Monday, November 2, 2015

Why the KXL pipeline no longer matters.

This was written a few weeks ago when Hilary came out "against" the KXL.
NEWSFLASH: The KXL does not matter. -- BH

Subject: Re: Clinton comes out against Keystone

Guess what? It doesn't mean anything.

KXL Northern Leg can be killed now,
and probably will if Hillary is against it.
They've already got another plan, and a backup plan.

Recall the KXL southern leg renamed the Gulf Coast Pipeline
is already built.  (red dotted line, bottom)

Existing KXL Southern leg already is built Cushing OK to Port Arthur TX

Proposed ETC Dakota Access. Notice how it conveniently bypasses
the Nebraska problem area (Ogallala Aquifer and Sand Hills region)
to the East:

Proposed Enterprise Partners Pipeline avoids Nebraska to the West:

It's about 200 miles from either of these to pick up tar sands from existing
Enbridge pipelines in Canada, e.g., Regina, SK, CA.

It's hard to see without a composite map. I'll try to whip something up on this soon-ish.

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Monday, October 26, 2015

On Specialness and Compassion

On Specialness and Compassion

One time, one place where I lived,
there was a big snowstorm.

There was a little C-shaped area
where I parked,
just along a narrow road.

When the snowplows came through,
their plows would always leave
a little mountain of snow
at the end of your driveway.

It was double or triple in height
over the surrounding area!

That little mountain of snow
at the end of the driveway
was always the hardest work.

It was the first or second winter there,
I didn't yet know all the neighbors.

After one heavy storm
8"-12" of fresh wet stuff.
I go out to shovel.

But Oh no!  -- What the hell?

I find the guy across the street
had already been out
and had buried the entrance
to the C-shaped area
where I park my car.

Man, was I angry!!

So I was telling my landlady about it
and she tells me,

"Oh--- that's Larry."
She smiles.

What do you mean? I ask.

"Larry is... how do you say it...? Special."

Oh no....
OK, I see.  I get that now.

Without using judgmental language,
what I think she is saying is
that Larry maybe has difficulties or burdens
which others do not have.

Could be emotional issues.
Or cognitive. Or affective.
Who knows.

She wasn't specific.
I didn't ask.
But I understood.

When someone says
"That person is 'Special'"
it means special needs.

It means this person is likely in pain,
suffering past traumas or terrors. 

It means the situation requires
extra-sensitivity, extra-compassion.

Suddenly I started feeling
a little guilty about my prior anger.

I sat with that feeling for a while.

I was amazed to see my emotions
change from anger into sympathy,
compassion, even sorrow for his pain.

And then I feel a large revelation came!

What if everyone is "Special"?

What if everyone has their own unique
difficulties with which they are afflicted,
their own unique traumas, and terrors.

I am thinking that
whenever I feel anger coming up,
it would be useful to realize,
that everyone, absolutely everyone,
in any given moment,
is just doing the best they/we/I can.

I am doing the best I can.
In any given moment.

I am special.
I am dealing with my own
unique dramas, traumas, and terrors,
horrors and curses.

My dear friends,
Please try to understand this
and treat me with extra-compassion.

And in this way,
I am NOT special.

Because absolutely everyone
is special in this way.
Dealing with their own unique story.

Please treat all beings
which extra-compassion.

We are all,
just doing the best we can.

Be nice to each other.
Please be nice to me.

Thank you!


  • Special People suffer in a special way.
  • Special people therefore deserve Special Compassion, and Care.
  • Everyone is Special!
  • Therefore, everyone deserves Special Compassion, and Care.
  • Because everyone is special,
    this means that no one is special.
  • This seems like a contradiction,
    but it is the most profound truth!
    And arises from simple logic:
  • All beings deserve your compassion and care!

Be kind to yourself and others. 

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
God is Great!
Thou Art That
You are It!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

NEPA regulations and caselaw

Someone asked about the environmental regs regarding illegal project segmentation under NEPA, concerning a FERC docket. Here is my reply.  

I wouldn't trust anything FERC says. Clearly they are not doing the right thing.

IMO-- All of these pipelines and compressors are connected. There should be *some* agency looking at the cumulative impacts of ALL of them, both regionally and also in terms of climate change. This seems to be in the spirit of what the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) demands. A skilled atty could formulate an argument here.

But what really matters is here are the authorities:

* the law itself,
* the regulations (which have the force of law), and
* the caselaw.

I agree with AMG that the DRN case will be controlling, since it is the most recent case -- and was favorable!

Also to check are the NEPA statutes (law), Title 42, chapter 55 of the USC, sec. 4321-4370h.

FERC regs are at 18 CFR Chapter 1, parts 1-391. NEPA stuff is scattered, but the bulk is at Subchapter W, part 380.

Check the regs promulgated by the Council on Environmental Quality, at 40 CFR chapter V (parts 1500 through 1508).

-- or here --

May want to also check these quidance docs, e.g., the NEPA Handbook, published jointly by the CEQ and the Whitehouse:

As well as these guidance docs:

This one seems especially relevant:

Hope this helps,

> On Sun, Oct 25, 2015 at 9:14 AM, Anne Marie Garti <> wrote:
>> The standards in the Delaware Riverkeeper case will be applied in the DC Cir. Read it carefully.
>> Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,
>> 753 F.3d 1304, 1307 (D.C. Cir. 2014)

Direct link:$file/13-1015-1496336.pdf

>> You have to check the case law for the 1st Cir., if that's where you want to file a petition. They might be persuaded to use the DC Circuit's standards.
>> AM

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ray Kemble Fund

Ray Kemble, from Dimock PA, in Harrisburg Oct 2015
to deliver petitions to Governor Wolf to Ban Fracking
Share this:

This is an urgent fundraising appeal for my friend Ray Kemble. 

I am trying to raise $300 by Friday, Oct 16th to help keep Ray's electricity turned on.

Please donate in any amount here:

Who is Ray Kemble?

In my opinion, Ray is one of the true heroes of the anti-fracking movement.
  • Ray Kemble is a former gas industry worker from Dimock Pa. Ray knows some of the dirtiest secrets the fracking industry tries to keep secret.
  • He has suffered incredible impacts to his health and quality of life. His well water became contaminated after a frenzy of wells were drilled and fracked within a 3 mile radius of his home. Across the street is a well with a failed casing and an incinerator of some kind dumping toxins into the air 24x7.
  • Ray's incredible story has been featured in several documentaries, including Groundswell Rising and the Gasland films.
Some of the charity work Ray does:
  • When the private water wells at many homes in Susquehanna County PA became contaminated after gas drilling moved in, Ray Kemble and Craig Stevens bought a water truck, installed a large water tank, and started filling it and delivering water to people who had no other help.

  • Ray is the only impacted resident from Dimock PA still standing and speaking out, who hasn't moved away, signed a non-disclosure agreement, or died.
  • Ray has given countless tours and provided water samples to journalists on 5 continents, scientists, farmers, Senators, Members of Parliament, and ordinary citizens from all over the world, to show them what the realities of living in a gas field are.
    Howie Hawkins, Green Party Candidate for NY Governor,
    holds a glass water from Ray Kemble's water well.

  • Ray has traveled to Washington DC, California, Colorado, Texas, Maryland and many other states to tell his story and to help get bans and moratoria on fracking in those states.

Why isn't Ray working?
  • Ray is, or was, a gas industry worker: a mechanic and a truck driver, with a specialty in heavy hauling and rigging.

    When Ray started complaining about unethical and illegal activities he noticed, from inexperienced and untrained workers, to intentional water contamination which put many lives at risk, he was "blackballed". Not fired exactly, but unable to find the kind of work he's been doing for the last 40 years.
  • Also, Ray is still recovering from a disabling accident when his truck was rammed from behind by a gas industry worker.
  • Yet despite this, Ray will go... anywhere, where his story can help other people. Ray is that kinf of a guy. And while *sometimes* (not always), his travel expenses are covered, this does not help pay his mortgage and other living expenses day-to-day.

It is my belief that if it were not for people like Ray Kemble, impacted residents from Pennsylvania speaking out, that we would not have a ban on fracking  in New York

Is that worth $30 bucks? 
If we can get just 10 people to pitch in $30, we can easily meet our goal.

Please if you can, donate in any amount before Friday Oct 16, 2015
to help Ray keep his electricity on.

EASY instructions!

After you click on Donate button, or the link above:

Steps 1-2: Make sure you see the Closed Lock icon, and "" in your address bar. This indicates a secure connection.

Step 3: Verify you see my email address at the top:
(NOTE: We are only using my Paypal acct. as an interim measure. It will take about a week to get Ray's account established. 100% of the funds I receive until Friday Oct 16th 2015, OR marked "Ray Kemble Fund" will go to Ray).

Step 4: Do you see "Ray Kemble Fund"?

Step 5: Enter the one-time donation amount. (Do not check the box).

Step 6: Login only if you have an existing Paypal account. Else, click on the Continue button.

Step 7: Fill out our credit card information, and submit.

Step 8: Done! (Thank you!)

Ray and Mark Ruffalo, Harrisburg, PA (Oct 2015)

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Court: NEPA review not needed for interstate crude oil pipelines

If you've ever wondered why some(*) interstate natural gas pipelines are required to have a review of the environmental impacts in the form of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), but hazardous liquids pipelines (crude oil, LPG, NGLs, refined products, etc) do not, here's the reason.

(* not exempted by the "API Loophole")

First highlights from the decision and order. Then, E+E article follows.

Analysis by BH: The federal courts are IMO taking a remarkable interpretation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA):

While they are enforcing the obligation of doing a review of the environmental impacts of the federal government *issuing the permits*, they do not see that *building the pipeline* an inevitable consequence or "foreseeable impact" of issuing the permit. So no NEPA review for the pipeline.

Huh? Say what?

Opinion for the Court filed by Circuit Judge PILLARD:

QUOTE: The central question in this appeal is the scope of environmental review the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) required before a particular oil pipeline was built....

Where there is federal action, NEPA requires governmental review, with public input, of the full range of such action's reasonably foreseeable direct or indirect environmental effects.  Federal actions subject to NEPA include federal authorizations granted to private parties, such as oil pipeline construction companies....

On appeal, Sierra Club principally contends that the district court erred by failing to require the agencies to analyze and invite public comment on the environmental impact of the whole pipeline under NEPA, including the lengthy portions crossing private land and not otherwise subject to federal approvals....

We hold that the federal government was not required to conduct NEPA analysis of the entirety of the Flanagan South pipeline... The agencies' respective regulatory actions—in the form of easements, Clean Water Act verifications, and authorization to harm or kill members of endangered species without incurring liability under the Endangered Species Act (ESA)—were limited to discrete geographic segments of the pipeline comprising less than five percent of its overall length.  As explained below, the agencies were required to conduct NEPA analysis of the foreseeable direct and indirect effects of those regulatory actions.  However, on the facts of this case, the agencies were not obligated also to analyze the impact of the construction and operation of the entire pipeline.


________ E+E news ________

Judges rule NEPA study not needed for oil sands project

Robin Bravender, E&E reporter
Greenwire: Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Federal judges today denied environmentalists' challenge to a 600-mile pipeline carrying oil sands crude from Illinois to Oklahoma.

Attorneys from the Sierra Club and National Wildlife Federation told the court that the government should have conducted more thorough environmental assessments of Enbridge Inc.'s Flanagan South pipeline, but the three-judge appeals panel today rejected their argument.

Central to environmentalists' case was their contention that the government should have analyzed the entire pipeline under the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires federal agencies to consider the environmental impacts of their actions.

"We hold that the federal government was not required to conduct NEPA analysis of the entirety of the Flanagan South pipeline, including portions not subject to federal control or permitting," wrote Judge Cornelia Pillard, an Obama administration appointee.

The ruling could have broader impacts on environmental reviews for entirely domestic pipelines. However, it isn't likely to affect cross-border pipelines like the controversial Keystone XL oil sands project, because the State Department is required to perform comprehensive NEPA analyses for international pipelines, said Sierra Club attorney Douglas Hayes.

"We obviously disagree with the court's ruling, and we're still looking at what our next steps are," Hayes said today.

Before construction of the Enbridge pipeline, agencies were required to conduct environmental analyses of regulatory actions -- including easements over small swaths of federal land, dredge-and-fill activities at minor water crossings and the pipeline's impact on endangered species. Less than 5 percent of the pipeline's overall length was affected by those regulations.

"[T]he agencies were required to conduct NEPA analysis of the foreseeable direct and indirect effects of those regulatory actions," Pillard wrote. "However, on the facts of this case, the agencies were not obligated also to analyze the impact of the construction and operation of the entire pipeline."

Enbridge's pipeline crosses nearly 2,000 bodies of water or wetlands, and the Army Corps of Engineers granted it a general nationwide permit.

The Sierra Club argued that the corps erred by analyzing the crossings' cumulative impacts by region instead of considering the effects of the entire pipeline, but the judges rejected that claim. "The Corps was authorized to conduct its review on a regional rather than nationwide basis," the opinion says.

Judge Janice Rogers Brown, a Republican appointee, concurred with the majority's judgment today but said that route was "needlessly circuitous." No "amount of artful pleading" can convert "minor federal engagements into a 'connected action' that subjects the 580 miles of private pipeline to NEPA review," she wrote.

Flanagan South is now fully functional and can carry up to 600,000 barrels of crude per day. The vast majority of the pipeline -- more than 95 percent -- runs on private land. The other parts cross federally owned Army Corps or Bureau of Indian Affairs property, and there Enbridge was granted federal easements.

During oral arguments in April, Brown had questioned how much the government must do, since most of the pipeline lies on private land (Greenwire, April 9).

Click here to read the opinion in Sierra Club v. Army Corps of Engineers.

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May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The greatest truth of Buddha

I was in the bath, thinking about Buddha. I wanted to share with you what I consider to be the most essential truth in all the teachings.... And then I saw this beautiful painting by my friend Lynn.

So before I tell you the Most Essential Truth of Buddhism (according to me, a lay person), some background:

My friend Niranjan Shah is a historian. He says the age of the Historical Buddha has been verified with astronomical events in his writings. 

The historical period is generally established as ~500 BC. Niranjan says he died in 1800 BC, 1,300 years earlier.

I think it is absolutely remarkable this wisdom might be nearly 4,000 years old. Can you imagine that? I couldn't even hang on to the stuff passed down to me for 40 years.

My childhood poetry and early TV shows: gone. My dad's photographs: gone. Generations of genealogical records: gone. 500 record albums: gone. My first grade report card: gone. My earliest experimental recordings from ~14 y/o: gone. My mom's obituary: gone. This is just in the span of a single lifetime: 50 years or so.

Now think of all the floods, fire, famine, volcanoes, typhoons, wars, plagues etc which has happened in 4,000 years. Yet human beings thought this information was so valuable to preserve it for millennia. Amazing.

So here it is. This is extremely precious wisdom, for those who are ready:

It is true that every body will get sick, experience pain and discomfort, and will eventually die. Everything which was assembled, will eventually decay. This is a fact of reality, so we should expect this!

While some physical pain and discomfort is inevitable, and the emotional grief of loss also, the fact remains that most of our suffering is caused by the unskilled mind, untrained mind.

The source of all suffering is craving and aversion. These defilements also arise as greed and hatred, or attachment and resentment. Almost always in pairs.

These mental defilements are the cause of all suffering, and in turn, are caused by what is called ignorance or delusion. These defilements are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the world and yourself.

The good news is that suffering can be modulated (changed) with skill and practice. You can be happy and free if you desire it. Anyone can learn a few simple techniques. After that, there is only practice.

Happiness and Freedom is at the core of your being. You can find it there if you look.

This is just the greatest truth of Buddhism. This, and a description of the meditation techniques, is the knowledge so precious that human beings have preserved it for 4,000 years.

I hope this is helpful.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The problem of using (commercial, royalty free) stock music for your public service videos

photo credit: “The Team of Designers.” Creative Commons licensed by flickr user Jens RydĂ©n.

Ha ha! I think this is funny! Maybe you will too :)

Here is a problem with using (commercial, royalty free) stock music for your videos.

So there are many services like West One Music, which is a clearinghouse that buys "stock" music from composers and producers, for use in commercials, or TV show theme music, etc. The producer usually gets a one-time fee, or maybe royalties, for giving up their rights on how the music gets used.

(I listed West One Music, because they have a huge library of music online. I actually found some of the stock music from the WPX Energy video, "Down Deep" there. It's probably all there, but I gave up after a while.)

This system is premised on the idea that Music is ownable property. It makes sense in a lot of ways. It gives music producers, composers, and musicians an income stream, and it gives movie and video producers a way to grab great sounding music at a lower cost than hiring a composer to write a custom score, and a band/orchestra, etc.

Let's say you are making a video for a political candidate, and you want background music which instills a feeling of being Upbeat, Reassuring, or Hopeful. You can just go to that site and type in those keywords: "Upbeat, Reassuring, or Hopeful", and you get back a list of tracks. It's kind of fun! Try your own moods and see what pops up.

But there are downsides to this too. Like the fact that most of these clearinghouses require the artist to give up their ownership interest in the work for some time, and usually, in perpetuity. This can help the artist with a quick paycheck, but may not be the best plan for a retirement income.

There are different models, too. Sites like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, FreeSound, Free Music Archive and all in some way offer a direct link between artists and remixers offering a variety of licensing schemes, from Public Domain, Creative Commons, to traditional Copyright.

However another possible drawback is that you can get some uncomfortable and/or unintended associations.  For example, first check this video produced by the EPA announcing an environmental victory for engaged citizens. They clearly wanted "Upbeat, Reassuring, and Hopeful":

Citizen scientists win big in upstate New York

So like we said, any slimeball can take money from some big industrial polluter
and do the same thing!

Here is one of the largest (and most polluting) industrial turbine compressors made. I can imagine the client told the video producer, "I want this to be Upbeat, Reassuring, and Hopeful":

(Note: many producers make several variations of the same tune. Clearly these two tracks are from the same producer. Don't you agree? --BH)

Titan™ 250 Gas Turbine Powers Remote Pipeline in North America

So here is a problem when the EPA starts acting like a for-profit corporation, and starts purchasing commercial music for their videos, rather than using something with a non-commercial Creative Commons license:

Now the EPA's feel-good video for Environmentalists has the same exact music as that for a massive environmental polluter.


Monday, September 21, 2015

Small single board computer recommendations?

I hope this is relevant to this list!

I am having big dreams about what can be done with cheap, tiny computers running PD. Look at the various Laptop Orchestras popping up. So exciting!

My minimum specification is:

* Pi-like horsepower
* 10x buffered ADCs with 12bit precision
* 4x high quality isolated 24 bit @ 48 khz audio ins and 4x out

I want to build 100,
But first I need to build 1.

It seems the big disadvantage of an Arduino is it is underpowered vs. a RPi quad core (w/faster CPU, more memory, etc). But it seems people love Arduino due to its IO pins. Many ADCs for controllers and sensors!

Whereas the RPi is just the opposite. Also high-quality audio both in and out on a Pi seems like a problem people face. Has anyone fixed the issue yet with USB2 stability yet?

Do some people use a Pi for CPU and an Arduinio just for IO? (cf. Arduberry) This seems like what an Udoo is (both in one unit). Udoo comments?

Along these lines, I have found I really like the specs of the Wolfson Audio card. The chip it's based on (WM5102) is a 6x6.
Any experiences to share?

I haven't found a buffered ADC solution for high resolution sensors yet. I'm just starting a search of chips capable of this, and found about 6 so far... So I'm guessing there are several possible boards. Again, any recommendations appreciated (esp. of their voltage ranges can be scaled).

Are there any other single board computers I should be looking at which might help keep h/w costs down?


May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Thank You!!!

I just wanted to express my sincere gratitude for all the people who made donations to my work when I made a fundraising appeal in June.

In a couple of weeks, I was able to raise enough to cover my cash-flow situation. People whom I don't even know sent me funds.

God Bless You!!

For a few reasons, I've taken off some time from my activist work and focused on my "day job" (computer tech). Now that I'm billing more hours, my cash flow situation has improved. I am planning on diving back into my public-service work shortly.

Many people asked me to provide a Paypal button to make donations easier. I have done so. You can click on the Donate button below, or on the right-hand column if you are viewing my blog from a PC (may not be visible from a mobile device).

Or you can click on this link:

Thanks so much for you past and future support and encouragement.
It is very much appreciated!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Impacts to Birds and Insects in the Susquehanna River Basin

I am posting this to my blog, since the images
made the bounce from the S.O. listserv....

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: William Huston <>
Date: Sun, Sep 6, 2015 at 10:12 AM
Subject: Re: [sustainableotsego] Looking for answer...
To: Maureen 
Cc: Sustainable Otsego 


Please consider this map of the Susquehanna River Basin (light blue region):

Orange squares are well pads (source SRBC)
Reddish dots are compressor stations (source: Clean Air Council)

One of the reasons for the "cumulative impacts analysis" 
of fracking and pipelines, which many people have been demanding
from FERC, EPA, US F&W, SRBC, US Army Corps of Engineers,
and other federal authorities under the federal National Environmental
Policy Act
is to look at large scale impacts, such as of migratory birds.

The insane thing is that only "endangered species" have standing for

I would estimate that 0.1% or less of the region's biomass is a member
of an an "endangered species" (as defined by US Fish and Wildlife),
then 99.9% of the regions biomass is unprotected

Please think just for a moment of the cumulative impacts of all of the water
contamination caused by all of these well pads. (see map below).

Please consider the cumulative impacts to air quality of all of those compressor stations. I would estimate the average air emissions for a station is in the range of 50k-150k tons per year in GHG emissions.

I have indicated two sites if interest to me.

1: Brown Star is the Seneca Falls Landfill in Seneca County, Waterloo, NY.
    Notice this site is in a different watershed. (the Great Lakes / Finger Lakes /
    St. Lawrence River Watershed)

2: Black Star is the i3 Electronics / Huron Campus waste treatment facility in Endicott, Broome County. 

Since April 2011, there has been a secret program established by DEC and Huron/i3 (was then called Endicott Interconnect, the new name of the former IBM facility), whereby they were allowed under a "Pilot Program" under an existing SPDES permit
to minimally treat and release up to 80,000 gallons per day of extremely toxic landfill leachate originating at Seneca Falls and Broome County landfills.

We know that Seneca Falls Landfill has accepted over 5,700 tons of drill cuttings from PA gas wells.

(And we have long suspected -- and heard rumors from reliable sources-- that Broome County Landfill is accepting liquid drilling wastes from PA which have been emulsified into a semi-solid with sawdust. This is difficult to follow the paper-trail, due to layers of indirection and multiple processing stops.)

Birds eat (among other things) insects. Ask yourself if the insects this year have been normal.

My observation is that in central Broome County, the insect population is very low.
I have regularly monitored a water crossing downstream of the i3/Huron outfall location.

I can remember times perhaps 7-10 years ago, in late June to mid August seeing huge clouds of mayflies swarming near the river.

For the last two years I have seen almost no bugs. Almost no mosquitoes. 
Very unusual.

If there are no bugs to eat, there will be fewer birds.

We may be witnessing what is known in population studies as
a "die-back" or commonly called a mass extinction, before our eyes.

I am just one observer. Would like to know what others have seen
w/r/t bug and bird populations last few years compared to say a decade ago.



On Sat, Sep 5, 2015 at 4:02 PM, Maureen wrote:

Each spring and summer during the 13-plus years we have lived at our Morris farmstead, we have welcomed scores of yellow finches at our feeders.  This season there has been absolutely none.  I've contacted NY Audubon in search of an answer, but have had no response as yet.  Anyone out there in SO know what's up? 

May you, and all beings
be happy and free from suffering :)
-- ancient Buddhist Prayer (Metta)