Thursday, December 20, 2012

Should U.S. Expand Fracking to Export Shale Gas?

Critics cite need for information on impacts of expanded shale gas production on human health, communities, environment and domestic prices.   

Doctors Urge U.S. to Block Gas Export Terminals
By Jon Hurdle

More than 100 physicians urged the Obama administration on Thursday not to approve the construction of liquefied natural gas [LNG] export terminals until more is known about the health effects of hydraulic fracturing, the drilling process that has opened the way for a big increase in domestic gas production.

Until policymakers and public health officials determine whether fracking is dangerous to human health, they argue, the government should not allow the development of the 15 new export terminals that have been proposed by the gas industry. The government has so far approved one export terminal, proposed by Cheniere Energy, in Louisiana.

The demand for exports has risen from a recent boom in domestic production resulting from the use of fracking in combination with horizontal drilling, which has allowed the industry to exploit vast shale gas reserves at an affordable cost. Energy companies are also lured by sharply higher natural gas prices overseas.

Link to the full article at the New York Times Green Blog.

Why Policymakers and the Public Need Fair Disclosure Before Exports of Fracked Gas Start
By Craig Segall, Staff Attorney, Sierra Club Environmental Law Program.

Exporting American Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG] to the world market would spur unconventional natural gas production across the country, increasing pollution and disrupting landscapes and communities. Deciding whether to move forward is among the most pressing environmental and energy policy decisions facing the nation. Yet, as the Department of Energy (DOE) considers whether to greenlight gas exports of as much as 45% of current U.S. gas production — more gas than the entire domestic power industry burns in a year — it has refused to disclose, or even acknowledge, the environmental consequences of its decisions.

Gas exports would transform the energy landscape and communities across the country. We owe ourselves an open national conversation to test whether they are in the public interest. We need to look before we leap.

Download the Sierra Club report here (44 page PDF).

Impacts of Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Drilling

Organizations Petition EPA to Protect Public Health from Oil and Gas Emissions Contributing to Harmful Ozone Pollution

Ground-level ozone or "smog" contributes to serious adverse health impacts, including decreased lung function and premature mortality, and it damages foliage.  Children, the elderly, Americans with existing lung and heart disease, and those active outside are especially vulnerable.

On December 19, 2012, a broad coalition of environmental, conservation and children’s health groups petitioned the EPA to take two actions that will provide important public health protections for communities impacted by oil and gas emissions that contribute to harmful ozone pollution:

  • First, we respectfully urge EPA to require broad deployment of ozone air quality monitors in oil and natural gas development areas. Requiring the necessary air monitors will ensure that Americans have clear, transparent information about whether the air in their communities meets the nation's health-based air quality standards for ground-level ozone or "smog" pollution as oil and natural gas operations in their communities expands briskly.
  • Second, we respectfully ask that EPA provide communities with tools to help reduce smog-forming pollution from oil and gas development by issuing control technology guidelines (“CTGs”) for oil and gas equipment. These clean air measures can be some of the single most cost-effective methods for reducing smog-forming pollution in areas that violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone as well as those areas seeking to attain and maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Ozone Advance Program.

RED, Active Rigs (Sept. 2012); BLUE, Ozone Monitors; SHADED, Population Density.
The Press Release is here.  The Petition is here [PDF, 34 pages].

Energy experts say drilling can be made cleaner
Scientists are concerned about effects of emissions on climate change and health impacts of breathing smog, soot and other pollutants.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. About 800 miles away on the plains of north Texas, there's a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it's dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe.

The answer appears to be that drilling can be safe or it can be dangerous. Industry practices, enforcement, geography and even snow cover can minimize or magnify air pollution problems.

Some environmentalists say if leaks and pollution can be minimized, the boom has benefits, since gas burns much cleaner than coal, emitting half the carbon dioxide.

Al Gore told The Associated Press that it's "not irresponsible" to look at gas as a short-term substitute for coal-fired electricity. But Gore added that the main component of gas, methane, is a more potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas than CO2. That means that if large quantities leak, the advantage over coal disappears, the former vice president said.

Prasad Kasibhatla, a professor of environmental chemistry at Duke University, said that controlling gas drilling pollution is "technically solvable" but requires close attention by regulators.

"One has to demonstrate that it is solved, and monitored," he said.

Link to the full report is here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Public Comment Period on Hydrofracking Regulations

NY Governor Cuomo and his Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Proposed Regulations for public review on December 12, 2012. Comments must be submitted by January 11, 2013.

Those concerned about shale-gas extraction by high-volume hydraulic fracturing in NY State need to get busy and submit comments on the proposed regs over the already busy holiday period.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the governor and the DEC!

To clarify what's going on, DEC's Proposed Regulations for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing are separate and distinct from the SGEIS Permit Guideline Proceedings that have already reviewed by the public and received over 80,000 comments in January, 2012.  The Proposed Regulations are also separate from the ongoing Health Impact Assessment, which really should have been completed first and used to inform the Proposed Regulations.

It's a busy time of the year! January 11th will be here in a flash. What's a concerned citizen to do? Here are a couple of suggestions to help you:

  1. Visit the website 30 Days of Fracking Regs. There you'll find a list of dates from December 12 to January 10, each of which is linked to a specific regulation. Click on a highlighted date, and the regulation will be revealed (in red). Below it (in green) is an explanation of the regulation along with some aspects that you might like to comment on. Scroll down to "Submit Comment on this Regulation Below!" and follow the simple instructions to enter and submit your comments. 
  2. Attend a comment party! Join the good folks at WNY Drilling Defense for a "Lots of Fracking Comments" Party! Pizza will be served too. Write your comments with the help of others present at the Party on Friday, December 21, 2012 at 7 pm at the Network of Religious Communities, 1272 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Visit Lots of Fracking Comments Party for more information.
Whether you follow suggestion 1., suggestion 2. or both, Comment Early, and Comment Often! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

TAKE ACTION: Stand Up for Clean, Renewable, Wind Power

December 13, 2012
The renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) – the business incentive that has reinvigorated American manufacturing, diversified our electricity portfolio, driven down electricity costs for consumers, and stimulated much-needed rural economic development – is set to expire in just 18 days. Congress has yet to come to an agreement on legislation to extend this provision, nor to address the broader fiscal cliff issues that are up for debate.

Legislators are expected to adjourn this session of Congress at the end of next week.  They have not yet publicly announced any agreement on a legislative package.

Please take a few minutes to call your legislators today.

It’s very simple – just follow these steps:

1-888-496-5061 or click here to be connected.  You will be connected to the Senator’s office whose zip code corresponds to your phone’s area code.  Please redial to be connected to your second Senator’s office.

Relay this message:
“I urge the legislator to work with colleagues to pass a fiscal cliff bill that includes an extension of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) before adjourning.”

After you speak to your Senators’ offices, please dial
1-866-899-9078 (or click here) to be connected to your Representative.  Please relay that same message to your Representative’s office.

Thank you very much for taking action at this key time.  We will keep you up to speed on any developments that we hear about in DC.


Peter Kelley
Vice President, Public Affairs
American Wind Energy Association

P.S. If you can’t make calls today, please be sure to take a moment to email your legislators instead.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Buffalo Premier of "Dear Governor Cuomo" with Filmmaker

A Documentary Film on the 
Anti-Fracking Movement in New York State

  • WHAT: "Dear Governor Cuomo..." film and Q&A session with filmmaker Jon Bowermaster and expert panelists.
  • WHEN: Friday, December 14, at 6:30 PM
  • WHERE: Daemen College, Rm.107, Schenck Science Building, 4380 Main St., Amherst [Campus Map]
FREE ~ Please invite your friends
Join us for the Buffalo premier of “Dear Governor Cuomo…”  
The film documents the diverse coalition of New York citizens, scientists and musicians fighting for a state ban of fracking to protect our water, air and land. The film highlights advocacy actions at the State Capitol and an accompanying concert by prominent artists to demonstrate their concern for our environment. 

If you're new to the topic of fracking, the film also works as a great introduction.

The film was written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Jon Bowermaster, who will be present at the screening. It includes footage directed by Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney, and features biologist Sandra Steingraber, actor Mark Ruffalo, actress Melissa Leo, and musicians Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Citizen Cope, Medeski Martin and Wood and The Felice Brothers.

Film trailer:

Download Posters: An 8x11 here and an 11x17 here.

Sponsors: Food & Water Watch, Daemen's Local & Global Sustainability program, and WNY Drilling Defense.

VICTORY PARTY: UB Closed Unscholarly Shale Institute

When: Friday, December 7, 5pm - 8:30pmTo be Rescheduled for a later date.

Where: Sportsmen's Tavern, 326 Amherst St., Buffalo [MAP]

What: Party with music by Five to One ($5 cover and Sandy relief donation at the door). Dancing, beer, fun, fellowship and awards.

All are Welcome - Invite your Friends

CWA Healthcare Coordinating Council Presents a Victory Salute to UB CLEAR and Friends (below) for helping UB shut down the unscholarly Shale Institute. Award Certificates will be presented at 6:30pm to:
  • Jim Holstun - Chair, UB CLEAR (Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research)
  • David Kowalski – Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo Blog; UB CLEAR
  • Buck Quigley – Associate Editor, ArtVoice
  • Kevin Connor Director, Public Accountability Initiative

We’ll also be passing the hat for  
Occupy Sandy’s relief efforts

Printable Flier: Click Here

Adam Zyglis - The Buffalo News

Goodbye to industry-promoted studies masquerading as objective, scholarly research at UB!

Join us to celebrate the safeguarding of research integrity at our public university.

Facebook page is here. Invite friends!