Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Families sick from fracking exposure turn to concerned scientists | The Inquirer

Like people in other regions transformed by the shale energy boom, residents of Washington County, Pennsylvania have complained of headaches, nosebleeds and skin rashes. But because there are no comprehensive studies about the health impacts of natural gas drilling, it's hard to determine if their problems are linked to the gas wells and other production facilities that have sprung up around them.

A group of scientists from Pennsylvania and neighboring states have stepped in to fill this gap by forming a nonprofit—apparently the first of its kind in the United States—that provides free health consultations to local families near drilling sites. Instead of waiting years or even decades for long-term studies to emerge, the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project (SWPA-EHP) is using the best available science to help people deal with their ailments.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection—which oversees the oil and gas industry—has no ongoing or planned health studies, though it is researching air and water quality at certain sites. None of the hundreds of millions of dollars in impact fees the state has collected from the industry since 2011 has gone to state or local health departments.

A governor-appointed commission recommended in 2011 that a health registry be created to track Pennsylvanians living near drilling sites. But no registry has been established. In June, the news organization StateImpact Pennsylvania reported that two former employees of the health department were told to avoid talking about Marcellus shale activity, and to stop returning phone calls from people concerned about drilling impacts.

Read the full report here.

Major Scientific Document Shows Why New York Fracking Moratorium Is Imperative | EcoWatch

Many New Yorkers continue to rally and push for a statewide fracking moratorium. In this vein, Concerned Health Professionals of New York (CHPNY) released a major resource to the public, including public officials, researchers and journalists—the Compendium of Scientific, Medical and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking.

“This compilation of findings brings together data from many fields of study and reveals the diversity of the problems with fracking—from increased flood risks to increased crime risks, from earthquakes to methane leaks,” said Sandra Steingraber, PhD. “What this multitude of threats all has in common is the ability to harm public health. That’s our message to Governor Cuomo and Acting Health Commissioner Zucker.”

As mounting evidence continues to find more costs than benefits to fracking, the compendium explains the motivation for compiling and making public the scientific, medical and media findings:
Despite this emerging body of knowledge, industry secrecy and government inaction continue to thwart scientific inquiry, leaving many potential problems—especially cumulative, long-term risks—unidentified, unmonitored and largely unexplored.

This problem is compounded by non-disclosure agreements, sealed court records and legal settlements that prevent families (and their doctors) from discussing injuries. As a result, no comprehensive inventory of human hazards yet exists.

The compendium covers in detail 15 dangers, risks and associated trends created by the fracking process.

In light of these findings, referenced with more than 300 citations, and remaining fundamental data gaps, CHPNY considers a fracking moratorium “the only appropriate and ethical course of action while scientific and medical knowledge on the impacts of fracking continues to emerge.”

The full report is here.

The compendium of dangers is current through June 30, 2014  and is available to download here.

EPA Draft Fracking Wastewater Guidance Suggests Closer Scrutiny for Treatment Plants | DeSmog

One of the most intractable problems related to fracking is that each well drilled creates millions of gallons of radioactive and toxic wastewater.

For the past several years, the Environmental Protection Agency has faced enormous public pressure to ensure this dangerous waste stops ending up dumped in rivers or causing contamination in other ways.

But the drilling boom has proceeded at such an accelerated pace in the United States that regulators have struggled to keep up, to control or even track where the oil and gas industry is disposing of this radioactive waste. As a consequence, hundreds of millions of gallons of partially treated waste have ended up in the rivers from which millions of Americans get their drinking water.

An internal draft EPA document leaked to DeSmog gives a small window into how, after a full decade since the start of the drilling boom, the agency is responding.

The document, dated March 7, 2014, is titled “National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permitting and Pretreatment for Shale Gas Extraction Wastewaters: Frequently Asked Questions.”
It's revealing for what it shows about how EPA staff are taking the hazards of fracking wastewater more seriously — and also how little things have changed.

The document, intended as a guide for local regulators on how the Clean Water Act should be interpreted and applied, is impressive in many ways.

The EPA's new draft document now lists almost two dozen individual substances — like benzene, radium, and arsenic — that it says have been found at high enough levels in shale wastewater to cause concern. By contrast, the 2011 version focused mostly on the high levels of salts found in the waste.

The new document also explains that the substances it lists are not the only potential pollutants that must be removed before water can be considered fully treated and ready to enter rivers and streams. It explains that each treatment plant can only take wastewater once regulators are satisfied that they know what is actually in it.

Read the full report here.

Download the draft EPA document here.

GAO Report: Drinking Water at Risk from Underground Fracking Waste Injection | EcoWatch 

According to U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), this study was conducted because:

Every day in the U.S. at least 2 billion gallons of fluids are injected into more than 172,000 wells to enhance oil and gas production, or to dispose of fluids brought to the surface during the extraction of oil and gas resources. These wells are subject to regulation to protect drinking water sources under EPA’s UIC class II program and approved state class II programs. Because much of the population relies on underground sources for drinking water, these wells have raised concerns about the safety of the nation’s drinking water.

“The federal government’s watchdog (GAO) is saying what communities across the country have known for years: fracking is putting Americans at risk,” said Amy Mall, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council. ”From drinking water contamination to man-made earthquakes, the reckless way oil and gas companies deal with their waste is a big problem. Outdated rules and insufficient enforcement are largely to blame. EPA needs to rein in this industry run amok.”

Read the full report here.

Fracking’s methane problem: Study finds new, unconventional wells leak more than old ones | Salon

Controversial new research identifies defects in Pennsylvania's gas wells

Fracking in Pennsylvania’s natural gas-rich Marcellus shale has a major methane problem, a new study finds. Analyzing the data from more than 75,000 state inspections going back to 2000, a team of four researchers concluded that gas wells are leaking the chemical, a potent greenhouse gas with a long-term effect on global warming greater even than CO2′s, at an alarming rate.

The research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was led by Cornell University’s Anthony Ingraffea, a vocal opponent of fracking. The leaks, according to the study, might be due to problems in the wells’ cement casings. Basically, explained Ingraffea, “Something is coming out of it that shouldn’t, in a place that it shouldn’t.”

The crux of his findings, via the Associated Press:
  • Overall, older wells — those drilled before 2009 — had a leak rate of about 1 percent. Most were traditional wells, drilling straight down. Unconventional wells — those drilled horizontally and commonly referred to as fracking — didn’t come on the scene until 2006 and quickly took over.
  • Newer traditional wells drilled after 2009 had a leak rate of about 2 percent; the rate for unconventional wells was about 6 percent, the study found.
  • The leak rate reached as high as nearly 10 percent horizontally drilled wells for before and after 2009 in the northeastern part of the state, where drilling is hot and heavy.
The full report is here.

The significance, abstract and link to the paper by Ingraffea et al. published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is here.

Cost of Inaction on Climate Change

Robert Rubin: How ignoring climate change could sink the U.S. economy

By Robert E. Rubin - Council on Foreign Relations co-chair, Treasury secretary from 1995 to 1999.

When it comes to the economy, much of the debate about climate change — and reducing the greenhouse gas emissions that are fueling it — is framed as a trade-off between environmental protection and economic prosperity. Many people argue that moving away from fossil fuels and reducing carbon emissions will impede economic growth, hurt business and hamper job creation.

But from an economic perspective, that’s precisely the wrong way to look at it. The real question should be: What is the cost of inaction? In my view — and in the view of a growing group of business people, economists, and other financial and market experts — the cost of inaction over the long term is far greater than the cost of action.

Read more at The Washington Post.

The Coming Climate Crash

Lessons for Climate Change in the 2008 Recession

By HENRY M. PAULSON Jr. - Chairman of the Paulson Institute at the University of Chicago and served as secretary of the Treasury from July 2006 to January 2009.

There is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage.

For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nation’s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do.
We’re making the same mistake today with climate change. We’re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.

This is a crisis we can’t afford to ignore. I feel as if I’m watching as we fly in slow motion on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming, and yet we’re sitting on our hands rather than altering course.

We need to act now, even though there is much disagreement, including from members of my own Republican Party, on how to address this issue while remaining economically competitive. They’re right to consider the economic implications. But we must not lose sight of the profound economic risks of doing nothing.

The solution can be a fundamentally conservative one that will empower the marketplace to find the most efficient response. We can do this by putting a price on emissions of carbon dioxide — a carbon tax. Few in the United States now pay to emit this potent greenhouse gas into the atmosphere we all share. Putting a price on emissions will create incentives to develop new, cleaner energy technologies.

Read more at The New York Times.

Money men tally cost of climate change

NEW YORK (AP) — Climate change is likely to exact enormous costs on U.S. regional economies in the form of lost property, reduced industrial output and more deaths, according to a report backed by a trio of men with vast business experience.

The report, released Tuesday, is designed to convince businesses to factor in the cost of climate change in their long-term decisions and to push for reductions in emissions blamed for heating the planet.

It was commissioned by the Risky Business Project, which describes itself as nonpartisan and is chaired by former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Thomas F. Steyer, a former hedge fund manager.

"If we act immediately, we can still avoid most of the worst impacts of climate change and significantly reduce the odds of catastrophic outcomes," Paulson said.

Among the predictions: Between $66 billion and $106 billion in coastal property will likely be below sea level by 2050, labor productivity of outdoor workers could be reduced by 3 percent because extremely hot days will be far more frequent, and demand for electricity to power air conditioners will require the construction of more power plants that will cost electricity customers up to $12 billion per year.

"Every year that goes by without a comprehensive public and private sector response to climate change is a year that locks in future climate events that will have a far more devastating effect on our local, regional, and national economies," warn the report's authors.

The analysis and calculations in the report were performed by the Rhodium Group, an economic research firm, and Risk Management Solutions, a catastrophe-modeling company that works for insurance companies and other businesses. It was paid for by the philanthropic foundations of Bloomberg, Paulson and Steyer, among others.

The report analyzes the impacts of climate change by region to better show how climate change affects the businesses and industries that drive each region's economy.

— The Northeast will likely be most affected by sea level rise, which will cost an additional $6 billion to $9 billion in property loss each year.

— The Southeast will likely be affected both by sea-level rise and extreme temperatures. The region, which has averaged eight days of temperatures over 95 degrees each year, will likely see an additional 17 to 52 of these days by midcentury and up to four months of them by the end of the century. This could lead to 11,000 to 36,000 additional deaths per year.

— Higher temperatures will reduce Midwest crop yields by 19 percent by midcentury and by 63 percent by the end of the century.

— The Southwest will see an extra month of temperatures above 95 degrees by 2050, which will lead to more frequent droughts and wildfires.

The report does not calculate the cost of these droughts or wildfires, or many other possible costs such as the loss of unique ecosystems and species and the possible compounding effects of extreme weather conditions. Nor does it calculate some of the ways economies could adapt to the changing climate and reduce the costs of climate change.

Beyond the three co-chairs, the members of the group's risk committee include Former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, former Cargill CEO Gregory Page, and George Shultz, former treasury secretary and secretary of state.

"These are people who have managed risk all their lives and have made an enormous amount of money doing so," Yohe said.

Read the AP Report at The Buffalo News

Risky Business Report: The U.S. economy faces significant risks from unmitigated climate change. The Risky Business report presents a new approach to understanding these risks for key U.S. business sectors, and provides business leaders with a framework for measuring and mitigating their own exposure to climate risk. Explore the report here:

Inaction on Climate Change: The Cost to Taxpayers

When we examine the full costs of public programs that pay for disaster relief and recovery from extreme weather events—ad hoc disaster assistance appropriations, flood insurance, crop insurance, wildfire protection, and state run “residual market” insurance programs—we can begin to understand the price to U.S. taxpayers of inaction on climate change.

As the frequency and severity of extreme weather events intensify with the effects of climate change, our federal and state disaster relief and insurance programs will become increasingly unsustainable as losses from such events increase. The net present value of the federal government’s liability for unfunded disaster assistance over the next 75 years could be greater than the net present value of the unfunded liability for the Social Security program.

Boosting our resiliency to today’s extreme weather events is an urgent priority. Investing concurrently in forward-looking measures that over time will reduce the climate-altering carbon emissions contributing to extreme weather is essential to our long-term physical and economic well-being.

Download the Ceres report here.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Summer Film Series: Combating Climate Change

Want a way to stay involved with the Clean Air Coalition?

Want to learn more about Climate Change?

Do you just like Watching Movies?

If your answer to any of the questions is Yes,  
we have something for you!

This August, Clean Air Coalition is hosting a Combating Climate Change Film Series. We will be screening three films about climate change and its interactions with people that are fun, informative, and help explain why the work we all do for the environment is so important.

The series starts on August 5th with a screening of The 11th Hour, a film that examines the threat of climate change on human life and poses the question: Will the world's population employ break-through technologies and change our behavior to save our species?

Then join us on August 12th for The Island President to see how climate change is threatening the lives of people in the Maldives and how one man is working to stop it before it's too late.

Finally on August 19th, come watch a film that is less science and more politics. Everything's Cool is a documentary that studies the politics behind keeping climate change out of the mainstream and the struggle to make everyone recognize its urgency. By the end we should all be inspired to work towards marshaling the public and political will necessary to save our species and our planet.

These films are sure to inform and entertain and all are welcome. We hope to see you all there!
  • Where: Brighton Place Library, 999 Brighton Road, Tonawanda [Map]
  • When: TUESDAYS, August 5th, 12th, and 19th at 6pm
For a flyer describing the film series, Click Here.
For more information call (716) 852-3813 or contact us at

Sunday, July 13, 2014

REPORT: Catching the Wind -- State Actions Needed to Seize the Golden Opportunity of Atlantic Offshore Wind Power

State Action Needed to Accelerate Wind Power, Benefit Ratepayers, Create Jobs, Cut Pollution. 
By Environment America .

The Atlantic coastline is at the epicenter of America’s energy and environmental challenges, with state leaders currently facing critical decisions to meet the region’s growing energy demands and protect our communities and wildlife from the impacts of climate change. The cities, metropolitan areas, and sprawling suburbs that stretch along the East Coast have a massive, pollution-free energy source ready to meet these challenges –– offshore wind.

Responsibly developed offshore wind power offers a golden opportunity to meet our coastal energy needs with a clean, local resource that will spur investments in local economies –– creating unparalleled job growth and avoiding the need to export hard-earned energy dollars outside the region.

For over twenty years, Europe has been reaping these benefits of offshore wind power –– including over 58,000 jobs –– and countries around the globe are rapidly mobilizing to tap their offshore wind resources using today’s commercially available, advanced technologies.

Thanks to the leadership of the federal government, forward-thinking state leaders, resolute wind industry pioneers, and engaged stakeholders, this immense clean energy resource is finally within reach.

This report documents the unique benefits of Atlantic offshore wind power and highlights key progress made to date, while identifying the critical actions state leaders must take to build on this foundation and finally bring this game-changing clean energy solution online. The report was authored by the National Wildlife Federation with input from Environment America and many other partners.

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Invitation: People's Climate March in New York City

By PeoplesClimateMarch Org .

This is an invitation to change everything.

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. The UN Secretary­ General is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history.

We'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

To change everything, we need everyone on board.

Sunday, September 21 in New York City. Join us.

Already over 300 different groups representing youth, parents, faith communities, labor unions, and more have signed on in support of the march. 

Buffalo Area Residents & Students: Sierra Club Niagara Group and local allied groups are organizing Buses to NYC and offering Scholarship Tickets to students and qualified participants.

To show your support and get in line for the Buffalo Bus to NYC, 

Questions? Email sierraclub.climatemarch @  
Watch this Video!

 Mass Mobilization of PEOPLE is a way to shock the system into ACTION. 


For more information visit

Sierra Club Opposes Expansion of Hazardous Waste Facility in Niagara County

Sierra Club Niagara Group is opposed to the expansion of Chemical Waste Management (CWM) Hazardous Waste Site in the towns of Lewiston and Porter in Niagara County.

The commercial facility located on a 710 acre site, treats, stores and disposes of hazardous waste and industrial non-hazardous waste.  For nearly 40 years, the residents of Niagara County and the nearby Great Lakes have been unduly burdened with the only hazardous waste landfill capacity in the state.

Help Stop the Expansion: No more hazardous waste should be brought into our community!

Attend the Public Hearings:
Wednesday, July 16 at 1:00 pm and at 6:30 pm in the auditorium of the Lewiston-Porter High School at 4061 Creek Road (Route 18) Youngstown, NY [Map]

Send Comments:  Written comments can be sent at any time from now until September 5. For information on where to send comments, visit the Sierra Club Niagara Group website.

Recent News Reports:
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Web Chat: Organizing for the Climate March in New York City

WHAT: WEB CHAT - Organizing ahead of the People’s Climate March in New York City

WHEN: Tuesday, July 8th, 8:30pm

WHERE: Online! We'll send you a link after you RSVP.

Click here to RSVP for the People’s Climate March web chat.

Can’t make the web chat but still want to help lead local efforts around the march? Click here and we’ll get in touch with you.

This web chat will cover the basics of how communities are organizing ahead of the march and outline some of the resources we have to help you take the first steps to get involved.

Already, we’re seeing individuals organize their own communities. Artists are making beautiful art and organizing art convergences. Parents are organizing other parents through PTAs and summer camps. Students are organizing other students to come out. It’s all about thinking about what communities you’re part of and digging in.

Sign up for the web chat or sign up to be a local leader, and find out how you can plug in to make September 21st a historic day.

Here’s to making history,
Anna 350 and the PCM team

Friday, July 4, 2014


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

- Declaration of Independence, 1776