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.

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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 Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
30 March 2012, 1:16 AM
Fracking gags, exploding urine, climate change truths
More droughts are just one of the things we can expect with a climate-changed world. (photo by jczart)

Climate scientists warn that Earth’s tipping points are at the tipping point
Recently, climate scientists announced that this is the last decade to cut carbon emissions significantly or there’s no going back on global warming, reports Reuters. And they’re not just talking about freak heat waves and threats to Cherry Blossom festivals. Though estimates differ, the world’s temperature is expected to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if we keep doing “business as usual” in terms of emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases. That increase, in turn, is expected to melt polar ice sheets, which greatly assist in keeping the climate livable. Other tipping points that we’re close to crossing include the loss of rainforests and melting of permafrost—which both store vast amounts of carbon and could change from carbon sinks to carbon emitters if humanity doesn’t get its act together, and soon. In other words, it’s the end of the world as we know it. There’s no way to feel fine about that.

Pennsylvania doctors with fracking info get gagged
Fracking uses millions of gallons of toxic chemicals that could harm human health, but doctors in Pennsylvania aren’t allowed to tell their patients about them, reports Mother Jones. According to a new law that’s been deemed a gag rule by its detractors, though doctors in Pennsylvania are allowed to see information about fracking chemicals—unlike the general public in the rest of the U.S.—they can’t share any of that information with their patients, even those who have been exposed to a hazardous chemical from fracking. The new provision, which was quietly slipped in near the end of the debate about the law, is just another in a long line of favors given to the oil and gas drilling industry over the past few years. Others include a fracking exemption from the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory and another exemption from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It seems that, at least when it comes to fracking, the more secrets you have to hide, the more exemptions you crave. Find out how Earthjustice is working to uncover those secrets.

1 Comment   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
22 March 2012, 11:42 AM
Gas price lies, “safe” fracking water, BPA bans
Dirty air, not eating all those chips, may cause obesity, so munch on! (Photo courtesy of loop_oh)

Forget Fritos: Air pollution may be making people fat
Sure, it’s got nothing on the much-hyped “Paleo Diet,” but a new theory that air pollution may be making us fat could provide one more bullet in the never-ending arsenal of dieting ticks and trips that people can use to lose weight. According to Discovery News, just as the oceans are becoming more acidic as they sequester more carbon dioxide, studies show that our blood becomes more acidic when we breathe in CO2-laden air, even just for a few weeks. But though higher acidity in the ocean means weaker coral reefs and shell-covered creatures, a drop in pH in our brains acts much differently by making appetite-related neurons fire more frequently, which could result in us eating more, sleeping less and, eventually, gaining more weight. Though the theory hasn’t yet been heavily tested, previous studies have shown that the issue of obesity goes far beyond cutting calories and exercising more. And, even if the theory doesn’t pan out, clean air is definitely tied to a whole host of other great health benefits, like not dying early, so take a deep breath!

History shows that “drill, baby, drill” mentality doesn’t lower gas prices
The commonly held notion that more domestic drilling leads to lower U.S. gas prices is completely false, reports the Associated Press, which came to the conclusion after analyzing more than three decades’ of monthly, inflation-adjusted gasoline prices and U.S. domestic oil production. Though both political parties are guilty of using the "drill, baby, drill" mentality to link higher gas prices to an "unfriendly" domestic drilling policy, the facts tell an entirely different tale. For example, since February 2009 we’ve increased oil production by 15 percent (yes, during the Obama presidency, which is supposedly extremely unfriendly to domestic energy production), yet between 2009 and 2012 prices at the pump spiked by more than a dollar during that time. The reason, much to Americans’ dismay, is that since oil is a global commodity, neither the U.S. nor our president has much say in determining the price of gasoline. We do, however, have a say in how much gas we use, which means that the only real way to decrease the amount that we pay at the pump is to, simply, use less gas by driving more gas-efficient cars and taking public transit, to name just a few examples.

4 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 March 2012, 11:20 AM
Water is life, so let's keep our fight for clean water alive
One billion people around the world don't have access to clean, safe water. (Getty)

It’s World Water Day, a day that reminds us of our most valuable resource of all: clean water.

Some of us may not think twice about a glass of clean water, a swimmable lake, or a fishable river, but clean water is not an accident. All the world over, clean water is something that people and governments have to work hard to protect and deliver safely to populations. And it is a resource that much of the world’s population still does not have access to.

Here are some quick facts to put access to safe, clean water into perspective:

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
01 February 2012, 2:28 PM
Apparently fracking and the First Amendment don't mix
Josh Fox, in a scene from the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland.

It’s no surprise that oil and gas industry friendly politicians have fought to allow industry to keep secret the list of chemicals they pump underground during the fracking.

But today, they apparently decided to extend that secrecy to congressional committee activities, when members of a House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment refused to allow an ABC television news crew and the Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Josh Fox to film today’s hearing on groundwater contamination linked to fracking in Pavillion, Wyoming. When Fox protested, he was arrested, despite the objections of some committee members.

Earthjustice Legislative Representative Jessica Ennis was there and caught the moment on film:

As Jessica later told reporters: “The public has a right to know what chemicals oil and gas companies are pumping into the ground. And they also deserve to know which politicians are trying to protect these same companies at the expense of the people of Pavillion, Wyoming.”

1 Comment   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
06 January 2012, 7:20 AM
Natural gas guessing games, green hog waste, melting mountains
Under current guidelines, pigs and other farm animals are routinely given drugs. (friendsoffamilyfarmers)

FDA gives “okay” to continue drugging livestock
Farmers can continue giving healthy cows, pigs and other livestock routine doses of penicillin and tetracyclines—two commonly used antibiotics—even though the practice threatens public health, reports Forbes. The Food and Drug Administration’s decision to no longer consider withdrawing approval of the common practice comes after years of meat and produce recalls that have been contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria and sickened many. It also comes after the agency’s own guidance showed that drugging animals who aren’t sick is, simply put, a bad idea. No doubt, consumer advocacy groups were disappointed in the government’s decision; however, the FDA’s decision wasn’t all bad. It did decide to ban the indiscriminate use of another class of antibiotics called cephalosporins in healthy animals, citing concerns over the growing threat of cephalospins-resistant bacterial infections found in people. Too bad that cephalosporins account for a tiny and rapidly shrinking percentage of overall antibiotic use on factory farms, as Mother Jones recently pointed out. Nice try, FDA.

Natural gas bonanza claims based on dicey guessing games
Mainstream media reports of a 100-year natural gas supply lying beneath our feet is largely based on hypothetical speculation, reports Slate. Recently, the online magazine found that of 2,170 trillion cubic feet (tcf) estimated to lie beneath U.S. lands, only 273 tcfs--or 12 percent of the total amount--are “proved reserves,” meaning that they actually exist and are commercially viable to drill. That leaves us with only about 11 year’s worth of proven natural gas reserves, not 100 years, as the industry claims. The idea that there's another almost 2,000 tcfs of natural gas out there is considered to be either “probable,” “possible,” or “speculative.” Speculative, by the way, means “based on conjecture or incomplete facts or information,” according to the Encarta Dictionary. Another word for speculative is “risky” or “hypothetical.” As Slate so aptly points out, “By the same logic, you can claim to be a multibillionaire, including all your ‘probable, possible, and speculative resources.’” Just one more thing to consider before we risk our health and environment to drill another well with “speculative” reserves.

2 Comments   /  
View Stephanie Maddin's blog posts
20 October 2011, 10:02 AM
Sick citizens and ravaged environment equal healthy economy?
Rep. Eric Cantor (VA-7)

This week, President Obama has conducted a bus tour through my home state of Virginia and North Carolina. The tour focused on job creation and the state of our economy.

Unfortunately, Republican leadership in Congress thinks weakening our clean air and water protections is the foundation of economic renewal.

Since returning from August recess, the House of Representatives has passed some of the most anti-environmental and anti-public health legislation in its history. These bills—which indefinitely delay air pollution standards for power plants, industrial boilers/incinerators and cement plants—passed as key provisions in Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s “Jobs Agenda.”

2 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
23 September 2011, 9:59 AM
Pesticide tee-off, climate change revival, organic strawberry fake out
Mmmmmm, bacon. Photo courtesy of robotsari

Chinese food regulations go down the gutter
Some restaurants in China are taking Mom’s sage advice to reuse the bacon grease to a new, hazardous level, reports Time magazine. Recently, Chinese authorities announced a crackdown on so-called “gutter oil,” the resale of used cooking oil that’s been snagged from sewers or complacent restaurant owners. In addition to the “ew” factor, eating food cooked in gutter oil can cause some serious health problems like an increased risk of liver cancer, caused by fungus-tainted oil. According to the police, a six-month investigation in China turned up 100 tons of gutter oil being processed for resale, and broke up six illicit oil recyclers, including a biodiesel company that was secretly processing oil to be sold back to food markets, not biodiesel stations.

3 Comments   /  
View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
22 July 2011, 12:48 PM
More than 20,000 messages on PA pipeline catch EPA attention

If—as an Earthjustice supporter and activist—you ever wondered whether your letters and emails to government officials had an impact, we've got news that should give you heart.

Reporters are writing about the 22,093 messages sent by supporters like you, demanding a thorough environmental review of a proposed 39-mile natural gas pipeline that threatens prime forest lands and streams in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. And, politicians are standing with you.

Officials at the Environmental Protection Agency are pressing pipeline regulators to conduct a thorough environmental review of the project—and citing the number of messages you sent as the reason.

4 Comments   /  
View Ben Barron's blog posts
13 July 2011, 12:23 PM
Fracking invades rainforest havens of birds and natives who mimic them

Anyone who has seen the “Planet Earth” episode on jungles has witnessed the colorful plumes and remarkable displays of the Birds of Paradise.

But when you’re hiking (read: struggling) through the dense growth of Papua New Guinea’s rainforest, one of the world’s largest at over 100,000 square miles and home to 38 of the 43 Bird of Paradise species, it’s pretty difficult to catch a glimpse these magnificent birds.

You can’t help but hear them, though. Jungle life has a soundtrack, and the BOPs are the lead singers.

However, a new voice is about to join the New Guinea chorus, threatening to drown out the unique birds.

2 Comments   /  
View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
08 July 2011, 10:08 AM
Killer candles, revenge of the nerds, France fracking halt
Michelle Bachman has some crazy ideas about the environment. Photo courtesy of Markn3tel.

Michelle Bachman drills down to solve the energy crisis
As the Republican contenders for the 2012 election begin to emerge, a old theme among the crew is arising deep from within the ashes of the failed McCain-Palin 2008 presidential run: Drill, baby, drill. The most recent aspiring president, Michelle Bachman, recently said that energy can be the “most easy problem for America to solve” by, you guessed it, digging for more fossil fuels, reports Grist. Unfortunately, the Republican rhetoric, as nice and easy as it may sound, relies heavily on ignoring all of the environmental and health problems that come with the practices involved in this age of extreme energy, such blowing up mountains and shoving millions of gallons of chemically treated water into rock formations.

Unfortunately for those of us stuck in the real world, this overly simplistic solution to the current energy crisis is just par for the course in Bachman’s world. According to recent news reports, Bachman has been busy spreading lies like the idea that high-speed rail from Disneyland to Las Vegas is just a ploy to get little kids hooked on gambling and that EPA is a murderous villain that’s attacking “helpless” corporations. Those kinds of allegations are akin to environmentalists calling Bachman a deranged serial killer—a serious allegation that has bite but is nonetheless inaccurate. Good thing she already beat everyone to the punch by accidently comparing herself to John Wayne Gacy

Scented candles may burn users with dangerous toxins
Filling a room with an array of scented candles may no longer be a harmless option for Romeos looking to make their Juliets swoon, reports the UK’s Daily Mail. A recent study found that burning scented candles in a poorly ventilated room may release air pollution toxic enough to raise the risk of asthma, eczema and skin complaints. Though stuffing candle wax with synthetic fragrances is harmful enough, the wicks themselves are also a concern. When burned, they release soot particles that can travel deep into the lungs and aggravate respiratory illness. To avoid getting burned, experts suggest using beeswax or soy-based candles with thin, braided wicks. Or, skip the candles and buy her fair trade, locally grown, organic, vegan chocolates. Everybody wins!