Tuesday, June 25, 2013

EIS on 11 proposed frac sand mines

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

  An Environmental Impact Statement on 11 proposed frac sand mines in Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties is beginning this summer, led by the Environmental Quality Board (a MN state agency). 
  You are invited to a Land Stewardship Project event to help make sure this study starts off right, and the scope includes all of the many concerns local people have about the impacts of this destructive industry.
  Come to learn more, share your concerns, and get involved.
 Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 6:30-9:00 pm (registration 6:00)
  Montini Hall at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, Rushford, MN
  Participation by each of us is important in the EIS process.

  Details will be coming from Land Stewardship Project, Johanna Rupprecht  (507-523-3366) or jrupprecht@landstewardshipproject.org.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

“The Price of Sand”, a documentary film about frac sand mining

“The Price of Sand” is a documentary about the frac sand mining boom in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Due to a rapid increase in demand, pure silica sand has become a valuable commodity, and mines are opening here at a rapid rate.
The silica used in hydraulic fracturing (aka : “fracking”), has other uses– glass manufacturing and toothpaste, for instance — and a few established mines have been in operation here for decades. But now, new companies have arrived, and land with accessible silica deposits is selling for high prices.
In addition to a bonanza for a few lucky landowners, the new mines promise jobs and economic stimulus for the small towns and rural areas nearby.
The Film
Two years ago, an oil company bought a tract of land in near my mother’s house, in rural Goodhue County, Minnesota. The prospect of an open pit mine led to the formation of an opposition group, a series of public meetings, and a temporary county moratorium on frac sand mining.
I’m a filmmaker, so I visited people who live near existing mines and interviewed them. They told me stories–intense truck traffic, plummeting property values, toxic silica dust–a catalog of complaints that surprised me with its variety and intensity. I made clips from the interviews and posted them on YouTube.
YouTube shorts can provoke discussion (56,000 views so far), but the story of this mining boom is more complex.  Good people are on both sides of the issue, and sometimes the facts aren’t obvious.  “The Price of Sand” is a 1-hour documentary film that grew out of my short YouTube video project–more extensive, with new stories–a more comprehensive look at what’s happening.
The goal of this project:   find the real price of frac sand.  Not just in dollars, but in friendships, communities and the future of our region.
Jim Tittle • St. Paul, MN • director

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Good news (in other places)

  We can continue to inform ourselves and others.
Wishing you well,
  • Mora County, NM has banned fracking
  • The state of Vermont  has banned fracking
  • Florence Township in Goodhue County has banned frac sand mining
  • Hay Creek Township in Goodhue County has banned "large scale mining" and "mineral processing"
  • I'm told the city of Caledonia has banned nude dancing in bars (well, you said anything, right? And, this is in Houston County)
Below is a long list of bans and moratoriums on fracking: You'll need to go through them to separate "bans" from "moratoriums". But, these are just a few resources I came up with after searching around this morning:

REALLY GOOD SUMMARY of towns/states/countries:

  • The State of Vermont
  • May 17, 2012: Vermont became the first state to ban the controversial natural gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Governor Peter Shumlin signed the ban into law Wednesday afternoon.
  • New Jersey, NJ
  • May 17, 2012: TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Legislature has accepted Gov. Chris Christie’s recommendation for a one-year ban on a natural gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, rather than continue to pursue a permanent ban.
  • June 30, 2012 New Jersey Legislature Bans All Fracking Waste Mindful of a court ruling in 1978 striking down a law they passed banning waste disposal from other states, New Jersey legislators this week passed a new law banning all disposal of fracking wastewater within its borders, even if the waste water is produced within New Jersey. The new law is aimed at prohibiting shipment of 1.3 billion gallons of fracking waste water already generated in neighboring Pennsylvania from being shipped into New Jersey for deep well injection.
  • July 15, 2012  Secaucus, NJ -  bans ‘fracking’ (Local officials also call for statewide and national ban.) The mayor and Town Council banned fracking and fracking waste water in Secaucus at the June 26 council meeting in a resolution that states that the drilling process causes environmental hazards.
  • Pittsburgh, Pa
  • November 16, 2010: In a historic vote, the City of Pittsburgh today adopted a first-in-the-nation ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling in the city (Pittsburgh is finding it difficult to enact the ban because of ‘variances’ issued by the State’s Public Utilities Commission overruling their decisions) 
  • Morgantown, WV
  • June 6th 2011: Morgantown City Council went ahead on Tuesday evening with its proposed ban on fracking concerning the drilling of Marcellus Shale. The council approved the first reading of the ordinance which would prohibit fracking in the city and within one mile of the city limits as well. 
  • 15th August 2011: On Friday, Monongalia County Judge Susan Tucker ruled Morgantown’s ordinance to be invalid, clearing the way for Northeast to resume drilling. In the court’s opinion, Tucker said the state had exclusive control of regulation. Tucker also noted strides made by the state to implement comprehensive rules for drilling.
  • Syracuse, N.Y.
  • October 24, 2011: SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse common councilors ban hydrofracking in the city.
  • North Carolina, RALEIGH 1st July 2012-- Governor Bev Perdue vetoed the controversial fracking bill Sunday, the last day she had to act before it would have become law.The governor said she supports hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” but believes additional safeguards are needed in the bill. Without those safeguards in place to protect drinking water and the health of North Carolina families, Perdue said she was forced to veto the bill.
  • New York State
Woodstock enacts ban on hydrofracking – Jul 22, 2012
The Town Board on July 17 delivered the first blow of a proposed two-punch combination aimed at banning hydrofracking in Woodstock, unanimously adopting a zoning amendment that prohibits the controversial natural-gas extraction method and related activities within the town’s borders.
  • By a vote of 5-1-1, Village of Owego passed a 1-year moratorium – 31st July 2012 
Animated film of bans, moratoriums and groups in New York State
• Two legislative bills on hydrofrack drilling were considered by the legislature. The Assembly passed an extension of the current moratorium through June of 2012. The Senate did not act on a parallel bill and the issue is closed for the present.
• NYS Executive Order calling for a drilling moratorium by former Governor Paterson has been affirmed by Governor Cuomo.
• Yates County resolution unanimously passed calls for similar protection treatment of their watershed as that in NYC and Syracuse watersheds.
• The Town of Jerusalem (Yates) enacted a moratorium ordinance for their entire township. The one-year moratorium begins when the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) relating to the extraction of natural gas by the process of high-volume hydraulic fracturing now under review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is finalized.
• The Town of Milo is drawing up a moratorium statement for board action.
• Dewitt, Tully, Marcellus and Skaneateles have enacted moratoria laws.
• Highland, (Sullivan Co) is developing a moratorium statement.
• Buffalo has banned hydrofrack drilling and wastewater disposal in their city.
• Sullivan County is the first county in New York State to enact a moratorium.
• Lumberland (Sullivan Co) is considering a moratorium statement.
• Town of Ulysses is establishing “industrial zones” attempting to restrict the negative impact of drilling in their water supply.
• Tompkins County has enacted a ban on fracking on county land.
• Broome County: Ban on hydrofracking on county lands. Waste restrictions for fracking cuttings and flow back water established.
• Ontario, Sullivan and Onondaga Counties have enacted bans on fracking on county owned land.
• Ulster County has banned hydrofrack drilling on county owned lands.
• Gorham in Ontario County enacted a moratorium ordinance.
• The towns that ring Cooperstown’s reservoir, Otsego Lake — Middlefield, Otsego, Butternuts, and Cherry Valley — are moving to ban or restrict natural gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.
• Springfield has adopted local laws prohibiting heavy industry, including gas drilling.
• The Medical Society of the State of New York has gone on record supporting a moratorium on gas drilling using high volume hydraulic fracturing.
• Cooperstown’s Chamber of Commerce has issued a position statement supporting a total ban on fracking due to the impact it will make on their watershed, farming and tourism.
• A group of residents have launched a petition drive designed to ban the use of high-volume, slick water hydraulic fracturing in the Town of Caroline, Tompkins County.
• The Village of Penn Yan will not accept any hydrofracking wastewater for processing at the village wastewater treatment plant.
• New York City has called on the US Congress to remove hydrofrack drilling’s exemption from the Safe Water Drinking Act.
• The Skaneateles Town Board has initiated plans for a ban in their township.
• The Otsego County Planning Board approved changes to Middlefield’s master plan and zoning law that would specifically prohibit heavy industry, including gas and oil drilling.
• The Board of Trustees of Bassett Medical Center, based in Cooperstown, New York, views the issue of hydrofracking as a public health issue of the highest priorityand resolves that the hydrofracking method of gas drilling constitutes an unacceptable threat to the health of patients, and should be prohibited until such time as it is proven to be safe.
• A consortium of interested citizens is planning for a unified moratorium and eventual ban of hydrofrack drilling in the entire Keuka Lake watershed region. To date the towns of Barrington, Milo and Jerusalem have adopted ordinances on a moratorium. Wayne has prepared a resolution for consideration.
• Lebanon town board members adopted a memorializing resolution that calls on the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo to repeal and reform compulsory integration laws in the State of New York that currently govern natural gas development.
• A petition drive has resulted in the Dryden Town Board unanimously passing a resolution to move forward with an ordinance to ban fracking.
• The Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, Inc. has sued the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in New York State Supreme Court to declare High Volume Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing in New York State Forests contrary to the New York State Constitution and applicable environmental laws.
• The Otsego Town Board clarified a long-standing prohibition against heavy industry, including fracking for natural gas, in the town’s land use law. By this vote the town, which includes most of the Village of Cooperstown, reaffirmed its home rule right to prohibit drilling through local ordinance. They also approved revisions to its land-use law that strengthen a ban on gas drilling and hydrofracking within the town. The law now specifies that while the removal of gravel, rock, stone, sand, fill, topsoil or “unconsolidated” minerals has been allowed, extraction of natural gas and petroleum is not permitted.
• The Common Council of Oneonta voted to ban all forms of natural gas drilling in city limits.
• The Town of Wales adopted a community rights ordinance that bans “fracking.” The ordinance establishes a Bill of Rights for Wales residents and “recognizes and secures certain civil and political rights of the residents to govern themselves and protect themselves from harm to their persons, property and environment.”
• The exploration of land for natural gas by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing is prohibited in the Town of Camillus.
• Brighton became the first municipality in Monroe County to take a position on hydrofrack drilling calling for a state-wide moratorium.
• Kirkland has adopted a one-year moratorium on hydrofracking.
• New Hartford has adopted a six-month moratorium on hydrofrack drilling for natural gas
•   October 24, 2011: SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Syracuse common councilors ban hydrofracking in the city.
August 14th 2012 Saint Johnsville Village, NY, USA unanimously passed a one year moratorium on hydrofracking and its related activities.
  • Buffalo, NY
  • Feb 8, 2011 6: The city of Buffalo, New York, banned the natural gas drilling technique of hydraulic fracturing on Tuesday, a largely symbolic vote that demonstrates concern about potential harm to groundwater from mining an abundant energy source.The city council voted 9-0 to prohibit natural gas extraction including the process known as “fracking” in which chemicals, sand and water are blasted deep into the earth.
  • Albany, NY (Capitol of NYS) banned hydraulic fracturing within the city limits of the City of Albany in May, 2012. Mayor Jennings didn’t veto it.
  • Sept 2012 The Rochester Town Board voted to ban hydraulic fracturing at its August 30 meeting, to the applause of a town hall packed with residents eager for the decision. Although passing the ban was one of the first things the board did that evening, celebrants were still toasting with champagne in the town hall parking lot when the meeting adjourned over an hour later.
  • The town joins an estimated 35 that have passed an outright ban on the controversial gas-mining practice in the state. A hundred other municipalities have moratoria in place while they study the issue, and 60 more have passed resolutions either in support of the practice, or opposing a statewide ban. Governor Cuomo is expected to announce a decision on whether it will be permitted in New York State or not in the very near future.
In February, the legislature passed Act 13, which eliminated local zoning for natural gas operations, which include drilling, compressor stations and pipelines. Passed with support of Republican lawmakers from the Southeast, Act 13 was hailed by the governor, lawmakers and the natural gas industry as crucial because it provided uniformity and consistency for developing shale gas drilling policy.
Effectively, this has deprived all the communities from having any power to protect themeselves from the rape of their land, posioning of their water, and harm to people, animals and crops.
  •  Pittsburgh adopts the first-in-the-nation community rights ordinance which elevates the right of the community to decide, and the rights of nature over the “rights” associated with corporate personhood. The City Council unanimously adopted this ordinance banning corporations from conducting natural gas drilling in the city.
  • •Lehman Township in Luzerne County PA NEVER passed a moratorium or ban, the township supervisors voted down CELDF ordinance to protect and  preserve township land and water.
  • The Board of Supervisors for Licking Township, Clarion County, PA, voted unanimously on Wednesday to adopt an ordinance banning corporations from dumping “fracking” waste water in the township. The Licking Township Community Water Rights and Self-Government Ordinance is the first ordinance of its kind adopted in Pennsylvania to confront the threat of Marcellus Shale drilling.
  • Cresson has enacted legislation banning fracking.
  • Washington Township has banned fracking.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania City Council unanimously passed the pro-moratorium Resolution on Marcellus Shale Drilling Environmental and Economic Impacts.
  • The Borough Council of West Homestead, Pennsylvania, unanimously adopted an ordinance that enacts a Local Bill of Rights, along with a prohibition on natural gas extraction to protect those rights. The bill, titled “West Homestead Borough’s Community Protection from Natural Gas Extraction Ordinance; establishes specific rights of West Homestead residents, including the Right to Water, the Rights of Natural Communities, the Right to a Sustainable Energy Future, and the Right to Community Self-Government.
  • Philadelphia refuses to purchase Marcellus Shale gas as the dumping of flow back waters is polluting their water supply.
  • Collier Township upgraded its natural gas drilling ordinance to enhance their Marcellus Shale ordinance that would push drillers farther away from schools and provide baseline measurements for noise levels at drilling sites.
  • United Methodists representing 950 churches across central and Northeast Pennsylvania passed a resolution calling for a temporary halt in gas well drilling in the Marcellus Shale as well as an impact tax on those places where drilling already has taken hold.
  • Religious groups such as the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia have advocated against fracking and in April, 2011, America, the national magazine of the Jesuits editorialized very critically about the process.
  •  Baldwin Borough Council adopted a community rights ordinance that bans the corporate extraction of natural gas.
  • 30th June 2012 Legislators Pass Moratorium on Gas Drilling in Bucks, MontCo The provision was attached to a state budget measure which lawmakers approved late Saturday night. Companies that want to drill for natural gas in Bucks or Montgomery counties will have to wait. State lawmakers on Saturday night approved a moratorium on gas drilling in Bucks, MontCo and parts of Lehigh, Berks and Chester counties. The moratorium will affect any oil or gas operations in the South Newark Basin, which underlies a swath of territory extending from Bucks through MontCo and into Berks County.
• A class-action lawsuit has been filed against companies that drill for natural gas in central Arkansas. The suit is asking for millions of dollars in relation to the earthquakes associated with the fracking process the companies use. The damages enumerated in the suit are property damage, loss of fair market value in real estate, emotional distress, and damages related to the purchase of earthquake insurance.
  • Arkansas has a ban on 4 out of more than 500 frack fluid waste-water injection wells because of their 4.7/9 earthquake.
• The first community in Maryland, Mountain Lake Park, adopted an ordinance banning corporations from natural gas drilling.
• Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler has sent a letter to Chesapeake Energy Corporation and its affiliates, notifying the companies of the State of Maryland’s intent to sue for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA).
• Governor Martin O’Malleyhas signed an executive order for a three year moratorium on drilling in MD while studies continue.
New Jersey
• The New Jersey Assembly voted to ban hydraulic fracturing in NJ in a bipartisan overwhelming vote (58 to 11, 8 abstained), following the landslide vote 32-1 earlier in the day by the NJ Senate. New Jersey is the first state legislature to ban fracking.
• 22nd August 2012: Wellsburg City Council approved an ordinance prohibiting natural gas drilling in or within one mile of the city as concerns mounted about the city’s water being contaminated by procedures in hydrofrack drilling. A reservoir serving the city is beside property that Chesapeake Energy is leasing for drilling.
A pair of proposed deep brine injection wells in Weathersfield Township got the attention of residents and trustees. Now, opposition is growing next door in Niles. “The property’s adjacent right to Niles, also it’s five blocks from downtown so we’re very concerned,” Niles Mayor Ralph Infante said. Niles joined Weathersfield Township trustees on Wednesday, passing a resolution to ban all injection wells in the city and township. That includes the proposed site off state Route 169 next to Niles Commerce Park.
  • 28th August 2012 - Jefferson twp in Crawford county passed an extraction and injection well resolution banning fracking activity in the township
• George Washington National Forest has disallowed horizontal drilling for natural gas within its 1.1 million acres of territory while opening up segments of the forest to the potential for wind energy construction.
• Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed a bill requiring drillers to publicly disclose the chemicals they use when extracting oil and gas from dense rock formations, the first state to pass such a law.
  • Moratorium in the city of Grand Prairie, TX (a suburb of Dallas) until January 2013 on drilling activities within 3,000 feet of water retention structures. It’s been called potentially catastrophic by the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Chesapeake and XTO placed the community in jeopardy by already drilling and fracking in very close proximity to the local Joe Pool Dam. Right hand did not know what the left was doing….it’s a mess.
West Virginia
• Wellsville has banned fracking.
• Lewisburg has banned fracking within their city limits.
• Morgantown banned fracking in the city and within one mile of the city limits as well.
8 April 2012: Kaikoura District Council voted 6 to 2 to declare itself a frack-free zone (NZ). It will be revisited after the independent investigation by Dr Jan Wright of the Parliamentary Commission for the Environment (PCE) due out at the end of the year. This resolution followed a request in February for a moratorium from Central Government until the study but that was denied.


Join us as we attend a talk presented by Crispin Pierce, PhD, Professor of Environmental Public Health at UW-Eau Claire.

More info....

Sunday, June 9, 2013

June 11 - FILM: The Price of Sand

Tuesday, the Winona County Board approved the first frac sand mine in the County!

It's even more important to see "The Price of Sand."