Thursday, January 31, 2013

Drilling Gas Wells Affects Dairy Farmers in Bradford County, PA

French Azilum, Bradford County
Photo: Carol Manuel
"The dash for unconventional gas may have brought financial benefits to some, but for struggling dairy farmers in Bradford County, PA, the arrival of drilling wells could be the final nail in the coffin."

"Bradford County, a bucolic region in northern Pennsylvania full of woodlands, rolling hills, and pastures dotted by red barns and hay bales, with a population of just 63,000 people, has been undergoing a massive industrial transformation for the past few years, as both American and international companies have joined the rush for gas."

"...the gas rush threatens to undermine the venerable farming and dairy operations in the area, while creating a host of environmental and social problems."

Read the article from The Economist here.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fracking Ground Zero Tour- Part 2

Rick Roles worked in the oil fields of Utah, Wyoming, and Colorado in the 1970's and 80's. He moved to his father's ranch in Garfield County (CO) in 1993 and developed serious health problems soon thereafter.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Yoko's Letter About Gas Drilling in PA

Read Yoko's poignant letter here.

"I was there.  I saw it.  It made me cry."
Yoko Ono and her son Sean Lennon visited Susquehanna County, PA, on January 17, 2013, accompanied by several others, including Susan Sarandon and Arun Gandhi.  Josh Fox was there with his camera as well.  The group spoke to several families  who have been severely affected by the gas wells surrounding their homes.

Monday, January 21, 2013

President Obama on Climate Change

Jessica Ernst: The Consequences of Fracking

Ms. Ernst talks about the dark side of nature. She tells of her findings: Gas companies have learned that, in order to get away with destroying communities, they have to make communities sick. So they capitalize on greed, money, things that people want, and go in to communities and plant seeds to encourage these negative emotions. For the most part, people in communities do the gas company's job for them by creating ill will, polarization, and false hopes that lead to fragmentation of community. Communities become sick and vulnerable to the promises of prosperity. Brilliant method of making people work for their own demise.

Jessica Ernst said: No healthy community will allow hydraulic fracturing so they have to make the community sick -- And they do so by feeding the dark side a human nature which is greed, sloth, selfishness they feed the ego they promise a little bit... ...and then whammo, the community is divided. The people with concerns are then abused by the people who want more money and Encana doesn't even have to do the dirty work! A lot of the other companies; the people in the communities do the dirty work for them. It's an incredibly brilliant technique which works very well. Everywhere they're fracking this is happening. And my conclusion as a scientist, and as an environmental biologist-- as an environmental specialist that has worked in this industry... My conclusion is that no healthy community on this planet would allow hydraulic fracturing because it is not safe,  It is impossible to do even with the best rules and regulations.

Voices Against Fracking in NY

Susan Sarandon, Arun Gandhi, Yoko Ono, and Sean Lennon speak to reporters about their deep concern about hydrofracking in New York State and the world. (January 2013)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Yoko and Friends Travel To PA

On January 17, 2013, Yoko Ono and her son Sean Lennon, accompanied by other celebrities, engaged a tour bus to take them to Susquehanna County, PA, where they met with several local families who have been severely impacted by natural gas drilling. Vera Scroggins, fearless and relentless warrior against fracking (and all it entails), took this video which has some special moments. If you are bothered by the barking dog, just go to 11:30 on the video. At that point Yoko and Sean, Susan Sarandon, Josh Fox, and Arun Gandhi, and others are sitting in the living room of a local family and viewing some video of methane gas billowing out of the family water well. At one point, I was so touched when Sean said to his mom," Mom, look! That's gas coming out of the well!" He is so kind to his mother, and to him she is just "Mom." One other moment that touched my heart was when Sean was heard saying, "I gotcha." He was holding on to his mom's arm to make sure she didn't slip on the ice. He was brought up right! Such a gentleman and so solicitous of his mom. At the end of Vera's video, Sean speaks poignantly to everyone on the bus, telling of his personal interest in protecting the environment and expressing his deep emotion about how people have been hurt. He has compassion and empathy, qualities I wish more people had.  I was really impressed with this group.  They were sincerely affected by what they saw.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Celebrities Against Fracking Tour NE Pennsylvania

Vera Scroggins wrote: "We're getting some great coverage about our Citizen Tour of Gasland, Pa. for the "Artists Against Fracking" ---showing the horrors of fracking." Celebrities Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Susan Sarandon, Arun Ghandi (Mahatma Ghandi's grandson), and others, hired a tour bus to drive from New York City to Northeast PA to see firsthand the effects of natural gas drilling and to talk to local people who have been adversely affected by the gas industry. Vera Scroggins: "Thanks, to Yoko, John and Susan for visiting us in Gasland, Pa. and witnessing what is happening after 650 gas wells have gone in the past five years and the industry is still in the early stages of inundating us with thousands of gas wells and hundreds of miles of high-pressure pipelines and toxic-emissions from dozens of compressor stations...."

Renewable Energy Experts: We're On the Titanic

Gas Rush Stories, part 13: Renewable Energy Experts from Kirsi Jansa on Vimeo.
Unconventional gas is being promoted as a bridge technology towards renewable energy future. This episode of Gas Rush Stories asks Harry Lehmann, General Director of the Division of Environmental Planning and Sustainable Strategies at the Federal Environmental Agency of Germany, Patricia DeMarco, Director of Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University, and Professor Terry Collins from the Institute for Green Science at Carnegie Mellon University to share their views on this topic.
Gas Rush Stories also visits Feldheim, a small village in former East Germany. Feldheim is one of the first 100 percent renewable energy communities in Germany.

The village of Feldheim, Germany, is now producing 100% of its energy from renewables.  The town is off the grid.  Unemployment is ZERO percent in Feldheim.  In surrounding communitiesm the unemployment rate is 15-20%. Part of this video tells the story of Feldheim.  It is heartening!  We can produce our energy with renewables.  Why are we not doing this more?

"Green energy is already a viable solution."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fracking Is Dangerous For Women

Governor Cuomo has promised to stand up for women. To live up to... that promise, he must not allow a practice in our communities that leads to crimes against women.

Read NYT article here.

Dr. Sandra Steingraber: Albany News Conference on Fracking New York

Dr. Sandra Steingraber speaks at a news conference in Albany, New York, on January 11, 2013. She describes the process by which NY residents responded in writing to the impending possibility that Governor Cuomo will allow permitting of gas wells in New York State. The governor's decision may come as soon as February- just a few weeks away.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pete Seeger: Dear Governor Cuomo

Folk music legend Pete Seeger is trying to form an unlikely musical alliance with Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "Dear Mr. Governor, I've got a song half written," Seeger, a longtime Fishkill resident, scrawled on a piece of blank sheet music paper, proposing the two make some sweet music together with a new song about banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a nonprofit group founded by Seeger in 1966, tweeted a photo of the note on Friday, the final day in the public comment period on fracking. Cuomo is weighing whether to allow shale gas drilling using high-volume fracking in the state, as state regulators near completion of a 4-and-a-half-year environmental review. Seeger is an outspoken fracking opponent. The note was not the long-time environmentalist's only attempt at making his stance known to the governor. He performed at an anti-fracking rally before the State of the State address in Albany on Wednesday. No word yet on whether Cuomo - or his speechwriters - are planning to help Seeger with his writer's block.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cancer Survivor Addresses Health Effects of Fracking

From The Ithaca Times  Aneta Glover   December 5, 2012

Dr. Steingraber said at an Ovid meeting:

"I am a cancer survivor myself. I was diagnosed at the age of 20 because someone put dry cleaning fluid out back of a machine shop 80 years before and contaminated my town's drinking water. I have been in and out of the hospital for 33 years. I have an exam scheduled for two weeks from now because of an abnormality they saw last time. You don't know how high my medical bills are. But, if you want to talk about costs, not just about kids having to drink contaminated water, kids with cancer at a young age - if you just want to do an analysis … every person with cancer costs tens of thousands of dollars, every child with asthma, every pre-term birth, heart attack, stroke, etc., we have never done those costs to price these out. Right now we don't know the numbers, so we couldn't possibly know what all the costs to fracking would be.”

Read the article here.

Note:  Ovid® is a global information solutions provider that helps researchers, librarians, clinicians, and other healthcare professionals find important medical information so that they can make critical decisions to improve patient care, enhance ongoing research, and fuel new discoveries.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Dr. Sandra Steingraber's Testimony At Public Hearing on Fracking In New York State

Written Testimony for the Public Hearing on DEC’s High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Regulations

by Raising Elijah by Sandra Steingraber on Thursday, January 10, 2013 at 6:42pm ·
New York State Assembly
January 10, 2013

Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D.
Distinguished Scholar in Residence
Department of Environmental Studies
Ithaca College
Ithaca, New York 14850

My name is Sandra Steingraber. I am Distinguished Scholar in Residence in the Department of Environmental Studies at Ithaca College. My Ph.D. is in biology, and I have spent the last twenty years researching and writing in the field of environmental health. I have served as a science advisor at both the state and national level, working with the state of California on its research program to investigate the causes of breast cancer and with both the National Action Plan on Breast Cancer under the Clinton Administration and President’s Cancer Panel under George W. Bush.

I’m here to speak today as a founding member of Concerned Health Professionals of New York. This is a group of scientists, physicians, and nurses that came together last fall, in a spirit of shared alarm, when we learned that the DEC’s study of the health effects of fracking—which we had long asked for—was not going to be conducted using any normative protocols nor in an open manner, which is also normative for public health inquiries.

A normative protocol for a health study that attempts to forecast the public health risks of a polluting activity that has not yet been approved is called a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment. It was designed by our nation’s Centers for Disease Control and is endorsed by the World Health Organization. An HIA has, as one of its fundamental elements, democracy. It is scoped and carried out in a transparent manner and with the participation of the public at every stage. This participation takes the form of public hearings and periods of public commentary. It does so out of the recognition that when the public is being asked to endure possible risks to its health from a polluting industry, the public has the right to witness and participate in the study that will help determine the decision-making as to whether to permit or prohibit this industry.

In addition, when the lay public contributes its own local and historical knowledge to an environmental health study, the study design is better for it. Public participation makes for better science.

What is going on right now with the so-called health study underway at DEC and DOH is the very opposite of that public spiritedness. The DEC has, under the cover of secrecy, scoped and carried out a health review of some kind that no member of New York’s scientific community has seen. This review is itself being reviewed by DOH chief, Dr. Shah, and a team of three distinguished public health experts from out of state. We do not know what this team has been asked to review, but we do know that two of the three of them have signed contracts with non-disclosure agreements.

And we do know, from the introduction to the newly released regulations for hydraulic fracturing released by the DEC on November 29, that the decision whether or not to frack New York hangs on the results of these outside reviewers.

Thus does the health of 19.5 million New Yorkers depend on the results of a secret review of a secret review.

And thus, Concerned Health Professionals of New York came together. Not knowing what data the reviewers have been asked to comment on, we hastily created a website on which we uploaded all of the important reports and peer-review studies that we know of—from investigations of well casing failures to radioactivity in production brine (which is to be spread on our roadways). We also uploaded our many unanswered letters to DEC Commissioner Martens, DOC Commissioner Shah, and Governor Cuomo.

And I’d like to add here as an aside: My 11-year-old son receives answers to his letters to the Governor. I never have. We share the same mailing address.

Concerned Health Professionals of New York also took the unusual step of creating an eight-minute video message to the three outside panelists in which we—doctors, nurses, and scientists—describe our long-standing, unaddressed concerns about fracking in New York State. We uploaded this as an embedded video. And then we emailed each of the reviewers to let them know that we had created this website repository of data for them, out of our concern that the document that they are reviewing—whatever it is—does not address itself to all the animating issues.

Can I just say how crazy this feels to us? These three outside experts are our colleagues. Two of the three are personal friends of mine. We have spoken together on panels and at conferences. They share data with me. I cite their research in my writings. And now a gag order prevents them from speaking to me about data that I as a New York scientist am not allowed to see.

The leak last week to the press of what looks to be an old draft of this health review turns our alarm into full-blown cynicism. This eight-page document contains no data. It is a series of assertions that seems to say that the health effects of fracking are unknown and unknowable by any future research. Therefore, regulations can mitigate them. Therefore, fracking is safe.

This is not sound scientific reasoning. The premises on which its logic rests cannot be evaluated because there are no citations or footnotes or references. Emerging evidence in the scientific literature flies in the face of its conclusions.

The DEC and DOH needs to be asked, “What is this document? Who wrote it? For what purpose? What are your sources?”

I’m aware that this Assembly has invited the DEC Commissioner to his hearing to explain himself—an invitation that he refused. To justify the no-show, DEC spokesperson Emily DeSantis issued a statement pointing to the previous hearings attended by Commissioner Martens.

Concerned Health Professionals of New York condemns this statement. The refusal of the DEC to appear at this hearing and answer questions about the health review has not only broken Governor Cuomo’s promise of transparency, it has broken public trust itself.

Although New York citizens have been entirely cut out of the decision-making process on fracking, the public continues to have profound interest in participating in the inquiry and the decision-making process of fracking.

I know this because I designed a website to help people create comments on the revised draft regulations over the holidays. It’s called Thirty Days of Fracking Regs, and it takes an Advent calendar approach to public commentary. Each day, for the last 30 days, I have posted on this website one regulation, which I then translate into plainspoken English. I then provide some science relevant to that regulation. Because there is no final SGEIS to serve as the scientific basis for the regs, I did that research myself. I then invited the public to create a handcrafted comment about that regulation.

Tomorrow, I will be hand delivering all the comments that my readers and I created together. There are more than 20,000 of them. All are original and unique. As a metric of public commitment and concern, I would like to point out that 500 of them were written on Christmas Day. On New Year’s Day, more than 1000 comments came in. In addition, college students home on break devoted their free time to crafting comments as part of a group project called Homework Against Fracking.

These and other initiatives that have guided citizens through the comment-writing process means that we will hand-deliver to the DEC more than 200,000 comments tomorrow, January 11, which is the final day of comment delivery. We require a U-Haul to do so. And I understand that such a truck has already been rented.

I am asking you now to help ensure that each one of these comments is logged by the DEC, read, and considered.

Finally: outside of Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address yesterday, more than 1,500 people protested against fracking. That event included a recitation of the Pledge to Resist Fracking in New York. The Pledge is a solemn commitment to engage in actions of non-violent protest and demonstration up to and including civil disobedience should the Governor greenlight fracking for New York under the undemocratic, fatally flawed decision-making process now underway. Prior to yesterday, more than 6,000 people had already signed this solemn pledge. I am one of them.

I dearly hope that we do not have to activate this pledge, that the signatures of thousands of New York citizens alone will have the power to move the Governor to the exit door. But the very existence of the Pledge to Resist Fracking in New York is clear sign not only of loss of faith in the DEC but of loss of faith in government itself.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Americans Who Tell the Truth: Sandra Steingraber

"We are all musicians in a great human orchestra, and it is now time to play the Save the World Symphony. You are not required to play a solo, but you are required to know what instrument you hold and play it as well as you can. You are required to find your place in the score."

Let the music begin!

Marcellus Shale: Citizen Craig Stevens Speaks To Local Government Officials

Listen to Craig Stevens of Susquehanna County, PA, as he speaks truth to power at a Planning Commissioner's meeting January 9th. He cites possible illegal votes in connection with a compressor station. Look at the officials as they "listen." They show no emotion except boredom and concern for time. It is as if Mr. Stevens is hardly there or as if they cannot hear what he is saying. Very infuriating in my opinion. This is what is happening all over the country it seems. Local people, who stand to lose everything that makes their life liveable, are treated as if they don't matter. This was a civil encounter, that is, no fur flying, no disrespectful or insulting exchanges, but the lack of concern and the disinterest which these officials display here is really unacceptable.

The videographer Vera Scroggins explains what is happening in the video:

"Craig Stevens speaks powerfully about what happened at the previous night's Planning Commission Special Meeting in Montrose, Pa.. See how our Commissioners act and listen and are not protecting us. Who are they representing?"

Craig Stevens came to Albany January 9th and spoke to the anti-fracking crowd who were there for an action in connection with Governor Cuomo's State of the State address in which he did not even mention gas drilling.  Thank you, Craig Stevens, for taking the time to come to New York to try to let people know what we have in store if the Governor gives the go-ahead on gas drilling permits next month.  Please let us listen to Craig and ban fracking in New York state at least until the reports are completed on health impacts.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Thank you, Yoko

Yoko Ono was one of many today who delivered more than 200,000 comments to the NY DEC about fracking and other concerns about the whole drilling process.  The day before, upwards of 2,000 gathered at the NY Capitol Building in Albany, the same day as Governor Cuomo's State of the State Address.  He never mentioned fracking.  The crowd which filled the entire concourse chanted for hours.  Ban fracking now!  Hey, hey, Cuomo!  Gas drilling has got to go!  It was a wonderful day of action.  Pete Seeger, Debra Winger, Sandra Steingraber, and other notables were there, too!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Natural Gas: Your Daughter's Health or $13,000?

Carol French, dairy farmer from Bradford County, and her husband signed a gas lease in 2006. They had no idea what was to happen to their family, their property, their water, their health, and their business. We must ask ourselves, when confronted with "pro-gassers" and their haughty, greedy ideas, is it really worth giving up your way of life- your home, your health, your means of income, your water and clean air, your child's well-being, just about everything that makes life worth living- for a few thousand dollars? As Carol French says, this doesn't become real until it happens to you.  It doesn't happen to every single family, but who would take a chance? 

I just saw Dickens' "Christmas Carol."  Jacob Marley came back from the dead to try to warn his business partner Ebenezer Scrooge of the error of his greedy, selfish ways.  Do we need to be visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future once again to have the fear of God put back in us?  What is it going to take?  What is it that some people are not getting?  "Christmas Carol" is just a story, but it is based on Dickens' concern for people who lived in his time and were suffering.  It is as timely today as it was when he wrote it.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Fracked: Dish, TX, Family Suffers From Gas Industry, Moves Away

Former Mayor Calvin Tillman of Dish, Texas, and his wife Tiffany and two sons had to make the hard decision to leave their home, much of which Calvin had worked on and built himself, because their boys were suffering nosebleeds and they feared that their health would suffer, especially after the air was tested and found to be bad.

We should not have to leave our homes due to poisoning of our air, soil, and water by the gas industry.  This should not be allowed.  It must stop.