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Warning: A ‘Shrinking Window’ of Usable Groundwater

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Source: therevelator.org

New analysis reveals that we have much less water in our aquifers than we previously thought — and the oil and gas industry could put that at even greater risk.

by Tara Lohan

We’re living beyond our means when it comes to groundwater. That’s probably not news to everyone, but new research suggests that, deep underground in a number of key aquifers in some parts of the United States, we may have much less water than previously thought.

“We found that the average depth of water resources across the country was about half of what people had previously estimated,” says Jennifer McIntosh, a distinguished scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona.

McIntosh and her colleagues — who published a new study about these aquifers in November in Environmental Research Letters — took a different approach to assessing groundwater than other research, which has used satellites to measure changes in groundwater storage. For example, a 2015 study looked at 37 major aquifers across the world and found some were being depleted faster than they were being replenished, including in California’s agriculturally intensive Central Valley.

McIntosh says those previous studies revealed a lot about how we’re depleting water resources from the top down through extraction, such as pumping for agriculture and water supplies, especially in places like California.

But McIntosh and three other researchers wanted to look at groundwater from a different perspective: They examined how we’re using water resources from the bottom up. More

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Pick Your Poison: The Fracking Industry’s Wastewater Injection Well Problem

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Source:  desmogblog.com

“The closer a company injects fracking wastewater (and all the salts and pollutants that may come with it) to aquifers supplying freshwater for drinking and agriculture, the more likely those aquifers will be contaminated. In the recent University of Texas paper, researchers call out this increased likelihood in the country’s highest producing shale play, the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico.”

by Justin Mikulka

The first known oil well in Oklahoma happened by accident. It was 1859 and Lewis Ross was actually drilling for saltwater(brine), not oil. Brine was highly valued at the time for the salt that could be used to preserve meat. As Ross drilled deeper for brine, he hit oil. And people have been drilling for oil in Oklahoma ever since.

Lewis Ross might find today’s drilling landscape in the Sooner State somewhat ironic. The oil and gas industry, which has surging production due to horizontal drilling and fracking, is pumping out huge volumes of oil but even more brine. So much brine, in fact, that the fracking industry needs a way to dispose of the brine, or “produced water,” that comes out of oil and gas wells because it isn’t suitable for curing meats. In addition to salts, these wastewaters can contain naturally occurring radioactive elements and heavy metals.

But the industry’s preferred approaches for disposing of fracking wastewater — pumping it underground in either deep or shallow injection wells for long-term storage — both come with serious risks for nearby communities.

In Oklahoma, drillers primarily use deep injection wells for storing their wastewater from fracked shale wells, and while the state was producing the same amount of oil in 1985 as in 2015, something else has changed. The rise of the fracking industry in the central U.S. has coincided with a rise in earthquake activity.

From 1975 to 2008, Oklahoma averaged from one to three earthquakes of magnitude 3 or greater a year. But by 2014, the state averaged 1.6 of these earthquakes a dayIt now has a website that tracks them in real time.

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

The Renewed Legal Challenge Against the Dakota Access Pipeline

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Source:  Earthjustice

 represents the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their lawsuit against the Army Corps. He is a staff attorney at Earthjustice.

A new chapter opens in the legal fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe renews their lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers challenging its recently completed review of the pipeline’s impacts.

Attorney Jan Hasselman explains the significance of this legal development.

What happened on Nov. 1?

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe filed a “supplemental complaint” in its existing lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps over permits for the Dakota Access pipeline.

The supplemental complaint renews the lawsuit in response to new developments since the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe won part of its lawsuit against the Corps last year.

What decision is being challenged?

On Aug. 31, 2018, the Corps released a two-page document affirming the permits for DAPL, despite a court finding that they were critically flawed. The Corps released its long-awaited report on Oct. 1 explaining that decision. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Council, the Tribe’s governing body, voted unanimously on Oct. 18 to challenge the remand decision.

Today’s supplemental complaint challenges the Corps’ decision to affirm its original permits in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are flawed. Read the Corps’ report, redacted for public release:

READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

The Precautionary Principle, the Politics of Selfishness and the Influence of Right-Wing Think Tanks

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Duty to Warn

By Gary G. Kohls, MD – 10-23-2018

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FASCISM DOESN’T COME CHEAP

“Working mostly with data from Facebook and other social media sites, they are able to determine what people want to hear and how they want to hear it. Cambridge Analytica based much of its model on research done by Cambridge University’s Psychometric Centre which earlier published an online personality quiz that went viral. In the UK there are ethical guidelines about how such data can be used and according to Professor Johathan Rush, the Centre’s director, as quoted in the Guardian article:

“The danger of not having regulation around the sort of data you can get from Facebook and elsewhere is clear. With this, a computer can actually do psychology, it can predict and potentially control human behaviour.  It’s what the scientologists try to do but much more powerful. It’s how you brainwash someone. It’s incredibly dangerous.”

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The Precautionary Principle: “Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage to environmental or human health, exploitation by any corporate or personal entity that could damage the environment or the health of humans must be delayed until there is absolute scientific certainty that damage can be totally averted.” 

The point, ladies and gentleman, is that greed is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms — greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge — has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed — you mark my words — will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.”Gordon Gekko (played by Michael Douglas) from the movie Wall Street

“The economic system in the USA is not capitalism. Rather, it is corporate fascism, individualism and money worship, not capitalism.”Anonymous

”Environment Canada reported that the metallic contaminants that had been dumped in the tailings pond included these hazardous metals: Lead, Arsenic, Nickel, Zinc, Cadmium, Vanadium, Antimony, Manganese and Mercury.” (Note that Mount Polley was a copper mine whose massive tailings lagoon earthen dam [130 feet tall] dissolved in 2014, suddenly releasing 24,000,000 million cubic meters of toxic sludge into the tiny Hazeltine Creek, the nearby Lake Polley and then into the pristine Quesnel Lake, which flowed into the 600 mile long Fraser River, a migratory Sockeye salmon-bearing river that empties into the Georgia Strait and the Pacific Ocean at the city of Vancouver, B.C. The dam wall breech resulted in the worst environmental disaster in the history of British Colombia)

“ALL tailings “ponds” are problems. If they don’t breach and spill massive amounts of toxic sludge into the environment like at Mount Polley, they leach that contamination slowly, poisoning the waters and lands around them.” — From: http://canadians.org/blog/update-mount-polley-mine-disaster-imperial-metals-and-government-focus-covering-instead;

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Last night in Duluth, Minnesota (10-22-2018) a small, Minnesota-based, right-wing, Libertarian think tank, the Center of the American Experiment (CAE), came to town to do a one-sided, propagandistic, fact-free promotion supporting the foreign penny stock mining company, PolyMet and its plans to dig an experimental, inherently dangerous, highly toxic, open pit copper/nickel sulfide mine in water-rich northern Minnesota near the headwaters of the St Louis River.

What was likely not discussed at the pro-corporate presentation (to which nobody opposing copper-nickel mining was invited) was the fact that PolyMet’s massive open pit mine has to have an even more massive, highly toxic waste/tailings lagoon nearby that would eventually store, behind 250 foot high (!) earthen dam (!) walls, billions of gallons (!) of eternally-poisonous, highly acidic (sulfuric acid with a pH of stomach acid) mine sludge for generations or centuries (absent, of course a locally heavy rain deluge that could easily cause a sudden, unexpected breech in the earthen dam walls, resulting in what could potentially be the worst environmental catastrophe in the history of Minnesota).

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Fracking Wastewater Spikes 1,440% in Half Decade, Adding to Dry Regions’ Water Woes

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Source:  desmogblog

Shale drilling and fracking often occurs in areas already suffering from water stress. Credit: Duke University.

By Sharon Kelly 

Between 2011 and 2016, fracked oil and gas wells in the U.S. pumped out record-breaking amounts of wastewater, which is laced with toxic and radioactive materials, a new Duke University study concludes. The amount of wastewater from fracking rose 1,440 percent during that period.

Over the same time, the total amount of water used for fracking rose roughly half as much, 770 percent, according to the paper published today in the journal Science Advances.

Previous studies suggested hydraulic fracturing does not use significantly more water than other energy sources, but those findings were based only on aggregated data from the early years of fracking,” Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment, said in a statement. “After more than a decade of fracking operation, we now have more years of data to draw upon from multiple verifiable sources.”

The researchers predict that spike in water use will continue to climb.

And over the next dozen years, they say the amount of water used could grow up to 50 times higher when fracking for shale gas and 20 times higher when fracking for oil — should prices rise. The paper, titled “The Intensification of the Water Footprint of Hydraulic Fracturing,” was based on a study conducted with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Even if prices and drilling rates remain at current levels, our models still predict a large increase by 2030 in both water use and wastewater production,” said Andrew J. Kondash, a PhD student in Vengosh’s lab who was lead author of the paper.

More Water than Oil

The shale industry has been heavily focused on amping up the amount of fossil fuels it can pump per well by drilling longer horizontal well bores and using more sand, water, and chemicals when fracking (which raises the costs per well and, as DeSmog recently reported, raises risks of water pollution).

But the water use and wastewater production per well have been growing even faster than the per-well fossil fuel production, the researchers found, labeling the water demand and wastewater growth “much higher” than the oil or gas increases.

The researchers studied data from over 12,000 oil and gas wells representing each of the major shale-producing regions in the U.S.

Their findings are particularly troubling news for arid areas like the Permian Basin in Texas and New Mexico, where underground water supplies are already taxed by residential and agricultural demand, and where fights over water use are brewing.

On average, a Permian Basin well used 10.3 million gallons of water in 2016, according to a San Antonio Express-News investigation earlier this year — more than double the average per-well demand just a few years ago.

A Waterfall of Waste

The wastewater problem has attracted the eye of industry analysts, particularly in the Permian.

One of the biggest risks facing operators today is the issue of produced water,” wrote Ryan Duman, a Wood Mackenzie senior energy analyst, describing how in parts of Texas and New Mexico, wells can produce up to 10 gallons of wastewater for every gallon of crude oil. “The sheer volume of water is unprecedented.”  READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Inconvenient Truths About This Year’s Duluth Air Show: Squandering the Planet’s Increasingly Scarce Fossil Fuels for our Amusement

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Duty to Warn

By Gary G. Kohls, MD – July 7, 2018

 

“Knowledge is power; but who hath duly Considered the power of Ignorance? Knowledge slowly builds up what Ignorance in an hour pulls down. Knowledge, through patient and frugal centuries, enlarges discovery and makes record of it; Ignorance, wanting its day’s dinner, lights a fire with the record, and gives a flavor to its one roast with the burned souls of many generations.” — George Eliot, from the author’s last novel, Daniel Deronda

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The Big Oil cartels have, for decades, been poisoning the air, the aquifers, the rivers, the lakes the air, the soil and the Gulf of Mexico, the Persian Gulf and every ocean and ocean floor on the planet with uncounted millions of gallons of toxic crude oil via their risky – and very leaky – deep water oil wells. It wasn’t just the crime against the planet that British Petroleum and Dick Cheney’s Halliburton perpetrated in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. There are many other entities that have contributed to the mortal wounding of the Gulf, and one of the big ones is the US military.

A prime example of the damage done to the Gulf by corporate entities includes the Mississippi River delta’s massive dead zone that has been enlarging rapidly for decades, thanks to the many corporate polluters that have been dumping industrial waste, herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, prescription drugs and other toxins into surface water streams and rivers (and aquifers also) to flow downstream from such professedly “environmentally friendly” states like Minnesota and its multitude of Big Oil, Big Chemical and Big Agribusiness-co-opted (or duped) farmers. Big Businesses like those meet the definition of sociopaths and therefore must be recognized as conscienceless.

There are hundreds of enlarging dead zones at the mouths of all of the world’s major rivers, but much of the pollution that caused the huge dead zone at the Mississippi River’s mouth started in the Upper Midwest’s farmlands. Especially guilty were the corporate-controlled mega-farms that routinely over-used synthetic herbicides, fertilizers and pesticides on the crops and soil. (See www.geoengineeringwatch.org for more details.)

As I was growing up, I often fished in the upper Minnesota River. Just during my adolescent years, I witnessed the beginnings of the pollution of that river because of farm chemical runoff. I saw the river go from swimmable and fishable to muddy, smelly, toxic and relatively fishless. More

As Industry Pushes Billion-Dollar Fracked Petrochemical Projects, State Regulators Struggle To Keep Up

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Source:  desmogblog

“Pollution from petrochemicals is already a major issue, Food and Water Watch noted in a report last year on the coming build-out. “In 1999, when Houston’s ozone levels were the highest in the nation, the state of Texas conducted several studies that found large industrial leaks,” that report found. “The worst originated from cracker plants producing ethylene and propylene.”

By Sharon Kelly

Fueled by fracking in the region, petrochemical and plastics projects in the Ohio River Valley are attracting tens of billions of dollars in investment, but as plans for this build-out hit the drawing boards, signs already are emerging that state regulators are unprepared for this next wave of industrialization. And the implications of their inexperience could mean major threats to the region’s health and environment.

One of the projects currently underway, an underground natural gas liquids (NLG) storage site — designed to support the construction of several huge petrochemical complexes — is undergoing review by state regulators who have little experience with NGL storage facilities of its size.

“We had to juggle a lot of regulatory input in a relatively undefined setting since there are few regulations in Ohio, and that really goes for Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well,” Jonathan Farrell, a project manager with Civil and Environmental Consultants, told attendees at a petrochemical industry conference on June 18.

That lack of well-established state regulations harkens back to the early days of the shale gas rush, when state regulators struggled to keep up with the emergence of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling technologies. The rush to drill while safeguards were still being designed and implemented led to inadequately treated toxic waste being dumped into drinking water supplies for millions of people and problems with radioactive waste that continue to this day.

Dreams of a New Petrochemical Corridor

Shell’s ethane cracker petrochemical plant under construction on the banks of the Ohio River. Credit: Ashley Braun, DeSmog

Today, the petrochemical industry is dreaming big about prospects for manufacturing plastics, styrofoam, vinyl, chemicals, and fertilizers from cheap ethane and other natural gas liquids from the Marcellus Shale — marketed as currently the cheapest in the world.

The goal? To build a new petrochemical corridor in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and the surrounding region, one second only in size to the Gulf Coast’s — and one that could bring along with it the public health and environmental impacts that have given rise to that region’s reputation as a “cancer alley.”

I think the magnitude of some of these projects that we’re talking about here are hard for a lot of us and a lot of our communities to wrap their head around,” Chad Riley, CEO of The Thrasher Group, an oil and gas field and pipeline services firm, said at the June 18-19 conference. “I really think that this region lacks a bit of an understanding about what the potential could be here.”

Fracking for Plastics

Shale drillers in the Marcellus and Utica have long talked up the potential profits to be made from drilling for “wet gas,” or wells that produce large volumes of natural gas liquids like ethane, propane, and butane. Those liquid fossil fuels offer additional sources of revenue, making the shale drilling industry better able to cope with depressed prices for natural gas, which is mostly methane, that the wells primarily produce.

For the shale industry, the need to create demand for those products is fueling the push to create new petrochemical and plastics plants that can buy up the liquids coming from fracked wells. The Appalachian region currently produces roughly a third of the domestic supply of NGLs, or roughly a million barrels a day.  Read the rest of this article HERE.

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