United States Trump, corporate Democrats promote fracking

This 28 December 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

After Democrats Push Bill to Send Fracked Gas to European Union, Trump Includes in Budget

The European Energy Security and Diversification Act, legislation offering $1B to promote sending U.S. fracked gas to EU countries, was inserted into the federal budget bill signed into law by President Donald Trump. Democrats invoked “Russiagate” in their PR push for the bill.

In one of the largest studies of its kind, researchers found that pregnant rural California residents living within 0.62 miles (1 kilometer) of high-production oil and gas wells were 40% more likely to have low birth weight babies and 20% more likely to have babies who were small for their gestational age compared to people living farther away from wells. The results add to mounting evidence linking oil wells with adverse birth outcomes: here.

Fracking earthquakes in Lancashire, England

Posters outside energy firm Cuadrilla's site in Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, near Blackpool, England

By Peter Lazenby in England:

Monday, August 26, 2019

Lancashire hit by third record-breaking tremor at Britain’s only active fracking site

This morning’s quake was measured as 2.9 on the Richter scale — topping the record 2.1 tremor set on Saturday night

LANCASHIRE has been hit by a third record-breaking earth tremor in less than a week as anger grows over Britain’s only active fracking site.

This morning’s tremor was recorded as 2.9 on the Richter scale — topping the quake recorded near the site late on Saturday night, which registered at 2.1.

The finger of blame is pointed firmly at fracking firm Cuadrilla, which runs a gas extraction site at Preston New Road, near Blackpool. Since work began there more than 90 tremors have been recorded that have breached the statutory limit for such drilling, which is set at 0.5 on the scale.

Operations at the site were compulsorily suspended after Saturday’s tremor pending an investigation by the government’s Oil & Gas Authority.

Today’s tremor, at 8.31am, registered on seismic equipment as far away as Scotland and Wales. Heather Goodwin, who lives at Lytham St Anne’s, near the Cuadrilla site, said: “The walls of my house shook. There was a really deep, guttural roar. For a moment, I really thought my house was going to fall down.

“It only lasted a few seconds but I felt the need to go all round the house and check for damage.

“We’ve been afraid of this happening. How long before there’s real damage done and people injured?”

Residents and environment campaigners have maintained a protest camp near the site for more than two years. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn visited it last month to show solidarity.

A spokeswoman for Preston New Road Action Group said: “At 2.9, this is the largest fracking-induced earthquake to have happened in the UK.

“It is very frightening when you hear a loud bang and things in the house rattle. We should not be being subjected to this level of stress and fear.”

A spokesman for Frack Free Lancashire said: “We are sick of being treated as human guinea pigs.”

Earthquakes caused by hydraulic fracturing can damage property and endanger lives. Researchers have developed new guidelines for when to slow or halt fracking operations based on local risks: here.

Fracking, a worse problem than thought

This 18 August 2019 video says about itself:

Fracking Is A Bigger Problem Than We Thought

We are going full speed ahead towards irreversible climate change. Cenk Uygur, Maz Jobrani, and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“As greenhouse gases go, methane gets less attention than carbon dioxide, but it is a key contributor to climate change.

Methane doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as CO2 and is reabsorbed into terrestrial cycles via chemical reactions within 12 years or so. But while it’s up there, it’s much more potent, trapping heat at roughly 84 times the rate of CO2. Scientists estimate that around 25 percent of current global warming traces to methane.

When it comes to reducing CO2 emissions, the chain between cause and effect is frustratingly long and diffuse. Reduced emissions today won’t show up as reduced climate impacts for decades.

But with methane, the chain of causation is much shorter and simpler. Reduced emissions have an almost immediate climate impact. It’s a short-term climate lever, and if the countries of the world are going to hold rising temperatures to the United Nations’ target of “well below” 2 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial baseline, they’re going to need all the short-term climate levers they can get.

In the real world, though, the news about methane is bad and getting worse. It turns out that a mysterious recent spike in global methane levels that’s putting climate targets at risk may be coming from US oil and gas fracking. If that’s true, it’s bad news, because there’s lots more shale gas development in the pipeline and the Trump administration is busy rolling back regulations on the industry.”

Read more here.

Fracking causing earthquakes in the USA

United States Geological Survey map highlights earthquake risk zones. Blue boxes indicate areas of high activity of human-caused earthquake due to deep bore fluid injection. Credit: USGS

From Tufts University in the USA:

Fracking: Earthquakes are triggered well beyond fluid injection zones

Computer model and field experiment data suggest a new link between subsurface injections and earthquake swarms

May 2, 2019

Summary: Using data from field experiments and computer modeling of ground faults, researchers have discovered that the practice of subsurface fluid injection used in ‘fracking‘ and wastewater disposal for oil and gas exploration could cause significant, rapidly spreading earthquake activity beyond the fluid diffusion zone. The results account for the observation that the frequency of man-made earthquakes in some regions of the country surpass natural earthquake hotspots.

Using data from field experiments and modeling of ground faults, researchers at Tufts University have discovered that the practice of subsurface fluid injection used in ‘fracking‘ and wastewater disposal for oil and gas exploration could cause significant, rapidly spreading earthquake activity beyond the fluid diffusion zone. Deep fluid injections — greater than one kilometer deep — are known to be associated with enhanced seismic activity — often thought to be limited to the areas of fluid diffusion. Yet the study, published today in the journal Science, tests and strongly supports the hypothesis that fluid injections are causing potentially damaging earthquakes further afield by the slow slip of pre-existing fault fracture networks, in domino-like fashion.

The results account for the observation that the frequency of human-made earthquakes in some regions of the country surpass natural earthquake hotspots.

The study also represents a proof of concept in developing and testing more accurate models of fault behavior using actual experiments in the field. Much of our current understanding about the physics of geological faults is derived from laboratory experiments conducted at sample length scales of a meter or less. However, earthquakes and fault rupture occur over vastly larger scales. Observations of fault rupture at these larger scales are currently made remotely and provide poor estimates of the physical parameters of fault behavior that would be used to develop a model of human-made effects. More recently, the earthquake science community has put resources behind field-scale injection experiments to bridge the scale gap and understand fault behavior in its natural habitat.

The researchers used data from these experimental field injections, previously conducted in France and led by a team of researchers based at the University of Aix-Marseille and the University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis. The experiments measured fault pressurization and displacement, slippage and other parameters that are fed into the fault-slip model used in the current study. The Tufts researchers’ analysis provides the most robust inference to date that fluid-activated slippage in faults can quickly outpace the spread of fluid underground.

“One important constraint in developing reliable numerical models of seismic hazard is the lack of observations of fault behavior in its natural habitat,” said Pathikrit Bhattacharya, a former post-doc in the department of civil and environmental engineering at Tufts University’s School of Engineering and lead author of the study. “These results demonstrate that, when available, such observations can provide remarkable insight into the mechanical behavior of faults and force us to rethink their hazard potential.” Bhattacharya is now assistant professor in the School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Sciences at the Indian Institute of Technology in Bhubaneswar, India.

The hazard posed by fluid-induced earthquakes is a matter of increasing public concern in the US. The human-made earthquake effect is considered responsible for making Oklahoma — a very active region of oil and gas exploration — the most productive seismic region in the country, including California. “It’s remarkable that today we have regions of human-made earthquake activity that surpass the level of activity in natural hot spots like southern California,” said Robert C. Viesca, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Tufts University’s School of Engineering, co-author of the study and Bhattacharya’s post-doc supervisor. “Our results provide validation for the suspected consequences of injecting fluid deep into the subsurface, and an important tool in assessing the migration and risk of induced earthquakes in future oil and gas exploration.”

Most earthquakes induced by fracking are too small — 3.0 on the Richter scale — to be a safety or damage concern. However, the practice of deep injection of the waste products from these explorations can affect deeper and larger faults that are under stress and susceptible to fluid induced slippage. Injection of wastewater into deep boreholes (greater than one kilometer) can cause earthquakes that are large enough to be felt and may cause damage.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the largest earthquake induced by fluid injection and documented in the scientific literature was a magnitude 5.8 earthquake in September 2016 in central Oklahoma. Four other earthquakes greater than 5.0 have occurred in Oklahoma as a result of fluid injection, and earthquakes of magnitude between 4.5 and 5.0 have been induced by fluid injection in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas and Texas.

A new study at The University of Toledo connects the proximity of fracking to higher household concentrations of radon gas, the second leading cause of lung cancer in the U.S. Measuring and geocoding data from 118,421 homes across all 88 counties in Ohio between 2007 and 2014, scientists found that closer distance to the 1,162 fracking wells is linked to higher indoor radon concentrations: here.

Britain: Thursday, May 9, 2019. Opposition to fracking at highest level ever, government figures show: here.

A new study led by a researcher at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health identifies a link between proximity to hydraulic fracking activities and mental health issues during pregnancy. Results appear in the journal Environmental Research: here.

Fossil fuel Republicans, Democrats in the USA

This 10 February 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Senate Democrats, Republicans Have Ex-Fracking Lobbyists Running Senate Energy Committee

The Senate Energy Committee leadership on both sides of the aisle is staffed up by former fracking industry lobbyists who worked as colleagues at the same group.

Dutch protest against Shell, Exxon fracking

Pieterzijl protest against fracking, photo by RTV Noord | Marco Grimmon

This photo shows today’s protest against fracking in Pieterzijl, a village on the border of Groningen and Friesland provinces in the Netherlands. The banner says: Don’t let Friesland down. Behind it, the flag of Groningen province.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

About one hundred people have taken action at Pieterzijl

160 people live in Pieterzijl village.

against the latest drilling site of the NAM.

The NAM is a joint venture of Shell and Exxon Big Oil corporations. Their gas drilling has caused very much damage in Groningen and in Drenthe provinces.

They are afraid of still more earthquakes and protest against gas extraction through fracking. In fracking, also called hydraulic cracking, gas is extracted from deep underground by adding chemicals.

At the end of last month, Minister Wiebes decided that the gas drilling in Groningen should stop before 2030. At the same time it became known that the NAM at Pieterzijl is allowed to extract gas by means of fracking until 2025. According to Wiebes, this method is completely safe. Local residents of Pieterzijl do not agree with this.

Poison in the soil

Alderman Henk Bakker of Zuidhorn local authority said to RTV Noord broadcasting organisation: “We do not think that exploitation of this gas field is sensible, and we do not want fracking at all: poison in the soil is never sustainable.”

Last night, an earthquake of 2.8 was reported at Garsthuizen, about forty kilometers from Pieterzijl. Approximately twenty damage reports have been received.

ExxonMobil gas project a disaster for Papua New Guinea’s people: here.

Exposure to fracking chemicals and wastewater promotes fat cell development, or adipogenesis, in laboratory cell models, a new study finds. Researchers observed increases in the size and number of fat cells after exposing the models to a mixture of 23 common fracking chemicals or to wastewater or surface-water samples containing them, even at diluted concentrations. Adipogenesis occurred through PPARy-dependent and independent mechanisms. More research is needed to assess potential health impacts outside the laboratory: here.

Buried UK government report finds fracking increases air pollution. Report was with ministers in 2015 but only published three years later, days after a key fracking permit was awarded: here.

Britain: Most Tory councillors oppose fracking, new survey reveals. THE government’s support for fast-tracking fracking is being opposed by the vast majority of its own Tory councillors, a new poll suggests: here.

USA: The amount of water used per well for fracking surged by up to 770 percent between 2011 and 2016 in all major US shale gas- and oil-producing regions, a new study finds. The volume of flowback and produced water that new wells generated during their first year of operation also increased by up to 1,440 percent. If this rapid intensification continues, fracking’s water footprint could grow by up to 50-fold by the year 2030: here.

Elevated concentrations of strontium, an element associated with oil and gas wastewaters, have accumulated in the shells of freshwater mussels downstream from fracking wastewater disposal sites: here.

Fracking damages songbirds, new research

This video from the USA is called Louisiana Waterthrush.

From the American Ornithological Society Publications Office in the USA:

Fracking tied to reduced songbird nesting success

February 14, 2018

The central Appalachian region is experiencing the country’s most rapid growth in shale gas development, or “fracking“, but we’ve known almost nothing about how this is affecting the region’s songbird populations — until now. A new study from The Condor: Ornithological Applications demonstrates that the nesting success of the Louisiana Waterthrush — a habitat specialist that nests along forested streams, where the potential for habitat degradation is high — is declining at sites impacted by shale gas development in northwestern West Virginia.

West Virginia University‘s Mack Frantz and his colleagues mapped waterthrush territories and monitored nests along 14 streams from 2009 to 2011 and again from 2013 to 2015. They also mapped and measured disturbances to streams and to the forest canopy, using aerial photographs and satellite imagery as well as extensive ground-truthing, and classifying them according to whether they were related to shale gas development. Their results show that as shale gas development has expanded in the area, nest survival and productivity and riparian habitat quality have declined. At the same time, the size of individual waterthrush territories has increased, suggesting birds need to range farther to find sufficient resources. This study is one of the first to demonstrate that shale gas development can affect songbird reproductive success and productivity, both directly through the presence of fracking infrastructure and indirectly through effects on habitat quality.

“I hope our findings lead to robust protections of our forested headwater stream ecosystems, which are currently overlooked for regulation despite their critical role in providing nutrients and organic matter downstream, not to mention as an important source for drinking water”, says Frantz. “Waterthrushes are a modern-day ‘canary in the coal mine’, and there are many more opportunities to study how anthropogenic disturbance affects and entangles food webs at the aquatic-terrestrial interface.”

“After twelve years of research conducted with this species, I have seen the numerous impacts hydraulic fracturing has had on waterthrush survival and the toll that the industry has had on our nation’s wild places and wildlife,” adds Louisiana State University-Alexandria‘s Leesia Marshall, a waterthrush expert who was not involved in the Condor study. “This paper should serve as a call for all scientists to redouble efforts across all related disciplines to document the present impacts of shale gas extraction and to develop strategies for mitigation and avoidance of potential impacts in the future.”

Britain: Oil company’s bid to silence anti-frackers crumbles. Court pauses firm’s injunction to stifle campaigners citing human rights concerns: here.

Fracking damages babies’ health

This video from the USA says about itself:

Fracking Moratorium Now [Scrapple Service Announcement]

5 March 2014

Pennsylvania needs a governor who represents the people and not the gas industry — one that will halt all new drilling permits. Fracking is dangerous — fracking site spills, water contamination, toxic gas flaring, air pollution, well casing failures, low birth weight in babies, earthquakes.

The gas industry is exempt from environmental law. Tom Corbett has sold out Pennsylvania — no regulation, no tax, no water for families in need. Other places have banned fracking: Pittsburgh, PA, New York State, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Germany, Czech Republic. Two-thirds of Pennsylvanians support a statewide moratorium. The PA state Democratic party supports a statewide moratorium. Why don’t any of the Democratic candidates support a statewide moratorium?

Contact all of the candidates to let them know what you expect.

By Aimee Cunningham in the USA:

Fracking linked to low birth weight in Pennsylvania babies

Study of birth records finds association between infant health and mom’s proximity to production sites

5:55pm, December 13, 2017

Living near a fracking site appears to be detrimental to infant health, a study eyeing the gas production practice in Pennsylvania suggests.

Babies of moms living within one kilometer of a hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, site in the state had a 25 percent greater chance of being born underweight than did babies whose moms lived at least three kilometers away, researchers report online December 13 in Science Advances. The chance of having a low-birth-weight baby was 1 in 14 for the moms living closest to a fracking site, but 1 in 17 for moms three to 15 kilometers away, says Janet Currie, an economist at Princeton University.

For babies born to moms living within one to three kilometers away from a site, the chance of being underweight at birth was about 8 percent greater than for babies of the more distant moms, Currie says. The study found no ill effect on infants born to moms residing farther away, an indication that fracking’s health impact may be highly local. In the study, distance of residences from the fracking sites was used as a stand-in for potential pollution exposure. But the researchers did not measure actual pollution exposure, or figure out whether people faced exposure through water, air or both.

Pam Factor-Litvak, an epidemiologist at Columbia University not involved in the study, notes that it’s possible the associations between fracking and poor infant health could be due to other factors besides pollution, such as extreme levels of maternal stress, perhaps due to noise and continuous traffic to and from the sites.

“These results point to a concern of fracking,” Factor-Litvak says, but work remains to discover the mechanism behind the apparent connection to low birth weight. “There is a definite need to study the health effects of fracking accounting for the short-term changes in air quality, the possible long-term changes in water quality and the associations with stress.”

Fracking, which injects liquids underground at high pressure to extract oil and natural gas from hard to reach places, can contaminate water (SN: 10/12/15) and air, due to chemicals used in the process. Currie points out that hydraulic fracturing often moves into areas that didn’t previously have industrial activity, providing the opportunity to measure health effects before and after fracking begins.

Currie and her colleagues examined records of more than 1.1 million births in Pennsylvania from 2004 to 2013 to gather information about infant health as well as each mother’s residence and her race, education and marital status. The researchers took note of birth weight, which is often used as a sign of fetal health in studies of environmental pollution. Low-birth-weight babies, who weigh less than 2,500 grams, or 5.5 pounds, have a greater risk of illness and delayed development.

In addition, the researchers compiled information from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on the locations of all of the active fracked sites in the state and when sites became active. As of 2014, there were more than 7,500 fracking sites, most of which went live after 2009. Pennsylvania produces 20 percent of the United States’ natural gas —second only to Texas — largely from fracking.

Currie and colleagues compared babies born to moms residing at different distances from fracking sites, as well as infants whose dates of birth fell before and after sites became active. The researchers controlled for the race, marital status and education of the mothers — factors that can contribute to low birth weight.

Babies born to moms who lived closest to fracking sites, within a kilometer, had the highest probability of low birth weight. Out of more than 6,500 births to moms residing one kilometer away from a site over the 11 years studied, nearly 1,800 occurred when there was active fracking. The researchers found that 5 percent of babies born to moms living within a kilometer of not-yet active sites were underweight, whereas 7 percent of births that happened after sites became active were underweight. There was no change in the percentage of low-weight births to moms three to 15 kilometers from a site before and after fracking.

The researchers also investigated how distance from fracking sites impacted an index of health measures, including prematurity and congenital anomalies. Those babies born to moms living closest to the sites were worse off.

“I don’t think we are going to ban fracking throughout the United States — it’s too economically important,” Currie says. But “knowing more about what the health effects are can help people to protect themselves” and inform policy regarding fracking.

Volume of fracking fluid pumped underground tied to Canada quakes: here.

Environment: A slew of health and safety infringements revealed at a North Yorkshire fracking site: here.

‘Anti-fracking is terrorism’, British police says

This video from the USA says about itself:

6 May 2013

Fracking endangers national parks.

Apparently companies mining for energy don’t have to be within the boundaries of a National Park to cause harm to it.

Fracking — the practice of hydraulic shale fracturing to extract natural gas — has become popular around several parks and its effects upon them are being increasingly noticed.

According to a report put together by the National Parks Conservation Association, a watchdog group, North Dakota’s Theodore Roosevelt National Park is particularly vulnerable.

Known for its stargazing opportunities, the night sky has been compromised by both the light coming from surrounding fracking sites and an increase in noise pollution. It’s suspected that water pollution will soon follow.

The opening of multitudes of natural gas extraction sites has also created job opportunities, causing the area to experience a population boom. Due to a shortage in permanent housing, many new residents have been forced to live in the park’s campgrounds.

Another National Parks matter of great concern to environmentalists is a Glacier National Park concessions bid put in by Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

The company is a subsidiary of Anschutz Exploration Corporation, an energy company currently drilling on an Indian reservation just outside of Glacier National Park’s boundaries.

By Peter Lazenby in Britain:

Anti-fracking protesters branded ‘terrorists’

Tuesday 6th December 2016

Campaigners added to list of terror groups along with Isis

COPPERS in Yorkshire have added anti-fracking campaigns to a list of terror groups alongside Isis that require “monitoring and intervention,” a York local radio station revealed yesterday.

Anti-fracking campaigners reacted with shock at the move which is part of the government’s controversial “anti-terror” Prevent programme.

The environmental campaigners — who have staged a number of peaceful protests in the area — have been included in the City of York’s “Prevent Story Board” which identifies potential terrorist threats based on information from the police.

“I am shocked to hear that York’s peaceful and creative opposition to the government’s energy and climate agenda is now classed as terrorism,” said York Green councillor Lars Kramm.

“Anti-fracking protesters in Yorkshire and across the country deserve praise for their actions, not legal proceedings and stigmatisation as terrorists.”

The board also suggests that York faces risks from activity relating to Syria, anti-Israel/pro-Palestinian activities, hunt saboteurs, animal rights and extreme right-wing groups.

Frack Free York’s Leigh Coghill said: “People opposed to fracking are just ordinary peaceful residents who come from all walks of life and share concerns about the environmental and economic downsides of fracking.

“They have opposed specific planning applications and government policy through completely peaceful demonstrations in very close liaison with the police, with whom we have an excellent relationship.”

Music teacher and father of three Ian Conlan of Frack Free Ryedale argued that the Prevent strategy should focus on preventing terrorism and not “peaceful expressions of legitimate opinions and campaigning, which includes the right to protest.”

Anti-fracking groups and activities are widespread across North Yorkshire, which has been targeted by the government and fracking companies as ripe for exploitation by the controversial oil extraction process.