Monday, March 28, 2011

Fracking NEWS

Protect Our Water and Air

Water Withdrawal Regulations - Farmers and Enviros Unite

The business of farmers is threatened by a loss of groundwater to the gas drilling industry, which withdrawals several million gallons of water for each of up to a dozen horizontal fracking wells per vertical drilling pad. For dairy and vegetable farmers, water can be more valuable than natural gas. Farmers are joining environmentalists to support a bill that gives the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation the power to regulate water withdrawals. See the report New H20 regulations on tap.

What do you do with huge volumes of Fracking Wastewater?
What will be done with the millions of gallons of fracking wastewater, which contains toxic chemicals, radioactivity and brine? Accepting the wastewater from the natural gas industry could be a major revenue generator for local sewage treatment plants, but upgrading plants to treat it would be expensive and the composition of the fluid could be problematic. See the report Most N.Y. treatment plants not equipped to handle hydrofracking wastewater.

Fracking Wastewater -- Dumping for Profit
A Pennsylvania hauler is charged with 175 criminal counts of dumping waste, including Marcellus Shale drilling wastewater, in parts of six counties. The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ordered the wastewater hauling business and a wastewater treatment facility to shut down immediately, after a grand jury recommended the criminal charges against the owner and one of the businesses for illegally dumping millions of gallons of gas well drilling water and municipal sludge. The liquid waste was dumped on the ground or into streams, sometimes after dark or during heavy rain storms to mask the illegal activity. See the report DEP shuts two firms in dumping case.

Another Local Ban on Fracking in NY
Buffalo was the first city in NY to ban fracking as well as the disposal and transportation of the wastewater. Recently, Ulster County legislators voted unanimously to prohibit the leasing of any county-owned lands for natural gas extraction by high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Their only questions was ‘why limit it to county lands’? Read more and see the text of the resolution here: Ulster County legislature bans fracking on county lands.

Both Chambers of Congress get back in the FRAC Act
The Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act would close Bush-era oil and gas industry loopholes in the Safe Drinking Water Act and require disclosure of chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. The bill is being reintroduced, and if it becomes law, the EPA would regain the ability to regulate hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas companies would once again be required under federal law to report the chemicals they are shooting into the ground. Read Members of Congress Fight to Protect Drinking Water From Gas Drilling Pollution.

It's not just about the Water -- Gas Drilling Pollutes the Air -- BREATHE Act
Wyoming recently saw several major gas drilling companies temporarily shut down operations because of ozone alerts. U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-CO, joined with Reps. Maurice Hinchey, D-NY, whose district is in the midst of a major natural gas boom, and Rush Holt, D-NJ, to introduce the BREATHE (Bringing Reductions to Energy’s Airborne Toxic Health Effects) Act. The Act would remove two exemptions for gas drilling under the Clean Air Act. See the report Polis follows up FRAC Act with BREATHE Act to strip clean air exemptions for gas drilling.


See also a recent post, Radioactive Fracking Waste Threatens Drinking Water, and earlier posts about Fracking.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Benefits of Using Wind Farms to Produce Electricity

Wind farms continue to sprout up around the globe. Generating electricity using Nature's wind energy is proving to be not only a useful complement to using fossil fuels and nuclear energy, but also more beneficial in a number of ways. Below are a few examples drawn from recent reports.
Wind Power Cheaper than Nuclear
Generating energy from wind turbines at sea would be cheaper than building new atomic power plants, according to Connie Hedegaard, the EU climate change commissioner. She told the European Wind Energy Association's annual conference in Brussels that the problems facing nuclear power put renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, back in the spotlight. Read more here.

Wind Turbines Stronger than Nuclear
Despite assertions by its detractors that wind energy would not survive an earthquake or tsunami, the Japanese wind industry is still functioning and helping to keep the lights on during the Fuksuhima crisis.
There has been no wind facility damage from either the earthquake or the tsunami. Even a semi-offshore wind farm (see photo) about 300km from the epicenter of the quake survived. Read more here.

Kamisu Wind Farm 300 km from earthquake epicenter, by Wind Power Ibaraki

Wind Turbines Survive Cold Weather as Fossil Fuel Plants Falter
Wind energy played a major role in helping keep the lights on as the Great Plains dealt with a record storm this winter. Wind energy limited the severity of the blackouts, providing enough electricity to keep the power on in about 3 million households. Fifty fossil fuel power plants experienced outages and went offline due to the cold weather. Two large coal-fired power plants went offline due to pipes freezing or breaking. Some gas-fired plants also experienced outages due to the cold, and others were unable to produce as scheduled due to low gas pressure in the pipelines. Read more here.
Wind Power is Big and Friendly in Texas
Texas is the nation’s leader in generating electricity from wind, with 9,700 megawatts of about 41,000 megawatts in the US last year. By 2025, Texas plans to generate 38,000 megawatts, enough for 90% of the state's current residential electricity needs.
Farmers and ranchers are profiting from wind power, receiving from $3,000 to $10,000 a year for each wind turbine permitted on their land. Also, since wind turbines occupy only 1% of the land, the land can still be used to grow crops or graze cattle. Read more here.

Wind power is friendly to people and the environment. Unlike fossil-fuel power, wind power does not pollute the air or water. Also, today's windmill blades spin slowly and quietly. People can even partake in outdoor fun, like tossing a frisbee (see photo),
in the open space around the majestic towers of wind turbines (this would not be fun or healthy to do at a coal-fired power plant).

[Click image to enlarge]

Wind Power is Less Harmful to Birds
Fossil fuels pose higher risks to wildlife than wind power. Coal - which wind directly replaces - is by far the largest contributor to wildlife risks.
Compared to wind turbines, domestic cats kill 100 times more birds, and buildings kill over 5000 times more. Wind turbines are estimated to cause less than three out of every 100,000 human-related bird deaths in the U.S., and will never cause more than a small fraction no matter how extensively wind power is used in the future, according to the National Academy of Sciences. Read more here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Radioactive Fracking Waste Threatens Drinking Water

In 2009, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation analyzed 13 samples of fracking wastewater from gas drilling sites in the Marcellus Shale and found levels of radium, a radioactive element, as high as 267 times the limit safe for discharge into the environment and thousands of times the limit safe for people to drink.

While New York is currently under a drilling moratorium,
Pennsylvania has had a gas drilling boom over the last few years and there is much that can be learned from data on radioactivity in fracking wastewater from Marcellus Shale drilling in that state.

The NY Times reviewed 30,000 pages of records on drilling in more than 200
Pennsylvania gas wells over the last 3 years. The records were obtained from federal, state and industry sources.

The review revealed that levels of radium, uranium or other radioactive elements in 116 gas wells were 100 times higher than federal drinking water standards, and in 15 wells, 1000 times higher (see Map).
The findings confirm and extend those made from radioactivity data from the limited testing done in New York.

Pennsylvania Map. Brown circles reflect radioactivity levels above the federal standard in fracking wastewater at gas wells, and larger circles indicate higher radioactivity (Gross Alpha). Blue lines are major rivers.
Sewage treatment plants in three states, including New York, accepted Pennsylvania fracking wastewater, despite the fact that the plants were not equipped to monitor and remove radioactivity. As a result, treated water of questionable quality was discharged into waterways and taken up into downstream plants that provide drinking water. The downstream plants were also not equipped to monitor and remove radioactivity.
finding that fracking wastewater contains high levels of radioactivity that may be entering the drinking water raises serious concern about the effects on public health. Where tested, much of the radioactivity is from radium, which can cause cancer when ingested by drinking water or by eating fish or farm produce that is contaminated.
In 2009, the radioactivity risks prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to advise New York that sewage treatment plants should not accept drilling waste with radium levels that are 12 or more times the federal standard for drinking water. Also, they should not discharge water with radioactivity higher than the standard.

Testing for radioactivity in drinking water is required by federal law only at drinking-water intake plants. Unfortunately, it is not done often enough to keep pace with the rapidly growing discharges of drilling wastewater. In fact, most drinking water plants in
Pennsylvania had not tested for radioactivity since at least 2005, before the gas drilling boom occurred there.
Following the recent NY Times report about high levels of radium, the EPA took action to inform Pennsylvania in a letter dated March 7, 2011 indicating that it is critical to investigate the presence of radioactive elements, and to inform the public as to whether, and at what levels, they occur in their water supply. Within 30 days, EPA wants a sampling plan to be developed and initial samples collected. The EPA said that such knowledge will be the basis for imposing the controls necessary to ensure that public health and the aquatic environment are protected.

The PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has recently stated that radium in rivers is negligible, although critics indicate that the DEP can’t guarantee people will not be exposed to radioactive drinking water unless DEP is sampling everywhere all the time.

A fracking ban or at least a hazardous waste designation on fracking wastewater would protect our drinking water from contamination by radioactive elements and toxic chemicals released from shale, and additional toxics added to fracking fluid.
Links to Sources:
- NY Times: Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits Rivers - NY Times: Pennsylvania Map - US EPA: Letter from EPA (PDF)
- ProPublica: Is New York’s Marcellus Shale Too Hot to Handle?
- Pennsylvania DEP: Radium in rivers is negligible
- Buffalo News: Faulty figure on ‘fracking’ recycling linked to National Fuel subsidiary

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Fracking NEWS

Buffalo -- We're #1 in Protecting Drinking Water!
  • Buffalo is the First City in New York to ban the dirty process of shale-gas fracking.
  • Buffalo is the First City in the USA to ban disposal and transportation of fracking wastewater.
Risks of shale-gas drilling by fracking outweigh the benefits
"In the long run, gas companies and a few lucky landowners may be the only ones that benefit from gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. Are they worth the risks of potentially severe and, in some cases, irreversible consequences in the form of health, environmental, infrastructure and long-term economic degradation? New York state should consider following Buffalo’s lead." See the full article by Jannette M. Barth, PhD, entitled Hydrofracking Offers Short-term Boom, Long-term Bust.

Buffalo Sewer Authority to polluters: We don't want your fracking wastewater!
Three discharge permits issued to Waste Technology Services, a Lewiston-based company that served as the hauler for U. S. Energy Development Corp. of Getzville were canceled by the Sewer Authority. The general manager of the Authority said that the companies ignored a policy that banned “frack water” and failed to make the disclosure until after the issue sparked controversy. He is not ruling out the possibility of imposing fines. See the
report Sewer Authority affirms ban on ‘frack water’ at

Gas industry grossly underreports fracking wastewater discharged in rivers -- Go figure!
Pennsylvania allows the gas industry to discharge fraking wastewater into rivers, but it turns out that the amount of the tainted wastewater discharged is far more than the industry reported. This is due in large part to at least one huge error in the data entered into the state’s system for the amount recycled (i.e, not discharged). The 125,000 barrels of wastewater actually recycled was grossly overreported as 5.2 million barrels instead of gallons--42 times higher! Bottom line: the 90% recycling rate stated by the industry ends up being only 38%, meaning that far more fracking wastewater was discharged into rivers than claimed by the industry. See the report Faulty figure on ‘fracking’ recycling linked to National Fuel subsidiary at

The industry can't get the figures even close to correct on the discharge of fracking waste into rivers that provide drinking water, and we are supposed to believe them when they tell us that fracking is safe?
See also a recent post, Fracking wastewater is Radioactive and Hazardous, and earlier posts about Fracking.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Volunteer for the Spring Shoreline Sweep

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper asking citizens to join the Spring Shoreline Sweep to clean up the shorelines in Western New York on Saturday, April 16, 9am to noon. We encourage all volunteers to participate in the movement to beautify Buffalo and Niagara’s waterways.

Families, community groups, employee groups, service clubs, school clubs, scouts, churches, and individuals can help at over 40 sites across Erie and Niagara Counties. Sites in great need of volunteers include: Scajaquada Creek, Broderick Park, Amherst State Park, Ellicott Creek Park, South Park, Gratwick Park and more. For a complete list of sites, to register, and for more information, please visit, or call Joy Knowlton at 716.852.RIVER ext. 19. Register by Thursday, April 7.

Site Captain registration is also open. Sites that still need captains include Beaver Meadows Audubon Center in Java, Cazenovia Creek Park, Dann Lake Park in East Amherst, Dingens Park and Street, Ellicott Creek at Ellicott Creek Park in Tonawanda, Erie Basin Beach and Marina, Houghton Park, LaSalle Park of Buffalo, North Creek South Creek Park, Ontario Street Boat Launch, Seneca Bluffs, Smokes Creek, South Park and Times Beach.

Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is grateful for the sponsorship of the M & T Charitable Foundation, the Buffalo Sabres Green Team, and our many sponsors of materials and services.

STUDENTS: Power Shift in Washington DC, April 15-18

Power Shift 2011 will be held in Washington DC’s Convention Center — the largest available space in the nation’s capital on April 15-18.

The event is organized by the Energy Action Coalition, a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement. Here is what Power Shift is about:
Power Shift 2011 is our opportunity to come together and define the way forward for our movement. Together we'll celebrate our grassroots success stories, hear from movement leaders, and learn from and train each other to launch new campaigns. We'll take bold action to set the tone in Washington and show them what true leadership looks like. If it's anything like years past, Power Shift 2011 is bound to be historic.
Power Shift 2007 and 2009 were the largest convergences of young environmental and social justice activists in U.S. history. The 2009 event was the largest lobby day ever on Capitol Hill.

Learn More about
Power Shift 2011 here.

To REGISTER, click here (Deadline March 13th)

Additional Web links:

  • An extensive post about University at Buffalo student involvement in Power Shift 2009 is here.
  • Power Shift 2011 FaceBook Page is here.
  • To see earlier posts about Power Shift 2009, click here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Buffalo Niagara GREEN EXPO on April 30th


Saturday, April 30th, 2011 at the Walden Galleria Mall

With great enthusiasm and excitement we announce that the 3rd Annual Buffalo Niagara Green Expo will take place Saturday, April 30th, 2011 at the Walden Galleria from 10am to 6pm.

[Click image to enlarge]

Come to the Buffalo Niagara Green Expo, and learn from over 150 exhibitors and presenters how to GO GREEN in your Home, Body, Garden, Business, Career and Community! Gain invaluable insight into topics such as sustainable energy, weatherization and energy efficiency, green landscaping and gardening, holistic health, eco-friendly cleaning, composting, water purification and so much more!

This event also promotes networking where new business-to-business relationships can develop and companies with employment opportunities can connect with people looking to get into the green job sector. Bring your resume and learn about green careers!

In addition to exhibitors, the Green Expo will feature an eco-art show, an eco-fashion show, electric vehicles, speakers, electronics recycling, and a straw bale house demonstration. Education and fun will come together in the Kids Zone and Teen Zone, where children and young adults can take part in exciting, environmentally-themed activities.

The Buffalo Niagara Green Expo will encourage new green businesses, help people lower their energy bills and carbon footprint, promote sustainable lifestyles, and explore what green jobs can do for WNY. Fun for the whole family!

Please join us on April 30th to experience how Western New York is going GREEN! Tables are going fast and space is limited so make sure to register today and take advantage of our discount for early registration going on until March 1st!

SOLAR LIBERTY and NYSERDA will sponsor the Green Expo! Click here to see a press release announcing the sponsorship.

Exhibitors can register via the BNGE Website, or by contacting Mary Fisher at, 716-833-2929 x117.

For more information, visit the BNGE Website or contact Mary Fisher.

Volunteers can sign up by contacting Frank Barciniak, or Mike Lindaman at

Sustainability Bazaar at UB on April 8

The Sustainability Bazaar will be held on Friday, April 8 at the University at Buffalo. The Bazaar formally begins at 11:00am and ends at 2:00pm, with set up beginning at 10:30am and take-down concluding at 3:00 pm. We will provide tables and any other accommodations you may need, such as electrical outlets.

We encourage you to bring posters, pamphlets, handouts, and any other literature with you. You have the opportunity to meet with students who are interested in your organization as both potential customers and interns or employees. If you would like to sell your products at this event, please let us know. You will need to file a permit to do this. In addition, if you would like to donate products or gift certificates for a raffle or giveaway that day, these donations would be appreciated greatly.

Sustainability Bazaar will be taking place in the Student Union on the North Campus of the University at Buffalo. Parking passes will be provided courtesy of the Student Association. As a reminder, we are asking for a nominal $10 fee to attend this event, with further donations appreciated. Checks should be made out to Student Association with Sustainability Bazaar in the memo line. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

If you wish to participate in this event, we ask that you fill out the information request form and send it to

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to send us an email. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

Environmental Information Fair at Buffalo State College

Buffalo State College and NYPIRG will be hosting the 4th annual Environmental Information Fair on Tuesday, April 19 from 11:30-1:30. This event will serve to create awareness among the campus and surrounding community, and will promote a cleaner Western New York as we inform the community about going green!

We are looking for interested organizations to host tables for this event and provide the community with information about the services that they offer. We are also looking for donations for raffle prizes.

The fair location is outdoors under tents in the Perry Quad on campus – rain or shine.

We will supply tables, covers, chairs, and organization signs. “Hands-on” displays are encouraged.

If interested, or if you have any questions please feel free to contact
Lauren Bostaph at 716-878-6835 or at

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fracking Wastewater is Radioactive and Hazardous

Concerned citizens are calling on Gov. Cuomo to designate as hazardous waste the gas-drilling wastewater from shale fracking. A hazardous waste designation would protect our drinking water from contamination by toxic chemicals and radioactive elements released from shale, and additional toxics added to fracking fluid. To raise awareness, a protest by Frack Action Buffalo and supporters was held on Monday outside the offices of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which is responsible for enforcing environmental laws and regulations in NY.

Fracking wastewater has been disposed at the Buffalo Sewer Authority, which like other treatment facilities is not equipped to remove radioactivity and toxic fracking chemicals. As a result, questionable-quality water was discharged into the Niagara River, posing threats to drinking water, public health and the environment.

The Buffalo Sewer Authority is no longer accepting fracking wastewater as a result of investigative reports, citizen action and a ban of wastewater disposal and transportation in Buffalo approved by the Common Council. However, no other city in NY has such a ban, raising an immediate need to protect our drinking water through means such as a state-wide designation of fracking wastewater as hazardous waste that can not be disposed of by ordinary means.

The presence of high-level radioactivity in fracking wastewater and the lax regulation of wastewater disposal were highlighted recently in a comprehensive exposé published in the New York Times. Based on investigation of thousands of internal documents obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state regulators and gas drillers, the Times concluded that "the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood."

Radioactivity in fracking wastewater was found to be at levels higher than ever known, and unsafe for sewage treatment plants to process. Previously unreported studies by both the EPA and the drilling industry concluded that radioactivity in the wastewater can not be fully diluted in waterways. Furthermore, sewage treatment plants that accept drilling water are allowed by regulators not to test for radioactivity, as are the plants downstream that intake water for drinking.

If radioactivity is not tested, how can government regulators and the gas industry ensure that the drinking water is safe? The bottom line is that they can't.
To take action to protect your drinking water, urge NY Gov. Cuomo to designate fracking wastewater as hazardous waste. You can endorse a petition here.
PHOTOS: Fracking Wastewater Protest in Buffalo at the DEC

Buffalo News Article: Hydrofracking demonstrators call for Cuomo, DEC to act

UPDATE, March 9, 2011:
WBFO NEWS report: Frack Action calls for hazardous classification of hydrofracking waste

[Photo by Morgan Jamie Dunbar; click to enlarge]