Skip to content

Urgent Action: PA DEP Comment Period Ends Tues. 11/18

November 17, 2014

To protect those already harmed, and to protect our water, air, farms and food from fracking:

Please write Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection now! The PADEP comment period stays open through 5 pm this Tuesday, November 18th.

We need better oversight, all violations enforced, contaminated water restored! Proposed rules must be strengthened to help those harmed and make companies accountable for pollution.

From Delaware Riverkeeper Network:

Please tell DEP that when gas and oil operators violate the law, they pollute our environment, our drinking water, and our communities and they expose the public to negative health effects that can cause serious health problems and disease.  DEP’s proposed Standards and Guidelines for Identifying, Tracking, and Resolving Violations doesn’t provide the standards to accurately identify, thoroughly track, and rigorously enforce the laws that are meant to protect us and our water and air from the damages that accompany gas and oil development. 

Here are some of the issues:

We need more inspections, not less: Despite Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection‘s (DEP) acknowledgement of its responsibility to oversee gas and oil development to provide safety and protect the environment, DEP’s proposed inspection policy scales back on inspections from what is currently recommended in Pennsylvania law.  This, in the face of criticism for poor inspection performance that leaves communities and the environment vulnerable to pollution and degradation.

Make it top priority to promptly replace or restore contaminated water supplies:  DEP has way too much wiggle room in their response to water pollution complaints.  People who have impacted water supplies must be immediately helped, all violations promptly enforced, and clean water supplied to avoid adverse health effects and financial burdens to those harmed.

Let the public know: Information about complaints, violations, enforcements, and resolution of problems should be easily accessible to the public, not hidden or hard to get.  DEP is not disclosing important information through on-line platforms that are readily available and would help inform the public about what is happening.

Kick out bad actors: DEP proposes to suspend or revoke permits as an enforcement tool but too much is left to DEP’s discretion, not set in standards.  Also, they should prohibit future permits to operators who are repeat violators and use criminal investigation and prosecution for intentional violations or refusal to carry out corrective action.

If rules are broken, Notices of Violation must be issued:  DEP leaves too much decisionmaking up to the field inspector which has already led to inconsistent application of the law and can prolong noncompliance, as revealed by the PA Auditor General’s Special Performance Report.  

Recognize water contamination by oil and gas activities has many causes and they can occur over time:  DEP states that responsibility for water contamination is based on a “hydrologic connection” being established but that is too limited because there are many pollution pathways on well sites and related operations.  Also, there is no established ongoing monitoring of wells that were reported through the DEP complaint system, ignoring that pollutants may move at varying rates through groundwater and the natural environment.  Using too narrow a standard lets some polluters off the hook and can expose people to pollution and health risks.

For a copy of the proposed regulations: DEP ID: 550-3000-001 – Standards and Guidelines for Identifying, Tracking, and Resolving Oil and Gas Violations.

Act Now! Please send a letter to DEP commenting on the proposed inspection policy and related guidelines.  The subject line must say: “Comments on Standards and Guidelines for Identifying, Tracking, and Resolving Violations.”

The deadline for comments is the end of business day Tuesday, November 18. 

Feel free to use any and all of the above talking points in your comment. Even more important, please add your own personal thoughts because that is what most impresses regulators. 

How to comment: Email John Ryder, DEP Bureau of District and Oil and Gas Operations: ra-epoilandgas@pa.gov. For more information contact: John Ryder, 570-327-3636.

(To submit written comments by mail: John Ryder, Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of District and Oil and Gas Operations, Rachel Carson State Office Building, 15th Floor, P. O. Box 8765, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8467.)

Thank you for speaking up!

Testify This Week: Hearings on Philadelphia as a Shale Energy Hub

November 11, 2014
City Councilman Curtis Jones advocates for a fracking moratorium in the Delaware River Basin, at Shale Gas Outrage: September 7, 2011. Photo: Mark Schmerling

City Councilman Curtis Jones advocates for a fracking moratorium in the Delaware River Basin, at Shale Gas Outrage: September 7, 2011. Photo: Mark Schmerling

You can help shape history by testifying at two hearings this week on Philadelphia’s future either as a fossil fuel-pushing addict or as a city undertaking a green, viable, sustainable energy transition. To make that transition possible, first we have to keep the addiction from expanding exponentially.

Below: how to testify at the hearings this Thursday and Friday, how to comment in writing, and how you can help stop the oil bomb trains this Saturday.

Given the urgency of climate change and the voices full of pain from fracking’s front lines — from Pennsylvania’s shale gas sacrifice zones to the Bakken Shale oilfields — please raise your voice this week!

What: Philadelphia City Council Hearings on Philadelphia’s Energy Future

When: Thursday November 13th, 2 – 5 PM and
            Friday November 14th, 10 AM – 2 PM
 
Where: .Philadelphia City Hall, Room 400. City Hall is at Broad and Market; enter at NE corner.
              (GPS: use 1401 John F Kennedy Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19107)
Bring: Photo ID to make sure you get in!
 
How to Testify: Sign up ahead! Call: 215-686-3407 and tell them which day (or both) you want to testify. Do so ASAP. Whomever answers the phone there will take your name, organization if you represent one, and your phone number.  You can also sign up by contacting john.d.christmas@phila.gov or (215) 906-5628. If possible, print out Talking Points for yourself before you come.
 
Can’t come? Submit Written Testimony to Council In Advance to:  john.d.christmas@phila.gov
More details on written testimony: The Philadelphia City Council website says: “Members of the public wishing to submit written testimony may do so by using the email address Energy.Hub@Phila.Gov or by calling 215-686-3407.” Therefore we suggest you use that email as well as John Christmas’ email.
 
Why: City Council’s “Committee of the Whole” will conduct public hearings to explore opportunities to further establish the City of Philadelphia as a shale energy hub. To grasp the enormity of proposed expansion of Philadelphia’s commitment to fossil fuels:
                                                                                                                                                                                     Background reading: 1. Philadelphia + a Pipeline (or Two) = America’s Next Energy Hub” — Philadelphia Magazine
2. City Council’s description of what these hearings will address: Recommendations on Philadelphia Gas Works
3. Talking Points about these hearings from Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
4. Because expanded fracked gas infrastructure in the Philadelphia area means PIPELINES, please read descriptions of just a few of the 631 pipeline explosions, fires, leaks and spills per year here on Wikipedia. Come prepared to testify: Pipelines = death.

Summary in plain language:

By “energy hub,” Council means the opposite of sustainability. The fracking industry wants Council to commit to greatly increased involvement in, dependence upon, pollution and climate damage from, gas and oil transportation, processing, export and use throughout the Philadelphia region. For example, quadrupled NGL exports from Sunoco’s proposed Mariner East II pipeline would increase climate damage and could also lead to air and water pollution from increased chemical and plastics production in our region.
                                                                                                                                                                                      This is exactly the wrong direction for Philly, where we should be concentrating on diverse “green city” initiatives including solar hot water heaters, insulation, energy efficiency, solar PVC, geothermal, wind, local organic sustainable food production, deep energy retrofits and more. Council is interested in:
  •        * enabling one or more giant fracked gas pipelines directly from the “sacrifice zones” of Pennsylvania shalefields to Philadelphia, threatening our waterways and our safety. There are already an average of 631 pipeline incidents/ year, many of them lethal; all of them polluting and horrendously expensive. PHMSA estimates the damage from pipeline explosions, fires and spills in the U.S. since 1994 at over $6 billion: 6,105,741,318.00
  •        * expanding LNG production in Port Richmond, a terribly dangerous idea involving trucking explosive LNG through city streets and highways. Increased LNG involvement also would help increase the price of natural gas overall
  •        * expanding markets for fracked gas (aka shale gas, aka natural gas) by committing to “natural gas vehicles” — building infrastructure for CNG, compressed natural gas
  •        * allowing the refinery, Philadelphia Energy Suicide, (PES — Philadelphia Energy Solutions) to continue its daily “oil bomb” trains full of explosive, climate-destroying Bakken Shale oil, instead of stopping doing everything possible to protect Philly neighborhoods

Sign On: Keep PGW Public

Note: if you are linked to an organization and your organization has not yet signed on to the Keep PGW Public campaign letter, you can still sign up here and we urge you to do so.

This Saturday November 15th:

Canvas Door to Door to Support Resolution to Stop Oil Bomb Trains using unsafe rail cars
On Saturday from 11:00 AM -3:00 PM, the Fossil Fuels Transportation Working Group, of which Protecting Our Waters is a member, will be canvassing in City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson’s District (2nd District). These neighborhoods are in the evacuation zone for the oil bomb trains. We will circulate a petition urging City Council to adopt a resolution banning the use of unsafe rail cars for Bakken Shale oil, urging residents to call Councilman Johnson. Interested in joining us? Please call Ann Dixon at 215-301-3206 or email her: anndixon4523@gmail.com.  

In closing: Climate Matters

As IPCC scientists run out of language to use — “extreme, severe, irreversible,” to warn us about catastrophic climate change, it’s hard for folks to get their heads around.
                                                                                                                                                                                But here is something concrete. In Philadelphia, flood events could increase from 19 a year to 200 a year over the next 30 years, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists — reported here in October by CBS. Is this what we want?
                                                                                                                                                                                As we put it on an earlier POW blog post: PGW Sale is Dead. So Green Up, Philly!
                                                                                                                                                                                As over 200 activists who got arrested in the past few weeks know… shale sacrifice zones are unacceptable and we have to address climate change now:  Over 200 Cumulative Arrests Including Beyond Extreme Energy Blockade
                                                                                                                                                                                History is made by those who show up. Thanks for all you do.
"Health Over Profit": Philadelphia has been on its feet against the shale gas profiteers since this River to River March in 2010. Photo: Jesse Brown

“Health Over Profit”: Philadelphia has been on its feet against the shale gas profiteers since this River to River March in 2010. Photo: Jesse Brown

 

Sunday Funnies: Climate Denial Rewards McConnell

November 9, 2014

Mitch McConnell denies climate w smokestacks

Mitch makes millions

Mitch takes

Only scientists believe in climate

 

Fossil fuel cash flood McConnell

 

To the next pipeline McConnell

 

McConnell received more contributions from the oil and gas industry than any other member of Congress between 2007 and 2012… Six out of seven McConnell chiefs of staffs became lobbyists after leaving his office.                                                                                                                                                                                                        – From “‘More Money Than I Could Count’: Mitch McConnell’s Very Special Relationship With Lobbyists,” by Andy Kroll and Katie Rose Quandt, October 17, 2014 in Mother Jones.

 

McConnell has told his donors that he will work hard… moving forward with the Keystone XL pipeline and stopping the EPA from doing anything to confront climate change.                                                                       

 — From “Mitch McConnell Says His Top Priority Is To ‘Get the EPA Reined In,’” by Ari Phillips, November 7, 2014 in Climate Progress.

 

Climate denial makes so much sense, after all.  As Colbert put it in a tweet:

NC passed law against global warming science, therefore it’s not happening. So I’m ignoring Twitter’s 140-character limit, so it’s not happ

 

Thanks to Ray Wallace for the “funnies” and links.

Thanks to Protecting Our Waters organizer Steve Bremner for the Colbert tweet.

Over 200 Cumulative Arrests including “Beyond Extreme Energy” Blockade

November 7, 2014

Environmental activists blockade FERC entrance to fight fracking plans

Activists shut down the road leading to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee from November 3-7, 2014. (Photo: A Jones/flickr/cc)

Activists shut down the road leading to the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee from November 3-7, 2014. (Photo: A Jones/flickr/cc)

Over 200 people have been arrested in recent days carrying out nonviolent actions in four states and Washington, DC to resist fracking infrastructure: VT (60); RI (3); NY (25); MD (11); and Washington DC (now over 100). The total number of people arrested in the Beyond Extreme Energy daily FERC blockades in Washington, DC is not yet known.
       Nadia Prupis, staff writer for Common Dreams, sums up the week’s Beyond Extreme Energy actions:

As the week of climate action known as Beyond Extreme Energy came to a close in Washington, D.C. on Friday, activists blockaded the entrance to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) building for the fifth day in a row in a final push to fight the commission’s approval of fracking projects around the country.

People also marched to the D.C. Department of Transportation building to demonstrate against policies that activists say will expand the use of coal, oil, and gas exports in Pennsylvania.

 

Activists locked themselves to each other to form a human chain in front of one entrance to the FERC building, while others linked arms or held up massive banners displaying the faces of families living in communities affected by fracking. A special team from the Department of Homeland Security was called in to cut off locks and make arrests, according to posts on social media.

“FERC doesn’t work!” protesters chanted.

View image on Twitter

@PopularResistance posted this photo on Twitter, captioned: “Homeland Security confused about how to handle protestors lying on the driveway of @FERC in #FERCblockade #BXE”

Actions Continue Next Week

While Beyond Extreme Energy was scheduled to end on Friday, other environmental action groups plan to keep the movement going, with at least one organization announcing an action to take place on Monday at Cove Point.

Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED), a coalition representing mid-Atlantic groups fighting energy extraction and exports, called for protesters to join a sit-in at a Cove Point construction site owned by gas company Dominion.

Read the full post: “Week of Anti-Fracking Action Culminates in Blockade, Arrests Outside Federal Building” on Common Dreams.

Also on EcoWatch: “100+ Arrested at Beyond Extreme Energy’s Week-Long Protests at FERC” posted just one hour ago.

Protecting Our Waters congratulates all the demonstrators, organizers and supporters. The spirit, creativity and collaboration shown by these grassroots activists is tremendous! It embodies the rising tide of commitment to protect our climate and our communities.

 

Breaking: 124 Cumulative Arrests in Five Anti-Fracking, Pro-Climate Actions

November 4, 2014
(Source: PopularResistance.org)

Activists arrested while shutting down FERC headquarters in Washington, DC included Michael Zambrano (above) who was part of the Great March for Climate Action. Photo: PopularResistance.org

A cumulative known total of at least 124 people have been arrested in recent days while carrying out nonviolent direct actions to oppose fracking infrastructure. Police arrested 47 activists yesterday alone, in three locations.

UPDATE: Vermont state police said they arrested 64 people in Montpelier on Monday, October 27th. From “Dozens of Vermonters Arrested for Protesting ‘Road to Ruin’ Energy Policy“: 

“The Vermont civil disobedience action followed a mass rally, dubbed Time’s Up, Rise Up! Rally for Climate Justice, during which over 300 Vermont residents converged on the State House lawn to demand that Governor Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, rescind his support for the expansion of a fracked gas pipeline, put an end to new fossil fuel infrastructure, and take ‘real action to protect our communities from the climate crisis.'”

The cumulative total includes the 25 activists arrested at Seneca Lake, in New York; 15 of those arrests took place yesterday. It includes three people arrested Friday sitting in at Senator Jack Reed’s office in Rhode Island opposing the SPECTRA pipeline. It includes the 25 activists arrested yesterday, Monday November 3rd, while shutting down the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, DC. It also includes 7 arrests yesterday at Cove Point, Maryland, where direct actionists blocked construction of a FERC-approved liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility on the shores of the ecologically sensitive Chesapeake Bay.

Activists are showing increased determination right now, the very week the IPCC released its fifth in a series of dire warnings about climate. The IPCC report may be summarized as, “we are out of time.” The IPCC report is here. Bill McKibben’s essay, “IPCC Report Says Climate Change is ‘ Severe, Widespread and Irreversible,” sums it up.

FERC is a particular target because the agency bows continually to industry pressure, rubber-stamping all permits for fracking infrastructure, including pipelines and LNG export facilities, regardless of environmental and public health impacts. Climate impacts are not taken into account by FERC’s permitting process.

Several actions are ongoing, with an action a day this week at FERC headquarters, and protests against TPP arising next week.  Activists are proclaiming: “the movement is moving.”

Twenty-five Activists Arrested Monday While Shutting Down FERC

View image on Twitter

Activists erected a symbolic model town. FERC workers had to destroy it in order to enter their workplace. Photo: Erik McGregor

About 100 activists from across the country participated in yesterday’s creative nonviolent direct action at FERC, building an impacted community, using art supplies and their knowledge of the harms from shale gas extraction, storage, and transportation by pipeline. Participants, 25 of whom were arrested, oppose FERC’s approvals for LNG facilities, pipelines and compressor stations which facilitate the climate-change-escalating fracking boom while causing severe environmental damage.

The activists are not alone in their estimate of the shale gas boom’s harms. The November 3rd, 2014 Scientific American carries an article by David Biello, “Fracking Threatens to Crack Politics,” including this excerpt:

Careless companies spill or dump some of the nine billion liters of contaminated water that flows back up fracked wells each day, allowing some of it to foul local waterways. Poorly encasing wells in steel and concrete can also allow fracking fluids to seep into drinking water supplies or natural gas to escape. Sending the undrinkable wastewater back down specially permitted disposal wells has been linked to earthquakes from Ohio to Oklahoma. And methane gas can slowly ad steadily leak from wellheads and pipelines, trashing the atmosphere.

The activists who shut down the FERC office yesterday included among their primary demands, “We demand that FERC withdraw its permit for the dangerous fracked-gas export facility at Cove Point, Maryland.”

On the same day, an activist locked herself down to a piece of equipment to directly block construction at Cove Point, MD:

Activist Halts Construction of Cove Point LNG Export Terminal

Peaceful Protest Highlights Officials’ Disregard of Natural Gas Export Terminal Risks

In a show of opposition to the recent federal approval of Dominion’s Cove Point natural gas export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland mother Kelly Canavan has locked herself to a piece of equipment at a construction site in Solomons integral to the project. Canavan is the president of AMP Creeks Council, a small nonprofit organization that focuses on land use and zoning policy. She is also part of Stopping Extraction and Exports Destruction (SEED), an umbrella group of mid-Atlantic activists fighting energy extraction and exports.

“The AMP Creeks Council has been opposing this project through several lawsuits for about a year,” Canavan said. “Now that FERC is poised to preempt any further victories we might be awarded in Calvert County, and Maryland officials at every level continue to support Dominion instead of residents, we are forced to take this stand. This is a peaceful protest to call attention to the carelessness and injustice that have characterized the course of this project from the beginning.”

Full story at Energy Exports Action Camp.

Fifteen More Arrests at Seneca Lake Monday November 3rd

In New York State, 15 more people were arrested in the protests at Seneca Lake, where a dangerous underground storage facility for methane gas fracked from the Marcellus Shale threatens a large lake that provides drinking water for the surrounding community. In “The Connection Between Global Warming Peril and Grassroots Action, Chip Northrup wrote yesterday:

The UN just issued a dire warning about how greenhouse gases are cooking the planet. Some people at the grass roots are doing something about it . . . 15 more arrests at Seneca Lake. Bringing the number of passive resistor arrests to 25. Where were you when the planet got cooked? Sandra and her crew can proudly say: We were on the barricades.

15  More Arrested as Human Blockade to Protect Finger Lakes Region from Gas Storage Facility Continues Today, Entering Third Week

15 Arrests Today follow 10 Arrests Last Week as Residents tell Crestwood to Go Home!

SENECA LAKE, NY – Entering the third week, starting at 7:00 AM this morning protesters blocked the gates of Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility on the shore of Seneca Lake. 15 people were arrested at about 9:00 AM after Crestwood called the police. Last week, ten protesters were arrested in acts of civil disobedience blocking the gates, just as the 15 people did today. Protesters have held blockades at the Crestwood gate since Thursday, October 23; on Wednesday, October 29, they began blocking two of the gates to Crestwood. Notably, the ongoing protests also included a rally with more than 200 people at the Crestwood gate on Friday, October 24th.

Friday, October 24th marked the day that major new construction on the gas storage facility was authorized to begin. The ongoing acts of civil disobedience come after the community pursued every possible avenue to stop the project and after being thwarted by an unacceptable process and denial of science.

The unified action is called ‘WE ARE SENECA LAKE’. More information and pictures of the actions over the previous weeks are available at www.WeAreSenecaLake.com.

Continue reading the full post by Chip Northrup here.

 

The best coverage of the FERC action so far, including all demands, is re-posted here from EcoWatch: “Breaking: 25 Arrested Shutting Down FERC Office in DC”

November 3, 2014

By Stefanie Spear 

Nearly 100 people from across the country participated in a nonviolent direct action protest this morning shutting down the office of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, DC. Today’s action was led by some of the Great March for Climate Action marchers who arrived at the nation’s capital on Nov. 1 after a 3,000-mile cross country walk from Los Angeles, California to Washington, DC.

Police say 25 people were arrested this morning.

“We walked 3,000 miles across the country and heard firsthand from families and communities the hardships they are facing due to extreme energy extraction,” said Faith Meckley, one of the climate marchers who lives in New York state.

Meckley said she’s participating in these actions because FERC rubber stamped a methane gas storage facility on the shore of New York’s Seneca Lake that allows methane storage in unstable salt caverns that threatens her community.

Other people who took part in today’s action said they have had enough of FERC rubber stamping fracking infrastructure projects in their communities, including pipelines, gas storage under lakes, compressor stations and fracked gas export facilities.

Today’s action used a massive portrait of families from Maryland and New York whose homes and communities are threatened by frackinginfrastructure that has been approved by FERC. A model town was erected as part of the action which blocked the entrance to FERC preventing employees from entering the building.

“The object of the blockade art is to give FERC no other option but to destroy the town and families in order to get to work,” said Kim Fraczek of Sane Energy Project of New York. “The destruction of the art serves a metaphor of reality.”

More than 50 organizations have endorsed this week of action and support the following demands in the face of “ongoing threats to their health, communities, democracy, property values, environment and climate:”

1. We demand that FERC withdraw its permit for the dangerous fracked-gas export facility at Cove Point, as well as recent gas expansion permits at Myersville, Minisink and Seneca Lake. In addition, we demand a stop to the permitting of all fracked-gas export facilities and other fracked-gas infrastructure.

2. We demand that all future FERC permits:

• Consider as the top priority the rights of human beings and all life on Earth;

• Fully assess the cumulative harm from infrastructure projects on public health, local economies and the climate. FERC must consider the damage from fracking–the extreme extraction process that generates the gas for these projects–and from climate change. FERC must reject industry’s practice of disguising major projects by dividing them into separate, ostensibly unrelated ones.

• Adhere to the precautionary principle: in the face of uncertainty and the absence of scientific consensus, the benefit of the doubt will go to public health and the environment. The burden of proof that a project is safe falls with those proposing the project; communities will not need to prove that a project is harmful.

3. We demand that FERC commissioners meet with communities affected by approved and proposed fossil fuel infrastructure, including the Cove Point export facility, Myersville and Minisink compressor stations, and Seneca Lake gas storage project. This is a key step in changing FERC from an agency that protects only the interests of the fossil fuel industry to one that protects the public interest.

4. We demand a Congressional investigation into FERC’s rubber stamping of industry proposals.

Organizers say actions against FERC are planned to continue throughout the week in order to demonstrate that FERC’s actions are “incompatible with all that sustains life on Earth, including our climate system and clean water, air and land.”

Special thanks to Ray Wallace for providing a number of the links in this post, including the ever-popular “FERC is a Rubber Stamp Machine” youtube video.

Protect Our Climate: 1. Vote; 2. Write NPR; 3. Get Arrested This Week

November 3, 2014

1. VOTE

Not that the Dems are anywhere near where they need to be on climate. Both parties accept money from the fracking industry. We’ve got to get big corporate money out of politics and create fair elections in order to have anything approaching a saner political system. But, that said:

Everyone’s vote matters tomorrow when it comes to fighting fracking and protecting our climate. Because the Republican agenda is absolutely clear: approve as many LNG terminals as the industry wants, to export fracked gas overseas. Approve the KXL pipeline, guaranteeing a massive increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the Alberta Tar Sands, the dirtiest oil on earth. Push back against or reverse the Obama Clean Energy Plan. Remove support for renewables.  So: vote. Please.

2. TELL NPR: COVER CLIMATE!

Not that NPR is doing the most fabulous job in the world already on covering climate. For example, just yesterday when NPR covered the IPCC’s release of their 5th urgent report on climate change realities, NPR failed to follow up with the science on shale gas impacts on climate, allowing the IPCC spokesman’s praise of the “natural gas” boom in the U.S. as causing “fewer of these emissions” to go unchallenged. In fact, the word “shale” and the phrase “methane emissions” were completely missing from the discussion, and the NPR reporter politely avoided asking any follow-up questions about this climate hot potato topic. Not surprisingly, words like “fracking” or “high-volume hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling” were also completely avoided, so the bridge fuel myth was reinforced yet again.

Even so, NPR’s reporting on climate and the environment is about to get worse: much worse, joining an ongoing trend in U.S. media in general. Please join your voice with this important CREDO petition

Because this is so important, we’re including the CREDO petition in full! From CREDO:

Sign the petition: Stop NPR from gutting its climate coverage.

National Public Radio just made the baffling decision to drastically reduce its staff dedicated to covering climate change and the environment, leaving just one part-time reporter on the beat.1

It’s unacceptable for one of our major sources of journalism in the public interest to essentially abandon it’s coverage of climate and the environment by reducing the staff covering it from four full-time journalists to one part-time reporter.

Tell NPR: One part-time reporter is not enough. Reverse the decision to slash your team of reporters covering climate change and the environment.

NPR pays attention to its critics, and is sensitive to criticism that it is failing to meet its duty to inform the public on the most pressing issues of the day. Let’s show NPR that Americans want more coverage of climate change and other environmental issues, not less.

Due in large part to deliberately misleading coverage from conservative outlets like Fox News and the Drudge Report, and the corporate media that insists on presenting “two sides” of the debate even if one side is blatantly lying, the American public is actively misinformed about climate change.

As a result, public understanding of the crisis is heading in the wrong direction. In 2013, the percentage of Americans who don’t believe in climate change actually went up 7%. Only 47% of the American people believe that climate change is caused by human activities.2

NPR’s decision is part of a disturbing anti-science trend within the news media. According to a study released last year, the number of newspapers that included a weekly science sections has shrunk from 85 to just 19 in the past 25 years.3 That’s why it is so crucial for NPR to provide meaningful coverage of climate change that is honest with the American people about the scope of the problem and what must be done to address it.

Tell NPR: One part-time reporter is not enough. Reverse the decision to slash your team of reporters covering climate change and the environment.

NPR was created by an act of Congress in order to be an alternate news service that would address issues of national concern.4 NPR must devote more resources to covering climate change and other environmental topics, not less.

Tell NPR: Now is not the time to slash Don’t reduce your coverage of climate change and other environmental issues.

Thanks for fighting climate change.

  1. “NPR Reduces its Environmental Team to One Reporter,” Inside Climate News, October 24, 2014
  2. “Misinformation Is Winning – Doubt In Climate Change Climbing,” DeSmogBlog.com, February 1, 2014
  3. “NPR Slashes Number of Environmental Reporters,” Huffington Post, October 24, 2014
  4. “NPR Guts its Environment and Climate Reporting Team, Becomes ‘Part of the Problem,”ThinkProgress, October 24, 2014

3. GET ARRESTED THIS WEEK:

Beyond Extreme Energy: People Taking Action to Retire Fossil Fuels

This may be a little short notice if you weren’t already considering participating in this important action. And you missed the Sunday nonviolence training and issues training. Nonetheless we think this week-long action at FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) is so important that we’re adding the daily details below.

FERC is a rogue government agency that is really operating as an oil and gas industry tool disguised as a government agendy. FERC is consistently rubber-stamping every LNG export facility and every pipeline, including and particularly fracked gas and fracked oil pipelines, that comes its way, ignoring the impacts. From BXE:

Pipelines = Fracking. There is no simpler way to put it. Every pipeline and export facility FERC approves is another nail in the climate coffin — not to mention public health, surface and groundwater, air quality, land rights, and habitat. Join Tim deChristopher and go Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) in DC this week:

Before we dive into the details, though, let us tell you how excited we are to be working on this project. We’ve brought together a large and diverse coalition of people and organizations to make this happen. BXE obviously won’t bring FERC and the frackers to their knees in a single week’s time, but we guarantee that together we’re going to be moving our collective issues forward.

Monday November 3rd

image
Each day at FERC we’ll highlight a different group or issue. Monday has been adopted by the Great Climate March. We’ll begin Monday and all succeeding days at FERC bright and early. Arrests, if/when they occur, will probably happen before 11am. The action will continue, however, with leafleting, chanting, creative street art and theater, and all the other good stuff you’ve come to know and expect from hanging out with your ne’er-do-well activist friends.
We’re hoping that Tim DeChristopher, one of our BXE endorsers, will be on hand for the morning’s events. In any case, those of us not in custody will be joining Tim and the folks from PopularResistance.org for an action at 2pm at Democratic National Committee headquarters. More info on that will come soon, but we’ll help Tim make the point with the Democratic Party that merely being less bad on climate than Republicans is not nearly good enough.
Then at 5pm on Monday we’ll join in a flash mob that our arts team has planned for Union Station. More info on what that involves will also be coming soon.

Tuesday November 4th

We kick off with our daily morning action at FERC. There will be more in the afternoon, but it isn’t finalized yet.

Wednesday November 5th

Wednesday will be student day and it’s already shaping up to be a lively one. In the morning we’ll have our usual FERC action. Afternoon details TBA.

Thursday November 6th

Morning at FERC. In the afternoon we’ll be paying a visit to NPR’s national headquarters to creatively raise the issue with them of the pro-fracking spots airing constantly on the network.

Friday November 7th

It looks like Friday is getting adopted by Pennsylvania fractivists, so you know we’ll be going out with a non-violent bang.
Obviously, plans are still in flux. There is even more good stuff than this being cooked up, but talking about it would be premature. I’ll keep you supplied with up to date information as it becomes available.

Food

image
We’re very lucky to have secured the culinary services of Seeds Of Peace who will be providing us three squares a day of nourishing and delicious food. The details of exactly when and where and how we’re going to eat it are still being worked out. But trust me, this is good news. I’m already getting hungry thinking about it.

Money (To Make BXE Happen)

You can check out our donation page here. As I write this, we’ve raised $3285 of the $15,000 we need. To move BXE forward, we need money immediately. As participants, we need to back this critical step to fight new fossil fuel infrastructure with our own cash. If you’re not able to spare anything, that’s Ok–your participation is important no matter what. But most of us will have resources to help out.
So we’re asking our participants to contribute a minimum of $25 to cover food and lodging, and if not for themselves, then for someone else. And if possible,we need you to dig a little deeper even than that. I wouldn’t ask you like this (highlighting the words, being all intense about it, etc.) if finding more money this week weren’t such a top priority, but, alas, it is. Please give generously as you are able. As you do, imagine yourself lowering the collective blood pressures of lots of stressed people whom you’re soon to meet. They and their significant others all thank you!
And we thank you, too. We know we’re trying to save the planet and everything, but we swear sometimes we think the best part of doing this is getting to meet and become friends with such awesome people. We’re going to shake things up together.
customLogo

click here for the website!
1px
©2014 Beyond Extreme Energy | Brooklyn, NY

For all other details, including lodging and updates, please visit the Beyond Extreme Energy website and/or contact the organizers.

PGW Sale is Dead. So Green Up, Philly!

October 31, 2014

HERE is some great news: The attempt to sell Philadelphia’s public gas utility, Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW), to the highest bidder is dead.

Philadelphia City Council announced on October 27th that PGW will not be privatized because the “risks outweigh the benefits.”

Philadelphia City Council announced on October 27th that its “exhaustive” assessment of the proposed $1.86B sale is that the “risks outweigh the benefits.”

A coalition including Protecting Our Waters, Food and Water Watch, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and other organizations joined in with labor leaders and workers in a campaign for over a year to stop the sale.

We emphasized the vital need to protect good-paying jobs, low-income residents in Philadelphia, and a positive asset for the city while also fighting fracking, pushing back against the terrible impact of methane on climate, and protecting communities throughout the Marcellus Shale region from fracking pollution.

In this case, protecting our people and protecting our waters literally came together. Labor organizers, both longtime allies and newfound allies, learned more about our coalition’s objections to shale gas development, and we enjoyed standing up for, and campaigning alongside, the PGW workers’ union.

City Council’s decision is significant in the fight against fracking. The PGW sale was explicitly coupled with an attempt to “sweeten the deal” by expanding liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities in Philadelphia and otherwise ramp up the shale “energy hub” for Philly.
The Philadelphia Inquirer says as much in its major story this week about the deal-breaker.
In “$1.86B sale of Philadelphia Gas Works is Dead,” the Inquirer highlighted the fracking enthusiasm behind the privatization push:

“Business leaders had endorsed privatization as a critical part of the effort to build the region as an energy hub, connecting Philadelphia’s ports and businesses with the Marcellus Shale natural gas boom in Western and northern Pennsylvania.”

Green Up, Philly!

The people of Philadelphia have been well represented by our City Council in the crux of this decision, although we believe a more democratic process by City Council would have served the public interest better.

We hope the general public now has more of a grip on the link between keeping PGW public and fending off the voracious, polluting and climate-destroying shale gas industry. More workers and grassroots environmentalists got to know each other during this campaign; we hope those links stay strong.

Because we’ve got so much work to do together now, Philly! We need now to push for a sustainable economy transitioning as rapidly as possible away from fossil fuel extraction, transportation, processing, export, and use. That includes pushing for good-paying jobs in the transition economy, but it’s a lot more than that.

We face a mountain of work. To name just two vital areas, our goals include stopping Sunoco’s Mariner East Pipeline (which would export NGL, natural gas liquids fracked from the Marcellus Shale, overseas to Norway and Sweden from the Delaware River, if allowed); and stopping mile-long Bakken Shale oil “bomb trains” still coming through Philadelphia and endangering hundreds of thousands of people twice a day, every day.

The starting is as important as the stopping, we know.  Green Energy Transition: It’s Time! GET IT?

We can celebrate the death of the privatization deal all Halloween weekend. But come Monday, let’s push for jobs manufacturing triple-pane windows for energy efficiency, instead of plastics factories using fracked gas. Let’s push for the nonviolent path of energy audits, insulation, solar hot water heaters, and urban organic farms and gardens, instead of the violence of fossil fuel extraction, transport, and export.

There is absolutely no “silver bullet” or technocratic solution to the planetary crisis facing us. We can’t just plug in wind and solar to our existing economy, which is built on a dead model of permanent growth.

The change we need is much deeper. But as part of transition, we MUST start looking more like Germany, which generated 75% of its energy from wind and solar on some days last summer.

Let’s make Philadelphia an energy hub, all right — but not a shale energy hub! GET IT? Green Energy Transition: It’s Time.

We are grateful for the public’s outpouring of support, for over a year, for the coalition work which helped win the day for Philadelphia. Closing this door helps us open the doors to a sustainable future in which we do what we must do for the biosphere: learn how to flourish while living far more gently on this beautiful earth.
 
The death of this PGW sale is one death to celebrate. Happy Halloween!

Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Fracking, Rape, and Resistance

October 13, 2014

From Huffington Post: “This Columbus Day… Time to Break the Silence” October 13, 2014

Today is the International Day of Solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of North and South America, and for good reason.

Columbus, we know now, was a greed-driven and brutal slave-taker who began the process of genocide against the Taino, Carib, and other indigenous peoples.

His men also committed the first documented rapes by white men against women of color in the Americas.  In “Columbus Raped the Redskins… Time to Change the Name,” a team of Truthout writers note:

One of Columbus’ crewmen, Miguel Cuneo, described the scene when Columbus arrived in Hispaniola for a second time, and thousands of Tainos, or what were referred to as Indians, came out to greet his ships.

Cuneo wrote, “When our caravels…were to leave for Spain, we gathered…one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians…For those who remained, we let it be known [to the Spaniards] in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done.”

Cuneo went on to write that he took his own sex slave, a beautiful teenage girl, who in his own words, “resisted with all her strength,” leaving him with no choice but to, “thrash her mercilessly and rape her.”

….. Columbus eventually started up a global child-sex-slave trade, exporting Indians all around the world.

The trajectory begun by Columbus and his men will take far more than just changing the name of the Washington Redskins’ football team (though that’s a good idea and it’s about time!) to transform.

Respecting the lives of indigenous people right now in North and South America would be a great place to start. It sure hasn’t happened yet.

Fracking Impacts and Resisters Among First Nations

From the beginning of the fight against fracking, many tribal nations in North America have been impacted, have spoken out, and have resisted. To mention briefly just four examples of impacts and resistance, among hundreds:

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone people living in the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming were among the first to have their drinking water impacted. They were told not to take showers indoors without cracking the window because the risk of fire was so great due to the hydrocarbon content of their post-fracking water.

The Onandaga people have provided leadership in the fight against fracking since at least 2010, and Idle No More began providing full frontal resistance by 2012.

Blackfeet tribal members were impacted by evictions to make way for cheap housing for workers in the Bakken Shale boom by 2012: ““We were not even given a formal 30 day eviction notice and now that we have been kicked out of our home we are currently homeless,” said Heather Youngbird.

And in a dramatic, creative naval blockade using yarn, the Gitga’at Nation expressed their communal commitment to opposing the Northern Gateway Pipeline in “Spirit Bear” territory in British Columbia, last June: “First Nations Oppose Northern Gateway Pipeline: ‘We Will Take Our Fight to the Land, Sea and Courts.”

Rape, Misogyny and Fracking in Pennsylvania

It seems unrelated: in Pennsylvania there seems to be no end to “porngate,” and no end to fracking. But perhaps we can take heart from just how long the struggle against rape, against the enslavement of those who would defend their land, and against ecocide, has been going on. Five hundred and twenty-two years, at least, in the Americas.

The Pennsylvania DEP spokesman under Governor Rendell, William “Tom” Rathbun, pleaded guilty to sexual assault against two minor girls, one of whom had a mental disability, in August 2011. This is the same man who, shale country residents say, lied blatantly about their water contamination cases.

This is the same man who said we’d been “fracking for 60 years and we know what we are doing… ” when I first confronted him in 2010 over the issue of toxic fracking flowback being stored in plastic-lined earthen pits all over Pennsylvania shale country. He seemed to think that I would just believe him if he told me it was mostly salt and water… you know, that I would just relax and enjoy it. Get over it.

With Rathbun behind bars, plenty more misogynists took office under Tom Corbett, whose rise to District Attorney was funded by Chesapeake Energy and whose reign as DA included overt refusals to investigate Sandusky or to investigate porn rings in York and elsewhere.

As a friend of mine, Jim Cummings, put it in a conversation yesterday: “It’s ecofeminism 101: the men who rape the land, also rape women.”

While Pennsylvania politics are not always bumper-sticker simple, in this case it couldn’t be more obvious.

Even more conservative newspapers have noticed the atmosphere of “casual misogyny” in Harrisburg — a misogyny which certainly existed under Rendell’s leadership and before that; but a misogyny which has escalated out of control under fracking- corporation-funded Tom Corbett. While the head of PA DEP under Corbett — Chris Abruzzo, Krancer’s replacement — has resigned as part of the ongoing “porngate” scandal, what hasn’t happened yet is what needs to happen.

The public needs to howl relentlessly for integrity and justice, for an end to the atmosphere of casual misogyny AND for an end to the casual witnessing of the rape of the earth. We need to accept no less than total change in attitude and action from our leaders. This goes far beyond merely partisan politics. We don’t need to replace one old boys’ club with another.

We need bottom-up leadership that stands for justice, transformation, integrity and sustainability.

A basic tenet of feminism is that a feminist is someone who differentiates herself from a doormat.

We got news for Harrisburg: women are not doormats, and neither is our land, water and air a trash can for toxic poisons.

If we get tired in this struggle every once in a while, all we have to do is take a look at those who have been struggling for five hundred twenty-two years already, and get back to it.

 

 

Fight Climate Change: Comment Now on EPA Carbon Rule!

October 5, 2014

The public comment deadline for the historic Clean Power Plan is now October 16th.  The shale gas and oil industry, along with coal and traditional oil interests, are attacking this proposed plan, attempting to undermine and weaken it, with all they’ve got. You can help make history by supporting — and critiquing — the plan using the information below, and the short sample letter at the end, contributed by Ann Dixon. 

Carbon Rule:  We Can Do Better

By Ann Dixon

President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency have a Clean Power Plan. When this plan is enacted, it will be the first time in U.S. history that carbon emissions have been regulated!  It calls for a  30% reduction in C02 emissions from power plants below the 2005 level. This is significant because one third of domestic greenhouse gas is from power plants.  View the entire proposal here.

The EPA’s Clean Power Plan fact sheet reads:

The power sector is a major contributor of CO2 in particular, but also contributes to emissions of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O) … The Clean Power Plan will reduce pollutants that contribute to the soot and smog that make people sick by over 25 percent in 2030…  Reducing exposure to particle pollution and ozone in 2030 will avoid a projected 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, 340 to 3,300 heart attacks and 2,700 to 2,800 hospital admissions.

After being ordered by the Supreme Court, and after doing almost nothing during the Bush years, the EPA issued rules for future power plants in September 2013.  Then, on June 2nd, 2014, a new proposal for existing plants was released. This Plan states many options for complying. States will then submit their own plans to the EPA by the end of June 2016.  If state extensions are granted, plans won’t be due until one or two years later. Actual compliance would be needed by 2020, 2025 or 2030.

Public Citizen made a helpful video explaining the back ground of this Rule. They also have an Action Alert to let you comment at the same link.  View the video here.

Stronger Standards Needed

Why was 2005 chosen as a baseline for emissions?  A May 29th article in The Wall Street Journal, “Industry Worries about Carbon Cuts Proposal” explains that this framework lets the utility industry off the hook:

The utility industry would like to work from a baseline set between 2005 and 2007 because those years were the highest ever for U.S. carbon emissions. Emissions started falling in 2008, so using a more recent time frame would set more aggressive carbon-reduction targets.

Given the urgency of our planetary situation – predictions of mass extinctions due to climate change by 2050; arctic ice caps melting more rapidly than predicted, and millions of people being displaced due to storms aggravated by climate change – this isn’t enough.

According to blogger Ben Adler’s June 2nd Grist article,  “The Nine Things You Need to Know about Obama’s New Climate Rules,”

Environmental experts generally agree that more ambitious targets are possible, especially if the EPA is going to make the rules extend all the way to 2030. Since technologies to produce energy more cleanly keep getting better and cheaper, the targets should grow significantly more ambitious over the course of the next decade.

Disturbingly, the proposal calls for an increase in nuclear power, gas drilling (natural gas combined cycle units, or NGCCs) and pipeline installation!  In 2020, natural gas-fired generation from existing combined cycle units is projected to increase nine percent, from baseline.  In 2030, there will be a smaller increase and in 2050, a slight decrease.  Methane, as we know from NASA scientist Drew Shindell, is 105 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon, over a 20 year time frame. Fracking also causes suffering due to contaminated water, air, and soil.

According to page 2 -13 of the EPA document:

Operators have already shifted significant quantities of generation from coal units to NGCCs, absent any federal CO2 requirements. …[There is] the potential to increase the amount of lower carbon intensity generation by expanding low-carbon and renewable generating capacity… Adding new nuclear or renewable generating capacity to the electric system would tend to shift generation to the new units from existing EGUs with higher carbon intensity. Such expansion is consistent with current trends.

Recently, the EPA held public hearings about the Plan. While thousands traveled to testify in support of the plan, the United Mine Workers demonstrated outside a Carbon Rule hearing in Pittsburgh. They expressed concern about job loss.  I heard a lawyer representing the mine workers say, at a hearing in Washington, that he is also concerned about possible job loss. This is a legitimate concern.  Coal generation is projected to decrease between 16% and 17% in 2020.  Yet, according to EcoWatch’s June 2nd article, “Obama and EPA Release Historic Carbon Reduction Plan to Fight Climate Change,” coal and natural gas would still make up more than 60% of our energy grid.

An August 1st article, Dueling Rallies Pitts Jobs against Air in the Pittsburgh Post – Gazette, emphasized that millions of workers support the plan:

Kim Glas, executive director of the Blue Green Alliance, which counts 16 million environmental group and union members, said workers don’t have to choose between a clean environment or good jobs.  “Quality, family-sustaining jobs will be created throughout an economy that also addresses climate change,” Ms. Glas said. “We understand that workers need a fair shake. We will not leave workers behind as we transition to a more sustainable energy economy.

We need to be vigorous and vigilant to make sure that this commitment is honored; we must create a just transition to renewable energy.

Submit your comment about this plan to the EPA by Ocotober 16th of this year!  We only have ten days left!

Send e-mail to A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov   with    “Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602” in subject heading. For full instructions, visit the EPA site.

 You may use the sample letter below. It’s best to personalize it.  For example, if you or a loved one suffers from asthma, include that as a reason to support the Plan. You may also use information in documents about the Carbon Rule found under Public Testimony on this blog.

Sample Letter

 Dear EPA,

I am so glad that there is, at last, a plan to regulate carbon emissions. I support the reduction of carbon, sulfur, methane and other toxins.

The plan should call for more rapid reductions than it does. Please use a more recent time frame (2009 or later), rather than 2005, as the baseline for emissions.

I am disturbed that the Plan calls for an increase in gas use. We should stop fracking (shale gas development) and, instead, make a swift and just transition to renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal and biomass).

Sincerely,

The deadline is October 16th. So please comment now — and make sure at least ten of your friends comment in the next ten days.

You know the Koch Brothers and their legendary “think tank” fake-grassroots organizations are getting in their comments. This is historic. Please make your voice heard!

Crude Language: U.S. “Bomb Train” Regs Comment Deadline Sept. 30th

September 28, 2014

As the comment deadline on federal oil-by-rail regulations approaches — Tuesday, September 30th at 11:59 PM — you’ll want to make sure your voice is heard. Please comment right this minute while you think of it and then devote some time between now and Tuesday night urging friends, neighbors, colleagues and family to comment as well.  This issue affects not only everyone within the evacuation zone of “oil bomb” train routes, but also everyone impacted by toxic spills into wetlands and waterways, and by climate change — and that means everyone. Here is the scoop: first the basics, then the details.

Q. Where you can go to comment online?  A. You can send a letter quickly and easily from Delaware Riverkeeper Network’s link here.  You can send a comment just as quickly and easily from CREDO’s alert here.  To comment directly, without going to an organization’s alert first, read the regulations and comment on them on the federal government’s site here.

Q. Who can comment?  A. Every U.S. resident.

Q. To whom are comments directed?  A. U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT).

Q. What is the primary demand?  Immediate ban of DOT 111 rail cars for flammable liquids.

Why is this urgent?  Because oil trains threaten all of us!

Casselton, ND oil bomb train explosion, 2013

Bakken Shale oil “bomb train” explodes in Casselton, North Dakota (2013).

From the Delaware Riverkeeper Network Alert:

“As the transportation of crude oil and flammable liquids by tank cars on our railways expands beyond precedent, the nation is exposed to increasing safety risks, hazardous pollution, and the threat of catastrophe. A dramatic increase in derailments involving flammable liquids — crude oil and ethanol – has led to explosions, fires, oil and liquid gas spills, billions in damages, a host of injuries and even death. Yet the US Dept. of Transportation (USDOT) has proposed new regulations that are supposed to improve safety but largely let industry off the hook. And if you live anywhere near a rail line, you may be in the danger zone! (See the map at the link below).

We need you to send a letter to USDOT today to say we want ACTION. To start, we need: the immediate ban of DOT111 tank cars for flammable liquids; overhaul of tank car design, infrastructure and safety equipment; full disclosure and monitoring of what is being carried, where and when; and strict regulations that make public safety and environmental protection the priority, not the bottom line of oil and gas companies. Comment deadline is Sept. 30, 11:59 pm.

Please send a letter – find out how here: http://bit.ly/DRN-Tankcarstandards.”

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,773 other followers