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Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks

December 17, 2014

No one understands better than impacted people — residents and workers in shale country, from the Barnett Shale of Texas and the Haynesville Shale of Louisiana to the Bakken Shale of North Dakota and the Marcellus and Utica Shales in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West  Virginia and beyond — the wisdom of Governor Cuomo’s historic decision today to ban fracking in New York State:

ALBANY — The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

“I cannot support high volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” said Howard Zucker, the acting commissioner of health.

That conclusion was delivered publicly during a year-end cabinet meeting called by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits.

Read more: Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks  by Jesse McKinley of The New York Times, published today, December 17th, 2014.

More Power Than We Know

Clearly, although all the world’s governments together could not reach an agreement in Lima, Peru this week to cut greenhouse gas emissions enough to stave off climate disaster, the grassroots movement to protect our health, our climate, our waters and our air is more powerful than we know! 

While New York State will not be directly fracked, the battles over infrastructure are intensifying — from fracked gas pipelines to Bakken Shale oil bomb trains, to the Pilgrim Pipeline which would, Pilgrim Pipeline Corporation says, carry Bakken Shale oil but is apparently being prepared to carry Tar Sands diluted bitumen.

So after celebrating, the tides of gratitude must go first and foremost to the impacted people who have bravely told their stories with the nauseating repetition required by hungry media outlets who don’t send water nor pay for tests or medical bills when the cameras are gone and the ink is spilled.

Tides of Gratitude

Then the tides of gratitude must flow towards the grassroots activists, including all the independent unaffiliated activists and the tiny nonprofits whose relentless persistence often contrasted the complacency shown by big, well-funded greens like national Sierra Club, which accepted $26 million from the fracking corporation Chesapeake Energy, essentially helping to speed up fracking in Pennsylvania and elsewhere while Sierra Club argued in favor of the “bridge fuel” concept and Chesapeake devastastated people’s lives in Pennsylvania.

Thanks to the phenomenal determination of grassroots activists, we pushed back. This ban is not just the result of New York health care professionals and grassroots activists, but it is very much the result of the entire anti-fracking grassroots movement across the U.S. and internationally, which has taken science seriously. Biology. Chemistry. Ecology. Physics. Geology. Hydrogeology. Biochemistry. Public health research. Climatology.

Thanks to Theo Colborn, who died this week. The world-renowned researcher on endocrine disruption came out of retirement to sound the public health alarm about fracking, particularly about flowback waste and about the air pollution from fracking operations. Thank you, Theo.

Thanks to USGS. Study after study done by USGS has shown the increase in human-caused seismicity — that is, earthquakes, in science-speak — due to re-injection of fracking flowback, and also due to fracking itself.

The list of individuals to thank is literally endless: from Pennsylvania farmer Terry Greenwood and all that he endured, from “Texas Sharon” and Wyoming’s John Fenton, to Sandra Steingraber, Michelle Bamberger, Bob Howarth, and Anthony Ingraffea, all New York-based researcher-citizen-scientists willing to risk their necks by telling the truth about fracking — out loud, with force, all the time.

The list of whole families and communities to thank is even longer, from Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming to Dimock, Towanda, Connoquenessing Township, Mt. Pleasant, and so many other communities in Pennsylvania which have fought long and hard. The List of the Harmed tells the story better than any other source.

Not last nor least, the tides of gratitude must include and extend to embrace the rough lives of shalefield workers: including the dead, the injured and the ill, and all their families. Without the whistleblowers who tell the truth, our movement would be nowhere.

While the gratitude is flowing, keep up the resistance to fracking infrastructure!

Below is just one example of the many actions taking place this week, with thanks to Nick Katkevitch:

Week of Respect and Resistance

Folks in Rhode Island and DC are occupying the offices of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse until he drops his support of Spectra’s fracked-gas pipeline expansion. Some people are ready to be arrested.

Senator Whitehouse, a supposed “climate champion”, supports the biggest fossil fuel project in his home state, Spectra’s fracked-gas pipeline expansion. He even wrote a letter to FERC asking them to expedite review of the project. Real climate champions don’t support fracked-gas pipelines – they fight to stop them.Attached is a press release and here is the first meme for the action. You can pledge to take action to #StopSpectra here: http://www.fangtogether.org/pledge/
And please donate to the Action Fund here: http://bit.ly/Stop-Spectra
This action is part of the “Week of Respect and Resistance” to stop the Spectra pipeline expansion.

Lies, Secrets and Silences: Fracking Costs Jobs and Lives

December 8, 2014

Five Stars: Fracking Misstatement of the Day from FOX

In its otherwise unusually excellent coverage of the surge in fracking bans in six states (PA, OH, TX, NY, CA and CO) FOX News, in More Municipal Bans on Fracking Pose Setbacks to Domestic Energy Boom, credits the shale gas and oil boom with having already created  “millions” of jobs in this cagily crafted lead sentence:

The surge in domestic-energy production that has created millions of new jobs and abundant natural gas and oil is now facing a potential setback, with cities across the country imposing bans on the widely-used deep-drilling process known as fracking.

The FOX coverage overall nicely showcases the effective, intrepid grassroots organizing that’s passed bans of all kinds at the city and county level in six states. This impressive achievement in the era of Citizens United is due primarily to the willingness of thousands of people to work hard, testify in public, knock on doors, self-educate, educate others, take risks, and be creative while working without pay. But FOX’s  lead sentence, implying the shale oil and gas boom has created “millions” of jobs, wins the “misstatement of the day” award hands down.

According to the federal government, as of May 2013, Bureau of Labor statistics show a total of 192,650 jobs in oil and gas extraction in the entire United States, including a total of 279 job categories from “roustabout” and “cook” to “petroleum engineers” and “management” (there are 22,060 managers, the single most abundant category).

In counting “boom jobs,” one could legitimately add pipeline and other infrastructure boom jobs to that low total. But it’s well known that the shale industry overcounts new jobs: if a worker moves to six locations during one year and works part-time at each location, the industry announces they’ve created “6 new jobs,” for example. And the fact remains that the fracking boom has not created “millions” of jobs. FOX should be ashamed of themselves, even given that they are already infamous for boldly unapologetic bias.

Wind, solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency industries create more abundant, better paying, safer and more sustainable jobs. By 2011, jobs in the renewable energy industry surpassed oil and gas jobs in the U.S.:

  • Renewables provide significantly more jobs per kilowatt capacity than oil and gas: In 2011, the oil and gas industry reported ~181,000 direct industry jobs to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Oil and gas accounted for approx. 45% of total energy generation capacity. During the same year, the renewable industry (AWEA, Solar Foundation and GEA) reported ~183,200 to BLS. Renewables account for approx. 15% of total energy generation capacity.

Business Concerns About Fracking also lists these three among many losses sustained by fracking boom-impacted areas:

  • The gas industry claims that fracking creates numerous jobs; however, they neglect to publicize the long-term result of widespread job losses in non-gas related sectors that are incompatible with shale gas development, such as tourism, agriculture, food and beverage, and outdoor recreation.[ii]
  • An independent study concluded extractive energy-focused counties are doing worse economically compared with peer communities and are less well-prepared for growth in the future, due to a less-diversified economy, a less-educated workforce, and greater disparities in income.[iii]
  • Local employment created during the initial drilling and construction stages – especially in hospitality, trucking, construction and retail – are primarily short-term, low-wage and part-time. After the bust phase, most of the remaining positions are held by out-of-state workers already employed in the extraction industry.
Shoutouts to Diane Wexler of North Jersey Pipeline Walkers for the FOX news link, and to the researchers behind Business Concerns About Fracking for their clear, resourceful and nicely footnoted post.
To do: Share the FOX link on social media and confront the profundity of their exaggeration of shale gas and oil “boom” jobs.

Toxic Secrets:  More workers are dying in the shalefields than most realize

Not just in the Bakken: Workers also died on fracking sites in Ohio and Colorado in November 2014. This map shows a wellhead explosion which killed Norman Butler, a 48 year old Virginia man who was working on a pump that moves fracking condensate. From “Worker killed in explosion at Noble County oil and gas facility” by The Columbus Dispatch.

Credit goes to Mike Sorahan for reporting on safety violations in the Bakken shalefields with “A death in the Bakken: Worker’s family rejects drug conclusion.” If more news outlets reported consistently and aggressively on the deaths, injuries and illnesses in the shalefields, from the Barnett and Bakken to the Marcellus and Utica, we would be in a better position as a society to protect our workers. As it is, workers are often silenced as part of the price they pay to have a shale “boom” job at all.

An Open Letter to Would-be Shale Profiteers: Philadelphia Won’t Be Sacrificed

December 5, 2014
Kevin Poole, of Grays Ferry Neighbors Association, speaks at press conference while crowd, with Drexel students' climate justice banner, urges shale-boom investors to rethink their plan

Kevin Poole, of Grays Ferry Neighbors Association, speaks at press conference while crowd, with Drexel students’ climate justice banner, urges shale-boom investors to rethink their plan. Rally in Philadelphia Dec 5 2014. Photo: Iris Marie Bloom

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE ATTENDEES OF “GREATER PHILADELPHIA: THE NEXT ENERGY HUB”

This letter was written by the 19 organizations listed as signatories below and distributed today to would-be investors attending the invitation-only conference, “Greater Philadelphia: The Next Energy Hub.” About 200 demonstrators showed up to say “Philadelphia is Not For Sale.” The conference, hosted by Drexel University, refused admission to Drexel University students, who were escorted out by police when they asked if they could attend. The conference refused access to all reporters except two: Andy Maykuth of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and Jon Hurdle. Other news media, including WHYY / StateImpact, were refused entry. Community, civic, neighborhood, environmental and sustainable business organizations were also turned away. Here are some of the unheard voices:

December 5, 2014

Ladies & Gentlemen:

Welcome to Philadelphia, home of the Declaration of Independence. We hope that in addition to attending the “Greater Philadelphia: The Next Energy Hub” conference, you will have an opportunity to enjoy our many historic and cultural attractions and go home with a clearer understanding of our community.

Our city has a long history of citizen activism, from the earliest days of our nation through the abolition movement to many contemporary movements for peace and justice. Philadelphia is a living web of neighborhood, civic, religious and issue organizations with a well-established and effective infrastructure of organizations working for social and environmental justice. A well-developed grassroots movement has for years been resisting shale gas development in our watershed, and facilities such as liquefied natural gas plants, frack wastewater processing plants, and Philadelphia infrastructure for fracked shale gas and oil including natural gas liquids (NGLs), pipelines and Bakken crude by rail. We have been developing plans since July, 2013 to resist this newly energized effort to develop our city as a fossil fuel energy hub.

Allow us to apprise you of a few purely geological and economic factors that should concern Marcellus, Utica and Bakken Shale investors:

1. The political climate is not as friendly as you may have been led to believe. Philadelphia City Council has already passed six (6) Resolutions protecting Philadelphia, the Delaware River Watershed, and Pennsylvania from fracking. These include Resolutions for the ongoing moratorium on fracking in the Delaware River Watershed; support for a Pennsylvania State Legislature moratorium on fracking until cumulative impacts are studied (this condition has not been met); a commitment to sue the Delaware River Basin Commission if the moratorium on shale gas development in the Delaware River Basin is lifted;(i) and opposition to Act 13’s municipal rights pre-emption clauseii(now declared null and void by Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court).

2. Philadelphia City Council has a demonstrated history of responding to community concerns regarding fossil fuel infrastructure in and around the city. For example, Council acted to defeat a 2006 proposal by Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) to build a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export facility.(iii)  More recently, City Council acted to kill a proposal to sell PGW to a private company, despite intense lobbying by the oil and gas industry to move forward with the deal. (iv)

3. The extent and profitability of Marcellus Shale Play has been exaggerated according to the U. S. Geological Survey, the Potential Gas Committee and the Energy Information Administration. (v)  These projections are more objective than those of an industry that must project a rosy picture to attract investment.

4. The profitability of any natural gas investment is far from assured, and the Federal Reserve may end its program of near zero-percent short-term interest rates as early as 2015.vi

5. The growing awareness of the impact of climate change on business and infrastructure is raising the risk of stranded assets. (vii)

6. Booms go bust. Bakken Shale drilling, extraction, waste dumping and flaring will become better regulated as a result of the recent potent New York Times series, “The Downside of the Boom.” (viii)  In addition, operational standards and tank cars for the transport of domestic crude by rail are being upgraded by the federal government. Both processes mean increased expense and reduced profitability for Bakken Shale oil as the boom approaches its bust.

And of course, there is the growing popular resistance to the fossil fuel industry and the burgeoning support for sustainable and renewable energy and energy efficiency.

We realize that you are attracted to the prospect of significant profits and the idea that you would move forward smoothly with your plans once all the pieces were put in place by industry and elected officials. That is not going to happen.

The Keystone XL Pipeline project is an example of what a determined mass movement can do. In 2005 that project was considered a done deal. Almost ten years later it is still bleeding money and not much has been built except a bigger, stronger and more determined environmental movement. The same can be said for countless high-flying plans put in place without the knowledge or consent of those most affected by the impact of those plans.

We are here, today and tomorrow, to defend the health and safety of our communities and the health and welfare of future generations. We will knock on every door in impacted communities and talk to our neighbors face to face. We will spread the message from the pulpit and in the streets. We are the ones at risk for oil train explosions, asthma and cancer-causing emissions and devastating super-storms with the flooded streets and economic havoc they bring.

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a study this fall showing that if fossil fuel use continues on its present course, within a few decades Philadelphia will experience 200 flood events per year instead of the current 19. (ix) We will not allow you to destroy Philadelphia in order to “develop” it.

Meanwhile, we will continue building a vision for our city shaped by sustainable businesses, energy efficiency and renewable energy producers, our many cooperatives and civic associations, forward-thinking entrepreneurs, our outstanding schools and hospitals, our best scientists, educators, health professionals and the good people who live, work and invest here. We welcome the participation of anyone who would like to work with us in developing living-wage green jobs, affordable, energy efficient housing, the rehabilitation of existing inefficient buildings, the improvement and expansion of public transit, the repair of our existing infrastructure and the building of new, green infrastructure.

Sincerely,
350 Philadelphia
Berks Gas Truth
Clean Air Council
Clean Water Action
Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Food & Water Watch
Keystone Catholics
Maypop Collective
North of Washington Avenue Coalition
Penn Environment
Pennsylvania Federation BMWED – Teamsters
Philadelphia Area Student Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns
Philadelphia Be the Change
Philadelphia Interfaith Power and Light
Philadelphia Chapter Physicians for Social Responsibility
Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign
Protecting our Waters
Rising Tide Philly
Sierra Club, Beyond Natural Gas

i https://protectingourwaters.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/philadelphia-city-council-unanimously-passes-resolution-to-sue-drbc-demand-impact-studies-forbid-frackingfor-now/

ii http://planphilly.com/articles/2012/09/27/council-resolution-supports-commonwealth-court-e2-80-99s-decision-declare-act-13-unconstitutional

iii “Philadelphia City Council Opposes PGW’s Proposed LNG Import Terminal.” Natural Gas Intelligence. http://www.naturalgasintel.com/articles/14242-philadelphiacity-council-opposes-pgw-s-proposed-lng-import-terminal
February 20, 2006

iv DeHuff, Jenny “Council kills PGW deal.” Philadelphia Daily News. http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/cityhall/Council-kills-PGW-deal.html October 27, 2014.

v http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/25/us/25gas.html

vi Loder, Asjylyn. “Shale drillers feast on junk debt to stay on treadmill.” Bloomberg. April 30, 2014; Cunningham, Nick. “How rising interest rates could spell the end
of the U.S. energy boom.” Oilprice.com. September 25, 2014.

vii http://www.bloomberg.com/now/2013-12-05/introducing-our-carbon-risk-valuation-too

viii http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/11/23/us/north-dakota-oil-boom-downside.html?_r=0

ix http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2014/10/09/report-climate-change-will-worsen-flooding-all-along-east-coast/#.VHY-7BcbKaE.mailto

Rally to Show Dirty Energy Corporations “Philadelphia Is Not For Sale!”

December 4, 2014

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Friday, December 5, 2014 9 AM Rally

Contacts:

Mary Donahue, Clean Water Action, 215-545-0250 x206 mdonahue@cleanwater.org

Matt Walker, Clean Air Council 215-567-4004 x121 mwalker@cleanair.org

Tracy Carluccio, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, 215-369-1188×104tracy@delawareriverkeeper.org

Sam Bernhardt, Food & Water Watch, 267-428-1903 sbernhardt@fwwatch.org

Rally to Show Dirty Energy Corporations “Philadelphia Is Not For Sale!”

The people of Philadelphia, represented by neighborhood groups, local green energy businesses, and community leaders, will be at Drexel University to protest the dirty energy funders’ conference being held by industry and lobbyists on Dec. 5.  We call for a clean and green energy economy, not a dirty fossil fuel energy hub.

WHEN: Friday, December 5, 2014, Rally at 9:00 a.m., Press Conference at 10:00 a.m.

WHO: 350 Philadelphia, Berks Gas Truth, Clean Air Council, Clean Water Action , Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Food & Water Watch, Keystone Catholics, Maypop Collective, North of Washington Avenue Coalition, Penn Environment, Pennsylvania Federation BMWED – Teamsters, Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, Philadelphia Area Student Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaigns, Philadelphia Be the Change, Philadelphia Interfaith Power and Light, Protecting our Waters, Rising Tide Philly, Sierra Club, Beyond Natural Gas

Speakers: Kevin Poole, Grays Ferry Neighbors Association; Dr. Poune Saberi, Physicians for Social Responsibility; John Scorsone, SolareAmerica, Matthew Wang, Drexel University student activist.

WHAT: The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce’s Council for Growth, comprised of executives from the region’s biggest corporations in the energy, chemical, and infrastructure sectors, is hosting a conference called “Greater Philadelphia: The Next Energy Hub”, inviting potential investors to learn about how their investments in shale gas and oil can fund the development of the Philadelphia region as a fossil fuel energy behemoth. Yet the people who live and work in Philadelphia are in the dark about these plans and how they and their communities would be impacted. The greater Philadelphia community will be there to say Philadelphia is not a sacrifice zone and we want a stable, clean, green energy future.

WHERE:  The Creese Student Center, Drexel University, 3210 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA.

PHOTO OP: Excellent visuals, signs and banners.

Demonstration Builds Momentum Against Pilgrim Pipeline

December 3, 2014

Demonstrators Oppose Controversial Pilgrim Pipeline

Seventeen Resolutions in New York and New Jersey Urge Dangerous Pipeline Not Be Built

Demonstrators braving cold and snow in New Paltz, NY to stop Pilgrim Pipeline. Photo: Jodiah Jacobs

Demonstrators braving cold and snow in New Paltz, NY to stop Pilgrim Pipeline. Photo: Jodiah Jacobs

New Paltz, New York: Shouts of “No oil spills, not one drop, Pilgrim Pipeline’s got to stop!” and “Flaming, flaring, fracking crude – Pilgrim Pipeline, don’t intrude!” drew scores of supportive honks from passing vehicles in New Paltz on Tuesday, December 2nd during the evening rush hour. About 45 demonstrators held striking visuals, including a “night light” show proclaiming “NO PIPELINE,” organized by the New Paltz Climate Action Coalition.

The demonstrators, who are part of a much broader two-state coalition to Stop Pilgrim Pipeline with over 40 organizations involved, also held up a big black pipeline dripping with symbolic oil, a banner proclaiming “No Fracking Pipeline,” and photographs of exploding pipelines with the question, “Are you prepared?” near the New York State Thruway Bridge.

Pipelines Explode... and leak, and harm climate, say demonstrators against Pilgrim Pipeline. Photo: Jodiah Jacobs

Pipelines Explode… and leak, and harm climate, say demonstrators against Pilgrim Pipeline. Photo: Jodiah Jacobs

“I can’t believe the Koch Brothers-associated Pilgrim Pipeline corporation would even dream of putting their destructive pipes in the ground right here, under our beloved Walkill and Rondout waterways,” said Ann Guenther, co-chair of New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. “They will be stopped right here, in the home of the world-famous Gunks rock-climbing community; and right now, when the world’s scientists have issued their fifth dire warning about severe climate change.”

The demonstrators’ goal: to persuade the NYS Thruway Authority (and NYS DOT) to deny Pilgrim Pipeline Company the permission they would need to build two large 30” pipelines to carry Bakken Shale crude oil south from Albany to Linden, New Jersey and refined products north along the same route. The two side by side pipelines, organizers say, would not only damage land and water along the way, but endanger residents because Bakken shale oil is extra-flammable and harms to air and climate.

“We are aware that Pilgrim Pipeline Corporation has already behaved in an intimidating way towards property owners in Tillson, Plattekill, Saugerties, Tuxedo Park and other towns along the proposed pipeline route,” said Miriam Strouse, co-chair of New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. “We will not tolerate such bullying, not towards our communities and not towards our climate.”

“We are thrilled that the towns of Rosendale and New Paltz both just passed resolutions opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline, adding to 15 other resolutions already passed,” said Rosendale resident and Protecting Our Waters director Iris Marie Bloom. “We are here today to press the New York State Thruway Authority and NYS Department of Transportation to deny Pilgrim the permissions it would need to move its proposed polluting, dangerous project forward. When cradle to grave impacts from Bakken shale fracking, flaring, and infrastructure are considered, Pilgrim Pipeline climate impacts are extreme and unacceptable.”

Bakken Shale oil explosion in Lynchburg, Virginia: oil spilled on the surface of the river is burning. Photo: desmogblog.

“Bakken shale oil is well known to be more flammable and explosive than your grand-daddy’s crude oil,” said Dan Guenther, an engineer and organizer for New Paltz Climate Action Coalition.  “We don’t want to see explosions on the New York State Thruway, let alone crude oil flowing downstream in the Rondout, Wallkill or Hudson Rivers. We are determined, we are organized, and we will stop this pipeline.”

A few of the facts demonstrators pointed to underline the urgency of stopping this pipeline:

  • According to the federal government, pipeline incidents happen more than once per day, with 631 spills, leaks and explosions per year for the past 10 years in the U.S. alone. (PHMSA)
  • In 2012, an oil pipeline leaked over 800,000 gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. Eighty miles of the Kalamazoo River remain closed, even after 2.5B dollars have been spent on cleanup. Local residents had negative health impacts from the spill. The EPA says the only way to finish the cleanup would be to remove the river bottom for 80 miles. (Enbridge disaster)
  • There are only 137 federal pipeline inspectors for 2.5 million miles of pipeline. Over 90% of all pipeline spills are discovered, not by government or industry inspectors, but by the general public. (PHMSA, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration).
  • Bakken Shale crude is highly flammable, igniting the Lac-Megantic explosion that killed 47 people in Canada last year, as well as explosions that hurled fireballs high into the sky and caused evacuations in Aliceville, Alabama; Casselton, North Dakota, and Lynchburg, Virginia.

The Tuesday demonstration was organized by: New Paltz Climate Action Coalition; endorsed by Citizens for Local Power, Citizens Oppose Dirty Energy, and Protecting Our Waters.

Testimony Against Pilgrim Pipeline At Town Meetings

Kingston resident Betta Broad testified against the Pilgrim Pipeline at Kingston Common Council last night. Residents are expected to testify in Accord, NY at the Rochester Town Board meeting Thursday December 4th between 7 and 9 pm.

The increasingly organized pipeline opponents aim to stop what New Paltz Climate Action Coalition calls a “dangerous, polluting and climate-damaging pipeline” from ever becoming a fact on the ground.

Facebook: Facebook Event Page for this demonstration

Model Resolutions: 1. Model Resolution for towns directly in the path of Pilgrim.

  1. Model Resolution for towns NOT directly in the path of Pilgrim.

Pilgrim Pipeline Links: Citizens for Local Power and CAPP — Coalition to Stop Pilgrim Pipeline

Near-future events: December 3rd – 18th 2014, include public Town Board meetings and a WORKSHOP for LANDOWNERS who may be approached by the Pilgrim Pipeline Corporation:

http://stoppilgrimpipeline.com/events/

Photographs by: Jodiah Jacobs

Demonstration to Stop Pilgrim Pipeline in New Paltz Today

December 2, 2014

ADVISORY  For Immediate Release: December 2, 2014

New Paltz: Demonstration to Stop Pilgrim Pipeline

Following on the heels of “Resolutions Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline” passing in Rosendale and New Paltz — and just one day after PGS&E dealt a major blow to the controversial pipeline by denying it rights of way – demonstrators in New Paltz will demand that the NYS Thruway Authority deny Pilgrim Pipeline corporation the rights of way it is seeking.  The increasingly organized pipeline opponents, having passed 17 Resolutions so far in New Jersey and New York, aim to stop what New Paltz Climate Action Coalition calls a “dangerous, polluting and climate-damaging pipeline” from ever becoming a fact on the ground.

When: 4 – 5:30 PM on Tuesday, December 2nd.

Where: Intersection of Main Street (299) and South Putt Corners Road. (Park in the NE corner of the ShopRite lot, near Sunoco station.)

     For GPS: enter ShopRite address: 258 Main St, New Paltz, NY 12561

Visuals: Oil pipeline dripping oil; signs, banners, photographs of exploding pipelines; demonstrators

What: Demonstrators near the Thruway Bridge in New Paltz demand that NYS Thruway Authority and Department of Transportation deny permission to build the controversial pipeline. Pilgrim proposes to build two brand new pipelines from Albany, NY to Linden, NJ, which, if allowed, would carry Bakken Shale oil south and refined products north. Bakken Shale oil is more explosive and flammable than old-style crude, and pipelines spill far more oil than any other method of oil transportation, according to the federal government (PHMSA).

Facebook: Facebook Event Page for this demonstration

Model Resolutions: 1. Model Resolution for towns directly in the path of Pilgrim. 2. Model Resolution for towns NOT directly in the path of Pilgrim.

Pilgrim Pipeline Links: Citizens for Local Power and CAPP — Coalition to Stop Pilgrim Pipeline

Organized by: New Paltz Climate Action Coalition; endorsed by Citizens for Local Power, Citizens Oppose Dirty Energy, and Protecting Our Waters.

Contact: Miriam Strouse, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition: newpaltzclimateaction@gmail.com

Land line: (845) 255-7711; cell (845) 399-2473

                Ann and Dan Guenther, New Paltz Climate Action Coalition: woodchuck@hvi.net

Land line: (845) 255-9297

Controversial Pilgrim Pipeline Dealt A Major Blow

December 1, 2014

For Immediate Release:  December 1, 2014

Contact:  Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club, 609-558-9100

PSE&G Denies Pilgrim Pipeline Access to Rights-of-Way

Pilgrim Pipeline was denied access to PSE&G right of way by the PSE&G Corporate Lands Division and now senior leadership has upheld that decision. Pilgrim had asked the public utility for use of their easements to install two brand new oil pipelines across Northern New Jersey. Pilgrim Pipeline LLC is a private utility that wants to ship crude oil and refined petroleum products. They are not designated as a public utility and do not have eminent domain rights.

This announcement by PSEG is a major blow to the project, as the current mapping shows extensive use of existing PSEG rights-of-way.

“This is a major setback to Pilgrim Pipeline. Without using the PSE&G right-of-way they are going to have a difficult time getting through New Jersey with this destructive pipeline. We want to thank PSE&G for doing what is right. This pipeline would not only jeopardize our water and opens pace sand could lead to spills and we thank PSE&G for doing what is right here and standing up for rate payers and the environment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.

Pilgrim Pipeline LLC is proposing to construct two new pipelines to connect Albany, New York, with Port Reading and Linden, New Jersey. The pipeline would cut through both communities that are overburdened by pollution already and environmentally sensitive areas critical for drinking water supply.

The infrastructure would transport Bakken shale oil, produced by fracking in North Dakota, and refined petroleum products. The Bakken oil is highly explosive and pipeline transportation would threaten local communities with the risk of spills and accidents. The source of the oil and its consequences for our climate, along with the environmental impacts of the project’s construction and operation, will have long-term, negative effects on both states.

The Pilgrim Pipeline would cut through important water supply watershed and near water supply aquifers. The pipeline would run through the Ramapo River Watershed in New York and New Jersey. This system serves Mahwah, Ramsey, Oakland, Franklin Lakes, Allendale, Pompton Lakes, Wayne and 8 more towns in New York as well as a backup to the Wanaque and Oradell Reservoirs during times of drought.

The pipeline would pass through or near the Chatham aquifer, tributaries to the Hudson River, and the Catskill and Delaware aqueducts which provide drinking water to New York City.

Local municipalities along the route have been actively opposing the project. Eight municipalities and Passaic County have passed resolutions against the pipeline. This decision by PSE&G is adding to the momentum of stopping this dangerous pipeline. Not even API supports this project.

“Concerned citizens, municipal officials, county freeholders, and state legislators, up and down the route are coming out and opposing this project because of the unacceptable risks it presents to our environment, drinking water, and public health. We thank PSE&G for standing with the local communities and helping to keep this ill-conceived project out of our state,” said Kate Millsaps, conservation program coordinator, NJ Sierra Club.

We partner with PSE&G on a number of issues energy efficiency to renewables. Although we have disagreed with them on some issues they are doing the right thing here. Towns opposed these expanded ROWs in the past and PSE&G is showing they can be a good neighbor now by
keeping these dangerous pipeline projects out of their easement.

“PSEG is looking for their consumers and rate payers. The public pays for these rights of way and they shouldn’t be letting these speculative and dangerous ventures use them. They should only be used by public utilities. Will they threaten PSEG with eminent domain like they have
done with landowners?” asked Jeff Tittel.

The public can learn more about the project at 4 upcoming education forums hosted by the Sierra Club and other organizations in the Coalition Against the Pilgrim Pipeline:

- Watchung: December 2nd at 7:30 pm
Watchung Borough Hall, 15 Mountain Boulevard, Watchung, 07069, 2nd Floor

- Roselle: December 4th at 7pm
Heard A.M.E. Church
310 E 8th Ave, Roselle, NJ 07203

- Landowner Rights Workshop with Pipeline Safety Coalition’s Executive Director Lynda Farrell
Monday, December 8, 2014 at 6:30 PM
Library of the Chathams
214 Main St, Chatham, NJ 07928

- Roseland: Thursday December 11th at 7 pm
Essex County Environmental Center
621 Eagle Rock Avenue (Roseland, NJ 07068)

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.

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