Posts tagged: fracking

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Everyone has The Right To Breathe clean air. Watch a video featuring Earthjustice Attorney Jim Pew and two Pennsylvanians—Marti Blake and Martin Garrigan—who know firsthand what it means to live in the shadow of a coal plant's smokestack, breathing in daily lungfuls of toxic air for more than two decades.

Coal Ash Contaminates Our Lives. Coal ash is the hazardous waste that remains after coal is burned. Dumped into unlined ponds or mines, the toxins readily leach into drinking water supplies. Watch the video above and take action to support federally enforceable safeguards for coal ash disposal.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders.

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View Maria Beloborodova's blog posts
06 August 2012, 2:37 PM
The law and the facts are on our side

Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg came out victorious in a recent Intelligence Squared debate over whether the natural gas boom in America is doing more harm than good. Arguing against the super intensive development of natural gas, she targeted the reckless, breakneck speed at which the industry is progressing.

She asked, “So, what characterizes a boom?" and answered her own question.

It's big. It's sudden. And it blows a lot of smoke. And the natural gas boom is doing all of that to an extreme. It's too much. It's too fast. And the hype is just over the top.

The boom is devastating the environment, wrecking communities and diverting the focus away from the much needed development of renewable energies, Goldberg said, adding:

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View Tom Turner's blog posts
24 July 2012, 12:05 PM
Bill McKibben takes us to school—and nominates Public Enemy #1
Bill McKibben

Bill McKibben,  who first alerted the non-scientific world to global climate change two decades ago with The End of Nature  has a new piece in Rolling Stone that he says is the most important thing he’s written in the past 20 years, and he’s written hundreds of articles and books during that period.

It’s titled “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math,” and it’s long but worth reading. More than worth reading.
 

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
20 July 2012, 8:52 AM
Plus: BPA’s dating game, drought doldrums, Big Ag’s big gift

Insurance agency says fracking too risky to cover
A major insurance company has announced that it won’t cover damage related to fracking, reports the Associated Press. “Fracking" is when oil and gas companies blast millions of gallons of water treated with chemicals into the ground to force oil and gas from hard-to-reach places deep inside the earth. Along with a fracking-fueled gas rush have come troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths and sick families. In an internal memo not meant for the public, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. acknowledged these risks, writing: “After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore.” Earthjustice and other environmental and health groups agree, which is why we’re pushing to enact tougher regulations for fracking.

BPA causes fish to court curious companions
Exposure to the estrogen-mimicking chemical known as BPA can cause interspecies mating between fish, potentially harming ecosystems by reducing biodiversity, reports New Scientist. BPA, a widely-used chemical that’s used to make hard plastic, has been under fire for years for its estrogen-mimicking properties, which trigger bodily changes that are normally regulated by hormones. Previous studies have shown that BPA can feminize fish, and now this recent study, which found that exposure to BPA made male red shiners look like other species of shiners, makes the animal dating scene even more confusing. And since male red shiners are considered invasive species in some places, the possibility of red shiners shacking up with non-red shiners could have big impacts on biodiversity.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
13 July 2012, 1:56 AM
Plus: Toxic ships, seed wars and dirty produce

Extreme gas drilling fracks up ice cream ingredient
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may cause a worldwide ice-cream headache by eating up supplies of a food additive that’s used in everything from ice cream to cosmetics, drugs and explosives, reports the Houston Chronicle. It turns out that guar gum, a magical white flour-like substance that’s added to all kinds of foods for thickening, binding and volume enhancing, is also useful for forcing pockets out of gas out of deep fissures in the earth. Currently, purchasing guar gum accounts for about one-third of fracturing costs. A typical fracking job requires about 20,000 pounds of the stuff so it's unsurprising that the U.S.'s fracking boom has put a strain on guar gum availability over the past few years, causing prices to skyrocket. That’s bad news for ice cream lovers since guar gum is one of the main ingredients in the dairy dessert. So what does the fracking industry get for ruining our water, our air and now our ice cream? According to Grist, the industry gets a tax loophole that allow gas industries like Chesapeake Energy Corp. to pay just 1 percent in income tax over the last two decades. There’s got to be a better way to get our energy

Navy rekindles its love for dumping toxic ships into U.S. waterways
The U.S. Navy is going back to its old ship-dumping ways, reports the LA Times. After a nearly two-year moratorium spurred by both cost and environmental concerns, the Navy will soon dump three inactive warships into Hawaii’s waters as part of a series of naval exercises known as RIMPAC. In late 2011, Earthjustice sued the U.S. EPA for failing to adequately regulate the Navy’s ship sinking program, which pollutes the sea with a group of highly toxic chemicals called PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Though PCBs were banned by the EPA in 1979, they still linger in many of the Navy's old ships. Currently, the Navy is required to document the amount of toxic waste that’s left on the ships while removing as much as the material as possible. But, environmental groups believe that the Navy should clean up the vessels to higher standards before sinking them, especially because some of the toxics have been found to eventually work their way into the ecosystem.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
29 June 2012, 2:59 PM
Live debate this Sunday featuring Earthjustice's own Deborah Goldberg

Tune in this Sunday to a debate between environmental advocates and defenders of the fracking industry.

Deborah Goldberg, Managing Attorney in Earthjustice’s Northeast office, and Katherine Hudson Watershed Program Director at Riverkeeper of Riverkeeper will be arguing that the country’s natural gas boom is doing more harm than good. They’ll be squaring off against Joe Nocera, the business-friendly OpEd columnist for the New York Times and Sue Tierney, a former Assistant Secretary for Policy at U.S. Dept. of Energy.

The debate takes place in front of a live, voting audience who will be polled before and after to determine the winner. The debate will be moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
28 June 2012, 5:17 PM
Plus: Pesticide poisonings, fracking evictions and druggy meat

Bumblebees join honeybees in buzzing off
It turns out honeybees aren’t the only pollinators experiencing mysterious, massive die-offs, reports Grist. Bumblebees, those fuzzy, buzzy bees that pollinate everything from alfalfa to apples, are also disappearing. That’s bad news for farmers...and anyone who happens to like eating food. According to research published last year, the abundance of some bumblebee species has declined by as much as 96 percent in a mere two decades. One reason for the massive die-off may be a lack of wildflower-rich habitats. Another may be pesticides, which have been under increased scrutiny after two scientific studies linked a commonly used corn pesticide to the die-offs of pollinating bees. And yet still another cause may be climate change, which impacts the bees’ habitat range.
 
Pesticide poisoning all too common among farmworkers
The EPA estimates that up to 20,000 physician-diagnosed poisonings occur each year among agricultural workers but since no comprehensive database to track pesticide exposure incidents currently exists, there may be a lot more incidents that go unreported, reports iWatch News. Lack of data is just one of the many challenges in making agricultural fields safe for farmworkers, who often come in contact with toxic pesticides that can cause nose bleeds, rashes and vomiting. Another challenge  is that many farmworkers are illegal immigrants, so they're reluctant to speak up in fear of getting reported to the federal authorities. Currently, Earthjustice, along with other groups, is trying to increase protections for farmworkers by pressing for upgrades to the Worker Protection Standard, which hasn’t been thoroughly revamped in 20 years. 
 

View David Lawlor's blog posts
27 June 2012, 4:02 PM
Court decision protects biologically rich area from oil and gas development
The Rulison Gas Field on the Roan Plateau. (Photo by Save Roan Plateau)

How much are oil and natural gas worth? I’m not asking how much a barrel of sweet crude is going for these days or what your gas bill from the utility company was last month. The real question isn’t how much fossil fuels cost in terms of dollars, but rather, what is worth sacrificing in their pursuit? Since the physical process of extracting oil and gas tends to severely despoil the surrounding environment, asking how much oil and gas are worth is akin to asking what nature is worth.

But in nature, there is value that dollar signs cannot quantify—take Colorado’s Roan Plateau for instance.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
22 June 2012, 3:38 PM
Plaintiffs insisted that details of case be made public

After being sued by a group of families in Pennsylvania with methane-contaminated water, fracking giant Chesapeake agreed today to pay the families a $1.6 million settlement. What’s particularly noteworthy is, for perhaps the first time, the details of a fracking case are being made public.

The oil and gas industry has gotten used to operating in secret, typically forcing families to sign non-disclosure agreements before it will settle any pollution lawsuit (see this chart for more details.) But in this case, the families refused to stay quiet and insisted that details of their case be made public. That’s big news.

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View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
25 May 2012, 8:46 AM
Cruel pizza toppings, superweed takeover, Hollywood bags the bag
(Cambridge Brewing Company)

Breweries worry that extreme gas drilling will frack their beer
It turns out that hydraulic gas drilling or fracking doesn’t just contaminate the air and water; it could also mess up your favorite brew, reports Mother Jones. Brewmasters like Brooklyn Brewery and upstate New York’s Ommegang Brewery are raising the alarm about toxic fracking chemicals like benzene making their way to America’s beers through weak fracking regulations that don’t protect an area’s water supply. After all, beer brewing takes a whole lot of water and places like the Brooklyn Brewery often get their water from local watersheds. The Brewery’s founder, Steve Hindy, says that fracking threatens the purity of his beer. New York has promised to ban high-volume fracking in areas where the city sources its water, but environmental groups like Earthjustice say that the state’s rules are weak and leave aquifers vulnerable to contamination by fracking chemicals. Find out how we’re helping breweries like Ommegang to keep their beer from being fracked.

Domino’s pizza’s meat policy makes little piggies cry
Domino’s may have recently had an artisanal makeover, but the pizza giant still isn’t budging on its policy to continue serving pork from pigs raised in gestation crates, reports Grist. For the uninitiated, gestation crates are cages about the same width and length of a pig’s body, a space so small that the pigs are unable to even turn around in the crates. Given that pigs are extremely smart animals capable of feeling fear, pain and stress, many food vendors have been successfully pressured into working with its pork suppliers to eliminate the cruel practice, but not Domino’s, which is one of the last holdouts in the industry. It looks like Domino’s new “artisan toppings,” meant for food-conscious customers, is just lipstick on both the proverbial and the literal pig.  
 

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
05 April 2012, 5:07 PM
Matt Damon to star in new feature film about fracking

I'm not going to even try to hide my excitement at the news that Matt Damon co-wrote and is starring in a feature film, titled Promised Land, about the controversial gas development technique known as fracking. The actor has made his concerns known about fracking's link to water pollution in this two-minute spot by Working Families Party so I am extremely eager to see what kind of message a full-length feature film will deliver.

Matt Damon is also a co-founder of Water.org, and earlier this year on World Water Day, spoke about the plight of millions who lack clean water:

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