News of the Week

April 3 - 10, 2016


The New York Primary Will Be a Big Fracking Deal

On April 19, when New Yorkers get their turn to vote on the country's next leader, the future of natural gas—specifically gas that comes from hydraulic fracturing—will be on many people's minds. Clean energy and climate activists are hoping to build on the attention that a highly public skirmish between Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders about the role of fossil fuel money in campaigns has already brought to the New York race. At the same time, illustrating the success of the multi-year, multi-pronged anti-fracking movement in the state, which has now evolved into "fractivism 2.0"—a broader endeavor pushing for change across the energy and climate platforms—could give a boost of momentum to these issues at the national level. In one example of this on Tuesday, April 5, several hundred activists rallied in Albany, the state's capital, to ask the Democratic candidates (as well as Republicans Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich, if they can be bothered) to take a stand against natural gas pipelines that are slated to crisscross the state. One of these pipelines, the Constitution Pipeline, or the "unConstitution Pipeline" as it's referred to by the Stop the Pipeline organization, is in the final stages of the approval process. Activists are hoping New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo will use the state's authority under the Clean Water Act to deny the pipeline a necessary water quality permit.

High Levels of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Found Near Fracking Wastewater Site

A new study from the University of Missouri (MU) has reported high levels of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the surface water near a fracking wastewater disposal facility in West Virginia, raising concerns if similar cases are occurring nationwide given the country’s 36,000 fracking disposal sites. The contamination near Fayetteville, West Virginia, flows from a brook called Wolf Creek a few miles upstream of a drinking water treatment facility for 11,300 people. The disposal site, which includes a deep waste well, several holding ponds, and storage tanks, sits on a hillside above the creek, and has been the site of a fight over its permit, revoked in 2014 and then renewed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection in August. “I wouldn’t drink out of Wolf Creek,” University of Missouri toxicologist Susan Nagel, a study author, told BuzzFeed News. It’s unclear whether the contamination has reached residents’ drinking water, but that should be tested, Nagel said.

Residents ask Elk County commissioners to oppose fracking

RIDGWAY – Half a dozen concerned citizens asked the Elk County Commissioners Tuesday morning to sign a resolution opposing fracking, a plea that came moments after the board approved to distribute more than $50,000 in grant funding from Marcellus Shale impact fees to municipalities and non-profits. “These are some wonderful things the Act 13 money is doing, but I hope we’re not becoming dependent on these companies to do our local infrastructure,” said Sean Robinson. “I certainly don’t think a gas company sponsoring a youth event and putting a fresh coat of paint on the courthouse is worth my daughter’s future.”


Pipeline project spurs water runoff concerns

Township officials are worried a proposed natural gas pipeline project will cause flooding problems during heavy rain, and hope the company will address their concerns. “We’re afraid that some of the locations where they want to put the Atlantic Sunrise might create some major stormwater issues,” Dallas township’s engineering representative Tom Doughton said. Williams Companies’ subsidiary, Transcontinental Gas Pipeline Co. LLC, is planning an expansion of the Transco interstate pipeline. The $2.59 billion project, called Atlantic Sunrise, involves running pipeline from Susquehanna County south through Wyoming, Luzerne, Columbia, Northumberland, Schuylkill and Lebanon counties, connecting to the Transco in Lancaster County.

NGOs Seek to Block Pipeline Development

With steady supplies of natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays as well as gas from gulf states and low prices expected to continue, it is not surprising that NGOs have identified pipeline development as strategic targets for opposition campaigns which could stop the flow of natural gas from producing regions to east coast population centers that would benefit from a stable, inexpensive energy source. Having failed to shutdown exploration and production in the leading shale plays, it appears that NGOs have concluded that preventing midstream development may be an effective strategy for achieving their ultimate goal of keeping carbon fuels in the ground. On March 31, 2016, ReThink Energy NJ, an organization launched by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, the Stony Brook Millstone Watershed Association and Pinelands Preservation Alliance to promote renewable energy, urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to block PennEast’s proposed $1 billion pipeline that would be constructed between Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and Mercer County, New Jersey. ReThink Energy NJ argued that PennEast’s lack of responsiveness to FERC’s request for information (which prompted FERC to issue a notice of schedule delaying the timeline by at least seven months) jeopardizes the integrity of the project. ReThink Energy NJ joined the New Jersey Sierra Club, the Hopewell Township Citizens Against the PennEast Pipeline LLC and New Jersey Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon) who have opposed the project. The opponents claim PennEast has not provided sufficient information and details about the location of drinking water wells that could be adversely impacted, geologic information, stream crossing plans and wetland restoration or mitigation plans.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged to block Constitution gas pipeline project

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and other opponents of the Constitution natural gas pipeline gathered outside the Capitol Tuesday to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to deliver a death blow to the project by denying it state water protection permits. Kennedy, president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, fired up a crowd of about 400 people when he said the project, which would bring hydrofracked natural gas from Pennsylvania into central New York, would "make a few billionaires richer, while our children would pay for their joyride" through environmental damage and ongoing man-made climate change. And Kennedy also took aim at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has already approved the project, as have Pennsylvania officials. But the project cannot begin work in New York until the state Department of Environmental Conservation issues so-called 401 water quality permits. Kennedy blasted FERC as a "sock puppet for the oil and gas industry" and a "poster child" for an agency captured by the industry it is supposed to regulate. The planned $750 million pipeline would carry hydrofracked natural gas from Pennsylvania into New York, crossing through Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties, where gas then could move into the Iroquois pipeline that runs between Canada and New England.


Can you power a business on 100% renewable energy? Ikea wants to try

In 2012, Ikea made headlines with its pledge to completely power its stores with renewable energy by 2020. Last week, HP, the US-based multinational IT company, made the same pledge, promising to switch completely to renewables by 2020. The fact that both Ikea and HP set the same deadline for renewables, despite the fact that their pledges were separated by four years, illustrates a stunning change in renewable power generation. When Ikea made its promise, it was in the process of installing its own power generation facilities. Four years later, HP has numerous other options. It also has a lot of company on the renewables bandwagon. As part of its pledge, HP signed on for the RE100 campaign, joining fellow corporations Google, Starbucks, Novo Nordisk and Goldman Sachs. RE100 was launched less than two years ago by a coalition of businesses and nonprofits, but participating companies have, on average, already transitioned half of their energy use to renewables, according to a report released last month – and several companies have already hit the target.

China Envisions Global Renewable Energy Grid

China has a plan to build a global renewable energy grid. Liu Zhenya is chairman of the State Grid Corporation of China. SGCC is the world’s largest power company. It serves more than 1.1 billion Chinese consumers and operating grids in the Philippines, Brazil, Portugal, Australia and Italy. This week, he told the 2016 Global Energy Interconnection conference in Beijing, “We have the capacity to enable much greater use of renewable energy by interconnecting the world’s energy grids.” Liu has a plan. It includes massive wind farms in the Arctic and giant solar panel installations at the Equator. All of the power generated would be transmitted and shared with the people of the world via ultra high voltage grids. The plan is technically feasible, Liu says. In fact, China is already using UHV grids to transmit electricity over vast distances.

Virginia Tech creates sustainable-energy research initiative

Virginia Tech is creating a sustainable-energy research initiative to bolster its energy research programs. The Energy and Materials Initiative will include nearly 30 Virginia Tech faculty members who will collaborate in five clusters on research projects including: smart buildings and a smart city; the food, energy and water connection; securet and sustainable nuclear power; electrochemical energy conversion and storage; and bioinspired aerodynamic and aero-acoustic control. The initiative is being led by mechanical engineering professor Shashank Priya, who also is the faculty director for materials and sustainable energy at Tech’s Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science. “The goal is to form a cohesive and structured partnership within materials and energy research at Virginia Tech, which will position us to apply for larger external grants and create high-impact technologies. The research conducted under the initiative will be at technology readiness level three and higher,” Priya said in a statement.

What is Shale Justice

Shale Justice is a coalition of organizations whose aim is to coordinate our efforts, our regionally specific issues, our visions, our talents, and our hard work to end extreme forms of industrialized fossil fuel extraction which poses serious threats to our air, our land and our water.

2015 New York Final SGEIS

The individual chapters of the Final SGEIS (April 2015) can be viewed as PDFs (see below). The full 2015 Final SGEIS document is available as two large PDF files: Volume 1 (PDF) (35.8 MB) and Volume 2 (PDF) (8.4 MB). Although they are very large files, they are downloadable and searchable.

Marcellus Shale Players On-Line

Updated July 18, 2015 (4/2/2015)

Find out “WHO” are the corporations, their subsidiaries, the executive leadership, board of directors, associations, industry groups, lobbyists, Public Relation companies, and politicians? How are they connected? What is their message and “WHO” are the messengers?

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