**RE-SCHEDULED** Jessica Ernst Talk Tues 17 Oct 2017 at 7.00pm in Fermanagh House, Enniskillen.

***  JESSICA    ERNST  TALK  CANCELLED  TONIGHT  [ MON 16th]    ***  RE-SCHEDULED  FOR TOMORROW  NIGHT  AT  7.00PM.  SAME   VENUE =  FERMANAGH  HOUSE ***

Jessica Ernst is an Environmental Scientist from Alberta who will visit Fermanagh this month with her presentation:
‘The story of how fracking ruined my water’.
She will tell her story of taking the Oil & Gas company EnCana, the Alberta government and the energy regulator to court when ‘gold standard’ regulations failed.

Jessica Ernst Talk Mon 16 Oct 2017 at 7.30pm in Fermanagh House, Enniskillen.

Jessica Ernst is an Environmental Scientist from Alberta who will visit Fermanagh this month with her presentation:
‘The story of how fracking ruined my water’.
She will tell her story of taking the Oil & Gas company EnCana, the Alberta government and the energy regulator to court when ‘gold standard’ regulations failed.

FFAN response to FODC Local Development Plan

Below is the FFAN response to the FODC Local Development Plan. This response was sent to the Planning Department & all FODC Councillors on 28 November 2016

RESPONSE  TO  FODC  LOCAL  DEVELOPMENT  PLAN.   NOV.  2016

On 3rd October 2016 the draft documents ‘Fermanagh & Omagh Community Plan [FOCP]’ and ‘Local Development Plan [LDP]’ were published by the Fermanagh & Omagh District Council [FODC]. These documents have been open for an eight week period of public consultation that ends on Monday 28 November.

In 2015 FFAN [Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network] and many groups and individuals took part in the community engagement process to help draft what the people of this council area wanted to see in those plans. A strong cross-community consensus came from those meetings that the exploration and extraction of oil or gas from shale rock [commonly known as fracking] was incompatible with the sustainability remit inherent in both the FOCP and the LDP.

FFAN have studied the LDP paper and found that the wording used to oppose fracking is much weaker than was demanded by the Public at last years consultations. FFAN and many other groups and individuals have been involved in the current round of  ‘consultations’ last month and we state yet again that the LDP is not reflecting the wishes as clearly expressed by the public.

Many reasons exist to show that fracking will be detrimental to both the health & economy of the FODC area.

Attached are:

  1. a synopsis of health issues & fracking from the Irish College of General Practitioners Forum Journal. also see link   http://www.icgp.ie/assets/93/C9E3CD95-DD94-5BAE-F22851597666F0F4_document/Fracking.pdf
  2. summary of the report by the Economist Dr Brenna O’Roarty presented last year at a conference in Fermanagh on Fracking.
  3. See www.concernedhealthny.org [Concerned Health Professional of New York] for the ever growing compendium of scientific evidence linking fracking to ill health. Fourth edition came out this month.

For all the above reasons FFAN request that a total prohibition on Fracking is clearly stated in the FODCs LDP.

FFAN request the following three changes in the LDP to be incorporated int the final draft.

1) Section 8.8. [page 65] the proposed definition of short term as explained in Option 2 should be shortened from 15 to 5 years.

2) Q9b [page 68]  ‘ Are there any other areas that should be considered as ACMDs [ Areas of Constrained Mineral Development]? ‘ Our [FFAN] answer is ‘ Yes, the whole of the FODC area should become an ACMD.’

3) Section 12.30 [page 97] This section dealing with fracking is not explicit enough in its’ opposition to Fracking. The FODC should have a presumption of a total prohibition on Fracking in the FODC area.

Thus the following wording should be used to replace the current single sentence in section 12.30.

“The local development plan includes the presumption against unconventional hydrocarbon exploitation in line with the Strategic Planning Policy Statement. Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will oppose the granting of petroleum exploration licenses over target strata described as shales, mud-stones, coal seams and ‘tight’ sandstone formations. There will be a presumption against planning applications associated with the exploration and/ or development of petroleum resources situated in shales, mud-stones, ‘tight’ sandstone formations and coal seams.”

Thank you.

Dr Carroll O’Dolan, on behalf of FFAN

Great news from across the border

“Last Thursday, history was made in Ireland!  A Bill to prohibit exploration and extraction of Petroleum from shale, tight sands and coal seams was brought before the members of the Oireachtas who unanimously supported the Bill and agreed to bring it to the next stage (the committee stage) of the process towards becoming law.  This Bill, when enacted, will act as a comprehensive ban on fracking, which is its primary objective.  The campaign against fracking has won a significant victory and has proved that fracking is not wanted in Ireland and that opposition to fracking comes from every party in the Dáil and from every province in Ireland.”

Good Energies Alliance Ireland.  Read more here

Fracking likely to damage tourism

A report published by the University of Florida has shown that there will be perceived risks and threats associated with fracking, that will repel tourists from areas where the practice is to take place.

The report entitled ‘Fracking and Parkland: Understanding the impact of hydraulic fracturing on public park usage’ investigated the integration of unconventional shale gas extraction with public recreational spaces.

The authors found that out of 255 people surveyed from five Appalachian:

  1. Most respondents expressed familiarity with the process of hydraulic fracturing. More than 60% reported being either somewhat familiar or very familiar with the term “hydraulic fracturing”; on the other hand,10% had never heard of the term before taking the survey. Nearly one-third of the sample lives in a region impacted (either currently or expected to be) by fracking. Most respondents (40%) oppose fracking in any form, while 23% are supportive, 25% are on the fence, and 12% are unsure.
  2. Park users are concerned fracking that occurs on or near their public parks will negatively impact their participation. Only one-third of participants indicated their willingness to participate in recreational activities near fracking operations (33%, compared to 38% unwilling and 29% neutral). More than half of all respondents expressed: concern that a fracking operation would limit their ability to access their park (52%); willingness to travel further to visit a park unaffected by fracking (56%); and support for legislation prohibiting fracking near their favorite park (58%).
  3. In general, park users believe that fracking on public land is unnecessary and bad for the environment. More park users agree fracking on public land is bad for the environment (48%) than those who agree fracking has no impact on the environment (16%). More park users also support banning fracking on public land (46%, as opposed to 20% who agree with promoting it). 50% of respondents believe fracking on public land should be subject to greater oversight and regulation, while 13% believe it should be subject to less oversight and regulation. When neutral responses are removed from calculation, the contrasts are much starker.
  4. While park users generally hold strong opinions that fracking has a negative impact on the natural environment, most park users surveyed for this study are less critical when it comes to its economic benefits. Park users attitudes toward the economic impact of fracking on public land were far more neutral (e.g., regarding its contribution to traffic and gas prices), and in some cases, were positive (such as its impact on the creation of temporary jobs).
Magho Viewpoint, County Fermanagh. (image source: tripadvisor.co.uk)
Magho Viewpoint, County Fermanagh. (image source: tripadvisor.co.uk)

The question citizens of County Fermanagh must ask is if tourists will be less likely to use our county for recreational purposes, for if this is so, then this will lead to a detrimental economic effect for the region.

Perhaps more importantly though, for those of us that live here, we know that we currently enjoy an environment which is beneficial to our health and well being. How will this effect our positive well being if the perceived risks of unconventional shale gas extraction turn out to be real?

To read the report in full, please click here. Leave your comments below.

Fracking: UK Government offers ‘green light’

According to the BBC, the practice of Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction, otherwise known as fracking, may be coming to the UK sooner than expected after parameters for the practice were outlined today.

(image source: bbc.co.uk)
(image source: bbc.co.uk)

The Committee on Climate Change have stated that fracking can be conducted so long as 3 key criteria are met, those of methane leaks, gas consumption, and UK carbon budgets.

 

  • Emissions should be strictly limited during shale gas development, production and well decommissioning.
  • Overall gas consumption in the UK must remain in line with UK carbon budgets.
  • Emissions from shale gas production must be counted as part of the UK’s carbon budgets.

Though the government is confident these conditions will be reached, a spokesman admitted that any increase in current carbon emissions in future would make current targets even more challenging.

Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction racking has come under heavy scientific criticism since its inception during the 2000’s, in particular, from a health perspective, with the British Medical Journal having previously criticised the safety of the practice, and the Australian Medical Journal, The Lancet, who denounced the detrimental health implications of fracking.

Of the three criteria listed above that will be used as key performance indicators to green light unconventional shale gas extraction, namely  methane leaks, gas consumption, and UK carbon budgets, it is perhaps regrettable that ‘social health’ has not been listed as another criteria that must be passed. One could perhaps list ‘environmental health’ as another criteria that takes into account changes in air water and soil quality, or ‘net community economics’.

By doing so, there could be a minimum of six gates that need to be walked through. However, perhaps these last three are not within the remit of scope of the Committee of Climate Change, in the way that it will be for the local communities that must live with Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction on a daily basis.

What do you think? Leave your comments below.

Oil and Gas operations damage ecosystems

Drilling for oil and gas has created continental wide damage to agricultural ecosystems in Canada and the U.S., leading to a net reduction in primary production crop and range lands.

The report has suggested that with 50,000 new high volume hydraulic fracturing wells installed since 2000, millions of hectares of Great Plains have been transformed into heavily industrialised landscapes. The report states:

“It is the scale of this transformation that is important, as accumulating land degradation can result in continental impacts that are undetectable when focusing on any single region.”

The number of oil and gas wells drilled from 1900 to 2012 within three Canadian provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan) and 11 U.S. states (Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming). (Image Source: BRADY W. ALLRED)
The number of oil and gas wells drilled from 1900 to 2012 within three Canadian provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan) and 11 U.S. states (Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming).
(Image Source: BRADY W. ALLRED)

The report further states that the Oil and Gas industry directly reduces vegetation to allow construction of oil pads, roads and pipes etc, which in turn leads to a reduction of wildlife, biodiversity and food production.

Not only does the Oil and Gas industry expel more carbon dioxide into the air, there will also be less vegetation that can remove carbon from the local atmosphere.

When inhaling and exhaling air, we all understand that humans take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Plants on the other hand, take in carbon dioxide and gove out oxygen. They report has estimated that total vegetation removed for Oil and Gas operations across Central North America to be around 4.5 Tg of carbon, or 4.5 billion Kg.

Furthermore, an Animal Unit Month (AUM), is the amount of vegetation required to support one animal for one month, and the researchers have estimated that 5 million AUM have been removed since 2000. The report states that this damage is:

“likely long-lasting and potentially permanent, as recovery or reclamation of previously drilled land has not kept pace with accelerated drilling. This is not surprising because current reclamation practices vary by land ownership and governing body, target only limited portions of the energy landscape, require substantial funding and implementation commitments, and are often not initiated until the end of life of a well.”

 

Cumulative impacts of oil and gas development on ecosystem services in central North America 2000–2012. (Left) Reduction in net primary production (biomass), per land cover type. (Middle) Land area occupied, per land cover type. (Right) Number of wells in water-stressed regions (22). (Image Source: BRADY W. ALLRED)
Cumulative impacts of oil and gas development on ecosystem services in central North America 2000–2012. (Left) Reduction in net primary production (biomass), per land cover type. (Middle) Land area occupied, per land cover type. (Right) Number of wells in water-stressed regions.
(Image Source: BRADY W. ALLRED)

As of 2012 land use for Oil and Gas operations numbers only around 3 million hectares, the equivalent to three Yellowstone Parks. ON a continental scale, this amount of land mass is relatively small. However, these ecosystems have both been replaced elsewhere and as a result, there are irreversible effects, such as  increasing fragmentation that can sever migratory pathways, alter wildlife behavior and mortality, and increase susceptibility to ecologically disruptive invasive species. As competition for arable land intensifies because of food and bio-energy demand, oil and gas may further expand into native range lands.

With drilling for Oil and Gas set to continue, it can only be predicted that these negative ecological characteristics can only increase.

To read the report for yourself in full, click here.

Of mice, cows, men and sperm counts

A report published October 2015 entitled ‘Endocrine-Disrupting Activity of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals and Adverse Health Outcomes After Prenatal Exposure in Male Mice’, has stated that there is a possible reduction in reproductive health in both humans and livestock as a result of significant exposure to chemicals related to high volume hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as unconventional shale gas extraction (USGE).

One must ask:

‘Can you really take the results of a scientific study involving lab mice, and confidently state that the same results that happened to the mice, are guaranteed to apply cows and humans?’

Well, the answer is no. You can’t, becasue mice, livestock and humans are different species of animal. We have different biological systems from one another. Just because something can negatively affect a mouse, it will not hold as guarantee that it can negatively affect a cow or a human. In other words, just becasue I like eating cheese, it does not hold that I will get caught in a mouse trap. And yet, be it mouse, cow or human, were you to cut off our heads, as organisms, we would all die. So, you do need to be able to investigate what will and won’t affect us in the same manner. In fact, there are parallels to this situation with lab mice and fracking chemicals, and the miners of yester year who brought canaries down the mines with them. The canaries acted as an indicator that there may be risk of harm to human health.

The results form teh paper were taken from experiements run on C57BL/6 Mice (image source: gdmlac.com)
The results from the paper were taken from experiments run on C57BL/6 Mice. For more information on their characteristics, please click the image source link. (image source: gdmlac.com)

Hence, ethically, in relation to fracking chemicals, it is easier to test an experiment out on a mouse, and if there are adverse effects, you can knock on the scientific door that asks if these same harms could affect humans and our agricultural livestock. The study states:

“Oil and natural gas operations have been shown to contaminate surface and ground water with endocrine-disrupting chemicals. In the current study, we fill several gaps in our understanding of the potential environmental impacts related to this process.”

In particular, the study:

  • measured the endocrine-disrupting activities of 24 chemicals used and/or produced by oil and gas operations.
  • quantified the concentration of 16 of these chemicals in oil and gas wastewater samples.
  • assessed reproductive and developmental outcomes in male C57BL/6J mice after the prenatal exposure to a mixture of these chemicals.

The study found that 23 of 24 of the oil and gas related chemicals inhibit the estrogen, androgen, glucocorticoid, progesterone, and/or thyroid receptors within the lab mice. For the lab mice, this led to decreased sperm counts and increased testes, body, heart, and thymus weights and increased serum testosterone in male mice. Hence:

23 out of 24 oil and gas related chemicals, when working in concert within their bodies, led to multiple organ system impacts within the lab mice.

Will these results hold true for humans exposed to the same chemicals? Well, the only sure way that we can find out is by running the same experiment on human test subjects. If you thought that laboratory experiments on mice is unethical, then surely you will hold that running laboratory experiments on human test subjects is highly unethical.

What is important to note is that no community should risk exposing local members of their community to the multiple organ system impacts that were found to affect reproductive and biological systems in these lab mice.

It really is for industrial corporations and governments to prove that humans and livestock will not be negatively affected by exposure to these potentially harmful chemicals.

In other words, the precautionary principle must be applied.

If your community is exposed to these chemicals, and the reproductive abilities of local livestock and humans are negatively affected, then you must ask:

  • What do we do to reverse this within the affected individuals?
  • If we can’t reverse the harm done, then what can we actually do?

Humans are not laboratory mice, and we don’t like getting caught in mouse traps. We should investigate the harmful affects of fracking chemicals further, before committing our communities for future generations to a process that may prove harmful to our human health. For, if these negative effects once experienced, cannot be reversed, then we will find ourselves caught in a trap from which we cannot escape.

Stay connected with the Fermanagh Fracking Awareness Network (FFAN) viaFacebook, twitter. Furthermore, you can view our blogs pictorially on Pinterest.

Remember: More research must be done to rove that fracking chemicals are safe to human and agricultural health. Communities must demand that the precautionary principle be applied by fracking companies and governments.

Please leave you comments below. Thank you, FFAN.

Oklahoma: 100 years of waste water earthquakes

In Oklahoma, since 2009 there has been a sharp increase in earthquakes brought about by the  use of waste water injection wells used by fracking companies as they conduct High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF), other wise known as Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction (USGE), or fracking.

However, the US Geological Survey decided to investigate historical earthquake data for the state of Oklahoma and found that there have been induced (man-made) earthquakes that were caused by the process of waste water well injection practices dating back to the 1920’s

This is not to say that Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction was responsible for these historical earthquakes, for that particular process of shale gas extraction did not exist back then.

However, waste water injection wells are used in the current USGE process to store waste water from fracking underground. Waste water injection wells have been found to create earthquakes today. It has now been found that they have done so since the 1920’s.

A deep water injection well, which can be used for fracking waste water, or municipal waste water.
A deep water injection well.

The new study shows that: “it is possible that earthquakes were induced by oil production activities in Oklahoma as early as the 1920s, and several lines of evidence support our conclusion that much of the earthquake activity in the 1950s and 1980–1990s was induced.”

The study also states that earthquake activity since 2009 is: “not consistent with the level of natural rate fluctuations seen in the past.”

The study shows that earthquakes from the 1950’s correlated with oil and gas permits granted at the time, and near the location.

Key findings of the report include:

  • seismicity rates since 2009 surpass previously observed rates throughout the twentieth century.
  • Several lines of evidence suggest that most of the significant earthquakes in Oklahoma during the twentieth century were likely induced by oil production activities, as they exhibit statistically significant temporal and spatial correspondence with disposal wells, and intensity measurements for the 1952 El Reno earthquake and possibly the 1956 Tulsa County earthquake follow the pattern observed in other induced earthquakes.
  • There is evidence for a low level of tectonic seismicity in southeastern Oklahoma associated with the Ouachita structural belt. The 22 October 1882 Choctaw Nation earthquake, for which we estimate Mw 4.8, occurred in this zone.

As we discussed before, Unconventional Shale Gas Extraction has been officially linked with man made earthquakes due to the use of waste water injection wells.