Government regulators in Canada and the US insist they are protecting the public against dangerous effects of raw milk, while those who seek raw milk and other raw foods say their way of eating – is healthy.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Government regulators in Canada and the US insist they are protecting the public against dangerous effects of raw milk, while those who seek raw milk and other raw foods say their way of eating – is healthy.
A key vote to lift a ban on drilling for natural gas in the Delaware River Basin has been postponed, prompting claims of victory from environmentalists concerned about water contamination.
The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC), which regulates water use across the 14,000-square-mile (36,260-square-km), gas-rich basin, suspended a vote scheduled for Monday amid speculation that its five members lacked the three votes needed to allow drilling.
"There are still some open issues that the commissioners have to work through," said DRBC spokesman Clarke Rupert, who had no new date for the vote.
Earlier this month, the DRBC proposed ending the drilling moratorium in the basin that stretches across parts of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware and sits atop the United States' biggest natural gas deposit: the Marcellus Shale.
Under proposed new regulations, the DRBC said it will provide water for no more than 300 natural gas wells over 18 months, at which point they will reassess the rules.
The delay has frustrated drillers and the governor of industry-friendly Pennsylvania, Tom Corbett, who is keen to develop the state's slice of the basin.
"Today's delay -- driven more by politics than sound science -- is a decision to put off the creation of much-needed jobs, to put off securing our energy independence, and to infringe upon the property rights of thousands of Pennsylvanians," Corbett said in a statement.
Concerns have arisen over fracking, the drilling technique used in the Marcellus to extract gas from shale by pumping millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into rock underground.
While fracking has led to huge increases in natural gas production in the United States, environmentalists say it contaminates water sources, sparking opposition to drilling in the Delaware Basin, which provides water for millions of homes across four states.
New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is suing the DRBC for not completing an environmental study on fracking before releasing its regulations.
Hearing on overturning NY fracking ban draws huge turnout
The final hearings on regulations that would end a ban on drilling for natural gas in New York state got under way on Tuesday in a packed auditorium at Sullivan County Community College.
Advocates of fracking, which involves blasting chemical-laced water and sand into shale rock to release gas, told a rowdy, polarized audience that drilling would create jobs and boost New York's ailing economy.In a last chance for communities to voice their views for and against a controversial drilling technique called fracking, about 300 people turned up, many of whom were left in the rain as the house spilled above capacity.
Those against blamed it for contaminating water wells and threatening the safety of local communities.
Outside, signs read "Don't frack with our water" and "Jail the frackers".
Others disagreed. "We fight wars and import oil to get resources that we have at home," said Edward Allees, 88, from Jeffersonville, New York. "What is so special about New York that we can't drill here?"
New York sits atop the Marcellus Shale formation, the largest U.S. deposit of natural gas, which also stretches across parts of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
Governor Andrew Cuomo hopes to put an end to the drilling moratorium by next year as the New York Department of Environmental Conservation finalizes new regulations for the state.
Cuomo aims to replicate the energy boom that Pennsylvania has seen in recent years thanks to drilling in the Marcellus.
But the move has spurred opposition from environmentalists who say fracking could taint fresh water for millions of residents, including those in New York City.
"We have long argued that new gas development using the risky fracking technology should not be permitted in New York unless and until it has been demonstrated that it can be done safely. We're simply not there yet," said Kate Sinding, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a blog.
Industry maintains that fracking, which could release enough natural gas for a century of U.S. needs, is safe.
"With more than 1 million wells safely hydraulically fractured in the United States, the nation's oil and natural gas industry has a stellar record of safety," said Brad Gill, executive director of the Oil and Gas Association of New York, which represents gas drillers in the state.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Saturday, November 12, 2011
The US House Judiciary Committee is now discussing an anti-online piracy bill that will allow independent parties to cut off websites accused of posting copyrighted material. Called the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), the bill is designed to get around the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
o Search engines can be required to block accused websites from results.
o Internet service providers can be required to block accused websites from their customers.
o Payment companies don't need a request from a copyright holder to block a website. Instead, they can do so on their own if they suspect a website may be posting copyrighted work without permission.
SOPA allows the third party to go directly to advertisers, credit card companies, and ISPs to effectively shut down a website's lifeline when it's suspected of posting copyrighted material – and are not required to go to court.
Under SOPA, a copyright holder can go directly to Google and ask them to block all Google ads from a website that is suspected of carrying copyrighted works. If it's a commercial site, credit card companies and services like PayPal have the right to block all payments.
The bill defines terms like, “Domestic Internet Protocol Address” and “Foreign Internet Site” essentially, allowing a site in France to register a .com domain name with a US registrar and be considered “domestic”. The bill doesn't differentiate between an IP address in the US or somewhere else in the world – it simply relies on the location of the registrar or Internet provider to make its determinations.
If SOPA passes – and many believe it will – will it take the chaotic, unfiltered, border-less Internet of the 1990s, and replace it with an Internet of order, filtered connections, and national borders?
What's that saying? If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.
How does one strike a balance after fifteen years of “bad” behavior?
Is it possible the US Government risks imposing so much "order" on the internet that creativity, privacy, and free speech will be affected?
Read entire H.R. 3261, STOP ONLINE PIRACY ACT, Introduced October 26, 2011:
Friday, November 11, 2011
Newt Gingrich said the EPA should be abolished – the Republican party quickly agreed and is making sure it happens.
In June 2011, House Republicans passed the Agriculture Appropriations bill cutting $87 million from the FDA and $35 million from the USDA food inspection program. Republican Congressman Jack Kingston defended the legislation saying, “Do we believe that McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken…aren’t concerned about food safety? The food supply in America is very safe because the private sector self-polices.”
I wonder what Congressman Kingston would say about the effectiveness of self-policing with the recent outbreaks of e-coil throughout the US in the past few months? Let's not mention last year’s salmonella outbreak in eggs and spinach.
Every year in the US, one out of every six people get sick from food contamination, and 3,000 people eventually die from a food-borne illness. Not the best example for an industry that GOP is convinced can police itself.
In September, following weeks of intense debates in Washington, DC over ways to jump start the economy, US Senator Susan Collins said, “America needs a time out from the regulations that discourage job creation and hurt our economy – Republicans insist that government “over-regulation” is the biggest factor standing in the way of job growth. Collins claimed that federal agencies are drawing up more than 4,200 new rules, 845 of which affect small businesses, and cited proposed EPA rule on boiler emissions.
Last December, the EPA came out with a statement saying greenhouse gasses put the environment and the health of the public at risk, moving the agency toward regulating those gasses as part of an effort to battle climate change.
From 2001 through June 2011, the fracking industry gave $20.5 million to current members of Congress and spent $726 million on lobbying. Republicans immediately responded to the news with statements opposing the decision.
"It's unsurprising and disappointing that the EPA has decided to push though the Endangerment finding based purely on political calculations and not based on science," said House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa. "Earlier this year, EPA set up internal barriers to stifle dissent and is now ignoring serious accusations to the science upon which the endangerment finding is based."
Indiana's Mike Pence, Chairman of the House Republican Conference, suggested – again - the EPA was going to "kill jobs." The natural gas industry’s fight against regulation has gotten important help at the state level from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). As documented in an August 2011 Common Cause report, ALEC generates and lobbies for hundreds of model bills every year despite its status as a tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) organization. Prominent financial backers of ALEC’s activities include the American Petroleum Institute, ExxonMobil, and Koch Industries, owner of the largest network of natural gastransmitting pipelines in the country.
"This is nothing more than an attempt by the administration to build international support for a binding political agreement in Copenhagen," he said. "It seems liberal Democrats will stop at nothing to overcome the strong objections of the American people to a cap and tax system."
EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, held a news conference in December discussing and defending the EPA's decision.
"The overwhelming amount of scientific studies show that the threat is real, as does the evidence before our very eyes, polar ice caps crumbling into the oceans, changing migratory patterns of animals and broader ranges for deadly diseases, historic droughts, more powerful storms and disappearing coastlines," she said.
Jackson added that "this administration will not ignore science or the law any longer."
Shell Oil Company has claimed responsibility for oil spills dating back to 2008. However, in keeping with oil company policies, they grossly under reported the amount – 275 times more than they had previously reported. Although the US has had its own oil spills – all grossly under reported – without EPA regulations, the US would look like Nigeria and other countries, at least, to a certain extent. So, unless you want the US to look like Nigeria, Ecuador and other such places – stand behind the EPA.
Could the Republican's haste to abolish government regulatory agencies come from the love of all the money they make ensuring GMOs, pesticides, and frankenfoods make it in to the hands of farmers and consumers worldwide? Could it come from pressure by their buddies in the oil and gas industries who fill their pockets and fund their elections?
When the EPA announced in 2000 that it was designing a study to investigate the potential for groundwater contamination from hydraulic fracturing, the United States Department of Energy warned that regulations could hinder economic growth in the industry.
I sincerely doubt it comes from their love of the American people and the heart-felt hope that all American's are gainfully employed, healthy and safe.When released in 2004, the EPA study concluded that the process is environmentally harmless, and then-Vice President Dick Cheney and his former employer Halliburton used this finding to insert language into the 2005 Energy Policy Act to exempt fracking from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Current members of Congress who voted for this bill have received an average of $73,433 from industry, while current members who voted against the bill have received an average of $10,894.
James Browning and Howard Kaplan of Common Cause, Holding Power Accountable, Nov. 10, 2011 http://www.commoncause.org/atf/cf/%7Bfb3c17e2-cdd1-4df6-92be-bd4429893665%7D/DEEP%20DRILLING%20DEEP%20POCKETS%20NOV%202011.PDF
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
On Monday, November 7, 2011, North Dakota Governor, Jack Dalrymple, unveiled a $569 million plan to provide disaster aid to flood-stricken areas and to help western North Dakota towns struggling to cope with oil development.
It was immediately denounced by six oil and gas industry associations:
“The EPA has moved forward with data collection for the Study, ignoring both its commitment to and a Congressional direction to ensure transparency and stakeholder input," this was part of a letter written by: Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA); the American Petroleum Institute (API); the American Exploration & Production Council (AXPC); the US Oil & Gas Association; America's Natural Gas Alliance (anga) and the Petroleum Equipment Suppliers Association (PESA) to Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator.
Neatly tucked away, beneath “disaster” bill jargon, is money allocated to hire four new highway patrolmen for western North Dakota, where the region’s booming oil industry has resulted in an exponential increase in truck traffic. Also included is $30 million in grants for “oil impact” spending on public works in western North Dakota, where there is great demand for aid from local governments to help cope with the effects of oil development.
Earlier this month, Bloomberg Businessweek, reported “Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem is a member of the commission. He says if the state gets involved in legal action, he'll coordinate with other states to keep legal expenses down.” States now handle individual regulation of fracking – North Dakota officials fear EPA regulation will greatly restrict the state's oil production -- one oil producers' group is already suing the EPA over fracking regulation.
North Dakota has the fastest income growth of any state over the past five years – almost all the gains are due to the boom sparked by drilling into the Bakken shale.
In 2010, the state ranked 19th nationwide in terms of median income, up from 40th in 2000 and 38th in 1990. No other state has seen such a dramatic improvement (or fall) in its ranking over the last 10 or 20 years. The huge rise in median incomes between 2007 and 2010 leaves little doubt that the increase in oil drilling has been primarily responsible for its dramatic prosperity.
So... how does a state, that is flourishing during such difficult times, fight those who are responsible for keeping their heads above toxic water?
Environmentalists and community members are concerned for their health and safety, and fear that fracking will contaminate scarce water resources and land. Unfortunately, inconsistencies in fracking regulations have now endangered the health of the environment and those living near drill sites.
Today, communities infiltrated by gas companies struggle with one question:
Do economic profits of extracting natural gas outweigh the environmental costs?
Friday, November 04, 2011
Utility officials said gas from inside the Fukushima plant's No. 2 reactor indicated the presence of radioactive xenon, which could be the byproduct of unexpected nuclear fission. Boric acid was injected through a cooling pipe as a precaution because it can counteract nuclear reactions.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said there was no rise in the reactor's temperature or pressure. The company said the radioactive materials had not reached the point when nuclear reactions are self-sustaining and the detection of the xenon would have no major impact on workers' efforts to keep the reactor cool and stable.
During a press conference, Mr Sonoda, an MP and parliamentary spokesman for the Japanese cabinet office, in an effort to increase confidence in the efficiency of decontamination procedures, drank a glass of water scooped up from pools inside the plant. One reporter said, “Mr. Sonoda was looking nervous, hands trembling, as he drank a glass of water.”
His decision to drink water is not the first time a politician has performed such a duty to calm public health concerns. Japan's former prime minister, Naoto Kan, and his chief spokesman, Yukio Edano, both ate food from Fukushima following the nuclear crisis. Their actions echo the decision of John Gummer, the former Tory MP and British agriculture minister, to eat hamburgers with his four-year-old daughter in front of the media in 1990 at the height of the mad cow disease scare. In that instance, Mr Gummer's actions backfired as a surge in BSE cases followed, leading to a collapse in confidence in beef safety and a public inquiry into his handling of the crisis.
TEPCO remains optimistic that it will achieve cold shutdown, when the reactors are stabilized, and the water is no longer at boiling point, by the end of the year. The government also announced that journalists would be able to visit the plant for the first time on November 12.
Because the half-life of the isotopes detected is short, the xenon was likely created recently. But officials said the level was so low that further tests would be required to confirm the measurements were not an error. The Japanese government has decided to drastically expand the scope of areas where preparations will be made for residents to evacuate or stay indoors in the event of a nuclear power plant accident.
The Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission, which is studying a revision of the guidelines on disaster precautions and responses, has decided to expand the size of these areas from the current eight kilometers to 10 kilometers around a nuclear plant, up to 30 kilometers. These extended zones include prefectural capitals, densely populated areas and industrial complexes.
In addition, an emergency evacuation preparation zone, where some residents were told to stay indoors, was later set for areas between the 20-kilometer and 30-kilometer evacuation zones. The designation remained in place for months, which caused difficulty in securing food supplies and posed many other inconveniences for people in the zone.
“We have confirmed that the reactor is stable and we don't believe this will have any impact on our future work,” said TEPCO spokesman Osamu Yokokura. He said no “radiation leaks outside the plant were detected”. Hiroyuki Imari, a spokesman with the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency said, the detection of the gas was not believed to indicate a major problem, but its cause was being investigated.
The plant is the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A 12-mile (20-kilometer) exclusion zone has been in effect since the earthquake and tsunami crippled the facility northeast of Tokyo, sending three of its reactors into meltdowns, setting off fires and triggering several explosions.
TEPCO reported significant progress toward stabilizing the facility saying, it has essentially reached a “cold shutdown.” Even so, a Japanese government panel says it will take at least 30 years to safely decommission the TEPCO facility.
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
Thursday, 20 October 2011, was a landmark day in the Vale of Glamorgan and one that should have a powerful effect around the country, and hopefully beyond. It was a day where community power helped to bring about a unanimous decision by the local county council to deny Coastal Oil & Gas the right to test for shale gas at an industrial estate on the outskirts of the village of Llandow.
A few months prior to this, in February 2011, all that stood between the multi-billion dollar highly environmentally damaging hydralic fracturing industry (fracking), and a test drill being carried out in the Vale, was one individual -- Louise Evans who runs a nearby caravan park. When Louise found out what was being planned she started researching the fracking process and started raising awareness. Louise set up a web site http://thevalesaysno.com/ and the 'Vale Says No' campaign was born.
The Vale Says No has had several public meetings to bring the issue of fracking and its consequences to the public's attention. Both Transition groups used their existing networks to rally as many supporters as possible, not only helping to generate a significant number of letters of objection, it was at one of these meetings that Coastal Oil & Gas was made aware they had failed to consider a house -- only 200m away from the possible drilling site -- in their application. This resulted in the gas compnay withdrawing their application. This have given the campaign the much needed time to carry out vital research into and gather further evidence.
However, once Coastal Oil & Gas re-applied for planning everyone was quick off the mark and Transition Cowbridge hosted a public meeting to a full house in the Town Hall. Word about the re-application spread via the website and the local press. Local councillors, Welsh Assembly members and community organisations received hand delivered invitations. Alarm bells rang as many of the people in attendence had not heard of fracking. This resulted in greater general awareness, and encouraged key community members to directly support the campaign.
A viewing of the feature length documentary Gasland, which highlighted the significant impacts that could result if fracking was allowed to take place, was hosted by Transition Llantwit.
Pressure was maintained by Transition and the campaign called for a 'peaceful protest' to take place outside Cowbridge Town Hall on the day that the Council were holding a roadshow inside. Students from a local College piled in with banners and well rehearsed chanting. The protest headed up the High Street on a day when the town was full of Saturday shoppers. A Dogs Trust charity shop was in the middle of a celebrity opening. John Barrowan is a patron and three hundred people had turned up. They all got the benefit of the marching protesters. More awareness raised!
The week of the planning decision arrived, and due to the significant awareness raised, the council felt it important to hold a scrutiny meeting. This gave both sides a chance to offer their reasoning’s for and against and resulted in some crucial questions being raised that defiantly helped to added weight to the councils final decision.
The day of the planning decision arrived and following a site visit by the councillors and a screening of Gaslands, the Planning Committee sat. They had been met on their way into the building by another lively but peaceful protest. BBC and ITV were filming and interviews were given to BBC radio, national and local.
The Positive Impact of the Transition Movement
Community Supported Campaign
So where do we go from here?
Fracking technique proposed for South Wales was 'probable' cause of Blackpool earthquake, report finds...
Read More: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/
Links to invaluable info about fracking:
http://nofrackinguk.com/ , http://thevalesaysno.com/, http://www.