Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Lib-Nat govt begins secret environment reform | Eco News

Lib-Nat govt begins secret environment reform | Eco News

"Media reports say a major reform by the conservative Liberal-National government of Australia’s environmental approval process has begun in secret.

Reports carried by Fairfax Media newspapers indicate the coalition government is refusing to release a draft agreement of how regulatory power will be devolved to the states and territories.

Greg-Hunt-Liberal-MP-climate-changeThe Fairfax Media reports say the Environment Minister Greg Hunt is refusing to release a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with Queensland last week to streamline so-called ”green tape”."

The Age newspaper reports Mr Hunt’s spokesperson said this was the first step in the government’s development of its ”one-stop shop” for environmental approvals and the government says the document is likely to become a template for other states.


  1. Metgasco to start drilling again on New South Wales north coast

    Coal seam gas company Metgasco is recommencing its operations on the far north coast of New South Wales.

    The company suspended its operations in the region about six months ago, citing an uncertain political climate.

    Chairman Nick Heath says he was encouraged by what he heard at last week's energy summit in Sydney.

    He says Metgasco plans to drill an exploration well about 12 kilometres north east of Casino.

    "We've had the environmental approvals submitted for a number of months now and we understand they're close to being approved," he said.

    "We have a landholder at the site who is very keen for us to drill.

    "What we have to do is identify a suitable drilling rig, and make sure we've got a rig available in the right time frame, but I would say we could be drilling in the first half of next year.

    "There's been a shift in the climate as far as we can tell, and the I think the public would say the same thing.

    "Some very supportive comments have been made by the new Federal Government (which is) keen to see the coal seam gas industry back on its feet in New South Wales.

    "And the New South Wales Government itself is keen to see new gas supply sources because of the impending shortage of gas that New South Wales is facing."

    The ABC's fact-checking unit has found that claims of an impending gas-supply crisis in New South Wales cannot be verified.

    Metgasco's operations have been the focus of long-running protests by residents opposed to coal seem gas.


    AGL seeks permission to begin fracking CSG pilot wells near Gloucester in the NSW Hunter Valley

    Energy company AGL has applied to begin fracking at four coal seam gas pilot wells near Gloucester in the New South Wales Hunter Valley.

    It says the procedure is necessary to identify potential gas resources and assess water production volumes at the Waukivory pilot project and has rejected concerns it would damage the local environment.

    If the State Government approves the application it will be the first time fracture stimulation, known as fracking, has been allowed since a moratorium was imposed in 2011.

    The government released a new code of practice for the procedure in September last year and strengthened it in February to include a two kilometre buffer zone around residential areas.

    Greens mining spokesman Jeremy Buckingham says the application should be rejected.

    "This fracking will occur within 600 metres of residential areas in Gloucester - that's outrageous," he said.

    "The people of New South Wales need to be protected from coal seam gas and Barry O'Farrell has to deliver on his promise to create exclusion zones that apply for everyone.

    "The Greens believe that approval of this fracking would break Barry O'Farrell's clear promise to keep CSG away from people's homes."

  2. What Greg Hunt didn't say about the carbon price and emissions

    There's been a lot of hot air blowing around on Labor's carbon policy, including that its pricing scheme has not managed to stem emissions in the 15 months it's been operating.

    New federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt says that under the carbon price emissions have actually increased. And in an interview with Lateline last week he quoted figures to back up the claim.

    "The strange thing about the carbon tax was that emissions went up, not down, from 560 to 637 million tonnes," Mr Hunt said.

    He was unequivocal. The carbon price "doesn't work", "doesn't do the job" and is "a just hopeless means of achieving the outcome," he said during the interview.

    But Mr Hunt's claim is not so cut and dried.

    A spokesman for the minister said the numbers came from a 2012 report by the Climate Change Department. That report does contain the 637 million tonnes figure, but not in the context Mr Hunt used in the Lateline interview. The report says that under Labor's carbon pricing scheme emissions are likely to be 637 million tonnes in 2020.

    It's a projection that takes the carbon price into account and predicts where our emissions will be in seven years time with a market-based carbon pricing method in place. The same report also finds that without the carbon price, emissions would be 8 per cent higher in 2020.

    Mr Hunt has used modelling predicting an outcome in seven years' time to say the carbon price as it stands today is not effective. The figures are projections, not fact, and cannot be used to make a point about emissions rising over the 15 months the carbon price has been on the books.

    At the end of 2012, total annual carbon emissions stood at 552 million tonnes, around the same as at the end of 2011.

    Sectors covered by the carbon price

    In the first six months of the carbon price, emissions from the sectors covered by the carbon price were 1 per cent lower than the same period the year before.

    The Climate Change Department report says the fall was largely due to a decline in emissions from electricity. This sector is particularly significant as it accounted for 35 per cent of Australia's carbon emissions in 2012. Between December 2011 and December 2012, electricity emissions dropped around 10 million tonnes. This was a fall of 7 per cent.

    However, it is not possible to say how much emissions fell as a result of the carbon price.

    Still, a report by the Climate Institute, a climate change research body, says the carbon price is contributing to the drop in electricity emissions. It is making renewable energy - like solar and wind power - more competitive with fossil-fuel generation. A report by ClimateWorks Australia, another research body whose website says it is "committed to catalysing reduction in greenhouse gas emissions", identifies rising energy costs and the carbon price as key drivers behind decreases in carbon emissions.

    Consulting firm AECOM surveyed how business owners and managers reacted to the new regime. Thirty-nine per cent of respondents said the carbon price had affected investment decisions. Thirty per cent said it had affected contractual decisions and 17 per cent said it had affected decisions about staff and employment.

    The carbon price is just 15 months old. For a policy with long-term goals, this is a short period of time. But early indications suggest the carbon price is having an impact.

    The verdict

    Mr Hunt based his claim on modelling for the year 2020. He failed to mention that the same modelling projects emissions would go up further if a carbon price wasn't in place. Mr Hunt's claim is misleading.

  3. Woodside under pump in Leviathan as pipleline options may cut its LNG role

    THE giant Leviathan gas project off the coast of Israel is studying export pipelines to Greece and to two Egyptian liquefied natural gas plants, heightening concerns that Woodside Petroleum's $US2.2 billion ($2.4bn) deal to enter the project is coming under renewed pressure.

    The export options for Leviathan, the world's biggest deepwater gas discovery in more than a decade, could limit Woodside's involvement and pressure it into less favourable terms on a non-binding agreement signed in December last year.

    Under the deal, the Perth company was to take a 30 per cent stake in the field and operate an LNG export project.Since the non-binding deal was signed, the Leviathan partners, led by Houston-based Noble Energy and including Israel's Delek Group, have spoken of a reduced need for LNG in the face of growing regional demand that could be supplied by pipelines rather than the process of freezing gas to a liquid for shipping.

    There have also been suggestions Delek wants to renegotiate the terms of the Woodside deal to reflect the lower capital cost of pipeline exports compared with LNG plants. The venture is significant for Woodside as an example of international expansion that chief executive Peter Coleman is keen to pursue.

    The Leviathan partners are still considering a number of potential export options, including LNG plants in Cyprus and Jordan, that could involve Woodside's LNG expertise.

    Delek, whose subsidiaries own 46 per cent of the project, has revealed that the project is studying eight export options for Leviathan, which must keep half its gas for domestic use.

    "Pre-FEED (front-end engineering and design) studies of export options are under way," Delek said on its website.It said it was reviewing possible pipelines through Europe, via Greece and Turkey, as well as "regional energy collaboration".

    Woodside's deal to take a 30 per cent stake in the 19 trillion cubic feet field (which makes it about half the size of the Gorgon gasfields) has been stalled by uncertainty over Israel's gas export policy -- which is held up in the nation's High Court.

    Once the export policy is finalised, as soon as this month, Woodside and the partners will discuss whether terms of the original deal need to be altered.

    Delek said it was still negotiating to sign a binding agreement to sell Woodside a 30 per cent stake in Leviathan, indicating it did not see the terms in the original agreement as final.

    Delek said pipelines to Greece or Turkey and exports to two existing LNG plants (Egypt LNG and Segas LNG) were among the options for exports.These options, of which a pipeline to Turkey has already been widely mentioned, would not involve new LNG operations, meaning Woodside would not play an operating role.

    - See more at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mining-energy/woodside-under-pump-in-leviathan-as-pipleline-options-may-cut-its-lng-role

  4. The thaw in US - Iran relations will free up the worlds second largest natural gas reserves.


    "Iran holds the world's fourth-largest proven oil reserves and the world's second-largest natural gas reserves. International sanctions are redefining the Iranian energy sector, and the lack of foreign investment and technology is affecting the sector profoundly.

    Iran, a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), ranks among the world's top four holders of both proven oil and natural gas reserves. In 2012, Iran saw unprecedented drops in its oil exports as sanctions by the United States (U.S.) and European Union (EU) were tightened, targeting Iranian oil export revenues. Preliminary data show that Iran ranked fifth in terms of crude oil and condensate exports, which was in contrast to its third position only two years ago. Given the sanctions and resulting drop in production, export volumes likely will continue to be hampered.

    Iran has the world's second largest natural gas reserves, but the sector is underdeveloped and used mostly to meet domestic demand. In contrast to the decreasing oil production, natural gas development has been slowly expanding. Nonetheless, natural gas production has been lower than expected as a result of a lack of foreign investment and technology."



    "Overview of oil and natural gas in the Caspian Sea region
    The Caspian Sea region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is quickly growing as a natural gas production hub.

    The Caspian Sea region is one of the oldest oil-producing areas in the world and is an increasingly important source of global energy production. The area has significant oil and natural gas reserves from both offshore deposits in the Caspian Sea itself and onshore fields in the Caspian basin. Traditionally an oil-producing area, the Caspian area's importance as a natural gas producer is growing quickly.

    This report analyzes oil and natural gas in the Caspian region, focusing primarily on the littoral (coastal) countries of the Caspian Sea (Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Iran). A discussion of Uzbekistan is also included. While not a Caspian coastal state, a considerable amount of Uzbekistan's territory, along with its energy resources, lies in the geological Caspian basins."



    In 2012, Iran, which exports around 1.5 million barrels of crude oil a day, was the second-largest exporter among the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.[8] In the same year, officials in Iran estimate that Iran's annual oil and gas revenues could reach $250 billion by 2015.[9] According to IHS CERA estimate, oil revenue of Iran will increase by a third to USD 100 billion in 2011 even though the country is under an extended period of U.S. sanctions.[10] Iran plans to invest a total of $500 billion in the oil sector before 2025.[



    Over two-thirds of Iranian natural gas reserves are located in non-associated fields, and have not been developed. Iran’s natural gas reserves are predominantly located offshore, although significant production originates from onshore oil fields (associated gas). Major natural gas fields include: South and North Pars, Kish, Kangan-Nar, Golshan and Ferdowsi fields. The giant South Pars gas field, only a portion of which is in Iranian territory, comprises over 47 percent of total reserves. Iran is expected to increase natural gas production from its offshore South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf, an integral component of energy sector expansion plans.


  5. Iran to Host International Gas Conference

    Iran plans to host the World Gas Conference (WOC 2) workgroup of the International Gas Union (IUG) for the first time in the country, Massoud Samivand, Managing Director of Natural Gas Storage Company (NGSC) said.

    According to the report of the public relations of the National Iranian Gas Company (NIGC), the 4-day conference will be attended by representatives of over 20 countries, including France, Germany, Czech, Belarus, Poland, Italy, Ukraine, Russia, South Korea and Bulgaria.

    The conference held biannually in one of the member state countries, and this time it focuses on gathering and injecting CO2, Mixing flexibility of N2 plus methane as well as optimizing gas production and injection, investigating structures of gas storage tanks.


    TAPI project: Turkmenistan offers global companies role in gas export

    By Zafar Bhutta / Creative: Jamal Khurshid

    Published: September 10, 2013

    Turkmenistan has offered US and European companies grant of offshore exploration rights and the gas produced can be swapped for gas found onshore for export to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India under a pipeline project.

    The offer comes in the wake of demands by international oil and gas companies for rights over exploration upstream against financing the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (TAPI) pipeline, say sources. However, Turkmenistan does not permit foreign companies oil and gas exploration on onshore fields and is now asking them including US Chevron to search for energy sources in offshore wells.

    “The Turkmen government now wants US and EU oil and gas companies to drill offshore wells to extract gas that may be swapped for gas produced from onshore wells for export to Afghanistan, Pakistan and India under the TAPI pipeline project,” a source familiar with the development said.

    All countries, which are part of the TAPI pipeline, have agreed to hire Asian Development Bank (ADB) as transaction adviser as well as its structure.

    According to sources, these countries will establish TAPI Company for a smooth and speedy execution of the project and each will deposit $5 million as token money.

    The ADB will arrange funds from different countries and international companies to finance the $10 billion gas supply project. Earlier, the cost was estimated at $7.5 billion, which is now projected to rise past $10 billion because of delay in work.

    In a new development, Afghanistan, which had earlier backed out of the project saying it was only interested in transit fee, has signed a gas sale and purchase agreement to become part of the pipeline.

    The government of Pakistan is going to open an assignment account to deposit $5 million in TAPI Company. It has already given the go-ahead in this regard.

    The US has been pushing Pakistan to press on with the TAPI pipeline and shelve the planned Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline because of a standoff with Tehran.

    However, the new government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has staved off the pressure and assured Iran that work on the IP project will go on according to schedule.

    Under the TAPI project, Pakistan will get 1.365 billion cubic feet of gas per day (bcfd) from Turkmenistan, India will also receive the same 1.365 bcfd and Afghanistan will get 0.5 bcfd.

    Turkmenistan will export gas through an 1,800km pipeline that will reach India after passing through Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Pakistan and India have already signed gas sale and purchase agreements and efforts are under way to attract potential investors for financing the project.

    Published in The Express Tribune, September 10th, 2013.

  6. A new start for America and Iran

    By Amin Saikal
    Posted Wed 25 Sep 2013, 3:23pm AEST

    America's waning influence in the Middle East and Iran's economic woes could see these long-time enemies put their differences aside in the name of mutual benefit, writes Amin Saikal.

    The Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States are finally in the throes of a possible breakthrough in their dispute over Iran's nuclear program. If they succeed in their efforts, it could serve as a prelude to a thaw in their relationship, which has witnessed continued hostility for more than 30 years. A Tehran-Washington rapprochement would carry the potential to change the entire strategic landscape of the Middle East.


    The United States requires Iran's assistance to stabilise the region and regain some of America's declining influence, amid the violence and conflict that have beset the Middle East from Afghanistan to Syria, Egypt and Libya. Despite the severe Western and UN sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, Iran has managed to be a critical regional player, especially in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Bahrain. Tehran has sufficient leverage in all these countries to help the Obama administration in its quest for a more stable region.

    ....Both are currently about 30 per cent or more. The sooner the sanctions are lifted, the quicker President Rouhani and his cabinet, which contains a number of highly educated and able figures, including foreign minister Javad Zarif, who now heads Iran's nuclear negotiating team, will be able to fulfil one of their key promises: to put the economy in a higher gear and stabilise the Iranian rial, which has been devalued by some 80 per cent since 2010.

    Improvement on the economic front will help Rouhani's government tackle some of the other pressing issues, such as the release of political prisoners - something that it has already commenced - and initiating important political and social reforms, including those in the area of human rights.

    Iran has a lot of potential to be a great oil-rich country. It possesses a very rich history, culture and civilization, with many geostrategic assets, and is therefore very important to regional stability and American interests.


    Testing the Waters for Normalizing U.S.-Iran Relations

    ......Rouhani’s ability to recast Iran’s standing in the international community could create some welcome economic relief. President Obama could see progress with Iran as helping to provide some break from the unceasing bad news from regional capitals, such as the challenge facing America’s relationship with Egypt and the civil war in Syria.

    The much-publicized U.S. realignment of military assets to the Asia-Pacific region, the shale gas revolution in North America, and the winding down of U.S. military presence in Afghanistan all point to a likely reduced American military presence in the Middle East and South Asia, albeit less so for naval forces.

    Whether driven by geopolitics or pressure on the defense budget or both, an emerging reconfiguration of naval and air forces in the Gulf may in itself assuage some of Iran’s enduring fears of U.S. intentions, and provide a better environment for some modest military- to-military communications.

    In the energy sector, both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have been investing in pipelines to reduce their dependence on the Strait of Hormuz for the export of their oil to Europe and other key markets. That too could be a positive development. It would ratchet down the strategic leverage that Iran believes it has over its neighbors and the global economy, which has been part of the logic of America’s security commitment to the region......


  7. Russia to pass LNG export law next month as nation awaits progress on five projects

    Tuesday, 01 October 2013

    Russia is attempting to overcome its LNG production shortfall compared with its vast energy resources by finally passing a law next month allowing companies other than natural gas giant Gazprom to export LNG.

    Russia currently has one LNG plant operating, the Sakhalin II facility in the Russian Far East, but five others are being developed at various speeds.

    The Gazprom LNG monopoly has not been beneficial for the country as its biggest planned LNG project, the Shtokman venture, is years behind schedule, analysts say, as the company concentrates on its prime role as the biggest pipeline natural gas supplier to Europe.

    Although Gazprom operates the Sakhalin plant that facility and infrastructure were developed by Royal Dutch Shell before Gazprom took control.

    A third venture involving Gazprom, Vladivostok LNG, is making progress as it's backed by Japanese energy and trading companies intent on bringing new volumes to Japan.

    Now Energy Minister Alexander Novak and Russia President Vladimir Putin have said they are determined to bring the country up to speed on LNG - at a time when the US is emerging as an LNG export power - by putting the long-awaited export law before the State Duma, Russia's lower house, in November.

    When passed the law will open the way for the Yamal LNG project to advance at a faster pace under Novatek, the second-largest Russian natural gas producer run by its strong Chairman Leonid Mikhelson.

    In addition to having France's Total on board Yamal, Mikhelson recently signed an agreement to bring China National Petroleum Corp. into the venture, giving the project in Russia's Arctic region a promise of Chinese project financing.

    Yamal LNG will see the construction of three liquefaction Trains, each with capacity of 5.5 million tonnes per annum, near Sabetta, a location in Russia located inside the Arctic circle.

    Novatek and its partners Total and CNPC are aiming for a start-up date of 2018.

    Additonally, ExxonMobil and Russian oil producer Rosneft are developing a $15 billion liquefaction venture to be built near Gazprom's existing Sakhalin LNG plant.

    The new LNG project is being pushed by the Rosneft Chairman Igor Sechin, who is close to President Putin.

    Rosneft as a state-run company would have been free to export LNG without a formal licence, but the fact that the Rosneft-ExxonMobil project is going ahead shows that the Gazprom monopoly is on the way out, analysts add.

    While Rosneft won't need the export licence it will be of use to the little-known Pechora LNG project, which envisages exporting from the Nenets autonomous region, a Russian federal entity which is four times the size of Switzerland but with a population of just over 42,000 people.

    Pechora LNG has had a study carried out by the Italian unit of LNG engineering company Technip.

    The project now plans a liquefaction plant in a non-freezing part of the Barents sea coast, 230 kilometres from the largest town in Nenets called Naryan-Mar.

    Feed-gas for the project will come from the Kumzhinskoye and Korovinskoye natural gas fields, located near the delta of the Pechora River that gives the project its name.

    The fifth Russian LNG project is also run by Gazprom.

    The Russian company in June 2013 launched with it called "a fundamentally new and ambitious project" in the Leningrad region near St Petersburg to develop an LNG production project with capacity of 10 MTPA.

    Gazprom Chairman Alexey Miller said at the time the he had started developing an investment rationale and selecting a construction site.

    Miller and Alexander Drozdenko, Governor of the Leningrad Region, have signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation regarding the LNG venture.

  8. Wentworth Updates on Mozambique and Tanzania Resources

    Headline results:
    ◾Potential oil play within the Tembo prospect in the Rovuma Onshore License: 1,205 MMstb gross undiscovered mean Oil-in-Place
    ◾81% increase from 6.3 Tcf to 11.4 Tcf gross discovered and undiscovered mean Gas Initially-in-Place for the Rovuma Onshore License and Mnazi Bay Concession areas combined
    ◾7 prospects identified and evaluated in the Rovuma Onshore License (operated by Anadarko) and 6 prospects identified and evaluated in the Mnazi Bay Concession (operated by Maurel et Prom)

    Rovuma Onshore License, Mozambique

    Under All Prospects as Gas Scenario
    ◾An increase in net mean prospective (unrisked) gas resources from 177 Bscf to 550 Bscf, an increase of 211%
    ◾An increase in net P10 prospective (unrisked) gas resources from 315 Bscf to 825 Bscf, an increase of 162%

    Under Tembo Prospect Oil Scenario
    ◾Tembo prospect identified as potentially oil-bearing and scheduled to be first prospect to be drilled in Mozambique
    ◾An increase in net mean prospective (unrisked) gas resources from 177 Bscf to 375 Bscf plus 32 MMstb oil
    ◾An increase in net P10 prospective (unrisked) gas resources from 315 Bscf to 513 Bscf plus 90 MMstb oil


    Wentworth Managing Director, Geoff Bury, commented: “Receiving a significant gas resources upgrade for our Onshore Rovuma License area and the fact that we now have an oil prospect to drill in Mozambique in Q2 2014 is highly encouraging. We are entering into a potentially transformational 15 month period for the Company. At least two Anadarko operated exploration wells will be drilled in Mozambique, which could offer significant upside to shareholders. In addition, first gas delivery into the new pipeline in Tanzania is expected in early 2015 increasing estimated gross gas production to 80 mmcf/day, a 40-fold increase over current production.”

  9. LNG carrier again using the Northern Sea Route through Arctic to deliver Japan cargo

    Tuesday, 01 October 2013

    The 155,000 cubic metres capacity "Arctic Aurora" is on its way to becoming the second LNG carrier to deliver a commercial cargo by the Northern Sea Route through Arctic waters to Japan.

  10. Having just been put in charge of the bulldozers -

    Now this !


    "Stokes lures Ferguson to Seven

    Martin Ferguson has become the first senior member of the former Labor government to take a plum job in the private sector after accepting a position with Kerry Stokes' Seven Group.

    The former resources and energy minister will start next week as group executive, natural resources. It is a newly created role which will focus on Seven's mining equipment supplier, WesTrac."


    Australia: APPEA Names Martin Ferguson Chair of Advisory Board

    APPEA announced that Martin Ferguson AM has accepted the newly-created position of Chairman of the APPEA Advisory Board.

    APPEA Chairman, David Knox, said: “There are few people in Australia with such a comprehensive understanding of Australia’s oil and gas industry.

    “Martin is held in the highest regard, not only across our industry but throughout the broader business community and across the political spectrum.

    “I am pleased that someone of Martin’s calibre will be the first Chairman of the APPEA Advisory Board to help us both meet the challenges presented by the industry’s unprecedented expansion and take advantage of the immense opportunities available to the industry during this exciting time.”

    As Chairman of the APPEA Advisory Board, Mr Ferguson will be responsible for providing strategic advice to the APPEA Chair, Board, and CEO, and for assisting in the industry’s promotion of the benefits it delivers to the wider Australian community.

    APPEA Chief Executive David Byers said: “Martin brings a wealth of experience to this role and possesses an intricate understanding of the issues facing the oil and gas industry.

    “His commitment to the development of Australia’s oil and gas industry and support for project investment stems from his appreciation of the economic opportunities the industry presents to Australia.

    “Martin has always appreciated that a successful Australian oil and gas industry will create opportunities for all Australians including the creation of jobs for tomorrow’s youth; renewed prosperity for rural Australia; and initiatives for the advancement of Indigenous Australians, women and apprentices.

    “I welcome his appointment and look forward to working with him.”

    LNG World News

  11. Dangerous levels of radioactivity found at fracking waste site in Pennsylvania

    Co-author of study says UK must impose better environmental regulation than US if it pursues shale gas extraction

    Scientists have for the first time found dangerous levels of radioactivity and salinity at a shale gas waste disposal site that could contaminate drinking water. If the UK follows in the steps of the US "shale gas revolution", it should impose regulations to stop such radioactive buildup, they said.

    The Duke University study, published on Wednesday, examined the water discharged from Josephine Brine Treatment Facility into Blacklick Creek, which feeds into a water source for western Pennsylvania cities, including Pittsburgh. Scientists took samples upstream and downstream from the treatment facility over a two-year period, with the last sample taken in June this year.

    Elevated levels of chloride and bromide, combined with strontium, radium, oxygen, and hydrogen isotopic compositions, are present in the Marcellus shale wastewaters, the study found.

    Radioactive brine is naturally occurring in shale rock and contaminates wastewater during hydraulic fracturing – known as fracking. Sometimes that "flowback" water is re-injected into rock deep underground, a practice that can cause seismic disturbances, but often it is treated before being discharged into watercourses.

    Radium levels in samples collected at the facility were 200 times greater than samples taken upstream. Such elevated levels of radioactivity are above regulated levels and would normally be seen at licensed radioactive disposal facilities, according to the scientists at Duke University's Nicholas school of the environment in North Carolina.

    Hundreds of disposal sites for wastewater could be similarly affected, said Professor Avner Vengosh, one of the authors of the study published in Environmental Science & Technology, a peer-reviewed journal.

    "If people don't live in those places, it's not an immediate threat in terms of radioactivity," said Vengosh. "However, there's the danger of slow bio-accumulation of the radium. It will eventually end up in fish and that is a biological danger."

    Shale gas production is exempt from the Clean Water Act and the industry has pledged to self-monitor its waste production to avoid regulatory oversight.

    However, the study clearly showed the need for independent monitoring and regulation, said Vengosh.

    "What is happening is the direct result of a lack of any regulation. If the Clean Water Act was applied in 2005 when the shale gas boom started this would have been prevented.

    "In the UK, if shale gas is going to develop, it should not follow the American example and should impose environmental regulation to prevent this kind of radioactive buildup."

  12. Dangerous levels of radioactivity found at fracking waste site in Pennsylvania


    The study also found elevated levels of salinity from the shale brine, which is five to 10 times more saline than sea water, that were 200-fold the regulated limit. Shale brine is also associated with high levels of bromide, which is not toxic by itself but turns into carcinogenic trihalomethanes during purification treatment.

    The US Geological Service has previously reported elevated levels of radioactivity in "flowback" water that naturally occurs in the rock. But the Duke study, called Impacts of Shale Gas Wastewater Disposal on Water Quality in Western Pennsylvania, is the first to use isotope hydrology to connect the dots between shale gas waste, treatment sites and discharge into drinking water supplies.

    From January to June 2013, the 4,197 unconventional gas wells in Pennsylvania reported 3.5m barrels of fluid waste and 10.7m barrels of "produced" fluid. Most of that waste is disposed of within Pennsylvania, but some of it is also went to other states, such as Ohio and New York despite its moratorium on shale gas exploration. In July, a treatment company in New York state pleaded guilty to falsifying more than 3,000 water tests.

    Earlier this year, Vengosh published another report that found higher methane, ethane and propane concentrations in drinking water within a kilometre of shale gas drilling at 141 sites where drinking water samples were taken.

  13. September hottest on record

    If the first month of spring had you sweating like it was summer, you probably weren't alone.

    September was the hottest spring opener on record, with the national average temperature a sizzling 2.75 C above usual.

    Not only that but the gap between the normal temperature in September and that recorded by the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) was the biggest ever observed for any month.

    The sweltering September was yet another climate record to tumble this year, with Australians this year already enduring the hottest January, hottest summer and hottest single day ever.

    In its second report, the new Climate Council warns Australia is breaking all the wrong records when it comes to weather.

    "Temperature records are broken from time to time in Australia but it is the sheer number of records being broken that is really unusual," the council's Will Steffen said in a statement.

    He said Australia was on track to smash yet another worrying climate benchmark - the warmest calendar year to date.

    Australia is experiencing persistent heat across the continent, with temperatures from October 2012 to September 1.25 degrees above the long-term average.

    Since 1910, average temperatures have risen by 0.9 C, with a significant increase in the frequency of hot days and nights noted by the CSIRO and BoM.

    The Climate Council said a 0.9 C temperature rise may not seem like much but even small increases could exacerbate the intensity of extreme weather experienced in Australia.

    The latest assessment by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded global warming was driving the frequency and intensity of extremely hot days and heatwaves.

    Professor Steffen said Australia was no stranger to baking days but climate change threatened to make extreme heat a much more common and - in the case of bushfires - dangerous occurrence.

    The Climate Council was formed after the federal government abolished the Climate Commission, headed by Professor Tim Flannery, in mid September.
    The council already has raised nearly $1 million in donations to continue its work providing expert independent information about climate change to the Australian public.

  14. Wineries and farms put off limits from CSG in NSW

    THE NSW government has moved to protect another one million hectares of prime agricultural land and declared hundreds of horse studs and vineyard "off-limits" to coal-seam gas mining activities, as it implements what it describes as the toughest industry control in the nation. The O'Farrell government has ignored warnings of a looming gas supply crisis and rejected the pleading of the energy sector as it prepares to legislate its mooted ban on CSG drilling within 2km of residential areas.In what NSW Resources Minister Brad Hazzard has declared the "toughest CSG controls in Australia", 2.8 million hectares of the state's most valuable agricultural land have been earmarked "strategic land" that will face new oversight, about one million hectares more than had previously been mapped.CSG companies seeking to operate on that land will first be required to have their plans reviewed by a "gateway panel" consisting of six state-appointed groundwater, agricultural and mining experts. "Under Labor, coal-seam gas exploration licences were granted and renewed with no concern for potential agricultural or water impacts, and with no concerns for the land's use," Mr Hazzard said yesterday."We have poured more resources into mapping the state as quickly as possible so we can have the gateway process in place."We can then determine the issues and the merits of CSG activity in certain areas and identify those activities that may be of concern."The government has identified "critical industry clusters" in NSW's Upper Hunter, consisting of more than 800 viticulture and equine properties, which it considers off-limits to CSG activities.However, under the new legislation, CSG companies will be permitted to drill on Upper Hunter horse or viticulture properties that they have owned since September last year, when the government first announced the strategic land use plan for the Upper Hunter.Critical industry clusters were defined as "concentrations of highly productive industries within a region that are related to each other, contribute to the identity of that region, and provide significant employment opportunities".All new CSG activity would be banned within 2km of existing residential zones across NSW and new CSG exploration and development in the northwest and southwest growth corridors of Sydney and within 2km of those areas would be prohibited.The residential exclusion zones cover 2.344 million hectares across all 152 local government areas of the state, the government said, and take the total area of protected land to about five million hectares.Seven rural villages were added to the exclusion zones.The restrictions are deeply unpopular with the CSG industry. The O'Farrell government is under pressure to speed up the approval of CSG projects, as the federal government warns that the state will face a gas supply crisis and significant job losses if the situation is not addressed.Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane told an energy security conference last week: "When the gas gets short in a year or so, probably very short by 2016, and it gets very expensive, it's going to be average mums and dads who will lose their jobs because we haven't acted fast enough."Mr Macfarlane plans to convene a meeting of the states, gas companies, gas users, farmers and other stakeholders before Christmas and has urged the adoption of uniform laws across the states. He praised the Queensland system, which has led to an explosion of CSG development.NSW imports 95 per cent of its gas despite having ample reserves. Treasurer Mike Baird has warned that the state's supply contracts are running out.

  15. If we're digging it out the ground this fast and still can't get the benefits then why bother?

    Future generations will have to pay the debt piling up just so these companies can send 87% of the money offshore - and the richest companies in the world don't have to pay their fair share.



    WA exports defy end of boom fears

    WA exports to China have reached $200 million a day, defying suggestions of an end to the mining boom.

    And that growth is tipped to accelerate with new forecasts that iron ore exports will jump by one-third over the next 12 months.

    Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed total exports from WA to China hit a record $6 billion during August, a 16 per cent jump on the value of exports out of the State in July and $2 billion higher than a year ago. The bulk of those exports was iron ore.

    Much of the growth has been driven by the lower Australian dollar and the improvement in the price of iron ore. A year ago iron ore prices were sub-$US100 a tonne with the dollar well above parity.

    During August iron ore averaged more than $US130 a tonne and the dollar about US90¢.

    It's not just China taking WA commodities. WA exports to Japan reached $2.3 billion, the third best monthly performance on record.

    Three-quarters of all WA exports now go to the two nations.

    China's importance to the rest of the nation is also growing. More than 35 per cent of all Australian exports in July and August were shipped to China.

    For the same period last year, less than 30 per cent of all exports headed to China.

    The Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics believes a lower dollar and continuing demand will mean the nation's dependence on China will continue to grow.

    In forecasts released yesterday, it said iron ore exports would grow 33 per cent this year to a record $36.2 billion.

    Bureau executive director Bruce Wilson said despite mineral and energy exports falling 8 per cent to $177 billion last financial year, the future looked bright.

    "Over the period 2013-14 to 2017-18, the bureau projects that Australian export revenues will grow at an annual average rate of 7 per cent to total $293 billion in 2017-18," Mr Wilson said.
    "Growth in export revenue will be driven by two main factors - substantial growth in bulk commodity export volumes, particularly for LNG and iron ore, and a lower Australian dollar."

  16. Indigenous disadvantage 'does not diminish over time', High Court finds

    Updated Wed 2 Oct 2013, 7:57pm AEST

    Disadvantage experienced by many Indigenous Australians does not diminish over time and should be taken into account in sentencing of criminal offences, the High Court has found.


    3 Oct 2013 - 8:40am

    The Kimberley's Indigenous youth suicide rate ranked worst in Australia

    The manager of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) in Fitzroy Crossing has called for State and National Governments to refocus on the Indigenous youth suicide rate.

    Craig Quartermaine

    NITV News

    The manager of the Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre (KALACC) in Fitzroy Crossing has called for State and National Governments to refocus on the Indigenous youth suicide rate.

    Wes Harris, Coordinator of KALACC, said he believed the guidelines used to define a person as a suicide risk make our youth suicide rates one of the worst in the world.

    KALACC has been a part of the Kimberley for almost 30 years and has participated into coronial inquests into the prevention and treatment of youth suicide.

    According to Mr Harris, noting severe mental Illness as the key indicator of a potential suicide is one of the biggest misconceptions in the region.

    "Let's look at those words again, severe and persistent mental illness, yes someone who takes their life must be deeply troubled but those same young people, 24 hours earlier, they're not schizophrenic, they're not bi polar, they're troubled youths with very fragile identities," Mr Harris said.

    It is this loss of identity Mr Harris said is more of a detrimental factor in Indigenous Youth suicide.

    To support his case, Mr Harris used the research of Canadian Professor Michael Chandler.

    “What it means is that white fellas think all black fellas are the same, and when you actually look at statistics you know that's not true because what Chandler has found is that 50 per cent of Canadian Aboriginal people not only have low suicide, they have no suicide,” says Mr Harris.

    Journalist and Researcher Gerry Georgatos has been comparing suicide rates and information from organisations like KALACC and believes Australian society has grown numb to the existing figures.

    "We have become so numb to it that these are now assumptions, that we accept premises we accept each year. It does actually get worse, there is no year in the last 15 that it’s gotten better," says Mr Georgatos.

    Mr Georgatos also sees the age bracket declining for those in danger.

    "The two most susceptible groups are the five- to 15-year-olds, and the groups are getting younger and younger next year," Mr Georgatos said.

  17. Dying Black Panther Herman Wallace freed after 40 years in solitary confinement

    A terminally ill prisoner who spent more than 40 years in solitary confinement at a US jail has been released and has had his murder conviction overturned.

    Herman Wallace had been serving time in Louisiana for armed robbery when he was found guilty in 1974 of killing a white prison guard two years earlier.

    He had been an active member of the Black Panther movement and had organised prison protests, demanding desegregation and better protection of inmates against abuses, before his murder conviction.

    At the time, the jail had no black guards and a reputation as one of the most violent in the US.

    Mr Wallace, now 71, spent four decades confined to a tiny cell for 23 hours a day.

    He is known in the US as one of the 'Angola three' - a group of three Black Panther men who were imprisoned in solitary confinement in Louisiana's notorious Angola prison farm.

    The maximum security prison is built on the site of a former plantation worked by slaves from Africa.

    The plight of Wallace and fellow Black Panther inmates Albert Woodfox and Robert King was not uncovered until 1997, when a young law student discovered they were still being kept in solitary confinement.

    The bloodiest prison in the South

    Mr Wallace and Woodfox, who founded the Angola chapter of the Black Panthers, were charged and convicted of the 1972 stabbing of white prison guard Brent Miller, 23, reportedly knifed more than 30 times in a prison riot.

    Both men said they were innocent from the start, arguing they were framed for their politics and protests. Supporters say no physical evidence ties the men to the murder.

    A 2008 Los Angeles Times account of Miller's 1972 murder called Angola's prison farm the "bloodiest in the South, where guards routinely beat prisoners and inmates killed one another with crude knives.

    "New Orleans musicians sang ominously about it like Greek poets evoking the underworld of Hades," the article said.

    King has since been released, however Woodfox remains in prison.

    Wallace may have just days left to live

    On Tuesday a judge ordered Mr Wallace be released because the inmate has liver cancer and is not expected to live much longer.

    Judge Brian Jackson also reversed Mr Wallace's conviction because there were no women on the jury that indicted him.

    The judge voided the "conviction and sentence, on the ground that systematic exclusion of women from the grand jury that indicted him violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection of the laws".

    Mr Wallace's lawyers say his murder conviction had rested on the testimony of four prisoners who later withdrew their statements.

    Mr Wallace left the prison in an ambulance to get treatment for his advanced cancer.

    Amnesty International, which had called for his release, welcomed the decision but lamented it came only as he has "only days or hours left to live".

    "No ruling can erase the cruel, inhuman and degrading prison conditions he endured for more than 41 years - confined alone to a tiny cell for 23 hours a day," the group's executive director, Steven Hawkins, said in a statement.

    Mr Wallace's defence team pledged that litigation challenging the inmate's "unconstitutional confinement in solitary confinement for four decades will continue in his name".

  18. Angola 3 - Love and Death in South's Bloodiest Prison




    Love and death in the South's bloodiest prison

    Two Black Panthers were convicted in the 1972 stabbing of a newlywed guard at Angola, in Louisiana. Now, his widow - and others - aren't sure they did it.

    By Miguel Bustillo
    Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

    May 3, 2008

    JEANERETTE, LA. — Thirty-six years have passed since she saw him last, but Leontine Verrett has never forgotten the face of the man she still calls her true love. His name was Brent Miller. He was lean and cocksure and strummed his guitar a little too loud.

    Their romance blossomed on the grounds of the Louisiana State Penitentiary, the plantation turned prison built along a bend of the Mississippi River. He came from a clan where men had served as prison guards for generations. She was one of 12 children who moved there when their father got a job running the prison's sugar mill.

    The lovers married on Feb. 5, 1972 -- he was 23, she was just 16. Two months later, the bride nicknamed Teenie got a call that there had been "an accident" at Angola, as the prison is known. She was a widow.

    Miller had been stabbed 32 times and left in a prison dormitory in a pool of blood. Teenie's brother, who was also a guard, said Miller looked like he was wearing a red shirt. Horrified, he never returned to the job. Teenie soon learned that black militants stood accused of killing her husband, a random victim of what prison officials said was an inmate plot to murder a white man. She wanted the culprits to suffer and die. But unlike Miller's family, who crammed the courtrooms where the inmates were tried, she could not bear to sit and listen to the gruesome details.

    "I didn't want to know," Verrett, now 52, said as her eyes misted up. "That was a lot to deal with at 17 years old. I trusted [the authorities] to do the right thing."

    Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox, Black Panthers from New Orleans who were serving time for armed robberies, were convicted of Miller's murder. The widow did her best to go on, moving to Jeanerette, an industrial town in the heart of Cajun country about two hours south of the prison. Two years later, she married Dean Verrett, who loved her despite her feelings for Miller, and they had three children. She began working at a beauty parlor, where she still works today.

    Then 2 1/2 years ago, Billie Mizell, a legal investigator and fledgling author, showed up at Verrett's home near the banks of the Bayou Teche. She said she wanted to talk about Miller's murder.

    What Mizell told Verrett stunned her. A bloody fingerprint found at the scene did not match Woodfox or Wallace. There was never any physical evidence linking them to the crime.

    They'd been held in separate 6-by-9-foot cells for nearly every hour of every day. Supporters called their conditions solitary confinement; prison officials strongly disagreed. (The men were moved to a prison dormitory in March after nearly 36 years.)

    Mizell said the star witness against Woodfox and Wallace, a repeat sex offender serving a life sentence, was promised freedom for his testimony -- a deal that the prosecution never disclosed to the defense. He was later transferred to another building where guards plied him with cigarettes, a prized jailhouse currency.

    Verrett was skeptical. But she and Dean, who had also worked as an Angola guard, corroborated everything Mizell said by digging up court files and talking to friends and former co-workers.


  19. Angola 3 - Love and Death in South's Bloodiest Prison...cont...

    After years of struggling with questions about the cold way prison authorities treated her when she sought compensation for her husband's death, issues she ignored as a teenager but that gnawed at her as an adult, she came to a troubling realization.

    Maybe the militants, who had become an international cause celebre among liberal activists and human rights groups, were innocent.

    "If I were on that jury," Verrett now says, "I don't think I would have convicted them."

    The Louisiana State Penitentiary was infamous in the '60s and '70s as the bloodiest in the South, a place where guards routinely beat prisoners and inmates killed one another with crude knives. New Orleans musicians sang ominously about it like Greek poets evoking the underworld of Hades.

    Called Angola after the birthplace of the slaves who worked there when it was a plantation, the prison drove inmates so hard that in 1952, 31 severed their own Achilles tendons in protest.

    When Miller began working there two decades later, the guards were all white and the prisoners segregated. Wardens looked the other way when stronger inmates sold weaker ones as sex servants.

    Wallace and Woodfox were part of a crew of socially conscious Black Panthers who challenged the Darwinian order by organizing opposition and telling victims they did not have to be "turned out," according to the two inmates and others who served in Angola at that time. That riled the prison strongmen as well as the guards, who let the sex trade flourish because it kept prisoners busy, inmates recalled.

    "I had to fight corruption and the things being tolerated by the prison administration to control the population," Woodfox, 61, said in an interview. "When you saw the look on these kids' faces -- to see the spirit of another human being broken -- it affected the way you looked at life."

    Angola was also in another kind of power struggle. Warden C. Murray Henderson was hired to reform the modern-day dungeon and end racial segregation. But associate warden Hayden Dees, a respected voice among the prison's workers, opposed changes.

    When Miller was killed on April 17, 1972, some guards blamed Henderson because he had recently released dozens of rebellious inmates, including Black Panthers, from lockdown.

    Within days of Miller's death, prison officials had identified four suspects: Woodfox, Wallace, Chester Jackson and Gilbert Montegut. Woodfox, the accused ringleader, was tried separately, the others together.

    The cases rested on witness testimony from other prisoners. The most crucial came from a repeat rapist named Hezekiah Brown. He first said he knew nothing of the murder, but after guards summoned him for more questioning, his story changed.

    Brown, then 66, testified that he was preparing a cup of coffee for Miller when the men entered and began stabbing the guard. He said he fled after he was left unharmed. Based on that account, Woodfox was convicted of murder in 1973.

    In the 1974 trial of the other men, Wallace was convicted, Montegut was acquitted and Jackson decided to testify for the prosecution, after he was apparently promised a reduced charge. Under pressure to help secure a conviction, Henderson pledged to Brown that he would get him out of prison, and later lobbied to make it happen, a deal that did not become public until two decades later.

    Brown's sentence was commuted by Gov. Edwin Edwards in 1986.


  20. Angola 3 - Love and Death in South's Bloodiest Prison...cont...

    Since the convictions, after prodding by attorneys and activists, supporting witnesses who claimed they saw Wallace and Woodfox leaving the scene have recanted, saying they were pressured by prison officials to testify -- and a former inmate has come forward to assert that another militant killed Miller.

    Billy Wayne Sinclair, an award-winning prison journalist, was honored in 1980 by the American Bar Assn. for a story about inmate Irvin "Life" Breaux, who was killed after trying to stop a prison rape.

    What Sinclair did not write, for fear it would hurt his chances of release, was that his friend "Life" had earlier confided that he stabbed Miller. Breaux described Miller as a "casualty of war" who walked in as militant inmates were hiding knives they planned to use to kill "Uncle Tom" black prisoners, said Sinclair. Breaux said Woodfox and Wallace were innocent, Sinclair now claims.

    "He was telling me, sometimes people have to die to further the struggle, but Miller was not supposed to die," said Sinclair, a white inmate leader who grew close to Breaux after they helped integrate Angola without bloodshed in 1973. "He also told me that the free people [prison guards] knew what he had done."

    In a twist of fate, Henderson, who left his post as Angola warden in the 1970s, was sent to a Louisiana prison years later after he tried to kill his wife. He was slowed by gout and needed assistance bathing -- and Sinclair, who had been transferred to the prison, helped. One day Sinclair said he asked him about the Miller case.

    "I told him, you know damn well those guys didn't kill that free man that April morning," said Sinclair, 63, who is out of prison and living in Texas. "I wanted to get an acknowledgment . . . and he never said a thing to refute it."

    The former warden died in prison in 2004.

    Wallace and Woodfox had spent their days in separate cells, conversing with others through cracks in walls. After being placed in isolation almost immediately after the murder, they were allowed about an hour a day in the yard when other prisoners were inside. Two months ago, prison authorities released them into a dormitory with other maximum-security inmates. Officials did not explain why.

    The move came less than a week after the head of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), traveled to Angola to meet with the men. He released a statement expressing concern that they may be innocent, and noted that they had been in isolation for "possibly a longer period than any other inmate in U.S. history."

    Two years ago, a state judicial commissioner recommended that Wallace's conviction be reversed on grounds that Louisiana withheld evidence favorable to him, giving his lawyers hope that the 66-year- old inmate would be freed. The case is before a state appeals court.

    Woodfox faces far tougher hurdles. His murder conviction was overturned a decade ago. But he was retried and convicted in 1998, based again on Brown's earlier testimony, which was read into the record because Brown had died. Woodfox's attorneys are asking a federal court to reexamine his case.

    "I have come to accept the fact that I may not survive to see a day out in society. But the way I see it, it's been worth it," Woodfox said. "It's worth fighting against injustice and inequality."


  21. Angola 3 - Love and Death in South's Bloodiest Prison...cont...

    Woodfox, Wallace and another inmate are also pursuing a civil case against Angola, alleging inhumane treatment. Current warden Burl Cain, who has widely been credited with improving living conditions and ensuring that elderly inmates die with dignity, declined to discuss the ex-Black Panthers' imprisonment. But state officials have strenuously maintained that the isolation of Woodfox and Wallace did not constitute solitary confinement, noting that the inmates had televisions and limited human contact.

    For more than a decade, activist groups including Amnesty International have complained about the treatment of Wallace and Woodfox, and the British founders of the Body Shop chain of beauty products have long championed their cause. Mizell, who's writing a book on the case, started working for the men's defense team after she became convinced they were innocent.

    Verrett sometimes sits and looks at weathered pictures of Miller and herself. In hindsight, she believes state officials were trying to keep details of his death from coming to light, for fear that the public would learn that the evidence against Woodfox and Wallace was threadbare at best.

    She remembered that two years after Miller's murder, she had tried to hire attorneys to file a claim against the state, seeking compensation -- a standard practice when guards are injured, much less killed. Prison officials became distant, and she eventually abandoned the case.

    All she wants now is "justice for Brent," she said. She's not sure he's ever gotten it.


    Copyright 2008 Los Angeles Times


    You are here because you know something,what you
    know you can't explain,but you feel it.You've felt it
    your entire life; that theres something wrong with the
    world.You don't know what it is but it's there; a
    splinter in your mind... the matrix




    Assata: Exile since 1979
    On May 2 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Olugbala Shakur (fsn) Joanne Deborah Chesimard, was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police, shot twice and then charged with murder of a police officer.

    Assata spent six and a half years in prison under brutal circumstances before escaping out of the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving to Cuba.

    Assata: In her own words
    My name is Assata ("she who struggles") Olugbala ( "for the people" ) Shakur ("the thankful one"), and I am a 20th century escaped slave.

    Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government's policy towards people of color.

    I am an ex political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party.

    By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO program. because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it "greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.

    click here to read the complete Assata Shakur Interview.



    Fracking produces annual toxic waste water enough to flood Washington DC

    Growing concerns over radiation risks as report finds widespread environmental damage on an unimaginable scale in the US

    Fracking in America generated 280bn US gallons of toxic waste water last year – enough to flood all of Washington DC beneath a 22ft deep toxic lagoon, a new report out on Thursday found.

    The report from campaign group Environment America said America's transformation into an energy superpower was exacting growing costs on the environment.

    "Our analysis shows that damage from fracking is widespread and occurs on a scale unimagined just a few years ago," the report, Fracking by the Numbers, said.

    The full extent of the damage posed by fracking to air and water quality had yet to emerge, the report said.

    But it concluded: "Even the limited data that are currently available, however, paint an increasingly clear picture of the damage that fracking has done to our environment and health."

    A number of recent studies have highlighted the negative consequences of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, which have unlocked vast reservoirs of oil and natural gas from rock formations.

    There have been instances of contaminated wells and streams, as well as evidence of methane releases along the production chain.

    The Environment America report highlights another growing area of concern – the safe disposal of the billions of gallons of waste water that are returned to the surface along with oil and gas when walls are fracked.

    The authors said they relied on data from industry and state environmental regulators to compile their report.

    More than 80,000 wells have been drilled or permitted in 17 states since 2005.

    It can take 2m to 9m gallons of water mixed with sand and chemicals to frack a single well. The report said the drilling industry had used 250bn gallons of fresh water since 2005. Much of that returns to the surface, however, along with naturally occurring radium and bromides, and concerns are growing about those effects on the environment.

    A study published this week by researchers at Duke University found new evidence of radiation risks from drilling waste water. The researchers said sediment samples collected downstream from a treatment plant in western Pennsylvania showed radium concentrations 200 times above normal.

    The Environment America study said waste water pits have been known to fail, such as in New Mexico where there were more than 420 instances of contamination, and that treatment plants were not entirely effective.


  23. Fracking produces annual toxic waste water enough to flood Washington DC

    Growing concerns over radiation risks as report finds widespread environmental damage on an unimaginable scale in the US


    "Fracking waste-water discharged at treatment plants can cause a different problem for drinking water: when bromide in the wastewater mixes with chlorine (often used at drinking water treatment plants), it produces trihalomethanes, chemicals that cause cancer and increase the risk of reproductive or developmental health problems," the report said.

    About 260bn US gallons of the 280bn US gallons of toxic waste water were from Texas, a state that has undergone three years of severe drought and where there is fierce competition for water between the oil industry and farmers and ranchers.

    Environment America said that water was now taken out of the supply and that storing, transporting and even recycling the toxic waste carried environmental risks. ""They say a lot of it is recycled. It is still 280bn gallons of toxic waste generated that is running through our communities," said John Rumpler, author of the report.

    Spokespersons for Energy in Depth, the industry lobby group, disputed the findings as "alarmist:" and "meaningless".

    "Number is meaningless unless they're alleging something is happening with it, ie ending up in tap water," Steve Everley, the lead spokesman for the lobby group said on Twitter.

    Other consequences of fracking highlighted in the report included: 450,000 tons of air pollution a year and 100m metric tons of global warming pollution since 2005.

  24. It is so obvious now since JPP was scrapped that Emperor Barnett really doesn't give a stuff about Indigenous issues - not that anyone believed him in the first place - but here's more proof if anyone needed any!


    Abuse survivors miss out: Josie Farrer

    Kimberley MLA Josie Farrer has spoken passionately in State Parliament about the many survivors of abuse who missed out on a scheme meant to repatriate and compensate them.

    The Barnett Government announced in 2009 the maximum amount of the ex-gratia payment for Redress WA was to be cut by nearly half from a maximum payment of $80,000 to a maximum of $45,000.

    Ms Farrer said about 51 per cent of claimants were Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander.

    "It has been tortuous for many people trying to make claims," she said.

    "Many have come forward and told their deepest secrets, reliving the traumatic childhood they were powerless to prevent, and have received no acknowledgment or compensation in return.

    A large majority have not even received any counselling to deal with their post-traumatic stress."

    Ms Farrer said there needed to be full-time counsellors in every community throughout the Kimberley.
    Ms Farrer pleaded with Community Services Minister Tony Simpson to travel with her to meet survivors in the Kimberley to discuss their experiences.


    Apprentice training group urges Indigenous funding review

    A Kimberley apprentice training organisation says new government funding models do not provide enough support for Indigenous students.

    In July, the Indigenous employment funding model was replaced with the Remote Jobs and Communities Program, and 60 new service providers were appointed.

    The Kununurra-based Kimberley Training Group (KTG) says because of the changeover it has has had to cut eight staff members and the future of its 160 apprentices has been put at risk.

    KTG chairman Peter Stubbs says it is time for a review of the way funds are distributed.

    "Twelve-hundred dollars per commencement of apprentice and $1,200 when they complete is not enough to operate an effective support program on, so they really need to look at the way the old previous Indigenous Employment Program was structured," he said.

    "I'd encourage the Federal Government to re-look at that and work out how can those principles be taken forward and embodied in a new way.

    "The way in which those new service providers need to operate and engage with the communities at one end and the Federal Government has not yet been worked out.

    "As a consequence, the funding that's supposed to flow through that model is not occurring and it may yet be another three or four months.

    "What this means then is there's been a cash flow effect into group training organisations right around Australia."

    1. Once again - where is Royalties for Regions in all this?

  25. Some absolutely damning comments from Mundines Aboriginal ex wife.


    Game changer

    .........It was the most lavish of weddings, testament to all the courses of Warren Mundine's life, attended by an extraordinary cross-section of Australian society: rich and poor, black and white, bankers, football players, politicians, movers and shakers. Tony Abbott was invited, but was unable to attend. Mundine was disappointed. But mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest was there and, as he mingled with his 450 guests, his new wife Elizabeth floating on his arm, Mundine felt very fortunate.

    Not present at the wedding at Sydney's Luna Park, not celebrating on that warm night in February this year, not forgiving, was Lynette Riley, the former wife who shared Mundine's life for 26 years and raised their seven children - four of their own, two from Mundine's first marriage, and a foster child.


    Riley, a senior lecturer in Aboriginal education at Sydney University, has not previously spoken of the disintegration of their marriage. But asked her view of Mundine's rise, she replies, "I think he has sold out his family and his culture. I think he gave up his good Aboriginal wife and kids so he could do that."

    She says she suspects that Mundine feels as though he is "upgrading" with his marriage to divorced corporate lawyer Elizabeth Henderson, daughter of Gerard and Anne Henderson, directors of conservative think tank The Sydney Institute.

    She takes a deep breath and talks about the first time she caught him cheating - Thursday, February 2, 2006. They were going to a barbecue and she was waiting for him in his office at NSW Native Title Services in Redfern, where he was chief executive. He was running late so she slipped in behind his computer to use the internet. An email was open, from a woman Mundine had met in Melbourne the previous year at a meeting of Emily's List, the Labor lobby group dedicated to getting more women into parliament. It was intimate. She called up all emails between them, which revealed they had spent many nights together.

    Riley trashed his office and threw a pot plant at him as he walked into the room, then went home and cut up all his clothes, even his leather shoes.

    They separated but the storm passed and, by the end of March, they began to see each other again. That month, as he continued to build what he hoped would be a political career, Mundine told The Catholic Weekly, "I pray to God every night, to thank him for what I have and talk about my issues and problems."

    On the morning of April 20, as she took out the garbage, Riley found the Labor Party president asleep in the car in the backyard, just returned from a trip to China. In February 2007, she took him back. But soon Riley began to feel an emotional distance returning. In May 2008 she found his diary, which revealed he was cheating again, this time with a woman who works in the mining industry. She told him to leave.

    She says that on a mild winter's day - Sunday, June 22, 2008 - Mundine came to their house in Haberfield and, in a final bitter exchange, told her that the breakup of their marriage was her fault, that she was not challenging him and satisfying him, that she didn't know how to socialise with the right people, and that she was "too Aboriginal".


  26. Some absolutely damning comments from Mundines Aboriginal ex wife.


    Game changer

    "I was really shattered," says Riley. "I always thought of Warren as my soul mate. I thought we were always heading in the same direction." (Mundine denies saying it. He says it would be a "bizarre" comment for him to have made.)

    A few days later, on June 26, Lynette Mundine changed her surname back to Riley.


    ........In August this year, Mundine accompanied Abbott to the Garma festival in Arnhem Land, where Abbott described him as "a kindred spirit" and "a courageous and visionary leader".

    It is not a universally held opinion. The grand dame of Aboriginal politics, Lowitja O'Donoghue, sighs wearily and says that Mundine is "not our new messiah". Respected indigenous leader Pat Dodson says it is far from clear what Mundine intends to do and that he has yet to see any "silver bullets". Indigenous NSW Labor MP Linda Burney says there is "concern and incredulousness" within the Aboriginal community that Mundine has risen so high. She says a group of Aboriginal people recently stopped her on a street in Sydney's Marrickville and asked her, "What are we going to do about pretty boy?"

    Burney, a long-time friend of Riley's, acted as an intermediary to reunite the couple. "I felt that they had been together for so long, there were seven children involved, and obviously Lynette was still very much in love with Warren," she says. "It worked, but then Warren continued on his way. I'm no prude and marriages break up, but you can do it in a dignified, respectful, caring way, or you can be a total pig. I saw the devastation that he caused."


    .........In the early evening, many days later, he sends me a text message: "Yes, our separation and divorce was shattering. For her, me, family and friends. It broke us all. It left us all broke in spirit. I wish I could change the past, but I can't. I'm guilty and that's that. I'm sorry and apologise, but ..."

    He leaves the sentence hanging.

    He says his wedding was a healing, but the wounds are deep and, while many of his family attended his wedding to Elizabeth, two of his daughters did not. One of them, Mindal, has a baby daughter but has not allowed Mundine to see her.

    "I found someone who made me happy, and loving Elizabeth is like breathing oxygen," Mundine says. "Do I deserve that? Only God can answer that. All I know is Elizabeth and I are creating a new life together."


    A very long article - more at :


    1. Mundine leads Andrew Forrest's GenerationOne campaign to end Aboriginal disadvantage.

      ........and we all know who Twiggy is - he's the b****** who claimed 100's of thousands of square kilometres of Yindjibarndi country just after they won their Native Title and told them he didn't want to give them any more than a few million a year for it in case some of them thought they didn't have to work - in his mine presumably.

      Twiggy is fighting tooth and nail to stop a company mining sand on his family's station because it might destroy his heritage!



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