Nathanael Baker's blog

Fracking: Ohio Establishes Tough Regulations After Disposal Wells Cause 12 Earthquakes

State officials have determined that at least 12 earthquakes that occurred in Ohio last December were caused by the injection of brine into hydraulic fracturing disposal wells.  As a result of its findings [pdf], the state has established the nation's “toughest regulations” for the fracking disposal wells.

Brine is a toxic by-product of the fracking process.  According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the safest way to dispose of it is to store it in underground wells.  However, as residents of Youngstown, Ohio discovered, this technique can cause seismic shifts – the largest of the 12 earthquakes registered 4.0 on the Richter scale.

Originally, geologists were skeptical the earthquakes were caused by the drilling of disposal wells and the subsequent injection of brine; but, after conducting in-depth research, they concluded this process did indeed facilitate the quakes: 

“After investigating all available geological formation and well activity data, ODNR [Ohio Department of Natural Resources] regulators and geologists found a number of co-occurring circumstances strongly indicating the Youngstown area earthquakes were induced. Specifically, evidence gathered by state officials suggests fluid from the Northstar 1 disposal well intersected an unmapped fault in a near-failure state of stress causing movement along that fault.”

So, the state has decided to adopt strict regulations in regards to brine disposal wells. Today, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced a set of regulations which it believes will eliminate any future occurrence of fracking induced earthquakes. 

Salt Lake City Oil Spill: Chevron Pipeline Leaks Thousands of Gallons for Second Time in Six Months

After a Chevron oil pipe has leaked crude oil near the Red Butte Creek in Salt Lake City, Utah for the second time in six months, city and state officials are calling for the oil company to shut down the pipeline indefinitely.

The leak which, was reported by Chevron employees at 11:30 PM on Wednesday, spilled an estimated 100 barrels of oil.  Emergency response crews, with the help of oil booms and earthern berms, were able to stop the flow of oil 50 feet before it reached the nearby Red Butte Creek.  

In June, the same section of the pipeline failed leading to 800 barrels of oil leaking into the community.  The oil contaminated three waterways: the Jordan river, Red Butte Creek, and the Liberty Park pond.  The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) allowed the pipeline to resume operations only eight days after the initial spill.  The DOT determined the pipeline was safe after Chevron conducted five tests of the compromised section.

COP16 Climate Talks: U.S. Position May See it Leave Cancun Early

It has not taken long for the United States’ diplomatic team to establish the country’s hard-nosed negotiating position at the United Nations climate conference in Cancun, Mexico (COP16).  The nation’s stance is so firm, it might lead the delegation to abandon the proceedings early.

In the first day of the negotiations, the United States made it clear that it would only sign on to a “balanced package” that requires certain criteria being satisfied. 

According the UK’s The Guardian newspaper this criteria includes: developing nations committing to emissions cuts and the establishment of a verifiable system of accounting for these cuts.  If these features were included in a treaty, the United States would agree to the provisions that are important to emerging economies such as climate finance, technology sharing, and deforestation.

In a briefing with journalists, Todd Stern, the U.S.’s chief climate envoy, said, “We’re either going to see progress across the range of issues or we’re not going to see much progress.  We’re not going to race forward on three issues and a take a first step on other important ones.  We’re going to have to get them all moving at a similar pace.”

Monarchy Trumps Democracy: Canadian Prime Minister Harper's Unelected Senate Rejects Passed Climate Bill

In a move that has generated serious uproar in the Canadian government, the Conservative dominated Senate has defeated a climate change bill that was passed in the House of Commons by holding a snap vote while several Senators were away.

The move is shocking on several fronts.  Firstly, the vote took place while 15 Liberal Senators were away from the capital.  The vote to defeat the Climate Change Accountability Act passed by a margin of 43-32.  Even more shocking is the fact that the unelected body of officials known as the Canadian Senate overturned a bill that was passed by the House of Commons – government officials elected by the Canadian people.

Jack Layton, the leader of Canada’s third party, the New Democratic Party, called the vote, “One of the most undemocratic acts that we have ever seen in the Parliament of Canada.”

God Will Not Allow Global Warming Proclaims Rep. John Shimkus, Seeking Top U.S. Congress Energy Position

U.S. House Representative John Shimkus (Republican-Illinois), who has opposed cap and trade legislation because he believes God will not allow the earth to be destroyed by global warming, is running to become the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman.

In 2009, at a congressional hearing on cap and trade legislation, Rep. Shimkus said, “The Earth will end only when God declares it’s time to be over.  Man will not destroy this Earth.  This Earth will not be destroyed by a Flood.”  This week in an interview with Politico, Shimkus reaffirmed these views:  when asked about climate change he stated once again that God will not allow the world to be washed away in a flood.

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