While XL Pipeline Stalls, Gas Fracking Comes Under Closer Scrutiny for Contaminated Aquifer

According to Credo and a host of other environmental organizations, “The State Department and Obama Administration announced today that they will re-evaluate the route of the Keystone XL pipeline, and restart their environmental assessment, which take until at least the beginning of 2013 to complete.” So the new XL pipeline is stalled—for now. But in another email I received from Pro Publica, the EPA found a fracking compound in a Wyoming aquifer in an area plagued by citizen’s complaints their water was contaminated.
ProPublica’s article stated:

The Pavillion area [in Wyoming] has been drilled extensively for natural gas over the last two decades and is home to hundreds of gas wells. Residents have alleged for nearly a decade [1] that the drilling — and hydraulic fracturing in particular — has caused their water to turn black and smell like gasoline. Some residents say they suffer neurological impairment [5], loss of smell, and nerve pain they associate with exposure to pollutants.
The gas industry — led by the Canadian company EnCana, which owns the wells in Pavillion — has denied that its activities are responsible for the contamination. EnCana has, however, supplied drinking water to residents.

This information is based on raw sampling data but the article went on to say:

The chemical compounds the EPA detected are consistent with those produced from drilling processes, including one — a solvent called 2-Butoxyethanol (2-BE) — widely used in the process of hydraulic fracturing. The agency said it had not found contaminants such as nitrates and fertilizers that would have signaled that agricultural activities were to blame.
The wells also contained benzene at 50 times the level that is considered safe for people, as well as phenols — another dangerous human carcinogen — acetone, toluene, naphthalene and traces of diesel fuel.

I would say the people in that area and other fracking areas across the U.S. have a “legitimate” complaint now. This discovery will certainly open a big can of worms for the fracking industry.

READ THE WHOLE STORY at ProPublica’s website:
. http://www.propublica.org/article/epa-finds-fracking-compound-in-wyoming-aquifer.

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Weather Wake Up Call for U.S. as Congress Keeps Pushing for More Fossil Fuel Energy

I know I’m not the only one linking greenhouse gas emissions to global climate change to all the horrendously bad weather pummeling the U.S. lately. The east coast is still without power from Hurricane Irene. A new hurricane Katia is churning up in the Atlantic along with a new tropical storm promising to drop a huge amount of rainfall on New Orleans again missing Texas for relief from the record drought there.

At the same time, it’s been a busy 24 hours for earthquake activity in the U.S. In the late morning hours today, 3 earthquakes hit Alaska’s Aleutian Island area. One was 6.8 that triggered a tsunami warning for the U.S. western coastline between 7:30 and 8:00 am while another 4.2 earthquake shook the Los Angeles area yesterday at 1:47 in the afternoon. If we look at the world map for earthquakes there was substantial seismic activity from the southern hemisphere along Australia north to the ring of fire areas of the Indian Ocean arcing around the pacific basin up to Alaska.

Worldwide earthquakes with M4.5+ located by USGS and Contributing Agencies.
(Earthquakes with M2.5+ within the United States and adjacent areas.)

If all of this challenging weather isn’t a wake up call to get moving on sustainable alternatives, then our reps in Congress and some presidential candidates pushing the filthy tar sands project that will ultimately burn 6X dirtier than usual and hawking our substantial caches of coal are representing Big Oil/Gas/Coal and not our health and welfare.

There is no denying the entire world is suffering from increasingly greater extremes of weather with summers at record highs and winters with increasing precipitation in the form of snow in places like Florida. But politics, at least in the U.S. continues to polarize viewpoints about global climate on behalf of Big Energy Industries, using jobs vs. environment as a ploy to divide U.S. citizens once again. Divide and conquer is not just a saying—it works. Because while were fighting/arguing climate change points with each other, congress is passing anti-environmental laws right under our noses. These laws are a direct affront to our clean air, water, and the EPA that is in place for our safety and welfare and have less to do with jobs than deregulation. Think about it. Jobs can be created in many industries. New jobs in new industries would be nice expanding all sorts of related jobs in engineering, science, and the technical fields for a new generation looking to the future not fearing it. On the other hand, once Mother Nature turns on us that’s it.

Are we absolutely positive human activity is not affecting climate change because I’m seeing videos of huge cesspools of plastic gyres growing in size in our oceans? Just because we can’t see pollution is no assurance it’s not there.

So as Mother Nature bears down on our east coast, the gulf, and rumbles the west coast to Alaska, maybe we should forget politics entangled with enormous lobbyist activity from the wealthiest of industries Big Oil/Gas/Coal. Maybe we should use some good ole street smarts believing what we see and experience because what we’re experiencing is advancing global climate change whether it’s politically correct to believe it or not.

To those that continue to follow a political line concerning global climate change that diss the idea that man’s pollution is a catalyst for the horrendous weather we’re experiencing, than why not apply the same 1% principle as we did to enter a war with Iraq that half our citizens never wanted. Former VP Cheney’s one percent principle as applied to global climate change would read like this:

If there is even a 1% chance that human activity such as greenhouse gas emissions is causing accelerated global climate change, then it is our duty to do all that we can to stop that activity for the welfare of mankind everywhere.

There is little argument against this principle because while deniers claim science can’t prove greenhouse gas emissions cause climate change, deniers can’t prove those greenhouse gas emission aren’t causing a problem either. This principle covers the bases. If was good enough for the U.S. to wage war in a country that had nothing to do with the U.S. terrorist attacks or WMD’s, than it’s good enough to save citizens of this country from the devastation Mother Nature can cause that can far exceed any war. Because while we were battered with fear tactics for almost a decade regarding terrorism, no one has stepped forward to churn the same fear for the wrath of Mother Nature when we can clearly see that she is indeed our greatest threat. Attacks by her are happening along our coastlines all at once right now and fewer dollars to recover from it. There may be more, increasingly worse weather if we fail to act.

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/

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Blame for Oil Spill Continues to be a Mix

Petro giant BP didn’t file a plan to specifically handle a major oil spill from an uncontrolled blowout at its Deepwater Horizon project. We know that from my last blog. The whole investigation is centering on “the blowout rules,” and a blowout preventer. It’s really the “blowout scenario rules” where a company files a plan for clean- up if and when a blowout occurs. BP didn’t file a plan for that because they evidently “didn’t fit at least one of five conditions” set by MMS for those rules to apply. Mineral Management Services changed its mandate two years ago in April 2008 “to exempt certain projects in the central Gulf region from having to file a specific plan for cleaning up an oil spill”, according to an Associated Press review of official records. Unfortunately, the article didn’t offer a pdf of those records. I’ve looked through tons of mandates on MMS website and can’t find those 5 conditions. I’d really like to see how a deepwater drilling project like this didn’t meet conditions to have a spill cleanup plan if the blowout preventer (BOP) didn’t work. BOP’s are known to be faulty. I think one condition for exemption was the rigs proximity to land. The reasoning by BP was that they were almost 50 miles out from shore in the Gulf. Evidently no one expected an oil slick to make it to shore easily from that distance. We know better now.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2010/05/many-share-the-blame-for-the-oil-spill/.

http://www.pnj.com/article/20100506/NEWS01/100506044.

Meanwhile, a backup plan to activate the BOP’s shear ram (acoustic) in case the BOP fails to engage is not required in the U.S. either. It’s a requirement elsewhere, but not here. Evidently the 6 valves and pipe rams along the blowout preventer pipe should stop the leak, but they failed to do the job too. So this giant shear ram is supposed to engage through a control panel button acting like a cigar cutter or sideways guillotine that cuts through the drill pipe at the head with extreme force shearing through and then remains in place as a cap on the pipe. End of leak. The shear ram didn’t engage and since the U.S. isn’t required to have a back up plan to activate that shear ram, the oil keeps coming. Even if it did activate, it may or may not have the force at that depth to actually cut through.

According to an Associated Press (AP) review:

Reliability questions have long shadowed blowout preventers:

Accident reports from the U.S. Minerals Management Service, a branch of the Interior Department, show that the devices have failed or otherwise played a role in at least 14 accidents, mostly since 2005.

Government and industry reports have raised questions about the reliability of blowout preventers for more than a decade. A 2003 report by Transocean, the owner of the destroyed rig, said: ‘Floating drilling rig downtime due to poor BOP reliability is a common and very costly issue confronting all offshore drilling contractors.’

Lawsuits have fingered these valves as a factor in previous blowouts

http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2010/05/08/general-energy-us-oil-spill-blowout-preventers_7588751.html.

The BOP on the Deep Horizon rig was tested, however, the test is obviously only for function or pipe would be damaged. A survivor of the explosion stated: “We had set the bottom cement plug, [and] at that point the BOP stack, the blowout preventer, was tested.” But the shear ram didn’t engage through the normal controls. Robots on the ocean floor tried for days to engage it.

So far, we know BP had a blowout preventer that was tested beforehand but failed, and a shear ram that fails to engage so far. BP didn’t go out of its way to fulfill any more regulatory obligations than it had to. And BP may have been negligent by removing the mud before the final cement plug was in place, that mud being the first, but probably too small to matter, defense against the gas explosion according to the very detailed and informational article on NOLA.com, a New Orleans news website.

http://www.nola.com/news/gulf-oil-spill/index.ssf/2010/05/safety_fluid_was_removed_befor.html.

Still, what caused the whole shebang was a giant methane gas bubble that made it way up. We’re back to Halliburton. They haven’t come under full scrutiny yet. BP appears to be first as the overall responsible party. So we have to leave Halliburton on the list of blame too. A bad cement job more than likely caused the bubble to come up in the first place.

We’re also back to Mineral Management Service (MMS), an agency that according to NOLA.com, and other websites “is known for its cozy relationship with major oil companies.” Let me just say this. Ever since I started researching and blogging during the Bush Administration until now, a lot of the bureaus/agencies under the Interior Department are industry friendly and at ethical odds with what they purport to protect. USFWS appears to love the sport/hunting industry more than the wildlife it seeks to conserve. The BLM has done a heinously cruel job of rounding up our wild mustang horses and slaughtering them on behalf of the cattle industry. The Office of Surface Mining relative to mountaintop removal favors the coal industry’s practices more than protective measures for the surrounding environment it invades. We’ve heard about mountain top removal destruction, especially in Appalachia. And the MMS favoritism and lack of oversight for the oil industry is being highlighted now.

As the current head of the Department of Interior, Ken Salazar is almost indistinguishable from the Bush Administration’s Gale Norton or Dirk Kempthorne, still killing off wildlife (called management), and absconding public land for big industry.

During this oil spill fiasco, there was confusion as to whether the Deepwater Horizon rig was covered by the regulation to have a backup plan in case of a blowout. According to the Pensacola New (PNJ) article: “Following a tour of a boom operation in Gulf Shores, Ala., Salazar said that he understood BP was required to file plans for coping with a blowout at the well that failed. “My understanding is that everything was in its proper place,” said Salazar. He didn’t know that he didn’t know. What’s Ken been doing? His Chief of Staff, Tom Strickland, sure couldn’t help him on this gas explosion/oil leak mess.

Right after the explosion, Tom, also the “Department of Interior’s Ass’t. Sec’y for fish, wildlife and parks, traveled to the Grand Canyon on official business on April 27, three days after the oil leak was initially discovered.

Strickland’s Grand Canyon trip focused on management issues, including water flows, beach erosion and endangered species, but Strickland remained in ‘constant contact by satellite phone with Interior HQ as well as Fish and Wildlife Service and NPS operations in the Gulf,’ Interior Department spokeswoman Julie Rodriguez said.

So the oil spill couldn’t divert Strickland from his more pressing duty, there’s that word again, “management” as it relates to “endangered species” perhaps? If you’ve been reading my blogs you know management means “kill” for industry sake. As for endangered species this group in the Interior seems no different than the last and would probably like to see the list disappear altogether.

Jake Tapper of ABC News first reported the trip, but here’s the article about it.
http://www.pnj.com/article/20100506/NEWS01/100506009.

Most environmentalists or citizens that care about wildlife, parks, and public land see much of a change since Salazar took over, I say now is a good time to clean house at the Interior Department. The Obama Administration promised to be science based. There is no science behind the treatment of wildlife and our public lands at the hands of Salazar. He and his department are industry friendly period. The Department of Interior’s involvement with industry must end if it is to fulfill its mission statement. As it stands, that department has been detrimental to our lives, the lives of animals, and wildlife habitat, as well as, the public lands we pay to sustain.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Mission Statement says it “protects and manages the Nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage; provides scientific and other information about those resources; and honors its trust responsibilities or special commitments to American Indians, Alaska Natives, and affiliated Island Communities.”

Suuuure. I don’t see them protecting the American heritage that is wild mustang horses. And Alaska’s native population is currently in a heated battle to keep Shell Oil out of the Arctic. How about the science behind taking the wolves off the endangered list way before recovery population numbers were reached, leaving the wolves susceptible to individual state’s thirst for money from sport/trophy hunters? Wolves are supposedly hunted because they pose a threat to deer, moose, and elk populations. Well, the BLM “proposes to offer parcels for lease at its May, 2010 auction. These parcels were protested by Colorado’s Wildlife Federation because 2 impact greater sage grouse leks, and two are within a bighorn sheep migratory corridor. Others impact moose production areas, pronghorn and deer severe winter range, and elk winter concentration areas. The cumulative impact upon wildlife from these parcels and the cumulative effect of earlier leases in addition to these proposed leases is of great concern to the Wildlife Federation in Colorado.” It should be. Down the road when deer and elk populations decline because of these leases, wolves or some other wildlife predator will be blamed by the Interior.

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103119177.

http://coloradowildlife.org/news/cwf-nwf-submit-protest-of-blm-proposed-lease-sale.html.

This Interior Department’s brand of protection and management leaves much to be desired in an intelligent, science based administration. According to the PNJ article, “U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.V., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has asked the Interior Department to turn over documents that explain why MMS decided to exempt some Gulf operators from being required to provide blowout scenarios. Rahall expressed concern Thursday that MMS ‘has become an enabler of bad practices by the industry.’” Really. While Rahall is at it, he should check out all the agencies under Department of the Interior.

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Many Share the Blame for the Oil Spill

There are many in the mix that contributed to the oil disaster that still unfolds and is threatening Florida’s coastlines now. If the oil slick catches the Gulf Stream our eastern seaboard could also have fouled beaches. BP is the overall responsible party and will pay billions for the aftermath. The media blames BP. Sec’y of Interior Ken Salazar blames BP. But look at all the hands in this mess that aren’t mentioned by the media. Transocean Ltd. leased the $600 million oil rig to BP from its inventory. Before oil drilling ever began Halliburton cemented the pipe into the hole. And 2 U.S. agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Minerals Management Services have varying degrees of oversight. The USFWS states that as part of its management goals for the wildlife refuge struck by the oil slick is “oversight of oil and gas development and production.” Minerals Management Services agency “determined there was ‘no discernible improvement by (oil) industry over the past 7 years’” relative to safety/drilling practices and ‘proposed taking a more proactive stance by requiring operators to have their safety program audited at least once every three years.’” One would think that before any more drills were placed, the new regulations would be in effect and current inspections completed especially with the U.S. announcing more offshore drilling. As it stands right now, the oil industry safety programs are “self-managed and voluntary for operators.” Ah, self regulation shows its ugly head. The foxes watching the henhouses or self-regulation didn’t work out too well for us AGAIN, while we continue the mantra-less government, less government.

Both “BP and TransOcean Ltd. aggressively opposed the new safety regulations proposed last year. And the oil industry launched a coordinated campaign to attack those regulations, with over 100 letters objecting to them”. Why? Minerals and Management Services estimated that “the proposed rule, which has yet to take effect, would cost operators about $4.59 million in startup costs and $8 million in annual recurring costs.” So there you have it. Ethics regarding safety takes a back seat to costs or MONEY.

TransOcean’s Deepwater Horizon rig was “placed into service in 2001. [] Working with BP, the Transocean crews on the Deepwater Horizon previously drilled a well to 35,050 vertical depth and 35,055 feet measured depth (MD), or more than six miles, while operating in 4,130 feet of water.” It set a record for this and so drilling extremely deep has all been done before. But:

Relatives of workers who are presumed dead in this disaster claim that BP and rig owner TransOcean “violated numerous statutes and regulations” issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.

Both companies failed to provide a competent crew, failed to properly supervise its employees and failed to provide Rushto with a safe place to work, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.

2001-2007 is the timeline for the study by Minerals Management Services that determined self operated safety programs/practices had not improved within the industry. But even though safety practices may have been lax, the drill supposedly never struck oil prior to the explosion.

http://www.deepwater.com/fw/main/IDeepwater-Horizon-i-Drills-Worlds-Deepest-Oil-and-Gas-Well-419C151.html

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/27-1.

When the explosion first happened, I blogged that ABC News reported BP had not yet struck oil with the TransOcean rig. The concern was mainly for the 11 missing crew members and the diesel fuel onboard the oil rig when it began to list. Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano stated on CNN that the Coast Guard was there from the beginning, as well as BP, and a host of others to contain what should have been only diesel fuel spillage. So why the oil?

Halliburton was contracted to cement the pipe in the hole. The lawsuits filed by family members of the missing 11 workers “also names oil-services giant Halliburton as a defendant, claiming that the company “prior to the explosion, was engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion.”

After digging around to learn more about it, I found an interesting article on seminal.firedoglake.com about known problems with cementing the pipe for drilling at extreme depths. It has to do with gas bubbles trapped in frozen crystals and a very interesting read. The article went on to say that late last year Halliburton did a presentation about cementing and there is admitted shortcomings in the process in deep water. According to Halliburton’s PDF of the presentation:

Deepwater Well Objectives

Cement slurry should be placed in the entire annulus with no losses
Temperature increase during slurry hydration should not destabilize hydrates
There should be no influx of shallow water or gas into the annulus
The cement slurry should develop strength in the shortest time after placement

Conditions in deepwater wells are not conducive to achieving all of these objectives simultaneously.

What? If they cannot achieve all of these objectives than something can definitely go wrong, is liable to go wrong especially when the frozen crystals of gas melt, releasing that gas. According to the diary on sentinel.firedoglake.com, “The problem is that when you drill into these formations, and then try to inject cement into the hole/gaps to prevent leakage, the curing process for that creates heat. That heat can, if not controlled, cause the gas to escape the frozen crystals. If a lot of gas is released all at once, as could happen during the cement/curing process, it can cause a blowout where the cementing is occurring.” In short, too many gas bubbles released = Kaboom.

Minerals Management Service’s 2007 study revealed that 18 out of 39 gas explosions on rigs were a result of improper cementing procedures.

http://www.aade.org/houston/study/Fluids/11182009/F%20Tahmourpour%20Deepwater%20Cementing.pdf.

http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/44259.
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/04/27-1.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB2000142405274870357250457521
4593564769072.html
.

Congress is investigating Halliburton too.

http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/01/nation/la-na-oil-spill-investigation-20100501.

And what about Ken Salazar’s statement, “Those responsible for the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico will be held accountable.” Um, the USFWS and Minerals Management Service are under the Dept. of the Interior, or Ken Salazar. Both agencies have degrees of oversight in oil production in the gulf. Those agencies knew the safety practices/programs for oil drilling were self-regulated, not effective, and had not improved in 7 years! It looks like Salazar’s Dept., once again gave more credence to industry’s stance than the overall protection of our wildlife and habitat the Dept. of Interior oversees. Let’s see, we have an ongoing and unscientific wolf and mustang horse slaughter on what appears to be the behalf of the cattle and sport hunting industry condoned by Salazar. Now we have a huge wildlife refuge ruined with thousands of animal, bird, fish, and reptile lives at stake on behalf of the oil industry. They only wrote 100 letters? Thousands of letters have been written to Salazar on behalf of wolves/mustangs.

http://www.newser.com/article/d9fdj21g0/salazar-those-responsible-for-gulf-of-mexico-oil-spill-will-be-held-accountable.html

Finally, BP just wasn’t prepared for a deepwater spill. According to an article on Daily Finance:

BP’s 52-page exploration plan for the Deepwater Horizon Well, filed with the federal Mineral’s Management Service, says repeatedly that it was unlikely an accidental surface or sub-surface oil spill would occur from the proposed activities.

And while the company concluded that a spill would impact beaches, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas, it argued that due to the distance to shore, (48 miles), and that response capabilities that would be implemented, no significant, adverse impacts are expected.

Robert Wiygul, an Ocean Springs, Mississippi based environmental lawyer and board member for the Gulf Restoration Network didn’t see anything in the document that BP addressed the kind of technology needed to control a spill in water at that depth.

http://www.dailyfinance.com/article/document-bp-didnt-plan-for-major-oil/993853/.

This morning, BP made a statement on ABC’s GMA that they aren’t totally responsible for the accident. They do take responsibility for the oil and the clean-up, but… Watch it:

.

ABC’s GMA also showed a picture of a dead sea turtle one of 20 giant DEAD sea turtles that have washed up on shore already. Some 5,000 dolphins are among the rigs in the Gulf this time of year. It is the birthing season for them. I’m waiting for dead baby dolphins to wash up next. Hopefully, dolphins are smart enough to get out of Dodge.

After what I’ve gathered and summarized here, I think BP is right to take a stance against ALL the blame. There were a lot of hands in the pot for this mess. Of this I am certain. What looks to be the largest environmental disaster in the U.S. was created by MAN. There is no brushing this one off as natural. WE DO AFFECT our world and everything in it.

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Offshore Drilling Opens Up

President Obama will open up offshore gas and oil drilling off the coasts of Virginia and possibly southward. There will also be drilling in the eastern gulf coast, and unfortunately, the Arctic. I wrote about the ban on offshore drilling expiring back in September 2008. I wrote then that the momentum might not end up being there for offshore drilling with alternatives around the corner. And that may still hold true. There wouldn’t be any effort toward offshore drilling until at least 2012. It’s in very initial stages of research.

http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/09/offshore-drilling-ban-to-expire/.

With respect to what many are calling a change in position, Obama said all along he would open up offshore oil drilling. I remember crinching when I heard it. The NY Times recalls: “Mr. Obama said several times during his presidential campaign that he supported expanded offshore-drilling. He noted in his State of the Union address in January that weaning the country from imported oil would require ‘tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.’” Nuclear energy was among the options too.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/science/earth/31energy.html.

The NY Times article also said there may be protests from local government officials whose seaside towns would be affected. Tropical storms and near hurricanes have been running up the Atlantic seaboard farther and farther lately. Hurricane Ike failed to make an impression, occurring during the presidential campaign. The devastation of Texas’ shoreline, the oil slicks, and drums floating around was horrible. If it occurs along the Atlantic, it was Virginia’s call. The same holds true for Sen. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska. If a spill occurs, or wildlife is affected, it’s pretty much hers. In any case, the advancement of new offshore drilling will be interesting to watch.

I hate to say this, but this might be what it takes to get people paying closer attention to be careful what they chant for, “Drill, Baby, Drill.” I wouldn’t want to look out at a rig or be near one in the event of a hurricane. The western shores of Florida might be looking at them too, because the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved a broad energy bill last June that greatly shrinks the size of the no-drilling buffer off of Florida’s western shores according to The Hill website,

http://thehill.com/blogs/e2-wire/677-e2-wire/89785-interior-offshore-drilling-announcement-coming-very-soon-.

I’m just thinking, KISS GULF SHRIMP GOODBYE.

There might be a lot of newcomers joining the opposition, all those that live along our coastlines already battered by bad weather, and abused by the insurance industry. Now big oil and gas are coming to a neighborhood near them. It will be an interesting few years, and also the new energy legislation to come. President Obama kept his promise on some major points—lets see what we get in the form of progressive, green energy legislation in return.

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Seismic Activity; Earthquakes, Volcanoes, Glaciers, and Drilling

Found some interesting articles about interrelationships regarding geological phenomena after the latest 8.8 earthquake in Chile. I’m posting the links that should present a logical pattern in order to incite some thought. Like I said after reading them, “Hmmmm?”

Did you know that earthquakes are related to volcanoes and caused by pressure, stress, and load build-up? Read:

http://http://www.pdc.org/iweb/earthquakes-volcano_relationship.jsp?subg=1.

http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/GG/ASK/plate-tectonics.html

Upheavals of land result from earthquakes and form mountain ranges or as stated in the previous link, volcanic mountain ranges tend to appear along faults.

http://answers.encyclopedia.com/question/do-plate-tectonics-affect-mountains-96826.html

Tectonic plates all relate to one another like a giant jigsaw puzzle comprising the earth’s crust. So pressure or a relatively quick release of pressure in one fault affects tectonic plates elsewhere. Huge glaciers that weigh billion of tons are rapidly melting and also affecting pressure on tectonic plates. Alaska’s coastlines are rising as a result of glaciers melting.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/18/science/earth/18juneau.html?_r=1

The last article stated some of Alaska’s wetlands are drying up because of the rise, think recent Alaskan wildfires.

Whenever tectonic plates move quickly they cause seismic waves that cause smaller tremors. Likewise glacier walls or peninsulas weighing billions that fall off into the sea produce seismic waves.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/videos/2008/1210-big_quakes_trigger_small_quakes.htm

http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-earth-040809-152414?cookieSet=1&journalCode=earth

http://scrippsnews.ucsd.edu/Releases/?releaseID=1038

Seismic waves from melting glaciers may cause increased earthquakes in Alaska and we know there are volcanoes up there too. Notice this article is from 2004.

http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Newsroom/view.php?id=25145

Small earthquakes caused from seismic waves from melting glaciers in Greenland.

http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-change/shockwaves-from-melting-icecaps-are-triggering-earthquakes-say-scientists-401693.html

Gathering any insight into tectonic plates worldwide and what affects them? We should consider the plates are a little more active due to accelerated glacier melt in both poles and some pretty big chunks crumbling into the sea. The latest jar in Antarctica came from an iceberg breaking off the size of Luxembourg the day before the big earthquake in Chile. And that was after another mammoth glacier hit the latest to break off earlier in the month. Hmmmm? Did that affect the earthquakes in Haiti or Chile.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/02/100226112732.htm

So weight on the earth’s lithosphere affects tectonic plates, as well as pressure below. Atmospheric pressure also plays a role in what are called “slow” earthquakes. For instance, typhoons (hurricanes) cause slow earthquakes.

http://www.physorg.com/news163859251.html

Atmospheric pressure has never been thought to be great enough to affect tectonic plates but now there is evidence that it spurs “slow” earthquakes. Atmospheric pressure may more easily influence seismic activity due to weakened fault lines from massive earthquakes like Indonesia 2004.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090930132700.htm

If atmospheric pressure can affect tectonic plates when it was long held that it could not, then oil or natural gas drilling may also affect tectonic plates by drilling into continental crust and oceanic crust. Seismic activity for oil drilling is low, but there are 3,000 oilrigs worldwide.

http://answers.encyclopedia.com/question/do-plate-tectonics-affect-mountains-96826.html

http://pesn.com/2005/01/25/6900062_Exxon_Tripped_Indonesian_Tsunami/

http://www.efficiencylaw.com/2010/02/articles/climate-change/oil-drilling-not-the-cause-of-haiti-earthquake/

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/12/earthquake-tides/

We’ve caused tremors from natural gas drilling already.

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/
dws/dn/latestnews/stories/060909dnmetquakes.40620de.html
.
Drilling causes quake in U.S.

http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/faq/?categoryID=1&faqID=1

And geophysical hazards research scientist, Christian Klose, from Columbia University in New York, has done many peer reviewed publications about human activity inducing earthquakes.

http://www.cdklose.com/3.html

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Human-Activities-That-Trigger-Earthquakes-43723.shtml I shouldn’t be using this website as it is an online encyclopedia but there is a lot of information in the article about earthquakes from coal mining, water extraction, and gas exploration.

In this light, shouldn’t there be more investigation about mining and drilling? We’re ramping up natural gas exploration everywhere that pumps chemicals/water 1000′s of feet into the ground under great pressure. Remember what causes earthquakes—pressure and stress? Ditto for pumping CO2 into the ground.

Congress might learn more about humans affecting seismic activity as they investigate natural gas drilling for other reasons.

http://industry.bnet.com/energy/10003088/congressional-probe-into-natural-gas-fracking-the-first-step-toward-federal-regulation/

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BLM’s Wild Horse Management Program a Travesty for American Icon

Our wild horses out west have been under attack by our own BLM, (Bureau of Land Management)for far too long. There is a massive ongoing slaughter called “management.” It seems the public grazing land that specifically allows for free roam by America’s wild horses/burros is degraded. The horses are to blame. Never mind that of “the 12.5 million animal units the BLM allows to graze on public land, our wild horses comprise less than .3%, three tenths of a percent.” There are only 37,000 wild horses/burros left, “Aside from the general environmental degradation issues, ranchers erect fences that obstruct the movement of wildlife, reducing access to food and water, and isolating subpopulations.” This is validated on one of the videos. Clearly an overabundance of cattle on public land once issued as a place for our free roaming horses/burros by the 1971 Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burro Act has taken over and ultimately caused the degradation. Yet the BLM is determined to blame/reduce wild horse numbers. This is an unfair governmental attack on our wildlife again.

http://animalrights.about.com/od/animalsusedforfood/a/Livestock PublicLands.htm.

And taxpayers are paying for it. Per a HSUS, (Humane Society of the U.S.) article, “We have got to get off the current treadmill of spending millions of tax dollars rounding up wild horses and caring for them in captivity, and instead make wider use of fertility control as a humane population management tool.” Caring for them is a big understatement.

http://www.humanesociety.org/news/press_releases/2009/07/hsus
_applauds_house_vote_to_save_wild_horses_071709.html
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http://www.change.org/actions/view/a_unified_call_for_an_immediate
_moratorium_on_wild_horse_burro_roundups
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http://wildhorsewarriors.blogspot.com/2010/02/public-lands-cows-vs-rats.html.

The Bush/Cheney Administration in the interest of corporate America undid the 1971 Act that calls for humane practices toward our wild horse populations. So the BLM chases them to exhaustion by helicopters, corrals them in overcrowded conditions with little food and water, then loads them in rail cars meant for cattle and sends them to slaughter. The horses are unbalanced in the cattle cars, fall over and are injured.

Read the original 1971 law that protected these horses:

It is the policy of Congress that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding, harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands

Further on in the Act, the BLM is allowed to determine whether or not there are excess animals threatening the ecology. By excess it’s meant “wild free-roaming horses or burros (1) which have been removed from an area by the Secretary pursuant to application law or, (2) which must be removed from an area in order to preserve and maintain a thriving natural ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in that area.”

It doesn’t take an Einstein to see the travesty here.

When the BLM decides there are excess horses, the BLM is allowed to remove those animals in following order and priority, “The Secretary shall order old, sick, or lame animals to be destroyed in the most humane manner possible.”

This loophole is being overworked. According the Animal Welfare Institute, “92.3 percent of horses arriving at slaughter plants in this country in recent years were deemed to be in “good” condition, according to the US Department of Agriculture’s Guidelines for Handling and Transporting Equines to Slaughter. The horse slaughter industry makes a greater profit off of healthy horses and therefore purposely seeks out such animals.

Another argument, much like that used for the slaughter of the Yellowstone wolves is states rights vs. federal. But, “Horse Slaughter is a Federally Regulated Industry.”

http://www.awionline.org
/ht/d/sp/i/12919/pid/12919
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The HSUS article also stated, “Last summer, in response to self-inflicted financial problems and mismanagement, the BLM announced that it would consider killing 30,000 healthy wild horses and burros in federal holding centers across the United States rather than implementing common sense, cost-saving management methods.”

Fortunately for our horses members of Congress evidently see the skewed logic and injustice by the BLM because HR 1018, ROAM, (Restore Our American Mustangs), has already passed the House. In addition to prioritizing on-the-range management over roundups, H.R. 1018 prevents the commercial sale and slaughter of wild horses, as well as the wholesale killing of healthy wild horses. And the ROAM Senate Bill S1579 is currently making its way through the Senate. It reinforces the protection of America’s wild horses/burros as was intended by the first Act in 1971.

But every 5 minutes a U.S. horse is slaughtered for consumption while S1579 moves to become law, and more healthy, beautiful wild horses are rounded up by an exhausting run with helicopters, corralled and neglected.
http://www.awionline.org/ht/d/sp/i/11222/pid/11222.

Call or email your senators to pass S1579 quickly. We’re fighting for another American icon that represents the spirit of America.

Watch the following video of a horse that looks much like the black stallion “Freedom,” who was captured during one of the Calico roundups and managed to jump a 6 ft. fence in a small area, then bust through a barbed wire fence. That’s the “spirit of freedom.” Freedom reminds be of the black Alpha Female wolf #527, that was shot in Yellowstone. Both animals were leery of humans.

I’m leery of humans too anymore, especially those that represent corporate America taking over our public land and causing American icons like the wolf, the mustang, and the bear to disappear. Humans like this remind me of the corporate machine in the movie Avatar that embraces the idea to overcome with little empathy and no remorse. It’s not a pretty picture, and it’s getting worse. Our civilized society is anything but.

Chief Seattle must have been a very wise man because his words from a hundred years ago still pertain to what is happening to America’s wildlife right now, “…What happens to the beasts, happens to the man.” The U.S. has corralled people against their will more than once its history.

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Texas, the Biggest U.S. Polluter, Challenges EPA/Clean Air Act

Texas produces 35% of our entire nation’s toxic emissions and doesn’t want to change. So Texas has just challenged the EPA relative to regulating greenhouse gas emissions. From what I’ve read it’s state’s rights versus federal according to Texas governor Rick Perry. He claims Texas is doing a fine job of monitoring emissions and getting them under control, and for the EPA to suddenly come down on Texas will cost the state jobs and the involved industries millions that will be passed down to the consumer. He and others also “site ‘scientifically flawed studies’ as their basis for challenging the agency’s decision.” Sorry climate change aside, CO2, SO2, and other greenhouse gases have been found to be detrimental to respiratory health by our own government agency. This challenge is nothing but a stall.

The Dallas Morning News website reported that the other challengers are “the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a think tank and conservative advocacy outfit; the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change, an organized group of climate-change skeptics; and the Science and Environmental Policy Act, which has challenged the United Nations over findings that buttressed previous climate-change treaties. Greenwire says in its story yesterday that Freedomworks, the advocacy group headed by former Rep. Dick Armey of Denton County, is also involved in the challenge.”

http://energyandenvironmentblog.dallasnews.com/archives/tceq/.

Let’s look at the assertions the governor made. Is Texas doing a fine job of taking care of its pollution? Well not so much. According to an article on Center for Public Integrity’s website, Texas has been caught doing a lot of dirty stuff to their citizens for years.

In October, 2003, in the space of three hours, while the 94,000-plus inhabitants of Tyler slept nearby, Martin Lake [Steam Electric Station] pumped more than 150,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide into the East Texas air. The pollution was more than eight times the plant’s hourly emissions limits under federal regulations. Sulfur dioxide air pollution, as environmentalists, regulators, and TXU officials have known for many years, helps trigger asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases.

After the October 2003 event, TXU reported the emissions overage to TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality). But a comparison between EPA and TCEQ records shows that the company gave a far lower emissions figure to state officials than the smokestack monitor registered.

Hmmm. They lied. The same article continued:

[]A three-month review of federal and state records by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit journalism organization, suggests [the above wasn't a one time incident]. The review, encompassing 25 million data entries spanning 10 years, shows that between 1997 and 2006, TXU’s coal-fired plants exceeded federal sulfur dioxide emission limits nearly 650 times, spewing more than 1.3 million pounds of excess sulfur dioxide into the Texas air.

Read what the USGS, a government agency, has to say about excesses of SO2, CO2, and hydrogen fluoride relative to volcanic eruptions and regardless of climate change:

The volcanic gases that pose the greatest potential hazard to people, animals, agriculture, and property are sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen fluoride. Locally, sulfur dioxide gas can lead to acid rain and air pollution downwind from a volcano. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) is a colorless gas with a pungent odor that irritates skin and the tissues and mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat. Sulfur dioxide chiefly affects upper respiratory tract and bronchi. The World Health Organization recommends a concentration of no greater than 0.5 ppm over 24 hours for maximum exposure. A concentration of 6-12 ppm can cause immediate irritation of the nose and throat; 20 ppm can cause eye irritation; 10,000 ppm will irritate moist skin within minutes.

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TXU went over 8 times the hourly emissions limit for the Martin Lake plant

The Center for Public Integrity website also stated: “Childhood asthma affected about 3 percent of the population in the 1960s, but that figure has climbed above 9 percent, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control. In Fort Worth, a 2003 city health department survey found that asthma rates here were more than double the statewide average, and even higher for children.”

Governor Rick is wrong. Texas is not doing a good job of self regulation. Self regulation is nothing better than the fox guarding the henhouse because industry has no ethics anymore. For instance: “TXU was by no means the only polluter given a free pass by TCEQ. The records gathered by the Center show that, again and again in Texas, air quality enforcement came at the point of a citizen lawsuit, not from the agency.” Texas needs regulations from a higher place because I don’t think things are about to change in the near future in Texas:

As the largest energy provider in Texas, TXU has established an exceptional degree of influence in the Texas statehouse, through a network of high-profile lobbyists and political connections.

In spring 2007 when legislation to increase public oversight over the TXU buyout process was pending in the Senate, TXU and its buyers unleashed a powerhouse lobbying team including former state legislators Curtis Seidlits, Jr., Rudy Garza, Eddie Cavazos, Paul Sadler, and Stan Schlueter, and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk.

According to Texans for Public Justice, TXU and two investor groups spent approximately $17 million during the 2007 Texas legislative session on lobbyists, advertising, food and beverages, entertainment and gifts – including sending 2,400 tacos to legislators and their aides on the first day of the session.

http://www.publicintegrity.org/projects/entry/363/.

There you have it, polluters spending millions to keep polluting, and whining at the same time that it will cost them millions to curb it. Again, what is known as “scrubbers” for coalburners were around in the 60′s. These scrubbers don’t do a thing for CO2 but do reduce SO2 emissions. And there was a Clean Coal Technology Program launched by the DOE in 1986.

It was a cost-shared effort by government and industry to demonstrate innovative coal-burning processes at a series of full-scale facilities around the country and was expected to finance more than $5 billion in projects before it was completed later in the decade. Under the program, the federal government provided up to 50 percent of the total cost of the demonstration projects. In the first two rounds of solicitation for proposals, the DOE selected 29 projects for funding. In the second round, held in the summer of 1988, seven of the 16 successful proposals involved the use of both wet and dry scrubber systems.

Where was TXU? It obviously didn’t take advantage of that program. I think I read somewhere that now it costs around 650 million dollars on average to put scrubbers on coalburners. It’s industry’s problem for not moving faster on behalf of the health and safety of citizens. Does a little over a half billion dollars constitute hardship for big industry that nets billions per quarter?

http://www.allbusiness.com/professional-scientific/scientific-research-development/120873-1.html.

Analysts like Al Armendariz, a chemical engineering professor at Southern Methodist University who is an expert on air pollution and an environmental advocate, said smaller and older facilities could face hefty costs, but major companies won’t feel a thing.

“They’ll say, ‘Look, if we have to spend half a million dollars to re-permit, big deal.’ They probably spend more than that on toiletries for those facilities,” he said, noting that even multimillion-dollar expenses would be a “one-time capital blip” for major companies. Armendariz also said he doubts industry claims that consumers could feel any pain.

http://www.allbusiness.com/professional-scientific/scientific-research-development/120873-1.html.

Al might doubt consumers will feel the pain, but it looks like in Texas and everywhere else the cards are already stacked against the average citizen’s health concerns. As for taxes, have you noticed all the petro commercials airing lately using the fear card…”Prices for consumers will go up. Consumers will be taxed more if the big bad government cracks down on industry pollution and tries to further alternatives.” Industry is already on the move to make Al eat his words.

Taxes and our health and well being should not be pitted against each other like a threat. We’ve been plied with fear for a decade. Consumers should not bear the expense to finance the changes polluting industries will have to make in the future to “clean up” because they failed to make them long ago when it would have been far less expensive. Likewise the consumer should not bear the guilt of any of the health problems that could have been avoided especially in children. Gotta laugh at that one since TXU, the governor of Texas, and anyone else who challenged the EPA obviously feels no remorse for anyone suffering respiratory illnesses at their hands. After all they provided jobs where workers could breathe a toxic brew everyday.

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Natural Gas is Plentiful But Extraction Methods Threaten Clean Water

The New York Times just ran an article called “The Dark Side of a Natural Gas Boom,” about extraction practices that threaten wells, and groundwater. Not surprisingly, natural gas drilling expanded significantly over the last decade. Halliburton happens to be the second largest natural gas extractor in the country and with the help of the last administration had thousand of acres of land, some in our national parks, open to them for gas drilling. Natural gas is so plentiful now that it threatens the coal industry because it is also cheap, and a much cleaner fuel for electricity generation. An article at groundreport.com stated: “Last week, Progress Energy, an electricity generator in North Carolina, announced plans to close all of its old coal plants and switch to natural gas.” Interesting. http://www.groundreport.com/Business/Energy-Deflation-Cometh-CheaPiling-On-Shale-Gas-LN/2913527..

What I remember most about the natural gas boom is the few and far between stories about how fracturing allows methane, benzene, and a host of other poisons to leak out of the ground uncontrolled. I blogged about it this past year, http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2009/05/natural-gasmethane-found-in-more-and-more-drinking-water-across-the-country/. I also remember an article in Rolling Stone years ago that stated drilling for natural gas is not exact and underground springs and water sources are often hit. The clean water shoots out uncapped. After all it’s not the gas drillers job to capture clean water.

Considering the glaciers that normally supply rivers and underground aquifers in the U.S. are melting and the outcome may mean a water shortage down the line, the U.S. simply cannot afford to threaten any of our existing water supplies in a rushed and abrasive quest to tap natural gas. The process of extraction requires millions of gallons of water to begin with so contaminating water sources nearby just aggravate an already dire situation for clean water availability. There needs to be balance between acquiring natural gas and preserving clean water otherwise we end up with a resource for energy for our comfort while losing our most basic of needs to live—WATER.

Read about it: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/business/energy-environment/08fracking.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=tap+water+&st=nyt.

http://www.propublica.org/feature/buried-secrets-is-natural-gas-drilling-endangering-us-water-supplies-1113.

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Natural Gas/Methane Found in More and More Drinking Water Across the Country

In our verve to tap more fossil fuel in the form of natural gas we are acting like irresponsible fools. For some reason we think natural gas is OK for use, that somehow it can’t really be included with coal because it burns clean. It’s just doesn’t seem that dirty. And natural gas is in greater supply than oil. There will be no oil spills.

Boy are we stupid, at least those of us that don’t live near any natural gas drilling/fields. For the people that do, it’s a nightmare. Newspapers have reported about natural gas in drinking water from Pennsylvania to Colorado like The Post Gazette, The Denver Post , and The Times Union. The devastation left behind from drilling/blasting for natural gas leaves the landscape looking like a photo of Mars. But even more sacrilegious is the amount of water used. Millions of gallons are needed for each natural gas site and there are thousands of sites around the country. We might think these fields are far removed, but think again. Natural gas drilling affects the health and well-being of Americans, and is devastating to our land, water, and wildlife. And exposing ourselves to more natural gas explosions is outright risky.

Watch the following you tube videos for a sample of what is happening across the country due to the natural gas industry:

Pennsylvania

Arkansas

New Jersey

It’s been years now since I first read an article about poking holes in the earth for natural gas. I remember reading about the waste when a natural water spring would get hit. The water would gush out to the ground and never get tapped. The people searching for natural gas weren’t in charge of water of any kind. So they just let it go.

Then I wrote a blog one year ago to the month about Colorado’s natural gas drilling problem http://www.blogsmonroe.com/world/2008/05/natural-gas-exploration-trashing-rocky-mountains-polluting-colorado-river/. And now we’re slowly, too slowly, seeing more and more stories about the problems created by natural gas exploration.

After watching the Arkansas video, imagine the destruction that would be caused by the proposed natural gas pipeline from Alaska through Canada. And some of the video of the flame from the gas wells makes me wonder about safety in areas that are suffering drought conditions. There is a greener alternative to all fossil fuel, and we need to start moving in that direction.

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