Environmental Must-Reads – April 15, 2014


Unexpected loose gas from fracking

A survey of hydraulic fracturing sites in Pennsylvania revealed drilling operations releasing plumes of methane 100 to 1,000 times the rate the EPA expects from that stage of drilling, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Top PA Papers Ignore Fracking Law That “Shreds” Private Property Rights

A gas company is attempting to use a half-century old Pennsylvania law to frack underneath the land of property owners who refuse to allow the controversial practice on their land, yet a majority of Pennsylvanians may be unaware as two of the state’s top three newspapers have failed to mention the contentious issue.

Fracking forum will focus on the economic impact of drilling in Pennsylvania

There’s still time to register for a discussion forum –  ”A Frank Conversation about Fracking” – coming up this week on Thursday evening at 7:30 p.m. in Montgomery County.

Co-hosted by StateImpact Pennsylvania partner station WHYY and the Bernard Wolfman Civil Discourse Project in Elkins Park, the conversation will focus on the economic impact of Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom.

Increased Ohio Shale Fracking Drives Demand For Rail Improvements

The number of hydraulically fractured wells drilled in Ohio has now topped 800. About half of those wells are producing natural gas and oil.

While debates over safety and severance taxes continues, production is reaching critical mass. And that has created need for more railroad capacity. The rail improvements have rippled into Frazeysburg and Columbus.

Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania counties report ‘mixed bag’ on hydrofracking effects

Researchers from states that are experienced with hydraulic fracturing released a collaborative report on how gas drilling has affected four counties in the United States and made recommendations to states considering allowing fracking within their borders.

Authors of the report found the counties highlighted in the report were not prepared for the costs and problems they faced after fracking was allowed and recommend that states planning to allow fracking improve their transportation infrastructure, especially preparing roads for big trucks; bolster public services such as police and emergency services; and control the drilling industry through zoning laws and frequent communication.

Lawmakers Urge EPA To Assist Polluted Fracking Communities

Members of the U.S. Congress are formally calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to re-examine reports of groundwater pollution in three states — allegedly, the result of natural gas drilling — and to help affected communities.

EPA investigators have looked into the complaints in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming in recent years. Each of those probes was mysteriously cut short, with the agency failing to take substantive action. Affected landowners and environmental watchdogs have since suggested that the decisions were politically motivated, with directions potentially coming from the White House.

Ban On Fracking Waste Clears Committee

State lawmakers worried about toxic byproducts from natural gas drilling wells in other states persuaded the legislature’s judiciary committee Monday to approve a ban on “fracking” waste coming into Connecticut for storage or treatment.

The panel voted 34-6 in favor of the measure, which now heads to the Senate.

Maryland shale gas limits debated

Maryland regulators are weighing some of the strictest limits in the country on shale gas drilling, but a scientist Monday suggested they still may not go far enough to protect drinking water wells from contamination by methane leaking from drilling sites.

After Deaths, Renewed Focus On Leaky Gas Pipelines

After a last month in New York leveled two buildings and killed eight people, an old issue received new attention: aging natural gas pipelines that leak.

It can take decades and billions of dollars to replace old steel and cast-iron pipes with plastic ones, but some utilities are making that a priority.

US pushed to rewrite oil payment disclosure rule

More than 500 groups from 40 countries on Monday asked U.S. regulators to write strong new mandates forcing oil and gas companies to disclose what they pay foreign nations in exchange for mineral rights.

In a letter to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Publish What You Pay coalition of 544 civil society organizations pushing for disclosure worldwide urged U.S. regulators to focus on rewriting the mandates.

Oil and gas industry must stop silencing victims

What is the fracking industry trying to sell us in Marcellus? Certainly not logical consistency.

In one notorious case, now described at length by Jonathan H. Marks in The Hastings Center Report, we get a stark look at the contradictory approach of one major fracking operator, Range Resources Corp. Like the industry as a whole, Range Resources wants us to believe that its processes for extracting natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation in Pennsylvania pose no threat to human health. At the same time, the company has gone to great legal lengths—and expense—to keep one deeply affected family from talking about the impacts of fracking on their lives.

U.S. probes BP oil spill health legacy

When a BP oil well began gushing crude into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago, fisherman George Barisich used his boat to help clean up the millions of gallons that spewed forth in the worst offshore spill in U.S. history.

Like many Gulf Coast residents who pitched in after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig on April 20, 2010, Barisich was motivated by both a desire to help and a need to make money — the oil had destroyed his livelihood.

Barry says lawsuit necessary

One week after U. S. Sen. Mary Landrieu touted federal aid as a way to address coastal erosion, author John Barry offered a different view Monday.

“It is unlikely we are going to get anything from the federal government anytime soon,” Barry told the House Transportation Committee.

“Hope is not a plan,” he said.

Lake Michigan oil spill receives little coverage

Lake Michigan is a major point of pride for our state. No matter the season, many Michiganders flock to its cool waters to stare at its soft blue shoreline and admire its clarity.

Recently, however, that clarity was flecked with inky blackness. BP has done it again, and surprisingly little has been said about it.

Judge Rules To Keep Oil Spill Case In Galveston

An update on the lawsuit over last month’s oil spill in Galveston Bay.  Tony Buzbee represents a number of fishermen and businesses in the case against the ship owner involved in the accidental spill.  The maritime attorney says his clients have had a big victory because a judge has denied a request by the owner of the ship to move the case from Galveston to Houston.

Long road ahead to restore Oak Glen Nature Preserve following oil spill

It was late evening on March 17 when neighbors reported smelling diesel near the Oak Glen Nature Preserve in Colerain Township. An underground pipeline run by a Sunoco subsidiary had ruptured and oil was oozing down a hillside creek, collecting in a pond and threatening to seep into the Great Miami River.

A month later, you can still see oil ringing trees like high-water marks.

Another Pipeline, Another Leak

Occasionally, as we consider the fate of our old friend, the Keystone XL pipeline, the continent-spanning death funnel that will bring the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel through the heart of some of the richest farmland in the world, we should miss no opportunity to remind ourselves that pipelines leak, and that the people who own them do not care a great deal whether they do or not, because that’s just a sunk cost of doing the pipeline business. This is a rule so hard and fast that the fact that, when a pipeline leaks and does extensive damage, it doesn’t even qualify as a national news story any more.

Rosneft to Start Drilling Oil in the Arctic This Year

Russia’s biggest oil company Rosneft plans to start drilling for oil on the Arctic shelf in August, the company’s vice president Andrei Shishkin said.

“Rosneft will start working in the Arctic region from this year. In August we will begin drilling at our Universitetskaya well in the Kara Sea and we plan to get first results in November,” Shishkin said at an Arctic Oil and Gas Forum in Moscow, Prime news agency reported.

Here’s Why Russia and Canada Are Clamoring for the Arctic

It’s a frozen, white, endless landscape for nine months of the year, with majestic glaciers that are thousands of years old.

But the Arctic Circle, one of the harshest climates in the world, is slowly becoming the resource capital of our humble planet.

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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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