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Click on icon to go to Elizabeth Burns’ blog

Read about Rancho Los Malulos on this blog

See RSS feeds in right sidebar for her recent posts

Elizabeth has now been subpoenaed by Chevron
for publicizing their poor performance.


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Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan
May 14, 2012

Citizen-led Ballot Initiative To Ban Fracking in Michigan Begins

CHARLEVOIX, MICH. – A citizen-led ballot initiative to amend the Michigan state constitution to ban horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, statewide began this week. The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a ballot question committee, received approval of its petition from the Board of State Canvassers. The proposed amendment would also ban the storage of wastes from horizontal hydraulic fracturing, preventing Michigan from becoming a frack wasteland. Michigan has over 1,000 injection wells and over 12,000 conventional gas and oil wells that could be converted for that purpose. The campaign website is: http://letsbanfracking.org.

Michigan is the only state in the nation where citizens are attempting to ban fracking by amendment to a state constitution. Vermont’s legislature passed a ban on fracking on May 4 and with the governor’s approval, became the first state to ban fracking.

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan is required to submit 322,609 valid signatures from Michigan voters by July 9 to the Bureau of Elections, in order to place the proposed amendment on the ballot in November.

“Michigan’s constitution invites citizens to amend it,” said Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan’s campaign director LuAnne Kozma, of Novi, and a co-founder of the non-profit public interest group Ban Michigan Fracking. “We chose to form a ballot question committee and amend the constitution because we cannot count on our current elected officials to do the right thing. Proposed ‘frack reform’ bills in Lansing are only attempts to regulate and tolerate fracking and put studies in the hands of State regulators.  New legislation (HB 5565) introduced last week, touted as a disclosure of frack chemicals bill, contains language that forbids physicians treating frack victims from disclosing the chemicals, even to patients. We knew we had to act to stop the toxic invasion about to devastate our state. We will not recognize Michigan in a few years, if we do not ban fracking,” said Kozma.

The citizen effort has the support of Vermont legislators Tony Klein and Peter Peltz who sponsored the Vermont ban bill. “It was clear in Vermont the dangers of fracking to our natural resources. In Vermont our natural resources are our number one priority, so it was not a difficult thing to prohibit fracking forever. It passed overwhelmingly,” said Klein. “We encourage all states, when they have the chance to do so, to ban this dangerous technique.”

New York ban groups also praised the amendment to ban fracking in Michigan. Maura Stephens, a cofounder of the Coalition to Protect New York and other grassroots groups, has been working on fracking issues for five years and will soon publish a book on the subject. “Only massive public resistance to fracking will stop the horrific industrialization of our beautiful states,” Stephens said. “This truly is a matter of life and death for your way of life.”

Earlier this month, a Michigan House of Representatives Natural Gas Subcommittee report recommended that the State lease all of its mineral rights, asserting Michigan’s “natural gas renaissance is upon us.”

The State auctioned off mineral rights in 23 Michigan counties on May 8 in Lansing, including the rights under Yankee Springs State Recreation Area (a state park) in Barry County and highly populated areas in Oakland County. Residents attempting to save their communities attended the auction, registered as bidders and tried, but failed, to purchase the mineral rights to the areas around Yankee Springs. The entire Lower Peninsula now stands to be fracked. Devon Energy is looking at the A-1 carbonate layers in Gladwin County along with other areas in the middle of the state. Encana is drilling the Utica-Collingwood shale in state forests, with several operations in progress and more pending. Densely populated areas such as Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Jackson– communities historically not affected by oil/gas drilling within their borders–are now facing the threat.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which issues frack permits and at the same time, depends on revenue from the production of gas and oil, continues to publicly confuse the facts, claiming that hydraulic fracturing has been done for over 60 years, while not always informing the public that horizontal hydraulic fracturing is a new, as of 2002, experimental process, often referred to as a marriage of technologies between hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

To volunteer to circulate or sign petitions, see: http://LetsBanFracking.org
The petition reads: A proposal to amend the Constitution by adding a new Section 28 to Article I to read as follows: “To insure the health, safety, and general welfare of the people, no person, corporation, or other entity shall use horizontal hydraulic fracturing in the State. “Horizontal hydraulic fracturing” is defined as the technique of expanding or creating rock fractures leading from directional wellbores, by injecting substances including but not limited to water, fluids, chemicals, and proppants, under pressure, into or under the rock, for purposes of exploration, drilling, completion, or production of oil or natural gas. No person, corporation, or other entity shall accept, dispose of, store, or process, anywhere in the State, any flowback, residual fluids, or drill cuttings used or produced in horizontal hydraulic fracturing.”

Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan


Ban Michigan Fracking
Michigan House Bill 5565 (Physicians gag-order bill)


Michigan Board of State Canvassers draft minutes to April 26, 2012 meeting


Michigan House of Representatives Natural Gas Subcommittee Report, April 2012


Essay: Bottled Greenwash
By Anthony Henry Smith

Some may think Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. should recuse himself from NY Governor Cuomo’s 13-person committee on fracking simply because he is the governor’s ex brother-in-law, but how many are aware of an additional conflict? If fracking poisons any part of the state’s drinking water supply, public reaction will certainly result in increased profits for Kennedy’s not-for-profit bottled water company and for his associates in the for-profit bottled water industry who even now are importing water from places almost as remote from one another as they are from New York.

Kennedy’s idea of selling water and donating all profits after expenses to environmental causes is contradictory on the face of it. The manufacture and distribution of bottled water does more damage to the biotic and physical environment than the so-called profits could possibly mitigate.

Glaciers in Norway are melting due to global heating. Some of this melt water is shipped by tanker to North America where it is distributed widely as bottled water. On the other side of the planet, potable water from the South Pacific island nation of Fiji is shipped to 40 countries around the world, even though those who live and work there have suffered from water shortages.

The distribution area for exotic water includes New York, and fracking obviously would greatly increase bottled water sales in the state. Fracking in New York is all the more likely if Kennedy, who has recently and only half-heartedly spoken out against fracking nationally, continues to waffle on fracking in New York

When Kennedy was scheduled to appear for a radio interview on Susan Arbetter’s April 23rd“Capitol Pressroom” program on Northeast Public Radio, he was late, which automatically gave a lot of airtime over to an experienced communications professional who supported fracking by repeating the industry’s examples of magical thinking propaganda. He actually implied that New York somehow benefits because many parts of the US are forced into sacrificing their well being to increase profits in the energy industry. Now it was New York’s responsibility to do the same. He said we need to do a “gut check.” I did the moment he said it and can’t repeat here what my guts told me to write in response. Neither my guts nor I were there to tell him directly. Neither was Kennedy.

When Kennedy did finally arrive, he spent what little of his time was left giving the views of frackers without seriously opposing them.

What are we to make of such conduct? This was not lying on Kennedy’s part, since lying consists of identifying the truth and stating its opposite. This appears to be a total disregard for the truth, an all too common manipulative device identified by Harry Frankfurt; concisely and well described by Frankfurt in the opening of “On Truth,” which is quoted in the first paragraph of this link. (See: http://politicsandlanguage.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/the-essence-of-bullshitting

Arbetter opened her interview by directly asking Kennedy to state where he stood on the issue of fracking. His half-hearted response spoke volumes, suggesting that although he had been for fracking and now opposed it, he might support it if the regulatory agency were strengthened to do its job. When Arbetter asked if he thought the DEC was that regulatory agency Kennedy simply ignored the question and changed the topic. With minutes left to go, Arbetter stated “I need to know from you (in) what aspects the DEC’s review was inadequate.” The inadequacy of Kennedy’s reply was in itself remarkable. At the very moment when he had finally exhausted the topic of “roads,” Time politely drew the curtain as it must, forcing Kennedy to an immediate close with the truncated words “health issues” still clinging to his lips. But as the Royal Society has been saying since 1660, Nullius in verba. (Take nobody’s word for it.) Click on the link below and listen for yourself. And while you’re listening, notice how professionally Susan Arbetter conducts this interview with one who is not only late, but unapologetically so.: http://blogs.wcny.org/the-capitol-pressroom-for-april-23-2012/

During the interview Kennedy told Arbetter that “a lot of people like myself look at natural gas as a bridge fuel” and then went on to explain that he now thought differently. Apparently his change of heart did not come timely enough to enable Riverkeeper to engage a credible staff scientist for their September 2010 report titled “Fractured Communities.” Riverkeeper’s remarkable choice was William Wegner, a convicted environmental felon, perjurer, and tax fraud who has been described by a Riverkeeper board member in terms usually reserved for bargain basement specials: “I believe we got a very brilliant man at a discount price because he made a mistake.” (Brock, Pope, “RFK Jr.’s River of Trouble,” Talk Magazine, October, 2000, p 58)

Eight years of wildlife smuggling can hardly be dismissed as a simple “mistake,” especially when combined with perjury and tax fraud. These are not qualities one might reasonably expect to find in persons working on the staff at Riverkeeper.

Wegner’s prison sentence seems to have done little to improve his ethical sense. The resume Wegner submitted to Riverkeeper accounts for his period of incarceration without referring to the fact of the incarceration itself. Wegner describes work he performed and omits the significant information that he performed this work while he was serving time as a prison inmate. Wegner submitted this resume to Kennedy, who accepted it and then forwarded it to Boyle, who totally and immediately rejected it.

By the way, whatever did happen to Robert H Boyle, the authentic founder of Riverkeeper, the single individual who actually created the concept of Riverkeeper in America and the Waterkeeper Alliance back in the days when Kennedy was still busy living his life as a drug addict? Did he retire? Is he still alive? How is he being recognized and honored by a grateful environmental community for his lifetime of dedicated accomplishment? That polymath and naturalist who famously and compassionately trusted and mentored Mr. Kennedy in Kennedy’s time of adult crisis; what ever became of him?

When the Riverkeeper board voted 13 to 8 to accede to Mr. Kennedy’s demand to hire Mr. William Wegner as staff scientist over Boyle’s objection, Boyle resigned on the spot and 8 other board members followed him in resignation. But take nobody’s word for it. Evaluate it for yourself in this link to: Robert Worth, A Kennedy and His Mentor Part Ways Over River Group, The New York Times, Sunday, November 5, 2000 http://www.nytimes.com/2000/11/05/nyregion/a-kennedy-and-his-mentor-part-ways-over-river-group.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

Also see: Pope Brock, RFK Jr.’s River of Trouble, Talk Magazine, October, 2000, p. 53-58.

By including Mr. Kennedy’s participation as a member of the committee to advise him on fracking, Governor Cuomo advances the illusion that environmental activists of all stripes have a voice in this forum, simply by virtue of Mr. Kennedy’s presence. Kennedy can publicly and half heartedly oppose fracking, while Cuomo can respectfully agree to disagree and overrule Kennedy. The environmentalists have been heard!

Can Riverkeeper or Waterkeeper Alliance possibly break ties with an oligarch who can raise large sums of money, even while he is out to make the world safe for exploitation by his associates in the greenwashed bottled water industry?

How can they not?

May 13, 2012
Poughkeepsie, New York

See also http://gasmain.org/resources.htm#A%20Grassroots%20Perspective


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Holy Terror Farm is a paradise of sorts on the banks of Terror Creek in the Western Colorado Rockies.  Bushels of fresh fruits and vegetables of every sort, species, and color sprout from this soil every season (yes, even winter!).  And all the water that irrigates the orchard, garden, and pastures here is siphoned directly from the pristine flows of Terror Creek, a tributary of the Gunnison River.

Sign greeting visitors to Holy Terror Farm

Since buying the farm in spring 2010, Alison and Jason have doubled the number of trees in the orchard and quadrupled the garden space.  They feed the home first, and excess produce is sold online mostly, thru a farmers market called Local Farms First.  But the “chemical free” orchards here would no longer be able to make that claim reliably if gas wells were erected on the banks of Terror Creek.  Who would want to eat that food anymore?

Natural gas pipeline warning sign, Silt, CO

The farmers in this valley have a great thing going here!  And Alison isn’t the only one threatened; the BLM leasing proposal for gas drilling includes parcels that border schools, parks, and orchards all over the valley.  It can be taken as a given that these two industries cannot coexist side-by-side.  So why is it permissible for one industry to come and kick another out that was here first?  That permission is representative of the fact that our federal and state governments, under the direction of industry experts, have put energy production before food production.

Sunrise filming at a drill site as a new bore hole is started

There are two main reasons for this jacked up priority order, and the first is pretty simple: we have to move food, among other things, across the nation and overseas to the markets in which they’ll be sold.  And movement of goods takes fuel.  We’ve got an infrastructure that is far larger than is really sustainable and we don’t want to face that fact.  The second reason is more important, and far more discouraging: energy sells for great prices overseas where nations don’t have the technology or reckless abandon necessary to cultivate their own fossil fuels.   So how do we address these two issues?

The first we can make serious progress on immediately: grow a garden!  By eating locally, working locally, and investing in a localized community this will start to change.  The stronger our localities, the less they have to lean on the larger national and international frameworks for their needs.  The second issue is tougher to solve, especially in a capitalist society.  It’s hard to tell a gas company not to sell its natural gas to Chinese markets for $16 when the unit price domestically is closer to $2.25.   There’s not much we can do to make this look like a good business decision.  But lifting of the veil has begun; secrets about the failing financial model of shale gas are starting to be exposed to the public.  Reserve estimates in the Marcellus and Barnett shale plays, once thought to be huge moneymakers, have been slashed by 80%! As we seek to expose the truth, our foot is in the door.

Cameraman Diego and Ham, Bacon, & Porkchop's closeup

Education is key here; we need to learn as a public what the problems and conflicts are in this industry so we start making better decisions on a legislative as well as a personal level.   One thing I know for sure since starting this project is that the energy industry is a great liar.  And since it fills the bank quite well, our political leaders stand idly by or believe the lies themselves.   But this film is our little bit of education and we hope stories like it can help raise the knowledge base of the people.  We’re learning so much about this conflict as we go along, and we want you to learn with us.  Please help us get this film made!





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Every Drop Counts

How can I conserve water? My answer may surprise you.

Last week , a City of Longmont water board member commented that he has a fiduciary responsibility to sell Longmont’s ‘surplus water’. Currently, Longmont leases out 600 acre feet of water per year to big oil for fracking and drilling.

Oil fracking and drilling within our community will swell to consume thousands of acre feet of clear water per year.

Simultaneously, Longmont is encouraging its citizens to reduce their use of treated water by 3500 acre feet per year.

So, if I have a leaky faucet I have two choices:

1. I can repair the faucet to reduce my consumption. This will increase Longmont’s ‘surplus water’. The ‘surplus water’ from my leak will be sold for fracking. The water will be mixed with toxic chemicals to produce fracking fluid. The fracking fluid will be injected miles under the ground into the Niobrara tight sand formations. Toxic water spurts back from the well, and needs to be quarantined. It is trucked hundreds of miles to disposal sites to be forced into two mile deep isolation wells. The mountain stream water that Longmont sold to the drilling company is irrevocably removed from the hydrological system (assuming that everything goes well). It will never again runoff the surface. It will never again soak down or
evaporate up into the water cycle.
2. I can let the faucet continue to drip. In this case my leaked water will soak down into the soil or evaporate into the atmosphere or drain to the treatment system. It is conserved within our natural environment.

So, what is the best way for me to conserve the water that is leaking out of my faucet?

Maybe I should just let it drip. Every drop counts.

Joseph Bassman
Longmont, CO

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Deputy Commissioner Leff takes the position that the best way to proceed with HVHF in New York State is to make a firm commitment to minimizing all exposures to harmful chemical substances released into
the environment by shale gas exploitation.  I argued that considering the history of shale gas exploitation throughout the United States and the limited ability of the DEC to enforce laws and regulations already in existence it would not be possible for DEC to act in a sufficiently substantial manner upon any commitment to minimization of exposures. There are many pollutant carcinogen exposures associated with shale
gas exploitation that have not been addressed in those areas where this activity exists, including:  (1) benzene, formaldehyde, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and soot particulates emissions of diesel trucks and compressors; (2) chemical carcinogens present in fracturing fluid and disposed of so as to contaminate surface and ground waters; (3) chemical carcinogens evaporating into the outdoor atmosphere from holding tanks utilized at gas well sites; (4) chemical carcinogens evaporating from HVHF waste water and entering the outdoor atmosphere; and (5) radioactive nuclides brought to the surface of the Earth in HVHF waste water.

Shale gas exploitation is not currently possible without imposing a relatively large quantity of exposure to pollutant carcinogens upon New York State residents.  At a time when cancer incidence is already far above an acceptable level as a result of exposures to pollutant carcinogens released into the environment by past and current polluting activities, shale gas exploitation is not acceptable.  Our organization advocates for a ban on shale gas exploitation throughout the United States.

Please utilize the powers of the DEC to set about insuring that the public is provided with a scientific knowledge based portrayal of shale gas exploitation impacts on health.  Will the DEC work in concert with the New York State Department of Health to produce a Health Impact Assessment for shale gas exploitation?  Provision of such a document to the residents of New York State will build political support for the banning of shale gas exploitation in our state.  Knowledge must be used to protect public health.  We find ourselves living in a time of pollutant carcinogen exposure cancer epidemic.  This is the time for minimizing exposure to all pollutant carcinogens.  Please assist with the effort to reject shale gas exploitation in New York State.

Donald L. Hassig, Director
Cancer Action NY
Cancer Action News Network
P O Box 340
Colton, NY USA 13625


EDITOR: At 7 p.m. on Nov. 14, 2011, in spite of 22,094 comments objecting to this project, 35 bi-partisan Pa. state representatives, 2 state senators, the EPA, the Sierra Club, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, and many other organizations across Pa., the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved and granted a certificate to Inergy/CNYOG to begin construction on the MARC-1 Pipeline Project. With this certificate, FERC has granted them the power to exercise eminent domain on private property owners who can not agree to their terms, or simply chose to say No to having a 30″ pipeline run across their property, even if it means the loss of use of that property by the property owner for agriculture, farming, recreation, or simply to have a safe, quiet property where we can raise our families, or pass on to future generations.

To add insult to injury, the environmental protections, setbacks from residential areas, upgraded materials and safety standards have apparently been removed from their application. They will primarily be using “class one” safety standards, which means minimum safety precautions and materials, minimum noise control [if any], and emission/pollution controls.

It will also be the enabler for virtually hundreds of unregulated gathering lines, an unknown number of compressor stations, and turn New Albany, Monroeton, Dushore, Laporte, Lake Mokoma, Sonestown, Muncy Valley, Beech Glen, Glenn Mawr, Picture Rocks, and Hughesville into a drilling corridor for the gas industry. This signals the end of agriculture, tourism, fishing, hunting, new home building, small businesses, as well as our way of life in the Endless Mountains. It will also have a devastating effect on property values, quality of life, public health and safety, while ultimately increasing property taxes to offset the damage to our already fragile infrastructure. Corporate profits will socialize the cost to those who live in the most heavily impacted areas.

This permit, along with HB 1950 and SB 1100 that will remove, and prompt the right of municipalities to enact their own regulations, ordinances, laws, protections, and safety standards regarding oil and gas development in and around our communities.

In short, life as we’ve known it is now over for Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming counties, and life across rural Pa. This change will not be for the better. A 7- to 10-year “boom/bust” cycle, which we are already 3.5 years into, will leave rural Pa. a toxic and unlivable industrial and economic wasteland when all those “industry jobs” move on.

We owe our children, and our children’s children yet to be born, an apology for leaving this world in far worse shape than we received it, and for the burdensome financial responsibility for it they will inherit.

I’d like to remind everyone to take the opportunity to appropriately thank our obtuse local (Sullivan County Commissioners; Darla Bortz, Betty Reibson, and Bob Getz,) (Bradford County Commissioners John Sullivan and Doug McLinko) and state/federal lawmakers (Senator Pat Toomey and Congressman Tom Marino), who went out of their way to “urge FERC to overlook the concerns and interests of local citizens and approve the MARC-1.”

At this point, considering the FERC approval, and the horrific legislation poised to be passed, I no longer see a political solution, legislative remedies, or effective legal recourse to what is being forced upon us by the gas and oil industry with the consent of our elected leaders. Beyond an environmental problem, and a health and public safety problem, the bigger issue is that we have a democracy problem and a leadership problem in Pennsylvania that is bi-partisan.

Our system of government has morphed into a corrupt “corpocracy” whose goal is to control us by taking control of the essential ingredients of our existence: affordable and sustainable energy, pure water, clean air, and our sense of place.

This morning, I awoke in the security of my “home.” Tonight, I will lay down in just a “house” that I happen to own that has not had safe potable water for two months, and may never have again. I no longer have a “sense of place,” or a feeling of “home” here, knowing that I have no voice, no rights as a PA citizen/property owner, and am of no concern to political/corporate the powers that be. I am, as we all are now in Pennsylvania, politically insignificant, and simply “in the way” of the gas industry’s corporate special interests.

John Trallo

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