Largest anti-fracking rally in California history draws thousands
March 17, 2014

They came in their thousands from across the Golden State. On Saturday, the largest anti-fracking rally and protest in California’s history took place in the state capital of Sacramento.

The message to California Gov. Jerry Brown was simple: act now to ban fracking.

The rally, which was organized by Californians Against Fracking and some 80 environmental and health organizations, such as Oil Change International (OCI) and 350.org.

Protestors were young and old, united in their opposition to fracking. One group of grandmothers sang: “We don’t want your fracking turning all our water brown, Take your freakin’ frackin’ drills or we will shut you down! Hydro-FRAC-turing just sucks.”

“Governor Brown has positioned himself as a climate champion, and we want to make it clear that as he decides whether to green light a massive expansion of fracking in California, his legacy is on the line,” said rally organizer Zack Malitz

David Turnbull, campaigns director at OCI warned Gov. Brown he would be “foolish to ignore,” the growing movement against fracking in the State. “The Governor can choose to stand with these concerned Californians and stop fracking in our state, or he can continue to stand with Big Oil,” Turnbull said.

Two days previously environmental groups had released a report warning that oil companies areincreasing California’s earthquake risk by fracking, which is especially pertinent given the active fault lines of California.

The report concluded that a boom in fracking in California would worsen the danger of earthquakes, by greatly increasing oil wastewater production and underground injection. Extracting the Monterey Shale’s oil in the state could produce almost 9 trillion gallons of contaminated wastewater, the report estimates. That could expose California to a surge in damaging earthquakes like those seen in other states. (Last week I blogged about how one frack well in Ohio has been suspended due to small quakes.)

“This isn’t rocket science,” said one of the report’s authors, Jhon Arbelaez from EarthWorks. “We’ve known for decades that wastewater injection increases earthquake risk. Since Gov. Brown resolutely refuses to learn from other communities’ experience with fracking across the country, our only option to protect California families is to prevent fracking altogether.”

And that certainly was the message at Saturday’s rally.

“People need to know what fracking looks like,” said Rodrigo Romo, one activist from the heavily fracked region of Shafter, CA. “In the Central Valley there is no buffer between fracking sites and our community; there are wells next-door to schools and agricultural land. It is time for our decision makers to listen to us and stop fracking.”

Source
PhotosCorrine Koster and Rae Breaux

Chevron apologizes for tracking well explosion with free pizza couponFebruary 21, 2014
After a Chevron hydraulic fracturing well exploded in rural Dunkard Township, Pennsylvania, last Tuesday, and burned for four days straight, the energy company knew just the way to soothe nearby residents: free pizza.
The flames that billowed out of the Marcellus Shale natural gas well were so hot they caused a nearby propane truck to explode, and first responders were forced to retreat to avoid injury. The fire burned for four days, and Chevron currently has tanks of water standing by in case it reignites. Of the twenty contractors on the well site, one is still missing, and is presumed dead.
Seconds before the explosion, John Kuis, 57, who lives less than a half-mile away in Dilliner, said he felt rumbling.
"Then the house just sort of shook and there was a big loud bang," he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It scared him, he thought he actually had an explosion in his home,” William Kuis, John’s cousin, told Newsweek.
But at least the residents of nearby Greene County will be enjoying a large pizza pie and two liters of soda on Chevron’s tab.
The Chevron Community Outreach team sent $12 pizza coupons to Bobtown homes, along with this note:
Chevron recognizes the effect this has had on the community.  We value being a responsible member of this community and will continue to strive to achieve incident-free operations.  We are committed to taking action to safeguard our neighbors, our employees, our contractors and the environment…
The pizza was “a token of appreciation for their patience during this time,” Kent Robertson, a public affairs officer for Chevron, tells Newsweek, “and our commitment to the community goes far beyond this and our outreach is ongoing.”
The gesture struck some as blatantly tone-deaf. One resident tells CNN he received a pizza certificate on Sunday, and hasn’t heard from Chevron since.
"It felt like a huge slap in the face," the resident, who wished to remain anonymous due to Chevron’s major presence in the area, says. "A pizza coupon? I mean come on!"
William Kuis, 61, is a retired coal miner who lives about three miles from the well that exploded. He did not receive a pizza coupon.
“But I suppose free pizza is always a good thing,” he tells Newsweek, laughing.
As a retired coal miner, Kuis says he is well acquainted with the risks of energy industry work. Regardless, there is a natural gas well near his property, and says he is happy to see fracking in the Marcellus Shale-rich region. His community needs the economic boost, he says, and the wells are mostly safe. He notes that he does not drink water from the several natural water wells on his property, and uses municipal water instead.

“This area, we have dangerous occupations. You try to do everything right, but one little slip up can wreak real havoc,” Kuis says. “But sometimes it’s something you just have to put up with.”
SourcePhoto

Chevron apologizes for tracking well explosion with free pizza coupon
February 21, 2014

After a Chevron hydraulic fracturing well exploded in rural Dunkard Township, Pennsylvania, last Tuesday, and burned for four days straight, the energy company knew just the way to soothe nearby residents: free pizza.

The flames that billowed out of the Marcellus Shale natural gas well were so hot they caused a nearby propane truck to explode, and first responders were forced to retreat to avoid injury. The fire burned for four days, and Chevron currently has tanks of water standing by in case it reignites. Of the twenty contractors on the well site, one is still missing, and is presumed dead.

Seconds before the explosion, John Kuis, 57, who lives less than a half-mile away in Dilliner, said he felt rumbling.

"Then the house just sort of shook and there was a big loud bang," he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It scared him, he thought he actually had an explosion in his home,” William Kuis, John’s cousin, told Newsweek.

But at least the residents of nearby Greene County will be enjoying a large pizza pie and two liters of soda on Chevron’s tab.

The Chevron Community Outreach team sent $12 pizza coupons to Bobtown homes, along with this note:

Chevron recognizes the effect this has had on the community.  We value being a responsible member of this community and will continue to strive to achieve incident-free operations.  We are committed to taking action to safeguard our neighbors, our employees, our contractors and the environment…

The pizza was “a token of appreciation for their patience during this time,” Kent Robertson, a public affairs officer for Chevron, tells Newsweek, “and our commitment to the community goes far beyond this and our outreach is ongoing.”

The gesture struck some as blatantly tone-deaf. One resident tells CNN he received a pizza certificate on Sunday, and hasn’t heard from Chevron since.

"It felt like a huge slap in the face," the resident, who wished to remain anonymous due to Chevron’s major presence in the area, says. "A pizza coupon? I mean come on!"

William Kuis, 61, is a retired coal miner who lives about three miles from the well that exploded. He did not receive a pizza coupon.

“But I suppose free pizza is always a good thing,” he tells Newsweek, laughing.

As a retired coal miner, Kuis says he is well acquainted with the risks of energy industry work. Regardless, there is a natural gas well near his property, and says he is happy to see fracking in the Marcellus Shale-rich region. His community needs the economic boost, he says, and the wells are mostly safe. He notes that he does not drink water from the several natural water wells on his property, and uses municipal water instead.

“This area, we have dangerous occupations. You try to do everything right, but one little slip up can wreak real havoc,” Kuis says. “But sometimes it’s something you just have to put up with.”

Source
Photo

New study links fracking to birth defects in heavily drilled Colorado

January 31, 2014

Living near hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — sites may increase the risk of some birth defects by as much as 30 percent, a new study suggests. In the U.S., more than 15 million people now live within a mile of a well.

The use of fracking, a gas-extraction process through which sand, water and chemicals are pumped into the ground to release trapped fuel deposits, has increased significantly in the U.S. over the past decade.Five years ago, the U.S. produced 5 million barrels of oil per day; today, it’s 7.4 million, thanks largely to fracking.

Supporters of the industry say it creates jobs and spurs the economy, while critics say its development is largely unregulated and that too little is known about pollution and health risks.

The report by the Colorado School of Public Health, released Jan. 28, gathered evidence from heavily drilled rural Colorado, which has among the highest densities of oil and gas wells in the U.S.

“What we found was that the risk of congenital heart defects (CHD) increased with greater density of gas wells — with mothers living in the highest-density areas at greatest risk,” Lisa McKenzie, a research associate at the Colorado School of Public Health and the lead author of the study, told Al Jazeera.

The study examined links between the mother’s residential proximity to natural gas wells and birth defects in a study of more than 124,842 births from 1996 to 2009 in rural Colorado. 

The study found that “births to mothers in the most exposed (areas with over 125 wells per mile) had a 30 percent greater prevalence of CHDs than births to mothers with no wells in a 10-mile radius of their residence.”

Many pollutants that are suspected of increasing the risk of birth defects are emitted into the air during development and production of natural gas, the report said.

McKenzie added that the study is not conclusive but found an “association.” But critics of the oil and gas industry were not so cautious about drawing conclusions from the evidence.

“This study suggests that if you want to have a healthy baby and you live near a fracking site, move,” Gary Wockner of Colorado’s Clean Water Action, said.

Colorado has more than 50,000 active oil and gas wells — including more than 20,000 in northern Weld County. Wockner told Al Jazeera the industry predicts another 50,000 wells will be added over the next 15 to 20 years in the state, “so the public health impact is of extreme concern.”

“The shocking story here is that fracking has moved forward with virtually no regulation and no study of public health impacts.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is conducting an in-depth study on the potential impact of fracking on water resources, the findings of which are expected to be released late this year.

Full article

For first time, anti-terrorism law used to have Americans protesting Keystone XL pipeline arrestedDecember 17, 2013
A demonstration against Devon Energy and the company’s role in fracking and tar sands mining, including the Keystone XL pipeline, ended with four individuals being placed under arrest last week. Two of them were arrested by police on the basis that they had violated an Oklahoma anti-terrorism law prohibiting “terrorism hoaxes.”
It is strongly suspected that this happened as a result of advice that TransCanada has been giving local law enforcement in states, where protests against the Keystone XL pipeline have been taking place. They have been meeting with law enforcement and suggesting how terrorism laws could be applied to stop citizens from protesting the corporation’s activities.
I spoke with the two individuals arrested on terrorism charges, their lawyer and a spokesperson for Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR), which for months has been conducting nonviolent direct actions against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Oklahoma.
On December 13, several people entered Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City to protest Devon, an energy company involved in natural gas and oil production that involves fracking. They are also invested and involved in tar sands mining in Canada. Devon Energy CEO John Richels sits on Trans Canada’s Board of Directors.
In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, two individuals locked themselves with a bike lock inside one of the multiple revolving doors that lead into the atrium of Devon Tower. Two other individuals unfurled a banner from the second floor. The banner had the Mockingjay emblem on it from The Hunger Games and a slogan read, “The odds are never in our favor.” Simultaneously, another banner was unfurled that indicated support for indigenous activists in Canada who have been fighting to prevent energy extraction on their land.
According to attorney Douglas Parr, who is representing the two individuals who unfurled The Hunger Games banner, glitter “fell off the banner” and on to the floor of the atrium. All protesters inside the building were asked to leave. The two individuals, who dropped The Hunger Games banner and left the building when requested to do so by security, were then sought after by police and arrested. The two people locked inside the revolving door were eventually removed and arrested as well.
Stefan said he allegedly let go of The Hunger Games banner and it unfurled. “Consequently, some glitter that was on the banner fell [from the second floor] to the ground.”
“At which point, we were approached by Devon employees,” Stefan added. He and the second individual, Bailey, explained they were engaged in “nonviolent peaceful protest.” What had fallen was glitter. Building security told everyone to leave.
A janitor, according to Stefan, came over to sweep up the glitter. Security did not have the building evacuated. However, FBI and a HAZMAT team were later called to the scene to inspect the substance that had unintentionally landed on the atrium floor of Devon Tower.
“I was present after banner droppers were arrested but before the individuals who had locked themselves in a revolving door were extracted,” Parr recalled. “Police on the scene were communicating with someone off site attempting to find some statute in the Oklahoma anti-terrorism statutes.” They were “trying to figure out if one of those statutes could be applied to the banner droppers.”
But, Parr added, “The building was never evacuated. The atrium was never evacuated. People were never warned off of the building at all.”
Stefan and Bailey were booked into jail for a violation of an Oklahoma felony statute called “terrorism hoax.” The statute is intended to prohibit people from “willfully faking a terrorist attack. The two individuals, who locked themselves in the revolving door, were charged with trespassing.
“To my knowledge,” Parr stated, “it is the first time that any of these statutes in Oklahoma have been used with regard to protest activity.” It’s also the “first time terrorist charges” have been “used as a basis for an arrest” against individuals protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.
Both Stefan and Bailey have not been formally charged with violating a “terrorism hoax” statute, a felony which carries a potential sentence of ten years in prison. They were arrested with “terrorism hoax” as the basis and reports have to be submitted to the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will ultimately decide if they will be charged.
A spokesperson for GPTSR, Eric, noted that the group had video of the action. “Nobody is panicking” in the video when the banner was dropped. “There’s no chaos.” A janitor, he said, cleaned up the glitter with “no protective gear.” But Devon Energy and police chose to escalate the scene and began to discuss possible charges of “biochemical assault” and “terrorism hoax” against protesters.
GPTSR’s action was the second action the group has done at Devon Tower. Previously, they had done a mock oil spill cleanup and engaged in a performance to show how ridiculous and ineffective some of the industry’s methods happen to be. It did not receive as much attention as last week’s action and nobody was arrested.
“Devon Energy is a key player in the deadly tar sands industry,” according to a posting on GPTSR’s website. “And though Devon Energy has been touted as practicing the safest and greenest form of tar sands extraction, the form of extraction that Devon practices, steam assisted gravity drainage, emits 2.5x the greenhouse emissions as open mining according to the Pembina Institute. Additionally, since 80% of tar sands reserves lie too deep within the earth to mine, this type of extraction will utilize 30x more land area than open mining.”
“We wanted to take an anti-fracking stance and also symbolically represent that Devon in Oklahoma is a symbol of power,” Bailey explained.
The group had mostly been engaged in actions in rural areas. Stefan had participated in such an action targeting TransCanada in February. But, Eric said, “You do get attention in the city whereas it’s much more easier to ignore you in the rural areas.” That is why the group has begun to plan nonviolent direct actions against Devon Energy in Oklahoma City.
On June 14 of this year, Bold Nebraska, an organization that fought construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed TransCanada was “providing security briefings to Nebraska authorities warning them to look into the application of ‘anti-terrorism laws’ on people who oppose the pipeline.”
A presentation consisting of private intelligence gathered by the company on protesters and organizations demonstrating against the corporation advised, “District Attorneys may have more information regarding the applicability of State or Federal Anti-Terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures.” It suggested resident FBI offices “explore federal charges with the US Attorney.”
The presentation was given to local law enforcement in Nebraska to hype the threat to TransCanada. It contains what could be considered dossiers on activists. As GreenistheNewRed.com’s Will Potter described, it is “a playbook on how to go after activists.”
Up and down the route of the pipeline being constructed, TransCanada has been meeting with law enforcement to advise them of what they could do to control protesters and deter them from challenging TransCanada.
Parr cited an open records request and said law enforcement from Oklahoma City had met with TransCanada. He believes that is what police did in trying to apply an Oklahoma anti-terrorism statute to protest activity was a result of advice from TransCanada.
According to Eric, police from Oklahoma showed up to a “week-long training” hosted by GPTSR. Police have conducted surveillance on the group and there has been cooperation among law enforcement in Oklahoma so that protesters are heavily monitored. FBI questioned some of the protesters as they were leaving Devon Tower on Friday.
Parr has “represented a number of people over the course of this last year who have been arrested in protest activity against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands extraction.” TransCanada has managed to obtain temporary restraining orders in two counties in Oklahoma against specific individuals, who were arrested in direct actions. The temporary restraining orders prohibit these individuals from “invasion of the property of TransCanada.” They can be viewed as part of an effort to stifle resistance to the corporation’s pipeline construction.
Environmental groups in Canada, which have been fighting energy corporations, like TransCanada, have been targeted as if they were extremist or terrorist organizations.
To TransCanada, groups like GPTSR and the larger environmental movement targeting pipeline construction are a part of an insurgency to be preemptively halted. The corporation is engaged in psychological operations to, as Sasha Ross has written, “promote an image of popular satisfaction, compliance and respect for authorities in order to facilitate the plans of the state or employer.”
An army field manual, FM 3-24, on counterinsurgency states, “Some elements of culture should be identified and evaluated in a counterinsurgency operation.” This operation can help law enforcement learn how to best approach the population.
To authorities criminalizing protest activity in Oklahoma as terrorism, Eric said this is very “disrespectful to Oklahoma’s history,” since it is a city in America that actually has experienced a terrorist attack, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.
The group condemns “corporations trying to put folks away just for being nonviolent protesters and using very scary language that strikes at the heart of people in Oklahoma City.”
Source
(lol @ the thought of the FBI inspecting glitter.)

For first time, anti-terrorism law used to have Americans protesting Keystone XL pipeline arrested
December 17, 2013

A demonstration against Devon Energy and the company’s role in fracking and tar sands mining, including the Keystone XL pipeline, ended with four individuals being placed under arrest last week. Two of them were arrested by police on the basis that they had violated an Oklahoma anti-terrorism law prohibiting “terrorism hoaxes.”

It is strongly suspected that this happened as a result of advice that TransCanada has been giving local law enforcement in states, where protests against the Keystone XL pipeline have been taking place. They have been meeting with law enforcement and suggesting how terrorism laws could be applied to stop citizens from protesting the corporation’s activities.

I spoke with the two individuals arrested on terrorism charges, their lawyer and a spokesperson for Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance (GPTSR), which for months has been conducting nonviolent direct actions against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Oklahoma.

On December 13, several people entered Devon Tower in downtown Oklahoma City to protest Devon, an energy company involved in natural gas and oil production that involves fracking. They are also invested and involved in tar sands mining in Canada. Devon Energy CEO John Richels sits on Trans Canada’s Board of Directors.

In an act of nonviolent civil disobedience, two individuals locked themselves with a bike lock inside one of the multiple revolving doors that lead into the atrium of Devon Tower. Two other individuals unfurled a banner from the second floor. The banner had the Mockingjay emblem on it from The Hunger Games and a slogan read, “The odds are never in our favor.” Simultaneously, another banner was unfurled that indicated support for indigenous activists in Canada who have been fighting to prevent energy extraction on their land.

According to attorney Douglas Parr, who is representing the two individuals who unfurled The Hunger Games banner, glitter “fell off the banner” and on to the floor of the atrium. All protesters inside the building were asked to leave. The two individuals, who dropped The Hunger Games banner and left the building when requested to do so by security, were then sought after by police and arrested. The two people locked inside the revolving door were eventually removed and arrested as well.

Stefan said he allegedly let go of The Hunger Games banner and it unfurled. “Consequently, some glitter that was on the banner fell [from the second floor] to the ground.”

“At which point, we were approached by Devon employees,” Stefan added. He and the second individual, Bailey, explained they were engaged in “nonviolent peaceful protest.” What had fallen was glitter. Building security told everyone to leave.

A janitor, according to Stefan, came over to sweep up the glitter. Security did not have the building evacuated. However, FBI and a HAZMAT team were later called to the scene to inspect the substance that had unintentionally landed on the atrium floor of Devon Tower.

“I was present after banner droppers were arrested but before the individuals who had locked themselves in a revolving door were extracted,” Parr recalled. “Police on the scene were communicating with someone off site attempting to find some statute in the Oklahoma anti-terrorism statutes.” They were “trying to figure out if one of those statutes could be applied to the banner droppers.”

But, Parr added, “The building was never evacuated. The atrium was never evacuated. People were never warned off of the building at all.”

Stefan and Bailey were booked into jail for a violation of an Oklahoma felony statute called “terrorism hoax.” The statute is intended to prohibit people from “willfully faking a terrorist attack. The two individuals, who locked themselves in the revolving door, were charged with trespassing.

“To my knowledge,” Parr stated, “it is the first time that any of these statutes in Oklahoma have been used with regard to protest activity.” It’s also the “first time terrorist charges” have been “used as a basis for an arrest” against individuals protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

Both Stefan and Bailey have not been formally charged with violating a “terrorism hoax” statute, a felony which carries a potential sentence of ten years in prison. They were arrested with “terrorism hoax” as the basis and reports have to be submitted to the Oklahoma District Attorney’s Office. The District Attorney’s Office will ultimately decide if they will be charged.

A spokesperson for GPTSR, Eric, noted that the group had video of the action. “Nobody is panicking” in the video when the banner was dropped. “There’s no chaos.” A janitor, he said, cleaned up the glitter with “no protective gear.” But Devon Energy and police chose to escalate the scene and began to discuss possible charges of “biochemical assault” and “terrorism hoax” against protesters.

GPTSR’s action was the second action the group has done at Devon Tower. Previously, they had done a mock oil spill cleanup and engaged in a performance to show how ridiculous and ineffective some of the industry’s methods happen to be. It did not receive as much attention as last week’s action and nobody was arrested.

“Devon Energy is a key player in the deadly tar sands industry,” according to a posting on GPTSR’s website. “And though Devon Energy has been touted as practicing the safest and greenest form of tar sands extraction, the form of extraction that Devon practices, steam assisted gravity drainage, emits 2.5x the greenhouse emissions as open mining according to the Pembina Institute. Additionally, since 80% of tar sands reserves lie too deep within the earth to mine, this type of extraction will utilize 30x more land area than open mining.”

“We wanted to take an anti-fracking stance and also symbolically represent that Devon in Oklahoma is a symbol of power,” Bailey explained.

The group had mostly been engaged in actions in rural areas. Stefan had participated in such an action targeting TransCanada in February. But, Eric said, “You do get attention in the city whereas it’s much more easier to ignore you in the rural areas.” That is why the group has begun to plan nonviolent direct actions against Devon Energy in Oklahoma City.

On June 14 of this year, Bold Nebraska, an organization that fought construction of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, obtained documents through a Freedom of Information Act request that showed TransCanada was “providing security briefings to Nebraska authorities warning them to look into the application of ‘anti-terrorism laws’ on people who oppose the pipeline.”

A presentation consisting of private intelligence gathered by the company on protesters and organizations demonstrating against the corporation advised, “District Attorneys may have more information regarding the applicability of State or Federal Anti-Terrorism laws prohibiting sabotage or terroristic acts against critical infrastructures.” It suggested resident FBI offices “explore federal charges with the US Attorney.”

The presentation was given to local law enforcement in Nebraska to hype the threat to TransCanada. It contains what could be considered dossiers on activists. As GreenistheNewRed.com’s Will Potter described, it is “a playbook on how to go after activists.”

Up and down the route of the pipeline being constructed, TransCanada has been meeting with law enforcement to advise them of what they could do to control protesters and deter them from challenging TransCanada.

Parr cited an open records request and said law enforcement from Oklahoma City had met with TransCanada. He believes that is what police did in trying to apply an Oklahoma anti-terrorism statute to protest activity was a result of advice from TransCanada.

According to Eric, police from Oklahoma showed up to a “week-long training” hosted by GPTSR. Police have conducted surveillance on the group and there has been cooperation among law enforcement in Oklahoma so that protesters are heavily monitored. FBI questioned some of the protesters as they were leaving Devon Tower on Friday.

Parr has “represented a number of people over the course of this last year who have been arrested in protest activity against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and tar sands extraction.” TransCanada has managed to obtain temporary restraining orders in two counties in Oklahoma against specific individuals, who were arrested in direct actions. The temporary restraining orders prohibit these individuals from “invasion of the property of TransCanada.” They can be viewed as part of an effort to stifle resistance to the corporation’s pipeline construction.

Environmental groups in Canada, which have been fighting energy corporations, like TransCanada, have been targeted as if they were extremist or terrorist organizations.

To TransCanada, groups like GPTSR and the larger environmental movement targeting pipeline construction are a part of an insurgency to be preemptively halted. The corporation is engaged in psychological operations to, as Sasha Ross has written, “promote an image of popular satisfaction, compliance and respect for authorities in order to facilitate the plans of the state or employer.”

An army field manual, FM 3-24, on counterinsurgency states, “Some elements of culture should be identified and evaluated in a counterinsurgency operation.” This operation can help law enforcement learn how to best approach the population.

To authorities criminalizing protest activity in Oklahoma as terrorism, Eric said this is very “disrespectful to Oklahoma’s history,” since it is a city in America that actually has experienced a terrorist attack, the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995.

The group condemns “corporations trying to put folks away just for being nonviolent protesters and using very scary language that strikes at the heart of people in Oklahoma City.”

Source

(lol @ the thought of the FBI inspecting glitter.)

Indigenous Canadian fracking protesters refuse to back down
December 3, 2013

Anti-fracking demonstrators set tires ablaze to block a New Brunswick highway Monday in a fiery response to a judge’s decision to extend an injunction limiting their protests against a Texas-based shale gas exploration company.  

In a courtroom in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, Judge Paulette Garnett ruled to continue through Dec. 17 the injunction obtained by SWN Resources Canada against a coalition of protesters led by Mi’kmaq indigenous people from the Elsipogtog First Nation.

The injunction, which SWN obtained on Nov. 22, is designed to keep protesters from interfering with SWN’s seismic testing work. It requires that demonstrators remain at least 250 yards in front of or behind contractors and their vehicles and 20 yards to the side.

The Mi’kmaq have argued that SWN is conducting exploration work on land that they never ceded to the crown when they signed treaties with the British in the 18th century. 

New Brunswick’s government granted SWN licenses to explore for shale gas in 2010 in exchange for investment in the province worth approximately CA$47 million (about US$44 million).

The protesters fear that exploration will inevitably lead to gas extraction by means of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which water and chemicals are injected into shale rock to release gas deposits trapped inside. Opponents say fracking can contaminate the environment, especially water.

SWN has been trying since mid-November to complete the final 10 days of work it says are left in its exploration season. The company has claimed in court documents supporting the injunction application that each day of lost work costs about $54,000 and that vandalism by protesters has resulted in damage to more than 1,000 geophones — pieces of equipment used for seismic testing in conjunction with specialized trucks.

Daily confrontations

But the injunction has not deterred the anti-fracking alliance of indigenous people and members of New Brunswick’s Acadian and anglophone communities, a grouping that has consolidated since Elsipogtog residents began trying to stop SWN’s exploration work last May. Over the past week there have been daily confrontations with police, as protesters — who prefer to be known as protectors of the land and water — have persisted in their efforts to slow the seismic-testing operation.

“This isn’t just a native issue,” Edgar Clair of Elsipogtog First Nation told Al Jazeera from the site of the blockade on Route 11. “But the natives want the world to know that this is Mi’kmaq territory, and they won’t back down, and they won’t abide by this injunction.”  

Earlier Monday afternoon protesters blocked Route 11 — the latest front line in this conflict over shale gas exploration — after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, who decide how and when to enforce the injunction, arrested several people on or near the highway. People at the site said that there were more than 100 RCMP officers in the area, that some were armed with rubber pellet guns often used for crowd control and that at least one K-9 unit was on hand.

As night descended, there were reports that police in riot gear were near the blockade. The RCMP could not immediately be reached for comment.  

“Our people are tired, and this is a response to the justice system,” said an Elsipogtog community member who was at the site and asked to go by the name Jane Doe 372, for fear of being targeted by police. The moniker is a reference to the injunction that names five individuals and a John and Jane Doe. “We’re tired of not being taken seriously and that the treaties we agreed to are not being taken seriously.” 

Full article
Photo 1, 2

First Nations to resume blockade in Canadian fracking fightNovember 6, 2013
Elsipogtog First Nations members are heading back to the streets in New Brunswick this week to defend their land from a gas drilling company eager to re-start exploratory fracking operations in the region.
The new wave of local anti-drilling resistance will resume an ongoing battle between the community members who faced a paramilitary-style onslaught by law enforcement agencies last month that sparked international outcry and a wave of solidarity protests.
The renewed protest follows a recent announcementby New Brunswick’s premiere that SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Company, will resume shale gas exploration in First Nations territory after it was halted by blockades and protests.
Elsipogtog members announced Monday they will join with local residents and other First Nations communities—including the Mi’kmaq people—to “light a sacred fire” and stage a protest to stop SWN from fracking.
“SWN is violating our treaty rights. We are here to save our water and land, and to protect our animals and people. There will be no fracking at all,” said Louis Jerome, a Mi’kmaq sun dancer, in a statement. “We are putting a sacred fire here, and it must be respected. We are still here, and we’re not backing down.”
"The people of Elsipogtog along with local people have a very strong resolve and will be there as long as they need to be to keep the threat of fracking from destroying their water," said Clayton Thomas-Muller, a campaigner with Idle No More, in an interview with Common Dreams.
Community members  previously blocked a road near the town of Rexton in rural New Brunswick to stop energy companies from conducting shale gas exploration on their land without their consent.
In early October, the government imposed a temporary injunction on the New Brunswick protest, bowing to pressure from SWN.
Claiming the authority of the injunction, over 100 Royal Canadian Mounted Police launched a paramilitary-style assault on the blockade in late October, bringing rifles and attack dogs and arresting 40 people.
First Nations communities and activists across Canada and the world launched a wave of actions in solidarity in response to the attack.
"Within 24 hours of the paramilitary assault on the nonviolent blockade by the fed police, Idle No More and other networks organized over 100 solidarity actions in over half a dozen countries," said Thomas-Muller.
Days later, a Canadian judge overruled the injunction on the protests. Yet the federal and provincial governments continue to allow SWN to move forward fracking plans on indigenous lands, in what First Nation campaigners say is a violation of federal laws protecting the sovereignty of their communities.
"This is an issue of human rights and access to clean drinking water, and it’s fundamentally about sovereignty and self-determination," said Thomas-Muller. "Support for the Elsipogtog and their actions to reclaim lands in their territory is something that is powerful and united from coast to coast and around the world."
Source

First Nations to resume blockade in Canadian fracking fight
November 6, 2013

Elsipogtog First Nations members are heading back to the streets in New Brunswick this week to defend their land from a gas drilling company eager to re-start exploratory fracking operations in the region.

The new wave of local anti-drilling resistance will resume an ongoing battle between the community members who faced a paramilitary-style onslaught by law enforcement agencies last month that sparked international outcry and a wave of solidarity protests.

The renewed protest follows a recent announcementby New Brunswick’s premiere that SWN Resources Canada, a subsidiary of the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Company, will resume shale gas exploration in First Nations territory after it was halted by blockades and protests.

Elsipogtog members announced Monday they will join with local residents and other First Nations communities—including the Mi’kmaq people—to “light a sacred fire” and stage a protest to stop SWN from fracking.

“SWN is violating our treaty rights. We are here to save our water and land, and to protect our animals and people. There will be no fracking at all,” said Louis Jerome, a Mi’kmaq sun dancer, in a statement. “We are putting a sacred fire here, and it must be respected. We are still here, and we’re not backing down.”

"The people of Elsipogtog along with local people have a very strong resolve and will be there as long as they need to be to keep the threat of fracking from destroying their water," said Clayton Thomas-Muller, a campaigner with Idle No More, in an interview with Common Dreams.

Community members  previously blocked a road near the town of Rexton in rural New Brunswick to stop energy companies from conducting shale gas exploration on their land without their consent.

In early October, the government imposed a temporary injunction on the New Brunswick protest, bowing to pressure from SWN.

Claiming the authority of the injunction, over 100 Royal Canadian Mounted Police launched a paramilitary-style assault on the blockade in late October, bringing rifles and attack dogs and arresting 40 people.

First Nations communities and activists across Canada and the world launched a wave of actions in solidarity in response to the attack.

"Within 24 hours of the paramilitary assault on the nonviolent blockade by the fed police, Idle No More and other networks organized over 100 solidarity actions in over half a dozen countries," said Thomas-Muller.

Days later, a Canadian judge overruled the injunction on the protests. Yet the federal and provincial governments continue to allow SWN to move forward fracking plans on indigenous lands, in what First Nation campaigners say is a violation of federal laws protecting the sovereignty of their communities.

"This is an issue of human rights and access to clean drinking water, and it’s fundamentally about sovereignty and self-determination," said Thomas-Muller. "Support for the Elsipogtog and their actions to reclaim lands in their territory is something that is powerful and united from coast to coast and around the world."

Source

We warned that one day you would not be able to control what you have created. That day is here. Not heeding warnings from both Nature and the People of the Earth keeps us on the path of self destruction. This self destructive path has led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Gulf oil spill, tar sands devastation, pipeline failures, impacts of carbon dioxide emissions and the destruction of ground water through hydraulic fracking, just to name a few. In addition, these activities and development continue to cause the deterioration and destruction of sacred places and sacred waters that are vital for Life.
Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Lakota, with the Council of Indigenous Elders and Medicine Peoples in a statement of resistance to environmental destruction, saying there is “no time left to defend the Earth.”

Fires still burn after shale gas protests in New Brunswick
October 19, 2013

A day after an anti-fracking protest here turned violent, with 40 people arrested and torched police cars sending clouds of black smoke into the air, aboriginal protesters huddled around a fire pit at the site of their anti-fracking encampment, sipping coffee and discussing their next move. A tense calm hung in the air while, down the road, local high school students gawked at the row of burnt-out vehicles towed to a vacant lot.

Canada’s national police force, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, charged into the area early Thursday, hoping to break up a weekslong protest where demonstrators blocked the roads, denying SWN Resources Canada, a Texas-based shale gas company, the chance to retrieve its testing equipment from a storage compound.

Of the people arrested, nine are expected to spend the weekend in jail. Police used pepper-spray and rubber bullets to enforce the court-ordered injunction, according to protesters, while officers seized a number of weapons, including guns, explosive devices and knives.

The conflict, whose dramatic images spread quickly through social media, has heightened tensions between New Brunswick’s First Nations and the provincial government, and thrust the debate over the environmental impact of shale gas exploration back into the spotlight.

It has also led to protests elsewhere in Canada, with the First Nation group Idle No More saying that at least 40 events were planned throughout the country. It also prompted calls for calm from Canada’s justice minister, Peter MacKay.

On Friday, demonstrators at the encampment said the battle was far from over.

John Levi, a leading protester who is known as the war chief for the Elsipogtog First Nation, which is located a 15-minute drive from the encampment, said protesters would track down the equipment and block the company from testing for shale gas reserves elsewhere.

“If they’re in New Brunswick, we’ll find them,” said Levi, expressing concern about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracking on the water system and soil.

While Levi and many protesters are wholly opposed to shale gas development, other First Nations leaders in the province have expressed openness to the possibility if they have a greater stake in the process and more environmental precautions are taken.

Meanwhile, even though workers for SWN Resources Canada succeeded in taking out the equipment on Thursday, protesters showed no signs of clearing out of the area.

Full article
Photo 1, 2

Spaniards protest gas storage plant after quakesOctober 6, 2013
Thousands of Spaniards on Sunday protested the presence of an underground gas storage plant over growing fears it is triggering minor earthquakes in the area.
Initial police estimates said more than 3,000 people gathered to carry banners along the seaside promenade of the coastal town of Les Cases d’Alcanar, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Madrid, calling for the offshore plant to be closed or dismantled. But protest organizers said 6,000 people marched, chanting, "We don’t want it. We live off fishing and tourism."
Spain’s Geographical Institute has measured a sharp increase in temblors — 139 in the 10 days up to Saturday — since operators began pumping gas into the facility. Some earthquakes have exceeded magnitude 4.0. The first alarms were set off on Sept. 13 after 300 quakes were detected.
"Some weeks after we began to inject gas, the earthquakes began," said Recaredo del Potro, president of Escal-U.G.S., the company in charge of the project.
Injections stopped on Sept. 16, Del Potro said in a TV interview by state broadcaster TVE, and the government banned further injections two weeks ago.
However, the institute has continued to detect tremors, and on Thursday the regional prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the plant and flew inspectors to a platform atop the storage facility to determine if pumping had indeed been halted. Press reports said they had.
Jose Manuel Soria, Spain’s industry minister, said Thursday that there appeared to be a direct link between the quakes and injections of gas into rocks that form part of the underwater storage system, which was intended to serve the eastern Valencia region as a supply of fuel gas that is used to generate electricity and for domestic heating and cooking.
The project is estimated to have cost some 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion), with half of the funds provided by a consortium of nine banks and the remainder by the European Investment Bank, TVE said.
The tremors are occurring just off the coast of Castellon city and Les Cases d’Alcanar, an area Spain’s College of Geologists said is not known for such seismic activity.

Source

Spaniards protest gas storage plant after quakes
October 6, 2013

Thousands of Spaniards on Sunday protested the presence of an underground gas storage plant over growing fears it is triggering minor earthquakes in the area.

Initial police estimates said more than 3,000 people gathered to carry banners along the seaside promenade of the coastal town of Les Cases d’Alcanar, 500 kilometers (310 miles) east of Madrid, calling for the offshore plant to be closed or dismantled. But protest organizers said 6,000 people marched, chanting, "We don’t want it. We live off fishing and tourism."

Spain’s Geographical Institute has measured a sharp increase in temblors — 139 in the 10 days up to Saturday — since operators began pumping gas into the facility. Some earthquakes have exceeded magnitude 4.0. The first alarms were set off on Sept. 13 after 300 quakes were detected.

"Some weeks after we began to inject gas, the earthquakes began," said Recaredo del Potro, president of Escal-U.G.S., the company in charge of the project.

Injections stopped on Sept. 16, Del Potro said in a TV interview by state broadcaster TVE, and the government banned further injections two weeks ago.

However, the institute has continued to detect tremors, and on Thursday the regional prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the plant and flew inspectors to a platform atop the storage facility to determine if pumping had indeed been halted. Press reports said they had.

Jose Manuel Soria, Spain’s industry minister, said Thursday that there appeared to be a direct link between the quakes and injections of gas into rocks that form part of the underwater storage system, which was intended to serve the eastern Valencia region as a supply of fuel gas that is used to generate electricity and for domestic heating and cooking.

The project is estimated to have cost some 1.3 billion euros ($1.8 billion), with half of the funds provided by a consortium of nine banks and the remainder by the European Investment Bank, TVE said.

The tremors are occurring just off the coast of Castellon city and Les Cases d’Alcanar, an area Spain’s College of Geologists said is not known for such seismic activity.

Source

‘Frack off’: Protests grow against shale gas drilling in UK
August 20, 2013

A tiny village in the English countryside saw extraordinary scenes Monday as police waded in to forcibly disperse a peaceful anti-fracking protest. Hundreds of locals and eco-activists are protesting the UK government’s support for shale gas drilling.

Around 200 anti-fracking protesters have been cleared by police outside an oil exploration site at the village of Balcombe in southern England. Some scuffles broke out after Sussex police served a notice under section 14 of the Public Order Act because they believed the protesters may cause disorder and damage to property. 

The police arrested at least a dozen protesters on Monday, including Green Party lawmaker Caroline Lucas. she told ITV news that she “took peaceful direct action only after exhausting every other means of protest”. 

Shouts of “shame on you” and” no violence” erupted as police tried to move demonstrators back from the main gate. Some chanted “We are peaceful, what are you?” 

Also on Monday protesters broke into the offices of Caudrilla, the energy company carrying out the drilling, in Staffordshire in the Midlands and several demonstrators managed to get into the public relations firm Bell Potinger in London, which represents the group and six of them have been arrested.  

In the latest showdown, the angry residents of Balcombe village in West Sussex were joined by hundreds of activists from across the country Sunday for a rally against fracking at a local private site. 

The site, where energy firm Cuadrilla Resources suspended its drilling Friday due to the protests, has been cordoned off by police. RT’s Tesa Arcilla, reporting from the protesters camp next to the site, listened to local residents and campaigners – discovered that the activists had done their homework on the environment before drawing up their “Frack off!” banners.

“There is ample evidence of desperate harm that is done, that seismic activity is triggered, the water is contaminated and the bottom line is this industry, this technology cannot be regulated,” a local resident, protesting alongside her daughter, told Arcilla. “Once you mess with the subterranean geology even the industry’s own figures say the wells will leak in the end. This is just insane that this is being allowed to go ahead, instead of investing in safe renewable technologies that will give us energy security, will give us lasting employment and won’t hurt people.” 

Protesters point to the dangerous example of the US, the worldwide leader in fracking, where the practice led to areas facing a dire water crisis. Hydraulic fracturing consumes vast amounts of water, and has led to the depletion of aquifers in a number of  drought-prone states such as Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming. 

Ironically, the US experience is also cited by supporters of fracking, who have extolled the advantages of the drilling technique. 

“Even if we only see a fraction of the impact shale gas has had in America, we can expect to see lower energy prices in this country,” Prime Minister David Cameron wrote in an Op-Ed article published in The Daily Telegraph. 

“The huge benefits of shale gas outweigh any very minor changes to the landscape,” Cameron wrote, adding that British communities should not miss out on the promise by industry giants to pay £100,000 to every community near an exploratory well. 

If gas is found and fracking starts, neighborhoods will see 1 percent of the revenues going to local government budgets, the UK government says. 

Cuadrilla chairman Lord Browne, the former CEO of British energy giant BP, says fracking is about Britain becoming self-sufficient in energy. 

"This is about getting domestic resources. Domestic gas is more green than imported gas, and we need to explore as much domestic resource as we can," Reuters reported Lord Browne as saying. "It’s right for our energy security, and, if done safely, we should pursue it."

Despite the promises of cash and energy security, however, locals continue to understand that there are more/greater potential dangers than benefits. Their concern is shared by Andy Chyba, who is a candidate for the European Parliament from the UK Green Party. 

“Vaguely, the subterranean geology means that it’s impossible to absolutely guarantee the safety of this procedure,” Chyba told RT. “On an individual well, the odds might seem quite good. But when you start multiplying it by the thousands – and that’s what’s been needed to obtain the gas they’ve been talking about – then it will not be about “if” but about “when” and “where” the problems are going to occur.” 

The UK government is closing its eyes to the risks because it’s too much in the pockets of big business, Chyba said. “The links between our government and the fossil fuel industries are there to be seen. There’s got to be strong suspicions of vested interest in their work.” 

According to a June estimate by UK firm IGas, an estimated 4,810 cubic kilometers of gas could lie in the areas licensed for exploration in northern England. 

The technique of fracking has been used in the UK since the 1970s, but mostly at offshore sites.

Criticism of fracking in the UK has grown rapidly since 2007, when Cuadrilla Resources, jointly owned by American, Australian and UK investors, was awarded a license for shale gas exploration in Lancashire, northern England. Since that time, it has been granted several more licenses, and has started carrying out test drilling at several sites, including the village of Balcombe.

Source

Vivienne Westwood joins anti-fracking protest camp as 1,000-strong crowd descends on Balcombe
August 16, 2013

Up to 1,000 new protesters, including the fashion designer Dame Vivienne Westwood, started arriving in Balcombe today as the three-week protest against the possibility of fracking at the West Sussex village moved up a gear.

Like many of the existing protesters, the new influx of opponents plan to camp by the site for the next five days and organisers were furiously pitching tents, bringing in food and building make-shift toilets today, as dozens of extra police were drafted in.

Surrounded by activists, Dame Westwood called for a public debate on fracking, which she said could store up problems for decades to come if allowed to proceed.

"I’m anti-fracking and I’m here to protest. There has been no debate. They are trying to rush this thing through, for what?"

"I’m sure it’s bad and the only people who are going to benefit from it is this energy company….They all have vested interests. It’s a kind of club….Who do they [the government] think they are when I would say most of the country is really against fracking, particularly at this point in time, when we don’t know what’s at stake," she said.

The latest protesters, most of whom belong to a coalition called No Dash For Gas, will add to a core of about 200 protesters who started picketing the gate last month and have promised to take “direct action” rumored to include a plan to invade the site.

Cuadrilla, the company exploring for oil on the site to assess the potential for full-scale production, potentially using fracking, stopped drilling in anticipation of the heightened protest. The company, which is chaired by former BP chief executive Lord Browne, said it will only turn the drill on when it can be confident the site won’t be breached - expected to be towards the end of next week at the earliest.

Source

A Texas tragedy: Ample oil, no water because of fracking boomAugust 13, 2013
Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.
"The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."
Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.
Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.
In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.
The town — a gas station, a community hall and a taco truck – sits in the midst of the great Texan oil rush, on the eastern edge of the Permian basin.
A few years ago, it seemed like a place on the way out. Now McGuire said she can see nine oil wells from her back porch, and there are dozens of RVs parked outside town, full of oil workers.
But soon after the first frack trucks pulled up two years ago, the well on McGuire’s property ran dry.
No-one in Barnhart paid much attention at the time, and McGuire hooked up to the town’s central water supply. “Everyone just said: ‘too bad’. Well now it’s all going dry,” McGuire said.
Ranchers dumped most of their herds. Cotton farmers lost up to half their crops. The extra draw down, coupled with drought, made it impossible for local ranchers to feed and water their herds, said Buck Owens. In a good year, Owens used to run 500 cattle and up to 8,000 goats on his 7,689 leased hectares (19,000 acres). Now he’s down to a few hundred goats.
The drought undoubtedly took its toll but Owens reserved his anger for the contractors who drilled 104 water wells on his leased land, to supply the oil companies.
Water levels were dropping in his wells because of the vast amounts of water being pumped out of the Edwards-Trinity-Plateau Aquifer, a 34,000 sq mile water bearing formation.
"They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells," Owens said.
Meanwhile, residents in town complained, they were forced to live under water rationing. “I’ve got dead trees in my yard because I haven’t been able to water them,” said Glenda Kuykendall. “The state is mandating our water system to conserve water but why?… Getting one oil well fracked takes more water than the entire town can drink or use in a day.”
Even as the drought bore down, even as the water levels declined, the oil industry continued to demand water and those with water on their land were willing to sell it. The road west of town was lined with signs advertising “fresh water”, where tankers can take on a box-car-sized load of water laced with industrial chemicals.
"If you’re going to develop the oil, you’ve got to have the water," said Larry Baxter, a contractor from the nearby town of Mertzon, who installed two frack tanks on his land earlier this year, hoping to make a business out of his well selling water to oil industry.
By his own estimate, his well could produce enough to fill up 20 or 30 water trucks for the oil industry each day. At $60 (£39.58) a truck, that was $36,000 a month, easily. “I could sell 100 truckloads a day if I was open to it,” Baxter said.
He rejected the idea there should be any curbs on selling water during the drought. “People use their water for food and fibre. I choose to use my water to sell to the oil field,” he said. “Who’s taking advantage? I don’t see any difference.”
Barnhart remained dry for five days last month before local work crew revived an abandoned railway well and started pumping again. But residents fear it is just a temporary fix and that next time it happens they won’t have their own wells to fall back on. “My well is very very close to going dry,” said Kuykendall.
So what is a town like Barnhart to do? Fracking is a powerful drain on water supplies. In adjacent Crockett county, fracking accounts for up to 25% of water use, according to the groundwater conservation district. But Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, argues fracking is not the only reason Texas is going dry – and nor is the drought. The latest shocks to the water system come after decades of overuse by ranchers, cotton farmers, and fast-growing thirsty cities.
"We have large urban centres sucking water out of west Texas to put on their lands. We have a huge agricultural community, and now we have fracking which is also using water," she said. And then there is climate change.
West Texas has a long history of recurring drought, but under climate change, the south-west has been experiencing record-breaking heatwaves, further drying out the soil and speeding the evaporation of water in lakes and reservoirs. Underground aquifers failed to regenerate. “What happens is that climate change comes on top and in many cases it can be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back, but the camel is already overloaded,” said Hayhoe.
Other communities across a bone-dry south-west are resorting to extraordinary measures to keep the water flowing. Robert Lee, also in the oil patch, has been hauling in water by tanker. So has Spicewood Beach, a resort town 40 miles from Austin, which has been trucking in water since early 2012.
San Angelo, a city of 100,000, dug a pipeline to an underground water source more than 60 miles away, and sunk half a dozen new wells.
Las Cruces, just across the border from the Texas panhandle in New Mexico, is drilling down 1,000ft in search of water.
But those fixes are way out of reach for small, rural communities. Outside the RV parks for the oil field workers who are just passing through, Barnhart has a population of about 200.
"We barely make enough money to pay our light bill and we’re supposed to find $300,000 to drill a water well?" said John Nanny, an official with the town’s water supply company.
Last week brought some relief, with rain across the entire state of Texas. Rain gauges in some parts of west Texas registered two inches or more. Some ranchers dared to hope it was the beginning of the end of the drought.
But not Owens, not yet anyway. The underground aquifers needed far more rain to recharge, he said, and it just wasn’t raining as hard as it did when he was growing up.
"We’ve got to get floods. We’ve got to get a hurricane to move up in our country and just saturate everything to replenish the aquifer," he said. "Because when the water is gone. That’s it. We’re gone."
Source

A Texas tragedy: Ample oil, no water because of fracking boom
August 13, 2013

Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

"The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.

The town — a gas station, a community hall and a taco truck – sits in the midst of the great Texan oil rush, on the eastern edge of the Permian basin.

A few years ago, it seemed like a place on the way out. Now McGuire said she can see nine oil wells from her back porch, and there are dozens of RVs parked outside town, full of oil workers.

But soon after the first frack trucks pulled up two years ago, the well on McGuire’s property ran dry.

No-one in Barnhart paid much attention at the time, and McGuire hooked up to the town’s central water supply. “Everyone just said: ‘too bad’. Well now it’s all going dry,” McGuire said.

Ranchers dumped most of their herds. Cotton farmers lost up to half their crops. The extra draw down, coupled with drought, made it impossible for local ranchers to feed and water their herds, said Buck Owens. In a good year, Owens used to run 500 cattle and up to 8,000 goats on his 7,689 leased hectares (19,000 acres). Now he’s down to a few hundred goats.

The drought undoubtedly took its toll but Owens reserved his anger for the contractors who drilled 104 water wells on his leased land, to supply the oil companies.

Water levels were dropping in his wells because of the vast amounts of water being pumped out of the Edwards-Trinity-Plateau Aquifer, a 34,000 sq mile water bearing formation.

"They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells," Owens said.

Meanwhile, residents in town complained, they were forced to live under water rationing. “I’ve got dead trees in my yard because I haven’t been able to water them,” said Glenda Kuykendall. “The state is mandating our water system to conserve water but why?… Getting one oil well fracked takes more water than the entire town can drink or use in a day.”

Even as the drought bore down, even as the water levels declined, the oil industry continued to demand water and those with water on their land were willing to sell it. The road west of town was lined with signs advertising “fresh water”, where tankers can take on a box-car-sized load of water laced with industrial chemicals.

"If you’re going to develop the oil, you’ve got to have the water," said Larry Baxter, a contractor from the nearby town of Mertzon, who installed two frack tanks on his land earlier this year, hoping to make a business out of his well selling water to oil industry.

By his own estimate, his well could produce enough to fill up 20 or 30 water trucks for the oil industry each day. At $60 (£39.58) a truck, that was $36,000 a month, easily. “I could sell 100 truckloads a day if I was open to it,” Baxter said.

He rejected the idea there should be any curbs on selling water during the drought. “People use their water for food and fibre. I choose to use my water to sell to the oil field,” he said. “Who’s taking advantage? I don’t see any difference.”

Barnhart remained dry for five days last month before local work crew revived an abandoned railway well and started pumping again. But residents fear it is just a temporary fix and that next time it happens they won’t have their own wells to fall back on. “My well is very very close to going dry,” said Kuykendall.

So what is a town like Barnhart to do? Fracking is a powerful drain on water supplies. In adjacent Crockett county, fracking accounts for up to 25% of water use, according to the groundwater conservation district. But Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, argues fracking is not the only reason Texas is going dry – and nor is the drought. The latest shocks to the water system come after decades of overuse by ranchers, cotton farmers, and fast-growing thirsty cities.

"We have large urban centres sucking water out of west Texas to put on their lands. We have a huge agricultural community, and now we have fracking which is also using water," she said. And then there is climate change.

West Texas has a long history of recurring drought, but under climate change, the south-west has been experiencing record-breaking heatwaves, further drying out the soil and speeding the evaporation of water in lakes and reservoirs. Underground aquifers failed to regenerate. “What happens is that climate change comes on top and in many cases it can be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back, but the camel is already overloaded,” said Hayhoe.

Other communities across a bone-dry south-west are resorting to extraordinary measures to keep the water flowing. Robert Lee, also in the oil patch, has been hauling in water by tanker. So has Spicewood Beach, a resort town 40 miles from Austin, which has been trucking in water since early 2012.

San Angelo, a city of 100,000, dug a pipeline to an underground water source more than 60 miles away, and sunk half a dozen new wells.

Las Cruces, just across the border from the Texas panhandle in New Mexico, is drilling down 1,000ft in search of water.

But those fixes are way out of reach for small, rural communities. Outside the RV parks for the oil field workers who are just passing through, Barnhart has a population of about 200.

"We barely make enough money to pay our light bill and we’re supposed to find $300,000 to drill a water well?" said John Nanny, an official with the town’s water supply company.

Last week brought some relief, with rain across the entire state of Texas. Rain gauges in some parts of west Texas registered two inches or more. Some ranchers dared to hope it was the beginning of the end of the drought.

But not Owens, not yet anyway. The underground aquifers needed far more rain to recharge, he said, and it just wasn’t raining as hard as it did when he was growing up.

"We’ve got to get floods. We’ve got to get a hurricane to move up in our country and just saturate everything to replenish the aquifer," he said. "Because when the water is gone. That’s it. We’re gone."

Source

Seattle FBI now targeting climate activistsJuly 4, 2013
In the past 48 hours at least six Seattle climate activists have been approached by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at their home or school. In light of recent revelations about the extent of state surveillance by federal agencies we feel it is important to share this information with the broader activist community in Seattle and nationwide.
Please show solidarity with the Seattle activists facing this investigation by sharing this statement. We will provide updates if the situation escalates.
Source

Seattle FBI now targeting climate activists
July 4, 2013

In the past 48 hours at least six Seattle climate activists have been approached by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation at their home or school. In light of recent revelations about the extent of state surveillance by federal agencies we feel it is important to share this information with the broader activist community in Seattle and nationwide.

Please show solidarity with the Seattle activists facing this investigation by sharing this statement. We will provide updates if the situation escalates.

Source

Hundreds protest fatal poultry plant blaze in China
June 4, 2013

Hundreds of people protested today outside a Chinese poultry plant where at least 120 people perished in a fire Monday. The blaze in the country’s northeast marked one of China’s worst industrial disasters. Survivors said they rushed to emergency exits that turned out to be locked; only a single exit was open. More than 300 workers, most of them women, were in the factory at the time. Scores were injured. Local officials said the cause was an excess of ammonia gas. Relatives of the victims blocked traffic, clashed with police and called for answers about the deaths of their loved ones.

Yang Xiuya: My daughter worked there. After the incident happened, they haven’t given us any explanation. It was time for my daughter to leave work, but the door was locked, so they were all burnt to death. The government isn’t giving us an explanation. We’re not moving until they give us an explanation!

Zhao Zhenchun: I don’t think safety was being managed properly. They need to work harder on this. This should never happen again. They paid the price with their blood. So many of these big disasters in China are caused by lax supervision.

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