Fracked Earth Whirl
Protester “chipmunks” obstruct work at Utah tar sands mine.
By Kate Lanier
Mining and local communities: Scenes of conflict
__Pope Francis is at it again, saying there must be a “radical change” in the way mining industries interact with local communities and the environment. “The companies, the governments that are supposed to regulate them, investors and consumers … [of] mined material ‘are called to adopt behaviour inspired by the fact that we are all part of one human family.’”
__Utah “mining regulators have given the go-ahead for the next phase of the nation’s first commercial tar sands operation” in Uintah and Grand Counties. US Oil Sands of Calgary, Alberta, Canada will do the mining. State regulators will rely on the mine to “monitor for potential impacts to groundwater and comply with federal pollution standards.” Confident that’ll work?
__”Mining will never satisfy its appetite,” says San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler, whose tribe is in an “epic battle to save Oak Flat, its most revered sacred site.” Democracy Now interviews Wendsler Nosie Sr. of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and his granddaughter, Naelyn Pike, about the McCain-Flake giveaway of the sacred Apache site to Rio Tinto for a huge copper mine. The tribe has made a caravan from Arizona to Washington, DC in protest, with a nice assist from Neil Young.
__Uh-oh. Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that the popular initiative for restricting the Pebble mine project—which is on state land—“seriously impedes a regulatory process set out in state law and is unenforceable.” The proposed gold and copper Pebble mine is in the same area as “headwaters of a world-class salmon fishery.”
__Seems the US Forest Service got “thousands of public comments” so is now “considering a more stringent analysis of a mining proposal near Yellowstone National Park. British Columbia’s Lucky Minerals wants to “search for gold on federal and private land around Emigrant Peak in south-central Montana.”
__Imagine! A mining policy which gives “greater weight to social and environmental factors during the approval process.” That’s what’s been proposed for New South Wales, Australia, “giving hope” to those fighting such projects as Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth Hunter coal mine expansion.
__Meanwhile, Shenhua Watermark, a spectacularly huge open-cut coal mine in New South Wales, Australia, could have an unknown impact on local groundwater and underground aquifers, but there’s no plan showing how Shenhua would manage such a crisis.
__Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, apparently is a coal-head, insisting that coal is “good for humanity.” His government’s approving coal mines all over the place.
Fracking and pipelines galore
__Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) has proposed legislation to end the ban on US crude oil exports. Laborers’ International Union of North American and the International Union of Operating Engineers joined business and industry groups in supporting the bill.
__CO2 emissions in the US have been decreasing, with the switch from coal to natural gas touted as the reason. New research shows that the global economic recession had far more to do with the decrease. Fuel mix changes, including fracked gas, accounted for a modest 17% of the decrease.
__What’s up with this? Ontario’s Premier, Kathleen Wynne, criticizes the Harper government for “obstructing efforts to fight climate change” and wants Canadians “to make global warming a decisive issue in the coming elections.” She also strongly supports pipelines for transporting tarsands oil.
__And this? 31,000 barrels of a filthy mix of bitumen, extraction water and sand spewed from Nexen Energy’s pipeline near Fort McMurray—smack dab in the middle of the Alberta tarsands. Seems the pipeline detection system wasn’t working. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley is firmly committed to pipelines, despite all the evidence.
__One of Warren Buffett’s BNSF oil trains derailed near Culbertson, Montana, dumping 35,000 gallons of crude, causing evacuation of some 30 residents.
__That pipeline explosion reported by residents of Tyler County, West Virginia on July 10th was not an explosion. The natural gas pipeline ruptured and that was the source of the fire, as well as of the sound that sure sounded like an explosion, but wasn’t. Or something. Glad that’s all cleared up.
Great Canadian Migrations: The Tar Sands Pipeline
__Low oil prices are putting Alaska in danger of losing its “stellar credit ratings.”
__Under new Oklahoma requirements, operators of wells where used fracking fluid-and-water is injected must “show regulators they are not injecting water below the state’s deepest rock formation.” It’s a beginning.
__He gave permission to be a test site for fracking coal bed methane and gas on his organic farm in Shropshire. That permit has now expired, he is once again free to speak, and he’s urging other farmers not to do as he did.
__Mexico has auctioned off “14 exploration blocks in the Gulf of Mexico” to the oil industry. 25 companies were expected to participate, but only nine did.
__Signal International of Alabama brought 200 workers from India to work on oil rigs damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Signal “deceptively recruited and then forcibly corralled [the workers] in squalid, overcrowded camps”—and that’s after charging them $10,000 each for “placements.” Signal will now be paying the workers $20 million. Signal has declared bankruptcy.
__”Hospitalizations for heart conditions, neurological illness, and other conditions were higher among people who live near” fracking sites in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale area. h/t EE
__Almost a year ago, a University of Pennsylvania professor who heads a National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences working group underscored the need for more research on fracking and health. The group could identify only 111 such studies,“only a handful of which were peer-reviewed” [emphasis added]. Anybody listening?
Much to be done for Mother Earth
__Pope Francis’s two-day conference on global warming challenges “Mayors from South America, Africa, the United States, Europe and Asia” to combat climate change and human trafficking. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and California
Mayor Governor Jerry Brown among attendees. Mayor de Blasio pledged “to cut New York carbon emissions by 40%” by 2030.
__413 scientists spent half a year gathering tons of data that show the “State of the [World’s] Climate in 2014.” Includes temps, storms, glaciers, floods, pollution, etc., even ocean haiku. The full report is here (great Anomalies page, though you’ll have to turn your computer on its side to view them). h/t bsbafflesbrains.
__Radiocarbon dating, another fossil fuel victim? If we keep consuming fossil fuels, scientists say, clothes bought in 2050 could register the same radiocarbon date as those bought in 1050. h/t EE
__Global surface temperatures have mysteriously “levelled-off.” Researchers think the heat is being absorbed by the oceans, is being stored very deep below the ocean surface and can be expected to surface again in about ten years.
__Greenland’s ice sheet is melting from the top (warm air eroding the ice) and from the bottom (deep warm waters eroding the ice). The ultimate impact could be sea rise of 20 feet.
The Los Angeles River Story
__There really is a Los Angeles River and a bold project is underway to restore it, with all the trimmings.
__In 2013 Arctic ice made an unanticipated come-back, increasing by about a third. Why? Summer of 2013 was cooler, thus slowing ice melt.
__ALEC’s 2015 agenda: heavy on climate change denial, promoting Dentons everywhere, and a few other mean-spirited things.
__Claim is the US Endangered Species Act has been twisted by “an obscene interpretation” so that “a species needs to be restored only to some fraction of its historic range in order to qualify as recovered.” Has the US Fish & Wildlife Service lost “enthusiasm to fight any more for the sake of controversial species”?
__BPA (bisphenol A), which interferes with human hormones, is now thought to be air-borne.
__Oklahoma says the Clean Air Rule is unconstitutional, and that coal-fired power plants require “substantial expenditures of time, effort, and money” by the state and private utilities, too. Which is an argument for something or other.