* FrackUpdate 2/22 – NY Ordinance, Leaks, Pipeline

FrackUpdates Feb.16-22
No Votes Taken in Special Session 
Thanks to all of you who contacted your Representatives to ask them to vote against a resolution to override the veto of Senate Bill 709! (The Senate has already voted to override last year, but it takes BOTH chambers overriding with 60% vote in order to make the bill law). If you haven’t already heard, the special House session last Thurs did not NOT take any votes on legislation or veto overrides—thanks to our legislative allies for showing up from across the state!COMING UP- PUBLIC HEARINGS ON SHALE GAS STUDY! 
Tues., March 20th 6:30-9:30 PM – Sanford, Dennis A. Wicker Center, 1801 Nash Street
Tues., March 27th 6:30-9:30 PM – Chapel Hill, East Chapel Hill High School Auditorium, 1709 High School Rd. 
New York Town’s Ban on Gas Fracking Upheld by Judge
“A central New York town can block natural-gas drilling after a state judge, in the first test of local laws, upheld the Town of Dryden’s ban on hydraulic fracturing.
State Supreme Court Judge Phillip Rumsey in a ruling released yesterday said the town’s zoning amendment on gas drilling wasn’t pre-empted by state law.” Feb.22, Bloomberg Debate Surround Race to Export America’s Natural Gas
“Multinational energy firms and some economists say exporting natural gas is a no-brainer: the cost of producing natural gas in the United States has plummeted with the explosion in shale gas production, while prices remain high elsewhere in the world.” Feb. 21, Inside Climate NewsFalling natural gas prices may slow fracking issue in NY
“It all raises the question: Has New York missed the gas-drilling boom? Most experts say no, but several said low natural-gas prices could have an effect on the pace drillers set in New York should the state allow high-volume hydrofracking.” Feb. 21, the Poughkeepsie Journal (NY)
Gas Drilling May Be Leaking Twice as Much Gas as Thought
“(Research) performed by scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, focused on Weld County, Colo., home to more than 20,000 gas wells. After years of monitoring and study, the researchers estimated that about 4 percent of the methane produced by these wells is lost to the atmosphere.” Feb. 9, Inside Climate News
Davidson College protest plans for gas pipeline
“Davidson College says a pipeline Piedmont Natural Gas plans to build across its campus would damage the college’s 200-acre nature preserve, the site of years of research.” Feb. 21, Charlotte Observer
Fracking Rules to Disclose Fracking Chemical Exceptions
“Last week several media outlets obtained the federal Bureau of Land Management’s draft of proposed rules requiring fracking companies to disclose the chemicals they pump into the ground.” Feb. 16, ProPublica
Study: Fracturing no threat to groundwater 

“Hydraulic fracturing in shale formations “has no direct connection” to groundwater contamination, a study released Thursday concluded.” Feb. 16, the Houston Chronicle

Copyright © 2012 Clean Water for North Carolina, All rights reserved.
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* North Carolina Chapter – Footnotes Newsletter

 :North Carolina Chapter Sierra Club

You’ve heard Sierrans talking about offshore wind for over a year now.  Well, the Governor’s office just heard about it from her own Scientific Advisory Panel on Offshore Energy.

That’s right; the report released by the panel found that North Carolina has the best offshore wind resources on the East coast. Further, it concluded that we should do more to bring this industry to our state.

Whether pushing for offshore wind or pushing back against hastily fracking in the state, Sierrans are stepping up this year.  If you want to step up, too, this month’s issue of Footnotes offers some good ideas of places to start.

A pleasure, as always,
Your staff at the NC Sierra Club

Wind Forum - convio.jpg

Offshore Wind: The People Are Ready

When will wind win?  It’s a question that Sierrans have been asking for a while.  And the public is ready!

When the Offshore Wind team hosted a forum in Morehead City, more than 200 people showed up.  The picture on the right doesn’t do the event justice.

And when the Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel released its findings, Sierrans were ready to respond.

If you want to join the offshore wind team, contact Carina at carina.barnett-loro@sierraclub.org.

And be sure to check the ‘In the News’ section of Footnotes for articles about the forum and the findings of the Scientific Advisory Panel.

Fracking Hearings Coming Up Soon!

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When the NC Chapter launched TheDailyFrack.com, we did not expect so many people to notice.  But notice they did.  Maybe legislators will notice how passionate the public is about protecting our air and water when the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) holds public hearings next month.

If you want to get involved in our fracking campaign, contact Travis at travis.hargett@sierraclub.org.

People are planning to come from all across the state to give DENR feedback on their report.  Will you join them?

Here are some specifics about the two hearings that will help you plan ahead:

Sanford, NC – March 20 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – The Wicker Center, 1801 Nash Street, Sanford, NC (map)

Chapel Hill – March 27 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – East Chapel Hill High School, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC (map)

Last Call to Attend the NC Sierra Club’s Political Training

The NC Sierra Club will be hosting a political training for group leaders and volunteers. This training is a great opportunity to learn how the Sierra Club can use its grassroots strength to help win targeted local, state, and federal elections.
Topics to be covered include:

NC Legislature: the good and bad guys;
Identification of key races and targets;
Recruiting and building strong political committees and action teams;
Best practices to GOTV (phone banks, direct mail, canvasing etc..); and,
How to organize a PAC fundraiser.

Saturday, February 18 – 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.  To participate in this training, please sign-up here.

If you have questions, please call or email Travis Hargett at travis.hargett@sierraclub.org  or  919.833.8467

Lunch and refreshments will be provided. This requires a $10 fee for each participant.

Sierra Club In the News

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Sierrans are stepping up big time in 2012.  Here are some of the news stories where Sierrans have contributed to the public dialogue about our key issues.

If you are feeling inspired, consider contacting your local group to see how can stand up on issues that matter in your community.

Offshore Wind News

Sierrans responding to the findings by the Governor’s Scientific Advisory Panel that North Carolina has the best offshore wind resources on the East coast.

News and Observer

The same story ran in the Greensboro News and Record

Coastal News 14 – Wilmington

WECT – NBC 6 – Wilmington

Offshore Wind Wire

Billboard News

Sierrans were quick to talk about the impact new rules that allow billboard companies to cut down public trees by our roadways.

Charlotte Observer


Asheville Citizen Times

Progressive Pulse

And thanks to these stories, editorial boards have been voicing their own concerns about new billboard rules:

Charlotte Observer Editorial


Southern Pines Pilot Editorial


‘The Fracking Truth’ News

When the NC Chapter launched it’s fracking campaign, the media and the public were keen to take notice.

Greensboro News and Record ran the same story that appeared in the Fayetteville Observer


Durham Herald Sun

Facing South

Southern Pines Pilot

News and Observer Business Blog

NC Utilities Law Blog

Upcoming Events

Community Meeting on Fracking

February 16 – 7:00 p.m. – Bull City Forward, 101 W. Main St., Durham, NC 27701 (map)

Christa Wagner, a policy analyst in the Commerce Dept. will present on the economic viability of gas drilling in North Carolina. She’ll discuss the type of infrastructure needed to support the industry, where the demand for gas is, and the possible risks and benefits. Afterwards, we’ll host a social and discuss ways to get involved with the Sierra Club in Durham.

Click here to let us know that you are coming!

2012 Southeastern Coastal Wind Conference

 8 – 9 – Charlotte Convention Center, 501 S. College St, Charlotte, NC (map)

This event is a first of its kind that highlights Southeastern assets for wind energy deployment within the region.  The conference is a collaborative effort involving more than 40 regional stakeholders from Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Topics will include the region’s supply chain, resource, and market strengths to educate decision makers about costs, benefits, and policy options for wind energy.  Offshore and coastal onshore wind energy will be discussed a the conference with a concentration on offshore wind energy.

Click here for more information.

DENR Holds Public Meetings on Fracking

Sanford, NC – March 20 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – The Wicker Center, 1801 Nash Street, Sanford, NC (map)

Chapel Hill – March 27 – 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. – East Chapel Hill High School, 500 Weaver Dairy Road, Chapel Hill, NC (map)

The agency’s draft report on Fracking will be made available on DENR’s website in early March (at which time a public comment period will begin), and findings from the report will be presented at these two public meetings.  Comments will be accepted at these meetings, as well as via mail and email.


Near Asheville


March 2 – 5 – Creekside Loop – Pisgah

Billed as a “gentle 11 mile loop with minimal climbing and enough camping opportunities to tweak your itinerary,” this outing is surely going to enjoyed by all who attend.  The hike has a moderate skill rating and covers many trails – the Mullinax Trail, Laurel Creek Trail, Bradley Creek Trail, and the Riverside Trail.

Space is limited, so be sure to make your plans today!

Contact: Jerry Weston at takeahike@earthlink.net or at 336.856.1431 (please call before 9:00 p.m.)

For more information on Sierra Club Outings check out the Outings Calendar. 

Want to know the latest? Join us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Did you know you can make a monthly gift to the NC Sierra Club? Find out how you can make a sustaining gift by visiting our website, or contacting the Chapter office at 919-833-8467.

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* Frack, Baby, Frack?

Check out this EnergyVox Blog about Fracking Facts:

Frack, Baby, Frack?

By: Allison Fisher

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Barack Obama embraced the development of unconventional natural gas. In step with the theme of the address, the president highlighted both the abundance of the domestic resource and its job creation potential.

President Obama Overstates the Benefits of Natural Gas

In response, anti-fracking groups including the National Grassroots Coalition, United for Action, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy and Protecting Our Waters immediately challenged the resource supply and job statistics cited by President Obama, saying in an email to supports,

He was referring to industry-produced studies predicting 600,000 jobs as estimates from “experts”, but the real experts — the Bureau of Labor Statistics — predict less than one-fourth that numbers by 2018.

And the president, like the industry, fails to estimate how many jobs will be lost — far too many farmers, for example, have already lost their livelihoods due to extreme pollution and animal deaths caused by shale gas drilling.

The President overstated the amount of shale gas believed to be recoverable: proven reserves will provide 7 to 11 years, and unproven (speculative) reserves may provide up to 20 years, which does not add up to 100. The federal Energy Information Agency just dropped its estimate from Marcellus reserves down to 6 years from its previous estimate of 17 years.

Disagreement about the amount of natural gas that can be recovered from shale and how many jobs could be created by this industry is certainly an important discussion, but it is secondary to the discussion of whether or not extracting this resource can be done safely.

Chemical Disclosure Requirement Would Only Apply to a Small Percentage of Wells

President Obama followed his endorsement of natural gas development by stating that he will require all companies that drill on public land to disclose chemical use “because America will develop this resource without putting the health and safety of our citizens at risk.” This proposed disclosure requirement, which is currently making its way through the Department of Interior rulemaking process, seems intended to soothe public anxiety around the practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. However, the rule referenced here would apply only to gas drilling on public land.

According to the Bureau of Land Management, only about 11 percent of all U.S. natural gas production occurred on federal land, and the department estimates that hydraulic fracturing is used for about 90 percent of gas wells drilled on public lands.

The vast majority of fracking is done on private land, and only a handful of the 33 states where fracking occurs have adopted some kind of requirement that the chemicals used be disclosed to the public. In fact, according to a report prepared by the Wilderness Society for the Department of Energy’s subcommittee on natural gas, “only one [state] requires full public disclosure of the chemical components of hydraulic fracturing fluids: Wyoming. Three other states (Arkansas, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee) provided some disclosure of chemicals, but not to the public or in sufficient detail.”

Disclosure Requirements are Not Enough

And while it is clear that we need a national standard for disclosure of fracking chemicals, this alone would not safeguard the public against the risks associated with fracking. Many questions about the safety of this practice remain unanswered. There have been more than 1,000 documented cases of water contamination near drilling sites around the country. Meanwhile, the industry is drilling new wells at an alarming pace. According to a ProPublica investigation, between 2003 and 2008, the number of new wells drilled in fracking states increased 42 percent. Aside from the rulemaking for drilling on public lands being undertaken by the Department of Interior, the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency are conducting studies on the safety and impacts of hydraulic fracking.

At the minimum, fracking should be halted before the conclusion of these studies. And it goes without saying, that the president should not be promoting an underregulated and unproven technology as a central component of his energy platform.

Photo courtesy of Flickr