Early scientific analysis predicted that the risks associated with hazardous waste injection wells would be negligible. Unfortunately, experience has indicated that disposing of hazardous waste deep underground has been linked to water contamination, destroyed ecosystems, toxic leaks and earthquakes.
Now we are learning that there is a difference between scientific analysis and scientific evidence.
In a recent extensive report byProPublica, John Apps, leading geoscientist, who advises the Department of Energy for Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, said that the science used to go forward with disposal wells was not sound.
“Every statement is based on a collection of experts that offer you their opinions. Then you do a scientific analysis of their opinions and get some probability out of it. This is a wonderful way to go when you don't have any evidence one way or another… But it really doesn't mean anything scientifically.”
According to Environment Canada’s peer-reviewed July report on Canada’s Emissions Trends [pdf], government action to date is not putting the country on track to meet the carbon emissions reductions it commited to in 2009.
A draft discussion paper [pdf] from the New York State Department Of Transportation (NYSDOT) projects costs that unconventional gas and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will have on state transportation infrastructure.
New York already ranks near the bottom of the 50 states with regards to bridge and pavement conditions. Considering this fact, the discussion paper should be treated as a warning sign. NYSDOT’s draft Transportation Impacts of Potential Marcellus Shale Gas Development describes the effects of drilling as “ominous,” requiring the reconstruction of hundreds of miles of roads and numerous bridges. As well, safety and operations improvements in many other areas will be required.
The paper pegs the costs to transportation infrastructure as totaling up to $378 million:
Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been known by the EPA to contaminate underground sources of drinking water since 1987. In a 25-year old investigative report, discovered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Earthjustice, the EPA outlines how fracking for shale gas contaminated a domestic water well in West Virginia.
In a full-length report, called “Cracks in the Façade,” the EWG describes how the uncovered document contradicts the gas industry’s claim that there are no documented cases of water contamination due to fracking.
The EPA found that fluid from a shale gas well more than 4,000 feet deep contaminated well water and that the incident was “illustrative” of pollution problems associated with oil and gas drilling. With now-uncharacteristic candor, the EPA report outlines how the contamination occurs: “During the fracturing process…fractures can be produced, allowing migration of native brine, fracturing fluid and hydrocarbons from the oil or gas well to a nearby water well. When this happens, the water well can be permanently damaged and a new well must be drilled or an alternative source of drinking water found.”
Building on an idea that seems to have originated with Newt Gingrich, Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has spent the past few weeks calling for the Environmental Protection Agency to be abolished. In the June 13th GOP debate, Bachmann said she would pass the “mother of all repeal bills” to target “job-killing regulations.” She indicated that she’d start with the EPA, and added that it “should really be renamed the job-killing organization of America.”
But a new poll from the conservative-leaning Rasmussen** finds that an overwhelming majority of likely voters, including more than two-thirds of independents, disagree with Rep. Bachmann. When asked whether they “favor or oppose abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency,” 61% of likely voters indicated that they are opposed:
Each year, in advance of United Nations (U.N.) climate discussions, governments around the world submit an inventory of their carbon emissions. This year, Canada is taking a unique approach to lower its reported emissions in preparing the annual carbon inventory – it has purposefully excluded information in order to give the false impression that when it comes to climate-altering tar sands pollution, “everything is fine.”
In reality, Canada’s carbon emissions have tripled since 1990, and Canada is making only minor progress to lower its carbon production 17% by 2020, according to Environment Canada’s own figures.
Last week, however, it was revealed that in the 567-page report detailing the country’s emissions, the Canadian government decided not to include 2009 data. Why? Perhaps because it documents a 20% increase in pollution from Alberta’s tar sands industry. The elusive data was only gradually released through emails in response to an investigation by Postmedia News.
The dirty energy giant is hoping to withdraw up to 250,000 gallons per day of surface water from Oquaga Creek near the Farnham Road bridge crossing on Route 41 in Sanford, New York. Roughly 300 residents showed up to comment on the proposal, which has stirred public anger and concern over the potential impacts on the local environment and water supplies.
The Exxon subsidiary’s draft docket stipulates that the surface water will be used for unconventional gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking). XTO says the clean water will be used to mix cement and create a “drilling mud/fluid” cocktail. No waste problem, of course.
Beneath the Exxon PR spin, the true costs of withdrawing a quarter million gallons of water per day are estimated at around $17,700 - just for a tiny patch of land.
Consider the fact that the fracking rush is exacting these very same direct costs on many North Americans.
A recent survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP), commissioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund (NRDC), finds that a majority of voters in House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s (R-MI) home district do not support his attacks on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and its use of the Clean Air Act to reduce global warming pollution.
In February, the American Lung Association released the results of a bipartisan national survey showing that 68% of Americans think that “Congress should not stop the EPA from updating Clean Air Act standards,” while 69% “think the EPA should update Clean Air Act standards with stricter limits on air pollution.”
In Rep. Fred Upton’s 6th District, where he easily won 62% of the vote in 2010, 59% of his constituents feel that Congress should “let EPA do its job,” and 53% favor the EPA setting tougher controls for air pollution.
Ben Grumbles, former assistant Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator and head of the agency’s Office of Water, revealed last week that the conclusions from a 2004 EPAreport [pdf] discussing the safety of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking) have been exaggerated for years.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.