Tuesday, December 27, 2011

How a Small Wyoming Town Might Be the First to Prove its Water Damaged by Natural Gas Production

Andrea Peacock,
March 25, 2011  |

Despite the testimonies of the people living by gas drilling, the companies have yet to be held accountable for damages. That might change.

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. While water literally is life everywhere in the arid West, here it's the epicenter for deep social and political divisions.


Gas Company Financing is Preventing Residents From Getting Mortgages

EXCERPT:
"The mortgage is technically on the mineral rights, but it has to be filed on the property," Ward said. "In the courthouse, there is no separation (between the mineral rights on the one hand, and the land and buildings on the other). So unless you've separated your property, it's just one deed."

"For some people [those who want mortgages], it has started to cause some issues, because, for one, they were not notified of this, so the first time they find out about it is when they go to the bank because they need to put a mortgage on their home to get a little cash, and the bank says to them, 'By the way, you are fully mortgaged to the hilt. There is no way we can give you a mortgage.'"


COMMENT:
This is something the 'landman' and the gas companies don't tell you about when they offer to 'lease' your mineral/gas/oil rights. This is NOT a lease, but a transfer of sub-surface real estate. ie: a corporate land grab.

For folks who have leased their mineral rights, mortgages are not an option.


JAMES LOEWENSTEIN
August 1, 2011
TOWANDA - Chesapeake Energy Corp. recently mortgaged the mineral rights on over 1,000 properties in Bradford County, which in at least a couple of cases has prevented property owners from taking out a mortgage on their homes, a former Standing Stone secretary/treasurer said.

Diane Ward, the former secretary/treasurer of Standing Stone Township, brought up the matter at the most recent meeting of the Bradford County commissioners.

Chesapeake has mortgaged the mineral rights on over 1,000 properties on which it has a gas lease in Bradford County, in order to fund its drilling operations, Ward told the commissioners.


She said that many local property owners aren't aware that Chesapeake can mortgage the mineral rights on their properties.

"For some people, it has started to cause some issues, because, for one, they were not notified of this, so the first time they find out about it is when they go to the bank because they need to put a mortgage on their home to get a little cash, and the bank says to them, 'By the way, you are fully mortgaged to the hilt. There is no way we can give you a mortgage.'"

She said that local banks need to realize that the mortgages are only on the mineral rights, so that the banks will continue to give out mortgages to local residents....continued....

Greetings From "Frackistan"

EXCERPT:
"Up and down the Rockies, in Texas, across much of the northeast, and perhaps soon in your community, engaged citizens are coming together to prevent the harms of rampant gas development. Like activists across the country, they are motivated, creative, persistent.  But they are fighting with a half-empty toolbox."


COMMENT:
The "regulatory system" by which industry is permitted by the state government, does not allow citizens to say "no" to development within their communities such as natural gas/"fracking" and gives citizens less than a "half-empty toolbox." This system permits industrial harm and citizens are powerless to say "no." They must accept a "sacrifice" zone which grows in leaps and bounds once industry has their legalized right (permit) to drill within the community.

But look at the City Counsel of Pittsburgh who passed a Community Rights Ordinance in 2010 that protects the citizen's right to clean water, air, land and to their health and safety and prohibits corporations from harming those rights.  And most importantly, this Ordinance gives the elected officials the power to decide what development will take place within their city.  The Counsel banned natural gas development/"fracking!"  This right to local self governance gives the citizens and the elected officials a "full toolbox."

Check out the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) and walk this walk, talk this talk, with a "full toolbox."  Let us "push back" against the corporate red carpet that is paving our communities through federal and state government recognition of corporate rights over those of the People!  In solidarity,


22 JULY 2011,
Trip Van Noppen

Last week,  I sat with just such a group in Gunnison County, Co., a beautiful place in the mountains that is confronting rapidly expanding  drilling and fracking for gas. People took time away from work and family to gather and talk about what to do.

Fruit growers are concerned that the contaminated waste water from fracking will damage their crops
 Parents worry about the quality of the air and whether Gunnison will become like Farmington, New Mexico and Pinedale, Wyoming – small towns in the west plagued by some of the worst air quality in the nation because of intensive gas production.

Local business people don’t want to lose the county’s treasured mountains and streams that make Gunnison a recreation destination.

They have good reason to be concerned.

They know about health studies showing toxic contaminants in the air at fracking sites, the reported episodes of chemical poisoning, the flaming water faucets, exploding houses, and fish kills.
They don’t want their community to become like the intensely drilled area to the south, the San Juan Basin, which has been so decimated by gas development that they refer to it as “Frackistan.”...continued.....

Let the People Decide: Pittsburgh City Initiative

EXCERPT:
"A majority vote in the affirmative will mean that Pittsburgh makes history by taking a stand for Community Rights over corporate privilege, once again."

Just as a constitutional amendment is much stronger than a statute passed by Congress, this proposed amendment will strengthen the voice of the people by putting it directly into the Charter:

"Should the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter be amended to add Section 104 “The City of Pittsburgh Bill of Rights”, which enumerates the right to water, the rights of natural communities, the right to a sustainable energy future, and the right to self-government, and which secures those rights by banning corporate gas extraction within the Cityand subordinating corporate rights to the rights of Pittsburgh residents?”

Councilman Doug Shields:  “On matters of such importance how can you not go to the people for their advice and consent?  That is something the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania  forgot to do. . . When corporate special interests outweigh people’s rights, well, then where do we go from here? Throughout history, democracy has served us well.  I hope we continue to embrace that concept and let people govern themselves."

Mrs. Harris went on to say that “the Solicitor even goes so far as to say that property owner rights to enjoy their property would fall on the side of drilling rather than banning drilling, and that they might sue. The fear of such suits should not deter us from letting the citizens of Pittsburgh vote on this legislation. The fear of death or degrading of our life, health, and property is much more important.  This one is for the children.  It’s their future, and we have to get it right.”

COMMENT:
When unjust lawmaking deprives the citizens of clean water, air, land and local self government to determine what takes place within their own communities, it is possible to take justice into our own hands and create just laws----"thank you" City of Pittsburgh Councilmen for showing the country how to what we did not know was possible!

August 1, 2011
CONTACT: Ben Price, (717) 254-3233
benprice@celdf.org

(Tuesday, August 2, 2011) On Monday,August 1st, Pittsburgh City Council, by a vote of 6-3, approved the placing of a referendum question on the November ballot that will allow City residents to amend the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter. The proposed amendment includes a Community Bill of Rights, and a ban on extraction of“natural” gas within the City to protect those rights. Council members voting in favor of the measure were Burgess, Harris, Kraus, Peduto, Rudiak and Shields. Voting against the measure were Dowd, Kail-Smith and Lavelle.

Councilman Burgess, who had abstained from voting the measure out of Committee on July 27th, indicated that no matter what reservations he may have about the amendment, voting his conscience and principles meant that Council should leave it to the People to decide. His vote created a veto-proof majority for the measure, which is significant since the mayor has indicated he may chose to use his veto power to strike the ballot question.  However,the Mayor has ten days in which to sign, veto, or let slide any legislation.  If he waits the full ten days, it will be past the date when the Division of Elections must have the referendum to put it on the ballot.  Council President Darlene Harris has requested in a letter to him that the Mayor act early.  There is no guarantee that he will do so. If he decides not to act, the measure might not appear on this coming election’s ballot....continued...www.celdf.org

Thoughts on Norway, Oil and the Berserker: Affluence, the Tragedy Reminds Us, is No Defence Against Extremism

EXCERPT:
"And in a strange sort of way, it was oil money and easy living that set the scene for the bloody drama that brought thousands of immigrants from Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan to Norway's shores. And it was this migration, sometimes motivated by the search for cheap labour and sometimes by do-gooderism, that led 20 per cent of the Norwegian electorate to vote for the right-wing Progress Party last election.

And so bad things can happen to a people blessed and cursed with oil. Arrogance can blind a people, too. And affluence is no defence against extremism. Nor is petroleum any guarantor of anything other than greater complexity and vulnerability."


COMMENT:
This is a tale of how culture, health, community, and values are destroyed by the hunger for money......


Andrew Nikiforuk,
27 Jul 2011

•  Geography, scarcity and then oil, have defined the Norwegian ethic.

•  Norway Nightmare Sounds Alarm Bells in Europe

I grew up in a Nordic household and I am a Son of Norway. So when I learned of the bombing in Oslo and the massacre of young Norwegians, a part of me felt as numb as frostbite. Horror does that to a parent: it freezes the soul.

I also immediately knew that only a Norwegian could be the author of something so dark and cold. And Steig Larson, the Swedish journalist and thriller writer, would have known it too, if he still lived. He understood how comfort and self-satisfaction can write bloody disasters and spawn Nordic monsters.

Now everyone has heard the cliché: Norway is a small and peaceful country inhabited by a generous people with Lutheran reading habits and a sense of humor that could, as the Swedes say, benefit from a massive dose of Vitamin D therapy. It's the sort of treed place where people pay big taxes so that everyone can live well. Or at least not suffer much.

It is also a small nation (five million people) both blessed and cursed by oil. In 1969 the discovery of large offshore reserves dramatically changed Norway's fortunes and character. Despite the best of intentions and some of the world's most thoughtful public policy, petro dollars bedeviled and softened the place as only oil can do.

And in a strange sort of way, it was oil money and easy living that set the scene for the bloody drama that brought thousands of immigrants from Iraq, Somalia and Pakistan to Norway's shores. And it was this migration, sometimes motivated by the search for cheap labour and sometimes by do-gooderism, that led 20 per cent of the Norwegian electorate to vote for the right-wing Progress Party last election. And it was these very developments that ultimately served as an excuse for the fatherless and affluent video-game player Anders Breivik, a member of the Progress Party and a climate change denier to boot, to behave like some berserker. (Berserkers, "tasters of blood," were Viking warriors who fought combatants or slaughtered innocents in a trance-like state.)

Before oil

Now before oil, Norway was a nation of hardy sardine canners, ship builders, and small farmers. It also made a creative impression on the world. It nurtured Edvard Greig one of the world's finest composer, Knut Hamsen, the father of the modern novel, and Henrik Ibsen, perhaps the best playwright since Shakespeare. You can't walk down the main street of Oslo without stepping on Ibsen quotes embedded in the pavement. (Ibsen famously noted that a man can't wear good pants when fighting for the truth.)

After oil, Norway lost much of its creativity but still produced some remarkable petroleum critics. Gro Harlem Bruntland, Norway's first female prime minister and one of Brievik's targets (she left the island one hour before the killing began) gave the world a bold recipe for sustainable development that unfortunately became a global chorus for business as usual. It also fathered Arne Naess, the mountaineering green philosopher who argued that humans don't have the right to reduce the world's biological diversity.

An Inside Look at What Happens When Gas Drillers Are Exempt from Environmental Law:

May 6, 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.....

EPA Releases New Air Quality Rules for Drillers

EXCERPT:
"A package of air quality standards proposed today by U.S. EPA would require the oil and gas industry to cut its emissions to protect people from smog, cancer-causing chemicals and climate change -- and would also save drillers millions of dollars per year, the agency said."

COMMENT:
Now that there is acknowledgement that the oil and gas industry's air pollution causes cancer, the  Environmental Protection Agency is proposing some air quality standards.  Will the standards take into account multiple wells or will the standards relate to individual wells as is currently the case?  Whatever happened to the "Protection" rather than remediation on the part of the EPA?

Gabriel Nelson

July 28, 2011

A package of air quality standards proposed today by U.S. EPA would require the oil and gas industry to cut its emissions to protect people from smog, cancer-causing chemicals and climate change -- and would also save drillers millions of dollars per year, the agency said.

The four rules, which would need to be finalized by the end of February 2012 under a settlement with environmentalists, include new limits on both volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic emissions. EPA says the standards would cut smog-forming VOCs across the industry by 25 percent and toxics by about 30 percent, and as a side benefit, would cut methane -- a potent greenhouse gas -- by about 26 percent.

At a time when the Obama administration is taking fire from business groups that claim its environmental rules are too costly, the new standards were touted as saving money for the oil industry by forcing companies to do more to keep natural gas from escaping into the air.

The rules would cost businesses an estimated $754 million in 2015, but the natural gas and condensate that would be captured by new pollution controls could be sold for $783 million, the agency's analysis shows....continued.....

Quakes Push Arkansas to Limit Gas-Waste Wells

BEN CASSELMAN
July 26th 2011

Arkansas regulators are expected Tuesday to order the closure of some underground storage facilities that natural-gas drillers use to dispose of contaminated water because of concerns they are causing earthquakes.

The ban would only affect part of the state and wouldn't stop drilling in the Fayetteville Shale gas field there. But it highlights how water issues—including the disposal of waste tied to the controversial hydraulic fracturing process—have emerged as a major challenge for the oil and gas industry across the U.S.

Hydraulic fracturing, known as "fracking," involves injecting water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground to break up oil-and-gas-bearing ...

Oregon LNG terminal plans reverse from importing to exporting gas

EXCERPT:
"If natural gas producers and LNG terminal backers have their way, Oregon could become a significant hub in exporting domestic gas to Asia, joining a nationwide push that could have a meaningful -- and according to critics, disastrous -- impact on the price of natural gas for U.S. consumers.

With domestic reserve estimates surging because of successful drilling in tight shale formations, gas producers and terminal developers are pushing hard to export what they describe as surplus gas."

"This is the bastard marriage of our oil industry and the financial industry," said Paul Sansone, a former energy company executive and LNG opponent who lives in Gales Creek. "All along, the goal has been getting gas to be like oil; to break up these regional markets and have a world price so they can speculate on it."

 "I am already on record opposing the export of natural gas from Alaska," said Sen. Ron Wyden in an e-mailed statement. "I have the same concerns today that exporting natural gas will benefit gas companies at the expense of the American consumer."

COMMENT:
To further compound the damage to American's rights, industry and the U.S. government call citizens "unpatriotic" who oppose natural gas development. Today, we see the full intentions of industry and our government.....to become the world's largest natural gas exporter.  This has nothing to do with patriotism, but everything to do with money.  The ruse of "patriotism" that is being used to hush "the people" from speaking out and stepping up to stop the damaging drilling that is destroying the last vestiges of land and polluting our water is yet another act making history wherein Earth's resources are for the "taking" by those in power.

It is time to act, in solidarity!



July 16, 2011
 Ted Sickinger

Two years ago, energy companies trying to build terminals to import liquefied natural gas to Oregon laughed at the notion of using their projects instead to export burgeoning supplies of U.S. and Canadian gas to lucrative markets in Asia.

The idea, LNG backers said, was a conspiracy theory concocted by environmentalists and landowners who didn't want pipelines laid across public and private lands.

Today, those opponents can safely remove their tinfoil hats.

If natural gas producers and LNG terminal backers have their way, Oregon could become a significant hub in exporting domestic gas to Asia, joining a nationwide push that could have a meaningful -- and according to critics, disastrous -- impact on the price of natural gas for U.S. consumers.

 With domestic reserve estimates surging because of successful drilling in tight shale formations, gas producers and terminal developers are pushing hard to export what they describe as surplus gas.
 Two LNG terminals on the Gulf Coast have already applied for -- and in one case received -- regulatory approval to retrofit their idle facilities for export. In British Columbia, energy companies are contemplating multiple liquefaction terminals to export gas produced from that province's shale formations.

Those same trends could breathe new life back into Oregon's LNG proposals -- projects that many left for dead due to collapsing domestic gas prices and stiff local opposition....continued.....

This American Life" series on natural gas and the impacts this fossil fuel extraction is having on the world

Game Changer
Originally aired 07.08.2011
A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, to discover that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to revolutionize how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. Two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences. (Transcript)


PROLOGUE:
Host Ira Glass tells the stories of two professors, each making a calculation that no one had made before. One gets acclaim. One ends up out of a job. The first, Terry Engelder, a geologist at Penn State, was estimating the amount of natural gas that's recoverable from the Marcellus shale, a giant rock formation that's under Pennsylvania and several other Eastern states. The second, Conrad "Dan" Volz, at the University of Pittsburgh, estimated how much toxic crap—chemicals and pollution from gas exploration—might be getting into water supplies. (6 1/2 minutes)

Act One. You've Got Shale.
Producer Sarah Koenig continues the story Terry Engelder and Dan Volz, their rival calculations about natural gas in Pennsylvania, and how each was treated by his university. She explains how Pennsylvania's universities, politicans and industry have united to develop natural gas. Other states have been more cautious. (26 1/2 minutes)


Act Two. Ground War.
Sarah takes us to Mt. Pleasant, PA, where a gas exploration company called Range Resources has leased 95% of the township's land. This led to a standoff between Mt. Pleasant and Range, starting with zoning disputes and ending in a full scale PR war—a war in which the town was seriously outgunned. (23 1/2 minutes)

PART V--USDA Attacks Rural America with Smart Meters



By Barbara H. Peterson
July 2011

Farm Wars
On June 9, 2011, the Obama Administration Established the “White House Rural Council to Strengthen Rural Communities” via Executive Order. “Strengthening Rural Communities” is the spin. The real issue is control. Rural communities are where food is grown, and control of food is a main priority for the New World Order.

So, who is in charge of this Council? Why the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack, of course!

Sec. 3. Membership. (a) The Secretary of Agriculture shall serve as the Chair of the Council… (PDF of E.O.)

Just what is this new Rural Council?

The White House Rural Council will coordinate programs across government to encourage public-private partnerships to promote further economic prosperity and quality of life in rural communities nationwide. Chaired by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the Council will be responsible for
providing recommendations for investment in rural areas and will coordinate Federal engagement with a variety of rural stakeholders, including agricultural organizations, small businesses, and state, local, and tribal governments.

PART IV--Who is in Charge of Your Local Community?

EXCERPTS:

"Today the World Health Organization/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B). This is the same classification used for lead, and DDT and EMF’s from power lines.

Cell phones, SMART METERS, cell towers, DECT and other cordless phones, baby monitors and other wireless devices all emit non-ionizing radiofrequency radiation.  Governments and decision makers can no longer hide behind the “no RF health effects” industry mantra."


"On July 5, 2011, a federal district court judge in New Mexico ruled that the Telecommunications Act preempts the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), even if such an interpretation would "condemn a class of citizens to death because of their disability." He further ruled that the Telecommunications Act supercedes the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."
 

by Arthur Firstenberg, Santa Fe

PART III--IARC CLASSIFIES RADIO FREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS

The type of radiation emitted by both cell phones and smart meters has been linked to cancer by the World Health Organization (WHO), reversing its previous stance. Radio frequency (rf) radiation has been placed in the same category of carcinogens as lead, DDT, engine exhaust, pesticides, and chloroform. That means smart meters even more so as Hirsch reports smart meters to emit up to 160 times the whole body radiation compared to cell phones. (SMD)

IARC CLASSIFIES RADIO FREQUENCY ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS AS
POSSIBLY CARCINOGENIC TO HUMANS

31 May 2011
Lyon, France, May 31, 2011 ‐‐ The WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer1, associated with wireless phone use.

Over the last few years, there has been mounting concern about the possibility of adverse health effects resulting from exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields, such as those emitted by wireless communication devices. The number of mobile phone subscriptions is estimated at 5 billion globally.

From May 24–31 2011, a Working Group of 31 scientists from 14 countries has been meeting at IARC in Lyon, France, to assess the potential carcinogenic hazards from exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields. These assessments will be published as Volume 102 of the IARC Monographs, which will be the fifth volume in this series to focus on physical agents, after Volume 55 (Solar Radiation), Volume 75 and Volume 78 on ionizing radiation (X‐rays, gamma‐rays, neutrons, radio‐nuclides), and Volume 80 on non‐ionizing radiation (extremely low‐frequency electromagnetic fields).

The IARC Monograph Working Group discussed the possibility that these exposures might induce long‐term health effects, in particular an increased risk for cancer. This has relevance for public health, particularly for users of mobile phones, as the number of users is large and growing, particularly among young adults and children.
The IARC Monograph Working Group discussed and evaluated the available literature on the following exposure categories involving radio frequency electromagnetic fields:

Does the WHO Decision Pertain to Smart Meters?  SCIENTIST WARNS OF SMART METER DANGERS, JULY 9, 2011

Part II: Who is In Charge of Your Health? Corporations, the state, or YOU?

COMMENT:
This Spring, La Jicarita Coopertive in Mora County began a county-wide installation of their new "smart" meter program for their fiber optics upgrade.  At a town meeting in Wagon Mound, their spokespersons explained the advantages of faster internet to a town of 300 residents who average about 1% on computer/internet services.  What the spokespeople did not tell them about the intended "smart" meter installation at every home and business, was that the "type of radiation emitted by both cell phones and "smart" meters has been linked to cancer by the World Health Organization (WHO), reversing its previous stance. Radiofrequency (rf) radiation has been placed in the same category of carcinogens as lead, DDT, engine exhaust, pesticides, and chloroform. That means smart meters even moreso as Hirsch reports smart meters to emit up to 160 times the whole body radiation compared to cell phones."

On July 5, 2011, a federal district court judge in New Mexico ruled that the Telecommunications Act preempts the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), even if such an interpretation would "condemn a class of citizens to death because of their disability." He further ruled that the Telecommunications Act supercedes the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
>>
This decision by Judge James A. Parker goes to the essence of the conflict between wireless technology and health. But the breadth of the decision will also have implications for every person with a disability in this country, all disability organizations, and fundamental civil liberties. What remains of the ADA if it cannot even prevent a taking of life? What remains of our constitution? This opinion is so egregious and clear that it presents an opportunity on appeal to link our issue to popular issues, to generate real publicity, and to involve influential people all over the country.
>>
The case, Firstenberg v. City of Santa Fe, Case # 1:11-cv-00008-JAP-WDS, relates to AT&T's upgrade of all of its cell towers in Santa Fe, which occurred last November 15. In district court, I argued that the city's failure to require a permit from AT&T for its upgrades is part of a systematic policy that discriminates against people with disabilities. I also argued that because the Telecommunications Act requires universal coverage of the United States with "advanced telecommunications
 services," people with electromagnetic hypersensitivity will have no place to live where they can survive.
>>
You can help. The judge's ruling must be appealed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by August 4. On July 10 I was on a teleconference with people in several parts of the country who are involved with this issue,
>>
including some who have brought related lawsuits or are considering doing so. They are looking for a lawyer or disability organization to appeal this case. However, time is short, and there is a good attorney here in Santa Fe who will take the case if we can raise $20,000 in the next two weeks. We already have commitments totaling $5,000.
>>
If you work with a disability organization, please forward this email to them and ask them if they want to be involved, either by filing an amicus brief later or taking on the case now. Also forward it to other individuals or organizations who may be interested in helping.
>>
We are asking those who can help to respond by email telling us the amount that you can pledge toward this legal case. Donations will be tax deductible.
>>
Thank you.
>>
Arthur Firstenberg
PO Box 6216
Santa Fe, NM 87502
(505) 471-0129

PART I--World Health Organization: Wireless May Cause Cancer

Nate Seltenrich —
Jun 1, 2011

Reversing its long-held position on the safety of wireless radiation from cell phones, wi-fi, and “smart” meters, the World Health Organization announced yesterday that it had re-classified such non-ionizing radiation as “possibly carcinogenic.” The organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer placed radiation from these devices in the same category as DDT and leaded gasoline.

PG&E, which leads the nation in deployment of wireless “smart” meters, has relied heavily on the WHO’s assertion of the meters’ safety in defending its devices to critics. However, the WHO’s previous position dated to 1996 and did not reflect the findings of more current research. According to activist group Stop Smart Meters!, a “broad investigation into the peer-reviewed science” ultimately convinced the organization to reconsider its stance on wireless radiation....continued...

La Veta, Colorado and SWEPI

Grassroots People Power is vital* to the effort of protecting the Town of La Veta and Huerfano County from destructive natural gas development and fracking.  In approving Shell's drilling permit without adequate safeguards
for our air, water and safety, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and elected County Commissioners have shunned the concerns of hundreds of affected constituents.  On July 8th, the *Citizens
for Huerfano County filed a complaint for judicial review against the COGCC and Shell Western Exploration & Production, LP.* to ensure the public receives a fair and proper hearing, consultation and review, as required by law.

The Bay Area Gets Fracked: PG&E will soon receive natural gas from a drilling process that threatens the country's air and water

COMMENT:
This article says it all....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDXqEk9W-Cw --Santa Barbara documentary
 Robert Gammon
July 13, 2011

Hydraulic fracturing, better known as "fracking," is quickly becoming one of the most serious threats to the environment nationwide. The controversial process involves shooting thousands of gallons of toxic chemicals and water at high speeds deep into the earth so as to fracture underground shale deposits and release otherwise impossible-to-get natural gas and oil. Fracking, in fact, is becoming so widespread, it's spurring a natural gas boom in the United States. But, so far, it has garnered little attention in California because most fracking has taken place elsewhere. But the spotlight on it could soon shift...continued.

Banning Corporate Personhood: How Communities Are Taking the Law Back from Big Companies

 Ben Price of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund explains how communities can fight corporate power with a new legal weapon.

These last few days for gas drilling news  in New York as been critical and a new level of urgency has been reached as the country watches how New York defines and decides its fate, the future of its famous unfiltered water supply, and communities in the directly impacted regions, whether for or against drilling are forging ahead to determine their immediate future and that for future generations.

 It's coming down to Home Rule and self-determination as a way to protect municipalities from frackingAs the Department of Environmental Conservation   (DEC) releases New Recommendations for Drilling in New York explained in the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) released a few days ago, environmental groups, like Catskill Mountainkeeper  are calling for a statewide ban   and municipalities organize to decide the fate of their towns.
>

'Fracking' benefit to T.A. landowners arguable

EXCERPT:
"The benefits of the upper Chama Valley are not measured in dollars. Benefits are measured in clean water, clean air and abundant wildlife achieved by good stewardship of the land."

COMMENT:
The cat is out of the bag!


Edward L. McMillen
7/18/2011

According to the June 13 article, "Firm: Deal opens area to drilling" by Tom Sharpe, the CEO of Wind River Energy, Jack Steinhauser, asserts that there has not been "one proven case of groundwater contamination" from fracking. He is only half right in his assertion.

Let's talk facts instead of assertions.

Fact: Landowners and communities are experiencing changes in water quality and quantity that occur during and after fracking. There have been documented claims of degradation in quality and quantity of water in Alabama, Colorado, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming following fracking operations.

Fact: Steinhauser and others refuse to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process.

Fact: Hydraulic fracturing fluids are known to contain toxic chemicals. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toxic chemicals in fracturing fluids include substances such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, methanol, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, glycol ethers, hydrochloric acid, sodium hydroxide and diesel fuel, which contains benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals. These chemicals have known negative health effects, such as respiratory, neurological and reproductive impacts, impacts on the central nervous system and cancer.
...continued....

Canada and Alberta governments succeed in preventing Beaver Lake Cree Nation from obtaining free legal representation:

COMMENT:
Where justice lies is clearly evidenced by the recent Alberta Courts!


 
June 28, 2011
*UK barrister denied "right of audience" and is not allowed to work /pro bono/ in an Alberta court*

On Monday, June 27th, an Alberta judge turned down an application for a team of UK lawyers to work for free to assist the Beaver Lake Cree Nation in its massive and /costly /fight to prevent the tar sands industries from destroying their traditional lands and decimating the animals and fish that sustain them.

In issuing his judgment, Mr. Justice Yamauchi opted to follow the government's line of thinking - that Michael Mansfield, Q.C. is not a member of the Alberta Law Society and therefore does not have the right to appear in an Alberta court room.  An unfortunate and rather narrow-minded decision.
*
Michael Mansfield said he is deeply disappointed in Canada's justice system.  "It’s hugely disappointing when a court cannot see its way to exercise its inherent jurisdiction to permit lawyers from the UK willing to act pro bono rights of audience. The case raises enormous issues of local, national and international importance. The environment and the way of life of First Nations living in Alberta is being dramatically affected by the activities of multinational oil companies, banking institutions and government agencies. They have already lost hundreds of thousands of square kilometers of land, had water resources depleted and contaminated, air polluted, and wildlife decimated. *

"This project which has been escalating since 1967 is the largest of its kind in the world and has repercussions for all of us with regard to climate change and global warming. The Cree nation in particular has taken a stand against a vast array of vested interests, who wish to continue this exploitation in the name of dirty oil. They are entitled to all the help they can garner particularly as they are a vulnerable community with limited resources.

"It is peculiarly ironic that this decision should occur in the very week that Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge arrive in Canada, because it is the Prince’s forbears who pledged to ensure that there would be “no forced interference with the First Nation's mode of life” (treaties 1876 and 1899 between the Queen and the First Nations). The Royal Family has been repeatedly requested to address this promise which has been seriously violated and this is another opportunity for this matter to be raised."

New air study finds dangerous chemicals near gas drilling communities in Colo., N.M.

David O. Williams
7/13/2011

At least 22 toxic chemicals, including four known human carcinogens, were found in nine separate air samples taken near natural gas drilling operations by community advocacy and environmental groups in Garfield and La Plata counties in Colorado and the San Juan Basin of New Mexico, according to a new report from Global Community Monitor.

Entitled “GASSED! Citizen Investigation of Natural Gas Development (pdf),” the report details how the air samples, taken near homes, playgrounds, schools and community centers, were analyzed by a certified lab.

“Carcinogenic chemicals like benzene and acrylonitrile should not be in the air we breathe – and certainly not at these highly alarming levels,” said Dr. Mark Chernaik. “These results suggest neighboring communities are not being protected and their long-term health is being put at risk.”...continued....

FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY DIGS IN FOR MASSIVE EXPANSION

By Keith Schneider
A new energy boom is transforming U.S. communities and landscapes as oil and gas companies spend close to $100 billion in the hunt for dirtier and more dangerous sources of fuel. First in a five-part series.

http://www.nrdconline.org/site/R?i=sY3NUcU6viS9dtKvsv8ZVA..

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF)  writes:

Attorneys for a West Virginia Corporation threaten to sue the City of Morgantown West Virginia for violating the Civil Rights of the corporation if the City's ordinance banning natural gas drilling is upheld as legal by the Monogalia County Circuit Court.

So, even if the ban is legal, the corporation attorneys say the corporation has rights that the City has no authority to violate.

Too bad Morgantown didn't adopt a Community Rights Ordinance to ban the drilling. Then the attorneys for the City could readily make the case that the City adopted the ordinance precisely to protect rights: the legitimate rights of the residents of the City, which are under threat of violation by the North East Energy Corporation.

The Community Rights ordinances adopted by Pittsburgh, West Homestead, Balwin PA, as well as Mountain Lake Park WV and Wales NY recognize the rights of the people as superior to privileges granted to corporations in the name of the people, and those ordinance revoke such privileges from corporations that would attempt to violate the prohibition against drilling and thereby violate the rights of community residents.

So which is it? Corporations have Civil Rights, or People have Civil Rights?

Isn't it time we took a stand to clear the air? Isn't it time for your community to adopt a Community Rights Ordinance and stop letting corporate claims to superior rights for corporations over people go unchallenged?

Contact info@CELDF.org

France Vote Outlaws ‘Fracking’ Shale for Natural Gas, Oil Extraction

EXCERPT:
"French senators voted to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, making France the first country to pass a law banning the technique for extracting natural gas and oil."

"Energy companies that plan to use fracking to produce oil and gas in France will have their permits revoked and its use could lead to fines and prison, according to the law passed by a vote of 176 in favor, 151 against by the senators in Paris."


COMMENT:
The first country to hold human, animal, environmental, and cultural rights and values over government/corporate growth and wealth.


By Tara Patel
Jul 1, 2011

French senators voted to outlaw hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, making France the first country to pass a law banning the technique for extracting natural gas and oil.

“We are at the end of a legislative marathon that stirred emotion from lawmakers and the public,” French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet said late yesterday before the vote. Hydraulic fracturing will be illegal and parliament would have to vote for a new law to allow research using the technique, she said.

Energy companies that plan to use fracking to produce oil and gas in France will have their permits revoked and its use could lead to fines and prison, according to the law passed by a vote of 176 in favor, 151 against by the senators in Paris.

Lawmakers of the ruling UMP party voted in favor of the bill while the opposition Socialists rejected the proposal for not going far enough. Before the French vote, the ban had moved between the upper and lower houses of parliament since March....continued....

The Strange Silencing of Liberal America

EXCERPT:
Russian dissident poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once wrote, “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”

7 July 2011
How does political censorship work in liberal societies? When my film, 'Year Zero: the Silent Death of Cambodia', was banned in the United States in 1980, the broadcaster PBS cut all contact. Negotiations were ended abruptly; phone calls were not returned. Something had happened. But what? 'Year Zero' had already alerted much of the world to the horrors of Pol Pot, but it also investigated the critical role of the Nixon administration in the tyrant’s rise to power and the devastation of Cambodia.

Six months later, a PBS official told me, “This wasn’t censorship. We’re into difficult political days in Washington. Your film would have given us problems with the Reagan administration. Sorry.”

In Britain, the long war in Northern Ireland spawned a similar, deniable censorship. The journalist Liz Curtis compiled a list of more than 50 television films in Britain that were never shown or indefinitely delayed. The word “ban” was rarely used, and those responsible would invariably insist they believed in free speech....continued....

First Successful Case Enforcing Rights of Nature in Ecuador

 Mia
July 1st, 2011


On March 30, 2011, the Provincial Court in Loja, Ecuador ruled in favor of Nature – specifically the Vilcabamba river – marking the first successful case enforcing Rights of Nature outlined in the 2008 Constitution.

The case was brought in response to excessive dumping of large quantities of rock and excavation material in the Vilcabamba River from a project to widen a nearby road.

This road project had been underway for three years without studies on its environmental impact. The associated dumping violated the Rights of Nature by altering the river’s flow, increasing the risk of disastrous floods and dangerously fast currents, and negatively affecting the riverside populations who utilize the river’s resources..continued....

Cuomo Will Seek to Lift Ban on Hydraulic Fracturing

COMMENT:
The current action taken by the EPA for air and water studies in response to citizen outcry over the impacts from hydraulic fracturing has yet to result in completed studies.  In spite of the grave health concerns over water and air contamination, Cuomo is calling to lift the ban on hydraulic fracturing in NY.

In the words of Manfred Max-Neef:  "The politicians know exactly what not to do, they just do it anyway."

In the words of John Pilger:  "If power was truly invincible, it would not fear the people so much as to expend vast resources trying to distract and deceive them."


DANNY HAKIM and NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
June 30, 2011

The Cuomo administration is seeking to lift what has effectively been a moratorium in New York State on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial technique used to extract natural gas from shale, state environmental regulators said on Thursday.

Protesters in Albany rallied in April against a drilling technique widely known as hydrofracking.

The process would be allowed on private lands, opening New York to one of the fastest-growing — critics would say reckless — areas of the energy industry. It would be banned inside New York City’s sprawling upstate watershed, as well as inside a watershed used by Syracuse, and in underground water sources used by other cities and towns. It would also be banned on state lands, like parks and wildlife preserves.

It will most likely take months before the policy becomes official. On Friday, the State Department of Environmental Conservation will release a long-awaited study of the process, widely known as hydrofracking. The report will include recommendations about how to proceed, and then there will be a lengthy period for public comments before a final determination can be made...continued.....

Garfield County commissioners choose industry over people

Bill Grant
June 28, 2011

In 2008, Judy Jordan, Garfield County liaison officer for oil and gas, was asked by ProPublica what she thought of their theory that “natural faults and fractures exist in underground formations in Colorado and that it may be possible for contaminants to travel through them.”

Jordan answered, “It challenges the view that natural gas … is isolated from water supplies by its extreme depth. It is highly unlikely that methane would have migrated through natural faults and fractures and coincidentally arrived in domestic wells at the same time oil and gas development started,
after having been down there … for over 65 billion years.”

These words may not have been responsible for the Garfield County Commissioners’ decision to fire Jordan, but they illustrate the kind of common sense, straight talk she brought to her job as county liaison with oil and gas companies operating in the county....continued...

Economists on Rockies Energy Boom: How's It

*The answer, according to a new study by Headwaters Economics, is it depends on the state, but its lead writer concludes: "If we can't make it work in Wyoming, that's a bad sign for everywhere else."*

By Brodie Farquhar, 4-27-11

    Cover photo for a new study by Headwaters Economics analyzing the impact jobs tied to fossil fuel has had on the Western economy.
    Cover photo for a new study by Headwaters Economics analyzing the impact jobs tied to fossil fuel has had on the Western economy.

Back in the 1980s, when fossil fuel development fell off a cliff in Western states, there was a popular sticker pasted on the bumpers of aging pickups, rolling on tires of diminishing tread: "Dear Lord, please give me another boom, and I promise I won't p*** this one away."

Air Quality Concerns Threaten Natural Gas's Image

Elizabeth Shogren
June 21, 2011

Massive stores of natural gas that lie underneath big portions of the United States offer a cleaner source of electricity to a country that relies heavily on coal, but producing all that gas also can pump lots of pollution into the air.

Gas production already has caused unhealthy air in Wyoming's Sublette County and Utah's Uintah Basin. And experts project that booming shale gas developments like Haynesville, stretching through Texas and Louisiana, and Marcellus, which lies beneath several Mid-Atlantic states, will start contributing to unhealthy levels of ozone or smog in coming years.

"This isn't just next to where the development is actually happening — the poor person living downwind of the compressor — this is ozone levels in Philadelphia and [Washington] D.C. and New York City and places like that," says Carnegie Mellon University professor Allen Robinson....continued.....

Lawmakers Urge Obama To Pursue Energy Security Through Natural Gas Natural Gas Fracking

EXCERPT:
"We owe it to our citizens, and most importantly, our military," the letter concludes, "to be free of the constraints of having to fight abroad over resources that can be safely recovered here at home."


COMMENT:
Connect the dots, citizens:
"US Becomes Net Exporter of Fuel"
By Gregory Meyer in New York
May 2 2011 22:32
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3c2c1b9c-74de-11e0-a4b7-00144feabdc0.html
EXCERPT from "US Becomes Net Exporter of Fuel:"
"After a five-year decline in net imports, the US became a net exporter
in late 2010, a trend analysts say is confirmed by the latest data."

Seems there is some double-talk going on...perhaps it is the money these senators are looking after rather than our security, health and welfare at home!  Time for a short stay in the Senate for these nine members!



06/27/11

Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Tex), topped a list of nine members of Congress who signed a letter to be sent to President Obama Monday urging him to press for natural gas development in the U.S.

Eight members of Congress, including several representatives of powerful national security committees, have prepared a letter imploring President Obama to press for expanded natural gas exploration and production in the United States -- primarily though the use of an unconventional and contentious technique known as horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

"As members of both political parties and as citizens in support of your call to get serious about a long-term policy for secure and affordable energy," reads the Monday dated letter from the group, comprised of four Republicans and four Democrats, "we urge you and members of your administration to take a leadership role in encouraging the continued development and utilization of our nation's vast natural gas resources by any means necessary, but most specifically, by unconventional shale gas recovery."....continued.....

Wyoming passed over in EPA fracking study

EXCERPT:
"State and industry officials said that not including Wyoming in the study is an acknowledgement by the Environmental Protection Agency that the state's "fracking" regulations are adequate and that there are no documented cases of fracking activities contaminating groundwater."


COMMENT:
If the federal government ignores the most obvious cases of hydraulic fracturing contamination, then industry and the gov can continue their ruse a bit longer, thereby sequestering the last few drops of their precious money-making resource at the expense of life on this planet.

In 2008, Gillette, Wyoming, an EPA test of water wells at 300 feet produced benzene at 1,200 ppb.  There are no safe levels of benzene.  It is a known human carcinogen. The water wells are located nearby a large gas field.

Today, the EPA continues to test water wells in Wyoming and continue to find nothing conclusive.  The ruse continues.  Where is our "People and Ecosystem Movement?"  When is our revolution going to take place?

JEREMY PELZER
June 24, 2011

CHEYENNE-Federal environmental regulators have passed over Wyoming in a closely watched study of how hydraulic fracturing affects drinking water.

State and industry officials said that not including Wyoming in the study is an acknowledgement by the Environmental Protection Agency that the state's "fracking" regulations are adequate and that there are no documented cases of fracking activities contaminating groundwater.

Environmentalists, though, voiced skeptism over those claims.

On Thursday, the EPA picked seven areas around the country to investigate whether groundwater is affected by fracking, a procedure in which a mixture of sand and various fluids is pumped deep underground to fracture rock to create pathways for gas or oil to flow toward a well bore....continued....




Mass Extinction of Ocean Species Soon to Be 'Inevitable'

COMMENT:
While there is shock about this latest data, the drilling permits in the gulf coast continue....one of the most recent, to Royal Dutch Shell.

Perhaps it is time for an Environmental Movement!



LONDON, UK, June 21, 2011 (ENS) - The oceans are at high risk of entering a phase of extinction of marine species unprecedented in human history, a panel of international marine experts warns in a report released today.

A deadly trio of factors - warming, acidification and lack of oxygen - is creating the conditions associated with every previous major extinction of species in Earth's history, the panel warned.
Sunset at Huntington Beach, California (Photo by DHN)

The combined effects of these stressors are causing degeneration in the ocean that is "far faster than anyone has predicted," the scientists report.

The urgent warnings emerged from the first-ever interdisciplinary international workshop held April 11-13 to consider the cumulative impact of all stressors affecting the ocean.

"The findings are shocking," said Dr. Alex Rogers, scientific director of the International Programme on the State of the Ocean which convened the workshop. "As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the ocean, the implications became far worse than we had individually realized."...continued.....

EPA Identifies Case Studies for Hydraulic Fracturing Study

EXCERPT:
Five retrospective case studies were selected and will examine areas where hydraulic fracturing has occurred for any impact on drinking water resources. These ares are located in:

Bakken Shale - Kildeer and Dunn Countiesy, ND
Barnett Shale - Wise and Denton Counties, TX
Marcellus Shale - Bradford and Susquehanna Counties, PA
Marcellus Shale - Washington County, PA
Raton Basin - Las Animas County, CO


Cathy Milbourn
Milbourn.cathy@epa.gov
202-420-8648
June 23, 2011 


WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today, in keeping with the administration's focus to ensure that the agency leverages domestic resources safely and responsibly, announced the next
steps in its congressionally mandated hydraulic fracturing study. EPA has identified seven case studies to help inform the assessment of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources. The sites identified were selected following extensive input from stakeholders, including the public, local and state officials, industry,
and environmental organizations. To ensure the Agency maintains the current timeline for the study, the EPA will begin field work in some of the selected regions this summer.
 
Natural gas plays a key role in our nation's energy future, EPA is working closely with other federal partners to ensure that this important resource can be developed safely.

"This is an important part of a process that will use the best science to help us better understand the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water," said Paul Anastas, Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Research and Development. "We've met with community members, state experts and industry and environmental
leaders to choose these case studies. This is about using the best possible science to do what the American people expect the EPA to do: ensure that the health of their communities and families is protected."
 

The studies, which will take place in regions across the country, will be broken into two study groups. Two of the seven sites were selected as prospective case studies, where EPA will monitor key aspects of the hydraulic fracturing process throughout the lifecycle of a well.....continued...

own of Wales, New York, Adopts Community Rights Ordinance That Bans “Fracking”

EXCERPTS:
"Procedural questions on the authority of the Board to enact the Ordinance were addressed by Council member Mike Simon, who said "I don't want to wait for any other agencies, federal, state or county to tell us what to do. The more I learn about the harms of fracking, the more I know that we have to act on this...It comes down to the principle of home rule versus state rule."

“This local law embodies the will of our residents to protect our natural resources from destruction, so our children and grandchildren can have the quality of life we enjoy.” – Councilmember Mike Simon

 June 15, 2011   

www.celdf.org
 Ben Price, (717) 254-3233
benprice@celdf.org
Tuesday, June 14th, the Town of Wales, NY, adopted a community rights ordinance titled "Town of Wales Community Protection of Natural Resources.” The Ordinance ( No.3-2011) was enacted as a local law under NYS Municipal Home Rule Act, which recognizes broad police powers under the statute. The Ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales residents and “recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents of the Town of Wales to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.”

The Ordinance was drafted in consultation with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund  (CELDF) and advocated for by the community group Protecting Our Water Rights (POWR).

Two key prohibitions are enacted to protect the rights enumerated. The Ordinance bans “ any individual or corporation to engage in the extraction of natural gas or oil utilizing in whole or in part the process commonly known as and herein defined as hydraulic fracturing” and also prohibits “any individual or corporation to engage in the extraction of natural gas or oil utilizing in whole or in part the process commonly known as horizontal gas well drilling,” with the exception, in each case, of gas wells installed and operating at the time of enactment of the Ordinance.

The bill also recognizes the right of the people to a form of government where they live “which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people, that all free governments are founded on the people’s authority and consent, and that neither individuals nor corporate entities and their directors and managers shall enjoy special privileges or powers under the color of state law which purports to make community majorities subordinate to them.”

Prior to the vote, POWR member Susan Everett commented "I hope tonight you will be voting to pass this local law. You have listened to the people and acted responsibly to protect our families and our natural recourses for generations and I speak for many in thanking you."

Procedural questions on the authority of the Board to enact the Ordinance were addressed by Councilmember Mike Simon, who said "I don't want to wait for any other agencies, federal, state or county to tell us what to do. The more I learn about the harms of fracking, the more I know that we have to act on this...It comes down to the principle of home rule versus state rule."

The town submitted the proposed law to the Erie County planning board in April and they were to make their recommendation within 30 days. Instead they asked the Town submit the law to another state agency before voting on it.

"I think the county is trying to pass this off to the state" commented Rickey Vendetti, Wales town supervisor

The Town Board voted 4 ayes and one abstention to vote on the ordinance without submitting it to the state, then the Board voted 4 ayes and one abstention to enact the Community Rights Ordinance.

"This is a truly unique example of government working like it should.  The people of Wales went to their town board members and the board responded to their concerns," stated Sarah Buckley, founder of POWR.

The Ordinance 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, and the right of the people to enforce and protect these rights through their municipal government.

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

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.

Ben Price, Projects Director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, applauded the Council for taking a stand on behalf of community rights. “State law preempts municipalities from regulating the industry to protect the community. But residents have the right to decide whether or not they get fracked. We don’t have a gas drilling problem. We have a democracy problem. Its symptoms are the State’s refusal to recognize the right to local, community self-government, and the issuance of permits to drilling corporations that empower them to violate the rights of the human and natural communities.”



Firm Says Deal With Land Grant Opens Area to Drilling:

COMMENT
Another twist to a drilling proposal using hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas in north-central New Mexico.

For those of you unacquainted with El Norte de Nuevo Mexico, terms of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo over "Who owns the land grants?" continue to be pursued by the local citizens.

For background on the story below, google "Reies Lopez Tijerina, his cause, and his armed raid on the Tierra Amarilla Courthouse in 1967."

Tijerina, now 84, is currently in the news in El Norte as land grant boards in the Taos area have filed deeds to reclaim the lands stolen by or sold to European and other invaders during the past 163 years.


Tom Sharpe
6/12/2011

A Canadian firm says it has a deal with a land-grant association that could open up parts of Rio Arriba County to petroleum drilling that previously were restricted by questionable land titles.

Wind River Energy Corp. says it has agreements with the board of trustees of the Tierra Amarilla Land Grant that could mean billions of barrels of oil, mostly from shale deposits that require "fracking."

"Wind River believes that the waiver will resolve a 150-year-old historical title cloud that has constrained oil and gas development on the Tierra Amarilla Land Grant," a recent news release says.

The Vancouver, British Columbia-based company has issued three news releases since late last year, announcing it has acquired from a Texas firm a waiver and an indemnification agreement with the Tierra Amarilla Lane Grant board, which was paid $233,979....continued...

Sham Moratorium?

COMMENT:
This South African region, the Karoo, has a proactive citizen group who is fighting to stop Royal Dutch Shell from drilling natural gas wells in their water sensitive and historically agricultural land.

Note in the article below, the non environmental and citizen representation on the task team that looks into the impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the Karoo.

Does this senario look familiar in your community?



Gareth Morgan (DA's Shadow Minister of the Environment) tells us that the task team set up by the government to investigate the possibility of fracking includes officials from the Departments of Mineral Resources, Trade and Industry, and Science and Technology, but not from the Departments of Environmental Affairs and Water (DEAW), nor from the National Planning Commission (NPC).

He has written to the Minister of Mineral Resources expressing concern that there are no members from the broader environmental sector on the task team, and to enquire exactly what the task team hopes to achieve in the limited study time - the task team will apparently report to the Minster at the end of July!...continued...

Judge Tosses Bid for Water Rights: Ruling Could Strengthen Rights of Landowners Over Gas Companies

Joe Hanel
May 31, 2011

 A Durango judge tossed out several gas companies’ applications for water rights Friday in a ruling that could strengthen the hands of landowners in negotiations with drillers.

Judge Gregory Lyman’s ruling is the latest development in a long struggle concerning water rights and gas drilling that began in his Durango courtroom in 2007.

In that case, Lyman ruled for Southwest Colorado ranchers who sued to get the state to regulate water use by natural-gas drillers. The state Supreme Court upheld Lyman’s 2007 ruling and required gas companies to get water well permits and water rights....continued....

*Albertan, Tired of Her Tap Water Catching Fire, Sues:

by Andrew Nikiforuk, Today, TheTyee.ca

Vaclav Smil, one of Canada's smartest energy experts, calls "unrestrained energy use in affluent societies" a dangerous habit.

Just imagine a 50 kilogram Filipino nanny driving a 5,000 kilogram SUV through the traffic clogged streets of Calgary to purchase a litre of candy for her obese white charges and, well, you've got asnapshot of civilization's bankrupt energy aspirations....continued...

Government Forced Pooling: When Landowners Can’t Say No to Drilling

COMMENT:
Today, if communities are not united and working together with local community rights ordinances that protect them from corporate take-over, the status quo will continue to play out as seen in the article below.  Join with over 128 communities across the United States, and pass a local community rights ordinance that extends protection to your water, clean air, and land. Exert the control granted to communities based upon the NM Constitution, and exert your rights to local self governance.  Rather than letting corporations, state or federal government determine the fate of your community,  act now and adopt a protective community rights-based ordinance. Contact Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to find out how.


Marie C. Baca
ProPublica
May 19, 2011

As the shale gas boom sweeps across the United States, drillers are turning to a controversial legal tool called forced pooling to gain access to minerals beneath private property--in many cases, without the landowners' permission.

Forced pooling is common in many established oil and gas states, but its use has grown more contentious as concerns rise about drilling safety and homeowners in areas with little drilling history struggle to understand the obscurities of mineral laws.

Joseph Todd, who lives in rural Big Flats, N.Y., wasn't especially concerned when he learned in 2009 that his half-acre property had become part of a drilling unit. But when methane gas showed up in his drinking water well after the drilling began, he became outraged, describing forced pooling as "eminent domain for gas drillers."

"We never wanted to be a part of the drilling," he said. "To have something like this happen is beyond frustrating." Todd and some of his neighbors are now suing the company that is drilling near their neighborhood, even though no link has been proven between drilling and the contamination of their water.

People who see forced pooling as an infringement of property rights also tend to oppose the practice, including Pennsylvania's Republican governor, Tom Corbett, who has otherwise been a staunch supporter of the drilling industry.

"I do not believe in private eminent domain, and forced pooling would be exactly that," Corbett told a group [1] of nearly 400 drilling industry representatives and supporters last month. He also said he won't sign pending legislation that would allow forced pooling for drilling in Pennsylvania's gas-rich Marcellus Shale.

Forced pooling compels holdout landowners to join gas-leasing agreements with their neighbors. The specific provisions of the laws vary from state to state, but drillers are generally allowed to extract minerals from a large area or "pool"--in most states a minimum of 640 acres--if leases have been negotiated for a certain percentage of that land. The company can then harvest gas from the entire area. In most cases, drillers aren't allowed to build surface wells on unleased land, so they use horizontal wells or other means to collect the minerals beneath those parcels.

Thirty-nine states have some form of forced pooling law. West Virginia and Pennsylvania each have measures that don't apply to drilling in the Marcellus Shale, and proponents are trying to expand the laws in those states. (Check out our chart of forced pooling laws [2] across the United States.)

In New York, the owners of 60 percent of the acreage in the proposed drilling unit must agree to lease their land before the state oil and gas board will consider a driller's petition for compulsory integration, as it is known there. In Virginia, only 25 percent of the land must be leased. In all states with such laws, drillers must notify all the landowners within the prospective drilling area of their right to participate in a hearing before the oil and gas board, or whatever regulatory agency the state has set up for that purpose....continued....

Earth Wisdom: For a World in Crisis:

Can indigenous people save the world? Listen to their "earth wisdom" and consider a life in balance with nature:
http://www.linktv.org/globalspirit/wisdom

Regions: Asia, Central America, Europe, Middle East, North Africa, North America, Oceania, South America, South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa
Topics: Indigenous Peoples, Religion / Spirituality

In recent years, more have become aware of the unique wisdom in the cosmologies and spiritual practices of indigenous societies.  While this native wisdom has always been part of human existence, its teachings have remained outside so-called “formal” religions, leading to zealous missionary campaigns seeking to stamp out this “paganism” from the face of the earth.  But with the dramatic increase in global warming, a thinning ozone layer and social alienation, many, including the United Nations, are realizing that native peoples may possess some critical keys to the very survival of our species and fragile ecosystems of the planet.

This Global Spirit program focuses on the wisdom of indigenous values and practices that have promoted heightened consciousness, spiritual harmony and a life in balance with nature.  Host Phil Cousineau and the Global Spirit crew go to New York to film and interview renowned indigenous leaders and tribal representatives such as Chief Oren Lyons, Marcos Terena, Jake Swamp, Viktor Kaisiepo and Gloria Ushigua, joined by over 2000 others at a unique gathering of indigenous peoples from around the world at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.




London (Platts)
11 May 2011
 
France's lower house, the National Assembly, Wednesday passed a bill banning shale oil and gas exploration.

The proposed law bans all unconventional exploration of hydrocarbons using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, techniques, and is to be examined by the senate in the coming weeks.

Some 287 members of parliament voted for the bill and 186 voted against.

The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy has given the draft law, submitted by Christian Jacob, the parliamentary head of the ruling UMP party, an "accelerated" status, meaning the bill is read just once by the lower and upper houses.

Following increasing opposition, the French government has halted all shale oil and gas drilling activity until two separate government impact reports are published in June.

Before then, France had issued three permits for shale gas exploration -- two to US firm Scheupbach Energy and the other to France's Total -- as well as three for shale oil.

The proposed law stipulates that the current holders of shale exploration permits would have two months to declare which method of drilling they would use and their permits would be repealed if they indicated the fracking technique.

According to the AFP parliamentary news service, the bill suffered no major amendments during its examination by MPs overnight Tuesday, despite calls from pro-green party members to take the ban further.

The main opposition Socialist party, and green parties, have opposed the final bill, calling for the blanket repeal of all shale drilling permits already submitted. This was included in an initial draft of the bill but later removed.

West Homestead Borough Council Unanimously Adopts Community Bill of Rights Ordinance That Bans Gas Drilling

(Tuesday, May 10, 2011)  The Borough Council of West Homestead, Pennsylvania,  unanimously adopted an ordinance that enacts aLocal Bill of Rights, along with a prohibition on natural gas extraction to protect those rights.  The bill, titled “WestHomestead Borough’s Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance; establishes specific rights of WestHomestead residents, including the Right to Water, the Rights of NaturalCommunities, the Right to a Sustainable Energy Future, and the Right to CommunitySelf-Government.

The Ordinance was drafted in consultation with the Community EnvironmentalLegal Defense Fund.

The key prohibition enacted to protect the rights enumerated states: “It shall be unlawful for any corporation to engage in the extraction of natural gas within West Homestead Borough, with the exception of gas wells installed and operating at the time of enactment of this Ordinance, provided that the extraction of gas from those existing wells does not involve any practice or process not previously used for the extraction of gas from those wells.”

The bill also recognizes the right of the people to a form of government where they live “which recognizes that all power is inherent in the people, that all free governments are founded on the people’s authority and consent, and that neither individuals nor corporate entities and their directors and managers shall enjoy special privileges or powers under the color of state law which purports to make community majorities subordinate to them.”

The bill was modeled after the Ordinance adopted on November 16th of last year by the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and drafted by the CommunityEnvironmental Legal Defense Fund. A similar ordinance was enacted by LickingTownship in Clarion County, Pennsylvania and in Mountain Lake Park, Maryland onMarch 6th of this year.

West Homestead Councilman Joe Baran said "We just don't know what the effects of this drilling will have over time to our kids."

Energy corporations have targeted communities in Maryland, West Virginia,Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, with plans to drill for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale and other formations.  Corporate “land men” have been signing-up property owners to contracts at a steady clip for the past several years, and those leases, along with state laws that severely restrict the power of local governments to stop the drilling, means that wells are likely to be sited throughout the region, unless communities take a stand to protect their rights.

Mayor John Dindak of West Homestead said "This is the right thing to do.  I hope Governor Corbett gives more thought to what is being done."

Ben Price, Projects Director for the Community Environmental Legal DefenseFund, applauded the Council for taking a stand on behalf of community rights.“State law preempts municipalities from regulating the industry to protect the community. But the State does not have the authority to issue permits tostate-chartered corporations to empower them to ‘legally’ violate the rights of the people. We don’t have a gas drilling problem. We have a democracy problem.”

The CommunityEnvironmental 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.