Texas oil and gas regulators refuse to talk to media

It has been reported by the Associated Press that the Texas Oil and Gas regulators have implemented a blanket policy that bans staff from media engagements, raising questions into the level of transparency given by regulators to teh public in relation to unconventional shale gas extraction.

The Associated Press state:

“The three-member Texas Railroad Commission, which is one of the largest state agencies of its kind in the country, approved the policy in August 2012, shortly before Milton Rister took over as the commission’s executive director. Since then, he has used his authority to funnel all media inquiries through a spokeswoman who responds via email and bars any direct access to staff.

The commission, which also regulates pipelines and mining, devotes much of its time to permitting oil and gas drilling and production, ensuring wells are safe and investigating complaints or problems at those sites.

For a Texas agency to ban all media interviews is unusual. Typically, the media relations department is not the source of information, but rather acts as a liaison to connect journalists with the staff they need to speak with for a particular story.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a state agency whose responsibilities often overlap with the Railroad Commission, routinely grants interviews with staff members who are scientists and experts. The General Land Office, which is responsible for offshore oil spill cleanup, also allows staff to speak with the media.

“There needs to be some rationale behind the Railroad Commission or any agency to outweigh the public’s right to be informed,” said state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, a San Antonio Democrat who is on the Texas Legislature’s Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee.”

For access to the full article, click here.

New York state extend fracking moratorium until 2017

The New York State Assembly has provided a Bill that extends their current moratorium for three more years, until the year 2017.

new york1

The Assembly passed a three-year, state wide moratorium of oil and natural gas drilling permits by an overwhelming 89-to-34 count to allow for more time to study the environmental and health  impact of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, a horizontal drilling process used to extract natural gas and oil, and its potential to contaminate drinking water supplies and harm the environment.

New York state has been under a fracking moratorium since 2008, with the most recent one passing in 2013, that would have expired in May 2015.

The news was announced by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Robert Sweeney on 16th June.

“We have heard from thousands of residents across the state about many issues associated with hydrofracking, and prudent leadership demands that we take our time to address all these concerns,” said Silver. “We do not need to rush into this. The natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale are not going to go anywhere. Before hydrofracking can be authorized, we need the best scientific information available to help us make informed decisions that will not compromise the safety of our drinking water, public health and the environment.”

“These energy resources found in our state have the potential to provide great economic benefit to New Yorkers, but we cannot let that blind us from thoroughly looking into and investigating hydrofracking’s impact on our environment and human health,” said Sweeney. “I call on the Senate to pass this bill so there will be time for a comprehensive review of all the available information well before this process gets the green light.”

new york

Carrying a total of 63 sponsors including Sweeney and Silver, the bill (A.5424-B) suspends the issuance of drilling permits to ensure the legislature has adequate time to review its impact on public health and the environment via multiple toxic and hazardous air and water contaminants, including a number of known or suspected carcinogens.

The Bill also states that:

– There shall be no horizontal natural gas or oil drilling

– no high-volume hydraulic fracturing shall be conducted

– the department of environmental conservation shall issue no permits for well drilling of oil or natural gas that will involve use of horizontal or high volume hydraulic fracturing.

To view the Bill, click here.

Members of European Parliament sign Frack-Free Europe Declaration

euro

As of the 13th of May, a total of 77 Members of European Parliament (MEP) across the continent have signed a Frack-Free Europe Pledge Declaration. The non-legally binding pledge, once signed, declares that the signatory holds true on the following six principles:

 to abide by the Precautionary Principles as formulated in the Treaty on European Union, and support a moratorium on the use of fracking, for all existing and future projects for exploration or exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels.

 to strive to integrate into existing EU legislation all necessary precautions specific to unconventional fossil fuels.

 to reject undemocratic mechanisms in free trade and investment agreements (in particular the CETA and the TTIP agreements), which could be used by multinational corporations – such as Big Oil and Gas – to challenge policies that protect the environment and public health.

 to oppose the Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism (ISDS) which could make national governments reluctant to forbid the use of fracking.

 to support the creation of an EU register to which all lobbyists will be obliged to sign up; and to require all EU officials (European Commissioners, Commission civil servants, Members of the European Parliament) to maintain an online list of all meetings organised with lobbyists.

 to promote true energy transition based on clean and renewable energies, on energy conservation efficiency targets, and on an ambitious strategy to abandon all fossil fuels.
I declare myself to be a frack free candidate for a frack free Europe.

By signing the declaration, MEP’s declare themselves a frack-free candidate, for a frack-free europe.

To date, two MEP’s from Northern Ireland have signed and in the Republic of Ireland, a total of seven.

The nation of France however, has lead the way with a total of thirty-one signatories, followed by:

2nd: Spain (8)
3rd: Republic of Ireland (7)
4th: England / Germany (5)
5th: Holland (4)
6th: Belguim (3)
7th: Northern Ireland / Scotland / Poland (2)
8th: Austria / Luxemburg / Wales (1)

A total of seventeen European member states have failed to produce an MEP candidate to sign the declaration including: Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden.

If you wish to read if a candidate from your nation has signed the declaration, click here.

Beverly Hills bans fracking

It has been reported by Russia Today that Beverly Hills has become the first municipality in California to ban the practice of hydraulic fracking.
rush
The initial push for legislation happened last month and was confirmed by Tuesday’s city council vote, which was unanimous. The law will come into effect June 6.

For the full report, click here.