Unifor Calls for National Moratorium on Fracking

Photo credit: dgrinbergs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: dgrinbergs / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

PORT ELGIN and TORONTO, ON, Nov. 14, 2013 /CNW/ – Unifor, Canada’s largest energy union, is calling for aCanada-wide moratorium on all new oil and gas fracking. Already the provinces of Quebec and Newfoundland andLabrador have introduced moratoriums on fracking. Nova Scotia has banned fracking while undertaking a review. Unifor is now pushing for a national moratorium.

Unifor is raising concerns about the safety and environmental risks associated with fracking as well as the lack of informed consent by First Nations about fracking activities on traditional lands.

In the statement unanimously passed by the 25-person Unifor National Executive Board, the union expressed support for the non-violent protest efforts by First Nations to resist fracking activity on their lands. The Unifor National Executive Board is made up of elected representatives from across the country and a variety of economic sectors, including energy.

“Unconventional gas fracking has the potential to have catastrophic effects on our environment and economy. The safety risks are also a major concern for our union,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.  “Just because we can carry out this activity does not mean we should. We must enact a national moratorium on fracking activity.”

Dias also noted that it would be folly for Canada to reorient our entire energy infrastructure around a short-term surge in an unsustainable energy supply.

From the statement:

“Any resource extraction industry in Canada must confront the problem of unresolved aboriginal land claims, and the inadequate economic benefits (including employment opportunities) which have been offered to First Nations communities from resource developments.  This problem is especially acute with fracking because of the widespread land which would be affected by the activity, and the heated, profit-hungry rush which the industry is set to quickly unleash.  Many Canadians share these concerns with the potential economic, social, and environmental damage of an unregulated fracking industry.

Instead of being guided by short-term swings in prices and profits for private energy producers, Canada’s federal and provincial governments must develop and implement (in cooperation with other stakeholders) a national plan for a stable, sustainable energy industry that respects our social and environmental commitments, and generates lasting wealth for all who live here.”

To read the full statement, please visit:http://www.unifor.org/sites/default/files/attachments/neb_resolution_on_fracking_nov2013_e.pdf


Top climate scientists call for fracking ban in letter to Gov. Jerry Brown

Photo © Karen McLain Evening Light | Design by Anne Novak for ProtectMustangs.org

Photo © Karen McLain Evening Light | Design by Anne Novak for ProtectMustangs.org

By Paul Rogers

Posted:   11/12/2013 04:07:39 PM PST in the Mercury News

Twenty of the nation’s top climate scientists have sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, telling him that his plans supporting increased use of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” will increase pollution and run counter to his efforts to cut California’s global warming emissions.

The letter is the latest example of the increased pressure that environmentalists and others concerned about climate change have been putting on Brown in recent months. Their argument: the governor can’t say he wants to reduce global warming while expanding fossil fuel development in California.

“If what we’re trying to do is stop using the sky as a waste dump for our carbon pollution, and if we’re trying to transform our energy system, the way to do that is not by expanding our fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University.

Caldeira signed the letter along with other prominent climate scientists, including James Hansen, the former head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies; Richard Houghton, acting president of Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts; and physicist Michael Mann, a professor of meteorology at Penn State University.

The letter called for Brown to place a moratorium on fracking, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has done.

“Shale gas and tight oil development is likely to worsen climate disruption, which would harm California’s efforts to be a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” it notes.

Brown did not respond Tuesday afternoon to a request for comment on the scientists’ letter. But last month he said in response to question from this newspaper, “As you know, I signed legislation that will create the most comprehensive environmental analysis of fracking to date. It will take a year, year and a half, maybe a little longer. And I hope that all the people, critics and supporters alike, will participate and offer their best thoughts.”

The oil industry criticized the scientists’ letter.

“The authors of this letter, while clearly very respected in their fields, do not present an accurate or realistic picture of our energy needs and our energy future,” said Tupper Hull, a spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Association in Sacramento.

“California is going to need petroleum-based energy for a long time, even as it transitions to a lower carbon future.”

Brown has generally won high marks from environmental groups over his 40-year political career. He signed legislation requiring California utilities to generate 33 percent of their electricity from solar, wind and other renewable resources by 2020, for example. Last month, he appeared at an event in San Francisco to announce a pact with the governors of Washington state, Oregon and the premier of British Columbia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But he has come under increasing criticism — and public protests — this fall from opponents of fracking, the practice in which oil and gas companies inject water, sand and chemicals into the ground to fracture underground rock formations and release huge amounts of fossil fuels.

In September, Brown signed SB 4, a bill by state Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, that requires companies that conduct fracking operations in California to notify all nearby property owners, obtain a permit from the state, conduct groundwater testing and disclose the chemicals they are using. The law takes effect in 2015. Opponents say that water pollution and increased air and climate emissions from fracking require a moratorium, particularly in the Monterey Shale, an area that stretches from Bakersfield to Monterey and holds billions of dollars of shale oil that could be recovered from increased fracking.


Link to the original article: http://www.mercurynews.com/science-environment/ci_24509392/top-climate-scientists-call-fracking-ban-letter-gov

Posted for educational purposes

Proposed Wyoming gas field would be one of the largest on the planet

Posted on January 31st, 2013 by The Wyoming Outdoor Council

This image, taken from GoogleEarth, shows the heart of the Jonah Field, which, compared to this proposed project had roughly one-third the number of wells approved.

This GoogleEarth image shows the heart of the Jonah Field, which, compared to this proposed project had roughly one-third the number of wells approved. While the Jonah has more well pads relative to wells (on roughly 30,000 acres), the Continental Divide-Creston project will cover more than 1 million acres.

Let’s speak up before March 6 to help protect residents, workers, and the environment

By Bruce Pendery

The Bureau of Land Management is analyzing a mammoth, 9,000-well natural gas drilling project proposed in south-central Wyoming near Wamsutter.

Called the Continental Divide-Creston project, it would be one of the largest single natural gas field developments in the United States.

We are asking for your help to reduce the environmental impacts of this project as much as possible. Please send your comments to the BLM by March 6! (See below)

Our biggest concern—and what we are focusing on the most—is making sure this project is done right relative to air quality. This development needs to be conducted in such a way that residents and workers are safe and can breathe clean air, and that the air, land, and wildlife, stays healthy in the future.

This Proposed Project Will Be Bigger than Rhode Island

The BLM would allow BP America Production Company and other operators to drill up to 8,950 new wells. The project area would include 1.1 million acres—or more than 1,600 square miles—much of which would be in what’s known as the “railroad checkerboard.” And much of this proposed project would involve “infill” of existing natural gas fields where 4,400 wells have already been drilled.

The Wyoming Outdoor Council does not oppose development in this area outright because it is not located in one our “heritage landscapes” (iconic areas where we believe any energy development is inappropriate) and it is largely an “infill” project where there is already a lot of existing disturbance.

However, although much of this area is far from pristine, we need to do everything we can to ensure that companies “do it right” at every stage of this project’s development. Therefore, we believe the BLM should require careful, effective, environmentally protective measures as conditions to the development in order to protect residents, workers, air quality, and remaining wildlife habitats.


How to Make a Difference

The BLM has prepared a draft environmental analysis, called an “environmental impact statement” for this project. It considers five alternative development options but it does not specify a “preferred alternative.”

The BLM is now accepting comments on this draft analysis. The comment deadline is March 6. It would be very helpful if you could offer your input on the draft. This could help improve the project, and help ensure that we “do it right” in the face of this massive level of development.

Here are some issues you might consider raising in your comments:

  • While much of this project is in the “railroad checkerboard”—where the BLM’s ability to protect the environment is reduced because of the intervening privately owned sections of land—the project area extends into large, contiguous blocks of public land roughly 20 miles north and south of Interstate 80. You can ask the BLM to provide enhanced protection for these contiguous areas of public lands.
  • The Directional Drilling alternative is the most environmentally protective of the current alternatives, so please ask the BLM to adopt it. This alternative would be even more effective if the BLM were to set a limit on the number of well pads that can be developed.
  • Directional Drilling has become increasingly common and popular with industry with the horizontal “reach” of these wells becoming ever greater.Having multiple wells drilled from a single well pad with directional drilling to access gas resources at great distances can greatly reduce environmental impacts. You can ask the BLM to maximize the use of directional drilling, and to require the greatest “reach” possible.


Where to Send Comments:

You can submit your comments to the BLM by March 6 by e-mail:Continental_Divide_Creston_WYMail@blm.gov, or fax: 307-328-4224, or by regular mail: Bureau of Land Management, Rawlins Field Office, P.O. Box 2407, Rawlins, WY 82301.

You can view the draft environmental impact statement here:http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rawlins.html.

Cross-posted from: http://wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/blog/2013/01/31/proposed-wyoming-gas-field-would-be-one-of-the-largest-on-the-planet/

BLM natural resource specialist asks for internal cleanup

By U.S. Government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

To: BLM All

From: Stan Olmstead – Natural Resource Specialist

Date: September 28, 2012

Re: Last Formal Comment on the Commitment to the Mission.

Never looking through “rose colored glasses” it is obvious that we have monumental
environmental concerns both in the nation and on the planet and are in need of serious
solutions. The U.S. government has all the abilities to perform state-of-the-arts
environmental management and yet we continue to fail. The land management agencies
have hard-working people and they put in sincere time to perform their work. However if
the Vernal Field Office is representative, there is concern in the implementation of the
BLM mission. The Vernal Office has placed priority on the exploitation of public land
for commodities. This effort is because of a focus on development of energy; due to a
fossil fuel fixation, politics, Energy Policy Act (2005), Vernal Field Office RMP (2008),
and office managers that do not understand their purpose. A quarter of the employees of
the Vernal Office have a personal interest, academic knowledge, and intent to serve the
American public in the performance of the mission. The mission and natural resource
knowledge is their prime reason for working with the Bureau. The intent of the natural
resource professional is to wisely manage habitat and fauna of public land for our

U.S. history has shown repeated failure in the care of the natural world. We place
exploitation of natural resources and profits from these resources ahead of wisdom. In the
past we mined, logged, grazed and exploited the natural world. Pressure on our political
officials to reverse this attitude and stop deterioration of natural systems was necessary
and resulted in excellent environmental laws. The U.S. has lost numerous species and yet
we do not act for their ethical protection and subsequently in defense of our own healthy
environment. At the Vernal Office little concern has been shown to care for sensitive
species (mountain plover, sage grouse, hookless cactus). We promote energy
development without stop and continue to measure natural resources by dollar value.

The mission of the BLM is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of public
lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. As civil servants we
are obligated to all Americans to perform the BLM mission. Yet our elected, appointed
and agency administrators ask us to focus on commodities and economics as opposed to
environmental health. Commodities and economic gains are easier to measure. We work
with our elected officials but we work for our citizens. Outside influences that lead us
away from our required service to the American citizen and the BLM mission, should be
repelled by the servant. Our service to the American people is to fulfill the mission
through science, law, regulations and “team work”. Our fellow civil servants that
administer the Bureau should insist that we work together in a common goal to fulfill the
intent of the mission. Yet the Vernal Office does not work together as a professional
team, instead the office works as fragmented groups, individually following bureaucratic
requirements catering to the exploiter and political antagonist.  There is little thought for
the future by those in charge for real land health.

Health and diversity of public lands are natural entities. They do not include oil wells,
livestock, crested wheatgrass nor guzzlers. These are developments and tools to exploit
and have nothing to do with health and diversity. Productivity is not synonymous with
commodities. Protection of healthy soils, vegetation, clean air & water and a natural
fauna are the true products, which we should diligently promote before commodity
extraction. Science teaches us to not act until we know that harm will not occur to the
natural system. Whereas development asks for proof of damage to the natural system
before you restrict. The natural environment and subsequently the human environment
will be injured seriously if balance is not restored. U.S. federal land management
agencies have it in their power to be the best land stewards anywhere in the world. We
fail not in ability but in our attitude, a lack of understanding, lack of futuristic thinking
and our implementation. Our actions are based on outside forces inconsistent with the
intended mission and wisdom.

The BLM employee that did not study for a career in natural science frequently works for
the Bureau for different reasons than the natural resource professional and it appears from
experience that those who work for these different reasons are unable to visualize the
intended mission. Knowing environmental health, diversity and the true customer must
be known by the team before we can fulfill our service. Without a personal interest for
the health of the land it is difficult to implement a professional understanding. If as some
have said incorrectly that “their job was to promote oil & gas” they fail in the mission
and service to the people.

Aldo Leopold had four requisites for land-health:
1. Cease throwing away its parts
2. Handle it gently
3. Recognize that its importance transcends economics
4. Don’t let too many people tinker with it.

However Vernal:
1. Lost the mountain plover; the only known population in Utah while at the same
time the species is in decline throughout its range. Little effort to prevent this loss
was implemented and is a serious mission departure.
2. Plugging and abandonment of well sites have not been a priority. Numerous oil &
gas wells have not produced for more than 15 years and yet these sites remain un-
reclaimed. Notable of these is Seep Ridge #1; Lease #U-6616 & Seep Ridge #3;
Lease #U-10178-A. Why is it that after more than 20 years of non-production
these two wells remain idle and un-reclaimed? Federal regulation for well
abandonment (Title 43 CFR 3162.3-4) requires abandonment.
3. Land reclamation after use still appears difficult to solve. What’s the problem?
The user wishes to profit from the land and the land is owned by the citizens.
Insist that the user fulfills the reclamation requirement before permitting
additional use. Our only task is to identify need and confirm success.
4. Animal Unit Months; we have grazing allotments, allotments have specified
AUM’s and grazing occurs. Yet we disturb large percentages of our allotments
located in oil & gas fields and AUMs remain the same. If you lose 30% of the
forage in a specific allotment it is logical to reduce the AUMs by 30%.

In the Vernal Field Office we have shown no concern for the cumulative impact of the
developed area and provide in NEPA documents little quantitative analysis. We fragment
habitat extensively in energy areas resulting in ecosystem damage not unlike that which
occurred from over grazing and other historic land exploitation. It took decades for
government to stop over grazing and move toward land health. Today scars remain from
time before the Taylor Grazing Act. We have lost the only population of mountain plover
in the state of Utah, contrary to science, ethics, and policy (BLM Manual 6480 – Special
Status Species Management). We have watched as direct and indirect impacts have
literally killed individuals of a federally listed plant species with only a token effort to
prevent future actions and not an apology for our failure. Analysis of water depletion
associated with endangered fish of the Colorado River system is accomplished through a
series of documented explanations that have no attempt to monitor the quantity of
depletion and is inconsistent with critical habitat for the species. The air within the
Uintah Basin continues to be fouled in our effort to maximize energy and economic gain.
Climate change receives but token language in our NEPA documents. Socio-economics
are measured on dollar values gained without analysis showing measurement of
“degradation/benefit” to the community. Air quality causes respiratory ailments, traffic
within the community is industrial and large sums of money leave the community to
outside corporations. A myriad of other community related issues are in need of detailed

We need to alter our bureaucratic method of operation. Focus on our mission and team
implementation as professional civil servants. Work together as a unified team of
professionals to implement the science, law, and regulations for service to the American
people. Discontinue our practice of placing our budget on projects that in truth are
developments in disguise and termed mitigation. We should utilize the budget on
monitoring and over-site. The use of the public land is the burden of the user to minimize
injury and restore to its natural state.

Without serious fulfillment of the mission we continue to harm public land as it has been
harmed so frequently in our historic past. Be honest about what is happening. It is easier
to break something than to fix it, so let us stop breaking the land.

“Our Quest, is to see that we are connected to all things, that there is no separation, only
in the mind”- John Mayers; Geologist.

Federal Plan Will Remove Horses from Nevada Wildlife Refuge

Cross-posted from The Horse

by: Pat Raia
September 07 2012, Article # 20606

Wild horses and burros will be removed from their ranges in northwestern Nevada under a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) conservation plan for the wildlife refuge on which they currently reside. The plan is slated to become effective after Sept. 24, said Jason D. Holm, assistant regional director of external affairs for the FWS Pacific Region.

Approximately 800 horses and 180 burros currently reside on the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR), Holmes said. The refuge is also home to approximately 2,500 pronghorn antelope and 150 bighorn sheep, as well as greater sage grouse, mule deer, and other wildlife species, he said.

The horses and burros will be removed from the refuge under a final Comprehensive Conservation Plan intended to rid the sanctuary of non-native and invasive species, Holm said. Officials would conduct gathers with the goal of removing all the horses and burros within five years, he said.

“Horses and burros are damaging native habitats for refuge wildlife,” Holm said. “Controlling feral animals takes away from wildlife and public use management priorities and efforts, and is costly.”

American Wild Horse Campaign Director Suzanne Roy opposes removal on grounds that horses and burros have resided on the area since the 1800s.

“These are U.S. Cavalry horses and burros used in the California gold rush,” Roy said. “They’ve been there (on SNWR lands) long before the refuge was created in the 1930s.”

Anne Novak, executive director of the wild horse advocacy group Protect Mustangs said the FWS assessment of the equids’ environmental impact is flawed.

 “They want to get rid of all the horses without understanding the positive impact they have on the thriving natural ecological balance,” Novak said. “Wild horses heal the land and their grazing prevents wildfires.”

Roy said that wild horse advocates had recommended FWS officials use fertility control to phase out the horse and burro population over a 15-year period. The agency rejected the option, she said. Now she and others are exploring legal options that could block the total removal.

“Right now, we don’t know what we can do, but we’re looking into it,” she said.

Horses and burros removed from the refuge will be available for adoption, Holm said.

Link to the original article: http://www.thehorse.com/ViewArticle.aspx?ID=20606

Statement from Protect Mustangs:

“We are against phasing out the population using fertility control or by rounding them up,” explains Novak. “We ask that the wild horses and burros be allowed to stay.”


Send comments against roundup and SpayVac® for Wyoming wild horses

Release Date: 07/06/12
Contacts: Sarah Beckwith

BLM Releases Preliminary EA for North Lander Complex Wild Horse Gather

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Lander Field Office announces that a preliminary environmental assessment (EA) analyzing a proposed wild horse gather in the North Lander Wild Horse Herd Management Area Complex is now available for review.The North Lander Complex is located east of Riverton within Fremont County, Wyo. The proposed gather is expected to take place in fall, 2012.The preliminary EA analyzes four alternatives and is available by visiting the BLM website at: www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/lfo/N-Lander-gather.html.The 30 day comment period runs from July 9 through August 7, 2012. Comments may be emailed to: BLM_WY_North_Lander_Gather@blm.gov(please include “North Lander Gather EA Comments” in the subject line). Comments may also be mailed to BLM Lander Field Office, Attn: Scott Fluer, 1335 Main Street, Lander, WY, 82520.For more information, visit: www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/lfo/N-Lander-gather.html, or contact BLM Wild Horse Specialist Scott Fluer at 307-332-8400.
The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, recreational and other activities on BLM-managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends. In FY 2012, nearly $5.7 billion will be generated on lands managed by the BLM, which operates on a $1.1 billion budget. The BLM’s multiple-use mission is to sustain the health and productivity of the public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. The Bureau accomplishes this by managing such activities as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production, and by conserving natural, historical, cultural, and other resources on public lands.
–BLM–Lander Field Office   1335 Main Street      Lander, WY 82520
Last updated: 07-06-2012