This afternoon, Leggio, and her fellow MICATS members Barbara Carter and Vicci Hamlin were sentenced to 13 months probation and $47,656.50 in restitution to the police. Over 100 supporters packed the tension filled courtroom where Judge William Collette of Ingham County presides. Though the defendants were surrounded by the love of their families and friends throughout the trial and sentencing, we recognize that this is not the case for most people who are forced by circumstance to interact with the justice system.
With more than 80,000 farms producing about $45 billion in annual profits, California is the nation’s largest farm state, and agriculture is California’s leading industry. In states like Pennsylvania, Colorado and Ohio, grazing animals have gotten sick and died after drinking fracking runoff and water from farm wells near fracking operations. In Kern County, one farmer lost millions of dollars worth of almond and pistachio crops from groundwater contamination from a nearby oil and gas operation. “Farmers are vital to a healthy food system and a healthy economy and they must be protected,” said Adam Scow, California campaigns director for Food & Water Watch. “We call on Gov. Brown to place a moratorium on fracking to protect California farmers from the severe threat of fracking.” “California needs an immediate halt to fracking to protect our state’s precious water from this toxic technique,” said Brian Nowicki of the Center for Biological Diversity. “To safeguard our farmers and others affected by our state’s crippling drought, Gov. Brown should halt fracking in our state to protect the air we breathe and the water we so desperately need.”
That’s the process commonly known as fracking, short for hydraulic fracturing. The fluid pumped into the wells usually gets pumped back out again as wastewater. And if you suddenly have an uneasy feeling about where those offshore rigs dispose of that wastewater, you may well be correct. About half of the state’s offshore rigs pump at least some of their wastewater right into the Santa Barbara Channel. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, oil rig operators have federal permits to dump more than nine billion gallons of fracking wastewater into California’s ocean waters each year. That’s enough wastewater to fill more than 100 stadiums the size of the Rose Bowl brim-full of toxic waste. And CBD wants the Environmental Protection Agency to do something about it.
In recent years, Jacobson and his colleagues have developed detailed proposals for converting the energy infrastructures of New York, California and Washington states to 100 percent wind, water and solar power by 2050. The new plan includes an online interactive map tailored to maximize the renewable resource potential of each of the 50 states. Hovering a cursor over California, for example, reveals that the Golden State can meet virtually all of its power demands (transportation, electricity, heating, etc.) in 2050 by switching to a clean technology portfolio that is 55 percent solar, 35 percent wind (on- and offshore), 5 percent geothermal and 4 percent hydroelectric. Nuclear power, ethanol and other biofuels are not included in the proposed energy mix for any of the states.
But the air guns that the industry plans to use in its hunt for underwater oil fields won’t sound so sweet to the staggering numbers of dolphins and whales that could end up being maimed. The oil industry wants to drill along the East Coast, but the last surveys of oil deposits in coastal Atlantic areas were conducted in the 1970s and 1980s using technology that’s now obsolete. So now industry wants to survey with more modern techniques, which McClatchy news service describes this way: “The seismic tests involve vessels towing an array of air guns that blast compressed air underwater, sending intense sound waves to the bottom of the ocean. The booms are repeated every 10 seconds or so for days or weeks.” Thirty-four marine mammal species, which use sound to navigate, could be harmed by the seismic testing, and some of the animals could be killed.
Hurricanes are unstoppable, right? Apparently not. An intriguing new computer simulation shows that 78,000 large wind turbines spread across 35,000 square kilometers of ocean outside of New Orleans would have cut Hurricane Katrina’scategory 3 winds at landfall by 129 to 158 kilometers per hour (80 to 98 miles per hour) and reduced the storm surge by 79 percent. The same collection of turbines offshore of New York City would have dropped Hurricane Sandy’s winds by 125 to 140 kph and the surge by up to 34 percent. That sounds impressive. But wait…78,000 turbines? Each one 100 meters high with a blade span 127 meters in diameter spaced about 650 meters apart and spanning a region of ocean 2.5 times the size of Connecticut? The idea sounds crazy, except . . .
Five protestors from the radical environmental group Earth First! this morning chained themselves together at the entrance to FPL headquarters in Juno Beach in an attempt to disrupt company operations and protest FPL’s plans to build a massive new power plant on 3,200 acres of land adjacent to the Seminole Tribe’s Big Cypress Reservation. Protest supporters on the scene told New Times they numbered as many 80, and said the group was in discussions with law enforcement pending the arrival of a police cut team. The group has refused an offer not to prosecute in exchange for voluntarily dispersing. Earth First! has called FPL’s plans “an act of environmental racism against indigenous people and an attack on the Everglades.
A natural gas export terminal being proposed near a small coastal town in Maryland would increase toxic gas fracking operations around the region, hurt the environment, speed up climate change, and do little for “energy independence” in the United States, campaigners warned at the “the largest environmental protest in Baltimore history” on Thursday. At issue is the proposal to convert the Dominion Cove Point Liquid Natural Gas import terminal into an export terminal, a plan which is up for approval with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. However, Maryland’s Public Service Commission in Baltimore has the power to veto the proposed 130-megawatt power plant that energy company Dominion needs to build for the export operation, the Baltimore Sun reports. On Thursday, the commission held a hearing on Dominion’s proposal, which drew over 700 protesters from around Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic region to its doorstep.
Outnumbering Peabody Energy supporters more than four to one among those willing to make public comments, outraged residents, farmers and former miners expertly broke down the inconsistencies and errors in the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s (IEPA) tentative determination to issue a water quality permit at a packed strip mine hearing on Tuesday in the heart of Illinois’ coal country. It was a historic evening in Harrisburg, Illinois—only a few miles from where Peabody Coal sank its first coal mine in 1895—and for first time in decades, southern Illinois residents brought the spotlight to issues of civil rights and the state’s spiraling crisis from a poorly regulated coal mining rush. “They are ringing the bell for the death of Rocky Branch,” said Rita Karns, whose family has farmed and lived in the famed Shawnee Forest area for generations, “and we’ve got to stop it.”
“At this point, the governor doesn’t support fracking in state parks,” Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols told The Dispatch. “We reserve the right to revisit that, but it’s not what he wants to do right now, and that’s been his position for the past year and a half.” Word of Kasich’s reversal came the same day Democratic lawmakers called for an investigation of a marketing plan to promote fracking on state lands that was put together a year and a half ago by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which regulates oil and gas drilling. “Ohio doesn’t permit this kind of oil and gas production in state parks because the governor doesn’t think we have the policies in place yet to properly do it. If and when that changes, then perhaps this hypothetical discussion has relevance. But until then, it’s a political sideshow conjured up by people who want to kill fracking and the jobs it creates.”
An Interview with Tim DeChristopher, the founder of Peaceful Uprising who is widely known known for one of the more creative acts of non violent insurrection and civil disobedience in recent memory when he disrupted a government oil and gas lease auction in order to protect fragile land in southern Utah from long term damage. That story became the subject of the documentary Bidder 70, and that act resulted in DeChrispher spending 21 months in federal custody. Tim is among the organizers calling for a Global Climate Convergence for People, Planet and Peace over Profit, whose mission is “an education and direct action campaign beginning this spring, with “10 days to change course,” running from Earth Day to May Day. It provides coordinated action and collaboration across fronts of struggle and national borders to harness the transformative power we already possess as a thousand separate movements. These grassroots justice movements are sweeping the globe, rising up against the global assault on our shared economy, ecology, peace and democracy. The accelerating climate disaster, which threatens to unravel civilization as soon as 2050, intensifies all of these struggles and creates new urgency for collaboration and unified action.
U.S. Oil Sands’ water-and-energy-intensive extraction process involves first digging up congealed tar sands, then crushing them to reduce their size. The company then mixes the crushed sand with large amounts of hot water (at a temperature of 122-176°F) to loosen up and liquefy the tarry, oil-containing residue and separating it from the sand. Next, coarse solids sink, are subsequently removed and considered waste tailings. Air is then bubbled through the remaining water-oil mixture, which makes the oil float to the top in what’s referred to as “bitumen froth,” in industry lingo. The froth is then deaerated, meaning all the air molecules are removed. When it finally gets to this point in the production process, the mixture is still so thick it can’t be pumped through pipelines.
A new study suggests that wind and solar plants are already competing economically with fossil fuel in Europe. Soon, even household rooftop solar PV systems will generate electricity more cheaply than coal. The study from Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems says the cost of rooftop solar in the southern parts of Germany is already as cheap as €0.08 per kilowatt-hour. Even in northern Germany, where there is little sun, solar can be generated at €0.14 kilowatt-hour, half the cost of grid-based electricity. By 2030, the study says, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) from rooftop solar PV will have fallen to around €0.06 per kilowatt-hour. In sunnier regions, such as Australia, the Middle East, southern Europe and the western U.S., not to mention Africa and Latin America, the cost of solar will be lower still, at around €0.043 per kilowatt-hour.
The incident in Kentucky follows two fossil fuel disasters on Tuesday this week: a coal slurry spill in West Virginia that turned a local river “black” with toxic compounds and a dramatic explosion of a fracking well in western Pennsylvania. On Monday night, a similar explosion to what has happened in Kentucky occurred when a natural gas pipeline “ruptured and exploded” causing a massive fire in North Dakota. In an email sent to Common Dreams, Jamie Henn, director of stratgey and communications for the climate group 350.org, said this week’s rash of accidents shows the inherent risks and dangers of a fossil fuel industry pushing the boundaries of its extraction and transportion activities.
Contrary to the recent findings from the State Department, anti-pipeline activists say that the 830,000 barrels of heavy tar sands crude expected to flow through the pipeline every day once it is completed will greatly increase carbon emissions and exacerbate climate change. Much to their disappointment, the southern portion of the pipeline — which runs near DaSilva’s backyard — was completed last year and became operational on January 22, delivering oil from Cushing, Okla., to Nederland and Houston, Texas. “I hope we can win the fight on the northern leg, but even if we do it’s half a victory at best,” said author and activist Bill McKibben. McKibben’s group 350.org has helped put the Keystone XL pipeline under scrutiny through a series of…