Friday, May 1, 2015

Silent vigil/potluck/film CHASING ICE/Frack-Happy Texas Forced to Face the Reality of Fracking-Related Earthquakes

There is usually a silent peace vigil on Fridays, from 5 to 6 PM, sponsored by Homewood Friends and Stony Run Meetings, outside the Homewood Friends Meetinghouse, 3107 N. Charles St. The next vigil is on until May 1. It will remind us that War Is Not the Answer and that there is the need to stop torture, and prosecute the torturers. Since it is First Friday, enjoy a post-vigil potluck dinner and a film.

The Hiroshima-Nagasaki Commemoration Committee, Baltimore Quaker Peace and Justice Committee of Homewood and Stony Run Meetings and Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility are continuing the FILM & SOCIAL CONSCIOUSNESS DVD SERIES. CHASING ICE [USA, 2012] will be shown with a discussion to follow on Fri., May 1 at Homewood Friends Meetinghouse around 7:15 PM. There is no charge, and refreshments will be available. Call 410-366-1637 or email mobuszewski at

This documentary is about James Balog and his team on the Extreme Ice Survey as they assemble a multiyear chronicle of the planet's rapidly melting glaciers. Jeff Orlowski expertly films this risky attempt to "chase ice." Balog has photographed many stories and films for National Geographic, often about endangered species. This time he made repeated expeditions to Greenland, Iceland, Alaska and Montana to install stop-motion cameras in order to view the devastation wreaked by climate chaos on glaciers. The Extreme Ice Survey has been collecting the results since 2007, and it is terrifying to see glaciers retreating from ice mountains to expose the rock they rest on. Determined to continue the project, this scientist has to undergo knee surgery, after all of those mountain treks. Yet you will see him returning to inspect his cameras — on crutches. This documentary qualifies as a horror film.

Pantsios writes: "Texas is not known for using caution when it comes to oil and gas development. Fracking has swept the state like a hurricane, despite attempts by some environmental and community activists."

Pumpjack on oil well. (photo: AP)

Frack-Happy Texas Forced to Face the Reality of Fracking-Related Earthquakes

By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch

30 April 15

Texas is not known for using caution when it comes to oil and gas development. Fracking has swept the state like a hurricane, despite attempts by some environmental and community activists. The city of Denton passed a ban on new fracking operations in last November’s elections, and the Texas legislature is currently considering legislation that would overturn that vote and take away the ability of cities and towns to regulate virtually any aspect of drilling within their borders.

So it’s kind of startling to hear that the conservative Texas Railroad Commission, which oversees oil and gas operations and has generally been very cordial toward them, has ordered companies operating two wastewater injection wells in Azle, just northwest of Fort Worth, to justify keeping their wells open. The commission has ordered four “show cause” hearings in June, where well operators must show why their permits should not be canceled.

It follows a report last week by a team of researchers from Southern Methodist University (SMU) saying that a swarm of earthquakes in the area in November and December 2013, including two magnitude 3.6 quakes, was likely caused by the injection wells activating fault lines millions of years old. The area had previously experienced no earthquakes.
“Pore-pressure models demonstrate that a combination of brine production and wastewater injection near the fault generated subsurface pressures sufficient to induce earthquakes on near-critically stressed faults,” said the study. “On the basis of modeling results and the absence of historical earthquakes near Azle, brine production combined with wastewater disposal represent the most likely cause of recent seismicity near Azle.”

According to the Dallas Morning News, “The Azle study is one of the most in-depth investigations of a Texas earthquake swarm. While earlier reports have linked quakes with wastewater wells based largely on timing and proximity, [study lead author Matthew] Hornbach and his colleagues sought to gain a clearer understanding of what was happening along the faults.”
The study also called for more sharing of geological information gathered by oil and gas companies in order to improve monitoring of potential seismic activity.
Texas Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddock said in a statement, “The Railroad Commission has in place strong rules addressing the issue of seismicity and disposal well activity, and it is incumbent upon us to apply these rules where and when appropriate for the protection of public safety and our natural environment. In light of SMU’s study linking disposal well activity to earthquakes in 2013, it is important to assess this new information in relation to the continued operational safety of the wells.”

The USGS has linked the proliferation of earthquakes in north Texas to fracking activity. (photo: USGS)

The Railroad Commission’s in-house seismologist Craig Pearson has not commented on the SMU study, except to question its methodology, says the Dallas Observer which noted that Pearson has “consistently resisted linking recent Texas quakes to drilling activity.”

Also expressing doubts about the study was EnerVest, one of the two companies involved in the Alze wells.

“We have serious questions about some of the assumptions made in that study, and we look forward to sharing those with the Railroad Commission when we come in June,” said EnerVest spokesman Ron Whitmire.

But the evidence is piling up. The U.S. Geological Survey also released a report last week suggesting suggesting a potential link between the Texas quakes in areas that had never experienced any and the increased number of injection wells, saying that the risk of damaging earthquakes has tripled since 2008 when fracking became widespread.

“All indications are that earthquake rates have increased significantly as a result of man-made activity,” said Mark Petersen, head of the USGS National Seismic Hazard Project.

But it wouldn’t be Texas if elected officials didn’t stick up for the oil and gas industry. Two weeks ago the Texas House passed a bill that would overturn Denton’s fracking ban, clarifying that only the state can regulate oil and gas drilling operations. House Democrats proposed an amendment allowing cities to regulate injection wells, but it was rejected. The bill now goes to the state Senate where a committee had approved a similar bill.

© 2015 Reader Supported News

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218. Ph: 410-366-1637; Email: mobuszewski [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

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