Julie Dermansky

Primary tabs

Julie Dermansky's picture

Personal Information

Twitter URL
http://www.twitter.com/jsdart
Profile Info
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.

Citizens Protest Fracking Permit in Louisiana’s St. Tammany Parish

On November 13, over 600 people filled the Lakeshore High School gym for a public hearing on a drilling permit for the first hydraulic fracturing site in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana.

According to Patrick Courreges, a spokesman for Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR), it was the first public hearing for a drilling permit that anyone can remember. 

DNR isn’t used to opposition to drilling permits and rarely rejects such industry requests. But since April when Helis Oil and Gas announced plans to frack in St. Tammany Parish, 45 miles outside of New Orleans, public opposition has grown steadily in an effort to stop the company’s operations before they start. 


Concerned citizens fill the bleachers in the Lakeshore High School gym. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

According to Courresges, if Helis proves they can meet DNR’s requirements, they will be issued a permit. Public comment about quality of life concerns won’t suffice to stop it.

“This is pretty much about construction and operation of the well itself, the wellbore and how it will be constructed and operated, not quality of life issues,” Courreges told DeSmogBlog. 

Texas Regulators Sidestep Connection Between Fracking Industry and Earthquakes

XTO wastewater disposal plant

New rules for Texas injection wastewater well operators offer no relief to people impacted by more than 30 earthquakes that hit Azle, Reno and Springtown almost a year ago. Many buildings in the three small cities, 50 miles west of Dallas, Texas, suffered broken windows, cracked walls, damaged plumbing and foundations. 

Seismic activity is not something the region is known for. It was only after deep injection disposal wells used to house fracking's toxic wastewater went into operation that the earthquakes started. There are several injection wells in the area — three of which some suspect to be the cause of the quakes due to their proximity to impacted neighborhoods and the volume of disposal operations. 


Crack in an Azle, Texas, residence that opened after an earthquake. ©2014 Julie Dermansky 

“Injection raises the underground pressure and can effectively lubricate fault lines, weakening them and causing earthquakes, according to the U.S Geological Survey,” reports McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Texas Railroad Commission, the agency that regulates the oil and gas industry, was met with public outcry after the first earthquake swarm. The commissioners acted fast (by the agency’s standards), coming up with new rules to address the situation released on Oct. 28.  

The new rules require oil and gas companies to check local seismic data from the U.S. Geological Survey before opening a new waste disposal well. They also give the agency the power to change, suspend or revoke an injection operator’s permit if the commission determines the well is contributing to seismic activity.

Breaking: Denton, Texas Hit with Lawsuits After Landslide Victory on Fracking Ban

Less than 24 hours after Denton became the first Texas city to ban fracking within city limits, the city is being sued. The Texas General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association are the first to challenge the new ordinance. 

Denton voters passed the fracking ban by a 59-to-41 percent margin, becoming the first Texas city to ban fracking. 

Michael Leza, a Denton resident who campaigned for the ban, told DeSmogBlog: “I'm really happy that the city managed to pull together and fight off the flood of industry propaganda and money. It shows that when people feel connected on a personal level with something they will get informed and vote in their own best interest. Unlike the statewide races where people seem more concerned with politics as a game that they are trying to win, here in Denton we saw a true grassroots movement drag the lovers of power kicking and screaming into protecting our health and safety, regardless of the wishes of the powerful to the contrary”


Michael Leza, a Denton resident © 2014 Julie Dermansky

U.S. Energy Policies Based on Inflated Fracking Predictions: Post Carbon Institute Report

Economic predictions about the fracking industry's potential growth have for the most part gone unquestioned — until now.

A new report from the Post Carbon Institute exposes highly inflated forecasts and concludes that the amount of oil that can be tapped by hydraulic fracturing cannot be maintained at the levels assumed beyond 2020.

The report, “Drilling Deeper: A Reality Check on US Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom,” says inflated forecasts from the Energy Information Administration have fostered a lack of urgency to transition to renewable energy. The report also looks at the oil industry's increased pressure to relax restrictions on fracking and change oil and gas export rules.  

The Department of Energy’s forecasts — the ones everyone is relying on to guide our energy policy and planning — are overly optimistic based on what the actual well data are telling us,” says David Hughes, a geoscientist and author of the Post Carbon Institute report.

The report shatters the government’s estimate of the potential productivity of America’s shale regions. Four out of seven of the top shale regions have peaked and are now in a decline, the report says. Another three will peak in production before the government’s forecast predicts. In decline already are the Barnett, Haynesville, Fayetteville and Woodford Shales.
  

Source: Post Carbon Institute 

Supporters of Fracking Ban Face New Wave of McCarthyism in Denton, Texas

Banning fracking in Denton, Texas

In Denton, Texas, a college town north of Dallas that sits atop the Barnett Shale formation, the fight over a referendum banning fracking within city limits is in the final stretch.

The local ballot initiative has global implications, with the energy sector watching closely.

The turmoil in Denton reflects a growing national debate between those concerned with health and quality of life issues, and others who claim the fracking industry is America’s answer to economic growth and energy independence.

Did Louisiana Attorney General Caldwell Miss the CDC Memo That Incineration Kills Ebola?

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell got a temporary restraining order to stop the incinerated remains of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan’s belongings from being disposed of in Louisiana. Caldwell’s headline grabbing move was mocked by Mother Jones writer Tim Murphy who bestowed Louisiana with the “Prize for Ebola Fearmongering.” 

“There are too many unknowns at this point, and it is absurd to transport potentially hazardous Ebola waste across state lines. We just can't afford to take any risks when it comes to this deadly virus,” Caldwell told the New Orleans Times Picayune

Science be damned when it comes to public health in Louisiana. It would seem so if you pay attention to the statement issued by the Centers for Disease Control: “We certainly know how to inactivate and destroy the Ebola virus. It's readily destroyed by incineration, destroyed by chemical means,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC director stated during a press conference

Yet Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell got a temporary restraining order to stop the incinerated remains of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan’s belongings from being disposed of in Louisiana. Caldwell’s headline grabbing move was mocked by Mother Jones writer Tim Murphy who bestowed on Louisiana the “Prize for Ebola Fearmongering.”   

Caldwell's move is in contradiction to Louisiana's standard practice of accepting toxic industrial waste from other states.

The Lake Charles hazardous waste facility — where the incinerated remains were destined for disposal — is no stranger to out of state toxic material. Ten hazardous materials the waste facility previously accepted from out of state include arsenic, asbestos, cadmium, dioxin, mercury, hydrogen fluoride, bromine, lead, barium and manganese, according to a report obtained by The New Orleans Times  Picayune from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory Program.

Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish Comes One Step Closer to Fracking

St Tammany Parish Fracking

The Department of Louisiana Natural Resources (DNRhas approved a unit permit for Helis Oil & Gas Company for a site in St. Tammany Parish that the company plans to frack. 

The department’s decision came on Friday, August 29, the ninth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and the beginning of the Labor Day weekend.

Releasing the news on Friday is typical of Louisiana's government. It is another demonstration of how DNR is an advocate for the oil industry, not the people,” retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, founder of the Green Army, told DeSmogBlog. “They know the majority of the parish do not want fracking and that they are doing something the people don't want. Releasing the news like that is disrespectful.”

Nine Years After Katrina, Coastal Restoration Plans Remain Distant Dream for New Orleans

The scars of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans that remain nine years later are a reminder of the city’s vulnerability to rising tides and storm surges. Both Katrina and Rita, a hurricane that followed just weeks later, washed away miles of coastal marshland, the state’s first line of defense from storms. 

The landscape in Plaquemines Parish’s Braithwaite neighborhood is still that of a ghost town two years after Hurricane Isaac hit, underscoring the need to restore the coast. 
  


Blighted homes in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward on August 22. © 2014 Julie Dermansky

Home in Braithwaite, Louisiana destroyed by Hurricane Isaac. ©Julie Dermansky

The day after Hurricane Katrina’s nine-year anniversary on Friday, former Lt. General Russel Honoré and his Green Army held a commemorative breakfast. The army, a coalition of environmental and social justice groups, reflected on work they had done during the last legislative session and discussed their path forward. Saving Louisiana’s coast was on top of the agenda.

General Honoré, Enviro Groups Call for Strengthening EPA’s Proposed Refinery Pollution Standards

Valero refinery near home (c) Julie Dermansky

Millions of people living near refineries will be directly affected by a long awaited updates to regulations the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed for oil refineries. Their new proposed rule includes a reduction of flaring, monitoring benzene emissions, and upgrading emission controls during the crude oil refining process.

“We need 21st century monitoring devices for fenceline communities,” former General Russel Honoré, founder of the Green Army, a coalition of environmental groups and concerned citizens fighting against pollution, told DeSmogBlog. “The new rules the EPA has put forth still don't require that. Industry's objective is to reduce liability, because they want to avoid liability. They don't want good monitoring,” he says.



Retired General Russel Honoré speaking at a Green Army event ©2014 Julie Dermansky



ExxonMobil refinery in Baton Rouge, Louisiana  ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Breaking: Denton City Council Rejects Fracking Ban: Referendum Will Be on November Ballot

The failure of the Denton city council to pass a fracking ban in Denton, Texas, after a meeting that went on for over eight hours last night, was no surprise to Cathy McMullen, Denton resident and president of Denton Drilling Awareness Group.

“The vote was theater,” McMullen told DeSmogBlog.

Councilman Kevin Roden was the only one to call for ban. His motion was not seconded. A motion to deny the ban was approved 5 to 2, followed by an unanimous vote to put the ban initiative on the next ballot.

After a landmark ruling in New York State Supreme Court that upheld a city-imposed ban on fracking in Dryden, N.Y, the battle to ban fracking in Denton is being closely watched.


Reagan Stinson, in front of her home in a subdivision at Bonnie Brae Street and Vintage Boulevard, across from an EagleRidge Energy site. Stinson told DeSmogBlog the constant activity at the site made it hard for her to sleep. ©2014 Julie Dermansky  

Denton, a college town, sits on top of the natural gas-rich Barnett Shale. Within the city limits, there are fracking sites less then 300 feet from people's homes.

Dozens of residents who spoke at the meeting told city council how fracking has destroyed the quality of life for those who live near the frack sites. The meeting was attended by over 500 people who heard first-hand testimony of health issues, noise, traffic problems and reports of diminishing property values.

McMullen's group gathered close to 2,000 signatures for an initiative to ban new fracking within Denton's city limits. With all signatures verified, the initiative was presented to the city council resulting in last night’s mandatory council vote.

Pages