Environmental Must-Reads – May 13, 2013

New Fracking Rules Have Environmental Groups Worried

The Obama administration is set to unveil major new regulations on hydraulic fracturing, the controversial method of extracting oil and gas, possibly as soon as Tuesday.

The downwinders: Fracking ourselves to death in Pennsylvania

More than 70 years ago, a chemical attack was launched against Washington state and Nevada. It poisoned people, animals, everything that grew, breathed air and drank water. The Marshall Islands were also struck. This formerly pristine Pacific atoll was branded “the most contaminated place in the world”. As their cancers developed, the victims of atomic testing and nuclear weapons development got a name: downwinders. What marked their tragedy was the darkness in which they were kept about what was being done to them. Proof of harm fell to them, not to the US government agencies responsible.

Now, a new generation of downwinders is getting sick as an emerging industry pushes the next wonder technology – in this case, high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Viewpoints: Bid to halt fracking in state builds momentum

The risks are sinking in. For months, discussions about fracking in California have focused mostly on public disclosure. Should people living near fracked oil and gas wells, for example, be notified about this controversial procedure, which involves blasting huge volumes of water mixed with toxic chemicals underground?

Large multinational banks now asking for data on fracking risks from companies

Rich Liroff reports in his blog on GreenBiz.com that European banks want more hard data on risks from frackers. According to Rich, some of the world’s largest banks, as part of the Climate Principles for the Finance Sector, wish to see quantitative data on key performance indicators in 16 areas of corporate performance. The data are being requested to shine a light on how oil and gas companies are managing environmental risks and community impacts in their fracking operations. The areas of concern are wide ranging, and include air pollution (including methane emissions), well integrity, worker health and safety, truck traffic, chemicals, waste management, and more.

New group aims to protect national parks from drilling

As oil and gas drilling rigs creep closer and closer to the borders of popular national parks around the country, a passel of retired park rangers has formed a new organization to try and protect cherished resources, including view sheds, air quality and wildlife habitat.

Oh Frack, B.C.’s Carbon Footprint Likely Greater Than Reported

Methane emissions from British Columbia’s natural gas industry are likely at least seven times greater than what’s been reported — blowing numbers in B.C.’s Climate Action Plan out of the water. Natural gas is nearly all methane and since methane is such a powerful climate warming gas these unreported emissions mean the total CO2 equivalent emissions for the entire province are nearly 25 per cent higher than what’s being reported.

Improve Your World: No Fracking, Yes Renewable Energy

Editor’s note: Students from the State University of New York (SUNY) School of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY held their 2013 graduation ceremony yesterday. SUNY ESF’s motto is “Improve Your World.” Dr. Sandra Steingraber was given an honorary doctoral degree for her life’s work on environmental health and science, including her work to fight fracking in New York. She was given a standing ovation for her inspirational speech (see below) and called on our future environmental scientists to take action.

Fracking Infrastructure vs. American Values

As advances in technology open vast territories of the U.S. to new forms of extreme fossil fuel extraction, more and more American communities find themselves battling not only private oil and gas companies but also their own government to protect their homes, health and way of life.

Fugitive Methane Emissions: The Climate Implications of U.S. Shale Gas Exports

U.S. natural gas production is booming. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), production grew by 23 percent from 2007 to 2012. Now—with production projected to continue growing in the decades ahead—U.S. lawmakers and companies are considering exporting this resource internationally. But what are the climate implications of doing so?

Plans to export US natural gas stir debate

A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster. Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking.

Group Of Moms In Boulder County Taking On Big Oil

A group of mothers in Boulder County are taking on big oil in the middle of a battle against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The group of mothers and children will be at the courthouse Monday handing out postcards to the county commissioners asking for a new moratorium on fracking so that more research can be done. It is a grassroots effort that started outside a local grocery store.

Fracking Is Interfering with Farming in WV and PA

In rural communities in WV, we have many small farms that rely on Farmers Markets to sell their produce for supplemental income. And we also have “Mountain State Naturals” – which is a “WV Beef Farmers’ Cooperative” that markets their beef as raised without using growth hormones.

Pipeline construction in shale boom alters countryside

SCIO, Ohio — For more than 80 years, the view from Jody Snyder’s front porch was sweet and simple: farm fields, woods and rolling hills.

It’s a view she has shared with her husband, Dick, for decades.

But the landscape is changing in rural Harrison County. Now, a battalion of construction workers operates cranes, backhoes and bulldozers that the Snyders watch warily.

Ex-BP engineer warns of ‘substantial risk’ of wrongful conviction in Gulf spill case

With his trial a month away, a former BP engineer is renewing claims that obstruction of justice charges should never have been brought against him over his actions after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and if prosecutors move forward they should be made to play by the rules.

New Colorado law sets stricter standards for reporting oil spills

Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed into law a bill that will require oil and gas companies to file reports within 24 hours whenever more than one 42-gallon barrel of oil is spilled outside of berms or secondary containment areas.

Sinkhole berm repairs planned

Texas Brine Co. management said Saturday that weather and conditions permitting, the company plans to begin work Monday on temporary repairs to the two remaining breaches in the earthen berm surrounding the Assumption Parish sinkhole.

Water poured into giant Louisiana sinkhole after 4 breeches in containment berm

According to Sonny Cranch with Texas Brine, heavy rain is to blame for the four breeches that opened in the containment berm before dawn Friday. Cranch says two of the four breeches have been repaired.

Oklahoma order targets oil pipeline opponents

TransCanada said it filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma to ensure construction of the domestic leg of the Keystone XL pipeline is shielded from protesters.

TransCanada is building a 485-mile pipeline from the Cushing, Okla., oil storage hub to refineries along the southern U.S. coast. Construction crews have been met by activists from pipeline opposition group Great Plaints Tar Sands Resistance.

Arctic oil, natural gas defined as U.S. priority

Arctic territory off the northern coast of Alaska is a key element of U.S. national and energy security interests, a national plan states.

A U.S. government 13-page national strategy says the arctic off Alaska region has conventional oil and natural gas resources make up about 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of the undiscovered natural gas.

Arctic side-conference in Sweden denounces oil companies

Oil companies will take you for a bad ride, a Nigerian activist said May 12 at a gathering in Kiruna, Sweden called the Kiruna Indigenous Peoples Conference.

Avoid oil company representatives because they come in a crafty manner and then impose their industry on you, said Alice Ukoko, founder and chief executive officer of an organization called Women of Africa.

EBR council members questioning BP lawsuit contract

The Metro Council is considering canceling a contract that Mayor-President Kip Holden’s top aide signed with a Florida law firm to represent Baton Rouge in a lawsuit against oil and gas giant BP.

Shell to drill world’s deepest offshore oil well in Gulf of Mexico

Royal Dutch Shell plans to stick its oil-extracting tentacles deeper under the Gulf of Mexico than any oil company ever has.

Shell is preparing to drill 9,500 feet — nearly two miles — beneath the surface of the sea to suck oil out of a reserve that was discovered eight years ago, 200 miles southeast of New Orleans. The deepest oil well currently in operation, at 8,000 feet deep, is operated nearby in the Gulf, also by Shell.

Drilling waste finds new use

Among the thousands of oil field trucks criss-crossing Texas: Trucks hauling solid waste from drilling pits to landfills.

But a Longview-based company has a way to turn that oil field trash into something useful — roads and new drilling pads.

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