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Hoodwinked in the Hothouse

From the Introduction:

Desperate to avoid climate regulation that may affect profits, polluting corporations are working hand-in-hand with governments, presenting a dizzying array of false solutions that deepen inequalities in our societies. There is a clear agenda: Manage the climate crisis without compromising profits, the power structures or the economic system that got us here, even if that means exacerbating the problem. Wall Street financiers, the synthetic biology industry, “green” venture capitalists and a host of others are jumping on the “we care about the climate, too!” bandwagon.

These actors have reduced one of the clearest consequences of an unsustainable system into a mere technical problem that can be “efficiently” dealt with through market-based solutions. This market fundamentalism diverts attention away from the root causes of the problem, encouraging us to imagine a world with price tags on rivers, forests, biodiversity and communities’ territories, all in the name of “dealing with the climate crisis.” At the heart of all false solutions is an avoidance of the big picture: the root causes.

False solutions are constructed around the invisible scaffolding that maintains the dominant economic, cultural and political systems—the idea that economic growth is both desirable and inevitable; that progress means industrial development; that Western science and technology can solve any problem; that profits will motivate and the markets will innovate. Most of us in the Global North, whether sensitized to it or not, are participants and, at times, even take comfort in this world view. Sadly, many find it easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of a globalized economy built upon the unsteady legs of expanding empire, ecological erosion and exploitation of workers and communities.

We can take steps, large and small, to stop the climate crisis. What we cannot afford to do is go down the wrong road. Hoodwinked in the Hothouse is an easy and essential guide to navigating the landscape of false solutions—the cul-de-sacs on the route to a just and livable climate future.

--Gopal Dayaneni, Movement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project

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Fracking Frenzy: How the Fracking Industry is Threatening the Planet

By Robert Galbraith, Gin Armstrong, and Kevin Connor - Public Accountability Initiative, February 2015

The global development of ‘unconventional’ fossil fuels (UFF) such as shale gas has provoked much debate involving scientists,industry, political decision-makers, environmental groups and civil society. More than a decade of large- scale development in North America has left a legacy of environmental damage, primarily resulting from the use of high- volume horizontal hydraulic-fracturing (also known as ‘fracking’) to extract the unconventional oil and gas. Despite the controversy surrounding this technique, the numerous unknowns and uncertainties concerning its impacts and the growing number of questions about the economic benefits of this industry, oil and gas operators are eager to identify new opportunities and so are engaged in a battle to make frackingpublicly and socially acceptable worldwide.

Read the report (PDF).

2 Arrested in Lockdown at Dominion Cove Point LNG Contractor

By Seed Coalition - Seed Coalition; images by David Hardy, December 3, 2014

Two activists with We Are Cove Point locked themselves to the doors of the offices of IHI/Kiewit in Lusby, Maryland this morning. IHI/Kiewit is a joint venture that serves as the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the Dominion Cove Point LNG export terminal project. IHI E&C, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tokyo-based company IHI Corporation, is headquartered in Houston, Texas. Kiewit is based in Omaha, Nebraska.

During the lockdown and extraction, other activists with We Are Cove Point held signs rejecting the project and IHI/Kiewit’s involvement. They attracted the attention of shoppers at stores located in the same strip mall and handed out several leaflets providing information about the project and the campaign against it.

Today’s action comes just a few days after seven people were arresting for blocking the entrance to a construction site in nearby Solomons, Maryland, where Dominion and IHI/Kiewit are building a pier to land equipment for the project too large to bring in by land. To date, twenty-two people have been arrested for protests in Solomons and Lusby. Earlier this year, fourteen people were arrested protesting at three courthouses across the state of Maryland. Their actions demonstrated the breadth of the opposition to Dominion’s terminal and highlighting the broad consequences the project will have if it is completed, included increased hydraulic fracturing for methane gas and the rapid construction of the dangerous infrastructure needed to transport it.

Fracking blast kills one Halliburton worker, injures 2 in Weld County

By Jesse Paul and Mark Jaffe - Denver Post, November 13, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

MEAD — One worker was killed and two were seriously injured Thursday, November 13 when a frozen, high-pressure water line ruptured at a Weld County oil well site.

The workers were trying to thaw the line when the accident occurred, officials said.

The Anadarko Petroleum Corp. well was being hydraulically fractured, or fracked, by the Halliburton Co., and the workers were Halliburton employees.

Anadarko said it was suspending all fracking operations in the area pending a review of the accident.

The area has been the scene of drilling since at least 1979, but this year Anadarko has sunk at least nine deep horizontal wells, according to state records.

Each of those wells has to be fracked by pumping a mixture of water, sand and trace chemicals into the well at high pressure to crack rock and release oil.

Thomas Sedlmayr, 48, was flown to Denver Health, and Grant Casey, 28, was taken by ambulance to the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland. The name of the dead worker had not been released.

Quintero zona de catástrofe

By René Cumplido - El Ciudadano, October 28, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

La gran mancha de petróleo derramado aún permanece en el fondo de la bahía de Quintero según el informe dado a conocer por las autoridades este fin de semana. Según el biólogo marino Hugo Poblete, del Movimiento de Pescadores Artesanales de Quintero, el nivel de PH en las aguas arroja una acidez de 2,7, lo que provoca la muerte de toda la flora y fauna del lugar.

Esto coincide con la última declaración de la Enap, propietaria del crudo, reconociendo que el derrame, hasta el momento, supera los 22 mil litros, una cifra diez veces mayor a la dada a conocer durante la semana pasada.

Entre el puerto de Ventanas y  la empresa Oxiquim, en una superficie de 1.800 metros de largo por cinco metros de ancho,  la playa quedó cubierta por petróleo crudo, el que lentamente, pese a los esfuerzos de los equipos de limpieza, comenzó a desplazarse a través de las corrientes por toda la bahía.

La mancha de petróleo aún es visible en el mar en una extensión de 25 kilómetros entre la península de Los Molles hasta cerca de Chachagua, sumando más de 20 playas y pequeños requeríos contaminados con el crudo. Al acercarse, por ejemplo, a playa Las Conchitas, a varios kilómetros del accidente, y aunque la empresa ya dio por concluidas las labores de limpieza, aún se observan restos de hidrocarburos en las algas de los requeríos.

Are Fracking Workers Being Poisoned on the Job?

By Michelle Chen - The Nation, November 10, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Last week's Republican election victories will set the stage for more stagnation in Washington, but might also grease the skids for some of the most controversial energy ventures at ground zero in the climate change debate: the long-stalled Keystone XL Pipeline project, and the booming hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," industry. But one thing that might put the brakes on the dirty fuel rush is the mounting research evidence linking oil and gas extraction to massive health risks for workers and communities.

A new study published in Environmental Health reveals air pollution data on major, in some cases previously underestimated, health risks from toxic contamination at gas production sites related to fracking. Air samples gathered around "unconventional oil and gas" sites by community-based environmental research teams contained unsafe levels of several volatile compounds that "exceeded federal guidelines under several operational circumstances," and that "Benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen sulfide were the most common compounds to exceed acute and other health-based risk levels."

This suggests fracking may bring risk of cancer, birth defects and long-term respiratory and cellular damage to local towns and farms. Building on other studies on drilling-related water contamination, the air pollution research may stoke growing opposition from communities near drilling sites, who must weigh the industry's promises of new investment and jobs against the potential cost to the human health.

The findings also raise questions about the safety of fracking-site workers, who may have far less legal recourse over potential health damage than do local homeowners. Many work contract jobs under harsh, isolated conditions, in a volatile industry where pressure to pump profits is high and labor protections weak.

Jobs! Money! Nope! Benefits of LNG exports grossly exaggerated

By Al Engler - Rabble.Ca, October 24, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

In the 2013 provincial election, Christy Clark's Liberals promised that exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Asia would provide jobs and expand government revenues.

A year and a half later this boom is nowhere to be seen.

Fifteen liquefying plants and pipelines have been promoted. Six were reported to be on the verge of starting construction. But in early October, Petronas -- the company closest to seeking regulatory approval -- announced that it was considering shelving its proposal.

The Malaysian government-owned corporation wanted assurances that provincial and federal taxes and royalties would be kept low and that the company could bring in workers from abroad to construct and operate its facilities.

Then on October 21 the provincial government announced that tax rates and royalties on LNG operations would be slashed, and that the public should understand that if these projects proceeded, significant public revenues could not be expected for 15 years.

All of the proposed projects have faced strong opposition from Indigenous people and local communities to pipelines, liquefying plants and increasing tanker traffic.

The most widely promoted LNG terminal in Kitimat is in doubt after a substantial majority in this industrial city voted against the proposal. (People living in the adjacent native reserves who were expected to vote overwhelmingly against the LNG project did not get a vote in this referendum.)

Kitimat showed that when issues are openly and thoroughly debated, the communities most dependent on industrial employment will vote against projects that damage the environment.

The B.C. and federal governments as well as the corporate media continue to promote LNG as the key to future employment and increased public revenues. But even without the prospect of blockades, lengthy public hearings and litigation, the profitability of LNG exports is dubious.

Grassroots environmental and social justice groups condemn Public Service Board decision, Call for Massive Rally and Sit-In

By Will Bennington; image by John Dillon - Popular Resistance, October 10, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Addison County, VT – A coalition of environmental and social justice groups condemned today’s Public Service Board (PSB) ruling to not reopen the Addison Natural Gas Project Certificate of Public Good, and called for a massive rally and sit-in on October 27 to protest the decision and the Shumlin administration’s continued support of the project.

350 Vermont, Rising Tide Vermont, the Vermont Workers’ Center, and Just Power are calling for the sit-in, which will focus on the Governor and his continued support for the project.

“We’ve reached the end of our rope with Vermont’s broken utility regulatory process,” said Jane Palmer, a small farmer and landowner in Monkton, who has been involved in a legal battle with Vermont Gas for over two years to keep the pipeline off her property and out of the state, “The Board is ignoring the facts. The whole process is broken and rigged to get Vermont Gas the result it wants. The Board is giving Vermont Gas carte blanche to do and spend whatever they want, while ignoring the concerns of the larger community.”

A Gas Plant Fire Just Killed One Wyoming Worker; Here’s Why That Could Start Happening More

By Emily Atkin - Think Progress, September 24, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Four workers were caught in a storage tank “flash fire” at a natural gas production facility in Lincoln County, Wyoming on Tuesday. The incident, a spokeswoman for Salt Lake City’s University Hospital told ThinkProgress, left one worker dead, and two critically injured. The workers, who have not yet been named, were cleaning gas tanks when the fire broke out. The exact cause is still unknown.

The fire happened at a natural gas plant owned by Houston-based EOG Resources. Of the four workers who were caught in the fire, two were direct employees of EOG while others were contractors. It’s not yet clear if the worker who died was a direct employee or a contractor.

The incident is the latest fossil fuel-related workplace fatality in Wyoming, which has historically had one of the highest rates of oil worker injuries and deaths in the country. Worker death rates there have fallen — Wyoming oil workers are dying at half the rate they were five years ago — but so have the number of oil and gas rigs in the state. The correlation suggests that Wyoming may still be plagued with a problem it’s been facing for years: a high rate of occupational fatalities due to a lacking “culture of safety.”

The idea that Wyoming may have an endemic workplace safety problem comes from a 2012 report from state-hired epidemiologist Timothy Ryan, who analyzed occupational fatalities in Wyoming and found numerous problems with the overall business attitude toward safety. “Safety [in Wyoming] occurs as an afterthought,” he wrote. He found that from 2001-2008, 20 percent of all Wyoming’s worker fatalities came from the oil and gas industry, and that a whopping 96 percent of those deaths occurred when safety procedures were not followed.

Since then, progress appears to be happening, with the current state epidemiologist telling Wyoming’s local NPR affiliate last week that he’s optimistic — there’s been an increase in worker safety training programs and safety meetings, he said. But NPR’s report also pointed out that some aren’t convinced that the culture is really changing at all. And that’s a problem, because once-declining drilling activity is again starting to expand in the state.

If Wyoming hasn’t in fact changed its “culture of safety,” it will be even more susceptible to the dangers of what is widely known as an industry that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is unprecedentedly dangerous to workers. Indeed, the fatality rate for onshore oil and gas workers is seven times higher than the national average, and injuries are even more common. Between 2007 and 2012, a total of 663 workers were killed in oil-related accidents nationwide.

Working with flammable substances and heavy machinery is one reason for this increased rate, but another reasons the oil and gas industry remains so dangerous could be the fact that oil worker deaths aren’t very widely publicized. An in-depth report on worker fatalities released by Wyoming Public Media last week pointed out that oil worker deaths rarely merit more than a few sentences in local newspapers, an unfortunate phenomenon driven by the nature of the deaths. Compared to a dramatic coal mine collapse — where dozens of workers are trapped or killed underground — oil worker deaths generally happen one-by-one, in small fires or explosions.

“They don’t get the same kind of attention as a disaster in a coal mine, where you have multiple miners that may be killed,” Peg Seminario, director of safety and health for the AFL-CIO, told Wyoming Public Media. “Nonetheless, the worker who’s working in oil and gas is more likely to be killed on the job than a coal miner. That’s a fact.”

Workers at Fracked Wells Exposed to Benzene, CDC Warns Amid Mounting Evidence of Shale Jobs' Dangers

By Sharon Kelly - DeSmog Blog, September 18, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

For years, the oil and gas industry has worked to convince Americans that the rush to drill shale wells across the country will not only provide large corporations with lavish profits, but will also create enormous numbers of attractive and high-paid jobs, transforming the economies of small towns and cities that greenlight drilling.

The industry's numbers are often picked up by policy-makers and politicians who back drilling, in part because talk of job growth is an especially alluring idea in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.

But numerous independent studies have conclude that the industry vastly overstated the number of jobs that fracking has created, and that the economic benefits have been overblown.

A growing body of research suggests that not only does the industry create fewer jobs than promised, the jobs that are created come with serious dangers for the workers who take them.

Research made public late last month suggests that some of those jobs may be even more hazardous to workers than previously believed, calling into question the true benefits of the boom.

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