2020

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  • Quantifying the Economic Costs from Fossil Fuels

    ” Key messages
    ● First-of-a-kind assessment of the global economic cost of air pollution from fossil fuels,
    building on recent advances in research on the contribution of fossil fuel burning to air
    pollutant levels around the world and the health impacts of air pollution.
    ● The economic costs of air pollution from fossil fuels are estimated at US$2.9 trillion in
    2018, or 3.3% of global GDP, far exceeding the likely costs of rapid reductions in fossil fuel
    use.
    ● An estimated 4.5 million people died in 2018 due to exposure to air pollution from fossil
    fuels. On average, each death was associated with a loss of 19 years of life.
    ● Fossil fuel PM2.5 pollution was responsible for 1.8 billion days of work absence, 4 million
    new cases of child asthma and 2 million preterm births, among other health impacts that
    affect healthcare costs, economic productivity and welfare.

  • FINAL Fracking Report of the Forty-Third Statewide Investigating Grand Jury USA V2

    43rd Statewide Grand Jury Finds Pennsylvania Failed To Protect Citizens During Fracking Boom

    June 25, 2020 | Topic: Criminal

    Report calls for new laws to protect water supplies and manage air pollution.

    AG Shapiro calls for “cleanup” at the Department of Environmental Protection.

    LIVESTREAM AVAILABLE HERE: https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/stream

    HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced the findings and recommendations of Pennsylvania’s 43rd Statewide Investigating Grand Jury report on the unconventional oil and gas industry. The Grand Jury’s two-year investigation uncovered systematic failure by government agencies in overseeing the fracking industry and fulfilling their responsibility to protect Pennsylvanians from the inherent risks of industry operations.

    In addition to exposing failures on the part of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health, the Grand Jury made eight recommendations to create a more comprehensive legal framework that would better protect Pennsylvanians from the realities of industry operations.

    “This report is about preventing the failures of our past from continuing into our future,” said Attorney General Shapiro in a press conference Thursday. “It’s about the big fights we must take on to protect Pennsylvanians — to ensure that their voices are not drowned out by those with bigger wallets and better connections. There remains a profound gap between our Constitutional mandate for clean air and pure water, and the realities facing Pennsylvanians who live in the shadow of fracking giants and their investors.”

    This report follows the findings of the Grand Jury’s previous criminal presentments against two fracking companies — Range Resources and Cabot Oil & Gas — for their repeated and systematic violation of Pennsylvania environmental law. Range has since pleaded no contest to environmental crimes committed in Washington County, Pennsylvania. These cases were referred to the Office of Attorney General by local District Attorneys.

    The report details the initial failure of the Department of Environmental Protection to adequately respond to the unconventional oil and gas industry and also points out that missteps continue to this day. These failures harmed Pennsylvanians living in close proximity to this industry. The grand jurors found that, while the Wolf administration has forced through some improvements at the agency, there continues to be room for meaningful change to occur.

    The Grand Jury also heard from many Pennsylvania residents who suffered severe health consequences and lived near unconventional drilling sites. Residents testified that their well water was “black sludge,” “cloudy,” and using the contaminated water caused “problems with breathing whenever we were in the shower.” Pennsylvania farmers testified that their livestock, which used the same water source as the families, would sometimes become violently ill, infertile, and die. Other residents spoke of problems with their air, which became so polluted from stray gas or other chemicals used during industry operations that they could not leave windows open or let their children play outside. Parents testified that their children would repeatedly wake up at night with severe nosebleeds caused by increased levels of gas in the air around the fracking sites.

    In response to the failures of government oversight and in order to ensure that the regulators have the tools necessary to hold this industry accountable, the Grand Jury’s report details eight recommendations.  These recommendations would better protect Pennsylvanians from the risk posed by fracking operations and confront the culture of inadequate oversight in the unconventional gas industry and government agencies that oversee their activities:

    1. Expanding no-drill zones in Pennsylvania from the required 500 feet to 2,500 feet;
    2. Requiring fracking companies to publicly disclose all chemicals used in drilling and hydraulic fracturing before they are used on-site;
    3. Requiring the regulation of gathering lines, used to transport unconventional gas hundreds of miles;
    4. Adding up all sources of air pollution in a given area to accurately assess air quality;
    5. Requiring safer transport of the contaminated waste created from fracking sites;
    6. Conducting a comprehensive health response to the effects of living near unconventional drilling sites;
    7. Limiting the ability of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection employees to be employed in the private sector immediately after leaving the Department;
    8. Allowing the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General original criminal jurisdiction over unconventional oil and gas companies.

    “Our government has a duty to set, and enforce, ground rules that protect public health and safety. We are the referees, we are here to prevent big corporations and the powerful industries from harming our communities or running over the rights of citizens,” said Attorney General Shapiro. “When it comes to fracking, Pennsylvania failed. Now it’s time to face the facts, and do what we can to protect the people of this commonwealth by encouraging the Department of Environmental Protection to partner with us and by passing the Grand Jurors’ common-sense reforms.”

  • A Prescription for Big Oil

    An article about why medics should join the campaign …

    ” Fossil fuel companies have in recent years faced challenges to their business model from their own shareholders like never before. And Duff is quick to point to the Hippocratic oath as a reason why medics should join the campaign”

    “Asking an oil company to stop drilling for oil just hasn’t worked and it’s not going to work on the timescales we need it to,” Duff says. That’s why she argues medical professionals must continue to join divestment campaigners at the sharp end of shareholder activism, “standing up publicly and saying ‘we want nothing to do with this industry’.”

  • A Low-Carbon Future Could Improve Global Health and Achieve Economic Benefits

    “The 25thConferenceof thePartiesof theUnitedNations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Madrid ended inDecember 2019,with disappointingly little progress. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres lamented, “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.”

  • Optimization of Thin Film Solid Phase Microextraction and Data Deconvolution Methods for Accurate Characterization of Organic Compounds in Produced Water

    “The continued rise in the extraction of unconventional oil and gas across the globe poses many questions about how to manage these relatively new waste-streams. Produced water, the primary waste by-product, contains a diverse number of anthropogenic additives together with the numerous hydrocarbons extracted from the well. Due to potential environmental hazards, it is critical to characterize the chemical composition of this type of waste before proper disposal or remediation/reuse.
    In this work, a thin film solid phase microextraction approach was developed and optimized to characterize produced water. The thin film device consisted of hydrophilic-lipophilic balance particles embedded in polydimethylsiloxane and immobilized on a carbon mesh surface. These devices were chosen to provide broad extraction coverage and high reusability. Various parameters were evaluated to ensure reproducible results while minimizing analyte loss.

    This optimized protocol, consisting of a 15 min extraction followed by a short (3 s) rinsing step, enabled the reproducible analysis of produced water without any sample pretreatment. Extraction efficiency was suitable for both produced water additives and hydrocarbons. The developed approach was able to tentatively identify a total of 201 compounds from produced water samples, by using one-dimensional gas chromatography hyphenated
    to mass spectrometry and data deconvolution.”

  • Satellite Detection of Air Pollution Air Quality Impacts of Shale Gas Development in Pennsylvania

    “This paper estimates the impact of shale gas development on local particulate matter pollution by exploiting a quasi-experimental setting in Pennsylvania where some wells experienced pre-production and/or production activities whereas some others were permitted but not spud between 2000 – 2018. We measure local PM pollution using daily aerosol optical depth (AOD) over a 3 kilometers circular area around every shale gas well.

    Using a spatial difference-in-differences model, we find that both shale gas pre-production and production activities increase daily AOD significantly, by 1.35% – 2.19% relative to the baseline. The effect of pre-production is slightly larger than production activities, but both effects attenuate with distance from the centroid well. Accounting for airborne spillovers, fracking increases AOD by 1.27% – 5.67%, which translates to 0.017µg/m3–0.062µg/m3
    increase in PM 2.5 concentration. This increase in PM 2.5 is associated with 20.11 additional deaths.”

  • Quantifying the Economic Cost of Fossil Fuels

    Key messages
    ● First-of-a-kind assessment of the global economic cost of air pollution from fossil fuels,
    building on recent advances in research on the contribution of fossil fuel burning to air
    pollutant levels around the world and the health impacts of air pollution.
    ● The economic costs of air pollution from fossil fuels are estimated at US$2.9 trillion in
    2018, or 3.3% of global GDP, far exceeding the likely costs of rapid reductions in fossil fuel
    use.
    ● An estimated 4.5 million people died in 2018 due to exposure to air pollution from fossil
    fuels. On average, each death was associated with a loss of 19 years of life.
    ● Fossil fuel PM2.5 pollution was responsible for 1.8 billion days of work absence, 4 million
    new cases of child asthma and 2 million preterm births, among other health impacts that
    affect healthcare costs, economic productivity and welfare.”

  • Environmental Surveillance and Adverse Neonatal Health Outcomes in Foals Born near Unconventional Natural Gas Development Activity – ScienceDirect

    I only have the abstract here but will try and get the full article…

    Highlights
    – A high prevalence of dysphagia (milk aspiration) in neonatal foals born near UGND occurred.

    – Continuous passive sampling of well water demonstrated high concentrations of PAHs.

    – Installation of a water filtration/treatment system eliminated the  neurodevelopmental defect.

    – Horses are sentinels of health risks in areas of natural resource mining”

  • Study Air pollution from Fracking linked to Deaths in Pennsylvania  Binghamton News

    A summary of the full study..

    “Approximately 20 people in Pennsylvania lost their lives during a seven-year period because of particulate matter pollution emitted by shale gas wells, according to a recent study.

    The researchers —including lead author Ruohao Zhang, a Binghamton University graduate student who specializes in environmental economics
    (https://binghamton.edu/economics/), and Professor of Economics Neha Khanna (https://www.binghamton.edu/economics/faculty/prole.html?id=nkhanna) — used NASA satellite data to pinpoint daily levels of particulate matter pollution from hydraulically fractured gas wells throughout Pennsylvania, the largest producer of shale gas in the United States.”