Eco News


What the Frack?!  Under a new provision buried in federal environmental law, doctors are now forbidden from sharing information with patients exposed to the effects of “fracking.”


Fracking, also known as hydraulic fracturing (and featured in the Oscar-nominated documentary film GasLand), is the process by which a high-pressure mixture of sand, water and chemicals is blasted into rock to tap into veins of natural gas.  Halliburton and many other companies that use fracking for extraction have come under fire since a 2010 congressional investigation revealed that they used 32 million gallons of diesel products (including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene, all toxic chemicals) in the fluids they pump into the ground.  Low levels of exposure to these chemicals can cause headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, while higher doses can cause certain cancers.


The state of Pennsylvania is increasingly in the limelight of these recent debates over fracking.  A discovery in the Marcellus Shale region of the state has led to advancements in the fracking process.  Pennsylvania law currently allows doctors to access information about chemicals used in gas extraction, including fracking. However, this new provision will disallow doctors from sharing that information with their patients.


Critics of the law (i.e. anyone who does not profit from hydraulic fracturing) argue that it will prevent doctors from raising concerns over the impact of oil and gas extraction on the general public.  According to Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach, the provision was not in the initial versions of the law that were debated in the House or Senate, but was added between the two chambers, and many lawmakers did not even notice this “broad, very troubling provision.”  He also made the point that, “People are claiming that animals are dying and people are getting sick in clusters around [natural gas drilling wells], but we can’t really study it because we can’t see what’s actually in the product.”


A closer look at the history surrounding natural gas legislation at the federal level, however, makes this new provision no surprise at all.  The oil and natural gas industries are not only exempt from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxic Release Inventory (the program that ensures information is provided about what chemicals companies are releasing), but also from EPA regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.


Perhaps the most important point on this new law has been raised by Walter Tsou, president of the Philadelphia chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility: “What is the big secret here that they’re unwilling to tell people, unless they know that, if people found out what’s really in these chemicals, they would be outraged?”  Which also begs the question, why does such a high-risk industry have federal exemptions when no other industry does? Somehow, we suspect it all boils down to money…  –Raffi Simel


You might also like:

INTERVIEW: GasLand Director Josh Fox 

The Top 10 Oscar-Nominated Environmental Documentaries


Chevron Oil Spill

Chevron Oil Spill 

Chevron is facing some serious headwinds in South America. This past Wednesday, a Brazilian federal prosecutor declared the U.S. oil giant failed to properly manage the aftermath of a November drilling accident and subsequent spill, which could lead to the company being barred from operating in the country.

Chevron may never be allowed to freely operate in Brazil again,” federal prosecutor Eduardo Santos de Oliveira told reporters in the wake of the spill that allowed about 3,000 barrels of crude oil to spew into a seabed.

This most recent blemish to the brand comes on the heels of another calamity. On March 16, the Brazilian navy spotted a thin strip of oil in an offshore field called Frade, off the coast of Brazil. Seventeen top executives from Chevron and Transocean, a Swiss-based offshore drilling company, may face a criminal indictment for the alleged oil leak. Chevron has a controlling interest in Frade, as it owns 52 percent of the field and operates its production, while Transocean’s drills are used for extraction.
A federal judge in Rio de Janiero granted a request from prosecutors and it is now up to the judge involved to determine whether to accept the charges and proceed with the case. The charges are expected to be filed in the next few days. The 17 executives, led by George Buck, head of Chevron’s Brazil unit, have already been prohibited from leaving the country and were forced to turn over their passports to police.

The high-profile spill last November resulted in an $11 billion civil lawsuit, Brazil’s largest environmental decision to-date.

Production in the Frade field has been halted as Chevron tries to contain the oil, and its image, in the area. The halting is a major cause for concern for Chevron, as Frade has the capacity to produce 80,000 barrels a day, more than three percent of Brazil’s total output.

There is skepticism regarding Chevron’s involvement in the leak. According to Cleveland Jones, a geologist at UFRJ, the state university of Rio, “Until there is some further proof, there is a good chance that this leak is a natural occurrence” and “Leaks of this size are common, and are how people realized there was oil in the area in the first place.”

If Chevron is seeming like the most guilty of the perpetrators in the latest trend of oil spills, it is important to note that last November’s spill of 3,000 barrels was less than 0.1 percent of BP’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

Rather than point fingers though, let’s hope it doesn’t take too many more accidents for the majority of the world, and not just Brazil, to realize the inevitability of the damage that careless oil extraction brings. -Raffi Simel

If you liked Chevron Oil Spill, then you might also like:

ECO NEWS: BP’s $10 Billion Tax Break

ECO NEWS: Obama Sues BP!

ECO NEWS: Oil-Devouring Microbes

 Monsanto’s Grip On U.S. Agriculture Grows Stronger


Back in February, the bully of American agriculture, Monsanto, breathed a sigh of relief when a federal class-action lawsuit against the agricultural and chemical company was dismissed. The Missouri-based gene giant flexed its muscles even more on March 15 when the U.S. Government approved a large-scale experiment with genetically modified crops that Monsanto insists will thrive in the most arid of conditions.


On the surface, the move sounds like a godsend for Middle America crops. But once all the cornhusks are counted, not a single organic farmer would be shocked if Monsanto’s profits end up being the thing that grows must abundantly. Rather than continue pouting about the agribusiness’ questionable ways, the group striving to slow the company down, Occupy Monsanto, donned biohazard suits on March 16 and told Congress again about the brand’s harmful actions.


Monsanto’s volatile relationship with organic farmers was first introduced to the masses with the 2008 documentary Food Inc. Monsanto brings patent-enforcement lawsuits against organic farmers at an average rate of 13 lawsuits per year. The farmers who don’t use Monsanto products are charged with infringing on Monsanto’s seed patent. Often, pollen from a genetically modified seed originating at a Monsanto farm can crossbreed with the organic seeds of neighboring farms. When this happens, and the company finds traces of their patented seed and sues for patent infringement.



Hundreds of farmers and advocates, led by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association, ascended on Lower Manhattan to put a serious dent in Monsanto’s patent policy with a lawsuit of their own. They were hoping that the New York Federal District Court that oversaw the class-action suit against the company would sympathize with the organic farmers and prevent Monsanto from enforcing their patent.


The ruling judge, Naomi Reice Buchwald, was not so sympathetic. She said that the plaintiffs had “overstated the magnitude of [Monsanto’s] patent enforcement” and that Monsanto’s average of annual lawsuits “is hardly significant when compared to the number of farms in the United States, approximately two million.”


The greater significance of the lawsuit is that it points to troubles in organic agriculture. The dismissed Monsanto suit highlights the increasing burden and barrier to success of organic farms and produce. With most organic farms already containing anywhere from one-half to two percent genetically modified seed, it’s not hard to imagine American farms where nothing is left completely organic anymore, especially with companies like Monsanto spreading their seed over the organic agricultural community.


But if OSGATA and others just look to South America for inspiration, they’d realize all hope wasn’t lost against the menacing Monsanto. Thanks to the unrelenting pressure of a farming community of about 6,000, Peru officially banned genetically modified ingredients anywhere in its borders for the next decade. A few more punches like that to Monsanto’s gut should at least make the behemoth stagger a bit.  -Raffi Simel


If you enjoyed reading about Monsanto’s Grip On US Agriculture, you might also like: 

DIY Aquaponics: The Future of Green Gardening

Is White Oak Pastures the Future of Sustainable Agriculture?

When To Buy Organic (& When It’s Not Necessary)

CeeLo Green Launches GreenHouse Foundation

 Uganda President Issues Statement on Stop Kony Campaign


Just hours ago, we received a press release from the Office of Uganda President Yoweri Museveni with the headline “Response to International Discourse of LRA Activity.” The press release was clearly written as a reaction to the increased attention on the central African nation caused by the controversial Stop Kony” video released by an organization called Invisible Children.


The viral video campaign, which seeks to draw attention to Central African militia leader Joseph Kony, has come under fire from critics both in the West (who question the integrity of Invisible Children’s fundraising efforts) and in Uganda (who claim that the 30-minute video offers an inaccurate portrayal of Africa’s longest-running conflict). In truth, Kony started his Lord’s Resistance Army in the 1980s to rebel against Uganda’s army, which has often been accused of  numerous human rights abuses.


In the statement released to the media today, the Ugandan government “welcomes all campaigns which seek to raise awareness and highlight the plight of people affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army,” but strongly urges that “any awareness campaign fully takes into consideration the current realities of the situation.” In their eyes, the reality is that the LRA was successfully expelled from the country by the Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces in 2006, and are currently “a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300.”


The statement goes on to express concern that “misinterpretations of media content may lead some people to believe that the LRA is currently active in Uganda,” suggesting that Kony and the LRA could be eliminated entirely with a little logistical support from the United States. More importantly, the government seems concerned that the attention on Kony may prevent westerners from visiting their country, which they point out was named a top must-see travel destination for 2012 by Lonely Planet. You can read the complete contents of the press release here.  –Bret Love


If you enjoyed reading about Uganda’s President’s Statement on Stop Kony, you might also like:

Battle In Tanzania Over Maasai Land Rights Intensifies


Morocco Solar Project To Provide 15-20% of Europe’s Electricity

 Antarctic Ocean Alliance Proposes Marine Reserves


United Nations members met in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 and agreed to set aside 10 percent of the world’s oceans as reserves by 2020 as part of a target called the “Convention on Biological Diversity.”  A year and a half later, that target is no closer to reality than it was then.  Some estimates say that less than half of 1% of our oceans are fully protected as no-take zones (areas in which destructive activities are prohibited).  According to fishery scientists, ocean reserves provide hope for restoring areas that have been stressed by extractive and destructive activities.


Ocean reserves operate much like national parks. However, nearly 15 times as much land area is protected than ocean areas.  One particularly at-risk region is the Antarctic Ocean.  Home to about 10% of the world’s oceanic life (including 10,000 species such as penguins, seals, and whales), the Antarctic stands to lose a lot if the United Nations doesn’t stay true to its commitment.


Luckily, the UN’s lack of progress is being met by a coalition of environmental groups calling itself the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, which  includes prominent members such as Greenpeace, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, and our friends at the World Wildlife Fund.


Last week, the Alliance proposed a network of reserves spanning 1.39 million square miles, comprised of 19 reserve zones around Antarctica. This would be the world’s largest collection of marine reserves to date.  Currently, the largest single reserve in the world is the Chagos Islands area in the Indian Ocean, which is 210,000 square miles.


Hopefully this giant push for desperately-needed ocean reserves by the world’s leaders in environmental activism will not only catch the attention of the United Nations, but propel it into action.  –Raffi Simel


If you enjoyed reading about the Antarctic Ocean Alliance, you might also like:

Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society Fights For Marine Life

INTERVIEW: Marine Conservationist Guy Harvey


Co-Founded by Bret Love & Mary Gabbett, Green Global Travel is an ecotourism, nature / wildlife conservation & cultural preservation magazine. More about us.

Help Support Green Global Travel!

Each time you make a purchase on using the link below, we'll earn a small percentage, at no extra cost to you.


Follow Us

As Seen In:

Destinations We’ve Covered:

Egypt- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Madagascar- Ring-tailed Lemurs at Anja Reserve
Morocco- A Journey into the Atlas Mountains
South Africa- Londolozi Game Reserve Safari
South Africa- Kruger National Park
South Africa- South Africa- Zulu Memories
Tanzania- Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

How To Get To Antarctica w/out Doing the Drake
The Haunting Beauty of Icebergs
Penguins of Antarctica
Taking the Polar Plunge
Top 5 Eco Attractions in Antarctica
Whales of Antarctica
Borneo- Sabah Ecotourism Attractions
India- Ranthambhore National Park
India- Tibetan Culture In Ladakh
Laos- The Pastoral Paradise of Muang Ngoi
Malaysia- Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre
Malaysia- Orangutan Conservation at Sepilok
Nepal- Hiking The Annapurna Circuit
Taiwan- Top 5 Eco Activities in Taipei
Thailand- Top 5 National Parks
Australia- Top 5 Eco Attractions
Australia-Kangaroo Island
Australia-Maria Island
New Zealand- Kapiti Island
New Zealand- Tongariro National Park
New Zealand- Top 5 Ecotourism Attractions
Tahiti- First Impressions
Tahiti- Photo Gallery
Tahiti- Moorea 4x4 Safari Tour
Tahiti- Moorea, Tiki Village Theater
Tahiti- Pearl Diving in Bora Bora
Tahiti- Ruahatu Marine Sanctuary, Bora Bora
Tahiti- Swimming With Sharks in Bora Bora
Tonga- Eua Island Eco Activities


Churchill- Into the Wild of Manitoba
Churchill- Polar Bear Fight
Churchill- Polar Bear Photo Gallery
Churchill- Tundra Wildlife

America’s Best Volcanoes
AL- Fishing Mobile Bay
AL- Mobile Carnival Museum
AK- Denali National Park
CA- Hiking The John Muir Trail
FL- Sanibel Island Eco Activities
FL- Crystal River, Swimming with Manatees
FL- Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge
GA- Barnsley Gardens
GA- Top 5 Autumn Activities Around Atlanta
GA- Best Christmas Light Displays
GA- Top 20 Atlanta Christmas Events
GA- Jekyll Island Eco Activities
GA- Weekend in North GA Mountains
GA- Top 5 Eco Attractions in North GA
HI- Hawaii’s Big Island
HI- Hawaiian Mythology
HI - Top 5 Kauai Nature Attractions
LA- Lafayette Cajun Food Tour
LA- Mardi Gras Indians Super Sunday
LA- Voodoo Museum
MT- Hiking Glacier National Park
NC- Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge
NC- Asheville's Green Restaurants Scene
NC- Asheville's Top Ecotourism Attractions
NC- Greensboro Travel Guide
NC- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
NC- Outer Banks Wild Horses
NM- Top 5 Eco Attractions
NY- Going Green in NYC
TX- Sea Turtle Rescue, South Padre Island
WV- Outdoor Adventures
Yellowstone- Mammoth Hot Springs
Yellowstone- Lamar Valley
Yellowstone- Grand Canyon & Hayden Valley
Yellowstone- Upper Geyser Basin
Yellowstone- Lower Geyser Basin

Cancun- Cancun Underwater Museum
Cancun- Mayan Museum of Archaeology
Cancun- Swimming with Whale Sharks
Riviera Maya- Monkeys, Pyramids & Pottery
Riviera Maya- Rio Secreto
Riviera Maya- Tulum & Coba