TJ Scolnick

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Shale Gas Outrage Rally And Freedom From Fracking Conference In Philadelphia

On Wednesday, September 7th, opponents of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and unconventional gas exploitation are invited to come to Philadelphia for the Shale Gas Outrage rally. The next day, all are welcome at the Freedom From Fracking: Building Strategies Together conference.

Protecting Our Waters is spearheading the events, and is partnering with another 43 groups from inside and outside of Pennsylvania. Like the Day of FRACtion in New Brusnwick, the Pennsylvania protest intends to send a direct message to industry and government that many citizens are worried and do not want more drilling.

Appearing at the event will be:

Josh Fox, Director of the Oscar-nominated “Gasland;” Al Appleton, internationally respected water systems expert;  impacted families from “shale country”;organizers fighting for the life of the Delaware River watershed, the commonwealth, the Marcellus Shale region, and the nation; and elected officials who have championed the cause of clean water, clean air, and human health.

Canada Right On Target, To Miss 2020 Emissions Targets

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.

Fracking’s ‘Ominous’ Cost To New York’s Roads

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:

Delaware River Basin Commission and Army Corps Sued Over Fracking Regulations

Last week, environmental watchdog groups including the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), Riverkeeper, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Columbia Environmental Law Clinic filed a lawsuit against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) and the Army Corps of Engineers.

Digging Deeper Into New Brunswick’s Fracking Controversy

In ever greater numbers, New Brunswickers are speaking out against hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and the exploitation of the densely packed unconventional gas sitting below ground. Until now, opposition to drilling has been disparate with some 30 civic groups, many communities and individuals speaking out, but on their own. Now, it seems that the opposition is unifying under a common voice in order to send a firm message that “No Means NO” [pdf] when it comes to fracking in the province.

The August 1st Fracking Day march and protest in Fredericton, co-organized by 16 environmental and community groups, was a huge success drawing a crowd of around 1,500 people as well as representatives from the opposition political parties, all on a provincial holiday. The many groups opposing fracking and unconventional gas are hoping for another breakthrough as they have been invited to the community of Taymouth by the Taymouth Community Association for the second formal meeting to form a common voice and to build short and long term province-wide strategy to stop drilling.

U.N. Report On Niger Delta Calls For Billion Dollar Shell Oil Spill Clean-Up Fund

A new United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report [pdf] discussing the environmental destruction in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta wetlands calls out Shell, and says that the contamination warrants emergency action and an initial $1 billion clean-up fund to pay for a sweeping environmental restoration which may take 30 years to complete.

According to the UNEP, this is the most detailed scientific study to date on any part of the Niger Delta. The survey team spent 14 months completing the study which involved site visits to more than 200 locations, a survey of 122 km of pipeline, reviews of more than 5,000 medical records and public meetings with more than 23,000 locals.

The Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta is filled with creeks, swamps, waterways and huge reserves of oil which have enabled Nigeria to become the world’s eighth largest oil exporter. Decades of exploitation by national and international corporations like Shell, however, have destroyed the region’s land and freshwater supplies, and have left residents in poverty.

Shell Agrees To Pay Nigerians For 2008 and 2009 Oil Spills

In a historic move, oil giant Shell has agreed to take responsibility and to compensate Bodo fishing communities in the Ogoniland region of the Niger Delta wetlands after their homes and livelihoods were ravaged by destructive oil spills in 2008 and 2009.

The case is also significant due to the fact that Shell will face the music at home, i.e. in a British court rather than one in Nigeria. Environmental advocates have long called for western oil companies to face their claimants on home soil in order to ensure more media coverage and a larger payout to the affected residents.

Martyn Day, speaking for the 69,000 Bodo, said they are seeking “adequate compensation immediately.” This will likely amount to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages paid to people living in the Niger Delta, a region severely affected by poverty. Shell will likely also face additional litigation in the future.

Canadians Embarrassed (Again) After Government Overestimates Its Carbon Reductions

The Canadian government is again being called out for providing misleading information about its commitment to reducing carbon emissions.

The National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE) has released its fifth annual report [pdf] analyzing government efforts to follow through with its obligations to reduce its carbon pollution, as set out under the 2007 Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act (KPIA).

The findings are disturbing and show that Canada’s emissions reduction policies are only about half as effective as advertised. The recent analysis shows that government policies aiming for 54 million tonnes of carbon reductions by 2012 will only yield around 27 million tonnes of reductions.

In Gas Driller’s Canadian East Coast Heartland, A Day Of FRACtion

On August 1st and 2nd, a Day of FRACtion involving marches and protests is taking place across most of Canada’s Atlantic provinces in order to bring attention to unconventional gas extraction and its highly contentious hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drilling method.

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, in partnership with a number of other organizations in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island opposed to gas production, is calling on all Atlantic Canadians to send their leaders the message that “We do not want fracking in Atlantic Canada” (or anywhere).

Independent Panel Tells Alberta To Clean Up Tar Sands Impacts On Water

The much anticipated findings [pdf] from the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel, appointed to make recommendations on how to fix Alberta’s failing tar sands pollution monitoring system, were recently released to the public.

The panel was convened in January in response to co-authored research, published in the prestigious journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, from David Schindler, a University of Alberta biologist and one of Canada’s top scientists.

Over the past several years, Schindler and his team have studied the high levels of mercury, lead and eleven other toxic elements in the oil sands’ main fresh water source, the Athabasca River. Their results contradict those from the Regional Aquatics Monitoring Program (RAMP), a government-supported and industry-funded agency which has long claimed that water quality is not impacted by tar sands development.

Siding with Schindler, the Alberta Environmental Monitoring Panel’s final report states that existing water monitoring systems are insufficient, ineffective, and unable to assess the cumulative effects of tar sands production on the environment. To improve the situation, the panel calls for government action and makes some 20 recommendations organized around three main conclusions: