All posts by Fred First

No to the Pipeline(s): The Documentary

Just a note to make you aware that the ongoing story of Appalachian resistance to natural gas pipelines has been serially documented and is available for viewing at a new page on this site–under Why NO Pipelines.

Any new chapters (and we all hope there will not be many more before the energy companies relent) can be viewed by clicking this blue button on the Preserve Floyd webpage.

And you should check out the citizen engagement at a recent FERC meeting:

SAVE OUR WATER! No Eminent Domain for Personal Gain! Watch the videos from right here in Virginia.

 

League Expands Staff Fighting Pipelines in Southwest Virginia

Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League announced the hiring of two community organizers in southwest Virginia dedicated to fighting pipelines and the pollution they bring.  Mara Robbins of Floyd and Getra Hanes Selph of Bent Mountain are activists who have organized several of the preserve groups along the Mountain Valley Pipeline route.  They started work today.

Lou Zeller, the League’s Executive Director, said, “We are pleased to hire two local leaders who have demonstrated real skill in organizing their communities.”  He continued, “We envision a long-term campaign to stop the sacrifice of southwest Virginia to the fossil fuel industry.”

Mara Robbins, a graduate of Hollins University and founder the first “Preserve” group in Virginia, Preserve Floyd, said, “It is an honor to work with the wonderful staff at Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.  Whether the issue is pipelines, fracking, coal ash or a nuclear waste dump, I am committed to this work. It is the work I was born to do.” Preserve Floyd has been a chapter of the League since October.

Getra Hanes Selph, reflecting on her new position, said, “This is the issue that has propelled me to take action by organizing a grassroots community movement to “Stop the Pipelines” in Virginia.”  Preserve Bent Mountain became a League chapter in November.  She earned her B.S at Radford University.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League was founded in 1984 by people in Virginia and North Carolina concerned about a national nuclear waste dump in the southern Appalachian Mountains.  The public education campaign launched by the League helped to create regional resistance.  The US Department of Energy abandoned the plan in 1988.

Nature Not Our Golden Egg if We Kill the Goose

Do you think that the chief purpose of natural places and communities of the planet is for human transformation into more and more human stuff forever? Or do forests or coral reefs or estuaries have rights to legal protection (as much as now afforded to corporations)?

Communities not unlike Floyd County’s population are impacted today by coal ash storage ponds that will contaminate their aquifers; they live downstream from mountaintop coal mining; they suffer genetic deformities in their newborns because of toxic industrial waste abandoned by the industries that created them.

Citizens of Floyd County have recently faced the real threat of massive fracking-gas pipelines that will potentially be putting our neighboring counties and their citizens and properties at risk.

Do communities in Giles, Franklin, Floyd and Montgomery Counties have rights to prevent degradation of their water, soil, air and way of life — even if corporation-states blow off those human needs and rights as impediments to their profit?

We are at last acknowledging that, if our local ecosystems become unhealthy, the humans and non-human creatures that depend on those living systems will also become unwell.

If we know these kinds of abuses of people and planet are wrong, what is a community on the ground in the path of known or anticipated natural-system damage to do in the face of what seems to be an indifferent, omnipotent, un-stoppable corporatocracy?

These are not academic questions and thankfully, the solutions are not theoretical but real and available. Preserve Floyd is in the process of learning how to use these solutions for the common good in Floyd County and southwest Virginia in similar ways that locally-drafted ordinances have been used in 110 municipalities across the country.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund will provide guidance and assistance as we craft a draft ordinance in support of ongoing health and justice for those in-common natural resources within our shared habitat of Floyd County–water, soil, forests and more.

Come learn more this Sunday , from 3 to 5 p.m., at the public meeting of Preserve Floyd: Citizens Preserving Floyd County. Location is the Junebug Center across from the Jacksonville Center on Route 8 just south of the town of Floyd towards the BR Parkway.

The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund : Rights of Nature: Background

Confluence: Water and the Pipeline

Many of you attended the showing of”To the Last Drop“–the locally-filmed Floyd County water documentary shown at the Eco-village on September 14. The ideas and interviews for that film started in the summer of 2013 long before there was any knowledge of Mountain Valley’s proposed interstate pipeline.

So it was well timed that Partnership for Floyd’s efforts culminated with the premier showing at just the time that our water–and that of all impacted and down-stream counties–was rising to the top of Preserve Floyd’s concerns. We began to consider the impact of natural gas pipelines on the water across more than 800 miles of landscape threatened by the combined length of Mountain Valley and the Atlantic Coast Pipelines.

While our attention still resonates with voices, places, hopes and concerns from the movie, let me just say a bit more about water as we continue to be vigilant against any forces or agencies that put tomorrow’s water at risk. Towards that end, I’ll share a “this I believe” kind of statement I wrote recently in the process of trying to distill my thoughts:

Ninety-five percent of Floyd County residents get their water from wells. From an injury to any one, other neighbors can suffer. So we are vigilant to protect our ground and surface waters today, even as we also look ahead. Adequate clean water in our county is a right, far into the future, that we are not willing to put at risk. And as we care for the water that falls on this plateau, we are also mindful of its quality as it passes through communities between here and the Gulf or the Atlantic. Ultimately, water is a shared necessity to life that we care for together across space and across time.

Our actions to insure that our waters are protected today become a legacy of reliable water for the next generations. Water, adequate and clean, is a right, not a commodity. We are committed to the water commons, and resist any threats to it, from whatever source they might come.

Consider thoughtfully these ten water-commons principles. They guide us towards a dedication to continued water stewardship that we stand FOR. The current frenzy of over-building of natural gas wells, holding ponds and pipeline construction right-of-ways are not consistent with these water principles, and represent values, purposes, methods and ends that we stand AGAINST.

Pass it On...
If you find any resonance with this commitment to stand our ground for our water, please share it with your social media contacts, friends, neighbors, churches and organizations. 

Pipeline PickupSticks

How does the newly-supported Atlantic Coast Pipeline venture change the game, if at all, with regard to Mt Valley?

Can ACP provide markets once envisioned for MVP, and therefore make MVP unnecessary?

Running parallel to the coast, you have to entertain the notion some of the billions of cubic feet of gas is headed to LNG conversion and export from Atlantic ports. Read:

New pipelines are for fracking and LNG export

pipelines340And here’s a thought, no extra charge, for those who would make life miserable for as many Americans as possible: there will be places where two or more large pipelines necessarily cross paths.

Like, maybe, Houston. What a mess of pickup sticks!

What terror and damage it would make to detonate just such a junction near a large urban area.

 

 

Natural Gas: A Green Bridge to Hell

Not my title, but one that suits. Naomi Oreskes is known to me from the brilliant Merchants of Doubt on the truth-management practices “from tobacco to global warming.”

I’ve had this realization that the same folks behind horizontal fracturing’s economics, “science” and the proliferation of fracked wells being forced on landscapes and communities across the east are the same folks who bought their own scientists who told us cigarettes were really good for us.

The current natural gas truth-spinners are the same people who took the tops off mountains and put them into creeks that had names, where people with names once lived normal lives.

The proposed MV pipeline that Floyd County would suffer is part of a legacy. We’re focused, rightly, on the symptom of that legacy that might change the lives of many of us, not for the better.

But we need to be mindful of the spin in this “green bridge” so that we don’t let our neighbors buy any snake oil.

Rather a lot of Diigo annotations from Green Bridge to Hell pulled from the longer TomGram article are posted below:

When looked at in a clear-eyed way, natural gas isn’t going to turn out to be the fossil-fuel equivalent of a wonder drug that will cure the latest climate disease. Quite the opposite: its exploitation will actually increase the global use of fossil fuels and pump more greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere, while possibly suppressing the development of actual renewable alternatives.
Different studies of this sort tend to yield quite different results with a high margin for error, but many conclude that when natural gas replaces petroleum in transportation or heating oil in homes, the greenhouse gas benefits are slim to none.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, there were 342,000 gas wells in the United States in 2000; by 2010, there were over 510,000, and nearly all of this increase was driven by shale-gas development — that is, by fracking. This represents a huge increase in the potential pathways for methane leakage directly into the atmosphere. (It also represents a huge increase in potential sources of groundwater contamination, but that’s a subject for another post.)

There have been enormous disagreements among scientists and industry representatives over methane leakage rates, but experts calculate that leakage must be kept below 3% for gas to represent an improvement over coal in electricity generation, and below 1% for gas to improve over diesel and gasoline in transportation. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) currently estimates average leakage rates at 1.4%, but quite a few experts dispute that figure. One study published in 2013, based on atmospheric measurements over gas fields in Utah, found leakage rates as high as 6%-11%.

But recently the Wall Street Journal reported that state officials in North Dakota would be pressing for new regulations because flaring rates there are running around 30%. In the month of April alone, $50 million dollars of natural gas was burned off, completely wasted. The article was discussing shale oil wells, not shale gas ones, but it suggests that, when it comes to controlling flaring, there’s evidence the store is not being adequately minded. (At present, there are no federal regulations at all on flaring.) As long as gas is cheap, the economic incentives to avoid waste are obviously insufficient.

Meanwhile, global fossil fuel production and consumption are rising. A recent article by the business editor of the British Telegraph describes a frenzy of fossil fuel production that may be leading to a new financial bubble. The huge increase in natural gas production is, in reality, helping to keep the price of such energy lower, discouraging efficiency and making it more difficult for renewables to compete.

We’ve all heard about the Keystone XL Pipeline through which Canada proposes to ship oil from the Alberta tar sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, and from there to the rest of the world. Few people, however, are aware that the U.S. has also become a net exporter of coal and is poised to become a gas exporter as well. Gas imports have fallen steadily since 2007, while exports have risen, and several U.S. gas companies are actively seeking federal and state approvals for the building of expanded gas export facilities.

All of the available scientific evidence suggests that greenhouse gas emissions must peak relatively soon and then fall dramatically over the next 50 years, if not sooner, if we are to avoid the most damaging and disruptive aspects of climate change. Yet we are building, or contemplating building, pipelines and export facilities that will contribute to increased fossil fuel use around the globe, ensuring further increases in emissions during the crucial period when they need to be dramatically decreasing.

Certain forms of infrastructure also effectively preclude others. Once you have built a city, you can’t use the same land for agriculture. Historians call this the “infrastructure trap.” The aggressive development of natural gas, not to mention tar sands, and oil in the melting Arctic, threaten to trap us into a commitment to fossil fuels that may be impossible to escape before it is too late. Animals are lured into traps by the promise of food. Is the idea of short-term cuts in greenhouse gas emissions luring us into the trap of long-term failure?

The fossil fuel industry and their allies have spent the past 20 years attacking environmentalists and climate scientists as extremists, alarmists, and hysterics. Their publicists have portrayed them as hair-shirt wearing, socialist watermelons (green on the outside, red on the inside) who relish suffering, kill jobs, and want everyone to freeze in the dark. Extremists do exist in the environmental movement as everywhere else, but they represent a tiny faction of the community of people concerned about climate change, and they are virtually nonexistent in the scientific community. (Put it this way: if there is a hair-shirt wearing climate scientist, I have not met her.)

Sometimes you can fight fire with fire, but the evidence suggests that this isn’t one of those times. Under current conditions, the increased availability and decreased price of natural gas are likely to lead to an increase in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Preliminary data from 2013 suggest that that is already occurring. And global emissions are, of course, continuing to increase as well.

Natural gas is not the bridge to clean energy; it’s the road to more climate change.

WDBJ Covers FloydCo Supervisors Pipeline Issue

“Floyd County residents oppose preliminary plan for natural gas pipeline” reads the headline.

The subtitle, I’d have stated otherwise: “Plan would likely require digging a ditch through entire county.”

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There is far more to the issue than the digging of a ditch, but thanks very much to Channel 7 for being present in Floyd last night.

There’s a short video at the site. Click the LINK and check it out. 

And add your name to the sign-up form on this web site to be informed of upcoming meetings, fast-breaking news and more.

Updated Map of Proposed Route

Based on new information including map points from Floyd County landowners who have been contacted by requests for easement surveys, this new map provides more current information about specific county farmland, streams, roadways, forests, churches, businesses and home places potentially impacted by the construction of this inter-state natural gas pipeline.

More specific details about particular communities along this updated path will be available soon.

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Click this link for a larger view. 

Short-term Energy Shell-game

THEY TELL US WE’RE ON THE CUSP OF AN OIL & GAS REVOLUTION.

But what if it’s all just a short-term bubble?  http://shalebubble.org/

oildrillingPad605

The Reality is that the so-called shale revolution is nothing more than a bubble, driven by record levels of drilling, speculative lease & flip practices on the part of shale energy companies, fee-driven promotion by the same investment banks that fomented the housing bubble, and by unsustainably low natural gas prices. Geological and economic constraints – not to mention the very serious environmental and health impacts of drilling – mean that shale gas and shale oil (tight oil) are far from the solution to our energy woes.

▶ High productivity shale plays are not ubiquitous and wells suffer from very high rates of depletion.

▶ Because depletion rates are so high and drilling locations increasingly unproductive, industry is forced to drill ever more wells just to offset declines.

▶ Wall Street promoted the shale gas drilling frenzy in order to profit from mergers & acquisitions, resulting in prices lower than the cost of production.

DO READ ON, NEIGHBORS.