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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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THE YOSEMITE 2013 RIM FIRE REVISITED: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT ?

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  Author,
Chuck Frank
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Only last week I passed through Yosemite National Park only to find, miles upon miles of blacked burned trees still standing, that were left over from the 2013 Rim Fire.  The Rim Fire, like the “let it burn” Yellowstone Fire (1988) was a complete disaster, and I believe John Muir and President Teddy Roosevelt who together created Yosemite as America’s first National Park would be asking some tough questions of why preventative measures were never put into place to protect the most beautiful park in the world for future generations.  The Rim fire, the third-largest blaze in recorded state history scorched more than 250,000 acres in and around Yosemite National Park.

“The fire also had a devastating environmental effect that biologists said probably transformed the forest for decades to come.”
The LA Tmes.

I was taken back while passing through the park and witnessed first hand the clean up “progress.”  I was appalled by the lack of restoration, while at the same time I saw no conservation measures or tree planting even taking place, nor did I see “sustainable development” as an avenue to bring back the park to its natural form.

For the record,  “sustainable development is a measure that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs…” Ref. International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)  In this instance, the catastrophic Rim Fire event and aftermath does not even come close to meeting the criteria of sustainable development because, by their own admission, (IISD) wants to preserve the environment for future generations but this is not being done with regard to the forest service’s own flawed blueprint which adversely affects not only rural public lands but forested private properties as well. More

John Horning, Exec Dir. of WildEarth Guardians, on the war on wildlife and the environment (Wild Horse & Burro Radio, Wed., 6/13/18)

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painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us for Wild Horse Wednesdays®, Wednesday, June 13, 2018

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Kirsten Stade, Advocacy Director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 3/21/18)

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painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us for Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, March 21, 2018

5:00 p.m. PST … 6:00 p.m. MST … 7:00 p.m. CST … 8:00 p.m. EST

Listen Live (HERE!)

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Uranium Mining Claims Near Grand Canyon Could Surge if Supreme Court Reverses Ban

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Source:  Environmental Working Group (EWG)

Contact:
(202) 667-6982
alex@ewg.org
For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, March 13, 2018
  • Colorado River Drinking Water Source for 40 Million
  • 2018: 831 Active Uranium Mining Claims Near Grand Canyon
  • 2011: Before Ban, 3,500 Claims

WASHINGTON – If the Supreme Court lifts the moratorium on uranium mining near the Grand Canyon, the expected surge in active claims would endanger not only a cherished national landmark, but also the drinking water for 40 million Americans, according to the Environmental Working Group and Earthworks.

Between the current leanings of the Supreme Court and the Trump administration being in power, the mining industry clearly sees an opportunity to open up uranium extraction along the canyon rim for the first time in a decade. There are currently fewer than 900 active uranium claims near the canyon, compared to almost 3,500 before the ban.

In November the Trump administration announced plans to reconsider the ban on uranium mining as part of its agenda to prop up dirty and dangerous domestic energy sources.

Last week two mining industry lobbying groups petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn the 20-year moratorium for uranium mining on more than 1 million acres of land along the canyon rim, put in place in 2012 by then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. The mining groups are seeking reversal of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ December ruling to leave the ban in place.

“If the Supreme Court decides in favor of the uranium industry, it could permanently scar a sacred landscape that is the jewel in the crown of America’s natural heritage, and threaten the drinking water of 40 million Americans from Los Angeles to Las Vegas,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “President Trump has shown total disregard for preserving natural resources and protecting public health, and if the court overturns the ban, the Grand Canyon could soon fall victim to his radical agenda.” More

Jonathan Thompson, author of new book about the 2015 Gold King Mine disaster and Contributing Editor to High Country News, on Wild Horse & Burro Radio (Wed., 3/14/18)

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painy

Wild_Horse_Burro_Radio_LogoJoin us for Wild Horse Wednesdays®, this Wednesday, March 14, 2018

9:00 a.m. PST … 10:00 a.m. MST … 11:00 a.m. CST … noon EST

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OSHA Drops Fatality Data, Science Suppression Tracker and More

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SEJ WatchDog is a very interesting website, and I encourage you to read their articles. – Debbie

Source:  Society of Environmental Journalists

By Joseph A. Davis, WatchDog TipSheet Editor

1. OSHA Deep-Sixes On-the-Job Fatality Data

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration used to publish on its website a list of U.S. workers who died on the job. No more. Within days of a new Trump pick taking top office in August, much of it was gone.

OSHA fatality statistics matter to environmental reporters because the deaths sometimes result from exposure to toxic substances or other environmental hazards. For example, the toxic solvent methylene chloride is subject to EPA’s risk assessment program. It has also killed workers who use it.

During the Obama administration, OSHA published the fullest possible list of worker fatalities and related data. In August 2017, shortly after the Trump administration installed Loren Sweatt on a political appointment to a top leadership slot, OSHA started cutting back the worker fatality information it automatically published. That cutback had been requested by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Under the Trump data regime, workplace fatalities are listed only if the incident resulted in a citation (which causes a listing delay of about six months) and the workers’ names are not included. Moreover, OSHA only lists fatalities in states where OSHA oversees workplace safety (about half of the states do this for themselves). OSHA publishes the more limited listing of worker fatality information in a less prominent place on its website.

OSHA under Trump has also cut way back on issuing press releases noting OSHA enforcement actions.

Read the entire article HERE.

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