Environmental Must-Reads – April 17, 2014


St. Tammany residents voice fears of fracking at community meeting

St. Tammany Parish residents packed the Spitzfaden Community Center on Wednesday night to find out more about a company’s plans to drill an oil well — the first in the parish — just north of Interstate 12 near Mandeville and to state their concerns about its potential effects on their drinking water, property values and public health.

St. Tammany Parish residents angry over ‘fracking’ proposal

Fears of plummeting property values and pollution were at the forefront among a standing-room-only crowd that gathered Wednesday night (April 16) in Mandeville to express opposition to a proposal to drill for oil near the city.

Citizens told officials from the state Department of Natural Resources, which regulates oil and gas drilling in Louisiana, that they’ve read numerous media stories and studies about how the hydraulic fracturing method of drilling being proposed by Helis Oil & Gas has caused property values to drop and created health risks in other parts of the country.

Are fracking emissions worse than we thought?

A new study by scientists from Purdue and Cornell suggests that the methane emissions from shale gas could be much higher than previously thought. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at fugitive methane emissions in Pennsylvania by flying an airplane over drilling sites and collecting samples. What they found was a bit unnerving.

Patient suspects ‘cancer cluster’ in Flower Mound

Cathrine Benefiel should spend her days attending college and thinking about her future.

Instead, the 22-year-old Flower Mound resident spends a lot of time living day-to-day while chatting online in cancer support groups.

“It’s a roller coaster,” she said. “You just don’t know what direction it will take you.”

Radioactive Waste Booms With Fracking as New Rules Mulled

Oilfields are spinning off thousands of tons of low-level radioactive trash as the U.S. drilling boom leads to a surge in illegal dumping and states debate how much landfills can safely take.

State regulators are caught between environmental and public health groups demanding more regulation and the industry, which says it’s already taking proper precautions. As scientists debate the impact of small amounts of radiation on cancer risks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there’s not enough evidence to say what level is safe.

Bill would ban fracking waste from state

Connecticut’s geology doesn’t support the existence of oil or natural gas, but state lawmakers on Monday approved legislation dealing with the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, that is used to release such fossil fuels. It would ban disposal here of fracking waste from other states.

The Judiciary Committee approved the bill with a bipartisan majority and it heads to the Senate as the General Assembly closes in on midnight May 7 deadline. A similar bill, in the state House, would create a two-year moratorium on fracking waste while state environmental officials study the issue.

Dems, GOP Debate Over Health Impacts Of Fracking

A debate over the health impacts of fracking is being played out at the state Capitol between Democrats and Republicans.

The Democrats want a new study on the health impacts but Republicans call it a fishing expedition.

States Peering Over the Fence on Fracking Rules

The natural-gas boom that has taken the country by storm has also taken states by surprise.

Government with little experience in the relatively new hydraulic fracturing procedures are scrambling to figure out how to regulate the air and water pollution that comes from fracking. So, like all good neighbors, that’s left them peering over the fence to see what policies are coming from other statehouses.

A new frontier for fracking in Virginia

Controversial hydraulic fracking is becoming a distinct possibility in areas south and east of Fredericksburg on land famed for its bucolic and watery splendors, not to mention for being the birthplaces of such figures as George Washington, James Monroe and Robert E. Lee.

After buying up 84,000 acres worth of leases from Caroline to Westmoreland Counties, a Dallas-based company this week participated in a public discussion of its plans.

Fracking Sand Spurs Grain-Like Silos for Rail Transport

The U.S. shale oil boom is putting millions of tons of sand onto North American railroads, enabling carriers to pack trains full instead of hauling just a handful of cars at a time.

With help from Union Pacific Corp. (UNP) and Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway Co., the sleepy silica sand industry that once mostly supplied glassmakers now ships more than 20 million tons of the material a year. Buyers including Halliburton Co. (HAL) and Schlumberger Ltd. (SLB) use the sand in hydraulic fracturing at oil fields in Texas and North Dakota.

 ‘Active Cleanup’ of Oil Spill Is Ended on Louisiana Coast

The cleanup efforts on the Gulf Coast in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill have entered a new phase, with the oil company BP announcing that it is ending its “active cleanup” of Louisiana’s coast almost four years after the disaster.

In a statement, BP said that the Coast Guard ended patrols on Tuesday of the final three miles of affected shoreline in Louisiana.

Four Years After BP: Hunting for Oil Spills in Louisiana

The New Orleans skyline is fading in the distance as we fly over the Mississippi River in a small, four-seat airplane on a sunny spring day in early March. It’s been nearly four years since oil from BP’s massive Deepwater Horizon disaster began gushing into the Gulf of Mexico and seeping into the vast system of wetlands and waterways below us. Cleanup and restoration efforts are still ongoing, but the oily legacy of the BP spill is not the only challenge facing southern Louisiana.

BP finds a friend in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — but look who gets screwed

Last spring, when BP reneged on its Settlement Agreement and stopped paying damages to small businesses that had agreed not to sue over the worst oil spill in history, you might have expected the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to rush to the defense of struggling Gulf Coast commerce.

You’d have been wrong. The national chamber — as distinguished from local chambers of commerce — has betrayed them.

Ex-US Attorney Raymond Lamonica named head of Gulf oil spill claims audit panel

A former U.S. attorney in Baton Rouge heads up a new three-member audit panel appointed to review the settlement program arising from the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Raymond Lamonica, now a law professor at LSU, was appointed Wednesday by the federal judge overseeing litigation that followed the spill. Also named to the panel were accountant Lloyd Tate and LSU accounting professor Larry Crumbley.

The Galveston Oil Spill, One Month On

On March 22, a barge owned by Kirby Inland Marine carrying 920,000 gallons of thick, tarry RMG 380 fuel oil collided with a ship in the Galveston ship channel. The damaged barge leaked 170,000 gallons of that fuel oil into Galveston Bay, just a few miles from bird sanctuaries such as North Deer Island and Houston Audubon’s Bolivar Flats. The spill occurred at the height of the spring migration, when millions of resident and migratory birds use the Texas coast to feed and breed.

Jimmy Carter urges Keystone rejection, first former U.S. president to do so

Jimmy Carter wants Barack Obama to block Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline to funnel Canadian oil-sands crude to Gulf Coast refineries.

Mr. Carter is the first former U.S. president to urge the current occupant of the Oval Office to reject TransCanada Corp.’s long-delayed $5.5-billion project. Mr. Carter – who is outspoken on human-rights issues – added his voice to nine other Nobel Peace Prize winners as political pressure for Mr. Obama to decide the project’s fate ramps up.

Keystone XL cops – incompetent at all levels

Recently, the US State Department released yet another report on the environmental impacts of building the Keystone pipeline. The report is shocking in its ironic juxtaposition of real greenhouse gas emissions and the potential impact on the Earth’s climate. It is also shocking because the State Department tells us the pipeline will be made to withstand climate change, but won’t be responsible for those changes. The report reflects an incompetence of the authors of the report and a divorce of the report from common sense. It isn’t just me who feels this way, other groups concur the State Department report is faulty.

Nobel winners to White House: Reject Keystone XL

10 recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize called on President Obama’s administration to reject an application for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada.

Pipeline company TransCanada submitted an application to build the cross-border pipeline more than five years ago. President Obama said he’d weigh the project against its environmental footprint, and a State Department report this year said the pipeline would have few net issues.

Arkansas residents discover they can’t stop pipeline from crossing their land 

Alison Millsaps, an artist who lives in Dover with her husband, Gordon, and their three children, is shooting photographs to “put a human face on people who are not on board” with the Diamond Pipeline, a Valero/Plains All American Pipeline project planned to bisect Arkansas, cutting across their land.

Contaminated water found leaking from ALPS at Fukushima plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said April 16 it detected a leak of 1 ton of highly contaminated water from the ALPS multinuclide removal equipment at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

TEPCO said the water contained 3.8 million becquerels of beta-ray sources per liter, but has not leaked outside the building housing the ALPS equipment. The utility added that the water contains radioactive material-absorbing agents.

Fukushima towns seek to protect historic sites ahead of hosting waste facilities

A sixth-century stone tower and a Shinto shrine are among local cultural assets the town of Okuma wants to protect ahead of a central government plan to construct temporary facilities to store radioactive waste in the vicinity.

A project got under way April 17 to evaluate the town’s heritage that will enable its officials to urge the central government to protect historical sites when considering areas for the temporary storage sites.

Floating nuclear power plants could avoid disasters like Fukushima

Researchers have an idea for how future nuclear reactors can avoid the trauma that led to the 2011 disaster at Fukushima: by building new plants five to seven miles out into the ocean. “This affords some absolutely crucial advantages,” Jacopo Buongiorno, a professor of nuclear science and engineering at MIT, which led the research, explains in a video presenting the idea. In particular, Buongiorno says that this distance into the ocean will remove the risk of tsunamis, which won’t throw big waves in such deep water, and of earthquakes, the seismic waves of which will be damped by the ocean.

Estimated radiation doses of Fukushima returnees withheld for half a year

The government withheld findings on estimated radiation exposure for Fukushima returnees for six months, even though levels exceeded the long-term target of 1 millisievert a year at more than half of surveyed locations.

Individual radiation doses were estimated to be beyond 1 millisievert per year, or 0.23 microsievert an hour, at 24 of all the 43 surveyed sites, including ones in the Miyakoji district in Tamura, Fukushima Prefecture, The Asahi Shimbun learned April 15.

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This