By Lorraine ChowEnergy  02:07PM EST
Ireland Takes Major Step Towards Nationwide Fracking Ban

A bill banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Republic of Ireland was voted through the Dáil Éireann (the country's House of Representatives, so to speak) on Thursday.

During a televised debate over the bill, a number of speakers passionately argued that unconventional oil and gas operations have significant adverse effects.

According to the Irish Examiner, the bill's passage is "the first step in enforcing a nationwide ban on fracking and it will give the Government 12 weeks before it goes before further parliamentary scrutiny." The bill has now been moved to the committee stage for further review.

Fracking does not currently take place in the Emerald Isle but three exploratory licenses have been granted. The bill, The Prohibition of the Exploration and Extraction of Onshore Petroleum Bill, was introduced by Dáil member Tony McLoughlin, TD of the Fine Gael party. McLoughlin currently represents Sligo-Leitrim, a constituency that has been marked for potential shale gas exploration.

The legislation initially faced a potential eight-month delay to allow for Ireland's Environmental Protection Agency to issue a report on fracking, but the Government ultimately decided not to table the proposal.

During a televised debate over the bill, a number of speakers—across parties, no less—passionately argued that unconventional oil and gas operations have significant adverse effects, including its threat to human health, that it pollutes water and drives climate change, and would hamper Ireland's emissions targets.

Oisin Coghlan, the director of Friends of the Earth Ireland, live tweeted the entire debate.

"Fracking has no place in a low carbon future," said Joe Carey, Fine Gael TD for County Clare, according to Coghlan's tweet.

Catherine Connolly, Independent TD for Galway West, said that the bill gives her hope for the country's ability to act upon the emissions thresholds under the Paris climate agreement.

Timmy Dooley, Fianna Fáil TD for Clare, said, "We should not be looking for new methods to extract a resource so damaging to the climate."

To coincide with the bill, the Sustainable Water Network (SWAN) published a report concluding that fracking and other shale-gas operations in Ireland could lead to harmful water contamination and therefore should not be permitted.

The key findings of the report include:

  • There are numerous documented impacts on water bodies attributed to shale-gas activities, including increases in concentrations of salinity, methane, heavy metals, naturally occurring radioactive material and reduction in water body levels;
  • Many impacts arise due to contamination from well-casing leaks; leaks through fractured rocks; transportation spills and disposal and spillage of inadequately treated wastewater;
  • Gaps in legislation and inadequate regulatory capacity mean Ireland would not be in a position to adequately regulate the industry.

"Our research shows that over the past decade there have been many documented impacts to water bodies arising from shale-gas activities," said one of the report's authors Dr. Kieran Craven.

"Degradation of the water environment has occurred in regions of the U.S., where regulation has typically lagged behind industry. Based on a comprehensive review of the scientific literature, it is our view that many of these potential impacts would lead to the pollution of both surface and groundwater in the proposed regions of Ireland."

Kate Ruddock of Friends of the Earth Ireland pointed out to The Irish Times that a number of countries banned fracking, including France, Bulgaria, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and parts of Austria.

“Governments have decided that fracking is not acceptable and the risks it poses to people's health is unacceptable," she said.

In the U.S., Vermont and New York state and a growing number of cities and municipalities have banned fracking as well. (On the flip side, there are pro-drilling state and city governments attempting to ban fracking bans).

Actor and environmental activist Mark Ruffalo also threw his weight behind the Irish bill with an Instagram post.

"Ireland should ban #fracking to protect public health & the environment, like New York did after finding serious risks & harms," he stated.

The clean energy advocate included a photo of himself holding a sign with the hashtag #backthebill, which has been used on social media to rally support for the ban.

By Environmental Working GroupFood  10:26AM EST
Why Are California Farmers Irrigating Crops With Oil Wastewater?

In the last three years, farmers in parts of California's Central Valley irrigated nearly 100,000 acres of food crops with billions of gallons of oil field wastewater possibly tainted with toxic chemicals, including chemicals that can cause cancer and reproductive harm, according to an Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of state data.

Since 2014, oil companies reported that they used more than 20 million pounds and 2 million gallons of chemicals in their operations, including at least 16 chemicals the state of California classifies as carcinogens or reproductive toxicants under the state's Proposition 65 law. That recycled wastewater was then sold to irrigation districts largely in Kern County. The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board has allowed the practice for at least four decades and only recently required the oil companies and water districts to disclose the details.

EWG detailed its findings in a report released Wednesday, two days before a public meeting of an expert panel convened to study the practice's safety. Although scientists don't know whether using oil field wastewater to grow crops poses a health risk to people who eat the food, the water board has refused to halt the practice until the expert panel releases its findings.

"The overlap of fracking chemicals and the chemicals used in conventional drilling is troubling," said Bill Allayaud, EWG's California director of government affairs. "The water board should have thoroughly studied and assessed this practice before allowing it.

"No one should stop eating produce from California," said Tasha Stoiber, an EWG senior scientist and author of the report. "But there are too many unanswered questions about whether crops could take up the chemicals in the wastewater and whether that could harm people's health. The only way to know for sure if this practice is safe for consumers, farm workers and the environment is to conduct a thorough and independent study."

The water board convened the expert panel after the use of oil field wastewater for irrigation came to light last spring, sparking concern from environmental groups and the news media. But the panel found it couldn't do its job without knowing which chemicals were used in the oil fields or to treat the water before its sale to irrigation districts. In response, the water board ordered the oil companies to disclose their chemical use.

The companies submitted records for 198 commercial additives. But the names of about 40 percent of the chemical ingredients were withheld as "trade secrets," so a complete analysis remains impossible.

The water board says because of concerns about chemicals used in fracking fluids, no water from fracked oil wells is used for crop irrigation. But EWG's analysis found that about 40 percent of the chemicals identified from the oil company disclosures have also been used in fracking in California, raising the question of a double standard.

"The overlap of fracking chemicals and the chemicals used in conventional drilling is troubling," said Bill Allayaud, EWG's California director of government affairs. "The water board should have thoroughly studied and assessed this practice before allowing it. But even as it plays catch-up, it is contemplating additional proposals to expand the practice. Until the safety of the public and the environment can be assured, this is irresponsible."

The lightly treated wastewater is blended with fresh water and then applied to almonds, pistachios and citrus trees, along with grapes, carrots, beans, tomatoes and potatoes grown throughout Kern and Tulare Counties. To date, only three limited studies have been conducted, all by consultants paid by the oil companies or the irrigation districts that buy the wastewater, including one that draws conclusions based on only five water samples collected on a single day.

EWG recommends that until independent scientific studies, free from conflicts of interest, can say whether it is safe to irrigate food crops with wastewater from oil fields, the state should suspend existing permits and declare a moratorium on new projects.

By The Solutions ProjectClimate  07:56AM EST
Mark Ruffalo Delivers Solar Panels to Camp Where Thousands Are Fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline

Actor Mark Ruffalo and Native Renewables founder Wahleah Johns presented Standing Rock Sioux tribal elders with mobile solar panels on trailers, bringing clean power to the protest encampment where the largest gathering of Native Americans in modern history is taking a stand against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Jon WankThe Solutions Project

"This pipeline is a black snake that traverses four states and 200 waterways with fracked Bakken oil," said Ruffalo, co-founder of The Solutions Project, which works to accelerate the transition to 100 percent clean and renewable energy.

"We know from experience that pipelines leak, explode, pollute and poison land and water. But it doesn't have to be that way."

The solar trailers will provide clean energy to power medical tents and other critical facilities for Native American protesters and their allies at the encampment. The trailers symbolize a healthy, equitable, prosperous energy future made possible by clean renewable energy.

"Water is life," said Johns, a Navajo leader. "By leading a transition to energy that is powered by the sun, the wind and water, we ensure a better future for all of our people and for future generations."

Johns' company, Native Renewables, promotes low-cost clean energy solutions for Native American families throughout the U.S., with an emphasis on job creation and on benefiting the community as a whole. The trailers were built by members of the Navajo nation and were financed by Empowered by Light and Give Power.

Research led by Stanford Prof. Mark Jacobson, another Solutions Project co-founder, shows that it would be technically possible and economically beneficial to transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy in each and every state across the country. In North Dakota, for example, wind and solar energy would be the primary sources of clean power and transitioning to 100 percent renewables would create 30,000 jobs.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe says it was not sufficiently consulted when the Dakota Access Pipeline was in the planning stages. The pipeline endangers the tribe's water supply—and the water supply of millions of other people, as well, given the pipeline's planned crossing under the Missouri River. The pipeline's construction has already marred sacred lands, including burial sites. The Standing Rock Sioux and their allies—including indigenous people from across the U.S. and around the world—see it as a clear threat to both the tribe's cultural heritage and the basic human right to clean water.

"Around the world, more than 80 percent of the forests and lands with protected waterways and rich biodiversity are held by indigenous tribes. This is no coincidence," Ruffalo said. "As so many of us suffer from polluted water, air and land in our rural and urban communities, the water defenders at Standing Rock are showing us another way."

By Al GoreClimate  02:36PM EST
Al Gore: First Amendment Rights Must Be Protected for Those Peacefully Opposing the Dakota Access Pipeline

I stand with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have witnessed inspiring and brave acts by Native Americans and their allies who are defending and trying to protect their sacred sites and the safety of their sole source of water.

The fossil fuel industry—and the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline in particular—have been proceeding with what appears to be a dangerous project in blatant disregard of obvious risks to the Missouri River and with disrespect to the Standing Rock Sioux.

Peg Hunter / Flickr

In the process, those trying to force completion of this pipeline have—according to independent news reports—been using oppressive practices against this community. In response, Standing Rock Chairman David Archambault has requested that the Justice Department deploy observers to ensure that the First Amendment rights of those peacefully opposing this pipeline are protected. I hope his request is honored.

The non-violent resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline is also one of the frontline struggles that collectively mark a turning point in the decision by humanity to turn away from the destructive path we have been following and aim instead toward a clean energy future for all.

The courage and eloquence of the Standing Rock Sioux in calling all of us to recognize that in their words, "Water is Life," should be applauded, not silenced by those who are driven by their business model to continue spewing harmful global warming pollution into our Earth's atmosphere.

This is also an opportunity to acknowledge and learn from the traditional values being expressed by the Standing Rock Sioux to protect life on Earth.

The effort to ensure that their voices are heard and their rights are respected are not only issues of civil rights and religious freedom, but reflect the choice we must make to ensure a sustainable, just, fair and healthy future for all generations to come.

By Dan ZukowskiEnergy  12:33PM EST
15 Arrested Protesting Spectra Pipeline Scheduled to Go Online Nov. 1

Fifteen people were arrested today at a rally this morning outside the Manhattan office of New York Sen. Charles Schumer, where they have maintained a presence for the past 60 days. With the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) expansion of the Spectra Energy pipeline in Westchester County, New York set to go online by Nov. 1, opponents are asking Schumer to intervene and use his influence to put a halt to the project. Schumer's office did not respond to a request for comment by EcoWatch.

Members of Resist Spectra and their supporters showed up on Third Avenue, chanting "We will not let you build this pipeline." Many sat along 780 Third Avenue, the building housing Schumer's New York City office.

The AIM project is set to carry Marcellus Shale fracked gas to New England, passing through New York State and crossing the Hudson River at scenic Stony Point.

Map of AIM expansion project carrying fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale to New England.Spectra Energy

The pipeline runs close to the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan. The oldest of the three reactors on site began operations in 1962, but has since been shut down. The other two operating reactors date to 1974 and 1976.

One of the opponents' main concerns is the proximity of the pipeline to the nuclear facility. The 42-inch pipeline passes within 105 feet of an electrical substation and 1,320 feet from the reactors. While it's not California, Westchester County does have a history of earthquakes and the Ramapo Fault runs near the Indian Point nuclear plant. In 1783, a magnitude 5.0 quake struck the area, and in the early morning hours of Oct. 19, 1985, a 3.6-magnitude earthquake on the Ramapo Fault system caused the plant to declare "an unusual event" but no damage was reported. The probability of a 5.0 or greater earthquake in the county in the next 50 years is estimated at 3.36 percent.

That's enough to rattle residents from Westchester to Brooklyn. Pipeline opponents point out that 20 million people live within a 50-mile radius of Indian Point. An elementary school sits just 400 feet from the pipeline.

The AIM pipeline runs within 105 feet of the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant.Resist Spectra

The specter of another San Bruno, California-type event may be weighing on those who live in the zone. In 2011, a 30-inch natural gas pipeline exploded in this Bay Area town just south of San Francisco, sending flames 1,000 feet into the sky. It destroyed 38 homes and killed eight people. On April 29, a Spectra Energy 30-inch pipeline blew up in Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, severely burning one man and damaging two homes. Roads melted from the heat.

Data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) shows that 12 significant incidents have occurred on gas transmission pipelines in New York State since 2000, resulting in at $4.4 million in total costs. Spectra Energy pipelines were involved in 38 incidents in the U.S. from 1986 to 2012, according to ProPublica. The PHMSA cited Spectra for at least four violations from 2013 to 2015.

Disaster experts, public officials and health care professionals got a first-hand look at the pipeline site on Oct. 18, hosted by Physicians for Social Responsibility. A statement released by the organization following the inspection tour read:

"Requests by safety experts and public officials for emergency protocols and safety preparedness indicate no evidence of planning for a pipeline rupture or explosion adjacent to the nuclear plant. The lack of emergency training and preparedness reflects the lack of recognition of the safety experts' concerns regarding the perilous impact of a pipeline accident at that location and the imminent and permanent danger the AIM pipeline poses to the nuclear plant and the entire New York metropolitan area."

Opponents of the Spectra AIM pipeline urge Sen. Schumer to act at a rally in Manhattan this morning.Resist Spectra

In May, New York Senators Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to suspend action on the AIM project until independent health and safety reviews of the project are completed.

"I have serious concerns with the Algonquin gas pipeline project because it poses a threat to the quality of life, environmental, health and safety of residents across the Hudson Valley and New York State without any long-term benefit to the communities it would impact," Schumer said in a statement in May. The two senators again wrote to FERC on Aug. 3 requesting that the agency suspend construction.

A Bloomberg BNA analysis released in February said that the industry dominates lobbying of the PHMSA. Major companies lobbying the agency include TransCanada Pipelines Ltd., Norfolk Southern Corp., Dow Chemical Co., American Airlines and Shell Oil Co. The American Petroleum Institute, Association of American Railroads, Renewable Fuels Association and the American Farm Bureau Federation are among the Industry trade associations engaged in lobbying the PHMSA.

Aerial view of Indian Point nuclear facility with pipeline infrastructure in the foreground.Resist Spectra

"Despite repeated warnings from nuclear power and pipeline safety experts that a pipeline rupture at that sensitive location could result in a nuclear catastrophe worse than the Fukushima nuclear disaster, their insistence on a full, independent risk assessment was to no avail," Ellen Weininger of Grassroots Environmental Education told EcoWatch.

Spectra may soon help create the largest energy infrastructure company in North America if a planned merger with Enbridge goes through. Enbridge is a minority owner of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline.

"As a physician and a public health professional, I say, unequivocally, that risks of this pipeline, as will be explicitly described by my colleagues, far outweigh the possible benefits and pose an unacceptable level of vulnerability to the men, women and children of this entire region—and beyond," wrote Dr. Irwin Redlener in a statement sent to EcoWatch. Dr. Redlener is director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness and a professor at Columbia University.

A lawsuit challenging FERC's approval of the project is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Correction: This article has been updated. A paragraph has been removed, which erroneously stated that NRG Energy was the same company as Natural Resource Group. We regret the error.

By Lorraine ChowEnergy  08:05AM EST
Fracking Linked to Cancer-Causing Chemicals, Yale Study Finds

Yet another study has determined that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, might be a major public health threat. In one of the most exhaustive reviews to date, researchers from the Yale School of Public Health have confirmed that many of the chemicals involved and released by the controversial drilling process can be linked to cancer.

Yale researchers have unpacked "the most expansive review of carcinogenicity of hydraulic fracturing-related chemicals in the published literature."Pixabay

"Previous studies have examined the carcinogenicity of more selective lists of chemicals," lead author Nicole Deziel, Ph.D., assistant professor explained to the school. "To our knowledge, our analysis represents the most expansive review of carcinogenicity of hydraulic fracturing-related chemicals in the published literature."

For the study, published in Science of the Total Environment, the researchers assessed the carcinogenicity of 1,177 water pollutants and 143 air pollutants released by the fracking process and from fracking wastewater. They found that 55 unique chemicals could be classified as known, probable or possible human carcinogens. They also specifically identified 20 compounds that had evidence of leukemia/lymphoma risk.

One of the scarier parts from this study is that the researchers could not completely unpack the health hazards of fracking's entire chemical cocktail. More than 80 percent of the chemicals lacked sufficient data on cancer-causing potential, "highlighting an important knowledge gap," the school noted.

The unconventional drilling rush in the U.S. has expanded to as many as 30 states, spelling major consequences to the air we breathe and the water we drink. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2013 that more than 15 million Americans lived within a mile of a well.

The biggest concern is for people and especially children with fracking operations right in their backyards. In fact, Environment America found that more than 650,000 kindergarten through 12th grade children in nine states attend school within one mile of a fracked oil or gas well.

“Because children are a particularly vulnerable population, research efforts should first be directed toward investigating whether exposure to hydraulic fracturing is associated with an increased risk," Deziel said.

Per the study, "Childhood leukemia in particular is a public health concern related to [unconventional oil and gas] development, and it may be an early indicator of exposure to environmental carcinogens due to the relatively short disease latency and vulnerability of the exposed population."

According to the school, the researchers are now taking air and water samples in a community living near a fracking operation. They are testing for the presence of known and suspected carcinogens and will determine whether these people have been exposed to these compounds, and if so, at what concentrations.

By Dan ZukowskiEnergy  03:21PM EST
Governor Uses Emergency Order to Bring Out-of-State Police to Dakota Access Pipeline Protest

Dozens of additional law enforcement officers from six states are headed to North Dakota under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), a program designed to facilitate state-to-state disaster relief assistance. While this compact has been used in times of riot, its use in peaceful protests or non-violent direct actions seems unprecedented.

On Aug. 19, North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple issued a state of emergency, which is a prerequisite to requesting help under EMAC.

"This emergency declaration simply allows us to bring greater resources to bear if needed to help local officials address any further public safety concerns," Gov. Dalrymple said.

But, according to Jennifer Cook, policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota:

The origins of the state's overreaction can be traced to a lawsuit filed by the oil pipeline company—Dakota Access—against protesters in federal court to stop demonstrations near its construction sites. To sway the court's decision and likely public opinion, too, the pipeline company claimed it feared violence from protesters was imminent because of a few vague threats posted on social media and an anonymous email. Protesters have been arrested for pushing through police lines to stop construction equipment, but incidents like these in no way support declaring a state of emergency and militarizing the state's response.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others who have been trying to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline have faced numerous police actions:

1. Attack dogs and mace: On Sept. 4, Morton County Sheriff's officers arrested 21 protestors as private security forces hired by Dakota Access LLC used mace and unleashed dogs. An estimated 30 people suffered temporary blindness, while several were attacked and bitten by the dogs.

2. Armored vehicles: On Sept. 29, during a peaceful prayer ceremony at Standing Rock, Morton County police moved in with armored vehicles and riot gear, arresting 21.

3. 126 Arrested: On Oct. 22, 126 people were arrested and charged with rioting and other offenses. Witnesses saw officers pepper-spraying people.

4. Journalists arrested: Democracy Now! journalist Amy Goodman was charged with rioting after her video report of the Sept. 4 incident went viral. The charge was thrown out in court. On Oct. 11, filmmaker Deia Schlosberg was jailed and charged with three felonies. She faces up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

"Prosecuting filmmakers for covering protests sends a chilling message," stated Robert Mahoney, deputy executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. He urged prosecutors to drop all charges.

Police line up against peaceful protestors on Oct. 22.Morton County Sheriff's Department

Justifying the weekend's arrests, an Oct. 23 press release from the Morton County Sheriff's office stated that "this escalated criminal behavior by protesters" calls for additional manpower. Now, increasingly militarized police will be joined by additional forces from Wisconsin, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wyoming, Indiana and Nebraska.

However, tribal leaders maintain that their protests are non-violent and peaceful. In an email to EcoWatch, tribal historian LaDonna Allard wrote, "We don't allow weapons of any kind at the camps."

Dave Archambault II, chairman of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, issued a statement that said:

"The Tribe also supports the right of our citizens and supporters of the Tribe to engage in peaceful, non-violent expressions of their opposition to the pipeline. The Tribe believes that non-violence must be the guiding principle of citizen activism at all times."

But the more than 2,000 Native Americans and non-Natives, many of whom have come from across the U.S. to stand up for the Sioux, are increasingly fearful of police force. Mark Trahant, an independent journalist and a faculty member at the University of North Dakota, asked, " How far will North Dakota go?" He stated:

"They've already tried intimidation, humiliation and the number of arrests are increasing. Pick on protectors, elders, journalists, famous people, anyone who could make the state appear potent. The latest tactic is to toss around the word 'riot' as if saying it often enough will change its definition."

Archambault called on the U.S. Department of Justice to step in. In a letter Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, he wrote:

"To many people, the military tactics being used in North Dakota are reminiscent of the tactics used against protesters during the civil rights movement some 50 years ago. And I believe that there are similarities there. But to us, there is an additional collective memory that comes to mind. This country has a long and sad history of using military force against indigenous people—including the Sioux Nation."

Organizers Kandi Mossett, Tara Houska and Dallas Goldtooth provided an update and call to action on the situation at Standing Rock at the Bioneers 2016 Conference Sunday. Watch here:

Actor Mark Ruffalo is visiting North Dakota today and Wednesday. He will participate in a press conference and deliver solar trailers to Standing Rock Sioux tribal elders to provide power at the camp. Leonardo DiCaprio also has plans to visit North Dakota in opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Meanwhile, a rally was held in Minneapolis on Tuesday to protest the participation of deputies from Hennepin County.

Emergency rally in Minneapolis Tuesday opposing states sending police to North Dakota. Nichole Subola/Facebook

By Karuna JaggarFood  07:48AM EST
Stop Irrigating Your Produce With Oil Wastewater

Would you eat oranges grown with oil wastewater? You might be already without knowing it.

Wonderful Citrus, the U.S.'s largest citrus grower and the company behind the popular Halos mandarins and Bee Sweet Citrus, another huge citrus grower, are using leftover wastewater from oil companies to irrigate their citrus—while also using pink ribbons to sell them.

The use of oil wastewater for food irrigation is expanding rapidly in California—the U.S.'s third largest oil-extracting state, which also produces more than a third of the nation's veggies and two-thirds of its fruits and nuts. Oil corporations are increasingly supplying their wastewater to California-based agricultural companies like Bee Sweet and Wonderful to use for food irrigation during an historic drought. As this type of irrigation is set to expand, we believe this is an urgent public health issue because of the potentially hazardous chemicals associated with the oil extraction process.

Companies use pink ribbons to gain customer loyalty and increase their sales. After all, pink ribbons are profitable. But companies shouldn't put their profits before our health.

Bee Sweet Citrus puts a pink ribbon on their Sweetheart Mandarin labels "to achieve prevention and find a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime." And Wonderful Citrus participates in an in-store cause-marketing promotion called Pink Ribbon Produce, aimed at "uniting the produce industry in the fight for breast cancer."

Both of these companies claim to care about women with breast cancer and are using pink ribbons to sell their products—all while failing to protect farm workers and the public from the potential health risks of using oil wastewater to irrigate their citrus. We call this pinkwashing.

Oil companies use hundreds of chemical additives during the oil extraction process—to drill, maintain and clean their wells. In addition, the oil extraction process releases chemicals that are trapped underground. So when oil is extracted from underground reservoirs, wastewater comes back up with it and can contain all sorts of chemicals. Oil wastewater used for food irrigation has been found to contain the chemical benzene, a known human carcinogen linked to breast cancer. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Maximum Contaminant Level Goal for benzene in drinking water is zero, which means "there is no dose below which the chemical is considered safe."

In a new report released earlier this month by PSE Healthy Energy—Healthy Energy, University of California—Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of the Pacific, researchers call for a more thorough investigation of the potential health risks associated with using oil wastewater for crop irrigation in light of the potential health harms and gaps in safety testing.

The report finds that despite oil corporations being required to report chemical additives, 38 percent of the chemical additives could not be "sufficiently identified for preliminary hazard evaluation" because oil corporations are concealing them as trade secrets. Of the chemicals these scientists were able to analyze, they found that "43 percent of them can be classified as potential chemicals of concern from human health and/or environmental perspectives." They found that 10 chemicals are known or potential carcinogens. And they didn't even evaluate which chemicals are hormone disruptors, a class of chemicals which is linked to increasing our risk of breast cancer.

Current tests of oil wastewater used for food irrigation only look for some of the chemicals used in the oil extraction process. Because of the gaps in testing and treatment, an independent council of scientists commissioned by the State of California recently recommended that wastewater from fracking operations should not currently be used to irrigate our food. But the potential public health risks of the chemicals in oil wastewater are not limited to the fracking process and this report extends the recommendations to include wastewater from any oil operations. We, along with other public health groups and scientists, believe that wastewater from all oil extraction processes should not be used to grow our food, to protect both farm workers and the public from potential public health risks that have not been adequately studied.

Using oil wastewater to irrigate our food has not been proven safe—neither for the health of the public nor for the health of farm workers, who are exposed firsthand to these chemicals. In fact, an expert panel is currently reviewing the potential health risks associated with using oil wastewater for food irrigation—while the state is still permitting this type of irrigation. A growing body of scientific evidence demonstrates the role of our everyday exposure to toxic chemicals in increasing our risk of breast cancer. We need to put the brakes on this process immediately.

In August 2016, we joined with 350,000 concerned people who wrote to California Gov. Jerry Brown, urging him to end the use of oil wastewater for food irrigation. To date, he has failed to do so. In the absence of strong government action, we're calling on Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus to stop using oil wastewater to irrigate their crops while using pink ribbons to sell their citrus—a practice we call pinkwashing.

Instead, these two companies, which are huge players in their local water districts, should stand up for women affected by breast cancer. We believe they have the power not only to stop using oil wastewater to grow their own citrus crops, but also to stop the use of oil wastewater for growing food altogether.

Send a letter to Bee Sweet Citrus and Wonderful Citrus to tell them to stop pinkwashing. Tell them to stop irrigating their produce with oil wastewater and to use their power to ensure that oil wastewater is not used to irrigate any of our food.

By Democracy Now!Energy  10:57AM EST
Shailene Woodley​: ​Every ​Time ​We ​Allow​ Another ​Pipeline​, We ​P​rolong ​the Switch to ​Renewable ​Energy

At least 27 people, including Hollywood actress Shailene Woodley, were arrested during the standoff at Standing Rock on Oct. 10, Indigenous Peoples' Day, while attempting to blockade the Dakota Access pipeline construction at two separate worksites.

Footage of Woodley's arrest was streamed live to roughly 40,000 viewers on her Facebook page. She was later strip-searched in jail. She said her dedication to protest with indigenous people who are at the forefront of the fight remains strong: "Every time we allow another pipeline … we are endorsing the fossil fuel industry and only prolonging the time it is going to take to switch to renewable energy."

Woodley recently starred in the new Edward Snowden film, Snowden. She has appeared in the TV series The Secret Life of the American Teenager and has also starred in films including The Divergent Series and The Fault in Our Stars. She received a Golden Globe nomination for her role as Alex King in The Descendants.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Democracy Now!