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Natural gas: a detour on the way to a clean energy economy

By Alan Septoff

September 8, 2011

Count U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research researchers among those questioning the value of switching to natural gas as a "bridge" fuel from greenhouse-gas-intensive coal to a clean energy future.

[NCAR researcher] Wigley's computer simulations indicate that a worldwide, partial shift from coal to natural gas would slightly accelerate climate change through at least 2050, even if no methane leaked from natural gas operations, and through as late as 2140 if there were substantial leaks. After that, the greater reliance on natural gas would begin to slow down the increase in global average temperature, but only by a few tenths of a degree.

Along with the Cornell study and EPA analysis, 2011 may be the year that shows that -- far from a bridge -- natural gas is actually a detour on the road to a clean energy economy.

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Tagged with: natural gas, climate change, greenhouse gas emissions, bridge fuel, ncar


A week of outrage for a better future

By Nadia Steinzor

September 8, 2011

I just caught a train, hoping to reach upstate New York before Amtrak shuts down more lines due to flooding. The tail of Tropical Storm Lee is whipping the Northeast even as the region struggles to recover from Hurricane Irene. And on the other extreme, Texas is drying out and burning.

Mother Nature (that is, the natural and climate systems the concept represents) certainly has cause to be furious, like the insatiable human appetite to burn energy and pollute. But at least she’s not alone—as was clear from the gathering of several hundred people for Shale Gas Outrage in Philadelphia over the last two days.

At a rally and march yesterday, landowners spoke about the toll that gas development is taking on their properties and health. Elected officials called on their colleagues to be influenced more by citizens and less by campaign-contributing corporations. Musicians rocked the crowd with tunes about the air and water we all need, now and for the future.

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Tagged with: fracking, natural gas, pennsylvania, new york, sgeis


Texas proposes fracking disclosure rules with Texas size loopholes

By Aaron Mintzes

September 1, 2011

A couple days ago, the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) issued its proposed new rules purporting to regulate the disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project is closely monitoring state and federal efforts to reveal the hazardous ingredients contained in fracking fluids.

The Texas rules are terrible. Let me list the ways:

  1. application
  2. covered chemicals
  3. trade secret loophole.

To begin, these rules have only prospective application. Just last year, the RRC issued 15,466 permits of which 85% use hydraulic fracturing. This means that the roughly 13,000 wells permitted in 2010 do not have to disclose anything. Next, the industry only need disclose chemicals initially and intentionally placed in the fracking fluid. This absolves them from any additional toxic substances absorbed in to the fracking fluid as it travels underground or gets swept up in the flowback. Part of our concern is not just what Halliburton wants to put in the fracking fluid, but how those chemicals react with the hazardous or radioactive elements already in the ground that are disturbed by these high pressure injections.

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Tagged with: fracking, texas, disclosure, railroad commission


Turning Up the Heat on Costco

By Nick Magel

September 1, 2011

Intag No Mina In recent weeks, hundreds of Costco customers have flooded Costco s Facebook page to urge them to reject dirty or irresponsibly mined gold and to commit to switching to more ethically produced metals. The wholesale chain one of the nation s leading jewelry retailers has failed to respond, and environmental and human rights campaigners are turning up the heat.

This week, Earthworks No Dirty Gold Campaign and change.org are urging Costco customers to call the company s headquarters in Issiquah, WA, to tell CEO James Sinegal it s time to sign the Golden Rules, principles for more responsible mining that respect human rights, adopt fair labor standards, and minimize harm to the environment. To date, more than 80 leading jewelry retailers including Sears/Kmart, Target, and Tiffany & Co. have signed on to the Golden Rules principles. Customers are asking why Costco is lagging behind other major retailers in ensuring that the gold it sells is not tainted with human rights abuses or pollution.

Right now, Costco cannot tell its customers whether the gold in their display cases is coming at the cost of safe working conditions or from mines with cyanide spills that are poisoning communities' drinking water, said Nick Magel, coordinator of the No Dirty Gold campaign. Costco customers deserve better, and communities near mine sites deserve better.

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Tagged with: gold, no dirty gold, dirty gold, costco, corporations


Does regulation ever work?

By Gwen Lachelt

August 31, 2011

question markI loved watching Josh Fox's (Gasland filmmaker) presentation on You Tube last week at the New York hearing on hydraulic fracturing. I was cheering him on from my desk in Durango, Colorado, as he challenged the notion that oil and gas regulation is an answer to the impacts caused by reckless oil and gas development across the United States.

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, regulation


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