Maryland is about to become the third US state to ban fracking

March 28, 2017 by  
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Maryland’s House of Delegates overwhelmingly passed a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing , or fracking , earlier this month, and now the state’s Senate has also approved the measure. This was the final obstacle for the bill; Governor Larry Hogan has said he will sign it. Once he does, Maryland will become the third US state to ban fracking , and the first state with gas reserves to ban it through legislation. Maryland joins Vermont and New York to ban fracking, or the practice of injecting water, chemicals, and sand into the earth to break up rock, releasing natural gas . Vermont achieved a ban with legislation, New York with an executive order. Maryland’s legislation is historic because the state is the first with gas reserves to ban fracking through legislation. The Senate approved the measure with 35 to 10 votes. Related: Maryland House passes bill to ban fracking According to The Baltimore Sun, many people were surprised when the governor announced his support for the ban this month after the House passed the bill. Hogan said in a news conference, “I urge members of the legislature on both sides of the aisle and in both houses to come together and finally put this issue to rest.” Fracking had the most potential in Maryland’s Garrett and Alleghany counties, according to The Washington Post. Advocates of the practice said fracking offers an energy source cleaner than coal – natural gas doesn’t send as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned – but opponents say fracking potentially contaminates water sources and emits greenhouse gas emissions. Maryland’s Sierra Club director Josh Tulkin said the state’s ban is a big step towards a clean energy economy. Senator George Edwards, a Republican of Garrett County, was among the ten who voted against the measure. He suggested an amendment to continue a fracking moratorium to 2027 instead, but lawmakers rejected the amendment. Garrett County resident Ann Bristow told The Washington Post, “This vote confirms the power of participant democracy. Never believe when someone tells you that an organized movement can’t produce change against overwhelming odds. We are proving otherwise.” Via The Washington Post and The Baltimore Sun Images via Don’t Frack Maryland Facebook and chesapeakeclimate on Flickr

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Maryland is about to become the third US state to ban fracking

Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

March 28, 2017 by  
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Don’t count on Scott Pruitt , head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency , to do much environmental protecting. Weeks after rejecting scientific consensus about the role of carbon dioxide in driving global warming, the nation’s top environmental official doubled down on Sunday by describing a landmark accord to curb the planet’s industrial emissions as a “bad deal” for the United States. “You know, what was wrong with Paris was not just that it was, you know, failed to be treated as a treaty, but China and India, the largest producers of CO2 internationally, got away scot-free. They didn’t have to take steps until 2030,” Pruitt said in an interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos. “So we’ve penalized ourselves through lost jobs while China and India didn’t take steps to address the issue internationally. So Paris was just a bad deal, in my estimation.” There’s plenty to nitpick about Pruitt’s stance, which mischaracterizes the positions of China and India, both of which officially ratified the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change in late 2016. For one thing, China is the world’s No. 1 polluter, but India comes in fourth after the United States and European Union. Neither does the 2030 cutoff give China or India special latitude. All 197 countries that have committed themselves to the pact are legally bound to develop plans to curtail greenhouse-gas emissions through 2025 or 2030. And while there’s no legal requirement that specifies how much countries should cut, they must report every two years on their efforts to mitigate emissions levels, which are subject to technical and peer review. Related: EPA chief says carbon dioxide is not a ‘primary contributor’ to global warming Far from getting away “scot-free,” China and India are making inroads in their energy policies. Although it continues to be bogged down by inefficient coal power plants that contribute to its infamous smog, China has been expanding its renewable-energy capacity at a breakneck pace. Even as President Donald Trump decried climate change as a “Chinese hoax” , the Chinese government announced that it intends to spend more than $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power sources like solar and wind, slashing carbon emissions and creating over 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector in the same time frame. India, in the meantime, has pledged to obtain at least 40 percent of its electricity from non-fossil-fuel sources by 2030. To nudge itself closer to that goal, the South Asian nation is planning 33 solar parks in 21 states, with a capacity of at least 500 megawatts each—no mean feat for a country where millions still have no access to electricity . Indeed India currently houses the world’s largest solar power plant in a single location , a title once held by Topaz Solar Farm in California. For anyone who has been paying attention, however, Pruitt’s statements shouldn’t be too surprising. The former attorney general of Oklahoma has long boasted close ties to the oil and gas industry. He also sued the EPA—the very same agency he now heads—a stunning 14 times , frequently in tandem with companies that donated money to campaigns he was affiliated to. Related: New EPA chief Scott Pruitt’s emails reveal troubling oil-industry ties Pruitt noted on Sunday that President Trump will soon be signing a new executive order that will halt the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan , an Obama administration policy designed to, among other things, rein in America’s greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030. “With respect to this executive order that’s coming out on Tuesday, this is about making sure that we have a pro-growth and pro-environment approach to how we do regulation in this country,” Pruitt said. Pro-growth? Debatable. Pro-environment? Not a chance. + ABC News Via Huffington Post Photos from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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Head of EPA Scott Pruitt calls Paris Climate Accord a "bad deal"

Why water scarcity is a major risk for oil producers

March 9, 2017 by  
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Without water preservation, there will be oil, oil everywhere and not a drop to frac.

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Oklahoma earthquake activity up 4000%, locals sue oil and gas companies

November 22, 2016 by  
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Earthquake activity in Oklahoma has increased by around 4,000 percent over the past eight years, according to Carnegie Mellon University . Concerned about the dramatic rise, Carnegie Mellon and University of Pittsburgh researchers published two studies scrutinizing the connection between heightened seismic activity and wastewater injection into the earth after hydraulic fracturing, or fracking . Meanwhile, Oklahoma residents are suing 27 natural gas and oil companies over earthquake damage. Just in 2015, Oklahoma residents experienced 907 quakes with a magnitude of 3 or higher , up from 585 the year before and just 109 in 2013. A spike in earthquakes combined with what researchers call an impressive monitoring network afforded a prime opportunity to study the earthquakes. There are a couple of reasons why wastewater disposal after fracking might be causing all that seismic activity. Related: USGS, EPA investigate link between underground wastewater disposal and Oklahoma’s largest earthquake The report’s lead author, Pengyun Wang of Carnegie Mellon University, said fluid diffusion can reach stressed fault lines, which can slip and cause earthquakes. Or if the wastewater enters an underground reservoir close to a fault line, the new increased weight of the reservoir can stress those fault lines. Wang hoped their findings might be useful for both regulators and Oklahoma residents. He said, “If local residents of the area are experiencing the negative effects of increased seismicity and want to do something about it, without scientific evidence like this, these people might be powerless to argue against the owners of the wells. But if you can somehow give them evidence, I think it can improve overall awareness of the issue.” Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America published the studies online here and here . Pawnee, Oklahoma citizens are taking the issue to court; they’re suing 27 natural gas and oil companies over earthquake damage. The beleaguered town has been racked with almost 800 earthquakes in a year. Many homes have been damaged, but insurance claims have been rejected because homeowners insurance doesn’t always include coverage for earthquakes. The lawsuit says the oil and gas companies have showed “reckless disregard for public or private safety.” Just today, the United States Geological Survey reported yet another earthquake near Cushing, Oklahoma, that measured 4.0 on the Richter scale. Via Phys.org and Grist Images via OakleyOriginals on Flickr and Wikimedia Commons

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Germany just banned fracking for all practical purposes

June 27, 2016 by  
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On June 24, German lawmakers approved a measure that, for all practical purposes, bans fracking within the European nation. This follows years of debate within the country about the safety and legality of the practice, which has until now been largely unregulated. Though the fossil fuel industry has lobbied hard for fracking to remain an option within the country, this latest decision is in line with public opinion in Germany , which is deeply suspicious of the technology. The new law allows conventional drilling for oil and gas to continue, however hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will be banned in all but a handful of cases , mostly non-commercial projects. It does allow for scientific test drilling with the permission of relevant state governments and the supervision of independent experts. Related: Tasmania bans fracking for five more years, but the battle rages on Critics claim the ban doesn’t go far enough . For one thing, while it is supposed to be indefinite, it will also be reviewed again in five years, leaving the door open for it to potentially be lifted down the road. Greenpeace and other environmental organizations are protesting the five-year term as well as the exception for test drilling, saying that this could open up loopholes allowing oil and gas companies to continue fracking. They also believe the new legislation does not contain sufficient safeguards to protect the environment from toxic fracking fluids and wastes. Via Phys.org Images via Wikipedia

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Germany just banned fracking for all practical purposes

Fracking suspect in Oklahoma’s third-strongest earthquake

February 15, 2016 by  
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The third strongest earthquake ever reported in Oklahoma struck Saturday morning. Registering a 5.1 on the Richter scale, the quake was followed by several aftershocks, including one with a magnitude 3.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. There has been an increase in seismic activity in the state in recent years, matched by a flurry of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Seismologists warn that fracking could be the direct cause of the earthquakes . Read the rest of Fracking suspect in Oklahoma’s third-strongest earthquake

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France says ‘no’ to all new oil exploration permits

January 14, 2016 by  
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The French government has announced it will use the Energy Transition Act, enacted in August 2015, to reject all future permit requests for searches for conventional hydrocarbons (by way of crude oil). A parliamentary debate that took place on Tuesday of this week has lifted the issue into the spotlight, prompting Segolene Royal, the country’s minister of ecology and energy, to explain why it is important to restrict new ventures. According to the minister, stopping new hydrocarbon searches is a logical response to the long-term energy consumption goals. Read the rest of France says ‘no’ to all new oil exploration permits

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Urban Death Project aims to rebuild our soil by composting corpses

January 14, 2016 by  
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It’s never too early to think about death. For those searching for a more eco-friendly afterlife alternative to a stuffy, anaerobic coffin, Katrina Spade’s Urban Death Project might fit the bill. “The Urban Death Project utilizes the process of composting to safely and gently turn our deceased into soil-building material, creating a meaningful, equitable and ecological urban alternative to existing options for the disposition of the dead,” said Spade, a designer based in Seattle. “The project is a solution to the overcrowding of city cemeteries, a sustainable method of disposing of our dead, and a new ritual for laying our loved ones to rest.” Read the rest of Urban Death Project aims to rebuild our soil by composting corpses

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New interactive map reveals site of fracking accidents across the US

December 29, 2015 by  
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Concerned about the safety of fracking operations in your area? An interactive map created by the environmental group Earthjustice using Google Maps will show you exactly how many fracking accidents have happened in your state — and depending on where you live, the visual is alarming. Read the rest of New interactive map reveals site of fracking accidents across the US

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Canadian officials confirm largest earthquake caused by fracking

December 22, 2015 by  
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When a 4.6 magnitude earthquake struck British Columbia on 17 August, 2015, many were suspicious the event had something to do with a nearby fracking site operated by Progress Energy Canada. Now, the BC Oil and Gas Commission has released a report definitively linking the quake to the underground injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids, making it the strongest known earthquake caused by fracking. Read the rest of Canadian officials confirm largest earthquake caused by fracking

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