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The American Fracking Industry!

More than 29,000 oil and gas employees have been stiffed over $40 million in back wages, according to findings from more than 1,100 investigations launched since 2012 by the Labor Department, reports US News. The fracking industry, once famed for its high wages for those fresh out of high school, has been recently plagued by plunging oil prices that have caused thousands of rigs to go idle. Workers have been feeling even more financial pain, as many are forced to wait for their full paychecks.

That Electric Feeling

March 31, 2016 will go down in history as the day America sent a powerful message to Big Oil: we’re over you. Read our blog about Tesla, the future of electric vehicles, and why Big Oil must be terrified.

The battle against oil companies’ climate denial is heating up (kind of like the planet).
  • A coalition of 20 state attorneys general are joining together to investigate companies like Exxon and how they may have misled shareholders and the public about the reality of climate change. If you recall, when the states got together to investigate Big Tobacco, it didn’t go well for that industry.
  • New legislation introduced in California would hold the oil industry accountable for its decades of climate denial, reports Inside Climate News. The law would extend the statute of limitations under the state’s Unfair Competition Law from four to 30 years, which means more leverage for prosecutors to file charges against companies like Exxon.
  • Shareholders want the right to ask oil companies to disclose how a low carbon future will impact their financial future. The SEC ordered both Exxon and Chevron to allow their shareholders to vote on whether they want the company to reveal that information.
  • The Rockefeller Family Fund has officially kicked Exxon to the curb. They sold all of their stocks and plan to dump all other fossil-fuel investments because there's "no sane rationale" for investing in firms that explore oil when the world is clearly moving in a different direction. Want some ice for that burn, Exxon?

Fracked Up

The United States Geological Survey released maps last week that, for the first time, illustrate the risk of both natural and human-induced earthquakes throughout the eastern and midwestern United States. According to USGS, six states are particularly at risk from human-caused earthquakes from oil and gas production: Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arkansas. About 7 million people live in regions at risk from these earthquakes, reports Think Progress.

A new map shows that parts of Oklahoma are as seismically active as parts of California, reports TIME. Unlike California, Oklahoma is not on a major fault line. Instead, it's home to a lot of oil and natural gas extraction. Scientists say Oklahoma’s surge in quakes is due to the re-injection of billions of barrels of salty wastewater that have come to the surface during oil and natural gas exploration - then, voila!, earthquakes.


Oklahoma isn’t the only one suffering from fracking-induced earthquakes – Western Canada has seen an increase in shaking lately, and new research has confirmed the link between those quakes and fracking, reports The Globe and Mail.

It’s not just us – a new poll finds that 51 percent of Americans are NOT feeling fracking. (Except for the thousands of people who experience fracking-induced earthquakes, who are literally feeling it.)
A study found that fracking in Wyoming has a “clear impact” on drinking water sources, reports EcoWatch. "In our toilets and stuff, we get a yellowish brown stain in there, which never happened til they drilled this well up here," one resident of Pavillion, Wyoming, population 231, told Marketplace. "A lot of times you get in and take a shower and that fine mist will just clear your sinuses." And Wyoming isn’t alone – fracking impacts on drinking water have been seen in other areas as well – including Texas and Pennsylvania.


Climate Change = Public Health Issue

Global warming could lead to an increase in allergies and asthma, deaths by extreme heat and the proliferation of insect-borne diseases such as the West Nile virus, according to a scientific report released Monday by the White House.

What's the true cost of oil? Well, it includes 16,000 premature births and billion of dollars in economic costs from medical care and lost productivity in the US annually, reports TIME. And the populations most affected tend to be low-income and minority communities.

Countries in Asia will face severe water shortages by 2050 if current environmental, demographic, and economic trends remain unchanged, concluded MIT scientists after running different simulations of future climatic scenarios in the region.



Oopsie Daisy

An oil spill that surfaced in South Dakota over the weekend prompted Canadian pipeline company TransCanada to shut down its Keystone I pipeline, a predecessor to the controversial  Keystone XL project, reports Inside Climate News. The spill, which TransCanada originally estimated at 187 gallons, was revealed actually substantially larger: 16,800 gallons. Following the discovery of the leak on April 2, TransCanada shut down the pipeline - and the oil markets barely noticed. Which raises the question: Why did so many think we needed the KXL pipeline?

An unknown amount of oil spilled out of a holding tank and into the water in the LA Harbor last week, marking the second oil spill there in three weeks, reports Los Angeles Daily News. At the risk of editorializing, we think this is not great.

The litigation against BP for the worst oil spill in American history has come to an end with a $20 billion settlement, reports US News. Accusations include “gross negligence” and “willful misconduct” born of “profit-driven decisions.”


The U.S. Coast Guard reports that 11,500 gallons of oil has spilled in the Louisiana bayou this week.

Renewable energy investment totaled a record $286 billion in 2015, with China, India, Brazil and other developing countries accounting for $156 billion, reports EcoWatch. China’s investment alone rose 17 percent from 2014, representing 36 percent of the global total.
99 percent of U.S. weathercasters accept that climate change is happening. 
Remember the fiery explosion that happened in 2015 at Exxon’s Torrance Refinery? The South Coast Air Quality Management District has voted to allow Exxon to restore the refinery.
Decoupling of global emissions and economic growth confirmed. Whoa.
LA county supervisors are setting up a strike team to monitor oil and gas field safety in unincorporated county areas. We’re pretty sure this team is going to be like ghostbusters for oil leaks.
The big irony: even as oil prices have halved, Big Oil is still getting bigger, reports Forbes.
Sea levels could rise nearly twice as much as previously predicted by the end of this century if carbon dioxide emissions continue unabated, an outcome that could devastate coastal communities around the globe, reports the Washington Post.
Looking for more signs that the age of oil is dying? This week, a top Saudi Arabian prince announced parts of the nation’s plan to move away from its full dependence on oil.
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