How do we, the public, decide what's in the public interest? Specifically, in the context of eminent domain: In 2005, in Kelo v. City of New London, the concept of eminent domain, or taking of private property to benefit public interest, was expanded to allow governments to take private property and turn it over to private commercial interests, if deemed to benefit the public. Although some states later passed legislation designed to curb abuses of this power, the state of Virginia is now taking it to the next level. [more inside]
“In shadow of oil boom, North Dakota farmers fight contamination” by Laura Gottesdiener for Al Jazeera reports on the conditions faced by farmers in Bottineau County when their fields become polluted with the waste-water from oil drilling operations. [more inside]
Here's a multi-media webpage (text and photos, plus scroll down for the enlightening and well-made video) that spells out what's going on right now down Texas way: Fracking the Eagle Ford Shale of South Texas.
Pete Seeger made a rare and surprise appearance at Farm Aid 2013, and brought a sharp new verse for an old classic. (SLYT)
Massive earthquakes in Chile and Japan have been found to cause the dramatic increase in violent quakes around fracking's largely unregulated wastewater injection wells observed in the Midwest in the past two years, where injected water acts as a lubricant for geological faults that were previously thought to be "dead" or stable for millions of years.
"One night in August 2012, after months of unexplained seismic activity and mysterious bubbling on the bayou, a sinkhole opened up on a plot of land leased by the petrochemical company Texas Brine, forcing an immediate evacuation of Bayou Corne's 350 residents—an exodus that still has no end in sight." [more inside]
From Slate's 'Behold' photo blog: This Is What Fracking Really Looks Like. See more of photographer Nina Berman's documentation of Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region at her website collection called fractured: the shale play.
Chesapeake, the largest natural gas producer in Pennsylvania, is losing money. The current low price of gas will leave the company around $4 Billion in the red this year. Part of their response is to use a recent state Supreme Court ruling to justify charging landowners for the drilling and transportation expenses involved in extraction, reducing or eliminating all royalties. What was once a windfall to Pennsylvania communities is now becoming a burden, with Chesapeake now retroactively billing landowners for previous expenses. StateImpact Pennsylvania has written and recorded a thorough report on the issue.
On the relationship between energy companies and the Amish
[E]xtraction companies are buying up the rights to drill on private property with unprecedented speed. At stake are geysers of money. And in the thousands of cases in which the landowner is of the Amish faith, their business partner would never dream of taking them to court should things go awry. This, obviously, has enticed some companies to take advantage of Amish farmers—who are finally figuring out how to fight back.
German Brewers Say Fracking Will Mess Up the Country's Beer (via The Atlantic) Brewing the world's best hefeweizen, you see, requires great drinking water -- and fracking, they said, "could reduce or even completely eliminate the security of the water supply." In a letter (in German), the organization (Deutscher Brauer-Bund) argued that this newfangled way of extracting energy would conflict with Europe's oldest food purity law, the Reinheitsgebot of 1516.
Charles C. Mann writes for The Atlantic:
This perspective has a corollary: natural resources cannot be used up. If one deposit gets too expensive to drill, social scientists (most of them economists) say, people will either find cheaper deposits or shift to a different energy source altogether. Because the costliest stuff is left in the ground, there will always be petroleum to mine later. “When will the world’s supply of oil be exhausted?” asked the MIT economist Morris Adelman, perhaps the most important exponent of this view. “The best one-word answer: never.” Effectively, energy supplies are infinite.[more inside]
Described as the path to a new golden age of energy, hydraulic fracturing, or 'fracking' is marketed as an economical, safe, and environmentally sustainable method. An investigation by the NY Times may suggest otherwise. Meanwhile, people throughout the country are faced with the prospect of drilling in their back yards. What are small communities to do? Ask the BLM to withdraw the leasing or perhaps just be ignored. Maybe its time to map the fight.
A new DOE-funded study has concluded liquified natural gas exports will help the US economy. (PDF) In this report, the word "environment" occurs four times -- none of them with respect to impact on, or cost to the environment of either extraction or transportation. [more inside]
Josh Fox, director of the documentary Gasland (previously, 2), took his fight to New York with an emergency short film The Sky is Pink [vimeo] with favourable results, for now. [more inside]
Pennsylvania has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients. This American Life on fracking in Pennsylvania. Fracking: Anatomy of a Free Market Failure. Previously in Pennsylvania. [more inside]
At the instruction of House Republicans, US Capitol Police arrested Josh Fox for filming a public hearing—a meeting of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. Josh directed Gasland (previously), a documentary on the potential dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a process used by energy companies which has been linked to causing earthquakes in Arkansas and other side effects. [more inside]
"The date of depletion of fossil fuels has been pushed back into the future by centuries -- or millennia."
"Everything you've heard about fossil fuels may be wrong: The future of energy is not what you think it is"
One year after BP's Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, a hydraulic fracturing operation in northern Pennsylvania experiences a blowout resulting in the release of fracking liquids. The use and chemical content of fracking liquids is a point of contention when debating what role natural gas will play in the future of energy.
Since last fall central Arkansas has experienced a mysterious swarm of earthquakes. It's clear that Arkansas has shaken in the past. But the sheer numbers are largely unprecedented and have been dubbed an earthquake swarm by the USGS. The Arkansas Geological Survey says that the quakes have nothing to do with hydraulic fracturing of the Fayetteville Shale. So do energy companies. Not everyone is convinced. [more inside]
Fracking cattle Mark Bittman, foodie and (accidental) BSG punster.