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Top climate scientists call for fracking ban in letter to Gov. Jerry Brown

By Paul Rogers


Posted: 11/12/2013 04:07:39 PM PST | Updated: 22 days ago

"Twenty of the nation's top climate scientists have sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, telling him that his plans supporting increased use of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," will increase pollution and run counter to his efforts to cut California's global warming emissions.

The letter is the latest example of the increased pressure that environmentalists and others concerned about climate change have been putting on Brown in recent months. Their argument: The governor can't say he wants to reduce global warming while expanding fossil fuel development in California.

Large hoses go from one hydraulic fracturing drill site to another as horses graze in the field Sept. 24, 2013, in Midland, Texas. (AP
Photo/Pat Sullivan) ( Pat Sullivan )

"If what we're trying to do is stop using the sky as a waste dump for our carbon pollution, and if we're trying to transform our energy system, the way to do that is not by expanding our fossil fuel infrastructure," said Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University.

Caldeira signed the letter along with other prominent climate scientists, including James Hansen, the former head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Richard Houghton, acting president of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts; and physicist Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State University.

The letter called for Brown to place a moratorium on fracking, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done.

"Shale gas and tight oil development is likely to worsen climate disruption, which would harm California's efforts to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," it notes.

Last month, in response to a question from this newspaper, Brown said: "As you know, I signed legislation that will create the most comprehensive environmental analysis of fracking to date. It will take a year, year and a half, maybe a little longer. And I hope that all the people, critics and supporters alike, will participate and offer their best thoughts."

On Tuesday, the Brown Administration responded to the scientists' letter in a statement:

"As the scientists note, California has among the strongest set of policies to combat climate change in the nation. These efforts are driven by sound science and so too will the new hydraulic fracturing regulations. ... We look forward to continuing to work with the scientific community."

The oil industry criticized the scientists' letter. ... "

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Doctor Loses Case Against Fracking Gag Order
The ruling keeps Alfonso Rodriguez from learning how fracking fluid makes his patients sick.

In this Nov. 26, 2012 photo, Steve Lipsky demonstrates how his well water ignites when he puts a flame to the flowing well spigot outside his family’s home in rural Parker County near Weatherford, Texas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had evidence a gas company’s drilling operation contaminated Lipsky’s drinking water with explosive methane, and possibly cancer-causing chemicals. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A Pennsylvania doctor’s challenge to a medical “gag order” keeping secret the content of fracking fluid has been dismissed in U.S. District Court.

The case stems from a 2012 law passed in Pennsylvania that allows doctors to access information related to “trade secret” chemicals used in the fracking process, so long as the information pertains to a patient’s medical condition.

In Pennsylvania, companies operating fracking wells, which inject a combination of water, chemicals and silica sand into the earth to access natural gas, are not required to release information on “trade secret” chemicals. The law was intended to provide physicians with that information, yet they were sworn to not disclose it to anyone — patients and colleagues included.

That’s where Dr. Alfonso Rodriguez took issue. A nephrologist, Rodriguez treats patients with renal disease, hypertension and diabetes — and he’s no stranger to the side effects of fracking. Rodriguez has treated several patients exposed to fracking fluid that escaped due to well malfunctions, according to Courthouse News, a legal news service. He claims the law is a violation of his First and 14th Amendment rights.

In the complaint, Rodriguez describes treating fracking-exposed patients, “including a patient … with a complicated diagnosis with low platelets, anemia, rash and acute renal failure that required extensive hemodialysis and exposure to chemotherapeutic agents.”

Yet because Rodriguez did not attempt to gain knowledge of the trade secret chemicals, U.S. District Court Judge A. Richard Caputo dismissed the case. In his ruling, Caputo said:

“Although plaintiff alleges that he requires the kind of information contemplated under the act for the treatment of his patients, he does not allege that he has been in a situation where he needed or attempted to obtain such information, despite the fact that he alleges that he has treated patients injured by hydraulic fracturing fluid in the past … Similarly, plaintiff does not allege that he has been in a position where he was required to agree to any sort of confidentiality agreement under the act.”

The judge also claimed that because Rodriguez had treated patients exposed to fracking fluid without obtaining the information, he failed to prove that he required the trade secret information to carry out treatment.

Rodriguez was backed by the Physicians, Scientists and Engineers for Healthy Energy and the Physicians for Social Responsibility, which filed a brief in support of his case. For Rodriguez and those involved in the organization, the act of keeping secrets from a patient was the reason for concern.

Obtaining the “trade secret” information from the oil and gas industry would put doctors in a tough spot — on one hand they’re able to gain a better understanding of what they’re dealing with. Yet on the other, they are not able to tell even their patients or fellow doctors. Rodriguez also argued that complying with the gag order would be a violation of medical ethics.

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Two children given lifetime gag order on fracking impacts

Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian

August 13, 2013

Two young children in Pennsylvania were banned from talking about fracking for the rest of their lives under a gag order imposed under a settlement reached by their parents with a leading oil and gas company.

The sweeping gag order was imposed under a $750,000 settlement between the Hallowich family and Range Resources Corp, a leading oil and gas driller. It provoked outrage on Monday among environmental campaigners and free speech advocates.

The settlement, reached in 2011 but unsealed only last week, barred the Hallowichs' son and daughter, who were then aged 10 and seven, from ever discussing fracking or the Marcellus Shale, a leading producer in America's shale gas boom. ...

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The Guardian remains one of western newspapers that reports regularly on fracking...

The high cost to Africa of America's cheap gas - video

While South Africa hotly debates gas extraction in the Karoo desert, Botswana has quietly opened up vast areas, including delicate ecosystems, to unchecked development. This clip from new documentary The High Cost of Cheap Gas looks at the latest science from the gas fields of America to the heart of the Kalahari desert. The film uncovers what America's export of fracking and natural gas technology means to Africa and the rest of the world

• Find out more about The High Cost of Cheap Gas on the film's website

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RT :

Deep divisions over TPP as US pressures to close controversial deal – WikiLeaksPublished time: December 09, 2013 08:44
Edited time: December 09, 2013 11:11


Human rights, Politics, USA, WikiLeaks

The US is ramping up pressure to secure a Trans-Pacific Trade Deal with conditions that could undermine the national interests of nations involved. WikiLeaks documents say talks are “paralyzed,” with the US refusing to compromise on disputed issues.

Anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks has released two documents revealing the state of negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The deal in question includes 12 countries – the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand and Brunei – which represent more than 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product.

The 12 nations are in Singapore this week to discuss the trade agreement. Following a closed-door meeting in Singapore, Japan's trade minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told press he would like “the United States to show flexibility.”

"I've already mentioned the parts we can't budge on, so the issue is what both sides can do based on that,” Nishimura said.

Details of the deal had been hidden from the public eye until last month when WikiLeaks divulged a trove of information describing the ins and outs of the agreement. Washington has been criticized for not revealing the details of the agreement.

WikiLeaks’ files show that there is significant disagreement over 119 outstanding issues, with the US refusing to compromise on a number of contentious issues. It is not clear from which of the 12 countries participating in the talks the leaks came.

“The US is exerting great pressure to close as many issues as possible this week,” reads one of the documents. “One country remarked that up until now there had been no perceivable, substantial movement on the part of the US, and that is the reason for this situation.”

The Obama administration has called on all parties involved in the deal to reach an agreement before the end of the year. However, disputes over key issues may lead to “a partial closure scenario or even a failure in December.”

The deal has been hailed by Washington as a “number one priority” that will boost the economies of all the participating countries. But some of the conditions have sparked criticism that the nations involved in the deal may see their interests undermined.

Among the issues blocking the agreement stipulates new powers for multinationals that would allow them to challenge country laws in privately run international courts. Washington has endorsed such powers in previous trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but conditions in the TPP could grant multinational more powers to challenge a wider range of laws. Under NAFTA several companies including Dow Chemicals and Exxon Mobil have sought to overrule regulations on fracking, oil drilling and drug patents.

“The United States, as in previous rounds, has shown no flexibility on its proposal, being one of the most significant barriers to closing the chapter,” said a memo from one of the participating countries obtained by the Huffington Post.

Furthermore, among the rumored conditions in the treaty are new standards that would grant pharmaceutical companies new intellectual property rights. The regulations would extend patents, giving companies monopolies on new medications and potentially pushing up prices in the developing countries participating in the deal.

“If instituted, the TPP’s IP regime would trample over individual rights and free expression, as well as ride roughshod over the intellectual and creative commons,” said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a November statement. “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or might one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.”

Rights groups have also voiced their opposition to the treaty and slammed reforms that they say would limit freedoms on the web. Organization Open Media have launched a petition against the TPP’s “extreme online censorship” and have already collected over 100,000 signatures.

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WWT concerned at fracking proposals

Posted on 27 August 2013 by WWT

Proposed site: View of the Loughor Estuary from WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre

WWT is raising concerns about the effect ‘fracking’ could have on wetlands in the UK.

Induced Hydraulic Fracturing, or fracking, involves fracturing of rock using pressurised liquid to release gas for energy use.

Two of WWT’s wetland centres are in areas where applications relating to potential fracking have been submitted by commercial operators to local authorities. WWT Martin Mere Wetland Centre is in an area where there are proposals for fracking underground, while WWT Llanelli Wetland Centre sits on the River Loughor where a similar technique is proposed underneath the estuary.

A third wetland centre, WWT Arundel Wetland Centre, borders another potential licensing area.

WWT will provide its own responses to individual application consultations on a case by case basis. But we have wider concerns for wetlands due to the lack of clarity around what safeguards for the environment will be in place in the UK.

WWT Head of Conservation Policy, Carrie Hume said:

“We’re concerned the chemicals used in fracking could pollute water and damage wetland habitats. Wetlands help to supply our drinking water as well as being home to more species of wildlife than any other habitat in the UK.

“Wetlands could also suffer water loss due to the high volume of high pressure water needed to fragment rock – one fragmentation can use more water than 1,000 people use in a year.

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Fault Lines

Elsipogtog: The Fire Over Water

We go to Mi'kmaq territory in New Brunswick, Canada, to find out what happens when a First Nation says no to fracking.

Fault Lines Last updated: 06 Dec 2013 16:30

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Did Dallas Just Ban Fracking?

By Andrew Breinerbird_blue_16.png on December 12, 2013 at 11:46 am



The Dallas City Council voted Wednesday to require any gas wells to be placed at least 1,500 feet from homes, a move that the gas industry says might as well be a ban on drilling. Combined with the fact that the council would still have to approve any permit for a drilling site, factoring in neighborhood impact, fracking opponents are calling the ordinance a victory as well. A two-thirds council vote would be needed to alter the setback requirement in particular cases.

Fossil fuel companies have been trying drill on land leased in Dallas since 2007. The city sits on the eastern edge of the Barnett shale, which is less productive than the rest of the highly-lucrative western portion. But Dallas has yet to approve a drilling permit in town, and the new setback requirement is likely to make new wells even less likely.

The fossil fuel industry site Energy In Depth quickly called Dallas’ ordinance a dishonest backdoor ban on fracking, noting that in Fort Worth, where the setback requirement is 600 feet, “development has safely occurred for many years.” But a look at Fort Worth residents’ experience with drilling shows why neighboring Dallas would want stricter requirements. Sickening vapors, ruined neighborhoods, and wells as close as 300 feet to homes are the legacy of Fort Worth’s lax approach to fracking regulation.

Nearby Arlington, Texas allows fracking inside of city limits, and has attempted to mitigate negative effects on residents by building sound-dampening walls around operations. But much of the danger of fracking comes from what it does to air and water.

There’s no evidence that even 1,500 feet is enough to prevent chemical leakage into drinking water. A 2012 Duke University study found that homes within one kilometer, or 3,280 feet, of hydraulic fracturing wells had six times the methane and 23 times the ethane of homes not near wells. And an Earthworks report included video of toxic chemicals like benzene escaping into the air at drilling sites.

Sharon Wilson, an organizer with the anti-fracking group Earthworks, said that though the industry is calling the Dallas ordinance a de facto ban, the fact that the setback requirement can be waived means Dallas isn’t safe from fracking.

A developing case in Pennsylvania highlights the hazards of fracking to surrounding areas. In 2010 a drilling company allegedly spilled at least 21,000 gallons of flowback water into an environmentally sensitive waterway, then covered it up and prevented it from being reported. To make matters worse, the driller admitted in court that they don’t even know all of the chemicals in the water. State Representative Jesse White is calling for an investigation of the incident, which was unknown until reported by the Marcellus Monitor on December 7, 2013. ..."

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http://www.nodashforgas.org.uk/home/updates/ nodashforgas.org.uk

Tel: 07447027112
Email: press@nodashforgas.org.uk

Blogs, news and press releases
Fracking test site in Greater Manchester blockaded with giant wind turbine blade

This morning fifty pro-renewables campaigners delivered a 17 metre, 1.5 tonne wind turbine blade as “Christmas gift” …

Reclaim the Power Visioning Day

An open invitation to a day of creative visioning for radical social change.

Location: MERCI, Manchester
Time: Saturday 14th …

Protesters who shut down EDF Gas Power Station have sentences quashed

Thursday October 17th 2013
Six activists out of 21 who shut down EDF’s West Burton Gas power station …

From Balcombe to Lancashire: Anti-Fracking Skillshare

From Balcombe to Lancashire: Anti-Fracking Skillshare

Saturday 12th October 2013
12 noon – 5pm
The Yellow Room, University of Manchester …

Submit or resist? An account from the blockade at Balcombe 23.09.13

On Monday, I was arrested along with four friends for taking part in an action to block …

Site Entrance Blockaded at Balcombe

23rd September 2013
Two activists have so far been arrested in today’s action which started …

Message of solidarity from activists in Ghana

This amazing message was sent to the Reclaim the Power camp last month by people fighting against …

Balls to fracking: 9am, Wed 11 Sep, Cuadrilla gates

An all-day game of football at the gate of the Cuadrilla drilling site in Balcombe

Where: Balcombe Cuadrilla …

Reclaim the Power – a view from the camp

Below is an account from a pensioner and grand mother who attended Reclaim the Power and felt …

28 Days Later: Please spread far and wide

A Rolling Blockade of the Balcombe fracking site, 1st September – 28th September
Fracking company Cuadrilla’s governmental licence …

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"...Here I am concerned with several European countries, especially the UK, because this country is pursuing an aggressive policy of encouraging shale gas extraction by fracking.

A small company called Cuadrilla Resources Limited is in the vanguard of UK shale gas exploration, with two licenced areas; in Lancashire it has begun a fracking programme, and in Sussex it is considering fracking. I examine the geology of these two sites and the technical programme which Cuadrilla is employing.

A somewhat larger Swedish company, Lundin International (Bildt - ed), has a licence ostensibly for conventional oil/gas exploration in the Languedoc (France). This is also discussed.

I have summarised the fracking problem in my submission to the House of Lords economic affairs select committee, November 2013. This document was limited to 3000 words and no diagrams, so references and end notes are in a separate file.

The problem

The oil exploration industry has a whole sub-industry of subcontractors offering their specialist services. One of these fields is determining whether or not geological faults in any particular area will seal off a potential oil or gas reservoir, or will act as a conduit. The default industry position on fault seal risk (which means the risk of the oil or gas being trapped - the desired outcome) is that faults do not normally act as seals.

I have found no authoritative study of the UK that mentions the fault seal problem in connection with horizontal fracking (sometimes also referred to as slickwater or high-volume fracking, to distinguish it from other methods of fracking which can safely be used). A leaky fault is a fast-track back to shallow groundwater and to the surface for methane and other gases, as well as (perhaps) for the contamination of water resources by fracking chemicals. Juxtaposed against this, the question of earthquake triggering is but a sideshow. In France fracking has been banned partly because of this risk, which was pointed out in 2011 by geologists from the University of Montpellier.

In NW Germany, a thorough study of fracking risks has been carried out by "neutral" academic experts (but funded by ExxonMobil), which includes the question of fracking through faulted zones. I have not yet digested the main report, which is in German; but one of the main conclusions of the English-language summary is that fracking in fault zones must be banned.

In England, by comparison nothing of substance has been published. Instead, we have Professor Richard Davies of Durham University, who uncritically quotes results from the USA (published incidentally, with sparse geological details, by petroleum engineers employed by Pinnacle, a Halliburton subsidiary) which imply that leakage via faults to the surface of fracking fuids and gases is not a problem. The Royal Society report of 2012 did not even discuss the question, even though it was raised in evidence submitted to the Society by the Geological Society of London. ..."

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  • 4 weeks later...

Fracking hot: N. Dakota man ‘sets tap water on fire’ 45


"Steve Lipsky, a resident of Fort Worth, Texas, complained to the Environmental Protection Agency that his family’s water seemed to be bubbling in a way that made it appear similar to a glass of champagne. The EPA issued an emergency order and immediately began investigating in December of 2010, warning at least two families that their water supply may be contaminated with flammable methane.

The EPA dropped its investigation, rescinding its emergency order, and then refused to explain its reasoning. Documents later obtained by the Associated Press revealed that the EPA did indeed have evidence against Range Resources, which operated a drill near Lipsky’s home, but decided to drop its investigation when company executives threatened to pull Range Resources out of a national study into hydraulic fracking.

Documents further indicate that the EPA ignored analysis that the contamination was the result of drilling and relied on tests conducted by Range Resources, which found no evidence of contamination.

Now, another full year later, an independent study conducted by Duke University has determined that combustible levels of methane do exist in wells near Weatherford, Texas and recommends that the EPA re-open its investigation. The results, published Friday, seem to validate local residents’ assertions, including Steve Lipsky’s claim that his well water will actually ignite when he holds up a flame.

I don’t understand why they would let the company that was accused of doing the wrongdoing conduct the tests,” resident Shelly Purdue told Bloomberg News. “It doesn’t make any sense.” "

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David Camerons' (et al) backers are not the only ones keen to pollute the furture for the short term gain of the few:

Green Fade-Out: Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals

By Gregor Peter Schmitz in Brussels

image-39043-breitwandaufmacher-pbld.jpg ic_lupe.png

Europe may be backing away from its ambitious climate protection goals.

The EU's reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history. The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking -- jeopardizing Germany's touted energy revolution in the process. ...

...The European Parliament is unlikely to be pleased with the Commission's plans. Just at the beginning of January, a strong parliamentary majority voted to reduce carbon emissions EU-wide by 40 percent by 2030 and to raise the portion of renewables to at least 30 percent of energy consumption....

- which I find unlikely. When push comes to shove, money is always more important than well being.

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