Posts tagged: fracking

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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 TXsharon's blog posts
20 April 2011, 10:38 AM
How natural gas drilling in Texas threatens public health and safety

(This week, in connection with the launch of our campaign Fracking Gone Wrong: Finding a Better Way, we’ve invited some of the movement’s most prominent advocates to guest blog. Today's guest blogger is Sharon Wilson, aka TXsharon, a blogger and an organizer with Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project. Earthjustice has worked for years alongside EARTHWORKS OGAP in Colorado, New York, Pennsylvania and other drilling states.)

Howdy, I am Sharon Wilson but most people know me as TXsharon, author of the blog, Bluedaze: DRILLING REFORM FOR TEXAS that focuses on drilling issues locally, statewide, nationally and even globally. My involvement started when I noticed alarming things happening to the countryside near my property in Wise County, Texas—a smelly pit here, a smoking rig there, and leaky pipes and hoses that ended up in flowing creeks. I wrote letters to the paper, talked to neighbors and blogged as a guest until I finally started my own blog.

In 2008, my friend Don Young, founder of Fort Worth Can Do!, and I called EARTHWORKS’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project for help in reining in the out of control and largely unregulated drilling in North Texas. Shortly after an initial tour and meetings with key OGAP staff, we founded Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project (see industry’s reaction HERE). In January 2010, I became the part-time Texas organizer.

Over the years, I have collected stories and documentation of the havoc that uncontrolled and virtually unregulated drilling and fracking are wreaking on the health and safety of the people of North Texas. I chose four of those stories, developed them into case studies and presented them in October 2010 to the EPA in North Carolina. In December, I traveled a long way from Texas and presented them in Washington, D.C.

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View David Lawlor's blog posts
18 April 2011, 2:22 PM
Tax breaks help make oil and gas artificially “cheap” energy sources
The natural gas industry gets so many tax breaks you'd think the Marcellus Shale deposit was located in the Cayman Islands.

Break out the streamers and the party hats—it’s Tax Day! Of course the overachievers filed their taxes months ago, but no doubt a few folks are frantically sifting through piles of paper at this very moment trying to locate that wayward W-2.

Either way, every year millions of Americans file their taxes and pay their fair share to keep our country running. But for many companies, including those in the oil and gas industries, ducking the taxman has become par for the course.

From avoiding state severance taxes (more on that in a minute) to reaping the benefits of an industry-friendly federal tax code, America’s oil and gas industry benefits from subsidies that increase the federal debt. These tax breaks help make oil and gas artificially “cheap” energy sources, while you and I foot the bill for the industries’ pollution.

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View Mark Ruffalo's blog posts
15 April 2011, 4:44 PM
Oscar-nominated actor discusses his fracktivism
Fracking rig in Pennsylvania. Photo by Chris Jordan/Earthjustice

[This week, in honor of the launch of Earthjustice's campaign Fracking Gone Wrong: Finding a Better Way, we've invited some of the movement's most prominent advocates to guest blog.

Our first guest blogger is Mark Ruffalo, an Oscar-nominated actor who is fighting to protect water. He lives in New York's Catskill Mountains—directly in the path of a gas drilling rush sweeping the Northeast. In February, he traveled to Washington, D.C. to educate members of Congress on the dangers of the gas drilling technique known as fracking.]

Congratulations on your Academy Award nomination. What's the story behind the blue pin you wore at the awards?
Mark Ruffalo: The blue pin I was wearing was for Water Defense. It is an organization that I am involved with that aims to celebrate the sanctity of our water and at the same time to educate people on where it is under attack by energy extraction and industrialization. As our energy extraction methods are becoming more desperate, clean water will be sacrificed more and more.

You've helped make fracktivism sexy. Why'd you join the fight?
Mark: I was moved to step into the fight against hydraulic fracturing when I went to Dimock, PA and saw how their wells had been destroyed. I saw how crass and arrogant the companies who destroyed them acted toward their victims—refusing to take responsibility for the wrongs they had done. I saw that the local and state and federal government agencies that have been put in place to keep these kinds of things from happening were either apathetic or corrupt. I felt it was the right thing to stand up and say ‘No.’ I had seen something so clearly wrong and knew I would be less of a man if I didn't fight for what I know is right.

Mark Ruffalo.

Oscar-nominated actor, Mark Ruffalo.

How many glasses of water do you drink a day?
Mark: Many. I don't really drink much else other than water. Except for a beer or two or something a little stiffer at the end of a day.

How about your favorite form of water-based recreation?
Mark: My favorite water based recreation is a tie between my new found love of fly fishing. Or my old love of surfing.

Advice for the aspiring fracktivist?
Mark: We haven't been carried this far to be dropped. If you are losing hope then you are not doing enough. There are very few things in life that you get to be part of that are bigger than you. Fighting for the health of our air and water, fighting against those who would gladly pollute our natural resources simply to make a buck is worth a great deal. You can measure your decency as a human being today by not being complicit in the destruction of our fellow human beings and their health.

Well put. (More tips can be found here.) Favorite movie of all-time?
Mark: My favorite movie of all time is On The Waterfront, starring Marlon Brando

Good choice. You’ve been compared to a young Brando. In the spirit of melding art and advocacy, will you compose a haiku on why people should join the fight against fracking?

Walk into the day
Make it known that you are here
Stand for your water!

Come out and speak up
Water is under attack
The fish and frogs watch

There is no waiting
He who hesitates is lost
The stream is dying

That’s three haikus—very generous! Thanks so much for your time and for your work on this issue! And readers, don't forget to check out our campaign page!

Water Defense


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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
14 April 2011, 1:48 PM
Anything worth doing is worth doing really quickly
Ready? Set? Drill! Photo from Flickr user purplemattfish

The Associated Press had a story today detailing how regulators in Pennsylvania spend as little as 35 minutes reviewing gas drilling permits, before giving companies approval to blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to extract the gas – a controversial practice known as fracking.

Across the country, gas production using fracking has been linked to contaminated drinking water, exploding wells, mysterious animal deaths and other unsettling incidents.

The information came to light because of a lawsuit challenging a permit issued to drill in the Delaware River Basin – an area that supplies drinking water to more than 15 million people in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
12 April 2011, 4:23 PM
Fracking-fueled gas rush is cause for concern
Waste pond at fracking site. Photo courtesy

In a hearing, today, lawmakers on Capitol Hill probed the health and environmental impacts of a gas drilling boom fueled by the controversial gas extraction technique known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking. Using this technique, companies blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force natural gas from underground deposits.

In recent years, oil and gas companies have begun clamoring for access to regions of the country that are unprepared for this scale of industrial gas drilling. Along with this fracking-fueled gas rush have come troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, industrial disasters and explosions.
Hydraulic fracturing is currently exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act, so oil and gas companies are only required to comply with a patchwork of state regulations. And thanks to a loophole in the Clean Air Act for oil and gas companies, drilling areas in Wyoming now have worse air quality than Los Angeles.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
11 April 2011, 3:42 PM
Guess it's time for yet another industry rebranding campaign...
Fracking drill operation. Photo courtesy of ens-Newswire

Natural gas has been touted as a more responsible energy source than coal in the face of climate change, but a new study conducted by researchers at Cornell University argues otherwise.

The study, which is scheduled to be published in the journal Climatic Change Letters, argues the advantages that gas produced from fracking has over coal are offset by the fugitive emissions of methane gas.

Methane is a potent greenhouse gas with a impact far greater than carbon dioxide, especially in the first few decades following emission. The study found that the extraction of shale gas—the deposit that energy companies are targeting with their controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”—has climate impacts comparable to coal over 100 years and could be twice as severe over a 20-year horizon.

The key concern here is the increased amount of fugitive methane gas that goes into the atmosphere from fracking sites as compared to conventional gas drilling.

View Emily Greenlee's blog posts
11 April 2011, 3:22 PM
Hundreds rally in Albany to warn about dangers of toxic gas drilling
Rally-goers in Albany today.

Hundreds of New Yorkers from all over the state traveled to Albany today to warn lawmakers about the dangers of fracking.

I was one of them.

Fracking is a controversial method of gas extraction that involves blasting millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the ground. Across the country, gas production using fracking has been linked to contaminated drinking water, exploding wells, mysterious animal deaths and other unsettling incidents.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
15 March 2011, 1:28 PM
Bill in Congress would end chemical secrecy loophole in Safe Drinking Water Act

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but secret gas drilling chemicals don’t belong in drinking water.

That’s exactly the kind of sentiment that makes it very inconvenient for Dick Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton who want to use secret chemicals to extract gas from the earth – a controversial method known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

You see, the pesky Safe Drinking Water Act kept getting in the way. So they asked for special treatment from Congress. And in 2005 they got it.

But today, members of Congress said, “Enough is enough,” introducing bills in both chambers of Congress that would close the Halliburton loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act.

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View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
11 March 2011, 2:30 PM
The rest of us left wondering: is that even constitutional?
Meet Bradford Energy CEO C. Alan Walker. He calls the shots.

Fresh off his state’s radioactive river scandal, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett has once again landed in hot water (no pun intended) over a line in his proposed budget which hands the energy executive he appointed to head the state's economic development agency "supreme" decision-making power to fast-track gas drilling permits in the state.

The man who would be king is Bradford Energy CEO C. Alan Walker (no word on whether he's related to a certain Wisconsin governor). He’s given $184,000 in campaign contributions to Corbett (naturally). Also worth noting is that Corbett took more gas industry contributions than all his competitors combined during his recent election.

View Jessica Knoblauch's blog posts
11 March 2011, 1:16 PM
Tsunami-sized warnings, bullet train shout-outs, NJ fracking ban
Would you like a bag for that? Del Monte now sells single-serve bananas wrapped in plastic. Photo courtesy of

Del Monte sells individually wrapped bananas
Last week, processed food giant Del Monte unveiled its latest product invention, a single banana wrapped in plastic, reports the Globe and Mail. The move, not surprisingly, drew ire from many who point out that the banana already has its own, biodegradable wrapping, the peel. Ironically, Del Monte told reporters that the new product is being marketed as a green initiative due to the plastic’s “controlled ripening technology” which will up the banana’s shelf life and reduce landfill waste—albeit not the biodegradable kind. On The Daily Show, Comedian Jon Stewart recently pointed out the absurdity of the idea by hawking his own equally absurb mock invention, the coconut-protected coconut case.
New Jersey lawmakers ban hydraulic fracturing
This week, New Jersey lawmakers approved a bill that bans hydraulic fracturing, a widely controversial gas drilling practice that's contaminated water supplies to the point where residents near gas wells are able to set their faucet water on fire, reports NJ Spotlight. Though no drilling is currently happening in the Garden State, the move sends a clear message that state lawmakers have "grave concerns" about the process, said Sen. Robert Gordon (D-Bergen), the bill's sponsor. Currently, Earthjustice is working to keep hydraulic fracturing out of New York where oil and gas companies are hungrily eyeing the geologic formation known as the Marcellus Shale.

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