Poll: New York voters approve of Cuomo’s fracking ban
LOUDONVILLE , N.Y. (AP) — A poll has found that New York voters support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban shale gas development using high-volume hydraulic fracturing. Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg says Tuesday that between 55 and 61 percent of voters from every region of the state support the fracking ban, while about a third of upstate voters oppose the ban.
Greenberg says he can’t explain why, after four or five years of polls showing New Yorkers almost evenly split over fracking, they now support 2-to-1 Cuomo’s decision to ban it.
Army Corps seeks more data on pipeline
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has told the planners of the Constitution Pipeline project they must furnish “significant information” for the agency to act on its request to discharge fill material in regulated wetlands. In a Jan. 13 letter to the pipeline company, the federal agency outlined a laundry list of items it still needs before it can act on the company’s application. Data being sought by the Army Corps includes updated estimates of impacts to wetlands and a final feasibility analysis of site-specific plans for trenchless crossing operations that could impact wetlands. It also specifically asked for plans that would “avoid and minimize impact” to “unique and difficult to replace wetlands” on a parcel of nearly 1,000 acres in Delaware County . That property is known by its owners — the trustees for the Henry S. Kernan Land Trust — as the Charlotte Forest . “The analysis should include the results of a geotechnical investigation to ascertain the potential for the use of Horizontal Directional Drilling and further analysis of overland alternative routes that avoid or minimize impacts to Waters of the United States,” Amy L. Gitchell, chief of the upstate New York section of the Army Corp’s regulatory branch.
Nebraska: TransCanada begins condemnation proceedings
TransCanada, the company proposing to build the controversial $8 billion Keystone XL pipeline, filed court documents Tuesday in nine Nebraska counties to start eminent domain proceedings and get the 12 percent of easements it still needs here. On the same day, Omaha Sen. Ernie Chambers filed legislation (LB473) that would wrest the power to take land from the Canadian pipeline company.
“The pipeline is like King Kong, and the people and farms are like ants and grasshoppers,” Chambers said. “If they get in the way, they will be crushed with no redress.” TransCanada started the condemnation process two days before a deadline to do so or lose eminent domain powers given to it by former Gov. Dave Heineman when he approved the pipeline route in Nebraska two years ago.
The company’s attorneys filed just under 90 actions involving landowners, said Andrew Craig, TransCanada’s Omaha-based land manager for Keystone projects. “Commencing the eminent domain process in Nebraska does not mean the project is done trying to work towards a voluntary agreement with these landowners,” he said. TransCanada still hopes to reach voluntary agreements with more than 90 percent of landowners, Craig said. The percent of easements it has in Nebraska has gone from 84 to 88 since Christmas.
Building Their Own Gallows: The Oil Pipelines
The debate surrounding labor’s support for oil pipelines has largely centered on a false “jobs versus climate” dichotomy. But labor’s position is also alienating them from their potential allies while strengthening the hand of their sworn enemies. There’s a popular saying on the left that organized labor would build their own gallows if they were offered the jobs, and nowhere is this more true than in labor’s support for the environmentally disastrous Keystone XL, Enbridge Sandpiper and Bakken oil pipelines. In reality of course, it is the jobs argument that is overblown, and it is the environmental threat to the survival of every living thing on earth that labor habitually understates or ignores. The bottom line is there won’t be any jobs, or an economy at all, if the planet is no longer hospitable to human life. There’s no such thing as a safe oil pipeline because extracting fossil fuels from the ground and burning them into the atmosphere is what causes catastrophic climate change, not accidental oil spills. But while the “jobs versus climate” debate is likely to continue inside mainstream circles for some time, the left also needs to begin discussing in more detail two other important aspects of the issue: 1) The impact pipeline politics has on labor’s relationship with other social movement actors. 2) How labor’s position could actually strengthen the hand of the same corporate power players that are hell bent on destroying organized labor and relegating effective workers’ organizations to the dustbin of history. “Labor isn’t exactly endearing themselves to rural landowners,” Ross Grooters, an environmental activist with the Bakken Pipeline Resistance in Iowa and a unionized train engineer, told Truthout.
KS: Geophysicist links earthquakes to oil and gas extraction
LAWRENCE , Kan. (AP) — The disposal of waste saltwater from hydraulic fracturing could be to blame for a sharp increase in earthquakes in south-central Kansas , according to a geophysicist with the Kansas Geological Survey. Rick Miller‘s comments are the first by a state official to clearly suggest a link between hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, and the earthquakes that have rattled the area in the last two years, The Lawrence Journal-World reported (http://bit.ly/1ABcb5s ). The state recorded more than 120 earthquakes last year, up from none in 2012.
Novelist takes on Michigan’s fracking industry
For Michigan author Maryann Lesert, an accurate portrait of the fracking industry only comes from years of visiting well sites, researching scientific literature, attending oil and gas land-leasing auctions and talking to residents who can see 100-foot-tall drill rigs from their backyards. That’s exactly what Lesert did while developing for her novel-in-progress, “Threshold,” a fictional telling of her biographical journals and experiences teaching college writing courses. Set in Michigan , the end result is a deep distrust of the industrial practice, a perceived threat to Michigan ’s connection to nature and water. “Threshold” — named after the concept knowing “what circumstances or situations will cause each of us to act so we don’t rationalize and deliberate indefinitely,” she says — will be Lesert’s third novel. Her first, “Base Ten,” was published in 2009 and explores the struggle of women who pursue careers in science, but which also pays homage to Michigan ’s natural landscape. Lesert’s second, the novel-in-progress “For Lydia,” draws on personal experience seeing a family member struggle with Alzheimer’s.
Traces of Montana Oil Spill Are Found in Drinking Water
Work crews burrowed through thick ice and set up containment booms Tuesday in a struggle to vacuum up 50,000 gallons of oil that spilled into the Yellowstone River from a ruptured pipeline, contaminating drinking water. The 12-inch steel pipeline, which burst Saturday morning near Glendive , Mont. , about 400 miles east of here, sent light crude oil flowing downstream as far as the confluence with the Missouri River, 60 miles away in North Dakota . Health officials warned people not to use tap water in Glendive and surrounding towns after traces of benzene from the leak were found in a water treatment plant. Gov. Steve Bullock visited the area on Monday and declared a state of emergency for Dawson and Richland Counties .
Drinking Water Trucked Into Montana City After Oil Spill
Truckloads of drinking water were being shipped to the eastern Montana city of Glendive on Monday after traces of a major oil spill along the Yellowstone River were detected in public water supplies, raising concerns about a potential health risk. Preliminary tests at the city’s water treatment plant indicated that at least some oil got into a water supply intake along the river, according to state and federal officials. About 6,000 people are served by the intake, Glendive Mayor Jerry Jimison said. Officials stressed that they were bringing in the shipments of drinking water as a precaution and did not know yet whether there was any health threat. Results of further tests to determine the scope of the danger were expected in coming days. Up to 50,000 gallons of oil spilled in the pipeline accident Saturday. Cleanup crews trying to recover the spilled crude were hampered by ice that covered most of the river, making it hard to find the oil.
Scientists and Doctors Sound Alarm Over Health Dangers of Oil Spill Dispersants
Last week, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a series of changes to its standards governing the use of toxic chemical dispersants during oil spills, like the 1.9 million gallons of dispersants used during BP’s Gulf of Mexico disaster. The EPA claims their new rules will incorporate part of what officials learned during BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, including toxicity testing requirements, information that manufacturers must provide the EPA and the public, and how toxicity must be monitored while the chemicals are used on future spills. Mathy Stanislaus, who oversees the EPA’s emergency response policies, stated: “Our proposed amendments incorporate scientific advances and lessons learned from the application of spill-mitigating substances in response to oil discharges and will help ensure that the emergency planners and responders are well-equipped to protect human health and the environment.”