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Mon, 2010-11-22 18:55Brendan DeMelle
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Exxon Fracking Fluid Spill In Pennsylvania Dumps Estimated 13,000 Gallons Into Nearby Waterways

XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, is under investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) after a 13,000 gallon hydraulic fracturing fluid spill at XTO Energy’s natural gas drilling site in Penn Township, Lycoming County, PA.

The spill was first discovered last week by a DEP inspector who found a valve had been left open on a 21,000-gallon fracking fluid tank, discharging fluid off the well pad into local waterways, threatening a nearby cattle herd that had to be fenced off from the contaminated pasture.  Exxon/XTO has not provided an explanation on why the valve was left open.

“This spill was initially estimated at more than 13,000 gallons by the company and has polluted an unnamed tributary to Sugar Run and a spring,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Nels Taber. “There are also two private drinking water wells in the vicinity that will be sampled for possible impacts.”

DEP’s sampling confirmed elevated levels of conductivity and salinity in the spring and unnamed tributary, clear indications that the fracking fluid was present in the waterways.

Wed, 2010-11-17 15:43Brendan DeMelle
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Experts Blame BP For Ignoring Warning Signs That Led To Gulf Disaster

An independent panel of technical experts released its interim report today, finding that BP and its contractors ignored clear warning signs foretelling the disaster at BP’s Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.  The report, compiled by a scientific committee of the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, criticized BP for an “insufficient consideration of risk” in light of “several indications of potential hazard.”

Convened at the behest of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the committee was instructed to carry out an independent and science-based investigation into the root causes of the Deepwater Horizon oil platform explosion which killed 11 workers on April 20, 2010.

The experts note that BP and the other companies failed to learn from “near misses” in the past, and none of the companies or regulators flagged the flawed decisions that contributed to the well blowout.

While the U.S. government continues to allow offshore oil and gas operations following a brief deepwater drilling moratorium, the facts uncovered in independent analyses of the BP blowout point to a systemic industry problem with carelessness and a disregard for safety.  It seems cost-shaving and profit potential are the industry’s key concerns, not the safety of America’s ecologically sensitive coastal environments, and certainly not the safety of workers and affected communities.

Tue, 2010-11-16 15:41Brendan DeMelle
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Incoming Head of House Oversight Committee Rep. Darrell Issa Now Says He Is Unlikely To Probe 'Climategate'

It seems that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has lost his appetite for pursuing a ‘Climategate’ investigation, according to The Hill. Rep. Issa is the presumed chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for the 112th Congress starting in January.

Perhaps it was just GOP chest-thumping in the run-up to the midterm elections.  Who knows?

But at least Rep. Issa has recognized the giant waste of time and taxpayer money another investigation into Climategate would represent.  After all, every independent investigation into the so-called ‘Climategate’ scandal has exonerated the scientists, and nothing has undermined the scientific consensus on climate change. (Although it’s worth noting that nobody has bothered to investigate the actual theft of the climate scientists’ emails or probed the role of a small group of climate skeptics in blowing it out of proportion.)

Skeptics and deniers cried bloody murder, and everyone (except hard-headed skeptics and deniers) now knows that Climategate was a ginned-up nontroversy whose proponents failed to “prove” that global warming is a “hoax.” 

There is no doubt that Rep. Issa and other incoming GOP committee chairmen will find plenty of other ways to waste time and taxpayer money “investigating” the baseless accusations lobbed at climate scientists in the climate denial machine’s long quest to confuse the public about global warming. 

But with Rep. Issa seemingly bowing out of the race, who will be the first GOP climate zombie to dig Climategate up again from the depths of the right wing conspiracy graveyard?

Tue, 2010-11-16 14:17Brendan DeMelle
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Pittsburgh Bans Natural Gas Drilling Over Fracking Threat

The Pittsburgh City Council today unanimously adoped a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning corporations from drilling for natural gas within city limits, a direct response to the threats to drinking water and public health posed by hydraulic fracturing methods used widely by drilling companies to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

Pittsburgh City Council President Darlene Harris said her biggest concern about natural gas fracking involves the threat to people’s health posed by water contaminated by Marcellus drilling. She noted that the gas industry’s claims about creating the thousands of jobs isn’t worth the risk.

“They’re bringing jobs all right,” Harris told CBS News. “There’s going to be a lot of jobs for funeral homes and hospitals. That’s where the jobs are. Is it worth it?”

Beyond its innovative approach to fighting the fracking threat, the ordinance - drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) - seeks to limit the claim of “personhood” by corporations and to elevate the rights of property owners and other living, breathing citizens above the interests of corporations.

According to Pittsburgh Councilman Doug Shields, who introduced the measure, “This ordinance recognizes and secures expanded civil rights for the people of Pittsburgh, and it prohibits activities which would violate those rights.  It protects the authority of the people of Pittsburgh to pass this ordinance by undoing corporate privileges that place the rights of the people of Pittsburgh at the mercy of gas corporations.”

Fri, 2010-11-12 10:42Brendan DeMelle
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Koch Industries: 2010's Dirtiest Opponent of Clean Energy

This is a guest post by Josh Nelson, the New Media Director at the Alliance for Climate Protection and its Repower America campaign.

Three weeks ago, we asked our members to nominate the worst corporate polluters of 2010. Our goal was to identify organizations that have hijacked our democracy, devastated our environment and denied the science of climate change — all while reaping massive profits. The response was overwhelming. In just a few days, more than 4,000 people submitted their nominations, many of which were passionate and articulate. The next week, we introduced the top four nominees: Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute, BP and Massey Energy. A few days and 13,000 votes later we had our winner: Koch Industries.

Now, you may have heard a thing or two about Koch Industries. Their role in funding climate change deniers is well documented. What you may not realize is that Koch intentionally flies beneath the radar. David Koch likes to joke that Koch Industries is the biggest company you’ve never heard of. They’re able to remain unknown because they hide behind shadowy front groups like Americans for Prosperity. Co-founded by David Koch, Americans for Prosperity funds advertising and public events designed to mislead Americans about climate change and energy policy.

Fri, 2010-11-12 10:05Brendan DeMelle
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George Marshall: The Ingenious Ways We Avoid Believing in Climate Change

George Marshall, founder of the UK-based Climate Outreach Information Network, has a new three-part video series exploring ‘The Ingenious Ways We Avoid Believing in Climate Change.’  Marshall explores the psychology of climate change denial and climate communications, both in this video series and on his blog ClimateDenial.org. Check out the videos below.
 
Part one
Risk – and why we don’t feel threatened by climate change
Belief – why we can’t just accept the information and need to believe in it
Attention – how avoiding  talking about climate change is like avoiding talking about human rights atrocities

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