Legislation Would Protect CT from Highly Toxic, Potentially Radioactive Fracking Waste from Other States
Audubon CT * Citizens Campaign for the Environment Collaborative Center for Justice * CT Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound * Environment Connecticut Environment & Human Health, Inc. * Food & Water Watch Grassroots Environmental Education * Housatonic Valley 350 * Rivers Alliance of Connecticut
[This press release left out our group’s name, but you better believe *Capitalism vs. the Climate* was there!]
For immediate release: Wednesday, April 16, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Louis W. Burch, Citizens Campaign for the Environment firstname.lastname@example.org (203) 503-1314
Nisha Swinton, Food & Water Watch- email@example.com, (207) 619-5845
Hartford, CT – Environmental and public health advocates delivered over 5,600 signatures from Connecticut residents to the office of Governor Dannel P. Malloy and members of the House and Senate leadership today calling for legislation (SB 237) to ban fracking waste in Connecticut. Fracking, a highly controversial process of extracting oil and gas taking place in nearby Northeast states, produces hundreds of millions of gallons of highly toxic, potentially radioactive liquid waste , as well as heavily contaminated solid waste by-products. While Connecticut does not have industrial oil and gas development, it remains vulnerable to out-of-state fracking waste being transported or disposed of within the state’s borders.
“The public understands that fracking waste poses a significant threat to public health and the environment, and is demanding action to ban this toxic, potentially radioactive waste in Connecticut,” said Louis Burch, program coordinator for Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). “Today, we are calling on Governor Malloy and leaders of both houses to stand up in support of a ban on fracking waste. Our elected leaders must acknowledge the toxic legacy this waste could leave in our state, and they should take action to ensure Connecticut does not become a dumping ground for toxic fracking waste, before it’s too late.”
Absent state action, out-of-state fracking waste could be brought to Connecticut and trucked through communities, sent to sewage treatment plants, deposited in municipal landfills, and even spread on roads as a de-icer or dust suppressant. Proposed legislation (SB 237) would protect Connecticut by banning the transport and disposal of fracking waste in Connecticut.
“Drilling and fracking a single shale well can produce millions of gallons of toxic wastewater and hundreds of tons of potentially radioactive solid waste. We cannot compromise by simply regulating how much fracking waste can be disposed of — to protect our health we must prohibit the disposal of fracking waste throughout Connecticut.” said Nisha Swinton, New England Director for Food & Water Watch.
“The citizens of Litchfield County and their elected officials urge the governor to support a ban on fracking waste in Connecticut,” said Evan Abramson, Housatonic Valley 350. “There is no amount of jobs or revenue that justifies contaminating our groundwater and putting the lives of CT residents at risk. Let’s not make Connecticut a toxic waste dump for Pennsylvania’s gas industry. We must support SB 237, An Act Prohibiting the Storage or Disposal of Fracking Waste in CT.”
“Connecticut has invested heavily in the health of Long Island Sound and its tributaries,” said Leah Lopez Schmalz, director of legislative and legal affairs for Save the Sound, a program of Connecticut Fund for the Environment. “We must not undo those decades of progress by permitting the dumping of a toxic cocktail of fracking waste in our waters.”
Exemptions and loopholes for the oil and gas industry at the federal level necessitate that states take action to protect themselves. Oil and gas companies are exempt from disclosing the toxic chemicals used in fracking operations, making the waste created from the fracking process notoriously difficult to treat. The hazardous waste loophole in federal law allows oil and gas companies to transport and dispose of hazardous fracking waste products without categorizing it as hazardous waste and treating it as such. This process leaves communities vulnerable to exposure to a range of toxic substances, as traditional sewage treatment plants and industrial waste treatment facilities are not designed to remove or treat hazardous waste. Municipal landfills are also ill-equipped to handle fracking waste.
Call up your State Senator and Representative at the link below and tell them to support S.B. 237!
And call Governor Malloy at 866-946-1451 today, and ask him to pass SB 237!
Capitalism vs. the Climate is part of a new coalition–the name is still being decided–to stop the expansion of the Algonquin fracked gas pipeline. CvC has filed for “intervenor status” against the proposed expansion, as have Fossil Free Rhode Island, Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group and Better Future Project.
Video taken by Stan Heller last weekend in Voluntown, CT at the coalition’s first planning summit.
April 9, 2014
Community Groups Oppose Algonquin Pipeline Expansion Project
Groups from Four States File for Intervenor Status before FERC
Brooklyn, NY – Food & Water Watch, Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group and Better Future Project joined with community groups across four states, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, to call on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to deny approvals for Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Expansion Project.
A meeting was held in the Town of Cortlandt, NY last night and many stakeholders raised significant concerns about the project’s impacts on the environment and the risks to health and safety of residents in the region. The project would cut across environmentally sensitive areas, under the Hudson River, near an active quarry in the West Roxbury section of the City of Boston, and through a number of major watersheds and public lands.
“Spectra Energy is proposing a spectacularly dangerous project that would put an additional 42 inch pipeline under the Hudson River, near Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant,” said Alex Beauchamp, Northeast Director for Food & Water Watch. “The project threatens New York City’s water supply and communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. We suspect that Spectra’s real aim is to reach the export market.”
According to its application, Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Spectra Energy Partners LP, is requesting FERC authorization to: (i) “construct, install, own, operate and maintain approximately 37.6 miles of take-up and relay, loop and lateral pipeline facilities and related facilities in New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts; (ii) modify six existing compressor stations in New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island resulting in the addition of 81,620 horsepower (“hp”) of compression; (iii) modify 24 existing metering and regulating (“M&R”) stations and construct three new M&R stations…” (FERC Docket No. CP14-96, Application filed February 28, 2014)
Susan Van Dolsen, a co-founder of Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE) said, “The AIM project does not meet the requirement of ‘public convenience and necessity’ and therefore the expansion should not be permitted by FERC or the state regulatory agencies. This project promotes fracking; the $1 billion price tag should instead be used to fund renewable energy projects that create long-term economic benefits for the entire region.”
The groups are urging FERC to include the environmental impacts resulting from fracking as well as cumulative impacts of the project, as the pipeline will deliver “fracked” gas from Marcellus Shale gas fields. They also call on FERC to look at the potential impacts of exporting gas overseas. The project will expand capacity to a pipeline, which connects to the Maritimes and Northeast pipeline that leads directly to Canadian Liquified Natural Gas (“LNG”) export and proposed LNG export facilities.
“It’s simply irresponsible to expand the Algonquin Pipeline when we know that our continued addiction to fossil fuels is exacerbating the climate crisis and putting our safety at risk. What’s worse, we suspect that an out-of-state company is building the pipeline primarily to export gas to other nations. We can export the gas, but the leaks, the explosions, and the destructive climate impacts will be felt right here in Massachusetts,” said Craig Altemose of Better Future Project.
Bill Meyer of the Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group stated, “We also oppose this proposed expansion because of the increased risk to the health of our members in Rockland, Westchester, and Putnam Counties, and because of the risk of explosion as the pipeline crosses two high voltage electric lines in the vicinity of Indian Point’s spent fuel pools. Instead, we encourage and support New York State’s rapid transition to clean, renewable energy, such as wind, water and solar power.”
Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC, an indirect, wholly-owned subsidiary of Spectra Energy Partners LP, filed its application with FERC at the end of February, and the agency gave the public until April 8, 2014 to submit comments on the Notice of Application and to file for intervenor status. By intervening, individuals and groups can challenge any FERC approval later. The other local groups filing to intervene are Capitalism vs the Climate, Connecticut and Fossil Free Rhode Island. Many other stakeholders filed motions to intervene, including Community Watersheds Clean Water Coalition, Conservation Law Foundation, Riverkeeper, the Village of Ossining and the New York Attorney General.
Dan Fischer April 4, 2014
Traffic stood still for a half mile up the narrow, winding road. Fracking workers got out of their trucks and asked what was going on. They soon learned that several protesters had locked themselves in the middle of the road to a tube containing over 600 pounds of cement. The protesters’ large banner, tied to trees in front of them, declared “No Fracking, No Compromise!”
The blockade, which halted Anadarko Petroleum’s fracking operation in central Pennsylvania’s Tiadhagon State Forest for seven hours, occurred alongside the first-ever Shalefield Justice Spring Break. Held in Madisonburg, Pa., last month, the training camp brought together Marcellus Shale residents and over a hundred youth, such as myself, from surrounding states for a week of education and organizing against the extraction process known as fracking, which involves the injection of toxic chemicals underground to break up shale rock containing natural gas.
Throughout the week, organizers introduced many young people to community leaders living above the Marcellus Shale rock formation, which stretches from New York to Virginia. Living on the frontline of extraction, shalefield communities experience fracking’s most extreme impacts, including water contamination, air pollution, pipeline explosions and climate-changing methane leaks.
On the first night of camp, several Pennsylvanian shalefield residents spoke about how fracking has directly impacted them. Ruth Steck recounted her shock at seeing a helicopter fly over her house one day and drop seismic testing equipment next to her garden. Steck had grown accustomed to quietness, and the loud fracking felt like an invasion.
“There are mornings where I can hardly stand to go outside,” she explained. “I can’t hear the birds.”
Teacher and business owner Barbara Jarmoska told her story using photos of the stunningly beautiful Loyalsock Forest adjacent to her home and the land that her family has owned since the 1930s. It is where she and her siblings grew up, her son got married, and many young people, including her grandchildren, used to go to hike and ride horses. Today, 40 gas wells sit within five miles of Jarmoska’s home — a health risk that has forced her children and grandchildren to move away.
“The noise, the smell, the congestion, the fact that you can’t get in and out of the driveway, all year round — It’s really impossible to describe,” Jarmoska said.
Driving around the Tiadaghton State Forest — amidst acres of land that had been clearcut to make way for compressor stations, pipelines, containment ponds, and other fracking infrastructure — a clearer picture of life on the frontline of extraction begins to emerge. For one thing, land that was once public is seemingly no longer. With security guards driving around and police helicopters flying overhead, the fracking industry operates as if it owns the place.
In order to build the kind of power that might one day reclaim the land that people like Steck and Jarmoska call home, the organizers of Shalefield Justice Spring Break looked to the decade-long history of Mountain Justice Spring Breaks and Summer Breaks — annual events that have become a powerful recruitment tool for central Appalachia’s movement to end mountaintop removal coal mining. However, one could also trace the concept’s history back to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee’s 1964 Freedom Summer, which brought white college students on their summer break to participate in Mississippi’s civil rights organizing. While there are enormous differences between the campaigns, they share a basic strategy of increasing people’s engagement in an issue, in such a way that it spreads virally from participants to their friends and family back home. This is a large part of how, relationship by relationship, public opinion shifts.
Despite massive industry propaganda, the anti-fracking movement has been tremendously effective in shifting opinion — something even the industry itself has been forced to admit. According to a 2013 report by the industry consulting firm Control Risks, the movement “has mounted an effective campaign” that through the “sophistication, speed and influence of anti-fracking activists” has oftentimes caught companies off–guard with local bans and moratoriums. The report pays special attention, however, to nonviolent direct action tactics such as blockades, which “can be significant in terms of lost productivity and extra operating costs.”
By joining Marcellus Shale Earth First’s blockade and a simultaneous rally outside Anardarko Petroleum’s corporate offices on March 20, attendees of Shalefield Justice Spring Break put into practice the costly direct action skills they had learned all week. Many stepped into unfamiliar action roles, acting as medics, police liaisons, sign painters, media outreach and more.
The protesters targeted Anadarko, because the company’s proposed fracking operations in the Loyalsock State Forest have been the focal point of the campaign against fracking in Pennsylvania’s remaining wild places. Groups have held rallies, packed public hearings, and even conducted a 30-day tree-sit to protect the Loyalsock. The most recent blockade and rally sent a strong message to Anadarko and the rest of the gas industry: pull out of Pennsylvania’s state forests or face more resistance than ever before.
Considering that this was the first Shalefield Justice Spring Break, organizers succeeded remarkably in plugging nearly a hundred new people into active roles in the anti-fracking movement. According to Ray Leone, one of the organizers, the camp succeeded in “engaging new people, creating wider networks and building a stronger movement. We challenged each other to divest from all systems of oppression, to listen to and learn from others with a variety of experiences, and to leave camp with a plan to take action back at home.”
Between the tree climbing, capture-the-flag, talent shows and bonfires, people somehow found time to discuss organizing plans for the future. Maryland residents discussed how to advance the campaign against Cove Point, a liquified gas export terminal proposed just south of Baltimore. Several sit-ins and a rally of over 700 people have recently turned the terminal into a flashpoint for the nation’s climate justice struggle.
Meanwhile, Northeasterners planned to join together against the proposed Algonquin pipeline expansion. Pennsylvania residents talked about building permanent spaces for activists to live collectively and organize in defense of the Loyalsock. In other words, people from Baltimore to Boston and beyond coordinated to challenge the fracking lifecycle on many fronts.
“Too often we hear from the media that young people aren’t engaged,” said Michael Badges-Canning, a retired school teacher from Pennsylvania’s Butler County. “But at Shalefield Justice Spring Break I got to hang around with young people totally committed to protecting my home and getting the job done right.”
To All the Environmental Activists and Defenders of Mother Earth and Enforcers of the Creation Story along the Colorado River
We urge you to please contact State and Federal government officials, Senators, Congressman, Secretary of Interior, President Obama, etc to please stop these solar power projects. Since the destruction of the Twin Towers by Hernan Cortes in 1521 in Mexico, there hasn’t been anything more devastating than what the solar project have done and are still threatening to do to the sacred sites especially the Kokopilli/Cicimitl Twin Geoglyph Group.Please forward this information to your contacts so we can get the word out to everyone.If you have any questions, please let us know. We will be more than glad to answer you.Alfredo Acosta FigueroaPatricia Robles
In October, the California Energy Commission, the same institution that recently approved the solar project, published an assessment voicing serious concerns. The commission concluded NextEra Blythe would have “significant impacts” on the environment and would eliminate “all native plant and wildlife communities” across 4003 acres. Habitat would be lost for “desert tortoise, American badger, desert kit fox, golden eagle, various migratory birds, burrowing owl, and Mojave fringe-toed lizard.”
Although NextEra intends to mitigate these damages, the report finds that despite these measures the effect on protected avian and bat species “may remain significant.” NextEra’s poor environmental track record also leaves doubt about the efficacy of its mitigation plans. NextEra operates Florida’s West County Energy Center, which Earth First! Journal reported last year to be the largest fossil fuel plant in the US. NextEra also owns New Hampshire’s dangerous Seabrook Station Nuclear Power Plant. Some 2,400 people famously occupied the Seabrook site in 1977 in opposition to nuclear power. Police arrested 1,400 of them.
Furthermore, NextEra’s solar project would negatively impact “approximately 142 known archaeological resources eligible or assumed eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources,” according to the California commission. Affected sites and items would include ancient footpaths, shards of a pot “possibly associated with sacred activity,” and a rock structure thought to be connected with female puberty rites. The Chemehuevi, Mohave, Quechan, Maricopa, and Halchidhoma have used the area and consider it sacred.
Google Earth images from the early 1990s do not contain the geoglyphs, suggesting that they are of recent origin. The California Energy Commission’s report even asserts there is “no evidence” that the sites are exceptionally significant. I asked Figueroa to respond in an email.
“The Kokopili/Cicimtl Geoglyph Group is known throughout the world,” Figueroa wrote. “These geoglyph images are a major part of the Indigenous history and tradition and of the creation story of all Native-American Tribes and of Mexico.”
He continued, “We are the official guardians of these geoglyphs as stated in a Memorandum of Understanding with the Bureau of Land Management.”
Although NextEra contends their development will not directly damage the geoglyphs, the Chemehuvi Tribe’s chairman Charles Wood considers interference with surrounding land to be tantamount to interference with the sites themselves.
“I use the example of the Catholic Church. I want to build a pipeline through the Vatican mall. It’s really not a part of the Vatican, so it’s not sacred. And suddenly they’re saying no, this whole area is sacred. And for Indian people that’s one of the things we’re constantly coming up against. We look at not that little area, but we look at the total landscape, especially with regard to the geoglyphs. There are hundreds of them, and they’re probably over a stretch of hundreds of miles. And they all inter-connect. (The Killing of Kokopili)
If It’s Broke…Break It More
The California Energy Commission’s report employed a disturbing logic when discussing several sacred sites. Basically, they argue that since sites have already been significant degraded by surrounding pollution, it is therefore permissible to desecrate these sites further.
In addition, staff notes the close proximity of the throne to multiple and incompatible modern developments such as an interstate highway, transmission lines, four wheel drive roads, cell towers, an illegal trash dump and a nearby airport that mar the integrity of setting, feeling, and association, that, were the throne to be indeed a historical resource, would no longer convey its significance. Further, the two individual petroglyphs, while more likely of greater age than 50 years have also lost integrity due to similar reasons stated above (California Energy Commission, page 85).
This way of thinking could provide an incentive to companies to damage additional protected land, so that this land will likewise be considered to have lost its “integrity”.
Mr. Figueroa believes NextEra’s development violates the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which includes the right to protect past, present and future manifestations of culture, including archeological and historical sites. Figueroa cited articles 8, 11, and 13.
I asked Mr. Figueroa what he would like to see happen in the southern California desert.
“These geoglyphs should be declared National Monument Sites by President Obama and World Heritage Sites by UNESCO,” he wrote. “We are currently submitting our request to UNESCO. These are sacred sites.”
3) Contact your US Senators and Congressional Representatives.
by Dan Fischer
“Some people look out into the desert and see miles and miles of emptiness. I see miles and miles of gold mine.”
–Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at the start of Ivanpah Solar Power Facility’s construction
The world’s largest solar thermal energy facility, the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility, opened last Thursday in California’s Mojave Desert. Unfortunately, this is bad news for neighboring indigenous people, the desert tortoise, and local birds. It is an example of solar done wrong.
Ivanpah use mirrors to reflect sunlight, in order to heat and boil water. This produces steam, which spins turbines to produce electricity. When done at a small scale, it can be a clean and sustainable process. Photovoltaic solar panels, which convert sunlight directly into electricity, are even more democratic. They are easy to decentralize and put on rooftops.
In fact, Ivanpah’s grassroots opponents tend to strongly support solar power. The group Solar Done Right advocates decentralized solar energy as an alternative to mega-solar projects like Ivanpah. They argue that there is plenty of already-paved surface where we can safely install solar panels: rooftops, vacant parking lots, and former industrial sites known as brownfields.
According to the US Department of Energy, supplying all of the country’s electricity from solar photovoltaics would require 17 square miles of land in each state. Brownfields alone could provide 90 percent of the needed land!
The Google-NRG-BrightSource Approach
The owners of Ivanpah—Google, NRG Energy and BrightSource—took a far more destructive, centralized approach. Their installation is four times larger than New York’s Central Park. According to Reuters, it can even be seen from space! Even worse, the companies decided to build it in the Mojave Desert, a highly sensitive ecosystem and sacred land for the Coloardo River Indian Tribes.
“Yes, it is good to make use of the sun but not when it comes to disturb sacred sites, pristine desert, the turtles or the horny toad,” says Alfredo Figueroa, a Chemehuevi elder and member of La Cuna de Azltán Sacred Sites Protection Circle. Figueroa argues that the historically migratory Chemehuevi people certainly have burial grounds in the sites where mega-solar projects are developing.
Phil Smith, another Chemehuevi elder, says Ivanpah approaches a centuries-old Chemehuevi prayer altar. In December 2010, La Cuna sued to stop the development of Ivanpah and five other mega-solar projects in the Mojave.
The Mojave is habitat for the desert tortoise, a protected species under the Endangered Species Act. The number of desert tortoises has decreased by 90% since the 1950s, according to Defenders of Wildlife. In 2011, the Bureau of Land Management estimated Ivanpah’s construction would kill as many as 700 juvenile tortoises and would disturb thousands.
Ivanpah could also prove disastrous to birds, since it is adjacent to the critical bird breeding ground Clark Mountain. With three 40-story towers and hundreds of thousands of mirrors, the installation scorches birds to death as it reaches extreme heats, up to 1,000 degrees Farenheight. Regulators have already found dozens of dead birds there including “a peregrine falcon, a grebe, two hawks, four nighthawk and a variety of warblers and sparrows,” according to the Wall Street Journal, which called Ivanpah “The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project.”
The Right Kind
Liberal environmentalists say climate change is so urgent that we have no time to oppose mega-solar projects. Their single-issue approach is politically suicidal. Abolishing fossil fuels will require a coalition that includes people organized around issues like indigenous rights, wildlife loss, and corporate power. To say these issues matter in the case of Keystone XL but not in the case of Ivanpah is to invite accusations of doublethink. That is, it will invite accusations that they sometimes believe one thing and sometimes believe the exact opposite.
Last November, about 90 people from across Connecticut got together to hear the engineer Mark Jacobson explain how wind, water and sunlight can meet all of the world’s energy needs. The event was inspiring enough that the Connecticut Sierra Club shortly afterwards endorsed the goal of 100% renewable energy within 17 years. It was clearly exciting to see so many people envision a world without fossil fuel energy.
Still, the example of Ivanpah shows that climate activists need to clarify what kind of renewable energy they support. There is the wrong kind: the kind that sacrifices people and ecosystems while enriching corporations. Examples include Ivanpah, Transcanada’s Kibby Mountain wind farm, and HydroQuebec’s mega-dams. Then there is the right kind: the socially just kind, the ecologically sound kind.
CvC’s Dan Fischer writes in Climate Connections:
Climate injustice for sale in Northeast’s carbon trade
By Dan Fischer, 5 November 2013, Special to Climate Connections
With establishment environmentalists’ support, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states wish to update and expand the region’s electricity sector cap-and-trade program known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or RGGI. At quarterly auctions, RGGI sells permits for pollution to electricity companies, banks and other bidders, before letting these parties trade with each other on a pollution market. An update currently being implemented to RGGI’s Model Rule would lower the number of pollution rights sold at these auctions, theoretically reducing the region’s pollution over time. A number of factors, however, make RGGI unlikely to fairly or effectively reduce emissions.RGGI’s update could bring to the region new pollution hotspots in poor and minority communities, increased use of carbon offsets, and a greater reliance on dirty, greenhouse gas-emitting energy sources like biomass and natural gas.
Here are the footnotes that got cut off:
On Wednesday the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs held their forum on natural gas. Dan Fischer was asked to speak for 3 minutes in between two speakers who were in favor of natural gas. His comment is below. The bottom line is that we can create jobs and energy without poisoning workers with silica dust, risking their lives to an explosion, and sacrificing the Marcellus Shale and Bridgeport.
Deb Eck was working 96 hours a week to support her 10 and-a-half year-old twins last spring when she received a notice. She was being evicted along with 32 families of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania’s Riverdale Mobile Home Park, so that Aqua America could construct a pump station needed for fracking natural gas. Several of her neighbors were forced to spend their retirement money to move their trailers and sheds.
“I want our community back,” Ms. Eck said, “I want our family back. When the first trailer rolled out, that was bad enough. It just kept getting worse.”
When tonight’s crowd of labor and environmental advocates bands together, we are undefeatable. The fossil fuel bosses knows this, and they’d like nothing more than to divide us, to disperse us just as quickly as they dispersed the Riverdale Mobile Home Park. We can’t let that happen.