New Jersey Legislature Moves Bill to Ban Fracking Wastewater
Fueled by massive opposition to fracking, demonstrated by a recent 1,000 person rally outside of the New Jersey State House, the Assembly Environment Committee passed A-4231 [Connie Wagner (D-Bergen), Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer)], a bill that would ban the importation of fracking wastewater into New Jersey for transport or processing. This legislation aims to protect New Jersey residents from the residual impacts of fracking in Pennsylvania and other states.
Pennsylvania resident Shannon Pendelton testified about contamination of Neshaminy Creek as a result of approximately 40,0000 gallons of fracking wastewater being discharged into a local waterway after it was processed at a treatment facility. Neshaminy Creek provides drinking water to 17 municipalities with more than 300,000 residents.
“Our home in Pennsylvania is 3-plus hours away from the nearest fracking wells, yet our municipal water was exposed repeatedly to contaminated fracking wastewater that was being trucked into our community without any public knowledge," said Pendleton. We hope our misfortune will help other states and communities prohibit fracking to prevent contaminated wastewater from entering their drinking water. Please don’t expose New Jersey to this threat.”
It is difficult if not impossible to know which chemicals are present in fracking wastewater because federal law allows fracking companies to withhold the chemical composition as trade secrets. There are also concerns that radioactive elements in the Earth's crust such as radium, radon and barium are picked up by the fracking fluid underground and are present in the wastewater, increasing the risk of serious contamination. Beyond these toxins, fracking waste also contains high amounts of salts, which can be costly to remove, can adversely impact wildlife and harm public health.
“Every load of fracking wastewater contains a different toxic mix, making it nearly impossible for treatment facilities to verify that adequate treatment has taken place before being discharged into waterways,” said Jim Walsh of Food & Water Watch. “If a fracking wastewater truck has an accident, hazmat teams will not know how to handle waste that could be spilling onto our roads and into New Jersey waterways.”
In December, the New Jersey Legislature will have an opportunity to vote on this bill and other legislation that was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie that would have banned the practice of fracking in New Jersey.
“In the face of massive public opposition, Gov. Christie has been stonewalling efforts to protect the public from the very real dangers of fracking. By overriding the Governor’s veto and passing this wastewater legislation, the legislature can show leadership where the Governor has failed to do so,” said Walsh.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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