Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Friday, October 19, 2012

Health Problems Now Confirmed from Oil & Gas Industry


New research links health problems with oil and natural gas development
Largest-ever survey of Marcellus Shale residents living near gas facilities reveals pattern of health symptoms associated with oil and gas development
October 18th -- The largest health survey to-date of Marcellus Shale residents living near oil and gas development shows a clear pattern of negative health impacts associated with living near gas facilities, according to a new report released by Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project today. Released in association with ShaleTest, Gas Patch Roulette: How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in Pennsylvaniasurveyed 108 residents in 14 Pennsylvania counties, and conducted air and water tests at more than half of the households were surveys were completed.
“For too long, the oil and gas industry and state regulators have dismissed community members’ health complaints as ‘false’ or ‘anecdotal’.” said Nadia Steinzor, Earthworks’ Eastern program coordinator and the project’s lead author. She continued, “The industry tries to shift blame onto residents themselves or onto any other possible source than oil and gas facilities, Now we know better. With this research, they cannot credibly ignore communities any longer.”
Gas Patch Roulette’s main conclusions are that
  • Chemicals associated with oil and gas development are present in communities where development occurs.
  • Residents in these communities report that after gas development began, they developed new health problems -- many of which are known consequences of exposure to these chemicals.
State governments, which are largely responsible for protecting the public from irresponsible oil and gas development, have until recently refused to act on behalf of the public.
“The clear association between gas development and public health impacts revealed by this research demands that states stop ignoring the problem and start developing the standards necessary to protect the public,” said President of Subra Company and MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Wilma Subra. She continued, “It’s clear that nationwide, because of regulatory inaction and a lack of corporate accountability, states are playing roulette with public health.”
Other findings of the report include that
  • Those living closer to gas facilities report higher rates of impaired health.
  • Children living near gas development reported negative health impacts that seem atypical in the young.
  • Chemicals detected by air and water sampling have been associated by state and federal agencies with both oil and gas development and with many of the health symptoms reported in the surveys.
“It is clear from both the lab results and the reported health affects that the exploration of natural gas comes with consequences,” said Calvin Tillman, former mayor of gas-impacted DISH, Texas and founder of ShaleTest. He continued, “Industry needs to step up to the plate and quit denying they are damaging our lives and property. The people in this survey are innocent bystanders that deserve better from the industry that is exploiting them, and the governments that are letting it happen.”
"Pennsylvania and many other states are forging ahead with oil and gas development without considering the public interest,” said Steinzor. “That needs to change. And they can start by refusing to permit new drilling until regulators can assure the public that they’ve taken all necessary to steps to prevent risks to their health.”
More Information:
Interviews with impacted residents who participated in this project available upon request.
All reports and supporting information:
Earthworks, and its Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP), is dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the impacts of irresponsible mineral and energy development while seeking sustainable solutions. is a non-profit organization that will collect environmental data, and provide environmental testing to lower income families and neighborhoods that are effected by natural gas exploration.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Canadian Government Should Be Ashamed of Itself.

The Canadian government should be ashamed of itself - but isn't.   And the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) should be apologizing to Canadians but it appears that it won't be happening any time soon either.   Those at the helm have failed Canadians.   My dear old Dad used to have a saying about such things that went something like this: "Some people don't have enough shame for everything."  It would appear that he was right.  History it would seem, has taught no lesson to the present Canadian government.   But history is far from forgotten in the minds of those poisoned in the Walkton E Coli and the Maple Leaf Listeriosis outbreak in more recent years - and that's what makes this recent E Coli finding at the XL plant so repugnant to Canadians.

The recent contaminated meat recall of XL Foods products has once again rocked this nation's faith in Canada' s food supply.   In the wake of the lay-off notice for 2000 of its workers this week - and no statements from either the company or the Canadian government to inform Canadians as to what exactly is going on, the Canadian public is left to fill in the blanks on their own.  In our own household we predicted two days ago that XL foods would not be re-opening its doors - at least not without a major re-incarnation.

Reports from CTV's Robert Fife on Canada AM this morning give even more evidence of a bad situation run amok - a situation neglected by management for years, and seemingly avoided by Canada's Food Inspection Agency.

Numerous Deficiencies in the XL plant's safety and hygiene protocols have now been discovered - meat hooks that were not cleaned for an unspecified period of time, drippings of blood accumulating on market-ready meat, obvious major routes of access for vermin left un-remediated - all point to management neglect and obvious public risk.  
But more disturbing still for many Canadians is the fact that American Inspectors were the first to raise the red flag instead of Canada's own CFIA.   It appears that on Sept. 04 E Coli was discovered and about six days laters the Americans stopped shipments of XL Meats into America.  It appears that the Americans have a habit of checking on food sources beyond their own borders from time to time and the Americans gave us the first "heads up" so to speak.  But while the American Authorities were not satisfied to ship XL meat to American dinner plates,  the Canadians were - and proceeded to do so for aproximately another two weeks before forcing the closing of the XL plant and ordering the recall of product in Canada.   In that period of time a number of Canadians were sickened by the meat.

Our Canadian Government's response to the crisis was to place the Federal Minister of Agriculture on the hotseat to explain how the crisis happened on national T.V.  But, Alas, No!   If you've been keeping tabs on this situation you'll know that  this never happened.   Instead, Canada's Agriculture Minister was camera shy and sent his Deputy into the fray.  The Deputy was so junior for the task that he 'flubbed up'.  In his earnest desire to assure the Canadian public of the safety of the food on their plates, he stated in his on camera interview that there were 20% more  meat inspectors at the XL plant than other plants.  This statement of course only left the Canadian public to wonder how Canada's food supply could become contaminated with so many extra CFIA Food Inspectors on the job.  His comments only increased concerns for Canadians who were now left to wonder how contaminated meat could get past increased oversight and inspections measures. 

The Americans deserve Kudos for being the first to act to remove XL meats from consumer shelves and setting the example to alert the Canadian Authorities as to the gravity of the problem.  It's unfortunate that our Canadian Authorities couldn't see fit to act sooner to protect the public health.  We owe a debt of gratitude to our Friends and Neighbours in America and maybe, some of us even our lives.

It has now been announced that a Brazilian concern is poised to possibly buy out the troubled XL plant in Brook, Alberta - and none too soon.   I'm sure many Canadians are wiping their brows in relief that an experienced meat producing country may well take over.  It does however, make Canada look  like a third world country.   Let's face it - it was the stop shipment order from the Americans that gave pause on the situation and now a company in another foreign country is poised to clean up the mess and take leadership.  It's a good thing someone somewhere is willing to take a Leadership role in all of this since a pall of silence seems to have fallen on the Canada's Leadership.

It seems XL Foods management is finally washing something - "their hands" - of the entire situation.

To my mind there is only one thing left to be investigated - and that's the CFIA - because all of this happened  "On THEIR Watch".

Saturday, October 13, 2012

"People" Parks Becoming Industrual Parks - "Makes No Never Mind" to Shale Gas Industry

From Calvin:

New videos – October 11, 2012
(Remember to give a video you like a thumbs-up vote)
MarkWest flare-off w/black fireball
Gasland Avella, Pa
Gas liquids railout
Cross Creek County Industrial Park
Gasland tour of western Pa
Arden Landfill solid waste roll-offs from drilling
“Spilling is just the Beginning”

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Comparing 1840's Anti-Slavery Movement to 2012 Anti-Shale Movement: A Compelling Critique That Cannot be Ignored

Guest Editorial:
Why the Recent Act 13 Decision Won’t Help to Stop Fracking
Recently, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania struck down key parts of Act 13, the now-infamous Pennsylvania state law that sought to nullify municipal zoning restrictions on natural gas extraction and gas “fracking” across the State.
Newspaper headlines comfortingly trumpeted that local control had been restored. A lawyer for the municipalities that brought the original challenge even proclaimed that the ruling “reaffirmed that gas company profits do not trump the constitutional rights of Pennsylvania residents and property owners.” Environmental groups crooned that the ruling protected communities and the environment.
But as Paul Harvey was fond of saying, “and now for the rest of the story.”
While the Commonwealth Court did rule to limit the reach of Act 13, the decision was not based on the right of communities to stop fracking. Instead, the Court ruled that the State couldn’t use the Act to force gas extraction operations onto land not locally zoned for it, because such coercion would interfere with the rights of neighboring property owners. It was thus a property rights decision, not a community rights one.
While some might argue that that’s a distinction without a difference, they would be wrong. Instead of validating the right of community residents to control harmful activities within their borders, the Court treated the dispute as merely one between two sets of property owners – the corporate owners of the minerals to be extracted, and landowners adjacent to that extraction.
The municipality itself – ostensibly the representative of the people in the community – failed to even register on the Court’s scorecard. 
Leaving that aside for the moment, left unsaid in this debate is that zoning for gas extraction isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Municipal zoning power controls surface use, which means that while a municipality can zone drilling pads into suitable areas, it cannot control what happens under the ground through zoning ordinances. Because fracking operations are drilled horizontally, up to two miles in length from the original vertical drillbore, using even the most restrictive zoning controls still guarantees that the community will be fracked. Thus, the only real thing that zoning provides is a false sense of security that sensitive areas are immune from being fracked.
Regardless, kudos should be given to the municipalities who filed the lawsuit in the first place – after all, Pennsylvania municipalities – unlike in other states – have been almost completely silent as the Pennsylvania legislature has systematically dismantled local control over the past thirty years. And the governmental associations ostensibly representing municipal interests in the legislature – like the Boroughs Association and the State Association of Township Supervisors – have been more interested in not rocking the boat than in confronting a legislature out of control.
And completely out of control the State has been. As a result of three decades’ worth of stripping away local control in favor of State preemptive power, communities are now banned from saying “no” to corporate factory farms, large-scale water withdrawals, dumping of sewage sludge, genetically modified seeds, commercial timbering, and a slew of other harmful corporate projects. 
Not surprisingly, when community control conflicts with corporate interests, corporate lobbyists routinely take charge in Harrisburg and help write preemptive laws that move communities out of the way. 
The recent ruling by the Commonwealth Court returns our municipal communities to where they were before Act 13 was adopted. They are to maintain their status as well-worn “creatures” of the State - to be controlled like puppets on a string at the whim of the legislature. But is it a victory for them to return to a time when zoning merely allows them to decide which parts of the municipality to surrender to the frackers? Let’s get real. 
If the deck is stacked, you don’t ask for a new hand. You demand a new deck, and if you don’t get one, you leave the table. 
Over one hundred municipal governments across Pennsylvania – including the City of Pittsburgh -have begun to do just that. Whether faced with corporate plans for factory farms, sewage sludge dumping, or fracking, those communities have begun to say“no” - not just to those projects, but to the very structure of law that has granted more governing power to corporate decisionmakers than to us. 
They are rejecting a structure of law that recognizes the right of corporations to use our legislature to tell us what laws we can pass and when; that recognizes corporations as having the same constitutional “rights” as we do; and which treats our municipal governments as merely administrators of state policies. They are rejecting a legal system that has enslaved our community majorities to corporate minorities; and has transformed our legislature into a handmaiden of those interests. 
They understand that structural change only occurs when people and communities stop obeying the laws that unjustly bind them. In doing so, they’ve joined communities in nine other states who have arrived at a common conclusion – that our 1800’s structure of law is all about elevating the rights of property and commerce over community and nature. They have begun to recognize that such a system has made true environmental and economic sustainability impossible, and even, in many cases, illegal. 
Those communities are way out in front of the big environmental groups who should be the ones talking about sustainability and local control. Unfortunately, those groups still believe in the regulatory fallacy that says we’re allowed to slow down accelerating environmental destruction, but we are forbidden to stop it. They continue to spend their time and dollars trying to trick the existing system into protecting communities and nature, rather than helping to create a new system. 
Their efforts are akin to being an activist in the 1840’s, attempting to regulate the number of daily lashes a slave master could inflict on a slave, while refusing to challenge slavery as a whole. The Abolitionists, after all, didn’t create a Slavery Protection Agency – they worked instead towards a new system of law in which people couldn’t be treated as property. 
We need a similar movement – one focused on structural constitutional change which recognizes our right to govern our own communities. It’s happening already across Pennsylvania – with townships and boroughs writing their own local ordinances that read like constitutions. It’s time to stand up, and like our 1776 predecessors, build a new system of government that actually benefits us. It’s not too late.

Submitted by:
Thomas Alan Linzey, Esq.
Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund
P.O. Box 360
Mercersburg, Pennsylvania 17236
(717) 977-6823 (c)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Crony Capitalism - Alive & Well in Texas!

Every time I mention Reagan, I get quite a bit of backlash, please don't miss the forest for the trees...
In Texas we have a large number of crony capitalist and corporate conservatives serving as elected officials. In their campaign speeches, they claim to hang on traditional conservative values, such as property rights and local control. However, their actions tend to be quite different, and they back peddle pretty quick when they are exposed for what they really are. In Texas, pretty much anyone who has more money than you, can do what they wish to your property, or just take it altogether if they want it.
In Texas, the crony capitalists are allowed to live a life of luxury that far exceeds their talents or mental abilities. Although, they require some intelligence to see these crony capitalist opportunities, their talents certainly would not elevate them to the status that they have found themselves in by taking the crony capitalist shortcut. Take our governor for example, he is college educated and was an officer in the Air Force, and although he made a fool of himself on the national stage, through my interactions with him, I would not consider him dumb. He does however appear to be the epitome of the sleazy politician and crony capitalist. Furthermore, he is a career politician that has never been successful at anything else. This was sniffed out pretty quickly on the national scene, and he was sent back to apathetic voters of Texas with his tail between his legs. He would certainly never have made to the level he has on brains alone, so he is afforded a life of power and luxury due to being a crony capitalist here in Texas.
Another prime example of the crony capitalist, is Texas State Representative Dennis Bonnen. Mr. Bonnen was an insurance agent prior to realizing the crony capitalist game. Although being an insurance agent is a respectable field, this was not good enough for Bonnen. Him and a number of other crony capitalists have purchased a bank in Pearland, TX. Mr. Bonnen has put other current and former elected officials on the board of directors for this bank. Another member of the board is a licensed lobbyist in the state of Texas, so once again this line between government and industry gets blurred. Bonnen's bank will succeed, not because of his business savvy, but rather by the backs he scratches while serving in the legislature. Mr. Bonnen, has a history of skirting the law, and has a couple of ethics violations here in Texas, but has never faced legitimate opposition for his seat.
Traveling around the United States, it is clear that Texas does not own the market on the crony capitalists. Several other states have elevated the one sold to the highest bidder to positions of leadership within their perspective states. They use the cash from their new found friends to portray an image of the second coming of Ronald Reagan. However, it is doubtful that most of these corporate conservatives have ever even read Reagan's book, much less model their political philosophy after him. To put it bluntly, they wouldn't amount to a pimple on Reagan's…well you know. However, that does not stop them from hanging the picture of Reagan in their offices, and portraying themselves as Reagan capitalists.
Why do I bring these stories up in this manner? We because for the most part, the legislation and regulations written by these individuals, clearly go against the principals of conservatism. Their actions tell a much different story than their campaign speeches. Whether it be Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina, or Michigan, they pass legislation that destroys private property rights, takes away local control, and undermines the free market system.
One example is the rule 37 exceptions that has become the norm in Texas. This allows a private company to take a person's private mineral property without compensation. With the frequency of this use, there have been close to 5,000 natural gas well permits issued in the Barnett Shale with rule 37 exceptions. This could amount to a billion dollars in private property transferred to a corporation without compensation. So much for that free market I keep hearing about.
There are other mechanisms used to accomplish the same thing called compulsory integration or forced pooling, which forces someone to sell their minerals to a company against their will, something like eminent domain. In these cases the mineral owner is typically paid something for their minerals. The minimum payment s and terms vary by state, some are better than others, but all are typically against the will of the mineral owners. For the most part, these crony capitalist do not even understand the problem with allowing a for profit company to take private property. They believe that as long as you get a "fair price" for your land then it is ok, completely missing that the taking is against the will of the property owner. There is no such as fair and equitable negotiations when a company has the power of eminent domain, even if you call this power something else. The citizen always loses in these situations, the corporation always wins.
Visiting the beautiful state of North Carolina, I found that their "conservative" State Senate and House passed a draconian forced pooling act. This bill essentially gave the industry the ability to take mineral interests at will, and goes as far as to set the minimum royalty that must be paid, which is about half of the going rate in other areas. Therefore, those who live in gas producing areas of North Carolina, your state government has decided that you no longer have any say so in what happens to your property. If you don't believe me, just wait and see. I hate to bring you the bad news, the confiscation of private property is not a founding principle of conservatism.
Another issue that continues to pop up around the country is the removal of local control in regards to the oil and gas industry. The State of Texas has made several attempts to take away local control, while many other states have succeeded. I served as a local official for six years, and feel that there is not a purer form of democracy than a small town government. I also have a particular passion about maintaining local control of things that greatly affect the future of small communities. Local officials who are visionaries trying to develop a comprehensive plan for these communities have their hands tied by overreaching and overbearing state governments.
Currently the "conservative" government in Pennsylvania has passed legislation that removes local control over gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. If they were successful in implementing this legislation, this would cripple local communities, and prevent them from being able to effectively plan for their future. Oddly enough, the same politicians that have aggressively sought to take the decision-making away from local officials, are the same ones who complain about an over reaching federal government. It would appear that these state officials are looking to have all of the control and power reside solely with them. Perhaps, they prefer to keep all of those campaign contributions to themselves.
Fortunately, the courts has overturned parts of this legislation for being unconstitutional. However, that has to say something when your state government attempts to pass legislation that is unconstitutional, it really shows where their heart is at, and it is not with the citizens of Pennsylvania. Again, I will let you in on a little secret, overbearing, unconstitutional governments that take away local control, are not a principle of conservatism.
The oil and gas industry itself is the epitome of crony capitalism. They receive billions in corporate welfare every year, and billions more in tax breaks and exemptions, and that is only at the federal level. They are given as much or more at the state level. So the taxpayers are paying this industry's bills already, and they would likely not survive otherwise. Also, they are exempt from most every environmental law that could apply to them, so they virtually have no rules to follow. Furthermore, there is no one watching to make they follow the few that do apply. Therefore, they do not have to follow the same rules that similar industries have to follow. For their troubles, the oil and gas politicians receive hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign contributions every year. However, this industry does nothing but trample on the Constitution, and private property rights of those in their path, not sure how else to describe this arrangement. Wonder if that is what the founding fathers envisioned when forming this nation?
So those of you who support the crony capitalist and corporate conservatives ways mentioned above, I would ask that you first come clean with your citizens and tell them you are not the Reagan like politician that you have portrayed yourself to be, nor are you even a real conservative. You do not support the constitution, or the citizens who voted you into office. The next item that would be in order, is to go ahead and take down that picture of Reagan on the wall in your office, and install a photo of someone more appropriate of your true values. If you are having difficulty finding that perfect photo, give me a call, I just might have some suggestions for you. Oh, and you also will need to go ahead and turn in your conservative card, because you know that is not what you are, so it is probably time to give it up. The taking of property rights and an all powerful, over bearing, centralized state government are not founding principles of conservatism or capitalism, but rather they are founding principles of communism, and that was what Reagan spent his life fighting.   
Calvin Tillman
Former Mayor, DISH, TX
(940) 453-3640

"Those who say it can not be done, should get out of the way of those that are doing it"

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Shale Gas Leak with a Twist

A new kind of 'leak' has hit Shale Gas Fracking Industry in the States - the news has 'leaked' out that an insurance company in the States is refusing to insure the Shale Gas a.k.a. 'Fracking' Industry as well as its sub-contractors who transport materials for the industry. 
Nancy Smeltzer - company spokesperson for Nationwide Insurance said the news that the company will not provide insurance coverage to Fracking industry was not meant for public dissemination.  
But the word is out and the Washington Post is covering the story. The story is not all good for anti-shale activists since landowners who lease to Frack industry will also be caught 'uninsured' as it were, however the fact that a large insurance company has 'washed its hands' of the industry speaks volumes.   
How can an Industry survive without insurance? Will this debacle spawn a Court Case? Will this news spark a 'trend' of non-insurance by other Insurance Companies? Will these two Goliaths of Industry (Insurance and Oil & Gas) collide in a 'no holds barred' battle? Too early to say for sure on any of this, but the slight lull in industry activities and the major depression of natural gas prices on the market followed by a more recent upsurge all speaks to the extreme volatility of the industry. With this latest news from Nationwide - will Shale Gas Industry now be considered too hot to handle?  - will the news precipitate a "Walk from Wall Street" for natural gas investors?   

NOTE: Fracking industry spokespersons are downplaying the effects of this announcement however, the news is significant given that Nationwide is a well-established 80-year veteran of the Insurance Industry which has grown to one of the largest insurance and financial services companies in the world, with more than $135 billion in statutory assets. 

Washington Post headline:
"US insurance company nixes coverage for damage related to hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas"

Truth is For Sharing - DO Feel Free to Pass This One On!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Access to Frack Fluid Ingredients provided by Private Citizen at NB Govt.'s Public Meeting on Shale Gas in Bouctouche

Friday evening June 22nd in Bouctouche the government of New Brunswick held another one in its series of Public Consultation Meetings on Shale Gas atl'ecole Clément-Cormier.These meetings have ostensibly been employed by government as a way to hear from the people of the province and the questions came fast and furious right out of the starting gate.
As has been the case at previous meetings, the public has broached the topic time and time again on the subject of "frack fluid ingredients".The government's proud response to these queries has been that the New Brunswick government, unlike governments in other jurisdictions, will force Industry to reveal- via full disclosure - the ingredients of the frack fluids to the public. However nearly two years into the Industry's presence in the province, government Hydro-geologist Annie Daigle, had to admit the ingredient' list for fracking fluids had not been released to the public.
While the government has repeatedly held the promise of 'disclosure' up as evidence of their transparency to the public and their "hard line with the Industry" - it simply doesn't wash with this public, and they are getting tired of this 'well-worn' promise, yet unfulfilled.
The weariness showed itself yet again Friday night at Bouctouche when a question related to the frack fluid ingredients was asked by a member of the audience:"Will the pre-testing of nearby drinking water wells include tests of the fracking fluid ingredients for comparison purposes post-fracking?". While the govt. panel hedged their responses, the audience was clearly not satisfied.
A rejoinder on that same topic came a few minutes later when a member of the audience holding up a two-inch binder stated that she had 30 material safety data sheets that she had downloaded from internet containing 30 chemical cocktails and single ingredients of "fracking fluid. " If I can download them so easily why is it that the government has not provided them to New Brunswickers?" she inquired. If the govt. is not going to provide the information and no one else will provide this information, then I will," she stated, as she proceeded to recite an email address for audience contact.
At this point Annie Daigle was forced to jump in with damage control - finally revealing to the audience the name of a website where the audience could view a list of frack fluids, insisting that there was no need to 'spam this lady's email'.
Could it be that the possibility that people in the audience could use this opportunity to make further connections and solidify relationships over this common bond of anti-shale sentiment distressed Ms Daigle to the point where she had no other choice but to resort to helpfulness? It seemed a trifle odd that Ms Daigle had not offered this vital information prior to this time in the proceedings.
Her insinuation that the audience would be "spamming" a total stranger was a Public Relations faux pas that underestimated her audience's knowledge on the topic.This tech savvy audience knew enough to know that "an outright" and public invitation to an email box can in no way be construed as 'spamming' - maybe a magnanimous offer, but not spamming. 
No doubt, steering the audience away from the generously 'offered email' and toward the Frac Focus site was Ms Daigle's best chance of extricating herself from the "non-disclosure" corner into which she had painted herself.
As for the website Frac Focus that was revealed by Ms Daigle - the site gives a laundry list of complicated and unpronounceable chemical names to be sure, but provides no information whatsoever as to the toxicity or human permissible exposure limits (PEL's) of these chemicals.The site is industry-run and chemicals used by industry tend to be shrouded in secrecy.The Frac Focus site does an excellent job of perpetuating that secrecy. After all, the real focus on the Frac Focus site is on Fracking not on public health.
Ms Daigle may think she pulled the Alward government's reputation for transparency 'out of the fire' by providing the Frac Focus website to the audience.However, New Brunswickers - being a very discerning public - don't like to be trifled with - and by this time, many, if not most of her audiencehave logged onto Frac Focus only to discover that the transparency that this government so proudly displays on its sleeve is simply another diversionary tactic intended to delay full disclosure and obscure the truth from public view.
In fact, rather than satisfying the public's appetite for greater disclosure, Ms Daigle has led the public down the garden path to a dead end, and in so doing, she has simply re-enforced the belief by the voters of New Brunswick that their government cannot be trusted.
But one nagging question will continue to linger in the minds of New Brunswickers (who are only two years away from a provincial election): Why was it necessary for a member of the public to threaten disclosure of frack fluid chemical ingredients before Ms. Daigle would provide a source document?Why indeed?
If this is an example of the "full disclosure" that the Alward government intends for the public regarding 'fracking' - then it's a little late in coming because the Govt.'s Johnny-Come-Lately attitude about frack fluid disclosure has revealed the cracks in this government's facade concerning "full disclosure" and New Brunswickers are way ahead of the 'game' leaving their government once again, behind in their dust.

Parents Against Everyday Poisons (P.A.E.P.)
NOTE:Fracking Chemicals can cause liver, kidney and lung damage, blindness and coma.The best way for the public to gain meaningful information about the chemicals in fracking fluid is to consult the Material Safety Data Sheets.These documents contain information on toxicity, permissible exposure limits (P.E.L.'s) by the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (U.S.), dangers posed to aquatic life, first aid measures, physician advice and fire fighting protocols.
Thirty of the MSD Sheets can be viewed at:
Alternatively, the public can attach the words "Material Safety Data Sheet" to any chemical name they find and just"google" for the results.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Govt. Panel Tries to Shut Out Speaker for Verbatim Reading of Frack Toxin Facts from Safety Data Sheet: Hillsborough Public Consultation on Shale Gas

Note: The below article should be read in the context of the following information containing Material Safety Data Sheets:

Shale Gas in Hillsborough, N.B. Canada.  There was a crowd of about 75 people who attended from as far away as Memramcook across the river and Fredericton - people who were incensed by what is being perpetrated against them in the name of Corporate Profit and made no bones about it.   I actually was not planning to speak at any of the Public Consultation meetings at all, but yesterday morning a friend whom I respect and admire - called to ask me if I would, and I could not turn him down.   I had no idea what I would talk about  10:00 a.m. yesterday morning as I had nothing prepared  and little time to do so, but I pulled together some research and a few comments a couple of hours before the meeting, and the gist of it - as I delivered it to the govt. panel and the public last night went something like this:

Hello, my name is Stephanie Stoneleigh and I am the Founder of Parents Against Everyday Poisons.   I started this organization several years ago and I originally studied the health effects of Fabric Softener for about 7 or 8 years.   It's amazing how - when you think you've conquered one thing a bigger and worse boogey-man appears on the scene.  And I believe that Shale Gas is the Real Boogey Man.
I'm speaking tonight as a person who has experienced first-hand the effects of chemically -induced illness.  Due to a chemical exposure some years ago I have suffered from Chronic Respiratory Problems since 2001.  Chemically-induced illness ravages its sufferers as it is often the case that it affects multiple organ systems of the body  -  I would not want anyone to have to suffer what I have suffered through in the last several years.  And I am sure this illness is not something you would want to have affect your family, your children or grandchildren.  But the risks for chemically-induced illness increase as we become more and more exposed to chemical pollutants.  And we know Shale Gas Industry utilizes a large array of chemical pollutants to frack gas wells.

So I have to wonder about my grandchildren, the children and grandchildren of New Brunswick and I worry - what kind of legacy are we leaving them?
I've obtained a List of some of the chemicals used in Fracking from a Supplier to the Frack Industry Baker-Hughes of Texas.  The Baker-Hughes List contains 46 Chemical cocktails and subsidiary list of 37 constituents of Frack Fluid.   I will direct my comments to only 2 or 3 of these chemicals.

The difference between the 46 Chemical Cocktails and the 37 constituents is that the 37 constituents are not accompanied by MSD Sheets.  The absence of such safety sheets might suggest that safety data sheets are not needed for the Constituents because they are innocuous substances, but as you will see in a moment this is not the case.

What I have here in my hand is a Material Safety Data Sheet also known as an MSDS. Now an MSDS is what we use in North America (for those of you who are not familiar) to tell us which substances are toxic, what their level of toxicicity is, and what organ systems of the body are targeted by a particular toxin because toxins tend to be attracted to particular organs in the body.   The MSD Sheet is supposed to be our  protection in North America against harm from chemicals.

I'm going to start with a Chemical Cocktail called CI-111- a corrosion inhibitor used in Frack Fluid and these are some of the facts about this "Cocktail". First of all, it's composed of three chemicals: Quaternary Ammonium Compound, Sulfur Compound and Isopropanol.  The primary routes for exposure are listed as skin, eye and lung (inhalation).  (The list of exposure effects was long so I pointed out only the first on the list and the most important:  which warned that the chemical may cause central nervous system depression or Lung Damage.)

As I continued to the section on Exposure Limits I pointed out that the LD50 was Not Available (LD stands for "Lethal Dose".  LD50 is the amount of a material, given all at once, which causes the death of 50% (one half) of a group of test animals. The LD50 is one way to measure the short-term poisoning potential (acute toxicity) of a material.)   And the PEL (Permissable Exposure Limit) for Quaternary Ammonium was also NOT AVAILABLE.  The information was simply not there (indicating at best that the substance had never been tested).  I pointed out to the Panel that the Document was incomplete and that this was the document that was supposed to supply us with the information for our protection.   Pointing out the first of what would become a litany of fatal flaws in the Material Safety Data Sheet's reliability, I then went on to discuss other important topics from the so-called "Safety Data Sheet".

For First Aid measures it was stated that, "if the victim is not breathing give artificial respiration".  (At this point, there was an audible gaffaw that arose from the crowd.)  I continued to read verbatim from the document: "Remove contaminated clothing and launder before re-use.  Remove contaminated shoes and discard.  "If breathing is difficult give oxygen.  Only Trained personnel should administer oxygen."   At this juncture I had to interrupt myself to divulge a little-known fact about Quaternary Ammonium compounds, and that is that there's a reason why this advice is given.  There are some Quats (Quaternary Ammonium Compounds) that actually damage the lungs so severely that adding oxygen to the mix merely compounds that damage because of a synergistic chemical reaction between Quats and Oxygen.   Was it a murmur or an audible hush that I heard after that revelation?  

It was at this point I believe that the Government's Moderator for the evening interrupted me telling me that there were a number of people behind me who wanted to ask questions and advising me that I could leave my research with "their people".  However, as I had not used up even a quarter of the time that had been permitted for some others to speak, I recognized this tactic as one intended to have the TRUTH shunted out the door and I would not tolerate it.  I stood my ground and continued with information that showed that even though the MSD Sheet is intended to be our protection, that the company Baker Hughes at the end of the MSD Sheet makes the following Disclaimer, and I quoted: "no warranty is expressed or implied regarding the accuracy of these data...... vendor (that is, the Seller of the CI-111) assumes no responsibility for injury to vendee or third persons (I interjected: "that would be us - the public, our families, our children and our grandchildren") ... even if reasonable safety procedures are followed."  

I then went on to talk about the Constituents List that is pain-stakingly "dressed up" in descriptions of Common Use so benign that one would think the Constituents could be added to one's morning coffee with no harm done.   I chose just one item from the "Constituents List" - Propargyl Alcohol on which to speak, starting with the fact that the PEL (permissible exposure limit) for that Constituent is 1 ppm over an eight hour time period and pointing out that the safety parameters have been based on this short space of time only.  (I noted for the benefit of the audience that the parameters established for safety of these chemicals is most usually based on an eight hour work period and testing is done for an average healthy male.) The further information on this "Constituent" revealed that it is classified as a harzardous waste by the EPA, has been placed on the Toxic Release Inventory in the States and is a reportable substance under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

I summarized thus: 
So I guess my question in all of this is "Who is going to oversee this "Constituent" of Fracking Fluids to make sure my eight year old grandson is not breathing in more than 1 ppm in an eight hour time period?

Can we reasonably expect this to be regulated?  I don't think we here in New Brunswick believe it can be done. 
At least not this Grandmother. 
My question was not a rhetorical one - but was never answered by the Govt. Panel. 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Holding Oil & Gas Industry Accountable - A Crime in Texas?

Dr. Al Armendariz (was also in the Texas portion of Gasland) was the EPA Region 6 Administrator that spoke before the citizens of DISH TX shortly after his appointment, and was discussing how he would attempt to hold the Oil and Gas Industry accountable for their actions. A video of this was made public and a brief clip of this was blown out of proportion by the oil and gas industry.  Subsequently Dr. Armendariz resigned from the EPA, and is still being forced to testify before congress, below is a campaign to show support for Dr. Armendariz. If you support what Dr. Armendariz was attempting to do, please consider participating.                

Calvin Tillman

Former Oil Industry Exec. Blowing the Whistle

» Cover Story »   Artvoice Weekly Edition » Issue v11n22 (05/31/2012) » 
From the ArtVoice Website - Weekly News on the Net from Buffalo

Why is This Texan Against Fracking New York?

by Buck Quigley
James “Chip” Northrup brings his straight-shooting views to a forum at the Burchfield Penney
He looks like the kind of guy you’d get from central casting if you were trying to make a Western movie. A long, tall Texan with pioneer roots and the drawl to match, you quickly get the sense that while he believes in fairness, he is not an hombre to mess with. Then again, it’s not every cowboy who spends his younger days getting degrees from Southern Methodist University and the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. No, this dude didn’t spend windswept nights out on the range, yodeling around the campfire and tending cattle.
Like many successful Texas businessmen, James “Chip” Northrup spent a lot of time heavily involved in the fossil-fuel industry from 1986 to 2006. He currently winters in Dallas, but spends summers in Cooperstown, New York. That’s why his thoughts on the issue of high-volume, deep-well horizontal hydraulic fracturing as a way to tap natural gas in New York State carry weight. Artvoice caught up with him at his home in the Lone Star State.
“In Texas, I’m just another oil and gas investor. There are thousands of guys like me in Texas who’ve had experience in oil and gas deals. And there’s a more limited number who’ve invested in oil rigs—maybe only dozens I guess, if that,” he explains. “Most of what I did for over 20 years was invest in oil rigs. The reason why people should listen to me in New York—it’s not because I’m so brilliant—it’s because what I know, not that many people know, in New York. And the ones that know what I know are not going to tell the truth. Meaning they work for the industry. I’d defy anybody in the state of New York to say they’ve owned more oil rigs than I have.
“What sets me apart, what sets [former Mobil Oil vice president] Lou Alstadt apart, what sets [Cornell University engineer] Tony Ingraffea apart, is we know what the industry guys know—and we’re not gonna bullshit people about it. It’s a cliché, but it is the one-eyed man in the land of the blind.”
Northrup points out that he’s retired from the drilling business. He sold off his last interest in a well in 2006. He doesn’t invest in drilling anymore. When you boil it all down, another reason not to frack New York, he argues, is because it doesn’t make financial sense.
“First, the financial aspect of it is there’s damn little of that stuff up there—and I’m putting it mildly—that makes any economic sense whatsoever. That’s the cold, hard fact of the thing. Secondly, I got out of the business before the EPA was fracked out of business. So everything we ever did was subject to state and federal regulations. We never drilled any horizontal wells. None of what we did was remotely as polluting as horizontally fracking shale. I wouldn’t do that in New York. I’d do it in west Texas, probably. If I was out in west Texas or New Mexico, where there are no groundwater wells, where it’s flat and remote as the desert, I might. But I certainly wouldn’t do it if I knew I was going to gas somebody.
“This is something that cannot be understated: It is just flat uneconomic to drill for shale gas in New York, and that’s not likely to change for years—well into the next decade, because of the depressed price of natural gas,” he says.
He likens much of the fracking boom to the housing bubble that precipitated the global economic crisis that led to all the bank bailouts, recession, and unemployment we are still struggling with today.
“Wall Street, et cetera, literally threw too much money at shale gas. Now, you think that’s a good thing because the price of natural gas is $1.85. This is similar to the mortgage crisis. The housing market was grossly overbuilt because money was being thrown willy-nilly at building houses and condominiums and whatnot. There was a 10-year overbuilt supply of housing, which depressed the price.
“Similarly, they drilled more wells than they knew what to do with,” he says. “The domestic natural gas market has collapsed.”
One way to get around that problem is to export it overseas. This, Northrup points out, eats away at the original arguments in favor of going ahead with fracking despite its attendant environmental damage here at home.
“The domestic market is saturated for the next 10 years. That’s why they’re trying to convert these inbound LNG [liquid natural gas] terminals to outbound—so they can export it to Europe and to Asia. So this whole business about ‘We’re gonna drill, baby, drill’ to be energy independent—in a sense, that mission is accomplished, at least, vis-à-vis natural gas. So now, we’re gonna have to ‘Sell, baby, sell’ to the Chinese. There’s a real irony there, because the pollution and the problems are created locally, but the commodity goes overseas—and cheap. There’s nothing patriotic about it. They tried to wrap it in the flag early on, but there’s no glory in selling this stuff to the Europeans.”
It’s going to be a job creator for New York—that’s another big argument for lifting the ban on fracking here. Northrup sets the record straight about that:
“The whole thing is a carny deal. A rig is a carny worksite. When the rig moves, the camp moves. They all go with the rig. They set the tent up, they have the carnival, they take the tent down and go to the next town. I tell people, look, even in Texas, if you got hired to work on a rig in Texas, the first thing you’d do is you’d leave town. You don’t stay in your own town. The rig doesn’t stay in town—it moves. If you’re lucky, you wind up in the North Sea, or the Bay of Campeche, or the South China Sea. And with the glut of gas, there’s no reason to train a crew in New York State. If you’re gonna explore for gas with wildcat wells, you’re gonna bring experienced crews in from out of state.”
Viewed through Northrup’s experienced eyes, it’s difficult to see how lifting the moratorium on horizontal fracking would be a good move for New York. What does he think about the recent bills introduced by Republican State Senator Mark Grisanti—who is also the chair of the Senate’s environmental committee—which claim to insert regulations that would make fracking safe here?
“The ones that go through that relate to fracking will be trivial,” he says. “I think that what Grisanti is doing is playing this little marginal game of incremental regs that won’t mean much. And frankly, the wording on some of this stuff is pretty flawed on top of that. He’s just beating around the bush with that stuff.”
Part of the problem Northrup sees is that New York legislators, in general, have little understanding of the technology involved in fracking. This sets them up to be the rubes at the carnival—the same as many of us in the economically pinched Empire State—where the idea of a gas boom gives some folks visions of the Beverly Hillbillies. Even a lot of the anti-frackers would be hard-pressed to speak intelligently on the subject for any length of time.
“[The legislators] are basically dependent on people who are paid liars,” he says. “Lawyers turned lobbyists. PR guys turned lobbyists. Whatever. Ex-government employees…now basically paid to lie. Unfortunately, on the other side, I get these environmentalists that really don’t know entirely what they’re talking about. They know they just don’t like it. And there’s no in-between.”
What’s Northrup’s advice for New Yorkers?
“He doesn’t seem like a bad guy, really, but I think they’re gonna have to get rid of Grisanti, because the Democrats are gonna have to get control of that State Senate,” he says.
But what about Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo? He hasn’t exactly come out as being against fracking.
“I think Cuomo got sold a bill of goods. He bought it. And I think he really thought that it was gonna be the great economic boon for a depressed part of the state. And the DEC could deal with the environmental issues. I think he wanted to buy it because obviously it would make him look good if it worked. But the people who bet on this being an economic boon for the state bet wrong. They got it wrong. They were extrapolating out of Pennsylvania—and it stopped. We have to call them out on that. We have to say, ‘Look, you were for it because you thought it was gonna be a lot of jobs and a lot of money. Now what are you gonna do? Now why are you for it? There’s no jobs, there’s no tax money. Why? Tell me.’
“That’s what it’s come down to. There’s no fracking rush. If there ever was one, there is now no rush to do this in New York State. They have years to prepare for this. The drillers say, ‘We’ve waited long enough.’ Well, sorry. There’s certainly no reason to do it now.”
Won’t the outcry then be that New York is unfriendly to business?
“They’re so silly. Nobody is buying the leases that were for sale in Otsego County. The leases that were for sale in Chenango County, nobody will buy them. The leases that were for sale in were for sale in Tioga County, nobody will buy them. And it’s not because of Cuomo. It’s because there is no economic reason for them to come buy those leases. It’s like, ‘We have all that we can handle in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana…thanks a lot, fellas, we’ll call you back in five years.’
“That’s the reality of the situation. It’s got nothing to do with the DEC or anything else. They could issue permits tomorrow, and those leases would still be worth nothing. The mineral rights owners themselves know that this is dead, but the PR guys won’t admit it. And the politicians who’ve supported this will not admit it. They will not admit that it’s dead.”
Visit Northrup’s blogs at and to get a fuller sense of his take on fracking in New York State. You can also hear more of Northrup’s straight-shooting views when he speaks in person this Saturday, June 2, at A People’s Hearing on Fracking. Click here for details.
So what is the motivation for the PR machine to continue the push to frack? According to Northrup:
“The more hastily the regulations are written, the worse they’re going to be. It helps them for the DEC to do this in haste. What they are spending on PR in New York is trivial compared to what they are making nationally. It always amazes me that they hire these local PR types to be their spokesman. When you look at who these people are—they have no oil and gas experience. I was supposed to debate Chesapeake’s PR guy in Dryden. I say I was supposed to because I showed up and he didn’t. I read his bio on the way over to the debate and it was a guy who’d worked in the planning department in the city of Binghamton. He didn’t know a damn thing about the gas business. But he was a local, and he could go through the spiel.
“It’s not that much money. They basically bought governor Corbett in Pennsylvania for about $600,000. PR and lobbying is by far the best return on investment the industry has. Think about what they bought in Pennsylvania. There’s no government severance tax. There’s no state production tax. So for whatever they spent they avoided tens of millions of dollars in tax, which they have to pay in every other state.”

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