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Mon, 2011-06-27 15:59Carol Linnitt
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EPA Announces Locations for Fracking Case Studies

The Environmental Protection Agency is currently conducting the largest lifecycle analysis of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and unconventional gas drilling to date in the U.S. Both advocates and critics of the process are anxiously awaiting the study’s results, which will have an enormous impact on the way lawmakers address the growing concerns over human and environmental health risks associated with the unconventional gas drilling boom.

The EPA last week released the names of seven case study sites for the congressionally mandated study. The overall scope of the investigation is intended to assess the potential impacts of unconventional gas drilling on drinking water supplies.

Thu, 2011-06-23 15:58Carol Linnitt
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Economic Benefits of Unconventional Gas Drilling Overblown by Industry PR

A new poll suggests that Pennsylvanians are supportive of unconventional gas drilling in their state. Not because it is safe, but because they are convinced the economic benefits outweigh the risks to public health, water supplies and the environment. This kind of reasoning indicates that gas industry rhetoric is having an impact: advertise the benefits, downplay the risks, convince people that you know what you’re doing and there’s nothing to worry about.

And this is just what the industry has done. 

According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pennsylvanians are a receptive audience to the extensive public relations campaigns waged by gas interests to confuse the public on the contentious issue of unconventional gas drilling. Between Exxon Mobil’s commercials, Chesapeake Energy’s first-person testimonials from “true Pennsylvanians,” and the Pennsylvania Independent Oil and Gas Association’s billboards lining the highway, industry is leaving no public opinion stone unturned.

Tue, 2011-06-21 14:53Carol Linnitt
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Talisman Energy Targets Children with "Friendly Fracosaurus" Gas Coloring Book

Hello, my name is Talisman Terry, your friendly Fracosaurus. I am here to teach you about a clean energy source called Natural Gas.” 

In an effort to target children in the unconventional gas debate, Calgary’s Talisman Energy has released a coloring book starring the company’s new spokesman, Talisman Terry. The Fracosaurus narrates the production cycle of unconventional gas, presenting a utopian picture of the fuel source that has galvanized communities around the world concerned over threats to water and health from gas drilling.

Following Talisman Terry, children are simplistically introduced to the complex issues of unconventional drilling, pipeline construction and land reclamation. Presented in before, during and after drilling images, the gas drilling process is introduced as a gentle engagement with a natural environment. Post-drilling, a fountain-like rainbow appears in the distance and an eagle soars over an innocuous-looking wellhead.

Not surprisingly, there is no mention of hydraulic fracturing, for which the authors offer this substitute: “Because natural gas is lighter than air, it will rise up to the earth’s surface when it is set free from underground rocks.”

There is no mention either of Talisman’s poor drilling track record.

Thu, 2011-06-16 15:15Carol Linnitt
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The Case for a Ban on Gas Fracking: Food and Water Watch Report

Last month, DeSmogBlog released Fracking the Future, an in-depth report on the threats posed by unconventional gas drilling and the efforts of the gas industry to limit state and federal oversight of the process. A review of independent scientific research showed that under no conditions can unconventional gas drilling be considered safe, nor can the oil and gas industry’s army of PR front groups and apolgists be trusted to give an accurate portrayal of the true risks associated with the fracked gas boom.

The report concluded that current state oversight is inadequate to hold the rapidly growing gas industry accountable and, given the dangers associated with unconventional gas production, an immediate moratorium on hydraulic fracturing is necessary and overdue.

In its new report, the nonprofit Food and Water Watch renewed these claims, calling for a reinstatement of federal statutes like the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act over unconventional drilling and, more forcefully, calling for a nationwide fracking ban. 

Entitled The Case for a Ban on Gas Fracking, the new report details the rapid growth of the risky unconventional gas fracking frenzy gaining momentum across the U.S. In the four-year span from 2004 to 2008, gas wells in America increased by 41 percent, to over 52,000. This steady increase of drilling across the country is accompanied by an unsettling encroachment of gas wells into residential areas. The report cites Pennsylvania as an example, where over 3000 unconventional wells and future well sites sit within two miles of 320 day care centers, 67 schools, and 9 hospitals. 

Sat, 2011-06-11 13:15Carol Linnitt
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Post Carbon Institute Debunks False Hope Of Gas As ‘Bridge Fuel’

Touted by industry as a “clean energy” panacea, unconventional gas is widely heralded as deliverance from air pollution to global warming to foreign energy dependence. It is clean, the drillers say, and there is plenty of it. Descriptions like ‘trillions of cubic feet’ and ‘more than a century’s worth’ are becoming commonplace, used to prop up the vision of a clean, affordable and homegrown unconventional gas future.

But like most things that sound too good to be true, unconventional gas is no exception, as DeSmogBlog pointed out in our own recent report “Fracking the Future.”

Now, continuing to dispel some of the most egregious misconceptions regarding the future of gas, Post Carbon Institute Fellow David Hughes recently released a new report entitled Will Natural Gas Fuel America in the 21st Century?

In his report, Hughes takes on three myths undergirding our gas ambitions: that hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling have guaranteed our access to a century’s worth of fuel; that the price of natural gas, which has been historically volatile, will remain low; and that, from a global warming and public health perspective, natural gas is a clean and safe alternative to other fossil fuels.

Thu, 2011-06-09 10:58Carol Linnitt
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Gas Fracking War In British Columbia’s Wildlands

Independent Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in British Columbia are calling upon Premier Christy Clark to launch a comprehensive investigation into hydraulic fracturing. This demand comes late in the game, some say, after the world’s largest fracking operations have already taken place in the remote and pristine wilds of the province.

BC’s two Independent MLAs, Bob Simpson and Vicki Huntington, are not alone in their request for a full examination of the human and environmental health implications of the province’s unconventional gas resources. Supporting the appeal are numerous citizen and environmental groups, journalists, and First Nation’s representatives. They believe the rapid development of gas in BC’s north is taking place without consideration of the costs to public health and safety.

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