Fracking Companies Have Been Getting Worse About Disclosing the Chemicals They Use



Natasha Geiling | ThinkProgress | Reader Supported News | November 27, 2015

ant to know what chemicals energy companies use in their hydraulic fracking operations? Turns out it’s getting harder and harder to answer that question.

According to a new study published in the journal Energy Policy, fracking companies have become less forthcoming since 2013 about the chemicals used in their operations, citing “the use of proprietary compounds” as grounds for limiting their disclosure.

The study, written by Harvard University researchers Kate Konschnik and Archana Dayalas as a follow-up to a similar analysis conducted in 2013, looked at more than 96,000 disclosures made between March 2011 and April 2015 on FracFocus, a hydraulic fracturing chemical registry. According to Inside Climate News, FracFocus was launched in 2011 as a tool for collecting voluntary disclosures from oil and gas companies, and was later adopted by more than 20 states in order to fulfill their chemical disclosure regulations.

But FracFocus’ ability to act as a proxy for state’s chemical disclosure regulations has been under fire for years. In the 2013 study, Koschnik argued that states were effectively giving up their oversight ability by directing oil and gas companies to FracFocus, and that the site failed to account for specific state-level requirements. By applying a “one-size-fits-all” approach to fracking chemicals, the study argued, FracFocus gave oil and gas companies too much leeway, allowing them to miss deadlines and withhold information.

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Following Shell, Another Oil Company Pulls Out of Arctic

A Chinook helicopter carries supplies to the stranded Kulluk oil drilling platform in January. (photo: SSgt. Aaron M. Johnson/US Air Force)
A Chinook helicopter carries supplies to the stranded Kulluk oil drilling platform in January. (photo: SSgt. Aaron M. Johnson/US Air Force)


Katie Herzog | Grist | Reader Supported News | November 20, 2015

ollowing in the wake of Shell’s decision to abandon its operations in the Arctic, another drilling company has announced that it will be pulling out of the region. In a statement, Norwegian oil company Statoil said:

The leases in the Chukchi Sea are no longer considered competitive within Statoil’s global portfolio, so the decision has been made to exit the leases and close the office in Anchorage, Alaska.

“Since 2008 we have worked to progress our options in Alaska. Solid work has been carried out, but given the current outlook we could not support continued efforts to mature these opportunities,” says Tim Dodson, executive vice president for exploration in Statoil.

The decision means Statoil will exit 16 Statoil-operated leases, and its stake in 50 leases operated by ConocoPhillips, all in the Chukchi Sea. The leases were awarded in the 2008 lease sale in Alaska and expire in 2020.

While environmentalists applaud the decision, not everyone has their party hat on. Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is pissed, and she’s directing her rage at one Barack H. Obama.

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Frankenfish: FDA approves GMO salmon despite fierce criticism


Food regulators have approved the first ever ‘GM animal,’ certifying genetically modified salmon as safe to eat. But many environmentalists and food safety advocates are already railing against the decision, as RT’s Brigida Santos reports.

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It’s Official: Oklahoma Experiences More Earthquakes Than Anywhere Else in the World

The aftermath of an earthquake in Oklahoma. (photo: Mark Martinez)
The aftermath of an earthquake in Oklahoma. (photo: Mark Martinez)


Lorraine Chow | EcoWatch | Reader Supported News | November 17, 2015

t’s official: Oklahoma now has more earthquakes than anywhere else in the world, according to a spokesman from the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), which oversees the Sooner State’s oil and gas industry.

“We have had 15 [earthquakes] in Medford since 5 o’clock Saturday morning,” said spokesman Matt Skinner on Nov. 9, according to the Enid News. “We’ve got an earthquake issue.”

“OCC has developed areas of interest, where earthquake clusters have occurred. A cluster is two earthquakes within a half mile of each other, with one measuring at least magnitude 3.2. Originally, they were three-mile circles, then six-mile circles. The circles grew in number and now encompass a very large area of Oklahoma—about 9,000 square miles in all, [Skinner] said,” reported the Enid News.

Scientists have linked this never-ending spate of tremors to the state’s drilling boom. The Oklahoma Geological Survey concluded that the injection of wastewater byproducts into deep underground disposal wells from fracking operations has triggered the seismic activity in Oklahoma.

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This New App Aims To Build An All-Inclusive Queer Online Community

 | Huffington Post | November 16, 2015

A new app launched last week that claims to be the first gender-inclusive social network for individuals identifying all across the spectrum of queer identity.

Called “Q,” the app’s availability follows a massively successful Kickstarter campaign. While other queer apps tend to cater more towards specific kinds of bodies and modes of connections, “Q” wants complicate the way that the community meets and interacts with one another in online space.

“Racist, misogynistic, and dehumanizing comments are endemic on these platforms,” CEO Eric Cervini said of the need for Q in world of apps catering towards to lesbian, gay bisexual and queer (LGBT) community. “Not a single inclusive, queer, platonic app exists for our community… The Kickstarter demonstrated how much demand there is for an inclusive, human, queer online community.”

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Scientists Just Spotted The Most Distant Object In Our Solar System

<span class='image-component__caption' itemprop="caption">An artist's impression showing the dwarf planet Eris, which was previously recognized as the solar system's most distant object.</span> H2Ooo Social Emissions/FlickrAn artist’s impression showing the dwarf planet Eris, which was previously recognized as the solar system’s most distant object.
 | Huffington Post | November 16, 2015

Astronomers have spotted what they believe is the most distant object in the solar system — a dwarf planet floating some 9.5 billion miles from the sun.

Dubbed V774104, the object is between 310 miles and 620 miles across — about half Pluto’s size and about three times farther from the sun.
“That’s pretty much all we know about it,” Scott Sheppard told “We don’t know its orbit yet because we only just discovered it about two weeks ago.”
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Ongoing Evaluation, Improvements Planned for Site of Low-Level Nuclear Waste Fire

News 3 Las Vegas | November 16, 2015

PAHRUMP (KSNV News3LV) — An October fire at a low-level nuclear store facility near Beatty continues to be reviewed by state and local agencies.

According to a Nye County news release today, the Oct. 18-19 fire at U.S. Ecology was an “eye-opening event and will take many years to thoroughly understand.”

“Meanwhile, protective actions are being implemented by the state of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services in partnership with the new U.S. Ecology, Nye County officials, and the governor’s office,” the release states.

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Chemicals Used in Oil Spill Cleanup Made Gulf Disaster Worse

A chemical dispersing aircraft flies over the Gulf of Mexico. (photo: Oil Spill Commission)
A chemical dispersing aircraft flies over the Gulf of Mexico. (photo: Oil Spill Commission)


Katie Herzog | Grist | Reader Supported News | November 13, 2015

n estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico during the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Afterward, disaster response officials decided to drop chemical dispersants from airplanes over the site. Their hope was that these dispersants would break up the oil, making it easier for bacteria to consume the mess.

Looks like that plan failed.

Discovery reports:

A newly published study led by University of Georgia scientists, in which they simulated the Gulf’s conditions in the laboratory, has found that in some cases the dispersants actually can inhibit the microorganisms that naturally degrade oil spills.

The study found that the dispersants didn’t help assist the growth of natural hydrocarbon-degrading Marinobacter, or increase the rate at which the microorganisms consumed the oil, either in deepwater or surface environments. Instead, it actually seemed to inhibit growth. The microorganism fared better in water that didn’t contain the chemicals.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that the chemicals, which were released in deep water as well as on the surface of the Gulf, didn’t cause the microbes to biodegrade the oil, as intended. Instead, as the researchers wrote, “Direct measurement of alkane and aromatic hydrocarbon oxidation rates revealed either suppression or no stimulation of oil biodegradation in the presence of dispersants.”

This isn’t the only problem with dispersants. A study earlier this year found exposure to the dispersant Corexit was linked to lung damage in both humans and animals. “There were some 48,000 workers involved in the cleanup operations, and it is possible that workers were exposed to Corexit via inhalation,” study author Veena Antony said in a press release. “Cough, shortness of breath and sputum production were among symptoms expressed by workers.”

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New planetary find “best chance for life outside our solar system”

Georgia McCafferty | CNN | November 11, 2015

Astronomers have made two new planetary discoveries that they claim expand the known boundaries of our solar system — and they may be the biggest breakthroughs in the search for alien life.

The two finds, one planet at the edge of our solar system and one just beyond, have both been hailed as major scientific advances.

Commenting on one of the planets, Brad Tucker, an astronomer from Mount Stromlo Observatory in Canberra, Australia who was not involved in the research, said it “probably gives us the best chance for life outside our solar system right now.”

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The TPP: A Time Bomb That Could Blow Up a Free Internet

(Marcelo Graciolli / CC BY 2.0)

Truthdig | November 9, 2015

The copyright provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership could curtail Internet users’ basic access to information and right of self-expression on the Web, criminalizing common online activities and enforcing widespread Internet censorship, writes digital rights campaigner Evan Greer at The Guardian.

Greer continues:

To fully grasp the impending trainwreck here, it’s important to understand that copyright laws have a profound effect on what internet users can see and do online. The US regime of copyright enforcement has been repeatedly co-opted by special interests to censor legitimate content from the web. Copyright laws have been used to attack LGBTQ websites, censor investigative journalism and scrub homemade videos from the net just because of the music in the background.

Many of the scariest scenes in the TPP script take place in the intellectual property chapter. This section exports the most draconian aspects of the United States’ broken copyright system and forces them onto the rest of the world, without requiring “fair use” provisions that are necessary to protect free speech.

One provision demands that TPP member countries enforce copyright terms 70 years after the death of the creator. This will keep an immeasurable amount of information, art and creativity locked away from the public domain for decades longer than necessary, and allow for governments and corporations to abuse copyright laws and censor content at will, since so much of what’s online will be subject to copyright for decades.

TPP even prescribes a mechanism for that censorship to occur. A section that can best be described as “Zombie-Sopa”, due to its similarity to the failed Stop Online Piracy Act, would require internet service providers (ISPs) to play “copyright cops” and create systems for hastily taking down internet content upon a copyright holder’s request, even without a court order.

Read more here.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.