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What the Frack? Fracking Closer to “Reality” in NC (Part...

A bill opening the door to fracking (hydraulic fracturing) within a few years moved out of committee this week in the North Carolina General Assembly. The possible advent of fracking in NC was the brainchild of a NC senator.

Somewhere in Mecklenburg County miles from the believed natural gas trove beneath rural Chatham County and job-starved Sanford, is a dentist with drilling on the brain.

So begins an Indy Week article.  You can almost hear the tooth doc saying, "Drill, Baby, drill."  Sen. Rucho can hardly wait to use hydraulic fracturing, which injects a "witches brew" of chemicals under high pressure to tap gas resources purportedly beneath rural Chatham County and Sanford.  In either case, the effort would be dangerously (from a seismic perspective) near the Sharon Harris nuclear plant.  And equally important, it has the potential to destroy the ground water (and therefore the drinking water) for a large area of NC. You've  got to wonder how dentistry is considered sufficient background for the man who would lead NC down this "scorched-earth" path. You know, they had to destroy the NC quality of life to save it.

The version passing out of committee is the more lax of the proposals envisioned by NC lawmakers.  A somewhat more protective plan (which advocates seem a bit too sanguine about--more on that later) has also been proposed, but awaits action.  

Why Isn’t the Tea Party Outraged About Fracking?

Don QuixoteIf you're looking for evidence the Tea Party is a fake movement funded by polluters like the Koch brothers to distract voters into freaking out about fake threats while overlooking real ones, look no further than fracking. As Mother Jones reports, Tea Partiers in Kansas and Arizona are losing their minds not just about current made-up anti-sustainability and Islamophobic conspiracies, but the possibility of future residents deciding to solve aforementioned made-up problems. But what about the very real threat posed by the natural gas drilling technique known as fracking? While it creates huge profits for corporate drillers, nearby residents see few benefits and face potential health threats:
The report, based on three years of monitoring, found a number of potentially toxic petroleum hydrocarbons in the air near the wells including benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylene. Benzene has been identified by the Environmental Protection Agency as a known carcinogen. Other chemicals included heptane, octane and diethylbenzene but information on their toxicity is limited.

"Our results show that the non-cancer health impacts from air emissions due to natural gas development is greater for residents living closer to wells," the report said. "The greatest health impact corresponds to the relatively short-term, but high emission, well completion period." That's due to exposure to trimethylbenzenes, aliaphatic hydrocarbons, and xylenes, all of which have neurological and/or respiratory effects, the study said. Those effects could include eye irritation, headaches, sore throat and difficulty breathing.

"We also calculated higher cancer risks for residents living nearer to the wells as compared to those residing further [away]," the report said. "Benzene is the major contributor to lifetime excess cancer risk from both scenarios."

Much more data is needed on the threats posed by fracking to our air, water and public health. To learn more about fracking, tune in to NPR's series this week, The Fracking Boom: Missing Answers.

When Energy Industry Greed and Wall Street Corruption Converge

Aubrey McClendonChesapeake Energy has been fined repeatedly for its sloppy safety record when it comes to "fracking" natural gas drilling. Now Aubrey McClendon, the same CEO who repeatedly professed Chesapeake's innocence on safety violations, is stepping down as chairman of the board after a Reuters report revealed he was playing Wall Street-style accounting games, using company resources to rake in extra cash for himself:
Aubrey McClendon, the embattled chief executive of natural gas company Chesapeake Energy, will relinquish his title as chairman of the board, the company said Tuesday.

The news follows last week's announcement by Chesapeake that McClendon agreed to negotiate an early termination of the controversial Founder Well Participation Program (FWPP), which allowed him to take personal stakes in wells drilled by the company.

The incentive program came under fire last month following news that McClendon took out loans worth over $1 billion against his personal stake in the company's wells, raising concerns about a conflict of interest.

How the hell does this guy not get fired outright? What does it say about the state of the energy industry & corporate America that this guy is revealed to be using Chesapeake Energy as his own personal piggybank and he still gets to stay on as chief executive officer?

Fracking, Suspected in Virginia’s Quake, Linked to Ohio Tremors

frack-ohioAfter Virginia's August 23rd earthquake, there was speculation about whether it was linked to nearby gas fracking. In the wake of a series of quakes in Ohio capped by a 4.0 rumbler on Saturday, officials aren't being so cautious - they're ordering nearby fracking wells to shut down:
The quake was the 11th over the last eight months in Mahoning County, all within two miles of the injection wells, he said. Saturday's quake was the largest yet. A quake on Dec. 24 measured 2.4.

There is "little doubt" that the quake is linked to injection wells that the state and the owner agreed on Friday to shut down, [state geologist Michael C.] Hansen said. [...]

The wells are among 177 in Ohio. Drilling wastes from Ohio and Pennsylvania are being pumped in increasing volumes into the wells for permanent disposal.

Geologists have long suspected that injecting liquids into underground rock formations can trigger earthquakes along fault lines. The liquids allow rocks to flow more easily past each other. Earthquakes have been linked to injection wells in Arkansas, West Virginia, Colorado and Texas.

Learn more about fracking from the Environmental Working Group, and how it cause earthquakes from the Christian Science Monitor's Pete Spotts.

Tonight (Oct. 18th): Go See “Gasland” in Arlington

Gasland PosterHere's a chance to see the award-winning documentary Gasland while supporting a great organization:
Gasland, The Movie
NRECA, 4301 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA
October 18, 7-9pm

Delegate Patrick Hope, The Virginia Progressive Caucus, The Virginia Sierra Club & The Virginia League of Conservation Voters invite you to watch the thought provoking movie, Gasland. Tuesday, October 18, 2011 from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at National Rural Electric Cooperative Association 4301 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22203. Proceeds will benefit the Virginia Progressive Caucus - Friend $25 • Donor $50 • Sponsor $100 • Patron $250 • Benefactor $500. To register in advance visit or call Mary 703-486-1010

I can't make the movie, but just contributed $25 anyway to show my support for the Virginia Progressive Caucus. You should too & ActBlue makes it easy, so go give $5, $10, $25 or more right now.