Resident-Funded Testing Confirms 'Worst Fears' for Fracking and Flowback Emissions
Today, Colleyville and Southlake residents and Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project released results from local residents’ privately-funded air testing of Titan Operations’ “mini-frack” on the border of both communities. The tests, performed by GD Air Testing Inc. of Richardson, Texas, prove emissions released during fracking and flowback contain dangerous levels of toxic chemicals.
“We paid for tests because we can’t depend on the city or the fracking industry,” said Colleyville resident Kim Davis. “The tests confirmed our worst fears, while Colleyville ignored their own tests to let fracking continue. Apparently the city represents Titan and the gas industry instead of local residents,” she said.
Colleyville City ordinances expressly prohibit the release of any gases: “No person shall allow, cause or permit gases to be vented into the atmosphere or to be burned by open flame.”
The community-funded test results, which detected twenty-six chemicals, also showed carbon disulfide, a neurotoxin at twice the state level for short-term exposure. Benzene, a known carcinogen, and Naphthalene, a suspected carcinogen, were both over state long-term exposure levels by more than 9 times and more than 7 times, respectively. Carbonyl sulfide, dimethyl disulfide and Pyridine were all detected above safe limits for long-term exposure.
Gordon Aalund, an MD with toxicology training who lives in Southlake and practices emergency medicine said, “Exceeding long and short term exposure limits to these toxics places us all at increased and unneeded risk. When your government fails to protect you and the company cannot be trusted, private citizens are forced to act.”
The Colleyville results indirectly confirm the suspicions of Arlington-area residents about air pollution from ongoing Chesapeake Energy fracking and flowback operations in their neighborhood since December 2011. Residents who experienced health impacts were told by Chesapeake that flowback emissions were only "steam." When challenged to substantiate its claims with public testing, the company failed to respond.
“It’s great that concerned citizens in the Colleyville-area have the wherewithal to pay for their own testing when government fails to do its job. But I live in southeast Arlington, where our community doesn’t have the resources to do government’s job for it,” said Arlington resident Chuck Harper. “Why isn’t TCEQ doing these tests? If the watchdog isn’t watching, who do we turn to for protection?”
“It’s state and local failures like these that make plain the need to close fracking loopholes in federal environmental laws,” said Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project Organizer Sharon Wilson. “When TCEQ can’t be bothered to protect their own citizens, when cities ignore their own laws, when companies lie to communities left, right and center, there’s nowhere else to turn."
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Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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