Fracking-NY

poison

Floored by Health Authorities Decision

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Around every corner there are threats to our health and safety.  The CDC found cancer risks from laminated flooring imported from China could reach 30 in 100,000, but didn’t think it important enough to suggest people remove the flooring.  REALLY!  How is 30 people out of 100,000 getting cancer from the flooring not considered assault with a deadly weapon?  The weapon being the flooring and the deadly being cancer.

I include the CDC/ATSDR statement to show just how inept our government health agencies have become.

On February 10, 2016, CDC/ATSDR released a report entitled Possible Health Implications from Exposure to Formaldehyde Emitted from Laminate Flooring Samples Tested by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. On February 12, CDC/ATSDR was notified that a private individual who reviewed the report suspected that a conversion error might have been made. CDC/ATSDR staff reviewed the report and discovered that an incorrect value for ceiling height was used in the indoor air model.  As a result, the health risks were calculated using airborne concentration estimates about 3 times lower than they should have been. Neither CDC/ATSDR nor the report’s peer or partner reviewers or reviewers noticed the error.

Change in conclusion for short-term health effects

After correcting the measurement error in the model, CDC/ATSDR revised the report’s conclusion about possible health effects from exposure to formaldehyde. In the report that used an incorrect value for ceiling height, we concluded that exposure to the low end of the modeled levels of formaldehyde in the CPSC-tested laminate flooring could cause increased irritation and breathing problems for children, older adults, and people with asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). In the updated report, which used the correct value for ceiling height, we concluded that irritation and breathing problems could occur in everyone exposed to formaldehyde in the laminate flooring, not just sensitive groups and people with pre-existing health conditions.

Change in conclusion for long-term health effects

We also increased the estimated lifetime cancer risk from breathing the highest levels of formaldehyde from the affected flooring all day, every day for 2 years. The lifetime cancer risk increased from the previous estimate of 2 to 9 extra cases for every 100,000 people to between 6 and 30 extra cases per 100,000 people. To put these numbers into perspective, the American Cancer Society estimates that up to 50,000 of every 100,000 people may develop cancer from all causes over their lifetimes.

Our recommendations remain the same.

Although the conclusions in the report have been revised, CDC/ATSDR recommendations to protect health have not; we continue to recommend that people with the affected laminate flooring:

  • Reduce exposure -  We provide information on how residents can reduce exposure to sources of formaldehyde in their homes
  • See a doctor for ongoing health symptoms – We recommend that residents who have followed the steps to reduce formaldehyde in their homes and still have ongoing health symptoms (breathing problems or irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat) only in their homes, should see a doctor to find out what is causing the symptoms.
  • Consider professional air testing if irritation continues.

What happened to the acceptable cancer risk of 1 in a million?

As you can see the agency tried to justify their inaction by saying that the American Cancer Society estimates that up to 50,000 of every 100,000 people may develop cancer in their lifetime.  That number  may be higher than that if people are also exposed to this flooring.  This outrageous cancer estimate proves that we need to remove these cancer threats as they are found and not just suggest that people see a doctor for ongoing symptoms

So lets see now, if you have contaminated tomatoes, onions or other food related disease the health agencies are all over it.  They tell consumers to not buy or wash thoroughly the vegetable or food product of concern.  However, when you have a consumer product that can affect everyone exposed to it there is no immediate health alert or no product recall what so ever.  WHAT!

Why do tomatoes get more attention, investigation and result in consumer warning to be careful than toxic chemicals in the environment that is literally killing children?  Young children are sick and dying across the country and our politicians don’t seem to care.

Will we ever stop the poisoning of our children, our water, our soil, our plant?  I fear not because we are not a problem veggie.  We all deserve to be protected, just like the government protects a tomato.

Man-made earthquakes

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A group of state and federal agency employees came together with some of the biggest oil and gas developers to try to figure out how to stop injection wells from causing induced seismicity.  The group, now call the StatesFirst released a primer on September 28, 2015.

Citizens believe the idea that human beings can control earthquakes is absurd and an example of hubris. No one can guarantee that earthquakes can be kept small or non-damaging.  It is not known where all of the faults are that may become lubricated by disposal or injection well fluids, thereby possibly inducing a quake.  The quake problem is often associated with unknown faults, many of which cannot be adequately mapped since the cost to do so would be prohibitive.  Continuing on the path the oil and gas industry is on along with some of their allies is gambling with the public health, safety, and welfare. That is unacceptable to citizens.   There will be continued public outcry about the recklessness of allowing massive amounts of fracking waste to be injected under the places where we live – our homes and our communities.  This is too great a risk to public health, safety and welfare.  Human beings cannot control earthquakes with 100% certainty.  The risk of causing larger, damaging, even life-threatening earthquakes is too high a price to pay. As evidenced by numerous news reports, efforts to prevent man-made earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas apparently are not working. Earthquakes are continuing.

Agency officials are toying with earthquakes.  We find it disturbing that no impacted community groups are listed as participants in the production of this report, yet numerous oil and gas companies and only one environmental group were involved in developing this primer.

Attempts to stop the earthquakes in Oklahoma and Texas, for example, are apparently not working to protect public health and safety.  In fact, Oklahoma, which has now surpassed California for earthquakes, just had two quakes on September 24, 2015 that police reported caused power outages.

If earthquakes are continuing in places where officials are trying to stop or “mitigate” them, why should the public have confidence that they can be protected from man-made earthquakes anywhere?

In the Youngstown, Ohio area, there are now three man-made earthquake sites related to injection wells or hydraulic fracturing operations instead of just the original site associated with the now-famous 4.0 magnitude New Year’s Eve quake on December 31, 2011.  The number of earthquake sites grew despite new state regulations, and a 7-mile moratorium, in an effort to control the quakes.  How many more earthquake sites might there be in Youngstown and the surrounding area if the state continues on the same misguided path it is currently following?

Just yesterday a 2.1 earthquake occurred in Harrison County, Ohio,  home to a large number of horizontally fracked wells. At this time we cannot say that the earthquake was caused by fracking but it was in close proximity to an area where in 2013 over 400 earthquakes occurred.

The truth is that the constant creation of millions of gallons of fracking waste fluid must stop. There is no good solution to where it will all go. How many man-made earthquakes with potential contamination of drinking water and other problems might be caused by misguided, inadequate attempts to handle massive amounts of waste fluids?  This is too risky for public health and safety.

Officials need to stop pretending that they can control earthquakes. They must protect the public health, safety, and welfare. They need to listen to the suffering and the voices of the many people who have earthquake damage in their homes that they themselves must try to pay for even though industry, who may have caused the quakes, should be held accountable legally, financially, and morally for any damage done.

Further concerns are:  What effect will quakes, even repeated smaller tremors, have on the integrity of the fracking or injection wells themselves?  How might this threaten drinking water supplies for families and communities?  How might this impact our aging infrastructure?

They do not emphasize a major risk factor in their equation, that being citizens and public health and safety.  We do not accept the thinking that it is an acceptable risk to cause earthquakes for the benefit of a few jobs tied to fracking.

CHEJ is working with community groups on fracking waste (including injection wells) who are planning a National Day of Action on Fracking Waste for  November 17th.  If you would like more information please contact us at info@chej.org

springfield oh 700 people aug 27 2015

700 People Told EPA “Dig it Up -Take It Out”

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YES! The people of Clark County, Ohio showed up last night in force….

  • Their Health District attendance counters stopped at 650, with more people coming in the door.
  • US EPA’s Joan Tanaka said in all her 20 years’ work on Superfund sites, she had never seen such a huge crowd.

EPA’s purpose in coming to Clark County was to tell residents what information they wanted us to know….

  • They listened politely to too many power point slides that were unreadable, too many reassurances that were not believable, and too much talking that glossed over or avoided the real questions.

Their united purpose last night was to tell EPA what they wanted them to know–and boy did they do just that.

In summary the people were clear that they:

  • Do not and will not accept their proposed plan.
  • Want all hazardous wastes permanently removed from the Tremont City Barrel Fill.
  • Will continue to work with Ohio EPA and our elected leaders to change their remedy.
  • Do not trust EPA, their reassurances, or their ability to protect our health and water source forever.

Our preference last night was made very clear….We want permanent removal of all  hazardous wastes at the Barrel Fill.

U.S. EPA: Dig it up! Truck it out! Protect our water!

fracking smokey

Groups Threaten To Sue EPA Over Dangerous Fracking Waste Disposal

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 26, 2015

Groups File Notice of Intent to Sue EPA Over Dangerous Drilling and Fracking Waste

Call on Agency to Issue Rules for Handling and Disposal of Oil and Gas Waste

WASHINGTON, D.C.  (August 26, 2015) – A coalition of environmental organizations filed a legal notice with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today demanding regulations to stop oil and gas companies from dumping drilling and fracking waste in ways that threaten public health and the environment.

The groups filing today’s notice letter are the Environmental Integrity Project, Natural Resources Defense Council, Earthworks, Responsible Drilling Alliance, San Juan Citizens Alliance, West Virginia Surface Owners Rights Organization, and the Center for Health, Environment and Justice. The groups are calling on EPA to comply with its long-overdue obligations to update waste disposal rules that should have been revised more than a quarter century ago.

“We’re asking that EPA finally do what it found to be necessary back in 1988:  update the regulations for oil and gas wastes,” said Adam Kron, attorney at the Environmental Integrity Project.  “The oil and gas industry has grown rapidly since then, and yet EPA has repeatedly shirked its duties for nearly three decades.  The public deserves better protection than this.”

For example, EPA should institute stricter controls for underground injection wells, which accept two billion gallons of oil and gas wastewater every day and have been linked to numerous earthquakes in Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas. EPA should ban the practice of spreading fracking wastewater onto roads or fields, which allows toxic pollutants to run off and contaminate streams. And EPA should require landfills and ponds that receive drilling and fracking waste to be built with adequate liners and structural integrity to prevent spills and leaks into groundwater and streams.

“Oil and gas waste is extremely dangerous—yet the EPA admitted decades ago that federal rules are inadequate protect the public,” said Matthew McFeeley, attorney at NRDC.  “The scary truth is that right now this waste—complete with carcinogens and radioactive material—is being dumped irresponsibly or disposed of like everyday household garbage. Toxic waste should not be sent to run-of-the-mill landfills, sprayed on our roads and fields, or stored in open air pits.”

The groups notified EPA that they will file a lawsuit in 60 days unless the agency complies with its duty under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to review and revise the federal regulations governing how oil and gas waste must be handled and disposed.  RCRA requires that EPA review the regulations at least every three years and, if necessary, revise them.  The agency determined that such revisions of the regulations were necessary to address specific concerns with oil and gas wastes more than 25 years ago, yet has failed to meet its legal responsibility to act.

Over the last decade, the oil and gas industry’s fracking-based boom has produced a vast amount of solid and liquid waste. Each well produces millions of gallons of wastewater and hundreds of tons of drill cuttings, which contain contaminants that pose serious risks to human health. These include known carcinogens such as benzene, toxic metals such as mercury, and radioactive materials. However, the current RCRA rules that govern oil and gas wastes are too weak because they are the same rules that apply to all “non-hazardous” wastes, including household trash.

As a result, oil and gas companies are handling, storing, and disposing of these wastes in a number of troublesome ways. These include: spraying fracking waste fluids onto roads and land near where people live and work; disposing of billions of gallons of oil and gas wastewater in underground injection wells; sending the drill cuttings and fracking sands to landfills not designed to handle toxic or radioactive materials; and storing and disposing of wastewater in pits and ponds, which often leak.  Across the U.S., there are numerous instances of wastes leaking out of ponds and pits into nearby streams and the groundwater beneath, and operators often “close” the pits by simply burying the wastes on site.

Aaron Mintzes, Policy Advocate for Earthworks, said: “While it’s sadly common for states to fail to enforce their own oil and gas oversight laws, it is especially shameful that we should have to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, the only federal agency solely dedicated to protecting the environment and human health, to force EPA to fulfill its legal obligations to protect us from fracking pollution.”

The following are some examples of problems caused by the improper disposal and handling of fracking and drilling waste:

  • Ohio: Underground injection wells in Ohio accepted 22 million barrels of oil and gas wastewater for disposal in 2014, nearly four times the amount in 2009.  This has resulted in scores of earthquakes in the well-dense Youngstown area, with one well alone linked to 77 earthquakes.  The Ohio Oil and Gas Commission recently noted that regulations “have not kept pace” with the problem, and that (to an extent) both the state and industry are “working with their eyes closed.”
  • Pennsylvania: In May 2012, a six-million-gallon industrial pond holding fracking wastewater in Tioga County leaked pollutants, including arsenic and strontium, through holes in its liner into groundwater and a nearby trout stream.
  • West Virginia: Oil and gas wastewater dumped or spilled in rivers in West Virginia and Pennsylvania contains high levels of potentially hazardous ammonium and iodide, according to a study by Duke University scientists.
  • North Dakota: In January 2015, three million gallons of drilling wastewater spilled from a leaky pipe outside Williston, polluting a tributary of the Missouri River.  In July 2011, a pipeline serving a well in Bottineau County leaked over two million gallons of fracking wastewater, damaging twenty-four acres of private land.
  • Colorado: A contractor for a pipeline services firm gave a detailed account of sand-blasting pulverized waste buildup (called “scale”) from pipeline seals directly into the air outdoors without a filter, even though such dust can be radioactive and cause damage to lungs.
  • Across the Marcellus region: Over the past several years, landfills in states around the Marcellus shale formation—even in New York, where fracking is prohibited—have experienced increasing shipments of drill cuttings that contain high levels of radiation.  Many of the landfills do not test for radiation and do not have adequate controls to prevent the often toxic and radioactive “leachate” from seeping into groundwater.

EPA’s current regulations do not take into account the dangerous contents of oil and gas wastes or their unique handling and disposal practices.  Since 1988, the agency has acknowledged the shortcoming of its basic rules for solid waste management and has indicated that it needs to create enhanced rules tailored to the oil and gas industry. However, the agency has yet to take any action to develop these updated regulations.

“Improper handling of drilling waste threatens the health and safety of 3.5 million Pennsylvania residents whose drinking water comes from private wells,” said Barbara Jarmoska, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Responsible Drilling Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Lycoming County, Pa.  “It is past time for the EPA to put public and environmental health and safety first. EPA should revise existing regulations and specifically address issues relevant to the modern oil and gas industry.”

If EPA does not act within 60 days of today’s notice letter, the groups intend to ask a federal court to set strict deadlines for EPA to complete this long-needed update and strengthening of its regulations for oil and gas wastes.

“These are not your mom and pop wells of the 1980s, and their waste can no longer be ignored and listed as being non-hazardous,” said Teresa Mills, director of the Ohio field office for the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice.  “For the agency to continue to classify millions of gallons/tons of hazardous material as non-toxic is mind-boggling.  The free ride for the oil and gas industry must come to an end, now.”

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Environmental Integrity Project: Tom Pelton, 202-888-2703 or tpelton@environmentalintegrity.org

Natural Resources Defense Council: Kate Kiely, 212-727-4592 or kkiely@nrdc.org

Earthworks: Alan Septoff, 202-887-1872 ×105 or aseptoff@earthworksaction.org

ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS:

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

The Environmental Integrity Project, based in Washington, D.C., is dedicated to advocating for more effective enforcement of environmental laws across the U.S.   The organization provides objective analyses of how the failure to implement laws increases pollution, and it holds governments and corporations accountable to protect public health. Learn more at www.environmentalintegrity.org and follow us on Twitter @EIPOnline.

Earthworks is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development while promoting sustainable solutions. Earthworks stands for clean air, water and land, healthy communities, and corporate accountability. Website: https://www.earthworksaction.org/

The Responsible Drilling Alliance is a registered 501(c)(3) education and advocacy coalition, based in Pennsylvania that seeks to educate members and the public about deep shale gas drilling and all of its ramifications. The alliance advocates for federal, state and local regulations needed to protect our economy, environment, health, safety and quality of life. Website: www.rdaPA.org

The West Virginia Surface Owners’ Rights Organization is a statewide membership organization representing over 900 members, almost all of who live or own land in the state’s oil and gas producing counties. One of the organizations primary purposes is to educate its members and the public regarding surface owners’ rights and the environmental and other impacts associated with oil and gas exploration and production. Website: www.wvsoro.org

The San Juan Citizens Alliance is a Colorado-based grassroots organization dedicated to social, economic and environmental justice.  The alliance organizes San Juan Basin residents to protect the basin’s water and air, public lands, rural character, and unique quality of life while embracing the diversity of the region’s people, economy, and ecology. Website: http://sanjuancitizens.org/

The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) mentors a movement, empowering people to prevent harm to human health caused by exposure to environmental threats. Through training, coalition building and one-on-one technical and organizing assistance, CHEJ works to level the playing field so that people can have a say in the environmental policies and decisions that affect their health and well-being. Website: http://archive.chej.org/

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birmingham AL

Families Expose to Toxic Chemicals Lives’ Matter

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I am so frustrated and cannot understand how to win equal protection of health for all people.  I’ve been doing this work for over thirty years and observed that unlike food contamination or infectious disease, where health agencies move at the speed of light to keep people safe, when the source is toxic chemicals from a corporation, people are sacrificed.  I’m looking for ideas from those who read this blog.  Just recently we saw the call to action to protect public health  around the cilantro scare.

This week I received requests for help from local leaders CHEJ is working with that related to health studies and public health impacts from chemicals in their environment.

One study around hydro fracking, researchers found that pregnant women living near clusters of fracked wells were more likely to have babies with lower birth weights.  The second study found higher rates of hospitalization for heart conditions, neurological illness, and other conditions among people who live near fracking sites.

Those studies were not enough to stop fracking in the communities. In fact, health authorities said they believe it may not be the fracking at all – it could just be a random clustering of medical problems.

The third study was around a low wealth African American community in Birmingham, Alabama. Adjacent to the community is Walter Coke Facility that manufactures coke, toluene sulfonyl acid, produces pig iron from iron ore and more.

The Federal Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR) conducted a study to determine the health risk to community families based upon exposures to arsenic, lead, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in residential surface soil and homegrown garden produce in the communities collected from November 2012 through January 2015.

ATSDR concluded that:

  • past and current exposure to arsenic found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health. Children are especially at risk.
  • past and current exposure to lead found in surface soil of some residential yards could harm people’s health. Swallowing this lead‐contaminated soil could cause harmful health effects, especially in children and in the developing fetus of pregnant women.
  • long‐term exposure (i.e., many years) to PAHs found in the surface soil of some residential yards is at a level of concern for lifetime cancer risk.

The agency’s recommendation was for parents to:

  • monitor their children’s behavior while playing outdoors and prevent their children from intentionally or inadvertently eating soil;
  • take measures to reduce exposures to residential soil and to protect themselves, their families, and visitors;
  • have their children tested for blood lead; and
  • for EPA to continue testing for arsenic and lead in the soil and continue with its plans to cleanup additional properties (patch quilt of clean up not community wide as though the wind won’t carry toxic dust from one yard to another) to reduce levels in residential surface soil.

There was no mention of what the polluter should do. No mention of relocating families from the area to safe housing somewhere else. There was no mention of health monitoring or a clinic for people, especially children who are exposed and sick.

What level of human tragedy, suffering and loss of life will it take to stop the poisoning of American people from toxic chemicals?  The ethics behind the two responses of food/infectious disease versus chemical threats to public health is unethical.  Families being exposed to toxic chemicals matter just as much as everyone else. It’s time our health agencies stopped treating them as sacrificial families to protect corporate profits.

message

We Are Together & Together We’ll Make Change

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As fracking bans and moratoriums or local ordinances become a reality across the country, it would be so powerful for those who are advocating change to one piece of the problem or solution, to include the other parts of the gas and oil industry’s problems, processes, etc. as well. Working together on alternatives, disposal, rights to know, exports and more will provide the holistic approach to the public. That can really make a bigger – deeper difference in how people respond to efforts that go beyond a backyard struggle towards a sustainable communities. It might even bring clarity to the public that is getting so many different messages and become confused.

At CHEJ we just celebrated the next step toward a ban in New York on fracking, but Obama is still pushing regulations. We’ve seen pipelines stopped, at least temporarily and ordinances passed. Most recently two counties in Ohio have passed local moratoriums on injection wells that will force the industry to find other ways to dispose of their wastes. Two other Ohio counties are in the mist of deciding to ban injection wells that activist say have a good chance of passing.

It appears from the “wide view” that our staff and Board can see as a national group, as we look across the country that there are serious efforts and real wins by ordinary people. What isn’t as obvious is a strong message that we are together and supporting other groups who have taken on different parts of the problems, are encouraged and inspired by the wins and share the vision of what could be. It’s not that people aren’t mentioning other segments of the struggle locally or at a higher level of government, but it’s not coming through as a unified struggle for a unified goal. No there will never be absolute agreement on goals but maybe we could get agreement on a unified message that works. At CHEJ we came up with Preventing Fracking Harms to address the different goals around wells, infrastructure and such. That won’t work in the bigger message but I think there are words that might.

As groups join together this fall at events like the one planned for October in Colorado it would be great to find an opportunity on or off the agenda to figure out how all the extraordinary work folks are doing can include a message – not a list serve – not a petition – but a message that gets tagged on everyone’s everything before they close their news release, blog, signs and more. Or maybe we have a massive e-mail conversation. Let me know what you think.

wolf_spencer

EPA Can Map Environmental Justice Communities – Can They Stop The Poisoning?

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Today we know how to identify Environmental Justice communities but what is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doing to relieve their community burdens? A new mapping tool created by the EPA, called EJSCREEN was recently released. This tool is great for academia or researchers but how does it help environmentally impacted communities? Why is generating information, that community already know because they are living with the pollution and associated diseases daily, more important than helping them?

CHEJ, for example, has worked for over thirty years with Save Our County in East Liverpool, Ohio This community in the 1990’s was defined by EPA as an Environmental Justice community, through their evaluation process which is the same as the mapping categories. Yet nothing has changed as a result of this definition.

  • The hazardous waste incinerator, WTI, still operates and remains for most of the time in violation of air and other standards.
  • Other industries continue to pollute with little enforcement.
  • An elementary school was closed due to the air emissions from the WTI Incinerator stack which is almost level to the school windows (incinerator is in the valley) stack peeked over the embankment. The City was force to shoulder the costs of relocating students and staff.
  • In the past several years new wells were drilled for natural gas extraction and infrastructure.
  • The community has the highest number of cancers in their county than other similar counties in the state.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing, has changed in East Liverpool, Ohio as a result of being defined an environmental justice community.

  • No decision to stop new polluting industries from setting up shop.
  • No action on denying permits, when they have been a significant repeat violator of the laws and regulation, when up for renewal permit.
  • No fee data and information when requested under the freedom of information requests.
  • No additional public comment meetings for new or existing permits. Absolute nothing changed in East Liverpool, OH and so many other communities.

    Thank you EPA for providing a tool for academics, for communities to say yes our community qualifies (although they already knew) and for real estate and banking institutions to provide information that will make it more difficult for families in Environmental Justice communities to secure a home improvement loan or sell their property.

    Now can you spend some time and money on reducing the pollution burdens and assisting with the medical professionals for disease related injuries.

  • earthquakes

    NIMBY Versus NIMIC

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    Not In My Backyard vs Not In My Insurance Company

    For many decades community leaders were called NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) when opposing a facility that would cause environmental and public health damages. They were told that they were reacting emotionally, stifling progress and or the waste/facility needs to go somewhere. Or local leaders hurting the economy, we need the jobs and so stop complaining about public health hazards or environmental destruction that community leaders are being just selfish.

    There were full out attacks on innocent people trying to find a way to protect themselves from environmental chemicals and to convince corporations to look beyond the dinosaur aged technology and moved to other safer ways to provide the same goods or services.

    Today the insurance agencies are working hard to stop, “to exclude” coverage from earthquakes in Pennsylvania caused by fracking. NIMIC stands for Not In My Insurance Company. The contrast in reactions from the public is striking with the exception of the State of Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) who is opposing such exclusions. Those with money and don’t live near such destructive practices say the insurance industry must protect themselves from huge liabilities. It make sense that they would want to create an exclusion in their policies.

    Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. has become the first major insurance company to say it won’t cover damage related to a gas drilling process that blasts chemical-laden water deep into the ground. Their memo reads: “After months of research and discussion, we have determined that the exposures presented by hydraulic fracturing are too great to ignore. Risks involved with hydraulic fracturing are now prohibited for General Liability, Commercial Auto, Motor Truck Cargo, Auto Physical Damage and Public Auto (insurance) coverage.”

    Yet when innocent people with no stake in the leasing or process say it is too great of a risk to frack in or around our community they are dismissed as NIMBYs. The insurance industry did their studies assessed the risks and said no. Community leaders including the community in TX who banned the process entirely from their borders. State legislation was introduced to allow local bans on fracking only to be overturned by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott who signed a law that prohibits bans of hydraulic fracturing altogether and makes it much harder for municipal and county governments to control where oil and gas wells can be drilled.

    This is a blatant contradiction that once again demonstrates the bias against the American People and for the corporate polluters and their associated family of corporations. There was no law passed that says insurance companies must provide coverage for associated damages from earthquakes, poisoned water, air and public health impacts. Maybe just maybe we should make a rule, decision or law that says if an insurance company does their risk assessment and finds that the risks are too great for them to participate or provide coverage then the facility, process . . . thing cannot move forward at any costs.

    Since the majority of our stae and federal health departments or departments of environmental regulations can’t ever find a risk they can’t explain away, then we should follow the risk assessments of the Lloyd’s of London. If Lloyd’s of London says it’s too risky then it is. A simple way to protect the American People.

    TWENTY-FIVE OHIO CITIZEN GROUPS PETITION U.S. EPA

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    This week  large coalition of Ohio environmental and community groups sent a detailed, fifteen page demand to U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice documenting that Ohio’s program for approving “injection” wells that dispose of highly contaminated wastewater from oil and natural gas “fracking wells” has an overwhelmingly disparate impact on low-income Ohioans in violation of a federal directive requiring that such impacts be identified and given specific safeguards.  74.9% of the 237 active injection wells in Ohio are concentrated in the state’s 32 officially recognized “Appalachian” counties due to their low-income status where just 17.4% of all Ohioans live.  Injection wells disposed of over 1 billion, 46 million gallons of highly toxic fracking wastes in 2014 deep underground where it is supposed to be isolated from drinking water – but the serious problems in the program detailed in the letter place the injection well program’s claims to safety into deep doubt.

    The groups charge that Ohio’s injection well regulator, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (“ODNR”), is a “captive regulator” controlled by Ohio’s politically potent oil and gas industry and has neither the effective public input nor reliable enforcement programs that states with disparate impacts on low-income communities are required to have under a 1994 Executive Order signed by Bill Clinton addressing “Environmental Justice.”  The groups document that the Ohio program has not been updated since it was established in 1983 and has not been changed to address either the rapid growth in waste volume since fracking became common or the requirements of the 1994 Environmental Justice Order despite the obvious disparate impact.

    The Environmental Justice Executive Order is enforced by U.S. EPA’s Washington DC-based Office of Environmental Justice where the demand letter was sent.  The injection well program is the only component of oil and gas production where federal oversight exists through the U.S. EPA.  The Executive Order requires that all federal agencies address “disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects” of federal programs “on minority and low-income populations in the United States” through insuring 1) full access to relevant information, 2) meaningful opportunities for public participation in the permitting process, and 3) effective enforcement.

    The groups also take U.S. EPA to task for its inadequate oversight role over ODNR.  The last oversight report in 2009 was virtually a cut and paste of the previous 2005 report with no mention of ODNR’s severe staff deficiencies or lack of enforcement.  The groups also believe U.S. EPA is just as apathetic toward the public as ODNR citing a 2013 episode where, after ODNR refused to hold public meetings, Ohio’s citizens groups held their own to take testimony; the results were sent to U.S. EPA – who never responded.

    The groups have asked U.S. EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice to conduct an investigation of both ODNR’s and U.S. EPA’s injection well programs to determine how they should be reformed to satisfy the 1994 Executive Order and to order that the necessary reforms be implemented to insure that the concerns and health of Appalachian Ohioans are taken into account in the injection well program.  “The industry has effectively blocked all reform in Ohio and in Washington DC,” CHEJ Ohio organizer, Teresa Mills concluded.  “This petition is about the only step left to instill some basic fairness into this miserably corrupt system.”

    Barack Obama

    Greenpeace Starts Countdown Clock Asking: Why is Obama Letting the EPA Slow-walk Chemical Plant Safety?

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    By Rick Hind, Greenpeace — When he was a Senator, President Obama championed legislation to prevent chemical disasters. On the Senate floor in 2006 he warned, “these plants are stationary weapons of mass destruction spread all across the country.”

    As a candidate for in 2008, Obama made it an issue in his campaign platform, Change We Can Believe In

    As President he sent representatives from the Department of Homeland Security and EPA to Capitol Hill to testify in favor of the same prevention policies that he had championed in the Senate. After the legislation was blocked by the chemical lobby in 2011 a coalition of over 100 organizations urged the President to use EPA’s long standing authority under the Clean Air Act to prevent future disasters by requiring safer alternatives.

    Two years ago on April 17th, following the deadly chemical fertilizer disaster in West, Texas President Obama spoke at the memorial service of the fifteen victims of that preventable calamity, most of whom were first responders, saying, “we’ll be there even after the cameras leave and after the attention turns elsewhere.” Obama video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARMMiH1UjSk

    On August 1, 2013 the President appeared to put those words into action when he issued an executive order directing federal agencies to modernize their safety rules. Last May the EPA committed to finalizing new safety requirements by 2016. But two years after the disaster in West, Texas we’re still waiting for the EPA to begin the rule-making process. In the meantime there have been more than 350 additional chemical accidents. And there are still 466 chemical plants that each pose a catastrophic hazard to 100,000 or more people – 88 of which put one million or more people at risk.

    Because the EPA rarely finalizes new rules in less than 18 months, our Coalition has urged them to start as soon as possible. If they don’t finish by June 2016 a new President or Congress could kill it by using the Congressional Review Act (CRA), as President Bush did to important workplace safety rules in 2001.

    Unfortunately, the EPA has chosen to wait until sometime in September to start this process.

    To track their progress Greenpeace created a Countdown Clock on our web site. If the President and the EPA are serious about prioritizing disaster prevention, they must move up their start time to June 1st of this year so they can finalize a new rule by June 2016. After that, any new rule will be more vulnerable to the CRA.

    The safety of millions of people depends on the administration finishing what they started. The EPA has been “considering” this issue on and off for 20 years. We finally have a President who knows how and what to do.

    If he’s serious and wants this to be an important part of his legacy, he needs to ensure that the EPA acts as soon as possible. He’s hearing from the chemical lobby so please let him hear from you today by clicking here.

    ——– ***Chronology of the EPA “Considering” Chemical Disaster Prevention***

    1995 “EPA does not favor inclusion of a specific requirement in the initial program for an analysis of the inherent safety of processes…EPA is considering further study of this issue with all stakeholders and requests comment on this issue.”

    2002 Following the 9/11 attacks, EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman proposed regulations in 2002 following the 9/11 attacks but they were scuttled by the Bush White House. She has since urged Obama to issue new safety rules.

    2009 Peter S. Silva, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

    2010 Cynthia Dougherty, EPA’s Director of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water of the Office of Water testified in favor of requirements to use inherently safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

    2011 Rand Beers, Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary testified in favor of requirements to use safer technologies (IST) also known as safer chemical processes.

    2012 EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council recommended that the “EPA use its authority under the 1990 Clean Air Act section 112 (r) to reduce or eliminate these catastrophic risks, where feasible, by issuing new rules and guidance…”

    2012 EPA says they will address a petition from 54 organizations urging that they use their Clean Air Act authority to require inherently safer technologies (IST).

    2013 President Obama issued Executive Order 13650 giving federal agencies such as the EPA, DHS and OSHA nine months to propose ways to modernize their chemical facility safety and security policies.

    2014 In a multi-agency report to the President the EPA pledged to complete new regulations by 2016 including possible requirements for inherently safer technologies (IST)

    2015 EPA plans to issue “proposed” regulations in September 2015 with the expectation of completing them in 2016.