Environmental Must-Reads – May 28, 2013

GE Plans To Invest Billions In Fracking

General Electric announced plans to invest billions of dollars in fracking, a new type of oil and gas drilling.

GE will open up a new laboratory in Oklahoma and buy up related companies in a pricey bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients, while reducing the environmental and health effects of the boom.

Thousands of Romanians protest Chevron fracking

Thousands of Romanians protested on Monday against plans by the US company Chevron to explore for shale gas in eastern Romania.

“I have three children and I want them to grow up within a safe environment with clean water. Exploring for shale gas threatens to contaminate ground water,” Alina Secrieru, a 39-year old nurse from the Barlad region told AFP.

California environmentalists fear frack fight a distraction

As California sets the ground rules for drilling in the Monterey oil formation, a hard-to-reach shale reserve that is the largest in the United States, some environmentalists worry that politicians, regulators and fellow activists are fighting the wrong battle.

Fracking and National Park Wildlife

Every year, hydraulic fracturing for natural gas and oil (known as “fracking”) moves closer to national park boundaries, posing threats to park wildlife that science is only beginning to understand.

Conservation groups say Tennessee’s fracking rules don’t go far enough

Lawmakers have passed new rules for mining natural gas in Tennessee — with rare blessings from the industry and environmental groups alike.

But while the two groups agreed the regulations were a good step for the natural gas industry, conservation groups say some aspects of the regulations are full of hot air.

German Brewers Warn Against Fracking

THE HAGUE — Hops, malt, yeast, water and … proprietary fracking chemicals?

German brewers are warning against fracking in their country, invoking the beer purity law of 1516 that only allows basic, and pure, ingredients in real beer. They worry that shale gas removal could lead to a contamination of the water they use to make the national drink.

Recycling of fracking water is still rare, but it’s growing

Just a few years ago, Bosque Systems mostly operated wastewater-disposal wells for oil and gas operators. And another oil-field company, FTS International, was busy becoming one of the nation’s biggest providers of hydraulic-fracturing services.

Now, both are rolling out water-recycling operations, motivated by the same driver — producers’ high costs of acquiring and disposing of water at oil and natural-gas drilling sites in regions that are either arid or lack an inexpensive water-disposal infrastructure.

Fracking: How risky for us?

California is believed to have more than 15 billion barrels of oil locked within the rocks under the Central Valley that might be used to feed the nation’s energy hunger — if oil companies can free it with hydraulic fracturing. Fracking, as the practice is popularly called, has been going on in the state for years, but mostly in a remote oil field in Kern County. The prospect of extensive new fracking efforts in the 1,750-square-mile geological formation known as the Monterey Shale, which extends roughly from Modesto to Bakersfield, calls for long-overdue study and regulation of how this production method might affect air and water quality, as well as seismic safety.

British Villagers, Fearing Fracking, Protest Plan for Drilling

Despite the stakes, there was almost a festival spirit in this wealthy little village nestled in the hills of West Sussex. Children buzzed around an open-sided tent by the street and families spread blankets on the tiny village green.

What brought them together on Thursday evening, though, was not a spring fair but deep worry. Cuadrilla Resources, a British energy company, is on the verge of drilling an exploratory oil well just down the road. Villagers see it as a possible precursor to the environmentally controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Protecting Communities from Fracking’s Impacts

With fracking already underway in 30 states and advancing at a breakneck speed, safeguards have not been adequate to protect communities, public health or the environment. I’ve seen the damage from the oil and gas industry’s unfettered advance firsthand. My conversations with people whose lives have been dramatically impacted were heartbreaking and continue to inform our work to protect communities from the dangers of this controversial practice. Nearly everywhere that this heavy industrial activity is operating, residents have reported contaminated drinking water supplies, heavy traffic, polluted air and a wide range of other impacts. From town to town, unfortunately, the stories we hear are all the same.

3 Dozen Quakes Shake Arkansas —in Week

Fracking is in the spotlight once again following a swarm of at least three dozen earthquakes in central Arkansas over the last week, CNN reports. Experts say they believe the quakes—the strongest of which was 3.5 magnitude—are natural, but they haven’t ruled out a connection with natural gas exploration involving hydraulic fracturing in the region. Though two dozen of the quakes have hit near Morrilton, Arkansas, four different areas in the state saw activity.

Fracking accident leaks benzene into Colorado stream

Once again, Colorado’s fracking boom has residents wondering if there’s something in the water — carcinogenic benzene, in this case. A plant for fracked natural gas processor Williams Energy, near Parachute, Colo., spilled an estimated 241 barrels of mixed natural gas liquid into the ground, some of which eventually washed as benzene into Parachute Creek.

State forces fracking on some owners

A little-used state law that can force unwilling landowners to allow fracking on their property is growing more popular among drilling companies.

Since August, drilling companies have filed 11 so-called “unitization” requests with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Each request sought access to Utica shale oil and gas buried beneath the unwilling property owners’ land.

Illinois’ fracking and coal rush is a national crisis

What happens in Illinois doesn’t stay in Illinois — especially when you’re dealing with the national ramifications of a combined fracking and coal mining rush unparalleled in recent memory.

As a sit-in movement continues at the office of Gov. Pat Quinn in Springfield, Ill., besieged southern Illinois residents who have been left out of backroom legislative negotiations over a controversial and admittedly flawed regulatory fracking bill are calling on the nation to contact Gov. Quinn and Lt. Gov. Lisa Madigan to “put a moratorium on drilling to investigate its full climate and health impacts.”

Litigation Threat Causes Boulder, Fort Collins to End Fracking Bans

Environmentalists suffered two setbacks Tuesday when leaders in Fort Collins overturned an indefinite ban on hydraulic fracturing while commissioners in Boulder County decided to let their temporary fracking moratorium expire.

Frack Sand: Coming to a Railroad Near You?

One thing you can be certain of if you’re living next to a gas well: dust. Dust from trucks coming and going all hours of the day or night, dust from the drill rig, and dust from the frack job. While some of this is just plain old ground up soil, frack sand is special. It’s not dirt, but instead tiny silica crystals – tiny sharp crystals just the right size for breathing in and lodging into the interior of worker’s lungs. Not to mention the lungs of people living and breathing near drill sites.

Removal of Fresh Water From Common Usage is a Looming Threat

I read with interest the article on injection wells (Dominion Post – Sunday, May 19th) used for storage of spent fracking water. I had no idea that there were 65 of these wells in the state, as well as one so close to Morgantown as the one featured on Snake Hill Road (in Monongalia County).

BP & Shell Fixed North Sea Oil Prices for a Decade, Trader Says

BP, Shell and Statoil fixed North Sea crude oil prices and restricted trade for years by misleading reporting agencies, a trader claims in a federal class action.

Lead plaintiff Prime International Trading sued BP, Royal Dutch Shell and Norwegian oil company Statoil, in Federal Court.

How western oil giant BP broke its green promises

After years of heralding its green credentials, BP has quietly been selling off its renewable energy investments and focusing solely on fossil fuels

Oil giant BP spent millions of dollars telling the world it was moving “Beyond Petroleum” into renewables. Now it is quietly shifting “Back to Petroleum”, announcing the sale of its large US wind energy interests

Oil spill restoration overseers release draft plan

There’s now a draft plan for using fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to restore the Gulf Coast’s natural resources and economy.

But the document released Thursday doesn’t include two items required by federal law: a 10-year allocation plan or a three-year priority list of projects and programs.

Researcher studies oil spill effects on Gulf oysters

While it has been three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, scientists are still researching to determine its impact on the plants and animals that inhabit the ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico.

Jerome La Peyre, a scientist who specializes in oyster diseases in the LSU AgCenter School of Animal Sciences, is studying the effect of oil by evaluating biomarkers that are used to assess oyster health.

Nearly Two Months After Oil Spill, Evacuated Residents in Mayflower Still Not Home

It has been almost two months since a pipeline ruptured in Mayflower spilling thousands of barrels of crude oil.

And while many across Central Arkansas celebrated the holiday with barbecues, friends and family, for folks affected by the spill, life is far from normal.

Chesapeake oil? Offshore drilling pushed by Virginia lawmakers

Lawmakers are talking up the prospect of drilling off the Virginia coast, and the mere whiff of the possibility of oil profits has already driven one prominent candidate there to sway in the wind.

Greenpeace FOIA Exposes Exxon Lies About Mayflower, AR Spill

On March 29 ExxonMobil, the most profitable company in the world, spilled at least 210,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil from an underground pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas. The pipeline was carrying tar sands oil from Canada, which flooded family residences in Mayflower in thick tarry crude. Exxon’s tar sands crude also ran into Lake Conway, which sits about an eighth of a mile from where Exxon’s pipeline ruptured.

5 Reasons We DON’T Need More Oil Pipelines

It’s a topic that’s nearly yawn-worthy, environmentalists spouting their rage at an oil company trying to build a pipeline. Big deal, right? We all want lower gas prices, and more oil means cheaper gas.

Except that’s not the way the world works anymore, and there really is a serious threat to our food and water from a pipeline, the fate of which is expected to be decided this summer (though recent news from the Obama administration suggests that he may delay his decision to the end of 2013 or, possibly, to early 2014).

All sides pressing John Kerry on pipeline

Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who for decades has portrayed himself as one of the nation’s leading environmentalists, is under siege from all sides as he faces one of the most difficult decisions of his career: whether to approve the Keystone pipeline.

As Arctic Ice Vanishes, More Nations Want in on Its Untapped Oil

The Arctic Council adds China, India, Korea and more to the decision-making body that largely controls the fate of 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered gas reserves.

Divers say they still suffer ailments from 2010 BP oil spill

During the Deepwater Horizon disaster three years ago, few people got as close to the action as Scott Porter.

Porter, a diver with a degree in marine biology, worked in Louisiana as a contractor for oil companies and had become fascinated with the corals growing on oil rigs. He and some friends volunteered to collect samples of corals near the spill for federal officials. They were also paid to take reporters from CBS News and other outlets into the Gulf of Mexico to view the spreading slick.

Coast fishermen still concerned about oil spills impact

It was a busy Sunday morning at the Ocean Springs harbor, with boat after boat heading out into the Gulf for some fishing. For some people, it’s still not quite the same since the spill.

Brad Sigurnjak says he’s noticed less fish.

Oil spill restoration overseers release draft plan

There’s now a draft plan for using fines from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to restore the Gulf Coast’s natural resources and economy.

But the document released Thursday doesn’t include two items required by federal law: a 10-year allocation plan or a three-year priority list of projects and programs, The Times-Picayune reports.

Cause of Mayflower Exxon-Mobil Oil Spill Still a Mystery

It’s been almost two months and Exxon-Mobil still hasn’t released a reason why a portion of its 850-mile Pegasus pipeline in March ruptured and spilled more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil into a Mayflower neighborhood and its surrounding area.

Exxon still waiting for ruptured Pegasus pipeline test results

Exxon Mobil Corp is still waiting for test results from the ruptured section of its 95,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Pegasus pipeline, almost two months after it spewed 5,000 barrels of oil into an Arkansas suburb, the company said on Friday.

Court rules against Citgo in oil spill case

A multimillion-dollar case stemming from the 2004 oil spill in the Delaware River is being sent back to the district court by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

The owner of the tanker, Frescati Shipping Co., paid $180 million to clean up the 263,000 gallons of oil that spilled after the hull of the ship was pierced by a 9-ton anchor that had been left on the riverbed, it told the court.

Rock to sinkhole ratio a mystery

One of the lingering questions surrounding the Assumption Parish sinkhole — raised last fall when fears of more sinkholes emerged — remains an issue of too much rock.

Rock and sediment have nearly filled Texas Brine Co.’s failed underground salt dome cavern, but that volume of earth is far greater than the size of the 15.1-acre sinkhole.

In Louisiana sinkhole case, Texas Brine offers settlements

Texas Brine Co. said Friday that it has started extending settlement offers to Assumption Parish residents who have been under an evacuation order since August because of a 15-acre sinkhole.

The company operated a collapsed salt dome that authorities say caused the sinkhole.

Canada faces US and EU hurdles over Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s expanding oil sands industry may prove to be an important source of new wealth in coming years but in the meantime it has become a massive target for environmental activists in North America and beyond.

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