Show Solidarity on Global Frackdown Day!

Sierra Club - Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

Tell President Obama to protect our communities and public lands from fracking.

Take action!

Take action!

Today, hundreds of communities around the world are hosting events in celebration of Global Frackdown Day. Thousands of messages will be sent to our world leaders demanding they take action to protect our climate and our communities from dirty fossil fuels like fracked oil and gas. Add your voice and be part of Global Frackdown Day, too!

There’s no question about it — fracking near our homes, schools, and on our public lands is detrimental to our health as well as our air and water quality. When a drilling rig is just hundreds of feet from your backyard, we have a problem. When drilling rigs light up the night sky on our public lands, we have a problem. When a community’s drinking water is polluted with fracking chemicals, we have a problem. The answer is simple, though — we must keep dirty fuels like fracked oil and gas in the ground.

Tell President Obama to protect our communities and public lands from dirty and dangerous fracking.

On Global Frackdown Day, you can join the thousands of people who are demanding that their interests — clean air and water and protected lands — be the priority for every elected official and governing agency. Together, we can send a strong message: we are more important than the fracking industry. Please take a moment to send your message to President Obama today.

Thanks for all that you do,

Lawson LeGate
Co-lead, Dirty Fuels Campaign
Sierra Club

P.S. Six letters are even better than one! Please share this email with five of your friends and family so we can send a strong message to President Obama.

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!

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!

 

Save North Carolina’s Hofmann Forest – The Largest University Forest in the World

Please join me in signing a petition to save Hofman Forest!

For more information or to help with this campaign, contact Ron Sutherland at ron@wildlandsnetwork.org.

To learn more about the Hofman Forest, check out the great interactive active map below and the two recent updates about the sale.

Hofman Forest Map

Here are two recent updates about the sale of this North Carolina treasure.

NCSU ponders making Hofmann Forest error

Problem is, word leaked a while back that NCSU’s powers-that-be want to trade the forest to the Walker Agriculture Group of Illinois for a truckload of cash. The news got the school’s forestry professors and student body up in arms, not to mention conservationists and ecologists.

The real fly in the punch bowl is a development plan that includes roads, houses, shopping centers, a golf course and thousands of logged, crushed, burned, ripped and plowed acres to be planted in corn. Once “the plan” became public, the Wuffies denied they’d designed it, and the Walker group denied they’d made it. Walker also now denies any sort of “development” will occur at Hofmann Forest, but the terms of the sale don’t preclude the company doing whatever it wishes.

Because the White Oak and New rivers flow through Hofmann, development on a landscape scale almost certainly will cause trouble downstream: erosion, polluted water, high bacteria counts, beach closures. The Castle Hayne Aquifer that provides fresh water to several communities could also be affected. The forest acts as a filtering agent to prevent bad stuff from getting into the aquifer, the rivers, fish and, ultimately, the Atlantic Ocean.

and

Opponents to forest sale await rulings on assessment

The university has contended that the land is not “public” and not subject to the environmental assessment requirement under the State Environmental Policy Act, but Sutherland and the others have noted that the land has not been subject to taxation and that the state attorney general, Roy Cooper, has said he was obligated to handle the case for the university.

The university also faces a pending investigation by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which is examining findings by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that indicate illegal wetlands ditching and draining has taken place in the forest.

While the university and Hofmann Forest LLC have contended the forest would be protected under the original sale, opponents have said there was nothing firm about that in the sale agreement, nor in the new one, and have pointed to leaked buyers’ prospectus circulated by Hofmann LLC to attract investors.

The prospectus mentioned the possibility of up to 2 million square feet of commercial development, possible construction of up to 10,500 residential units and the high-quality soils that would be conducive to farming if the trees were removed. The school and the LLC disavowed that prospectus.

“Also, consider this thought experiment,” Sutherland (Ron Sutherland, a conservation scientist for the Wildlands Network) said. “If another large tract of existing public forest, such as Croatan or Pisgah National Forest, were suddenly placed up for sale – of course we would fight such a plan tooth and nail – (and) if the relevant government leaders then announced a new plan where only one-fourth of the forest would be destroyed for sure, and the rest only ‘possibly,’ would anyone call that a victory for conservation? No, absolutely not. That would be a huge net loss of public forestland that citizens would find unacceptable. That is the alternative being proffered by NCSU now, with their revised Hofmann sale agreement, and we continue to reject their flawed premise that some loss of public forest is a necessary outcome of this situation.”

Please join me in signing a petition to save Hofman Forest!

Thanks, and spread the word to your friends on Facebook, etc!

 

 

Last week to register to vote!

Protect Enviro Democracy

This is the last week to register to vote or to update your registration (the deadline is Friday Oct. 10th!). We want to make sure you have everything you need for the election this fall. Here are some helpful links for you:

  • Check your registration status. Visit the NC State Board of Elections website to ensure that your registration is up to date and accurate, especially if you’ve moved or changed your name since last voting.
  • Need to register or update your registration? Be sure to complete this by Oct. 10th. Visit NC Election Connection for directions on how you can do this. You can no longer register to vote during Early Voting.

We hope you’re as excited to vote as we are this fall. Please mark your calendars for Election Day), or hit the polls sooner during Early Voting (starting October 23rd and ending November 1st).