Hot Earth Links: A Fracked Earth news report.
Post-Paris Conference reflections
__The U.S. delegation to the Climate summit focused on developing an agreement that could withstand Congressional Republican attacks, which began in earnest as the conference wound down. As Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said: “The president is making promises he can’t keep, writing checks he can’t cash, and stepping over the middle class to take credit for an ‘agreement’ that is subject to being shredded in 13 months.”
__The staid Financial Times’ token positive quote from the Conference was the World Bank president’s “Wow!” Otherwise, coal and oil “businesses and government officials downplayed the impact of the [global climate] deal and US Republicans underlined their opposition.”
__Bill McKibben of 350.org in the New York Times observed: the “modest … voluntary pledges” made in the Paris agreement are “enough to keep both environmentalists and the fossil fuel industry from complaining too much.” Activists must “build the movement even bigger in the coming years … blocking pipelines, fighting new coal mines, urging divestment from fossil fuels.”
__Greenpeace maintains the Paris agreement signals “the age of fossil fuels is over,” indicates recognition of the need for action, but fails to achieve “global solidarity, including a way to make polluters pay for the damage they cause.” They forecast “opposition to fossil fuels all over the world.”
__There’s still anger that Indigenous Rights were omitted from the Paris Climate agreement, since indigenous peoples “are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity” and continue to defend themselves and their habitat against destructive mining, drilling, deforestation, damming, agriculture, etc.
__Whatever its shortcoming and failings, noted Martin Lukacs of the UK Guardian, the Paris Conference has given increased momentum to the climate justice movement.
__What was and wasn’t covered at the conference–and where do we go from here?
__UK’s Ed Miliband (Labour) has already called for Britain to build on the Paris agreement to become “the first in the world to put a zero carbon emissions target into law.”
__Back in the USA, Republican efforts to undo the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan and to block “federal funds to the global Green Climate Fund” were not incorporated into the Omnibus US budget bill. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)’s National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund was included, however—perhaps a sign of bi-partisan anxiety as the ocean rises in Florida and other places. (h/t EE)
Oil and gas still with us
__Oil prices down this am: $34.85/barrel WTI; $37.16/barrel Brent.
__As expected, the $1.1 trillion US Omnibus Budget bill does include lifting the crude oil export ban—but it also extends wind and solar tax credits.
__Fracking’s impact in some North Dakota communities:
__Think politicians might take notice? Mice exposed “prenatally … [to fracking] chemicals … had reduced sperm counts” upon reaching adulthood due to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.
__With oil prices plummeting, prospects for the industry get dimmer, including in the Alberta tar sands. Shell has quit its Carmon Creek project in Northern Alberta (“$2bn in booked assets”), and others are following suit. As they shut down, we could see carbon reductions “25 times larger than reductions the Kyoto protocol was supposed to achieve” but didn’t.
__Natural gas use is down, too, as temperatures in parts of the northeast soar “more than 20 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.” Natural gas use is at a 14-year low, and heading lower.
__As gas drilling slows, local businesses in Washington and Greene counties (Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale area) are feeling the pinch. Layoffs range from 10 employees at one firm to “several hundred at Consol Energy and Chevron to several thousand at contractors Schlumberger, Halliburton and Baker Hughes.”
__First-of-its-kind court case in Oklahoma for $75,000 in actual damages plus punitive damages by a woman injured in her home during an earthquake presumably induced by fracking. Spess Oil Co. of Cleveland, Oklahoma and New Dominion LLC of Tulsa were named.
__Orange County, Florida’s County Commissioners have voted to ban fracking! Competing bills now in the Florida legislature would either ban fracking state-wide (Sen. Darren Soto-D), or give the state sole authority over fracking (Sen. Garrett Richter-R).
__That “massive natural gas leak” at Porter Ranch in Los Angeles has increased the state’s entire methane emissions by 25%—so far. SoCalGas cannot identify which pipe broke.
__Grrrrr: the UK Parliament has approved fracking under national parks and did so without any “proper debate,” according to Labour and Liberal Democrats. About 8% of national park areas in England, Wales and Scotland are affected.
__The UK government has issued licenses “for onshore gas and oil exploration” in England. Lucky frackers include INEOS, Cuadrilla, GDF Suez, etc.
__A former advocate of the unconventional gas industry in Scotland has abandoned his position since the government abandoned its proposed carbon capture and storage program. Shell has left, leaving only INEOS.
__A non-government organization in Mexico has filed a class action suit against BP for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. They want clean-up cost coverage, compensation “for the irreparable damage caused to marine life by the oil itself” and also by Corexit, a chemical brew used to contain oil.
__Dust off your resumes! ExxonMobil is looking for a climate change researcher.
Coal, silver & Amazon mining
__Protesters were at Australia’s Westpac bank’s meeting in Sydney, Australia, demanding that Westpac not finance Indian firm Adani’s massive coal projects in Australia.
__A Queensland court rejected environmentalists’ objections to India’s Adani coal mine, but did recommend “extra conditions around monitoring the impact on waterways and a local threatened species, the black-throated finch.”
__50 – 70% of mining in Latin America is by Canadian firms, and complaints against them are widespread. Tahoe Resources’ Escobal silver mine protests in Guatemala are a case in point. Will new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who speaks of protecting the environment and the poor, make a difference?
__Seven illegal mining camps were destroyed in protected regions of the Peruvian Amazon by Peru’s National Police and Marines. The Ashaninkas, Asheninkas, Yaneshas and Shipibo-conibos peoples have been defending their Amazon homelands as best they could.
__The US Environmental Protection Agency issued a rule “targeting mercury pollution from coal- and oil-fired plants.” Despite a suit filed by 21 states (Republican) and industry, the Supreme Court has let the rule stand.
__In 2014, Flint, Michigan, quit using water from Detroit’s water system and began taking water from the Flint River. Tests show Flint’s children now have high levels of lead. (Flint’s water also has “unlawful levels of [cancer-causing] trihalomethanes.”) Although Flint has switched back to the Detroit water, a state of emergency has been declared and a class action lawsuit filed.
__The Arctic’s “annual average air temperature [during 2015] was 1.3C … above the long-term average.” Over half of Greenland’s ice sheet has melted; only 3% of the ice pack was older than 4 years. Negative impacts on wildlife are manifest. Record temps will only worsen things.
__Data for 235 lakes on six continents over 25 years shows lakes are warming faster than the ocean or atmosphere, leading to more frequent algae blooms and methane emissions.
Nukes are forever
__”1356+ Sick, Dead or Dying,” proclaims a sign near the Pantex Plant outside Amarillo, Texas where nuclear weapons are assembled and dismantled. It’s gotten so bad that approval of claims for compensation and medical care has risen from 20% to more than 50%.
__Ontario Power Generation, which wants to bury its low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste less than a mile from Lake Huron, is meeting with the Saugeen Ojibwe, whose approval is essential to the project.
__Belgium’s fired up its old nuclear reactor, “angering neighbouring Germany which fears the danger of a Fukushima-style meltdown” given “mishaps in recent years.”
__9 million+ bags of radioactive waste from Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant languish in “interim storage.” Meanwhile, radioactive isotopes from Fukushima are detected on “Oregon, Washington, and California coasts … as well as offshore from Canada’s Vancouver Island.” Latest readings are the “highest … outside Japanese waters.”
Back from extinction!
__Thought extinct, a small herd of 100 wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) was found in the 1950s in Alberta. Their descendants were recently reintroduced in Alaska.
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