Fracking activities, pro and con, gain momentum

Minus an approved budget, state geologists have yet to follow through on the General Assembly’s orders to collect rock samples in far Western North Carolina and test them for indications of natural gas.

In the meantime, fracking opponents across the region are organizing. In Jackson County, an anti-fracking meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, in the Community Room at the Jackson County Library.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed a bill into law June 4 that allows gas exploration to begin in North Carolina as early as next spring.

“If they are allowed to do this we can kiss our wells goodbye,” said Bettie Ashby of Dillsboro. She is working with her sister, Ann Dunn, to coordinate the upcoming meeting in Jackson County. Another 10 to 14 people have expressed interest in forming the group, Ashby said.

Opponents fear fracking could contaminate drinking-water supplies. Supporters counter the combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling is safe when done properly. Companies inject, at high pressure, a cocktail of chemicals and water into rock, shattering it. This allows them to extract natural gas through the fractures.

Geologists both on and off the state’s payroll discount the likelihood of natural gas being discovered in WNC. Despite the professional naysaying, when the Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2011 decided to fund a two-year assessment into the oil and gas potential in this state, the Precambrian rift basin – located here, in the far Western section of the state – was included.

The General Assembly appropriated only a portion of the money needed for the two-year assessment: $300,000, enough to fund the 2013-14 portion. Now, to complete the study, state leaders must designate an additional $250,000 for 2014-15. Collecting the rock samples from Jackson and the six other westernmost counties has a projected cost of $11,725.

Other unfunded priorities in the plan include assessments in the Triassic rift basin in Pasquotank, Bertie and Anson counties, plus well improvements and flow tests in Lee County.

The Lee County region where the Piedmont and Sandhills kiss has been described as the epicenter of likely fracking activity in North Carolina. There is a two-century history of coal mining in the Deep River shale basin. And, there is definitely methane, the primary component in natural gas. The graves in Lee County of more than 200 miners, killed in various mine explosions, attest to that fact.

Late last week, Republican leaders in the House and Senate announced they’d reached agreements on major sticking points in passing a budget – teacher pay and who-gets-Medicaid. This means rock sampling and other fracking-related work is set to begin, said Bridge Munger of the N.C. Department of Natural Resources.

“Sampling is expected to occur in the next few months,” she wrote in an email on Monday.

A contracted company will test the rock collected. High organic content is key; anything less than 1.4-percent total organic carbon means no natural gas potential exists. Findings above that threshold would trigger additional analysis.

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Shale Gas Protesters Sentenced to 15 Months for Violent Clash with Canadian RCMP

for information on how to support these two people see Reclaim Turtle Island

from CBC News

Aaron Francis (right) and Germain Junior Breau (left). From Warrior Publications.

Two anti-shale gas protesters have been sentenced to 15 months in jail in connection to a violent clash with police near Rexton, N.B., last fall.

Germain Junior Breau, 21, of Upper Rexton, N.B., and Aaron Francis, 20, of Eskasoni, N.S., were sentenced in Moncton provincial court on Tuesday on several charges.

An RCMP cruiser and another unmarked vehicle were among those destroyed during an anti-shale gas protest near Rexton, N.B., on Oct. 17. (Courtesy of Gilles Boudreau)

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EPA to Allow Consumption of Toxic Fracking Wastewater by Wildlife and Livestock

Reported on Nation of Change

Surface disposal of water produced by oil and gas drilling is forbidden in the Eastern U.S. but allowed in the arid West for purposes of “agricultural or wildlife propagation.”

Millions of gallons of water laced with toxic chemicals from oil and gas drilling rigs are pumped for consumption by wildlife and livestock with the formal approval from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to public comments filed yesterday by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Continue reading

Will fracking come to North Carolina’s national forests?

mistreported on Asheville Citizen-Times:

Well, not right now. But that’s a possibility.

During a public Forest Service meeting Thursday to discuss wildlife and habitat and wild and scenic rivers, some folks wanted to talk about fracking – a method of extracting oil and gas by injecting high-pressure mixtures of water, sand or gravel and chemicals into rock.

The Pisgah and Nantahala National Forest Management Plan Revision meeting yesterday, Thursday, July 10, was set to discuss wildlife habitat and areas of the forest could be restored for early successional habitat, to discuss river segments suitable for designation as Wild and Scenic Rivers, and to discuss ecosystem integrity.

More than 100 people attended, said spokesman Stevin Westcott.

“We’re not going to make any decisions regarding oil and gas leasing in the revised plan, but at the same time, there will be standards of land management practices that will be brought forth during the plan,” he said. Continue reading

Jim Womack has had enough of your fracking protesting

Reposted from TheRant

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Apparently taking a page from the North Carolina General Assembly’s playbook when it comes to limiting free speech, Jim Womack is seeking a protest perimeter at an upcoming public hearing on fracking.

Womack, a Lee County commissioner and chairman of the North Carolina Mining and Energy Commission, has asked CCCC officials via email to “designate all areas within 300 feet of the main hall as noise-free areas” during the public hearing, which is set for Aug. 22 at CCCC’s civic center. Continue reading

The planet and its wildlife need us to reduce our meat consumption.

Reposted from Center for Biological Diversity:

Meat production is one of the main drivers of environmental degradation globally, and the crisis is rapidly growing worse. Production of beef, poultry, pork and other meats tripled between 1980 and 2010 and will likely double again by 2020. This ever-increasing meat consumption in a world of more than 7 billion people is already taking a staggering toll on wildlife, habitat, water resources, air quality and the climate. And Americans eat more meat per capita than almost anyone else. By eating less or no meat, we can take extinction off our plates and improve our own health along with the health of the planet.

Read Grist’s magazine’s new article on how American’s meat centric diet is responsible for twice as much carbon emissions than vegetarian and vegan diets.

Learn more about our campaign, meat consumption and the environment.

Join the movement for an Earth-friendly diet and invite your friends.

How Meat Consumption Threatens the Environment

Livestock vs. Wildlife

From wolves to elk to prairie dogs, wild animals pay the price of meat production. Some are killed because they prey on cows; others die en masse to make room for agricultural operations; still more are put in harm’s way by pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change.
Learn More

Climate Change

According to the United Nations, meat production is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions — more than all forms of transportation combined. Nearly 60 percent of the carbon footprint of the average U.S. household diet comes from animal products.

Learn More

Habitat Loss, Water Use and Pollution

The 500 million tons of manure produced annually by U.S. livestock is just the beginning: Animal agriculture has taken over nearly half the landmass of the lower 48 states. And it has polluted 35,000 miles of rivers in 22 states and groundwater in 17 states.

Learn More

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BREAKING: 2 Animal Activists Indicted as Terrorists for Freeing Mink

reposted from Green Is The New Red

by WILL POTTER on JULY 10, 2014

in TERRORISM COURT CASES

tyler-lang-aetaTwo animal rights activists have been indicted on federal terrorism charges for allegedly releasing 2,000 mink and foxes from fur farms in the Midwest.

Tyler Lang and Kevin Olliff were charged with two counts of violating the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act and committing “animal enterprise terrorism.”

Olliff is currently in jail in Illinois, where he was sentenced to 30 months in jail for having boltcutters in his Prius.

Lang was arrested outside of a Veggie Grill restaurant in Los Angeles on Thursday. He had arrived to prepare for a fundraiser at the restaurant to benefit the Bunny Alliance, an animal rights group with which he volunteers.

When he saw FBI agents walking up to the restaurant, he said he knew something was wrong. He was on the phone with a friend, who joked that they were there to spy on the animal rights fundraiser. Before he was arrested, he told his friend “call my lawyer.”

At Lang’s bail hearing at a Los Angeles federal courthouse, the government asked for a $30,000 bond, which is $20,000 above what pre-trial services had recommended.

The prosecutor did not request that Lang be jailed awaiting trial, but said Lang was a flight risk because of his “extreme activism.”

“He has plans to travel the country for what he calls non-profit work,” the prosecutor said, “but what the government calls violent civil disobedience.”

Lang told me he had planned on beginning a tour this weekend with other volunteers, protesting airlines that transport primate for animal experimentation.

Lang may not be able to attend the protests, but other volunteers say they are undeterred.

“We know that Tyler would want us to carry on with the Fight or Flight tour,” said Amanda Schemkes, a Bunny Alliance volunteer. “It’s to further the campaign against the transport of animals to labs, as well as to build and empower grassroots activism in the face of state repression. Our work to help animals continues to be motivated by them rather than stifled by attempts to chill activism.”

The indictments come as hundreds of animal rights activists are in Los Angeles this weekend for the National Animal Rights Conference, where a prominent theme is corporate efforts to label non-violent protest activity as “terrorism.”

Releasing animals from fur farms is clearly against the law, but in the history of underground groups like the Animal Liberation Front not a single human being has been harmed; yet the FBI continues to label animal rights activism as “terrorism.”

New ag-gag laws go even further, criminalizating whistleblowers, undercover investigators and journalists who expose animal cruelty on factory farms.

As FBI agents and prosecutors prepared for Lang’s bail hearing, it was clear that even they were a bit confused about this “terrorism” case.

Outside of the courtroom, one FBI agent was overheard on a cell phone saying: “No, he is being charged with damaging property. Not damaging animals—they are against that.”

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Red Wolf Recovery Program Under Review

 

Endangered Red Wolf at the North Carolina Zoo
Credit Jared Brumbaugh

 

 

 

A program that saved the red wolf from extinction could come to an end.  This week, we talk to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official about the experimental Red Wolf Recovery Program and the review that will determine its effectiveness.

Southeastern North Carolina is the only place on Earth where the endangered red wolf roams in the wild.  But as their numbers dwindle, a program trying to save them is in doubt.  Per request of the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will soon begin an evaluation of the experimental Red Wolf Recovery Program to determine if it should continue.  Assistant Regional Director for Ecological Services for the Southeast Region Leo Miranda says these routine evaluations are performed every few years.

“We do this kind of evaluation for many species and as a public agency, I think it’s the right thing to do. Every couple of years, we should be evaluating where are we, where are we heading to see if our efforts are on the right track.”

For this review, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services focuses on three areas to determine the success of red wolf recovery in the wild.

“We currently use the science in making a determination of having a self-sustaining population of red wolves in eastern North Carolina is viable or not, given the hybridization with coyotes issue, as well as climate change, sea level rise that might be a big threat to the species.”

 

Pair of endangered red wolves at the North Carolina Zoo
Credit Jared Brumbaugh

 

 

 

They also evaluate program management within the community, the state and with partnering organizations.  Red wolf populations have been showing a steady declining trend, with estimates that only 90 to 110 remain in Beaufort, Dare, Hyde, Tyrrell, and Washington counties.   Red wolves can die from a number of reasons; from being hit by a vehicle to natural causes.  But Miranda says there’s been a marked increase in red wolf gunshot mortality since 2004.

“Back then, we had, I believe an average of four gunshot deaths a year, in 2013, we had nine. We went up from four to nine gunshot deaths.”

So far, five red wolf deaths have been reported this year; two of those caused by gunshot wounds.  In May, a federal judge banned hunting coyotes, which are often mistaken for red wolves, in the five county wolf territory.  The ruling came after three advocacy groups sued to block the state’s open season on coyotes.

The possibility of the Red Wolf Recovery Program in northeastern North Carolina shutting down is a real one.  A similar red wolf program aimed at establishing a red wolf population in the Great Smoky Mountains ended in 1998 after only seven years.  Miranda says both programs – in the mountains and here at the coast – were classified as experimental.

“We decided to end the program because of the low pup survival and the inability of red wolves to establish their home ranges within the national park.  We maybe have some of that happening here in eastern North Carolina with most of the wolf packs we have right now established on private land, not in the national wildlife refuge.  Although not at the levels as western North Carolina, we have seen some decrease in pup survival.”

Miranda says Fish and Wildlife Services could decide to continue the program as is, make changes or cancel the program all together.  He says it’s too soon to predict how a decision could impact the wild red wolf populations currently calling eastern North Carolina home, especially if they cancel the program.

“If we decide to go there, then we need to define what we need to do with the animals that remain in the population.”

 

Endangered Red Wolf at the North Carolina Zoo
Credit Jared Brumbaugh

 

In a letter to the Wildlife Resources Commission, the US Fish and Wildlife Service committed to have a draft scope of work for the evaluation.   Miranda says they hope to have it ready by next week. The Red Wolf Recovery Program receives about $1.3M a year for restoring the wild population, making red wolves the species with the most funding invested by the Service.  But the Program entails more than just growing the number of wild red wolves. Nearly 200 red wolves are currently captive in 40 breeding facilities scattered throughout the United States. For more information on the Recovery Program and to see pictures of the red wolf, go to publicradioeast.org.

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Contact Fish & Wildlife Services now to tell them to continue the program!

Example text: “I am deeply disturbed that the Fish and Wildlife Service is even considering changes to the red wolf recovery program that would weaken or undercut efforts to save this important species. Red wolves are an integral part of this country’s natural heritage, and the Service is responsible for recovering endangered species. Its mission is not to placate extreme anti-wildlife interests. Hundreds of red wolves are in captivity right now, and it must be the Service’s goal to return more of them to the wild in more locations — not to add more to the captive population by capturing the few wild red wolves left in North Carolina”  - Center for Biological Diversity.

E-mail or call: Cynthia_Dohner@fws.gov   404-679-4000

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Red wolf extinction fear as US budget cuts bite

“To Contact Fish & Wildlife Services about this issue e-mail Cynthia_Dohner@fws.gov  or call her at 404-679-4000″  - Piedmont EF!

article below by Joseph Hinton published in The Ecologist

7th July 2014

wolf

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has done pioneering conservation work to save North America’s endangered Red Wolf, under threat from shooting and inter-breeding with coyotes. But now federal budget cuts are putting all that – and the Red wolf itself – at risk.

Despite great strides to restore red wolves to their former range, much work needs to be done, and an end to the USFWS Red Wolf Recovery Program could see the end of the red wolf.

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Red Wolf Reintroduction Program at Risk!

North Carolina red wolf program to undergo review

The Associated PressJune 28, 2014 

 — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to review the red wolf program, raising the possibility that the 27-year experiment to restore the rare predators in eastern North Carolina may come to an end.

The Charlotte Observer reports (http://bit.ly/1pASvPH) the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission asked the federal agency this month to “determine the appropriateness of continuing the experimental (wolf) program.”

The 90 to 110 endangered wolves roaming near Albemarle Sound have been under fire for several years. A growing number of gunshot deaths threaten the group’s ability to reproduce.

A federal judge in May temporarily banned hunting for coyotes, which are often mistaken for wolves, in the five-county wolf territory. The ruling came after three advocacy groups sued to block the state’s open season on coyotes, which often attack pets.

Gunshot deaths of wolves on the Albemarle peninsula have climbed in recent years, to nine cases in 2013. Only two wolves have died of suspected or confirmed gunshots in 2014, but most fatal shootings have occurred in the fall.

Fish and Wildlife ended a seven-year effort to establish red wolves in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in 1998. The state commission said too many pups died and adults weren’t able to stay within the 521,000-acre park.

The commission questions whether the federal program can achieve its goal of establishing a “self-sustaining” wolf population on federal land. Much of the wolf range on the Albemarle peninsula is privately owned.

It quotes the federal Endangered Species Act as requiring the agency to estimate the time and cost to achieve the recovery goal.

Gordon Myers, the wildlife commission’s executive director, declined comment Friday because of the coyote-shooting lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle is to review the ban in November.

The Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to do the review of the wolf program, which it said was due anyway.

“All the options, every time we do one of these evaluations, are on the table,” said Leo Miranda, an assistant regional director in Atlanta. “It’s everything from status quo to modifying the program to canceling the program like we did back in 1998.”

But Miranda called the recovery effort “extremely successful” for meeting its population goal of 45 to 55 wolves in 1995 and saving the animals from extinction in the wil

 

Urge the Fish and Wildlife Service to continue the reintroduction program and keep the last 100 red wolves in the wild from being returned to captivity. Send a personalized e-mail to Cynthia_Dohner@fws.gov  Or, call her at 404-679-4000.