ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson loves fracking other people’s back yards – just not his own
Dear Rex Tillerson,
I am writing to express my disappointment in learning that you recently opposed the construction of a water tower essential to shale gas development near your home in Texas.
As you and I both know, hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking”, as rabid environmentalist-types refer to it – is a game-changing technology that presents many wonderful opportunities to the American people and economy. Your company, ExxonMobil, has been a global leader in its development, for which I applaud you, as CEO.
I recognize (Read more…)
It’s a classic theme of the ‘wild west’ – range wars where free-range cattle ranchers clashed with farmers whose fenced fields blocked their way. Today it’s a struggle between farmers and frackers and this time the struggle is over water, more specifically who gets it and who goes without.
This has been going on in Texas for some time and, generally, it’s the frackers who win. Now the same thing has flared up in drought-stricken California, especially in the rich agricultural area of the Monterey Basin beneath which lies an awful lot of fossil fuel just waiting (Read more…)
Winnipeg, Feb. 17, 2014: Suzanne Patles of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society, speaking at Thunderbird House. Photo: Paul S. Graham
It is time to “warrior up” according to Suzanne Patles of the Mi’kmaq Warriors Society. She spoke at Thunderbird House in Winnipeg on Feb. 17, 2014 as part of a national tour to raise awareness about the struggle at Elsipogtog First Nation against shale gas fracking and police repression, as well as their ongoing assertion of nationhood.
Their blockade in opposition to shale gas fracking at Elsipogtog First Nation (located in Kent County, New Brunswick) came to national attention on October (Read more…)
This and that for your weekend reading.
- Michael McBane highlights one of the less-discussed changes in the Cons’ 2014 budget – as it officially eliminates the federal distribution of health care funding based on provincial need in favour of handing extra money to Alberta: The Harper government is eliminating the equalization portion of the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and replacing it with an equal per capita transfer. This means that less populous provinces with relatively larger and more isolated populations will have more and more difficulty delivering more expensive universal health services.
Likewise, provinces with relatively larger proportion of (Read more…)
Two very different provincial governments tabled their budgets this week. The freshly-elected BC Liberals and the seemingly election-ready Parti Quebecois both delivered what they termed “responsible” budgets. While the two governments identify with opposing ends of the political spectrum and face distinct political climates, these differences did not prevent their budgets from displaying some eerie similarities. Since these budgets tell the same stories, they are laying the ground for a common response.
Although the BC and Quebec economies are often regarded as moving in opposite directions, their economic performance in the five years since the financial crisis has been quite (Read more…)
by: Obert Madondo
In this age of the Harper Conservatives and a rampaging fossil fuel industry, Canadian anti-fracking activism requires more than a sense of environmental and social justice. It requires a toolkit of knowledge about what’s happening and how to effectively respond at the local, national and global level.
The Council of Canadians’ new “Fracktivist’s Toolkit” is one such toolkit.
The toolkit empowers Canadians to push back against fracking, protect Canada’s water sources, combat climate change, and partner with First Nations in their ongoing struggle to protect their besieged rights. It was inspired by the Council of (Read more…)
Fracking protest in New Brunswick (photo: Colin McPhail)
It would be difficult to live without oil and gas. But it would be impossible to live without water. Yet, in our mad rush to extract and sell every drop of gas and oil as quickly as possible, we’re trading precious water for fossil fuels.
A recent report, “Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Stress”, shows the severity of the problem. Alberta and B.C. are among eight North American regions examined in the study by Ceres, a U.S.-based nonprofit advocating for sustainability leadership.
Fracking happening is regions of “high water (Read more…)
Read this Feb. 18 story from RawStory.com on Chevron’s offer of coupons for pizza to Pennsylvania residents affected by a massive explosion at a fracking site owned by the company.
Buy one explosion, get a pizza free.
Last Tuesday, residents of the small town Bobtown, Pennsylvania woke to an explosion and a massive, high-temperature fire, at the site of a fracking well owned by the Chevron corporation. It wasn’t just any fire, either. Wrote the Pittsburgh Post Gazette Feb. 12:
“More than 12 hours after an explosion that ‘sounded like a jet engine going 5 feet above (Read more…)
The BC Government recently published an online quiz to “test the knowledge” of British Columbians on the coming LNG revolution.
It amounted to a propaganda exercise with the sole purpose of testing how well the BC Liberal LNG rhetoric has pierced the minds of the BC populace.
The infamous Harold Evans, longtime Editor of the Sunday Times of London and author of many books is quoted as saying:
Propaganda is persuading people to make up their minds while withholding the facts from them.
We used to rely on the muckrakers of the “fourth estate” to inform us of the goings-on (Read more…)
by Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
EDMONTON – Alberta New Democrats say newly released documents show fracking has become an unregulated free-for-all in the province with no regard for the impact on groundwater or on people’s health.
NDP Leader Brian Mason presented information Tuesday provided under freedom-of-information laws that shows the number of hydraulic fracturing licences granted by the province soared 647 per cent last year to 1,516.
Water withdrawals increasing dramatically
Mason said the amount of water allocated and used for fracking has increased even faster.
“Most Albertans don’t realize that fracking in Alberta is almost completely unregulated,” he told a (Read more…)
I listened intermittently to the Public Proceedings of the Yukon Legislature’s “Select Committee Regarding the Risks and Benefits of Hydraulic Fracturing” held in Whitehorse on January 31 and February 1. The presentations focussed mainly on the minutia of drilling, hydraulic fracturing, water consumption, environmental impacts, regulations, water contamination and so forth. These are certainly valid concerns, but the big picture as to why the BC and Federal governments are pulling out the stops to liquidate the natural gas resources of BC and the southern Yukon and NWT at an unprecedented rate, and the implications of doing so, were not discussed.
Congenital heart defects are the leading cause of all infant deaths in the US
A new study, published last week in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives, draws a correlation between birth defects and maternal exposures to natural gas.
After examining 124,842 births between 1996 and 2009 in rural Colorado, the study found a higher incidence of congenital heart defects (CHDs) and neural tube defects (NTDs) with infants whose mothers experienced higher exposures to natural gas.
The study (download pdf here) was led by researchers from the Colorado School of Public Health and Brown University, with support from The Colorado Department (Read more…)
The following commercial – and similar commercials – are shown every day, singing the songs of fracking and how it is supposedly safe. The reality is quite different. Fracking causes serious health and environmental problems, including drinking water pollution and disposal of fracking waste-water (the latter is a common theme in the news in Nova Scotia where they are struggling with disposal of wastewater).
The Nova Scotia, and more so the New Brunswick, governments are enthusiastic about fracking. Some fracking has been done in Nova Scotia and it is very problematic for reasons stated above. Yet oil and shale gas (Read more…)
by Jonathan Fahey, The Associated Press
NEW YORK – The frigid winter of 2014 is setting the price of natural gas on fire.
Friday, the price in the futures market soared past $5 per 1,000 cubic feet, up 9 per cent for the day to the highest level in three and a half years. The price of natural gas is up 29 per cent in two weeks, and is 50 per cent higher than last year at this time.
Record amounts of natural gas are being burned for heat and electricity. Meanwhile, it’s so cold that drillers are struggling to produce (Read more…)
photo: Tina Lovgreen / BCIT Commons
Read this Jan. 22 story from The Globe and Mail’s Mark Hume on a new report from esteemed geoscientist David Hughes which suggests the Clark Government and national energy regulator’s LNG figures are more based on hot air than natural gas. The Common Sense Canadian covered Hughes’ report in detail this past week.
A former scientist with the Geological Survey of Canada has cast doubt on the B.C. government’s promise of an economic boom from increased liquefied natural gas production.
Premier Christy Clark has made gas development a cornerstone of her administration, (Read more…)
Fracking operations in BC’s Horn River Basin (Two Island Films)
A new report from geoscientist and shale gas expert David Hughes offers a big reality check for BC’s proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. As a former 32-year veteran of the Geological Survey of Canada, Hughes led a national review of the country’s unconventional gas potential. Now, after drilling down on the BC Liberal government’s LNG vision, he has some sobering things to say about its promise of a $100 Billion “prosperity fund”, built on accessing new markets in Asia.
In a new report titled BC LNG: A Reality Check (Read more…)
Friday, January 17, 2014
Canadians may soon know more about the chemicals being used to extract bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands, thanks to West Coast Environmental Law and our colleagues at Environmental Defence and the Association Québécoise de Lutte Contre la Pollution Atmosphérique (AQLPA). But, unless the federal government can be persuaded to drop it’s narrow interpretation of pollution disclosure rules, Environment Canada won’t be requiring oil and gas companies to provide information about what chemicals are used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This means that most Canadians will have little to no knowledge of the potentially harmful and toxic (Read more…)
A visualization of industrial impacts across Canada as of 2010 (Global Forest Watch)
A national study suggests that Alberta has disturbed more natural landscape than any other province.
The analysis by Global Forest Watch adds that Wild Rose Country also has two of the three areas in Canada where the rate of disturbance is the highest.
“There were at least three major hotspots, two in Alberta,” said report author Peter Lee.
The report (download here) combines government data, satellite imagery and cropland maps to look at human intrusions in the last decade into all major Canadian ecozones. Those (Read more…)
Well water from Dimock, PA – like this jug taken in 2012 – prompted a controversial EPA study (EcoWatch.com)
Read this Jan. 5 story from AP and USA Today, which dug into hundreds of complaints of fracking water contamination throughout the United States – ultimately confirming issues in four different states.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — In at least four states that have nurtured the nation’s energy boom, hundreds of complaints have been made about well-water contamination from oil or gas drilling, and pollution was confirmed in a number of them, according to a review that casts doubt on industry suggestions (Read more…)
Wastewater from fracking can contain high levels of radiation (photo: J Henry Fair)
by Ramit Plushnick-Masti, The Associated Press
HOUSTON – Researchers believe they have found an unlikely way to decrease the radioactivity of some hydraulic fracturing wastewater: Mix it with the hazardous drainage from mining operations.
The wastewater is created when some of the chemical-laced water used to fracture thick underground rocks flows back out of the wellbore. The water is tainted with chemicals, toxins and in some parts of the country — such as Pennsylvania — naturally occurring radioactive materials, such as radium. Research has shown that even (Read more…)
Ohio TV station NBC 4 is reporting that Radio Disney has decided to back out of a controversial partnership promoting fracking to elementary schoolers, labelled “Rocking in Ohio”.
Disney’s participation in a 26-stop educational tour of shale gas-rich Ohio – sponsored by the Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program (OOGEEP) – provoked a backlash from environmental groups. A petition calling for Disney’s withdrawal from the program has garnered over 83,000 in the past few days.
OOGEEP, bankrolled by the oil and gas industry, took the tour to elementary schools and science education centres around Ohio state last month. The events involved children’s games, (Read more…)
Read this Jan 8 story from Aljazeera America on Radio Disney’s controverisal participation in an educational tour of Ohio, promoting fracking to kids.
An educational program funded by Ohio’s oil and gas industry and sponsored by Radio Disney has environmental activists — and some parents — up in arms over what they say is a hijacking of public education by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) interests, in a state sitting on billions of dollars’ worth of gas-rich shale.
The program, called Rocking in Ohio, went on a 26-stop tour of elementary schools and science centers across the state last month. It involves (Read more…)
This school playground in Farmington, BC, sits a few hundred meters from a sour gas well (Damien Gillis)
Read this December 29 Vancouver Sun story from Stephen Hume on the revolving door between government and the shale gas industry that has left BC’s children and families more vulnerable to the risks of natural gas than people in other jurisdictions where fracking takes place.
In the summer of 2010, faced with increasing public concern about the proximity of natural gas wells producing “sour” hydrogen sulfide, the provincial government announced it was imposing setbacks and enhanced management zones of two kilometres around schools (Read more…)
Photo: Lubicon Lake Nation
CALGARY – A First Nation is appealing a court injunction against a blockade of an energy company’s drilling site in northern Alberta.
The Lubicon Lake Nation says the injunction granted to PennWest Petroleum Ltd. (TSX:PWT) last month gives the company unfettered access to an oil hydraulic fracturing site in the heart of its traditional territory.
In its appeal, the Lubicon Lake Nation says it will raise constitutional issues about aboriginal rights that it says the court failed to consider when making its order.
The First Nation says PennWest wanted a week-long injunction but the judge gave (Read more…)
Texan Steve Lipsky sparked a heated battle over fracking and water contamination (image: Gasland II)
Despite the shale gas industry’s aggressive efforts to keep a lid on water use and contamination issues relating to its activities, troubling new evidence continues bubbling to the surface, making it increasingly difficult to deny such concerns.
Two big strikes against shale gas industry
In December, a subsidiary of America’s second biggest fracking company, Chesapeake Energy, was hit with a penalties totalling close to $10 million by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for violations of the Clean Water Act – this in spite of (Read more…)