Environmental Must-Reads – April 16, 2013


Fracking for uranium, first accidentally, and now on purpose

What has 92 protons, deforms growing children, sickens adults, and is being squeezed out of its underground lair by frackers operating in Pennsylvania?

Legislation Targets Mandates for Water Recycling in Oil, Gas Industry

Legislation introduced last week into the Texas Legislature mandating the recycling of produced and flowback water from hydraulic fracturing operations mark the most recent efforts by lawmakers to make water recycling mandatory.

Farmers and foodies say fracking’s a threat

Farmers and foodies are urging Governor Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State right away. The groups argue fracking is a threat to the state’s agricultural viability.

Will Fracking Ban in Fort Collins Continue?

Today, three citizens groups—Clean Water Action, Sierra Club and Frack Free Fort Collins—asked the City of Fort Collins to keep its drilling and fracking moratorium in place to protect citizens from cancer-causing fracking chemicals. The moratorium is set to expire on July 31, the vote to terminate the fracking moratorium is tomorrow, April 16.

WV Worker Dead after Injuries in Gas Flash Fire

A worker has died from injuries suffered in an accident at a natural gas operation in Tyler County. The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that 56-year-old Bruce Phipps of Marietta, Ohio, died late Friday night.

Mock Wedding Illustrates Misguided Marriage Between Fracking Industry and Environmental Groups

A coalition of Pennsylvania and Ohio students and residents staged a mock wedding today at the EQT Plaza in downtown Pittsburgh, PA, to condemn the misguided union of corporations and environmental nonprofits through the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD).

Much Watched Fracking Compromise Bill Faces Uncertain Future

The State of Illinois is one of the current battlegrounds in the national debate over hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”  That state is being closely watched in large part due to the current effort to pass a comprehensive regulatory bill that is touted as an unusual compromise between industry and environmental groups.

Current Law is Inadequate to Ensure Doctors, Nurses, and First Responders Have Access to Fracking Chemical Information

Late last week, outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said that a new Obama Administration proposal for rules related to fracking on public lands is “imminent.”  Those rules are expected to require disclosure of the chemicals companies use when they frack.  The rules apply to fracking of any oil or gas well where the federal government manages the rights to the oil and gas, including beneath about 700 million acres of federal and tribal lands and about 57 million acres of private lands.  The first draft of the Administration’s rules, released last May, allowed companies to keep certain information confidential if it qualifies as a “trade secret.”  But the first draft provided no way for doctors, nurses, or emergency responders to obtain the information if it is necessary to respond to an accident or to diagnose or treat a patient.  This new proposal must do better.

Investors tackle hidden climate impact of natural gas

Natural gas may be half as carbon intensive as coal but a closer look reveals a heavy carbon footprint. Now sustainability-focused investors are calling for action on ‘fugitive methane’

Report Shows Texas Counties Where Fracking and Water Needs Collide

The Texas legislature is currently considering plans to fund water projects for the state. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry is using billions of gallons of freshwater for fracking, which is getting the attention of lawmakers.

Proposal Examines Fees for Industrial Use of Pennsylvania’s Water Resources

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on an effort in Harrisburg to impose a new fee for the “consumptive use” of water. It would impact industries like gas drillers and bottled water companies.

BP oil spill trial: BP wells supervisor frustrated by last-minute Macondo changes

BP’s Houston-based wells team leader testified Monday that he had grown frustrated by a series of last-minute changes to the Macondo drilling project in the days before the well blew out.

John Guide, who worked for three decades in the oil and gas industry, including seven years as a drilling superintendent in the Gulf of Mexico, took the stand on the 27th day of the sprawling civil trial.

BP Manager Testifies at Trial Over Gulf Oil Spill

A BP team leader who supervised managers on the oil rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 testified Monday that he was frustrated by last-minute changes to the drilling project, but didn’t have any safety concerns before the deadly blast.

BP Official Says He Wasn’t to Blame for Rig Explosion

The BP Plc (BP/) official who oversaw operations at the Macondo well testified he wasn’t responsible for the fatal blast that ripped through the rig and sent millions of barrels of oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico.

John Guide, the well-team leader for the Macondo project, denied yesterday that he made drilling decisions, including to forgo extra well stabilizers, that critics contend may have increased the chances of an explosion. Guide said those decisions were made by other BP officials.

Gulf seafood industry rebounding from oil spill impact

This Saturday marks three years since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. And this week, WLOX News will be taking a closer look at the impact of that tragedy and the ongoing recovery.

The seafood industry certainly felt the impact.

Constitutional amendment on oil spill money passes first hurdle

Penalty money Louisiana will receive because of the Gulf Coast oil spill would be constitutionally earmarked to Louisiana’s coastal protection fund, under a proposal that received the backing Monday of the House Appropriations Committee.

Seismic activity stops work at giant Louisiana sinkhole

Crews have been forced once again to cease work near the massive sinkhole in Assumption Parish due to more seismic activity in the area.

Ruptured pipeline in Mayflower, Arkansas removed, sent to lab for tests

Fifty-two feet of the Pegasus Pipeline in Mayflower has been removed from the North Woods subdivision.

The process took all day Monday. Two excavators and more than two dozen workers removed the pipe in two sections, one 33-foot section and another 19-foot section including the 22-foot section that ruptured, causing more than 5,000 barrels of oil to spill.

Crews remove part of pipeline after Ark. oil spill

Crews on Monday removed a damaged piece of pipeline from which thousands of barrels of oil spilled in central Arkansas last month, as investigators try to determine what caused the rupture.

To Reinvigorate Production, Alaska Grants a Tax Break to Oil Companies

Hoping to reverse two decades of declining oil production in Alaska, the State Legislature in Juneau has granted oil companies an estimated $750 million in annual tax relief to increase investment in the giant North Slope oil field.

The tax change, approved on Sunday, was a major victory for Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and BP, which had lobbied for years to repeal a tax system put in place by former Gov. Sarah Palin in 2007 that made state oil taxes among the highest in the nation. The companies have long claimed that high operating costs and taxes in Alaska encouraged them to move their investment dollars to other states with lower tax rates, like Texas and North Dakota, where oil and gas exploration and production have been booming in new shale fields.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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