By Becca Tucker for Dirt – Not if you live across the Hudson River. As Indian Point prepares to power down in affluent Westchester County, NY, protesters are marching weekly at the site of a brand new power plant under construction 30 miles to the northwest, in working class Orange County, NY. The CPV Valley Energy Center, if it goes online, will burn fracked gas piped in from Pennsylvania, releasing emissions that pose many of the same health risks that fracking does. “You can’t trade poisons and trade victims and call it an environmental victory,” said Pramilla Malick, a mother and neighbor of the power plant, whose arrest for blocking the CPV construction site launched her into politics.
By Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News – The nation’s regulation of oil and gas development is a mish-mash of disjointed state oversight that makes it difficult to quantify the environmental impacts of drilling. A new study highlights just how inconsistent spill reporting is, showing that the range in requirements makes it impossible to compare states or come up with a comprehensive national picture. The research, published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, pulled together some of the disparate data and found there have been about 5 spills each year for every 100 wells that have been hydraulically fractured. Of the states examined, North Dakota had the highest rate of spills while Colorado companies reported just 11 spills per 1,000 wells annually. But some or all of that difference may be due to the huge differences in what the states ask oil companies to report. North Dakota requires operators to report any spill of 42 gallons or more, while Colorado and New Mexico generally don’t ask for anything smaller than 210 gallons. Texas, the nation’s top oil and gas producing state, wasn’t even included in the study because detailed data was not easily accessible.
By Alexandra Rosenmann for AlterNet – The anti-Trump resistance isn’t just about marching on Capitol Hill; it’s about organizing and showing up for your community, every day. “If you want to figure out what democracy is, if you want to figure out what America, it’s this in a room like this,” documentary filmmaker Josh Fox explained from the Delaware River Basin Commission Public Hearing in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. “Two hundred and fifty people at a hearing in the middle of the day, took off from work, and they decided that [they're] going to stand up and fight against the oil industry.” Governors from four states, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York, head the Delaware River Basin Commission. Over 15 million people depend on the agency’s regulation of their water supply. The meeting was held in response to President Trump’s gutting of environmental regulations that would expose regions such as northeastern Pennsylvania to drilling and fracking.
By Staff of Catskill Citizens – President Donald Trump has already made it clear that he intends to trash climate change agreements and give the fossil fuel industry exactly what it wants. But the pipeline projects being pushed by the Trump Administration cannot move forward unless they are first approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—and FERC can’t operate without a quorum. The five-member commission has been operating with only three members, and today it lost another one. With just two members left, it won’t be able to approve any more infrastructure projects until at least one new commissioner is seated—and the Senate has the ability to block Trump’s FERC appointments. The inability of FERC to do business actually counts as a step forward because for years the commission has been little more than a captive agency of the oil and gas industry, routinely greenlighting infrastructure projects with little regard for public safety.
By Fossil Free Rhode Island for IR Future – , D.C.—At the status hearing today in Superior Court of the District of Columbia, three of the FERC4, Peter Nightingale of Kingston RI, Claude Guillemard of Baltimore, MD, Ellen Taylor of Washington, D.C., and Donald Weightman of Philadelphia, PA, committed to representing themselves at their criminal trial, scheduled for June 21, 2017. The FERC4 were arrested with three other activists during a peaceful protest at the headquarters of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in May, 2016. The action was part of the Rubber Stamp Rebellion, a demonstration led by the activist group Beyond Extreme Energy. The FERC4 have been charged with “unlawful entry,” Attorney Mark Goldstone will advise the FERC4 and represent Ellen Taylor, who stated: “We need to show the world that FERC is on trial.”
By Lorne Stockman for Oil Change International – Long before Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway took the phrase ‘alternative facts’ mainstream, a rogue federal agency with authority to ram giant gas pipelines through people’s property against their will has for years pioneered the Trumpian version of reality when assessing the climate impact of natural gas infrastructure. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an “independent” agency that regulates the interstate transmission of gas and electricity, has permitted nearly 200 interstate gas pipeline projects stretching over 6,000 miles since 2009, and rejected only a single application. For each of these permitted projects an environmental impact statement was conducted. Where climate was assessed in these studies, the conclusion has always been the same – “no significant impact”.
By Staff of Oil Change International – Two studies released today find that if built, the controversial Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast pipelines would together contribute as much greenhouse gas pollution as 45 coal-fired power plants — some 158 million metric tons a year. The studies, released by Oil Change International, build upon a new methodology, also released today, for calculating the climate impacts of natural gas pipelines in the Appalachian Basin based on the evolving science of methane leakage and its impact on our climate. The studies show that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is out of date on measuring climate impacts, and is failing to protect communities and citizens around the country. “Our analysis shows that both the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline are climate disasters.
By the Society of Native Nations. The Society of Native Nations (SNN) has been asked by the Big Bend Defense Coalition of Alpine, TX and the surrounding communities in West Texas to help stop the Trans Pecos Pipeline. SNN has committed to help by starting a camp, which will be open on Dec 30, 2016 to receive Water Protectors. The camp has been named “Two Rivers Camp”, known as “La Junta de los Rios” by the local native communities such as the Jumano, Apache and Conchos People. The Trans Pecos Pipeline (TPPL) is owned by Kelcy Warren, billionaire and CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, the same company that owns the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota. The TPPL is a fracked gas pipeline that is being built through west Texas. It will go under The Rio Grande River into Mexico where the gas will be exported to various foreign countries.
By Steve Horn for Desmog Blog – Just days before Christmas, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave ExxonMobil a gift: a permit to export natural gas from its Golden Pass LNG (liquefied natural gas) facility located in Sabine Pass, Texas. Dubbed Golden Pass Products, the expansion of this LNG facility to export gas is a joint venture between Exxon (30 percent stake) and Qatar Petroleum (70 percent stake), the state-owned oil company. Golden Pass LNG is now the fourth LNG export facility, and third situated along the Gulf of Mexico, approved under the Obama administration.
By Steve Rushton for Occupy – “Public support was paramount and I believe it made the judge acutely aware that this was not a simple case that I had wronged [U.K. fracking firm] Cuadrilla and owed them money,” Tina Rothery explains. “This was greater: it was about communities coming together. The huge public support showed the weight of my legal argument, and I think the judge could see that.” Rothery, a grandmother and resident of Blackpool in North England, was met by a jubilant crowd of hundreds outside Preston Court on Friday, December 9, when the verdict of her freedom was announced.
By Neela Banerjee for Inside Climate News – In a significant reversal, the Environmental Protection Agency struck from a major 2015 report its conclusion that fracking has not caused “widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water” in the United States. The agency cited the lack of data and evidence to support the finding. The change was made after an EPA panel of independent scientists recommended in August that the agency revise the statement, which had minimized the potential hazards posed to drinking water. The panel, known as the Science Advisory Board (SAB), spent a year analyzing the draft version of the study. In a call with reporters, Thomas A. Burke, the EPA’s deputy assistant administrator and science adviser, said the SAB’s analysis was central to the change.
By Sharon Kelly for Desmog – Just before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its high profile study on fracking, the agency planned to announce that the draft “study shows potential vulnerabilities to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing process.” But that wasn’t the message the public heard the next day. Instead, the EPA’s press release highlighted a statement that the $29 million “[a]ssessment shows hydraulic fracturing activities have not led to widespread, systemic impacts to drinking water resources…” That reassuring phrase was widely repeated in news headlines online, in print and on television, and touted by the drilling industry as evidence that despite spending millions of dollars
By Stephanie Redmond of We Are Seneca Lake. Reading, NY – Phil Davis received a guilty verdict on Friday, Nov. 18, and was sentenced to ten hours of community service and a $125 NYS surcharge. Davis was arrested during a peaceful protest outside the gates of the Crestwood gas storage facility in Reading with nine other individuals on December 21, 2014. They were part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which has been utilizing non-violent direct action since October 2014 to block the expansion of gas storage in the crumbling salt mines on the western shore of Seneca Lake. Defense counsel Sujata Gibson, an attorney with Schlather, Stumbar, Parks and Salk, stated after the trial that she planned to make an expedited appeal of Davis’ case, and that she believes the verdict was fundamentally wrong.
By John Light for Bill Moyers Journal. The Colorado oil and gas industry is poised to strike a devastating blow against anti-fracking activists Tuesday. Enactment of Amendment 71, a statewide ballot initiative campaign that’s backed by the industry, will make it, in the words of the Denver Post’s editorial board, “nearly impossible” for Colorado voters to amend their state constitution to allow for local fracking bans — or, for that matter, anything else. It’s a story worth telling in some detail, because it vividly illustrates the many obstacles well-connected and well-funded special interests can put in the way of citizens trying to oppose them. The latest battle in a multi-year campaign by a network of pro-fossil fuel groups to defend the fracking industry against local opponents, Amendment 71 would require 2 percent of registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state Senate districts to sign petitions for any future initiative before it could be put on the ballot.
By Marrianne Lavelle for Inside Climate News – In the wake of helping defeat two recent ballot measures that could have reined in fracking in Colorado, the state’s oil and gas industry is leading a campaign to sharply limit future citizen initiatives. A so-called Raise the Bar question will be asked on the Colorado ballot on Nov. 8. It is being promoted as a way to make the controversial process of amending the state constitution more fair. But as the proponents’ motto implies