Two of the largest companies involved in natural gas drilling have acknowledged pumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of diesel-based fluids into the ground in the process of hydraulic fracturing, raising further concerns that existing state and federal regulations don’t adequately protect drinking water from drilling.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., who released the information in a statement Thursday, announced that the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which he chairs, is launching an investigation into potential environmental impacts from hydraulic fracturing.
The process, which forces highly pressurized water, sand and chemicals into rock to release the gas and oil locked inside, gives drillers unprecedented access to deeply buried gas deposits and vastly increases the country’s known energy reserves. But as ProPublica has detailed in more than 60 articles, the process comes with risks. The fluids used in hydraulic fracturing are laced with chemicals — some of which are known carcinogens. And because the process is exempt from most federal oversight, it is overseen by state agencies that are spread thin and have widely varying regulations. (more…)
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Stern Partners, run by president Ronald Stern, will reportedly get a stake in AquAgro, an Israeli venture capital fund focused on innovative water and agriculture technologies, although terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“All indications are that we should be alarmed about the future of sea level rise and should be doing something about it now.”
So say Orrin Pilkey and Rob Young, eminent coastal scientists, who wrote The Rising Sea to provide substance for that alarm and to offer suggestions as to how we can plan ahead to reduce the severity of the impact of the rising sea.
The authors begin by reminding us that it’s not a distant prospect. They describe what is happening to Alaskan shoreline villages such as Kivalina and Shishmaref, the Pacific atoll nations such as Kiribati, the Maldives, the Marshall Islands, Tokelau and Tuvalu, and the city of Venice, places already grappling with rising sea level.
Rising tide gauge data and an increase in coastal erosion along many of the planet’s shorelines provide clear evidence of the rising sea and of the warming of the planet.
A ranking of 163 nations based on environmental public health and the vitality of their ecosystems places Iceland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Sweden, and Norway in the top five, with the U.S. trailing in 61st place and China and India ranking 121st and 123rd respectively.
The Environmental Performance Index, compiled by researchers at Yale and Columbia universities, ranks countries based on 10 main categories such as environmental health, air quality, water management, biodiversity and habitat, forestry, and climate change. Iceland ranked at the top because of its excellent environmental public health and reliance on renewable sources of energy such as geothermal and hydropower.
Arad Technologies, a Yokneam, Israel-based wireless water meter manufacturer, and Luxembourg-based meter maker Actaris Metering Systems were jointly awarded a deal to provide 150,000 water meters to the city of Mumbai, India according to Globes.
Citing the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, Globes reports that the deal is part of a $128 million project to install 1.2 million water meters in Mumbai, though contracts for the remainder of the project have not been distributed. Arad and Actaris, however, are expected to win the follow-on tenders, because of logistical difficulties in coordinating different meter systems and technologies in a single municipal network.
A campaign was launched last week in which celebrities, business leaders, environmentalists, politicians and school kids around the world communicate their hopes for life on earth by 2020. These hopes are being conveyed as part of the 2020 Vision campaign launched by Planet Positive .
The campaign provides people with the chance to express their view of the future via online movies, illustrations or written word. The website allows anyone anywhere in the world to view visions and upload their own, stimulating debate around climate change.
The website also provides people with some reassurance and clarity on the innovation, infrastructure and products that will help them shift into low carbon, more sustainable lifestyles. There are ten online sections, which provide information on key areas of human life such as Home, Energy, Food, Water, Travel, Transport, Communication and Entertainment.
The headline on Tuesday’s editorial in Investor’s Business Daily – “Get the Frackin’ Gas” – is both clever and on the mark. The publication gets into trouble, however, when the body of its editorial veers into mischaracterizing ProPublica’s reporting on the environmental risks that need to be dealt with to produce the huge amounts of natural gas available underground in the United States.
Our reporters, led by Abrahm Lustgarten, have researched and written more than 50 stories on the subject over the past 18 months and are as expert on the topic as anyone in America.
Here is what is beyond dispute: The gas is highly desirable as a fuel, because it burns relatively cleanly and produces less greenhouse gas per unit of energy than oil or coal. There is lots of it obtainable within the U.S. using an enhanced version of an old drilling technology, called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” – much more than was widely supposed just a few years ago. That means using natural gas to power cars and electrical generation doesn’t require sending huge sums abroad, weakening the dollar and strengthening countries that aren’t particularly friendly to ours – Russia, Iran and Venezuela among them.
In the slums of Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, about 1 million poor people pay up to 30 times more for water of dubious quality brought to them in old tanker trucks than middle-class citizens pay for clean and safe water provided by the local public water utility via standard household connections.
Some may be shocked by these disturbing disparities in the developing world, but a lack of access to safe, affordable and clean water is also an issue in California, particularly in the Central Valley and along the Central Coast. In these communities, more than 90 percent of drinking water is sucked from contaminated groundwater sources. All told, more than 150,000 California residents lack safe water for drinking, bathing and washing dishes; even more have water service disconnected because they cannot afford to pay their bill.
In 2005 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management offered up thousands of acres of federal land in Colorado to drilling. Because the land was in the heart of an area that supplies drinking water to 55,000 people in the western part of the state, the plan drew strong opposition from local communities.
The concerns they raised — that the disruption and chemicals used in drilling might ruin their water — foreshadowed similar concerns that have since rippled across the country as drilling operations expand from Wyoming to New York. And their solution may be a lesson that ripples to those communities as well.
The communities — the city of Grand Junction and the neighboring town of Palisades — began by making their concerns clear: drilling is important, but protecting the water supply is paramount.
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