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Saturday, December 24, 2016

Noted environmentalist Santa Claus isn't giving coal to bad kids this year

Apparently even Santa Claus is concerned with global warming and the possible effects of all that heat on his North Pole headquarters.

As a result, he reportedly is no longer giving out lumps of coal to bad kids this year, according to investigative reporters at Instead, he's handing out solar panels, obviously a more sustainable gift than coal but one that the kids will hate anyway!

Photo:; Fair Use

Get all the exclusive details here: 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

EPA's final fracking report unable to calculate severity or frequency of drinking water contamination

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today issued it's final report on the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water supplies. Although the report identifies several areas of concern in the "fracking" process with the potential to cause problems, EPA was unable to conclusively characterize the severity or frequency of fracking impacts on drinking water.

The tone of the final report appears to be less dismissive of fracking concerns as the previous EPA "draft" report seemed to be. However, although it gives detailed information about potential vulnerabilities to drinking water resources, EPA said it was not designed to document specific impacts that have occurred.

Nevertheless, the latest findings are sure to do nothing to lessen the debate between those who favor the practice and those who vehemently oppose it.

"The value of high quality science has never been more important in helping to guide decisions around our nation’s fragile water resources. EPA's assessment provides the scientific foundation for local decision makers, industry, and communities that are looking to protect public health and drinking water resources and make more informed decisions about hydraulic fracturing activities,” said Dr. Thomas A. Burke, EPA's Science Advisor and Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA's Office of Research and Development. "This assessment is the most complete compilation to date of national scientific data on the relationship of drinking water resources and hydraulic fracturing."

Hydraulic fracturing is a process that involves injecting large volumes of water and chemicals into oil and gas containing formations underground to break or "fracture" those formations to facilitate the production of oil and natural gas that might not otherwise be recoverable. 

Critics have claimed the practice is unsafe and should be banned everywhere, pointing to examples of drinking water wells contaminated with methane gas and other harmful chemicals, as well as the increased frequency of earthquakes that they claim is the result of fracking.

Supporters have pointed to a fracking history of over 40 years that has shown little, if any, of the problems critics describe in the overwhelming majority of sites that have been fracked.

The new report looked at every step of the hydraulic fracturing process, including some areas that arguably are common oil & gas industry practices for non-fracked wells. These include:

(1) Acquiring water to be used for hydraulic fracturing (Water Acquisition),
(2) Mixing the water with chemical additives to make hydraulic fracturing fluids (Chemical Mixing),
(3) Injecting hydraulic fracturing fluids into the production well to create and grow fractures in the targeted production zone (Well Injection), 
(4) Collecting the wastewater that returns through the well after injection (Produced Water Handling), 
(5) Managing the wastewater through disposal or reuse methods (Wastewater Disposal and Reuse).

According to the Executive Summary in EPA's latest report, the agency's review of peer reviewed scientific data led it to identify those areas in which impacts from hydraulic fracturing activities CAN be more frequent or severe, including:

  • Water withdrawals for hydraulic fracturing in times or areas of low water availability, particularly in areas with limited or declining groundwater resources;
  • Spills during the management of hydraulic fracturing fluids and chemicals or produced water that result in large volumes or high concentrations of chemicals reaching groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids into wells with inadequate mechanical integrity, allowing gases or liquids to move to groundwater resources;
  • Injection of hydraulic fracturing fluids directly into groundwater resources;
  • Discharge of inadequately treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater to surface water resources; and
  • Disposal or storage of hydraulic fracturing wastewater in unlined pits, resulting in contamination of groundwater resources.

For more information:  

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Lawyers for climate scientists, what a shame

We just read the following post about how important it is for climate scientists to be aware of what they do from a legal standpoint.

How did we as a society come to this?

Here's a link to the article from our friends at RealClimate:

Defending Climate Science

Photo: RealClimate website - Fair Use

Make America Great, er, uh, Gasp Again! More on Trump's dismantling of environmental protections

People concerned with the environment - the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat - continue to reel with the picks made by Donald Trump for federal positions that directly influence how this nation addresses environmental protections.

The picture below was taken in late 1977 - early 1978. It shows black carbon emissions resulting from something called a "green push" from a coke manufacturing facility located just across the Mississippi River near the U.S. Defense Mapping Agency in St. Louis, MO.

Photo - © Frank J.  Maccioli

The smoky release was a common and daily sight before environmental regulations were implemented to stop these emissions. Regulations that were opposed by industry as too costly and harmful to business. Sound familiar?

Based on Trump's choices to lead his team so far, we might be seeing a lot of these gains in pollution control reversed. We hope it doesn't get this bad. Lots of people in addition to California Environmental News are just as concerned as we are. 

Here's an Op-Ed from the New York Times that discusses it. It's a great read:

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Millions appalled as Trump nominates oil industry lackey, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, to head agency

Follow the money. For those who think our government is for sale, recent actions by our future President have done little to allay those fears.

The health and welfare of millions of Americans is about to take another hit with the news that President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Photo: Scott Pruitt, website. Fair use

Pruitt is the Attorney General for Oklahoma and for several years, with the backing of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil industry, has fought to prevent new EPA regulations from being implemented, particularly those that address man-made climate change.

Pruitt is a climate change denier and seemingly does whatever the fossil fuel industry asks him to do. Correspondence protesting environmental regulations sent on his letterhead to government agencies and officials, under his signature, has reportedly been actually written by energy industry lobbyists. These include letters to EPA, the Department of the Interior, and President Obama, among others.

Coupled with the previous announcement that the notorious global warming skeptic Myron Ebell will be leading Trump's effort to revamp federal agencies that deal with environmental issues, this latest nomination has raised a firestorm of protest among environmentalists.

Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters said that having Pruitt lead the EPA is " the fox guarding the henhouse."

Said Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen, "Every American should be appalled that ...Trump just picked someone who has made a career of being a vocal defender for polluters to head our Environmental Protection Agency."

Monday, December 5, 2016

Is Trump empire angling to make millions from climate change? Ivanka to meet with Al Gore today.

The eyebrows of many who follow the topic of climate change and global warming were raised today with the news that Ivanka Trump, the daughter of President-elect Donald Trump, will be meeting with former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore today.

Ms. Trump has previously indicated her interest in the subject, reportedly hoping to make it her signature issue. Although her father was not scheduled to attend the meeting, CNN has just reported that both he and his daughter met with Mr. Gore.

Photo: Ivanka Trump - Facebook profile picture, Fair Use

Many observers have noted the spider web of potential business conflicts of Donald Trump's many family businesses with his upcoming responsibilities as President. Some have said that the Trumps may try to use their new position of power to influence contract negotiations involving their private businesses.

Indeed, Ivanka previously sat in with the President-elect's meeting with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month. The meeting soon proved controversial when it became known that she was also in the process of trying to get a licensing deal with a Japanese retail firm, Sanei International. That firm's parent company is the Bank of Japan, which is owned by the Japanese government.

Given her father's previous descriptions of climate change as a hoax and a marketing tool, is Ivanka's interest in the subject one of environmental activism or one of a business person checking out all of the angles, using her new position as a close advisor to her President-elect father to "make a buck?"