|Tuesday, May 20, 2014
D.O.T. ON BOMB TRAINS: “LET ‘EM KNOW YOU’RE COMING”
The DOT-111 tanker cars transporting fracked oil all across the country have been involved in so many disasters that they’ve earned the nickname “bomb trains.” Everyone acknowledges that they’re dangerous. Earlier this year, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the trains be routed away from major cities; and now the Department of Transportation has ordered railroads to notify state emergency management officials when large shipments of crude oil are being shipped. It’s not clear what states can do to ensure public safety so long as these bomb trains are permitted to roll through our cities and towns. Read more.
IG SLAMS PIPELINE SAFETY
A report by the inspector general’s office of the Department of Transportation is sharply critical of the federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of the nation’s 2.5 million miles of pipelines. The report asserts that dangerous conditions have gone undetected because the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has failed to ensure that state agencies perform required pipeline inspections, and because the agency relies on outdated and inadequate procedures. Read more.
U.S. OVERSTATES SHALE GAS PRODUCTION
The federal Energy Information Agency is supposed to be the most authoritative source of information on energy supplies, production, and consumption. The data it supplies underpins everything from the Obama administration’s “all of the above” energy policy to the current frenzy to export U.S. gas to Europe and Asia. Now geoscientist David Hughes reports that the EIA has been consistently overstating shale production for years.
In a posting on the Post Carbon Institute website, Hughes observes “The EIA is the elephant in the room when it comes to energy statistics. Its data and forecasts are widely used by analysts and the media and influence energy policy. There is no room for the significant scale of errors and distortions.” Hughes says that the EIA is currently overstating shale gas production by a whopping 38%.
TOP ENVIRONMENTAL HONORS TO HELEN SLOTTJE
Not many people without a standing army get to redraw the map, but that’s exactly what Helen Holden Slottje and her husband David have achieved in New York State. Rejecting the conventional wisdom that assumed communities could not protect themselves from fracking, the Slottjes, citing the “home rule” clause in the state constitution, argued that towns have the right to prohibit unwanted industrial development.
Since 2009, their two-person law firm, the Community Environmental Defense Council, has helped scores of towns enact bans and moratoria that have created a crazy quilt of local laws that has made the gas industry apoplectic and given ordinary citizens control over their own destiny.
Goldman Prize, the most prestigious environmental award on the planet.
FRACKERS FORCED TO PAY
A Texas jury awarded nearly three million dollars to a family that had been harmed by nearby fracking operations. The award compensated the Parr family for loss of property value, physical pain and suffering, and mental anguish. Read more.
COMPRESSOR STATION LAWSUIT
Two days after the verdict was rendered in the Texas suit, eight Arkansas families sued the DeSoto Gathering Company for $120 million, charging that its compressor emits 31 pounds of pollutants per hour. The families, all of whom owned their homes long before the compressor station was built in their neighborhood, say compressor stations have no place in residential areas.
BRASS BALLS: PIPELINE COMPANY SAYS OIL SPILLS ARE GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY
In a license application to the National Energy Department, Kinder Morgan, one of the largest pipeline companies in the world, asserts that “spills can have both positive and negative effects” on local economies. “Positive,” because cleaning up a Kinder Morgan mess can create “business and employment opportunities” — but only if affected communities demonstrate a “willingness … to pursue response opportunities.”
This week, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy began mailing a brochure called Who Pays for Fracking? to 410,000 households in New York’s Westchester County. The brochure takes a hard look at the hidden costs of high-volume fracking and calls attention to developments that threaten the health and safety of the millions of New Yorkers who live and work in the Hudson Valley. An online document provides extensive evidence that supports every statement made in the brochure.
Catskill Citizens targeted Westchester County because statewide polls show that suburban residents are the only demographic that still favors fracking—perhaps because they feel insulated from its dangers, or because they’ve been persuaded that fracking will somehow bring economic benefits to the state. Who Pays for Fracking? makes it clear that fracking is likely to be a losing proposition for New York taxpayers and that “bomb trains” and new pipeline projects put Westchester on the front lines in the fracking wars.
In the weeks ahead, Catskill Citizens hopes to raise enough money to send the brochure to an additional 140,000 households in Putnam and Rockland counties. Like Westchester, these communities are also threatened by trans-shipments of explosive fracked oil and by new gas pipelines and compressor stations that will contaminate the air and erode real estate values.
PLEASE MAKE A DONATION
Remember, Catskill Citizens is an all-volunteer organization—donations we receive don’t go to rent office space or pay someone’s salary—every penny goes directly into the fight against fracking. A donation of just $25 will enable us to mail Who Pays for Fracking? to a hundred households in Putnam and Rockland counties.
NYS STILL A TOXIC DUMPING GROUND
Republicans on the state Senate Environmental Conservation Committee killed a bill introduced by Senator Cecilia Tkacyzk that would have barred the transport and disposal of fracking waste. Incredibly, two of the Senators who voted against the bill represent districts that are receiving toxic, radioactive drill cuttings and wastewater from Marcellus gas wells in Pennsylvania. The situation was neatly summarized in a letter-to-the-editor written by Mary Finneran.
In response to a question posed by Fox News’s Joe Scarborough,
New York’s Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer managed, in a single sentence, to demonstrate that he doesn’t understand the true economic impact of fracking and that he’s seriously out of touch with his constituents.
Schumer: “Overall, the Democrats throughout the county have supported fracking. The president has, most of us have, and it works quite well.”
What are the chances that you live in a town where drinking water has been contaminated by gas drilling or fracking? Well, if you live in Pennsylvania’s Bradford or Susquehanna counties, there’s a 69 percent chance some of your neighbors are coping with water contamination according to fracktivist Bill Huston. Relying on state records of complaints, as well as incidents of confirmed contamination, Huston created this map.
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