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Ray Kidd, a community leader in West Oakland, California talks about the air quality concerns in his community and how Global Community Monitor helped them out with the bucket brigade.

Think the Bay Area’s safe from fracking?  Me too, until reading Robert Gammon’s article in the East Bay Express.  Just because we don’t live on top of tight shale formations or coalbed methane doesn’t mean were protected from the highly unregulated and outright dangerous process.

Fracking has caused such a gas boom in the United States that the El Paso Corporation is building a natural gas pipeline from Wyoming to the Oregon/California border.  The Ruby Pipline is expected to open as soon as early August 2011, and guess who’s already partnered up with the project? Good ol’ PG&E.  The same company that can’t seem to figure out how to test the structure and integrity of their current natural gas pipelines.

High pressured gas and faulty pipelines aside, fracked gas brings an entirely different set of concerns.  Fracked gas is a crude energy source that needs to be processed at remote locations including compressor stations and dehydrators.  Even though fracking is not taking place at those sites, simple air tests with the Bucket Brigade uncovered exceptionally high levels of benzene, a known carcinogen, at a dehydration site.  The chemicals do not stop at the well sites.

These chemicals travel all the way through the refining process, which will include processing at four natural gas plants in the San Francisco Bay Area, the one already under construction is along the Hayward Shoreline.

This poses serious threats to human health if left unregulated.  This power plant “will be fourteen stories tall and will produce a plume that can reach up to 1,000 feet in the air” located about 1.35 miles away from Chabot Community College.  The Board of Trustees, the faculty association, employee unions and students groups at Chabot Community College have been fighting it, all on the bases of environmental racism.  There is no reason why working class communities of color should be disproportionately affected by the negative health impacts of natural gas production.
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A new report issued by Global Community Monitor, GASSED! Citizen Investigation of Toxic Air Pollution from Natural Gas Development, details the air sampling results, environmental and public health threats with living amid the natural gas boom.  During 2010-11, Global Community Monitor (GCM), responding to citizen odor and health complaints, launched a Bucket Brigade in northwest New Mexico, southwest Colorado and western Colorado to document and measure air pollution from natural gas facilities. Through the course of this pilot study, residents, armed with their own air monitors, documented a potent mix of chemicals in nine air samples from different locations, many of them located near homes, playgrounds, schools and community centers.

The lab detected a total of 22 toxic chemicals in the air samples, including four known carcinogens, as well as toxins known to damage the nervous system and respiratory irritants.  The chemicals detected ranged from 3 to 3,000 times higher than what is considered safe by state and federal agencies.


These air samples confirm the observations, experiences and first-hand complaints of residents.
Odors and health effects that have been reported for years were consistent with exposure to the
chemicals found in the samples. These results underscore the need of regulatory agencies to take such complaints seriously, given the close proximity between the industry and its residential

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Do you like yoga?

Megan Windeler

Or, maybe you’ve never done it but are curious to learn more?

Either way, you’re invited to join us for a two-hour yoga workshop led by Megan Windeler with accompaniment by Adam Willumson on violin.  This Hatha Flow Yoga Workshop is ideal for all ages and experience levels so don’t miss your opportunity to learn a little more and meet new like-minded individuals.

Sunday, July 17th

2 – 4pm

Satori Yoga Studio

40 1st. St. San Francisco, CA

This is Global Community Monitor’s tenth year anniversary as an organization and the big news is we’re going to India to train activists from around the world.  This workshop will help raise funds to defray some of the traveling costs.  The cost is $30 in advance, or $35 at the door.  All proceeds will go directly to training new environmental leaders.  Our goal is to reach $1,000 so come out and give it a try, knowing your support is helping communities, from across the globe, breathe a little easier.  Space is limited so register today!

Last week, a national leader from across the globe visited Richmond, CA to show solidarity amongst fenceline communities.  Desmond D’sa, a South African native, living next to an industrial hub containing multiple petrochemical plants and two oil refineries, (one of which is the largest in the country), pointed out the vast similarities between his hometown of Durban, South Africa and the disproportionately effected fenceline community of North Richmond, CA.

Image from Richmond Confidential

At a community meeting in Richmond, hosted by International Development Exchange (IDEX), Desmond, the Director of South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), told stories of corporate bullying, neglect and the corrupt government officials that idly stand by.  These stories rang true to the residents of Richmond who have seen many of the same corporate tactics.  After a toxic release in Richmond in 1991, West County Toxic Coalition wrote a letter to Chevron that included the same observation: “But when it comes to the company’s damage to human beings, who are your neighbors, you have ignored your responsibilities.”

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