Environmental Must-Reads – March 7, 2013

Breaking: NY Assembly Passes Two Year Fracking Moratorium, Senate Expected to Follow

In a roll call vote of 95-40, the New York State Assembly has passed a two-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the toxic horizontal drilling process through which oil and gas is procured that’s found within shale rock basins across the country and the world.

New York Assembly Votes to Ban Fracking for Two More Years

The New York State Assembly has approved, by a 95 to 40 vote, a two-year moratorium on hydrofracking in New York. While it’s unlikely to be passed in the Senate, the action reflects state lawmakers’ growing worries about potential health impacts from the natural gas drilling process.

New York Assembly votes to extend fracking ban until 2015

The New York Assembly voted today to delay a decision on legalizing fracking in the state until 2015, extending a moratorium on the drilling practice that has been in place since 2008.

Fracking Ban Final in Fort Collins

The Fort Collins City Council, on a second reading Tuesday night, voted to uphold the fracking ban within city limits by a vote of 5-2. The ban is now final.

This vote defies the governor and other state authorities who say local governments have no right to regulate the oil and gas industry. The state and Colorado Oil and Gas Association threatened lawsuits if Fort Collins’ ban on fracking became final.

An Inside Look at Democracy in Action to Ban Fracking in Fort Collins

I drove to Fort Collins, Colorado last night to testify in favor of a proposed ban on fracking within that city’s boundaries. When I got there I discovered the Colorado Petroleum Association, the political arm of the industry, had already issued a press release stating the council had passed the ban.

Sure enough, the council, after hearing several hours of citizen testimony voted 5-2 in favor of the ban, causing one activist to mutter in amusement that you just can’t underestimate the power of the industry in this state.

Hickenlooper wants compromise to avoid fracking lawsuits

Under criticism for promising to sue local governments who ban fracking, Gov. John Hickenlooper offered an alternative Wednesday.

Many landowners in Colorado do not own the mineral rights (which includes oil and gas) beneath their land. Those rights often belong to companies.

Fracking bans infringe on those rights, Hickenlooper argues.

Fort Collins bans fracking within city limits

The Fort Collins City Council has banned fracking within city limits, throwing down the gauntlet for possible legal action while other communities that are wrestling with the issue try to avoid confrontation.

The council voted Tuesday to impose the ban, even though state officials have said such restrictions violate the state’s authority over oil and gas regulation.

Natural gas fracking ban dies, moratorium still considered

While a bill that would outright ban hydraulic fracturing for natural gas has died in a Senate committee, a bill imposing a moratorium on the practice pending studies remains alive in the General Assembly.

Angry Protest Fails to Stop Work on Controversial Natural Gas Pipeline

Noisy protestors failed on Wednesday to persuade the Delaware River Basin Commission to rethink its approval of a natural gas pipeline application that would take gas from Pennsylvania through New Jersey to New York.

The DRBC, an interstate regulator charged with ensuring water quality in the Delaware River Basin, rejected impassioned appeals by about 100 environmentalists who attended an afternoon meeting here.

Knock, Knock: Your New Neighbor Might Be a Neurotoxin

With the decision to frack New York’s shale deposits on hold while the state’s health commissioner seeks more details on its impacts, the fight over natural gas continues in other areas of the Empire State.

One hotbed is Minisink, population 4,400 and home to many 9/11 first responders. Here, a plan to build a natural gas compressor station in the town’s epicenter has drawn the ire of many locals.

Ohioans Lobby for Support of Proposed Fracking Legislation at Statehouse Protest

Citizens from across the state converged on the Ohio Statehouse today to lobby for legislator support of proposed legislation that would protect Ohioans from the effects of hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Marcellus Air Emissions: Closest to the Wells See Steep Increases

The state’s first-ever tally of air pollution from the fracking boom shows shale gas activity comprises a fraction of the overall pollution in the state. But the state’s new figures also show that the industry has brought pollution to areas that were largely free of it.

Independent consultant blames BP, Halliburton for errors in cementing of Macondo well

An oil-field cementing independent consultant said Wednesday there were at least nine errors committed during the cementing of BP’s Macondo well, according to The Times-Picayune.

Cement in BP Macondo well never dried, leading to the blowout, expert witness testifies

The cement pumped into the BP Macondo well a day before it blew out on April 20, 2010, was not given enough time to “set,” or harden, before a negative pressure test was run that allowed oil and natural gas to travel up the drill pipe to the surface, where it exploded aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, an oil well cementing expert testified Wednesday.

On trial for Gulf oil spill, BP faces the price of profit

In New Orleans, the first phase of one of the largest environmental trials in U.S. history is underway.

Three years after the devastating Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, the civil trial will determine the share of liability for companies involved. Finger-pointing among oil rig operators BP, Halliburton, and Transocean continues.

No pressure to cut corners, BP veteran testifies in Gulf oil spill trial

Despite indications that the ill-fated Macondo well was over-budget and behind schedule, BP’s most respected presence on the Deepwater Horizon testified Wednesday that he was not under pressure to pick up the pace or cut costs.

“I am out there to do a job, and I don’t believe in pushing people to keep schedules, and I’m just not going to do it, especially when safety’s involved,” BP veteran Ronnie Sepulvado told the court.

Ronnie Sepulvado, Ex-BP Rig Supervisor, Testifies At Gulf Spill Trial

A retired BP employee who supervised drilling operations on the rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico testified Wednesday that he never felt pressure to sacrifice safety to save money, even though the project was behind schedule and over budget.

“I don’t believe in pushing people to keep schedules. I’m just not going to do it, especially if safety is involved,” former BP well site leader Ronnie Sepulvado said at a federal trial designed to assign fault for the deadly disaster to the companies involved in drilling BP PLC’s Macondo well.

BP safer and stronger since oil spill, says head

BP, the second-largest European oil company, is safer and stronger more than two years after a blowout at a Gulf of Mexico oil well caused the worst offshore oil spill in US history, the company’s chief executive officer said.

Jindal sidesteps questions about sinkhole visit

Gov. Bobby Jindal has dodged questions about whether he’ll visit the site of a massive sinkhole that has swallowed nine acres of land in swampy Assumption Parish.

Residents displaced since August have criticized the governor for having never traveled to see the sinkhole or speak with the families.

Don’t Worry: Keystone XL Pipeline Would Be Safe From The Climate Impacts It Would Cause

According to John Kerry’s State Department, the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be safe from the climate impacts to which it will contribute.

The department’s contractor-written Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement estimates, and then dismisses, the pipeline’s massive carbon footprint. But the statement also determines that the global warming the pipeline’s dirty crude will cause will not affect the pipeline itself because it “will be buried deep enough”

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