August 29 News: Ohio EPA Wants to Limit Fracking Pollution; Emerging Powers Call for Extending Kyoto Climate Deal

Ohio EPA Proposes Pollution Limits on Fracking

Companies drilling for oil and natural gas in shale formations in Ohio might soon face air pollution limits on new wells.

The practice of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in pursuit of gas can require multiple wells on a single site, creating a concentration of equipment that can leak hazardous airborne compounds, The Columbus Dispatch reported. That’s causing concern about the pollutants the drilling operations might release, and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has proposed requiring oil and gas drillers to get permits that would set pollution limits.

“This is no longer the individual little well you see out in farm fields,” Ohio EPA spokesman Mike Settles said. “This is a sizable operation with pieces of equipment that need to be covered by an air permit.”

Ohio has more than 64,000 active oil and gas wells, but they had not been considered significant threats to air quality.

Environmental groups appear to have more qualms with the idea than drillers do.

“I don’t see anything that’s particularly adverse to the industry’s interests,” said Tom Stewart, vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association.

A coalition that includes the Ohio Environmental Council and other environmental groups argue there are loopholes in the permit proposal that leave room for more pollution because the permits wouldn’t apply to certain activities and because companies wouldn’t be required to install the best available pollution filters.

The permits wouldn’t limit air pollution from drilling or fracking, a technique in which water, chemicals and sand are pumped in to crack the ground and release gas or oil, because those are “temporary activities,” Settles said.

It’s possible that benzene and other hazardous compounds could evaporate from the waste water fracking produces, said Teresa Mills, Ohio organizer for the advocacy group Center for Health, Environment and Justice.

Emerging Powers Call for Extending Climate Deal

Brazil, South Africa, India and China said Saturday that November’s UN climate talks should aim to extend the Kyoto Protocol, the only binding global deal to cut greenhouse gases.

The four key emerging powers — seen as critical to the success of any future effort to combat climate change — said keeping Kyoto alive should be the “central priority” at the key UN summit in South Africa.

The bloc released the statement after two days of talks in southeast Brazil to prepare for the next UN climate conference scheduled to take place in Durban from November 28 to December 9.

The ministers “reaffirmed that the Kyoto Protocol is a cornerstone of the climate change regime,” it said.

Xie Zhenhua, a top Chinese climate change official, said he hoped the statement would “send a sign to the international community that we are pursuing efforts to make the Durban conference a success.”

Gallup Poll: Global Climate Worry Up Slightly Since 2009

Global concern about climate change has risen only very slightly over the past two years, as consumers have focused on more immediate economic worries, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.

Nielsen’s latest global online environment and sustainability survey showed that 69 percent of 25,000 Internet users in 51 countries were concerned about climate change in 2011, slightly up from 66 percent in a similar poll in 2009, but down from 72 percent in 2007.

“Focus on immediate worries such as job security, local school quality and economic wellbeing have all diminished media attention for climate stories in the past two years,” said Maxwell Boykoff, who was an adviser to the survey and is senior visiting research associate at the University of Oxford’s Environmental Change Institute.

Despite State Department Green Light for Keystone XL, Pressure on Obama Continues

Protesters remain undaunted by a U.S. State Department decision Friday giving preliminary approval to the controversial Keystone XL pipeline meant to pump tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf Coast of Texas.

Demonstrations have been taking place all week in front of the White House and included a “No Tar Sands Caravan” bus tour that stopped in Boulder and Denver earlier in the week. More than 400 people, including prominent climate change writer Bill McKibben, have been arrested in Washington, D.C.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, told the New York Times President Obama needs to veto the project despite the State Department’s initial green light.

“It will be increasingly difficult to mobilize the environmental base and to mobilize in particular young people to volunteer, to knock on thousands of doors, to put in 16-hour days, to donate money if they don’t think the president is showing the courage to stand up to big polluters,” he said, referring to the Obama’s ability to win re-election in 2012.

10 Responses to August 29 News: Ohio EPA Wants to Limit Fracking Pollution; Emerging Powers Call for Extending Kyoto Climate Deal

  1. Sasparilla says:

    Nissan moves Leaf deliveries to Chicago up (starting this fall when Volt deliveries start as well) in the face of Illinois commitment to plug in vehicles:

    Previously Nissan Leaf deliveries were scheduled for after Leaf production opens in Smyrna TN at the end of 2012.

    Besides an up to $4000 state rebate for plug-ins (10% of MSRP) Chicago and suburbs will have 73 Quick Chargers (~80% charge in 30 minutes) and 207 Level 2 Chargers in public locations by the end of 2011 (40 chargers are installed currently).

    It says the Chicagoland area will have the most advanced charging infrastructure for plug ins by the end of the year of any major city and suburb area in the US. Blows me away that’s Illinois that did this.

    Nissan just had a big drive electric Leaf test drive event over the last weekend at Soldier Field.

    With the federal tax credit of $7500, this brings the price of the top of the line 2012 Leaf down to ~$26,000 and the 2012 Volt down to ~$32,500. In Illinois using its power rates ($0.125 per KW) you should be able drive 1500 miles for less than $40, easily, depending on how you drive and speeds of course.

  2. Patrick Linsley says:

    Chicago has also been preparing for climate change at a much quicker rate than other cities by choosing trees that will survive in a hotter climate and paving material that can absorb water from severe rains that will become more common for that area.

  3. _Flin_ says:

    Germany produced 20.8% of it’s electricity from renewables in first half of 2011.
    Link to German “Der Spiegel”,1518,783173,00.html
    Furthermore some poll numbers in the article:
    – 94% think building more renewable energy is very important or important
    – 4 of 5 mention protection from climate change as a reason
    – 79% think that the additional price of 3,5 €-ct per kWh is “reasonable” or “too low”

    Link to NASDAQ, english, without the poll numbers:

  4. Vic says:

    A new report by the Australian based Climate Institute examines the psychological impacts on people and communities affected by extreme weather events associated with climate change.

    Some of the key findings :

    •Following a severe weather event, a significant part of the community — as many as one in five — will suffer the debilitating effects of extreme stress, emotional injury and despair. Unabated, a more hostile climate will spell a substantial rise in the incidence of post-traumatic stress, anxiety and depression.

    •The emotional and psychological toll of disasters can linger for months, even years, affecting whole families, the capacity for people to work and the wellbeing of the community. Higher rates of drug and alcohol misuse, violence, family dissolution, and suicide are more likely to follow more extreme weather events.

    •Evidence is beginning to emerge that drought and heat waves lead to higher rates of self-harm and suicide, as much as 8 per cent higher.

    •Rural, regional, remote, Indigenous and peri-urban communities are particularly exposed in a deteriorating climate. Climate change compounds the chronic difficulties and inequities that already face many of these communities. Climate change will almost certainly increase the demand for social support and mental health services and, at the same time, make it harder to sustain them in affected areas.

    •In the long term, there is a heightened risk of stress and tension amongst both newcomers and their host communities as people are forced to move permanently and en masse in response to a rapidly shifting climate. The loss of a sense of place — particularly for Indigenous peoples — may magnify and complicate the mental and emotional pressures.

    •Children, in particular, are vulnerable to pre-disaster anxiety and post-trauma illness. Adults’ failure to act decisively on climate change may, like the indecision that perpetuated the Cold War, lead to long-lived insecurity and anxiety in young Australians.

    •Even for those not directly affected by an extreme weather event, news of loved ones lost or property damaged, together with the sheer the enormity of disasters like the Queensland floods — often magnified by media coverage — can be distressing and debilitating.

  5. Sasparilla says:

    Gosh, those are fantastic numbers supporting renewable energy systems in Germany. The irony is that because of the choice to phase out nuclear (not a illogical choice, of course) the German leadership is leaning towards new coal power plants for much of the replacement.

    Maybe the German people can get their leadership to go another way.

  6. Mossy says:

    Comments are still being accepted at the State Dept. on the Keystone XL Pipeline through Oct. 7. There’s still time to influence them before the FINAL decision!

    Go to
    Click on the left where it says “post a commnet.”

  7. Sasparilla says:

    Thanks for that link Patrick that is a great article, I had no idea the “city that works” was working so well.

    The level of this charging infrastructure really blew me away – 70+ quick chargers and 200+ Level 2’s, saw one today and its on the Chargepoint network (assuming the rest will be too) – that will make it so you can nearly always be near a charger. And for ICE plug-ins (Volt, Prius Plug-in) its still way cheaper to buy for profit electricity than burn the gasoline in their tanks, so they’ll use them too.

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Fearless prediction for Durban. The ‘BASIC’ countries’ call to extend Kyoto will be used by the Western countries, led by the USA, to sabotage the talks on the grounds that Kyoto ‘unfairly favours’ the non-Western countries. The Western MSM will blame the failure on China.

  9. Richard D says:

    Interesting article – thanks,

    “Chicago spends over $10 million a year planting roughly 2,200 trees”

    very expensive trees

  10. Doug Bostrom says:

    Not The Onion. Reported in The Independent, UK:

    Echoes of climate change battles are no accident

    There are striking parallels between the attempt by the tobacco industry to seek academic research data held by Stirling University using the Freedom of Information law and the campaign to gain access to research data held by the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

    In both cases, the scientific evidence has been political dynamite because of the regulatory implications for society at large. Scientific evidence in both cases has been fundamental to legislation that has had or will have an impact on millions of people around the world, whether it is laws to curb smoking or legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    But there are also differences. The Stirling University institute is dealing with a couple of FOI requests from one huge organisation, many times larger than itself.

    The Climatic Research Unit, meanwhile, has dealt with as many as 168 FOI requests over the past four years, mostly from individuals who have concerns about the quality of the data on which the climate scientists have based their conclusions.

    The other difference, of course, is that the climate data is culled from scientific instruments rather than the personal testimony of children who have been promised confidentiality.

    But there is a further surprising parallel between the two sets of FOI requests. The scientific denialism shown by Big Tobacco can be linked with the climate denialism of the fossil-fuel industry through organisations that foster both types of scepticism.

    Big Tobacco and Big Oil have both fostered the idea that scientific evidence published in peer-reviewed journals can be undermined by their own hastily compiled reports.

    They use similar language when they speak of “junk science” that does not tell them what they want to hear, and the “sound science” that does.

    As the author George Monbiot says in his book Heat, both lobby groups recognise that the best chance of avoiding regulation is to challenge the scientific consensus by sowing disinformation and personally undermining those who carry out the research.

    As one tobacco industry memo stated: “Doubt is our product since it is the best means of competing with the ‘body of fact’ that exists in the mind of the general public. It is also the means of establishing a controversy.”