Pages tagged "horizontaldrilling"


Demand BLM Protect Chaco's Sacred Sites From Fracking

New Mexico’s beautiful Chaco Canyon region is home to ancient ruins that are sacred to the Pueblo and Navajo people. Now, the government wants to let fossil fuel companies frack millions of acres of land in the area—putting this priceless cultural heritage at grave risk. The next four days are a crucial window to tell the Bureau of Land Management that's unacceptable. Send a message: don’t frack near Chaco Canyon! More than a thousand years ago, Chaco Canyon was the spiritual, economic and political center of a vast civilization that stretched across much of the American southwest. Without modern tools or wheels, the ancient Anasazi people built huge ceremonial Great Houses in and around Chaco Canyon and connected them to spiritually significant places with massive roads, astonishingly straight and as wide as two-lane highways. Chacoan civilization left no written texts, so these feats of architecture and engineering are a uniquely valuable inheritance from that vanished culture, considered sacred to this day by the Pueblo—the descendents of the Chacoans—and Navajo. GFC_Chaco_300x200

Now that priceless legacy is under threat.

Fossil fuel companies are moving in around Chaco Canyon, as risky new horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology makes it increasingly possible to exploit shale deposits throughout the San Juan Basin. It’s bad enough that the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) already allows extraction in the region—but now it's moving toward approving hundreds of new permits for oil and gas companies to frack and drill millions of acres. The area threatened by fracking includes 35 Chaco Great Houses and a vast network of ancient roads. Tell the BLM: that’s an outrage. The BLM is currently revising its land use plan for the Chaco region. They could greatly strengthen protections for these invaluable cultural treasures—if enough of us speak up.

In the next few days, we have a valuable window: the BLM is taking public comments on environmental impact until next Wednesday, May 28. Rainforest Action Network is part of a coalition of groups—including the Solstice Project, Earthworks and CREDO Action—fighting to protect Chaco from fracking. Together, let’s tell the BLM that fracking in the Chaco Canyon region is one extraction project that the public won’t just rubber-stamp. The legacy of Chacoan civilization is a national and world treasure—Chaco Canyon is an official National Historical Park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If we won’t protect the Chacoan inheritance, then nothing is sacred. Will you add your voice?

P.S. Our friends at the Solstice Project are working on a beautiful new PBS documentary about the archaeological riches of Chaco Canyon. In response to the fracking threat, they’ve released a four-minute excerpt of this work in progress. See just how important it is to protect Chaco here: Fracking Threatens Chaco's Sacred American Heritage (WOTL) from matt dibble on Vimeo.


PNC Bank's Evolving Approach To The Energy Sector

[caption id="attachment_15973" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Image via PNC Financial Services Group"]PNC's Planned Skyscraper[/caption] PNC recently released their 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report. Documents like this  provide a window into how a bank thinks about its environmental and social impact. RAN has been paying close attention to PNC Bank and its approach to the energy industry for a couple of years, so I was eager to get my hands on the new report and see whether PNC is strengthening its commitment to communities and the environment. The most eye-catching announcement in the introduction is the announcement that PNC will be building the “World’s Greenest Skyscraper” right in the heart of Pittsburgh. Avid readers of the Understory might recall that, in 2009, PNC built the “largest green wall in North America.” This is a commendable step-up in ambition. Extrapolating this trend, I look forward to PNC building the greenest city in the U.S. in 2013 and, before the decade concludes, PNC might just transform this nation to become the greenest on the planet. But seriously, RAN has been saying for years that, while we like to see corporations green-up their buildings and their operational practices, the true test of a “sustainable” bank is where it puts its money. If you compare this report to PNC's first, released in 2010, there is a striking shift in the language used. Whereas previously PNC spoke of “Lending in support of economic growth,” now the message is “Lending to drive growth responsibly.” I’m hearing an acknowledgement of both the tough times we are living in and the role that the unchecked pursuit of profit has played to get us into this unsustainable economic crisis. On page two, PNC gives an interesting trend analysis of energy sources. While the report doesn’t specifically say that PNC will be moving away from financing coal and oil, it does note that fossil fuels (except natural gas of course) are becoming less attractive as energy sources. I would like to see PNC disclose how its portfolio of energy investments compares to the national energy trends. The bank sounds enthusiastic about “deepening and broadening relationships” with those seeking to develop solar and other energy-efficient projects. However, there is no target stated indicating the level of financing that PNC is aspiring to provide. [caption id="attachment_15978" align="alignright" width="199" caption="Photo by Doug Bardwell"]PNC Green Wall[/caption] On page three, a new “supplemental due diligence criteria” is outlined that appears to apply to all companies in extractive industries. There is specific mention of “horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing methods.” I suspect these are being addressed because of the bank head office being located in Pittsburgh, where hydrofracking has been banned. I like the broad category of “extractive industries,” but there isn’t much here about what this criteria looks like, and no mention of reporting. PNC has restated its policy on mountaintop removal (MTR) mining. There is no change here and I have the same criticism as before: This policy has an identified performance standard — “coal producers who receive a majority of their production from MTR mining” — and it is unclear whether this refers to a company’s performance in Appalachia or across the United States. Prior to adopting this policy, PNC had substantial exposure to MTR companies and I would like to see PNC publicly report on the impact of the policy, as its competitors Citi and Morgan Stanley are now doing. In summary, the 2011 PNC Corporate Responsibility Report demonstrates that this bank’s approach to energy is evolving. But there is still plenty of room to improve transparency around targets and reporting on implementation, and for PNC to be as ambitious with energy underwriting as it is with building green skyscrapers.