Environmental Must-Reads – October 15, 2013

Wisconsin’s sand-mining boom could fuel fracking abroad

When most people think about Wisconsin, cheese, breweries, and cornfields spring to mind. But the fracking industry is interested in something else the Badger State has to offer: sand.

A sand-mining boom has gotten rolling in Wisconsin over the last three years. The state’s quartz-based sand is strong and spherical, nicely suited for injecting underground with water and chemicals to prop open cracks in fractured shale, allowing natural gas and oil to be fracked.

Drilling water wells a tactic to block fracking

Some landowners who want to block fracking on their property are fighting drilling with drilling.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports the “water well gambit,” drilling private water wells on sites slated for natural gas drilling, has been used for years, often by people and companies that don’t own the mineral rights to their properties. Mineral rights and surface rights are sold separately under Pennsylvania state law.

Greenpeace plans fracking challenge

The environmental group will argue that it is illegal for companies to drill beneath people’s homes without their consent, in the hope of stopping “reckless and presumptuous” plans to exploit the energy resource.

But officials insisted the legal challenge would not be a roadblock to fracking in the UK and said the situation was no different to firms installing power lines or cables beneath privately owned land.

Lagoons filled with toxic water coming to Ohio’s fracklands

Where frackers go, lagoons filled with toxic wastewater follow.

Fracking wastewater impoundment lots as big as football fields already dot heavily fracked landscapes in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The lagoons are built to help the industry manage and reuse the vast volumes of wastewater that it produces.

Mass. v. EPA bears fruit for environmental petitioners

A US District Court in Louisiana recently ruled, in Gulf Restoration Network v. Jackson, that EPA must decide whether it has to impose new water quality standards for nutrient pollution in the Mississippi River watershed. Although that might seem far afield from the Supreme Court’s greenhouse gas emissions decision in Massachusetts v. EPA, in fact it’s a direct descendant.

Greenpeace urges UK landowners to unite in opposing fracking

Environmental group Greenpeace said it would encourage British landowners to join together in legally opposing fracking, a move that could strengthen the opposition to exploration and development for shale oil and gas.

Mansfield Residents Upset About Fracking Near Their Homes

For two years, residents in one Mansfield neighborhood enjoyed the quiet, clean environment expected of suburbia. But now that Eagleridge Operating has started up its fracking rig drills for natural gas in the area — all that has changed. In fact, drilling was quiet so long, that many homeowners didn’t realize they lived near wells.

Buyer Beware: Many US Homes are Sold without Mineral Rights to the Land

Property developers in the US, aware that land value increases massively as soon as mineral deposits are found in the area, have begun to retain oil and natural gas extraction rights beneath the houses that they sell; ready to sell those rights on to any interested energy companies in the future. In many cases they don’t even advise the property buyers.

Is Gas Pipeline Under San Carlos Safe? City Debates Whether to Investigate

The San Carlos City Council will debate Monday night whether to spend $250,000 to determine if a PG&E gas pipeline running under the city is safe.

The utility company already says it is safe. Now the city is trying to figure out whether to conduct its own independent analysis.

Jury Finds BP Negligent in Texas Emissions Event

BP was negligent and responsible for a 41-day emissions event in 2010 at its Texas City refinery, but there isn’t enough evidence linking the pollution to illnesses, a Galveston jury found Thursday.

BP PLC has said that 500,000 pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the air when there was a technical problem at the refinery. The emissions event coincided with the company’s efforts to plug a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

More oil found on Fourchon Beach

More than a ton of oil has been discovered in recent days beneath the sand on Fourchon Beach as a result of Tropical Storm Karen, U.S. Coast Guard officials said Monday.

Officials suspect the mat of oil had been hidden by sand before being uncovered by the effects of the storm, which lingered along the Gulf Coast a little over a week ago, and was discovered during cleanup efforts that began this weekend.

Whose Oil? The Gulf of Mexico’s or BP’s?

Three years after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig spewed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, scientists are still determining how much damage was done and where all the oil went.

A team of scientists funded by a 10-year, $500 million “Gulf of Mexico Initiative” grant from BP is examining the effects of the oil spill on the ecosystem of the gulf.

Court sets deadline for proposed new oil spill payment rules

BP and attorneys for victims in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to work out language for a “narrowly tailored” proposal for new rules for some payments in the multibillion-dollar spill settlement, a federal judge said Friday.

Following Oil Spill, Tesoro Has No Timeline Yet For North Dakota Pipeline Restart

Tesoro Logistics LP does not have a specific date for the restart of the North Dakota pipeline that spilled 20,600 barrels of Bakken oil onto farmland in late September, the company said on Monday.

PHOTOS: The Oil Spill North Dakota Tried to Keep Secret

On September 29th, Steve Jensen, a farmer in northwest North Dakota, discovered crude oil “spewing and bubbling 6 inches high” out on his field while he was harvesting wheat. The spewing oil came from a break in Tesoro Corporation’s underground pipeline which carries crude oil from Bakken shale formation (fracking for oil) to Columbus, North Dakota. By the time clean up crews made it out to Jensen’s field, over 20,000 barrels of oil had spilled, making this one of the largest spills in state history.

Environmental chemist Wilma Subra skeptical of ADEQ’s preliminary findings in Mayflower

Last week, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) released preliminary findings from Exxon’s testing of soil and sediment data in  Mayflower. The agency has also been posting the raw data on its website for public consumption; on Friday, ADEQ posted Exxon’s final report of its testing so far. ADEQ’s full review is expected soon. Wilma Subra, a MacArthur “Genius” Award-winning environmental chemist based in New Iberia, La., looked at the data for the Times.

Exxon Mobil Corporation : ExxonMobil Shuts California Oil Pipeline After Spill

ExxonMobil Corp. (XOM) shut down an oil pipeline system at the Port of Long Beach, Calif. Monday after discovering a crude leak in the area, a company spokesman confirmed.

Russian court denies bail for Greenpeace crew accused of piracy in Arctic protest

The crew and the American captain of a Greenpeace ship charged with piracy for a protest at a Russian oil platform in the Arctic were denied bail Monday, the environmental activist group told NBC News.

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