tendency of state and federal agencies to give priority to industries’ right to harm public health for decades with dangerous, often deadly activities – whether it’s the use of lead in paint; unsafe disposal of industrial solvents; the killing fog of pesticides, deadly additives in cigarettes, or the toxic chemicals emitted into air, water, and soil throughout the life cycle of shale gas development.
Dr. Saberi has had to spell out her objectives clearly, carefully, and somewhat narrowly. Even so, it’s easy to misunderstand the scope of her study through limited press reports, so here, for the record, is the abstract:
Pennsylvania residents and workers have been reporting multiple health-related symptoms that they believe are related to natural gas extraction and processing. High volume hydraulic fracturing is a step in a series of complex operations that release natural gas from deep geological formations. The residents and workers either live in proximity to or work on an operation that is associated with one of the steps, e.g., the multi-well pad, the flow-back waste pond or compressor station. These reports indicate that there may be a link between natural gas operations and health complaints but the public health implications are not well understood. The objective of the proposed clinical survey is to evaluate and characterize the perceived environmental causes of health symptoms in a primary care office located in a Pennsylvania county where natural gas operations are occurring. By investigating this group of residents who have not previously and publicly ascribed their illnesses to natural gas operations, we aim to begin the process of exploring the prevalence of health symptoms in relation to natural gas operations.