Today’s essential reads.
Inflammable tap water, cancer threats and earthquakes: probably coming soon, near you. Sebastian Doggart reports from New York on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’.
Another threat out of the Delaware River Basin. XTO Energy (a wholly-owned subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp.) is asking for permission to take a quarter of a million gallons of water per day from Oquaga Creek, a trout stream that flows to the West Branch of the Delaware River in New York’s Broome and Delaware Counties, to develop gas wells they plan to drill there. The withdrawal site is on land owned by the Town of Sanford, which has already given them access. New York State requires no permit for the withdrawal of water for industrial activities like gas drilling (though important legislation seeking to remove that significant regulatory gap is moving through the New York Legislature), So the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) will provide the only review of the proposed withdrawal.
Despite leading the charge for voluntary disclosure of fracking chemicals, Chesapeake Energy is now resisting revealing what was spilled during a blowout in Pennsylvania in April.
The United States is at the center of a high profile controversy over the threats posed by unconventional gas drilling, particularly surrounding the industry’s hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling techniques. Amidst the dirty energy industry’s rush to drill the last of America’s dwindling fossil fuel reserves, a growing number of independent scientists, politicians, environmental organizations and impacted citizens are urging the nation’s lawmakers to adopt a more cautious and informed approach to the fracked gas boom.
BP OIL SPILL:
Today, a little over a year after the BP Gulf oil disaster, the House of Representative awarded the oil industry two gifts. First, they prevented an attempt to end $4 billion worth of annual tax subsidies to oil companies, which I wrote about yesterday. Second, they lowered environmental standards for drilling off our coasts. Despite the fact that we have more drilling going on now than we have had in decades, the House has passed a bill—H.R. 1230—that weakens environmental review for new off-shore drilling and immediately moves forward with lease sales off the coast of Virginia and in the Central and Western Gulf.
I guess it’s worth repeating that drilling in every orifice of the United States isn’t going to do a damn thing to lower gas prices anytime soon, even if you wouldn’t know that from listening to spin on these bills.
On April 22, the U.S. State Department released a supplemental environmental review for a proposed pipeline that would funnel 700,000 barrels of oil per day 2,750 kilometers (1,710 miles) from Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. The department completed the supplemental review after its initial draft, released in April 2010, was given the lowest possible rating of “inadequate” by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Drilling Disaster of April 20, 2010 (the “BP Oil Spill”) is, as the news sometimes tells us, causing grave damage to the waterways and shores, marshlands and bayous of the Gulf of Mexico. Far more hidden is the devastation wrought on the women in scores of coastal communities.
JAPAN NUCLEAR CRISIS:
Roughly 300 km northwest of Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is the island of Olkiluoto, home to two nuclear power plants and the potential site for one of the world’s first permanent underground high-level nuclear waste repositories.