It’s a small simple chart which has a huge significance for Canada and the climate.
They conclude “no projects currently under construction are set to be completed that year or beyond.”
Due to the collapse in the oil price, the tar sands producers are seriously struggling. There is too large a gap between the high cost of production of the tar sands and the current price of oil for many to invest over the long term.
It is worth remembering that the crisis in the tar sands comes at a time when there is growing public pressure to build a clean energy future that does not hitch Canada’s economy to the destructive boom and bust cycle of oil.
This concern can be seen in the growing opposition by front line communities across the country to new tar sands infrastructure such as pipelines and for support for building a safer, renewable energy economy.
For the industry, these concerns would be easier to dismiss if it sat on a cushion of high oil prices.
But the cushion has burst.
Because of the oil price plunge, some half a million barrels a day of planned production capacity has been cancelled or put on hold over the last eighteen months.
Around this time last year, Oil Change International (OCI) identified some 39 tar sands projects delayed or on hold.
The pain continues. In recent days, two Calgary-based smaller tar sands producers have announced multimillion-dollar fourth-quarter losses. Sunshine Oil sands reported a $326 million net loss; whilst Connacher Oil and Gas reported a loss of $56 million.
Indeed, last month CBC reported how “increased competition, low prices and climate change policy have put the future growth of Alberta’s oil sands in doubt—and that has the federal government concerned.”
They also reported that there was concern about investment in the sector, post-2020. Quoting a report by the Federal Department of Finance, it suggested that further tar sands expansion could be “vulnerable.”
The government report outlined how “As the marginal supplier of world oil, because of its high costs and climate change footprint, Canadian oil sands would face the brunt of the post-2020 reduction in oil demand (despite the price approaching $80.”
Allan Dwyer, a finance professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary told CBC news: “The report confirmed my main concern—which is, long term, the oil sands are not viable.”
The tar sands are not viable on price and they also fail the climate test.
As any regular reader of this blog or any reports from OCI will know that as the third largest reserves in the world, with projects that lock in a half a century of pollution once built, the dirty tar sands are incompatible with keeping global warming to internationally acceptable limits.
It is a conundrum that the government has long failed to address: At the end of last month, for example, the Canadian Press reported how the “Federal Environment Minister won’t say if Canada can develop oil sands and meet climate targets.”
Increasingly, civil society organizations such as OCI have been calling for a “climate test” to be undertaken as a key part of meeting those targets.
As Hannah McKinnon from OCI explains: “The crux of the climate test is using our actual climate goals (limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C) to define the types of infrastructure that are going to be economically viable, necessary and appropriate over the coming decades in the safe climate future we are committed to.”
The bad news for the Canada is that the tar sands sector fails the test badly.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A new report released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds the prevalence of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) largely unchanged from two years ago, at one in 68 children. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health contributed to the study, which showed boys were 4.5 times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls. The rate is one in 42 among boys and one in 189 among girls.
This is the sixth report by the CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (ADDM), which has used the same surveillance methods for more than a decade, a tracking system that provides estimates of the prevalence and characteristics of autism among 8-year-old children in 11 communities.
Here are the estimated prevalence rates of ASD in the U.S. reported by previous data:
- one in 68 children in the 2014 report that looked at 2010 data
- one in 88 children in the 2012 report that looked at 2008 data
- one in 110 children in the 2009 report that looked at 2006 data
- one in 150 children in the 2007 report that looked at 2000 and 2002 data
According to John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, researchers say it is too early to tell if the overall prevalence rate has stabilized because the numbers vary widely across ADDM communities. The school goes on to say that "the causes of autism are not completely understood; studies show that both environment and genetics may play a role. There is no known cure, and no treatment or intervention has been proven to reduce the prevalence of ASD."
Alison Singer, president of the Autism Science Foundation and mother of a daughter with autism, told CNN that this new report is not a sign everything is fine. "It points to the need for more research to understand nuances in data to be able to better serve all children diagnosed with autism," she said. The report suggests there are delays in acting on early concerns, said Rice.
Rice attributed the lack of early identification to a "capacity crisis." "There are not enough quality providers out there to provide those therapy services that are needed," she said. "I think a huge thing we need to do at the early age and across the life span of people with autism is ... identify and support individuals with autism."
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., environmental lawyer and founder of The Mercury Project, finds the leveling off of the prevalence of autism to coincide with the decline of thimerosal in three childhood vaccines.
"Interestingly, this represents the first group of children that were not exposed to thimerosal through the HepB, HiB and DTaP infant vaccines," Kennedy said. "Also, uptake of the maternal flu vaccine was below 50 percent. This is the first time essentially on record that autism rates haven't gone up since 1989."
Brian Hooker, associate professor of biology at Simpson University, agrees. He told EcoWatch:
"I'm not surprised that the autism numbers started to stabilize between birth years 2002 and 2004. By 2004, all of the back stock of thimerosal containing HepB, DTaP and HiB vaccines (which were no longer manufactured after 2001) would have been removed from the shelves and these infants (reflected in the latest CDC numbers) did not receive thimerosal in any of their vaccines, with the exception of the flu shot which was administered maternally and at 6 and 7 months of age. Flu shot uptake maternally and in infants was fairly low at this time but has increased since 2004.
"In Denmark, when thimerosal was phased out of infant vaccines in 1992, rates of autism spectrum disorder prevalence slowly dropped over 33 percent over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, because of the thimerosal-containing maternal flu shot, I don't think we'll see this profound of a drop in the U.S."
Regardless of the reason why the results of the new CDC study show the rate of autism unchanged, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all kids are screened for autism at ages 18 and 24 months.
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Like many other plant-based foods and products, CBD oil is one dietary supplement where "organic" labels are very important to consumers. However, there are little to no regulations within the hemp industry when it comes to deeming a product as organic, which makes it increasingly difficult for shoppers to find the best CBD oil products available on the market.
Charlotte's Web<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDcwMjk3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzQ0NjM4N30.SaQ85SK10-MWjN3PwHo2RqpiUBdjhD0IRnHKTqKaU7Q/img.jpg?width=980" id="84700" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a2174067dcc0c4094be25b3472ce08c8" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="charlottes web cbd oil" data-width="1244" data-height="1244" /><p>Perhaps one of the most well-known brands in the CBD landscape, Charlotte's Web has been growing sustainable hemp plants for several years. The company is currently in the process of achieving official USDA Organic Certification, but it already practices organic and sustainable cultivation techniques to enhance the overall health of the soil and the hemp plants themselves, which creates some of the highest quality CBD extracts. Charlotte's Web offers CBD oils in a range of different concentration options, and some even come in a few flavor options such as chocolate mint, orange blossom, and lemon twist.</p>
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A new study from the University of Missouri (MU) has reported high levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the surface water near a fracking wastewater disposal facility in West Virginia, raising concerns if similar cases are occurring nationwide given the country's 36,000 fracking disposal sites.
A number of high profile "fraccidents" have occurred in and around West Virginia. Photo Credit: EarthJustice
The report, Endocrine Disrupting Activity in Surface Water Associated with a West Virginia Oil and Gas Industry Wastewater Injection Disposal Site, was published today in the peer-reviewed journal Science of the Total Environment.
BuzzFeed News reported from the study:
The contamination near Fayetteville, West Virginia, flows from a brook called Wolf Creek a few miles upstream of a drinking water treatment facility for 11,300 people. The disposal site, which includes a deep waste well, several holding ponds, and storage tanks, sits on a hillside above the creek, and has been the site of a fight over its permit, revoked in 2014 and then renewed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in August.
“I wouldn’t drink out of Wolf Creek,” University of Missouri toxicologist Susan Nagel, a study author, told BuzzFeed News. It’s unclear whether the contamination has reached residents’ drinking water, but that should be tested, Nagel said.
EDCs are associated with many health risks such as altered reproductive function in males and females, breast cancer, abnormal growth patterns and neurodevelopmental delays in children, as well as changes in immune function.
The study reported that surface water samples collected on the disposal facility site and immediately downstream exhibited considerably greater EDC activity than surface water samples collected immediately upstream and in a nearby reference stream.
"We do not know the exact pathway/source of the contamination," Nagel explained to EcoWatch. "It is likely that aquatic life downstream of this facility are swimming in oil and gas chemicals and at levels high enough to disrupt the endocrine system."
Fracking fluids are already known to contain a toxic slew of hazardous chemicals, but oil and gas companies are not required to disclose exactly what they are.
Nagel told EcoWatch that it is important to note that under ideal fracking and wastewater disposal operations, many potential impacts on surface water would not occur.
"Whether chemicals reach surface water through surface spills, the former impoundment ponds, or surface/ground water mixing at this site, is unknown," she said. "Now that we have identified impacts to the local environment due to activities at the site, further work is needed to assess the specific routes of contaminant movement from these operations into the stream."
According to a press release of the study, dozens of chemicals may be used to frack a single site and approximately 1,000 more are reportedly used nationwide. Not only that, more than 100 of these chemicals are known as or suspected to be EDCs.
The large volumes of wastewater produced during the fracking is laden with chemicals and may also contain radioactive compounds and heavy metals released from deep underground, the press release noted.
“Our study only assessed the surface water impacts from a single injection disposal well facility," Christopher Kassotis, a former graduate student in Nagel’s laboratory and a current postdoctoral fellow at Duke University, said in a statement to EcoWatch. "While there are more than 30,000 of these wells operating across the U.S., we have not yet assessed any other facilities. The work presented herein suggest that this could be an issue at other similar operations, but further study is needed to determine whether that is the case."
Fracking Chemicals Linked to Cancer, According to New Report http://t.co/72UBjwT88L http://t.co/GC779ZGfqH— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1439390379.0
The scientists warn that in addition to humans, this level of EDCs may also be associated with negative health effects in aquatic organisms and other animals.
In a prior study published in Endocrinology last year, prenatal exposure to fracking fluids at levels found in the environment lowered sperm counts in male mice when they reached adulthood.
“This study is the first to demonstrate that EDCs commonly used in fracking, at levels realistic for human and animal exposure in these regions, can have an adverse effect on the reproductive health of mice," Nagel, who was also the senior author of this study said, according to Endocrine News. "In addition to reduced sperm counts, the male mice exposed to the mixture of chemicals had elevated levels of testosterone in their blood and larger testicles. These findings may have implications for the fertility of men living in regions with dense oil and/or natural gas production.”
As for the big picture, the country's fracking boom only means a growing number of disposal wells. The Energy Information Administration found that fracking currently accounts for more than half of all U.S. oil output, up from less than 2 percent of American oil production in 2000. Disposal of oil and gas wastewater into underground disposal wells have also been linked to an increase seismic activity, especially in frack-happy Oklahoma.
"The major take-homes are that oil and gas injection well operations may be another source for contamination of surface water with EDCs used in oil and gas production," Nagel explained to EcoWatch. "We hope that this drives additional research in this area to clearly define how oil and gas wastewater disposal impacts surface and ground water."
Listen to an interview with Dr. Nagel about the study below.
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“Landowners’ worst fears came true,” Jane Kleeb, the head of Bold Nebraska, told DeSmog after news broke about the latest Keystone pipeline oil spill. “When you have a pipe running through your farm or ranch-land all you think about is: it could break today.”
On Saturday afternoon that fear was realized by a Hutchinson County, South Dakota land owner. Loern Schulz found oil in surface water near the Keystone pipeline’s right-of-way and reported the spill.
By Sunday, TransCanada had shut down the Keystone Pipeline, which originates in Alberta, Canada and goes to Steele City, Nebraska. But the rest of its U.S. pipeline network is operational.
The Keystone connects to the Cushing Extension pipeline that ends in Cushing, Oklahoma, where it connects to the Keystone XL’s southern route, renamed the Keystone Gulf Coast Pipeline when the project was split into sections. The Gulf Coast line moves product from Cushing to Nederland, Texas, providing TransCanada a route to move Canadian tar sands bitumen to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and export.
Though President Obama rejected the northern Keystone XL route last year, which would have stretched from Alberta to Cushing, TransCanada has transported Canadian tar sands crude via its Keystone pipeline network since early 2014, when the Gulf Coast pipeline started operations.
TransCanada didn’t have a representative at the potential spill site until Sunday. But by Monday, when the media broke the news, TransCanada had blocked off the area, making documenting the contaminated area from the ground impossible.
It was also impossible to photograph the site from the sky, according to Bold Nebraska. Kleeb told DeSmog that FAA forbade the pilot she hired to fly over the site because it closed the airspace until May 8.
“To have the FAA close off airspace for a foreign corporation is a big problem,” Kleeb said. “We want to take our own pictures. With 100 clean-up workers on site, we have a right to be taking our own pictures and finding out our own information.”
If the public isn’t able to take their own pictures of the site, they shouldn’t expect to see any for years, if at all. Any photos that would be made available will come from TransCanada or the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the agency responsible for regulating interstate pipelines.
TransCanada turns over its findings about pipeline spills, which include photos, to the PHMSA and the agency does not share such information with the public until its investigations are complete, which can take years. And even when the agency’s investigations are finished, it does not automatically release photos when requested.
It took DeSmog over two years to obtain photos from PHMSA of a site in Missouri, where TransCanada had indicated to PHMSA that there may have been a spill in 2012. After TransCanada dug up parts of the pipeline that were almost completely corroded, both TransCanada and PHMSA claimed that no oil was released. But the few photos DeSmog obtained do not conclusively prove whether a spill took place or not.
TransCanada has released a couple of photos taken near the site that they are working on yesterday, but the photos do not show any oil, which the company admitted was visible when its representatives arrived.
Yesterday, some South Dakotans who have fought against the Keystone XL pipeline went as close to the site as they could get. They took pictures from the perimeter that TransCanada set up around the spill. But the way the perimeter was set up makes it impossible to meaningfully document the company’s remediation work.
Evan Vokes, former TransCanada materials engineer-turned-whistleblower, told DeSmog, “If there is an oil spill the probable source of the spill is at the site of a bad weld. And bad welds are inevitable when welding is not done to code.”
TransCanada’s first estimate reported 187 gallons were found.
“It can take a lot of oil to leak before enough of it percolates up to the surface level for someone to notice,” Vokes said.
If there was indeed a spill, Vokes believes it is fair to assume muchmore oil spilled than the initial estimate states. Vokes points out that oil from any leak that happens underground, would have moved wherever the subsurface water moved, making estimating the spill’s size difficult.
“TransCanada’s leak detection equipment can’t pick up a leak until 2 percent of the pressure in a pipeline drops,” Vokes said. “Which is what makes small leaks like this dangerous since they can go undetected for a long time.”
Though TransCanada confirmed its leak detection system didn’t pick up a spill, it would not confirm if the product in the line was diluted bitumen or crude oil, but it is likely that if product spilled in South Dakota it is diluted bitumen, also known as dilbit.
“Dilbit is indeed crude oil,” Mark Cooper, TransCanada’s public affairs officer, wrote DeSmog in an email. But that statement isn’t accurate. “Dilbit is not the same as crude oil,” Vokes told DeSmog. “It is processed crude that has more benzene in it than crude oil.”
Dilbit spills in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Mayflower, Arkansas, proved more problematic to clean up than crude oil spills. It took Enbridge four years to complete remedial efforts ordered by federal regulators and in Mayflower, some homeowners had no choice but to relocate. It was thought that some of the homes nearest to the spill would never be safe to live in again.
“A dilbit spill releases far more toxins into the ground and water than a crude oil spill,” Vokes said.
Canadian regulators noted 21 incidents in the Keystone pipeline’s first year in operation. And U.S. regulators identified up to 62 probable deficiencies in TransCanada’s operations of the pipeline, as noted in a letter PHMSA sent to TransCanada last year. PHMSA has fined the company for breaking rules, but has never taken action to stop construction when inspectors caught the company breaking the rules.
“It is possible the Keystone pipeline has other small leaks that have not been identified yet at the site of other bad welds,” Vokes said. “It is impossible to know where they are until someone notices them and by that time the damage could be catastrophic.”
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By Erin Schrode
I never wanted to be a politician. I am an activist, an educator, a social entrepreneur—a citizen who is committed to environmental action, public health and equal justice.
Grassroots community organizing is hardwired into my DNA, nurtured by a cadre of doers in Marin County, California. When it was revealed that Marin — despite its unparalleled natural beauty, high concentration of organic farms and protected lands — had the highest breast, prostate and melanoma cancer rates in the world, my mother sprung into action. As a young girl, I watched her deftly orchestrate her first campaign to unite boots-on-the-ground vigor, compelling storytelling and sound scientific research. The question was clear: Why had cancer rates skyrocketed?
Why? “Why" gets to the root causes of an issue, rather than address supposed symptoms, which can be more costly, dangerous and short-lived. Why, then, am I running today?
Broken policy is failing us all, as fear and vitriol permeate politics. I can no longer watch as partisan gridlock threatens our future and that of communities around the country. We need commonsense reform—and we need it en masse, yesterday. Clean water is a human right. Women add value to society. Mental health is a veritable illness. Black lives matter. Affordable healthcare helps families. Education can be an economic engine.
It's time to deliver on the promise of my generation.
Amid a massive demographic shift and immersed in culture of innovation, my digital native peers are rising to positions of leadership, shaping social norms and revolutionizing every vertical. From media to agriculture to infrastructure, no industry will remain untouched by technological advancements. Most create new business models or lead cutting edge non-profit work to affect positive change, deliberately working around the political arena.
In addition to passion and energy, we ask different questions and prioritize collaborative solutions. Not daunted by failure, beholden to special interests or settled in the status quo, we seize the moment to take informed risks —bringing to the table a wild range of experience, diverse skill set and nuanced fresh perspective.
I seek to redefine civic engagement, reinvigorate a culture of public service, expand the definition of who can be a politician and infuse meaning into the very act of running.
Call me crazy, but I still believe in the institution of government. We have the knowhow and tools to shape a future we are proud of, in terms of global and environmental health, learning and work, and human rights domestically and abroad—and cannot afford to wait.
It is not enough to mitigate further environmental degradation. We must employ new and existing technologies to reverse damage, plan for increasingly common climate-related disasters or hazards and ensure sustainable resource management, responsible consumption and businesses that deliver profit on financial, ecological and social levels. Without an environment, there can be no justice. We are all entitled to take a deep breath and sip clean water — and should be able to trust our leaders to defend those rights. Our health and safety is tied to that of our planet. We both benefit and pay the price of mismanagement and destruction of the commons.
It is not enough to denounce the current education system.We need a new, dynamic approach to learning and working. The antiquated frameworks of schools and jobs fail amid today's changing landscape. Students of all ages need access to relevant, fluid curriculum that fosters creativity, imparts transferable skills and sparks entrepreneurship. Crippling debt thwarts growth, hinders independence and burdens families. Loan forgiveness for hardworking citizens is essential, as is remedial training for professional pivots when current jobs disappear. You once got an education in order to earn a livelihood. Now we struggle to earn a livelihood to pay off loans from graduation. Education is not only the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world, but also the basis for personal and global growth, prosperity and progress. We must prepare our people for the future of work and solidify the pipeline to fair wage employment.
It is not enough to lament the lack of inclusion or imbalance in access. We need all segments of the population granted equal opportunity and encouraged to develop competitive skills, which provides an actual chance to contribute and succeed. Discrimination on the basis of gender, race, religion and ethnicity must stop. Progressive female voices equate to progressive policies—on equal pay, childcare, paid leave and reproductive health, as well as immigration, criminal justice, guns and foreign policy. Empowering women and girls, respecting underrepresented populations and fighting for reduced inequality is not a choice, but a moral imperative with lasting positive impacts.
Eco awareness illuminates interdependence to inform decision-making. Knowledge allows for improved systems, institutions and quality of life. Unique perspectives offer wider frames of reference to improve policy and our cultural fabric.
I believe that democracy should be representative, but 51 percent of our population is women and 35 percent of our population is under 30, yet there has NEVER been a woman under 30 elected to United States Congress. We need diversity and representation in a democracy, people who have the courage to challenge convention and establishment with new ideas, energy and integrity. Millennial and female participation will shape the nation. Progressive thinkers are disrupting with intention. Historically marginalized voices are uniting in chorus. The largest voting demographic of present and future will not stop short of change.
The best qualified person is not necessarily an older, white male. We must stop making that the default, for young does not mean less capable of critical thought. Our Constitution was written by people without grand accomplishments, individuals like you and me who shared a vision. My generation is better connected, well-informed, and more open to debate than ever before — all of which leads to stronger, practical solutions. By harnessing the power of innovation, entrepreneurial spirit and collaboration across silos, our world can be more just, connected and equitable; our business more competitive, prosperous and open; our infrastructure more environmentally-sound, capable and durable; and our government more effective, efficient and transparent.
A country where a young woman is dissuaded from running for office because she is young or because she is a woman is not one in which I desire to live. May we truly be of the people (representative of the electorate), by the people (with ongoing accountability, not only at election time) and for the people (not for lobbyists or donors) where all are encouraged to add value to society by running and serving. If I were to listen to political pragmatists, I would never take this step, particularly at 24-years-old. I do not have tens of thousands of dollars in the bank or family wealth, have not spent decades in law or business, don't self-edit to put forth an image of some squeaky clean conservative life and was never president of any young political organization. But doom is not an element of this campaign, nor is any notion of entitlement.
Change will not roll in on the heels of inevitability, as Martin Luther King Jr. so wisely told us. If we want to build a new paradigm, we need people to be brave and actively choose a lesser worn path, but one with rich possibility. Think: how can we create a country of togetherness, inclusion and love, rather than send a message of division, hatred and fear? How can we elevate discourse? How can we drive real policy reform that is felt in the day-to-day?
Once upon a time, a young girl was born in Northern California. Her parents, of different faiths, divorced when she was but a year old, yet remained fiercely committed to their only child, each working multiple jobs to provide her with healthy food and a safe home, the priorities of so many mothers and fathers across America. With the help of scholarships, she attended schools that challenged her to think critically and to dream. She went on to co-found a non-profit, focus on youth and environmental issues, fight for equity and access, raise up the importance of humanity and dignity, work in disaster and conflict zones, urge corporations toward better practices and gain invaluable experience in dozens of nations around the world. An informed global citizen who has forged an unconventional path, she has now returned home to take responsibility for her corner of the world.
Four weeks ago, I gave a speech in my hometown in Northern California, the through line of which was “if not Marin, where?" My surroundings have fundamentally shaped my personal identity, career path and values. The region where I live is world renown as an incubator, catalyst and pioneer. Last week, I announced my run for United States Congress to represent California's District 2.
This is about purpose, not position — and I have dedicated my life to civic dialogue and action, a fervor which will not cease. I believe that moral authority can carry more weight than formal authority, for one should earn respect and trust for expertise, integrity and judgment—based upon behavior and track-record—rather than assume or be allotted a title. But when too many of us are being ignored, excluded and discriminated against, it is our time to not only mobilize on the streets of our hometowns, but also in Washington.
This is about people—for there is nothing that we, as committed citizens, cannot accomplish together. How exciting is that? I am honored to embark on this next chapter of service, to learn from, share with and co-create around messages with relevance and accessibility that are actionable. The issues matter—and I look forward to earning your vote, as we unite to deliver for all who have come before us, all who walk beside us, and all who are yet to come in Northern California and beyond.
I have faith in humanity. I trust in the power of community. And I maintain hope in the promise of our generation and nation.
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The Democratic debate Sunday night discussed important issues to our food and water, including the contamination of Flint, Michigan's water supply and climate change. The fact that CNN allowed University of Michigan student Sarah Bellaire to ask the candidates whether or not they support fracking—bringing a real discussion about dirty fossil fuels to center stage—shows how large and influential our movement to ban fracking has become.
Bernie Sanders' concise response after Hillary Clinton's long list of “conditions" that must be met in order for her to support fracking was met with thunderous applause: “My answer is a lot shorter. No, I do not support fracking."
While the Obama administration—including Clinton herself as secretary of state—has been a staunch promoter of fracking, touting industry claims about energy security and that it could be a bridge to renewables, a growing movement is forcing Democratic leaders to acknowledge that fracking is bad for our environment and public health and a disaster for our climate.
Here is what Clinton—who has fundraising ties to the oil and gas industry—had to say about fracking:
"You know, I don't support it when any locality or any state is against it, number one; I don't support it when the release of methane or contamination of water is present; I don't support it, number three, unless we can require that anybody who fracks has to tell us exactly what chemicals they are using—so by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place. And I think that's the best approach. Because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated. So first, we've got to regulate everything that is currently underway and we have to have a system in place that prevents further fracking unless conditions like the ones I just mentioned are met."
The State of Fracking in the Democratic Party
While Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo effectively banned fracking in New York in 2014 after a massive grassroots movement to halt it, some Democratic governors—including Gov. Tom Wolf of Pennsylvania, Gov. Jerry Brown in California (who has been dealing with his own climate disaster) and Gov. John Hickenlooper in Colorado—continue to support fracking. Moderator Anderson Cooper asked Sanders about this insistence from some Democratic governors that fracking is safe. “I happen to be a member of the environmental committee ... And I talk to scientists who tell me fracking is doing terrible things to water systems all over this country," responded Sanders.
The Washington Post's Fact Checker took on Sanders' statement, citing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) study released last year asserting that fracking and drinking water that fracking has had no “widespread, systemic" effects on water. After we contacted them, Fact Checker updated the piece to acknowledge the continuing controversy around that claim, including the EPA's own scientific advisory board questioning that conclusion and calling for the agency to revise the statement. The EPA had long abandoned its investigations in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Parker County, Texas. And inexplicably, the EPA had excluded their “high-profile" cases of contamination from the assessment. Public testimonies from people suffering from contaminated water also continue to undermine the legitimacy of the study.
Today, nine months after the release of that study, the agency is holding a public teleconference about the ongoing controversy. The case of the claim there has been no “widespread, systemic" contamination is far from over. And the movement to ban fracking is taking on the Democratic establishment, as Sanders calls it, descending on the Democratic National Convention in July demanding action to leave fossil fuels in the ground and transition swiftly to clean energy.
Five years ago, when Food & Water Watch became the first large, national organization to come out strongly for a ban—following the lead of communities that had already been grappling with concerns about the practice—we didn't think we'd come so far so fast. The Democratic debate shows the power of organizing to shift decision makers. In fact, continuing to apply pressure on our leaders to keep fossil fuels in the ground is the only way to bring about a true, clean energy future. Market-based schemes like pollution trading and pricing carbon will only prolong our fossil fuel addiction. Our planet can no longer accommodate business as usual and we're pleased to see the Democratic debates reflecting this discussion that our nation needs to have.
This piece was originally featured on Food & Water Watch.
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For the past two years, the 100,000 residents of Flint, Michigan, drank, cooked and bathed with lead-contaminated water. Rates of lead poisoning—which can impair brain development and cause other serious health ailments—among the area's children have skyrocketed, from 5 percent before the water turned bad to 16 percent today.
Residents have long reported brown, bad-tasting and foul-smelling water and unexplained sicknesses. Almost a year ago, water tests showed dangerous levels of lead. Yet state, local and federal officials did nothing. Worse, they assured residents that the water was safe. In recently released emails, state officials demonstrated indifference and even contempt toward the complaints that came mostly from poor, black residents. Furthermore, according to some witnesses and media reports, state officials diluted water samples or took incomplete “slow drip water samples" to game results and claim that the water was safe.
Flint's man-made water disaster is an outrageous tragedy and a human health crisis. And unfortunately, it's not an isolated case. It's one instance in a pattern of government failures to take water testing seriously and respond to evidence of water pollution.
In 2009, federal data revealed that water being delivered to tens of millions of Americans contained illegal concentrations of dangerous chemicals. That contamination has led to widespread ill-effects such as rashes and elevated risk of various diseases and hundreds of thousands of Clean Water Act violations. At congressional hearings that year, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials pointed to failed political leadership under the Bush administration. President Obama promised to turn a new leaf.
Sadly, there have since been numerous high-profile cases of contamination, such as in Toledo, Ohio, in 2014, where agricultural runoff and crumbling infrastructure led to an algal bloom in Lake Erie that made the city's drinking water unsafe. Also in 2014, in West Virginia, a chemical spill contaminated the Elk River, the tap water supply for hundreds of thousands of people. This past August, 3 million gallons of contaminated water were released into the Animas River in Colorado, resulting in lead levels 3,500 times normal and arsenic levels 300 times normal, affecting many communities and farms.
Must-read piece by Michael Moore on #FlintWaterCrisis https://t.co/dIOlmBI8sj @mmflint @ErinBrockovich @MarkRuffalo https://t.co/TYQGI5nsFM— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1454162960.0
Then there are the horrific, under-reported cases of water contaminated by drilling and fracking for natural gas and oil, another ongoing man-made disaster where politics has trumped providing safe drinking water.
In spite of concrete evidence of water contamination, Obama's politics—support for natural gas and fracking, particularly around his 2012 reelection—have dictated the EPA's actions. Case in point: Three EPA investigations into drinking water contamination since 2010, in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming and Parker County, Texas.
In Parker County, the EPA issued an emergency order—much like one they just issued in Flint—compelling fracking company Range Resources to provide drinking water to affected families. Then, in 2012, the EPA cut a deal with the fracking company to shut down the investigation and withdraw the emergency order in exchange for participating in the EPA's national fracking study. Affected residents were left with nothing but polluted water.
My piece in @washingtonpost: #Flint isn’t an anomaly. We’re heading toward a national water crisis. https://t.co/cZwVgRovlR #fracking @potus— Mark Ruffalo (@Mark Ruffalo)1454701523.0
The other cases are equally disturbing. Despite evidence of dangerous water contamination, the EPA dropped investigations and issued rosy news releases that everything was okay. Residents report being told by regional EPA officials, off the record, not to drink their water.
This past year, the EPA released a draft of its national fracking drinking water study with a headline that they did not find evidence of widespread, systemic contamination. Scientists and advocates cried foul, as the substance of the report contradicts that claim and in fact shows many instances and mechanisms of contamination. Now the EPA's independent science advisory body has forcefully echoed that criticism and called for detailed accounting and inclusion of the three investigations.
These cases, along with Flint and many others, demonstrate an epidemic of credibility and trust that is putting people at greater and greater risk.
It's time to acknowledge the national water pollution crisis we face, which will only get worse with climate change wrought by fossil fuels extraction and consumption responsible for fouling so much of our precious water in the first place. Obama should direct his EPA to do its job to help people across the country with water contaminated by drilling and fracking.
Flint must be a clarion call for a new era of routine water testing, full transparency and a commitment to ensuring that all citizens have safe drinking water. Renewed federal investment in our crumbling, lead-ridden drinking water systems is also necessary to help ensure that the tragedy taking place in Flint isn't replicated elsewhere. Residents there and all Americans deserve nothing less.
This op-ed originally appeared in The Washington Post.
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Scientific Advisory Board met this week to review the agency’s draft assessment of the impact of fracking on drinking water resources, but the largely academic exercise got a dose of reality from residents of Dimock, Pennsylvania; Pavillion, Wyoming; and Parker County, Texas who have fought for years to get U.S. EPA to act.
Inexplicably, their cases of contamination were excluded in the thousands of pages that make up the EPA’s assessment. Given only five minutes each, the residents demanded that the EPA stop ignoring their cases.
Ray Kemble, an affected landowner and former gas industry worker, testified, “In 2008, gas drilling caused my water to become poisoned. The Pennsylvania DEP and the EPA confirmed this contamination, but abandoned us in 2012 and did not even include us in their long-term study. I am here today to demand that EPA recognize us, include our case in this study, and reopen the investigation.”
John Fenton, a rancher and affected landowner in Pavillion also spoke out. “When EPA launched its national study of fracking’s drinking water impacts, we thought they’d look first here in Pavillion where they’d already found pollution. But instead they ignored us without explanation. Science means taking the facts as they are. But EPA seems to be intent on finding the facts to support the conclusion they’ve already reached—‘fracking is safe.’”
Impacted landowners demanding @EPA revise flawed #Fracking study. @gaslandmovie @MarkRuffalo @ssteingraber1 https://t.co/clYI0vEnyq— Thomas Meyer (@Thomas Meyer)1446042674.0
Steve Lipsky, an affected homeowner in Weatherford, Texas added that “EPA omitted my case from their national drinking water study,” and then asked, “Is that science? Whose side is EPA on?"
“We have tried for years now to get the EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to meet with impacted residents across the country to hear their stories and to come up with ways that the agency can help those being harmed,” said Craig Stevens, 6th generation landowner and member of Pennsylvania Patriots from the Marcellus Shale. “This has still not happened and we deserve better.”
Ray Kemble calls on the @EPA to do its job and protect people's health. #• https://t.co/YLyrxWUWYI— Emily Wurth (@Emily Wurth)1446041384.0
“While the EPA spent years conducting this study only to claim in their press releases that water contamination from fracking ‘is not widespread or systemic,’ I have been receiving calls on a regular basis from people across the state of Pennsylvania whose water and air has been polluted by this industry and who are paying the price with their health," said Ron Gulla, an impacted resident from Hickory, Pennsylvania. “I have been trying to help people who are being poisoned by this industry for years, while our federal agencies who are tasked with protecting these people has failed them.”
It was vital that the EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board hear these voices from the front lines, from people who have to deal with their water being poisoned. Not only has the agency been unresponsive, and failed to uphold its own basic mission to protect human health and the environment, the EPA—or perhaps more accurately the Obama Administration—misrepresented its own study when it claimed that “hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources and identifies important vulnerabilities to drinking water resources.”
Craig Stevens talks about how @GinaEPA has refused to meet with #fracking impacted residents. https://t.co/yor2yBNWF3— Emily Wurth (@Emily Wurth)1446041674.0
Some of the Scientific Advisory Board members are listening, with one member describing the EPA’s topline finding as “out of left field” and a “non sequitur relative to the body of the report.” But at the same time, the oil and gas industry is well represented on the board—several repeatedly used “we” and “industry” interchangeably as they chimed in in defense of fracking.
The EPA has been unresponsive and is failing to uphold its own basic mission to protect human health and the environment. It’s time for the agency to finally step up and serve the people, not the oil and gas industry. They could start by having a face-to-face with Administrator Gina McCarthy and affected individuals, rather than pretending they don’t exist. And the Obama administration must stop greenwashing fracking and acknowledge that it’s a dirty, polluting source of energy that harms our water, our climate, and our communities.
Here's a video of the testimony:
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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) advisors are calling foul on the agency's highly controversial study that determined hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has not led to “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the U.S.”
The EPA said fracking hasn't caused systemic, widespread water contamination. Some of its science advisers disagree. https://t.co/TrJAGJ5YPR— Jennifer A. Dlouhy (@Jennifer A. Dlouhy)1452175558.0
The EPA's conclusion requires clarification, David Dzombak, a Carnegie Mellon University environmental engineering professor who is leading the review, told Bloomberg. A panel headed by Dzombak will release its initial recommendations later this month.
"Major findings are ambiguous or are inconsistent with the observations/data presented in the body of the report," the 31 scientists on the panel said in December 2015.
Possible changes to the report could spell trouble for the oil and gas industry that recently celebrated the ending of a 40-year-old crude oil export ban in December 2015. According to Bloomberg, "a repudiation of the results could reignite the debate over the need for more regulation."
Fracking involves the pumping of highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals into underground rock formations to release trapped oil and gas. The controversial drilling process has spurred a boom in U.S. oil and gas production and driven down gas prices across the country. However, numerous environmental complications have arisen from fracking, including pollution of water and air, landscape destruction and even earthquakes.
Five years ago, Congress commissioned the U.S. EPA to study the impacts of fracking on drinking water. After analyzing more than 950 sources, including previously published papers, state reports and the EPA's own research, the agency released a draft analysis in June 2015 that indeed found numerous harms to drinking water resources from fracking. As EcoWatch reported, the U.S. EPA found evidence of more than 36,000 spills from 2006 to 2012. That amounts to about 15 spills per day somewhere in the U.S.
However, the report's misleading and widely reported conclusion—“there is no evidence fracking has led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources”—has not only downplayed fracking's effects on drinking water resources, it was also seen by many in the pro-drilling camp as the EPA's thumbs up to the drilling industry. For instance, a Forbes writer summed up the study with this headline: EPA Fracking Study: Drilling Wins.
According to Bloomberg, the review panel could ask the U.S. EPA to rescind this main conclusion or clarify it by saying that the "widespread, systemic" impacts from fracking are relative to the number of wells drilled.
Pennsylvania State University professor Elizabeth Boyer, a member of the Science Advisory Board, noted that the "widespread, systemic" top line was "widely quoted and interpreted in many different ways," EnergyWire reported. "The executive summary and press materials should be carefully reworded" for clarity, she said.
Some panel members also said that more weight should be given to the "severity of local impacts" on water supplies.
Some environmental advocates want the final U.S. EPA document to include additional information on "high-profile cases of fracking contamination inexplicably left out of the study," Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, pointing to drilling sites in Dimock, Pennsylvania; Parker County, Texas; and Pavillion, Wyoming.
Hauter added that EPA Science Advisory Board's official review of the study on fracking and drinking "may seem surprising, but it shouldn’t be to anyone who actually read the original study thoroughly."
"There was a clear disconnect between the EPA’s top-line spin—that there was no evidence of ‘widespread, systemic’ impacts on drinking water from fracking—and the content of the actual study, which highlights data limitations, open questions, and clear evidence of local and severe impacts," Hauter said. "This disconnect raises serious questions about political tampering with scientific conclusions in the release of the draft study."
Unsurprisingly, Big Oil and Gas are unhappy with the Science Advisory Board's review. American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard blamed the panel's criticisms on environmental activists opposed to fossil fuels.
“The science should be settled,” Gerard said at a news conference Tuesday. “There are a handful of people who are not happy with the outcome and they continue to drive their agenda based on ideology, not based on the science."
The U.S. @EPA called #fracking safe. Now its scientists disagree. https://t.co/LSjrfZiwm7 #banfrackingnow https://t.co/UO72vzuwEo— Thomas Meyer (@Thomas Meyer)1452199248.0
The agency will use the comments from the advisory panel as well as those submitted by the public "to evaluate how to augment and revise the draft assessment," EPA spokeswoman Melissa Harrison told Bloomberg. "The final assessment will also reflect relevant literature published since the release of the draft assessment."
Meanwhile, a new paper published Jan. 6 in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental and Epidemiology only emphasizes why further evaluations on fracking fluids are a must.
After analyzing 1,021 chemicals used in fracking, Yale School of Public Health researchers found that many of the substances have been linked to reproductive and developmental health problems, and the majority had undetermined toxicity due to insufficient information, Phys.org reported on the study.
The research team said in their paper that further exposure and epidemiological studies are urgently needed to evaluate potential threats to human health from chemicals found in fracking fluids and wastewater created by fracking.
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Since I joined the fight to end fracking three years ago, I’ve had the privilege of meeting so many inspiring people across the U.S. fighting the oil and gas industry in their communities. Most recently, I met Calvin Tillman, Mayor Emeritus of DISH, Texas, who visited Southern California on a speaking tour of Carson, Brea and La Habra Heights. Each city is engaged in its own, unique struggle against Big Oil, but Tillman’s story of standing up to the industry hit home for residents of each of these communities.
If you’ve seen the Josh Fox documentaries Gasland and Gasland Part II, you may remember that Tillman, while mayor of DISH, fought to protect the community from dangerous natural gas projects. Ultimately, his family made the difficult decision to move away from a sprawling gas industry in the Fort Worth exurbs. The reason was simple—his kids were getting sick, and the industry wasn’t pulling out any time soon.
Tillman’s California visit was timely. Two Los Angeles County cities are turning people out to the polls on March 3 to decide whether to protect their communities from dangerous oil drilling. In La Habra Heights, a small rural community, residents will decide on Measure A, which would ban fracking and other unconventional drilling. And in Hermosa Beach residents will vote on Measure O, which would reverse a long-time ban on drilling in the coastal city; if the industry-funded measure passes, the city will be obligated to approve a project that will install a drill site within 160 feet of some residents’ homes and within one-half mile of half of the residents of Hermosa Beach. This week, Get Out the Vote operations are full swing in Hermosa Beach and La Habra Heights.
Meanwhile, residents of Carson recently defeated a 200 well proposal by California Resources Corporation (formerly Occidental Petroleum) and the Los Angeles County city is working to revise its oil and gas code in response to public pressure. And folks in the Orange County city of Brea have been struggling to get city officials to take under consideration their concerns about nearby oil wells.
Tillman had a lot to share with these communities about going up against the desperate-for-expansion fossil fuel industry, but his message boiled down to a simple directive: Get involved.
In the week leading up to his SoCal tour, I had an opportunity to catch up with Calvin Tillman, and ask him about his experiences working with communities across the U.S. since he moved from DISH to Aubrey, Texas.
Q. What have you been up to since you moved from DISH?
A. I founded ShaleTest.org [a non-profit organization that collects environmental data for families and in low-income communities being negatively affected by shale oil and gas extraction] and have done a lot of work all over the U.S. It has really outgrown what we initially intended it to be—we had to hire an executive director, and put infrastructure in place to keep up with the demand. We’re doing work with groups in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Montana, Wyoming, Ohio and New York.
I’m still very active with the legislature. In Texas it’s a constant battle. We have our legislative session going on right now, and we’re very active in working with a variety of different groups to help protect people and their property from their [the fossil fuel industry] abuses.
Elected officials seem to think there’s only one side of this property rights argument. The people who live in these communities have rights too, but the oil companies seem to have the jump on [the politicians’] side of the fence. I’ve been successful to some extent, but I still have a long way to go.
Q. Were there hurdles to calling out the oil industry in DISH?
A. The biggest problem was financial—we just couldn’t keep up with the money financially that it takes to fight these folks. They started to bully us a bit, would do public info requests that were so broad that it would be thousands and thousands of pages of docs. We had a part-time city secretary, so it was almost a harassment technique they used to keep us busy making copies for public info requests instead of dealing with them.
We would get so many public info requests for a small town, I started printing every email off and filing it because I knew they would be demanding it at some point. These weren’t always companies that had anything to do with DISH. Sometimes it was the trade associations. They would always ask for sensitive info they had no business to, and then would always back off when we called them out.
Q. You do a lot of speaking to a lot of different groups: is there anything particular that stands out to you in this movement?
A. Yeah. If you look at this from a 30,000-foot level, every city looks the same. Not only in the way they approach this with the politicians, but also in the way they deal with the environmental impacts. If I take a sample from a compressor station in Colorado versus Texas, you’re going to see the same chemicals and the same problems. Their approach is the exact same.
Most of the small towns, the local towns, are not going to take $100,000 in campaign contributions—local officials don’t get paid. They use the money to influence, especially the larger cities, the campaign contributions. All of a sudden, city councilmen will author a blog for them, or get a seat on some trade association. We see that everywhere, all across the country.
The industry tries to manipulate the democratic process, and make it to where they don’t have to follow any rules.
Q. Any community fights or places you’ve been in particular?
A. There’s different parts of the country that have been ravaged at different levels. In California, there’s problems there, and probably problems you don’t know about, and https://www.google.com/adsense/app#homewon’t know about for years to come. In western Pennsylvania you have extremely economically depressed areas that have been ravaged by the industry. You have areas where peoples' water goes away, or turns black, or smells horrible, so the industry sets up water buffalos [large water tanks] for them. If those residents speak out in any way, the industry takes their water away.
I know this lady who had to give her daughter a bath from a gallon jug that they were filling up at somebody else’s house because the industry took their water away. You don’t believe that’s happening until you see it for yourself. I’ve been to everywhere—Dimock, Pavillion, but that scene in, I think, Butler, Pennsylvania always sticks with me.
This always starts in lower economic areas, it seems. And those are the ones that are always the most impacted and the least able to defend themselves.
Q. This isn’t your first California tour—what’s it like meeting all of these communities?
A. The first time I went out there, I was just doing some work with Earthworks and ShaleTest, and I met with a few of the smaller groups. I’ve seen the possibility of making some headway, which prompted me to come back and do speaking events last summer.
I just feel like there’s momentum there that could be helpful.
Obviously the national movement, the national exposure to what’s going on—the same things that you see in Texas—you see in California. Most Californians probably don’t understand that, so I think it’s important to build on a local perspective.
There’s plenty of things California does to require more responsibility, but there’s still problems. Nobody’s immune from those problems. Folks in California need to know what’s coming over the back fence.
Q. When you speak to different communities and tell your story, is there any message in particular you want to get across?
A. I don’t come to places to tell people to do this, or not to do this. What I hope to get across is to have people think about it, what they’re doing, and what they’re inviting into their communities. The hope is to not to tell someone what to do, but for people to think about what they’re doing and get involved in the process and make sure they understand what they’re inviting into their community.
I didn’t win against the oil industry, so I don’t know what that’s like. But I can tell you what does happen when you don’t get involved.
Walker Foley is a Southern California Organizer with Food & Water Watch. He became inspired to end fracking after the gas industry fracked the land surrounding his family’s farm in the verdant hills of northeast West Virginia.
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Wyoming environmental officials continue investigating water wells and whether fracking is the source of water contamination in the tiny town of Pavillion, but some groups in the area are concerned about the credibility of that investigation.
That's because it's being funded by Encana, the oil and gas firm those groups believe is responsible for adding methane, hydrocarbons, lead and copper into the local water supply. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency handed the investigation over to the state a year ago, and things have been downhill ever since, according to groups like Earthworks and Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens.
State regulators held a meeting late last week that was meant to provide an update to residents. Instead, it reinforced their lack of confidence in the process.
“This meeting didn’t provide us anything except more questions,” John Fenton, an impacted rancher and president of the Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens, said in an Earthworks statement. "The EPA study was ready for peer review when Wyoming took over. The state’s closed door process, funded by Encana, doesn’t inspire confidence.”
Encana provided a $1.5-million grant to the Wyoming Natural Resource Foundation to be used for the investigation, Jeff Wojahn, president of the company said a year ago. Now, the state says it will allow Encana to provide feedback on data regarding wellbore integrity, surface pits, domestic water wells and a project to install cisterns project before the public views that data, County10.com reported.
In response to the website's report, Gov. Matt Mead’s communication director, Renny MacKay, said Encana cannot edit findings after an independent expert review, but can suggest corrections regarding mistakes, particularly if a mistake pertains to one of the company's wells.
“EPA has the same opportunity, if a mistake is found, they can suggest a correction, it then goes back for further review before it is finalized,” MacKay said.
Still, some residents don't have faith in the independence of that review because of Encana's funding. Encana also said last year that it would be providing interim funding to the Wyoming Association of Rural Water System (WARS), which had been providing water for some of the area's residents. Back in 2011, Miles Edwards, a WARS water specialist argued that energy development didn't "have to create and wreak havoc, but can be done in such a way that it benefits the community," according to the Torrington Telegram.
Earthworks energy program director Bruce Baizel called on the EPA to reopen an investigation separate of the state.
“Frankly, the industry has long tried to block independent investigations from documenting contamination, and Encana’s ability to review these studies before they go public continues this pattern,” Baizel said. “The EPA should never have given in to this outside pressure. EPA should reopen its investigation into Pavillion-area fracking groundwater pollution.”
I have to write you a very deeply personal letter right now and I hope it is met with an open mind.
I have a secret to confess.
Well, it's actually not a secret at all, it's a very easy thing to find out if you just Google me, but I am not sure that many of you who are fans of my two documentaries GASLAND and GASLAND Part II know it.
It is this: I was not always a documentary filmmaker and I was not always an environmentalist. In fact, before the gas industry made a maelstrom out of all of our lives, I had a job that I deeply deeply loved: I was a theatre director and playwright.
I made more than 25 new works for the stage with my theatre troupe the International WOW Company. These plays would premiere in amazing places all over the world, hence our name. We performed in Thailand and Japan and the Philippines, we performed in Germany and France, we performed in New York City and in upstate New York. We made huge, fantastical, epic plays with large casts, striking imagery and powerful politics.
The theater is a kind of collective action. The theater is a motivator. A great theater production is something that you never forget about all your days.
So here is the news: I am making a new play, for the first time in five years, and I want you to come see it. I want you to be a part of this very special new kind of action. I am calling it The Solutions Grassroots Tour and it is a very different and unique kind of play that prompts a very different and unique kind of action.
But before I go into that I want to tell you one more secret.
Actually, it's not a secret either, if you Google this fact you will get it almost immediately.
It feels like a secret because it seems like nobody knows it.
It is this: we can run the planet on 100 percent renewable energy.
What we don't have right now is enough people and politicians acting to create our new world.
So what The Solutions Grassroots tour does is combine culture and grassroots organizing, creating a powerful tool to change our nation's beliefs when it comes to renewable energy.
The Solutions Grassroots Tour is a theater, film and concert event that gives communities the tools and recourses to build their own renewable energy.
We have created these events to show you exactly how easy it is to immediately switch your power provider.
We have created these shows to show you exactly how difficult it will be to continue living in a hotter, more fracked up world.
Our renewable energy partners will be on hand to show you how easy it is to begin your transition out of the fossil fuel cycle by switching to a renewable energy provider or installing rooftop solar.
We'll also connect you with your neighbors who want to work on this with you.
But don't let me give you the impression this event is all work, organizing and building renewable energy. It's so much more.
The Solutions Grassroots Tour will be the stage debut of rancher and spokesman John Fenton, subject of GASLAND I & II and his son Johnny Fenton, of Pavillion, Wyoming. It will also feature music by Vanessa Bley and Stuart Matthewman and the band Twin Danger and with a cast of more than 20 actors, live video installation and a world-class seven-piece band. It's like no other event on the planet.
It is some of the most important work I've ever done and I want nothing more than for you to come share this incredible experience of retuning to the theater with me.
We've even made a trailer from our first two performances in Oneonta and Callicoon this summer:
THE SOLUTIONS GRASSROOTS TOUR
Tickets here http://bit.ly/1qh6pn8
Sept. 21 - 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Irondale Theater
Directed by Josh Fox
Co-sponsored by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, The Mother's Project, New Yorkers Against Fracking, Sane Energy Project and United For Actions.
Created by and featuring the International WOW Company: Carrie Getman, Herbe Go, Doug Chapman, Beth Griffith, Brandon Smith, Broderick Clavery, Sheree Campbell, John Fenton, Johnny Fenton, Jessica Hadju-Nemeth, Olivia Ross, Sarah Keyes, Cody Jordan, Noelia Antweiler, Malin Barr, Margot Bennet, Rebecca Goldstein, Ali Andre Ali, Jade Ziane, Zach Signore, Guy Eckstine, Nick Anderson, Robert Granata, Julian Smith, Omar A Little, Vanessa Bley, Stuart Matthewman and Josh Fox.
Thanks and see you at the show!
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