Environmental Must-Reads – March 3, 2014

Major Oil City Takes Groundbreaking Step Against Fracking in City Limits

LA Councilmember: ‘Until chemicals are disclosed and problems are honestly reported, until we’re safe from earthquakes, until our atmosphere is safe from methane leaks, we need a fracking moratorium.’

Los Angeles moves forward with fracking ban

Facing complaints from South Los Angeles residents living near oil fields, the Los Angeles City Council moved Friday to place a moratorium on fracking and other drilling methods, a move opposed by oil companies.

On a 10-0 vote, the City Council ordered that a new law be drafted that bans fracking and other well-stimulation activities, such as acidizing and gravelling.

Judge upholds vote for county fracking ban

A judge on Thursday upheld the results of a bitterly disputed election in the city and county of Broomfield that narrowly approved a five-year ban on fracking.

The judge ruled the November election had problems but was not illegal, the Boulder Daily Camera reported.

Hundreds propose places to protect from drilling

The North Dakota Industrial Commission received more than 500 comments from the public on a proposal for places deemed worthy of special protection from energy development.

The submissions were sent to the commission during the nearly monthlong public comment period allowed for the “extraordinary places” policy introduced in December by Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, The Bismarck Tribune reported. The commission, which regulates oil and gas development in the state, tabled the proposal last month.

Pa. Democrats vying for Lt. Gov. clash on drilling

Six Democrats running for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania clashed during a debate Saturday in front of the party’s liberal activists over whether the state should stop, at least temporarily, drilling in the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation.

GreenSpace: The uncertain state of gas drilling and health

Aubrey Miller wasn’t wearing shoes when he walked on stage.

He was wrapping up nine hours of highly technical talks about the latest studies of potential environmental and health impacts of unconventional natural gas development, and he went shoeless to emphasize his point: that it’s easy to miss things.

Fracking bills remain active in Maryland legislative committees

State legislators continue to consider bills that could further delay drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale of Garrett and Allegany counties.

The Allegany County Chamber of Commerce has weighed in on the issue with letters to committee leaders considering the bills.

Battle Over Fracking Waste Opens In Legislature

The legislative battle over banning or regulating “fracking waste” in Connecticut opened Friday with a barrage of testimony about the environmental dangers this industrial byproduct may bring.

Connecticut’s new commissioner of energy and environmental protection, Robert Klee, urged lawmakers to give the state authority to regulate the wastes produced by natural gas drilling as a hazardous material.

Activists celebrate frac sand air monitors

Area activists who oppose the frac sand industry — or fractivists — believe the installation of the air monitors that measure fine particles in Winona, paid for by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is a pretty sweet deal.

That’s why on Thursday at the group’s “Thanks for the Monitors” event, a large white and blue cake was front and center — on it a picture of the two air monitors collecting data atop the Winona YMCA.

Oil producers undaunted as Colorado mulls fracking restrictions

While Colorado environmental groups work to put a ballot measure before voters this fall that could severely hobble the U.S. energy industry, Whiting Petroleum Corp is busy figuring out where in the state it can spend $10 billion over the next decade.

Whiting has little concern the ballot initiative will succeed, even after votes in several of the state’s cities last fall to ban fracking, the controversial use of high-pressure water mixed with chemicals and sand to extract oil and natural gas. At least one fracking ban has been challenged in court, and more legal tussles are likely.

Gas pipeline left a barren swath through parks and forests of North Jersey

A $400 million gas pipeline that cuts through parks and forests in North Jersey — and which sparked lawsuits and protests — was quietly completed on schedule in November and is now in operation.

But the construction left a barren swath through 7.6 miles in Bergen and Passaic counties and nearly 11 miles in Sussex County, prompting worries about possible erosion and road collapses from snowmelt and spring rains.

BP Oil Spill Generates Barrels of Cash

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon event, the worst oil spill in U.S. history, petroleum giant BP is fighting a barrage of what it calls fraudulent claims for compensation. Many of the claims, BP alleges, are based on events that occurred before the spill, and have nothing to do with Deepwater Horizon. Claims are likely to continue to be argued, however. The famous BP oil spill stands to generate barrels of cash for people who can get their claims past the board of inquiry.

Mired in oil spill litigation, BP tries to transform itself from villain to victim

BP PLC is finished with playing the role of apologetic corporate citizen bending over backwards to make things right after the disastrous Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, according to The Washington Post.

The Post details a newly aggressive company that has gone on the offensive – filing lawsuits, fighting the Louisiana lawyer appointed to award claims and taking out newspaper ads to press its public relations case. The company even has enlisted the help of the British ambassador to the United States to express its contention to the American government that it has been mistreated, the Post reports.

Oil mat appears in Pensacola waters years after BP spill

A submerged oil mat was found on Langdon Beach near Fort Pickens on Thursday morning, officials from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said.

Members of the DEP waded waist-deep into the winter water and used nets to scoop up weathered oil and sand. Scoop by scoop, they passed the sticky black substance up a chain of people to the beach.

Oil From the Exxon Valdez Spill Lingers on Alaska Beaches

The Exxon Valdez oil spill is not just an awful memory. Oil from one of the most devastating environmental disasters in U.S. history still clings to boulder-strewn beaches in the Gulf of Alaska—and could stick around for decades. Researchers presented evidence of a lingering, foamy, mousse-like emulsion this week at the Ocean Sciences meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Sea otters declared recovered following 1989 oil spill

A federal study of Prince William Sound sea otters affected by crude oil spilled from the Exxon Valdez has concluded that the marine mammals have returned to pre-spill numbers a quarter century after the disaster.

Sea otters feed on clams. Crude oil from the spill remained in sediment years after the spill and likely contributed to a delay in sea otter recovery, said lead author and research biologist Brenda Ballachey.

Hundreds Face Arrest at Anti-Pipeline Protest

The United States Park Police on Sunday afternoon began the slow process of arresting hundreds of demonstrators participating in an act of civil disobedience in front of the White House to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Organizers estimated that 450 people – mostly college students – would be arrested as they tried to dissuade the Obama administration from approving the 1,700-mile crude oil pipeline from Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast.

Buffett: Keystone pipeline ‘good idea’ for country

Warren Buffett said if it was up to him he would vote “yes” to approve the controversial Keystone pipeline.

In a live interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” Buffett said he favors the pipeline even though it could take some business away from Berkshire Hathaway’s rail subsidiary, BNSF.

Buffett Says Rail Tank Cars Need Upgrades for Oil

Investor Warren Buffett says it’s clear that railroad tank cars carrying crude oil need to be updated because oil from certain regions has the potential to be more dangerous than previously thought.

Buffett appeared on CNBC Monday after releasing his letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders Saturday. Buffett owns BNSF railroad and a manufacturer of tank cars.

Norway Confirms Small Arctic Oil Find

Norwegian oil explorer Det norske made a small oil discovery in the Arctic Barents Sea with a gross oil column of about 30 metres and much poorer reservoir quality than expected, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate said on Monday.

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