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Breaking: Oil “Bomb Train” Derailment in Philadelphia Today

January 31, 2015

11 TRAIN CARS DERAIL IN SOUTH PHILADELPHIA

Second Bakken Shale oil train derailment in Philly in one year

Breaking:  Today the second major oil “bomb train” derailment occurred in Philadelphia, risking residents’ lives, endangering drivers on one of the nation’s busiest highways, I-95, and putting waterways at risk. One year and eleven days ago, early on Martin Luther King Day 2014,  seven cars carrying Bakken Shale crude derailed over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia in a “near miss from disaster.” That derailment put the entire University of Pennsylvania medical complex, the Schuylkill Expressway, the Veterans Administration, Children’s Hospital, and other major institutions at risk, along with a chunk of Philadelphia’s residential population too big to safely evacuate.

Both accidents were predictable, preventable, and a near miss from potentially catastrophic impacts. There must be no third derailment. That no rupture occurred is extremely lucky. We can’t leave prevention to luck.

From ABC News today:

Philadelphia firefighters and Hazmat crews swarmed the area near Lincoln Financial Field and the Philadelphia Naval Yard after 11 train cars went off the tracks early Saturday morning.

The derailment happened after 3:00 a.m. near South 11th Street just south of Interstate-95.

The cars were carrying crude oil.

After it was determined, there were no ruptured cars, crews turned the incident over to CSX.

CSX officials brought in cranes to upright the cars.

There is no word on what caused the derailment.

Stop the Oil Bomb Trains, Period

Clearly it’s high time to stop the oil bomb trains. Bakken Shale oil, extracted by fracking, accompanied by flaring on a massive scale, has to stay in the ground. To literally see how huge the gas flaring from Bakken Shale oil fracking is, view the giant eerie glow from North Dakota on this map: “Watch fracking gas flares light up the earth at night.”

You don’t have to live in Philadelphia to call your legislators right now to demand an immediate end to the oil bomb trains. Protect people, waterways, our major institutions, health and safety, and climate! But if you do live in Philadelphia, this is the time to begin demanding relentlessly that these trains stop coming through Philly every day, period.

Even while the Yellowstone River continues to be impacted by the huge Bakken Shale oil spill there from a burst pipeline, the industry keeps attempting to frame the argument as “trains vs. pipelines.” But the fact is that while pipelines spill far more gallons of oil altogether than trains or barges, trains are deadly and barges put rivers at risk. None of these risks are acceptable.

Don’t allow this split. The premise — that “the oil needs to get where it needs to go,” as the industry puts it — is false. That’s pure Koch Industries lingo: Koch “primary” is early proving ground for GOP hopefuls (New York Times)

No oil bomb trains, no Pilgrim Pipelines, no Bakken Shale oil by barge, no fracking and flaring in the Bakken. No means no!

Find my state legislator

Find my U.S. Senator and Representative

 

 

 

Oil in the Yellowstone River; Stop Pilgrim Pipeline

January 20, 2015

Residents Told “Don’t Drink the Water”

An estimated 50,000 gallons of oil have spilled into the Yellowstone River in Montana from a 12″ pipeline carrying Bakken Shale crude oil. Although the leak was discovered Saturday morning January 17th at 10 AM and the flow through the pipeline was reported to be cut off by 11 AM, the spill is massive and toxic.

Residents began reporting a “diesel-y” odor and taste to their drinking water, but were not told early this morning not to drink the water. Benzene, a potent carcinogen, is among the toxic substances confirmed in residents’ drinking water.

Authorities had been led to believe that because the pipeline, part of the “Bridger” pipeline system, is fourteen feet (also reported as eight feet) below the river, drinking water could not become contaminated. But those eight to fourteen feet did not protect the river, the ecosystem, or residents of local cities. From the Billings Gazette: Crews to Clean Up Oil Spilled into Yellowstone River.

From CNN: Up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled in Yellowstone River; residents told not to drink water.

The massive oil spill happened when the 12-inch pipeline, which crosses the Yellowstone River, ruptured Saturday about 5 miles upstream from Glendive, Montana’s Department of Environmental Quality said. The Bridger Pipeline company shut down the pipeline.

Glendive City Council member Gerald Reichert was among the residents who noticed a disturbing odor in the drinking water.

“Suddenly at our house there was a definite smell. It was a diesel smell,” Reichert told the Grand Forks Herald.

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock announced a state of emergency for Dawson and Richland counties.

Opposing Pilgrim Pipelines: One 16″ and one 18″ pipeline 

While the investigation into the latest Bakken Shale crude oil disaster contaminating the Yellowstone River is still underway, resistance to the proposed Pilgrim oil Pipelines in New York State is increasing. So far, residents have spurred their town Boards to pass eight Resolutions Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline(s): Rosendale, New Paltz Town and Village, Rhinebeck, Rochester, Woodstock, Marbletown, and the City of Kingston, all in New York. New Jersey towns have passed 24 resolutions opposing Pilgrim Pipelines, so the combined total is 32.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The next two Town Board meetings which are explicitly considering voting on Resolutions Opposing Pilgrim Pipelines will be in Saugerties and Plattekill, both Wednesday, January 21st at 7 pm.  Both meetings are open to the public:
                                                                                                                                                                                      Saugerties will consider the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline at their Board meeting on January 21st. A determined crowd will make a huge difference.
                                                                                                                                                                                         Plattekill will vote on the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline at their Board meeting on January 21st. A large, resolute showing will make all the difference.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     Update posted January 22nd: Last night Plattekill passed the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pilgrim has quickly developed a reputation for bullying and for dissembling. Pilgrim reps have been showing up to demand the right to survey land, in Newburgh, Tuxedo, Rosendale, Kingston, Saugerties and other towns. They often imply or outright claim the company has eminent domain, which is false: Pilgrim hasn’t even applied for a single permit in New York for construction and operation of their pipeline. But this doesn’t stop their representatives from threatening landowners with intimidating legal action.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 New Paltz Times reports: Pilgrim Pipeline Opponents Say Landowners’ Denying Access Are Baseline of Defense.

                                                                                                                                            Lessons From the Yellowstone Spill So Far

                                                                                                                                                                                                   Oil Travels Far and Fast: The Washington Post reports in “Drinking water trucked into Montana city after oil spill“: “An oil sheen has been seen near Sidney, almost 60 river miles downstream from Glendive, said Paul Peronard, the on-scene coordinator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      Pipeline Inspections Do Not Lead to Problems Being Corrected: The same Washington Post story, and other sources, have affirmed that the breached Poplar pipeline was inspected in 2012. Although the inspection showed problems, the problems were obviously not fixed. With 135 inspectors for 2.5 million miles of pipeline in the U.S., inspections can’t possibly be expected to prevent oil spills such as this.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Bigger Pipelines Spill More, Faster: The Poplar Pipeline, the one that spilled crude oil into the Yellowstone River, is a 12″ pipeline. The Pilgrim Pipelines would be 16″ and 18″ respectively. See How Does the Leaky Yellowstone River Pipeline Size Up with Keystone XL.
                                                                                                                                                                                       Response Time: Even with a one-hour response time, the Bridger Pipeline spilled massively into the Yellowstone River.  At the 10/21/14 Kinnelon New Jersey meeting, Pilgrim executives conceded that a pipeline leak response could be expected “within 24 hours.”  And by response, they mean simply flying somebody in to inspect a leak, not necessarily to fix or clean it up, let alone having an adequate evacuation or clean water plan for local residents.
                                                                                                                                                                                                 “This response lapse is entirely possible in more unpopulated areas of the Pilgrim route, such as the roughly 1.6 mile stretch proposed by Pilgrim to run through Troy Meadows in the Whippany/Passaic Watershed,” said Anita Austenberg Shotwell, Trustee of Wildlife Preserves, Inc.

“Needless to say, a significant amount of damage can occur within 24 hours,” Shotwell added.
U.S. Department of Transportation Inadequate to the Job: The Wall Street Journal reports, in Oil Spills into Yellowstone River After Pipeline Leak:
Late last year, Bridger Pipeline received a warning letter from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration, alleging that the company didn’t follow proper reporting procedures when it inspected the Poplar pipeline in 2012. The agency didn’t impose a fine. The company hasn’t filed a response with PHMSA and didn’t immediately respond to questions about the warning.

Problems Persist Over Decades:  This link provides a PHMSA letter to Bridger Pipeline Company LLC from February 2, 2007 referencing a 2005 inspection, and cites violation data on the Poplar Pipeline. It also references repairs from 2004 and 2005. It cites interesting problems with the pipeline.

And the Helena Independent Record from 1965 references an oil spill into the Yellowstone River from a 12″ pipeline constructed in 1955.
                                                                                                                                                                                            Spilled Oil Can Not Be Cleaned: The Hudson Riverkeeper reports on the risks of spills on and into rivers.  Also see a NOAA report on a Bakken Shale oil spill in the Lower Mississippi in February, 2014. 750-800 barrels went into the water, and only 2.5 barrels were recovered.
                                                                                                                                                                                             Newer Pipelines Spill Too: While our sources indicate that Poplar was an older pipeline, possibly built in 1955, newer pipelines are also spilling. The claim made by Pilgrim Pipelines representative Giorgio DeRosa in Plattekill, New York that because Pilgrim would be newer, it would probably not spill “for a hundred years,” is absurd.  Here are just a few examples of newer pipelines spilling:
Tesoro Logistics Pipeline (Wall Street Journal)

Mariner East Pipeline (MarcellusDrilling.com: Sunoco Logistics pipeline, 2014 drilling mud spill)

Silvertip Pipeline (Wall Street Journal: ExxonMobil pipeline, 2013)

Tar Sands Bitumen Mixed with Bakken Shale Crude in Pilgrim Pipelines? Worst of the Worst

                                                                                                                                                                                                       As proposed, the two Pilgrim Pipelines, one 18″ and one 16″, would run side by side from Albany down through the Hudson Valley to Linden, New Jersey. The pipelines, if allowed, would carry oil south and “refined products” north: jet fuel, diesel, gasoline, other.
                                                                                                                                                                                                    For years we’ve been told the pipeline would carry Bakken Shale crude oil south. But two weeks ago, powerful Albany lobbyist Giorgio DeRosa told a packed roomful of residents in Plattekill, New York, that “only 15 – 20% of the oil would be from the Bakken Shale… the rest will be mostly from Canada.”
In other words: Tar Sands oil, called bitumen because it is so thick it’s not even accurate to call it “crude oil.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                      The industry may be thinking: hey, Bakken Shale oil is terribly flammable; if you mix it with the asphalt-like Tar Sands bitumen, it may be less so. And the tar sands bitumen must be diluted in order to flow through a pipeline, so why not dilute it with Bakken Shale crude? For them, it looks like a potentially profitable win-win. For everyone else, it’s the worst of the worst.
                                                                                                                                                                                                     That includes Philadelphia, which is likely to receive substantial amounts of the oil delivered by Pilgrim Pipelines to Linden, New Jersey. In Philadelphia, yet more toxic black smoke wafting over from the refinery just last weekend. From NBC: Operational Issues at South Philly Refinery Cause Black Smoke to Rise.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      In September 2014, the U.S. Coast Guard said both tar sands bitumen and Bakken Crude pose special risks for waterways and that no methods exist which can clean these spills. From “Standards needed for heavy oil cleanup, U.S. Coast Guard says“:

Risky heavy oils and cleanup

Popiel said there are a network of pipelines that carry two types of heavy oil in Canada and the United States.

The first is oil-sands product, which is too thick to flow through pipelines. It’s made thinner with dilutants. The diluted oil can be flammable once spilled in water.

The other is Bakken crude, a lighter oil, that is more flammable and volatile. It’s the same oil that caused the Lac-Mégantic train disaster, which killed 47 people and destroyed the downtown of the small Quebec town in 2013.

The Mayflower, Arkansas spill, the Kalamazoo River spill and, unfortunately, so many more, like the Yellowstone, all have their own lessons. The question is: when will we learn? Keep the oil in the shale. Keep the oil in the sands. Fight like hell to protect our climate. History is made by those who show up, so show up in Plattekill, in Saugerties, and at the very least, sign this petition already:  Stop the Pilgrim Pipeline.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      In honor of Yellowstone River and the people who can’t drink their water, help use get to 1000 signatures in the next 24 hours.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Peter Dolan, Cindy Kane, Margo Pellegrino, Gale Pisha, Jessica Romeo, Anita Shotwell and Joe Testa contributed research to this article.

 

 

Pack These Hearings: Stop The Constitution Pipeline!

January 12, 2015

Public hearings for a proposed fracked gas pipeline are being held one per day for the next three days in New York. Please pack these hearings in Binghamton, Oneonta, and Cobleskill! All details below.

Many of us have been resisting the proposed Constitution Pipeline, with its mammoth compressor stations, for years. Others are just joining this key two-state struggle to protect the people, waterways, land, and air along the pipeline route, as well as the communities in Pennsylvania’s shalefields. Shale gas is even worse for climate than coal. This pipeline must be stopped.

As proposed, it would run 121 miles from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY.  It would be 30 inches in diameter, and initially carry 650,000 decatherms per day (Dth/d) of fracked gas extracted from the sacrifice zones of Pennsylvania.

We have an opportunity to stop it before non-violent civil disobedience becomes necessary. History is made by those who show up:

BINGHAMTON
Monday, January 12 at 6 PM
East Middle School Auditorium
167 East Frederick Street
Binghamton, NY 13904

ONEONTA
Tuesday, January 13 at 6 PM
SUNY Oneonta, Lecture Hall IRC #3
108 Ravine Parkway
Oneonta, NY 13820

COBLESKILL*
Wednesday, January 14 at 6 PM
SUNY Cobleskill, Bouck Hall Theater
State Route 7
Cobleskill, NY 12043

An administrative law judge will take public comments on the proposed “Constitution” Pipeline at three DEC hearings next week in Binghamton, Oneonta and Cobleskill. It is critical that we attend. Bring signs, bring friends and wear blue. If you’d like the opportunity to speak, be there early to add your name to the sign-up sheet.

To find out more about the hearings, go to this link. On this same page, you can download and print a flyer about the hearings to post EVERYWHERE in your town.

The DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) can stop this pipeline. DEC upholds New York’s stringent water-quality standards, which the pipeline would violate. The pipeline would tear through 277 streams, ponds and rivers, and over 10 miles of wetlands. It would clear-cut 1,000 acres of forest, increasing damage in future floods. It would cross 45 trout and trout-spawning streams 84 times, threatening the fish and their habitat. Tell the DEC: Don’t allow the destruction of our pristine water bodies or risk our individual, town, and village water supplies so that fracked gas can be shipped to foreign markets.

On January 2nd, Stop The Constitution Pipeline (STP) filed a request for a rehearing with FERC, claiming FERC violated three federal laws and the United States Constitution. New Yorker’s rights have been violated by FERC’s approval of the Constitution pipeline. (See the full document here).  Now, we have to pack these hearing rooms and inundate the DEC with substantive comments on the 401 water-quality certificate.

Thanks to Collin Fox Thomas and all our allies with Stop the Constitution Pipeline for this alert.

Inaugurate a Stop to Fracking Pennsylvania!

January 9, 2015

January 20th: Rally at Governor Wolf’s Inauguration!

When to Protest: January 20, 2015   10 AM – 2 PM

Where:  Grace Street Methodist Church
216 State Street, Harrisburg, PA 17101

Phone: 724.485.9835
Sign-up page: Food and Water Watch Event Page

Sponsor: Anti fracking groups across the COMMONwealth of PA

From Pennsylvania grassroots leader Marcellus Protest:

Thank you New York for giving us our 2nd wind!

Join hundreds of Pennsylvanians from around the state as we tell Governor Tom Wolf to make a halt on fracking his #1 priority. A fresh start for Pennsylvania means No New Fracking!

Tom Wolf will be inaugurated as the next Governor of Pennsylvania on January 20th at the Capitol in Harrisburg. Pennsylvanians Against Fracking is headed to the inauguration to make sure Wolf hears us loud and clear, and we are going to need your help to do so.

We will convene our rally at the Grace Street Methodist Church, across the street from the Capitol. From there, we will march over to the inauguration site, just outside the Capitol. With loud chants and vivid props, we will communicate directly to Governor Wolf why needs to follow the example of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and stop fracking now!

We will be posting a timeline of events as soon as we know when the inauguration will start, but please plan to arrive at the church at 10 AM!

TRANSPORTATION options: If the links below don’t work, click on them at the Food and Water Watch page.

Philadelphia and Southeast PA: Sign up to ride the bus from Southeastern PA.
Southwest PA: Sign up to ride the bus from Pittsburgh and Southwest PA.
Bucks:
Email Tracy@delawareriverkeeper.org to learn about carpools from Bucks County.
State College: Email Melody at hickoryhaven@hotmail.com for the State College carpool.
Lehigh Valley: Email Tara at tzrinski@fwwlocal.org to join the Lehigh Valley carpool!
Northwest PA: Email Sam at bearwalker33@roadrunner.com to join the carpool from the Erie County area!
Wilkes-Barre and Wyoming Valley: Email dreierauto@hotmail.com to join the carpool from Wilkes-Barre!
Northeast PA:  Email Vera at veraduerga@yahoo.com to join the carpool from Susquehanna County and NEPA!
Shrewsbury and York County: Email rjochs@comcast.net to join the carpool from York County!
Berks: Email berksgastruth@gmail.com to join the carpool from Berks County.

Let us know if you want to coordinate a carpool from your community by emailing sbernhardt@fwwatch.org.

Further transportation contacts if needed:
Philadelphia area: Email Sam at sbernhardt@fwwatch.org to learn about carpools from Southeastern PA
Southwest PA: brigetshields@gmail.com or mpro113@gmail.com

More Info: PAAgainstFracking.org or text WOLF to 69866

Sign and share our petition!
http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/governor-wolf-we-

Background:

While the Delaware River Basin is protected from fracking, the rest of Pennsylvania — roughly two-thirds of the state — is being fracked to bits. Governor Wolf has shown no sign that he comprehends the current impacts, the cumulative impacts, or the future risks. Speak up loud and clear before, during and after his inauguration to stop fracking Pennsylvania.
Why? Because public health matters, climate changes everything, and sacrifice zones are utterly unacceptable.

Can’t come? Write Letters to the Editor — Share the Science — Don’t just “preach to the converted”!

Here are two of the most useful sites summarizing the 400 scientific studies — most of which have been done in the past 2 years –which weigh in on fracking and public health:
A Public Health Review of High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing for Shale Gas Development and
COMPENDIUM OF SCIENTIFIC, MEDICAL, AND MEDIA FINDINGS DEMONSTRATING RISKS AND HARMS OF FRACKING

ALL FRACKED UP: METHANE PLUME OVER NEW MEXICO

December 30, 2014

Scientists were so surprised when they first saw the huge plume of methane over New Mexico, three years ago, that they couldn’t quite believe their data. But as the Washington Post reported yesterday, December 29th, 2014 in “Delaware-size gas plume over West illustrates the cost of leaking methane,” the cloud of methane has been confirmed to be caused by fracking. verified by NASA and by University of Michigan scientists this October:

The methane that leaks from 40,000 gas wells near this desert trading post [Cuba, New Mexico] may be colorless and odorless, but it’s not invisible. It can be seen from space.

Satellites that sweep over energy-rich northern New Mexico can spot the gas as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and miles of pipeline snaking across the badlands. In the air it forms a giant plume: a permanent, Delaware-sized methane cloud,

The Washington Post, even while drawing attention to the problem, understates it by referring to outdated government figures for the damage methane does to climate and for the portion of methane being released into the atmosphere due to oil and gas production. But it vividly reports the gross waste involved as methane seeps directly into the air during every stage of fracking, from well drilling to fracking, compressor stations, and pipelines:

All told, oil and gas producers lose 8 million metric tons of methane a year, enough to provide power to every household in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

For current information on the grossly underestimated methane leaks, see EcoWatch: “Study Finds Underestimated Methane Emissions Negate Industry Claims of Fracked Gas’ Benefits.”

A November 2014 report shows that in the short term, the EPA must take immediate action to reduce methane emissions by 50%. But as Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Natural Gas campaign, acknowledges, “The most effective way to solve the climate crisis is to keep all dirty fossil fuels, like fracked gas, in the ground, because even the most rigorous methane controls will fail to do what is needed to fight climate disruption.”

Please read, comment on, and write letters in response to yesterday’s important Washington Post article. Read in full: “Delaware-size gas plume over West illustrates the cost of leaking methane.”

Do your elected officials know about this? Please make sure to share this data about the huge methane plume not just with those already freaked out about fracking, but with your electeds. We are just about over the climate cliff. Make 2015 a year of climate action.

 

 

Breaking: Santa, Elves Arrested at Crestwood Blockade

December 22, 2014

“Santa and his elves were arrested blockading a truck at the gates of Crestwood today,” Doug Couchon of Frackbusters New York reported earlier this afternoon. We Are Seneca Lake reported 9 arrests at the action today:

The ongoing blockade of Seneca Lake Crestwood Gas Storage Facility has drawn hundreds of protesters. The human blockade peacefully opposes the recent FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) decision allowing expansion of CNG (compressed natural gas) storage in geologically unstable salt caverns.

Sandra Steingraber, who appeared on Democracy Now on Dec. 19th with Cornell University engineering professor and shale gas expert Tony Ingraffeato — to share the science behind the New York fracking ban, is seen to the left in the photo above, holding flowers. All photos on this blog post are from We Are Seneca Lake:

PRNewswire reported on the blockade in late October:

We Are Seneca Lake, comprised of residents of the Finger Lakes, peacefully demonstrate their determined opposition by continuing to blockade the gates of the Crestwood compressor station on the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes. The methane gas storage expansion project is advancing in the face of unparalleled public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. Inexplicably, a Capital New York investigation just revealed that Governor Cuomo’s DEC excised references to the risks of underground gas storage from a 2011 federal report on methane contamination of drinking water, and has allowed key data to remain hidden. (October 28th)

 

The D C Bureau’s Peter Mantius has published a series of articles documenting the dangers of salt cavern gas storage facilities including the deadly explosions in Hutchinson Kansas in 2001. “Several explosions at seemingly random sites occurred as far as seven miles from a ruptured cavern. The blasts caused fireballs in downtown Hutchinson.” Two deaths were attributed to this catastrophe and hundreds had to be relocated.

Read more.

Related: Blockaders Arrested at Crestwood Midstream Salt Cavern Gas Site

 

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.

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