this page was first posted November 2015


  Dominica


   When I was growing up in the UK in the 50's and 60's there was a great environmental awareness. The early years of the industrial revolution had taken a heavy toll on our health and our surroundings - polluted rivers flowing into the sea, thick smog enveloping cities causing respiratory illnesses and often making driving perilous, buildings coated with a black layer of soot concealing the colour of the brick and stonework. The response, a very sensible one, was for our government to implement strict environmental controls on industry, to instigate massive clean up operations and to designate protected areas by way of National Trust lands, parks and green belt. The general public enthusiastically got behind these initiatives. Soon fish began returning to rivers that had been for many years devoid of life and we grew up learning to have a healthy respect for our natural surroundings.
industrial town, English countryside, river trout
   Over the past 3 to 4 decades, however, things have gradually changed. Democracy has largely given way to plutocracy, where important decision making is done by the rich and powerful. Britain, more than any other European country, has been quick to emulate the mistakes of that great super power across the Atlantic - the U. S. A. where corporate interests override politics, where corporate profit rules supreme and where there is a revolving door between positions in government and those on Wall Street. Environmental standards have been whittled away as big business lobbies the politicians through a process of legalized bribery. No more so than in the fossil fuel industry, where large oil and gas companies are given license to exploit fragile eco systems and when accidents happen, which is not uncommon, causing environmental catastrophe and contamination of human habitats, they are barely, if at all, held accountable. Notable examples are: (1) the oil contamination by Chevron/ Texaco of large tracts of Amazonian rain forest in Ecuador, home to native Indian populations as well as the richest diversity of life on the planet, and (2) the deep water horizon oil spill by BP in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
Amazonian oil contamination + BP deep water oil spill
Chevron has been found guilty by the courts yet refuses to pay the $19Bn compensation awarded to Ecuador, necessary for an attempted clean-up to take place. From a well drilled at a depth of 1.5km in the Gulf of Mexico, approx 60,000 barrels (2.5m gallons) of oil escaped into the ocean. Instead of cleaning up the floating oil, BP then exacerbated the disaster many fold by spraying it with a toxic detergent - Correxit, which caused the oil to both spread out and to sink, suffocating life on the ocean bed not only now but for decades to come. 
deadly impact upon nature
   This disaster was apparently avoidable according to Ian R Crane, an ex oil industry engineer who has conducted exhaustive research. In a presentation available online, he argues that the circumstances were deliberately engineered as the U.S. fossil fuel industry sought to tame British competitor, BP - Operations such as these should simply not be allowed, certainly not without first conducting a thorough EIA (environmental impact assessment) and permission declined if it is even remotely likely to put the environment at risk. Yet in August 2015 Shell was granted license by the USA to drill in the perilous Arctic Ocean north of Alaska. Thankfully, however, in October 2015 it was announced that in the two prime Arctic sectors no new licenses will be issued and existing licenses will not be renewed. 
Arctic drilling suspended
   The latest chapter in this era of fossil fuel extraction is the "dash for gas" which gained momentum around the turn of the century when licenses to frack were granted willy nilly all over the USA by the George W Bush Administration. The environmental impact was largely an unknown quantity - due to geological variation, an EIA would be necessary for each individual well drilled - this was deemed by the regulatory authorities as unnecessary. To make matters worse the then Vice President Dick Cheney in 2005 exempted the industry from compliance with the Clean Water Act, the Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act in a new Energy Bill signed into law by George W Bush. This is known as the 'Haliburton Loophole'. On the 10th anniversary of this bill many sought to reverse these exemptions but were overruled.
Haliburton Loophole
   Conventional (vertical) drilling for gas has been  carried out for several decades. Around 2006 unconventional (horizontal) drilling became the norm. From each vertical well shaft drilled, several horizontal shafts then radiate out for distances of up to 3 km. Residents of areas opened up to fracking have no say about what happens below ground - i.e. below their homes and farms. Governments assured the electorate that the industry would be subject to the strictest safety and environmental regulation, but in retrospect we can see that this has not been the case.
grass roots protest groups have sprung up all ove
   Heavily in debt following the 2008 financial crisis brought about by deregulation and the home grown sub-prime mortgage lending scandal (exported to the EU and other western nations via the derivatives market), the USA saw this as (a) a way to become energy independent, (b) a way to improve the balance of payments deficit by becoming a net exporter of natural gas and (c) a way of keeping the fiat currency debt bubble afloat by pumping money created by QE (Quantitative Easing - i.e. legitimized counterfitting on a national scale) into an industry primed and ready to soak it up.
when the frackers arrive in your area, this is what to expect
Once drilled and fractured, each well requires the injection under pressure of more than two million gallons of fresh water laced with a cocktail of aggressive chemicals to fracture and penetrate the gas bearing shale, along with either sand or ceramic beads to wedge the fissures open, allowing the gas an escape route back to the well shaft. In successfully drilled wells approximately 3% of the gas extracted escapes and just half of the toxic water (often referred to as frack fluid) is recovered and then has to be disposed of. The rest remains in the ground and no one can accurately predict what further effects it will have. Due to the aggressive nature of the mix, it is fair to expect that it just keeps on going, contaminating anything in its path - underground water in the vicinity, soil and underground life forms, eventually reaching the ground surface, where the gasses escape into the air. This might take weeks, years or even decades, and this is in the best case scenario.
Aerial views of fracked landscapes in the USA and Queensland, Australia
  The past decade of drilling in the U.S. and Australia has revealed that approx. 40% of wells drilled actually fail in some way or another, most commonly related to the integrity of the concrete casing. Where this passes through an aquifer it often leads to contamination of drinking water sources. In the U.S. alone more than a thousand actions have been brought for drinking water contamination by this industry.  
Fraccidents - flamable drinking water, wellhead on fire
   In addition to the methane gas collected in the fracking process, more methane is unlocked that is not harvested and this then finds its way through the fractured geology, is absorbed by any water it encounters on the way, ultimately reaching the surface to be released into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas approx. 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. We should not therefore be surprised by the acceleration in global warming that we are now experiencing, exceeding the worst forecasts of the scientific community. The methane released into the atmosphere since the fracking process began must surely dwarf that released by melting permafrost and the world's population of flatulent cattle. Each month of 2015 has so far been the hottest on record.
how methane unlocked by fracking finds its way to the surface
   An area of between 1 & 2 hectares (3 to 5 acres) is required to be cleared and prepared for each well pad. Then much specialized drilling equipment is required, brought to site along with the well tower, water, chemicals, sand, compressors, explosives and ready mix concrete in monster sized road vehicles, which have to navigate their way not just along motorways, but narrow country lanes and through picturesque villages. It doesn't just leave a blot on the landscape, but an entire landscape of blots. Gas storage vessels are required along with vehicles or pipelines to transport it from the site. Extracting gas in this way is in itself very energy intensive. With the oil price at anything less than US$75 per barrel this process is not even financially viable.
the piblic worldwide reject frackong and call for a total ban
   Both Americans and Australians were caught napping by the speed and stealth with which this industry invaded their countries, aided and abetted by the politicians in the pockets of the large energy corporations. Those affected have met a lack of transparency when seeking to know how their local communities will be impacted and what chemicals are being deployed in their areas. Often the fracking companies refuse to disclose any information at all, claiming that the frack fluid mix they use is a trade secret. Landowners have been made cash offers to allow fracking on or close to their properties, but as a condition are required to sign a non disclosure agreement, basically gagging them from taking any legal action or speaking to the press. As the dangers have become apparent, grass roots residents groups have sprung up all over, demanding a halt to this industry. By the time they are able to instigate effective change, however, in many cases the damage has already been done.
protesters around the UK are trying to halt the fracking industry before it gets a firm foothold
   The public of Britain and Europe are, it seems, better informed about the dangers of fracking. Their populations have been extremely active in pressurizing their governments and local authorities to resist the invadsion of the countryside and their rural communities by this industry, with some measure of success. In Europe France, Germany and Bulgaria have banned fracking and many other EU countries have introduced bans in selected areas or provinces and are under pressure from the public to further restrict this industry. In the UK Wales has banned fracking and Scotland has issued a flawed moratorium that somehow excludes mining!?. In 2011 two exploratory wells were drilled in the Fylde area of Lancashire. Both triggered earthquakes that rocked the seaside town of Blackpool, causing property prices there to plummet.
fracking test wells near Blackpool triggered seismic events
   Despite the flawed economics of this industry, the rising objections of the general public and, of course, the potential damage it will cause, the Cameron government seems determined to forge ahead with the fracking agenda in the UK. Everywhere, that is, except in his own back yard, i.e. the small constituency of Witney, Oxfordshire, where he has imposed a fracking ban. As in America, the corporate owned mass media constantly paints a rosy picture of this industry and gives minimal coverage to the rapidly growing number of anti-fracking protests and demonstrations taking place throughout the country, or of the contamination and negative health consequences. To get a realistic insight into this battle between the general public and the government backed fracking industry, one has to seek out the alternative media to be found on the web, conduct research from among the many websites devoted to fracking and also watch some of the excellent documentaries on the subject available on YouTube. Ian R Crane, a former engineer with one of the largest fossil fuel industry corporations, on recognizing the insidious nature of this industry, has been instrumental in educating local communities up and down the country about the dangers associated with fracking and has a website devoted to this work called "Fracking Nightmare".
 Ian R Crane's weekly updates on UK'scommunity resistance to fracking 15 Jun 2015  5 min. UK's only Green MP Caroline Lucas talks about one local authority giving the green light to fracking in their area.     
   The reason, we are told, that we should embrace this industry is that it is cleaner - that the burning of natural gas produces less CO2 than the burning of other fossil fuels such as coal and oil. What they don't tell us, however, is how energy intensive the fracking process is, how much infrastructure is required, how much wastage occurs and how much contamination it leaves behind. It endangers our health, flora and fauna, scars our countryside and is, in fact, having an accelerating effect on global warming.

   Ian also warns us to beware of a possible hidden agenda as he explains to us the ways in which the UK's nuclear industry has been attempting to dispose of its radioactive waste products over the years. Could disused frack wells be sold in the future to international energy corporations for nuclear waste disposal?
REASONS WHY FRACKING SHOULD BE OUTLAWED EVERYWHERE
1. Earthquakes. Fracking is known to have triggered a great many seismic events
2. Contamination of drinking water. Fresh water for drinking and agriculture is often in short supply. Despite assurances from the industry, frack fluid has found its way into many sources of fresh water, both above and below ground, poisoning wildlife and contaminating our valuable supplies of potable water. Our knowledge of the geology that lies below the earth's surface is far from comprehensive. What we do know, however, is that underground water sources can often be interlinked over vast areas. Contaminate it in one location and there is a high probability of contamination in others. Of all the water on the earth, only 3% is fresh and 2% of that is frozen. We must treasure and protect the remaining 1%.
3. Air quality degradation. Wherever fracking has occurred in close proximity to human habitation, residents have complained about the toxic air making them sick, especially when there is flaring at the well head. In wet weather these toxins fall as acid rain, killing garden plants, pets, wildlife and degrading such things as automobile paint and bodywork
4. Contribution to global warming. Methane is an extremely potent greenhouse gas. Since the turn of this century the fracking industry has contributed significantly to this phenomenon as large quantities of  methane trapped below the earth's surface are unlocked but not harvested, ultimately surfacing to escape into the atmosphere. This process will continue around frack sites long after the industry has departed.
5. Frack fluid disposal and mis-use. Each frack well requires in excess of 2 million gallons of frack fluid - i.e. fresh water laced with a lethal cocktail of highly poisonous chemicals. What is recovered then has to be disposed of and cannot be effectively treated. In drought stricken California we read stories of it being sold to farmers for the purpose of crop irrigation!
6. Accountability. The environmental degradation and ill health effects will continue to plague fracked localities long after the wells have become redundant. It is unlikely that the drilling companies will still be around to sue for compensation when the claims start mounting. Will our governments, who misled us into believing this industry posed no threat to our health, be willing to pick up the tab?
7. Negative effect on property prices. In the areas of the USA and Australia contaminated by fracking, not only have property prices plummeted, many simply cannot be sold at any price as residents evacuate for the sake of their health.
8. Not required or economically viable. At a time when the entire world should be transitioning to eco friendly energy sources, what we see instead is an oversupply of fossil fuel, hence the depressed oil price in the $40 to $50 per barrel range since late 2014. Only with the oil price above $75 per barrel can fracking be financially feasible.
9. Disfiguring the landscape. Each well pad requires 3 to 5 acres of land to be cleared of vegetation and leveled, along with access roads and pipeline routes.
10. Disruption to local communities. Each well site is serviced by a fleet of super sized tanker lorries to bring in the drilling equipment, sand, frack fluid storage vessels and pipeline. These have to negotiate narrow winding country lanes and pass through small, quiet, often historic villages, destroying the ambiance and degrading our cherished countryside.
11. Lack of transparency. Large corporations have corrupted and now seem to dominate the political landscape. Consequently the public are presented with a biased perspective of this industry and attempts by the public to voice objection or obtain hard facts are often met with obstruction.
12. Intolerance of protest groups. Laws have been introduced in recent years to restrict and punish those who exercise their democratic right to speak out and demonstrate publicly against this industry, by re branding protesters as eco "terrorists"!  
13. Noise pollution. First the graders, then the drilling process generates a lot of noise, as do the heavy duty compressors and monster size vehicles servicing the well sites.
14. Undemocratic. Referendums and polls conducted in areas allocated for fracking demonstrate an overwhelming public opposition to the practice. No one wants it in their back yard. But hey, who's listening to them?

   Over a relatively sort space of time - a little over a hundred years - we have selfishly exploited most of the accessible fossil fuel reserves that took hundreds of millions of years for the earth to manufacture, leaving precious little for the benefit of future generations. We are burning it at such a furious rate that the consequence is a severe negative impact upon the very planet that sustains us. We now have the technology to satisfy almost all our energy needs from renewable and environmentally friendly sources, yet we still allow the giant multinational energy corporations to dictate how we live our lives. In Brazil 122,000 sq km of Amazonian rainforest is up for grabs - being auctioned off to oil and gas companies to frack, thus inviting the same kind of environmental catastrophe as occurred in Ecuador. Even Ecuador, despite not having received a penny from Exxon/ Texaco for the contamination it left behind, continues to open up new areas of rainforest for further fossil fuel exploitation. 


   As the most populous and highly developed species to have evolved on this planet, we must take responsibility for its continued well-being, for to neglect our roll as custodians of the earth is to condemn the human race to eventual extinction. It took around 4 billion years for the earth to reach the level of diversity that has made our existence possible and our lives so comfortable today, but all we have done in return is to plunder its resources, destroy unique habitats and eco systems, replace diversity with mono crops, wipe out countless life forms and pollute the land, rivers, sea and air, all in the name of development. We enhance our own existence at the expense of all others.

   We have destroyed vast tracts of oxygen producing and life sustaining primordial rain forest and continue to do so, oblivious to the damage we inflict. We contaminate the oceans with industrial pollution and nuclear waste. We are causing our climate to change through the excessive burning of fossil fuel, resulting in more frequent extreme weather conditions that are often catastrophic in magnitude. And now, just since the turn of the century, we have embarked on the worst felony of all - the CRIME of FRACKING! Yes, I do consider fracking to be a crime. It is an assault on the crust of our one and only beloved planet, a crime against nature and against humanity. This unfortunate trend is motivated only by the excessive greed of giant corporations, whose owners have amassed such power and wealth that they are able to corrupt the political process, override democracy and dictate our future. They have to be tamed and this industry has to be stopped, before the level of destruction reaches the point of no return.

   Our very survival as a species depends upon it!

 
Dominica and our Global Environment - home page
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What is FRACKING?
Fracking is a term used for hydraulic fracturing, a process which requires drilling into the ground, encasing the well shaft with concrete, then using explosives to fracture the concrete at convenient places before injecting under pressure a mixture of sand and water laced with a cocktail of chemicals designed to penetrate the surrounding shale rock, releasing methane (natural gas) which then flows back up the well shaft for collection at the surface. Conventional drilling (vertical) gave way around 2006 to unconventional drilling (first vertical, then horizontal in several directions from a single shaft).
section illustrates process
Each well shaft requires above 2 million gallons of water mixed with a cocktail of aggressive chemicals pumped in at high pressure to penetrate the rock. This water also contains either sand or ceramic beads which then keep the fissures wedged open, allowing the gas passage back to the shaft. There are over 700 different chemicals which are used in the fracking process. Below is a short list of some of the most lethal and commonly used.
ascetic acidacetone
ammoniaammonium nitrate
benzineboric acid
calcium chloridecarbon dioxide
chlorine dioxidecopper sulphate
diethylene glycoldodecylbenzine
erythorbic acidethoxylated alcohols
ethanolethyl benzine
ferric chlorideferrous sulphate
formaldehydefumaric acid
glycerinhydrochloric acid
isopropylbenzinkerosine
methanolnaphthalene
liquid nitrogenpolyethlene glycol
potassium chloridepropylene glycol
sodium benzoatesodium bromide
sorbitolsulfamic acid
terpene + terpenoidstoluene
triethylene glycoltrimethylbenzene
ureaxylene

What could possibly go wrong?
illistrates issues of public concern

Toxic substances naturally occur at low levels in the geology. The fracking process often unlocks these, enabling them to rise rapidly to the surface in dangerous quantities, along with a great deal of methane. Among these are arsenic, radio active radon gas and radium 226. These have caused serious illness to the populations resident in areas already fracked and will continue to afflict them long after the frackers have departed.

Where has FRACKING been STOPPED?
   As the general public become informed about the destructive nature of the fracking industry, pressure on their governments has led to some significant restrictions. By 2012 over 18 million frack wells had been drilled in the USA alone. The states of New York and Vermont have now banned fracking and many other states have banned it in some counties or sensitive areas. When a Texas municipality introduced a fracking ban it was canceled out by a ban on fracking bans! 

Recognizing the environmental damage and widespread ill health caused by 4 years of fracking in Queensland Australia, the state of New South Wales has taken the decision to ban fracking.
France, Germany and Bulgaria have outlawed fracking and many other European Nations have imposed restrictions on where it may be allowed.
In the UK so far, only Wales and Prime Minister David Cameron's tiny constituency of Witney in Oxfordshire have banned fracking. Scotland has issued a flawed moratorium which strangely excludes "mining". 


The UK has considerable areas of underground shale from which gas could be extracted.
UK map showing where FRACK licences have been approved and could soon be approved

New licenses for fracking exploration in the UK were announced in August 2015
new licenses announced

The map below, shown to us in an episode of Fracking Nightmare in  October 2015, shows how the north of England has been carved up for the purpose of fracking. Different colours represent different contractors granted license to frack.
the carve-up has begun!

Tina Louise Rothery, one of the swelling number of anti-fracking activists in the
UK, is interviewed here by Max Keiser on RT's Keiser Report.
13 minute interview - click to watch

Dominica is a relatively young volcanic island, pushed upward from the sea bed as the edge of the eastward drifting Caribbean tectonic plate meets the expanding Atlantic plate. We therefore have no ancient underground deposits of coal and shale, so have consequently been spared interest from the large international energy corporations.
two tectonic plates meet

Electricity in Dominica is derived from a combination of
costly and carbon dioxide producing diesel generation and environmentally friendly hydro power, which accounts for almost half of our electricity consumption. We would like to produce all of our energy needs by way of eco friendly renewable sources.

When, a few years ago, the idea of harnessing geothermal energy emerged, it seemed at first like a feasible proposition for Dominica. Why not make use of buried heat and
the earth's natural steam engine effect to generate power, as has been achieved in Iceland and Kenya's Rift Valley? Closer examination, however, reveals a number of risks plus the area designated for it conflicts with our blossoming eco tourism industry..
Dominica's geothermal drilling
The first exploratory well, kicked off in late 2011, parked right on the doorstep of the popular Titou Gorge and the Rainforest Aerial Tram, a prime area of natural beauty where the hiking trail to our world renowned Boiling Lake begins. The Aerial Tram ceased activity just a few months later.

What are the Dangers?
Firstly we must consider that Dominica lies in a hurricane belt and is also susceptible to earth tremors, not to mention the possibility of a volcanic eruption.

The area designated for this activity lies directly east of the island's most populated area - the Roseau Valley and the capital itself, Roseau. As with fracking, trial drilling has revealed some very nasty substances down below. These include carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, arsenic and mercury. Should large concentrations of any of these toxins escape, the prevailing easterly winds would carry them in the direction of the capital. They could also contaminate our drinking water, which is collected in and piped from this locality to the capital.

There is only one single road making this area accessible. It is a steep, narrow and winding road that climbs from the Roseau River valley floor to
the village of Laudat at an altitude of about 2,000 ft. Should a tropical storm or earth tremor damage the operation, it may also trigger a landslide that could isolate it.

The money already committed to this project could have gone a long way towards making Dominica energy independent using already tried and tested SAFE technology - a few wind turbines in the mountain passes plus a few acres of solar panels located in the west coast rain shadow area of Salisbury's Grand Savanne would do the trick.

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Related  YouTube viewing
a 29 minute documentary looking at the probable impact of fracking in the UK a 2012 29 minute documentary looks objectively at both the actual and probable impacts of fracking in the United Kingdom, along with 'conflict of interest' among those appointed to regulate it..
Gasland looks back at the effects of fracking in the USA
Gasland is a 2010 full length documentary by Josh Fox  looking back at over a decade of fracking in the USA, the stealth and deception with which this industry was introduced, the trail of environmental destruction scarring landscapes and human sickness it has left in its wake.
Gasland 2 - Josh Fox continues the storyGasland 2 released in 2012 first looks at the BP deepwater horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico then documents the wall of intransigence of regulators &  government when challenged by people who's water has been contaminated, who've suffered ill health and who have had to abandon their now worthless homes and farms.
Josh Fox interviewed on Democracy Now!

JoshFoxArrest
DEMOCRACY NOW! interviews Josh Fox, the author of the award winning documentary Gasland, on the release of its follow up Gasland Part 2, in which he explains how the drilling companies have admitted to having several former military psychological operations, or "psyops" specialists on staff, applying their skills in Pennsylvania to counter opponents of drilling. He also talks on another occasion about his brief arrest after attempting to record and document the Congressional Hearing on Natural Gas Fracking.
Ian R Crane - FRACKtured Future: The Fracking NightmareFRACKtured Future 2013 uncovers shocking revelations about the BP oil spill, explains the fracking process by animation and examines how fracking has impacted Australia and USA.
FracturedEarthFracturedLives Fractured Earth Fractured Lives - May 2015.
A 28 minute documentary exposing the Real Price of Fracking. Pennsylvania towns polluted and poisoned by Shale Gas extraction.
                                      
how fracking has affected Queensland, AustraliaVoices From The Gasfields 2015 documentary detailing the plight of those poor Queenslanders who's existence has been invaded and destroyed by the fracking industry, which now threatens to do the same in the UK.
Gas Leak! by Four Corners   45 min Gas Leak! by Four Corners  45 min  2013. The methane leaks from CSG drilling operations far outweighs any potential saving in CO2. Hydrogen sulphide and radon released poison us all, whilst  Australia's limited ground water reserves become depleted, lowering water tables by up to 700m. 
60 Minutes Australia60 Minutes Australia, 2011, 13 min. - Fracking - The Coal Seam Gas Land Grab.Through the processes of fracking, our underground water supplies (artesian wells / aquifers) are being poisoned. This is occurring in every continent on earth for the purpose of extracting fossil fuels.   
VWhat The Frack?What the Frack? Dec 2014, 36 min. VICE News travels to Blackpool, Lancashire, to see fractivists in action. This seaside resort town is at the center of a David and Goliath battle between local residents and the energy company Cuadrilla.
Truth Behind the Dash For GasThe Truth Behind The Dash For Gas. 2014. 1 hour UK documentary, lifting the lid on fracking spin, investigating environmental and health issues associated with fracking in Australia, the US, and Lancashire and UK Methane's plans to drill near drinking water sources in Somerset.
USA's debate show examines frackingNO FRACKING WAY! is the subject of this edition of  the USA's debate show - Inteligence Squared, in which pro and anti fracking panels are questioned on various aspects of the industry, before the issue is put to an audience vote.
Ian R Crane gives updates at around fortnightly intervals on the progress of the fracking agenda and resistance in the UKFRACKING NIGHTMARE Ian R Crane gives updates on the public fight back against the fracking industry's attempt to invade the UK, at weekly or 2 weekly intervals on his YouTube video stream.