Saturday, January 4, 2014


  1. On ABC National Radio this morning - 6/01/2014 - from around 1100 onwards "The War on Nature".

    Featured a great interview with Dr. Reese Halter.
    If this becomes available to download later it is a worth while listen.

    Here he is in the Huffington Post.


    The Last Great Coal Rush: The Business of Killing Earth

    Posted: 12/17/2013 10:25 pm

    It's December 17, 2013 and 80 degrees (F) in Los Angeles - we are in the midst of a mini-heat wave whilst the rest of the continent is shivering. People are busy doing last minute Christmas shopping and life in Southern California is Zen. Or is it?

    Most of my colleagues and friends are wondering do I shut down for the holidays or keep grinding out the copy?

    The news across the wire over the past couple weeks is very disturbing and this much I can report with certainty: 'The War Against Nature' has reached an epic global scale. How long can nature hang on from this latest onslaught?

    Allow me to dial you back to mid November (2013) when my colleague in San Francisco sent me news of what Google Earth had discovered about our forests. The forests, you see, are near and dear to my heart because that's where I cut my teeth doing my doctoral work in the early 1990s on eco-stress tree physiology at the top of Mount Stirling in the Victorian Alps, Australia.

    Google Earth's data from 2000-2012 showed that our planet has lost an area of wild forests more than three and a half times the size of California. Logging, mining, and increased wildfires and insect attacks from global warming are ravaging nature. The worst offender on that list was Indonesia where the rate of deforestation due to mining and palm oil plantations doubled from 2011-2012.

    Wild forests are crucial for our planet and its existence, as we know it. For every one metric ton of old growth wood, trees have removed 1.5 metric tons of CO2 from the atmosphere and given off one metric ton of oxygen. Quite simply: Trees are the most effective CO2 warehouses to ever evolve on our planet.

    On December 4, 2013 meteorologists announced that Australia's spring was officially the warmest on record with astounding daily maximums of 3.7 degrees (F) temperatures above average across virtually the entire continent, eclipsing the previous record set in 2006 by about 0.9 degrees (F).

    Droughts beget firestorms, which plagued central and eastern New South Wales in September and October. A stifling heat wave across the northern tropics in Fitzroy Crossing, northern Western Australia, reached 104 degrees (F) each day for 29 consecutive days in October, an unprecedented sequence of events at any Australian station this early in springtime -- since the inception of continuous record keeping.

    On December 5, 2013 storms, floods and fierce tidal surges lashed the U.K. The pictures of the wrath of an over-heated mother nature are indeed worth a thousand words.

  2. The Last Great Coal Rush: The Business of Killing Earth

    Dr. Reese Halter

    On the other side of the world, the next day, the air quality in China was so toxic from burning coal, automobile exhausts and factories smoke stacks that the government cancelled all public sporting events in both Beijing and Shanghai and advised all citizens not to go outside.

    A putrid yellow haze hung over China's financial center reducing visibility to a few feet in Shanghai - the colossal skyline of the city was barely visible to the naked eye.

    Shanghai's concentration of tiny toxic PM 2.5 particles was 602.5 micrograms per cubic meter, an extremely hazardous level that shattered all previous records for poisonous air pollution. By the way, that compares to the World Heath Organization's acceptable safety standard of air quality of 25 micrograms per cubic meter. In addition, methyl-mercury from burning gigatons of coal in China is now showing up in samples from our California blue whales at off-the-chart levels never witnessed before.

    As Earth's oceans attempt to contend with an escalated rate of burning coal from China, the United Sates, India and elsewhere they are absorbing at least 33 million metric tons of CO2 daily and in this process - acidifying faster than the previous 300 million years of geologic time.

    All shellfish and coral reefs are made of calcium carbonate, which melt under acidic conditions. It was previously believed that only sea urchins, sea stars and mussels were the most vulnerable to rapid increases in ocean acidity, from human-induced burning of fossil fuels. But on December 5, 2013 my colleagues from the Australian Institute of Marine Science added shrimp and crabs to the list of ocean creatures now doomed.

    The rush to supply China and India with more coal is the business of killing Earth. Australia's environment minister Greg Hunt and the newly elected Liberal government is more interested in exporting and building coal ports than protecting the dying UNESCO World Heritage Site - The Great Barrier Reef (which has lost 73 percent of its corals to an acidifying ocean).

    Australia's coal-promoting decision pales compared to what's occurring on Borneo within Indonesia's jurisdiction. Mountains of coal are being barged down the polluted Mahakam River every few moments. Indonesia is racing to supply the insatiable demand for coal from China and India.

    International miners have excavated East Kalimantan's capital city of Samarinda where open pit mines now occupy over 70 percent of the former city; the water is toxic and mudslides are rampant - people and children are gone, destitute. Bribery is blatant and new coal permits are issued weekly.

    Coal mining has stripped the lands of rich rainforests (home to orangutans, elephants, rhinos, tigers and another 1,400 animal species and 15,000 kinds of plants). Those rainforests on steep slopes keep the soil in situ -- they are nature's buffer to 6-months of heavy monsoonal rainfall, and now water flows at waist-high levels frequently throughout the dugout former city during the rainy season. People are trying to exist on the fringe of the former city by growing rice in ponds filled with contaminated coal-mining water.

    Each year 200 million tons of coal - stripped from the East Kalimantan rainforests - has irreparably destroyed this province impoverishing the biodiversity and the abundance of all life forms.

    If our species intends to survive - 'The War Against Nature' and the latest, greatest coal rush must be curtailed - now!

    Earth Dr Reese Halter is a broadcaster, biologist, educator and co-author of Life, The Wonder of It All.

  3. The Mayor of Perth wants a giant statue on the river.
    Secretly Barnett wants this statue to be him of course.
    An idea from Oklahoma.............

    Statue of Satan proposed for Oklahoma Capitol

    A religious group believes it has an idea that could "complement and contrast" the Ten Commandments monument on the Oklahoma state Capitol grounds: a 7-foot-tall (2.1 metre) statue of Satan, depicted as a Baphomet - a goat-headed figure with wings and horns - sitting on a throne with smiling children at its side.

    ..................smiling Black Children of course !


    Critics Say Chemical Spill Highlights Lax West Virginia Regulations

    Last week’s massive chemical spill into West Virginia’s Elk River, which cut off water to more than 300,000 people, came in a state with a long and troubled history of regulating the coal and chemical companies that form the heart of its economy.

    “We can’t just point a single finger at this company,” said Angela Rosser, the executive director of West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “We need to look at our entire system and give some serious thought to making some serious reform and valuing our natural resources over industry interests.”

    She said lawmakers have yet to explain why the storage facility was allowed to sit on the river and so close to a water treatment plant that is the largest in the state.

    Ms. Rosser and others noted that the site of the spill has not been subject to a state or federal inspection since 1991. West Virginia law does not require inspections for chemical storage facilities — only for production facilities.


    Critics say the problems are widespread in a state where the coal and chemical industries, which fuel much of West Virginia’s economy and are powerful forces in the state’s politics, have long pushed back against tight federal health, safety and environmental controls.


    In 2009, an investigation by The New York Times, found that hundreds of workplaces in West Virginia had violated pollution laws without paying fines. In interviews at the time, current and former West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection employees said their enforcement efforts had been undermined by bureaucratic disorganization; a departmental preference to let polluters escape punishment if they promised to try harder; and a revolving door of regulators who left for higher-paying jobs at the companies they once policed.

    In June 2009, four environmental groups petitioned the E.P.A. to take over much of West Virginia’s handling of the Clean Water Act, citing a “nearly complete breakdown” in the state.

    “Historically, there had been a questionable enforcement ethic,” said Matthew Crum, a former state mining director at the state’s Department of Environmental Protection.

    Cindy Rank, chairwoman of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy’s mining committee, said that coal lobby has wielded great influence in the crafting of state environmental regulations. “Accidents are always preventable. For the most part I think that’s true in these disasters that keep happening,” she said. She recalled negotiations over a groundwater protection bill from the early 1990s. “We swallowed hard and allowed the coal industry to get away with a lot in that bill,” she said.

  4. How saving a few Mangroves completely destroyed Gladstone and the GBR !

    However now he's been sacked it may be cost cutting on a bund wall was to blame.


    Saving mangroves 'put Gladstone harbour at toxic risk'

    MISGUIDED efforts to save a stand of mangrove trees added to a chain of environmental disasters that has left Queensland's Gladstone Harbour facing a future as a "toxic waste dump", says a former Gladstone Ports Corporation environmental manager turned whistleblower.

    John Broomhead said the order to change the design of a "bund" wall to hold dredge spoils from the $35 billion Curtis Island liquefied natural gas projects in the harbour had came from the federal Environment Department and Queensland Co-ordinator-General as the plans were being finalised.

    Mr Broomhead claimed GPC made the changes but had not done sufficient modelling on the impact of saving the ecologically significant trees. Combined with other cost-saving measures on construction of the wall, the new design caused the retention area to leak, greatly adding to the already turbid water conditions in Gladstone Harbour on the central Queensland coast.

    Mr Broomhead was employed by the state government-owned GPC as environment and approvals project manager in 2011 when water quality and marine health in Gladstone Harbour collapsed, sparking a ban on fishing. He said his employment was terminated suddenly in December of that year.

    Mr Broomhead said a number of factors were responsible for the environmental collapse in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage area, including stress from heavy flooding, the bund wall failure, the impact of dredging and increased turbidity caused by hundreds of additional ship movements each day as construction of the LNG projects gathered pace.

    The common themes, Mr Broomhead claimed, were conflicts of interest and a culture of arrogance on the part of GPC and incompetence and repeated failure by federal and state regulators.

    Mr Broomhead said he knew there were problems with the bund wall as early as August 2011 and had told GPC senior management. The corporation has previously admitted problems with the wall but has not detailed what went wrong.

    It was forced to seek permission to breach its environmental approvals in June 2012 to close a leaking bund wall before it ran out of space to store potentially acid sulphate soils.

    Engineers who worked on the project said cost-cutting and design changes - including the use of lighter weight geotextile fabric that was placed on the side of the wall rather than buried within it as the original design had called for - had cursed it from the outset.

    Mr Broomhead said poor design had compounded problems caused by changes already made to preserve the mangrove trees.

    Retaining the mangrove trees was once touted as an environmental positive by GPC.

    Dredging project manager Peter O'Sullivan told a resource industry conference in mid-2011 the project intended to set "new levels in terms of environmental standards for a dredging project of this size."

  5. Saving mangroves 'put Gladstone harbour at toxic risk'

    Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt has called an urgent inquiry into Gladstone Harbour following reports that construction of the bund wall had been botched and that GPC had received reports confirming a spike in turbidity coincided with fish deaths.

    GPC has in the past blamed the fish deaths on the effects of the 2011 floods.

    Asked about design changes to the bund wall, GPC said it would "work directly with the minister and his team in providing information on the bund wall and associated topics".

    The federal Environment Department said yesterday it was going through its historic records to determine who ordered the change to save the mangrove trees.

    Queensland Deputy Premier and Minister for State Development Jeff Seeney said GPC had proposed five configurations of the dredge spoil area in its environmental impact statement.

    "The impacts of these configurations were assessed and the preferred option was then subject to detailed modelling and investigation," Mr Seeney said. "This option was then evaluated in the Co-ordinator-General's evaluation report."

    Mr Broomhead said after the bund wall had started to leak, he had ordered new modelling which was completed on November 24, 2011.

    "The new modelling proved the original modelling had been undertaken on a retention area of a different shape," he said.

    Environment groups believe an internal review of what happened at Gladstone Harbour was not sufficient.

    Mr Broomhead said an independent inquiry or royal commission was needed into management and regulation of the Gladstone Harbour expansion.

    "Gladstone Ports Corporation is conflicted because it is the regulator, the dredger and the operator of a coal terminal."

    He said the state Coordinator-General and the federal Environment Department had failed by not insisting on baseline data, changing the shape of the bund wall without modelling and not insisting on conditions to stop work to allow the environment to recover.

    "When you have an environment already on its knees, the only thing you can do is stop everything in the harbour until it recovers," he said. "That should have happened in about August or September 2011."


  6. Greenpeace in Russia - now this - what's the difference these days?


    Terror charges faced by Oklahoma fossil fuel protesters 'outrageous'

    Lawyer representing two activists says their banner protest at Devon Energy does not justify terrorism hoax charges

    The terror charges facing two environmental protesters who unfurled a banner and dropped glitter at an oil and gas company's office in Oklahoma are "outrageous" and "egregious", according to the lawyer representing them.


    The charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years, has yet to be confirmed by the Oklahoma city district attorney. If the charges do go ahead, it would be the first such use of Oklahoma's "terrorism hoax" statute in recent memory.

    But the application of anti-terror statutes to a peaceful protest by barely a dozen activists has already caused outrage. Police concede there were no injuries in the protest.

    "I have seen some pretty egregious stuff in my day, but these kind of charges are just outrageous and they are certainly the most egregious that I have seen," said Douglas Parr, lawyer for the two activists. "There is just no way the facts justify filing those charges."

    Moriah Stephenson, 27, a waitress and graduate student, and Stefan Warner, 26, a youth pastor turned full-time organiser for the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, were part of a small group of about a dozen activists at the glass office tower housing Devon Energy on 13 December.

    Devon, which is based in Oklahoma, is a leading player in oil and natural gas drilling and also has interests in Alberta's tar sands and the Keystone XL pipeline.


    They quickly unfurled their banner, a red sheet with a gold mockingjay symbol and the words "The odds are never in our favor" – references from the Hunger Games books and films.

    But to the protesters' dismay the glitter came unstuck, and began drifting towards the floor.

    After a few uneventful minutes, Stephenson and Warner took down the banner and left the building – apologising to the janitor who came hurrying over with a broom.

    A few people, clutching coffee cups, wandered around in the lobby below, according to Stephenson. But she did not detect much of a response to the banner. There wasn't even that much mess, she said. The pair had used just four small tubes of glitter on their two banners.

    "A lot of people when they heard about it they imagined buckets of glitter being dumped on people running and screaming, and chaos and panic," Stephenson said. "It wasn't chaos and panic at all. It was a pretty boring protest until the police showed up and decided to make a big deal of everything."

    But that was not how it was seen by either Devon Energy or the Oklahoma city police. According to the arrest report, a Devon security representative notified police of the protest and "an unknown black powdery substance".


    Captain Dexter Nelson, an Oklahoma city police spokesman, went even further, saying the glitter had set off a panic.


    "From the totality of the incident when they unveiled the banners and this black powder went flying through the air, all of the people who saw it deemed that it had to be something dangerous or toxic and went into a panic," Nelson said. "From what I was told people were running around and thinking that it was something dangerous."

    Nelson also said the protesters were covered in faeces – a claim the protesters and Parr denied.

    "At least one of the individuals had faeces on their clothing and they were dressed alike," Nelson said. ...

    He went on: "There was at least one individual that I saw she had it on her pants and her shoes," he said.

    Parr, who was at the tower that morning, was outraged. "Any comment that either one of those people was covered in faeces is an absolute, unmitigated lie," he said.

  7. 'We're going all out for shale,' admits David Cameron

    Environmentalists say prime minister's plan to grant councils 100% of business rates from fracking amounts to a bribe

    David Cameron is to declarethat his government is "going all out for shale" as he announces that councils will be entitled to keep 100% of business rates raised from fracking sites in a deal expected to generate millions of pounds for local authorities.

    In a renewed attempt to win support for the controversial expansion of fracking, the prime minister will also say that revenues generated by shale gas companies could be paid directly in cash to homeowners living nearby.

    The prime minister's announcement, likened to a bribe by environmentalists, comes on the day that the French energy group Total becomes the first global oil company to invest in a shale gas exploration project in Britain. The FT reported on Saturday that Total is to join a shale gas exploration licence in the Midlands operated by the US company Ecorp.


    Cameron, who is to visit a fracking site, will announce that the government is to double from 50% to 100% the amount that councils in England can keep in business rates raised from shale gas sites. The offer, which was proposed last year by the Institute of Directors, could be worth up to £1.7m a year for a typical site.

    The prime minister will also try to reach out to concerned local communities by saying that the industry will consult on how to distribute funds of up to £5m-£10m for a typical site over its lifetime – a lump sum of £100,000 when a test well is fracked, plus 1% of revenues. Direct cash payments could be made to homeowners living near fracking sites.

    Cameron will say: "A key part of our long-term economic plan to secure Britain's future is to back businesses with better infrastructure. That's why we're going all out for shale. It will mean more jobs and opportunities for people, and economic security for our country."


    Jane Thomas, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, likened the decision to grant councils 100% of business rates from shale gas companies to a bribe. Thomas said: "Today's announcement from the government that councils can keep all the business rate revenue they receive from fracking companies marks a new low in the government's attempts to curry fracking favour with local people.

    "Friends of the Earth believe that this is the first time that government money is being use to incentivise local communities. These community sweeteners also raise huge concerns about conflicts of interest if those councils who potentially will benefit from this money are also the ones who determine the planning applications from fracking companies in the first place."


    "Investment from Total is a vote of long-term confidence in the UK shale industry, and is a welcome sign that the government is creating the conditions necessary to maximise the potential benefits of a new domestic energy source. The wider benefits are clear; shale gas development could create tens of thousands of jobs, reduce imports, generate significant tax revenue and support a resurgence in British manufacturing. In short, shale gas could be a new North Sea for Britain."

    Tom Greatrex, the shadow energy minister, said: "Gas will remain an important part of our energy mix in the future, and if shale gas can replace our rapidly depleting North Sea reserves it could help improve our energy security. It is right that any communities that host nationally significant energy infrastructure are able to share in its rewards.

    "But the government must get its priorities right. Only by fully addressing legitimate environmental and safety concerns about fracking with robust regulation and comprehensive monitoring will people have confidence that the exploration and possible extraction of shale gas is a safe and reliable source that can contribute to the UK's energy mix."

  8. Australian environment minister is totally, shamefully negligent with "direct action" policy

    The Australian government's "direct action" policy is like giving money to an illegal drug dealer to stop dealing drugs, then having no penalty if he keeps selling them.

    Moderate conservative that he is, Australian environment minister Greg Hunt ran on a platform of "lean" government, where private businesses "are the true creators of wealth", individuals need to take personal responsibility for their actions, and the former Labor government's carbon price was a "non-delivery of an invisible substance".

    It was a surprise then, to learn last week, that Greg Hunt wants to give $3 billion to big polluting companies to reduce their emissions, but have no sanctions for those businesses if they fail to meet the reduction targets.

    This is like giving money to an illegal drug dealer to develop innovative ways for him to stop dealing drugs, then having no penalty if he keeps selling them. Worse, the drug dealer could claim government funding for drugs that he supposedly didn't sell over his "baseline" of sales, but carry on pushing drugs regardless.

    You'd expect that a believer in lean government wouldn't use billions in tax-payer's money to create an expensive, totally ineffectual regulatory bureaucracy to auction permits to not emit carbon pollution.

    The Australian government's "direct action" policy will allow companies to bid for grants to implement the most efficient carbon reduction programs. Companies will have a "business as usual" baseline from which they agree to reduce their pollution. Several options are canvassed by Greg Hunt, including having multi-year compliance periods, or the ability for companies to "make good" by buying reduction credits from elsewhere.

    In reality, the Emissions Reduction Fund is little more than a slush-fund for the big polluters.

    What is surprising is that Greg Hunt seems unaffected by the cognitive dissonance of paying someone to not do something — to not emit a tonne of carbon dioxide — when his principle criticism of the carbon price was that it was a "non-delivery of an invisible substance".

    This policy is shamefully negligent.

    Not just because it won't actually reduce Australia's carbon emissions and will fall vastly short of the inadequate 5% reduction target.

    But because you can't measure what you don't emit. Instead, you just assume how much you would have emitted and compare it to what you did emit. This is, needless to say, utterly subjective, and open to manipulation. Private companies will be given public funds to magically reduce their carbon pollution emissions, with no consequences if they fail to deliver.

    As is so often the case with this government, Greg Hunt and prime minister Tony Abbott have a very flimsy moral case to implement their direct action policy, and the federal election does not qualify as a mandate to abolish the carbon price. Abbott may claim that the 2013 election was a "referendum" on the carbon price, but if so, only around 45.5% of voters supported the abolition by voting for the LNP. This falls to a miserable 37.7% in the Senate.

  9. Slugcatcher watches the Shell shuffle and sees Australian bits falling off

    Monday, 13 January 2014

    SELLING Woodside and selling Australian refining and marketing assets – if you can’t see the connection between these planned divestments by Royal Dutch Shell, then Slugcatcher draws your attention to a third fact; the start of a thoroughly lousy profit-reporting season for the oil industry.

    1. Oil glut fears hit US stocks as earnings season kicks off

      ....................Energy stocks were among the biggest decliners, dropping 1.9 per cent after the price of oil slumped close to its lowest in eight months. Exxon Mobil fell $US1.97, or 2 per cent, to $US98.55.

      Oil fell 92 cents, or 1 per cent, to $US91.80 a barrel as Libyan production continued to ramp up and the possibility of increased crude exports from Iran raised the prospects of excess supply on global markets.

      Investors are also worried about more cuts to the Federal Reserve's big economic stimulus program.

  10. Japanese choose LNG nation Mozambique for first Africa visit by a PM in eight years

    Monday, 13 January 2014

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country would give 70 billion yen ($670 million) in development project aid to Mozambique as it seeks favourable treatment for LNG imports from the southeast African nation.


    Air Products opens Florida plant to meet demand for larger LNG liquefaction systems

    Friday, 10 January 2014

    Air Products, the world's leading maker of heat exchangers for LNG liquefaction plants, has held a ceremony to open a new LNG manufacturing facility in Florida to double the company's manufacturing capacity of the proprietary equipment.

  11. Buru Energy to Drill Ungani 3 Appraisal Well in Canning Basin Shortly

    Buru Energy Limited, an Australian oil and gas production company, provided Monday the following update on operations at Ungani field in the Canning Basin, Western Ausrtalia.

    Ungani 3 Appraisal Well

    Rig up on the Ungani 3 location has taken several days longer than planned due to a combination of the very heavy rain associated with the passage of Cyclone Christine and a number of operational and commissioning issues which have delayed the acceptance of the rig by the Company. It is now anticipated that the well will spud during the coming week.

    Ungani Field Operations Update

    The Ungani Field extended well tests continue to perform very well. The Ungani 2 well is currently producing at its initial target rate of 1,000 barrels of oil per day (bopd) to meet current trucking capacity with no significant water production. During the week the Ungani 1 well cleanup was commenced and once completion fluids have been recovered, the well will be hooked up to the production system during the coming week. Additional trucks are being mobilized which will allow the extended production test to reach its targeted 1,500 bopd from the Ungani 1 and 2 wells.

    The loading of the first 30,000 barrels of oil from the Wyndham export facility is scheduled for the end of next week.