Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Group Targets Shale Gas Industry's Alliance with Private Water Companies
By Press Action
Many experts are predicting that wars of the future will be fought over water supplies as corporations and governments vie for the dwindling resource. While full-scale water wars between nation-states may be on the horizon, environmental groups and activists are already ramping up their resistance to companies diverting scarce water supplies to controversial industrial processes.
In the energy industry, for example, a growing number of companies are pursuing business opportunities in response to the shale gas industry’s thirst for water. In May 2012, the oil and gas industry joined with the private water industry for a first-ever summit, held in Dubai, to discuss how energy producers will access water supplies in the changing environment.
“Representatives from some of the most powerful companies in the world—Shell, Dow, GE, Veolia, CH2MHILL, AES—met to consummate an unholy alliance focused on using (and polluting) trillions of gallons of water to frack and drill for every last drop of oil and gas,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, wrote in an article upon her return from the conference.
Saturday, March 09, 2013
Environmental Groups Disagree on How to Fight Fracking in Illinois
By Press Action
With officials in New York once again delaying a decision on whether to allow the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas in the state, attention has now turned to a new battleground state: Illinois.
A recently introduced bill, H.B. 2615, establishes regulations on the use of fracking. The bill was the product of negotiations among lawmakers, industry officials and some environmental groups. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Illinois Environmental Council are pushing for passage of the bill, while other environmental groups are instead advocating for a long-term moratorium or ban on fracking in the state.
“We absolutely should be trying to keep fracking out of places that it’s not occurring,” Mark Schlosberg, national organizing director for Food & Water Watch, one of the groups opposed to H.B. 2615, said in a March 3 interview at an anti-fracking conference in Dallas. “When we don’t do everything we can to hold that line and to roll things back, we’re doing a disservice to what we could be doing.”
The Sierra Club and the NRDC surprised many anti-fracking activists when they announced their support for H.B. 2615, the Disclosure of Hydraulic Fluid Composition Act. The bill was proposed on Feb. 21 with 26 co-sponsors. On March 4, the bill was assigned to the House Revenue and Finance Committee.
Sunday, January 06, 2013
'Promised Land' Undermines Environmental Message, Playing into Industry Hands
By Press Action
If you want intrigue and drama, don’t go see “Promised Land.” If you want to learn about hydraulic fracturing, don’t go see “Promised Land.” If you want to see Matt Damon go Jason Bourne on the natural gas industry, don’t go see “Promised Land.” If you want environmental intrigue and drama, go rent “Erin Brockovich” or “Silkwood.”
But if you’ve been longing to see a meditation on the dilemmas facing small-town America, then “Promised Land” is the movie for you.
During the month-long media tour leading up to its release, Damon and co-star John Krasinski repeatedly said, “‘Promised Land’ is about American identity and where we’ve come from, where we are and where we’re headed.” By describing it as a pro-community movie, not an anti-fracking flick, many pundits believed the actors, who also co-wrote the screenplay and co-produced the movie, were trying to steer clear of the natural gas industry’s wrath.
As it turns out, Damon and Krasinski were telling the truth. Fracking plays second fiddle to the country roads and miniature horses of southwestern Pennsylvania. Despite going soft on fracking, the movie, which opened nationwide on Jan. 5, still drew the ire of shale gas companies and their advocates. In fact, the actors should send a thank-you note to the natural gas industry for stoking controversy that will certainly boost box office sales.
Sunday, December 16, 2012
Harnessing the Power of Persuasion Proves Crucial in Shale Gas Wars
By Press Action
And yet, despite the movement’s increasing strength, natural gas companies continue to hold the upper hand. Legislative houses and court houses in shale country—and at the federal level—are stacked with pro-industry officials. With huge sums of money allocated to public relations and lobbying efforts, the industry also claims a distinct advantage in the information wars.
But as its numbers grow, the anti-fracking movement could begin to close the gap in the public relations battle—as long as its members begin to take seriously the importance of messaging and communications.
“One of the advantages that the other side has, being industry, is access to the best marketing and PR people,” Joseph Romm, senior fellow at American Progress and editor of the ClimateProgress.org blog, told the audience at the Drilling Down conference in Baltimore on Dec. 8. “I do think there’s no question that people who are very good at communications can win debates when the facts are not on their side.”
Monday, December 03, 2012
Fracking in Focus: Pittsburgh Filmmaker Chronicles Impact of Shale Gas Revolution
By Press Action
Sound-bite journalism dominates the broadcast news media’s coverage of top environmental issues. The heated debate on the use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for the extraction of natural gas from shale gas plays is no exception.
This dumbed-down form of reporting, when combined with industry advertising that accompanies the news reports, does little to enhance the public’s understanding of such an important issue. It offers little hope for enlightenment, especially when so many Americans still count TV news shows as their primary source of information.
In a report released earlier this year, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a New York-based media watchdog group, found that during the past three years, “there has been exponentially more propaganda for the wonders of natural gas on our screens each night than theoretically objective news segments about natural-gas extraction.”
Concerned by the major media’s superficial coverage of the fracking debate, Kirsi Jansa, a Pittsburgh-based independent filmmaker and journalist, saw an opportunity to drill down into the issue. “These are the kind of stories that you cannot tell in sound bites,” Jansa said. “My attempt is to get the human voice and human story out there. And if you shorten it to the sound bite, you lose the core of it or somehow the experience of it.”
Friday, November 16, 2012
Pa. Farmer's Anti-Fracking Conservation Easement Serves as Model for Other Landowners
By Press Action
When Pennsylvania organic farmer Dr. J. Stephen Cleghorn publicly announced plans to create a first-in-the-nation conservation easement on his land, with the aim of preventing hydraulic fracturing, he was hoping his act would encourage others to do the same. It’s been only a few days since Cleghorn made the announcement, and already other landowners have contacted him to learn more about his novel approach to keeping natural gas drillers at bay.
“I’ve actually had inquiries from three other landowners already asking about it and I’m referring them to the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund,” Cleghorn said at a Nov. 14 press conference held in a field on his 50-acre Paradise Gardens and Farm in Jefferson County, Pa. And then at the press conference itself, Cleghorn was approached by a landowner from Cambria County, Pa.—two counties to the southeast of Jefferson County—who wanted to learn about this unique approach to slowing down or stopping drilling activity.
“We hope that other people, particularly here throughout Pennsylvania, but anywhere where this type of attack against nature, such as where hydraulic fracturing is happening, will take a look at this and consider doing the same,” Cleghorn said.
Friday, November 09, 2012
Pa. Farmer Bans Fracking on Land through 1st-of-its-Kind Conservation Easement
By Press Action
A Pennsylvania farmer has become the first landowner in the United States to use a conservation easement to recognize and protect the rights of water, forests and wild ecosystems.
Stephen Cleghorn, who owns a 50-acre organic farm in Jefferson County, Pa., said the easement will ban activities such as hydraulic fracturing and will “elevate the rights of nature above the power claimed by extractive energy corporations to despoil the environment.”
The easement was established in honor of Cleghorn’s late wife, Dr. Lucinda Hart-González, who died of lung cancer on Nov. 14, 2011. Earlier this year, a ceremony was held at Cleghorn’s farm, Paradise Gardens and Farm, at which Hart-González’s ashes were scattered on the property and the farm was declared forever inviolate and off-limits to the use of fracking for the production of shale gas.
Saturday, September 08, 2012
'Lesser Evil' Voters: Stop Enabling Your Abusers (part 2)
By Mickey Z.
"I think it is dangerous to confuse the idea of democracy with elections. Just because you have elections doesn’t mean you’re a democratic country." -Arundhati Roy
(Read part 1 of this article here)
A liberal and a progressive walk into a restaurant called Democracy.
The sign outside promises, “Exercise Your Freedom of Choice with Our Varied Menu.”
Here’s what that menu offers:
Double Cheeseburger Deluxe: $100
Double Bacon Cheeseburger Deluxe: $100
Liberal: I don’t even have to look. I already know what I’m getting.
Liberal (to waiter): The usual, please. Just make sure none of that evil bacon touches my less evil meat and cheese.
The liberal and the waiter share a chuckle.
Progressive (to waiter): You got any vegan options?
Waiter: Well, we’re working towards that, you know, one baby step at a time. Be patient but of course, keep hoping.
Liberal: Change takes time. Lots and lots and lots of time.
They all nod solemnly.
Progressive: I was really hoping for a salad.
Liberal: Let me guess, a green salad?
The liberal and the waiter share a loud laugh.
Progressive (to waiter): Can I order a salad?
Waiter: Oh, you’re free to order anything you want here. This is Democracy.
Progressive: Okay, cool. I’d like a salad. (to liberal) Democracy is swell.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Code Green: Sounding the Alarm to Save an Eco-Friendly Cartoon
By Press Action
What could be more important than protecting the environment? A majority of the ills associated with modern society are rooted in a logic of domination, which manifests itself most perniciously in humans claiming entitlement to the perceived benefits that come from brutalizing and terrorizing the natural world.
If we don’t do what’s necessary to stop and then reverse modern society’s war on the planet, we have no future. That is why ending the destruction of the environment is our most pressing job today.
There are many positions to be filled in the campaign to save the planet. One of the key roles is information dissemination—getting the word out about the large-scale devastation and how a grow-or-die economic system is a major contributor to the crisis.
When people learn about the magnitude of the harm, they are forced to process the information. Some will make the calculation that the human benefits of industrial growth outweigh environmental protection, even if the current economic system is inherently unsustainable. Others, however, will digest the information and then feel sick in the stomach about the environmental costs. They will begin searching for ways to prevent the dominant culture from continuing to inflict such devastation on the environment.
Friday, August 10, 2012
Advice for Social Activists: Respect Your Own Animal Rights
By Press Action
“The sooner we learn to recognize and respond to signs of stress and depression in ourselves and each other, the stronger our movements will become.” –Pattrice Jones, Aftershock
Activists of various stripes undoubtedly experience periods of burnout. Working long hours—typically without pay and little appreciation—on campaigns or issues where victories are few and far between can be demoralizing.
Some social change activists get so frustrated with the perceived lack of results from their hard work and the rampant apathy among the general public that they give up entirely and retreat from activism.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. “If you are burned out doing one thing, the alternative isn’t quitting activism. It’s just finding a different thing that you can do,” explained author, scholar and activist Pattrice Jones, speaking Aug. 4 at the Animal Rights 2012 conference in Alexandria, Va.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Anti-Fracking Movement Goes to Washington
By Press Action
Thousands of people traveled to the West lawn of the U.S. Capitol on July 28 for the first national demonstration against the use of hydraulic fracturing for extracting natural gas from shale formations.
Let me repeat that. Thousands of people showed up in Washington, D.C., to let lawmakers and natural gas companies know they are serious about stopping the environmentally destructive practice known as fracking and other related gas industry activities. Six years ago, 99% of the people in the crowd probably had never heard of fracking. Heck, six years ago, even those of us familiar with this industrial method for creating fractures in shale rock in order to release the natural gas that resides within it weren’t sure how to spell the word. Is it “frac” job or “frack” job?
As we were distracted by trivial spelling debates, natural gas producers and their landmen were busy snatching up huge amounts of acreage in the sweet spots of the nation’s shale gas plays. The rush to lease the acreage and then start producing the gas—what the industry fondly calls the “shale gas revolution”—was in full swing.
But local residents and grass roots environmentalists—not the Big Green groups with headquarters in Washington, some of whom remain allies of the gas industry—began asking questions. They were starting to see the impacts of gas industry activity in their communities, including contamination of ground water, air quality degradation, the migration of gases and fracking chemicals to the surface, surface contamination from spills and flowback, and the destruction of forest land, animal habitats and ecosystems.
Friday, May 04, 2012
Declaring a Farm Forever Inviolate of Drilling for Shale Gas
By Press Action
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it to be always kept alive?. I like a little rebellion now and then." -Thomas Jefferson
Drawing upon this nation’s Declaration of Independence as inspiration, Dr. J. Stephen Cleghorn, co-founder of the 50-acre Paradise Gardens and Farm organic farm that sits above the Marcellus Shale formation, is holding a press conference to declare—in defiance of any established laws which say otherwise—that his farm shall never be violated from above or below by unconventional shale gas drilling. He will seal his declaration upon the scattering of ashes that are all that is left of the farm’s co-founder, his late wife Dr. Lucinda Hart-González, who died of cancer in November 2011.
“May her ashes,” he will say as he drops them to the ground below, “declare this farm forever inviolate of any attack upon it as a living system. Her blessed ashes hereby declare a new right of love at the surface and forever below this farm that no gas drill may ever penetrate.”
WHO: Dr. Cleghorn will be joined by grassroots activists who oppose shale gas drilling from the Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air (PACWA), Marcellus Protest, Protecting Our Waters and several others. Also invited: Senator Joseph Scarnati, Speaker Sam Smith, J. Brett Harvey (CEO of CONSOL Energy), Douglas H. Miller (CEO of EXCO Resources) and Larry and Maxine Burkett of Punxsutawney, who hold the deed to the gas rights under the farm.
Monday, April 30, 2012
Communities Grow More Polarized in Uncertain World of Shale Gas Development
By Press Action
“The areas of the United States having the highest levels of long‐term poverty, outside of those having a history of racial inequalities, tend to be found in the very places that were once the site of thriving extractive industries.” -William R. Freudenburg
The fracking debate isn’t only about the environmental damage. The economic and social impacts of shale gas drilling also are proving divisive in state houses and communities located above natural gas fields across the country.
In Pennsylvania, residents who live in counties with the heaviest shale gas industry activity are experiencing an increase in social conflict, Timothy Kelsey Ph.D., professor of agricultural economics at Pennsylvania State University, said at an April 30 conference on the health impacts of shale gas extraction. The conference, held in Washington, D.C., was sponsored by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences.
Communities “are becoming more polarized” between those residents for and against drilling in the Marcellus Shale, Kelsey said. Part of the conflict is between “the haves and the have-nots”—landowners who received relative pennies from gas companies to lease their land and those who struck more lucrative deals, he said.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
The UN May Have Silenced the Afghan Public
By Afghan Peace Volunteers
“Today, Afghanistan and the U.S. initialed and locked the text of the strategic partnership agreement,” said Karzai’s spokesman, Aimal Faizi. “This means the text is closed…”
Why “lock” or “close” the future of Afghanistan to 30 million ordinary Afghan citizens?
While the world may accept that the U.S. and Afghan governments have some “state” or “noble” considerations for not revealing the contents of the U.S. Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement, how about the democratic consideration of involving Afghans in their own future?
Even the Afghan Parliament was in the dark and uninvolved until they were recently given a peek when Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor, Rangin Dadfar Spanta, read “portions” of the Agreement to assembled parliamentarians on 23rd April, saying that the U.S. will defend Afghanistan from any outside interference via “diplomatic means, political means, economic means and even military means.”
With a Rebel Yell, Deep Green Resistance Takes Message to Southeast
By Press Action
During a two-week period this summer, radical environmentalists will be spreading their message of resistance to industrial capitalism to an area of the country that they hope will prove a fertile recruiting ground. Instead of preaching to the converted in historically friendly communities across the western United States, Deep Green Resistance is heading to the Southeast, where the ruling elite has never hesitated to subsidize a nuclear power plant project or clamp down on a trade union organizing effort.
A traveling group of DGR activists will be touring seven Southeast cities in what the group’s organizers are calling the “Culture of Resistance Roadshow.” At each stop of the tour, there will be music, art and informative presentations that DGR hopes will give activists the tools they need to make a difference in the struggle for a livable future.
The tour kicks off in Miami on June 16 and then makes its last stop in Washington, D.C., on June 30. In between, the traveling roadshow will visit Gainesville, Fla., on June 18, Asheville, N.C., on June 22, Chapel Hill, N.C., on June 23, Knoxville, Tenn., on June 25, and Richmond, Va., on June 27.