Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wrecking the Earth: Fracking has grave radiation risks few talk about — RT Op-Edge

Wrecking the Earth: Fracking has grave radiation risks few talk about — RT Op-Edge

Fracking contamination

The issue of natural radioactivity and fracking gas was raised by my friend, Marvin Resnikoff, who was an expert on the NORM cases. He has examined the fracking situation in relation to the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale gas, New York State.  He pointed out that there were two critical issues. There is the concentration of Radium-226 in the rock. Then there is the length of time it takes for the gas to get to the kitchen.
Radon has a half-life of about four days, and so if the gas takes a short time to get from the well production site to the consumer, then levels in the kitchen can be significant. He calculated that there would be between 1,000 and 30,000 extra lung cancers in New York State from such an exposure. And that no one in environmental protection agencies had paid any attention to this issue. 
Equipment used for the extraction of natural gas is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site. (AFP Photo / Spencer Platt)
Equipment used for the extraction of natural gas is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site. (AFP Photo / Spencer Platt)

This is certainly of concern, but there are other issues. The process water (and chemicals) certainly contaminates the areas around the gas production machinery. In a recent court case I was involved with in Louisiana there was a gas distribution plant that was scarily radioactive, and the land around it was also radioactive. I also studied oil well production areas in a Kentucky court case. The process water dissolves Radium-226 and this precipitates as scale on the pipes and tanks and is left on the ground  near the wellheads and distribution facilities. The transfer pipes are radioactive. One of the worst radionuclides left behind is the Radon daughter Lead-210 which has a longish half-life (22 years) and builds up in these situations as a fine dust. It gets into the gas stream as nanoparticles and I believe it remains in the gas stream. It decays to Bismuth-210 which immediately decays to the alpha emitter Polonium-210 with a half-life of 138 days.
Fracking will increase the amount of Radon in the extracted gas. Why? Because of the high surface area created by smashing up the rock. In the simple gas or oil well there is a big cavern. The radon seeps out of the wall which has a surface area equal to that of the cavern wall. But in the case of the fracked strata, the surface area out of which the Radon can seep is enormously enhanced. So a faster Radon transfer can occur.


  1. It’s super site, I was looking for something like On Hold Messages Australia

  2. Court defeat makes approvals process 'uncertain'

    National law firm Clayton Utz has told its clients that "fundamental questions" surround the certainty of WA's environmental approvals process in the wake of the Barnett Government's embarrassing James Price Point Supreme Court defeat.

    In commentary on its website about the Environmental Protection Agency, Clayton Utz said the case "puts a spotlight on past, present and future assessment practices and raises questions about the certainty of decision making in WA".

    "For the EPA, it's back to basics. This decision may trigger a wholesale review of EPA practices, not just those in respect to conflict of interest," Clayton Utz said. "As a result, proponents who have proposals in the pipeline may find the process delayed as the EPA sorts itself out. Even those proponents with a fresh approval in their hands might find that they are subject to challenge.

    "They will need to be prepared for what might turn out to be lengthy and expensive delays in their approval process, and be more vigilant to ensure similar mistakes don't vitiate any future approvals."


    The comments come as EPA board minutes, uncovered by Labor using Freedom of Information laws, reveal at least four other occasions since January last year when EPA board members participated in items despite declaring a conflict of interests.


    In his James Price Point judgment, Chief Justice Wayne Martin said that the EPA's practice, under chairman Paul Vogel, of dealing with conflicts did not accord with the structure and operation of the relevant section of the Environmental Protection Act.

    The EPA minutes reveal various board members declared interests in three items - Rio Tinto's Turee Syncline iron ore deposit, a BHP Billiton Iron Ore strategic assessment and a review of the Cockburn Sound environmental policy.

    Shadow environment minister Chris Tallentire said the Government had appointed too many EPA board members with industry connections, creating more conflicts.
    Acting Environment Minister John Day said Justice Martin's decision affected only the Browse assessment and whether other approvals were invalid was up to the courts.

  3. Burrup Materials defends plans to mine in the Pilbara

    A Perth businessman has defended his plan to mine on heritage-listed land in the Pilbara.

    The Greens criticised Burrup Materials' application for three prospecting licenses and one mining lease on a parcel of land on the Burrup Peninsula, which contains an abundance of Aboriginal rock art.

    Burrup wants to mine rock for the proposed Dampier Marina.

    Burrup Materials Director, Leon Kurt Mauritz says it's economical to mine the rock close to the proposed marina site.

    He says he'd like to speak with local Indigenous groups about the plan.

    "We will be subject to all of the laws, both state and federal, with regard to the rights and interests of the Indigenous people.

    "It is a criminal offence to disturb those Aboriginal artefacts, so I won't be doing anything, until all the boxes are ticked.

    "People are jumping to conclusions.

    "I hope to establish a rock art museum on the site, I see this as an opportunity to centralise some of that rock art and protect it from the elements, protect it from theft and from vandalism, so that future generations can come and look at it, study it and enjoy it," he said.

    The Department of Mines and Petroleum says it is undertaking a full assessment of the applications and would not approve any application that could damage or destroy rock art.

    The department says if the applications were granted, they would be subject to the provisions of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

  4. Banjima people win native title claim in the Pilbara

    An Aboriginal corporation which steered a successful native title claim over WA's resource rich Pilbara region says the government should have negotiated instead of going to court.

    The Banjima people of the Central Pilbara have won recognition of cultural rights over more than 10,000 square kilometres of land.

    The area includes project areas for Rio Tinto, Hancock Prospecting and Fortescue Metals Group.

    It includes areas around Karijini National Park and the old asbestos mining town of Wittenoom.

    The chief executive of Yamatki Marpla Aboriginal Corporation, Simon Hawkins, says mining companies have been negotiating with Banjima people for years.

    However, Mr Hawkins says the state chose to contest the claim over the past 15 years.

    "It sort of doesn't make much sense when you've got companies that want to participate with the traditional owners and yet their own state government wants to litigate and litigate hard and obviously slow down the progress of native title in Western Australia, but critically what this means is that we can use obviously this decision to influence other claims in the Pilbara which have been stalled," he said.

    Banjima elder Alec Tucker says this is a joyful day.

    "We've been waiting for so long, we know it's Banjima country, it's my grandfather's country, my father's country, I think the old people would be happy about today," he said.

  5. 'Turn gas tap on or crisis looms'

    by: Sarah-Jane Tasker
    From: The Australian

    THE NSW gas industry has warned of higher gas prices, job cuts and a significant risk to the state's energy security if the coal-seam gas sector is not developed.

    James Baulderstone, vice-president of eastern Australia at Santos, said without indigenous gas of its own, NSW had no ability to control its energy supply security.

    "NSW faces prospective gas shortages as long-term contracts underpinning the state's gas supply expire over the next two to three years, the very time in which the commencement of LNG exports from Queensland will see annual gas demand in eastern Australia triple," he said.

    "Looming natural gas shortages in NSW could be avoided by the timely and balanced development of the state's already discovered reserves of natural gas."

    Mr Baulderstone argued that unless NSW could quickly secure future supplies, its homes and businesses would be subject to significant energy price increases.

    Industry leaders, including Santos, Origin, AGL and industry body the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association have used submissions to the government's inquiry into downstream gas supply to add weight to their CSG campaign. The development of NSW's CSG reserves has been strongly opposed by green groups and farmers, leading the government to announce several policies over the past 18 months that the industry argued negatively impacted investor sentiment.

    "All other states are streamlining their approval processes to encourage investment. However, the NSW approvals framework is uniquely complex and lengthy, and is further extended by the prevalence of third-party review provisions, including both merit and judicial reviews," Mr Baulderstone said.

    "The current regulatory process in NSW is likely to extend the length of time for project approval from three to five years. This would result in no gas from new projects being available to NSW customers until the end of this decade."

    AGL's chief economist and group head of corporate affairs, Paul Simshauser, said that if the CSG industry was allowed to safely develop the proven gas reserves in NSW there would be enough natural gas in the state to supply current levels of consumption for many decades.

    "The potential for security of supply breaches later in the current decade is of particular concern to AGL Energy and NSW's manufacturing industries," he said.

    APPEA warned that inconsistent policies added uncertainty to investors and operators.

    "As a result the regulatory environment for the natural CSG sector in NSW, it is now subject to the strictest regulations in Australia," Ryan Bondar, APPEA senior policy adviser, said.

    1. APPEA: Misleading Survey Results No Substitute for Gas Development Policy (Australia)

      Calls to restrict billions of dollars worth of LNG exports in favour of a domestic gas reservation policy will not lead to lower natural gas prices or increase gas supply, the Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) said today.

      More than $60 billion worth of natural gas projects in Queensland alone, which employ about 30,000 people, would need to be dramatically altered to adhere to Manufacturing Australia’s self-interested proposal. This would ultimately deter the investment needed to bring on new gas supplies.

      APPEA Chief Executive David Byers said: “East coast gas prices are rising in response to rising costs of supply and market conditions. Any move to cut back on exports is clearly not the right solution.

      “Australia benefits when we export goods at market prices. That’s not just true for gas; it’s true for wine, wool, wheat and cotton.

      “It is difficult to judge the validity of a survey when it is claimed to be conducted across ‘eight (sic) states’ and the ‘three multiple choice questions’ have not been released.

      “But to claim Australia’s gas prices are amongst the highest in the world is demonstrably untrue. The most recent quarterly report from independent energy analysts EnergyQuest shows that east coast gas prices in the June quarter 2013 were $3.44-$6.13 per gigajoule (GJ) of natural gas compared to an average price in Japan of $15.62/GJ. (EnergyQuest (2013), EnergyQuarterly August 2013 Report, 25 August.)

      “Australia is in the middle of the pack for gas prices. Claims we have the highest gas prices in the world are completely inaccurate.

      “The best solution to higher gas prices is the production of more gas – not the introduction of new regulation. Such a policy would actually reduce the very investment needed to bring on new supplies.

      “The east coast market gas demand is growing from 700 petajoules to 2,800 PJ by 2016-17.

      “There are currently more than 1.1 million gas users in NSW alone. The failure of NSW to respond to increasing gas demand and develop its gas resources will have unfortunate consequences, in the form of lost jobs, higher prices, and foregone economic opportunity.”

      Mr Byers said: “Yet again, we see a call by Manufacturing Australia to artificially lower its input costs at the expense of the gas industry. Asking expanding industries to underwrite those that are struggling only serves to reduce the benefits that flow to the community via increased employment, taxation payments, and economic opportunity.

      “It should be seen for what it is – a return to the protectionist sentiment that bedeviled Australia until the 1980s.”

    2. Deloitte Releases New Paper on Eastern Australia Gas Market

      A new paper Deloitte says that the economic benefits of the emerging LNG export market could be lost if our domestic market fails to supply gas in a quantity and at a price that maintains our economic competitiveness.

      Written by Deloitte’s National Oil and Gas Leader, Stephen Reid, the paper ‘Striking a Balance: Managing supply and demand issues in the Eastern Australia Gas Market’ explores the challenges facing industry and argues that it is critical Australia’s proven reserves are able to be commercialised in time to meet increased domestic demand and take advantage of the enormous export opportunities.

      “The establishment of a large scale gas industry on the east coast is crucial to meeting both the domestic and international market demand, but an uncertain regulatory environment and rising extraction and production costs could jeopardise the ongoing investment required to secure that future,” he said.

      According to Mr Reid the booming LNG export market and the Federal Government’s push to reduce carbon emissions by moving away from coal to gas-fired power generation could see pressure on gas supply in Eastern Australia over coming decades, just as conventional reserves were declining and the NSW coal seam gas industry was facing heightened government and community scrutiny.

      “Eastern Australia’s gas market is currently facing an unprecedented convergence of issues that have the potential to both transform it into one of the world’s largest LNG exporters, and present challenges for the future security of its domestic gas supply.”

      “Australia is poised on the edge of an incredible opportunity but much depends on acting sooner rather than later to address these challenges.”

      “A thriving and competitive domestic gas industry is critical to ensuring the competitively priced energy that is a key economic driver of growth. If the importance of a secure and affordable domestic gas supply is underestimated, ultimately Australia’s trade exposed productivity and competitiveness could be compromised,” Mr Reid said.

    3. FROM BCNGC Facebook :

      You may have seen the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) adds on TV claiming that the oil and gas industry created 100,000 jobs last year. Turns out that's a lie. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the real figure is 9,372.

      Oil and gas industries don't create jobs... they just drive up the price of business for the rest of the economy.


  6. Interesting looking at this video from Terri Shore of the Gladstone CSG to LNG terminals I thought James Price Point would have been twice the size of this and with more heavy polluting industry around it if Barnett had gotten his rotten way.

    Also the tidal range at Gladstone/Curtis Island is between 1m neaps to 4m springs,whereas JPP is over 10m springs.

    Curtis island dredging is around 60 million cu.mtrs. and JPP for the Woodside proposal alone was at 34 million cu.mtrs.

    All of Barnetts plans together could have seen dredging of up to 100 million cu.mtrs. - with life of the project maintenance dredging to keep the channels and basins open.

    The latest studies now show dredge spoil is moved much further than previously thought especially in areas exposed to big storms as is the case at JPP.
    The dead zone predicted to be 50 sq,klms. could have been many times more with areas beyond Cable Beach being covered in mud and silt.


    VIDEO of Curtis Island :


    VIDEO: Work on Curtis Island LNG Projects Leads to Extinction of Sea Turtles

    Posted on Aug 29th, 2013 with tags Curtis Island, Extinction, Leads, LNG, News, Projects, Sea, Turtles, VIDEO, Work .

    Turtle Island Restoration Network (TIRN) and The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said that the Australia Pacific and Queensland LNG projects are destroying sea turtle and dugong habitat along Curtis Island in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and polluting the Gladstone harbor with toxic dredge sediments.

    These environmental societies are warning that the massive fracking gas, coal and other industrial projects planned for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef will push globally significant species of turtles closer to the brink of extinction.

    “The Great Barrier Reef is home to some of the most amazing and vulnerable sea turtle species in the world who rely on a healthy reef for their future,” said Teri Shore, program director for Turtle Island Restoration Network, which has taken legal action over U.S. funding of massive Liquefied Natural Gas facilities (APLNG, GLNG and QCLNG) in sea turtle habitat. 

“The Australian flatback lives entirely in waters close to shore and sandy beaches, making them highly vulnerable to coastal port developments and shipping. Alternatively, leatherbacks live more in the open ocean where increased ship movements will take their toll through greater injury and death.



    Shore said marine turtles and their habitat are threatened by both direct and indirect impacts of industrialization, such as dredging, drilling, vessel strikes, fuel and oil spills and water pollution.

    Ship strikes alone have killed 45 turtles in Gladstone Harbor over two years after the Curtis Island LNG project began, compared with an average of two a year in the past decade.



    2. Tides at Curtis Island :

      Tides at Broome - James Price Point about 40 klms north along the coast :


      DAVID BATTY: The coast between Broome and Exmouth in Western Australia is said to be the most cyclone-prone coast in the world. With destructive and threatening regularity, it has earned the title of 'cyclone alley'. In an average season, this 1,000-kilometre strip of coastline will weather four cyclones. The most legendary blows have become characters in the region's history and everyone who lives in cyclone alley has a favourite story.


      Ocean gliders plot Cyclone Rusty’s underwater impact


      Great Barrier Reef dredging could be more damaging than thought

      WWF claims report proves that dredging and dumping of seabed sediment near the reef should be banned

      Dredging could be more harmful to the Great Barrier Reef than previously thought, a government-commissioned report has found, amid fresh warnings over the impact of coastal industrialisation on sea turtles and dugongs.

      The WWF claimed the report proved that the dredging and dumping of seabed sediment near the reef should be banned.

      Last week, the environment minister, Mark Butler, deferred a decision on whether to allow the dredging of the seabed to enlarge the Abbot Point port, near the Queensland town of Bowen, to allow for the export of more coal.

      Butler said that more time was needed to assess a report into the impact of dredging and the dumping of it within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, as proposed by North Queensland Bulk Ports.

      The report, undertaken by consultants Sinclair Knight Merz, states that spoil from dredging travels a lot further than previously thought, with dumped sediment capable of being disturbed repeatedly by severe weather. However, it doesn't rule out dumping dredged waste at sea and suggests various locations near current ports that would do the least damage to coral and other marine wildlife.

      Previous government analysis, including by the CSIRO, has blamed flooding rather than dredging for rising death and disease among the reef's fauna, in particular the heavily dredged area of Gladstone.


    3. "....whereas JPP is over 10m springs."

      This is one of the problems for a supply base at JPP.

      To build a land backed wharf all the hard rock close to the shore would have to be drilled and blasted and excavated - an extremely expensive operation.

      Even a jetty neck of a few hundred metres would still require massive amounts of dredging for the channel and turning basins to make an all weather berth for all the ships they would need to use it.

      The big question there is why pay all that for a supply base that is not land backed?
      (a land backed wharf can handle every type of cargo whereas a wharf at the end of a jetty neck is limited - the wharf would need to have a strength high enough to allow a 100 tonne crawler crane - at least - or equivalent to operate - very expensive to pour suspended slabs of this strength.)

      By the time the rock has been drilled and blasted and excavated it may only be suitable for fill of some type.

      On an exposed cyclone coast the breakwater to allow maximum operating times for the wharf would need heavy rock possibly over 10 tonnes for the outer walls and maybe even interlocking concrete blocks to make the breakwater strong enough to handle a 1 in 100 year cyclone event.

      Ongoing maintenance dredging would be required throughout the wharfs operating life and it's exposure to regular big cyclones could well see lots of other ongoing costs as well.

      All the support companies that will supply the many types of goods and services from drilling mud to frozen food to fresh vegetables to heavy equipment and even stabiliser rock ( very difficult from a jetty wharf but could be done from Darwin ) would have to duplicate all their yards,sheds,cool rooms,laydown areas etc. at JPP.

      Then a very expensive all weather heavy haul road would have to be constructed from the Highway turn-off to JPP - a good 60 klms.

      Even with all this having the supply base in such an isolated and weather exposed area could see it unable to operate 24/7 and numerous delays and interuptions to services would be a serious ongoing liability for any operators and customers.

      And all this and other problems would be before massive opposition to the destruction of this very environmental and culturally significant country - dinosaur footprints and all - kicked in with legal challenges and all.

      Any smart operator would be nutting out how to get the job done with an upgrade to Broome Port taking on board as much local knowledge as possible and seeing how to make this work in the most friendly way possible.

      It really isn't that hard a job to do.

      100 years steady work for Broome and the Kimberley - and there will be many FLNG's off the coast to keep us busy year in year out.

  7. Fracking Fluids Killed Fish in Kentucky Stream

    Hydraulic fracturing fluids that spilled from natural gas wells in 2007 probably caused the “widespread death or distress” of fish in a Kentucky stream, according to the U.S. Interior Department.

    Chemicals that entered the Acorn Fork creek, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) southeast of Lexington, polluted water supplies and resulted in “a significant die-off” of species including the federally threatened Blackside dace, according to a government statement yesterday. The findings were from a joint study by the U.S. Geological Survey and the Fish & Wildlife Service.

    “This is an example of how the smallest creatures can act as a canary in a coal mine,” Tony Velasco, an ecologist at the Fish & Wildlife office and co-author of the study, said in the statement. “These species use the same water as we do, so it is just as important to keep our waters clean for people and for wildlife.”

    Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, involves injecting pressurized water, chemicals and sand underground to shatter rock and gain access to fuel. It is the most common form of gas-well development in Kentucky, according to the statement.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Justin Doom in New York at

    To contact the editor responsible for this story: Randall Hackley at

  8. Explosion, Rig Fire in Eagle Ford Shale East of San Antonio

    A drilling rig explosion was reported in Petersville, Lavaca County in rural South Texas Wednesday evening.

    There were no reports of injuries in what was being described as a “well control incident and fire,” and all personnel were safely evacuated, K Leonard, manager of public relations for rig operator EOG Resources Inc. told Rigzone.

    EOG is coordinating its response with local fire department and emergency response personnel, and regulatory agencies have been notified, Leonard said.

    “EOG’s first priority in responding to the incident is the safety of personnel working on site, the responders who are providing assistance and neighbors in the immediate area,” Leonard said.

    The incident occurred shortly before 7 p.m. Wednesday evening, Aug. 28, approximately 80 miles east of San Antonio between Shiner and Yoakum, in the Eagle Ford shale formation.

    The fire is contained but is continuing to burn, and Wild West Control was called in to assist in the response effort. EOG is assembling a team of well control experts to safely control the well and extinguish the fire.

    EOG said the cause of the incident was unknown at this time.


    China Investigates More Top PetroChina Execs over Corruption

    BEIJING/HONG KONG, Aug 27 (Reuters) - A high-level government probe into corruption at China's leading oil and gas firm widened on Tuesday, with three additional senior officials at the state-run giant being investigated over alleged wrongdoing.

    The announcement by the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees China's state companies, followed a notice the day before on a probe into another top official at China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), parent of Hong Kong-listed PetroChina Co.

    The three senior officials have been put under investigation for "severe breaches of discipline," SASAC said, employing the shorthand the Chinese government uses to describe graft.

    The investigations, which come amid an anti-corruption campaign by Chinese President Xi Jinping, were announced shortly after the close of the trial of Bo Xilai, once a rising political star who is now awaiting a verdict on charges of corruption, bribery and abuse of power.

    The Bo trial, with the details it yielded of alleged excess funded by bribes given by business executives seeking to curry favour with Bo, have shone a spotlight on China's struggle with corruption, giving Xi an incentive to show he is tackling it.

    SASAC said CNPC group deputy general manager Li Hualin, vice-president of listed unit PetroChina Ran Xinquan, and PetroChina chief geologist Wang Daofu are all under investigation. It did not detail the accusations against them.

    On Monday, the Ministry of Supervision said CNPC vice-president Wang Yongchun had been put under investigation for disciplinary breaches, without going into further detail.

    A CNPC spokesman confirmed that Wang Yongchun had resigned from his post. PetroChina said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange that Li, Ran and Wang Daofu had also resigned. None of the four individuals was available for comment.

    A PetroChina spokesman said the company "does not tolerate any official involved in corruption or other crimes," but said the investigation would not affect the company's operations.

    Shares of PetroChina were suspended from trading earlier on Tuesday pending the announcement on the investigation.

  9. Top N.Y. Court to Decide Whether Towns Can Ban Fracking

    New York’s highest court agreed to decide whether towns and cities have the power to pass anti-fracking laws.

    The Court of Appeals in Albany today said it will hear arguments in lawsuits seeking to block drilling bans passed by the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield aimed at stopping the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking...

    An intermediate-level appellate court in Albany in May affirmed lower-court rulings upholding the bans opposed by some property owners seeking to lease their mineral rights.

    “We are hopeful that the Court of Appeals will protect the rights of landowners and allow New York to realize the environmental and economic benefits of natural gas while allowing our nation to maintain its course towards energy independence,” Scott Kurkoski, an attorney for a Middlefield dairy farm owner who sued to block that town’s ban, said in a statement.

    Much of central and western New York sit atop the gas-rich Marcellus Shale formation, which holds reserves of more than 141 trillion cubic feet of gas, enough to meet consumption across the entire U.S. for almost six years...

    Town Bans

    Fracking already is banned in more than 50 New York towns, while dozens more have moratoriums in place or are considering bans, according to Karen Edelstein, a geographic information-systems consultant in Ithaca.


    Anschutz Lawsuit

    Anschutz Exploration Corp., a Denver-based affiliate of billionaire Philip Anschutz’s closely held company, sued Dryden, a town of 14,000 people about 75 miles west of Middlefield, the same month.

    A judge in Cortland upheld Dryden’s ban in February 2012. A judge in Wampsville ruled the same month that Middlefield’s was also legal. The cases were consolidated for appeal. Norse Energy, a Lysaker, Norway-based explorer whose U.S. unit filed for bankruptcy protection in December, replaced Anschutz Exploration in the Dryden appeal.

    “We are confident that the Court of Appeals will affirm, as two other courts have before it, that our town has the right, enshrined in our state constitution and upheld by the courts, to decide how land is used within our town borders,” Dryden Town Supervisor Mary Ann Sumner said in a statement. “Still, the oil and gas industry is dissatisfied and stubbornly insists on dragging out this court case. Clearly, they’re not used to not getting their way.”

    Just a week before the appeals court in Albany heard the arguments, Justice Robert B. Wiggins in Livingston County upheld a ban in Avon, a town and village of about 11,000 people 19 miles southwest of Rochester.

    Full Review

    A federal judge in Brooklyn in September threw out a lawsuit by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman seeking a full environmental review of hydraulic fracturing. The judge granted a motion by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to dismiss the case, finding that the development plans are in the early stages and the threat of harm is speculative.

    Schneiderman sued the Delaware River Basin Commission, the EPA and other federal agencies in May 2011 to force a fuller assessment of the environmental effects of gas development on the state’s water supply.


    18,000 Wells

    Schneiderman said in the lawsuit that the commission’s proposed regulations would allow fracking at 15,000 to 18,000 gas wells without a full environmental review. If the regulations are issued, New York’s moratorium will be lifted.

    Kurkoski said he expects a decision from the Court of Appeals within six months. His client, dairy farm owner Jennifer Huntington, said in a statement that she hopes that the court will reverse the earlier rulings.

    “This case has been about protecting property rights from unreasonable interference at the municipal level,” Huntington said.

    The cases are Anschutz Exploration Corp. v. Dryden, 902/2011, New York Civil Supreme Court, Tompkins County (Ithaca); and Cooperstown Holstein Corp. v. Town of Middlefield, 1700930/2011, New York Civil Supreme Court, Otsego County (Cooperstown).

  10. GDF Suez Considers Shale Exploration in Europe Amid French Ban

    GDF Suez SA (GSZ), owner of Europe’s biggest natural gas network, is considering exploring for shale oil and gas in Germany, Poland, the U.K. and in Latin America.

    “We are already doing a little in Germany,” Chief Executive Officer Gerard Mestrallet told a business conference outside Paris today. He also added Brazil and Chile to the list.

    “For the moment, we are evaulating and analyzing,” he said later in an interview. “We will then decide.”

    GDF Suez’s move into shale exploration would come amid a continued ban in its home country of France on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a drilling technology used to extract oil and gas. Mestrallet, along with Total SA (FP) Chief Executive Officer Christophe de Margerie, has been among the most vocal corporate executives for changes in the French policy. GDF Suez is based in Courbevoie, France.

    France should ease the ban so it can estimate the size of its shale oil and gas reserves, a parliamentary report concluded in June. French President Francois Hollande said July 14 he won’t allow fracking.

    “It’s unbelievable to think we are closing our eyes to shale,” Jean-Louis Schilansky, head of the oil lobby Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres, told the same conference. “France will be isolated on this subject and that’s not tenable. We are now keeping company with Bulgaria.”

    The French parliament banned fracking in 2011 under former President Nicolas Sarkozy. France and Poland have the greatest potential for recoverable shale gas in Europe, the International Energy Agency has said.

  11. When Campbell deliberately spilled a bit of toilet cleaner (or something similar) in the shire dunny and the protest was on against the gas hub with elections for the shire getting close the story was reported throughout the land - and quite likely around the world.

    The culprits were of course the people who didn't want the gas plant and the "suspicious white powder" was treated like atomic waste.

    The question was also asked of Campbell that had the children the 2 shire employees molested been white would they have kept their jobs and would Campbell have excused their crime by saying "I understand it was the children who approached them"?


    Broome bombing: where is the outrage?

    If the attack had happened in an affluent part of Australia, there would be coast-to-coast coverage for days. The lack of media reports on a story affecting Indigenous people is telling

    On Tuesday evening, an explosive was hurled from a car into a small Aboriginal community near Broome, Western Australia, injuring four people. One woman had to be flown to Perth for emergency surgery, and three other people sustained spinal, hearing and eyesight injuries.

    A small local news report details that One Mile Aboriginal Community residents witnessed a car driving through the community slowly before pitching something out of the window. Police investigations are still continuing, although it has been suggested that the attack may have been “a prank that's gone seriously wrong”. I admit to being sceptical this attack was just a "prank" – the target seems quite specific. As investigations are underway, my speculations on what the motives were and who is most likely responsible shall end here.

    What I do wish to know, however, is where is the media and Australian community outrage over this event? Where is the coast-to-coast coverage? If I was not hooked into social media, where a number of Indigenous community members were talking about it, I probably would have missed the story due to the lack of coverage. It is telling that the Chinese national press agency Xinhua covered it, yet most of the Australian sources failed to mention it. Last year, when I was told at work that the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union had been the target of a bomb threat, I was able to read about it in a variety of sources. That one turned out to be a hoax; this attack actually injured four people.

    Had this been an attack on an Australian city, or on a group of non-Indigenous people, would it have been deemed an event of public importance? As Aboriginal feminist and activist The Koori Woman so eloquently writes: “(I'm) Idly wondering what would happen if I went and casually lobbed an explosive down the whitest street in the village”.

    Others queried why, in similar circumstances, labels such as “potential hate crime” or “terrorist attack” are usually used, but in this instance the event is downplayed to a “possible prank”. Is it because the people who have been harmed are not valued by a huge section of the Australian public, and therefore it is felt that people won't respond to the news? Or is it more insidious than this, and many Australians would make the assumption that the victims of this attack are actually guilty by virtue of their race and their location, and have therefore somehow brought it upon themselves?


  12. Broome bombing ....cont....

    It is telling that news from Indigenous communities rarely gets covered unless the government is calling for a “national emergency” to justify deploying defence forces into communities, or if it involves an Aboriginal person who has achieved celebrity status. It is also telling that on the rare occasions when we hear about violence on the communities, it tends to focus on internal community violence and not violence perpetuated upon a community by outsiders.

    I have to wonder whether the community members feel they even have the right to report crimes perpetrated against them. In Western Australia, 42% of the prison population is Aboriginal; more than 11 times what the Western Australian prison population parity rate would be. These racialised imprisonment rates cannot possibly foster a faith in the justice system, particularly for small community people. They are vulnerable, and most of the country appear to not be interested.

    My thoughts are with the One Mile community and the families that have been affected by this act. I hope that there is justice for these victims as they struggle to make sense of it. And to social media users who refused to let this story about a crime perpetuated against people living on an outback Aboriginal community be ignored, thank you.


    Celeste Liddle, Friday 30 August 2013 10.54 AEST

  13. Climate campaigners start 'hunger strike' to block Queensland coal project

    Australia's coal industry is being targeted by a range of campaigns from divestment to civil disobedience

    Ben Pennings has recruited six so far but, according to his campaign group's website, another 150 people are going to join for a day or two in support.

    "We will only have water, and tea with no milk or sugar," says the 41-year-old environment campaigner and activist. "It will be up to individuals when they end the hunger strike personally. No one will be pressured to continue in any way."

    Pennings is a founder of Generation Alpha, a Brisbane-based campaign group that is launching an assault on a proposed rail and port coal project in Queensland's Galilee Basin.

    Pennings is one of seven "hunger strikers" going without food from today under the gaze of passersby from a rented Brisbane shop-front. His OverOurDeadBodies campaign is promising "creative direct action" and "civil disobedience" to pressure rail company Aurizon.

    Aurizon is sitting on a decision to invest heavily in the reported $6bn project in partnership with GVK Hancock, a company which includes Asia's richest woman Gina Rinehart on the board.

    GVK Hancock's proposed Alpha coal mine project will dig up 32m tonnes of coal per year from the Galilee basin and export it to Asia for burning in power stations. Analysts have claimed the project is financially unviable – a claim which the company rejects. The company also says that objections by environmental lawyers to the project's mining lease are delaying the start of coal production, which is likely to be the first quarter of 2017.

    Mining magnate and politician Clive Palmer also has plans to mine 40m tonnes of coal a year with his China First project, also in the Galilee basin.

    The highest profile recruit to the OverOurDeadBodies campaign is the 49-year-old former Australian Democrats senator Andrew Bartlett, now the convener of the Queensland branch of the Greens.

    Bartlett told me he felt the world was "heading over a cliff" on climate change and that he was willing to try a new activist approach. On the hunger strike, he said he was not planning to do himself "any great harm". He said:

    There's the contradiction of stating support for climate action but then going full steam ahead with coal – it's completely contradictory. There doesn't seem any acknowledgement of that, never mind any attempt for us to transition to something else.

    Queensland's one of the biggest - in terms of contributors to emissions - of almost any province or state in the world and that awareness isn't really there among Queenslanders.

    A statement from Aurizon said the rail company had been an "integral partner in developing and exporting coal for the benefit of the Queensland economy for almost five decades" and that it had a focus on "safety and environmental responsibility".

    The statement said its project, which was still going through "due diligence", would service several mines but no final investment decision had been made.

    Aurizon has a long-term commitment to Queensland and the communities in which we operate and understands the need to earn ongoing support by operating responsibly and with care for the environment.

    It is this need to earn a social licence which campaigners are targeting as Queensland and Australia's coal industry comes under an ever-brightening spotlight from campaigners.

    Greenpeace brought its iconic Rainbow Warrior boat to the Queensland coast in April to highlight the impacts of climate change and dredging on the Great Barrier Reef, which the United Nations is threatening to place on its World Heritage "in danger" list.

    Activists clambered on board a loaded coal ship as it headed for Asia. Later, Greenpeace said a campaign of peaceful civil disobedience against coal was "justified" given the risks posed by climate change.


  14. Climate campaigners start 'hunger strike' to block Queensland coal project...cont....

    The Fossil Free campaign is pushing individuals and organisations to pull their investments out of coal projects. The World Bank and the European Union's investment arm have both introduced self-imposed restrictions on financing coal power projects in the name of climate change. Barack Obama has also directed the US Export-Import Bank to restrict financing of new coal power projects around the world.

    Preparing himself for a few days without food, Andrew Bartlett insists that the OverOurDeadBodies campaign is "not just a PR exercise" and he hopes it will encourage others to take action. He also says he is motivated by the future planet being built for his 11-year-old daughter.

    I'm not criticising it at all, but there's a feeling that traditional [campaigning] stuff isn't enough. The corporate elites have still got a pretty strong hold on things. I don't personally have the answers about what we should do – I just think that we need to do more.

  15. Global warming and oceans: what are the known unknowns?

    The world's leading oceanography experts examine global warming and the oceans in Abraham et al. (2013)

    Understanding how humans are changing the climate requires experts from many different areas. Physicists, chemists, engineers, mathematicians, biologists, atmospheric scientists, oceanographers, social scientists, the list goes on...

    The methods that have been developed to measure the Earth's climate include true engineering marvels. There are instruments on satellites that measure the rising sea levels and surface temperatures of oceans, land surfaces, and atmosphere. But satellite instruments can't see below the surface.

    Perhaps the most important component of the Earth's climate, and perhaps the hardest to measure, is the oceans that cover over 70 percent of the Earth's surface. Over the past decades and even centuries, humans have used various techniques to measure oceans, from buckets that were dragged through the ocean waters to collect samples, to modern autonomous devices that measure the oceans day and night throughout the year and report data by satellite. A major new development since about 2005 is use of floats that pop up and down to sample the top 2000 meters of the ocean for temperature and salinity. These enable us to calculate the increase in heat and the changes to the acidity of the ocean waters.


    The paper found that while all the evidence shows the Earth is warming, without pause, there are still unanswered questions and unmeasured parts of the oceans. Underneath ice sheets and deep in ocean basins are just two regions that need more attention. One of the world's pre-eminent oceanographers for, among other things, his important work measuring heat transferred to very deep ocean waters, is Dr. Gregory C. Johnson. Dr. Johnson works as an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle, Washington; he is also a co-author on the paper. He notes,

    "This review points to the need to expand the innovative, year-round, broad-scale measurements of the upper half of the open ocean volume so successfully pioneered by the international Argo Program all the way down to the ocean floor and into the ice-covered polar regions, so we can make well-resolved, timely, and truly global assessments of the amount of heat being absorbed by the ocean."

    In short, we are doing well, but we could do better with more deep-ocean measuring equipment.

    A similar reaction comes from Dr. Kevin Trenberth, who not only is one of the world's top climate scientists, but is also recognized as a top communicator, winning the 2013 American Geophysical Union Climate Communication Award. Dr. Trenberth has been quite active in ocean heating studies, most recently publishing an important paper which calculated significant rates of heating in the ocean. He described this new study as,

    "an excellent review of the history of ocean observations and very revealing about the problems, the issues, and the advances. Most people don't realize the state of the science of ocean observations and this paper is in that sense an expose."

    Drs. Johnson, Trenberth, and others who study climate change every day are hopeful that their work will help us quantify how much climate change has occurred and what the future may hold. While climate science, like other scientific endeavors does not package answers in neatly wrapped exacting answers, what we can say with certainty that is the Earth is warming and the best place to measure that warming is in the oceans.

    The best ocean measurements show a continuous heating that is largely from human-emitted greenhouse gases, and it is an important component of sea level rise. Indeed sea level rise may be the best single indicator of a warming planet: the other major contributor is additional water from melting land ice. Since satellite altimeters were placed in orbit in 1992, sea level has risen at 3.2 mm/year. That should be alarming to everyone.

  16. Cooling Pacific has dampened global warming, research shows

    Research explains why changes in tropical waters could be responsible for recent 'pause' in rising temperatures

    Cooling waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean appear to be a major factor in dampening global warming in recent years, scientists said on Wednesday.

    Their work is a big step forward in helping to solve the greatest puzzle of current climate change research – why global average surface temperatures, while still on an upward trend, have risen more slowly in the past 10 to fifteen years than previously.

    Waters in the eastern tropical regions of the Pacific have been notably cooler in recent years, owing to the effects of one of the world's biggest ocean circulatory systems, the Pacific decadal oscillation.

    Many people are aware of the El Niño and La Niña weather systems, which affect the Pacific and bring hotter and stormier or cooler weather in cycles of just a few years, and can have a strong effect on global weather. But few are aware that both of these systems are just part of the much bigger Pacific decadal oscillation, which brings warmer and cooler weather over decades.

    The system is now in a cooling phase, scientists have noted, which could last for years. The last such phase was from the 1940s to the 1970s.

    The new study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and supported by the US government's National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), published in the journal Nature, has linked the "pause" in global warming with the Pacific oscillation.

    Dan Barrie, programme manager at NOAA, called the research "compelling" and said: "[It] provides a powerful illustration of how the remote eastern tropical Pacific guides the behaviour of the global ocean-atmosphere system, in this case exhibiting a discernible influence on the recent hiatus in global warming."

    In winter, the effect of the cooler phase of the oscillation on the northern hemisphere is to depress temperatures slightly; but in summer, the cooler waters in the equatorial Pacific have less impact on the northern hemisphere's weather. The scientists, using computer models, compared their results with observations and concluded that global average annual temperatures have been lower than they would otherwise have been because of the oscillation. But the observed higher summer temperatures of recent years show more of the true effects of global warming, according to the research. Global average temperatures are taken over the whole year, obscuring the effect of this seasonal variation.

    Shang-Ping Xie, professor of environmental science at Scripps, said: "In summer, the equatorial Pacific's grip on the northern hemisphere loosens, and the increased greenhouse gases continue to warm temperatures, causing record heat waves and unprecedented Arctic sea ice retreat."


  17. Cooling Pacific has dampened global warming, research shows ...cont...

    Dr Alex Sen Gupta, of the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales, who was not part of the study team, said: "The authors have set up some elegant experiments using a climate model to test whether a natural oscillation that has gone through a large swing in the tropical Pacific Ocean over the last decade can explain the recent halt in surface global warming … the new simulation accurately reproduces the timing and pattern of changes that have occurred over the last four decades with remarkable skill. This clearly shows that the recent slowdown is a consequence of a natural oscillation."

    The role of oceans in regulating the planet's temperatures has taken on a greater significance in climate change research, as not enough is yet known about how ocean currents and the circulation of warmer surface water to the deep oceans below affect the weather and climate.

    Research indicates that oceans have absorbed much of the heat and about a third of the additional carbon dioxide pumped into the air from pre-industrial times. This has an effect – the thermal expansion of the oceans is likely to be the biggest factor behind sea level rise, and the absorption of carbon dioxide is making the oceans more acidic.

    Scientists also think that the circulation of heat from the top layers of the ocean, which have been most affected to date, to the deeper oceans below may be another factor behind the "hiatus" in global warming. What the full effects of this exchange of energy may be, particularly on ocean currents, is not yet known.

    Researchers have called for more observations of the ocean, including many more buoys and underwater readings.

    The slowdown in the upward march of global average temperatures has been greeted by climate sceptics as evidence that the climate is less affected by greenhouse gases than thought. But climate scientists are much more cautious, pointing out that the trend is still upwards, and that the current temperature rises are well within the expected range. Past temperature records and computer predictions both show that periods of slower rises are to be expected as part of the natural variability of the planet's climate.

    These issues are likely to be a major focus of the forthcoming report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the body of scientists who produce the most authoritative and comprehensive summaries of climate research. Their eagerly awaited fifth report, seven years since the last, will be published next month. It is likely to affirm that scientists are more certain than ever – at least 95%, up from 90% previously – that climate change is happening and is mostly caused by human actions, but it may suggest that the climate is slightly less sensitive to carbon than some outlying research has posited. That may mean that some of the highest estimates of future temperature rises, of more than 6C within several decades, are less likely, but it does not let the world off the hook – warming of more than 2C is still highly likely on current high emissions trends, and that would cause severe consequences around the world.

    A discussion of the recent "hiatus" in temperature rises, and its causes, will form an important part of the IPCC report. However, as the main source papers for the IPCC had to be gathered some time ago, the Scripps-led study of the Pacific decadal oscillation will not have made it into the final report, the first part of which will be presented at a meeting in Stockholm next month.

    The Scripps research team said the current cooling phase in the Pacific began just after a strong El Niño year in 1998, but that it was not possible to predict when it might end.


  18. Cooling Pacific has dampened global warming, research shows ...cont...

    They arrived at the conclusion by using innovative computer modeling methods to simulate regional patterns of climate anomalies. This enabled them to see global warming in greater spatial detail, revealing where it has been most intense and where there has been no warming or even cooling.

    They developed new computer models that could show regional and seasonal variations in temperature, as well as global patterns. "Climate models consider anthropogenic forcings like greenhouse gases and tiny atmospheric particles known as aerosols, but they cannot study a specific climate event like the current hiatus," said Yu Kosaka, co-author of the Nature paper. "We devised a new method for climate models to take equatorial Pacific ocean temperatures as an additional input."

    When these were taken into account, the models predicted the temperature changes observed, including the current "hiatus" in the upward climb of temperatures.

    The scientists warned, however, that when the current cooling phase turns, the upward march of temperatures is likely to resume, perhaps at faster rates than before as greenhouse gas emission rates are higher.

    Xie said: "We don't know precisely when we're going to come out of [the hiatus] but we know that over the timescale of several decades, the climate will continue to warm as we pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere."

    Some of the effects of the cooling in the Pacific are not straightforward – drier temperatures in the US midwest are one of the associated results.

    During the last cool phase, warmer, drier weather dominated in the midwestern US, as it has in the past 15 years with a serious drought prevailing through much of the region for much of the time.