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New Jersey Residents Demand Fracking Waste Ban

Energy
New Jersey Residents Demand Fracking Waste Ban

Food & Water Watch Delaware Riverkeeper Network

Residents, activists and community leaders held coordinated actions across New Jersey yesterday to pressure legislative leaders into acting on the Fracking Waste Ban Bill. Notably, they collected and delivered more than 17,000 petition signatures in support of the measure to Assembly Speaker Oliver and Assembly Minority Leader Bramnick.

Residents rallying at the office of Assembly Member David Russo in Midland Park, NJ.

The Fracking Waste Ban Bill would protect residents by banning the disposal, treatment and discharge of toxic waste created through the process of fracking, a highly controversial natural gas drilling method. The legislation was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support last year but was vetoed by the governor in September. At various rallies today, activists dressed as ostriches, urging Oliver and Bramnick not to “bury their heads in the sand” but instead take immediate action to protect state residents.

“It’s very simple—the people of New Jersey want this veto overridden, and they’re expecting legislative leaders to act now,” said Jim Walsh, regional director of Food & Water Watch. “There’s nothing more important than the health and safety of New Jersey families, and an inundation of toxic fracking waste into our state would threaten that.”

New Jersey’s wastewater treatment facilities are not designed to handle the toxins found in fracking wastewater and cannot remove all the toxics before discharging the waste into public waterways. Fracking waste is exempted from critical federal protections regulating the disposal of hazardous waste and toxic materials.

“This is the most important clean water issue New Jersey has faced since the passage of the Clean Water Act 40 years ago. If we had fracking waste stored here when Sandy hit a disaster would have become an environmental nightmare,” said Jeff Tittel, director of New Jersey Sierra Club. “We already have enough toxic sites and polluted water, we do not need to create more through fracking waste. We need the legislature to stand up for clean water and against special interests by voting to override the veto.”

Analysis from the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services confirms the constitutionality of the legislation, directly refuting the governor’s claims to the contrary. A recent study from Stony Brook University finds that the greatest risk of contamination of drinking water and environmental pollution from the fracking process occurs during the wastewater disposal period.

“The legislature took a stand to protect our drinking water and communities from frack waste pollution with the passage of the Frack Waste Ban Bill. With the governor’s veto, the bill will die unless the legislature stands up again,” said Tracy Carluccio, deputy director of Delaware Riverkeeper Network. “We need all those who voted to prohibit the dumping of this waste to vote again to override the veto to prevent the pollution and health impacts that will result from this radioactive material.”

“This is an important vote—to protect our drinking water, to avoid enabling climate disruption in a post-Sandy New Jersey, and to bring hope to citizens that their representatives will put partisan politics aside and do the right thing,” said Dave Pringle, campaign director of New Jersey Environmental Federation. “It’s one thing to vote the right way when your vote’s not needed, but it’s another when your vote will be the difference maker.”

Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.

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Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

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