Blog Posts

February 3rd, 2017

Fracking, Health and Regulations: What the EU-Commission is (NOT!) doing about it – Part I

By Andy Gheorghiu and Frida Kieninger

In November 2016, the EU-Commission organized a “workshop on public health impacts and risks resulting from oil and gas extraction.Behind this title are mainly questions around fracking and a hesitant attempt by the Environment Directorate General (DG ENV) – historically the most supporting part of the Commission concerning environmental issues – to find out more about its impacts on public health.

Scientists from the U.S. and Europe, as well as industry representatives and NGOs, had their say at the workshop. While the public health impacts of oil and gas extraction though fracking in the U.S. have been analyzed in several studies, most were sponsored by the oil and gas industry and are seriously biased towards its interests. Nonetheless, there is an enormous amount of evidence that fracking negatively affects public health, as confirmed and acknowledged by this compendium of scientific, medical and media findings.

However, authorities still think that there is a lack of data. This is mainly due to the public’s dependency on industry to obtain information about fracking chemicals, injection mixtures, amounts, and due to the absence of much needed baseline studies, measuring indicators before hydrocarbon production.

Read the full article…

January 27th, 2017

Rick Perry, Gas Exporter-In-Chief?

By Peter Hart (reposted from Food & Water Watch)

In 2011, former Texas governor Rick Perry counted the Department of Energy among the government agencies he would eliminate as president—until he famously couldn’t remember the department’s name during a Republican debate.

Naturally, the very same Rick Perry was tapped by the Trump administration to run the Energy Department. And according to the New York Times, Perry accepted the job thinking that it had quite a bit to do with oil and gas drilling. While that would have been especially convenient to his corporate backers, Perry has by now discovered that most of the Department of Energy’s work concerns nuclear weapons and government scientific research facilities.

Read the full article…

January 26th, 2017

2017 – Food & Water Europe Is Ready To Stand Its Ground

By Andy Gheorghiu, Frida Kieninger, David Sánchez

Many people said 2016 was a bad year. And there were many reasons: the result of the US elections, Brexit, or the high toll of environmental activists that were killed for standing for their communities around the globe. We don’t know what 2017 will look like, but we are sure that we want to be ready for some of the challenges we will find for our food, our water, our climate and our democracy. Together, we need to make 2017 a better year. And united we will have the power to do so!

Read the full article…

January 19th, 2017

Dutch Gas Extraction and “Gas Quakes”

By Frida Kieninger

Image of home damaged by earthquake.

Propped up home destabilized by several smaller and medium earthquakes close to Uithuizen, Groningen

Many homes in the Netherlands, Germany, France and Belgium are heated with gas from the Netherlands. Along with a few smaller gas fields, the Groningen gas field supplies around 15 percent of Europe’s gas consumption.

In 1959 the Dutch oil and gas company NAM surprisingly discovered a huge gas field – the tenth biggest gas field in the world and the largest in Europe. Over the years, NAM produced around 1700 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas in the Groningen fields and estimates that there are around 1000bcm left underground.

In the seventies, gas production was highest and peaked with over 80bcm of gas produced in 1976. It rose again significantly in 2013, and many people living in and around the gas fields also have an explanation why: Before 2013, the magnitude and the frequency of earthquakes rose and the damage could no longer be ignored. Given that the earthquakes are unmistakeably linked to large scale gas extraction in the region (even Shell and ExxonMobil acknowledge that), the operating gas companies knew they would soon be limited in the amount of gas they could extract and went all out to extract the then fixed maximum possible amount of gas of 53bcm – probably for the last time.

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November 17th, 2016

Part II: Reform of the Emissions Trading System — Nothing but patches on a broken system

By Frida Kieninger

foodandwatereuropeoncarbonemissionsIn part one of this blog, I referred to the obvious inefficiency of the European Emissions Trading System (ETS). While the ETS is praised to be the key element of the European climate policy, it fails to deliver and is less efficient than other factors such as energy prices and the overall tendency towards more sustainability.

The danger of an inefficient system — so big that it covers around 45 percent of the EU`s greenhouse gas emissions — is its potential to cancel out existing and future policies at the EU and national level that would really contribute to emission reductions. Ironically, this results in the ETS doing potentially more harm than good in the fight against global warming.

Read the full article…

November 15th, 2016

Part I: Get Out of the Way of Real Climate Action

By Frida Kieninger

foodandwatereuroperealclimateactionETS: Only A Side Effect

The European Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) tries to lower greenhouse gases by putting a price on carbon and trading it in the form of allowances. It is the world’s biggest trading system for emissions and was launched over 10 years ago. The big downside of the supposed fairy tale of a miraculous cap-and-trade system is that there is no proof that the ETS has actually caused reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

A study commissioned by the EU Commission finds that the ETS alone was not the driving factor in companies and sectors choosing to invest in carbon-efficient solutions. Rather, these actors were mainly influenced by other factors like the cost of energy and raw materials, as well as the growing environmental awareness of stakeholders and consumers.

Read the full article…

November 10th, 2016

We Cannot Be Discouraged; Let’s Keep Building Our Movement

By Wenonah Hauter

In the first US election in 50 years without the protections of the Voting Rights Act, Republicans have swept the House and Senate, and Donald J. Trump has been elected president on a platform that has featured racism and xenophobia. If his campaign is any indication of his presidency, this is a major disaster for civil rights and press freedoms.

The election of Trump is a complete repudiation of the neoliberal policies that have been the trademark of every administration and the leadership of both parties for more than 60 years. With the lowest Democratic voter turnout in decades, it’s clear that the business-as-usual policies of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic leadership were not the policies that the American people support. In many states that have voted Democratic in recent years, Democratic voters stayed home. Large segments of the American public have been left behind by corporate trade policies that have devastated former industrial areas of our nation. Since agriculture policy was deregulated in the mid-1990s, rural areas of the country have been devastated.

But sadly, while Trump campaigned as a political outsider, his transition team is filled with corporate lobbyists. His agriculture advisors are agribusiness insiders. He has called climate change a hoax, and his energy advisor is a lobbyist for the Koch Brothers. His reported top pick for energy secretary is Harold Hamm, a modern-day oil tycoon.

Unsurprisingly, the Trump administration will likely be filled with people who will benefit financially from more fracking, more industrial agriculture and factory farms, and expanded deregulation masquerading as trade policy. The people he has indicated will be in his cabinet are the same people who have advocated policies that are destroying our climate and creating a society marked by stratification and racial prejudice. We expect to see more deregulation of industry that will damage our communities, our environment, and our democracy.

We must firmly reject the neoliberal policies that brought us to today. We must redouble our efforts to build a movement that holds our elected officials accountable—and that provides a counterweight to the big business interests that continue to look out only for profits.”

November 7th, 2016

Global Frackdown All Around

By Andy Gheorghiu

Join The Global Frackdown October 2016The movement to keep fossil fuels in the ground is gaining in success stories, and we should never underestimate our impact.

The fifth Global Frackdown, an international day of action, was held on October 15 to challenge the oil and gas industry and ban fracking worldwide. Groups from around the globe rallied in solidarity under the joint banner of “Ni ici, ni ailleurs”, or “Not here or anywhere!” Numerous creative actions were conducted, some big, some small, and each one of them chipped away another brick of the fossil wall that’s keeping us from a clean, renewable energy future.

People all over the world showed their commitment to a common future that is free of fossil fuels — from the presentation in Mexico City of the report Last Frontier: Public Policies, Impacts and Resistance Against Fracking in Latin America, to the travelling photography exhibit on Polish resistance in the German village of Quakenbrück, to the screening of the Australian documentary “Frackman” in Saint-Tropez, to the joint postcard action for the EU Parliament.

Read the full article…

November 4th, 2016

Paris, je ne t’aime pas as much as LNG

By Andy Gheorghiu

No to LNG No to FrackingLast month the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change announced that the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved, and the treaty takes effect today.

You might say hooray but there is always a wrinkle. This time, the wrinkle is natural gas. Gas has long been touted as a bridge fuel into a bright, clean, post-fossil fuel future. Now, though, climate science is clear: there’s simply no room for gas. It is too damaging for this place we call home.

Burning natural gas accounts for a huge amount of CO2 emissions. In the most recent look at the climate budget numbers, Oil Change International found that existing, developed, fossil fuel reserves put us past the 1.5 C target stated in Paris.

Read the full article…

October 25th, 2016

Fossil Fuel Lock-in: Why Gas Is A False Solution

By Frida Kieninger

foodandwatereuropepano

PANO: Event in the EU Parliament: GAS – A Bridge Fuel to Global Warming? (part of the main conference)

foodandwatereuroperlsconference

Event at the gas conference: “Fossil Fuel Lock-in: Why Gas Is a False Solution.”

foodandwatereuropebobhowarth

Food & Water Watch Board of Director member Prof. Robert Howarth speaking at the Gas conference.

Last month, about 40 activists, campaigners and researchers gathered for three days in Brussels to discuss the problem of gas being the false solution for climate change. The participants of the conference came mainly from different European states, but also from Argentina, North Africa and the United States. What brought all those different people together was the wish to confront the manifold problems that the extraction of natural gas and the construction of more and more gas infrastructure entail.

Resistance to Fracking in North Africa and Argentina

There is the case of Algeria, where a large protest movement opposes fracking projects from France, which ironically banned fracking on its own territory. There is the issue of Tunisians who have to buy gas extracted on their own land like a foreign commodity. And there is the threat that the development in shale gas production in the Maghreb countries could eventually lead to contamination of the Northwestern Sahara Aquifer System, forming the basis of livelihoods for local communities.

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