9/11 Memorial Vandal Amanda Lickers Tied to Pipeline Opposition Organization Rising Tide Vermont

Amanda Lickers, leader of the protest that led to the uprooting of nearly 3,000 American flags planted to memorialize the victims of the September 11 attacks on the Middlebury Campus has worked with Vermont environmental organizations in the past familiar with her radical beliefs and tactics.

Amanda Lickers

Amanda Lickers

In an interview with the Addison Independent on Friday, Lickers claimed that she had been invited to the school by Associate Dean of Students for Student Activities & Orientation J.J. Boggs to lead a discussion on settler responsibility. But according to a former college official with knowledge of the protocol for bringing speakers to campus, this was not the case. That official says that “the Student Activities office assist student organizations in bringing speakers to campus, the staff do not initiate or invite speakers. The general procedure is that a student organization submits a request to the Middlebury College Activities Board (MCAB) Speakers Committee for review, and if approved it moves to Student Activities for a final review and contracting.”

Although Lickers is from Canada, she has worked in the past with environmental groups in Vermont. On August 2, Rising Tide Vermont, a grassroots organizations that claims to confront “the root causes of climate change”  and which has led the charge against the Vermont Gas Addison Natural Gas Project to build a pipeline between Burlington and Rutland posted a call on their Facebook page asking for help raising $1500 to bring Lickers to a rally held on August 17th and 18th. Continue reading

Abenaki Condemn 9/11 Flag Removal Incident; Student Involved has History of Arrest

The flags vanished over a period of half an hour. But it took several hours longer before the Middlebury community learned where they had gone.

Four women and one man – one a Middlebury College student, one a member of the Haudenosaunee nation brought to campus by that student – plucked all 2977 of them from the grass around Mead Chapel in the middle of the afternoon, where they had been planted in memory of the victims of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The group worked efficiently, assembling the flags in small piles and then dumped them into opaque black garbage bags.

Credit: Rachel Kogan

Credit: Rachel Kogan

Julia Madden ’14 was passing on the way to the gym when she realized that something was wrong. After first passing by the scene, she turned to accost the five. They informed her that the site was an “Abenaki burial ground” and that they were acting to counter “American colonialism.” Madden was struck by the disrespect of this action. “I should have gotten a little more aggressive,” she says. “I was just dumbfounded.” Continue reading

The Key Thing Nobody is Saying About Fracking

If natural gas truly is intended to be a “bridge fuel” as renewable electricity generation and storage technology improves, shouldn’t the 60 year supply of natural gas that does not require fracking be enough to fill that role?  

It has become impossible to talk about natural gas in 2013 America without talking about the controversial practice of horizontal-high volume hydraulic fracturing – fracking. Between spokesmen for the gas industry touting gas as the cheap, squeaky-clean “fuel of the future” and Josh Fox broadcasting images of flaming hoses, faucets, and the like to suggest the dangerous implications of gas development, it’s too easy to forget a simple fact.

Two-thirds of American natural gas reserves do not require fracking.

Hose on fire!

The natural gas debate summarized in one misleading image (Or, what happens when you hook your hose up to a gas vent and light it)

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) says that the United States has 97 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven, recoverable shale gas. That’s the type that you need to frack. The type that requires a drill to go through about 3000 feet before turning sideways, blasting apart the bedrock, flushing it all with water, sand, and chemicals, and collecting the resulting product. That gas has been associated with a number of dangers: earthquakes caused by the high-pressure lubrication of the bedrock, water contamination caused by faulty cement casings, and the leakage of methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than carbon dioxide, to name a few. There’s no reason to suggest that these problems can’t be alleviated by proper regulation and oversight. But is the risk even necessary? Continue reading

Bubbles in the Ground: Is Natural Gas Too Cheap and Does Fracking Make Money?

Key Takeaways:

  • Gas companies have sunk large amounts of money into shale gas production
  • Current market prices are too low and will likely rise in the near future
  • Most US Natural gas reserves will not require fracking

I recently came across a blog post by a man named Mark Anthony arguing that natural gas produced is substantially underpriced in the United States, and that the companies producing it are carrying huge debt burdens relative to the value of this gas.

If his data are correct, then the actual cost of natural gas should be significantly higher than it is. He tallies debts of $500 billion from selected natural gas companies and the majors against production of 23 TCF of shale gas. This produces a debt load of $21.32 per million BTUs of shale gas produced so far – much, much higher than a price that has hovered between $3 and $4/MMBtu. Combined with the fact that the number of new wells drilled for fracking has plateaued, this would be terrible news for the companies. In his words:

The shale gas is neither cheap nor abundant…had gas prices been $2/mmBtu or $3/mmBtu higher, the industry would have taken home $46B or $69B more revenue. It would not have made a difference in the industry’s $500B collective debts.

What would you think if the US coal sector had accumulated half a trillion dollars of debts after producing coal for two decades? Patriot Coal went bankrupt for a mere $600M of debts, not $600B. I foresee a looming debt crisis of the NG industry. The debts must be resolved in one of two ways. Either NG prices go to ridiculous high levels and stay there sustainable, so the industry makes enough profits to pay off the debts before the gas runs out. If that does not happen, then many NG producers and banks in the shale business will go belly up.

Since there is such a huge discrepancy between the debt load and the market price, and since he did not source his data, I decided to attempt to reproduce his results myself. His production numbers were from 2011; by 2012 United States shale gas production totaled 32.75 trillion cubic feet, for an approximate revenue at $3.50 per million Btu of $117 billion.

Source: EIA

Source: EIA

So far, this is far below Anthony’s stated debt. But it turns out that his debt numbers were overstated by an average of 100 percent per company, excluding the majors (Exxon, Chevron, and company), which he lumped together. Continue reading

Middlebury Students Find Another Pipeline to Protest

This is what a natural gas pipeline looks like //Duke Energy

A natural gas pipeline runs through my neighborhood in Western New York. The only reason I know that is because, curious about the orange markers sticking out of the ground at a golf course we sometimes play at, I decided to check them out. There’s no obtrusive pipe sticking out of the ground. The same will be true of the pipeline that Vermont Gas would like to build through the state; it will be buried between three to five feet under the surface.

This is the type of project that is incredibly easy to oppose without an actual stake in the matter. As students we stand little to benefit from access to natural gas. But that does not mean we cannot understand the perspective of Vermont homeowners and business owners who see this pipeline as a way to both save money and use cleaner fuel. Continue reading