Environmental Must-Reads – April 17, 2013


California bill would target fracking industry’s water use

A bill regulating water use by oil producers cleared its first legislative test Monday night.

Authored by Assemblymember Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley, the bill would require companies to disclose the source and amounts of water used in production, including fracking. It also demands they get approval from state water regulators on how the water would be disposed.

Divided Fort Collins City Council delays fracking decision

The lone oil development company working in Fort Collins will have to wait another week to learn whether it may continue drilling and fracking within city limits.

A divided City Council on Tuesday voted 4-3 to postpone a decision on lifting a moratorium on oil and gas operations within Fort Collins as it applies to Prospect Energy, which has wells in an oilfield in the far northeast part of the city.

Alaska regulators gather input on fracking disclosure rules

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is being asked to issue hydraulic fracturing regulations that require oil companies to provide more information about chemicals that have the potential to contaminate nearby land and water.

Colorado: BLM releases North Fork oil and gas leasing info

Community groups in Colorado this week hailed the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to release the names of the entities who nominated the public lands in Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling and fracking.

Jazzed by methane hydrates potential, state agrees to cooperate with feds

From LNG 17, a huge, global conference on liquefied natural gas taking place in Houston, Texas, this week, Alaska Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan announced that the state and the federal government have pledged to work together in the effort to get more of Alaska’s hydrocarbons into the energy stream.

Fracking campaign under way in Argentina

Three wells in Argentina were subjected to a hydraulic fracturing campaign to coax additional natural resources from the ground, President Energy announced.

Colorado and Wyoming: more spills; no fines

Since early March, citizens across Colorado have been hearing about groundwater contamination near the town of Parachute in western Colorado. High levels of benzene–a known carcinogen–have been found in groundwater about 1,400 feet downstream of the presumed source of a leak. A monitoring well about 10 feet from Parachute Creek found benzene at 340 parts per billion, and the drinking water standard for benzene is a maximum 5 ppb. After a month, there are reports of a faulty pressure gauge causing the leak, but there are also reports of pumper trucks using contaminated hoses to fill up with water from Parachute Creek.

In other frackademia news, Congressional Western Caucus starts a “university”

The Congressional Western Caucus announced last week it will launch an online, Western Caucus University. The caucus claims the point of the new website is to educate the public on “what it means to live and work in the West.” Since the western caucus is comprised of oil- and gas-funded members of Congress who commonly advocate for the oil and gas industry, it’s likely this university’s “curriculum” will include whitewashed information about drilling and fracking.

Letter on Marcellus Shale Gas Development in WV

Experience here in the Marcellus and elsewhere shows property damage to private individuals and to public property is a major issue with shale drilling, often called fracking. Well pads require 3 to 5 acres which are essentially removed from biological production forever. Pits large enough to park 40 tanker trucks are dug for fracking solutions.

First phase of Gulf oil spill trial nearing conclusion

British oil giant BP could rest its case in the civil trial over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill as early as today, and testimony in the first phase could also conclude after eight weeks.

BP oil spill trial continues as demonstrators note upcoming 3-year anniversary of disaster

A former Transocean executive testified Tuesday (April 16) that a key piece of equipment intended to shut down BP’s Macondo oil well in an emergency would have succeeded if its automatic mode function had worked.

Environmental, social justice groups reflect on oil spill disaster

Environmental and social justice groups held a news conference in Biloxi on Tuesday, talking about the ongoing impact of the BP oil spill that happened three years ago this week.

Representatives from those groups not only looked at the damage done, they also offered suggestions for moving forward.

Search for lingering BP oil spill tar mats over on Pensacola Beach

The heavy equipment is packed up and the work crews have wrapped up a roughly 10-day search for lingering tar mats on Pensacola Beach.

The U.S. Coast Guard-led operation to hunt for the sources of reoccurring tar balls from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster, on the a two-mile stretch of beach from Avenida 10 and east, netted a little more than 450 pounds of weathered oil.

Environmental leaders send BP a message: ‘It’s not over’

Five days ahead of the third anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and the ensuing underwater oil gusher, the message at a rally Tuesday in front of the Hale Boggs Federal Building was clear: It’s far from over.

BP sold Texas oil refinery after making hundreds of people sick, victims claim

After releasing toxic chemicals that left hundreds sick, BP sold its Texas City, Texas oil refinery for $2.4 billion. Now the oil and gas company is facing a $1 billion lawsuit for “violating the rights and endangering the health” of 474 plaintiffs.

Keystone XL Oil Pipeline Exacerbates Climate Change

A new study suggests that permitting more tar sands oil to flow would raise greenhouse gas pollution by the equivalent of nearly 40 million cars and trucks

Tug captain dies after pipeline fire

The captain of a tugboat that caught fire after igniting a pipeline northeast of Larose last month has died.

Funeral services were today for Chad James Breaux Sr., 46, a Houma native and resident, who died from his burn injuries Wednesday, according to his obituary published this weekend.

Landowners Speak Out Against Keystone Pipeline

The controversial Keystone pipeline faces public scrutiny once again, maybe for the last time. This time, federal officials want to know what Nebraskans think.

“All this land has been in the family for generations,” Kevin Graves said of the farm “in the middle”, not far from Polk, Bradshaw, and Benedict.

Moving on, Shell signs agreement with Russia to seek oil in Arctic

Although Royal Dutch Shell has announced a hiatus this summer for exploring the Beaufort Sea and Arctic Ocean off of Alaska, the energy giant isn’t slowing down.  Shell has signed an agreement with Russian energy giant Gazprom, allowing it to explore and develop petroleum prospects in Russia’s Arctic.

Icelandic trade alliance advances Chinese Arctic ambition

In exchange for advantageous trade tariffs, Iceland may be able to give China the Arctic influence it’s been seeking, as it supports the world’s second largest economy’s bid to join the Arctic Council.

After entering a free trade agreement on Monday, the remote and recession-crippled Iceland is brokering Chinese Arctic access.

Berm expected to contain sinkhole brine, oil

Bulldozers and men have been at work building the next phase of a 1.5-mile-long berm and upgraded levee system aimed at containing the briney and oily contents of the Assumption Parish sinkhole.

Black geotextile fabric and white geosynthetic liner — about 7,800 linear feet of each — are being laid on top of a sand base that was finished in February, Texas Brine Co. officials said in a written response to questions. The white liner contains a special clay and is used to contain landfills and ponds.

Chevron ignored a decade of warnings before Richmond refinery explosion

An August fire and explosion at a refinery in Richmond, Calif. — which sickened 15,000 residents of the San Francisco Bay area — was the result of Chevron not giving a shit about safety.

That’s the paraphrased conclusion of an investigation into the accident by the U.S. Chemical Safety Board. While releasing an interim report Monday, the board said a regulatory overhaul was needed to protect the public from such accidents.

Cooking the Books: State Department Ignores True Climate Impact of Keystone XL Pipeline

A new report out today from environmental groups—Oil Change International, Natural Resources Defense Council, 350.org, Environment America, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, Greenpeace—shows that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would, if approved, be responsible for at least 181 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) each year, comparable to the tailpipe emissions from more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal-fired power plants.

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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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