Archive for the 'fracking' Category

The Most Ambitious Environmental Lawsuit Ever

Photo retrieved from: www.nytimes.com

“In Louisiana, the most common way to visualize the state’s existential crisis is through the metaphor of football fields. The formulation, repeated in nearly every local newspaper article about the subject, goes like this: Each hour, Louisiana loses about a football field’s worth of land. Each day, the state loses nearly the accumulated acreage of every football stadium in the N.F.L. Were this rate of land loss applied to New York, Central Park would disappear in a month. Manhattan would vanish within a year and a half. The last of Brooklyn would dissolve four years later. New Yorkers would notice this kind of land loss. The world would notice this kind of land loss. But the hemorrhaging of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands has gone largely unremarked upon beyond state borders. This is surprising, because the wetlands, apart from their unique ecological significance and astounding beauty, buffer the impact of hurricanes that threaten not just New Orleans but also the port of South Louisiana, the nation’s largest; just under 10 percent of the country’s oil reserves; a quarter of its natural-gas supply; a fifth of its oil-refining capacity; and the gateway to its internal waterway system. The attenuation of Louisiana, like any environmental disaster carried beyond a certain point, is a national-security threat.

Where does it go, this vanishing land? It sinks into the sea. The Gulf of Mexico is encroaching northward, while the marshes are deteriorating from within, starved by a lack of river sediment and poisoned by seawater. Since 2011, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has delisted more than 30 place names from Plaquemines Parish alone. English Bay, Bay Jacquin, Cyprien Bay, Skipjack Bay and Bay Crapaud have merged like soap bubbles into a single amorphous body of water. The lowest section of the Mississippi River Delta looks like a maple leaf that has been devoured down to its veins by insects. The sea is rising along the southeast coast of Louisiana faster than it is anywhere else in the world.

The land loss is swiftly reversing the process by which the state was built. As the Mississippi shifted its course over the millenniums, spraying like a loose garden hose, it deposited sand and silt in a wide arc. This sediment first settled into marsh and later thickened into solid land. But what took 7,000 years to create has been nearly destroyed in the last 85. Dams built on the tributaries of the Mississippi, as far north as Montana, have reduced the sediment load by half. Levees penned the river in place, preventing the floods that are necessary to disperse sediment across the delta. The dredging of two major shipping routes, the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, invited saltwater into the wetlands’ atrophied heart.”

Read more: The New York Times

 

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

Photo retrieve from: www.alternet.org

“California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state’s drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

The state’s Division of Oil and Gas and Geothermal Resources on July 7 issued cease and desist orders to seven energy companies warning that they may be injecting their waste into aquifers that could be a source of drinking water, and stating that their waste disposal “poses danger to life, health, property, and natural resources.” The orders were first reported by the Bakersfield Californian, and the state has confirmed with ProPublica that its investigation is expanding to look at additional wells.

The action comes as California’s agriculture industry copes with a drought crisis that has emptied reservoirs and cost the state $2.2 billion this year alone. The lack of water has forced farmers across the state to supplement their water supply from underground aquifers, according to a study released this week by the University of California Davis.”

Read more: Alternet

 

Oklahoma nearly doubles earthquake count of California

Photo retrieved from: www.america.aljazeera.com

“Oklahoma has had nearly double the number of earthquakes as California, local news reported after five earthquakes on Thursday morning rattled an area of the state where oil and gas drilling is prevalent.

While California recorded 88 earthquakes of a magnitude 3.0 or greater this year, 174 of the same intensity have shaken Oklahoma. On Thursday, the region was hit by five quakes with magnitudes higher than 3.0 — the magnitude at which tremors can easily be felt, Oklahoma City’s KOCO news reported.

Whereas California’s quakes are spread throughout the state, seismic activity in Oklahoma is concentrated in the central and northern part of the state — areas where oil and gas drilling, otherwise known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, has increased in recent years. In Oklahoma as a whole, drilling doubled between 2009 and 2012.

The rise in oil and gas drilling in the state has paralleled increasing earthquake activity. Previously, the state averaged about one quake per year, but that has increased to at least one a day, KOCO reported.

Seismologists have concluded that fracking — a process where water, sand and chemicals are shot underground at high pressure to release trapped oil and gas deposits — can cause small earthquakes.

At the Seismological Society of America’s annual meeting in May, scientists said that underground disposal of vast amounts of wastewater generated by fracking likely induce earthquakes by changing the state of stress on existing faults.”

Read more: Aljazeera America

 

 

New York Assembly Overwhelmingly Passes Fracking Moratorium

Photo retrieved from: www.ecowatch.com

“Full passage of the moratorium now depends on the New York State Senate and, ultimately, Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Associated Press reports that the Senate is unlikely to address the issue before adjournment later this week.

“We thank the Assembly for listening to the medical experts by overwhelmingly passing a moratorium on fracking to protect New Yorkers from the devastating health and environmental impacts,” Alex Beauchamp of Food & Water Watch and New Yorkers Against Fracking said in a statement. “Now, we’re urging Gov. Cuomo and the State Senate to stand up against the out-of-state oil and gas industry, and stand up for our state’s health, environment and long-term economy by rejecting fracking.”

Some environmental groups might not agree that more time is needed to study fracking, but they are glad their voices, as well as those of medical professionals, have been heard. In May, a lengthy list of doctors and groups like the American Lung Association in New York wrote a letter to Cuomo stressing the impact fracking has on nearby states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

“Oil and gas development utilizing HVHF [High volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing] involves the use and/or production of numerous toxic and hazardous air and water contaminants, a number of them known or suspected carcinogens,” the legislation reads. “Oil and gas development utilizing HVHF has also been associated with a range of adverse environmental impacts, including impacts to water and air quality, land and habitat, and community character.”

Dr. Sheila Bushkin of the Concerned Health Professionals of New York echoed the cautious optimism in the state that the moratorium will continue beyond next May.”

Read more: Ecowatch

 

Fracking, Seismic Activity Grow Hand in Hand in Mexico

Photo retrieved from: www.ipsnews.net

“Scientists warn that large-scale fracking for shale gas planned by Mexico’s oil company Pemex will cause a surge in seismic activity in northern Mexico, an area already prone to quakes.

Experts link a 2013 swarm of earthquakes in the northern states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo León to hydraulic fracturing or fracking in the Burgos and Eagle Ford shale deposits – the latter of which is shared with the U.S. state of Texas.

Researcher Ruperto de la Garza found a link between seismic activity and fracking, a technique that involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at high pressure into the well, opening and extending fractures in the shale rock to release the natural gas.

“The final result is the dislocation of the geological structure which, when it is pulverised, allows the trapped gas to escape,” the expert with the environmental and risk consultancy Gestoría Ambiental y de Riesgos told IPS from Saltillo, the capital of the northern state of Coahuila.

When the chemicals are injected “and the lutite particles [sedimentary rock] break down, the earth shifts,” he said. “It’s not surprising that the earth has been settling.”

De la Garza drew up an exhaustive map of the seismic movements in 2013 and the gas-producing areas.

His findings, published on Mar. 22, indicated a correlation between the seismic activity and fracking.

Statistics from Mexico’s National Seismological Service show an increase in intensity and frequency of seismic activity in Nuevo León, where at least 31 quakes between 3.1 and 4.3 on the Richter scale were registered.

Most of the quakes occurred in 2013. Of the ones registered this year, the highest intensity took place on Mar. 2-3, according to official records.”

Read more: IPS

 

As Fracking Booms, Growing Concerns About Wastewater

Photo retrieved from: www.e360.yale.edu

“In a study conducted last year, researchers from the environmental consulting firm, Downstream Strategies, attempted to trace fracking water — from water withdrawal to wastewater disposal — at several wells in the Marcellus Shale formation in West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

“We just couldn’t do it,” said Downstream Strategies staff scientist Meghan Betcher, citing a lack of good data and the wide range of disposal methods used by the industry. What the study did find was that gas companies use up to 4.3 million gallons of clean water to frack a single well in Pennsylvania, and that more than half of the wastewater is treated and discharged into surface waters such as rivers and streams.

Increasingly, the fracking boom in the Marcellus Shale and across the United States is leaving behind some big water worries — concerns that are only growing as shale gas development continues to expand. Pennsylvania, which has experienced a frenzied half-dozen years of hydraulic fracturing, is now the U.S.’s third-largest producer of natural gas. The Downstream Strategies report noted that from 2005 to 2012, Pennsylvania and West Virginia issued permits for nearly 9,000 natural gas wells that use hydraulic fracturing technology, which pumps a high-pressure mixture of water, chemicals, and sand deep into shale formations to extract natural gas.

The vast volume of water needed to extract that natural gas, and the large amounts of wastewater generated during the process, is causing increasing concern among geochemists, biologists, engineers, and toxicologists.”

Read more: Yale Environment 360

Fracking is depleting water supplies in America’s driest areas

Photo retrieved from: www.theguardian.com

“America’s oil and gas rush is depleting water supplies in the driest and most drought-prone areas of the country, from Texas to California, new research has found.

Of the nearly 40,000 oil and gas wells drilled since 2011, three-quarters were located in areas where water is scarce, and 55% were in areas experiencing drought, the report by the Ceres investor network found.

Fracking those wells used 97bn gallons of water, raising new concerns about unforeseen costs of America’s energy rush.

“Hydraulic fracturing is increasing competitive pressures for water in some of the country’s most water-stressed and drought-ridden regions,” said Mindy Lubber, president of the Ceres green investors’ network.

Without new tougher regulations on water use, she warned industry could be on a “collision course” with other water users.”

Read more: The Guardian

 

Officials Reveal Second Chemical Spilled in W. Virginia Waters

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“West Virginia officials revealed Tuesday that a second potentially harmful chemical had also spilled into the Elk River contaminating the water supply of over 300,000 area residents.

According to the Charleston Gazette, it wasn’t until 12 days after the Jan. 9 spill that Gary Southern, the President of Freedom Industries—the source of the leak—told the state Department of Environmental Protection emergency response director Mike Dorsey that the 7,500 gallons of Crude MCHM also contained a chemical known as “PPH,” which contains potentially toxic glycol ethers.

The Gazette reports:

A Freedom Industries data sheet on the chemical says it can irritate the eyes and skin and is harmful if swallowed. The sheet lists the material as less lethal than Crude MCHM but also says no data are available on its long-term health effects.

State officials said late Tuesday that they believe the West Virginia American Water utility company would “likely have removed the chemical from drinking water during its normal treatment process,” and are performing additional testing of water samples from the first days after the incident to confirm that.

“We have to go back and confirm things and make sure we’re doing our due diligence for public health,” said Gen. James Hoyer of the West Virginia National Guard.”

Read more: Common Dreams

 

Hormone-Disrupting Chemicals Linked to Fracking Found in Colorado River

Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“A team of researchers from the University of Missouri found evidence of hormone-disrupting activity in water located near fracking sites – including samples taken from the Colorado River near a dense drilling region of western Colorado.

The Colorado River is a source of drinking water for more than 30 million people.

The peer-reviewed study was published this week in the journal Endocrinology.

Fracking is the controversial process of blasting water mixed with sand and chemicals deep underground at high pressure so as to fracture rock and release the oil and gas it holds. It has made previously inaccessible fossil fuel reserves economical to tap, and drilling operations have spread rapidly across the country.

The University of Missouri team found that 11 chemicals commonly used in the fracking process are “endocrine disrupters” – compounds that can affect the human hormonal system and have been linked to cancer, birth defects, and infertility.

“More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function,” said Dr. Susan Nagel, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and women’s health at the University of Missouri School of Medicine and a co-author of the study, in a news release.”

Read more: National Geographic

 

Uprising Grows Against Fracking in a Surprising Part of Europe

“Do you think they’re about to have sex?”, one of the group whispers. I’m in Transylvania, crouched in the bushes with a bunch of activists in balaclavas, taking turns to speculate why a car has crept to a halt close to where we are hiding out. “No, it must be the cops, you can see the light from the mobile phone”, another one says. Time to move on.

It has been over an hour since the group started trashing equipment owned by the gas exploration company Prospectiuni, playing an edgy game of cat and mouse as we struggle to stay one step ahead of the security teams and police vehicles that are now sweeping the hilltops looking for us.

Another light tears round the bend on the road and the shout goes through the team to hide. I throw myself down, stretched out once again in the cool damp grass of a Transylvanian meadow. It’s going to be a long night.

In recent weeks the sleepy Saxon communities and protected forests of Sibiu county in Transylvania, have become an unlikely front for a new battleground, pitting gas exploration companies, the Romanian government and international investment firms, against a small band of environmental activists from across Romania, who are working side by side with local farmers to resist gas and oil exploration that they claim is taking place illegally on their land.

Read More: Alternet