Maryland Politics Trumps Science on Fracking

Gov. Martin O’Malley

Two ambitious Democratic governors in the East faced the same tough choice late last year on whether to allow energy companies to extract natural gas from shale formations through high-volume hydrofracking. One said yes. The other said no.

Neither state has much natural gas to tap at current market prices. Even so, the decisions by Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland and Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York have national implications because they sat in judgment of the importance of the latest independent science. While environmental and medical experts were pointing to dozens of new peer-reviewed studies showing explicit health and safety risks, the energy industry was clinging to its assertions that all fracking risks are manageable. Continue reading Maryland Politics Trumps Science on Fracking

New York’s Ban on High-Volume Fracking Rocks the Foundations of ‘Shale Revolution’

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo greets supporters and anti-fracking demonstrators after casting his ballot, Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, in Mount Kisco, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Emboldened by mounting scientific evidence and shifting poll data, Gov. Andrew Cuomo veered sharply away from America’s conventional wisdom about the wonders of high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale formations when he banned the practice in New York State on Dec. 17. While the oil and gas titans hope to contain the uprising to one state, the environmental advocates who masterminded it are quietly optimistic that it represents a tipping point, signaling impending decline for fossil fuels’ decades-long hegemony. Continue reading New York’s Ban on High-Volume Fracking Rocks the Foundations of ‘Shale Revolution’

Books Blame Capitalism for Climate, Water Crises

Adam Smith’s invisible hand — the supposedly benign force in laissez-faire capitalism that promotes economic efficiency — is actually steering the world to environmental catastrophe by ruining our air and water.  At least that is the argument a pair of Canadian author/activists make in powerful new manifestos: This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein and […]

New York State Allows Water Grab

John Marvinstands beside Painted Post Water Train on Oct 24, 2014 (Photo by Peter Mantius)

Withdrawal Permits, Bulk Water Sales Approved Without Environmental Reviews

PAINTED POST, N.Y. — Barely a football field away from John Marvin’s modest house, 42 black railcars full of water sit waiting for the signal to begin rolling south to supply fracking drill pads across the Pennsylvania border. When the water train lurches and clanks through the village — often at pre-dawn hours — it sounds ear-splitting whistles at each street crossing.

“How is everybody supposed to sleep at night?” asked Marvin, who tends his stroke-slowed wife in the family living room. “And what happens if they deplete our water supply? Do we go to water rationing?”

Painted Post siphons water from a shallow, rain-dependent aquifer it shares with several neighboring communities, including the town of Corning. In 2012 the village signed a five-year deal reportedly worth up to $20 million with a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell to sell up to 1 million gallons a day used to frack Shell’s natural gas wells in Pennsylvania. The village has called the sale a routine disposal of “surplus property.”  Continue reading New York State Allows Water Grab