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Immediate moratorium on fracking in England because of tremor risk

Immediate moratorium on fracking in England because of tremor risk

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Gooseneck at Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road shale gas site, 5 August 2019. Photo: Ros Wills

After seven years of promoting fracking, Conservative ministers have withdrawn their support and blocked the prospects of a shale gas industry.

The UK government has issued an immediate moratorium in England because of the risk of earth tremors. Governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have already issued measures that amount to moratoriums on fracking.

In a statement released just after midnight, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), said new scientific advice concluded that it was not possible with current technology to predict accurately whether fracking would cause tremors and how big they would be.

Opponents of fracking described the announcement as a victory for communities and the climate but called for a full, permanent ban. IGas, the only industry representative to respond to our invitation to comment, said it was confident it could operate safely and environmentally responsibly. The industry organisation, UKOOG, later said fracking was a long-standing technology and the UK had a world-class shale resource.  Full reaction

Ministers said they had based their decision on a report by the industry regulator, the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA). It had been investigating earth tremors caused by fracking at the UK’s only shale gas site, at Preston New Road, near Blackpool, operated by Cuadrilla.

The report looked at the impacts of fracking the PNR1z well in autumn 2018, which caused more than 50 tremors. The OGA is also examining 134 seismic events caused by fracking the second well, PNR2, in August 2019. They included the UK’s largest fracking-induced tremor, measuring 2.9ML. The British Geological Survey said this tremor was felt by several thousand people, while several hundred reported damage to homes. The OGA suspended fracking within hours.

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Campaigners outside Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road near Blackpool, 26 August 2019. Photo: Used with the owner’s consent

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fossil Fuel Misinformation Helps Quash Community Effort to Ban Fracking in Youngstown, Ohio

Fossil Fuel Misinformation Helps Quash Community Effort to Ban Fracking in Youngstown, Ohio

Sign reading 'Don't frack Ohio - Stop injection wells'

For the first time since 2013, a group of activists in Youngstown, Ohio, has been told it cannot place an anti-fracking initiative on local ballots, due in part to a misinformation campaign from the fossil fuel industry.

On October 6, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that two proposed ballot initiatives — one to outlaw fracking and fracking waste injections and another to regulate political campaign contributions within city limits — would not be up for a vote this November. In previous years, voters weighed in on similar initiatives, which were ultimately defeated.

The recent ruling came despite both initiatives receiving the required number of signatures to get on the ballot.

“We’ve become experts at collecting signatures!” said Susie Beiersdorfer of the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee.

The initiatives were in large part a response to earthquakes caused by fracking waste injections, illegal dumping of fracking waste in a local river, and the expansion of fracking in this area of eastern Ohio.

Anti-fracking Initiatives in Youngstown

Starting in 2013, the Youngstown Community Bill of Rights Committee has successfully placed a “Community Bills of Rights” to outlaw fracking and fracking waste injections on six separate ballots.

Each election, the group has been vastly outspent and its initiatives voted down. But it has made gains. In November 2016, its community bill of rights initiative lost by only 2,279 votes.

Citizens are realizing that our government system is fixed,” Beiersdorfer told DeSmog.

In response to being vastly outspent on past campaigns, this year the group also proposed a second initiative, the “People’s Bill of Rights for Fair Elections and Access to Local Government.” In addition to challenging corporations’ protections under the U.S.Constitution, the bill would ban outside private interests from contributing to local campaigns and limit campaign contributions to $100 for local elections.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Mendacity, Duplicity and Scaremongering

Mendacity, Duplicity and Scaremongering

In this post I depart somewhat from our usual format to cover three stories from last week that have a common theme of underlying chaos in and manipulation of energy policy. I begin with veteran SNP politician Jim Sillars (now aged 80) who in a letter to the Scottish Daily Mail launched a scathing attack on the SNP government’s ban on fracking.

“This brings me to the second concern: the consequences of the fracking ban. We have some 900,000 Scots living in fuel poverty, which means they freeze at home in winter. That means children in deprived areas being cold as well as hungry.”

I follow with excerpts from the Tory Party conference and with multinational utilities and foreign state-owned companies plastering the London underground with propaganda.

This jpeg copy of the letter from Jim Sillars, complete with several typos, landed in my mail box a couple of days ago. I cannot verify its authenticity but it came from a trusted source and this press reader link refers extensively to it.

The reason this caught my eye is that it makes several hard-hitting points that I happen to agree with:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Scotland To Permanently Ban Fracking

Scotland To Permanently Ban Fracking


The Scottish government said on Tuesday that it wants to extend a current moratorium on fracking into a permanent full ban, with a final vote likely taking place at the Scottish Parliament later this year.

“I can confirm that the decision of the Scottish Government is that we will not support the development of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland,” Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told the Scottish Parliament today.

In January 2015, the Scottish Government put in place a moratorium on granting consents for unconventional oil and gas developments in Scotland. Back then, the government promised to undertake further research on potential impacts before holding a full public consultation. The consultation ran from January 31 to May 31, 2017, and received more than 60,000 responses, the government said.

Today, Minister Wheelhouse told the Parliament that 99 percent of respondents in the consultation were against fracking. The ministers have a “moral responsibility” to tackle climate change, he noted.

“Fracking cannot, and will not take place in Scotland,” Wheelhouse said.

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, tweeted that “Scottish government backs ban on fracking”.

Just yesterday, The Scotsman reported that ministers of the SNP party of government had been warned by other parties that a failure to ban fracking would be a “betrayal” to climate change commitments Scotland has made.

The Labour Party, Greens, and Liberal Democrats are all opposing fracking and supporting a ban, so they would likely support the Scottish government in a Parliament vote on banning fracking.

Friends of the Earth Scotland welcomed the decision to ban fracking, which they described as a “truly momentous win for the anti-fracking movement.”

A British Geological Survey report from 2014 said that there were “modest” shale reserves in Scotland. The estimate of shale gas in place is 80 trillion cubic feet, and the central estimate for shale oil in place is 6 billion barrels of oil. The volumes of oil and gas that could be commercially extracted are likely to be much lower, according to the 2014 report.

Battle to Keep Florida Frack-Free Heats Up

Battle to Keep Florida Frack-Free Heats Up

The battle to keep Florida frack-free is intensifying ahead of the 2016 state legislative session.

Fracking became an issue last year after Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEPrevealed that the Dan A. Hughes Co. had fracked the Collier-Hogan well in Naples, despite regulators telling it not to until the agency had a chance to thoroughly review the company’s plans.

Shortly after the news broke, the move to ban fracking in Florida began.

Democratic State Senators Dwight Bullard and Darren Soto filed Senate Bill 166 that called for a statewide ban on fracking. Their bill failed, but was reintroduced this year.

In July, Bonita Springs, a city near Naples, passed a ban on all types of well-stimulation techniques, including fracking. Nearby Estero is considering a ban as well.

In a move that would void existing bans, companion legislation sponsored by Republican State Senator Garrett Richter (SB318) and Republican State Representative Ray Rodrigues (HB 191) calls for statewide regulations for fracking. The bills, if passed, would preempt all local ordinances governing the oil and gas industry.

Collier County legislative delegation on October 15 in Naples. ©2015 Julie Dermansky  

On October 15, the public had an opportunity to address a Collier County legislative delegation on the bills meant to govern the fracking industry. Senators Bullard and Richter were part of the delegation present at the Naples meeting.

Anti-fracking activists stated that nothing short of a fracking ban would protect their families from the harm the industry can cause, pointing to other states where documented incidents of negative impacts caused by fracking are stacking up.

Objections were made to the preemption of local ordinances governing oil and gas that would void Bonita’s ban and prevent other municipalities from initiating their own ban.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


New York State Ban On Fracking Made Official

After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative.”

Those were the words many activists in New York never expected to hear from Joe Martens, head of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, but they were included in a statement released today as New York made thestate’s ban on fracking official.

This step in the process was expected after the release in May of the massive 1,448 page report on fracking that was seven years in the making which also was preceded by the Cuomo administration announcing they planned to ban fracking back in December.

While there had been some mentions in the media that the recent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report on fracking and drinking water contamination might cause trouble for the Cuomo administration, it appears that trouble was limited to predictable Republican statements about Cuomo’s decision being based on “controversial scientific studies.”

As explained in detail in this DeSmog piece by Sharon Kelly, if you read the EPA report and didn’t just rely on headlines in the New York Post to get your information, the report actually provides support for New York’s decision for a fracking ban.

New York now is the only state with known large amounts of shale deposits that has enacted a ban on fracking. In the past week, the state has also released a new energy plan with goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40% (below 1990 levels) by 2030 and 80% by 2050 and to produce 50% of its electricity from renewables by 2030.

As the oil industry prepares to roll out fracking technology around the globe, New York has taken an important step in showing the world what a “reasonable alternative” looks like.

As DeSmogBlog concluded in our 2011 report Fracking the Future


Breaking: No Action Taken on a Proposal to Repeal Denton, Texas Fracking Ban

Denton’s city council decided not to vote on a repeal of the city’s fracking ban, after almost six hours of discussion on the topic at a public meeting last night.

The vote to repeal the ban was called for shortly after Texas Governor Greg Abbott singed HB40 into law, making Denton’s fracking ban illegal.

Oklahoma’s governor Mary Fallin signed a similar law on May 31, making bans on the fracking industry illegal there too.

The entire city council and Denton’s mayor Chris Watts expressed displeasure with HB40.

The mayor disclosed that the city’s legal counsel advised that repealing the fracking ban is necessary in order to defeat HB40.  They were told there are better ways to challenge the law than by defending the fracking ban, and that, if the ban isn’t repealed, both the Texas General Land Office and the Texas Oil and Gas Association, which have sued to block the ban, could ask for a judgment under HB 40 that could result in setting a legal precedent.

“It isn’t just about Denton, anymore,” Councilman Roden told DeSmog before the meeting. ”HB40’s reach goes way behind fracking, it threatens all local ordinances industry doesn’t like. Now every city with oil and gas activity has to grapple with basic questions like, ‘How can we defend a setback greater than 100 feet?’”

Councilman Kevin Roden before the Denton City Council meeting. © 2015 Julie Dermansky

Setbacks are the distance that industry must keep its operations from homes, schools and businesses. The Texas Railroad Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry, has not enacted setback distance requirements, so many municipalities have established their own.


Health professionals call: ban fracking for five years

Health professionals call: ban fracking for five years

Medact, the organization of health professionals for a safer, fairer and better world, has called for a five year moratorium on fracking due to its serious hazards to public health, writes Paul Mobbs. Their new report is a powerful challenge to government policy that cannot be ignored.

The arguments against fracking on public health and ecological grounds are overwhelming. There are clear grounds for adopting the precautionary principle and prohibiting fracking.

Medact, the UK-based public health group concerned with the social and ecological determinants of health, have published their long-awaited report on the impacts of fracking upon public health.

First announced last year, following Public Health England’squestionable reportinto the impacts of shale gas, Medact’s review considers a number of existing reviews of the evidence of ‘fracking’ on public health.

Given the likely public health consequences of climate change, it also examines claim that shale gas might aid the transition towards a low carbon energy system.

The conclusion of the report, which is likely tobeget further vitriol from the UK’s pro-fracking lobby, is clear:

“On the basis of our existing knowledge, it would be both prudent and responsible to call for, at the very least, a five year moratorium on all activities related to shale gas development … “

Unlike ‘official’ bodies, Medact actually reviewed the evidence

The report reviews a number of existing studies from public health agencies, as well as a wide range of journal papers. For example:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Fracking set to be banned from 40% of England’s shale areas

Guardian analysis reveals new rules agreed by government will make huge swath of protected areas off limits for shale gas exploration

Fracking is set to be banned on two-fifths of the land in England being offered for shale gas exploration by the government, according to a Guardian analysis.

Such a wide-ranging ban would be a significant blow to the UK’s embryonic fracking industry, which David Cameron and George Osborne have enthusiastically backed.

There were setbacks last week after the Scottish government declared a moratorium and UK ministers were forced to accept a swath of new environmental protections proposed by Labour, leading some analysts to say the outlook for fracking was bleak

One of those new protections was to rule out fracking in national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) andgroundwater source protection zones (SPZs).

Neither the government nor Labour have stated how much of the land available for future shale gas drilling – 60% of England – would be affected by the new bans. But a Guardian data analysis has revealed it is 39.7%, with large swaths of the south and south east off-limits, as well as the Yorkshire Dales and Peak district.


…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

As New York Bans Fracking, Calls for Moratorium in Pennsylvania Grow Stronger | DeSmogBlog

As New York Bans Fracking, Calls for Moratorium in Pennsylvania Grow Stronger | DeSmogBlog.

This week, New York Governor Cuomo announced that his state would ban fracking, due in large part to concerns about impacts on public health. But right across the border in Pennsylvania, one of the fastest-moving shale booms in the country still proceeds at breakneck speed.

While Governor-elect Tom Wolfcampaigned on promises to tax shale gas extraction, evidence continued to grow that Pennsylvania has struggled to police the drilling industry or even keep tabs on its activities. A scathing report issued in July by State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found that record-keeping was “egregiously poor,” and environmental regulators do “not have the infrastructure in place to meet the continuing demands placed upon the agency by expanded shale gas development.”

For the past several years, Pennsylvania has had a history of lax regulation of the shale rush and its impacts on drinking water. For example, in 2011, the state madenational headlines for allowing shale wastewater laced with toxic and radioactive materials to be discharged after incomplete treatment into rivers and streams that were not capable of fully diluting the waste, according to internal EPA documents. Even now, toxic waste from the fracking industry is only tracked via industry self-reporting, which a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation found has led to major gaps in tracking and reporting.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New York fracking ban reverberates nationally | Al Jazeera America

New York fracking ban reverberates nationally | Al Jazeera America.

NEW YORK — The news took even the most seasoned environmental activists by surprise: after years of review, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that New York State would ban hydraulic fracturing.

“I can barely contain myself,” said Nadia Steinzor, the eastern coordinator for national non-profit Earthworks. “Even though Cuomo recently said he was going to make a clear decision, we were not expecting something as exciting and straightforward as this.”

New York State’s decision comes two years after the state’s Department of Health initiated a review of the possible health impacts of hydraulic fracturing, a process in which thousands of gallons of water is mixed with chemicals and sand and pumped deep into the earth to break up gas-rich shale rock formations. The process has been approved in dozens of states across the U.S. and has often been touted by supporters as an economic boon to struggling regions, including next door in Pennsylvania.

New York’s decision is particularly significant because the Marcellus and Utica shale regions, two of the most productive gas plays in the world, lie underneath the state. While there is some debate over the economic benefits of fracking, there’s little doubt that if New York were to legalize the practice it could have reaped billions in revenue and created hundreds or thousands of jobs. By banning the practice, Cuomo has become one of the first state leaders to endorse the idea that the potential health and environmental impacts of fracking outweigh the potential economic benefits. Vermont is the only other state with a ban on fracking, although Vermont doesn’t sit atop shale.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

New York Governor Cuomo Does Saudi Bidding, Bans Fracking In NY State | Zero Hedge

New York Governor Cuomo Does Saudi Bidding, Bans Fracking In NY State | Zero Hedge.

Having missed the entire shale boom, and with heavily-indebted shale companies now scrambling to boost liquidity or else face bankruptcy if crude prices remain at current levels, moments ago New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday his administration would prohibit hydraulic fracturing statewide, citing health concerns and calling the economic benefits to drilling there limited.  “I cannot support high-volume hydraulic fracturing in the great state of New York,” acting health commissioner Howard Zucker said, adding that he wouldn’t allow his own children to live near a fracking site. He said the “cumulative concerns” about fracking “give me reason to pause.”

It only took him 6 years to get to the bottom of said “concerns.” That, and perhaps a phone call and an envelope from one or more Saudi princes.

While fracking wasn’t explicitly illegal before, it is now: the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will issue a legally-binding recommendation prohibiting fracking as a result of Mr. Zucker’s recommendation.

As reported by the WSJ, New York’s environment commissioner, Joe Martens, said that his agency’s concerns about the impact of fracking would so limit the area that could be drilled in the 12 million acre Marcellus Shale that the economic benefits of drilling there would be limited.

“The economic benefits [of fracking] are clearly far lower than originally forecast,” Mr. Martens said.

Mr. Cuomo himself said the decision was made by his commissioners, not him. “I don’t think I even have a role here,” he said at a news conference.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Fracking Ban Ballot Initiatives Intensify » EcoWatch

Fracking Ban Ballot Initiatives Intensify » EcoWatch.

County ballot issues to ban fracking could have a large impact outside those counties. And the campaign money being spent on both sides—but primarily by big energy companies—shows how much is at stake.

The oilfields of Kern County, California, are already seeing a fracking boom. Nearby San Benito and Santa Barbara counties will vote on fracking bans in November. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The highest profile and most contentious ban is the one on the ballot in Denton, Texas, north of Dallas, located in the heart of the Barnett shale region. Citizen groups, concerned about their families’ health and safety and frustrated by the city’s failure to enact any restrictions on fracking, gathered enough signatures to force city council to vote on the ban in July. After the council voted against it, the issue went to the November ballot. The battle has positioned the industry-backed group Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy against the community group Denton Drilling Awareness Group/Frack Free Denton. The Denton Chamber of Commerce and the Denton County Republican Party have come out against the ban.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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