Category Archives: Uncategorized

OU pipeline & consultant choices contradict ‘green commitment’

Note: This open letter that was signed by more than 130 members of the Athens community, including residents, students, faculty, alumni, and others.

The letter was published in the Reader’s Forum of the Athens News on June 3, 2015 (at http://www.athensnews.com/ohio/article-45139-ou-pipeline-consultant-choices-contradict-lsgreen-commitmentrs.html)

Humanity is now grappling with the greatest crisis in its history. If it is not able to rapidly end its addiction to fossil fuels, tipping points will be crossed and a climate catastrophe will spin out of control. The ecosystems that sustain our very lives are going to collapse, leading to the immense suffering of millions and societal chaos.

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Notes on “The Rights of Nature”

By Bob Sheak

Does nature have rights? What is nature? What are the rights? These are questions being asked today by a growing number of groups that want to be able to protect their communities from the ravages of fracking, injection wells, from transportation of shale gas and oil by railroad or pipeline, and from offshore drilling and drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and in the ocean north of Alaska and other places in the Arctic. Continue reading

Athens County Charter Introduces Frequently Asked Questions

As the Athens County Charter campaign is picking up speed, the Bill of Rights Committee has put forward a brochure with answers to frequently asked questions.  The charter form of government would give residents of Athens County a broader range of self-determination than the current form does. The petition to get it on the November ballot  requires 1440 signatures from voting-age Athens County by June 24 (follow this link for a PDF of the Petition with a signature list). Continue reading

ACFAN appeals K&H 3 Injection Well Permit

Athens County Fracking Action Network has appealed the recent permitting of another injection well in Torch, Ohio, owned by Jeff Harper of West Virginia. The latest Athens County frack waste injection well, the K&H #3, was permitted last month by Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Continue reading

New Version of the Athens Community Bill of Rights and Water Supply Protection Ordinance

The Athens Bill of Rights Committee proposes new Ordinance regarding the protection of our water supply, specifically with regard to the effects of fracking and of the disposal of fracking wastewater in the city limits.

Below is (1) the official Summary. Please note that the new Ordinance avoids mention of any 20-mile buffer zone and hence is innocent of “legislative overreach” which seemed to have pulled down the last attempt.

Following is (2) the text of the ordinance, which you can also download as PDF Document “Petition for Ordinance Athens 5-14 Final” for your convenience. Continue reading

Economic Benefits and Risks of Fracking

Presentation given at the Watershed Summit in Athens, Ohio, on September 7, 2013

 

By Bernhard Debatin

When oil and gas industry, lobbyists, or politicians talk about fracking, they usually show us an economic wonderland. Fracking, we hear, does not only solve our energy problems, it also creates an economic boom of unheard of dimensions. And we hear it is clean, easy to recover, and has almost no negative side effects.

New technologies in oil and natural gas drilling do indeed make possible to extract huge amounts of non-conventional oil and gas from shale formations at a profitable rate, which is why fracking is celebrated as a “game changer” for the U.S. energy supply and the economic revival. Large areas in the U.S. have become the location of an ever-accelerating fracking boom. In addition to the Marcellus Formation, which covers most Appalachian states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and New York, fracking is also taking place at a large scale in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, North Dakota, Montana, Texas, and recently California. Continue reading

Pro Publica: Injection Well Problems

Message from Mexico: U.S. Is Polluting Water It May Someday Need to Drink

by Abrahm Lustgarten ProPublica, Jan. 25, 2013, 8:49 a.m.

Mexico City plans to draw drinking water from a mile-deep aquifer, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. The Mexican effort challenges a key tenet of U.S. clean water policy: that water far underground can be intentionally polluted because it will never be used.

U.S. environmental regulators have long assumed that reservoirs located thousands of feet underground will be too expensive to tap. So even as population increases, temperatures rise, and traditional water supplies dry up, American scientists and policy-makers often exempt these deep aquifers from clean water protections and allow energy and mining companies to inject pollutants directly into them.

As ProPublica has reported in an ongoing investigation about America’s management of its underground water, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued more than 1,500 permits for companies to pollute such aquifers in some of the driest regions. Frequently, the reason was that the water lies too deep to be worth protecting.

But Mexico City’s plans to tap its newly discovered aquifer suggest that America is poisoning wells it might need in the future.

Indeed, by the standard often applied in the U.S., American regulators could have allowed companies to pump pollutants into the aquifer beneath Mexico City.

For example, in eastern Wyoming, an analysis showed that it would cost half a million dollars to construct a water well into deep, but high-quality aquifer reserves. That, plus an untested assumption that all the deep layers below it could only contain poor-quality water, led regulators to allow a uranium mine to inject more than 200,000 gallons of toxic and radioactive waste every day into the underground reservoirs.

But south of the border, worsening water shortages have forced authorities to look ever deeper for drinking water.

Today in Mexico City, the world’s third-largest metropolis, the depletion of shallow reservoirs is causing the ground to sink in, iconic buildings to teeter, and underground infrastructure to crumble. The discovery of the previously unmapped deep reservoir could mean that water won’t have to be rationed or piped into Mexico City from hundreds of miles away.

According to the Times report, Mexican authorities have already drilled an exploratory well into the aquifer and are working to determine the exact size of the reservoir. They are prepared to spend as much as $40 million to pump and treat the deeper water, which they say could supply some of Mexico City’s 20 million people for as long as a century.

Scientists point to what’s happening in Mexico City as a harbinger of a world in which people will pay more and dig deeper to tap reserves of the one natural resource human beings simply cannot survive without.

“Around the world people are increasingly doing things that 50 years ago nobody would have said they’d do,” said Mike Wireman, a hydrogeologist with the EPA who also works with the World Bank on global water supply issues.

Wireman points to new research in Europe finding water reservoirs several miles beneath the surface u2014 far deeper than even the aquifer beneath Mexico City u2014 and says U.S. policy has been slow to adapt to this new understanding.

“Depth in and of itself does not guarantee anything u2014 it does not guarantee you won’t use it in the future, and it does not guarantee that that it is not” a source of drinking water, he said.

If Mexico City’s search for water seems extreme, it is not unusual. In aquifers Denver relies on, drinking water levels have dropped more than 300 feet. Texas rationed some water use last summer in the midst of a record-breaking drought. And Nevada u2014 realizing that the water levels in one of the nation’s largest reservoirs may soon drop below the intake pipes u2014 is building a drain hole to sap every last drop from the bottom.

“Water is limited, so they are really hustling to find other types of water,” said Mark Williams, a hydrologist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “It’s kind of a grim future, there’s no two ways about it.”

In a parched world, Mexico City is sending a message: Deep, unknown potential sources of drinking water matter, and the U.S. pollutes them at its peril.

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