new york

When Frackers Write the Laws, Everyone Loses

  • Posted on: 11 July 2012
  • By: JesseColeman

Andrew Cuomo

When the oil and gas industry gets to write the rules supposed to govern them, public health and the public good are left by the wayside. Unfortunately that is exactly what is happening with the regulation of hydraulic fracturing in New York and other states.

In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration has been accused of conspiring with the fracking industry to develop regulations that limit the states ability to oversee fracking.

Documents recently uncovered by Environmental Working Group show that industry representatives were given drafts of the state’s proposed regulations before they were released to the public.  Industry representatives then used the privileged information to lobby against commonsense rules, like testing for radioactivity in waste-water.

In other states, like Ohio, fracking laws written by corporate front groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have already been passed.

Currently, the major federal environmental laws regulating hazardous waste, air pollution and water pollution all have significant loopholes and exemptions for fracking. This is because the fracking industry has fought hard to keep regulation at the state level, where it is easier to influence and harder to enforce. As a recent report by the OMB Watch illustrates, state laws, many of which may have been written by the fracking industry, have failed to protect public health.

For more on the environmental, public health, and community impacts of fracking, see Greenpeace’s recently updated fracking page.

We don’t want the oil and gas industry writing the laws that are supposed to regulate them.

Here's why:

The fracking industry does not have the health of the public in mind. As Josh Fox’s latest video discusses, the oil and gas industry continues to publicly deny that fracking leads to poisoned water wells, though internal industry documents show that they have acknowledged and attempted to address the problem (unsuccessfully). The industry has even deployed military personnel and tactics against Pennsylvanians, which one company executive referred to as “insurgents.” Frackers want cheap access to the hydrocarbons in the shale, which means externalizing environmental, public health, and community impacts.

The frackers don’t care about American jobs, the economy, or “energy independence.” One of the most popular talking points used by the oil and gas industry is summed up by the bumper sticker “drill here, drill now, pay less.” The idea being if we allow oil and gas corporations to exploit our land and water to extract fossil fuels, it will benefit the average citizen by lowering energy prices, reducing independence of “foreign” energy supplies, etc.  This is completely false, as Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil will tell you. Companies involved in fracking want to increase the price of natural gas by exporting it out of the country.  They want to sell it on an open market, to the highest bidder, no matter who that is.

The fracking industry’s short-sightedness hurts everyone involved, including themselves. When the fracking boom took off a few years ago, the oil and gas industry treated it like a gold rush. Companies like Chesapeake Energy put every dime they had into acquiring land and drilling wells, while taking out massive loans to finance the expansion. The frackers produced so much gas that gas prices dropped through the floor, to historically low prices. Right now, these companies are losing money and can’t even afford complete the wells they have already drilled. In Pennsylvania there are 5,000 wells awaiting completion, sitting idle, as their well casings deteriorate. Like the bankers responsible for the financial collapse, the fracking industry’s ravenous approach to drilling created a bubble, which the public will pay for with toxic water and a landscape ravaged by heavy industry.

GREENPEACE EXCLUSIVE: Hurricane Sandy aftermath

  • Posted on: 31 October 2012
  • By: Connor Gibson

Aerial views of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy along the New Jersey coast on October 30, 2012.

Written by Mitch Wenkus, crossposted from Greenpeace blogs.

I woke up yesterday morning in DC, jumped in a 4-wheel drive truck and headed north to gather video of Hurricane Sandy's destruction. As a documentary cinematographer, I can get hyper-focused on composition, exposure, and all that stuff that's important for telling a story, but I can forget I'm dealing with people's lives. These are people's homes and memories I'm flying over. A lightning bolt of emotion came through the viewfinder, through my eyes, down my spine to my entire body when I saw a person. A person standing amongst the hundreds of destroyed homes. That one person put the rest of the wreckage into perspective for me. My sympathies go out to the families whose lives were effected by Hurricane Sandy.

Below are visuals capture by our visuals team who traveled to regions in New Jersey devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

 

Aerial views of damage caused by Hurricane Sandy along the New Jersey coast on October 30, 2012.

And what of nuclear reactors after a superstorm?

  • Posted on: 31 October 2012
  • By: Connor Gibson

Written by Jim Riccio, crossposted from Greenpeace blogs.

Several nuclear reactors in New Jersey and New York shutdown as Hurricane Sandy slams into East Coast.

The morning after Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern seaboard several nuclear reactors in New Jersey and New York are now shutdown and information on their status is sparse if available at all.

Greenpeace has been able to paste together the following from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s licensee event reports. But as of 11:30 AM there has been no information provided to press or the public by the agency since 9 pm last night. And what has been provided is now outdated and inaccurate.

New Jersey:

  • Salem 1 reactor was manually shutdown from 100 percent power when it lost circulation in part of the plant due to storm complications caused by high water levels and hurricane debris.
  • Salem 2 reactor was already shutdown as was Oyster creek also in NJ. Oyster creek declared an unusual event and then an alert due to high water levels at the reactor.

New York:

  • Indian Point 3 located just 24 miles north of Manhattan was knocked of line due a disturbance to the electric grid providing power to the plant. But Indian Point 2 is still operating at 100 percent power.
  • Nine Mile Point 1 in upstate New York near Oswego automatically shut down when it could not feed its electricity to the grid. Nine Mile Point 2 lost offsite power due to high winds and emergency diesel generators are providing power to the plant.

Pennsylvania:

  • Both Limerick nuclear reactors near Philadelphia have reduced power significantly to 48 and 27 percent respectively.

Salem Nuclear Generating Station, New Jersey

Industry: 

Americans for Prosperity's Lisa Thrun faces public scrutiny in NY RGGI lawsuit [VIDEO]

  • Posted on: 21 January 2012
  • By: rostry

States participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative

“I’m not a scientist, I’m an event planner,” explained Lisa Thrun when I asked her if she believed burning coal and oil contributed to climate change. Oh really, Ms. Thrun? If you’re just an event planner, what are you doing giving a presentation on the economic impacts of a regional plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? See the video:

 
Lisa Thrun, the chair of grassroots for the New York Chapter of Americans for Prosperity, was invited by the Tompkins County Republican Committee to speak about the economic impacts of RGGI. Pronounced “Reggie,” the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a cap-and-trade program, which promises to reduce CO2 emissions 10% by 2018 among Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont.  
Thrun is the lead plaintiff in a New York lawsuit against RGGI - a serious conflict of interest since Americans for Prosperity was started and is still funded by the oil billionaire Koch brothers. David Koch is the chairman of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, AFP's sister group. It’s pretty ironic that the lead plaintiff in a suit against plant emissions works for an organization that is heavily involved in the ongoing orchestration of campaigns to sell doubt over climate science. When I asked Thrun about this conflict of interest, she responded, "You know what? I don't know what the Koch brothers do. It just goes to show you our independence from the Koch brothers."See the video:

 

 
AFP's ongoing suit against RGGI in New York is ironic for another reason: Koch Industries, which funnels profits to AFP through the Koch brother's foundations, was involved in the very first trade of physical carbon allowances under RGGI. Thrun’s main argument focused on economic implications for states (and families) involved in the cap-and-trade program. One slide during the presentation demonstrated how initiatives like cap and trade can be detrimental to big business. The charts proudly boasted the logos of groups including the Heritage Foundation, the Competative Enterprise Institute, and the Beacon Hill Institute - all three of which have been involved in Koch-funded scandals. Thrun continuously warned that RGGI is a costly program, even though the average residential bill increases less than 50 cents a month and RGGI participating states show $3-$4 benefits for every $1 invested. The invested money then goes into state-designed consumer benefit and strategic energy programs, like home weatherization which can reduce household heating energy needs by 15 to 30 percent. (source: RGGI Proceeds Report Press Release) In response, Thrun implied that winterizing homes helps to save us money and energy, but “we should be doing it on our own.”
 
As the New York lawsuit is pushed forward by the polluter apologists running Americans for Prosperity, we will see if AFP is can finish pushing New Jersey out of RGGI. Gov. Chris Christie caved to AFP pressure last year, announcing New Jersey's withdrawal from the profitable program and then bragging about it right to the Koch brothers faces at their private political meeting in Vail, Colorado.
 
The Koch brothers are not running out of money. Their wealth has increased by $13 billion each in the last five years (Forbes, 2006 and 2011) and they will continue to bankroll ideological attacks on environmental initiatives that threaten their billions in private profits. What Charles and David have lost is the ability to ghost run the country in secret.
 
PolluterWatch will continue to track the development of Koch-backed attacks on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and other dirty campaigns. For more, see PolluterWatch's profiles for Koch Industries and Americans for Prosperity.
Industry: 
Company or Organization: 

Exxon Agrees to Pay $25 million for Superfund Cleanup in Newtown Creek

  • Posted on: 18 November 2010
  • By: Connor Gibson

Photo credit: Oils Well in Brooklyn

A three year New York lawsuit against ExxonMobil over the cleanup of Newtown Creek, a heavily polluted section of Brooklyn's Greenpoint area, has resulted in the oil giant's agreement to contribute $25 million to boost remediation of the area, as well as $5 million in penalties and costs.

Newton Creek was finally added to the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund National Priorities List at the end of September, well over a century after heavy industrial activity contaminated the area with millions of gallons of oil, poisonous PCBs, pesticides, and other highly dangerous substances.  Also responsible for major oil spills in the area are supermajors BP and Chevron.

The addition of many Congressional polluter-allies through the midterm elections doesn't bode well for the Superfund program, which went bankrupt in 2003 following a major loss of tax income in 1995.  While the EPA has asked Congress for a renewal of taxation on petrochemical companies in order to fund the cleanup of their ongoing messes, as opposed to using public funds to take responsibility for the pollution.  Industry opposition plays the same scare-cards we see over and over: forced outsourcing, dead jobs, and a loss of international marketplace competiton.

As ExxonMobil barely scrapes by with a 2009 profit of 19.2 billion and Chevron's meager $10.4 billion net revenue, it's understandable why the industry would be concerned.  Exxon's recent $30 million commitment sucks up a staggering 0.002% of their 2009 profit.

This story was picked up from the New York Times.

Industry: 
Company or Organization: