Piedmont Natural Gas, ALEC and Political Influence

Join us this Saturday, October 11th, at 12:00 noon as we gather to Keep North Carolina Frack Free. RSVP today and make your signs!

Global Frackdown 4Piedmont Natural Gas Corporate Office 4720 Piedmont Row Drive, Charlotte, NC 28210

RSVP at: https://actionnetwork.org/events/charlotte-global-frackdown

Piedmont Natural Gas Website Promotes ALEC

PNG and ALEC

Fracking Rules in North Carolina Tied to Koch, Halliburton, and ALEC

Jesse Coleman, Greenpeace

05/19/2014

A new bill proposed in North Carolina would make it a felony offense for first responders, doctors, or public safety officials to disclose the ingredients of fracking fluid. Fracking fluid is the mix of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, a process used by the oil and gas industry to break apart underground shale rock formations, releasing the fossil fuels held inside. Chemicals in frack fluid have been found to be toxic and carcinogenic. First responders found guilty of disclosing the contents of fracking fluid face jail time and heavy fines under the proposed legislation.

The three republican state senators that proposed the bill have close ties to the oil and gas industry and industry lobbyists McguireWoods. McGuireWoods, a lobbying firm that represents Halliburton, Koch Industries, and other oil and gas interests, donated to all three senators.

Bob Rucho: Top contributors to Rucho’s campaign include Piedmont Natural Gas, and McguireWoods.

Andrew Brock: Brock received money from Duke Energy, a North Carolina based utility with interests in natural gas, and McGuireWoods.

Buck Newton: Newton also received money from Duke energy and McGuireWoods.

Fracking Industry Lobbyists a Powerful Force in North Carolina

The shale industry’s control over fracking chemical disclosure legislation in North Carolina has been under particular scrutiny in recent weeks, after a cache of emails revealed that Halliburton, Koch Industries, and other fracking industry interests had close ties to officials responsible for writing fracking rules.

A cache of emails obtained by Greenpeace revealed the cozy relationship between the hydraulic fracturing industry and North Carolina‘s Mining and Energy Commission, the official body responsible for chemical disclosure rules.

The Mining and Energy Commission (MEC) was set up after an errant vote by a state senator legalized fracking in North Carolina. Because the state had not seen oil and gas drilling in recent history, the Mining and Energy Commission was tasked with writing oil and gas regulations, specifically for fracking. The 15 members of the MEC propose regulations for fracking, which are then passed on to the North Carolina legislature to be turned into law.

Halliburton’s Hand

Halliburton has played a significant role in shaping potential fracking regulations in North Carolina. In March of 2013, the Commissioners approved a chemical disclosure bill in committee which would have required fracking companies to disclose to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the chemical ingredients of frack fluid, many of which are extremely toxic. However, Halliburton, a major fracking services company, raised some reservations which killed the bill, as AP reporter Michael Biesecker confirmed:

In an interview with AP, Mining and Energy Commission Chairman Jim Womack acknowledged that before deciding to delay the vote, he spoke with a senior Halliburton executive.

Jim Womack

Jim Womack

“They indicated to me in a phone conversation that there may be other options than what was written in that rule,” Womack said.

The bill was taken off the agenda by Womack, and sent back to be rewritten by the chemical disclosure committee.
Commissioner Womack himself is not worried about water contamination from fracking. He once said:

“You’re more likely to have a meteorite fall from the sky and hit you on the head than you are to contaminate groundwater with fracking fluid percolating up from under the ground.”

Halliburton has always cast a long shadow over the MEC. Commissioner Vikram Rao was at Halliburton for over 30 years, ultimately as the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.  He maintains a significant financial stake in Halliburton, and also has over $10,000 invested in BioLargo, a company involved in disposal of fracking wastewater.

Rao has also called the idea of disclosing the contents of frackfluid “a joke.”

Documents obtained by Greenpeace also reveal that the shale industry was close with one commissioner in particular.

George Howard, the pro-fracking conservationist

George Howard

George Howard

George Howard serves as vice chairman of the MEC, and as the chairman of the chemical disclosure committee, which is tasked with creating regulations for frack fluid and other fracking chemicals. He was appointed by North Carolina’s Senate President Pro-Tem Philip E. Berger to serve in one of two “conservation” slots on the MEC. Berger received $46,700 in campaign contributions from fracking interests between 2009 and 2011.

In his tenure as Mining and Energy Commissioner, George Howard has been a strong proponent of hydraulic fracturing. He has said that public fears around fracking are exaggerated and that responding to public pressure is “pandering.” He has also claimed “it is physically impossible for hydraulic fracturing – the full industry term for fracking – to contaminate underground aquifers.”

In addition to serving as commissioner for the MEC, Howard is the founder and CEO of Restoration Systems, an environmental remediation company. Through Restoration Systems, Howard has a significant financial stake in the fracking industry, including a multi-million dollar shale play project in Pennsylvania. Howard has also invested in the area of North Carolina most likely to be leased by fracking companies.

Howard is connected to other top regulators, especially John Skvarla, the Head of North Carolina’s Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), who was president of Restoration Systems before becoming an environmental regulator. DENR would be the agency responsible for enforcing fracking laws recommended by the MEC.

Halliburton/Koch Industries Lobbyist Pushed ALEC fracking bill

Documents obtained by Greenpeace include correspondence between George Howard and various representatives of the oil and gas industry during the creation of the first chemical disclosure bill. Howard had multiple meetings with the American Petroleum Institute (API) and spoke with high-ranking members of the American Natural Gas Association (ANGA). Howard specifically requested help from Energy In Depth (EID), an oil and gas front group run by the PR firm FTI Consulting and funded by the fracking industry. Howard asked Steve Everley, the spokesman for EID and an FTI Consulting operative, to help him prepare for a MEC meeting on chemical disclosure.

Bo Heath

Bowen Heath

Although George Howard met with and solicited information from multiple shale industry groups, one lobbyist was particularly influential.  Bowen Heath, who represents Halliburton, Koch Industries, and various other oil and gas interests for the lobbying firm McGuireWoods, had unparalleled access to the Commission. Emails reveal a chummy relationship between George Howard and Heath, who spent evenings together and went for beers in the afternoons.

Heath used that access to advocate for a fracking chemical disclosure system that allows generous exemptions for chemicals that companies deem “trade secrets.”

Heath provided a fracking chemical disclosure bill  to Howard that the shale industry and its political allies previously passed in Colorado. The Colorado bill was based on a model bill from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate-funded group dedicated to passing legislation approved by ALEC’s corporate funders, including fracking companies like Chesapeake Energy. Bo Heath has longstanding ties to ALEC, and has attended ALEC annual meetings.

A New York Times investigation found that the Colorado chemical disclosure bill was the handiwork of one ALEC funder in particular, ExxonMobil.

As part of the push for the ALEC fracking bill passed in Colorado, Bo Heath arranged for Colorado ex-governor Bill Ritter to fly down to North Carolina to meet with George Howard and the MEC. The AP confirmed that Ritter’s fees and expenses were not paid by the MEC, and Bo Heath’s lobbying group refused to comment on Ritter’s funding.

Hallmarks of the ALEC fracking bill include generous exemptions from disclosure for “trade secrets,” and reliance on the FracFocus website for disclosing chemicals to the public. FracFocus’s operational costs are paid for by the oil and gas industry lobbying groups American Petroleum Institute (API) and America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA). FracFocus was found to be “severely lacking” as a regulatory tool by a recent Harvard study.

Heath continued to advocate for the industry/ALEC approach to chemical disclosure, and even brought in a key member of FracFocus, Mike Paque. Paque is the executive director of the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC). The GWPC has long been an ally of the oil and gas industry, receiving funding from the American Petroleum Institute and other industry affiliates. Reports produced by GWPC are the backbone of the oil and gas industry’s claims about the safety of fracking. The GWPC also runs  the FracFocus website, and advocates for its use.

Taking up his drinking buddy’s suggestion, George Howard selected Paque as an expert witness for the MEC. Paque presented the industry-funded FracFocus website in an unrecorded meeting on December 18, 2012.

The New Bill Further Limits Disclosure

In the end, even though the bill that George Howard passed through committee was shot down by Jim Womack and Halliburton, it contained most of what Bo Heath and other industry lobbyists wanted. It used the API, ANGA funded website FracFocus for disclosure of chemicals, and exempted chemicals deemed trade secrets from being disclosed to the public on that website. However, Halliburton killed the bill because it required disclosure of all chemicals to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

The bill, which has passed through the MEC committee and is headed for ratification in the State House of North Carolina, included a requirement to use the FracFocus website, following the ALEC fracking model legislation passed in multiple states. And like those states, trade secrets are not disclosed to the state, or the public. The bill proposed by State Senators Rucho, Newton, and Brock, would add harsh penalties to the disclosure bill approved by the MEC.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jesse-coleman/fracking-rules-in-north-c_b_5352907.html

 

Over 25,000 Sierra Club Members Take Action at the People’s Climate March

David Scott at PCM

Among the 400,000-plus people who participated in the People’s Climate March in New York City on September 21 were more than 25,000 Sierra Club members — the largest gathering of Club members in the organization’s history. The Board of Directors set the stage months ago for the Club’s deep involvement with the march, and over 100 buses from 35 states were organized and funded by the Club.

“We made an emphatic statement to global leaders and the world,” says Club president David Scott (pictured above). “And we were involved from the get-go.

Thanks to all the Charlotte area and N.C. Sierra Club members and supporters that made the commitment to speak out on the Climate Crisis!

Symphony of Science – Our Biggest Challenge

Check out this great short video!

We can do this!

We can change the world, this one global ecosystem!

Symphony of Science – Our Biggest Challenge is a musical investigation into the causes and effects of global climate change and our opportunities to use science to offset it. Featuring Bill Nye (the Science Guy), David Attenborough, Richard Alley and Isaac Asimov. It’s packed with information about climate change and inspiring calls to action. “Our Biggest Challenge” is the 16th episode of the Symphony of Science series by melodysheep.

So what can I do about this?

1. Send in comments to the EPA to end the era of unlimited carbon pollution. We’ve known for decades that carbon wrecks our health and our climate, and power plants are one of our nation’s top sources. Their pollution fuels climate disruption — it makes wildfires burn hotter and droughts last longer. Unlimited carbon pollution means more smog, more asthma attacks, and more climate disruption. And there’s literally no limit to how much carbon polluters are allowed to dump into our air. Join the 3.2 million voices that have already asked the EPA to protect our communities from carbon pollution.

2. Share the link to this post with your friends and neighbors. Post the link to your Facebook page. Get five people to join you in this action.

3. Attend a local event about the Climate Crisis and become active in the Movement.

Thanks!

 

Make Polluters Pay for Their Toxic Waste!

Take Action: Polluters Must Pay for Superfund Sites Take Action: Polluters Must Pay for Superfund SitesCongress enacted the Superfund toxic waste cleanup program in 1980, following the discovery of toxic waste seeping into homes and harming health in Love Canal, New York. Even though the Superfund program has been responsible for the cleanup of hundreds of toxic waste sites, more than a thousand sites continue to threaten health and water.

When the polluter pays fees stopped in 1995, the Trust Fund quickly dried up — leaving taxpayers to pay the full cost of cleaning up abandoned Superfund sites.

Take Action
Contact your senators today and tell them to support the Superfund Polluter Pays Restoration Act of 2014 (S 2679) to make polluters pay for their toxic waste!


Take Action: No More Coal Ash Disasters Take Action: No More Coal Ash Disasters

Coal ash, a byproduct of burning coal for electricity, is one of the largest waste streams in the country, with nearly 140 million tons produced each year. This toxic waste, which contains dangerous chemicals like arsenic, mercury, chromium, selenium, lead, and boron, is stored in more than 400 landfills and over 1,000 wet impoundments across the country. Yet currently no federal safeguards exist to protect communities and waterways from coal ash pollution.

Take Action
Tell your state legislators to support the EPA on finalizing strong coal ash safeguards by the end of this year.

The Dan River coal ash spill. Photo by Catawba Riverkeeper Sam Perkins.


Sign Up: Our Wild America Sign Up: Our Wild America

Sign up for our monthly Our Wild America newsletter to get the inside scoop about the Sierra Club’s work to explore, enjoy, and protect America’s wild legacy.

Stay up-to-date on the challenges facing our public lands and wildlife (especially in the face of climate disruption), follow what the Sierra Club is doing to connect people with nature, and learn what actions you can take to help protect our great outdoors.

Sign up today.


Grassroots Activism: Keep the People's Climate March Momentum Going! Grassroots Activism: Keep the People’s Climate March Momentum Going!

It’s been a week since more than 400,000 people marched in NYC for climate action (and in many other cities across the U.S. and world), but you can still take action!

Take Action
Tell the Environmental Protection Agency you support the Clean Power Plan.

“We Don’t Want Your Pipeline” By Robin and Linda Williams

Opposition to the Duke Energy/Dominion/Piedmont Natural Gas Pipeline is growing…

“We Don’t Want Your Pipeline” By Robin and Linda Williams
Protest Song about proposed Dominion Gas Pipeline coming through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Robin and Linda Williams (copyright 2014)
Video from Richard Adams
http://www.augustacountyalliance.org

From Robin and Linda’s newsletter of Oct 5:

We’re involved in some local opposition to a proposed natural gas pipeline that wants to come through our county and run on down to North Carolina. There are some local issues involved: property rights, Eminent Domain, fragile karst geology and water contamination, and the fact that they want to come through the George Washington National Forest. But, after studying the arguments pro and con, and realizing that each side likes to use scare tactics and smoke screens, we’ve come to believe that the central issue is Climate Change and that it’s a real and immediate problem. Everyone has their own opinion on this issue and ours is that Dominion Power is wrong in wanting to spend five and a half billion dollars on carbon based energy when that money, with the future in mind, could be used more wisely on renewable alternatives. So we’re acting locally in opposing this pipeline. And we’ll try and not “screed” you on any more of our missives.

Robin and Linda, thanks for speaking out and singing out on this issue!

Duke Dominion Pipeline Map

October 3, 2014 3:00 pm

Augusta County musicians Robin and Linda Williams have penned a new protest song aimed at the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The Williams are among the local property owners vocally opposed to the proposal to build a 550-mile natural gas line to North Carolina by way of Virginia.

This week, five Nelson County residents filed suit contesting Dominion Resource’s authority to conduct land surveys on their property for the project.

Dominion  lead company behind the pipeline proposal said it’s been following the law and will continue to do so.

The Williams’ video, “We Don’t Want Your Pipeline,” was promoted online by local grassroots groups springing up to fight the pipeline, including the Friends of Nelson and Free Nelson.

At one point, the clip references 2008’s fiery rupture of a Williams gas company pipeline in Appomattox County. That explosion injured five people and destroyed two homes.

“The sinkholes, explosions and gas line leaks, you hear it on the news almost every week,” Robin Williams sings while strumming a guitar. “Dominion says, don’t worry. But it ain’t wise to be flirting with disaster with their pipeline.”

Dominion, on its project website, said gas pipelines nationwide have a strong safety record.

“Pipelines are the safest way to transport energy,” it wrote in a FAQ link. “Dominion is dedicated to building, monitoring and maintaining the ACP safely.”

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline proposal is still under development and will require regulatory approval. Dominion hopes to start prefiling an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission later this year.

http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/press-pass/video-musicians-voice-pipeline-opposition-through-song/article_58209d8e-46c0-11e4-90eb-0017a43b2370.html

 

 

So Much Happening! 4QT Mecklenburg Environmental/Social Justice Events

Here are some of our Sierra Club and community events that are related to environmental and social justice issues. I hope to see you at many of these!

Be the Change

People’s Climate March

See, listen and learn about the March and what you can do to grow the movement!

Memories and Images of the Peoples Climate March

VOICES OF THE PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH Volume 1

The New Climate Movement Has Begun – Be a Part of the Change!

“The alarm bells keep ringing, our citizens keep marching. We must answer the call”

 Oct 6 – MSNBC “All In: Coal Country” with NC Coal Ash and Duke Energy

Monday, October 6th at 8:00 PM, Chris Hayes on MSNBC will be doing an hour-long investigative special on the coal industry

Oct 6 – MSNBC “All In: Coal Country” with NC Coal Ash and Duke Energy

 Oct 7 – 2nd of 3 NC Senate Debates with Kay Hagan vs. Thom Tillis, ‘Round 2′

Host a house party to watch and discuss. Or, Drinking Liberally Charlotte is hosting a viewing party at Kennedy’s Premium Bar & Grill – 366 N. Caswell (http://www.kennedyscharlotte.com). Folks will be upstairs starting at 6:30pm and stick around afterwards as long as you’d like to discuss how the candidates performed. The Debate starts at 7pm and lasts just 1 hour. This one is hosted by George Stephanopoulos!

 Oct 9 – Charlotte Bike Talk!

Charlotte Bike Talk! – Oct 9

 Oct 10 – Voter Registration Deadline

More information at http://charlottesierraclub.org/political-2/elections-2014/

Oct 10 – Carolina Thread “Fall Into the Thread”

One Week To Fall Into The Thread on October 10th!

 Oct 14 Webinar: Advocating with Compassion & NC General Assembly 101

Oct 14 Webinar: Advocating with Compassion & NC General Assembly 101

 Oct 16 – Charlotte Moral Movies – Disruption

Oct 16 More Moral Movies – Watch and Discuss “Disruption”

 Oct 18 – Rocky Face Mountain Outing

Oct 18 Outing: Exploring Rocky Face Mountain Recreation Area

Oct 20 – Citizens’ United and Corporate Personhood

Oct 20 Program: Citizens’ United and Corporate Personhood

Oct 22 – Sierra Club monthly meeting

Oct 22 Sierra Club Monthly Meeting – Members Trip Highlights

Oct 22 – “Coal Ash In Our Water: An Unfinished Business” Town Hall Meeting

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Charlotte-Environmental-Action-CEA/169329816552913

Oct 23 – Early Voting Begins

More information at http://charlottesierraclub.org/political-2/elections-2014/

Oct 26 – Appalachian Trail Conservancy and Sierra Club: Relive the Legacy of the Appalachian Trail

Oct 26 – Relive the Legacy of the Appalachian Trail

Oct 27 – Charlotte City Council vote on the future of area water quality (PCCO)

For more information on this issue see:

Public Hearing Comments on the Proposed Weakened Stormwater Ordinance

Come Tell Charlotte City Council to Protect Our Streams, Lakes, and Rivers

81% of Total Mecklenburg Watershed Considered Unfit – Support Strong Stormwater Regulations!

Charlotte Stormwater Pollution – Harming Our Lakes, Streams and Rivers

Sept 22: Charlotte Public Hearing – The Future of Area Water Quality

Will Developers Take Control of Our Water Quality?

Will Charlotte Continue to Weaken Storm Water Controls?

Nov 1 – Early Voting Ends

More information at http://charlottesierraclub.org/political-2/elections-2014/

Nov 1 – Catawba Wildflower Glen Service Outing

More information at: http://www.meetup.com/Charlotte-Sierra-Club/events/210703312/

Nov 4 – General Election Day

More information at http://charlottesierraclub.org/political-2/elections-2014/

Nov 21 – NC Climate Justice Summit

More information at NC Climate Justice Summit, Nov 21-23

NC Climate Justice Summit, Nov 21-23

NC Cliamte Justice Summit

NC Climate Justice Summit

November 21 – 23, 2014
Beginning at 4:00 PM on Friday
Haw River State Park
On Hwy 64 where Haw River crosses over highway
Pittsboro, NC

Want to take the People’s Climate March passion to the next level? Sign up today to be a part of the change!

Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/north-carolina-climate-justice-summit-nccjs-registration-11711907631

What is the NC Climate Justice Summit?

The NC Climate Justice Summit (NCCJS) is the first statewide gathering of youth and adult community leaders focused on connecting the dots between social justice issues and climate change.

But NCCJS is not a conference.  It is an opportunity to bring our heads, hands and hearts to the biggest challenge of our times. It is a gathering that harnesses the strength of our diversity. We are all thought leaders with a crucial contribution to make toward answering these questions: How do we manifest climate justice in North Carolina?  How can we make all of our communities more resilient?

We will explore how climate change impacts our food, water, energy, housing, transportation, health and economy in NC. Together, we will name the problems and identify emerging solutions.  Together, we will build new community connections and skills that will support us to do the work of building the world we want to live in.

It is time to Re-imagine. Resist. Reform. Re-Create.  It is time for the NC Climate Justice Summit!

Register here: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/north-carolina-climate-justice-summit-nccjs-registration-11711907631

The Summit’s at the Summit:

The NCCJS will take place at the Haw River State Park in Browns Summit, NC. The Haw River State Park is a beautiful environmental education conference center about 20 minutes north of Greensboro. The Park will provide all of our meals, lodging and meeting facilities during the NCCJS.  Lodging includes hotel-style accommodations for adults and cabins for youth; there is no camping.

NCCJS Agenda Highlights:

· Racial Equity Basecamp (8am-5pm, 11/21): addressing the legacy of racism within the environmental movement

· Re-imagining: generate our collective vision of climate justice in NC

· Intergenerational breakout groups: identify core problems, emerging solutions and possible actions

· Campaign Fair: organizations share their work and recruit new volunteers

· Outer Resilience Workshops: develop concrete skills in the 7 Summit issue areas (such as an energy workshop on low budget weatherizing or a food workshop on drought resistant gardening)

· Inner Resilience Workshops: hone cultural skills that support us to collaborate over the long haul (such as mindfulness practices, working in diverse groups and creative self-care)

· Open Space Session: participants lead their own workshops or discussions

· Cultural extravaganza: poetry slam, film showings and dance party!

· Regional breakout groups: learn about how to create Resilience Hubs to build on the learning from the Summit when we return home

Event Organizers

The NCCJS Leadership Team is a grassroots group of 13 teenage youth leaders and 8 adults from across NC.

For more information see:

http://acespace.org/ncclimatejusticesummit
https://www.facebook.com/people/NC-Climate-Justice-Summit/100007742744796