Friday, April 25, 2014

No. 94 – April 24, 2014 – They've Been Frackquaked and They're Mad as Hell

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

In times when the price of oil was climbing and jobs have disappeared overseas, many initially welcomed the boom but the reality of living with frackquakes, earthquakes caused by fracking which are damaging homes and infrastructure, and the other impacts wrought have changed people's minds.

A wave of activism is beginning across the country. In Texas earlier this month group of disgruntled citizens, numbering around 1,000 showed up at a public meeting on the subject in Azle/Reno, TX. The official holding the meeting, the state regulator, used the opportunity to announce a 'study' of the situation. Then he refused to answer questions.

People from the community who had attended walked out of the meeting, rented a bus, and went to the state capital, four hours away, to vent their spleen and demand action from the entire Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees all oil and gas drilling in the state.

Comments to the commission were recorded and included:

In other states where fracking waste-water injection wells have been shut down, earthquakes disappear. This isn’t rocket science. Common sense tells you that fracking waste disposal is playing a big role in this. Don’t make us guinea pigs while you study.” — Reno Mayor Lynda Stokes
This is a property rights issue, pure and simple. The most profitable industry in the country is damaging our homes. And the Railroad Commission is not only allowing it, they’re forcing homeowners to pay the damages.” — Reno homeowner Barbara Brown
Hearing the rise of outrage earlier the city of Dallas passed a moratorium on fracking late last year.
Texas, long the advocate and cheerleader for fracking, oil industry's newest roll out for drilling, is up in arms. Other states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Colorado and California are saying No to earthquakes caused by horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

Since November 1 Texas has experienced 30 tremblers in the north central part of their state, which previously had been considered to be seismically inactive. The costs are being borne by local homeowners who were helpfully told by one state, Oklahoma, to buy earthquake insurance, after the fact.

The resulting focus for angry Americans is on the fact their property is being damaged, with more to come, and the health hazards of the waste water produced by the process are beginning to sink in, to the water tables and to public awareness.

Now, what about Ohio?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Public Banking in Pennsylvania: The Second American Revolution

by Mike Krauss, Pennsylvania Public Bank Project

Home to Ben Franklin and the first and successful public bank in America. Home to the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Washington’s Crossing and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania has long been called the Keystone State, owing to its central role in the birth of the American democracy.  To this day it is a “battleground” state in presidential elections.

Now, the Keystone State is stepping up to help make pubic banking and American history.  Formed just after the Public Banking Institute, the Pennsylvania Project is leading the way.

From the first, PA Project determined not to try for a state bank bill in the legislature, but instead to focus on municipal and county public banks, building broad support for a state public bank to follow.
First out of the gate was the small City of Reading, population about 88,000 and described in the New York Times in early 2012 as the poorest city in America. But newly elected Mayor Vaughn D. Spencer saw a different future. Two of his aides traveled to the first PBI national conference in Philadelphia, in April 2012, and there met with PBI and PA Project leaders.  Read more...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Frackquakes: Public Opposition Builds As Property Rights Are Endangered in Texas

From:  EcoWatch

By Sharon Wilson and Alan Septoff

The earthquakes you may have heard about—the 30 tremblers that have struck north central Texas since Nov. 1 and have damaged many homes. The quakes are most likely being caused by underground disposal wells used to get rid of wastewater generated during fracking operations. “Frackquakes,” some are calling them.
A massive oil field in Texas. The state has always been the heart of the U.S. oil industry, embracing oil and gas development from its earliest years, and pioneering fracking in the Barnett Shale. But public opinion seems to be changing. Photo credit: Dennis Dimick

The quakes you probably haven’t heard about are political. They’re caused in part by the frackquakes, and in part by other environmental, social and public health impacts of fracking-enabled oil and gas development. And they seem to be changing Texans’ opinions about fracking.
The oil and gas boom sweeping through the U.S. is occurring because horizontal hydraulic fracturing makes it possible to extract previously inaccessible oil and gas locked up inside the pores of shale rock thousands of feet underground.
Well, by drilling a well down to the shale deposit; taking a right turn to horizontally extend the well for thousands more feet through the shale layer, and then injecting millions of gallons—two to eight millions gallons, depending upon the area—of water laced with tens of thousands of gallons of toxics at such high pressure that the shale rock breaks (fractures). The water and toxics (called flowback fluid) are then withdrawn back up the well, and the released oil or gas follows.  MORE

Ohio Earthquakes Linked to Fracking, Companies Required to Test for Seismic Activity

From:  EcoWatch


The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) announced on Friday that recent earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were likely caused by hydraulic fracturing—or fracking.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.00.42 AM
Earthquake epicenters and past seismic events in Ohio. Graphic courtesy of ODNR

A series of earthquakes up to magnitude 3.0 struck on March 1o-11 in Mahoning County near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. A nearby Utica oil well was being fracked at the time of the quakes, leading ODNR shut down the operation until a possible link could be investigated further.
This is now the fourth documented case of induced seismicity linked to fracking, and the latest in a series of earthquakes in Ohio caused by oil and gas production activities. The earlier quakes resulted from disposal of waste water into underground injection wells.
Scientists have long known that injecting fluids underground can cause earthquakes. Despite this fact, neither state nor federal regulations require operators of fracking wells or disposal wells to evaluate the risk of induced earthquakes when deciding where to site wells or how to operate them. Ohio will now be the first state to require companies to monitor for seismic activity during fracking and shut down operations if earthquakes occur.  MORE

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ohio BusinessmanPleads Guilty After Dumping Fracking Wastewater Into Mahoning River

Ohio confirms “probable connection” between fracking and earthquakes

From:  Salon

State regulators announced stricter rules to help prevent future quakes 

When Russell Gold, the senior energy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, spoke with Salon about the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, he emphasized that one of the biggest problems is the speed at which the industry is moving — drilling almost 100 wells per day, and leaving little time to assess the potential impact of their activity. Often, it’s only long after something bad has happened — methane is leaked into the atmosphere, or local air and water is polluted — that regulators (sometimes) push for more caution.

Case in point: last month, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources temporarily suspended drilling at a number of wells in the northeastern part of the state out of concern that it may have been responsible for a series of earthquakes.

Friday, geologists confirmed that yes, fracking was probably responsible. “ODNR geologists believe the sand and water injected into the well during the hydraulic fracturing process may have increased pressure on an unknown micro-fault in the area,” they said in a release, leading to the 11 minor quakes experienced in March.

This is a big deal, marking the first time exploration of the Marcellus shale, which reaches from Ohio and West Virginia into Pennsylvania and New York, has been linked with seismic activity, according to a seismologist with the U.S. Department of Interior.  MORE



Saturday, April 12, 2014

No. 92 – April 10, 2014 – A Symphony in the Brain

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

How does your brain work? Understanding came only over time and through multiple disciplines.

Inquiries included a yogi sealed in an air tight box with air enough for 90 minutes. After 8 hours the ancient yogi asked to be released, providing a flash of insight on how much we do not know.

Sometimes a story based in science reads like a novel. This was the case with Jim Robbin's “A Symphony in the Brain,” published in 2000. Symphony tells the saga of Neurofeedback's origins and growing success against a medical establishment viewing it with both skepticism and hostility. Skeptic because the results are so much better than is being delivered with drugs. Hostility from the lower cost for treatment, which is, in many cases, life changing.

After my interview of Dr. Granoff on his practice as a clinical psychologist who has integrated NeurOptimal into his practice, I ordered the book he had recommended online.

Author Jim Robbins writes regularly for the science section of the New York Times and his work has also appeared in Smithsonian, Audubon, and Discover, among others.

The book tells the stories of people, skeptical professionals, parents, desperate for solutions, and people who understand the problems of alcoholism and drug addiction because they have, themselves, escaped.

Bill Scott craved alcohol after a childhood of trauma. An alcoholic at age 14, his older brother died, smashed in an auto accident, when Scott was 19. A choice confronted him. Accept the daily panic attacks which drove his drinking or change his choices. He did, enduring these every day.

As a professional overseeing a program for alcoholism for Native Americans in Minnesota he referred one severe case for Neurofeedback. At a visit after two weeks the change was stunning. Alcoholism was rampant on the reservation, 60% of residents being so categorized.

Next, Bill sent his hardest cases. Within weeks the changes were obvious. Then, Bill, still suffering from daily panic attacks, went himself. After 20 sessions his own disorder had vanished entirely. Bill was finally free of a childhood filled with abuse and fear.

Since the book was published the technology of Neurofeedback has matured and diverged. Today, one approach allows the brain to find its own optimal function using the explosion of technology made available through computerization.

NeurOptimal's Val Brown chose this path.

It is a riveting story, still playing out in clinical settings around the country.

No. 91 – April 3, 2014 – Drinking and Drugs are 'coping skills,' according to Dr. Granoff

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Dr. Granoff says his most dramatic case was treating a woman who came to him for talk therapy for what he eventually realized was Associative Identity Disorder. If you have read the book, Sybil, you know this is popularly called multiple personalities.

His patient, 'Norah,' had been seeing Dr. Granoff regularly when suddenly, during a session, her demeanor changed, shifting from extreme anxiety to entirely cool. It was so fast Dr. Granoff took note. It began happening more and more frequently.

'Norah' had been seeing Dr. David Granoff, a Clinical Psychologist, for some time, continuing to be riddled with extreme anxiety, based in her earlier life, which made it impossible her her to sleep. She was drinking heavily. Addiction to alcohol, drugs and other destructive behaviors are, according to Dr. Granoff 'coping skills,' things people do when they cannot otherwise function at all due to anxiety.

Dr. David Granoff has practiced as a Clinical Psychologist since 1999. Prior to beginning his practice he was an adjunct professor at Cleveland State University and a school psychologist at Villa Angela – St. Joseph High School.

Dr. Granoff suggested 'Norah' allow him to treat her using Neurofeedback in addition to traditional talk therapy. He had begun using the technique for boys referred to him with symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) or Bipolar Disorder. A colleague suggested this would held settle the boys down. It worked.

Dr. Granoff added Neurofeedback to his practice, becoming a Zengar Certified Trainer. One of his offices is on Chagrin Blvd, in Beachwear OH. His practice includes children, adolescents and adults in individual, family and couples therapy.

The first Neurofeedback session caused 'Norah' extreme anxiety. Then, afterward she reported being able to sleep, a stunning and positive change. Over the next two years 'Norah' received 15 – 20 Neurofeedback sessions. She came to view these as pleasurable and relaxing.

Today, 'Norah' is far better able to function in life. She is drinking less.

Added to his practice, n​eurofeedback became a valuable tool, one which allowed David to better help his patients.

Veterans returning from combat, traumatized by PTSD, children exhibiting symptoms of ADHD, facing expulsion from school or being medicated. People like 'Norah.' Neurofeedback works. Using it lets Dr. Granoff alleviate their suffering, allowing them fuller lives.

Veterans take note, Dr. Granoff offers one session free a week to vets in need. Call him.

Ohio regulators halt fracking site, drawing link to quakes

From:  CNBC

A high pressure gas line crosses over a canal in an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom on March 23, 2014 near Lost Hills, Calif.
Getty Images
A high pressure gas line crosses over a canal in an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom on March 23, 2014 near Lost Hills, Calif.
State geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to gas drilling, leading the state to issue new permit conditions in certain areas that are among the nation's strictest.
A state investigation of five small tremors in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, last month has found the high-pressure injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica Shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link "probable."
While earlier studies had linked earthquakes in the same region to deep-injection wells used for disposal of fracking wastewater, this marks the first time tremors have been tied directly to fracking, Simmers said. Five seismic events in March were all part of what was considered a single event and couldn't be easily felt by people. MORE

Ohio geologists link small quakes to fracking

From:  MSN Money 


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation's strictest.

A state investigation of five small tremors last month in the Youngstown area, in the Appalachian foothills, found the injection of sand and water that accompanies hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in the Utica Shale may have increased pressure on a small, unknown fault, said State Oil & Gas Chief Rick Simmers. He called the link "probable."

While earlier studies had linked earthquakes in the same region to deep-injection wells used for disposal of fracking wastewater, this marks the first time tremors in the region have been tied directly to fracking, Simmers said. The five seismic events in March couldn't be easily felt by people.

The oil and gas drilling boom targets widely different rock formations around the nation, so the Ohio findings may not have much relevance to other areas other than perhaps influencing public perception of fracking's safety. The types of quakes connected to the industry are generally small and not easily felt, but the idea of human activity causing the earth to shake often doesn't sit well.  MORE

Thursday, April 3, 2014

No. 90 – March 27, 2014 – First Anniversary - 'Levels of Concern' in Mayflower, Arkansas

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

A year ago Ann Jarrell was living in a house she loved. She had saved for years to buy it.
Her daughter, Jennifer, and new grandson, Logan, were living with her temporarily. Logan had been born December 11th. Watching Logan's world grow, along with his reach, became a fascination for Ann she had missed while raising her own child.

Then, on March 29th, Ann, Jennifer, and Logan's lives changed forever. Ann learned about the spill, which took place less than 1,000 yards from her home, when her daughter called her at work. Describing the concentration of emergency vehicles she said the smell was terrible. She was nauseated, her head ached. Ann called the police to ask if they should evacuate. She was told “Don't worry, it can't hurt you or your family.”

Still worried, Ann asked a woman working for Exxon. She was again told there was not a sufficient 'level of concern,' to warrant leaving. Again reassured, they decided to wait out the smell.

Their symptoms grew worse.

Ann began making frantic calls to every agency she could find, always told 'the level of concern' was not sufficient to warrant action. No one would listen. No agency, or Exxon, would even take a report. Not a resident of Northwoods, where the spill took place, Ann was not permitted into scheduled meetings, even when she could discover when they were taking place.

Jennifer began having seizures. Logan needed suctioning for his lungs. He had infections in his lungs, sinuses, and his ears. His doctor could do nothing more for him. “Get a specialist,” he told them.

Logan's eyes asked his grandma, “Why can't I breathe?”

Ann began losing days of work to blinding headaches and dizziness. Her memory was affected and she could no longer articulate her thoughts. On August 20th her physician told her never to return to her home, not even to pick up items she needed. Find someone to do it for you, he said. Toxins build up in your body.

Today, Ann is paying the mortgage for a house she cannot enter and is, effectively, homeless.

Logan still needs a respirator. His doctor, the specialist, says this may be for life. Ann worries about what kind of life he will have. And she wants an answer to her question.

Exxon, what constitutes a sufficient 'level of concern?'” All of us need to know.