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Sat, 2011-07-30 09:24Carol Linnitt
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Free Water for Fracking: B.C. Government Gives 20-Year Withdrawal Permit to Talisman

British Columbia is providing the gas industry with 78 million cubic meters of free water each year, according to a recent CBC article. That water, the equivalent to 31,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, is used to hydraulically fracture, or frack, the Northeast portion of the province which is undergirded by a vast reservoir of unconventional gas. 

The B.C. government has recently added another 3.65 million cubic meters of water per year to that total by issuing an additional permit to Talisman Energy. The permit grants Talisman permission to withdrawal water from the Williston Reservoir, B.C.’s largest freshwater body, for 20 years. 

Historically, the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission (BCOGC) has granted short-term, temporary water withdrawal permits to the oil and gas industry, a process critics argued circumvented the environmental evaluation necessary for long-term permits. In this instance, Talisman has received one of the largest water withdrawal permits of its kind. 

Sat, 2011-07-30 09:21Carol Linnitt
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Promises and Problems: EnergyNOW! Releases Special Video Report on Fracking in the Marcellus

Energy politics tend to have a socially galvanizing effect. In production zones, big industrial producers promise massive social incentives to locals who are forced to juggle the often conflicting concerns of environmental conservation and economic prosperity. What were once tight-knit societies are finding themselves divided over concerns for their land, water and air.

Nowhere is this narrative more harrowingly played out than in the rural towns of America, suddenly rich with an abundance of unconventional gas. Both a blessing and a curse, these communities are discovering what the gas drilling boom brings in its wake, beyond promises of wealth.

EnergyNOW! has produced a special video report, set within the drilling rigs of the Marcellus Shale, to see how fracking and unconventional gas production have affected the small town of Bradford County, Pennsylvania. Chief correspondent Tyler Suiters interviews residents, industry representatives, state officials, including former PA Environmental Secretary John Hangar, and independent experts, including Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, to tackle relevant issues from local economics to water contamination.

Thu, 2011-07-28 14:27Carol Linnitt
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Frack Attack Music Video Warns of Gas Drilling Dangers in South Africa

The anti-frack movement just got a bit cooler thanks to Treasure the Karoo Action Group (TKAG). Today, the citizen-led environmental organization released a hip-hop music video designed to create awareness about the dangers of fracking in South Africa.

The animated music video is a part of TKAG’s larger campaign to prevent fracking in the Karoo region before an adequate scientific evaluation of the process has taken place. “Our drive against fracking has many elements – such as a legal challenge, a challenge to the regulating authority PASA, and community engagements. This music video will become a part of our strategy as we campaign against fracking in South Africa in general and in the Karoo in particular,” said group chairman Jonathan Deal in a press release.

The video features a young Cape Town artist, Jitsvinger, who uses a local dialect to describe social and environmental devastation caused by fracking. The accompanying images are of a young man, who moves through a gradually degraded landscape.

Sat, 2011-07-23 12:24Carol Linnitt
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Exxon and Koch Pay ALEC for Access to State Legislators

Corporations are circumventing lobby laws by purchasing direct access to the nation’s lawmakers, according to a recent Bloomberg investigative report. Through membership fees paid to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a Washington D.C. based policy institute, corporate entities like Exxon Mobil and Koch Industries are playing an active role in shaping state legislation.

According to Bloomberg, Koch and Exxon are among energy companies that stand to benefit from a cross-country energy policy that they helped write. Both companies paid a participation fee between $3,000 and $10,000 to sit at a legislative drafting table, among policy authors and elected officials.

ALEC charges membership fees of up to $35,000 and levies additional costs if companies want to join in policy creation sessions. The resulting draft “model legislation” is then adopted by member officials who support its passage into law.

The process amounts to a legal loophole, through which corporations can influence public procedure without registering the activity as lobbying.

Thu, 2011-07-21 11:30Carol Linnitt
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Shell Forced to Retract "Misleading" Fracking Adverts in South Africa

The gas industry has finally received the slap on the hand it deserves for parroting the outdated refrain: “there are no instances of documented water contamination from hydraulic fracturing.” In South Africa, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordered oil and gas giant Shell to withdraw claims about shale gas drilling, after the authority found the company guilty of propagating misleading information in several newspapers.

The Karoo region of South Africa has become an international target for unconventional gas producers since its vast shale gas deposits were discovered in recent years. The rush to drill created a wave of public concern, after reports of fracking disasters, including water contamination, well blow-outs and explosions, have become commonplace across America. The government has called for a delay in granting drilling permits until a full-scale study is completed to address mounting concerns.

Looking to sway public opinion, Shell published numerous full-page public relations adverts in local newspapers, claiming that hydraulic fracturing is used in 90% of gas wells and has never caused water contamination.

Sat, 2011-07-16 10:44Carol Linnitt
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Post Carbon Institute Analysis Suggests Shale Gas (Still) Worse Than Coal For Climate

Shale gas cannot provide a low carbon “interim” fuel for the transition to a clean energy future, according to David Hughes, fellow at the Post Carbon Institute (PCI). Gas advocates have long advertized unconventional gas as a clean alternative to coal and other polluting fossil fuels. But the cleanliness of unconventional gas is challenged by others who claim that lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from shale gas are in fact higher than coal. 

One such claim, maintained by a group of scientists from Cornell University led by Dr. Robert Howarth, puts shale gas GHG emissions 20 to 100 percent higher than coal on a 20-year timeframe. Their study, published in the peer-reviewed Climactic Change Letters, has received enormous criticism from the gas industry and its supporters. Several reviews have challenged the integrity of the Cornell study, including a presentation given by scientist Timothy Skone from the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). According to Skone, GHG emissions from gas are 48 percent lower on a 20-year timeframe.

In an analysis entitled “Lifecycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions From Shale Gas Compared to Coal,” Hughes compares the two conflicting conclusions to get to the source of the disparity. With a little number crunching, he discovers that there may be less of a disagreement than meets the eye.

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