Tuesday, April 22, 2014

President’s Spin on Asia Trip and Trade Deal Ignores Harms of the TPP



The President is heading to Asia with an eye to pressing forward passage of a new trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement (TPP). The  problem?  The TPP is a bad deal all the way around or our country, at least as currently written and proposed. 


It will jeopardize food safety:  http://www.exposethetpp.org/TPPImpacts_FoodSafety.html .

And while it is light on environmental preservation, it is heavy on corporate protection:  http://www.delawarerivervoice.blogspot.com/2014/02/tpp-trade-agreement-pumps-up-pressure.html . 

And to top it off, the President wants Congress to pass a piece of legislation called the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014  -- “Fast Track” for short – that will diminish our democracy.  Fast Track would give the President super powers to be able to continue to negotiate the TPP deal in secret, to sign the deal on behalf of the United States, to draft and put forth the legislation that would implement his secretly negotiated deal, and to relegate our Congress to a mere “yay” or “nay” vote, no hearings, no amendments, and very little conversation at all.  

Just looking at the issue of shale gas development -- the TPP, and the Fast Track legislation designed to grease its path through Congress …

      do not support strong job creation, they actually hurts it;
      do not support energy independence, they actually diminishes it; and
      certainly do not help protect our environment, they help to devastate it.

TPP Will Increase Fracked Gas Exports, Economic and Job Losses, and Environmental Harm
There is already a rush to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) because gas is selling for as much as 3 to 4 times the price overseas as in the U.S.  Advocates for LNG exports are using the situation in Ukraine as a renewed call for exporting US fracked gas as LNG in order to bolster their press for more drilling and fracking. 

If passed as planned, the TPP will give special status to new countries who will benefit from automatic approval of LNG export plans – those countries include Japan, Vietman, Brunei, Malaysia, and New Zealand, with China expected to be added to the list soon.  That means environmental and economic reviews of the impacts of new LNG construction, operation and export would be by-passed. 

LNG operations are not about economic or job prosperity for the people of our nation.  Information submitted to the Department of Energy demonstrates that while LNG exports generate increased revenues for the gas exporters and gas companies, other areas of the U.S. economy, as a result of exports, decline.  Among the losses are job losses.  LNG exports harm labor income and jobs in many other sectors of the economy such as paper, metals, chemicals, stone, clay, glass, plastics, and food processing. If LNG is allowed to proceed nationally as is being considered it is estimated that as many as 270,000 jobs could be lost. In fact, if LNG is allowed to grow as is being proposed, folks in every major sector, except for natural gas, will lose income; and we all will have to pay more for goods and services as the impact of increased gas prices reverberates through the economy.  (for more see:  Will LNG Exports Benefit the United States Economy? Synapse Energy Economics, Jan 23, 2013)

TPP Will Mean More Fracking and Drilling In Our Communities – Bringing Economic and Environmental Harms.
More LNG exports means more pressure for shale gas development and fracking.

More drilling and fracking does not mean economic prosperity.  An increasing number of reports scrutinizing the job claims of drilling companies is demonstrating their claims of benefits to be increasingly false.   As one recent report stated: 

Employment estimates have been overstated, and the industry and its boosters have used inappropriate employment numbers, including equating new hires with new jobs and using ancillary job figures that largely have nothing to do with drilling, even after the flaws in those numbers have been brought to their attention. …..  [S]hale-related employment across the six-state Marcellus/Utica region fell over the past 12 months for which data exist, from the 1st quarter of 2012 to the 1st quarter of 2013.” (http://www.multistateshale.org/shale-employment-report)

The unparalleled level of harm to drinking water, air quality, food supplies, and people’s health that result from ongoing and increasing levels of drilling and fracking for shale gas bring high price tags for the United States economy and taxpayers.  Not only do our communities lose out on life’s basic needs – air, water, food and health – but we as taxpayers have to pay the upfront and long-term financial burden of these harms, including the necessary clean up and health care costs. 

The deforestation, land compaction, wetlands destruction, and increased earthquake potential inflicted by shale gas development means increased flooding and flood ravaged homes and communities; it means increased erosion of public and private lands; it means the fear and harm of an earthquake where it happens; it means lost fishing, hunting, boating, birding and all the jobs they generate.  And of course someone has to pay for all this harm too – that someone is you and me in the form of emergency services, taxes, hazard mitigation, and more national debt.

And increased drilling will bring with it harm for jobs and economic prosperity.  For example, our healthy Delaware River contributes $22 billion in annual economic activity.  Increased drilling and fracking brings harm to the River which means harm for this economic vitality. 

TPP Empowers Industry to Undermine Community Protection Laws Here in the U.S.
Not only will the TPP pump up the pressure for drilling and fracking, and grease the wheels for LNG, but the TPP would give foreign corporations the right to sue our government for millions of dollars if they believe a U.S. environmental law (State, Federal or local) has diminished its ability to make profits – one corporation is already taking action under similar provisions in NAFTA against Canada for a ban on fracking passed in Quebec.  So environmental protections at the local, state or even federal law designed to protect our communities from the harms of drilling, could actually be legally challenged and fall under explicit provisions in the TPP designed to give Corporations the upper hand.

So don’t buy the bunk you are hearing about the values of the President’s Asia trip and his push for the TPP and Fast Track. See the President’s support of the TPP for what it is – another sell out of the residents and citizens of the U.S. to industry and big money donors.

Take a moment to make your voice heard on this important issue:  http://bit.ly/DRN-TPPAction



Sunday, March 2, 2014

Our Water, Our Air, Our Communities -- and Forced Gas Drilling?

Our Water, Our Air, Our Communities -- and Forced Gas Drilling?
























Delaware
Riverkeeper Network hosts a forum with the lead litigators and litigants of the
landmark Act 13 case – the case in which the conservative Pennsylvania Supreme
Court declared that the rights of pure water, clean air, and a healthy
environment, across the generations, must be protected by state and local
legislators.  View it live or over the web.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Communities Protected from Exploding Gas Well Because of Good Fortune? What About Good Sense?



At 6:45 am on Tuesday, February 11, the town of Dunkard, Pennsylvania was rocked by the explosion at a Chevron Appalachia natural gas drilling site.   On Wednesday the fire was still burning.  One worker was reported injured and another as missing.

According to press reports, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) Secretary Chris Abruzzo said it was “fortunate” that the nearest house was about a half mile away from the exploding drilling site.

While Abruzzo is busy thanking fortune for protecting families and the community from the devastating explosion, it is his agency that continues to fight to reinstate Governor Corbett’s pro-drilling Act 13 – the law that would allow gas well pads and  their attendant infrastructure and harms, to be built just 300 feet from homes, schools, day care centers, hospitals or any other structure in Pennsylvania.

 
It is time for good judgment, not just good fortune.  The half mile buffer good “fortune” gave to the residents of Dunkard far surpasses what the DEP or the Governor would see them have (see picture that shows the comparison of what good fortune gave Dunkard versus what Abruzzo and Corbett continue to argue for).  Secretary Abruzzo and Governor Corbett continue their efforts to reduce the buffer of protection between between drilling sites and houses, between the poisonous hazards on these site and the streams that provide us our drinking water, between dangerous drilling infrastructure and every aspect of our communities. 


As the Dunkard explosion reminds us, simple good commonsense commands that we protect our families and our drinking water from this dangerous industrial activity.