Hot Earth Links: A Fracked Earth News report.
On the bumpy road to there from here
__Big Oil countries are struggling to achieve better oil prices. The “oil market currently remains oversupplied, above ground storage full, and Iran re-entering the global oil market.” IEA is “raising alarm bells about investment cuts,” rigs idled and 250,000 jobs lost while BP, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, Shell and Total plan “large spending cuts.” Will countries respond by encouraging renewables or providing more subsidies for Big Oil?
__Bloomberg just flat out says it: “Another Oil Crash Is Coming, and There May Be No Recovery.” They’re forecasting “superior electric cars” will “wreck oil markets within a decade.”
__Mansion prices in Houston, Texas are tumbling, restaurants offering oil-crisis specials, luxury car dealers’ inventory rising–and so is unemployment.
__Fracking is one hot issue in Florida, which sits atop porous limestone. The Florida House quickly passed a bill banning local bans on fracking, but the senate seems to be paying attention to the people–and the people have been busy, with 80 cities and counties banning or opposing fracking. Volusia County is the latest, passing a fracking ban 7-0. The Florida Federation of Garden Clubs is expressing its opposition to fracking, too.
__10 anti-fracking ballot initiatives are rocking along in Colorado, leading Anadarko to deploy “160 landmen, geologists and engineers [to go to] Rotary clubs, high schools and mothers groups [where they] demonstrate how drilling works and try to convince people that [fracking] effects don’t harm the environment or public health.”
__A bill is before the Idaho legislature to speed up approval of oil and gas projects in local communities, but opposition is building amid claims some politicians are willing to keep fracking industry data from the public, override property rights and due process.
__In the absence of answers to certain questions about California oil fracking and agriculture, some folks are conducting tests on their own:
__Trial underway in Pennsylvania where two families contend Cabot Oil & Gas of Houston’s gas fracking operations in the Marcellus Shale harmed their drinking water, as demonstrated by turning on their kitchen taps and setting the water on fire.
__Ballot initiative effort launched to ban fracking in Monterey County, California.
__From a Stanford study: “shallowly drilled oil and natural gas wells risk drinking water contaminated with methane”, especially when the drilling is within a half mile of houses. Unfortunately, methane-laced drinking water isn’t considered a “health hazard” by government.
__Enbridge wants its proposed oil pipeline from North Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin to pass through northern Minnesota, but Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission is waiting on an environmental analysis. Activists and tribes are united in opposition to the pipeline.
__Federal judge in Pennsylvania, appointed by President Obama, has ruled in favor of the Continental Pipeline and against a Pennsylvania family trying to protect their maple syrup operation. Block tree-cutting for the pipeline and you could be charged with contempt. Continental Pipeline, costing $875 million, will transport gas from Pennsylvania to New York.
__Got money? Eversource and two others want their gas pipeline “through Connecticut and eastern Massachusetts” to be financed by an increase in electric rates–but “a bill being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee would make this illegal.” Kinder Morgan is promoting the electric rate hikes to pay for its “new gas pipeline through southern New Hampshire”, too.
__Now that the Porter Ranch methane guzzler has been plugged, it’s time to acknowledge leakage of methane from California gas pipelines in 2013 was equivalent to 3.81 million tons of CO2.
__Public inquiry being urged about “sexualised violence” against women protesters by police while disrupting the “Barton Moss anti-fracking camp near Manchester”, UK.
__The UK’s Department for Communities and Local Government is warning local government and public sector agencies to “adopt environmental and social policies consistent with central government” instead of trying to divest in fossil fuels. No matter that even the Bank of England calls such investments “stranded assets.”
Signs the road is becoming less bumpy
__Good news: Oil, gas and mining are finally prohibited in Colombia’s high altitude paramos (high altitude eco-systems) areas—“the most extensive on earth and supply more than 70% of the country’s population with water.”
__Following a Sunday Herald investigation, Scotland “has ditched a major contract” with a pro-fracking entity to investigate the environmental impact of fracking. Far better: Scottish Power Ltd. is going to invest $3.5bn in the largest North Sea offshore wind farm—714 megawatts! That’s in addition to Dong Energy’s 1.2-gigawatt Hornsea Project One which is getting underway.
__US Department of Energy is going to make $21m available “to lower solar energy deployment barriers and expand access to solar energy to all Americans.” $13m goes to the states and $8 to research.
__SolarCity says it’ll be using “Tesla’s 52 MWh Powerpack lithium-ion battery storage system for its massive solar power project … in Hawaii for the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative,” so customers can have light even when it’s dark.
__State legislators might consider boosting “energy projects in Maine by more than twelvefold over the next five years.” Hourly metering, a key part, would increase solar power from 20 to 250 MW in 5 years.
How not to get to there from here
__Nevada has taken the low road, “levying the highest charges to date [on roof-top solar, and imposing] those charges on existing customers as well as new ones.” SolarCity’s had to abandon Nevada, laying off 1,000 workers. Warren Buffett owns the huge NV Energy electricity monopoly.
__Australia’s CSIRO head announced 350 staff positions would be cut “as the organisation moved away from researching climate change.” Immediate outcry from major scientific entities around the world, including Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the World Climate Research Program. Australia’s Climate Council says the cuts will “breach the Paris agreement” and boost costs to the economy. Greens and progressive lawmakers joined in the escalating criticism; a rally was held outside Parliament by scientists and students.
__Tibetan blogger, Druklo, covering government repression and environmental degradation, has been sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting separatism and endangering social stability.”
Mining away the Earth
__Two Freedom Industries execs were sentenced to one-month jail terms, and four others only fined, for the accidental release of toxic coal-cleaning chemicals from a corroded tank into the Elk River, source of drinking water for 300,000 West Virginians. Freedom Industries execs knew about problems with the tank for 10 years.
__New government study says coal mining in the Northern Plains’ Powder River Basin will be over “in just a few decades” at the rate they’re going. It used to seem virtually limitless. Update on restoration.
__Pretty wild story: PotashCorp of Saskatoon and Agrium of Calgary are buying Western Sahara phosphate from a Moroccan state-owned company. However, “No country officially recognizes Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara,” and there’re pesky international laws and prohibitions governing “mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories.”
__Violence in Brazil’s Amazon as those opposed to mining, deforestation and damming are murdered, in “extremely brutal and cruel” ways, while perpetrators walk free. Indigenous people are being wiped out, too.
__Stinky fruit vs bauxite. Durian farmers in Malaysia want better regulation of bauxite mining which “is destroying arable land and tainting the water they need.” Durian farmers are marching to parliament in Kuala Lumpur, which will take about 2 weeks, to personally deliver their message.
__Adani Group getting closer to making its $16.5bn Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia a reality.
__Ghana now has a policy for governance, regulation and development of mining. “[N]eglect of the environment and harm to local communities as a result of mining operations is not acceptable.” Let’s hope that holds.
__Nestlé Corp: Another Michigan water story.
__ Canada and the US are cooperating to reduce phosphorus runoff by 40% in Lake Erie’s central and western sections, thus reducing algae bloom that has “fouled drinking water and killed fish.”
Until next week …
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