Fracking Regulations


States Test Fracking Regulations

  Colorado is the latest state to implement new laws

 

Ken Silverstein | Nov 19, 2013                         
                                                                             
        

 
                        

           

                                  

States with a high interest in the oil and gas industries are stepping up their attempts to regulate the drilling process. The aim, in all cases, is to minimize environmental fears while creating jobs and wealth. Colorado, for example, is the latest test case, although some communities there are opposed to gas drilling.
The state has joined others such as California, Illinois and Pennsylvania in its attempt to oversee the hydraulic fracturing process used to break free the oil and gas from the rocks where they are sealed far beneath the earth’s surface. As for Colorado, it will use infrared cameras to detects leaks in its pipeline system, which is costly but which is needed to ensure local communities that they are safe. The oil and gas industry estimates that 110,000 jobs there are tied to those pursuits.
Nevertheless, four Colorado communities recently rejected attempts to allow such fracking, or drilling: Boulder, Fort Collins and Lafayette, were three. Two of those were already off limits, says the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. But the town of Broomfield also voted no, by a 17-vote margin, which means it will recount the ballots. It put a five-year moratorium on any drilling.  
“Boulder and Lafayette were nothing more than symbolic votes. Lafayette’s last new well permit was in the early 1990’s and Boulder’s last oil and gas well was plugged in 1999. This election represents round one with many more rounds to come. These elections mobilized community members to educate their neighbors, and our support of their efforts is just beginning,” says Tisha Schuller, chief executive of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.
There are more than 1 million wells fractured in the United States and there has been little credible evidence of water contamination, she adds. Colorado has the most comprehensive set of groundwater samples with over 2,000 wells tested in the San Juan Basin that demonstrate that hydraulic fracturing doesn’t pollute groundwater. She adds that numerous studies support such a thesis, notably ones from Yale and the University of Texas
She points to the current U.S. energy secretary and Obama’s former EPA administrator, as well as Colorado’s governor, all of whom say that fracking can be done safely and the resulting gas finds would lessen greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because natural gas is cutting into coal’s marketshare.
“While our carbon emissions have been dropping, our economy has been growing. Our businesses have created 7.8 million new jobs in the past 44 months. It proves that the old argument that we can’t strengthen the economy and be good stewards of our planet at the same time is a false choice,” President Obama said in his weekly address to the nation this week.
Happy Middle
Illinois, meanwhile, is considered to have among the toughest laws regulating the shale gas drilling process. That law, signed earlier this year, requires the wastewater that returns to the top after sites are explored must be stored in tanks. That is as opposed to open pits. If the tanks don’t have enough room, the water can then go into those pits before it would be reinjected underground. 
Environmentalists want clearer rules on the size of the tanks as well as under what emergencies producers could store their overflow in such open areas. Industry, which must now test the water for impurities at every stage of production, says that it can rise to the occasion and that gas exploration could begin next year.
California, too, will allow access to its Monterey Shale formation. It stretches from Central California down through Southern California and holds 15.4 billion barrels of recoverable crude oil, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
California now produces nearly 10 percent of the nation’s oil, which is on par with that of Alaska. And next year, the Monterey Shale formation is open for business, although producers must gain permits and notify local communities, while also revealing the chemicals that they are using to frack. A year after the law has been in force, independent scientists will thoroughly evaluate its performance.
Furthermore, Pennsylvania is set to become the nation’s second leading natural gas producer this year. In 2011, it was seventh. The papers in Pittsburgh are reporting that the shale gas sector now employs 46,644 people in its metropolitan area. Its drillers produced1.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in the first half of this year, which will double by year-end and which is up 58 percent from a year ago.
Finding that optimal point whereby communities are adequately protected and simulteneously, jobs and prosperity flourish is often a difficult task. While many green groups would say that the pace is too fast, most states with shale resources are giving their citizens a chance to cash in on the boom, with much-needed safeguards. 
Twitter: @Ken_Silverstein

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This BOZO does not represent the rest of Canada – We as Canadians can only apologize to the rest of the world for his bad behaviour. Toronto is still a world class city well worth visiting.


toronto

 

19 November 2013 Last updated at 07:19 ET

Toronto mayor Rob Ford loses more powers

The BBC’s David Willis: “At one point the mayor charged towards the public gallery”

The Toronto city council has voted to strip Mayor Rob Ford of most of his authority, as the embattled city leader resists growing pressure to step down.

On Monday, the council transferred most of Mr Ford’s budget and many of his powers to the deputy mayor.

Mr Ford, 44, who has promised to fight the council’s decisions, criticised the vote as a “coup d’etat”.

The mayor of Canada’s largest city has faced intense pressure to resign after admitting to smoking crack cocaine

In recent weeks he has also acknowledged buying illegal drugs while serving as mayor.

Mr Ford abstained from Monday’s vote, but promised “outright war” in the next election against the councillors who opposed him.

“What’s happening here today is not a democratic process, this is a dictatorship,” he told the city councillors.

“You are absolutely telling everybody that voted in the last municipal election that their vote does not count.”

And Mr Ford refused to apologise, saying he had done enough apologising already.

“I’ve admitted my mistakes,” he said. “I’m not going to sit here and go on and on and on.”

Earlier in the heated council meeting, Mr Ford ran through the gallery, accidentally knocking over city councillor Pam McConnell before catching her.

Ms McConnell was later seen holding ice to her lip.

‘The worst spokesman’

Monday’s motion reduces Mr Ford’s office budget by 60%, and allows mayoral staff to join deputy mayor Norm Kelly, largely making Mr Ford mayor in name only.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

Yes, one day I do want to run for prime minister”

End Quote Rob Ford Toronto Mayor

The council does not have the power to remove Mr Ford from office unless he has a criminal conviction.

Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, once a Ford ally but now one of his most outspoken critics, said the mayor’s conduct was embarrassing the city.

“He’s the worst spokesman for the city of Toronto right now,” he said.

The Toronto council began stripping away his powers on Friday, voting 39 to 3 to prevent him from being able to dismiss the deputy mayor and taking away his emergency powers.

Despite the scandal, Mr Ford does not seem inclined to shun the spotlight.

He gave interviews to US media organisations at the weekend and appeared at a Toronto Argonauts game, despite the Canadian Football League commissioner suggesting he not.

Mr Ford and his brother Doug Ford, a city councillor, launched their own current events television programme on Monday evening.

Rob Ford described his behaviour as ‘hypocrisy at its best’

The show, Ford Nation, is named after the bloc of conservative, suburban voters who put Mr Ford in office in 2010.

The mayor told viewers they would see a change in him over the next few months, saying that he had not touched alcohol in a number of weeks.

“I’ll take a urine sample right now,” he said on the pre-recorded show.

On Sunday, Mr Ford told US broadcaster Fox News he had “admitted to drinking too much”, but said he was dealing with it, including going to the gym two hours every day.

“I’m seeking professional help, I’m not an alcoholic, I’m not a drug addict,” he said. “Have I had my outbursts in the past? Absolutely.

“But you know what, I’m only human. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve apologised.”

He added: “Yes, one day I do want to run for prime minister.”

The Toronto mayor apologised again on Thursday for making an obscene outburst on live television while denying he had offered oral sex to a female staff member.

He had been responding to allegations in court papers that he had also driven drunk, used racially abusive language, threatened staff and consorted with an alleged prostitute.

Just like the pink stain in the Cat in the Hat Comes Back, PCB’s keep appearing in the most unusual palces.


667234

 

The Cat in the Hat Comes Back: PCBs found in South Carolina Waste Water Treatment Plants

 
PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls), what a rascally substance. Nearly 40 years after Congress “banned” them, they continue to turn up in the places we would least expect: caulk in schools, commercial paint pigments, and now, in wastewatertreatment plants.
 
 

PCBs just won’t go away.

 
A month ago, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) issued emergencyregulations for the management of wastewater treatment system sludge in response to the discovery of PCBs in four publically owned treatment works (POTWs) located in upstate SC. The DHEC is concerned that PCBs have been or are currently being illegally dumped into sewer systems, after discovering the contaminant in a significant number of grease traps of several commercial businesses in the treatment districts.
 
The DHEC has also issued a cease and desist letter to one waste oil hauler, American Waste Septic Tank Service, after discovering PCB contamination in its tanker trucks.  As part of an effort to “delineate the movement of PCBs within the Upstate region,” a number of other waste haulers and storage areas were also tested, and several have been found with PCB contamination (Kitzmiller,2013).
Emphasizing the seriousness and ongoing criminal nature of the situation, the DHEC has issued a Be On the Lookout (BOLO) alert through the State Law Enforcement Division to encourage law enforcement attention; likewise the cityof Columbia has urged private businesses with grease traps to be on alert for suspicious activity.
 
 “Whoever is doing this has got to be an idiot,” said Larry Brazell, director of the East Richland Public Service District (one of the affected POTWs). “This could be big. If they’ve dumped enough of it, it could be bad. And where are they getting it from? This stuff should have been out of here since the 1970s,” (TheState, 2013).
 

Then why are PCBs still a problem? 

 
One of the reasons is although Congress technically “banned” the manufacture of PCBs and the use of the chemical compound in 1976 under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); as regulated by the EPA, PCBs are permitted to remain in use in certain applications (e.g. transformers and capacitors), and as inadvertent byproducts in chemical manufacturing if less than 50 ppm. As initially promulgated, this left 99% of PCBs in use (EDF v. EPA,1980) and potentially allowed (as the EPA estimated in 1984) 1,000 pounds of new PCBs to be introduced to the environment per year as inadvertent byproducts (e.g. like those found in paint pigments) (49 FR 28206).
 
Unfortunately the public often conflates the ban to mean that PCBs are no longer in use, period.  The assumption is typically that all that remains of PCBs are legacy (i.e. abandoned at former industrial sites prior to the 1980s). Yet this is simply not the case. While certain uses have been phased out and restricted, there are still thousands of transformers and millions of large capacitors currently in use, which will require disposal in the near future as they reach the end of their usable lifetimes (75 FR17645).
   
A few examples highlight the ongoing management challenge of PCBs. In August, 218 gallons of oil spilled in front of Sag Harbor local businesses after a ground-level transformer ruptured – only within the last month was it disclosed that the contents contained PCBs (Quinn,2013). Also, in September, the City of Tacoma settled with the EPA for unknowingly shipping 750 gallons of PCB contaminated waste oil to a recycling and reuse company (EPA,2013). The city, which had collected the oil from a drop-off available to residents, does not normally test for PCBs, and does not know how the PCBs got there (Krell,2013).
 

So where are the PCBs coming from?

 
It’s a question that does not have an obvious answer. It has been suggested that the PCBs illegally dumped into the grease traps in South Carolina could be coming from former industrial facilities undergoing remediation: there are several sites within the upstate area, and dumping PCBs down a sewer is without a doubt less costly than disposing of them in a TSCA-approved chemical waste landfill or incinerator. This is likely what most would assume, however, that “cost-savings” incentive also exists for anyone who still has PCBs in their possession. As noted above, still owning PCBs is much more common than it sounds.
 

 The take away?

 
Ultimately, PCBs are not banned from use in the U.S.; and their presence isn’t isolated to only Superfund sites. Unfortunately the South Carolina DHEC, like the city of Tacoma and others, are facing the vexatious consequences of that reality. For as these examples show, the task of managing  PCBs more than 30 years after they were “banned” is no easy or straightforward task, nor one that will disappear anytime soon. Modern management of this pervasive class of chemicals is filled with surprising pitfalls and unanticipated difficulties: unmarked PCB-contaminated electrical units, forgotten or assumed to be out of use applications (caulk, sealants, and light ballasts), and materials that have simply come in contact with PCBs (sumps, building materials, and of course, all manner of environmental media).
 
The PCB problem is reminiscent of the pink stain in the classic children’s book The Cat in the Hat Comes Back that dirties everything it comes in contact with – for most of the book no matter what is done, the stain refuses to disappear.  And, while persistent is an apt descriptor, the PCB problem is not only dogged, but also multifaceted; truly the hydra of environmental problems. It’s enough to make the average Joe throw up his hands in exasperation, and for environmental professionals to shake their head in consternation.
 
Here at M&A, we’re extremely familiar with PCBs. We have had significant experience with tracing and identifying historical sources of contamination, as well as understanding the complexities of use and standards of pollution prevention and disposal. For us, the situation in South Carolina is a reminder that PCBs are not a contaminant we can close the chapter on just yet, and the fact that they are still in use will reinforce this conclusion for some time. 
 
Submitted by Kate McMahon, Research Associate

On Absurd Arguments Against the Existence of God: The Reynolds vs. Barker Debate


On Absurd Arguments Against the Existence of God: The Reynolds vs. Barker Debate   November 13, 2013 By  Melissa Cain Travisin Apologetics  

Last weekend, I attended the Reynolds vs. Barker “Does God Exist?” debate here at HBU. Though I’ve viewed many video-recorded debates, this was my first opportunity to attend one in person and my first chance to see Dr. Reynolds engage a non-theist, so I awaited the night of the event with great anticipation.

I’ve been closely acquainted with the Christian apologetics world for quite some time. I’m familiar with the work of prominent atheist thinkers, but I’d actually never heard Dan Barker’s name before, which I thought odd. I resisted the temptation to research him prior to the debate; I wanted to experience the exchange with an open mind, giving Barker every benefit of the doubt in regard to his graciousness, intelligence, and competence in the subject matter. I am well aware, and I openly acknowledge, that there are atheists in the scholarly community with these fine attributes, and I sincerely hoped Barker would prove to be this type.

Unfortunately, only thirty seconds into his opening statement, my hopes were dashed. After strongly praising HBU faculty and staff for their kind and respectful manner toward him, he pointedly commented, with a condescending air, that Christians of his acquaintance are good people, and that in his experience, they are often “much better people than the Jesus they worship.” I stared at him in disbelief and disappointment. That statement was completely irrelevant to the topic of the debate; the question of whether or not God exists is a different question than whether or not Christian doctrine is true. So then, what was Barker’s purpose in making a statement that was so deeply offensive to the very portion of the audience he desires to win over to his way of thinking? We don’t even have to wonder how many Christians listening to him said to themselves, “Wow, I want to be like that guy.” None.

This ill-conceived tactic turned out to be representative of the remainder of his debate participation. He was bent on throwing out mocking ridicule of Christianity (completely off-topic, by the way), making straw men of various doctrines, and spouting quite a few of pop-atheism’s fallacious talking points (garnering applause and cheers from supportive audience members who were, sadly, oblivious to the poor logic being used).

At one point, Barker unwittingly revealed his own dishonesty. In a discussion on morality, he said that if people need to believe in God in order to be better people (morally speaking), then by all means, the atheists want them to have their belief in God and be better people. What? If that be the case, what on earth was he doing up on the stage? If his statement is true, then why do so many atheists of his ilk dedicate their careers to attempting to discredit Christianity and convert people to atheism? His words directly contradict his actions.

For the remainder of this post, I’d like to examine two of the more absurd arguments Barker used in the course of the debate.

1.     The relatively low rate of prayers being answered is strong evidence against the existence of God.

Let’s think about this. If God exists, hears all prayer, has the power to act in response to prayer, and has comprehensive knowledge of the world (past, present, and future), what should we expect to be the case regarding how often people get what they pray for? I would argue that what we observe is exactly what we should expect. We have severely limited knowledge of how the events of our lives are interwoven into the tapestry of human existence, nor what the full future ramifications would be should we receive a certain thing we’ve been praying for.

There have been dozens upon dozens of times when I have fervently prayed for something that did not come to pass. However, sometimes much later, I was clearly shown how God protected me by NOT granting my request. There’s an old country-western song chorus that goes, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer.” Boy, do I ever. I can name several cases in my own story where a “yes” to a prayer I prayed would have turned out to be personally devastating, altering the entire course of my life in a decidedly negative way. It is a beautiful sign of God’s goodness and faithfulness that his answer to those prayers was “No.”

Now, I know that there are many cases that we don’t gain understanding of in this life, such as a sick child dying despite the desperate, prayerful pleas of his parents. Why, we ask, would God not grant that petition every time it’s prayed? We don’t know—because we are not omniscient. Scripture tells us that in this life we see through a glass darkly. It also tells us that we live in a fallen world where we will have both trouble and triumph, probably more of the former than of the latter. (I mean, look at the fates suffered by some of Jesus’ disciples and by members of the first-century church.) It is frustrating and painful when tragic events take place, despite prayers for an alternative outcome. But this isn’t logically inconsistent with the existence of God. Yet, we can be 100% sure that if atheism is true, all the atrocities and tragedies that have taken place in human history were for nothing and will never be redeemed for good.

2.     Religious experience is widespread among all different faith traditions. Even an atheist can replicate the goose-bump-inducing emotions and transcendent feelings through concentrated meditation. All of it can be chalked up to neurochemical activity. Therefore, such experiences are not indicative of the existence of God. 

There are several problems with this argument. First of all, it limits “religious experience” to physical sensations and emotions, but if someone were to ask me about how I experience God, those things would not even be near the top of the list. I’m not a particularly emotional person by nature, and I don’t spend time trying to manufacture warm-fuzzies about God. Many of my experiences have been much more substantial, such as how I’ve been spiritually and intellectually transformed over the decades since trusting Christ, and also witnessing the outward signs of the same kind of changes taking place in the hearts of other Christians.

Then there are the crazy strange coincidences—times when several uncontrollable pieces of a precarious life situation fell into perfect place against all odds and expectations, for me or for someone I’m close to. Divine protection through “unanswered” prayer is also very significant to me. Yes, I have had subjective experiences (which I will not describe here) with the immaterial Good and the immaterial Evil; I consider those encounters strong justification for my beliefs. Of course I have deep emotions towards God. But my trust in Him is holistic—intellectual, spiritual, and objectively experiential—not the result of some kind of euphoric episodes. Regardless, it does not follow that just because people of many different faiths claim religious experiences that all reported experiences are authentic or that none of them are.

At this point, I’m no longer surprised that I had not heard of Dan Barker before. The arguments he offered were far from formidable, and some were woefully outdated (“Who made God?” “Hitler was a Christian” and “Snowflakes prove that nature can produce things that look intelligently designed but actually aren’t”). His often patronizing tone and his failure to properly represent (grasp?) the history of ideas, logic, hermeneutics, and theology are probably mortifying to the more erudite atheist community. It’s likely they want to be better represented.

 

Naturally occurring arsenic in drinking water definitely needs to be monitored and corrected before it gets to the public.


Researchers Find Link to Arsenic-Contaminated Groundwater

Mar. 4, 2013 — Human activities are not the primary cause of arsenic found in groundwater in Bangladesh.

Instead, a team of researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Barnard College, Columbia University, University of Dhaka, Desert Research Institute and University of Tennessee found that the arsenic in groundwater in the region is part of a natural process that predates any recent human activity, such as intensive pumping.

The results appear in the March 4 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Millions of people in Bangladesh and neighboring countries are chronically exposed to arsenic-contaminated groundwater, which causes skin lesions and increases the risk of certain cancers. Bacterial respiration of organic carbon releases naturally-occurring arsenic from sediment into groundwater, but the source of this organic carbon remains unclear.

Brian Mailloux of Barnard College and his team isolated microbial DNA from several depth intervals in arsenic-contaminated aquifers in Bangladesh and analyzed the DNA’s radiocarbon signature, which reflects whether the organic carbon used by the microbes derives primarily from younger, surface-derived sources that are transported by groundwater into the aquifers, or older, sediment-derived sources.

Using “bomb pulse” radiocarbon analysis, Lawrence Livermore scientist Bruce Buchholz dated the DNA of groundwater bacteria. He found that the DNA samples were consistently younger than the sediment, suggesting that the microbes favor using surface-derived carbon.

The surface-derived carbon has flowed into the aquifer over hundreds to thousands of years — a rate that is approximately 100 times slower than groundwater flow. The results suggest that recent human activities, such as intensive groundwater pumping, have not yet significantly affected the release of arsenic into the groundwater at this site.

Above-ground testing of nuclear weapons during the Cold War (1955-1963) caused a surge in global levels of carbon-14 (14C), and remains in all living things. Carbon-14 or radiocarbon is naturally produced by cosmic ray interactions with air and is present at low levels in the atmosphere and food. Although nuclear weapon testing was conducted at only a few locations, excess levels of 14C in the atmosphere rapidly dispersed and equalized around the globe.

According to Buchholz, “The bomb curve forms a chronometer of the past 60 years.”

The radiocarbon signature of DNA is a direct measure of the carbon used during microbial respiration and growth. In this study, the team developed a method to filter, extract and purify DNA from groundwater aquifers for radiocarbon analysis to determine the organic carbon pools fueling microbial reduction.

“We were able to separate the recent bomb pulse radiocarbon from the natural carbon signature and found the arsenic levels are now directly tied to a natural process as opposed to being driven by human activities,” Buchholz said.

The results may help scientists understand the causes of arsenic contamination in the region, and the development of potential mitigation strategies.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the people in the Phillippines


At least 1,000 killed in Philippine city: Red Cross

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Red Cross estimates over 1,000 killed by typhoon

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippine Red Cross estimated that more than 1,000 people were killed in the coastal city of Tacloban and at least 200 in hard-hit Samar province when one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall slammed into the country.

Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, said the numbers came from preliminary reports by Red Cross teams in Tacloban and Samar, among the most devastated areas hit by Typhoon Haiyan on Friday.

“An estimated more than 1,000 bodies were seen floating in Tacloban as reported by our Red Cross teams,” she told Reuters. “In Samar, about 200 deaths. Validation is ongoing.”

She said she expected a more exact number to emerge after a more precise counting of bodies on the ground in those regions.

(Reporting by Rosemarie Francisco; Writing by Jason Szep; Editing by Nick Macfie)