LANDSCAPES OF EXTRACTION THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE OF THE FOSSIL FUELS INDUSTRIES FEATURING THE WORK OF PHOTOGRAPHER THE COOPER UNION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF SCIENCE AND ART INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN | THE IRWIN S. CHANIN SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE
J HENRY FAIR
INTRODUCTION Kevin Bone ARTIST’S STATEMENT J Henry Fair THE EXTRACTION OF FOSSIL FUELS DEEP WATER DRILLING MOUNTAIN TOP REMOVAL HYDRO-FRACKING TAR SANDS EXTRACTION FOSSIL FUELS: AT WHAT COST? Al Appleton
LANDSCAPES OF EXTRACTION THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE OF THE FOSSIL FUELS INDUSTRIES PRESENTED BY THE COOPER UNION INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN AND THE IRWIN S. CHANIN SCHOOL OF ARCHITECTURE EXHIBITION ON VIEW
JANUARY 20—MARCH 01, 2011
THE ARTHUR A. HOUGHTON JR. GALLERY 7 EAST 7TH STREET, NEW YORK CITY
Along with these growing numbers come greater impacts on both human social systems and the many ecosystems on earth, from microbial communities to biomes. More and more resources are being utilized to meet the needs of the ever increasing and more aﬄuent world population. The by-products and ecological damage associated with resource production and consumption are altering the
In the 2,000 years between the foundation of
geochemical conditions that have evolved
Our fossil fuels based society has for many
the Roman Empire, in the third century BCE,
synonymously with life. Increasing toxicity in
years embraced consumption, oversized cars,
to the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution,
air, water, soils and the nutrient stream are
spread out cities, large homes and architectural
the global population grew at a rate of about
impacting not only the health of humans but
excesses of all descriptions. In the United
30 million people per century (with some
also the health of the entire biological chain.
States, our gross national product is a measure
ups and downs along the way), reaching 800
We are drawing down on ﬁnite amounts of
of consumption. The more we consume, the
million in the year 1765. Industrialization
fertile soil, fresh water and abundant fuels that
more successful we consider our economy.
would very quickly have signiﬁcant impacts on
have amassed in past geologic eras. The
There is no measure of how eﬀective our
humankind, accelerating the growth of world
long-term consequences of these rapid
economy is in using and sustaining resources,
population. By the spring of 1858, when Peter
environmental changes are not fully known,
although this is beginning to change.
Cooper ﬁrst opened the Great Hall to the
and the scientiﬁc community holds diverse
public, the global community had reached
views about the full extent of impact that this
What we design, the cities we create, the
an estimated 1.35 billion people. By 1974, the
growing human population will ultimately
buildings we erect, how we engineer our infra-
year John Hejduk completed his architectural
bring. But the scientiﬁc community agrees
structure, our roads and bridges and airports,
transformation of this Foundation Building,
that changes are in motion now and there will
the farming practices we use, the industrial
the population had reached 3.71 billion. In the
be adverse impacts across the social and
processes that we employ, and how we power
short span of 36 years since that renovation,
our society all will determine how great our
we have added another 3.18 billion people,
impact to the environment will be. Concrete
growing the total population to 6.89 billion.
production alone accounts for an incredible
The population continues to grow at the rate
7% of all global CO2 emissions. In the United
of about 78 million people per year. By
States buildings are responsible for about
2050 it is estimated that there will be 9 billion
half of all resource and energy use.
of us on the planet.
The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design was established in the summer of 2009 by President George Campbell to address the educational questions that are coming out of this evolving world situation. The Instituteâ€™s Many in the design community now believe
mission is to help develop the cross-
our future lies in imagining ways of designing
disciplinary knowledge and skills that architects,
with resource restraint, of creating cultural
engineers and artists need to meet the
products and processes that not only aspire
challenges of creating a sustainable society;
to minimize environmental damage but also
a society that prospers because its designed
aspire to create new resources, and contribute
economic, social and engineering systems
to environmental improvement. We anticipate
work in harmony with the ecological dynamics
that the engineers, architects and artists of
and resource limitations of the earth. It is also
The Cooper Union will be leading contributors
the mission of this Institute to exchange
to a new design mentality that imagines an
knowledge with the intellectual and civic
aesthetic of minimal impact on the systems
communities beyond our campus. This
that sustain us.
exhibition, mounted in conjunction with The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture,
These rapidly changing global conditions have
and which looks at some of the adverse
turned sustainability into one of the iconic
impacts of our reliance on fossil fuels, is the
terms of the 21st century. We now must ask
ďŹ rst public show of the Institute; the ďŹ rst
ourselves if humanity can re-imagine and
of many which we hope will engage the minds
redesign its practices so the economy of the
and hearts of the public, our faculty and the
future will be one that does not waste the
students of The Cooper Union.
wealth of the planet but one that conserves and rebuilds it. Can the longstanding perception that caring for the environment lowers economic productivity be overcome by the realization that working with and investing in the environment is the way to build the foundation of the next great era of human progress?
Kevin Bone Director The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design
Bucket wheel excavators working at diďŹ€erent levels, with coal transport conveyors attached to each machine. Niederizer, Germany
J HENRY FAIR Much talk is spent on the environment, but in actual fact, it is just the series of planetary systems that provide the life-support elements for life on this planet. Debate, clouded by pecuniary interests, rages about what might or might not be happening with the physical world, while everyone discusses the increasingly surreal nature of the weather. No major environmental legislation has been enacted in this country since 1973, and today those bastions of American law are under attack from special interests proﬁting at the expense of our health. Yet My work is a response to my vision of society.
ironically, we provide the fodder for the machines of production, both with our insatiable demand and, in another sense, as the guinea pigs
I see our culture as being addicted to petroleum and the unsustainable
awaiting a statistical result of heedless consumption.
consumption of other natural resources, which seems to portend a future of scarcity. My vision is of a diﬀerent possibility, arrived at through
This dichotomy is illustrated in two ways.
careful husbandry of resources and adjustment of our desires and
The ﬁrst, the ecstasy of satisfaction: our need for aesthetic stimulation
consumption patterns toward a future of health and plenty. To gear our
is satisﬁed with a series of images that are immediately immensely
civilization toward sustainability does not necessitate sacriﬁce today,
pleasing to the senses. The second, the unease of gluttony: the
as many naysayers would argue, but simply adjustment. There are
nightmares following the period of indulgence.
many societies existing at present that have a standard of living at least as high as ours while consuming and polluting a fraction of what is
For each indulgence of materialist desires, a debit is recorded against
the norm in the United States.
the life support systems of the present or future. Most of these are purposely invisible to the consumer, who, by deﬁnition, sits at the table
As an artist with a message, one asks oneself: “How do I translate my message to my medium such that it will aﬀect the change I want? These are all photographs of things I have found in my explorations. Other than standard photographic adjustments of contrast, they are unmodiﬁed.
imbibing anything within reach, oblivious of consequence.
THE EXTRACTION OF FOSSIL FUELS For the ﬁrst 200 years or so after 1765, these fossil fuels were obtained in two relatively simple ways. If the fuel was coal, tunnel down and dig it out of the earth. If it was oil or natural gas, insert a pipe into the ground (or shallow oﬀshore waters) and pump it out. These processes could be locally devastating and The world that created the landscapes in this
socially exploitive, but the scope of damage
exhibition is 246 years old. It was born in 1765
was relatively limited, and dwarfed by the vast
when James Watt invented the reciprocating
wealth created by fossil fuels.
steam engine. This gave human beings the ability to do work on an immeasurably greater
However, in the last ﬁfty years the nature of
scale than had been possible with the power
fossil fuel extraction has changed. Traditional
sources of 1764: human and animal muscle,
sources of natural gas in North America are
wind, ﬂowing water and open ﬁre.
steadily shrinking. Safety regulations and the voracious appetite of massive electric power
But the steam engine needed fuel to do its
generators for coal have pushed American
magic. Fortunately, nature had given the
subsurface coal mining into terminal decline.
British Isles (and, as it turned out, the planet)
Most of the easy to extract oil is gone from
vast amounts of coal, which made possible the
North America, and the American energy
explosive use of Mr. Watt’s machines and their
giants have tried to rebuild their shrinking oil
many descendants, and the totally unprece-
reserves by moving to overseas sources. That
dented surge in wealth they produced. Oil
course has proven only partially successful
followed coal, which was followed by natural
at best. In more and more instances, the best
gas, and ﬁnding and using these fossil fuels
overseas sources have fallen under the control
became a worldwide source of prosperity.
of nationalized companies that manipulate
It is thanks to fossil fuels that, in the nine short
production to artiﬁcially control world oil prices
generations since 1765, the wealth of the
and see little, if any, reason to share the proﬁts
world has multiplied over 100 times.
with America’s oil corporations.
Al Appleton Senior Advisor The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design
So the world, led by private energy companies, has turned to what are called “unconventional” energy sources. These sources—shale gas, deep water drilling, tar sands, and mountaintop removal mining, are the subject of this exhibition. These energy sources have two common characteristics: they are diﬃcult to extract and, once the extraction process is complete, they leave behind devastated landscapes that will remain blasted and sterile for generations. For generations, urban civilization has In recent years, the dominant concern about
depended on fossil fuels and gloriﬁed in our
fossil fuel combustion has been carbon
successes in ﬁnding and using it. But we are
dioxide-generated global warming. But it has
approaching, if we have not already reached,
become increasingly evident that when
an historical crossroads where wealth created
considering the costs and beneﬁts of relying
by fossil fuel exploration no longer outweighs
on fossil fuels, not only must global climate
the costs it inﬂicts on our global civilization.
impacts be evaluated the degradation of regional landscapes, hydrology, habitat,
So now the question: Should we continue to
ecology, and maritime resources must be
create these landscapes of extraction? Is this
factored in as well.
the world and the atmosphere that we must have? Or is there an alternative? And if that were not question enough, let the viewer also ask: “What do these landscapes say about us, our values, and our future?”
MAP OF GLOBAL FRESHWATER HYDROLOGY World water resources are severely threatened by the extraction processes described herein.
Oﬀshore drilling dates from the late 19th century in the Caspian Sea oﬀ Baku. The practice spread into the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico and, in the ﬁrst half of the 20th
DEEP WATER DRILLING
century, became a common, worldwide practice wherever the water depth was shallow enough to feasibly access underlying oil formations. Today, one third of American oil production comes from oﬀshore wells in the Gulf of Mexico. Many other portions of the American coast are considered promising for oil production but, for both environmental and esthetic reasons, oﬀshore drilling is generally
MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING
prohibited elsewhere in the United States, except in Alaska.
Oﬀshore drilling technology is now undergoing a dramatic evolution, allowing the industry to place wells in water depths that, until recently, were inconceivable. Once, a well that went 1000 feet through water to the ocean ﬂoor was considered deep. Today, wells often operate in water depths of a mile or more. Oﬀshore HYDRO-FRACKING
drilling companies today build pipe casings the height of Mount Everest that must be strong enough to remain stable and leak-free in the face of tides, currents, storms, and the upwelling pressure of liberated oil and natural gas. Deep water drilling has made possible a whole new generation of oil ﬁelds, oﬀ the coast of Russia in the North Paciﬁc, far out to sea east of Brazil, oﬀ the coast of Ghana, as well
TAR SANDS EXTRACTION
as in the deep water portions of existing ﬁelds like those in the Gulf of Mexico.
When oil is released in the environment, it tends to stay in the environment. Oil is composed of many complex molecules and, until the industrial era, it has been a relatively uncommon substance on the earth’s surface. Consequently, few species of bacteria have evolved to biodegrade oil. Because such microbial action is limited, it can take many decades for nature to break oil down. Oil remnants from the Unlike other energy industry-impacted
1990 spills oﬀ the coast of Staten Island are
landscapes, where scars on the surface are
still present in signiﬁcant amounts in the local
a fundamental part of extraction activity,
beach subsurface sands and sediments.
oﬀshore drilling often proceeds without a
A year after the Deepwater Horizon spill, a
visible mark on the seascape. However, the
growing body of research suggests the disaster
marine environment is extremely vulnerable
deposited oil over large portions of the Gulf’s
Deepwater oﬀshore drilling is considered
to many of the industry’s day-to-day drilling
seaﬂoor. There is no realistic forecast as to
one of the future growth areas of the oil industry.
practices and is especially threatened should
how long it will remain.
Attempts are now underway to allow deepwater
an accident occur. The Deepwater Horizon
rigs in many previously restricted areas.
disaster in the summer of 2010 in the Gulf
Oﬀshore drilling indirectly alters the landscape
Particularly disturbing is the fact that the
of Mexico was a dramatic example of deep
as well. Onshore industrial support facilities,
Deepwater Horizon disaster seems to have had
water drilling’s environmental risks. Accidents
reﬁneries, pipelines, docks, and boatyards
no cautionary impact on the pending proposals
were generally less severe when the industry
are located on coastlines as near to the
to deepwater drill in the freezing waters of
was operating in only several hundred feet
oﬀshore drilling as possible, and they often
the Beaufort Sea north of Canada and Alaska.
of water. An accident 500 feet down is
occupy sensitive wetlands sites, require
Should a Deepwater Horizon scale drilling
manageable in a way an accident 5,000 feet
dredging and channelization, and create
accident occur in those waters, the ecological
down is not.
concentrated hotspots of dredge spoils and
damage would far exceed that in the Gulf of
oily water. Moreover, the damage they do to
Mexico. The recovery time for nature would
the fragile balance of wetland and ocean is
be measured in the hundreds if not thousands
often irreversible. It is thanks to such intense
industrial activities that the coastline of Louisiana is eroding faster than any other shoreline on earth, losing 30 to 50 square miles per year.
Location of petroleum bearing geology in North America
GULF OF MEXICO OIL RIG INSTALLATION DEPTHS
Floating drilling platform Ixtoc 1 well site (site of 1979 oil spill) Water depth: 160 feet
00 (ocean surface)
Tiber well Water depth: 4,132 feet 5000'
Macondo prospect (deepwater horizon drilling rig) Water depth: 5,00 feet Tubular risers for drilling and water injection
Mooring lines Perdido well Water depth: approximately 8,000 feet (Operating in deepest water) -2000 10000' Ixtoc 1 well Total well depth: 11,960 feet
DEPTH BELOW SEA LEVEL
Macondo prospect Total well depth: 18,000 feet Perido well Total well depth: 19,000 feet -5000
Deepwater Horizon Rig
-9000 Oil Rig 35000'
Tiber well Total well depth: 35,050 feet
HOUSTON SAN ANTONIO
Tiber Well Perdido Well
IXTOC 1 Well
HOUSTON NEW ORLEANS SAN ANTONIO
< Gulf of Mexico, showing primary drill sites
> Detail of Gulf Coast showing leased ďŹ elds, primary collection and distribution points and drill sites
NEW ORLEANS MISSISSIPPI RIVER
< Detail of the Mississippi River Delta showing pipelines and drill sites
> Aerial photograph of the Mississippi River Delta showing oďŹ€shore oil industry infrastructure
The Tiber well is nearly twice the depth of the BP Macondo well. Both wells were drilled by the 58,000-ton Transocean drilling rig Deepwater Horizon. INFORMATION ABOUT
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was the largest
DEEPWATER DRILLING AND PETROLEUM
oﬀshore oil spill in U.S. history. An estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil ﬂowed from the well between April 20th and July 15th 2010.
Crude oil is produced in 31 states and U.S.
The previous worst oﬀshore spill was in 1979,
coastal waters. In 2009, 50% of U.S. crude
when the Ixtoc I well in the bay of Campeche,
oil production came from ﬁve states:
Mexico spilled an estimated 3.5 million barrels
of oil, spoiling coastal waters as far oﬀ as
Padre Island, Texas 650 miles north.
California (11%) North Dakota (4%)
The deepest ﬂoating production platform in
the Gulf of Mexico, the Perdido spar, operates in water of an 8,000-foot depth.
About 1/3 of U.S. crude oil is produced from oﬀshore wells located in state and federally
The tallest ﬁxed production platform in the
administered waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Gulf of Mexico, the Petronius rig, stands 1,754 feet above water—taller than any skyscraper
Although total U.S. crude oil production has
in the world until the Burj Kahifa in Dubai was
generally decreased each year since it peaked
completed last year.
in 1970, it increased by 7% in 2009 from the previous year, in large part due to a 35%
The maximum depth of the Gulf of Mexico is
increase of production in federal waters of the
unknown. It is estimated to be in the range of
Gulf of Mexico.
12,303 to 14,370 feet.
The world’s deepest oﬀshore well, the Tiber well—yet to become operational—reaches nearly 6 miles below the gulf’s seaﬂoor at a depth of 35,050 feet. This is more than 6,000 feet taller than Mount Everest.
One third of U.S. oil production ﬂows from nearly 3,500 platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. According to the Minerals Management Service, oﬀshore operations in the Gulf produce 1/4 of the U.S. domestic natural gas
60,000 plastic bags are used in the U.S. every
and 1/8 of U.S. domestic oil.
ﬁve seconds. Other products made from petroleum include plastic, dishwashing liquid,
The actual damages to wildlife from the
detergent, ammonia, deodorant and crayons.
Deepwater Horizon accident may never fully
In the U.S. approximately 11.1 million barrels
2 million plastic bottles are used in the United
be known. As of October 2010, 2,263 birds
of oil are consumed for cars, trucks and buses
States every ﬁve minutes. The U.S. Conference
were collected dead. An estimated 225,000
per day. U.S. passenger vehicles consume
of Mayors calculates that it takes 1.5 million
birds died in the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
about 390 million gallons of gasoline per day
barrels of oil to make all of the plastic water
and contribute 20% of our global warming
bottles used in the U.S. in one year. Nationally,
According to BP, 1.8 million gallons of
pollution. The gasoline for these cars is almost
only 1 in 4 plastic bottles is recycled.
dispersant were used in the Gulf of Mexico
entirely reﬁned from petroleum, nearly 60%
during the Deepwater Horizon spill.
of which is imported.
The burning of petroleum accounts for 42% of all energy-related Carbon Dioxide emissions
The oil and gas industry in the U.S. Gulf of
Approximately 1.4 million barrels of oil are
Mexico region is an annual $62.7 billion dollar
consumed for air travel in the U.S. per day.
industry, employing an estimated 107,000
Jet fuel accounts for 10.5% of U.S.
Emissions from the burning of petroleum
people. Tourism in the same region is
products include Carbon Dioxide (CO2),
estimated to employ 524,000 people.
in the U.S.
Carbon Monoxide (CO), Methane (CH4), Sulfur When gasoline approached $4 a gallon in
Dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Oxides (NOX) and
In 2009, the U.S. imported about 52% of the
2008, consumption dropped by 900,000
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) as well as
crude oil and reﬁned petroleum products that
barrels a day.
particulate matter, lead and various air toxics
such as benzene, formaldehyde, acetaldehyde Approximately 6.5 million barrels of oil are
The United States consumes an estimated 19.64 million barrels of oil a day, about 27% of world oil consumption. That totals 824.88 million gallons a day worldwide, and over 2.6 gallons of oil per day by every man, woman and child in the U.S.
consumed for heating in the U.S. per day.
Flaring of excess gas captured and piped up to the Discoverer Enterprise drill ship from the leaking BP Macondo well. The heat is so intense that water must be constantly sprayed on the nozzle arm to protect it from melting. Gulf of Mexico
< Burn-oďŹ€ of oil collected from the BP Deepwater Horizon spill. Gulf of Mexico
> Oil slick from BP Gulf Macondo well blowout. Gulf of Mexico
DEEP WATER DRILLING
MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING
TAR SANDS EXTRACTION
The worst and most irrevocable damage is done in more hilly areas, like the Appalachian Coal Province that extends through Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. In these states, the strip mining industry has turned into the mountaintop mining industry, whose specialty is literally peeling away the tops of mountains to provide easier access to the coal seams. As for the mountain top, it becomes spoil (the nonmineral bearing debris of the operation) which Since the 1960s, strip mining has replaced
is dumped into the valley below in the
deep rock mining as the dominant form of coal
cheapest and most convenient way possible.
extraction in the United States. From a commercial point of view, strip mining has
As water ﬂows down from these truncated
many advantages. It presents fewer safety
mountaintops and seeps through unconsoli-
issues, is easier to start up and equip, uses less
dated valley deposits below, it leaches a
manpower, and generally costs less per ton
witch’s brew of pollutants from the exposed
of coal extracted.
rock and unharvested coal seams. The resultant stream acidiﬁcation and increased
But strip mining has profound environmental
water turbidity competes with shale gas
liabilities. Even in the most benign
fracking as the most serious challenge to the
circumstances, when the coal is close to the
Clean Water Act in the United States today.
surface and the land relatively ﬂat, strip mining
As for the landscape itself, mountaintop
rips apart the hydrogeology of the land,
mining creates a sterile environment. All forms
permanently disrupting surface stream ﬂows,
of life are severely disrupted and best estimates
underground aquifers, and water tables. Strip
suggest it will take hundreds of years before
mining tends to intermingle the precious
diverse natural systems will fully return to
topsoil layer with subsoil and mineral layers.
the strip mined mountain landscapes of
It obliterates local ecological communities that
took uncounted generations to establish. Land contours cannot be restored because of changes in soil and rock volumetrics. Erosional processes accelerate, and the leaching of exposed materials acidiﬁes streams.
Location of coal bearing geology in the United States
SURFACE MINING AREAS IN APPALACHIA BY DECADE Coal Seam 450,000 Coal Seam
350,000 ORIGINAL PROFILE OF FORESTED MOUNTAINTOP
Coal Seam Coal Seam
Mining Waste: Gradual Buildup of overburden in valley below Flooded Stream
MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL Forest and topsoil is stripped away, then top parts of mountain are blasted away to access coal seams.
YEAR Mountaintop Removal Mines (MTR)
Other Surface Mines
Forest and topsoil is stripped away. Blasting then occurs to access coal seams. Mining waste is dumped into valleys and streams. Runoﬀ-high in silt, iron and sulfur compounds pollutes the water.
UPPER AND BASELINE SEAM MINING Coal seams are gradually blasted and removed; excess rock and debris continue to be dumped into the valley below.
Flooded Stream Mining Operation Site
Mining Waste Valley Fill
ALTERED LANDSCAPE Baseline coal seams are completely mined and backﬁlled; area is left bare, leveled and ﬁlled with overburden.
REMEDIATION Remaining tiered edge of mining operation is ﬁlled. The entire site is covered with topsoil and seeded.
WASHINGTON, DC CINCINNATI CHARLESTON
< Appalachian region showing coal bearing geology and urban centers
> Mountaintop removal mining in the Appalachian Coal Provinceâ€“Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee. Red indicates areas of mountaintop removal
< Mountaintop removal activity in southern West Virginia. Black frame indicates are of image
> Kayford Mountain Mine, West Virginia
EPA reports that existing Appalachian surface mining operations have deforested an area the size of Delaware. The forested mountains of central and southern Appalachia being destroyed by MTR have some of the highest
MTR also impairs the natural carbon
biodiversity outside the tropics.
sequestration of Appalachian forests. Even after 15 years, many reclaimed areas show
Between 1992 and 2010, 2,000 miles of
little or no regrowth of woody vegetation
headwater streams were buried as a result
and minimal carbon storage.
of surface mining at a pace of 120 miles per year, according to EPA.
The Coal industry defends MTR by saying reclaimed mine sites provide ﬂat land for
INFORMATION ABOUT MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL AND COAL
A 2007 study showed that the burial of
development. In Kentucky, since 1999, however,
headwater streams by valley ﬁlls “causes
development was planned for less than
permanent loss of ecosystems that play critical
3% of the roughly half-million acres of land
roles in ecological processes such as nutrient
covered by surface-mining permits.
cycling and production of organic matter for Coal is the largest source of fossil fuel energy
downstream food webs.”
The federal government considers the creation of new streams on the mine site and
for electricity generation worldwide, making up MTR causes increased storm runoﬀ and more
enhancement of streams oﬀ site valid forms
frequent and intense downstream ﬂooding.
of MTR mitigation. Nevertheless, senior oﬃcials
Almost half of the electricity produced in the
The removal of vegetation, loss of topsoil,
of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have
United States comes from the burning of coal.
alterations in topography, and soil compaction
testiﬁed that they are not aware of any
46% of U.S. total electricity generation in 2008.
from use of heavy machinery at mines sites
successful stream creation projects in
16 pounds of coal is used each day by every
reduces inﬁltration capacity and promotes
conjunction with MTR.
man, woman and child in the U.S. 30%
overland ﬂow of water.
percent of that coal comes from the mountains
Even after mine-site reclamation (attempts
to return a site to pre-mined conditions), groundwater samples from residential water
Estimates for the percent of US coal produced
wells have higher levels of mine-derived
by MTR range from 5% to 10%. Between
chemical constituents than well water from
25% and 40% of Central Appalachia’s coal is
produced by MTR.
USFWS analyzed ﬁsh tissues collected
Since its peak in 2000, the labor productivity
downstream from mountaintop mining sites
of the Central Appalachian coal industry
and found selenium in all tissues. At several
has steadily declined, by 25% and 30%,
locations selenium in tissues exceeded 4 ppm,
respectively, for surface and underground
a concentration that can result in reproductive
mining. The decline is an indication that
failure and juvenile mortality in ﬁsh. Selenium
the region’s coal is becoming increasingly
in some tissues approached 7 ppm, a
more costly to mine.
concentration that results in reproductive failure for birds that consume the tissue.
In 2009, the USGS reported that “annual coal In Kentucky, the coal industry cost the
production from the Appalachian Basin
Some states have issued advisories about
state nearly $115 million during the 2006
will enter into a period of irreversible decline
excessive human consumption of selenium
ﬁscal year, taking into account all revenues
during the next several decades.”
in ﬁsh from MTR aﬀected waters.
and expenditures. Coal’s share of total electricity generation
A 2009 study found county-level coal
While the Appalachian coal industry is
in the US declined by 2% between 2003 and
production is correlated with increased adult
estimated to provide $8.1 billion in total
2008, even though there was a slight increase
hospitalizations for chronic pulmonary
annual regional economic gains, excess
in total coal production.
disorders and hypertension, as well as
economic costs relative to beneﬁts of
increased rates of mortality, lung cancer,
mining are estimated to be between $8.25
The Appalachian Regional Commission found
and chronic heart, lung, and kidney disease.
billion and $18.17 billion .
that the four states lying within the Central
A 2009 report estimated that coal mining
Although the common perception is that
of 52,000 new jobs in the renewable energy
is costing Appalachia ﬁve times more in
mining contributes to overall employment, the
manufacturing sectors for wind, solar,
premature deaths, $42 billion, than it provides
numbers put that claim into question. Areas
and biomass (26,000 in Tennessee alone).
the region in all jobs, taxes and other economic
with especially heavy mining actually have the
beneﬁts, which total just $8 billion.
highest unemployment rates in Appalachia.
Appalachian region could generate a total
West Virginia has been estimated to have nearly 4,000 megawatts of utility-scale wind
Taking into account all revenues and
Overall, between 1990 and 2003, direct
potential.The National Renewable Energy
expenditures, the coal industry cost the state
coal mining employment fell by 23,500 miners,
Laboratory (NREL) estimated that the
of West Virginia $97.5 million during the
or 50%, while total coal production fell by
development of just half of that wind potential
2009 ﬁscal year. That means the state is
could result in 6,000 new local jobs during
propping up the coal industry—not the other
construction, 1,000 to 5,000 manufacturing
jobs, and 800 jobs in the operation and maintenance of the wind farms.
< Mountaintop removal mining site. Coal seams are visible along the edges of the site. Around Kayford Mountain, West Virginia
> Panorama of mountaintop removal mining site. Around Kayford Mountain, West Virginia
Overburden from blasting being removed by various machines. A small bulldozer pushes loose material down to a loader, which scoops it up into an earthmover. Kayford Mountain, West Virginia
< Hydro-seeding on covered mining site. The forested mountains, valleys and streams that once stood here are now buried beneath the seeded overburden. Around Kayford Mountain, West Virginia
> Coal conveyors at a mining site. They will transport the material to a nearby processing facility. Around Kayford Mountain, West Virginia
Shale is stone that is formed by the DEEP WATER DRILLING
compression of ancient ocean mud. It has long been known that shale contains large quantities of natural gas. When the single celled, carbon-rich ocean life of hundreds of million of years ago died, it sank to the seaﬂoor and settled into the primordial mud that became today’s shale. Over the hundreds of millions of years since, tectonic pressure transformed these decaying life forms into
MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING
natural gas. No one knows how much natural gas is trapped in the world’s shale formations, but none doubt that it is immense.
Six years ago, spurred by the decline of traditional natural gas sources, the natural gas industry found ways to free the natural gas bound into these shale formations. The process is called hydraulic fracturing (or hydro-fracking). Deep vertical wells are drilled thousands
of feet into the earth to reach the shale formations. Then the drilling bit is reoriented horizontally and a radiating set of horizontal pipes are drilled out laterally through the shale, running as far as two miles. A sandsaturated combination of water and chemicals is shot through the pipes and into the shale formation at high pressure. The sand smashing into the shale creates minute fractures, freeing
TAR SANDS EXTRACTION
the gas to ﬂow through the pipes and up to the surface for collection.
What makes fracking such a serious potential pollution source starts with the use of sand. The sand must stay in solution to exert the
Shale gas fracking, if it continues to grow,
necessary pressure to crack the shale. But
will produce the most extensive damage
if you just add sand to water, all it does is sink.
of all the landscapes of extraction. Shale gas
So chemicals with the same speciﬁc gravity
fracking is spreading into 34 states, four
as sand are added to the sand and water mix
The potential water resource damage of shale
Canadian provinces, Europe and Australia.
to keep the sand in solution and buoyant.
fracking represents a huge environmental
Shale gas advocates regard its impacts on
Virtually all of those chemicals have toxicity
cost. Many in the water science community
rural landscapes as a small price to pay for the
levels of a few parts per million or, in some
regard this process as the most serious threat
next energy boom. Rural, environmental, and
cases, parts per billion. But at a solution level
to water quality in North America today.
Green energy advocates regard the current process of shale gas extraction as both an
of only 0.5% added chemicals; fracking ﬂuids are often 1,000 times more toxic than the
Shale fracking is also a voracious transformer
environmental and energy disaster. The
thresholds for human harm. Nor are the
of rural land, both directly and in the industrial
outcome of the bitter debate promises to be
absolute amounts of chemical additives
pall it throws over adjacent landscapes.
the single most important factor shaping the
insigniﬁcant. A typical fracking event, where
If projections of shale fracking in the largely
future of America’s rural landscapes.
10 million gallons of frack ﬂuid are shot
undeveloped Upper Delaware River Basin
into the shale, contains up to 100,000 gallons
of New York and Pennsylvania prove accurate,
of toxic chemicals.
at least one quarter of a million acres of watershed forest will be replaced with a maze of
These toxic chemicals have ﬁve pathways
drilling pads, derricks and support buildings,
to water contamination. They can move
pipelines, access roads, and the unending
through fractures in the shale into ground
noise of drilling machinery, supply vehicles,
water and aquifers; they can seep into shallow
pumps, and compressors.
underground water aquifers through breaks in the drilling pipes; they can spray over the
To these environmental costs must be
surface of the land in uncontrolled eruptions
added the economic and social costs that
at the well head; they can ﬂow into streams
shale gas fracking will impose on the public.
after accidental spills in storage or
Poor water quality will negatively aﬀect
transportation; and drillers can discharge
public health and health costs. Municipal
used ﬂuids into streams because they have
budgets for water treatment will climb
no other easy or inexpensive way to dispose
skyward and the industrialized countryside
will be rendered unsuitable for future agricultural activity, tourism, and second home real estate opportunities.
Location of gas shale geology in the United States
HORIZONTAL DRILLING TECHNOLOGY ALLOWS FOR MULTIPLE WELLS TO BE DRILLED FROM A SINGLE WELL PAD
Depth of a conventional man-powered drill well, 200-500 FT 1000' FRESH WATER AQUIFER Deepest steam-powered cable tool drilled well, 11,145 FT 2000'
3000' FRESH WATER AQUIFER IN COAL BED 4000'
Lateral boreholes extend up to 10,000 FT 5000' About 500 FT above the shale layer, a curve is drilled and the wellbore is extended laterally
7000' SHALE 8000'
SALINE AQUIFER 9000'
Above depthof the Marcellus shale, which averages 100 FT thick in North-Central Pennsylvania
< Known shale gas plays in the Rocky Mountains region
> Hydro-fracking well pattern and major rivers in Colorado
< Hydro-fracking wells north of Denver, Colorado, showing vertical and horizontal drill patterns. White frame indicates area of image
> Well points along the Platte River, north of Denver, Colorado
< Hydro-fracking wells in GarďŹ eld County, Colorado, showing vertical and horizontal drill patterns. White frame indicates area of image
> Well points along the Colorado River in GarďŹ eld County, Colorado
< Hydro-fracking well sites in Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania
> Hydro-fracking well sites, Eunice, New Mexico
Hydro-fracking well sites, Gaines, Texas
Hydraulic fracturing (hydro-fracking) is credited as being ﬁrst employed commercially by Halliburton in 1949.
Fracking was used between 1949 and 2002 to complete (mostly) vertical wells in shallow gas and oil formations. These operations were
HVHF enables extraction companies to drill
relatively modest and required only 75,000
down, then out through the rock horizontally,
gallons of water in both the drilling and
to a distance of approximately 10,000 feet.
fracturing stages combined.
The fresh water needed to drill and fracture such a horizontal leg is a minimum of
What is referred to as High Volume, slick-
10 million gallons. A pressure of up to 15,000
water, multi-stage, Hydraulic Fracturing and
psi may be employed during these multi-stage
horizontal drilling (HVHF) was introduced in
2002, and is the current gas and oil extraction process. After the industry was granted
According to the Ground Water Protection
exemptions from all relevant federal
Council, (a gas industry lobby group), Water
environmental laws in July 2005 (commonly
and sand comprise over 98% of fracture
referred to as the Halliburton loophole) this
ﬂuid; the remainder consists of various
process became standard practice.
chemical additives that improve eﬀectiveness. Translated, a 10,000-foot multi-stage fracture would require up to 200,000 gallons of chemicals added to the 10 million gallons of water and proppant.
INFORMATION ABOUT HYDRO-FRACKING AND NATURAL GAS
Industry publications often identify proppant as simple sand. Halliburton’s website describes this ingredient as “the same as used in a child’s sand castle.” In fact, this sand may have a thermoplastic coating; a material selected from among an ethylene vinyl acetate, a phenol-formaldehyde novolac resin, coumarone-indene resin, and many others or combinations thereof.
Well pads are approximately 5 acres in size. This area does not include access roads, pipelines, compressor stations and other The Pennsylvania DEP lists 54 individual
fracking infrastructure needs. In New York
chemicals known to be used in the hydro-
State, an average of up to 10 wells are drilled
fracking process. 15 of these chemicals have
per well pad, with a pad typically occurring
health impacts associated with 10 or more
every 1 or 2 square miles.
Health Eﬀect Categories. A single HVHF event, using 10 million gallons The New York State Draft Supplemental
of fracturing ﬂuid, requires approximately
Environmental Impact Statement on hydro-
3,000 large truck trips to and from the well pad.
fracking lists the use of 5 times as many chemicals as Pennsylvania. The Endocrine
A drilling rig burns an average of 800 gallons
Disruption Exchange (directed by Dr. Theo
of diesel fuel per day. When the well is being
Colborn, who lectured at The Cooper Union
drilled, it operates 24 hours per day, 7 days
Approximately 4,900 square miles of the
in 2010) lists 900 known chemicals used
a week, 365 days a year.
Delaware River Basin sit atop the Marcellus
Shale. The Utica Shale, the Oriskany Wells take approximately 6 weeks to complete.
Sandstone and other formations also underlie
The gas and oil industry—not required to
A pad with 10 wells would therefore operate
large portions of the Basin, which includes
disclose the chemicals used in the fracking
for approximately 60 weeks in a continuous
a large part of the watersheds that supply
process—argues that those formulas are
fashion, depending upon the drilling schedule.
New York City.
that is the product of extensive research
If developed according to plan, approximately
An independent study commissioned by the
27,000 HVHF wells may be drilled into the
New York City DEP and conducted by the
Marcellus shale deposits of the Delaware
engineering ﬁrm of Hazen and Sawyer
concluded that there would be signiﬁcant risks
industrial secrets; proprietary information
to the water supply if hydro-fracking were allowed to proceed in the city’s watersheds.
The natural gas industry states that there has never been a documented case of drinking water contamination in the U.S. directly connected to the process of hydraulic fracturing, over a six decade long period.
Colorado records cite some 1,500 cases from 2003 to 2008 alone in which drilling companies reported hazardous spills, with
The U.S. natural gas mainline transmission
300 instances leading to what state oﬃcials
system is made up of about 1.5 million miles
determined was a measurable impact on
of distribution pipelines.
the water supply. The U.S. natural gas transportation network The Oil and Gas Conservation Division of New
New York’s DEC analyzed 13 samples of
delivered more than 23 trillion cubic feet
Mexico has documented some 800 cases in
recovered ﬂow-back waste ﬂuid and found that
of natural gas during 2008 to about 70
which water has been contaminated by oil and
they contain levels of radium-226, a derivative
gas operations, 1/2 of them from waste pits
of uranium, as high as 267 times the limit
that had leaked chemicals into the ground.
safe for discharge into the environment, and
In 2007, nearly 51% of all households used
thousands of times the limit safe for people
natural gas as their primary heating fuel,
accounting for about 22% of total consumption,
well drilled with a horizontal leg that is 5,000
The U.S. EPA has just begun the ﬁrst
generation, 29% industrial and 14% for
feet in length and uses 5,000,000 gallons
comprehensive study of the cumulative and
of fracking ﬂuids is like comparing $75,000
individual impacts of HVHF wells. The expected
to a sum of $5,000,000.
completion date is sometime in 2012.
Of the millions of gallons of fresh water,
Energy from natural gas accounts for 24%
chemicals and proppant that are injected into
of the total U.S. energy consumption, compared
the ground, an average of approximately 20%
to 39% from petroleum products, 23% from
is recovered as toxic ﬂow-back waste. The
coal, 8% nuclear and only 6% renewable.
Comparing a vertical well drilled and fractured using 75,000 gallons of fresh water to a HVHF
other 80% remains underground, to migrate in ways not understood.
compared to 30% for electric power
< Hydro-Fracking drill sites, feeder pipelines, access roads and gravel banks for road building, all causing habitat fragmentation. Dimock, Pennsylvania
> Hydro-Fracking drill rig and staging area. Dimock, Pennsylvania
< Hydro-Fracking operations after initial drilling. Sopertown, Pennsylvania
> Overspray of drilling slurry at Hydro-Fracking drill site. This by-product from mining operations includes rock debris, drill bit lubricants and possibly residual radioactive material. The overspray at the top of the image is a violation and a danger to any nearby bodies of water. Dimock, Pennsylvania
DEEP WATER DRILLING
MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING
The Athabasca Tar Sands lie under 54,000 square miles of Northern Alberta, at the southern end of Canada’s boreal forest. They contain an estimated 1.7 trillion barrels of oil, one of the world’s largest hydrocarbon reserves. These deposits are a gluey mixture HYDRO-FRACKING
of glacial sand and muck saturated with tar-like bitumen.
In order to extract usable oil from tar sands, the soil and vegetation layers must be peeled away in a process similar to strip mining. Then the sands are excavated and washed with huge quantities of steam to strip away the hydrocarbons. The separated oil is then
TAR SANDS EXTRACTION
puriﬁed, collected, and sent by pipeline to American reﬁneries and markets.
Surface mining of the Athabasca deposit destroys the landscape and eradicates natural habitats. It also produces spoil ponds, which hold the liquid pollutants from steam washing and other extraction processes. Legally, the oil industry is obliged to restore the landscape, but many experts assert that restoration is a practical impossibility. Even more problematic, should the ponds breach and wash into the Athabasca River, environmental damage would occur for 1,000 miles or more downstream and likely persist for generations.
Producing a barrel of oil from Athabasca creates three times more greenhouse gas than producing an ordinary barrel of oil. Nonetheless, the Athabasca Tar Sands are about to become Americaâ€™s largest source of imported oil. The United States government,
The impact of tar sands oils on the global
in permitting the requisite pipelines, has
environment goes beyond the atmospheric
become an active partner in the development
emissions and the regional damage to northern
of tar sands oils, serving the ambitions of
Alberta and the Athabasca watershed.
Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper
Canadaâ€™s unspoiled boreal forests are the
and his oil industry allies who long to see
greatest in the world and a priceless reservoir
Canada become, despite that countryâ€™s stated
of sequestered carbon. But today, the map
concerns about global warming, the OPEC
of the Canadian boreal forest and its principal
of the North.
rivers is now dotted with proposed oil, shale gas, and mega-dam developments. If the development of tar sands oil proceeds on its present course, it will be the catalyst for the transformation of the Canadian north from a carbon sink to a carbon source.
Location of tar sands geology in Alberta, Canada
OPEN PIT MINING
IN-SITU STEAM-ASSISTED GRAVITY DRAINAGE (SAGD) EXTRACTION Producer Well
Bitumen (Tar Sand) formation 1000
2000 Lateral boreholes extend up to 3,300 FT
Aerial photograph of the Athabasca River and land 40 miles north
The Athabasca River surrounded by an oil reďŹ nery, industrial tailing
of the tar sands operations at Fort McMurray
ponds and the oil sands extraction footprint
< Canadian tar sands deposits and supporting pipeline and transportation infrastructure. Existing tar sands pipeline and associated reďŹ neries in red, future and proposed pipelines in orange
> Alberta bituminous sand deposits. Total leasable area in yellow and extraction footprint in red as of 2006
ATHABASCA TAR SANDS PEACE RIVER TAR SANDS
COLD LAKE TAR SANDS
< Alberta tar sands leasable area. Existing extraction footprint > Athabasca existing open pit mines near Fort McMurray. in red, proposed and approved expansion in orange and
2006 approved expansion in orange and leasing
existing leased area in yellow as of 2006
divisions in yellow
The Athabasca tar sands lie beneath more than 54,000 square miles of the northern Alberta forest. These tar sands are the secondlargest oil deposit next to Saudi Arabia.
The entire tar sands region (Peace River, Athabasca, Cold Lake) is approximately the
Tar sands operations use approximately
size of New York State, covering 54,132
46.5 billion gallons of water per year—
about 1/3 of the City of Toronto’s annual consumption in 2008.
In 2003, 160 square miles were developed for tar sands extraction. By the summer of 2006,
Tar sands extraction requires 2.5 to 4 times
that number grew to 772 square miles. Current
the amount of water required for conventional
plans are in place to develop an additional
crude oil extraction.
1,312 square miles - an area equal to the size of Florida.
Approximately 80% of the Alberta tar sands and nearly all of Venezuelan sands are too
On average, it takes 2 tons of mined tar sands
far below the surface to be open-pit mined.
material and 4 barrels of water to produce
In cases such as these, in-situ technology has
1 barrel of synthetic crude oil.
been developed to extract the oil. These processes use steam and chemical combinations to liquefy the bitumen, allowing it to be drawn to the surface via wells, while leaving the sand in place.
Tar sands oil contains 11 times more sulfur and nickel, 6 times more nitrogen and 5 times more lead than conventional oil. These toxins INFORMATION ABOUT TAR SANDS EXTRACTION
are released into the air and water during the reﬁnement process.
The U.S. is overwhelmingly the dominant market for tar sands oil. Canada exports approximately 96% to the U.S. for reﬁning
Industry waste run-oﬀ has been known to
pollute the Athabasca River, depositing bitumen, heavy metals such as arsenic, thallium,
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from tar
The proposed Keystone XL extension would
mercury and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons
sands operations are 3 to 5 times those
transport tar sands crude from Alberta Canada
(PAHs) at levels up to 30 times greater than
of conventional crude oil. Tar sands CO2
to the U.S. Gulf coast through over 4,000 miles
permitted by pollution guidelines.
emissions are the largest contributor to GHG
of pipeline. 1,980 miles of new pipeline are
emissions growth in Canada.
slated to be laid through Montana, Nebraska,
A 2009 study found that the tar sands industry
Oklahoma and Texas by 2013.
emits thousands of tons of bitumen particulates and PAHs into the atmosphere within a 40-
TransCanada, which operates over 36,000 miles of pipelines across North America and
Approval of the $12 billion Keystone XL
mile radius of tar sands up-graders, equivalent
serves as a supplier to oil companies including
pipeline would more than double the U.S.
to an annual 5,000 barrel oil spill on the
BP and ExxonMobil, is attempting to gain
supply of tar sands crude, in eﬀect binding the
U.S. presidential approval for the extension
U.S. and Canada to the tar sands industry. Fishermen now regularly catch deformed ﬁsh
of their Keystone XL pipeline. The U.S. State Department recently granted
from lake Athabasca, the river and the delta.
a permit to construct a tar sands pipeline into
These ﬁsh have stomach abnormalities,
the Midwestern United States in order to
snubbed faces, shortened tails and lesions.
satisfy the local appeal of 3,000 temporary jobs in Minnesota.
Ottawa and the Alberta government, which are dependent on tar sands taxes and
Tar sands tailing ponds cover approximately
royalties, claim that the pollution in the
120 square miles along the Athabasca
Athabasca River is naturally occurring—
River, holding over 222 billion gallons of tar
a claim based on proprietary data collected
by an industry-funded group.
Two University of Waterloo scientists, who study tailings pollution and groundwater, proved seepage of tar sands water is occurring from Suncor’s Tar Island dike into the Athabasca River at a rate of 17.6 gallons per second.
< Extracted tar sands material being
> Sulphur stacks at a tar sands upgrader. Sulphur is a
pushed into a pit by the bulldozers above
by-product of the tar sands upgrading process, and though
is shoveled into waiting mining trucks.
it has many industrial uses (most signiďŹ cantly fertilizer
Fort McMurray. Alberta, Canada
production), the current market price is quite low. It is being stored for future sale. Fort McMurray. Alberta Canada.
Tar sands tailings pond. When the bitumen-saturated sand is mixed with hot water and toxic chemicals to separate the bitumen from the sand and other matter, vast quantities of â€œtailingsâ€? remain. Fort McMurray. Alberta Canada.
And it is not just the burning of fuels that are contributing to this carbon shift. Deforestation and the conversion of natural habitats to
FOSSIL FUELS: AT WHAT COST?
croplands have pulled vast amounts of carbon out of soils. What increased surface carbon will mean for photosynthesis and the earth's plants, fungi, and microbial life is hard to assess. But there can be little doubt that, if humans continue to return carbon to the earth's surface, they will alter the conditions that shaped current life. It took millions of years, from the Pre-Cambrian geological era to the end of the Carboniferous era to move all the carbon now locked in fossil fuel from
The public side of the debate about fossil
the earth's surface to underground. The three
fuels has, for the most part, focused on global
hundred years or so since humans started
warming. It has failed to address what may
bringing fossil carbon back up to the surface to
well be the ultimate impact of our carbon
burn it are, by comparison, an instant in time.
consumption: the transformation of the geochemical composition of the earth's surface.
As the ďŹ rst decade of the 21st century ends,
For hundreds of millions of years, since the age
the global community ďŹ nds itself facing an
of the dinosaurs, a major portion of the total
unwelcome question: should humanity
carbon of earth has quietly slumbered below
continue to rely on burning fossil carbon
the surface in the form of coal, oil, and natural
to produce the energy our economy demands,
gas, and life has evolved in a relatively stable
or has the time come to recognize that what
worked in the past will not work in the future? Has the time come to move beyond this
Humans have begun to change that carbon-
extraordinary natural resource that has given
stable environment. The amount of carbon
humanity 250 years of unprecedented wealth
dioxide in the atmosphere has increased
creation but whose rapidly growing external
by 40% since 1800. The oceans have taken
costs now make it increasingly problematic?
up so much additional carbon that they have become measurably more acidic. Overall global surface carbon levels are now the highest they have been in four million years.
This leaves two possible futures. The ﬁrst is social and public leadership that recognizes the message of these landscapes: that it is time for a world organized around fossil fuel combustion to adopt green energy as the transformative driver of the prosperity of the future. The second is to continue on the current path, driven by those who reap the Is there an alternative? Green energy, energy
multi-trillion dollar beneﬁts of the current fossil
The landscapes of extraction in this exhibit are
that replaces fossil carbon combustion with
fuel economy until, at some point, a downward
the products of humanity’s determination
solar and wind power, geothermal and tidal
trending beneﬁts curve and an upward
to expand the use of fossil fuel, whatever the
power, energy conservation and nuclear and
trending cost curve cross, and economic
technical diﬃculties or ecological costs.
hydropower, is the standard answer. But many
reality forces a reckoning.
Trillions of dollars are being spent to create the new fossil fuel energy industries that are
argue that green power is too intermittent (the sun doesn't always shine, the wind doesn't
Nothing in history suggests that waiting for such
increasingly risky and increasingly destructive.
always blow), too expensive (an argument that
a reckoning will necessarily be constructive.
But if humanity is going to spend trillions on
turns on how you count the costs of burning
In the 1850s, as Cooper Union was being
these new energy strategies, should it not be
fossil fuels, as this exhibition suggests), that
founded, it had become apparent to forward
asked whether these are the new energy
green energy needs a completely new power
looking men of good will, both north and south,
industries we actually want? Why are we
transmission infrastructure, and such a
that slavery was doomed. But the clearer that
choosing energy strategies that look to the past,
signiﬁcant transformation will take decades
became, the more passionately the South
instead of the future?
to accomplish (a position incongruent with the
defended slavery, until ﬁnally southern leaders
usual trumpeting of innovation as the driving
chose civil war and the resulting 100 years of
force of the capitalist economy). In eﬀect,
southern impoverishment that followed, rather
supporters of the energy status quo say there
than accept that the time had come for
is no current alternative to the fossil fuel
privilege-disrupting change. Likewise, as the
energy world we know, nor to the landscapes
reality of climate change and environmental
of extraction that are increasingly becoming
degradation has become scientiﬁc fact, the
its signature characteristic.
denial of global warming and the denigration of green energy have become ever more virulent, exhibiting the same self-destructive obedience to the privileges and proﬁts of the status quo.
Aluminum reďŹ ning is the largest industrial user of electricity worldwide, consuming about 15,700 kilowatt hours of electricity per metric ton of aluminum. Since about 70% of electricity production in the USA is produced by burning fossil fuels, production of this metal is inextricably tied to carbon energy. This image shows the bauxite waste from a primary aluminum manufacturer, which is a toxic waste disposal problem due to the contaminants therein.
J HENRY FAIR
J Henry Fair photographs the impacts the consumer society has on the support systems that sustain life on the planet. These images
For additional information, or to be put
of toxic waste—beautiful, compelling,
on our mailing list, please contact:
The Cooper Union for the Advancement of
and ultimately terrifying—stimulate the viewer
Science and Art is a distinguished private
to question their nature, and ultimately create
college of art, architecture and engineering
a dissonance that prompts an examination
founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, an inventor,
of the daily decisions that impact the
industrialist and philanthropist. Since its
infrastructure known as “the environment.”
founding, all admitted students have received
Along with the pictures is an encyclopedia
of information which illustrates the location
THE INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
of the site, processes seen in the images, The Institute for Sustainable Design at
products being made, and the alternative
The Cooper Union was created in 2008, with
products and possibilities available to
support from Jack Rudin, as a resource for
the concerned citizen.
education, research and public understanding of the principles and methods of sustainability
Mr Fair’s ﬁrst book, The Day After Tomorrow:
in all design disciplines. Central to the mission
Images Of Our Earth In Crisis, was released
of the Institute is the development of
by powerHouse Books, February 1, 2011.
innovative pedagogies in architecture, art and engineering that will be models for the
Mr. Fair’s work is represented in New York
transformation of learning and practice for
by Gerald Peters Gallery:
a sustainable future.
Lily Downing Burke Gerald Peters Gallery
24 E 78th Street
New York, NY 10075
The Cooper Union
Institute for Sustainable Design
Professor, The Irwin S. Chanin
School of Architecture www.cooper.edu www.cooper.edu/isd
NATURAL RESOURCES USDA NATURAL RESOURCES SOURCES
CONSERVATION http://www.nrcs.usda.gov NATURAL RESOURCES DEFENSE COUNCIL http://www.nrdc.org
MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MOUNTAIN JUSTICE
CHEMICALS / HEALTH / POLLUTION
EPA TOXICS RELEASE INVENTORY (TRI)
COAL RIVER WIND
SLUDGE SAFETY PROJECT
U.S. ENERGY INFORMATION
ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP
INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY
INDUSTRY FACT CHECK
U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY
NATIONAL ENERGY TECHNOLOGY
OIL SANDS TRUTH
DIRY OIL SANDS
NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
For more information including the exhibition
NORTHEAST ENERGY EFFICIENCY COUNCIL
bibliography and sources, please visit
www.landscapesofextraction.com www.cooper.edu/news-events/events/ landscapes-of-extraction
A screening of the ﬁlm followed by a Q&A
Events in conjunction with LANDSCAPES OF EXTRACTION Presented by
with the Director, Josh Fox.
A FILM BY JOSH FOX “The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom
The Cooper Union
in history has swept across the United States.
Institute for Sustainable Design held in Great Hall
The Halliburton-developed drilling technology
SCREENING WITH THE DIRECTOR ABOUT THE FILM
at The Cooper Union
‘The largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburtondeveloped drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called “Gasland.” Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown.”
THURSDAY 3 FEBRUARY 6:30 PM THE GREAT HALL 7 EAST 7TH STREET, NYC FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR Filmmaker Josh Fox wrote and directed the documentary feature film Gasland in 2010. Josh’s work is known for its mix of gripping narrative, heightened imagery and its commitment to socially conscious themes and subjects. Fox’s personal documentary takes a look at how gas drilling affects our air and drinking water. Josh Fox’s, “GasLand” is to the dangers of gas drilling what “Silent Spring” was to DDT. Gasland is a rare example of cinema art that is also an organizing tool, the pic has a level of research, gutsiness and energy gets sensational response everywhere it plays.
of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When ﬁlmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination.
Recently, Josh Fox was awarded the LennonOno Grant for Peace which was created to honour John Lennon’s dedication to peace and commitment to the preservation of human rights.
THE COOPER UNION INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
Gasland is nominated for the prestigious 83rd Academy Award for documentary feature. In 2010, the documentary ﬁlm was awarded the Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize, and recently, Josh Fox received the LennonOno Grant for Peace.
THE LAST MOUNTAIN
A screening and panel discussion examining America’s struggle to balance its energy needs with environmental concerns.
Written, directed and produced by Bill Haney,
LAST MOUNTAIN THE
A FILM BY BILL HANEY
Panelists include: Bill Haney: Award-winning ﬁlmmaker and writer, director and producer of The Last Mountain Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D.: Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council
an award-winning documentary ﬁlmmaker, The Last Mountain depicts a passionate and
J. Henry Fair: Photographer, principal artist
personal tale that highlights the extraordinary
“Landscapes of Extraction,” and author
power of ordinary Americans when they ﬁght
of The Day After Tomorrow: Images of Our
for what they believe in. In the valleys of
Earth in Crisis Moderator Liz Judge: Campaign manager
Appalachia, a battle is being fought over a Photo © J Henry Fair
SCREENING AND PANEL DISCUSSION
mountain, where the mining giants are pitted against local families who are ﬁghting to preserve their mountain, their heritage and their futures. The documentary, which was featured at the Sundance Film Festival 2011.
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2011 | 6:30PM THE GREAT HALL | 7 EAST 7TH STREET | NYC FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
PANELISTS Bill Haney Allen Hershkowitz, Ph.D J Henry Fair Moderator Liz Judge
The fight for the last great mountain in America’s heartland pits a mining giant that wants to explode it for its coal against local families fighting to preserve their mountain, their heritage and their futures. The mining and burning of coal is at the epicenter of America's struggle to balance its energy needs and environmental concerns, so the daring solution proposed by this small Appalachian community takes on national significance when Bobby Kennedy, Jr. joins the Appalachian families to fight the extraordinary and insidious power of Big Coal.
A passionate and personal tale that highlights the extraordinary power of ordinary Americans when they fight for what they believe in, The Last Mountain showcases a battle for the future of energy that affects us all.
THE COOPER UNION INSTITUTE FOR SUSTAINABLE DESIGN
for Earthjustice’s work to stop mountaintop removal mining. Earthjustice is a non-proﬁt public interest law ﬁrm dedicated to protecting natural resources and defending the right of all people to a healthy environment.
TAR SANDS DATA SOURCES
Curated by Steven Hillyer and Sunnie Joh,
1. U.S. Reﬁneries, Pipelines Datasets by
with J Henry Fair
Petr Cizek CIZEK ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
J Henry Fair
January 2011. DEM ESRI Data & Maps 9.3 [CD-ROM]. (2008) Redlands, CA:
The Cooper Union Institute
for Sustainable Design CUISD
Environmental Systems Research Institute. 2. Tar Sands Leases 2006, Tar Sands Physical
Footprint 2009 by Petr Cizek CIZEK
Zulaikha Ayub, ARCH’13
ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES 604-486-7005
firstname.lastname@example.org, January 2011.
Professor Benjamin Davis,
GTOPO30 Shaded Relief ESRI Data & Maps
The Cooper Union Chemical Engineering
9.3 [CD-ROM]. (2008) Redlands, CA:
Paul Deppe, ARCH’97
Environmental Systems Research Institute.
The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture
Bill Haney, and the Production team
3. Tar Sands Leases 2006, Tar Sands Physical
Anthony Vidler, Dean
of The Last Mountain
Footprint 2009 by Petr Cizek CIZEK
Elizabeth O’Donnell, ARCH’83,
Miriam Jones, PhD.
ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES 604-486-7005
Joe Levine, NY H20/Damascus Citizens
email@example.com, January 2011.
Monica Shapiro, Administrative Assistant
Raye Levine, ARCH’09
GTOPO30 Shaded Relief ESRI Data & Maps
Pat De Angelis, Secretary
9.3 [CD-ROM]. (2008) Redlands, CA:
Kevin Bone, Director Al Appleton, Senior Advisor Sunnie Joh, ARCH’04, Associate Laura Saether, ARCH’10, Associate Arnold Wu, ARCH’09, Advisor
Emmy Mikelson, Assistant to the Deans for Public Programs and Research
Environmental Systems Research Institute. EXHIBITION INSTALLATION/ FRAME CONSTRUCTION
The Irwin S. Chanin
Abram Kempthorne, Kempthorne Built
School of Architecture Archive
Pamela Cabrera, ARCH’12
Steven Hillyer, ARCH’90, Director
Jeremy Jacinth, ARCH’13
Sara Jones, Special Projects Assistant
Teddy Kofman, ARCH’13 Jennifer Lee, ARCH’13 Harry Murzyn, ARCH’13 Shiori Sasaki, ARCH’13 Chris Alvarez Anna Flournoy Heather Flournoy Guy Hodges, Beeswax Apiarist Red Leary, Sawyer Curtis John Mitchell
4. Tar Sands Leases 2006, Tar Sands Physical Footprint 2009 Petr Cizek CIZEK ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES 604-486-7005 firstname.lastname@example.org, January 2011. Redlands, CA: Environmental Systems Research Institute, 2011 Bing Maps Microsoft Corporation and its data suppliers
The Institute for Sustainable Design and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture would like to thank the following for contributing to this exhibition: J Henry Fair would like
Petr Cizek, Cizek Environmental Services, for providing digitized geospatial cartographic data on Alberta Tar Sands Extraction
This catalog was designed by Inessa Shkolnikov for
to thank the organizations that have supported his work:
The Center of Design and Typography Academy for Young Writers High School Senior Internship Program Alex Cuﬀ, Supervisor Christina Lange, Intern Jolene Travis, Assistant Director
Printed by Brodock Press Second Edition October 2011
Published by The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art
of Public Aﬀairs, Media Relations
Photographs © J Henry Fair
Maps and Diagrams © The Cooper Union
J Henry Fair Photography
Institute for Sustainable Design
The Paper used in this catalog is Mohawk silk coated loop, which is made from 50% post consumer ﬁber Funding generously provided by Natural Resources Defense Council
Presented by The Cooper Union Institute for Sustainable Design and The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture