Julie Dermansky's blog

Politics and Religion Collided During Pope Francis’s United States Visit

Pope Francis’s resounding message that it is mankind’s moral obligation to address climate change made many politicians uneasy during his visit to the United States.

The Pope issued a call to take action against climate change when he spoke at the White House and again, the next day, when he addressed Congress.

His message that we must protect the young and the poor who are the most at risk from the effects of climate change gave a boost to many in the environmental and social justice movements.

Texans Warn EPA Its New Rule to Reduce Methane Pollution Isn’t Tough Enough

On September 23, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held public hearings in Dallas and Denver on its proposed rule to lower methane and associated pollution from oil and gas industry facilities. A third hearing will take place in Pittsburgh on September 29th.

Once finalized, the standards mandated by the EPA to control methane pollution will be a component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan for reducing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

For Texans, the hearing holds special significance because of HB40, a new law the state passed shortly after Denton, Texas, voted for the state’s first fracking ban. HB40 makes fracking bans illegal and threatens all local ordinances the oil and gas industry doesn't like.

Social Justice and Climate Justice Movements Merge in New Orleans 10 Years After Hurricane Katrina

Julie Dermansky

Marguerite Doyle Johnston, a resident of New Orleans’ Upper 9th Ward, did not take part in the multitude of events surrounding Hurricane Katrina’s 10th anniversary that celebrated the city’s resilience. “My neighborhood was left out of the recovery, so I don’t feel like celebrating,” she told DeSmog.

Johnston would have preferred that the money spent on celebrating New Orleans’ recovery be spent on restoring Club Desire, a landmark building in the Upper 9th Ward neighborhood that she has been trying to save and convert into a community center.

In its heyday, many of the city’s most famous artists performed in Club Desire, including Fats Domino and Little Freddie King. Despite Johnston’s efforts to rescue the building, it is slated for demolition later this fall. 

Obama Barely Touches on Climate Change In New Orleans Speech Marking the 10th Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

President Obama briefly mentioned climate change during his remarks in New Orlean’s Lower 9th Ward during his visit to New Orleans to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Standing in the city’s Lower 9th Ward, Obama spoke instead of the inspiration he had drawn from the city’s “come back” and the resilience of its people.

Obama’s on-off relationship with climate change and the impact it is having on New Orleans is mirrored by his administration’s decisions that contradict the president’s concern.

Exclusive: Pennsylvania Family Dealing with Water Contamination Linked to Fracking Industry

Julie Dermansky

The Chichura family has flammable well water, most likely due to a fracking job gone wrong in Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna County. Their water well, along with those of four of their neighbors, was allegedly contaminated with methane in the fall of 2011, shortly after Cabot Oil started drilling operations near their home.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) confirmed the Chichuras had methane in their water on September 21, 2011, and advised them to equip their well with a working vent to avoid a possible ignition.

The contamination of wells is not an anomaly. The DEP identified 245 sites potentially contaminated by the fracking industry between 2008 and 2014.

As leaseholders with Cabot, the Chichuras believed the company would take care of them if anything went wrong. “Accidents will happen,” was the family’s thinking when their water first went bad, Elaine Chichura told DeSmog.

Keystone XL Permit Hearing Concludes After Nine Contentious Days in South Dakota

TransCanada’s days of having its pipeline permit requests rubber-stamped are long over. A nine-day hearing to reconsider its Keystone XL permit through South Dakota proved that. 

Yet many left the hearing in Pierre, South Dakota, wondering if the proceedings were merely a formality.


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