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It’s almost impossible for Pa. landowners to find out about fracking violations

Fracking companies might be violating drilling rules all over the place, but in Pennsylvania, landowners who leased their property to gas companies likely have no idea. CNN Money reports:

That's because the state agency charged with regulating the wells -- the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) -- does not have to notify landowners if a violation is discovered. Even if landowners inquire about safety violations, DEP records are often too technical for the average person and incomplete.

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U.S. coal is on the decline, and utility execs know it

Every week brings a new story about coal's decline in America. Here are two from last week.

One is about American Electric Power, the nation's largest electric utility, based in Ohio but ranging over 11 states in the South and Midwest. AEP is the farthest thing from a good actor in the utility sector. Between 2008 and 2010, the company raised executive compensation by 30 percent, laid off 2,600 workers, spent almost $29 million lobbying the federal government, and paid a tax rate of -9 percent [PDF]. Yes, negative nine. It's that kind of company.

So it's significant that last week, AEP reaffirmed its intention to accelerate a shift away from coal. By 2020, according to CEO Nicholas Akins, coal will fall from 67 percent of AEP's assets to 50 percent.

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‘Collective hypnosis or hysteria’ on natural gas

Renewable Energy Magazine has a fantastic two-part interview with Michael Liebreich, the founder of New Energy Finance. (Part one; part two.) I guess I've just gotten accustomed to reading stupid, ideological crap about clean energy, so when I run across an informed, balanced perspective, I get unreasonably excited.

Anyway, read the whole thing, but there's one particular part I wanted to draw attention to, Liebreich's answer to a question on natural gas. Pardon the long excerpt:

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Depressing videos show the human toll of fracking

Because your Friday could use a little bleakness, here's the trailer for Water Defense's "Natural Gas Exxposed" video series, showing the toll that fracking takes on communities.

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Ohio fracking is latest target for anti-Keystone activists

ohio map with fracking drill"Don't frack Ohio!"

The folks who brought you the blockbuster protests against the Keystone XL pipeline have a new dirty-energy target: fracking in Ohio.

Bill McKibben, his 350.org cohorts, Gasland director Josh Fox, and a handful of Ohio environmental activists and groups are aiming to assemble the largest demonstration against natural-gas fracking in U.S. history. The action will happen in Columbus June 14–17, culminating on the last day with a takeover of the statehouse for "a people’s assembly," the organizers explain in an invitation letter.

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New film about fracking stars Matt Damon, John Krasinski, and maybe you

Ryan Gosling may have saved a woman from a speeding car, but some of our other favorite stars are doing the next best thing: starring in an anti-fracking movie. Gus Van Sant is directing, and the cast includes Matt Damon, John Krasinski, Frances McDormand, probably Hal Holbrook -- and, if you can get to Pittsburgh this weekend, maybe you.

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If fossil fuel subsidies were distributed to every person, we’d each get $58/year

Globally, every year fossil fuels get six times as much money in subsidies than renewable energy. Given a world population of around 7 billion, that means every man woman and child on the planet is spending an average of $58 a year to prop this industry up, but only around $9 to support renewables.

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Mark Ruffalo on Colbert Report

Mark Ruffalo went on The Colbert Report to talk about fracking, and Stephen yelled at him -- even though he acknowledged later that it's probably a bad idea to yell at the Hulk.

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Tim DeChristopher put in ‘isolated confinement’

Tim DeChristopher. (Photo by Cliff Lyon.)

Editor's note: Wednesday night, DeChristopher was released back into regular old prison.

Peaceful Uprising put out the word Tuesday that Tim DeChristopher, still serving his sentence for disrupting a government auction of oil leases, has been transferred to isolated confinement. He’s been there since March 9.

It's a strange story: Peaceful Uprising says that "Tim was informed by  Lieutenant Weirich that he was being moved to the SHU [the prison's Special Housing Unit] because an unidentified congressman had called from Washington, D.C., complaining of an email that Tim had sent to a friend."

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For Pennsylvania’s doctors, a gag order on fracking chemicals

Under a new law, doctors in Pennsylvania can access information about chemicals used in natural gas extraction—but they won't be able to share it with their patients. A provision buried in a law passed last month is drawing scrutiny from the public health and environmental community, who argue that it will "gag" doctors who want to raise concerns related to oil and gas extraction with the people they treat and the general public.

Pennsylvania is at the forefront in the debate over "fracking," the process by which a high-pressure mixture of chemicals, sand, and water are blasted into rock to tap into the gas. Recent discoveries of great reserves in the Marcellus Shale region of the state prompted a rush to development, as have advancements in fracking technologies. But with those changes have come a number of concerns from citizens about potential environmental and health impacts from natural gas drilling.

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