Environmental Must-Reads – November 25, 2014

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Bill alters reporting of fracking chemicals in Ohio

The way companies report the fracking chemicals they use in Ohio could change under a bill moving through the Statehouse.

Environmental activists say the legislation would make it more difficult for firefighters and people who live near fracking sites to get information about what chemicals they could be exposed to during an emergency, such as an explosion or spill.

As fracking looms, NC officials worry about road damage

The first permits for natural gas exploration in the state could be issued in the spring, and N.C. Department of Transportation officials are trying to assess how the state’s rural roads will be affected by thousands of truckloads of chemicals, water, sand and mechanical equipment associated with hydraulic fracturing or fracking.

Some roads “are going to experience a lifetime of truck traffic in just a few weeks,” said Brandon Jones, a NCDOT division maintenance engineer.

Tx Oil Industry Open to Fracking/Earthquake Probe

The Texas Oil and Gas Association says it is open to an investigation into the connection between hydraulic fracking and earthquakes which have become more common in Texas since the widespread practice of shale fracking began in 2009, Newsradio 1200 WOAI reports.

“The oil and natural gas industry agrees that recent seismic activity warrants robust investigation to determine the precise location, impact, and cause or causes of seismic events,” Todd Staples, the President of TXOGA and the former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, told Newsradio 1200 WOAI.

Compressor stations reason for concern?

When Tom and Ben Clark of Clarkdale Fruit Farm and learned a month or so ago that Kinder Morgan was changing its preferred route for its proposed Tennessee Gas Pipeline project south from a path that would have cut across their peach orchard, they were relieved, at least on a personal level.

Then came the news that a compression station to re-pressurize the natural gas that would be pumped from Wright, N.Y., to Dracut, north of Lowell — a station that earlier maps seemed to show as being in Conway — might instead be sited within a mile of the farmhouse where Ben lives with his wife and young child.

Judge denies bid to halt Illinois fracking rules

A judge in southwestern Illinois has denied a bid by a landowners group to suspend the state’s new rules for high-volume oil and gas drilling, ruling that the plaintiffs failed to show they would suffer immediate harm if the practice commonly known as “fracking” was to go forward.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder rejected the request for a preliminary injunction on Friday, three days after she heard arguments about the rules meant to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

Moab energy company testing fracking method near Dead Horse Point, Canyonlands

A Moab energy company is testing a novel method of fracking at its booming oil field outside Canyonlands and Dead Horse Point State Park.

The experimental extraction method — injecting oil rather than chemical-laden water underground — has shaken environmentalists already worried about the industrialization of a scenic area.

Fidelity Exploration and Production Co.’s wells on Big Flat have been among the nation’s most productive in 2012. But more recently drilled bores haven’t been yielding as much crude lately.

Company hopes to develop frac sand mine

U.S. Silica, a Maryland-based company with facilities in 13 states, Canada and China, has applied to develop a frac sand mine near Fairchild.

The mine would be on 632 acres just west and north of Fairchild. It would be partially bordered by U.S. 12 on the east and South Center Road on the west.

Of the 632 acres, 287 acres would be mined, said Rod Eslinger, the county’s land use supervisor.

Who is winning, losing in Texas shale boom?

To see why so many people are moving to Texas, you need to drive three and a half hours southwest from Houston.

The Karnes City sign listing a population of 3,457 greets you as Texas Highway 80 runs right into the heart of the quaint community. But since 2012, that population has likely swelled to two or three times that size.

“These small towns weren’t ready for this boom,” said David Schwartz, who opened the Red Dog Ice House in nearby Kenedy.

Fracking Could Loom Large in 2015

Come 2015, hydrofracking, controversial gas drilling process, and whether it should be done in New York State, could loom large in state politics. The contentious environmental issue has been under review the entire time Governor Andrew Cuomo has been in office.

In October’s gubernatorial debate, Cuomo said he expects a review of the impacts of the natural gas extraction process to be released by the end of the year, and that he’s relying on experts to help him make the decision.

How oil ate the heart of North Dakota

Nothing completes a quiet morning drinking coffee and reading the paper like a multi-part investigative saga of pollution and the fracking boom in North Dakota, and boy howdy, did The New York Times deliver this weekend. In the two-part series, investigative reporter Deborah Sontag brings up one example after another of ways that pollution in North Dakota is on the rise.

Plan To Use Gulf Oil Spill Funds For Beach Hotel Stirs Debate

Money is flowing now to Gulf Coast states to remedy damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent spill. All kinds of projects are underway, from building boat ramps to shoring-up marshland.

They’re being paid for with a $1 billion down payment BP made toward its ultimate responsibility to make the Gulf Coast whole, a figure estimated to be up to $18 billion.

Icebergs growing threat to Arctic navigation, oil exploration — climate expert

Icebergs melting as a result of global climate change are a growing menace to Arctic navigation and oil industry development, Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Geography head Vladimir Kotlyakov told a TASS-hosted media briefing on Monday.

Arctic ice territory had shrunk fourfold since 1980, he said. Ice-free waters brought opportunities for navigation but required considerable new effort since mass migration of ice blocks had become commonplace. Drifts might block straits east of the Kara Sea, he added. Wind force strengthening under air temperatures close to zero brought problems through ice formation on vessel superstructure, the speaker warned.

Republicans Want to Drill for Oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

On Election Night, as Republicans won control of both houses of Congress, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski hoisted a chair above her head at an Anchorage victory party and shouted “I am the chairmaaaaan!”

As the senior ranking Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski is poised to chair the panel beginning in January. Among her top priorities will be a push to allow oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), a 19 million acre reserve in northeast Alaska near the Arctic Sea.

Protest in Malaga over Greenpeace ship seizure

GREENPEACE supporters are taking to the streets to protest against the seizure of the green group’s ship by the Spanish navy.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out in Malaga today to demand the release of the Arctic Sunrise.

Vancouver oil-by-rail terminal would be largest in US

A proposed oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington, would handle more crude transported by rail than any single facility in the U.S. when running at full capacity, according to an analysis by The Columbian newspaper.

Vancouver Energy, a joint venture by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Cos., would handle an average of 360,000 barrels of oil per day, or up to four trains daily.

Montana making headway on planning for oil train traffic

Oil train traffic is booming across Montana, with state reports showing an increase of several hundred percent in the last decade.

That’s bringing change to how federal agencies and the state monitor that traffic, and how the railroads are taking their own measures to improve safety, and prepare contingencies for dealing with any accidents.

Danger below? Oil trains use 105-year-old tunnel below Seattle

A train carrying up to three million gallons of highly flammable Bakken crude oil runs right under downtown Seattle through a century-old tunnel that does not meet modern safety standards, according to BNSF Railway and Seattle fire officials.

Seattle’s Assistant Fire Chief Alan Vickery said the dramatic increase in the amount of oil being shipped by rail is creating a new risk facing downtown Seattle unlike anything they’ve ever seen.

“We’ll treat it just like gasoline,” he said.

Plains to expand major new Permian Basin pipeline in Texas

Plains All American aims to expand its new Cactus Pipeline to move West Texas oil to Corpus Christi, increasing the company’s ability to move super-light crude to the Texas Gulf Coast for possible export.

The move further positions Plains to export minimally processed condensate if it chooses to do so. Pressure from oil producers to scrap the decades-old domestic crude export ban has grown as super-light condensate emerging from the U.S. shale oil boom overwhelms refineries with limited capacity to handle it.

RCMP Arrest Protesters at Kinder Morgan Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion

An 11-year-old girl was among those arrested Sunday as a crowd protested survey work by the Texas-based Kinder Morgan company for a tar sands pipeline expansion through the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby.

In late October, Canada’s National Energy Board granted Kinder Morgan access to begin work on their TransMountain tar sands pipeline expansion project in a designated conservation area on Burnaby Mountain.

Chevron wants to fund science class. What could go wrong?

Chevron’s Fuel Your School program allows K-12 teachers in participating districts to request a chunk of petro-change to implement classroom projects, particularly in STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering, and math. In participating areas, the company contributes $1 toward projects and equipment for every fill-up of at least 30 liters (about 8 gallons) at a local Chevron station. That way, drivers can feel good about buying gasoline, and, in a horrifyingly ironic twist, kids can thank their elders for burning a fuel whose emissions are wrecking their future!

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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