- New long-term study shows 40% decline in native Wyoming deer population due to oil and gas drilling
- Money is why Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Agreement
- Public opposition is going to keep the Keystone XL Pipeline from being built any time soon
- New scientific study shows fracking is strongly related to infant mortality
- New study shows much higher number of oil well spills than previously reported
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An important new study shows that oil and gas activity can have severe negative long-term impacts on native wildlife.
The study, “Mule deer and energy development—Long-term trends of habituation and abundance,” was published last month in Global Change Biology Journal. The authors tracked 187 mule deer for 17 years from 1998-2015 in the upper Green River Basin of western Wyoming, referred to as the Pinedale Anticline. The area is a prime wintering spot for thousands of mule deer, which annually migrate 20-100 miles from summer areas in four different mountain ranges.
The study showed a decline in habitat available to the deer, a dramatic overall decline in the deer population, a corresponding decline in the harvest of deer by local hunters, and s significant reduction in the size of the remaining deer.
Communities contemplating oil and gas development need to be aware of the unintended consequences of that development, and make sure that their way of life — ecological, social, economic — is maintained for the long term. Continue reading
President Trump announced today that the United States will withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement, a landmark agreement in which 195 countries, representing 95% of the world’s carbon emissions, agreed to voluntarily reduce emissions to control global warming. The US joins Syria and Nicaragua as the only three nations in the world not participating. Nice company.
There is no question why Trump took this course. It has nothing to do with science (or he wouldn’t have taken this action). It has nothing to do with an “America First” foreign policy doctrine.
It’s about money. Continue reading
If you thought Donald Trump was going to wave a magic wand and get the Keystone XL Pipeline built, you should recognize that there is no magic and the pipeline isn’t going to be constructed any time soon.
TransCanada Corp, the principal builder of Keystone XL, is still not prepared to offer a firm timeline for the completion of the Keystone XL pipeline, its top executive said last week, even though President Trump granted the project a permit. According to TransCanada CEO Ross Girling, the pipeline sits in the company’s “long-term bucket” because of the remaining difficulty in getting it done. One of the key difficulties is the strong opposition of those concerned about the environmental impact of the pipeline.
Public opposition has kept the Keystone XL from being built so far, and it will continue to stand in the way, despite whatever the current administration in Washington wants to do. TransCanada recognizes that it will be take years to clear all the hurdles, and Trump’s order can be reversed by a subsequent US president, so the company is not willing to take unnecessary risk in committing to the pipeline. Continue reading
A new scientific study published this week in the Journal of Environmental Protection shows, for the first time, a clear correlation between fracking and the death of newborn infants.
The study showed that infant deaths decreased by 2.4% across the state during the period of the fracking boom from 2007-2010. However, in the 82,558 births in the 10 most-fracked counties, there was a significant increase in mortality (238 vs. 193, a 23.3% increase). These results are statistically significant at a 95% level of confidence.
According to the authors, that means 50 babies died over three years because they happened to be born near a fracked well. Stunning.
What’s more, the greatest increases in death occurred in counties with the highest dependence on private water wells, and in the counties with the greatest number of operator violations of wastewater disposal regulations.
This is a very important study for rural Montanans in areas where fracking is likely. They depend on private wells for precious water, they live in a state that is lax in protecting landowners, and the company most likely to come in and drill is a serial polluter with a track record of violations in the very counties in Pennsylvania that were studied.
To read more, click the link. Continue reading
Warning: This article is based on peer-reviewed scientific research. Science deniers may want to read elsewhere.
A new study by US scientists shows that as many of 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year. According to the study, there were at least 6,648 liquid releases from these wells over a ten-year period from 2005-14 in just four states — North Dakota, Colorado, Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
Around 50% of spills were related to the storage and movement of fluids via pipelines. According to Dr. Patterson, “The causes are quite varied. Equipment failure was the greatest factor, the loading and unloading of trucks with material had a lot more human error than other places.”
Over half of spills in North Dakota occurred at wells that had recorded a previous incident.
In a fragile ecosystem highly dependent on concentrated sources of water like the Beartooth Front, this data is highly alarming. It argues for local regulation that protects water, air, and soil required for agriculture and ranching. Continue reading
Most of us bemoan the lack of civility, negotiation, and compromise in politics. We’re so polarized that government does almost nothing to solve our most critical problems.
What’s particularly frustrating to those of us who see climate change as a major threat to the future of human civilization is that the clock is ticking. Global temperatures have risen about 1.5° Celsius since the beginning of the industrial age and are continuing to rise. The impacts will accelerate with each uptick in temperature: rising seas and coastal flooding, longer and more damaging wildfire seasons, more extreme and destructive weather, more frequent and intense heat waves, widespread forest death, costly and growing health impacts, severe drought, stress on clean water systems, disruption of food supplies, and much more.
What makes this so frustrating is that simple and elegant bipartisan solutions to this problem exist. Just last week a group of conservative Republicans proposed such a solution. The proposers aren’t ideologues or hacks, they’re Republicans with impeccable credentials.
To read about their solution and why it could make sense, click the link.
Earthworks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting communities and the environment from the adverse impacts of mineral and energy development, is offering an online training webinar for environmental activists this Thursday, February 9, at 6pm Mountain. This webinar will cover: … Continue reading
Twenty-four Senate Democrats, led by U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have sent a letter to Senate leaders asking them to defend the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Methane and Natural Gas Waste Prevention Rule. Montana Senator Jon Tester … Continue reading
A bill currently being considered in the Montana State Senate significantly reduces landowner rights in protecting property from damage from oil drilling on or near occupied buildings. SB93, currently before the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, would reduce notification requirements approved last year by the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC). Those regulations require oil and gas operators to notify owners of “occupied structures” within a quarter mile of a well before drilling.
The BOGC rule, passed last December, was the result of a 20-month process involving Montana environmental groups, with input from the Montana Petroleum Association. The process grew out of the Legislature’s rejection in the 2015 session of SB177, which would have established a 1000 foot minimum buffer zone, or setback, between wellheads and a home, water well, or surface water. The bill did not make it out of committee.
Following the failure of the bill, Northern Plains Resource Council and others petitioned the BOGC to establish minimum setbacks to protect landowners. After 20 months of hearings, testimony by landowners, and committee meetings, the BOGC passed its new rule last December. The rule requires notification in advance of drilling to any landowner within a quarter mile of a wellhead.
To find out what you can do to keep this bill from passing, follow the link. Continue reading
“Changed circumstances”: Montana Board of Oil and Gas reconsiders rulemaking on fracking chemical disclosure
Citing “changed circumstances,” the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation (BOGC) has decided to reconsider rulemaking on fracking chemical disclosure at its next meeting on February 1.
While the Board didn’t specify what had changed, one new circumstance is the legal action filed against the BOGC on January 17 by a coalition of Montana property owners, public health advocates, and conservation groups. The suit seeks more transparent disclosure of information to the public on chemicals used in the fracking process. Continue reading