News Round-Up: February 16, 2012

Today’s Essential Reads

FRACKING:

Secrecy Loophole Could Still Weaken Bureau of Land Management’s Tougher Fracking Regulations

The gas industry wants to protect its trade secrets, but watchdogs want full disclosure of chemicals that can cause blindness, organ failure and cancer.

Industry Groups Take Aim at Salazar’s Fracking Suggestion

Oil and gas industry groups took issue with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s suggestion yesterday that companies would prefer a uniform national approach instead of a state-by-state approach when it comes to regulating hydraulic fracturing.

Will Natural Gas Become the ‘Achilles’ Heel’ of Our Country?

After hearing Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar at the City Club of Cleveland on Feb. 14 speak about President Obama’s vision for the new energy frontier, which is largely a full-steam ahead agenda for fossil fuel extraction, and then reading that more than 800,000 people signed a petition to their U.S. Senators to stop the Keystone XL pipeline and nearly 2,000 people in Frankfort, Ky., called for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining that same day, it was clear that Obama’s energy plan does not align with the sustainable energy future many Americans want.

White House Begins Gas ‘Fracking’ Rule Review

The White House Office of Management and Budget has begun vetting upcoming Interior Department rules that will toughen regulation of the controversial natural-gas drilling method called hydraulic fracturing. Interior’s rules are already under fire from GOP lawmakers who allege the plans — which President Obama touted in his State of the Union address — will slow development.

BP OIL SPILL:

Most BP Plaintiffs May Be Ineligible for Compensation

More than half of the 110,299 private claimants suing BP in the huge trial set to begin in federal court Feb. 27 have never filed with claims czar Kenneth Feinberg, calling into question whether they are eligible for compensation. That’s according to numbers released by Feinberg to U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier on Wednesday.

North Slope Oil Well Suffers a Blowout

An exploratory well being drilled on the North Slope by the Spanish oil company Repsol suffered an apparent blowout Wednesday morning when drillers were unable to control pressure from a pocket of natural gas, state and company officials said.

Tens of Billions at Stake in BP Oil Spill Trial

Tens of billions of dollars will be at stake when BP heads to a US court this month to determine how much it owes for the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill and how much it can shift to subcontractors.

House Bill Would Open Up Gulf to More Drilling

The House is expected to vote as early as today on a Republican bill that would allow oil drilling off Florida’s Gulf coast to help finance a five-year highway bill.

RADIATION:

Nuclear Safety Chief Says Lax Rules Led to Fukushima Crisis

Japan’s atomic safety rules are inferior to global standards and left the country unprepared for the Fukushima nuclear disaster last March, the country’s top nuclear regulator told a parliamentary investigation.

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