Julie Dermansky

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Julie Dermansky is a multimedia reporter and artist based in New Orleans. She is an affiliate scholar at Rutgers University’s Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights. Visit her website at www.jsdart.com.

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.

Permits Required to Build TransCanada’s Keystone XL Pipeline in Jeopardy As Hearings Reveal Missteps

TransCanada’s decision to purchase all of the pipe needed to complete the Keystone XL Pipeline before receiving a presidential permit could prove a costly mistake.

Not only is President Obama expected to reject the permit TransCanada needs in order to cross the U.S.-Canadian border, the company must recertify an expired permit before it can install the pipeline though South Dakota as well.

At a hearing that began on July 29 in Pierre, South Dakota, the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is tasked to decide if it should recertify the company’s permit to build the Keystone XL pipeline through the state. Those opposing the Keystone XL, referred to as interveners, are making the case that TransCanada is not up to the job.

TransCanada Keystone XL Hits New Turbulence As South Dakota Permit Hearing Implodes Over Pipeline Corrosion, Market Demand

Keystone corrosion TransCanada root cause report

Holes too big to fix were poked in TransCanada’s narrative that its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built. And questions were raised about how the pipeline company’s financial dealings are set up during Public Utilities Commission hearings in Pierre, South Dakota this week where state regulators are tasked to decide if the company is capable of following the rules the state set when the original Keystone pipeline permit was granted in 2010.

A team of lawyers representing Native American tribes and the grassroots group Dakota Rural Action took the upper hand during the proceedings as they tried to have a TransCanada executive’s testimony impeached. The proceedings took on a circus-like atmosphere when TransCanada was unable to prevent lines of questioning it didn’t like. 

Evidence Released at TransCanada’s Keystone XL Permit Renewal Hearing Sheds Light On Serious Pipeline Risks

Keystone XL protest by Doug Grandt

Just because TransCanada continually states that the Keystone XL pipeline will be the safest pipeline ever built, doesn’t mean it is true.

The company’s pipeline construction record is facing intense scrutiny in America’s heartland, where many see no justifiable rationale to risk their water and agricultural lands for a tar sands export pipeline.

New documents submitted as evidence in the Keystone XL permitting process in South Dakota — including one published here on DeSmog for the first time publicly — paint a troubling picture of the company’s shoddy construction mishaps. This document, produced by TransCanada and signed by two company executives, details the results of its investigation into the “root cause” of the corrosion problems discovered on the Keystone pipeline.

Bernie Sanders Electrifies Crowds in Louisiana with Message to Fight Climate Change

I hear that you have somewhat of an oil industry here,” said Bernie Sanders, Democratic candidate for President, drawing laughter from the crowd of 4,500 at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, Louisiana on Sunday evening. 

The audience whistled and cheered when Sanders said we need to end our dependence on fossil fuels. He acknowledged the transition would be painful for some, and that those economically impacted by the loss of jobs must be taken care of. But in no uncertain terms he said it was America’s moral obligation to lead the world in saving this planet from the ravages of climate change.

Australians Tour Pennsylvania’s Gaslands as Fracking Threat Looms Over South Australia

A group of Australians who made a fracking fact-finding trip to the Marcellus Shale region will report to the Australian Parliament before any decisions are made about the future of fracking in South Australia. 

In June, the group of twelve Australians—including members of Parliament, farmers, medical and legal professionals—visited communities in Pennsylvania and New York. They saw evidence of contaminated water as a result of accidents and leaks connected to the fracking industry, and met with people both for and against the process. 

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.”

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