Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Land Out Of Step With Time: Mora County--The Sierran

A Land Out of Step With Time: Mora County

Kathleen Dudley


A land of beauty, clean air and water. A rare gem when “Nature today is considered a subsystem of the economy” yet “we cannot function without our ecosystems,” says Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef.

Unspoiled, Mora County sits at the brink of change; it is a land still possessing clean ecosystems few other lands hold intact.

Mora County sits atop a basin of extractable gases, according to the Ronald Broadhead Report, that at best supposes 3 percent total organic carbons (TOC) and on average less than 1 percent TOC. No doubt the low prices and small reserve protect both San Miguel and Mora Counties (they share this Las Vegas Basin) from natural-gas drilling today, yet as we have seen, industry raises prices at will, and we speculate do not halt their extraction until all their resources are withdrawn from beneath our feet, come hell or high water.

Unless … there is a change in direction.

Mora County has a new commission this year, and if its meetings are any indication of change in direction, this new leadership will pave the way for a refreshing model of possibilities in this land-based county rich in fertile land, clean water, air and abundant wildlife. Protecting these vital resources upon which the citizens depend for livelihood and a culture that predates corporate interests, commission chair Paula Garcia told a packed room at the March meeting “to not forget that while an economic development plan for Mora County is necessary, it must include holistic development, ‘whole measures,’ as indicators of health and wellbeing—the economic, human, spiritual and social wellbeing of the community,” she said. “Mora County has demonstrated that people live well here, in part, due to our culture.”

At a time when state and federal budgets are running in the red, there is little money to support counties such as Mora, whose needs far outweigh the tax revenue generated. But today is also not a time to tax the citizens further, the commission agreed. In spite of the shortfall from government agencies, citizens continue to move forward in innovative ways. A local nonprofit group, Collaborative Visions, has been working to develop the agricultural and sustainable living possibilities in the county, from organic agriculture to biomass fuels for heating the Mora County Courthouse complex.

Drilling Mora County, an educational and proactive citizen group, has provided Mora County citizens with defensible documents and test results reflecting recent baseline water-well testing for hydraulic fracturing chemicals should the oil industry begin fracking here.

Excitement over Community Rights Ordinances has become part of the local discussion in the county over the past few months based upon the courageous action taken by the Pittsburgh City Council in December 2010 to adopt a “Community Water Rights and Local Self-Government Ordinance” that prohibits industry from harming the citizens’ water or interfering with their right to making governing decisions on a local level.

The work by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund out of Pennsylvania is behind this ordinance and more than 120 such ordinances for communities across the United States that desire to protect their rights to clean air, land, water, and health from the ongoing egregious corporate activities that destroy ecosystems.

While battle is being waged elsewhere, Mora County citizens are weighing the consequences as seen in other communities. It is truly a time of preparedness, and Mora County is thoughtfully moving ahead as it always has, in time and pace with its knowing of Nature, and the heart and soul of the people. .

Maryland lawmakers vote to ban fracking

"We are not going to be like other states that drilled first and asked questions later,".....

Proactive protective stances take courage on the part of elected officials when it comes to standing up to corporations who are ready to take "all" for themselves, their board of directors, and shareholders, leaving travesty on the land for those living at "ground zero."

State representatives introducing protective bills, Community Rights Ordinances protecting water and local self governance, and an involved citizenry add up to an act of democracy that bears the fruit of not only a protected land, but the will of the people.

Drilling Mora County

By Brett Michael Dykes

Concerns continue to mount nationwide over the environmental hazards the natural gas industry may create via the controversial extraction process known as "fracking"--the fracturing of underground shale to access gas reserves. Cities have banned the practice, while energy investors are pressing natural gas companies to disclose more information on fracking. And in the latest legislative pushback, the Maryland House has voted to ban fracking in the state.

"We're not going to be like other states that drilled first and asked questions later," Maryland Delegate Heather R. Mizeur, the bill's sponsor, told the Washington Post. "We understand that second chances are expensive, so we should slow down and take the time to do this right the first time."
The bill's language restricts gas companies from drilling operations until the state's Department of the Environment completes a two-year study to evaluate potential fracking-related hazards to drinking water supplies and public health.

Maryland is among several northeastern states sitting atop the Marcellus Shale formation, which contains what geologists say is one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. New York and New Jersey, which also are above the Marcellus formation, recently instituted similar moratoriums, as did the city of Pittsburgh.

Five Stories on Water

What is the most precious and life-giving resource upon which all life is dependent?  And what will in time, cost more due to shortages?  Even more than natural gas and petroleum fuel for our vehicles?   Watch what is happening in Las Vegas, San Miguel County, where water is running low and management in this municipality fights the Acequia rights that pre-date city jurisdiction.

Drilling Mora County

Water rate hike on horizon
Mayor: Residents should prepare for 500 percent increase
By Martin Salazar
March 28, 2011

Customers on the city of Las Vegas water system should prepare to pay five times what they currently pay for water, Mayor Alfonso Ortiz is warning.

“The bottom line is people better expect a rate increase,” Ortiz said Thursday evening during a public meeting where city consultants outlined tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements being considered for the city’s water system....continued....

The city and the acequias
By Optic Editorial Board
March 22, 2011

Remember when the Las Vegas Community Water Board was formed a few years ago? One of the reasons given for its need was that the varying interests needed to resolve their differences without lawyers, and a non-governmental entity would be more likely to accomplish that.

To that end, give the water board credit for its role in resolving the differences between the city and the Storrie Lake Water Users Association. A mutually beneficial agreement was reached in 2009.....continued....

City water fight rages on:  Court: Legal case to move forward
By Martin Salazar
March 20, 2011

The ongoing fight between the city of Las Vegas and the acequias over water rights on the Rio Gallinas rages on, and the battleground right now appears to be the court of public opinion.

Acequia users in recent weeks have used the radio airwaves and the newspaper opinions page to spread their message. Wednesday evening, they went a step further, showing up at the City Council meeting and appealing to the city’s governing body to settle the dispute through mediation rather than litigation.....continued....

Acequias laud pact with city
By David Giuliani
June 28, 2009

William Gonzales says he and other farmers and ranchers have been working for years to get the city to sit down and talk about sharing water on the Gallinas River.

And, by his account, they weren’t invited to the table until last year.

Months of negotiations have resulted in a water-sharing agreement for this year. If it works out, it may be the basis for a permanent agreement....continued....

No water cutoff for Vegas
By David Giuliani
March 5, 2008

Because of public health and safety issues, the state won’t prevent the city of Las Vegas from taking water off the Gallinas River, a state official said Wednesday.

Linda Gordan, a district supervisor with the state engineer’s office, made that statement in response to complaints at a public meeting that the city was getting greater priority in using water from the Gallinas than more senior users such as acequias, or community-operated ditches....continued....

Ground Zero Law Firm Sues Over Colorado Drilling

"Antero has declined to comment, but it has previously denied their operations have harmed the family. Tests by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission found no indication of chemicals from the gas industry in their water well.
“We think that those tests are bogus, to be very honest,” said Bern, who said independent testing found air and water contamination."
This is a major event --
The New York law firm started their investigations in Colorado last summer, this is their first case involving natural gas drilling-- the firm has the capitol needed to finance the costly studies required to sustain a class action case -- a very important development if this succeeds.


By David Frey,
As gas drilling spreads across the country, more and more landowners are complaining -- and suing. A family on Colorado's Western Slope is being represented by the law firm that won an $800 million settlement for World Trade Center emergency responders.

A New York law firm that won a major settlement for World Trade Center rescue workers is representing residents of Colorado’s Western Slope who say their health has been impacted by the boom in oil and gas operations in the region.

The law firm Napoli Bern Ripka & Associates, along with the Aspen firm Thomas Genshaft, filed its first Western Slope lawsuit on Thursday, and attorneys say more will likely be forthcoming, including a possible class-action lawsuit.

The firms announced the first lawsuit in a press conference on the steps of the state capitol in Denver.

“We basically wanted to let them know that we’re establishing a lawsuit, that we’re very serious about it and that we are going to prosecute the case strongly,” said Corey Zurbuch, an attorney with Thomas Genshaft....continued.....

Poisoning the Wells

"Gas-related water pollution has turned farmer John Fenton into a reluctant activist. "I've met with people from all over the country. You might be in a different state, it might look different, the people might have a different accent, but the stories are the same... I just don't know when people are going to realize that you can't drink dirty water and you can't breathe dirty air. And once that stuff is messed up, it may never be fixable."

How a Small Wyoming Town Might Be the First to Prove its Water Damaged by Natural Gas Production
Despite the testimonies of the people living by gas drilling, the companies have yet to be held accountable for damages. That might change.

Poisoning the Wells
Fracking the Wind River Country
March 25th 2011

Pavillion, Wyoming.

Jeff and Rhonda Locker’s water changed abruptly one day in the mid-1990s while Rhonda was doing the laundry. A Denver-based gas company was working over an old well in back of their house, when the wash water turned black. “It happened just like that,” Jeff Locker says. “I stopped him and asked him what he did to our water, and of course he didn’t do anything to our water… It’s been bad ever since.”

Donna Meeks’ well water was so good, she used to haul it to town for the school office coffee pot. Neither she nor her husband Louis noticed anything wrong until her co-workers stopped drinking the coffee; it was 2004, and a Canadian company, EnCana, had just drilled a new well about 500 feet from the Meeks home. Some visiting friends later said they noticed the water tasted and smelled like gas, but didn’t want to be rude by saying anything about it.

John and Cathy Fenton had no reason to suspect there was anything wrong with their water—it tasted fine. But just to be neighborly, they went along with the Lockers, the Meeks, and other Pavillion-area residents when the Environmental Protection Agency came in 2009 for an initial round of testing. That’s when they found out that their family had been drinking water laced with methane. Follow-up tests a year later found a whole soup’s worth of semi-volatile organic compounds in the family’s stock well.

There’s something karmic about the possibility that Pavillion, Wyoming, might be the first community to prove its water damaged by natural gas production. .....continued.....

"GasLand"--Filmmaker: Corbett Aide is Despicable

"But instead of engaging in a real dialogue, Pennsylvania government and the gas industry have mounted successive attacks against the honest journalism of the film. I and my team have been branded terrorists, extremists, communists, traitors, liars and now, Nazis. Nazis!

Does slandering a documentary filmmaker as a Nazi constitute the level of dialogue the Corbett administration believes is good governance? Do you call someone a Nazi just because they don't agree with you?

Apparently, the whole world knows there is something terribly wrong with hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, except the dark cave of the Corbett administration.

New York has moved into a bi-partisan moratorium on fracking. Quebec has imposed a de-facto moratorium on shale drilling, the Maryland state house is on the verge of passing a similar moratorium; 20,000 protesters marched in France (in early March) against shale drilling. Australian farmers are locking their gates against gas exploration."

March 26, 2011
Times Guest Columnist

(The week of March 16) Teddy Borawski, chief oil and gas geologist for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and a member of Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, compared my Sundance-award-winning and Oscar-nominated documentary film "Gasland" to Nazi propaganda, stating, "Goebbels would be proud."

This hateful speech shows contempt for history, for truth, for science and sets a dangerous precedent in our state's government. Such mudslinging has no place in rational or adult debate on any topic, let alone the most important issue facing the state in decades - natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

When one speaks violence, he degrades himself and his fellow man. When that person represents the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, he violates the fabric of our civic trust. The Corbett administration has thrown the dialogue on Marcellus drilling into the gutter and it is it up to the Corbett administration to get it out.

I made "Gasland" out of a genuine care and love for the state of Pennsylvania. The film was designed to bring to light the extreme harm and danger of fracking for natural gas, as it was taking place across the nation.....continued....

Tackling Corporate Power, One Town at a Time: What’s a town to do when state regulatory agencies don’t keep corporate drilling out?

"Meanwhile, communities are finding that their state governments are legally authorizing corporations to conduct these activities [hydraulic fracturing]. Thus instead of helping communities to stop the drilling and its potentially toxic impacts, state governments—including environmental regulatory agencies—are actually issuing permits to corporations to drill."

"State agencies are following regulations established under state laws which legally authorize such activities. Communities are thus coming up against their own state governments when they’re trying to protect the local environment and public health. Natural gas drilling is proving no different."

Mari Margil
March 17th 2011
As more information about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," (a technique used during natural gas drilling) emerges, more and more cities and municipalities are organizing to keep drilling and fracking out of their own communities, but are surprised to find that they do not have the legal authority to say “no” to these corporate activities.

Last week, Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, with fewer than 2,500 residents, became the latest community to do something about this, adopting the state’s first ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling.

Drafted with the help of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, the ordinance comes on the heels of the City of Pittsburgh’s ordinance banning drilling by corporations, adopted in November. Both ordinances also eliminate the authority of corporations to wield their constitutional rights to override the municipality's wishes. Such constitutional rights and powers are often used by corporations to overturn local and state laws adopted to protect the environment and public health.
More and more communities are organizing to fight drilling and fracking, but are surprised to find that they do not have the legal authority to say “no” to these corporate activities.

A similar ordinance was recently introduced in Wales, New York; it comes up for a vote in April. If adopted, it would make Wales the first community in New York to restrict corporate rights and ban corporations from drilling.

Natural gas drilling and fracking—a technique now used in over ninety percent of gas wells—is spreading across the massive Marcellus Shale natural gas deposit, which stretches from Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and into Ohio, West Virginia, and Virginia.

Fracking involves injecting fresh water with sand and chemicals into the ground to fracture rock and release the gas. The result of fracking is millions of gallons of toxic wastewater, which finds its way into rivers and streams. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is asking the industry to voluntarily release the list of chemicals used; meanwhile use of the practice is increasing.

Meanwhile, communities are finding that their state governments are legally authorizing corporations to conduct these activities. Thus instead of helping communities to stop the drilling and its potentially toxic impacts, state governments—including environmental regulatory agencies—are actually issuing permits to corporations to drill.

Can local laws really have an effect on big corporations?....continued....

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Megaloads, Water Company:Ordinances Help Local Communities Fend off Corporations

"Communities are no longer accepting that they don't have the authority to say ‘no' to megaloads, or drilling, mining, water withdrawals," said Mari Margil, CELDF associate director. "Instead, through legally binding law, they're defining what their communities will look like, and necessarily removing the authority of state and corporations to override the community's self-governing authority."

"It doesn't seem like we have democracy in our community." So CELDF steps in, helps people understand why the current structure of law makes it so, and its organizers work with communities to challenge the existing structure and assert their right to self govern."

"The protections in it [Community rights ordinance] are layered: It bans the unwanted projects; it invalidates state permits granted in violation of the local ordinance; and it states private companies can't use their corporate constitutional rights to override the will of the community.

 March 20, 2011
Last year, ExxonMobil publicly reared its head in Montana with a plan to shoehorn 200 megaloads onto U.S. Highway 12. Since then, the Carlyle Group announced the pending purchase of the California company that owns Mountain Water in Missoula.

Activism is alive and well here, and Missoulians are writing letters, signing petitions and marching in the streets. In City Hall, Mayor John Engen is getting emails calling for the city of Missoula to buy Mountain Water.

On the other end of town, in the wee hours of March 10, hundreds of activists temporarily plugged Reserve Street when the first megaloads rolled through Missoula - these big rigs belonging to ConocoPhillips. But the giant trucks passed anyway, just as they had inched along the federally protected highway along the Lochsa River....continued.....

Drafting Nature's Constitution: Simply regulating pollution will never really stop it

Mari Margil of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) --   discusses why we need a fundamental change in the way we use law to protect nature.

Mari Margil
March 2nd 2011
The environmental movement, with its army of professional advocates, lawyers, grassroots campaigners, and dedicated funders, has been around for decades. Yet nearly every biological indicator shows a planet in crisis—and poised to unravel faster as climate change disrupts already-shaky ecosystem functions.

Mari Margil, associate director of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) believes it's time for different tactics. The nonprofit agency used to work within the body of existing environmental law—helping impacted residents file lawsuits or appeal corporate permits—to protect communities from environmental damage. But a series of blocked efforts, often made worse by the very agencies meant to protect the environment, convinced the group that more fundamental changes were necessary.

"Our system of environmental laws and regulations don't actually protect the environment," says CLEDF's Mari Margil. "At best, they merely slow the rate of its destruction ... We weren't helping anyone protect anything."

The organization has since changed its goals, working with citizens from all over North and South America to literally rewrite local laws in ways that allow people to speak up for their communities, watersheds, forests, and air.

According to Margil, anemic environmental laws spring from the fact that nature has no constitutional rights. CLEDF has taken a local approach to reversing this structural blind spot, drafting ordinances for townships from New England to Pennsylvania to Washington State that:

    * Give communities legal authority to say "No" to unwanted corporate activities;
    * Recognize the rights of nature;
    * Strip corporations of their constitutional rights.

In one landmark victory, the town of Barnstead, New Hampshire, voted 135 to 1 to ban the privatization of their freshwater by encroaching corporate interests—the first community in the nation to do so. Other towns have followed, stripping corporations of the rights of personhood and recognizing the rights of communities to self-govern. In 2008, with legal advice from CELDF, Ecuador recognized the right of nature to exist and persist in its national constitution.

Cattle vs. Conoco: How Gas Fields are Crowding out New Mexico Ranchers

March 24th, 2011
Blanco, New Mexico.

Chris Velasquez sees the impacts of gas development in the San Juan Basin of northern New Mexico through the eyes of a rancher, and those of a man whose roots in this country pre-date both the gas rigs and the arrival of Anglos.

He and his dad ran cattle, until recently, on a grazing allotment called the Rosa, rolling high desert lands punctuated by bluffs and arroyos, ringed by mesas, adjacent to the Carson National Forest on the east, the Southern Ute reservation to the north, and bordered on the west by Navajo Lake. In a way, it’s what’s left of Velasquez’ ancestral homeland. “We used to live where the Pine River and the San Juan meet up here, then when they built the lake, it either was drown or move,” he says. In 1962, the Bureau of Reclamation completed a dam stretching three-quarters of a mile across the San Juan River. The idea was to control flooding and provide irrigation water for the Navajo tribe. It also displaced Velasquez’ community. “All my ancestor’s on my mom’s side, well on my dad’s side too, came from right up here,” he says. “My grandpa and my grandma on my mom’s side, they were the second farm below the dam. They got chased out too. From right here on, all the people who lived here—they were all Spanish people—relocated. Threw them to the four winds. Scattered them all over the place.”...continued....

Germany’s solar

"Regardless, Japan's facing rolling blackouts until next Winter, and it's undeniable that if the country had more distributed power generation like Germany's roof-based solar PV system, the entire country would be much more resilient in the face of catastrophe."

Today, the Japan's government is turning to natural gas imports rather than to green energy.

by Christopher Mims
22 Mar 2011
Germany is the world leader in installed solar photovoltaic panels -- and they also just shut down seven of their oldest nuclear reactors. Coincidence? Maaaaybe ... Anyway, it's worth noting that just today, total power output of Germany's installed solar PV panels hit 12.1 GW -- greater than the total power output (10 GW) of Japan's entire 6-reactor nuclear power plant.

Now before the trolls come out, let me just note that 12.1 GW is max power (the output whose name you'd love to touch). The panels generated that much at one instant in time -- when the sun was at its apex -- but of course solar power production varies with the weather and the time of day. To find out how much energy those panels generated today in total, you'd have to calculate the area under that curve in the lower right hand corner. (Which, come to think of it, we should probably use as the CAPTCHA on the comment field on this post.)

Regardless, Japan's facing rolling blackouts until next Winter, and it's undeniable that if the country had more distributed power generation like Germany's roof-based solar PV system, the entire country would be much more resilient in the face of catastrophe.

Revisiting the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill--New York Times

"Q. When you read the news reports last past week from Japan, what were your feelings?

A. It’s odd that you would ask me this — I’ve been thinking about it. No one can prevent earthquakes. That’s up to Mother Nature.

However, building nuclear power plants on an island adjacent to an active tectonic zone is inherently dangerous. Likewise, deepwater drilling into gas-overcharged sediments is dangerous. For me, both of these disasters are a very loud plea for green energy."

March 21, 2011

Until a year ago, the marine scientist Samantha Joye studied a fairly obscure natural phenomenon: the seepage of oil from undersea deposits into deepwater environments. Then, in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon accident, she felt compelled to turn her attention to an unnatural phenomenon: oil spills.

It was her research group that went into the Gulf of Mexico immediately after the spill, in April 2010, and found those famous plumes of oil and natural gas. Now Dr. Joye, 45, of the University of Georgia, directs a team seeking to understand the long-term effects on the chemistry and creatures of the gulf.

We spoke for two hours last month in Washington, where she lectured at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and then again on the telephone last week. An edited version of the two conversations follows:...continued.....

Bill Wades into Coal-Bed Methane, Water Dispute-Durango Herald

Joe Hanel
March 21, 2011 

DENVER – Lawmakers moved quickly Monday to strengthen the state’s legal defense against Southwest Colorado ranchers who have sued to protect their water rights from natural-gas and oil drilling.

House Bill 1286 raises the legal standard the ranchers will need to prove to win their lawsuits against State Engineer Dick Wolfe. Last year, Wolfe drew maps that showed which gas and oil wells needed to get water permits and which ones could drill without going to court to fight about who owns the water.

Natural Gas Now Viewed as Safer Bet--The New York Times

"Meanwhile, natural gas has overcome two of its biggest hurdles — volatile prices and questionable supplies."

“At the end of the day, when you look at the risk-reward equation, natural gas comes out as a winner,” said Lawrence J. Goldstein, an economist at the Energy Policy Research Foundation. “It’s a technical knockout.”

What this reporter fails to put into the equation are the alternative renewable energy alternatives, solar and wind, which have had little to no attention by our federal or state governmental agencies as they rush to support corporate development of oil and gas markets along with "clean" nuclear.

It is time to broaden the equation to look at the entire community at what really is at stake. If we racket down from a nuclear meltdown, and look at the health risks from air emissions and water contamination alone from natural gas development (drilling & hydraulic fracturing), it becomes clear that neither of these options are acceptable.  What really is being ignored is the impact to LIFE!  The blinding by this massive push to support the fossil fuel industry's control sets a precarious path for those that follow it--radio active contamination in water from natural gas development and radio active contamination in water from Japan's nuclear reactors.  Which would you prefer?

Drilling Mora County

March 21, 2011
Natural gas may be having its day, as its rival energy sources come under a cloud.

A natural gas cargo ship about to berth in Taichung, Taiwan. Analysts are anticipating a new boom in gas consumption.

The serious problems at the nuclear power plant in Japan have raised new doubts about the safety of nuclear energy. New exploration has yet to resume in the Gulf of Mexico after last year’s blowout of a BP oil well. And coal plants have been under a shadow because of their contribution to global warming.

Meanwhile, natural gas has overcome two of its biggest hurdles — volatile prices and questionable supplies. In large part because of new discoveries in the United States and abroad that have significantly increased known reserves, natural gas prices have been relatively low in the last two years.....continued.....

Friday, August 19, 2011

Baldwin Borough Adopts Community Rights Ordinance That Bans “Fracking”

“We are proud that another community in Allegheny County has taken a  stand for Constitutional Rights, and we think this can only help in  getting other communities on board.”  -- Aaron Booz

 (Baldwin, PA) Tuesday, June 21th, the Baldwin Borough Council voted 5-1  to adopt a community rights ordinance that bans the corporate extraction  of natural gas. The Ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for the Baldwin community and imposes the prohibition as a protection of those  rights.

 The Ordinance was drafted by the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and taken up as a rallying point by members of the community, who took it to Council. The Ordinance prohibits “any individual or corporation to engage in the extraction of natural gas” with the exception of gas wells installed and operating at the time of enactment of the Ordinance.  
The Ordinance also includes a local “bill of rights” that asserts legal protections for the right to water; the rights of natural communities; the right to local self-government; the right to a sustainable energy future, and the right of the people to enforce and protect these rights through their municipal government.

The law was modeled after the CELDF Ordinance adopted on November 16th of  last year by the City of Pittsburgh. Similar ordinances have been enacted  by Mountain Lake Park, Maryland, West Homestead PA, Licking Township PA,  Wales NY and have been introduced as bills by communities in  Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.

 Council members Michael Stelmasczyk,, John Conley, and John Ferris  brought the Ordinance to the floor for a vote at the urging of concerned  community residents. At their April 19th Council meeting the question of  zoning or banning the gas extraction process known as “fracking” was  discussed.  Borough Solicitor Stanley Lederman noted that any action  taken by council would most probably be challenged in the courts and  suggested that a ban would be more protective of the community. Council  member Stelmasczyk commented that the state “has dropped the ball” on  this issue.   

The gas extraction technique known as “fracking” has been cited as a  threat to surface and ground water throughout the region, and has been  blamed for fatal explosions, the contamination of drinking water, local  streams, the air and soil. Collateral damage includes lost property value, ingestion of toxins by livestock, drying up of mortgage loans for  prospective home buyers, and threatened loss of organic certification for  farmers in the affected communities.

After the vote, community resident Aaron Booz commented , “We are proud  that another community in Allegheny County has taken a stand for  Constitutional Rights, and we think this can only help in getting other  communities on board.” 

That sentiment was echoed by Mel Packer, an organizer with Marcellus  Protest, who said “Sure is wonderful to find some elected officials who  can see thru all the propaganda and threats of the energy companies.”

 Eric Belcastro, Community Organizer with CELDF spoke to the Council  before the vote, emphasizing the Civil Rights focus of the ordinance and  explaining that it does not attempt to regulate how much state-permitted  fracking damage will be legal in the Borough.  Rather, it puts into  practice the fundamental rights that belong to every member of the community, and it makes real the oaths taken by each member of Council  who swore to “protect the health, safety and welfare” of the community.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, headquartered in  Chambersburg, has been working with people in Pennsylvania since 1995 to  assert their fundamental rights to democratic local self-governance, and  to enact laws which end destructive and rights-denying corporate action  aided and abetted by state and federal governments.

Resistance to Gas Drilling Rises on Unlikely Soil

 April 23, 2011
In Fort Worth, opposition to natural gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has emerged.

FORT WORTH — Texans pride themselves on being the heart of the nation’s oil and gas business. But even here, public concern about natural gas drilling is growing.

Expanded coverage of Texas is produced by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit news organization. To join the conversation about this article, go to

Opposition has also grown in Southlake.

On Wednesday, several dozen protesters marched through downtown Fort Worth, waving signs and chanting anti-drilling slogans that reflected concern over air and water pollution....continued....

3,000 protest against fracking in Quebec

If the people in Quebec can get a protest of 3,000, why not New Mexico?!!!!  The electorate has power to change the world--certainly the unjust laws. Let us take back our inalienable rights to clean air, clean water, our health and safety.  And not allow state or federal government and corporate industry continue to decide what happens in our communities.  We are lawful under the State Constitution and the federal Constitution to control our local governing.  Let us exercise our rights.  Industry certainly is.  And look what the playing field looks like after 225 years of industry extraction.  Not a pretty sight.

Drilling Mora County

Montreal - About 3 000 people marched on Saturday to call for an end in Quebec to shale gas exploitation and a technique known as "fracking" that has triggered strong opposition from environmental groups.

The demonstrators marched through downtown Montreal, chanting slogans against drilling.

"Quebec should take a turn for renewable energy, especially new energy sources which are green," said Amir Khadir, a member of the provincial assembly who came on bicycle to join the protest and has organised a petition against shale gas exploitation that has gathered 100 000 signatures.....continued....

Uintah drilling agreement could worsen basin's ozone problem

"The Bureau of Land Management will allow a major natural gas drilling project in northeast Utah to proceed despite the fact that emissions from thousands of new gas wells could exacerbate wintertime air pollution in the state's Uintah Basin.

Under a much-touted agreement rolled out last week, Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp., will be allowed to drill up to 3,675 new natural gas wells inside a nearly 163,000-acre section of BLM land. In addition to the new wells, the project calls for the construction of 760 miles of new roads, 1,400 miles of buried and surface pipelines and seven miles of electrical power lines."

Is there any confusion that the environment, people and wild animals are held hostage by the oil industries?  Do you have the power in this country to say "no" to this egregious industrial impact?  Do you have the power to refuse this industrial pollution in your community that is contributing to global warming, rising asthma rates and failing health in our children?  What power do you have?  Perhaps a "People and Ecosystem Movement" that constitutes a revolution to take back our rights to clean air, clean water, our health and safety.  What is there to lose?

Scott Streater
June 16, 2011
The Bureau of Land Management will allow a major natural gas drilling project in northeast Utah to proceed despite the fact that emissions from thousands of new gas wells could exacerbate wintertime air pollution in the state's Uintah Basin.

Under a much-touted agreement rolled out last week, Houston-based Anadarko Petroleum Corp., will be allowed to drill up to 3,675 new natural gas wells inside a nearly 163,000-acre section of BLM land. In addition to the new wells, the project calls for the construction of 760 miles of new roads, 1,400 miles of buried and surface pipelines and seven miles of electrical power lines.

In exchange for permits to build the Greater Natural Buttes Area Gas Development Project, Anadarko subsidiary Kerr-McGee Oil & Gas Onshore LP has committed to a number of pollution reduction strategies designed to significantly reduce its impact to regional air quality.

The terms of the agreement, which BLM developed alongside U.S. EPA, are outlined in a supplement to a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) on the drilling project released last year. The deal is open for public comment through June 25, and is expected to be incorporated into a final EIS later this year.

But the agreement represents more than a single bold stroke for one company seeking to expand its footprint in an environmentally sensitive landscape like the Uintah Basin....continued....