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Breaking: Vera Scroggins Takes Deal in Wiretapping Case, Vows to Continue Anti-Fracking Fight

Who is the danger here?” Vera Scroggins,  an anti-fracking activist based in Susquehanna County asked after reaching an agreement to resolve a case in which she faced criminal charges at the Montrose, Pennsylvania courthouse.  “Me or an industry that is contaminating the air and water?”

Scroggins, 64, exited the Montrose courtroom, greeting her supporters after signing an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (A.R.D.) agreement, a Pennsylvania deal usually offered to first time offenders,  covering her six wire-tapping charges.

Those felony charges were leveled against her for an incident that occurred in 2013, when she videotaped an interaction between herself and a lawyer and his secretary denying her anti-fracking group a permit to participate in a local Fourth of July Parade. Although Scroggins believes the charges against her are bogus since she was openly filming, she said she cannot afford the cost of a trial.

The deal will require Scroggins to do community service, pay a fine estimated to be $1500, and to spend a period on probation. A county judge will decide the amount of the fine, the type of service and how long a probation time Scroggins will be on.

Oil and Gas Industry-Funded Website FrackFeed.com Off to Shaky Start

Julie Dermansky

FrackFeed.com is a new oil and gas industry-supported website whose mission is to challenge the negative public perception of fracking. That’s a tall order since public awareness and opposition to fracking is growing following the passage of a fracking ban in Denton, Texas, as well as a de-facto ban in New York and other high-profile efforts to protect public safety and water supplies by limiting or outright stopping the risky shale extraction technique in communities worldwide.  

The group behind the FrackFeed.com website, North Texans for Natural Gas (NTNG), claims it is “a grassroots organization” that “aims to give a voice to those who support natural gas.” But as readers of DeSmog know, the oil and gas industry has long used expensive astroturf tactics to gin up the appearance of grassroots support to mask what are actually corporate public relations campaigns.

”When the fossil fuel industry tries to pretend it’s a grassroots movement, it always manages to fail the Turing test,” Bill McKibben, founder of the environmental activist group 350.org, told DeSmog. “I mean, there’s something just inextricably bogus about it.”

Breaking: No Action Taken on a Proposal to Repeal Denton, Texas Fracking Ban

Julie Dermansky

Denton's city council decided not to vote on a repeal of the city's fracking ban, after almost six hours of discussion on the topic at a public meeting last night. 

The vote to repeal the ban was called for shortly after Texas Governor Greg Abbott singed HB40 into law, making Denton’s fracking ban illegal. 

Breaking: Citizens Arrested While Defending Denton, Texas Fracking Ban

Three members of the Denton Drilling Awareness Group were arrested when they refused to move away from the entrance to a fracking site where work began today.

Before arresting them, however, Sergeant Jenkins, a 30-year veteran of the Denton police department, thanked Adam Briggle, a professor at the University of North Texas, and Denton residents Niki Chochrek and Tara Linn Hunter for the work they had done. 

Louisiana Environmental Group Warns Santa Barbara Oil Spill Cleanup Workers to Protect Their Health

An open letter from the Louisiana Environmental Action Network (LEAN) and the Lower Mississippi Riverkeeper advises those affected by the Santa Barbara Plains All American Pipeline spill not to participate in the clean-up effort.

“We do not want to see your citizens', workers', and volunteers' health harmed in the way we have seen it damaged along our Gulf Coast after the 2010 BP oil disaster,” the letter says. 

But the warning may be too late to help some like Osiris Castañeda, a father, ocean lover and filmmaking professor who cleaned up a stretch of Santa Barbara County beach with other volunteers on May 20, the day after a Plains Pipeline spilled an estimated 101,000 gallons of oil into the Pacific Ocean.

TransCanada's Keystone Pipeline Network Under Investigation by Federal Regulators

A month after revealing that TransCanada is under a compliance review for the Keystone 1 Pipeline, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) disclosed it is also investigating the operations of Keystone XL's southern route, renamed the Gulf Coast Pipeline when the project was split in half.

Exclusive: TransCanada Keystone 1 Pipeline Suffered Major Corrosion Only Two Years In Operation, 95% Worn In One Spot

Julie Dermansky

Documents obtained by DeSmogBlog reveal an alarming rate of corrosion to parts of TransCanada's Keystone 1 pipeline. A mandatory inspection test revealed a section of the pipeline's wall had corroded 95%, leaving it paper-thin in one area (one-third the thickness of a dime) and dangerously thin in three other places, leading TransCanada to immediately shut it down.

Elmwood, Louisiana Derailment Stokes Fears About Oil Train Blast Zone

Train derailment Elmwood, Louisiana

Nearly a dozen Union Pacific railway cars were blown off an elevated trestle in Elmwood, Louisiana, on Monday during a strong wind storm.

No injuries were reported in the incident near the Huey P. Long Bridge. The cars did not contain any hazardous materials, although such materials are transported on the route.

Five Years After The BP Oil Spill, Gulf Coast Residents Say “BP Hasn’t Made Things Right”

Julie Dermansky

If you ask Dean Blanchard, the largest shrimp buyer and wholesaler in the region surrounding Grand Isle, Louisiana, things “went from paradise to hell” in the five years following the BP oil disaster.

But BP's advertisements insist the company is making things right. A BP report on the State of the Gulf five years after the spill claims there is no lasting damage to the ecosystem. 

Five Years After the BP Oil Disaster: A Barrier Island for Nesting Birds Devoid of Life

by Julie Dermansky

Cat Island, off the Gulf Coast in Louisiana’s Plaquemines Parish, was home to a vibrant bird rookery inhabited by brown pelicans, seagulls, spoonbills, and egrets before BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. Five years after the largest oil spill in American history, the barrier island has just about disappeared.

Despite ongoing efforts by former Plaquemines Parish coastal zone manager PJ Hahn to restore the island, only the needed building permits and an engineering plan have been completed.

“Cat Island was ground zero of the oil spill,” Hahn told DeSmogBlog.


Dead bird on Cat Island five years after the BP oil spill. 
March 31, 2015. ©2015 Julie Dermansky

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