hydraulic fracturing

Lancashire fracking delayed until 2014

Lancashire fracking delayed until 2014

So, who among the environmentalists out there knew that Fracking is also a big issue in England?  The conservative movement (Tories as they are called in English politics), led by ALEC members in England, is pushing hydraulic fracturing as a cure-all to their energy woes.  The Fossil fuel industry–Big Oil–is quite active trying to avoid the development of renewable, green energy just as they are here in the U.S.

ALEC International

Lancashire fracking delayed until 2014

(Editor’s note:  sorry, but I could not get this out of my head so I’m sharing these lyrics with you:

I heard the news today oh boy
four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire
and though the holes were rather small
they had to count them all
now they know how many holes it takes
to fill the Albert Hall
)

Cuadrilla fracking sites in Lancashire

Cuadrilla has sites in St Annes and Banks in Lancashire’s Bowland basin

The shale gas company Cuadrilla has delayed its plans to carry out fracking in Lancashire until 2014.

It is to carry out Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) at its existing and planned new sites where drilling and hydraulic fracturing will take place.

It said explorations have already found the 1200 sq km licence area holds at least 200 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Chief Executive Francis Egan said the assessments could be “lengthy” but should be finished by next year.

He said Cuadrilla’s explorations in Lancashire’s Bowland basin suggested gas with a market value of £136bn was present.

It is now looking for planning consent for drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flow testing to take place.

‘Socially sustainable’

The firm has applied to Lancashire County Council to frack for shale gas at its Anna’s Road site in St Annes and Banks, near Southport.

Fracking is a technique where water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas.

Opponents are particularly concerned about the contamination of waste or flowback water once it has been used in the fracking process.

Fracking was temporarily banned in the UK after it was blamed for two earth tremors in Blackpool in 2011.

A government review has now concluded that fracking is safe if adequately monitored.

Mr Egan said: “We recognise that within the complex UK regulatory framework governing planning this process can prove lengthy but we are determined to spare no effort in meeting our exploration targets in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner.”

He said Cuadrilla is also planning more temporary exploration sites during 2013 and 2014 to assess gas flow rates.

These plans would be discussed with local communities, he said.

Friends of the Earth’s North West campaigner Helen Rimmer said: “Cuadrilla’s decision to delay fracking in Fylde is great news for local people, but other Lancashire communities are still at risk.

“The government must switch from potentially harmful shale gas to a power system based on clean British energy and slashing waste.”

 

Related Stories:

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This article is written by BBC News, and can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-21769805

BBC news

ALEC/CSG Sham Chemical Disclosure Model Tucked Into Illinois Fracking Bill

Illinois fracking photoIllinois is the next state on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)‘s target list for putting the oil industry’s interests ahead of the public interest.

98 percent funded by multinational corporations, ALEC is described by its critics as a “corporate bill mill” and a lobbyist-legislator dating service. It brings together corporate lobbyists and right wing politicians to vote up or down on “model bills” written by lobbyists in service to their corporate clientele behind closed doors at its annual meetings.

These “models” snake their way into statehouses nationwide as proposed legislation and quite often become the law of the land.

Illinois, nicknamed the “Land of Lincoln,” has transformed into the “Land of ALEC” when it comes to a hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) regulation bill – HB 2615, the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulation Act – currently under consideration by its House of Representatives. “Fracking” is the toxic horizontal drilling process via which unconventional gas and oil is obtained from shale rock basins across the country and the world.

HB 2615 – proposed on Feb. 21 with 26 co-sponsors – has an ALEC model bill roped within this lengthy piece of legislation: the loophole-ridden Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act.

As covered here on DeSmogBlog, this model bill has been proposed and passed in numerous statehouses to date. If the bill passes, Illinois’ portion of the DeSmogBlog,will be opened up for unfettered fracking, costumed by its industry proponents as the “most comprehensive fracking legislation in the nation.”

“If At First You Don’t Succeed, Dust Yourself Off and Try Again”

This isn’t ALEC’s first fracking-related crack at getting a model bill passed in Illinois. In 2012, the Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Composition Act – introduced as SB 3280 passed unanimously by the Illinois Senate but never passed the House.

SB 3280 isn’t merely an ALEC model, but is a Council of State Government’s (CSG) model, too, as covered here on DeSmog.

The “disclosure” standards’ origins lay in the Obama Department of Energy’s (DOE) industry-stacked fracking subcommittee, formed in May 2011 “to study the practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and determine if there are ways, or even a necessity, to make it safer for the environment and public health.”

As exposed by The New York Times in April 2012, these “disclosure” standards were originally written by ExxonMobil, first passed in Texas in June 2011, and now serve as both an ALEC and CSG model bill for the states. I say “disclosure” – as opposed to disclosure – because the bill includes loopholes for “trade secrets,” a la the “Halliburton Loophole” written into the industry-friendly federal Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Section 77 of HB 2615, titled “Chemical disclosure; trade secret protection,” also includes the same trade secrets exemption from the ALEC/CSG ExxonMobil-written model bill.

Ever persistent, ALEC has taken the late pop diva Aaliyah’s words to heart with regards to chemical fluids “disclosure,” at first not succeeding and dusting itself off and trying again.

The FracFocus Façade

The oil and gas industry has chosen FracFocus as the entity to oversee the chemical disclosure process. An August investigation by Bloomberg News revealed that FracFocus offers the façade of disclosure while the industry tramples roughshod over communities nationwide.

“Energy companies failed to list more than two out of every five fracked wells in eight U.S. states from April 11, 2011, when FracFocus began operating, through the end of last year,” wrote Bloomberg. “The gaps reveal shortcomings in the voluntary approach to transparency on the site, which has received funding from oil and gas trade groups and $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy.”

In reality, FracFocus is a public relations front for the oil and gas industry, as we reported here in Dec. 2012, explaining,

FracFocusdomain is registered by Brothers & Company, a public relations firm whose clients include America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Chesapeake Energy, and American Clean Skies Foundation – a front group for Chesapeake Energy.

Another Nov. 2012 Bloomberg investigation revealed that oil and gas corporations “claimed trade secrets or otherwise failed to identify the chemicals they used about 22 percent of the time,” according to its analysis of FracFocus data for 18 states.

Cosponsors Tied to ALEC, CSG

Five of the 26 Illinois House cosponsors are ALEC members: Reps. David Reis (R-119), Mike Fortner (R-95), Jil Tracy (R-93), Dennis Reboletti (R-97), and Patricia Bellock (R-94).

Further, three more cosponsors have ties to CSG. Rep. Ann Williams (D-11) and Rep. Pam Roth (R-75) both attended CSG Midwest‘s 2012 Bowhay Institute for Legislative Leadership Development (BILLD). Two of the sponsors of BILLD in 2012 included BP America and Enbridge Energy. Another, Rep. Naomi Jakobsson (D-97), is a 2005 CSG Midwest BILLD alumni.

The bipartisan “group of 26” took a total of $53,060 before the Nov. 2012 election, data collected from the National Institute on Money in State Politics shows.

How Will IL Regulate Fracking with 12 Inspectors?

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn’s 2012 budget included Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cuts to the tune of 13.5-percent for fiscal year 2013. The DNR is the regulatory body tasked to referee the fracking process under HB 2615, an agency which in the past decade has lost over half of its budget.

“Our agency has essentially been cut in half over the last decade. There are a lot of ramifications…You’re going to see a noticeable difference in the maintenance. It won’t be the fault of the people that work for us,” DNR Director Marc Miller said at a Feb. 2012 public forum in a foreshadowing manner. “It will be because we don’t have the resources.”

There are 12 inspectors in IL to oversee fracking regulation enforcement, among myriad other regulatory duties, down from 28 in 2005, as revealed in a recent Freedom of Information Act conducted by ProPublica.

“What we are looking for is a sustainable solution,” Miller said at the public forum. “We want to get to the point of having revenue we can count on to plan and to be able to do the programs we’re supposed to do for the public.”

Yet Miller believes more DNR cuts from Quinn are in the works in forthcoming budgets.

Earthworks pointed out in a Sept. 2011 report titled, “Breaking All the Rules: the Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement” that numerous states – akin to Illinois – are vastly understaffed, underfunded and unable to do their jobs to protect the public. Predictably, this has led to under-enforcement, lending the oil and gas industry a free pass to contaminate without accountability.

And even with enforcement, Earthworks pointed out that because the penalties for breaking the law are so minimal, the industry simply passes this off as a tiny “cost of doing business.”

Bill Endorsed by Sierra Club/NRDC

Despite this reality, two major green NGOs – the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – have come out in cautious support of the bill.

“NRDC is working to transition as quickly as possible to a clean energy future based on energy efficiency and renewable energy, but as long as we have to have dirty fossil fuels, our communities need the strongest rules in place,” NRDC’s Henry Henderson wrote in blog post, offering the important caveat that “Those rules are only as good as their enforcement, which needs to be robust and strict. And that is another issue that we will be following if this bill moves forward.”

No concerns are raised about Section 25 of the bill dealing with setbacks and prohibitions.

This section lends the industry the ability to conduct fracking operations within 1,500 feet of groundwater sources and 500 feet of schools, houses, hospitals, nursing homes, and places of worship. It also enables the industry to frack within 300 feet of rivers, lakes, ponds and reservoirs.

These regulations do not take into account the fact that the horizontal drilling portion of the fracking process extends between 5,000 and 10,000 feet. The sobering reality: none of these things would be protected under this bill’s current language.

Sierra Club, which came under fire last year for taking $26 million from gas giant Chesapeake Energy to fight against coal, sang a similar tune.

“We may not be able to decide whether fracking comes to Illinois, but we absolutely must decide to make sure we are as protected as we can be,” Sierra Club’s Jack Darin concluded on the Huffington Post  despite the fact that fracking has yet to begin in the state.

Other Groups Call for a Moratorium, Support Alternative Bill

Other groups are fighting for a different recently-introduced moratorium bill, SB 1418, which has one sponsor so far, Sen. Mattie Hunte (D-94).

That effort is being led by the Illinois Coalition For A Moratorium on Fracking, whose members include Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE), MoveOn.org Illinois, Progressive Demcrats of America (PDA) Chicago and Illinois, Stop the Frack Attack on IL, Rising Tide, and Rainforest Action Network (RAN) Chicago.

“The moratorium will allow two years for a science-based investigative task force to look at current and ongoing studies on fracking,” the Coaliton’s press release in support of SB 1418 reads. “As new research continues to uncover more harmful effects of high-volume fracturing, both in the surrounding area and to the climate, ICMF, SAFE, and many other environmental organizations are committed to supporting studies on the procedure.”

SAFE, one of the Coalition members, will play host to a one-day summit called “The Fracking Truth” on Mar. 1 to rally people in support of the moratorium bill.

Please also read the attachment to this article Sponsors and Oil and Gas Money Before 2012 Election.pdf

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This article is written by Steve Horn, and can be seen at Desmogblog at http://www.desmogblog.com/2013/02/28/alec-fracking-chemical-disclosure-model-bill-illinois-regulation
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Fracking on Proxy Ballots at Chevron and Exxon

Described as laggards for their failure to address investor concerns, the oil and gas giants face shareowner resolutions addressing environmental and social risks associated with hydraulic fracturing.

SocialFunds.com — Shareowners have filed 11 resolutions this year with oil and gas companies, requesting that they quantifiably measure and reduce the environmental and social impacts of hydraulic fracturing. The nature of the shareowner requests were honed in part last year when a coalition of institutional investors called on companies to observe the best practices set out in an Investor Guide issued by the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN) and the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR).

“We’re encouraging a corporate race to the top in adopting best practices,” Richard Liroff of IEHN said.

Also last year, a consortium of oil and gas companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing in Appalachia created the Recommended Standards and Practices for Exploration and Production of Natural Gas and Oil from Appalachian Shales.

One of the signatories to the document was Chevron, which as one of the 12 coalition members agreed to “strive to be responsible operators that conduct business in a transparent and sustainable manner, and openly communicate with stakeholders.” Chevron and the other members also asserted that the consortium’s “consensus-based approach…provides a roadmap to enhance transparency and regulatory compliance.”

But according to the resolution filed by ICCR members, “By their own language, these standards describe what companies ‘should do’ rather than what companies currently do or commit to doing.”

“Proponents suggest the report include specific data on emission reduction measures taken such as the number or percentage of ‘green completions’ and other low-cost emission reduction measures; systems to track and manage naturally occurring radioactive materials; the extent to which closed-loop systems for management of drilling residuals are used; the numbers of community complaints or grievances and portion open or closed; and quantifying the amounts of water used and the source for shale energy operations by region,” the resolution concluded.

“By its own admission Chevron knows what it should do, yet continues to drag its feet on implementation putting the health of millions of communities at great risk,” Sr. Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia said. “How does a company of its size and status justify this position?”

Exxon Mobil is not a member of the Appalachian consortium, but its subsidiary XTO Energy is and signed the Recommended Standards document. Exxon is also a target of a resolution addressing hydraulic fracturing. The resolution, co-filed by the New York City Pension Funds and As You Sow, includes requests similar to those made by ICCR members to Chevron.

“Exxon has repeatedly resisted calls that it provide investors with detailed information on its safety measures,” an As You Sow press release states.

“Exxon has repeatedly failed to measure the harms its fracking operations cause to air, water, and nearby communities, or any progress it is making towards reducing those harms,” said Danielle Fugere, As You Sow President. “Exxon shareholders need this information to make sound investment decisions.”

And New York City Comptroller John Liu, the trustee for the NYC Pension Funds, said, “Fracking carries significant concerns about poisoned drinking water, toxic chemical leaks, and explosions. Exxon Mobil says, ‘Don’t worry, we’ve got it covered’ and asks us to take it at its word. Until the company shows us hard data on what it has done to protect the public and environment, shareowners cannot be confident that the necessary safeguards exist.”

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This article is written by Robert Kropp and is published by SocialFunds.com at http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/3756.html

Social Funds

The Devil is in the Details

By David Streifford, Preserve Carolina (www.preservecarolina.org), with the Researchers at the Voters Legislative Transparency Project (www.vltp.net)

Keep NC Frack Free
North Carolinians need to understand our state Senate’s most recent attempt to circumvent controversial legislation.  Legislation that some legislators approved only because it would give them the opportunity to responsibly review a set of regulations before permitting any hydraulic fracturing.

Let’s step back and look at what has brought us to this terrible point in time.

In June, 2012, the North Carolina General Assembly approved the legalization of fracking in North Carolina, although it was vetoed by then Gov. Bev Perdue (D).

Shell OilInterestingly, after this veto, Governor Perdue took a Shell Oil sponsored trip to review fracking operations in Pennsylvania. (please click here)  Later, she told the G.A. to change just one part of the fracking legislation and she would sign it.   But the G.A. would not make the change, and Perdue vetoed the bill—only to have the G.A. override her veto when Rep. Becky Carney (D-102), a long time veteran of the Assembly “accidentally” hit the wrong button and voted to override the veto contrary to her stated position.  After 10 years in the Assembly she could notBecky Carney-green or red button remember which button to hit.  After hundreds of votes, she forgot what the red and green buttons were for.  Hmmm.  Seems her campaign was overwhelmingly funded by corporations rather than her constituents…so who was really her constituency?  (You can read more about this by clicking here and here)

A procedural maneuver by Paul Stam (R-ALEC) prevented her from changing her vote.

The fracking bill—SB 820–reversed state laws from back in 1945 which prohibited horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the two main components of producing natural gas from prehistoric shale rock formations.
NC fracking locationsBear in mind that when this legislation was first presented, it was only hours after the U.S. Geological Survey released its findings that instead of the 40 year supply of natural gas available via fracking which had been estimated by State geologists, there was only 5.6 years of availability based on 2010 NC electricity use.  That’s on estimated reserves of 1.7 trillion cu ft in the entire Deep River Basin as opposed the recently downgraded estimates of the reserves at Marcellus Shale of only 410 trillion cu ft. (please click here to see the USGS Survey of Natural Gas Reserves in NC)  But why quibble about numbers as long as there was corporate profit to be made.

Advancing to today, with an ex-Duke Energy Governor as part of a supermajority in Raleigh, SB 76 has passed committee and is headed for a fullNorth Carolina General Assembly vote of the Senate, presided over by Phil Berger (R-ALEC).  Consider if you will, that just 8 months after passing SB 820 “The Clean Energy and Economic Security Act” the Senate is now getting ready to push forward with SB 76 – “The Domestic Energy Jobs Act”, which negates the minimal protections put into effect per SB 820.

Here are the changes to SB 820 brought by this new legislation.  It will, (among other problems):

            (1) Allow the issuance of drilling permits starting on 3/1/15–regardless of whether  or not the regulations have been finalized and approved;

            (2) Eliminate two seats, including the state geologist, from the N.C. Mining & Energy Commission (MEC);

            (3) Allow deep injection of flowback water into wells for permanent disposal.  (Flowback is a mixture of chemicals and fluids used during fracking, mixed with underground brine and naturally occurring compounds that flush out of  the ground after a gas well is fracked.) The DENR study which last year  concluded that fracking could be done safely with the right safeguards in place.  But it also cautioned that North Carolina’s geology is not suitable for re-injecting tainted water. So our experts, our public serving state     legislators, are willing to go forward with controversial fracking, giving us their own layman expert opinions that those whose seats they eliminated cannot give.  Don’t worry. Be happy.  It’s only going to last for a few years anyways.

            (4) Prohibit local governments from taxing energy exploration and drilling;

             (5) Require state royalties from offshore energy development to go into a $50 million emergency fund for cleanup of oil spills;

            (6) Allow state-licensed hospitals to use emergency dual-fuel generators that run on natural gas and liquid fuel;

            (7) Encourage the governor to join South Carolina and Virginia to develop a regional strategy for offshore energy exploration;

            (8)  DENR would require environmental regulators to promote business opportunities for energy companies by creating an Energy Jobs Council

It also turns out that our General Assembly, together with the Mining and Energy Commission [MEC] which it created, both think that it is necessary and perfectly fair to force landowners to let the oil companies

              (9) Drill beneath their lands:

            (10) Lay pipeline across their lands;

            (11) Build roads across their lands.

Again it is important to note that these 11 items – and more – are being implemented despite the fact that oil industry geologists do not think that there is much natural gas to be extracted; only a tiny fraction of what’s available and already being extracted in Pennsylvania, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana, West Virginia, etc.

Isn’t it just great that our democratically elected officials are doing so much to help maximize the short term profit of the oil and gas industry?   We have to wonder if it ever occurred to those we elected to public service that they are abrogating their responsibility to be serious stewards of the environment, to protect our water, our air and ensure we have safe communities in which to live and raise our families?

Who do our politicians work for?  They are supposed to work for their constituents, and their constituents are not corporations who cannot vote.  Then again, as you can see here, this is on the agenda Americans For Prosperityfor Americans For Prosperity (AFP) – the Tea Party – funded by David Koch and Art Pope among others, so do you really have to ask who?   But We, The People, should expect them to work for us as is their legal responsibility.  But instead they take the corporate money and work for them.  Thank you Citizens United.

A Trillion Dollar Call for Best Practices in Fracking Operations

alecfossilfuelfunders-editedFifty-five institutional investment organizations representing $1 trillion in assets under management call for adoption of best practices by oil and gas companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing.

SocialFunds.com — Many oil and gas companies are focusing their operations on the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, claiming that the reserves of natural gas available by means of the process contribute a pathway toward national energy independence.

However, concerns have been mounting rapidly over the impacts of fracking. Those concerns include the contamination of groundwater sources by the often toxic chemicals used in the process; ; and the impacts on formerly rural communities of what Mark Regier of Everence Financial described to SocialFunds.com last month as a “gold rush.”

Sustainable investors and other concerned shareowners were quick to begin addressing the environmental and social risks of fracking, and by the time of last year’s proxy season shareowner resolutions addressing the practice were already gaining an average 40% support.

At a press conference held last week, an international coalition of institutional investors with $1 trillion in assets under management called for the adoption of best practices by corporations engaged in hydraulic fracturing. The coalition of 55 investment organizations is led by Boston Common Asset Management, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) and the Investor Environmental Health Network (IEHN).

Citing an Investor Guide published late last year by ICCR and IEHN, the investors identified the risks to companies engaged in the practice. The risks include moratoria and outright bans on fracking; the absence of systematic reporting on risk management; and growing investor unrest over the inability to fully evaluate the practices of companies.

Richard Liroff of IEHN told SocialFunds.com at the time of the Investor Guide’s publication, “There’s a moratorium in the Delaware River Basin, there’s been a moratorium in New York State, there’s a moratorium in the Province of Quebec. There is a ban in France, there is a moratorium in South Africa, and there is a moratorium in the New South Wales state in Australia.”

The investor coalition also pointed out that Chevron’s exploration license in Bulgaria was cancelled as well. In January, legislators there overwhelmingly approved a ban on fracking.

“Investors need to have greater certainty in the marketplace as to industry practices and government regulation,” said Steven Heim of Boston Common. “The best course here for investors, the environment and human health will be if all shale gas extractors wake up, get the message, and use these tools to do it right.”

According to the Investor Guide, best practice in fracking includes 12 core goals:
• Manage risks transparently and at board level;
• Reduce surface footprint;
• Assure well integrity;
• Reduce and disclose all toxic chemicals;
• Protect water quality by rigorous monitoring;
• Minimize fresh water use;
• Prevent contamination from waste water;
• Minimize and disclose air emissions;
• Prevent contamination from solid waste and sludge residuals;
• Assure best in class contractor performance;
• Secure community consent; and
• Disclose fines, penalties and litigation.

At the press conference, Liroff said, “We’re encouraging a corporate race to the top in adopting best practices. The best-practices guide backed by major investors offers both currently achievable goals, such as minimizing fresh water use, and more aspirational goals, such as virtually eliminating toxic chemicals from fracturing operations.”

“The guide cites practices that are already used by 17 companies,” Liroff continued. “Many companies will save money and lower risks, providing business, environmental, and community benefits.”

A second report on fracking, published earlier this year by the IRRC Institute and the Sustainable Investments Institute (Si2), stated, “How companies respond to further calls for transparency and adherence to best practices will influence whether the operating environment will improve or whether future rounds of even more stringent regulation or outright bans on drilling will ensue. Given the public scrutiny, a few bad actors may put the entire industry’s license to operate at risk.”

That a significant number of companies are now listening to investor concerns over fracking can be discerned by the fact that of the ten resolutions filed this year addressing the practice, six have been withdrawn in favor of engagement.

At last week’s press conference, Sister Nora Nash of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, said, “Shale gas companies must earn their ‘social license’ by operating in a more responsible manner. Companies must address the community and environmental concerns prompting bans and moratoria. They must listen closely, respond sensitively, and account to both investors and communities for their actions. Otherwise, this is an uncharted process of unwanted development that deprives communities of their rights and leads to litigation and loss of investor confidence.”

Two of the fracking resolutions remaining are filed with Chevron and ExxonMobil, and shareowners will vote on them at the companies’ annual general meetings, both scheduled for May 30th.

“Chevron and ExxonMobil are emerging as laggards by failing to address investor concerns in a meaningful way,” said Larisa Ruoff, Director of Shareholder Advocacy for Green Century Capital Management, a lead filer of the Chevron proposal. “As two of the largest oil and gas companies in the US, these companies should step up and respond to a significant portion of their shareholders by providing increased disclosure on how each company is managing the risks associated with fracking operations.”

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This article was posted by SocialFunds.com at http://www.socialfunds.com/news/article.cgi/article3534.html

Social Funds

ALEC, CSG, ExxonMobil Fracking Fluid “Disclosure” Model Bill Failing By Design


Last year, a hydraulic fracturing (“fracking“) chemical fluid disclosure “model bill” was passed by both the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It proceeded to pass in multiple states across the country soon thereafter, but as Bloomberg recently reported, the bill has been an abject failure with regards to “disclosure.”

That was by design, thanks to the bill’s chief author, ExxonMobil.

Originating as a Texas bill with disclosure standards drawn up under the auspices of the Obama Administration’s Department of Energy Fracking Subcommittee rife with oil and gas industry insiders, the model is now codified as law in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Illinois.

Bloomberg reported that the public is being kept “clueless” as to what chemicals are injected into the ground during the fracking process by the oil and gas industry.

“Truck-Sized” Loopholes: Fracking Chemical Fluid Non-Disclosure by Design

“Drilling companies in Texas, the biggest oil-and-natural gas producing state,..

To read the remainder of this very informative article by Steve Horn at DeSmog Blog, please click here.

To read the actual ALEC Disclosure of Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid  Composition Act, please click here




Pennsylvania Act 13 Overturned by Supreme Court, Originally an ALEC Model Bill

On July 26, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled PA Act 13 unconstitutional. The bill would have stripped away local zoning laws, eliminated the legal concept of a Home Rule Charter, limited private property rights, and in the process, completely disempowered town, city, municipal and county governments, particularly when it comes to shale gas development.

To read the Court’s Decision, please click here.

Where could the idea for such a bill come from in the first place? Rosenfeld pointed to the oil and gas industry in his piece.

That’s half of the answer. Pennsylvania is the epicenter of the ongoing fracking boom in the United States, and by and large, is a state seemingly bought off by the oil and gas industry.

The other half of the question left unanswered, though, is who do oil and gas industry lobbyists feed anti-democratic, state-level legislation to?

The answer, in a word: ALEC.  PA Act 13, Originally an ALEC Model Bill 

To read this excellent reporting that will answer a lot of questions about fracking laws around the country, please click here


Carney–Did She Really Want to Override the Anti-Fracking Veto

A couple of days ago I wrote about how long time legislator NC Rep Becky Carney pushed the wrong button and ended up being the key vote to override the veto of legislation that would allow fracking in NC.  At the time I said I smelled a rat.

One of my colleagues here at VLTP who is brilliant with numbers and their analysis, took a look into Carney. I mean, just think about it.  How difficult is it to imagine a 5 term representative with literally hundreds of votes just in this past legislative session–perhaps thousands in her career–pressing the green “yea” button instead of the red “nay” button.

A person who has been fighting fracking very hard assures me that people “in the know” understand that she made a legitimate error.

Well, I’m not so sure about Carney’s mistake.  And here is why:

Our whiz looked at the career (public record) campaign financing of this 5 term Representative from Mecklenburg County which, with over 919,628 residents, is the largest county in North Carolina.  From these residents, Carney received $24,670 from “individual contributors”

But these “individual contributions  included funds that I would consider as being from business:

  • contributions from the president of Summit Hospitality Group (headquartered in Raleigh, Wake County being the second largest county in NC)
  • contributions from executives at the Speedway Motorsports Inc
  • contributions form executives at Performance Racing network
  • contributions from executives at Lowes Motor Speedway

That brings the total of her individual contributions down to $14,760.  Not a lot of money considering her 5 years in office and the patronage she should have built up among her constituents.  It works out to $12.46 per constituent per year.  That does not appear very impressive.

Over the course of her career in the Legislature, Carney has received total contributions of $281,469.57.   All of 5.2% coming from constituents, the rest coming from PAC and special interests. Included in the total contributions are monies from PACs with ALEC connections, with banking/finance connections, and with energy connections.  Here are some of the names on the list, from those with ALEC connections:

AT&T, Bank of America, Blue Cross / Blue Shield NC, CenturyLink, Coca-Cola. CSX. Dominium Resources Inc, General Electric, GlaxoSmithKline International Paper. John Deere, Microsoft. PepsiCo. Time Warner, WalPac (aka WalMart).

The Banking industry was well represented by PACs of Citigroup, First Citizens Bank Combined, North Carolina Bank, Resident Lenders of North Carolina, Security Finance Corp of Spartanburg, Wachovia NC Employees, Wells Fargo and Co

Energy companies were represented by PACs of  Dominium, Duke, Progress Energy, PSNC Energy.

And, of course, there is the PAC representing conservative stalwart the Chamber of Commerce.

95% from PACs and special interests.  5% from individual contributors.

In all honesty I have to admit that don’t know if this proportion of fundraising is normal or not.  But I do know that PAC donations–especially from ALEC–come with strings attached.  If this is the norm, then we need to throw out all our current legislators until comprehensive campaign finance reform is accomplished.  They are all far too beholden to corporate interests.  If this is not the norm, what does it say about Becky Carney?

Now, following the money, who do you really think she pushed that button for?

Fracking Veto Overridden in NC–anyone smell a rat?

– A major policy decision by state lawmakers in the final hours of session is becoming law after a mistaken vote by a lawmaker.

The House was voting on whether or not to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a proposal to allow fracking in North Carolina.

Mecklenburg County Democrat Becky Carney voted for the override, which made the tally 72 to 45, just enough to override the veto.

But Carney actually meant to vote against the veto override.

“The point I want to make is I made a mistake. I am going to take full responsibility for my vote, but I will say this: It is after 11 at night, when we are taking up an issue like this. People are tired. They have slipped all night. You have heard people in there changing their votes on bills all night long. I made a mistake,” said Carney.

Carney was not allowed to change her vote because it would have changed the outcome of the vote.

The fracking bill will now become law.

Read the report and watch the embedded video by clicking here, or watch it on the VLTPVideoChannel at http://youtu.be/Li9QLml7nA8

[does taking “full responsibility” include reimbursing those who will have repercussions from fracking?]

[are we supposed to accept her callous claim that her mistake was due to the time of the vote?  Odd that nobody else has had that problem last night–or before.  Coincidence? Maybe, if you believe in coincidence in politics.]

 

Perdue vetoes controversial fracking bill

Well, first she vetoed it.  Then she went on an “industry paid” trip to PA and came back telling the legislature to re-introduce the bill because she would not veto it this time.

Well, time came and she vetoed the bill at the last minute.  I publicly eat my hat for thinking that the Democratic Governor sold out and would approve fracking in NC.

In a statement released Sunday afternoon, Perdue said that, although she supports fracking, the legislation moves too quickly.

“This bill does not do enough to ensure that adequate protections for our drinking water, landowners, county and municipal governments, and the health and safety of our families will be in place before fracking begins,” Perdue said.

She says she tried to work with lawmakers, but they refused to negotiate.

“I urged the sponsors of the bill to adopt a few changes to ensure that strong protections would be in place before any fracking would occur,” Perdue said. “The General Assembly was unwilling to adopt the changes I suggested. Therefore, I must veto the bill.”

To read the article with all the details and recriminations, please click here