THose of us who long suspected that a lot of important public info on the dangers of natural gas extraction and Fracking was hidden from us or being “massaged” got a taste of reality thanks to the Sunday NYTimes.
Regulation Lax as Gas Wells’ Tainted Water Hits RiversConfidential EPA doc’s released by New York Times today in front page report
“While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.
Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.
The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.”
DEtails at:Details at:Today’s New York Times article is pretty good, too
No clash at gas hearing; let the Precautionary Principle rule
According to the February 15th front page headline, “Gas Drilling Foes, backers clash”. There has been more than one misleading headline about this issue. They oversimplify at best and mislead those who merely read headlines.
I arrived early at Thursday afternoon’s DRBC hearing in Trenton. Because I was next to the last to testify I listened to all those who had gone before. What I noticed was a number of nuanced opinion camps. Each represented the legitimate personal interests of individuals present. The press conference occurred before the hearings and only a few reporters remained for the hearings.
I’ve been to four hearings and there were angry vocal clashes at some, especially the West Trenton hearing. Thursday’s DRBC hearing was rather subdued and serious.
Among those who testified on Thursday there were the advocates who want to drill for financial reasons. A gold rush, even for gas, is hard to resist especially in historically tough economic times. There were ideological drill advocates for whom individual freedom is paramount; there were opponents who want a total ban, opponents for a moratorium, angry opponents appalled at industry lies and the suffering of numerous victims, injuries and deaths.
The day before this hearing three workers were seriously burned in an explosion and fire at a well near Avella, PA. “If you’ve ever been to one of those well sites, the fumes are very bad,” Avella fire Chief Eric Temple said. “The fumes were what was burning.”Read more: Vapors blamed in Avella Marcellus shale gas drilling site fire – Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviewhttp://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_724557.html#ixzz1EzobBbXk
A gas explosion earlier this month in eastern Pennsylvania killed five people. The blast, in Allentown, sparked an inferno that burned for hours while crews tried to shut off the gas supply.Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/24/pennsylvania-gas-blast-injures-3-workers/#ixzz1EzpLvcFJ
The current state of affairs allowed the discharge of more than 2.5 billion gallons of partially treated frack wastewater into our Neshaminy Creek, the source of drinking water for over 300,000 of us. Although illegal, no one has yet been held accountable for this, or for another 70.5 million gallons of wastewater that went missing. Is this the kind of oversight the citizens of Bucks County need, want, or deserve? I think not.
Last year, Chesapeake Energy had among the most violations of Marcellus shale companies in Pennsylvania, according to DEP. The company was cited with 149 violations and 33 enforcements, resulting in total fines of less than $12,000. Violations ranged from releases of pollution into ground water to suspicions of gas leaking from wells. In the last year well over 2000 violations were lodged against drillers and the industry according to testimony at yesterdays DRBC hearings.Read more: Vapors blamed in Avella Marcellus shale gas drilling site fire – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/s_724557.html#ixzz1EzozMMzSA large number who testified wanted their legitimate and important questions answered before deciding on what to do next. I’m in that camp. It took me over six months of research and seminars to get enough information to get a decent feel for this complex subject.
My interim conclusion is that the technology is dangerous and neither the industry nor the regulators are ready for prime time. We should wait for the EPA studies and other research underway before making a final decision. We should wait until the industry pays for baseline data of local water and air pollution is obtained, we should wait for realtime onsite monitoring equipment is installed with third-party monitoring. We should wait for unique tagging tracers to be put into each separate well. We should wait until anyone harmed can seek diagnosis and treatment at drillers expense, and until preventative measures that we agree with, to protect all of us from harm, are in place. We should wait until a rapid response disaster team or teams are in place to handle routine and worst case scenarios. We should take every page out of the book from the Gulf Coast disaster, study it, implement everything appropriate before proceeding.
A moratorium has been called for and seems very appropriate. The only ones to suffer are the immature or the desperate who, like children, are demanding instant gratification of their desires, without regard to those who might suffer from premature shale gas development. They fear thorough study because it may confirm the vast body of anecdotal and scientific evidence so far. Far more caution is needed if we’re to protect our children, our sick, and the elderly.
The website of the world’s leading endocrinologist and leading specialist in the health effects of Fracking, Dr. Theo Colborn, has this to say, “As natural gas production rapidly increases across the U.S., its associated pollution has reached the stage where it is contaminating essential life support systems – water, air, and soil – and causing harm to the health of humans, wildlife, domestic animals, and vegetation.” If you disbelieve this, argue with her, and the other health professionals. Fracking is a process that only the oil and gas industry, bankers, engineers, and some landowners could love.
The gas is not going away, and will only get more valuable with time. Only the bum’s rush from the drilling companies and personal greed stand in the way of waiting until the product becomes more valuable. With the world entering the unprecedented age of peak oil and expensive petroleum, it will shortly become priceless. It will then be a seller’s market and the Commonwealth and it’s citizens could virtually name their own price.
Natural gas is not a substitute for oil. The patriots and Jingoists from GasLand are energy illiterates if they think that natural gas can substitute for oil anytime in the forseeable future. Natural gas won’t get the military industrial complex out of the middle east or other oil rich places we’ve squatted like Jabba the Hutt.
According to Cornell University the carbon footprint, an ultimate measure of “green”, of shale gas is slight;y worse than that of coal. And the recent EPA study demonstrated that the GHG potential of shale gas extraction is huge because methane, continually released from drill rigs and other frack sites, is 22 times more powerful than CO2. It was these fumes that ignited and exploded at Vallela, and elsewhere.
And there aren’t many Pennsylvania or local jobs available. The three men seriously burned in the Vallela explosion were all from West Virginia. The bulk of the jobs go to out-of-state and foreign workers.
Clearly, a multimillion dollar political contribution and public relations blitz by the gas industry will spread lies and half-truths around like money from a cornucopia, or heaven. I’m glad I haven’t been offered a lot of money for MY drilling rights. I might be tempted to forgo reason and take cover under a convenient, yet unproven assertion. I’ve been out of work for nearly three years(but, as you can see, busy) and could use a couple of grand. All I want to do is cover next month’s mortgage payment and pay for my wife’s health insurance.
Therefore let the Precautionary Principle rule: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures should be taken even if some cause and effect relationships are not fully established scientifically. In this context the proponent of an activity, rather than the public, should bear the burden of proof – The process of applying the precautionary principle must be open, informed and democratic and must include potentially affected parties. It must also involve an examination of the full range of alternatives, including no action.” -
(Wingspread Statement on the Precautionary Principle, Jan. 1998)
Most of us have no idea of the larger issues in which this natural gas controversy is embedded. For those of you who wish to research these and come to a more complete understanding of our unprecedented historic times go to: www.chrismartenson.com and take the crash course. I advise doing this when you have a bit of time, but you can take it in convenient small chunks. I think it’s a brilliant tour d’force into a perfect storm of events which will challenge most of us who are used to linear, non-systems crises.
For those of you who want to put off this task thinking that we still have plenty of time for debate and denial, go to page 29 of the US DOD’s JOE 2010 report: www.jfcom.mil/newslink/storyarchive/2010/pa031510.html
“Sit down and be quiet. You are drunk, and this is the edge of the roof.” Rumi
February 25, 2011 — Some months after my Grandfather JB arrived in Doylestown from Reading with his family, a Norwegian Maple sapling was planted in our backyard. A ten foot height of a thick trunk is all that remains of this 115 year old tree. A combination of age, disease, and root encroachment on a proposed house on the lot next door brought on our decision in 2000 to cut it down. We asked the tree surgeon to leave ten feet so that a tree sculptor could carve a “Big Chair” and symbols into the thick wood.
This second and final post for my Black History Month features selections from research of our paternal grandfather. “JB” is an affectionate name we call him that stands for the initials of his first and middle name–Joseph Black. Born Free in 1832 in Philadelphia, he was the son of another Free man who lived in that city since his birth in 1798.
Just as the Maple grew to an enormous height shedding its leaves every fall and sprouting its “propeller seeds” each spring, it was a part of our lives and a great tree on our property. Its transformation over the years to its metamorphose toward complete decomposition is a reflection of the births, lives, and deaths that transpired within my family since JB planted that sapling in 1896.
JB married three times, twice a widower before marrying his third wife Lillie—a school teacher—in 1886. A veteran of the Civil War, JB had served in the Navy on the USS Daylight, a freighter that patrolled along the coast of North Carolina blockading vessels attempting to bring supplies to the Confederate states.
Setting up house in Reading, children quickly came from this union, so that by 1895 there were three sons and two daughters. From some of the letters in our family archives, JB was a man who articulated his thoughts and thrived on knowledge of the world around him. This aspect of his personality became a fate that would bring his family to Doylestown.
At the end of the Civil War, Pennsylvania Governor Andrew Curtin established a group of homes for war orphans. Then in 1895 the Legislature created Scotland School for Veterans Children and designated a 183 acre site in Franklin County for its campus. This was possibly when JB became active in his attempt to help a young African American orphan for admittance into Scotland School. We recently learned that this orphan’s first name was Link. Link also suffered from palsy and as JB began lobbying for this Reading boy to be recommended for admittance to Scotland School, it became too much for some of Reading’s residents. He began receiving threats from the Molly Maguires warning him that he should “… get out of town or … be killed.”
JB left Reading and came to Doylestown where he stayed with the grown sons of his deceased second wife. He earned money by working as a barber in their shop and after finding the house that to this day is still in the family, he wrote Lillie, “…pack up the furniture and the children. I have found a house in Doylestown.”
Three more sons were born in Doylestown, the last in May 1900 who was my father Savoy. JB died two months later from heart failure. He was 68 years old and is buried in Doylestown Cemetery’s Veterans plot .
We never learned if Link was ever admitted to Scotland School for Veterans Children. But with JB’s death, Daddy and his siblings became eligible to attend the school. All boarded at Scotland School and after their graduation several went on to obtain successful lives: A doctor, a dentist, a minister, a WWI serviceman, and the two sisters got married. Lillie died in 1946. Daddy became the Steward for the family. He remained at our home and brought his wife Dorothy to Doylestown from Philadelphia where they raised six children—three sons and three daughters who attended schools in Doylestown before they left for lives of their own.
Scotland School continued to graduate students who went on to successful lives. The school depended on its survival through the whims of the Pennsylvania legislature and thousands of committed Pennsylvania Veterans. Funding issues caused the school to be closed in 2009 by Governor Rendell.
The Big Chair continues to survive even through weather-worn deterioration with each passing season. But the three Ghanaian symbols carved in the Ashante language—Welcome, Spirit Tree, and Peace are still visible at the trunk’s strong places.
February 18, 2011 – The Egyptian uprising kept me glued to my television set, and even when on my computer, I opened a second internet window to Al Jazeera English just to hear their news coverage. When I visited Egypt in 2000, with Teen Summit 1000 an educational and cultural organization for African American Children, the country stole my heart. We had been introduced to the knowledge that thousands of years ago, the people that inhabited Egypt were the first to record mathematics, build the Pyramids and stone structures that still make me wonder, How did they do that? We learned that true Egyptians were not coffee-colored Arabs. They were Africans. My experience in Egypt was one not ever to be forgotten. Several books on my shelf are devoted to the mysteries of that land 5,000 years ago. Egypt had always been on my list of places to travel. At last a wish came true.
We soaked in more culture than politics during that 10-day excursion. Recalling my interactions with the Egyptians in the street bazaars, in our hotels, while dining, or out by the Pyramids, and just observing them observing us, now brings a whole new understanding of what we never learned. We never learned that so many people were not employed and those who were, survived on only $2.00 a week. We never learned how suppressive the government was to its people. Yet now I understand why, when I focused my camera on a trio of policemen standing by their vehicle, one of them thrust a threatening open-hand gesture of “no” to me. Not until watching the coverage of police brutality was I able to understand the significance of that negative message.
When footage showed men riding camels and horses trampling on hundreds of protestors on Tahrir Square, it recalled the time when our schedule allowed for a camel ride. We were instructed not to give the camel jockeys a tip as that would be taken care of by our tour guide. The two young boys leading the camel I rode kept turning around asking me for a tip; and for a tip offering to photograph me with my camera. Not able to resist, I allowed them to take my picture but my tip to them was two measly American quarters. They weren’t happy about that: Paper money is one preferred form of exchange. When my camel arrived back at the holding area, I was scolded by the tour guide and and our director for giving them the coins. If only I’d known then what I learned 10 years later from the protestors on television, they each would have been tipped an amount equal to a paper “Lincoln”.
Americans traveling to Egypt or possibly other countries are presumed to be “rich”. Our students and group leaders could be described as “middle class” travelers. I remember when we climbed out of our buses with our luggage before checking into a hotel. Our group of young African American youngsters and adults numbered about 200. As we patiently waited on the sidewalk before entering the hotel to check into our rooms, about 2 dozen Egyptian youth began to gather around us. I assumed it was because they were staring at a bunch of African Americans on an Egyptian tour. Now I know the expression on their faces was not curiosity but a sullen expression of a people believing they were looking at other people possessing much more than they would ever have.
Glued to my television, I tried to identify places we may have passed while driving by in our buses. There were a few instances last week when watching the coverage I felt sorrow, especially when learning that the Cairo Museum was broken into and precious items stolen. Having walked through that wonderful building to view artifacts made by Egyptian hands and fingers thousands of years ago, the break-in was a desecration beyond words. Having also entered the sacred room where the museum displayed several mummies under glass in controlled light and temperature, I moaned when the news reported that a head was ripped from one of the mummies—a King in his day.
Two weeks after the successful Egyptian uprising, countries across northern Africa have caught the Fever for Freedom. News reports tell us that the lives of those people in neighboring countries are no better than those in Egypt. I hope each of those nations are able to reach a solution toward freedom and democracy, however it may fit into their lives.
Feb8Filed under: Genealogy, Uncategorized; Tagged as: Black History, Cape Coast Castle, Caroline County Virginia, Elmina Castle, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haplogroup L1, Haplogroup L3d, IBM and the Waitt Family Foundation, Milford Virginia, Mitochondrial DNA, mtDNA, National Geographic, Slavery in America, Spanish-American War, Sparta Virginia, The Genographic Project
February 7, 2011 — If you’re familiar with The Genographic Project, then you know that National Geographic with support from IBM and the Waitt Family Foundation began mapping the human Genealogy footprint with millions of DNA samplings gathered from around the globe. Many of the samplings came from isolated indigenous tribes where the Project’s research showed minimal or no genetic pollution.
In early 2005 National Geo broadcast a documentary on television about the project’s research. I watched it and mailed the $113.95 to the Project for the kit that would allow me to submit my DNA sample. The kit, in a box the size of a VHS tape, arrived a few weeks later. Inside was a DVD of the television documentary; a map tracing the migration of the different lineage groups around the globe; and sanitarily wrapped elements for me to scrape samples from the inside of my cheeks. A Genographic Project ID number was included with the kit which would become my Login to the website in order to track my kit from its arrival, then to its DNA migration as it traced my Lineage around the globe.
The science of genetics has advanced so much that by scraping the insides of my cheeks my DNA can reach back thousands of years. As a female my lineage (Mitochondrial genome mtDNA) was traced back 70,000 years to an area that today is Ethiopia and the Sudan. My lineage group is identified as L3d. L1 is considered one of the oldest: 100,000 years.
Returning to the website over the next few months, my Haplogroup L3d began to sweep out of Ethiopia/Sudan as it migrated toward West Sahara, northward toward Egypt and northwest across the Arabian Peninsula. As more samples arrive at the Project, my L3d may extend beyond its current migratory path. An empty space remains.
The Genographic Project’s research has determined that numerous samples taken from African Americans have the Haplogroup L3d. That makes sense. The L3d Haplogroup that swept toward West Africa is where thousands of Africans were stolen and then dispersed to America and elsewhere around the globe.
L3d survived in the body of a woman (probably from West Africa) who crossed the Atlantic in a ship crowded beyond comprehension with other Africans. Before she loaded on that ship she may have been held for a time at a dungeon inside one of the forts dotting Africa’s West Coast. When I traveled to Ghana in 1999 we toured Elmina Castle and Cape Coast Castle. The castles—or massive stone forts—held captured Africans that were ultimately sold and then put on ships bound for Europe or America.
At Elmina there was a separate room, approximately 3,000 square feet. Thick iron bars secured one window and a door that looked out onto a small common courtyard. This room held captured female adults and children. African women were considered less valuable than the men so they were jam-packed and barely able to move inside this space. I still remember walking into that room where the 500 year old stone walls still held traces of the women’s bodily functions. Babies were born there; death was prevalent; and the only release was if the “governor” of Elmina requested a woman be brought to his third floor quarters for his personal pleasure. It’s possible that a woman carrying my Haplogroup L3d survived that prison, survived the voyage to America, survived slavery, and at a time and place unknown, birthed a female who would become my ancestor.
Many African Americans, including my own, can trace our ancestors back to the early or mid 19th Century. On my maternal side, our latest discovery was finding Ellen Allen. She was my Great-grandmother and lived in Caroline County, Virginia. Her daughter Marissa, who would become my Grandmother was born in 1885. According to family folklore, Marissa’s features and extremely light skin were a result of Ellen being “taken” by a white man. Ellen also had a son—William—born in Sparta, Virginia. We’re still filling in the empty spaces in William’s life. We also learned that at some point in time Ellen traveled to Philadelphia to live; but became ill. Ellen is buried in a cemetery in Milford, Virginia, where some of us hope to visit and find her grave marker.
In the meantime Marissa, at the age of 15 was living as a servant in a white household in Clifton, Virginia. By the census of 1910, Marissa was in Philadelphia and had married my Grandfather, Edward Ramie. They brought into the world one son and five daughters, including my mother Dorothy. Our Black History in the 20th Century now has spaces that are filled with hundreds of people, places and gatherings. Grandpop Edward served in the Navy during the Spanish-American War. He is buried in a New Jersey military cemetery. When Marissa died, his grave was reopened so that Marissa could be buried with him.
Although the Black History for Ellen Allen, Marissa and William still remain challenges in our research, some of the empty spaces are beginning to collect information. We continue our search toward discovery.
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