News Round-Up: December 30, 2011

Today’s Essential Reads

FRACKING:

Fight Over Fracking in New York State Among Top Issues for 2012

I’m saving my “What to Look for in 2012? listicle for tomorrow, but one of the issues that may not make the list, but which is terribly important, is the battle in the states over hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. 2011 was the year when this issue finally bubbled up to the surface (pardon the pun) and into the consciousness of the public. The critically acclaimed Gasland came out in 2010, but anti-facking forces benefited this year from some scientific revelations. Independent studies for the first time identified fracking as a cause of methane contamination and water pollution, and late in the year, the EPA agreed in a case in Wyoming.

100 Years of Natural Gas? Hype Gets Reality Check

The hype around seemingly limitless reserves of natural gas made available through the technological innovation known as hydrologic fracturing, or fracking, may be just that — hype — according a new analysis of the data behind the claims.

2011 & Beyond: New York State Fracking Verdict Expected

It has been a year rife with debate and development over the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking—a method of obtaining natural gas from shale upstate by blasting a solution of water and chemicals into the ground.

Fracking Cracks the Public Consciousness in 2011

This is part of our year-end series, looking at where things stand in each of our major investigations. This was the year that “fracking” became a household word. It wasn’t just that environmental concerns about the underground drilling process finally struck a mainstream chord — after three years of reporting and more than 125 stories. For the first time, independent scientific investigations linked the drilling technique with water pollution, and a variety of federal and state agencies responded to the growing apprehension about water contamination with more studies and more regulation.

BP OIL SPILL:

Feds: BP Engineers Lied About Gulf Drilling

A new federal report released on Wednesday puts most of the blame on BP for the biggest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

BP Staff May Face U.S. Criminal Charges After Spill, WSJ Says

U.S. prosecutors are preparing what would be the first criminal charges against BP Plc staff after the worst oil spill in U.S. history last year, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

Deep Gulf Drilling Thrives 18 Months After BP Spill

Two hundred miles off the coast of Texas, ribbons of pipe are reaching for oil and natural gas deeper below the ocean’s surface than ever before.

Coast Guard Says Blowout Preventers And Other Offshore Drilling Systems Should Be Inspected More ‘Holistically’

In an effort to prevent another BP-like oil spill disaster, the U.S. Coast Guard has issued “draft guidance” to its own personnel as well as the offshore drilling industry on ways in which operators, technicians and inspectors can examine some of the key components of a drilling rig — such as blowout preventers, dynamic positioning systems and emergency disconnect systems — more “holistically.”

RADIATION:

Public Health Fallout From Japanese Quake

A “culture of coverup” and inadequate cleanup efforts have combined to leave Japanese people exposed to “unconscionable” health risks nine months after last year’s meltdown of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, health experts say.

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