“In Bad Faith: These People will get Nowhere,” Jessica Ernst on Fracking

Fire over water: Fracking and the Elsipogtog protests

I’ve mentioned the on-going protests over hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New Brunswick before (see here and here). Here is a recent video:

Global frackdown goes local in Mi’kmaq territory: #Elsipogtog

If you followed the twitter hashtag #Elsipogtog yesterday, you were well ahead of the mainstream media on the conflict between Mi’kmaq protestors and the RCMP in New Brunswick, Canada.

The Mi’kmaq have been blockading fracking exploration for some time, as I’ve mentioned here before. The province sought and obtained an injunction against them, and yesterday sent in RCMP – replete with snipers and dogs.

Several stories are now out on the conflict here, here and here. Lots of additional pictures are available on twitter. The Mi’kmaq demands are for the consultations they are legally entitled to and for proper stewardship of the land and water. On this latter point, and particularly in New Brunswick, they’ve got a good argument to make considering that the person in charge of that province’s fracking review panel was a fraud.

The end result was a show of state force. Several dozen people taken into custody, pepper spray used on elders.

There was also response from the Mi’kmaq, including the burning of police vehicles.

QUICK UPDATE: I meant to include a link to this interview with Pam Palmater on CBC’s Power and Politics last night.

Everybody condemns the violence, one hopes, when it erupts so explicitly. And yet there is a lot of violence buried within the legal injunction itself. Especially when proper consultation is guaranteed by Supreme Court decisions.

Yesterday there was also a new report released on fracking and the global land grab.

Do chemicals leaching into your water have genetic effects on reproduction? Also, fracking.

How much effect do plastics have on environmental health and even our genetics? This is a very good and incredibly sobering explanation of the debates about chemical leaching into water through everyday items from Patricia Hunt.

After that, there is a talk from Sandra Steingraber on fracking – she is a leading critic of the practice.

If you have time, a very interesting contrast between the two talks is the ways that these respective scientists position their research and its fit with public policy debates. And, moreover, how they themselves see their contribution and the role of the scientist.

Legal symposium on hydraulic fracturing and water (presentations + videos)

If the links for this don’t work for some reason you can go directly to the original site here. If you are interested in water, Joseph Dellapenna’s talk in session two  may be of particular relevance.


The 2013 Idaho Law Review Symposium will bring together an interdisciplinary panel of legal, scientific, and business experts to discuss issues related to the hydraulic fracturing. Topics will include: (1) the science and technology of hydraulic fracturing; (2) the regulation of hydraulic fracturing’s environmental effects; (3) the role of state and local governments in regulating hydraulic fracturing; (4) current legal hot topics in the field, such as the role of trespass and trade secrets; and (5) the role of hydraulic fracturing in a clean energy future for the country.

The 2013 Idaho Law Review Symposium will continue the tradition of bringing together a select group of scholars and professionals for an informed interdisciplinary discussion centered on a topic of growing national importance. By exposing members of the academic, business, technological, and legal communities to diverse viewpoints and multifaceted experiences, our goal is to provide a forum for open discourse which will provide participants with valuable information applicable to their own business and legal situations.

CLE Credits

The video of the Symposium is now available for free access below.

PowerPoint Slides and Law Review Articles

The PowerPoint slides and law review articles of the presenters will be posted as soon as they are available. The slides and law review articles constitute the CLE presentation materials for the Symposium.

Symposium Schedule of Events

Science and Technology of Hydraulic Fracturing (8:45-9:45) – (video)
Moderator: Anastasia Telesetsky (Idaho)
John Imse (NORWEST) – Presentation (pdf)
Virginia Gillerman (Idaho Geological Survey) – Presentation (pdf)

Regulation of Hydraulic Fracturing’s Environmental Effects (10:00 – 12:35)
Water. (10:00 – 11:00) – (video)
Moderator: Barbara Cosens (Idaho)
Joseph Dellapenna (Villanova) – Primer on Groundwater Law (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)
Robin Kundis Craig (Utah) – Hydraulic Fracturing (Fracking), Federalism, and the Water-Energy Nexus (pdf)

Air & Land. (11:00 – 12:20) – (video)
Moderator: Jerrold Long (Idaho)
Jim Wedeking (Sidley Austin LLP) – Up in the Air (pdf)
Carlos Romo (Baker Botts LLP) – Rethinking the ESAs Orderly Progression (pdf)- Presentation (pdf)
Elizabeth Burleson (Pace)

State & Local Government Regulation Hydraulic Fracturing (1:50 – 2:50) – (video)
Moderator: Stephen R. Miller (Idaho)
Uma Outka (Kansas) – Presentation (pdf)
Michael Christian (Marcus Christian Hardee & Davies LLP) – Summary of Revisions to Idahos Oil and Gas Conservation Act and Rules (pdf)

Two Hydraulic Fracturing Hot Topics: Trespass & Trade Secrets (2:50 – 3:50) – (video)
Moderator: TBA
Chris Kulander (Texas Tech) – Common Law Aspects of Shale Oil and Gas Development (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)
Keith Hall (Louisiana State) – Hydraulic Fracturing: Trade Secrets (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)

Does Hydraulic Fracturing Have a Role in a Clean Energy Future? (4:00 – 5:00) – (video)
Moderator: Dale D. Goble (Idaho)
Joshua Fershee (West Virginia)
Patrick Parenteau (Vermont) – A Bridge Too Far (pdf) – Presentation (pdf)

Thousands demand Lone Pine drop its NAFTA lawsuit against Québec’s fracking moratorium

The Canadian province of Quebec has a ban on fracking that is currently being challenged by a company named Lone Pine. Some of the details are available here regarding how the legal suit is situated with respect to an international trade agreement in North America (NAFTA).In response, the Council of Canadians has started a petition, info for which is below, and which is online here. This issue is really coming on line in Canada these days – even though the U.S. is full steam ahead.

Thousands demand Lone Pine drop its NAFTA lawsuit

against Québec’s fracking moratorium

(Ottawa, May 31, 2013) – Two weeks after the launch of a public petition, organizers have received over 3,000 signatures demanding that energy company Lone Pine Resources drop its $250 million NAFTA (North America Free Trade Agreement) lawsuit against Canada for Québec’s moratorium on fracking.

The petition sponsors—the Council of Canadians, the Réseau québécois sur l’Intégration continentale (RQIC), Sierra Club US, FLOW (For Love of Water), Eau Secours! and AmiEs de la Terre—sent three letters to Lone Pine today, each signed by 1,000 people, and will continue to collect signatures until the company agrees to drop the suit.

“People across Canada and the United States are outraged that a company would claim it has a ‘right’ to frack under trade deals like NAFTA, and that we might have to pay Lone Pine Resources not to drill in the St. Lawrence,” says Emma Lui, water campaigner with the Council of Canadians. “There should be no ‘right’ to frack, or to dig a mine, or lay a pipeline. Investment treaties cannot be allowed to override community decisions.”

“Governments must have the flexibility to say ‘no’ to fracking and other environmentally destructive practices without trade rules getting in the way,” said Ilana Solomon, Trade Representative with the Sierra Club. “The fact that a U.S. oil and gas corporation has threatened to bring a trade case against the government of Canada over a law intended to protect the health and well-being of its citizens shows just how backward our trade rules have become.”

In 2011, the Quebec government placed a moratorium on all new drilling permits until a strategic environmental evaluation was completed. When the current Quebec government was elected last year, it extended the moratorium to all exploration and development of shale gas in the province. Last fall, Lone Pine indicated that it planned to challenge Quebec’s fracking moratorium. Instead of going to court, the Calgary-based company is using its incorporation in Delaware to access the investment protection chapter of NAFTA, which is only available to U.S. and Mexican companies, to challenge the Quebec moratorium in front of a paid, largely unaccountable investment tribunal. The company says the Québec moratorium is “arbitrary” and “capricious,” and that it deprives Lone Pine of its right to profit from fracking for natural gas in Québec’s Saint Lawrence Valley.

“Lone Pine must drop its scandalous lawsuit against this legitimate policy of the Quebec government, who has just been listening to its people,” says Pierre-Yves Serinet, coordinator of the Quebec Network on Continental Integration (RQIC). “These provisions of such free trade agreements are direct attacks on the sovereign right of the Quebec government to govern for the welfare of its population. It’s astonishing that the negotiations between Canada and the European Union (CETA) follow the same blueprint. Time has come to end the excessive powers to multinationals,” added the spokesperson for RQIC.

“No trade tribunal should allow a company to sue a State that tries to protect water, which is a common good at the core of the survival and the health of the peoples and the ecosystems. Eau Secours! presses the Quebec government to also change its antiquated law on mining, to improve its water law and its sustainable development regulations to clearly reaffirm this willingness of protection,” declared Martine Châtelain, president of the coalition for a responsible management of water Eau secours!.

“Water in North America is part of a single system, starting with hydrologic cycle, and subject to generational public trust responsibility,” says Jim Olson, Chair and President of FLOW for Water. “A moratorium that exercises this responsibility can hardly be challenged as a regulation: public trust and water have inherent limits.”

The NAFTA dispute and letter-writing campaign is happening as the Parti Québécois introduces legislation that would ban fracking in the St. Lawrence Lowlands for up to five years. The organizations involved in the letter-writing campaign are encouraged by the decision but support a complete Quebec-wide moratorium on fracking for oil and gas.


Emma Lui, Water Campaigner, Council of Canadians, 613-298-8792, elui@canadians.org

Twitter: @CouncilOfCDNs | www.canadians.org/fracking

Friday fodder: fracking UNESCO world heritage sites

CBC News is reporting this morning on potential fracking in Gros Morne, Newfoundland. Gros Morne is a UNESCO world heritage site and UNESCO threatens to take the site off the list if fracking goes ahead. Gros Morne Fjord

It would be a symbolic gesture, but one that would expose Canada to further international scrutiny on its environmental record.

In eastern Canada, the issue of fracking is increasingly in the news. Also reported today is that the small town of Debert, Nova Scotia has denied the request of a company that 4.5 million gallons of fracking wastewater be cycled through the town’s wastewater treatment plant, which empties into the Bay of Fundy.

Thankfully, the local county decided not to use the Bay of Fundy as a “petri dish” for experiments. Their words.

Yesterday the U.S. released some fracking rules for public lands but there is a growing concern that not only will fracking pose a threat to water quality, but that in certain parts of the U.S. it will cause problems over quantity in water scarce areas.

Shale oil, fracking and mining: Australia

These are just some interesting links that happened to cross my path yesterday:

There is a new $20 trillion shale oil play in Australia.

Also down-under, there are industry concerns about protests against LNG (Liquified Natural Gas), largely extracted through fracking.

Deloitte’s mining trends for 2013 predictions.

And the top 10 energy projects in the world, by price. There are some massive things going on these days.

Andrew Nikiforuk’s special series on shale gas

Andrew Nikiforuk is an excellent environmental journalist who focuses a great deal of his work on Canadian energy. He recently wrote a series of essays on Shale Gas extraction (i.e. hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’) for The Tyee. I’ve posted links with short descriptions here for each of the 4 part investigation. It would be great to hear reactions.

1. Shale Gas: Myth and Realities

Nikiforuk tackles top claims fracking industry uses to reassure public. First in a series.

2. Shale Gas: How Hard on the Landscape?

Industry’s claim that clustered wells preserve forests and farms is a myth.

3. Shale Gas: How Often Do Fracked Wells Leak?

When industry says hardly ever, that’s a myth. It’s a documented, chronic problem.

4. Shale Gas: How Clean Is It?

Fracked fuel far more dirty than industry, governments claim.


What the frack? Combustible water and other late capitalist novelties

Imre Szeman, a Canada Research Chair in Cultural Studies at the University of Alberta, has a new commentary out in the latest issue of Radical Philosophy on hydraulic fracturing. It is entitled, “What the frack? Combustible water and other late capitalist novelties.”

Here is the introduction, the rest is available here:

What the frack?

Combustible water and other late capitalist novelties

“There is a reason why oil gets the lion’s share of attention when it comes to the global game of petrocarbon extraction. Through the multiple products into which oil is refined, most important of which are gasoline and diesel, oil is the blood that animates the body of capitalism. It is a substance necessary for economies to keep operating and profits accruing, which is why access to it fuels so many geopolitical struggles around the globe. The atrocities committed by major oil companies almost everywhere they have set foot – of which spills such as BP’s recent debacle in the Gulf of Mexico are but the tip of the iceberg – draw public attention to the consequences of living in oil societies, and so too to the full scale of our dependence on the substance. And whether or not we believe tales of peak oil, as oil gets harder to access and in shorter supply and so more expensive, the extent to which oil and capitalism are tied together cannot help but make us sit up and pay attention. Economist Jeff Rubin has recently argued that the unprecedentedly high price of oil over the past decade is the primary reason why economies around the world have found it difficult to recover from the 2008 crash.1 While the current price of around US$90 per barrel is well below its recent peak of $147 in July 2008, it is still exponentially higher than the average $2 per barrel at which oil was priced during capital’s massive expansionary phase from the 1920s to the 1970s – a virtually free form of energy with an extraordinarily high ratio of energy returned on energy invested.

If natural gas is also making the news today, it is due only in part to its expand­ing use in fleet vehicles (replacing petrol or diesel) or in the generation of electricity (replacing coal-fired or nuclear power plants). Despite the ever-expanding market for liquefied natural gas (LNG), ‘the world’s fastest growing energy source’, the price of natural gas remains too low to excite many investors.2 One of the reasons for the reduced cost of gas is the recent global expansion of natural gas supply, which is due almost entirely to the discovery of a new source: the decaying organic material that makes up the compressed rock of black shale. With this discovery, the world is now awash in shale gas. The US Energy Information Administration estimates that the USA has 2,632 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas, enough to address domestic demand for 100 years at current rates of use. In the UK, the discovery of a gas field in north-west England by Cuadrilla Resources promises enough gas to meet demand for 64 years.3 Even if profits are not as high at present as producers might want, consumption of natural gas is expanding rapidly (29 per cent over the past decade) and the growing capacity for LNG means the possibility of servicing export markets such as China and Japan, which needs more of the fuel than ever in its current post-nuclear phase. As an easy allegory for the disaster of runaway consumption or the tendency of human beings to gleefully destroy the environments that support them, natural gas certainly cannot compete with oil. But as it begins to occupy an ever-greater segment of the overall market for energy, the race for shale gas is resulting in ecological and political problems that should cause all of us to pay as much attention to gas as we are starting to pay towards oil.”