Charlotte Joins the Global Frackdown

Thanks to the great folks that spoke about the dangers of fracking Saturday at the Piedmont Natural Gas headquarters! Check out some photos from the Charlotte Global Frackdown event.

At the end of the event we shared information about some important upcoming environmental and social justice events. Click below to download a copy of the handout.

Couldn’t make the event but still want to take action? Great! Please take action to keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground and Show Solidarity on Global Frackdown Day!

4QT Events4QT 2014 Mecklenburg Environmental Social Justice Events 2

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Join Us for the Charlotte Global Frackdown on Oct 11!

Global Frackdown Oct 11 2014

Charlotte Global Frackdown

October 11, 2014 at 12:00 PM
Piedmont Natural Gas Corporate Office
4720 Piedmont Row Drive
Charlotte, NC 28210

PNG Map

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

Make your signs and join us on Saturday!

Facking Slogans

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

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!

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

Oct 26 – Relive the Legacy of the Appalachian Trail

Join the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), the Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group,  and your fellow hikers during the ATC 2014 membership drive as we watch the film “The Appalachian Trail: An American Legacy”. Watch this never-before seen film, hear exciting guest speakers, win prizes, and much more! Best of all, you will be supporting the Trail you love; the Appalachian Trail.

Order your ticket today -Use the promo code “Sierra14″ to receive 5% off!

Blumenthal Performing Arts – McGlohon Theatre
Sunday October 26, 2014
from 6:00pm-8:00pm

345 North College Street
Charlotte, NC

AT Legacy Oct 2014

Order your ticket today -Use the promo code “Sierra14″ to receive 5% off!