Two of those cities are in my home state of Wisconsin! That makes me happy! Ask your local leaders in your city to join the divestment, and kick Big Oil to the curb in the gutter where they belong! : )
Two of those cities are in my home state of Wisconsin! That makes me happy! Ask your local leaders in your city to join the divestment, and kick Big Oil to the curb in the gutter where they belong! : )
2012, Alternative Government, American, analysts, anti-corruption, branches, carbon-free, Cheri Honkala, citizens, climate change, Doctor, dysfunctional, Earth Day, Economy, ending wars, experts, Federal Government, first, Foreign Affairs, Global Warming, government, Green New Deal, Green Party, Green Shadow Cabinet, Jill Stein, Majority, nuclear-free, people, people power, President, Shadow Cabinet, U.S. Politics, Vice President, Washington D.C.
Dr. Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, the 2012 Green Party presidential and vice-presidential nominees, marked the beginning of Earth Week by announcing a new Green Shadow Cabinet that will serve as an independent voice in U.S. politics, putting the needs of people and protection of the planet ahead of profits for big corporations. The Cabinet will operate in the tradition of shadow cabinets in other countries, such as the United Kingdom and France, responding to actions of the government in office, and demonstrating that another government is possible.
The Green Shadow Cabinet, which is viewable at www.GreenShadowCabinet.US, includes nearly 100 prominent scientists, community and labor leaders, physicians, cultural workers, veterans, and more, and will provide an ongoing opposition and alternative voice to the dysfunctional government in Washington D.C.. It is organized into six federal branches: Democracy, Economy, Ecology, Foreign Affairs, General Welfare, and Justice. Topics include the economy, environment and climate change, health and general welfare, democratization, rights of workers, wages and labor, community power, closing military bases, ending wars for resources and restoring the rule of law. Among the top priorities will be advocating for full employment through a Green New Deal and confronting climate change and the ecological crisis through a program of creating a carbon-free and nuclear free energy economy.
In honor of the launch of the Green Shadow Cabinet, members have issued public statements for Earth Week. These are available for republication at http://greenshadowcabinet.us/statements
Jill Stein said, “We are announcing this alternative government on Earth Day to emphasize the importance of confronting the climate crisis and also to show how it is interrelated with the economy, energy and the quality of life for all people. We will be urging policies that have the support of the American people. We’ve brought together leading analysts, experts and spokespeople on all the critical issues faced by the country and will provide a place where concerned citizens and journalists can come for independent and popular perspectives on the issues of the day.”
Business, Cyprus, Deposit account, derivatives, derivatives collapse, economic collapse, economic meltdown, European Union, global crisis, Gold as an investment, Precious metal, Shopping, silver, stock market, stock market crash, U.S, U.S. Government, United States
I have been warning about this since the fall of 2005! I urged buying gold and silver while it was still cheap. It’s not cheap anymore!
Coral bleaching is on the rise thanks to warming waters throughout the world due to global warming and man-made chemicals dumped into our waters. As the world heats up, our fresh water ice caps melt. Devastating consequences due to global warming include fresh water entering our oceans’ natural currents from the Arctic, Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. This fresh water slows down the oceans’ natural salt water flow, and will eventually halt our oceans’ currents causing even bigger problems for humanity!
That is a whole different story, however it relates to increasing dead zones in saltwater and freshwater bodies thanks to man-made global warming due to the burning of finite fossil fuels. Global warming and the dumping and runoff of man-made chemicals are destroying the Gulf of Mexico, oceans, seas and large freshwater sources like the Great Lakes. Our world relies on these waters to help sustain our seafood supplies and shrinking sources of freshwater which are vital to help sustain a overpopulated earth.
Let’s take a look at one specific area, the Gulf of Mexico, which explains why we are experiencing massive coral reef bleaching, and the deaths and disappearances of fish and other sea creatures.
The most current map of dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico may not reflect BP’s massive oil spill on April 20, 2010. It does not take into consideration that BP’s oil spill killed off a large, untold number of species of ocean dwellers like the 29 marine mammals that live in the gulf including dolphins and whales. Why does the Gulf of Mexico have huge areas where the waters are devoid of most or all living organisms? There are two main reasons.
One factor is the shallow water depths in the Gulf of Mexico which is the world’s ninth largest body of water if technically separated from the Atlantic Ocean. The average water temperature of the gulf during the summer months ranges from the upper 70’s to upper 80’s. 90 degree waters are not uncommon, and marine life cannot live in what is close to bath water temperatures for humans! Why do you think hurricanes that enter the gulf during the warm months gain so much energy? The weather systems have two forces that they need which are extremely warm water and hot temperatures to help them morph from a tropical storm into a enormously destructive hurricane. Global warming has caused not just air temperatures to rise but water temperatures to increase as well. Coral reefs are fragile, and they cannot live in such a warm, polluted environment.
The other synthetic reason why our oceans and the Gulf of Mexico are experiencing slow to rapid die-offs of coral reefs and the various forms of marine life that rely on them as a inter-connected life support system is man-made chemical waste. Is it just coincidence that the ‘Dead Zone’ in the gulf is near where the Mississippi River flows into it? Fertilizer, pesticide and herbicide run-off from farms flow into tributaries of the Mississippi River and directly into the river itself. Industrial farms and factories have uncontrolled flows of pollutants like nitrogen and phosphorous that ultimately end up in the Gulf of Mexico where they create algae blooms and oxygen depletion. No oxygen = no life. Other major toxins enter our waters via illegal dumping of chemical waste that companies purposely do, because they do not want to deal with the expense of properly disposing of their garbage or toxic waste. Any trash that enters the Mississippi River will end up in the Gulf of Mexico, and it will kill or scare off all marine life, thus creating ‘Dead Zones.’
What about what is already in the Gulf of Mexico? That limited source of energy that we spend more energy to get at than what it actually produces: Oil! Take a look at the number of oil platforms in the gulf along with their locations, and think about the tainting of water and the life in it due to drilling for oil!
Then acknowledge that drilling for oil results in oil spills which have a profound and lasting effect on the environment in general including the Gulf of Mexico:
This is a U.S. problem, but it is not limited to just America! Take a look at the dead zones throughout the world as we heat up, melt away, and pollute like there is no tomorrow!
Notice that even the Great Lakes, the world’s largest source of freshwater, is in trouble directly due to pollution including plastics! There are vast areas in the oceans too that are nothing more than giant, floating garbage dump sites! This is the way we treat our planet, and the dying of our oceans’ and other waterways’ is akin to the ‘Canary in the Coalmine’ scenario. Unless we drastically alter the course of society’s sails, then we are in for some rough waters ahead!
by John E Loeffler – Fountain City, Wisconsin
American, Americans, Capital Economics, Employment-to-population ratio, Federal Reserve, Federal Reserve System, Obama Administration, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Paul Ashworth, United States
The mainstream media is absolutely giddy that the U.S. unemployment rate has hit a “four-year low” of 7.7 percent. But is unemployment in the United States actually going down? After all, you would think that it should be. The Obama administration has “borrowed” more than 6 trillion dollars from future generations of Americans, interest rates have been pushed to all-time lows, and the Federal Reserve has been wildly printing more money in a desperate attempt to “stimulate” the economy. So have those efforts been successful? Well, according to the mainstream media, the U.S. unemployment rate is falling steadily. Headlines all over the nation boldly declared that “236,000 jobs” were added to the economy in February, but what they didn’t tell you was that the number of Americans “not in the labor force” rose by 296,000. And that is how they are getting the unemployment rate to go down – by pretending that huge numbers of unemployed Americans don’t want jobs. Sadly, as you will see below, the truth is that the percentage of working age Americans that have a job is just 0.1% higher than it was exactly three years ago. And we have not even come close to getting back to where we were before the last economic crisis. For example, more than 146 million Americans were employed back in 2007. But today, only 142.2 million Americans have a job even though our population has grown steadily since then. So where in the world is this “economic recovery” that they keep talking about?
At this point, the “unemployment rate” has become so meaningless that it really isn’t even worth paying much attention to. If you really want to know what the employment picture looks like in the United States, you need to look at the employment-population ratio.
As Wikipedia tells us, many economists consider the employment-population ratio to be far superior to other measurements of employment…
The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development defines the employment rateas the employment-to-population ratio. The employment-population ratio is many American economist’s favorite gauge of the American jobs picture. According to Paul Ashworth, chief North American economist for Capital Economics, “The employment population ratio is the best measure of labor market conditions.” This is a statistical ratiothat measures the proportion of the country’s working-age population (ages 15 to 64 in most OECD countries) that is employed. This includes people that have stopped looking for work.
A chart of the employment-population ratio in the United States over the past several years is posted below…
As you can see, the percentage of Americans with a job fell from about 63 percent to below 59 percent during the last economic crisis. Since that time, it has not risen back above 59 percent. This is the first time in the post-World War II era that we have not seen the employment rate bounce back following a recession. At this point, the employment-population ratio has been below 59 percent for 42 months in a row.
Yes, we should be thankful that things have stabilized, but as you can see there has been no recovery. The percentage of Americans with a job is essentially exactly where it was three years ago. Despite the trillions of dollars that the U.S. government has borrowed, and despite the reckless money printing that the Federal Reserve has been doing, the employment situation in the U.S. has not turned around.
Data for the employment-population ratio from the beginning of 2008is posted below…
So is there anyone out there that still wants to insist that the employment picture in the United States is getting significantly better?
Anyone that wants to claim that “unemployment is going down” should at least wait until the unemployment-population ratio gets back up to 59 percent. Otherwise they just look foolish.
Yes, the Dow is at an all-time high right now. But a bubble is always the biggest right before it bursts.
Most Americans understand that the Dow has been pumped up with all of the funny money that the Fed has been printing. Most Americans understand that the stock market really does not accurately reflect the health of the U.S. economy as a whole.
Just consider these numbers…
-The number of homeless people sleeping in homeless shelters in New York City has increased by 19 percent over the past year.
-The number of Americans on food stamps has risen from 32 million to 47 million while Barack Obama has been in the White House.
-According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 146 million Americans are either “poor” or “low income” at this point.
-Median household income in the United States has fallen for four consecutive years.
No, the truth is that everything is most definitely not fine.
If everything is fine, then why did the Federal Reserve inject another 100 billion dollars into foreign banks during the last full week of February?
The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve are desperately trying to prop up the entire global economy. Unfortunately, the global financial system has been built on a foundation of sand and the tide is coming in.
Back in 2008, a derivatives crisis was one of the primary causes of the worst financial panic since the Great Depression.
So did we learn our lesson?
No, the boys on Wall Street are back at it again as a recent article by Jim Armitage described…
Historically, stock markets, being driven by humans, have tended to have a similar length memory of catastrophes, before making the same dumb mistakes again.
But it hasn’t even been five years since derivatives (on that occasion based on daft mortgages) blew up the world, and yet these exotic creatures have already returned. With a vengeance.
Research from Thomson Reuters declared that banks were creating more derivatives known as asset-backed securities than at any time since before the Lehman Brothers crash. Of those, 22 percent were made up of – and forgive me the alphabet soup here – CDOs and CLOs. The very type of derivatives that exploded last time. At this stage last year, only 6 percent fell into those categories.
In other words, banks are creating more of the riskiest types of the riskiest products.
At some point, we will have another derivatives crisis even worse than the last one.
When that happens, financial markets all over the globe will crash, economic activity will grind to a standstill and unemployment will go skyrocketing once again.
But as you saw above, we have never even come close to recovering from the last crisis.
So you can believe the mind-numbing propaganda that the mainstream media is trying to feed you if you want. Unfortunately, the reality of the matter is that we have not recovered from the last major economic crisis, and another one is rapidly approaching.
I hope that you are getting ready.
Adults, America, Americans, Canada, Confusion, crop, Education, environment, Genetic engineering, Genetically modified food, Genetically modified organism, Genetically Modified Organisms, Genetics, GMO Ban, GMO restrictions, GMOs, Huffington Post, Interviews, Monsanto, North America, Poll, Polls, surveys, U.S., Uneducated, United States, United States of America
1. How much have you heard about companies developing genetically modiﬁed crops to make
them grow faster or bigger, or to resist bugs, weeds, disease, herbicides or pesticides?
Heard a lot . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22%
Heard a little . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48%
Heard nothing at all . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6%
2. Should companies that develop genetically modiﬁed crops be allowed to patent the crops
that they develop?
Yes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28%
No . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39%
3. Based on what you’ve heard, do you think that foods containing genetically modiﬁed
ingredients are generally safe to eat or dangerous to eat?
Safe to eat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21%
Dangerous to eat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44%
4. Based on what you’ve heard, do you think growing genetically modiﬁed crops is generally
good for the environment or bad for the environment, or does it have no impact?
Good for the environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8%
Bad for the environment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35%
No impact . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39%
5. Do you think foods that contain genetically modiﬁed ingredients should be labeled indicating
that, or do you think that’s not necessary?
They should be labeled . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82%
It’s not necessary to label them . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9%
Not sure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8%
breaking, Brian Iverson, cancer, cancer-causing, Cancerous, carcinogen, Carcinogenic, Clean Air Act, Clean Energy Act, Clean Water Act, criminal, Crystalline Silica, environmental, environmental disaster, Frack Sand, fracking, fraud, fraudulent, Glacier Sands LLC, greed, greedy, Horizontal Fracking, Hydraulic Fracking, hydraulic fracturing, Ike Thomas, known carcinogens, law, Minnesota, Mississippi River, money, Monopolies, monopoly, poison, poisonous, power, power-hungry, Ryan Thomas, Sand, Sand Fracking, Seven Sands LLC, Silica, Silica or Sand Fracking, Silicosis, Snake, snakes, Texas, Toxic, Toxic Chemicals, violations, Wisconsin
Is that not a pretty picture? It is what happens to our land when we rely on finite sources of dirty fossil fuel energy. Say goodbye to the trees, the animals, and a clean environment! The picture is not of a Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking site. It is a picture of the lesser known Sand Fracking that goes on to supply the needed Silica sand for the extremely toxic Hydraulic Fracking process of which there are now 65,000 wells and counting throughout the U.S.
The premium sand that is ideal for Hydraulic Fracturing or Horizontal Fracturing has been found by businessmen, mainly from Texas, and the high quality sand is in Wisconsin and Minnesota! A little-known company called Glacier Sands LLC a.k.a. Seven Sands LLC is responsible for this “gold rush” in the Sand Fracking industry. Their webpage looks innocent, but looks can be deceiving!
Speaking of deception, welcome to Glacier Sands LLC’s Leadership: http://glaciersands.com/about-glacier-sands/leadership/
Let’s break down three key people in their leadership: Brian Iverson, Ryan Thomas and Ike Thomas. Brian Iverson drew the attention of Texas businessmen Ike and Ryan Thomas, and he formally set up Glacier Sands LLC a.k.a. Seven Sands LLC in 2011 using a Wisconsin address although he lived in Minnesota. Brian Iverson has not only been accused of investment fraud related to a group of mining investors from Montana, but he also filed bankruptcy a little over two years ago to cover over $21 million of debt he accrued related to former business deals “and personal guaranties he gave as security for business loans.” Source: http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2012/07/09/frac-sand-or-farmland-wisconsin-farmers-face-showdown-rescheduled-august-9
Boy, this Brian Iverson guy sounds like bad news! He’s shady at best, and he has hooked up with two Texas businessmen since 2011 to completely destroy (see picture above) Wisconsin and Minnesota’s pristine environment by slithering in like a snake to slowly poison innocent citizens who have lived here for generations. What for? GREED, of course! Brian Iverson needed help to become financially successful, because he has a dirty past of screwing people over, then filing bankruptcy for his losses! Iverson is the epitome of selfishness! He obviously does not care about people in general or his workers, since I am sure he is aware of the dangers of Silicosis and cancer.
Sand Fracking for Crystalline Silica is known to cause Silicosis and cancer. Source: OSHA: http://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/crystalline-factsheet.pdf The Silica sand from Sand Fracking can blow for miles if not continually watered down according to lame government standards. At best, the Crystalline Silica produced from Sand Fracking to use in Hydraulic Fracking will only affect nearby areas to include the Mississippi River. That is bad enough if you live in a state where Sand Fracking sites are popping up faster than they can be properly studied for health risks before approval! Without proper studies on the harmful effects and affects of fracking, county boards like Buffalo County, WI just delay the permit for Sand Fracking until all of the ‘angry citizen’ dust has settled. Then, they go in and vote 3-0 in favor of what nobody wants except for the dirty fossil fuel industry and big business like Glacier Sands LLC! I wonder how many board members and other officials get paid to pass legislation for mining that is NOT wanted by a vast majority of U.S. citizens in general? Probably more than one can possibly imagine! Brian Iverson had help from Ike and Ryan Thomas though. Anything coming out of the most polluted state (Texas) in the U.S. for over a decade and running cannot be good!
Ike Thomas’s Linked in profile suggests a man with deep roots in dirty energy and big business: http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=135550272&authType=name&authToken=3tMX&locale=en_US&goback=%2Enpv_135550272_*1_*1_name_3tMX_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1_*1 He has a company called JusRyn (President since 1980) that is not only hard to find (a red flag), but when you do find Ike’s company it’s listed in the white or yellow pages! This seems a bit fishy to me, but what do you expect from a Texas businessman? What about Ryan Thomas? His Linked in profile says it all including bragging about being a Frack Sand supplier! He has similar business roots like Ike Thomas with dirty mining and dirty energy leading the way: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/ryan-thomas/18/592/664.
Is this what our country wants? A monkey barrel of bullies overrunning our local governments to feed their lust for money and power? Apparently so, because I do not see anyone standing up en masse to protest fraudulent businessmen. Businessmen who sucker farmers or anyone else with many acres of land via a greed-laden but small payout for ruining not only the farmer’s or individual’s land, but the land, water, complete infrastructure to include roads and buildings of towns and cities, and health of humans and animals!
Do you think that Glacier Sands or any other “Fracking” business is going to pay for human health problems which show up years or decades later, or the contamination of our land and water in general? They will be long gone by the time we catch up to the mess they have left behind! Taxpayers, as usual, will be stuck cleaning up dirty mining’s mess due to lack of current concern or ability to do much of anything to stop the Sand Fracking nightmare that consumes Wisconsin and Minnesota! It’s such a shame too, because if you can stop the Sand Fracking from happening then you can halt the even more dangerous Hydraulic Fracturing or Fracking that uses Crystalline Silica in large quantities. Fracking, like Glacier Sands is doing, has already turned America’s landscape from this
By John Loeffler – Fountain City, Wisconsin
Glacier Sands: http://glaciersands.com/about-glacier-sands/leadership/
Twin Cities Daily Planet: Frac Sand or Farmland: Wisconsin farmers face showdown http://www.tcdailyplanet.net/news/2012/07/09/frac-sand-or-farmland-wisconsin-farmers-face-showdown-rescheduled-august-9
In 1989, Dusty and Tamera Hagy bought 81 rural acres in Jackson County, West Virginia. Twenty-one years later, the Hagys sued four natural gas drilling firms alleging the natural gas wells drilled on their property in 2008 contaminated their drinking water and caused physical harm.
The Hagys’ water contamination lawsuit demonstrates how the natural gas industry has built a near-perfect “federal legal exemption’s framework” that when combined with lax or absent state regulations and the legal system’s high costs, inherently approves of citizen collateral damage with no restitution.
The consequence of this framework is that the burden of proof is placed on plaintiffs who, at best, are forced to settle with natural gas companies, thereby sealing the case from public scrutiny, scientific examination and legal precedence. Because the Hagys didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement with the natural gas companies involved, their legal case gives the public a rare window into how fracking lawsuits play out in reality.
Natural gas is a critical resource. Fifty percent of American residences use natural gas. Natural gas is seen by some as a bridge fuel essential to the U.S.’s strategy to gain energy independence from foreign oil imports. Yet we must ask ourselves: Is the current fracking system one we should support? Are changes needed to level the playing field for all parties involved in fracking? Can fracking be done safely?
The land man cometh
Dusty and Tamera Hagy unwittingly fell into the fracking trap the day they bought their land in 1989. “We loved our 81-acre property, it was our life. We had paid off the mortgage and spent a lot of money fixing the place up. We raised our two boys there, buried our animals there and were planning to give our boys some property,” said Dusty Hagy.
Mineral rights, fracking chemicals and natural gas federal environmental laws were all Greek to the Hagy family before a pleasant Equitable Production Company representative visited the couple in October 2007.
Equitable Production Company’s representative informed the Hagys that four natural gas wells were soon to be drilled on their property about 1,000 feet up the hill from their home.
In West Virginia, surface land ownership is separate from mineral rights. Mineral rights are the portion of the profits received from minerals extracted from land. Another party owns the Hagy property’s mineral rights which were granted hundreds of years ago. The Hagy family receives no gas royalties and didn’t sign a formal gas leasing contract, though, they did sign plenty of “papers” believing they did not have a choice.
Fracking starts – trucks, noise, explosions, and chemicals
On Nov. 11, 2007, trucks, back hoes, tree cutters and workers converged on the Hagy property uphill and upstream from their home. Equitable outsourced the drilling to BJ Services and for the next six months the holler, or enclosed valley, was flattened for a six-acre natural gas well pad.
Tamera Hagy describes life during the drilling and fracking: “It was nothing like what I had expected. This was a huge operation that lasted day and night for eight months. Trucks went up and down the road 24/7. The smell of fumes would make you sick. One night we heard something like a giant drill bit drilling and vibrating under our house.”
Dusty visited the well pad often and learned from the job crew that this fracking job wasn’t going smoothly. One worker mentioned that they had hit a lake of water and were moving the rig. Another worker shared in this audio tape #3 how the cement casing “went bad” and was re-cemented. Of the four open and lined fracking wastewater ponds, one overflowed and later broke, spilling the fracking wastewater into the nearby creek that flows from the well pad past the Hagy family’s home. In March 2008, Dusty noticed that another fracking pond’s wastewater was emptied by hose into the woods. After finding foam and oil slicks in the creek next to their well, and then when their large pond turned green, the Hagys knew something wasn’t right.
Dusty lodged a formal complaint with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) on Nov. 17, 2008. DEP records reveal a gas inspector visited the site at the well’s completion and issued no violations. DEP records also reveal the three natural gas wells began producing gas in July 2008 and the wells today continue to produce about 3,000 m.c.f. of gas per month.
Be careful what you sign
As Dusty describes the Equitable representative, “We liked him, and he was a nice enough guy in the beginning and we believed everything he told us at face value.” Equitable said the natural gas drilling was simple and would cause minimal damage on 1.5 acres. When Dusty asked if fracking used anything dangerous, they were told that only water and sand were used, no chemicals were ever mentioned. A water test prior to drilling supported the Hagy’s belief that their water well was clean and safe.
On Oct. 22, 2007, Equitable paid the Hagys $19,000 to cover surface damages to their land and trees because building a well pad trashes the landscape. “I believed the Equitable guy when he said the check was just for surface damages. My property was valued at nearly $200,000. It was stupid to sign that paper, I should have gotten a lawyer,” explained Dusty. Because the well pads used more than the original 1.5 acres, Equitable paid the couple another $10,000 for damage on an additional four acres.
Later in 2008, Dusty learned the papers they had signed to receive the payments were actually damage release contracts attempting to exempt Equitable, and all drilling providers, from any and all damages associated with the drilling. “Other than shooting the family dog, this ‘contract’ covered near everything,” said Dusty Hagy.
Family gets sick—headaches, rashes and vomiting
The family drank, bathed and cooked with their well water from November 2007 to November 2008 during the gas well drilling and fracking. Ironically, the Hagy family had boasted about their pristine well water and even after their adult sons moved out, the boys brought jugs of well water back to their homes.
The Hagys began to notice changes to their water in early 2008. Their water volume was dropping and the water’s color changed from clear to brown. Often black particles were floating in water drawn from their well. Despite overwhelming evidence otherwise, Equitable never reported any issues that would impact the Hagys’ well water.
Adding to the changing water quality, both Dusty and Tamera said they were oddly tired, and woke up with “bad headaches, like a hangover.” Both smelled an “acid” odor in the house and their eyes would burn in certain rooms.
The Hagys didn’t put “two plus two together” until their youngest son went to his family doctor in Columbus, Ohio in October 2008. Their son had complained of nausea and was spitting up blood. His doctor treated him for acid reflux, a disorder he’d never experienced before, and suggested he stop drinking his parent’s well water. The son’s symptoms disappeared soon after he discontinued drinking his parent’s well water.
Tamera Hagy developed a rash that her primary care physician diagnosed as contact dermatitis, a skin inflammation caused by a foreign source. Expert medical testimony in court documents reveal the Hagys’ health symptoms mirrored chemical exposure.
Water tests reveal drinking water was bad and Hagys vacate property
Based on their complaints, Equitable re-tested the Hagy water well on Nov. 8, 2008 and their water had clearly changed. The turbidity, or murkiness, was six times greater post drilling (0.5 to 3.2) and iron, manganese and calcium levels increased significantly (Dusty replaced one hot water heater during this time due to calcium build-up).
Water tests conducted later also revealed arsenic, lead, barium and Bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate, an organic compound linked to fracking wastewater. The radon levels of the Hagy well were 1,233 pCi/l with the maximum contaminant level set at 300. When those radon levels were compared to area wells, the Hagy’s radon in their drinking water was markedly higher than eight local U.S. Geologic Survey wells in the area.
However, the water tests conducted before and after drilling were limited and included no tests for known fracking chemicals or volatile organic compounds.
In November 2008, Equitable told the couple, “the water was bad” and to stop drinking the well water and the company began supplying bottled drinking water.
On Jan. 13, 2009, Dusty and Tamera vacated their home and have never moved back. “We thought we were going to die,” said Dusty Hagy.
Relations with Equitable were getting tense; Dusty even began recording phone conversations. Repeated requests for a list of the chemicals used in fracking went unanswered.
Equitable admits “your water’s been affected because of our drilling process.”
Dusty Hagy assumed Equitable would fix the water issue based on phone conversations (audio tape #1) with his Equitable representative who stated on the phone:
“ … for whatever reason the water’s been affected because of our drilling process. But the horizontal portion of it I don’t think had anything to do with it. Something we did had something to do with it. We have done something to the water, and no one was doubting that, but it wasn’t the horizontal part. I’m not doubtin’ that fact and I don’t think anybody’s doubtin’ that, the horizontal portion wouldn’t affect it.”
Equitable offered to drill a new water well which the family declined because they believed the aquifer itself was contaminated. This belief stemmed from a neighbor’s claim that 30 of his animals had died in 2008 during the gas drilling. Plus, Equitable tied any restitution to the couple signing an non-disclosure agreement, or gag order, meant to silence the Hagys and negate any future claims.
Hagy family sues drilling firms
As this phone conversation (audio tape #3) with Equitable reveals, once the family sought legal representation in March 2009, all contact with Equitable stopped. Bottled water deliveries and hotel payments stopped. While the couple searched for a rental home, they lived in their un-heated camper. On a positive note, once they vacated their home, their negative health symptoms dissipated.
The Hagys sued Equitable Production Company, BJ Well, Halliburton and Warren Drilling in October 2009. In short, even with the taped calls, drilling records, photos, videos and water tests, the Hagys’ lawsuit was “dismissed” in August 2012. Judge Goodwin’s opinion stated, “The case presents no genuine issue of materials fact for a jury to determine.” The lawsuit is in the appeals process and the litigation costs to date are $175,000.
How does this happen?
Though the Hagys’ lawsuit appears to provide evidence of water contamination, their dismissed lawsuit supports the claim, “There are no known cases of drinking water contamination from fracking,” often touted by pro-fracking groups.
This claim isn’t true, at least 4 confirmed cases of water contamination exist:
2011 Paradise Road, Bradford County, PA — Outcome: settled.
Why so few confirmed cases and no case tried before a jury?
More than 40,000 shale gas wells have been drilled since 1996 and at least 825 serious fracking complaints have been lodged, yet only 40 fracking lawsuits have been filed. To date, a jury has never heard a fracking lawsuit.
How the “the Big 7” exemptions play out in reality
The natural gas industry is exempted from seven major federal environmental laws. These laws in their simplest forms are intended to protect people, places, water and air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with enforcing these laws. Because the natural gas industry isn’t regulated by the U.S. EPA at the federal level because of the legal exemptions, natural gas drilling is regulated on a state-by-state basis.
The chart below outlines the seven federal environmental laws exemptions, with many exemptions dating back decades.
The latest three exemptions were strategically written into the 1,500 page Energy Policy Act of 2005 and are now infamously named the “Halliburton loophole.” These three short paragraphs focused on eliminating water pollution oversight and also eliminated the strict environmental reviews that federal projects must undertake.
When these exemptions are combined, the benefits to natural gas industry are: no federal EPA oversight therefore pushing fracking regulation to the state level, no scientific testing, no environmental studies, no health and geologic studies and no liabilities for drillers of chemical releases into waterways and air.
The 2005 Energy Policy Act’s strategy was to provide the U.S. with “an abundant, domestic and affordable sources of fuel.” Since 2005, the gas industry has been unhampered by federal regulations and the newer shale gas drilling has grown quickly; U.S. natural gas from shale reserves has grown from one percent to 35 percent of the U.S. supply. This new supply of 8.5 trillion cubic feet of gas has forced natural gas prices down by 50 percent, even spurring coal-based electrical plants to convert to natural gas.
The coffin nail: Toxic Release Inventory exemption
The least known exemption though, the 1986 Toxic Release Inventory of Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, may offer the natural gas industry the biggest shield from liabilities and the greatest obstacle for parties alleging fracking water contamination.
In response to the Bopal, India disaster, when Union Carbide released a harmful gas into an urban area which killed more than 20,000 people, Congress required industries to list harmful chemicals on the Toxic Release Inventory to the EPA. The EPA collects and then disseminates that information to the public and local governments.
Yet, oil and gas companies were exempted from the Toxic Release Inventory, therefore chemical disclosure is different for each of the 29 fracking states. To boot, shale gas production, or fracking, is concentrated in relatively gas-friendly states: Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, West Virginia, Colorado and North Dakota, listed in order of gas production volume.
According to an in-depth National Resources Defense Council report which compares today’s hodgepodge of state-level fracking regulations, no state requires full chemical disclosure. Even new regulations in Texas, the largest shale gas producer, require chemical reporting but do not require “proprietary” chemicals to be listed which can account for 50 percent of the chemicals used in one fracking. The report also concludes that state reporting is inconsistent and significant portions of data are missing altogether.
Adding to the lack of chemical disclosure, only two states (West Virginia and Colorado) inform residents about new wells before drilling. This means that in 27 states, residents are not notified of new drilling, making it impossible to conduct comprehensive (and expensive) water testing before the drilling.
How exemptions play out in the law-can you prove what you drank?
In 2007, Equitable wasn’t legally required to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking, therefore no doctor, no person or group knew what chemicals to test for or what caused the foam in the creek, the color changes in the pond or the compromised water well.
Though water tests revealed the Hagy property drinking water had changed since the drilling had occurred, the tests were not apples-to-apples comparisons. During the lawsuit’s evidence discovery process, the natural gas firms finally furnished the list of chemical used on the Hagy property which verified the fracking chemicals used weren’t “just water and sand,” as quoted by the Equitable contact.
The absence of verifiable chemical data is displayed in Judge Goodwin’s opinion and order to grant a motion for Summary Judgement, which in layman’s terms means the Hagy lawsuit was dismissed. The burden of chemical exposure proof was placed on the plaintiffs, “to demonstrate amount, duration, intensity and frequency of chemical exposure.” A catch-22.
Gas leases and contracts: The devil’s in the fine print
Adding to the chemical disclosure catch-22 is that most gas leases heavily favor natural gas drillers. In 2011, The New York Times analyzed more than 110,000 shale gas leases and concluded; over half of gas leases provide landowners no restitution in the event of harm, most exclude any explanation of potential harm and a majority of leases include automatic contract extensions that require no landowner approval. Natural gas wells can produce for decades and gas lease contracts can be automatically renewed in perpetuity. Many leases include clauses mandating that damage disputes be heard in arbitration outside of the legal system.
The door-to-door leasing agents who represent gas drillers, a.k.a. landmen, are tasked with getting natural gas leases signed by landowners. Feedback from many landowners is that landmen are very persuasive, personable and often mis-represent facts. These revealing talking points pages were reportedly found by a Ohio homeowner who had been visited by a West Bay Exploration’s leasing agent. The talking points, marked confidential, give sales agents advice to, “not talk about the anti-fracking documentary Gasland, to not discuss chemicals or fracking and to speed up the lease signing before people think about the drilling.”
Many natural gas leases border on predatory in nature as it appears the gas leasing process relies on the ignorance of rural, landowners to enter into binding, private contracts with natural gas drillers.
The Hagys claim they were absolutely unaware they had signed a damage release waiver, twice even. “The Equitable representative sat right on my porch and said the cash was a small payment for the trees and land damage. It wasn’t until November 2008 that I even found out I supposedly had signed away any rights,” said Dusty.
These two damage release forms inadvertently signed by the Hagys have reared their ugly heads during the lawsuit process as another reason Equitable and BJ Services claim they are not liable for any water, health or property damage; the companies claim the Hagys signed away any rights to liabilities and restitution.
Suing a gas company—expensive and grueling
“Fracking has been the tragedy of the commons—freedom to a common, brings ruin to all,” according to Maxwell Kennerly, a trial lawyer at The Beasley firm in Philadelphia. Legally it’s been impossible for plaintiffs to precisely pinpoint exactly what happened underground or link exact chemicals to a situation when those chemicals aren’t divulged and the drilling process isn’t accessible. Any lawyer taking these cases has to be prepared to put their own money and resources on the line to be a trailblazer.”
The first legal team hired by the Hagy family in 2009 dropped the Hagys’ case one year later. During that year the family lost valuable time in conducting water tests and gathering evidence. Their current lawyer, Kevin Thompson, of the Law Offices of Thompson Barney in Charleston, West Virginia, has taken the case on a contingency fee basis. The Hagy family has paid no out-of-pocket expenses. The lawsuit’s litigation costs to date top $175,000.
Lastly, there is an emotional toll for using our legal system to get restitution; it’s a grueling process according to Dusty Hagy. “It’s been hell. For over two years, we’ve been reliving this awful experience. In the back-of-our-minds we realize this may be all for nothing. My wife and I feel we had our most important asset stolen from us, the drinking water that makes our property a place to live, not just 81 acres for animals. It feels like the whole system is stacked against us.”
Where are the Hagys?
Interestingly, the Hagys and 70 of their neighbors who live on a 5-mile stretch of Sugar Creek Road have petitioned Southern Jackson County Public Services to extend public water service to their homes at cost of $2 million. The project is on an 5-year waiting list and there is no guarantee it will ever be completed. According to Karl Vielhaber, general manager for the Southern Jackson County Public Service, the property owners have petitioned for municipal water because most claim their water wells are contaminated from gas drilling. Most of the homeowners haul water to their homes from a coin operated water source.
Dusty and Tamera have moved to a new property with a mortgage, and they still own their vacated property. Equitable’s three natural gas wells still produce gas today and may for years on the Hagys’ vacant property.
The winners and losers
A clear winner in fracking so far is natural gas industry. Fracking cases settled out-of-court provide critical benefits for the gas industry because the settlements include “gag orders” so that injured parties can not discuss the case and its contents. Financially, settlements reduce liabilities for natural gas firms by eliminating unpredictable jury awards. More importantly, settlements help the industry maintain their public relation’s campaign to the media, elected officials, the financial industry and the American consumer that natural gas drilling is clean and safe.
American consumers are also winners in the fracking story. According to the Energy Information Administration, residential gas prices are about 50 percent less than the 2008 natural gas price peak.
Fracking’s losers are the private landowners who have been negatively impacted by fracking and may or may not have received proper restitution. Collectively, the public loses as closed settlements shut down any learning, studies or analysis needed to create uniform industry best practices and build legal precedence for future cases.
Based on evidence and public pressure, Congress finally approved the U.S. EPA to conduct scientific fracking studies. The final study will be available for peer and public review December 2014.
Fracking regulations are slowly developing. The Obama Administration announced federal regulations mandating methane capturing at well sites. State legislatures are slowly developing new rules with Pennsylvania creating some of the toughest legislation over wastewater recycling and charging per well fees to pay for damages. But, as the Center for Energy Economics and Policy’s website and National Resourced Defense Council report illustrate, fracking regulation is complicated and convoluted.
What can you do?
Stories like this can often leave readers with an uneasy question: “What can I do?” Hear are a few ideas.
New York: Damascus Citizens for Sustainability
If you’re interested in reading the natural gas industry’s point of view, Energy in Depth is their policy and communications group.
All photos taken by Dusty Hagy except the photo and story below is from the West Virginia Surface owner’s Right’s Organization.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed closer to its recently set all-time high with a close on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 14,000.57
This facade will not last much longer! The amount of “insider trading” going on is so big that Google’s own CEO sold off 42% of his total portfolio – all Google shares! Market analysts on the inside track are sounding alarm bells, so that certainly cannot be good! Talks of ‘major’ “corrections,” otherwise known as “crashes,” are growing in intensity and numbers. Europe is falling apart including our close ally England, and countries like Spain, Italy and France are bankrupt! Last week, Spain begged for another bailout, but the EU, at Germany’s nudging, said “NO!” “We don’t have the funds to prop you up” were supposedly uttered. The U.S. economy is not any better!
Our GDP, or Gross Domestic Product, dropped last month. The last time it dropped the market hemorrhaged. It’s one leading indicator of where our economy is really at, and a helpful warning of a possible and substantial drop in the Dow and all other markets across the globe. Unfortunately, what goes up so far (and the Dow will likely peak high one more time before it crashes and burns) must come down to equally sustain a balance. Here’s the problem though.
The U.S. Government has been fudging its economic books for far too long. “Cooking the books” as the old adage goes! You can only make crap up for so long before it over-spills into the general public. That process is just barely beginning, but it has begun. Americans want to know the truth from their leaders, but the web of deception is so twisted and tangled that citizens are unlikely to hear the full truth of what is really going on?
We are mostly adults. We can handle the lies, mass corruption, the raping of the middle class along with the poor class, again. But, listening requires too much effort these days! Americans are interesting. We have been brainwashed into having the attention spans of gnats, so we forget about the really urgent issues our country faces thanks to the CEOs, big banks and mega-corporations running our U.S. Government and running the U.S. into a brick wall with reinforced steel and concrete! The U.S. economy will come to a complete standstill after it collapses and/or China and Russia flip the switch and completely stop buying up U.S. dollars and debt. THEN, we will have no other choice to pay attention, because it will be a matter of life and death. Our dependence on oil, our addiction to it, has made it very hard to stop our govt. from gobbling up the world’s natural resources like a cocaine addict following a white line! After all, oil makes up most of what consumers buy these days, from a toothbrush to a car tire. We passed the peak, finite fossil fuel oil’s maximum output for the rest of earth’s existence back in 2008. Saudi Arabia is running low on oil now, because we consume such massive quantities of it. They had 25% of the world’s oil. We could use a little oil or lube right now.
The historical collapse of the U.S. markets and the economy is going to happen. It’s inevitable that the false economic security bubble that we are living in is going to burst which will cause a massively painful slide into a negative abyss. Worst of all, we may not have the resources to just jump-start the burnt out motor of the U.S. economy. Buy seeds, and not Monsanto’s GMOs! Buy organic. You’ll be planting your own food in the near future!
By John Loeffler