Environmental Must-Reads – April 1, 2014


Moving day: Swedish town packs up to move 2 miles east

As the state-owned mining company drills deeper in northern Sweden, the earth underneath a small town is giving way. Instead of halting extraction, the town plans to move.

Aztec woman says her ‘Toxic Tour of Hell’ points out San Juan County sites that pollute the air

Shirley “Sug” McNall says the San Juan Basin can be an outdoors paradise for visitors. But for those who live here and breathe the air, she says, it’s just plain hell.

McNall, 69, is a member of an ad hoc environmentalist group — with friends Tweeti Blancett, Jan Rees and Kris Dixon — called the Four Grans.

Oil boom strains North Dakota infrastructure

The US energy revolution is putting unprecedented strain on roads, railways and housing in North Dakota, its governor says, as a surge in production has put the state at the heart of the country’s oil and gas boom.

North Dakota’s economy is growing faster than any other in the US as workers who are flocking to its oilfields transform once sleepy farming districts into hubs of helter-skelter development.

Fine Print: New Legislation Aims to Put a Stop to Fracking Before It Begins

The Legislature is taking another crack at preventing hydraulic fracturing, more commonly known as fracking, to be used to drill for natural gas in New Jersey. Most of the environmental community is mobilized against the process, which involves injecting huge amounts of water and assorted chemicals into shale deposits to recover natural gas, a process conservationists say threatens drinking water supplies in the region.

Frac sand mines credited for rising, dropping property values

Perry Schmitt describes himself as pro-mining but blames the frac sand mine across the highway from his home for driving down the asking price by more than $25,000, to $189,000.

His neighbors made out better. Kari Curran and her husband sold 130 acres for $1.5 million to a company affiliated with Unimin Mining Corp., operator of the mine. The property was previously valued at about $225,000.

Oil company wants mineral rights for 90-plus acres of Genesee County park land

Hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders might have to make way for a new activity at Richfield County and Holloway Regional parks:

Drilling for oil and gas.

A company that’s buying up mineral rights from private property owners all around eastern Genesee County is also interested oil and gas beneath the surface of 90 acres of land in the two parks, according to filings with the state Department of Natural Resources.

States Collaborating on Rules to Address Earthquake Risks of Fracking

Several U.S. states are banding together to combat the mounting risks of earthquakes tied to the disposal of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Regulators from Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio met for the first time this month in Oklahoma City to exchange information on the man-made earthquakes and help states toughen their standards.

Thousands in Louisiana, Mississippi at risk of losing gas service

A Boston-based hedge fund is threatening to shut down a major pipeline that provides natural gas to thousands in Louisiana and Mississippi.

ArcLight Capital Partners is threatening to abandon the American Midstream Pipeline that runs from Ouachita Parish to as far south as East Baton Rouge Parish. It provides natural gas to Jonesville, Ferriday, Sicily Island, Vidalia, Slaughter and Clayton as well as Natchez, Miss.

No More Oil Found In Lake Michigan After Spill At BP Refinery

The Coast Guard says crews didn’t find any more oil during the latest search of the Lake Michigan shore following last week’s spill at BP’s northwestern Indiana refinery.

Officials say a Coast Guard, BP and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assessment team checking the area near the Whiting refinery on Sunday spotted no visible oil on the shore or in the water. Cleanup workers spent last week removing oil from about a half-mile section of shoreline.

Director sought for BP oil spill’s RESTORE Act Science Program

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced it is searching for a Gulf of Mexico-based director for its BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill RESTORE Act Science Program. The federal agency will accept applications through Wednesday, April 23.

After Yet Another BP Oil Spill Disaster, Obama Administration Petitioned to Stop Doing Business With Troubled Company

After yet another BP oil spill, the Center for Biological Diversity today petitioned the Obama administration to stop doing government business with the British multinational, which has a long and troubled history of harming the environment and jeopardizing public health. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, following 2010’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, only recently allowed BP to begin engaging in government contracts, including the ability to bid on oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Less than two weeks later, on March 24, BP’s refinery in Whiting, Ind., spilled oil into Lake Michigan.

Galveston Oil Spill Damage Could Be More Than Meets The Eye

In comparison to other oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico — especially BP’s Deepwater Horizon Disaster — the spill of 168,000 gallons into Galveston Bay, Texas on Saturday seemed relatively minor to many nearby residents.

Capt. David Harris, who runs a recreational fishing boat business in the bay, said he’s unconcerned about the environmental impact.

Texas oil spill: Recorded moments before impact

Local 2 Investigates has obtained the “captain to captain” conversation that took place via two-way radio just before the ship channel collision March 22.

“If you keep on coming, I’m going to get you,” the Captain of the M/V Summer Wind, a cargo ship told the Captain of the T/V Miss Susan, a tugboat.

U.S. allows partial restart of Exxon pipeline a year after spill

A U.S. regulator on Monday allowed Exxon Mobil Corp to restart operations on the Texas leg of its Pegasus pipeline, which spilled thousands of barrels of oil into a residential area in Arkansas last year.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) approved Exxon’s restart plan for a 210-mile (338-km) stretch of the pipeline from Corsicana to Nederland at 80 percent of the operating pressure in place before the March 29, 2013 incident in the small town of Mayflower, Arkansas.

Pipeline feeding Gulf Coast wins approval to restart after major spill

Exxon Mobil Corp. has approval to restart the southern leg of its Pegasus oil pipeline, which was shut after a spill in Arkansas a year ago, federal regulators said in a letter dated Monday.

Exxon requested permission in January to return the segment between Corsicana and Nederland in Texas to service by March 28. The 210-mile (338-kilometer) stretch carries oil south toward the Gulf Coast, home to about half of U.S. refining capacity. The northern leg, where the spill occurred, remains shut.

Panel discusses Mayflower oil spill effects

A year after a major oil spill in a small Arkansas town, a congressman says that while communities believe they are ready for a disaster, there is always something else to do to prepare.

The Clinton School of Public Service invited public officials to its campus in Little Rock on Monday to discuss what they may have learned from the March 29, 2013, spill in Mayflower.

Enbridge pipeline nears activation

The new Enbridge Energy pipeline transporting greater volumes of crude oil through Northwest Indiana and into Canada is in the process of being activated.

Jennifer Smith, a spokesman for Enbridge Energy, said purging of the oil in the old 30-inch underground line occurred last week, creating a loud hissing sound for a couple of hours in places like Wozniak Road outside LaPorte.

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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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