Julie Dermansky, News Report: Weatherford, TX, homeowner Steve Lipsky has nothing to hide. He is not trying to take down Range Resources, a large oil and gas company with a reputation for bullying its critics, nor is he trying to defame the company as it has accused him of in a defamation lawsuit. After what looked at first like an open and shut case of industrial negligence turned into a lengthy legal battle, he must either fight or accept financial ruin.
of the British Columbia – Alaska transboundary watersheds and
proposed development that would impact those values
(Victoria) The University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre and Rivers Without Borders are today proud to unveil a collaborative website, Wild Border Watersheds. The new website aims to both raise awareness of the extraordinary conservation values of the transboundary watersheds shared by British Columbia and Alaska, and to highlight the growing development pressures on those watersheds. The website is also a framework to highlight the recently revised Canadian and British Columbian regulatory processes for mining and hydroelectric permitting and environmental assessment.
“The website is called Wild Border with good reason” says Will Patric, Executive Director of Rivers Without Borders. “The transboundary region of northwest British Columbia and southeast Alaska embodies some of the wildest country left on the planet. In a time of diminishing wild salmon, the international watersheds here rank among the top salmon producers on the West Coast. And in a time of accelerated climate change, the significance of these still largely intact ecosystems as reservoirs of biodiversity can hardly be overstated.”
“This website focuses on a region of North America that is under unprecedented resource development pressure,” says Chris Tollefson, Executive Director of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre. “The website will enhance the public’s ability to stay abreast of these developments, and participate effectively in the many regulatory approval and environmental assessment processes that lie ahead for this region.”
Numerous mining and energy projects are currently targeting transboundary watershed headwaters and tributaries. British Columbia’s Northwest Transmission Line, now under construction, is bringing industrial power north into the region to facilitate development.
At the same time, scientists are increasingly pointing out that transboundary rivers like the Taku, Stikine and Unuk, with diverse and interconnected mountains-to-sea habitat, are extremely important climate change sanctuaries for fish and wildlife. They are also profoundly important to First Nations and communities in the region that depend on the rivers. While their mineral and energy development potential may be substantial, so too is the intrinsic worth of keeping them intact, sustaining commercial and sport fishing, subsistence uses, clean water, recreation and tourism.
“With this new website we hope to create broader public awareness of these spectacular and threatened watersheds,” says Patric. “We want to encourage ecosystem-based planning for their future because what happens in one part of a watershed can impact the entire river system.”
The Environmental Law Centre (ELC) is a non-profit society that operates the ELC Clinic at the University of Victoria, Faculty of Law. Under the supervision of a senior environmental lawyer, ELC Clinic students provide pro bono legal representation and legal assistance to community/conservation groups and First Nations; produce citizen handbooks and other public legal education materials; and advocate on a wide range of environmental law reform issues.
Rivers Without Borders is the only conservation organization working in both the U.S. and Canada which is focused on the British Columbia – Alaska transboundary region. In a time of declining wild salmon populations, diminishing biodiversity, and climate change pressures, Rivers Without Borders promotes awareness of the extraordinary ecological and cultural values of the watersheds shared by British Columbia and Alaska and strives to protect those values.
Will Patric, Executive Director, Rivers Without Borders
We just won another huge victory for whales and other marine mammals and we wanted to share in case you missed the news!
In response to an Earthjustice lawsuit, a federal court just ruled that the government must better protect endangered whales and other marine mammals from U.S. Navy warfare training exercises along the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington by employing the best available science.
The sound level that whales and other marine mammals experience during the Navy's mid-frequency sonar training can disrupt migration, breeding, nursing, breathing, and feeding, and in some cases, cause internal hemorrhaging and ruptured eardrums.
Earthjustice sued in court to protect whales and other marine mammals from these dangerous training exercises--and we won!
According to Earthjustice attorney Steve Mashuda, who led the effort:
"This is a victory for dozens of protected species of marine mammals, including critically endangered southern resident orcas, blue whales, humpback whales, dolphins, and porpoises.The National Marine Fisheries Service must now employ the best science and require the Navy to take reasonable and effective actions to avoid and minimize harm from its training activities."
Earthjustice has been fighting for the protection of marine wildlife for years, butour work to safeguard our ocean ecosystems and the species that depend on them is far from over.
In case you missed this in the Frontiersman last week – Griffith talked about possible power sources for MEA:
“Griffith said adding Watana to the mix in Southcentral will be a challenge since the plan put forward thus far includes the hydroelectric generation facility that would generate an average of 2.5 million megawatt hours a year, but does not include money to tie it into the Railbelt Intertie system.”
A new study finds that adding Corexit 9500A to Macondo oil—as BP did in the course of trying to disperse its 2010 oilspill disaster—made the mixture 52 times more toxic than oil alone. The results are from toxicology tests in the lab and appear in the scientific journal Environmental Pollution.
Using oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout and Corexit the researchers tested the toxicity of oil, dispersant, and a mixture of oil and dispersant on five strains of rotifers—the lab rats of marine toxicology testing. Among the results:
The oil-dispersant mixture killed adult rotifers
As little as 2.6 percent of the mixture inhibited egg hatching by 50 percent
The inhibition of egg hatching in bottom sediments is particularly ominous because rotifer eggs hatch each spring to live as adults in the water column where they are important food sources for larval and juvenile fish, for shrimp, crabs and other marine life in estuarine and shoreline ecosystems—including fisheries humans depend on.
"Dispersants are preapproved to help clean up oil spills and are widely used during disasters," said lead author Roberto-Rico Martinez currently at the Universidad Autonoma de Aguascalientes, Mexico. "But we have a poor understanding of their toxicity. Our study indicates the increase in toxicity may have been greatly underestimated following the Macondo well explosion."
I wrote here about the dramatic decline in microscopic life on BP's dispersed oil beaches and here about how using dispersant allowed oil to penetrate much more deeply into beaches possibly extending the toxic lifespan of the mix. I wrote here about how BP's oilspill has hammered Gulf fish.
Alaska's Big Village Network
''creating communities of inclusion"
NOVAGOLD is a well-financed precious metals company engaged in the exploration and development of mineral properties in North America. Its flagship asset is the 50%-owned Donlin Gold project in Alaska, one of the safest jurisdictions in the world. With approximately 39 million ounces of gold in the Measured and Indicated resource categories (541 million tonnes at an average grade of approximately 2.2 grams per tonne), Donlin Gold is regarded to be one of the largest, and most prospective known gold deposits in the world.
Oil Spill Specialist Dr. Riki Ott: A Message of Warning and Hope
Printer-friendly versionA Watershed Sentinel Comox Valley report by Delores Broten On a hot Friday evening in August, a packed audience at the Native Sons Hall in Courtenay BC listened spell bound and sometimes close to tears to marine toxicologist Dr. Riki Ott. In an event sponsored by World Community, Ott was describing the long term impacts to fish, mammals, and humans from the Exxon Valdez, Deepwater Gulf, and Kalamazoo River oil spills.
Ott, who was a commercial fisher in Cordova Alaska as well as a trained scientist, was in a unique position when Prince William Sound was hit by the Exxon Valdez oil spill 23 years ago. She described how the response to the spill was nothing like what had been promised by the oil companies before the port was opened.
She talked about how any spill response actually collects, at the most, 15% of the spilled oil, whichcontinues to cycle through the ecosystem with every tide. “They said it was cleaned up,” she said, "but two years later the pink salmon run failed, and four years later the herring disappeared. The herring fishery is now closed indefinitely.” Herring eggs fail when exposed to oil at one part per trillion.
The most poignant - and pungent - witness to the impossibility of “clean up” were two small jars Ott circulated through the hall. They were filled with sand and beach stones from a beach that had been considered “cleaned up” for two decades. The jars stank of oil, and the woman next to me, who touched the stones, scrambled for a tissue to clean her fingers."We can respond to an oil spill," declared Dr. Ott, "We can never clean it up."
Worst of all, Ott said, was the impact on the community, which was in chaos, as debt and despair ate at family and social life. The small fishing community of Cordova had to pull together and revision its values. It has managed to resuscitate itself, with the help of local economic development such as niche marketing of a salmon run from the Copper River, which was not impacted by the spill.
The dispersant used in the Deepwater Horizon Gulf drill-rig spill did little to help the “clean up”, actually masking the presence of the oil and its toxic constituents. The dispersants caused a fine spray of micro-PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons, which are major health hazards, causing cancer, asthma, hormone, and reproductive problems) to enter people’s bodies not only through the air but invisibly from water through the skin. “Ultra-fine particles,” explained Ott, “mimic mammal hydrocarbons, and are drawn into the body, jamming immune system and DNA functions.”
Those hydrocarbons bonded to the biofilm on the sand, sinking to a depth of nine inches, whereas the beach clean up only went down 8 inches. Responders were not allowed to wear respirators, even though that is now standard practice in oil spill response, because it would look bad in the media. The PAHs have not gone away, and are still causing major disruptions, despite the government and industry spin. In the Gulf now up to half the shrimp in some catches have no eyes or eye sockets. The impact on other mammals like dolphins and whales continues, while the human population has received an inadequate $7.8 billion in medical benefits.
The Enbridge Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan is even more problematic, since the ruptured pipeline was carrying Alberta tar sands oil – dilbit—bitumen diluted with lighter petroleum products plus other undisclosed chemicals. When the pipe ruptured, the dilbit separated with lighter compounds evaporating, causing the lighter PAHs to spread far and wide, and the heavy tar sands gunk to sink to the bottom of the river, spreading for 40 kilometres. Human health impacts have not been recognised by government or industry but suspicious numbers of dead at a trailer court close to the spill seem almost certain to be caused by breathing the air. Community groups have now begun testing the air for themselves because of a lack of response from the oil company or government.
In all this, insisted Ott, over and over again, whether 23 years ago or two, the communities find themselves alone, with ruined environments, ruined industries, and lingering but unrecognised personal health impacts. Citizens, she said, are the victims of ‘lies and betrayal,” being sacrificed for the economy. Her response, especially to the issue of the proposed dilbit pipelines facing BC, is that crisis provides the opportunity to reorganize, decide what wealth means in your community, and develop democratically-driven local economies, such as those championed by the Transition Town movement. “Protect your local wealth with local laws,” and work for real democracy. “We can believe in it. We can work for it. It’s not a goal, it’s a journey.”
Riki Ott told the Watershed Sentinel that the recent upsurge in organizing activity through the Occupy movement is a massive opportunity for movement building, with three and four generations of people coming together for social change. When asked, she suggested that the role of the experienced grassroots of the environmental movement now is to help these “new recruits”: “Empower these folks,” sharing skills and historical knowledge.
Ott’s journeys of over 300 days a year on the road, are driven by the need to network small communities together, building a transcontinental movement which will move toward a real economics – one of community wealth and happiness, and diverse energy options. It is a journey we will all share, down one branch of the road or another. Riki Ott said, the question she asked herself after the Exxon Valdez spill was: “I know enough to make a difference. Do I care enough?”
Many of the almost 200 people at the meeting went home with the same question resonating for them.
Buccaneer Alaska Operations LLC, which has been producing natural gas from its 2011 Kenai Loop No. 1 discovery well since January, has applied for a 7,500-acre Kenai Loop unit. The proposed unit is on the northern Kenai Peninsula on a ridge between the Cannery Loop and Beaver Creek fields. The Ala....
Deadline for comments on seismic work south of Ninilchik is DECEMBER 21, 5pm!
Here is a sample letter.
Division of Oil and Gas December 12, 2012 Re: Hilcorp 2013 Deep Creek 3D Project MLUPCI 12-007
I am adamantly opposed to the geophysical exploration proposed by Hilcorp and its contractor CGGVeritas within the 50 square miles east and south of Ninilchik for the following reasons:
1. Oil and gas developmant in this geographic region, on the lower Kenai Peninsula, is not of " best interest" for this area. Surely the regionwide analysis of issues must demonstrate this. If not, the criteria used in your analysis is inappropriate and must change. Now is the time for us to move away from oil and gas dependence, not continue in it's pursuit! These areas must be removed from the oil and gas leasing program!
2. The proposed operations will significantly disturb the hydrology of the area. In areas where homeowners have water wells, blasting may damage wells and their water quality will also be diminished.
3. The effects of the road/trail construction with mulchers will damage vegetation in sensative wetlands, particularly root systems. It will increase stream sedimentation, bank erosion, barriers to fish passage, destruction of aquatic habitats, and alteration of drainage patterns within both the Deep Creek and Anchor River drainage systems affecting salmon spawning habitat. The mulchers will destroy wildlife and bird habitat, like bear dens and bird nests.
4. Seismic blasting will kill some wildlife and render others deaf or hard of hearing. It will disturb the wildife that call this area home including: moose, linx, wolves, hares, weasles, land otters, squirrels, fox, coyetes, bears, wolverine, shrews, voles, ptarmigan, grouse, the multitude of bird species and other species too numerous to list, like bees and bats, and worms and insects, each so critical to the other organisms in this region and the delicate balance we require to exist on this planet. Dynamite blasting, machinery noise, toxic smells and waste will displace them and make them more susceptible to predation and other sources of mortality.
The sound level in the front row of a Rolling Stones concert might be 120 decibels, which is 10,000 times louder than an alarm clock (80db). A seismic air gun array at 210db is a billion times louder than a Stones concert. At 250db it is 10 trillion times louder than the concert. Even with earplugs many rock fans and musicians suffer hearing loss. Unfortunately it is not possible to fit wildlife with earplugs and there is no way to warm them - “The mulchers are coming! They are going to be detonating!” Another analogy of 210 decibels (the level next to the explosion site) is 10,000 times louder than a jet aircraft flying by at 300 m altitude.
5. The recent spruce bark beetle infestation on the Kenai Peninsula is scientifically theorized to have been caused by or significantly influenced by seismic crews leaving vast areas of downed spruce trees. This type of waste and destruction is not helpful, invites unbalanced ecosystems, makes wildlife and flora vulnerable, and contributes to climate change.
6. Seismic lines will open previously unaccessable areas to all terrain vehicle traffic. This will in turn increase hunting in the area and slow down or prevent land rehabilitation and successful regeneration. Soil and root disturbance, creation of depressions and pooling of water due to excess vehicle weights, use of non-native plants(invasive) for reclamation, and regeneration by non-native plants accidentally introduced through such things as inadequately washed equipment must be addressed.
7. KBCS has serious concerns in regard to the latest information about ocean acidification, global warming, and climate change. The state must address these issues NOW. Our precious backcountry and Cook Inlet is under seige with the magnitude of current and purposed oil and gas development that we have not wittnessed in the past 40 years. We consider the State to be showing reckless, negligent, irresponsible decision making at this time - by not addressing these critical issues.
At the very least, require Hilcorp to restore this land to it's pre-existing condition and use the more modern wireless autonomous nodal system for seismic that uses no cables, seismic lines, cutting, or stream crossings. This method would cause less environmental damage. Thank you for your consideration.
From: Richard Charter<firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Oct 29, 2012 at 2:27 PM
Subject: [ocs] Buccaneer Contengency Plan Posted | City of Homer Alaska Official Website
To: Outer Continental Shelf List <email@example.com>
At the request of Homer City Council, Thursday October 26 Buccaneer Alaska delivered a copy of their Oil Discharge Prevention
Plan for Cook Inlet to City Hall. According to Vice President of Land and Business Development Mark R. Landt, Buccaneer has not yet submitted a final Blow out Prevention Plan but will give Council a copy when they do. You can link to the Contingency Plan and supporting documents below.
On Wed 05/09/12 12:14 AM , firstname.lastname@example.org sent:
Here's a photo of the Buccaneer rig on Saturday out of Homer taken by Amy Snider.
Center for Water Advocacy (CWA) would like to talk fairly urgently about this Buccaneer jack-up rig heading for the Upper Cook Inlet, and their Oil Spill Contingency Plans.
I've cc'd CWA board member Walt Parker, CWA Executive Director Harold Shephard, and CWA Human Rights Coordinator Nikos Pastos.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone
Governor Parnell proposes a 220-mile road from the Dalton Highway to
the Ambler Mining District through the southern Brooks Range so that
foreign companies may extract Alaska's resources. As of July 2012,
the road to Ambler has received $9.25 million from the state Capital
Budget since 2010 to study the route options. The road itself would
cost at least $430 million to build and $8.5 million a year to
maintain. Private corporations should gamble with their own money,
not the state's.
That's why I signed a petition to The Alaska State House, The Alaska
State Senate, and Governor Sean Parnell, which says:
"Governor Parnell, stop your aggressive push to build a 220 mile road
from the Dalton Highway to the Ambler Mining District over 161 of
Alaska's rivers and streams. It is fiscally irresponsible and
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday two permit violations for seismic surveying activity around Cook Inlet. Buccaneer Energy and Apache Alaska are the two companies found to have been in violation of provisions of the Clean Water Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.
Lets see -- drill in a field with known shallow gas pockets. Install an anchored surface casing with blowout preventer? No, too expensive. Install a throttling valve -- nah, too much trouble, just use a diverter (a horizontal "T" leading away from the rig) and let blowout fluids spray over the tundra uncontrolled.
Of course, one could require a blowout preventer and a lined containment basin to trap any liquids that escape -- nah, too much trouble. Require heavy-weight suppression mud as routine prevention in anticipation of undetected gas pockets -- nah, too much trouble and expense again.
Are DEC and DNR and the Alaska Oil and Gas Commission that politically controlled, or just morons?
I worked exploratory wells 30 years ago that required more preventive measures than this well -- this wasn't even close to state-of-the-art protection. Isn't it time that DEC, DNR and AOGC are reorganized so the regulatory role is not controlled and suppressed by the political, development-pushing side?
"A series of flawed decisions by companies working on BP’s failed Macondo well, poor oversight by federal regulators and a 'misplaced trust' in emergency equipment guarding the site led to the lethal Deepwater Horizon disaster, the National Academy of Engineering concluded today."
Royal Dutch Shell plans to drill offshore in the Chukchi Sea next summer. However, the energy corporation not only doesn't have a viable plan to deal with an oil spill, but the area where they intend to drill is highly ecologically sensitive. A spill would spell doom for the region's polar bears, walruses, and ribbon seals.
Lawsuite and advocacy have so far held Shell back from invading this pristine, sensitive corner of the world. However, the Interior Department is moving forward with the permitting process, and we need to keep fighting!
P.S. Is there something in Moab, Utah or United States that you want to change? Care2 provides free access to the most powerful petition tools on the web today so that every person gets the chance to speak out for their cause in the Care2 community and beyond. Get started: http://www.care2.com/create/start-petition
Buccaneer Spill Prevention Plan Available for Public Comment
In November, Buccaneer Alaska, Inc. submitted its Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plan (ODPCP) for exploration activities in upper Cook Inlet to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The ODCPCP is intended to comply with the provisions of the Alaska Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Control Regulations which require potential oil and gas operators in marine waters to submit a detailed plan illustrating how oil spills or blowouts will be prevented or controlled should they occur.
Although, Buccaneer states that it is prepared to use all available and relevant response tactics to control spills and to apply strategies, equipment, and response contractors to facilitate and expedite cleanup of any remaining spills, the ODCPCP barely mentions the appropriate use of relief wells which is the most effective means of preventing and controlling major oil blowouts. IAlso, regardless of the recent listing of the Cook Inlet beluga whale under the Endangered species act and that the Buccaneer oil platform will be placed within the critical habitat of the Beluga, the Plan fails to even mention how it will prevent oil spills from further jeopardizing the continued existence of the species.
What You Can Do:
Send Comments, by December 15, on the Buccaneer Contingency Plan to:
Tell DEC not to endorse the Buccaneer ODCPCP until it complies with the BAT standards which require that oil and gas blowout prevention contingency plans cover all aspects of responding to an oil spill including the drilling of relief wells concurrently with or immediately after the original well. Also, tell them that, before approval, it is essential that the ODCPCP address, in detail, how Buccaneer will prevent impacts to the endangered Cook Inlet Beluga whales should a major spill or blowout occur.
From: Center for Biological Diversity
Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 19:14:37 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Breaking News: Victory for Belugas
There's huge news today out of Alaska: A federal judge just rejected the state's attempts to deny Endangered Species Act protection for Cook Inlet beluga whales.
Today's ruling is a major victory in our decade-long battle to protect the endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale, one of Alaska's most imperiled species whose population plummeted from 1,300 in the 1970s to only just 300 to 400 today.
Thank you. Belugas wouldn't be getting the protections they need and deserve without your help and support over the last 12 years and the major push this year to stop Alaska's latest attacks.
This win is the latest chapter in a long-term fight for the survival of belugas -- and it's far from over.
The Center for Biological Diversity first petitioned to protect Cook Inlet beluga whales under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. The whale population faced a long list of powerful threats, including oil and gas development and pollution from Anchorage, the fastest-growing watershed in Alaska.
We finally won Endangered Species Act protections for Cook Inlet belugas in 2008, and in early 2011, our long-running efforts secured protection for nearly 2 million acres of their habitat.
But shortly after belugas were listed in 2008, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin announced politically motivated plans to sue over the listing, which sparked the lawsuit under Gov. Sean Parnell -- the lawsuit that we defeated today.
The Center and allies fought back Palin's suit in court and, today, the judge rejected the state's arguments, saying the Fisheries Service's decision to protect the belugas was based on the best available science.
I'm proud to say that the dedication and support of our members and staff brought about this critical win for the whales, and I want to share today's victory with you.
For now, thanks to your efforts, Cook Inlet beluga whales will continue to get the protections they desperately need and that the Center has fought so long and so hard to secure.
Please share this win with your friends and post on Facebook.
Here's to a future for beluga whales that's safe, secure and long-lasting.
Center for Biological Diversity
P.S. Even as we celebrate today's win, we can't let our guard down. Alaska's beluga population still faces a long list of threats, including offshore oil development in its habitat and a state government that remains hostile to its survival. The Center will keep you updated on our work to save these belugas and let you know about any new attacks.
BP oil documentary 'The Big Fix' helps get New Orleans Film Festival off to an explosive start
Published: Friday, October 14, 2011, 5:00 AM
By Mike Scott, The Times-Picayune
Those familiar with Josh Tickell or his 2009 alternative-energy documentary, "Fuel," shouldn't be surprised by what they hear in his latest film, "The Big Fix," which helps kick off the 22nd annual New Orleans Film Festival tonight (Oct. 14).
That doesn't mean they won't be angered by what they hear, though.
An explosive, attention-demanding, feature-length film focusing on the environmental fallout of the BP oil spill, "The Big Fix" -- executive-produced by liberal actor-activists Peter Fonda and Tim Robbins -- is another salvo against Big Oil fired by the Louisiana-raised eco-documentarian. It also further's Tickell's continuing mission of red-flagging the environmental impact of America's runaway appetite for fossil fuels.
But this is not some simple, finger-wagging, "shame on you, BP" piece. This is a full-on, no-holds-barred bit of investigative journalism that shines a bright and troubling light not only on corporate greed but also on what Tickell paints as the epidemic-level governmental corruption that paved the way for the oil spill and that he says is helping to cover up the lingering effects.
The film raised eyebrows when it premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. Tonight's screening -- set for 8:45 p.m. at the Prytania Theatre -- marks its North American premiere, and it's certain to raise even more eyebrows here.
Narrated by Tickell, who co-directs with his wife, Rebecca Tickell, "The Big Fix" wastes no time getting started. It's dense stuff, but it's also enraging stuff.
Actor Peter Fonda, left, joins Jason Mraz, Josh Tickell and Rebecca Tickell for a BP oil spill protest in New Orleans, as seen in the documentary 'The Big Fix.'
Going back to BP's start in Iran, to Huey Long's fight with Standard Oil and all the way up to the current state of affairs, Tickell paints a portrait of Louisiana as an "oil colony," one that is exploited top to bottom by oil interests -- with the collusion of our elected officials.
Along the way, he features a raft of experts -- including Times-Picayune outdoor editor Bob Marshall -- speaking bluntly about the cozy relationship between politicians and the oil industry. (BP's opinions, however, aren't represented, because the company refused to cooperate with the production.)
What Tickell turns up is hard to hear: The publicists for the Gulf seafood industry, for example, won't be happy with this. It's also alarming, however, and something well worth paying attention to.
"When we hear from the media, from the government that the oil is gone, we're being lied to," says famed oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau, who has studied the post-spill Gulf. "My question is, gone where?"
Tug boat captain and former commercial fisher Kevin Curole can answer that: It hasn't gone anywhere.
"Let (former BP honcho) Tony Hayward go play in the water and see how long he wants to stay out there," Curole tells Tickell's camera. "I'll bet you can't get one of them to get in that frickin' water. Voluntarily."
THE BIG FIX 3 stars, out of 4
What: Filmmaker and Mandeville High School product Josh Tickell attends the North American premiere of his Gulf oil-spill documentary, screening as an opening-night selection of the 22nd annual New Orleans Film Festival, running through Thursday.
When: Today at 8:45 p.m.
Where: Prytania Theatre, 5339 Prytania St.
Tickets: Available at neworleansfilmsociety.org and at the Contemporary Arts Center (900 Camp St.) from 1 to 3 p.m. daily; or at the Prytania from 4:30 to 7 p.m. daily. Cost is $12 ($10 for New Orleans Film Society members).
Details: Find full coverage of the New Orleans Film Festival, including full daily schedules, at nola.com.
During this week's Southern States Energy Board’s Governors Energy Summit, various state senators from both sides of the aisle voiced their thoughts on proposals to revive offshore energy exploration, weighing in on how it would affect our economy, environment and dependence on foreign oil. That dependence and the risk many associate with it is an issue that continues to be covered, and as international oil trade analyst Raymond Learsy explores in his new book Oil and Finance, it's an issue that has shaped our relationship with and perception of our nation's political system, oil industry and financial sector.
Would you be interested in interviewing Mr. Learsy on this topic and the new issues brought forth by the Summit, or can I send you a copy of his book?
Thanks for your consideration,
Homer NewsSeptember 27, 2011
3482 Landings Street
-Opinion Piece- (Word count 706)
HEA General Manager Brad Janorschke’s dismissive response to a spate of recent letters critical of HEA’s misguided scheme to build a hydropower dam on the headwaters of the Kenai River was entirely characteristic of HEA’s arrogant approach to the project.
Mr. Janorschke slyly suggested the public should reserve comment on HEA’s Grant Lake project until 2013, pending completion of studies because he understands (as do developers of the Pebble Mine and the Chuit River Coal Mine) that state and federalpermitting processes exist for the sole purpose of authorizing resource development projects. HEA knows once studies are completed and it can begin shepherding its project through the banal formalities of permitting and licensing, no amount of public opposition will prevent agency approvals to construct the dam.
Unfortunately, as demonstrated by the disastrous impacts to Cooper Creek’s salmon and rainbow trout fisheries wrought by the Cooper Lake dam, many of the worst environmental effects of hydropower development are typically not identified, much less publicly disclosed until too late, and many impacts are never successfully mitigated. The Grant Lake dam presents so many tangible risks to other resources and values that it is quite obviously not in the public interest - no amount of studies can turn a bad project into a good one.
The following observations concerning the Grant Lake project are in response to Mr. Janorschke’s concern “that the information being cited is accurate”:
·The following Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) staff comments appeared in AEA’s most recent Grant Lake project evaluation -
“AEA has the following concerns about this project:
1. There is significant public opposition to the project.
2. We think it’s going to cost more to mitigate impacts of features not yet anticipated in the cost estimate, such as i) relocation of the roadway and transmission line due to presence of Iditarod Commemorative trail (currently permitted and under development), and ii) the cost of constructing a new tailrace pond.
3. We expect that in the FERC licensing process, there will be constraints on the operation of the project that will significantly impact the amount of energy that
can be produced. For instance, energy output will be reduced in order to maintain environmental stream flows and lake levels necessary to mitigate impact on fisheries.”
·The dam is not needed to meet HEA electrical demand following expiration of HEA’s contract with Chugach Electric or required as a source “spinning reserves” – HEA’s Independent Light project will supply 206 Megawatts (MW), and according to Mr. Janorschke, 118 MW will be available “to provide peaking and reserve power to ensure a high level of reliability on the HEA system.”
·The project would supply less than 1% of HEA’s electrical demand, but is expected to cost 2 ½ times more per MW of installed generation capacity than comparable hydro projects in Alaska, and while HEA claims the project could save up to $41 million in avoided fuel costs, operation and maintenance costs would likely exceed $50 million.
It seems hypocritical for Mr. Janorschke to ask HEA ratepayers and the public to withhold comment until 2013, to wait on studies, and to let the project “stand or fall on its own merits”, given that he (backed by the unanimous blessing of HEA’s board of directors) has already requested AEA to provide construction funds for the project – despite the project has not yet been authorized and it would ultimately require all of us to endure the negative environmental, social and economic impacts and to absorb, one way or another, most of the estimated $80 million in development and operational costs over the next 30 - 50 years.
Mr. Janorschke also conveniently failed to mention that energy conservation is included in HEA’s renewable energy portfolio – consequently, conservation measures combined with other renewable energy alternatives, including the East Foreland Tidal Energy Project and the Battle Creek addition to the Bradley Lake hydropower facility might achieve HEA’s renewable energy objectives.
At a time when hydropower dams are being removed from rivers in the Pacific Northwest due to their myriad impacts, especially to Pacific salmon and steelhead stocks, and recognizing the Kenai Peninsula’s economic dependence on its fisheries, it is obvious to most people that HEA’s Grant Lake dam simply should not happen.
P.O. Box 169
Moose Pass, Alaska 99631
(907) 288 5022
Making headlines and creating nationwide discussion over the past few days, the topic of peak oil graced a full page (by Daniel Yergin) of the Wall Street Journal weekend edition and a front page article in Tuesday's New York Times (by Simon Romero). But an international oil trade analyst is weighing in on the new revelations surrounding the issue, which he says aren't so new.
Raymond J. Learsy, author of the newly released Oil and Finance: The Epic Corruption, is shedding light on the topic with a contributing piece in today's Huffington Post ('EXTRA! NYT and WSJ finally catch up, report 'peak oil' theory is bogus'). Learsy, who covers the topic in his book as well, cites his similar coverage from 2006 and 2007, including a piece covering peak oil as the oil industry's way of playing consumers for fools.
Would you be interested in interviewing Learsy on this topic, or can I send you a copy of Oil and Finance?
Alaska's Big Village Network, Center for Water Advocacy, Cook Inlet Tribes, hunters, fisher peoples, and citizens are concerned about the critical habitat and actual recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales in Escopeta's rush for oil and gas activity. Questions of profound concern linger over the decline of Cook Inlet eulachon fishes since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. These fish are one of the major food species for humans and Cook Inlet Beluga Whales
ANCHORAGE -- Today, the Pacific States/BC Oil spill task force meetings are taking place in Anchorage. These meetings will address the Pacific States and British Columbia, US and Canadian preparedness for preventing oil spills and blowouts offshore. This meeting is setting the framework for and emerging discussion amongst Native Villages, Tribal governments, conservation organizations and other stakeholders about oil spill and blow out preparedness in Cook Inlet.
MaryAnn Mills, chair of Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes, said, "The Cook Inlet Tribes have not been formally notified or consulted with regard to the Escopeta Company activity in the Cook Inlet. The traditional hunters have not hunted for many years and the beluga numbers have not significantly changed. This leads many to realize other things are going on in the Cook Inlet that is stressing the beluga and other ocean life. The traditional hunters cannot hunt but it seems that industry has no problem on permits to incidental take, and to harass endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whales."
John French PhD., Pegasus Environmental Solutions, Alaska, said, “Between March 2010 and July 2011, 438 dead bottlenose dolphins have been found stranded in the area of the BP Deepwater Horizon event. This compares to an average of104.7 for normal years. Also from January to July 2011, 85 of these were premature, stillborn, or neonatal bottlenose dolphins as compared to only 12.5 for the average of normal years. These calves would have been fetuses during the oil release and response. The cause of this Unusual Mortality Event is still listed as unknown. We should not ignore the possibility that these marine mammals deaths were caused by the spilled oil, or by spill response activities. We should not proceed with oil and gas development activities in critical habitat areas for protected marine mammal species until we know for certain this UME was not caused by these activities.”
Escopeta Company is rushing oil and gas activity by pushing a jack –up Spartan 151 drill rig into critical Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Habitat for a "Cash Prize" from the State of Alaska with little or no Federal or State oversight, especially considering the State of Alaska recently dumped the Alaska Coastal Management Program. Oil spill contingency plans are thus questioned in Cook Inlet, and in the Arctic Beaufort and Chukchi Seas.
Alaska's Big Village Network, Center for Water Advocacy, Cook Inlet Tribes, hunters, fisher peoples, and citizens are concerned about the critical habitat and actual recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whales in Escopeta’s rush for oil and gas activity. Questions of profound concern linger over the decline of Cook Inlet eulachon fishes since the Exxon Valdez oil spill. These fish are one of the major food species for humans and Cook Inlet Beluga Whales.
The Escopeta Company activity in Cook Inlet is significant oil and gas activity that warrants public participation and review. The drrilling is located in the middle of the Endangered Species Act listed endangered Cook Inlet Beluga Whale migratory pathways. These pathways are critical to the recovery of Cook Inlet Beluga Whale habitat.
Carl Wassailed Biologist of Alaska’s Big Village Network said, “Scientist have yet to determine Marine noise pollution impacts, like new drilling rigs, on young Cook Inlet Beluga Whales that frequent inland waters to escape natural predation by killer whales. And this time of year many belugas are foraging on multiple species of salmon as they migrate to spawning rivers and streams in Cook Inlet."
Walt Parker, former Chairman of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Commission, said, “Lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and the BP Deepwater Horizon should be implemented in oil spill contingency plans. There should be a public review of the oil spill contingency plans for Cook Inlet and the Beaufort and Chuckchi Seas,"
Harold Shepherd Water Policy Consultant said, “Until just recently it appeared National Marine Fisheries Service was the only governmental agency that was concerned about an oil spill blowout regarding the Cook Inlet Beluga Whales and suddenly we hear yesterday that Senator Begich and NOAA Director Dr. Lubchenko are meeting with the stakeholders of the oil and gas industry to streamline the permitting process. It sounds like NMFS has done an about face on oil spill contingency planning in Cook Inlet."
"Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) were done on our Beluga Whale hunters, even after 10 years of standing down on the harvest; why does Escopeta get to rush a drilling rig with NO updated Environmental Impact Statement, and no notification to Tribal governments or Tribal communities? This action clearly and disproportionately burdens the indigenous peoples of Cook Inlet whom have used and occupied the historic waters of Cook Inlet for customary and traditional hunting, fishing and gathering, commerce and navigation since time immemorial."
The adverse cumulative impacts, risk assessments and oil spill contingency plans are inadequate for Cook Inlet, an Historical Bay. There is national and international interest in following federal in protecting invaluable natural resources.
Nikos Pastos, Center for Water Advocacy, said Federal Agencies have an obligation to implement federal acts such as NEPA, MMPA, ESA, and Executive Order 13175 on government to government Consultation, and Executive Order 12898 Environmental Justice and President Obama’s Executive Order 13366 Section 1B Committee on Ocean Policy which states, “to facilitate , as appropriate, coordination and consultation regarding ocean related matters among the Federal, State, Tribal governments, the private sector , foreign governments and international organizations."
Nikos Pastos Board Treasurer Center for Water Advocacy, Homer Alaska http://www.centerforwateradvocacy.org/ 907-764-2561 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting907-764-2561end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Carl Wassilie Biologist Alaska’s Big Village Network Anchorage, Alaska http://www.akbigvillagenetwork.blogspot.com/ 907-382-3403 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting907-382-3403end_of_the_skype_highlighting
ESCOPETA notice requirements were supposed to have been provided to the Cook Inlet Villages and their Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council regarding the Spartan 151 Jack-up rig. This requirement is contained in the Alaska Coastal Management Programs' Escopeta North Cook Inlet (Offshore), Kitchen Prospect Exploration State ID N0, and AK2006-0201OG Final Consistency Determination which states on page 6:
"2. Escopeta Oil & Gas Corporation will coordination with the Native Village of Tyrone, The Kenai Peninsula Borough Coastal Management Program, the Cook Inlet Marine Mammal Council (and others as per Escopeta's Plan of Operations) to ensure that Escopeta's activities avoid and minimize potential adverse impacts to Beluga whales; the availability of fish and wildlife for commercial and subsistence uses; as well as the quality of life for Alaskans.
3. Commercial, sport and subsistence interests stakeholders who have expressed interest during the company's outreach programs will be notified by Escopeta at least 48 hours before transport of the drilling vessel in Cook Inlet waters...."
Beluga Whale Picture http://carinbondar.com/2010/12/baby-belugas-are-right-brained-just-like-me/
“Application of Best Available Technology & the Zero Discharge Standard to Cook Inlet Oil and Gas Development “
Subject: RE: Acoustic Communication by Animals - Autoforwarded
Hey there Carl,
We’re pretty worried about the big noises heading your way as well. We’re working with WWF and NRDC on a campaign to let folks know about the noises from the petroleum industry. Here is a sneak-peak at the website: http://dontbeabuckethead.org/
I will also be attending the Environmental Grantmakers Association “Retreat” at the end of September. I want to bring attention to the impacts of fossil fuel exploration and production on the arctic residents (all animals including us humans). If you have any material – like brochures or cut-sheets I can pass out to funders, send it my way.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 2:19 PM To: email@example.com Subject: Re: Acoustic Communication by Animals - Autoforwarded
Thanks for the update. My uncle told me that Raven has always been able to talk with the other animals including Beluga Whale. As indigenous people here in Cook Inlet, we are concerned about Beluga Whale being destroyed by State of Alaska and Federal Government's companies getting oil, gas, coal, gold and other non-essiential riches.
Raven is also warning us too about the uncertain changes coming to Earth from these crazy noise-makers that humans create in the air and water. The animals are getting sick from their noise and toxic. path of destruction. We are getting sick too.
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone
From: "Ocean Conservation Research"
Date: Wed, 10 Aug 2011 20:56:49 +0000
ReplyTo: "Ocean Conservation Research"
Subject: Acoustic Communication by Animals
Acoustic Communication by Animals
Dear OCR Community and Friends,
I’ve just returned from a conference on “Acoustic Communication by Animals” at Cornell University. This was sort of a “vacation conference” for me as it was attended by a broad cross section of bio-acousticians outside of the usual marine mammals and fish folks found in the ocean noise-oriented meetings. With specialists in bats, birds, insects, frogs, hearing physiology and neurology etc., the meeting allowed me to indulge in my generalist predilections; in this case with a presentation on “chorusing.”
Chorusing is usually defined as “acoustic signaling produced collectively by a group of individuals whose activity is clustered in both space and time… which may be temporally structured in alternating or synchronous formats.” The point of my paper was to expand the definition to:
Individual response to signals generated by another or other individuals within a group context that unifies the group in an aggregate behavior.”
The reasoning behind this expanded definition is to move the discussion outside of the usual “individual animal’s breeding and territory needs” and into a context of animals behaving as “acoustic communities.” I’m advancing this because I feel that animals subject to the impacts of human enterprise are much more than “bags of protein with behaviors” or “input devices” – definitions by which they often seem to be evaluated.
This broader definition also helps explain the stunning flock behavior of starlings and equally stunning schooling behavior of sharks and forage fish. In the presentation I qualify both of these behaviors as acoustically stimulated “spatial chorusing.” If you take an individual fish or bird out of these “choruses” and put them in a lab they cease being complete animals.
While they are easier to evaluate as specimens, much of what community animals do – and how they are potentially compromised in their habitat by our actions – is lost in translation. I believe that the aggregate behavior of an acoustic community can tell us much more about species vulnerabilities as well as resilience to human generated noise.
Without this consideration we may be missing some opportunities.
Thank you for subscribing to the Ocean Conservation Research Newsletter!
Please help spread the word about these important issues.
ALASKA'S BIG VILLAGE NETWORK’S (ABVN) MISSION IS TO CREATE COMMUNITIES OF INCLUSION OF INDIGENOUS AND NON-INDIGENOUS PEOPLES FOR THE HEALTH OF ALL PEOPLES’ MENTAL, SOCIAL, PHYSICAL, ENVIRONMENTAL AND SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING APPLYING ANCESTRAL WISDOM OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ HONOR, RESPECT AND DIGNITY OF THE WHOLE LIVING AND NON-LIVING UNIVERSE.
Hello Mary Olson; Kevin Kamps, Paul Robinson, Harold Shepherd, Carl Wassilie;
Here is a follow up communication to our telephone conversations.
Alaska's Big Village Network and Center for Water Advocacy request that our various organizations sign a simple letter of acknowledgement between our respective organizations emphasizing common goals of education, cultural inclusion, and valid , transparent information sharing between peoples and communities on the entire nuclear fuel cycle from exploration, to extraction, to refining, combustion, waste disposal/storage, and beyond.
We hope to work with Nuclear Information Resource Service, and Beyond Nuclear to create some unique collaborations between indigenous communities and technical specialists on nuclear energy, uranium mining and radioactive waste disposal in communities that are contaminated by historic and ongoing radioactive waste from radioactive mining, milling, and waste disposal.
Alaska's Big Village Network, and Center for Water Advocacy are already collaborating and participating with the Western Mining Action Network (WMAN.org) and suggest that we meet at Prince Albert Saskatchewan the week of Sept 20, 2011, and request some technical specialists for presentation purposes.
We would like to suggest that we create several common goals including seeking underwriting to support several educational and participatory events.
1.Inform and Increase the general educational knowledge base of valid information on the connections between water resources, indigenous cultures and dirty industrial energy development and sacred customary traditional lifeways of impacted indigenous peoples.
2. Seek underwriting for North American representatives to participate in support of indigenous communities in Western Australia during the Walk Away From Uranium Mining. (http://www.nuclearfreefuture.com/ )
Alaska's Big Village Network
Alaska cell: 907-764-2561National cell: 406-459-1829
KODIAK -- A call is out for public comments on a request to extend exploration permits for what would be Alaska's largest coal mine. The permits would be for the Chuitna Coal Strip Mine, proposed for the west side of Upper Cook Inlet by Delaware-based PacRim Coal.
The extension request is routine as the permits must be updated every two years, according to project director Dan Graham. He said comments should be sent to the state Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and Water by Sept. 24.
But as of Friday, you wouldn't find the Chuitna coal mine project listed on the DNR site, nor was there mention of a comment period in the public notices section.
A proposed uranium mining process to be used in the southern Black Hills has opponents sounding the alarm about a potential loss of 2.86 billion gallons of water and polluted aquifers.
"The key thing here is that it will pollute the water," said Lilias Jones Jarding of the Clean Water Alliance.
On Sunday, members of the local grass-roots organization hosted an informational meeting at the Rapid City Public Library about Powertech USA, a Canadian subsidiary of Powertech Uranium, which plans to mine uranium northwest of Edgemont.
The company proposes to use in situ leach mining in the Dewey-Burdock area to extract the naturally occurring uranium from underground.
Jarding expressed concerns about environmental impact, types of mining, the process of extracting usable uranium, risk of exposure of radiation and health studies of uranium mining sites to about a dozen people who came to listen.
Contacted by telephone Sunday, Powertech project manager Mark Hollenbeck of Edgemont said his company has about 10,000 acres leased in the Dewey-Burdock areas -- about 13 miles northwest of Edgemont -- some scattered leases southeast of Edgemont, called the Plum Creek Project and some land near Aladdin, Wyo.
The company has drilled test holes but is not currently mining.
"We're still proceeding to obtain our licenses," Hollenbeck said
On April 8, Powertech officials met by phone with federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials about the company's application for a license to handle nuclear material on the Dewey-Burdock site. The NRC has 30 days to reply with a written response on clarifications in Powertech's application for a Source Material License.
"We're working at glacial speeds," Hollenbeck said.
The company also has an application pending with the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources for a permit to inject chemically treated water into holes drilled into the ground in the Dewey-Burdock area to dissolve uranium underground. It will then pump the solution to the surface and collect the uranium for processing -- the in situ leach mining process.
"This mining process uses a lot of water," Jarding said at the meeting.
She said residents in the mining area are at risk. Nearly 3 billion gallons over the life of the mine will be siphoned from South Dakota aquifers and never used again because the chemicals leave it toxic, she said.
But this pressurized water also could drive the chemicals into the porous Inyan Kara aquifer, Jarding said, and vertical leaks could possibly affect 80 drinking water wells within 2 miles of the project.
Once polluted, water has never been restored to its original condition, she said.
"It's virtually impossible," Jarding said.
Carol Merwin of Rapid City attended the meeting and said she was concerned about the possible environmental hazards that may develop when mining for uranium.
"I can't imagine people would take the risk of our area resources of land and water," she said.
Dr. Rebecca Leas moved to South Dakota to escape a similar scenario in her native western Pennsylvania. She compared the Pennsylvania countryside to that of a nuclear holocaust.
As someone who works with health, wellness and disease prevention, she said she was surprised that more people were not at the meeting.
"People don't realize the ramifications of this sort of industry. This will take so many generations to rectify -- and all for a buck," she said.
Contact Jomay Steen at 394-8418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a meet ant greet luncheon put on by U-core and Rare Earth One to accomplish 2 goals. First is to get Alaska support for the Rare Earth Supply chain Technology and Response Transformation (RESTART) bill currently being debated in DC introduced by Mike Coffman (D-CO). This is a package of loan guarantees and a re-directing of funding from Dept of Defence, Energy and Commerce to create domestic sources of Rare Earth Elements (REE's). The second is to grease the wheels for possible Bokan Mountain development.
Rare Earths are critical for new green technology and military applications. China controls 97% of the supply. China can control all new "green" technology and be a threat to our national defense.
Bokan Mt. is a unique deposit of the even more rare "heavy" rare earth elements. Proven deposit of 400 million pounds of REE's with much more likely. It is easily accessible by shipping. It is in an area that is a designated mineral prescription area (LUD) and in a state that offers little problems with permitting. Bokan cold supply all the US military needs if all other sources where disrupted.
Short term-15,000 feet of core drilling planned for summer of 2010. Most emphasis will be on determining recovery percentages of this ore.
Long term-Mine will be underground. Mine will probably go in from both sides at or near sea level with ore being loaded both from the Kendrick Bay and on the other side (North Arm?). Mine will have a crusher and gravity separator, with ore loaded directly onto ships. There is a strict separation between the REE deposit and the uranium, so there will be little contamination with radioactive isotopes. Ore might be shipped to Mountain Pass California for refining. There was several questions from those in attendance about the possibility of building a refinery in Alaska. When the size of such a facility was described there seemed to be some excitement for this possibility.
The idea itself that a "green" car that uses over 100 lbs of REE's, or a wind turbine that may use 9 tons is ecologically responsible is unsustainable. The only way to make a green car is with a bucket of paint.
That China controls the market is true enough, but it is because they flooded the market with cheap REEs to do so. There are huge deposits in Australia (which China owns about 30% interest), Canada, and South America, as well as California. Supply is only half of the supply and demand argument. Almost all of China's REE exports go to the US. We control that half of the equation. New technology companies are unlikely to move to China because of lack of intellectual property guarantees there.
The geologist speaking blew off several questions about radioactivity very impatiently with answers like "everything is radioactive, your fingernails are radioactive. I have been working in this field for 30 years and I am just fine". Technically true, there are many types of radioactive emissions. Most are harmless Alpha particles, however uranium, radon and the breakdown products are Gamma particle emitters. Very dangerous. I am pretty sure he was not working when he was under 10 and his bones and thyroid were very susceptible to ionizing particles. I am willing to bet he was not pregnant. They state there is a sharp delineation between the uranium deposit and the REE's, I do not think this claim will hold up under any kind of investigation.
Clean Water Coordinator
Joe Nuehof with the Colorado Environmental Coalition is working on a Response to this LtE: on Shell's decision to pull out of it's Yampa water right application:
It was interesting to see that Shell has abandoned the water rights application for their oil shale project in Rio Blanco County. Shell cited many factors, including the global recession and regulatory uncertainty. Fortunately, they are continuing their investment into this massive resource. Unfortunately, many industries are leaving Colorado and the United States, citing regulatory uncertainty. The regulatory and political environment often just makes it too risky for them to do business here.
America remains highly dependent on foreign oil and extremely vulnerable to oil price spikes and supply disruptions. The fact is that America does not produce enough domestic oil to insulate ourselves from global economic and political forces. In their 2010 Outlook, the Energy Information Administration predicted that world oil consumption will rise significantly by 2035, despite major investments in renewables. In addition, the EIA predicts that the price of oil will climb to $224 per barrel by 2035. Along the way, we will see increasingly wild fluctuations in oil and gas prices, like what we saw in 2008.
This kind of price instability is highly detrimental to the U.S. economy. In fact, some economists believe that energy price spikes, such as what we saw in mid-2008, actually cause recessions. Four of the past five recessions were preceded by energy price spikes.
Part of the solution could be oil shale. A reasonably sized oil shale industry in the United States could help insulate the U.S. economy from worldwide instability. Continued research is essential. Let’s see if we can balance water use and oil shale production. We’re on the cusp of commercial viability.
Most of all, our elected officials need to establish a fair playing field in energy, not favoring one source over another. The dynamic U.S. economy needs all the energy we can get.
Please forward far and wide (below and attached flyer with map of proposed port), and write comments! Alaska Miner's Association already submitted comments to NOAA saying that Iniskin Bay should not be designated as critical habitat for endangered belugas because Pebble needs to build a port there in Cook Inlet (email I sent yesterday), but belugas are there and hopefully this will help stop Pebble's port from being built!
Videos of Endangered Cook Inlet Belugas spotted in Iniskin Bay, where Pebble Mine may need to build a deepwater port to unload its materials, and perhaps dump waste into it from a road and pipeline at Williamsport. Watch spotted belugas at http://www.youtube.com/user/NunamtaVerner Comments to support critical habitat designation for cook inlet belugas DUE tomorrow MARCH 3! Help Stop Pebble Mine, go to http://www.inletkeeper.org/watershedWatch/beluga.htm to take action! There are only 321 unique Cook Inlet belugas left according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research, you could mention in your comments: that the Pebble Mine should not endanger these animals' critical habitat and ability to survive. Before the project goes forward, Pebble should extensively research and provide risk analysis on how their activities could affect the beluga whales, including possible ship strikes from increased shipping in the bay, increased marine noise pollution that could affect beluga's underwater hearing, potential spills and wreckage from shipping accidents, potential dumping of waste from ships/road/pipeline, and damage of habitat from port infrastructure. If there are any potential impacts, Pebble should not be able to go forward with any of its activities in this critical area! Videos provided by Cook Inlet Keeper http://www.inletkeeper.org/watershedWatch/beluga.htm
Verner Wilson III
Nunamta Aulukestai 'Caretakers of Our Lands'
Ugh, back to the ongoing Montara / West Atlas oil spill. Looks like the third time's not the charm in the Timor Sea, where the latest attempt to get this massive spill under control has failed. Oil and natural gas have been spewing into the ocean and air off Western Australia for 58 days. The Montara oil platform -- and the West Atlas drill rig that was working there when the blowout occurred on August 21 -- are still at high risk for fire and explosion, and cannot be approached.
This is now being reported as the worst oil spill in Australia since offshore drilling began there 40 years ago.
At this point we've seen no evidence that a Montara-type drilling accident couldn't happen anywhere, including in US waters. The public deserves a comprehensive and independent analysis of the Montara failure, once the well has been plugged and the platform can be re-occupied.
Posted By John to SkyTruth at 10/18/2009 03:23:00 PM
It's now Day 54 of the ongoing Montara oil spill off Western Australia, and the second attempt to intercept the damaged well and shut it down has failed. The next try should happen over the weekend. Third time's the charm - we hope.
Posted By John to SkyTruth at 10/14/2009 11:00:00 AM
We got a full-resolution satellite image from NASA, did our own
processing, and realized the slicks on August 30 extended even farther
to the northeast than we had thought. It's now clear that the slicks
and sheen extended across 2500 square miles on August 30. We hope to
get more imagery in coming days/weeks.
Can anyone come up with a good analagy for 2500 square miles? ("That's
the size of...")
I have worked on a number of mining issues throughout my life. I grew up breathing the dust of coal at a terminal in Seward and watched Exxon's oil wash ashore with the Death Water in 1989.
> Alaska's Big Village Network is the primary organizing tool that has worked with a number of organizations nationally and internationally to better include and involve indigenous peoples of Alaska.
> * With Alaska Action Center, we stopped a large-scale gold mine in Cook Inlet, near Hope in a salmon stream. Now Alaska's Big Village Network is working with Alaska Inter-Tribal Council and Cook Inlet Treaty Tribes on resisting the Chuitna Coal project (300M tons).
> * In collaborations with the Center for Water Advocacy and the Native Village of Elim, Alaska's Big Village Network is working to resist Uranium mining in Norton Sound.
> * Alaska's Big Village Network and Alaska Inter-Tribal Council are working with the Bering Sea Elders Council and soverign Yupik Nation leaders to resist Gold mining on the Kuskowkwim and Nushagak watersheds (Donlin and Pebble Mines)
> *Currently working with Native Village of Point Hope regarding the 4Trillion ton coal deposit in their traditional hunting and fishing grounds. The last industrial port plan was the 'safe' use of a nuclear bomb to access these energy resources.
> Regarding oil and gas, I was a co-founder of Resisting Environmental Devestation of Indigenous Lands, which is collaborating with various national and international organizations to end destructive oil and gas activities in traditional homelands of various indigenous Nations in the North.
> There are many mining projects that are slated for development as the Arctic Ocean warms up. Most are all in indigenous territories where traditional culture and FOOD is from the land, water and air. All federal and state processes in 'rural' Alaska are not designed to protect or mitigate damages to traditional cultures or even communities of human beings. Unfortunately, many of the mining companies are misinforming people, distrupting Tribal Governments and maniupulating information that is untruthful and misleading about the impacts of mining.
> In 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, heavily lobbied by the Alaska Mining Association created Alaska State-chartered Native Corporations that have been working for the mining companies to develop subsurface resources. Many people, organizations and media outlets consider the Native Corporations as Tribes, yet the Tribal Governments or Indigenous Peoples never once had a vote on the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) and are precluded in any government process that affects traditional subsistence culture.
> Due to my families traditional fish camp being under threat by Barrick Gold's Donlin Creek prospect in between the Yukon and Kuskokwim River, I am focusing my energies on making sure the people get adequate information and that the governments actions don't destroy 20,000 Yupik lives for a short term economic boost (promises of 500 jobs). I will be working with various Tribal Governments and Elders Councils to oppose the permits of the mine and am currently starting a grassroots campaign for those of us born after 1971 (ANCSA).
> Thank you for your time.
> carl wassilie
> Alaska's Big Village Network
A nice image, for a change. This shows a gorgeous phytoplankton bloom
in the Barents Sea. There are also links to several other beautiful
images like this, free to download and pop into a powerpoint
presentation, that are great for showing folks the Arctic is bursting
with life and is a critically important part of the web of life on
Earth. Enjoy - John Amos - Skytruth
Judy Heilman of Beluga, Alaska"The cost to Alaskans couldn't be higher"The Chuitna River.Photo: Damion Brook KintzJudy and Lawrence Heilman live 45 miles west of Alaska's largest city Anchorage, across Cook Inlet in the small community of Beluga, population 32. Beluga, and neighboring Tyonek, population 199, are off the road system -- the only way to reach these communities is by small airplane or boat.A coal strip mine proposed over local objectionDespite overwhelming local opposition, PacRim Coal and its wealthy Texas investors Richard D. Bass, Herbert Hunt, and the Hunt Trust are pursuing development of the Chuitna coal strip mine less than 10 miles from Beluga and Tyonek. The 12 mile coal transport conveyor and accompanying infrastructure would run within a few hundred yards of the residential subdivision in Beluga, inundating the small community with coal dust and the constant clamor of industrial equipment.A dangerous precedent for salmonStrip mining is inherently destructive and current plans submitted by PacRim call for the direct mining of 11 miles of a salmon-bearing tributary to the Chuitna River. This would be the first large mine in Alaska permitted to directly mine a salmon stream, a dangerous precedent with far-reaching implications. Additional adjacent leases held by PacRim, along with adjacent and nearby coal leases held by Barrick Gold Company, combine for 60 square miles of threatened wildlife habitat straddling the Chuitna River. "We're trying to protect our homes, our lifestyles, and the fish and game resources that we depend on. The vast majority of the residents of Beluga and Tyonek oppose a coal strip mine; it will destroy our way of life. We depend on intact habitats for clean water, healthy salmon, and the important hunting and subsistence opportunities that sustain us."
-- Judy Heilman
The Heilmans have chosen to retire here, where Lawrence worked for the local electric company's natural gas power plant for 27 years. Lawrence bought property here in 1976 and hand-built the log home he and Judy live in today. This relatively undisturbed area hosts a variety of wildlife including moose, brown and black bears, wolves, beaver, mink, martin, and wolverine. Through the heart of this Alaskan wilderness flows the Chuitna River, one of northern Cook Inlet's most productive salmon rivers supporting all five wild pacific salmon species -- king, chums, silvers, pinks, and reds -- in addition to trout and steelhead.The ecosystem that feeds local communities would be destroyedThe local communities rely heavily on the health of this intact ecosystem to support their lifestyles. Tyonek is a Dena'ina Indian village where to this day they practice a subsistence lifestyle harvesting local foods. Rural Alaskan communities commonly harvest up to 35% of their daily caloric requirements, 60% of which is fish. Subsistence users tend to harvest in traditional use areas near their villages, in this case right where PacRim Coal wants to strip coal from the river's watershed -- destroying the delicate balance that sustains this healthy, intact environment.PacRim plans call for building a 2 mile long transport trestle and accompanying bulkhead island into the turbulent waters of Cook Inlet for loading oceangoing coal ships. The most likely markets for Chuitna Coal are Asian coal-fired power plants. Terry Jorgensen is a commercial set-net fisherman who fishes for wild Alaskan salmon just north of the Chuitna River; PacRim plans to store up to 500,000 metric tons of uncovered, unscreened coal just above Terry's fishing site. The coal transport trestle will require a gravel island to be built directly on top of existing salmon set net lease sites, fundamentally destroying these commercial fishing sites and permanently altering salmon and beluga whale migration patterns.How is this a good deal for Alaskans?The Chuitna has been named one of America's most endangered rivers. "If this coal mine is developed, the profits will go to the outside investors and the coal will go to Asian coal burning power plants. In return, we'll get fish habitat destruction, coal dust in our homes, mercury in our fish, and the heightened effects of global warming. How is this a good deal for Alaskans?"
-- Terry Jorgensen, commercial fishermanWhile the State of Alaska continues to shepherd this project forward, efforts to slow and extend the timeline have been successful thanks to the efforts of the Heilmans, Terry Jorgensen, and others who formed the Chuitna Citizens NO-COALition; the Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is now expected to be released in the first quarter of 2009.The cost to Alaskans couldn't be higher. Aside from devastating thousands of acres of prime fish, moose, and bear habitat just to feed the growing energy demands of booming Asian economies, this project would result in millions of tons of CO2 emissions while Alaskans are already suffering the disproportional effects of global climate change. Essentially this project will exchange the clean renewable resources that support and feed these communities for a short-term dirty, destructive resource that threatens to destroy the healthy environment, intact ecosystem and the very quality of life that make this area so special.Thanks to Dennis Gann of Cook Inletkeeper
for interviewing the Heilmans for this Community Voice.
More bad news on this 20 anniversary of the Exxon Valdez Disaster:
Australian oil slick eight kilometres long-radio
Fri Aug 21, 2009 9:39pm EDT
SYDNEY, Aug 22 (Reuters) - An oil slick from a spill off Australia's northwestern coast has reached 8 km (5 miles) in length, national radio reported on Saturday, quoting a worker evacuated from the rig.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation radio, quoting an employee flown off the rig on Friday, said the spill in the Timor Sea was expected to be larger than initially thought.
Operator PTTEP Australasia, a unit of Thailand's PTT Exploration and Production PCL (PTTE.BK: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), has said all 69 workers on board were evacuated safely and emergency procedures activated after the leak developed early on Friday.
Aircraft were expected to begin spraying the slick with dispersant on Saturday, the company said.
The spill occurred at the West Atlas mobile offshore drilling unit in the Timor Sea, which is owned by Norway's SeaDrill Ltd (SDRL.OL: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).
Australia's National Offshore Petroleum Safety Authority (NOPSA) was investigating the incident.
OFFSHORE DRILLING: House GOP presses Interior on wider leasing (07/31/2009)
Ben Geman, E&E senior reporter
Nearly 100 House Republicans want Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to adopt a Bush-era proposal that would greatly expand offshore oil and gas leasing to include regions off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.
The letter today from 98 members casts the plan as a tonic to help aid struggling families and create jobs.
"At a time when 14.7 million Americans are out of work, it is more important than ever that the federal government move forward with this plan to responsibly develop our energy supply, create new jobs, lower energy costs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil," states the letter from Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other leaders and members.
The lawmakers want Salazar to adopt a draft 2010-2015 outer continental shelf leasing plan that the Interior Department proposed shortly before President Bush left office.
The plan, which would replace the current 2007-2012 plan, came after coastal leasing bans dissolved last year. Bush lifted White House bans last summer, while Democratic leaders -- during an election season marked by high energy prices -- allowed largely overlapping congressional limits to end amid pressure from the GOP, the White House and some of their own caucus.
Salazar is currently formulating the administration's offshore drilling policy but is unlikely to endorse the expansive Bush-era draft.
Salazar is taking comment on the draft 2010-2015 plan until Sept. 21. The plan would greatly expand leasing to areas beyond Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico where it is already authorized.
In addition to leasing the Atlantic and Pacific coast areas, it would also widen eastern Gulf of Mexico leasing, although this would be contingent on Congress changing a 2006 law that provided Florida a wide no-leasing buffer until mid-2022. The plan also includes a host of Alaskan, central and western gulf sales.
Click here to read the letter.
Click here to read the plan.
July 30, 2009
The Honorable Ken Salazar Secretary Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, NW Washington, DC 20240
RE: Support for the Five-Year Draft Proposed Program to Develop Offshore Energy Resources
Dear Secretary Salazar:
Last year, rising energy prices put middle-class families, small businesses, and all sectors of our economy under tremendous strain. As a result, Congress and President Bush removed the moratoria on Outer Continental Shelf energy development which had been in place for more than 20 years. Unfortunately, the new Administration immediately took action in February to prevent offshore drilling by delaying the Minerals Management Service's Draft Proposed Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil & Gas Leasing Program for 2010 to 2015.
As your Department collects opinions from Americans about the draft offshore plan, we write to register our strong support for expanded offshore development as part of an "all of the above" approach to increased U.S. energy independence. As elected officials who represent middle-class families who are struggling because of rising energy costs and the highest unemployment rate in decades, we believe that the draft proposed plan is a critically important step in creating a robust national energy policy and strengthening our economy. At a time when 14.7 million Americans are out of work, it is more important than ever that the federal government move forward with this plan to responsibly develop our energy supply, create new jobs, lower energy costs, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
By offering new leasing opportunities in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans -as well as in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico -the proposed plan is appropriately expansive, provides maximum flexibility to properly utilize all of our nation's domestic resources, and helps coastal communities pursue leasing and responsible development in the deep waters off their coastlines. Important offshore areas, like those in Alaska, offer tremendous natural gas and oil resources. By some estimates the Chukchi Sea, off Alaska's coast, contains as much natural gas and oil as the country has produced in the Gulf of Mexico since 1942. The Administration should not continue to stand in the way of American energy development.
PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER Letter to Secretary Salazar 2010-2015 OCS 5 Year Plan Comments Page I 2
Additionally, we hope that the Minerals Management Service will continue to move forward with the 2007-2012 Leasing Program for all available leasing areas, including the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and offshore Alaska.
In conclusion, we urge the Department to open new leasing areas included in the 20102015 draft proposed offshore plan and responsibly develop the abundant energy resources off our coasts.
An underwater pipeline leaked more than 58,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico on Saturday, the New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting. The spill, which occurred about 30 miles off the Louisiana coast, has now spread to cover 80 square miles -- up from just 28 square miles on Monday. The cause is still under investigation.
The spill "was among the largest in recent years in U.S. waters," Reuters reports.
The spill from Shell Oil's pipeline may not reach land, but its effects are rippling through Florida. Opponents of expanding drilling in the gulf spread the story as yet another reason to keep the eastern gulf clear of offshore rigs (and the pipelines that would bring the oil onshore).
Legislation was introduced this week by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mary Landrieu, D-La., that would bring oil drilling to within 45 miles of the coast. Gov. Charlie Crist, who flip-flopped on offshore drilling during last year's presidential race, dodged questions Tuesday about whether he would support this latest bill.
"I've always said it needs to be far enough, clean enough and safe enough to protect Florida's beautiful beaches,'' Crist said. "I also am cognizant of the fact that it sure would be nice to be energy independent. That's a growing concern of an awful lot of people including myself."
However, state legislators told the Bradenton Herald that they don't think offshore drilling will solve that problem. ""I don't believe that we'll ever drill our way to renewable energy," state Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said. "Anything that we do in the Gulf of Mexico only delays the inevitable."
In fact, a study released last week by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory found that Americans used less energy last year, and more of what they used came from renewable sources. "The nation used less coal and petroleum during the same time frame," the report found, "and only slightly increased its natural gas consumption."
Posted by Times Editor at 11:03:32 AM on July 29, 2009
The latest in Senator Begich’s draft Arctic bills, this dealing with shipping, icebreakers and etc. is attached for your review.
"Havasupai Tribe announced a protest gathering at their sacred site Red Butte, which is threatened by uranium mining located near the south rim of the Grand Canyon. The public is invited to attend and add their voices in support of saying, “no to uranium mining.” "
I will be traveling toward the 'clenched-fist mountain' and San Francisco Peaks this fall to offer prayers and honor of our ancestors. Thanks for your invititation.
Yup'ik Nation global citizen
Alaska's Big Village Network
'creating communities of inclusion'
an indigenous communications and outreach project
Recent numbers to keep in your back pocket when addressing the economic value of the fisheries in the region affected by O&G development…
For the 20th year in a row, Dutch Harbor has remained the nation's top fishing port, NOAA Fisheries announced yesterday. The annual report on U.S. Fisheries for 2008 shows that fishermen delivered 612.7 million pounds of fish and shellfish at Dutch last year mostly pollock. That's a drop from nearly 780 million pounds in 2007. Kodiak dropped from fourth to fifth place for seafood landings, behind ports in Virginia and Louisiana. In terms of value New Bedford, Mass. claimed the top spot for the 9th year running, topping $241 million at the docks, mostly due to pricey scallops. Dutch Harbor ranked second at $195 million and Kodiak held on to 3rd place with landings valued at nearly $100 million. Other Alaska ports making the top 10 for landing values were Naknek/King Salmon and Cordova.
In all, U.S. fishermen landed 8.3 billion pounds of seafood last year, down 11%. The value increased 5% to $192 million. The average price paid to U.S. fishermen for their catches was 53 cents, compared to 45 cents in 2007. The price for fish increased by 57%; and 8% for shellfish.
The report shows Americans ate slightly less seafood last year at 16 pounds per person, down from 16.3. NOAA Fisheries didn't give a top 10 list of favorites for last year, but shrimp clearly remained #1.
As you know Senator Begich plans to introduce a series of bills soon dealing with various arctic issues. Attached for your consideration are drafts of four of these bills dealing with Arctic Science, health, oil spills and an Arctic Ambassador. You already have the most recent RCAC. Still pending are bills on Arctic OCS revenue sharing, Shipping, and adaptation. I will share those with you when they are available, hopefully soon.
We welcome your comments on these bills. Please send then to me at this address by early next week if possible. Or call if you have any questions 202-224-0319.
Fairbanks man pursues nuclear power plant near Ester
> SMALL SCALE: Modules would be about the size of a hot tub.
> The Associated Press
> Published: 06/20/09 19:04:10
> FAIRBANKS -- A Fairbanks man is trying to bring nuclear-powered electricity to the area.
> John Reeves, a special assistant to the state transportation commissioner, hopes to build a small nuclear power generation facility in Ester south of Fairbanks.
> Reeves owns a 4-acre site near the Parks Highway. He hopes to invest in a small-scale, self-contained reactor designed to be buried underground.
> You can read the full story online at:
Here is some background on the Alaska Mine Permitting Process, from the Renewable Resources Coalition. Remember there are up to 20 active industrial mines,and/or other Permits in ramping up besides the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay.
Subject: Emailing: The Alaska Mine Permitting Process
Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 12:36:47 -0800
"We simply must do more to increase our domestic (oil and gas) production and use of nuclear energy," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the committee's ranking Republican. Still, she voted for the bill which includes a commitment to increase loan guarantees for a natural gas pipeline in her state from $18 billion to $30 billion.
The last nuclear power plant in the interior Alaska was on the military reservation and leaked all over the place. I believe the military is not disclosing the health information from the people that lived near the leaking nuke plant. Reports of abnormal moose have been ongoing around that military reservation.
Tribal resolutions exist against transport of radioactive materials and storage of nuke waste along the yukon river, as a result of City of Galena's small scale nuke power plans...check Yukon River Inter-Tribal Council for more info.
If anything, the Saami, indigenous peoples in Northern Europe had to slaughter over 30,000 reindeer and bury them due to extremely high levels of contamination after the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power plant disaster in Ukraine. Some of the largest uranium samples in north america from Chernobyl were found in Bethel, Alaska, from this fallout. Anyway, hope this infomation helps on future discussions of nukes in AK, especially as both Democrats and Republicans are on the same platform for nuclear production.
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The Alaska Mine Permitting Process
Recent Changes in the Permitting Process
In 2003, the then administration of Alaska Governor Frank Murkowski led efforts to promote mining and other types of non-renewable resource development to the detriment of fish and wildlife habitat protection. These efforts culminated in revisions to fish habitat and water quality statutes and regulations in a manner that substantially reduced their effectiveness.
These actions included:
(a) Governor Murkowski's issuance of Executive Order 107, which transferred the Habitat Division (and related statutes which protect fish habitat) out of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) and into the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (ADNR). The Habitat Division and it's regulatory scheme had been administered by ADF&G since statehood.
(b) Weakening the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP). The Murkowski Administration transferred the ACMP from the Governor's Office, where it had successfully resolved interagency differences, to ADNR. ADNR then gutted the enforceable ACMP standards that had protected habitat. The Legislature then revised the ACMP statutes to eliminate a citizen's right of judicial enforcement, restricted local government's ability to craft local standards for fish protection and reduced the boundaries of local coastal plans.
(c) Weakening, by subjecting to DNR review, ADF&G's implementation of the federal Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act, by which ADF&G coordinates with federal agencies on federal permits to assure that those permits protect fish under ADF&G standards and science;
(d) Directing DEC to adopt regulations to allow mixing zones in fish spawning areas, to "legalize" pre-existing violations, and:
(e) Adopting a Revised the Bristol Bay Area Plan in 2005 which favor's mining over protection of fish habitat which had been paramount in the area plan since it was first issued in 1984."
By transferring all of the fish habitat protection authority to ADNR, Murkowski changed the basic premise of fish habitat protection from ADF&G's statutory mandate to protect , preserve, maintain , and where possible extend the fish and wildlife resources of the State in the interest of the economy and general well being of the State , to ADNR's general statutory direction to develop natural resources and to balance many competing resource interests. The changes to the Bristol Bay Area Plan are particularly problematic, because the plan makes mining the primary use of a very large portion of the upper Koktuli and Upper Talarik Creek watersheds.
Thanks to Murkowski, Pebble permitting is in wrong hands
Compass: Points of view from the community
By MARK RICHARDS
Published: July 2, 2007, Anchorage Daily News
Last Modified: July 2, 2007 at 02:35 AM
Recently, Ginger Johnson, board member of Truth About Pebble, the organization devoted to seeing the giant Pebble Mine Project come to fruition, said in the Daily News: "There are strict laws that must be followed for any mine to be built. Pebble will require 67 different permits. There are processes in place to ensure that developments like Pebble mine are safe."
What she and Truth About Pebble neglect to tell us is that those "strict laws" that are supposed to "ensure that developments like Pebble mine are safe" were watered down considerably by the Murkowski administration in order to grease the skids for more resource development like the Pebble Project.
For nearly 50 years, the Habitat and Restoration Division of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game effectively oversaw permitting of mines to ensure adequate protections of our fisheries and waters.
Under Frank Murkowski, the habitat division was removed by executive order and placed within the Department of Natural Resources. Thirty percent of the former Habitat division positions were cut.
Executive Order 107 effectively removed permitting authority from the agency committed to ensuring sustainable fisheries and gave that authority to the agency committed to resource development. It was no secret that Murkowski did this at the behest of the timber and mining industry.
During the last legislative session, House Bill 41 sought to overturn the executive order and return the Habitat and Restoration Division and its permitting authority back to Fish and Game. During hearings on HB 41, one of the most telling testimonies as to why moving the division was a grave mistake came from fish and game habitat biologist Matthew LaCroix.
LaCroix worked in the Habitat division of Fish and Game prior to the move. He was one of the habitat biologists transferred to the new Office of Habitat Management and Permitting within DNR, where he worked for two and one-half years.
He got to witness first hand how having permitting authority within DNR was negatively affecting the future of our fisheries and waters. He saw how the analysis and opinions of habitat biologists on various projects were now discounted or changed in order to better suit the desires of resource extraction and development. He saw how the "corporate culture" and mission of DNR so differed from the culture and mission of the Department of Fish and Game.
Unfortunately, HB 41 never moved out of committee for a floor vote. As of this writing, Governor Palin has refused to rescind the executive order, which she has the authority as governor to do.
The end result?
What could be the largest open pit mine in North America, in the heart of Bristol Bay watersheds that produce one of the world's last great wild salmon runs, is being permitted by the very agency committed to seeing such projects take place. We have lost the checks and balances formerly in place. As LaCroix said, "The benefit of the doubt is (now) given to project proponents and developers, as opposed to the resource."
The current "spin" by Pebble supporters is the same spin Ginger Johnson is using: "There are processes in place to ensure that developments like Pebble mine are safe."
But are they enough?
Ask yourself why the mining industry lobbied to revamp our system of permitting mines, and why Murkowski among all our former governors would suddenly negate the wisdom and foresight of our first legislators and remove the system of checks and balances that had served us so well for so long?
Ask yourself, too, if a cut in experienced habitat biologists and staff, along with a desire for faster permitting times, is better for the resource or the project proponents.
The real truth about Pebble is that we aren't being told the whole truth.
Mark Richards lives near Eagle, Alaska, and is co-chair of Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Read LaCroix's testimony at www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/get_minutes_comm.asp?hse=H&session=25&comm=FSH&date=20070214&time=0832
For more information on Alaska's mine permitting process, please contact:
The Renewable Resources Coalition, Inc.
or Telephone: (907) 743-1900
There was a major oil spill two weeks ago in Norway. Please see the update from WWF’s office in Norway.
Update on the “Full City“ oil spill in Norway:
·It is estimated that around 200 tons of oil was spilt
·The oil has spread to 3 counties - Vestfold, Telemark and Aust-Agder, from Grimstad in the vest, to vest of Larviksfjorden in the east
·The full extent of the spill and affected areas will be presented on Friday 14th. At least 150 spill sites have been registered, and close to 40 nature protected areas have been affected
·The salvage operation is in full progress and is being undertaken by Smit Salvage AS. So far 820 tons of oil emulsion (oil mixed with water) has been removed from the wreck, and it is estimated that the remainder of the process will take about 1 week
·Collected wastes from the beaches and from the sea so far estimated at 106 tons of oiled wastes and 217 tons of oil emulsion (oil mixed with water). Veolia Miljo is handling the waste treatment, and will provide updated figures of how much the wastes represent in actual oil
·WWFs Clean coast! oil spill response teamis working every day with about 20 volunteers daily so far. From Thursday we are hoping to have as many as 50 people at work every day!WWFs volunteers have collected more than 25 tons of oil and oiled wastes by hand so far!!
·The Norwegian Coastal Administration, the local municipalities, and the government consider the WWF team to be one of the crucial elements of the clean-up operation, and have asked us to contribute with as much manpower as we can. All WWF volunteers and WWF employees are being paid for this work
·34 species of birds have been affected, and over 1 500 oiled birds have been observed in the field (the total number probably higher)
·WWF has contributed substantially to oiled birds now being rehabilitated (rather than shot), and as a member of The Norwegian Oiled Wildlife Response Network (NOW) leading the organization and coordination of the response.
Oil spill from Timor Sea platform a warning for development here
An oil spill 5,800 square miles in size now is threatening some of the wildest and most pristine regions of the planet. The spill is in the East Timor Sea, on the western coast of Australia. The spill was half this size only 4 days ago.
The oil has been continuously spewing from the Montara offshore oil platform. They are unable to stop it. The company responsible evacuated the site and had to call in another company to fix the problem.
Every newspaper around the world covered EVOS. Why are they not covering this spill. Is it perhaps because it is OFFSHORE and we are on the precipice of opening vast areas of pristine ocean to oil development?
The East Timor spill is now 12 miles from a wild coastline full of birds, wildlife and a rich coastal environment. The human species seems incapable of learning from mistakes. Twenty years after EVOS, incredibly imprudent decisions are still being made.
-- Elise Wolf
Shepherd, H. (2013). Energy Blog. Retrieved from http://www.centerforwateradvocacy.org/view/blog/139957