Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Fracking - The Rest of the Story

http://bit.ly/yVj7Jt Gasland director Josh Fox arrested at U.S. Congress Hearing on Fracking Feb 1, 2012. Speakers Rep Harris (R-MD), Rep Miller (D-NC), Kathleen Sgamma (Industry), John Fenton (well poisoned, Pavillion Wyoming), Theo Colborne (on air pollution health impacts of fracking, for Great Lakes United NGO). Then interview with EPA whistle-blower Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, inspiration for the No Fear Act. Radio Ecoshock 120208 1 hour.

In this program, you'll hear the voices of Congress, and the voices Congress doesn't want you to hear.

First Josh Fox, the Oscar nominated director of the documentary "Gasland" is arrested at the Energy and Environment Subcommittee - on EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Research. Acting Chair Andy Harris had Fox arrested for trying to film this Hearing, despite pleas from minority head Brad Miller, for freedom of the press.

Then listen Congressman Harris denounce Obama and the EPA for lack of "transparency". Why doesn't he want to be on camera? Harris attacks the EPA, and promotes the glories of the oil and gas industry, especially fracking.

But first, we hear the voices Congress didn't. Fred Fenton, rancher from Pavillion Wyoming, speaks of the suffering and neglect of those living in gas industry polluted zones. His is just one of several suffering as groundwater was poisoned by fracking chemicals. Listen to 4 speakers in the press conference call organized by WORC, the Western Organization of Resource Councils. (25 min).

Here is the Q and A (16 min)

US Representative Andy Harris, Republican from Maryland denounced the EPA study - that showed hydraulic fracking for gas poisoned ground water in Pavillion, Wyoming. The wells are owned by the Calgary-based Canadian energy company Encana.

Here is a link to that draft study, and this to the press release that went with it.

Congressman Brad Miller, Democrat from North Carolina shows up as the only person to speak for fracking victims and the EPA.

Also in this program: Theo Colborne of TEDX, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, tells you about the choking, toxic air-born chemicals from fracking.

At this Energy and Environment Subcommittee - EPA Hydraulic Fracturing Research, held February 1st, 2012 in Washington, the EPA witness was Regional Administrator James B. Martin. His defense of the science and his agency was weak.

As we'll hear in our concluding interview with whistle-blower Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is already weakened from within by persistent racism, sexism, and cover-ups for corporate America.

This program is stuffed with audio. Find still more bonus audio and source material linked below.

THE HOUSE HEARING ON FRACKING

As Committee Sub-Chairman Andy Harris begins, and calls repeatedly for "transparency", keep in mind his action before the web cameras were turned on. Harris had Josh Fox, the famous Director of the Oscar-nominated fracking film "Gas Land" arrested.

In our program, you hear the opening remarks of Rep Harris, a powerful spokesman for the oil and gas industry, promoter of fracking, and acidic critic of the Environmental Protection Agency, or any need for the Federal Government to interfere with industry. Even when sick citizens call for action, when the State fails to protect them.

Then a rebuttal by Democratic Congressman Brad Miller. Miller, from North Carolina, seems to be the only one in the room who cares about fracking victims, and supports the EPA. Maybe that is because Miller is not seeking re-election in North Carolina - so he doesn't need the oil and gas industry kick-back money (I'm sorry, "campaign donations") that most Congressmen and Senators crave.

The witnesses were heavily stacked in favor of the fossil industry. Wyoming sent Tom Doll, from the Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The State makes big money from fracking. Tom Doll claimed the EPA caused the pollution they found just by drilling two test wells. Even the man-made chemicals must have come from this testing, Doll seems to suggest.

Next up, Ms. Kathleen Sgamma, was a PR person from the Western Energy Alliance. She told the Hearing "mistakes happen" - but the fracking industry is still fabulous. I found her hacking at science and the EPA hard to listen to.

Note Ms. Sgamma's claim the "Ground Water Protection Council" finds fracking is a low pollution risk. Of course they do. This so-called "Protection Council" admits right on their web site they were established to sell the public on the safety of deep well injection technology. That is how the fracking industry disposes of millions of gallons of toxic liquids.

That is where we end in this Radio Ecoshock broadcast. But the hearing went on for another hour, without really saying a lot - unless you enjoy unwinding industry double-speak.

The fill list of "witnesses" (such as they were) includes:

Mr. James B. Martin, Regional Administrator, Region 8, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Mr. Tom Doll, State Oil & Gas Supervisor, Wyoming Oil & Gas Conservation Commission
Ms. Kathleen Sgamma, Vice President, Government & Public Affairs, Western Energy Alliance
Dr. Bernard Goldstein, Professor and Dean Emeritus, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh

The official Chair is supposed to be Republican Ralph M Hall. At around age 89, Hall is the oldest serving member of Congress. He did ask a couple of questions, but nobody was too sure who he was addressing.

The real head of the Committee is Andy Harris. He runs the show - including running any media out of town, before the official cameras come on.

I'm offering you the bare recording from the Republican led House Committee titled "Fractured Science – Examining EPA’s Approach to Ground Water Research: The Pavillion Analysis." The recording is 1 hour 40 minutes, taken from a House web cam, recorded by Alex Smith of Radio Ecoshock.

This is the big file CD Quality version (90 megabytes).

Or try the faster downloading Lo-Fi version (23 MB).

You can also watch the hearing in video on this page - but notice THEY CENSORED OUT all mentions of the media being kicked out!! The "official version" caught in the act, when compared to my live recording.

BUSH SAID FRACKING DOESN'T NEED TO BE REGULATED

In 2004, a law was passed prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating fracking under the Safe Drinking Water Act. It was a Bush era give-away to the industry, which has left Americans blinded to the impacts of fracking on water supplies, and the very toxic chemicals used by the industry.

In a strange co-incidence, which company became the largest supplier of technology and toxic chemicals to the fracking industry? Remember Vice-President Dick Cheney, former CEO of... that's right, Haliburton! This
mega-corporation made more billions, in part because the fracking industry dodged the Safe Drinking Water Act, or really, any regulatory oversight at all.

THE LITTLE TOLD STORY: FRACKING CONTAMINATION OF THE AIR

What about the impacts of all the volatile chemicals going into the air? The EPA does not monitor that either.

There haven't been any real studies of air pollution health impacts of fracking for either workers or people who live near fracking. Many of them are sick.

Before you say "they shouldn't have let the companies in" - remember, especially in the West, most homeowners and ranchers don't hold the underground rights. In the case of Pavillion Wyoming, those rights were held either by the Federal Bureau of Land Management, or by native tribes. Fracking can pop up anywhere, and put 24 hour-a-day wells, generators, trucks, and pumps within 400 feet of your bedroom window. It's all perfectly legal, even if it kills you.

Gas fracking is booming all over the world, in the UK, in Canada, in New Zealand, Australia and more.

This is Radio Ecoshock. I'm Alex Smith, and here is, as the famous broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say, "the rest of the story" - on air pollution from fracking.

THEO COLBORNE

Our speaker in the program is Theo Colborne, founder of TEDX, The Endocrine Disruption Exchange at endocrinedisruption.org. Theo was speaking in a press teleconference for the non-profit citizens' group Great Lakes United, on January 10th, 2012.

You can download a recording of the whole teleconference from the "Energy" section at our web site, ecoshock.org. Or find it linked below.

I recommend it. You will hear so many people sick, and worried sick, about fracking.

The Great Lakes United conference call (1 hour 24 minutes) in CD Quality (big file! 77 MB)

Or try the smaller Lo-Fi version (19 MB)

The recording of Theo Colborne in this week's Radio Ecoshock show is specifically about the health impacts of AIR POLLUTION from fracking, not the usual water pollution concerns. For a video of Theo talking about the water impacts, see this Democracy Now video.

WHISTLE-BLOWING THE EPA - DR. MARSHA COLEMAN-ADEBAYO

At the start of this program we delved into the House Hearing on an EPA study. I was distressed to see the weak presentation by the EPA Regional Administrator. Maybe the EPA Regional Administrator was told to lie low, since the Republicans and their Tea Party friends are threatening to kill off the whole EPA if they can.

It turns out the EPA itself, even as it is hobbled by industry and the White House, is also weakened by a long regime of disturbing behavior.

It's an honor to talk with Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, who has been through it all.

Marsha is the author of "No Fear: A Whistleblower's Triumph Over Corruption and Retaliation at the EPA."


Essentially, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo went to work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the naive hope to protect the environment - and people.

With her expertise in African affairs, and a degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), she was quickly promoted to a key role. Marsha was appointed as a White House liaison in talks between the Vice President, Al Gore, and then Vice President of South Africa, Tabo Mbeki (who later became President after Nelson Mandela.)

As an African American woman working at the EPA, Coleman-Adebayo encountered disgusting racism and sexism. Then she found conditions in the slums of South Africa to be intolerable. But what probably pushed her over the edge was a realization that her role was to represent the interests of U.S. multi-national corporations, not the environment.

That came to a head as Coleman-Adebayo was approached for help for miners digging and processing the metal called "Vanadium". This is a strategic metal, because it makes other metals less brittle, when then are heated. For example, whether a car engine or a jet engine, metals become brittle with reheating, unless they also contain vanadium. America needs it.

There is big money in mining vanadium in South Africa, especially when you don't have to provide any safety equipment to protect workers from the toxic vanadium dust. Or pay for any decent housing. Or cover their health care costs when they become sick, disabled, or dead.

Coleman-Adebayo raise this issue, showing how little it would cost to at least provide breathing masks for works. She was told to shut up about it. A big U.S. corporation owned the mines. She couldn't shut up.

Finally, Marsha sued the U.S. Government, for racial and sex discrimination, and bullying in the workplace. Almost everybody loses against the government. Coleman-Adebayo won.

Her court win was so unusual, she managed to gather support from both Republicans and Democrats to pass an act to protect whistleblowers. It is called the No Fear Act. Marsha calls it the first civil rights legislation of the 21st century. Listen to her moving story, and her description of the requirements of this new Act.

It's still never really over. After winning her court case, Coleman-Adebayo went back to work for the EPA. They fired her. She says it's because she sued. Marsha is back in court, this time for wrongful dismissal.

Download this 19 minute Radio Ecoshock interview with Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo in CD Quality (17 MB)

Or this Lo-Fi version (4 MB)

Visit her web site here.

Subscribe to our free weekly podcast, by clicking the podcast symbol at ecoshock.org

Next week we'll talk about the emergency in the Arctic, with some of the world's best climate scientists.

I'm Alex Smith, thank you for listening.

2 comments:

Michael Wren said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jon Oglesby said...

Now that this generation is already aware of how gadgets turned to garbage can damage the environment, it is high time that sustainable plans on waste management ensue. If not, it would not be long before hospitals get full because of lung problems.