tagged w/ Pollution
Drilling Set to Begin Immediately Risks Massive Spills, Polar Bears, Walruses, Bowhead Whales
The Obama administration today gave Shell Oil the initial approval to begin controversial and dangerous oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean off Alaska, despite the fact that a critical oil-spill containment vessel is still awaiting certification in Bellingham, Wash. Until now, the Arctic Ocean has largely been off limits to offshore drilling. Shell Oil is expected to begin the initial phases of exploratory drilling in the Chukchi Sea as soon as it can get its drillship in place, in the heart of habitat critical to the survival of polar bears.
“By opening the Arctic to offshore oil drilling, President Obama has made a monumental mistake that puts human life, wildlife and the environment in terrible danger. The harsh and frozen conditions of the Arctic make drilling risky, and an oil spill would be impossible to clean up,” said Rebecca Noblin, Alaska director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Scariest of all, the Obama administration is allowing Shell to go forward without even having the promised oil-spill containment equipment in place.”
Since 2007, the Center and its allies have successfully protected the Arctic Ocean from Shell's exploratory drilling plans. So far in 2012, a series of blunders and broken promises has prevented Shell from moving forward with its aggressive drilling plans. Last month the company announced that it could not comply with its air-pollution permits and asked the EPA to waive Clean Air Act requirements. Days later its drillship Noble Discoverer slipped its moorings in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and drifted dangerously close to shore. Right now, Shell’s oil-spill containment vessel, which was supposed to be onsite for any drilling, is still stuck in Washington state.
“While opposition to Shell’s drilling plans has resulted in significant safety improvements, Arctic drilling can never really be safe. The president is putting America’s natural heritage on the line just to add to Shell’s bottom line,” Noblin said. “Make no mistake: Once we’ve ruined the Arctic for wildlife, we’ll never get it back. The unique animals that evolved over millions of years to survive in this frozen wilderness — and nowhere else — will be condemned to extinction.”
More than 1 million people have sent President Obama messages asking him to save the Arctic from drilling. The Center for Biological Diversity, staunchly opposed to offshore drilling, will continue working to protect the Arctic Ocean’s sensitive wildlife.
“Pursuing fossil fuels in the remote Arctic will destroy the life there, even as it speeds up the climate change that’s already destroying the polar bears’ home and poses enormous risks to people, too,” Noblin said.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.Drilling Set to Begin Immediately Risks Massive Spills, Polar Bears, Walruses, Bowhead... more
**UPDATE: 5:30PM – WE SHUT THEM DOWN!
Because authorities were forced to dismantle the truck to make arrests, WE SHUT DOWN CONSTRUCTION ON THIS LEG OF THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE FOR THE WHOLE DAY!
We’re told that empty pipeline trucks were seen driving aimlessly around the region.
Again, we witness the power of bringing together those battling corporate eminent domain abuse and those fighting to defend our natural commons from the unconscionable harm of surface mining and catastrophic climate change. Both are struggles to defend HOMES, and together we can and WILL win the uphill battle to STOP KEYSTONE XL!
All 7 arrestees are now in police custody and are being processed!
**UPDATE: 3:10PM – PHOTO: Don’t Mess with Texas Grandmas
**UPDATE: 3:05PM – PHOTO: Ray and Max locking themselves to Keystone XL pipeline truck axel.
**UPDATE: 2:00PM – Support today’s brave blockaders – Consider a generous donation
Can you help support today’s brave blockaders? http://bit.ly/TSB-DonateWe’re a grassroots campaign funded entirely by the generosity of individual donors like you. Every dollar counts.
We greatly appreciate your support!
**UPDATE: 1:30PM – Victory! Keystone XL pipe yard construction stopped for the day
All of our blockaders are safely in jail, and the entrance to the yard remains blocked! The police dismantled the truck to extract them so the pipe yard remains effectively shut down for the day.
Every day of delay is a victory. Allowing us to shed light on the dangers of toxic tar sands pipeline.
**UPDATE: 1:20PM – Final blockader arrested. Total of 7 arrested today
The final blockader, #LoneStarTammie, has been arrested and put in police car.
**UPDATE: 1:10PM – Police are dismantling truck axle.
One blockader is holding tight! The 3 others have been arrested. 1 of 6 arrested so far is a journalist.
**UPDATE: 12:30PM – Workers are giving water to our blockaders.
Human compassion shines brighter than Keystone XL’s industrial devastation!
**UPDATE: 12:00PM – Another Sheriff SUV just arrived.
There are currently 7 law enforcement vehicles on site, and we’re not backing down!! This is just the beginning.
**UPDATE: 11:30AM – State Troopers have Arrived! Police are Threatening “Pain Compliance” if Blockaders Don’t Release from Truck
Careful with our friends who know that the cost of inaction is far riskier! Three support blockaders have been arrested. Four remain locked to undercarriage of pipeline truck. SHARE for their SAFETY and the safety of all who will come next!! This is only the beginning! – bit.ly/kxlfj2
More at the link**UPDATE: 5:30PM – WE SHUT THEM DOWN!
Because authorities were forced to... more
Australia could let mining magnates build one of the world's largest coal ports on top of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem -- opening access to 8 billion extra tonnes of planet-killing coal and risking the survival of this entire amazing world heritage site.
Activists in Australia are pressuring the government and UNESCO is speaking out, but a bank owned by the US public is key to the project. Global pressure on the US bank now could bring international shame and spotlight environmental issues in the middle of the US election season. If they pull out, the entire crazy plan could be shut down for good.
Let’s up the pressure on the bank’s chairman Fred Hochberg and demand he halt funding for Great Barrier Coal. We have only days to act -- he's in Australia for meetings right now. Click to join the call to save the reef and Avaaz will deliver our voices to Hochberg!
More at the linkAustralia could let mining magnates build one of the world's largest coal ports... more
Stop Dow's Agent Orange Soy!
Stop GMO Apples!
Stop Monsanto's Dicamba Tolerant Soybean!
Earlier this summer, the USDA posted twelve new GE crops for public comment with a September 11 deadline, and nine are under the new fast-tracked process. That's twelve new GMOs to review and issue comments on in two months!
Here's the lowdown. Three of the new crops are under the old petition process. Under the old process there is only one 60-day public comment period. Here are the three crops under the old process:
--- Dow 2,4-D and Glufosinate Tolerant Soybean (APHIS-2012-0019)
Since the introduction of GM crops, the US has seen herbicide use increase by over 300 million pounds. Big Biotech originally claimed that weeds would not develop resistance to glyphosate (RoundUp), but they have and these new "superweeds" have become the driving force behind new crops engineered for stacked, or multiple, herbicide tolerances. Adoption of these new crops will lead to dramatic increases in the use of higher risk herbicides such as 2,4-D and dicamba, perpetuating the herbicide treadmill that is already in place.
2,4-D is already the third-most-used US herbicide, after glyphosate and atrazine, and as a leading source of dioxin pollution, it's one of the most deadly. As of yet, however, it's hardly used on soy at all. Just 3 percent of total US soybean acres were treated with 2,4-D in 2006. Not only will this percentage skyrocket once Agent Orange Soy hits the market, the amount used per acre may triple, according to the USDA.
---Bayer Glyphosate and Isoxaflutole Tolerant Soybean (APHIS-2012-0029)
---Syngenta Corn Rootworm Resistant Corn (APHIS-2012-0024)
Under the new process, USDA has also opened nine additional new crops for public comment. This initial comment period applies to the petitions for nonregulated status which include information submitted by the petitioning company. Once USDA has the completed their environmental analyses they will open a final 30-day comment period for the decision-making documents.
Here are the 9 crops under the new process with the same September 11 deadline:
---Okanagan Non-Browning Apple (APHIS-2012-0025)
Okanagan's "Arctic" apple would be the first genetically engineered version of a food that people directly bite into. According to the latest study by the Environmental Working Group, conventionally grown apples are the most pesticide contaminated fruit or vegetable on the market. Conventional apples are dangerous, and GMO apples are just a dumb idea - one not even supported by many in the apple industry itself!
---Dow 2,4-D, Glyphosate and Glufosinate tolerant Soybean (APHIS-2012-0032)
---Monsanto Dicamba Tolerant Soybean (APHIS-2012-0047)
According to the Institute for Science in Society (ISIS), "dicamba is actually an old herbicide that served alongside "agent orange" in Vietnam, and has been resurrected as an environmentally friendly chemical through the magic of public relations."
---BASF Imidazolinone Tolerant Soybean (APHIS-2012-0028)
---Monsanto High Yield Soybean (APHIS-2012-0020)
---Monsanto Glyphosate Tolerant Canola (APHIS-2012-0035)
---Pioneer Glyphosate Tolerant Canola (APHIS-2012-0031)
---Monsanto Hybrid Corn (APHIS-2012-0027)
---Genective Glyphosate Tolerant Corn (APHIS-2012-0046)
USDA Fast-Tracks GMO Crop Approval Process
Despite massive public opposition, last year the USDA announced plans to streamline its genetically engineered petition process under the Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS). Earlier this year these controversial changes were implemented, speeding up the approval process for new genetically engineered seeds and crops. The new process will cut in half the time it takes for new GE seeds and crops to enter the market.
USDA claims that the new fast-track process allows for earlier input from the public to improve the quality of its environmental analyses. But according to a USDA press release, the new process is a part of efforts by the Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, to "transform USDA into a high-performing organization that focuses on its customers." The customers that USDA is so keen on assisting are none other than Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, BASF, Syngenta, and the rest of the Biotech bullies!
More at the linkTake Action!
Stop Dow's Agent Orange Soy!
Stop GMO Apples!
A Canadian company opens a test pit in Utah and could be running a sizeable mine by early 2014. But is there enough water to support the industry?
To the ancient Indians who roamed the Colorado Plateau in what is now eastern Utah, the black globs of sticky, smelly bitumen they picked up from the sandy soil mystified them so much they called the strange substance "rocks that burn."
Today, the bitumen that fascinated the Indians for its mysterious quality of combustion is the focal point of a battle over whether bitumen—a thick, tarry substance also known as tar sands oil—should be mined in Utah, which harbors the nation's largest oil sands deposits.
According to the Utah Geological Survey, about 25 billion barrels of bitumen are buried on state and federal land. If every drop of that oil was extracted, it would supply all the nation's current oil needs for a little more than three years.
Utah regulators already have issued permits to an up-start Canadian energy development company that hopes to mine nearly 6,000 acres. The Calgary-based company, U.S. Oil Sands Inc., has scooped open a two-acre test pit in its first step toward full-scale production. If it keeps to its timetable, the nation's first sizeable oil sands mine will be operating in this largely unspoiled wilderness by early 2014.
But even as U.S. Oil Sands is finalizing its plans and calling its operation "shovel ready," two environmental organizations have stepped up their efforts to keep oil sands mining out of Utah. They say that ripping open the land for bitumen is an imprudent and desperate attempt to slake the national thirst for oil—and that it threatens what little water there is in a vast yet delicate ecosystem. According to a letter written by the Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, "It is expected that the mine will use 116 gallons of water per minute on a 24-hour basis."
"This is the time and place to stop it, stop the needless assault on our wilderness," said John Weisheit, a river guide who for the last decade has been the conservation director of Living Rivers, a Moab-based environmental organization.
Click here to view a slideshow of the U.S. Oil Sands test pit in eastern Utah
Living Rivers has joined with Western Resource Advocates, a nonprofit environmental law and policy organization, to appeal U.S. Oil Sands' mining permit. An administrative law judge in Salt Lake City is expected to rule soon on their argument that state regulators ignored threats to ground water when they granted the permit.
In a preface to a 2010 report on tar sands and oil shale, Western Resource Advocates President Karin P. Sheldon said oil sands mining offers too little energy in exchange for the water consumption and environmental destruction and expense it requires. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, at least 4,000 pounds of earth will be dug up for every 20 gallons of gasoline made from oil sands.
U.S. Oil Sands estimates that as much as two barrels of water will be used for each of the 2,000 barrels of bitumen it expects to produce each day. (Converted into gallons, that means the company needs as much as 168,000 gallons of water to produce 84,000 gallons of bitumen.) Company officials say 85 percent of the water will be recycled, with the remainder lost to evaporation or returned to the pit as moisture in the leftover sand.
More at the linkA Canadian company opens a test pit in Utah and could be running a sizeable mine by... more
A company is polluting a company town, but not without a fight first. Crossett is a small American working class town in Arkansas polluted by big business. Longtime residents and regional scientists team up to stop rural ecological decay driven by a national paper and pulp company emitting toxic carcinogenic chemicals. People in this community have cancer, neighbors live on respirators, and are breathing polluted air by the very company that has employed them for years. Some are afraid to come forward for fear of losing their jobs.https://vimeo.com/46893622
A company is polluting a company town, but not without a... more
Will we further our dependence on climate-altering fossil fuels? Will we risk oil spills and the health of communities for a slice of short-term revenue? Or is it time to invest in cleaner, safer energy solutions and green jobs of the future?
Let your voice be heard. Please tell your elected leaders that short-term financial gain cannot make up for what we stand to lose if we don’t protect the natural world that sustains us. Tell them Canada needs a national energy strategy that values the environment.
In addition to sending an email to our leaders using the form here, you can also register your opinions with the National Energy Board Joint Review Committee on the Enbridge Northern Gateway project website. Hearings on the project will continue into 2013, but the deadline for public comment is August 31, 2012.
David Suzuki FoundationWill we further our dependence on climate-altering fossil fuels? Will we risk oil... more
Taranto asks for help to environmentalists. We're rebelling against the national policy, which wants the accieria (disatro seized with environmental and health), reopen and continue to produce. Taranto has the highest rate of people dying of leukemia in Europe.
HelpTaranto asks for help to environmentalists. We're rebelling against the national... more
Taranto asks for help to environmentalists. We're rebelling against the national policy, which wants the accieria (disatro seized with environmental and health), reopen and continue to produce. Taranto has the highest rate of people dying of leukemia in Europe.
HelpTaranto asks for help to environmentalists. We're rebelling against the national... more
A new study finds elevated levels of caffeine at several sites in Pacific Ocean waters off the coast of Oregon -- though not necessarily where researchers expected.
This study is the first to look at caffeine pollution off the Oregon coast. It was developed and conducted by Portland State University master's student Zoe Rodriguez del Rey and her faculty adviser Elise Granek, assistant professor of Environmental Science and Management, in collaboration with Steve Sylvester of Washington State University, Vancouver
The study found high caffeine levels near Carl Washburne State Park (Florence, Ore.) and Cape Lookout, two areas not near the potential pollution sources, yet low levels of caffeine near large population centers like Astoria/Warrenton and Coos Bay.
High levels were also found following a late-season storm of wind and rain that triggered sewer overflows.
The results seem to indicate that wastewater treatment plants are effective at removing caffeine, but that high rainfall and combined sewer overflows flush the contaminants out to sea. The results also suggest that septic tanks, such as those used at the state parks, may be less effective at containing pollution.
"Our study findings indicate that, contrary to our prediction, the waste water treatment plants are not a major source of caffeine to coastal waters," says Granek. "However, onsite waste disposal systems may be a big contributor of contaminants to Oregon's coastal ocean and need to be better studied to fully understand their contribution to pollution of ocean waters."
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120719105301.htmA new study finds elevated levels of caffeine at several sites in Pacific Ocean waters... more
Looking to escape to the beach this summer? Well, before you book that trip to Cape Cod or the Outer Banks of North Carolina, you might want to consider an unorthodox option — the shores of Lake Superior. The lake, which is the northernmost, coldest, and deepest of the five Great Lakes, is the warmest it has been at this time of year in at least a century, thanks to the mild winter, warm spring, and hot, dry summer.
A comparison between Lake Superior's average water temperature this year so far and the longer-term average. Click on the image for a larger version. Credit: GLERL.
OK, so the lake’s average water temperature is still a bracing 68 degrees, but it's considered downright tropical for the region. As the above chart shows, based on the 30-year average, the lake’s average water temperature should be in the mid-50s. But thanks to scant lake ice cover this past winter, along with a rare March heat wave and warmer-than-average weather since then, the lake began warming earlier than normal, and that warming has kept right on going. Wintertime ice cover on the Great Lakes was the lowest observed since such records began in 1980.
“It’s pretty safe to say that what we’re seeing here is the warmest that we’ve seen in Lake Superior in a century,” said Jay Austin, a professor at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, who has researched the lake’s water temperatures back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The lake's record temperatures are yet another consequence of the record heat so far in 2012. The contiguous U.S. had its warmest January-to-June period since records began in the late 19th century. Manmade global warming will likely result in more years with very warm water temperatures, which could have significant adverse consequences for marine life. In a rare benefit from the ongoing drought, this summer has been so dry that the warm water temperatures are not resulting in major harmful algal blooms, such as one that occurred on Lake Erie last year.
Instrument data from three buoys in Lake Superior provide a reliable record of water temperatures since about 1980, and the information also shows that, with water temperatures running in the mid-to-upper 60s (and even warmer closer to shore), “we are at record temperatures for this time of year,” according to Austin.
Austin said that water temperatures at the westernmost edge of Lake Superior are running in the mid-70s, and it was due in part to the runoff from flooding rains that struck Duluth, Minn., in late June.
Because of sand and other particles within in the runoff, sunlight is not penetrating far below the surface, and that helps heat near-surface waters more significantly than if clearer waters were present, Austin said.
Data shows a long-term warming trend throughout the Great Lakes, which may be related to manmade climate change. According to George Leskevich, a physical research scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., there is also a long-term downward trend in Great Lakes wintertime ice cover, although there is considerable year-to-year variability.
The all-time daily average high temperature record for Lake Superior is 71°F, which was recorded in mid-August 2010. With a few more weeks of warming left, that record is in jeopardy.
More at the link
http://greatlakesecho.org/2012/07/26/great-lakes-drownings-and-temperatures-are-up-are-they-linked/Looking to escape to the beach this summer? Well, before you book that trip to Cape... more
New research suggests the health of newborn babies is adversely affected in areas close to sites undertaking natural gas extraction by way of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking; the method of obtaining natural gas by blasting shale with a solution of water and chemicals.
“A mother’s exposure to fracking before birth increases the overall prevalence of low birth weight by 25 percent,” said Elaine L. Hill, Cornell University doctoral candidate and author of the working paper, “Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Infant Health: Evidence from Pennsylvania.” Hill also found a 17 percent increase in “small for gestational age” births, and reduced health scores.
She spoke at a fracking forum hosted by Sen. Tony Avella in New York City Wednesday.
Hill’s paper looked at birth measures, including birth weight and premature birth, for those born in Pennsylvania starting in 2003, before fracking began. The study used data through 2010 and focused on those living up to 1.5 miles from gas development sites. Pennsylvania increased its unconventional natural gas wells from 20 in 2007 to 4,272 by the end of 2010.
Fracking in New York
New York currently has a moratorium on fracking, but the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reviewing the nearly 80,000 comments received from public hearing sessions held in 2009 and 2011 regarding the draft Supplement Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) that will determine if New York will move forward and review permits for horizontal fracking.
The SGEIS will have to pass the state Legislature before heading to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for approval. The DEC decision is expected by the end of this year.
Hill’s working paper will not be published until it passes a peer review—a huge risk for a doctoral student who does not share the same protection as a tenured professor.
“I think the courage she is showing today in coming forward and speaking truth to power should be matched by other acts of courage by members of our own state government,” Sandra Steingraber, distinguished scholar in residence for the department of environmental studies at Ithaca College, said before Hill’s testimony.
Steingraber said she believes Hill’s paper should be peer reviewed, but also feels science is having a tough time keeping up with the rush to get new fracking measures in place.
Hill said it may take up to two years to finish the review process, at which time new fracking regulations will likely already be in place. “My study is robust across multiple specifications and it indicates that our future generation may be seriously harmed. I couldn’’t possibly value my career over their well-being,” Hill said by email on Thursday.
A lifelong resident of New York state, Hill concluded her testimony by speaking from a personal perspective. She mentioned she is engaged to be married and hopes to start her own family soon, however her findings are giving her second thoughts about doing that in New York.
“I fully understand the economic potential for this technology and its importance for the state, but I hope for the sake of my generation and our future children, that New York will do its part to ensure our health and safety by refraining from allowing fracking to begin until the questions raised by the research presented today are answered,” Hill said.
“According to current estimates, a single low birth weight infant costs society, on average, $51,000 during the first year of life,” Hill said, adding that that did not include long-term costs for the child or decrease in parental earnings.
Calling on Cuomo
On Thursday, Sen. Avella followed through by issuing a letter to Cuomo formally requesting a meeting with him, as well as scientists, medical professionals, and environmentalists to discuss fracking and how the DEC and the governor will be making decisions.
“There has been virtually no outreach from either your staff or DEC staff to engage in detailed conversations with these respected members of the medical and scientific communities,” Avella said in his letter, a sentiment echoed by the majority of those that testified Wednesday.
Cuomo’s office did not respond to a request asking if a meeting had been set up.
More at the linkNew research suggests the health of newborn babies is adversely affected in areas... more
The world’s largest and best protected coral reef will be doomed by Australia’s unprecedented scale of planned coal and gas development, experts say.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system, with 3,000 reefs running 2,300 km along most of the state of Queensland’s coast. Credit: Nickj/CC BY 3.0
This threat to the Great Barrier Reef is so serious that UNESCO recently announced it may downgrade the reef’s prestigious designation as a World Heritage Site to a “World Heritage Site in Danger”.
“That would be a big blow to our tourism industry, which generates nearly six billion dollars a year and employs over 50,000 people,” said Terry Hughes, director of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University in Australia on the last day of the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) here in Cairns, Australia.
“It’s immoral to keep building new coal mines when we know so much about climate change and its impacts,” Hughes told IPS.
Newly-elected Queensland Premier Campbell Newman responded to the UNESCO announcement by reportedly saying, “We are in the coal business. If you want decent hospitals, schools and police on the beat, we all need to understand that.”
Both the state and federal government collect substantial royalties from the mining sector.
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest reef system, with 3,000 reefs running 2,300 km along most of the state of Queensland’s coast. Although protected as a marine park for decades, coral cover has declined 50 percent since 1960s due to impacts from land-based pollution including fertiliser and mine runoff, bleaching from warmer waters and outbreaks of crown of thorns starfish that eats coral.
Australia is the world’s biggest coal exporter and Queensland is a major mining and export region, shipping 156 million tonnes annually, mostly to Asian markets. Now there are proposals to expand that output sixfold to nearly one billion tonnes annually by 2020.
Related IPS ArticlesLocal Control Revives Depleted Fisheries
Scientists Declare State of Emergency for World’s Coral Reefs
That enormous amount is equivalent to the collective heft of nearly every motor vehicle on the planet – some 800 to 900 million vehicles in all.
The carbon footprint from that much coal means another 1.8 billion tonnes of climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO2) would be added to the atmosphere annually. The world’s best scientists say reductions in emissions of the billions of tonnes of CO2 are needed before 2020 to prevent catastrophic climate change.
Climate change has already warmed the oceans 0.5C degrees and made them 25 to 30 percent more acidic, impacting the health of reefs around the world. That will only worsen with every tonne of coal burned.
All of those tonnes of coal dug from the Queensland outback are loaded on huge coal ships that have to navigate through or around the Great Barrier Reef.
India’s Adani Group recently announced it will spend six billion dollars to build Queensland’s biggest coal mine in the state’s central region, including a new town and a runway for fly-in, fly-out workers. It will also build a 350 km railway to connect to new port facilities on the coast to ship some 60 million tonnes a year back to India.
Other Indian miners, along with a number of Chinese mining interests, have locked up an estimated 20 billion tonnes of coal resources in central Queensland. Australian mining companies are also expanding their operations.
Existing coal ports will need major expansions and new ports have been proposed up and down the Queensland coast. The number of coal ships needed to move all that coal is projected to jump from the present 1,700 to more than 10,000 by 2020.
In 2010, the coal ship “Shen Neng” took a short cut and ran aground on the reef, leaving a three-km scar, an oil spill and trail of toxins from its anti-fouling paint. Clean-up costs for such accidents could top 100 million dollars and it would be difficult to get shipping companies registered in foreign countries to pay the costs, officials told IPS.
Coal may be king in Queensland, but liquefied natural gas (LNG) is the big new player. In fact, Australia is home to more than 70 percent of LNG projects in the world.
Tens of billions of dollars are being invested in hundreds of drilling sites, including hydraulic fracturing operations to tap the extensive deposits of coal-seam gas (also known as coal-bed methane). Delivering the gas for exports means new pipelines and giant processing plants to turn the methane into LNG for shipping on special ships with high-pressure tanks to Japan, Korea and other Asian markets.
Gas also has a big carbon footprint. IPS reported earlier this year that U.S. scientific studies show that coal-seam gas can have higher CO2 emissions than coal when emissions from mining, transmission and burning is included.
Four LNG processing plants with port facilities have been proposed at the rapidly expanding coal port of Gladstone in central Queensland. Extensive dredging is already underway and Australia’s minister of the environment has approved the ocean dumping of millions of tonnes of dredged material inside the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park boundaries, Hughes said.
Even without the dumping, satellite images have shown dredging sediment, including toxic metals, drifting up to 35 kilometres out to sea. Mass fish kills have been recently been reported in the area and commercial fishers are blaming it on the dredging activity.
Duongs, sea turtles, dolphins and other marine species are not doing well south of Cook Town, where most of the coastal development has occurred so far, said Alana Grech, a researcher at James Cook University. New ports and industrial development would have a negative impact, especially if done in the relatively pristine north, Grech told IPS.
“We must protect the coastline and reef north of Cook Town. We can’t have new ports up and down the coast because it will further fragment the habitat,” she said. “We’re at a crossroads here. Some hard decisions will have to be made.”
The cumulative affects of development, pollution, shipping and climate change are very worrying, said Laurence McCook, science co-ordinator of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, which has a mandate to manage and protect the reef. To date no cumulative impact assessment has ever been done. That was one of the main criticisms UNESCO made, McCook said.
More at the linkThe world’s largest and best protected coral reef will be doomed by... more
If Lake Michigan looks like it has shrunk in the past year, it's not a mirage.
Water levels are eight inches below last July, and 20 inches below their long-term average for this month. The lake now hovers a little less than a foot above its record low for July, set in 1964.
Nature - precipitation, temperature, lack of winter ice cover - is a driving force behind lake levels, but humans have a played a significant role as well.
It long has been acknowledged that historic dredging and mining in the St. Clair River, the primary outflow for Lakes Michigan and Huron, permanently lowered the connected lakes by about 16 inches.
A recently completed $15 million study funded by the U.S. and Canadian governments found that unexpected erosion since a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging project on the river in the early 1960s dropped the lakes' long-term average by as much as an additional five inches. But that study, co-led by an Army Corps employee, concluded that the erosion is not ongoing and is therefore not triggering further water loss.
The study authors initially decided there was no need to explore some type of physical fix on the St. Clair to slow the outflow from Michigan and Huron and restore the lost water, but they were overruled by the International Joint Commission, which funded the study and oversees U.S. and Canadian boundary waters issues.
The study authors subsequently evaluated a range of options and concluded a variety of structures could indeed be built to throttle flows on the St. Clair, but they determined that any such project could take decades to complete, cost up to nearly $200 million and inflict harm in some areas of the lakes as well as benefit others.
They also noted such a "fix" could cause trouble for endangered sturgeon in the St. Clair, as well as exacerbate erosion and other problems if high water returns in the coming years, which is a distinct possibility given the vagaries of long-term weather patterns, as are further declines.
The ultimate conclusion of the study submitted to the Joint Commission this spring is that learning to live with ever-fluctuating lake levels is the best way to deal with the problem. But the Joint Commission has not decided whether to accept that recommendation, and on Thursday about 60 people turned out for a public hearing in Milwaukee to weigh in on the issue. Most who spoke didn't buy the study board's recommendation to essentially do nothing.
More at the linkIf Lake Michigan looks like it has shrunk in the past year, it's not a mirage.... more
HOUSTON — A Texas judge has ruled that the atmosphere and air must be protected for public use, just like water, which could help attorneys tasked with arguing climate change lawsuits designed to force states to cut emissions.
The written ruling, issued in a letter Monday by Texas District Court Judge Gisela Triana, shot down arguments by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality that only water is a “public trust,” a doctrine that dates to the Roman Empire stating a government must protect certain resources — usually water, sometimes wildlife — for the common good.
Adam Abrams, one of the attorneys arguing the case against TCEQ, said Triana’s ruling could be used as a persuasive argument in lawsuits pending in 11 other states.
In Texas, though, a ruling to protect air and the atmosphere has added significance. Republican Gov. Rick Perry is one of the most vocal opponents against widely accepted scientific research that fossil fuel emissions are causing global warming. And the state has refused to regulate greenhouse gases, forcing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to work directly with industries to ensure they comply with federal law.
“The commission’s conclusion that the public trust doctrine is exclusively limited to the conservation of water is legally invalid,” Triana wrote.
She also wants the case brought to a standstill, saying that so long as Texas has open-ended litigation on similar issues on the federal level, she cannot compel the TCEQ to write rules to protect the atmosphere and the air.
The TCEQ said in an emailed comment that it was reviewing the judge’s letter and is awaiting her final order, but it appears Triana will support the agency’s move to deny the request for new rules.
The lawsuit was brought by the Texas Environmental Law Center, and is part of a court campaign in a dozen states by an Oregon-based nonprofit, Our Children’s Trust. The group is using children and young adults as plaintiffs in the lawsuits — some state and some federal — filed in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
By relying on “common law” theories, the group hopes to have the atmosphere declared a public trust for the first time, granting it special protection. The doctrine has been used to clean up rivers and coastlines, but many legal experts have been unsure if it could be used successfully to combat climate change.
Still, Abrams, who has handled the Texas case on behalf of the Texas Environmental Law Center, believes Triana’s ruling can be used to argue the cases in other states. So far, he said, this is the first judge to back the group, though a New Mexico court recently allowed the case to go forward.
“I think it’s huge that we got a judge to acknowledge that the atmosphere is a public trust asset and the air is a public trust asset,” Abrams said. “It’s the first time we’ve had verbage like this come out of one of these cases.”HOUSTON — A Texas judge has ruled that the atmosphere and air must be protected... more
Activists from Marcellus Earth First! have erected a slash pile blockade and two tree sits blocking an access road to an EQT hydro-fracking site in Moshannon State Forest in Clearfield County, PA., halting drilling operations set to begin this week. The blockaders were joined by 40 supporters and concerned citizens, who turned around a Halliburton truck. The blockade is trying to stop the further destruction of Pennsylvania’s state forests—more than half of which have already been leased for drilling—and call attention to the devastating effects of hydrofracking on the state’s communities. The sitters’ anchor lines are blocking the road by crossing each other and the road, and if an anchor line is cut a sitter will fall. This action has been coordinated as the post-Rendezvous action. Each Summer Earth First!ers and allies come together to skill share, take part in discussion workshops, and keep it wild in our last remaining wilderness places in the US. Following a week in the woods, we take part in an action in support of the local organizers hosting the camp out, also know as the Round River Rendezvous, or Rondy.
Today’s blockade is the latest in a series of escalating actions of resistance to the destructive impacts of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale. Last May, residents of Butler County occupied the office of State Representative Brian Ellis, demanding accountability for widespread contamination caused by horizontal drilling. In June, seven families, along with dozens of supporters, blocked the entrance to the Riverdale Mobile Home Community to prevent their imminent eviction at the hands of Aqua America PVR. Aqua sought to destroy their homes and construct a water withdrawal facility permitted to extract up to three million gallons of water from the Susquehanna River daily for use in fracking. Residents were able to maintain the blockade for 12 days. On June 17, 1,000 Ohioans stormed the statehouse in Columbus and passed a “people’s resolution” banning hydrofracking. Most recently, a 31-year-old landowner from Athens County, Ohio chained herself to concrete barrels and shut down operations at one of Ohio’s 170 injection wells, which contain about 95% of the toxic and radioactive fracking waste generated from Pennsylvania drilling.
Momentum in the anti-fracking battle will continue to build across the Marcellus and Utica shale regions throughout July. Next weekend, residents from Ohio and beyond will gather at an anti-fracking action camp in Youngstown and prepare to enforce the “people’s resolution” against fracking. The upcoming months show the beginnings of a national rebellion against extractive industry across the board. On July 28, anti-frackers from across the nation will gather in Washington D.C. for “Stop the Frack Attack,” the largest mobilization against fracking ever. In West Virginia, Appalachians and allies will stand together at the “Mountain Mobilization” and shut down an active strip mine the last week of July. In Montana,the “Coal Export Action”, a ten-day campaign of civil disobedience at the beginning of August will target coal shipments from strip mines in the Powder River Basin, overseas. And later in the month, Texas residents have called for the “Tar Sands Blockade” to block the recently approved southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.
More at the linkActivists from Marcellus Earth First! have erected a slash pile blockade and two tree... more
Our public lands, set aside for the American people and for generations to come are now seeing the influence of corporate money working to take them from us. This video series beginning on July 10 will explore three such instances in a fight to protect these lands from resource extraction. Uranium mining on the edges of the Grand Canyon, a proposed coal mine close to Bryce Canyon National Park and natural gas drilling in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Next Wednesday you can also watch a live stream of an event featuring a discussion of “The Status of American Conservation in 2012.”
Public lands need to be protected.
Hands off.Our public lands, set aside for the American people and for generations to come are... more
Raw Story tells us that the photo used for their article is "dirty orange air, via Shutterstock.com." Really? "Orange air?"
Despite the results of the poll, it seems like it was still a "push-poll" as a likely follow-up question was "do you believe that the earth is getting hotter?"
Americans no longer see climate change as the world’s number-one environmental issue, according to a public opinion poll released Tuesday amid an ongoing heat wave in much of the United States.
Twenty-nine percent cited water and air pollution as the most pressing concern, the Washington Post-Stanford University poll indicated, followed by 18 percent who pointed to climate change — way down from 33 percent in 2007.
More than 800 adults took part in the telephone survey between June 13 and 21, several days before record-setting temperatures unleashed fierce thunderstorms and left millions without power in many states.
While downgrading climate change, nearly three in four poll respondents said the Earth is warming, and just as many felt global temperatures will keep going up if nothing is done to address the matter.Raw Story tells us that the photo used for their article is "dirty orange air,... more