Environmental Must-Reads – April 18, 2013


Fracking Tax Pushed in Pennsylvania Green-Energy Governor Quest

John Hanger, a prolific blogger running for governor of Pennsylvania, recently drew attention to two farmers he learned about from a local public-radio station.

The men leased the drilling rights on their land to gas producer Range Resources Corp. (RRC), then used the proceeds to install solar panels on their property. “The shale-gas revolution has turned energy on its head, and solar will do it again,” Hanger says.

Supporters of anti-fracking amendment unveil 2 billboards

Supporters of an anti-fracking charter amendment in the city unveiled two billboards in their campaign to persuade voters to cast ballots May 7 for the issue.

Members of Frack Free Youngs-town also urged registered voters in the city to cast ballots early for the “community bill of rights.”

Lawsuit aims to keep more land from fracking

Still celebrating one landmark legal victory, two environmental groups have filed a new lawsuit to protect an additional 17,000 acres of Central California agricultural and ranch lands from oil and gas “fracking.”

The lawsuit against newly appointed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the Bureau of Land Management asserts the government auctioned oil-drilling leases on the land in December without sufficiently considering the dangers hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, poses to watersheds, endangered wildlife and air quality.

Going Behind Bars to Protest Fracking

Biologist and activist Sandra Steingraber explains why she and others illegally blocked the driveway of natural gas company Inergy in upstate New York , a crime for which she went to jail on Wednesday, April 17 — a day after her interview with Bill Moyers for Moyers & Company. The protesters, known as the Seneca Lake 12, were demonstrating against fracking and Inergy’s plans to store millions of barrels of highly-pressurized gas in abandoned salt mines. Steingraber is serving a 15-day sentence.

Anti-Fracking Activist Sandra Steingraber’s Pursuit of a Healthy Environment

Sandra Steingraber PhD, the acclaimed author and ecologist, is determined to stop natural gas companies from ever conducting hydraulic fracturing in her upstate New York community. She was raised in a family whose members did not close their eyes to the horrors around them.

Those Impacted by Fracking: “The List of the Harmed”

The internet site Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Water and Air is one of the many great sites produced by people living in the Pennsylvania Marcellus area. The area is both heavily populated and heavily drilled which results in so many sites and such good quality. The area has plenty of people articulate enough, with the skills necessary to make themselves heard, and the initiative to actually work on the problems they and their neighbors face. Their “tell it like it is” attitude is something to be proud of.

A Brief History of Our Deadly Addiction to Nitrogen Fertilizer

As investigators and rescuers move through a destroyed fertilizer factory in West, Texas, it makes me think about just what nitrogen fertilizer is, and why we use so much of it.

Environmental Groups Sue Feds Over Central California Fracking

Two environmental groups filed a new lawsuit against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in federal court in San Jose Thursday, accusing it of failing to study the risks of fracking on 17,833 acres of public land in Monterey County and the Central Valley that it leased to 15 oil development companies.

Groups Sue Interior Secretary to Protect California Public Lands From Fracking

In the wake of a landmark legal victory against fracking on public lands last week, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Sierra Club filed a new lawsuit today challenging the Obama Administration’s auction of an additional 17,000 acres in Monterey, San Benito and Fresno counties for drilling and fracking.

Another Reason to Ban Fracking: Obama Administration Approves Lax Guidelines for Radioactive Exposure

When it comes to exposure to radioactive materials, how much is too much? If you’re like most people, or scientists, the answer is probably “any amount.” But the Obama administration apparently didn’t get the memo because this week, it finalized new guidelines for the amount of radioactivity to which the public can safely be exposed following a nuclear incident.

Without much fanfare, first chapter of BP Gulf oil spill trial comes to close

Without much more than a few words of praise from the presiding judge for the lawyers who tried the case, the first phase of the sprawling BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial came to a low-key close Wednesday. It was almost three years to the day after the explosion and collapse of the Deepwater Horizon rig, which killed 11 workers and caused one of the worst environmental disasters in the nation’s history.

Testimony ends for first phase of BP oil spill trial

Testimony concluded Wednesday for the first phase of a high-stakes trial over the deadly 2010 rig explosion that led to the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, but the presiding judge didn’t immediately rule in the case.

3 Years Later: Oil Spill Cleanup, Study Carries On

At first glance, the marshy, muddy coastline of Bay Jimmy in southeast Louisiana appears healthy three years after the nation’s worst offshore oil spill. Brown pelicans and seagulls cruise the shoreline, plucking fish and crabs from the water. Snails hold firm to tall blades of marsh grass.

Underneath the surface, environmentalists and scientists fear there may be trouble, from tiny organisms to dolphins. Yet the long-term environmental impact from the spill is still not fully known and will likely be debated for years to come.

Oil Industry’s Addiction To Toxic Dispersants Costing Everyone Billions (Not Just BP!)

Year 3, Gulf Oil Spill Disaster — An entirely new approach to oil spill problems associated with drilling, transport, pipelines and storage mishaps could find surprising common ground between the oil industry and environmentalists, according to a new position paper just released entitled: A Call for a Twenty-First-Century SOLUTION in Oil Spill Response. Written and compiled by the Science and Technology Board of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (LAEO), the analysis not only brings to light the dangerous flaws associated with current oil spill cleanup methods, but outlines technology they claim will not only save marine life, oceans, animals and people, but also save millions (and in BP’s case could have saved billions) of dollars in damages and cleanup costs to oil companies and local economies impacted by spills.

Finding oil in the marsh, 3 years after BP spill

Three years after the Gulf oil disaster, Plaquemines Parish Coastal Zone Management Director P.J. Hahn knows where to find oil.

Hahn pulls up marsh grass in Bay Jimmy, revealing the oil-covered roots.

In some sensitive spots along the coastline, officials chose to leave the oil untouched rather than risk doing further harm to the fragile coastline by trampling it with heavy equipment.

USM Gulf Coast Research Lab still looking into oil spill impact

Saturday marks three years since the Deepwater Horizon explosion and BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. This week, WLOX News has been taking a closer look at the ongoing impact of that disaster.

USM’s Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs has been involved in oil spill research the past three years. And while most of us would like some answers about the effects of the oil spill, reliable science takes time.

The Agency That Investigates Fertilizer Explosions Is Busy Investigating BP’s Explosion

A placid announcement from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board that it’s heading to West, Texas, to investigate the massive fertilizer plant explosion shouldn’t be remarkable. But it is. Such deployments are rare. Critics of the agency — which is tasked with investigating such accidents — charge that it’s mismanaged and prioritizes the wrong investigations. The agency blames someone else, if indirectly: BP.

Exxon cleaning oil from Arkansas wetland

Work is under way in Mayflower, Ark., to replace storm drains and clean a marshland polluted by a March oil spill, Exxon Mobil said.

Sinkhole “burps” and “swallows” more land

Officials said there was a “burp” and slough-in at the massive south Louisiana sinkhole Thursday morning.

The Assumption Parish Police Jury reported the collapse was on the east side of the sinkhole, but it is not yet known how much land was lost. Officials added the water in the sinkhole continues to move, which is an indication that this event is not over.

Keystone Pipeline Foes Vent in Nebraska

Hundreds of people braved heavy snow and wind on Thursday, streaming into this central Nebraska town to speak out on the Keystone XL pipeline at what may be the final public hearing on the project.

Rowdy Keystone pipeline hearing pits workers vs greens

U.S. construction workers, environmentalists and company executives squared off on Thursday at a raucous meeting on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, but it was unclear the gathering changed any minds on the controversial project.

Keystone pipeline hearing draws opponents and supporters in Nebraska

Opponents and supporters of a massive Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline converged on a snowy Nebraska town Thursday for what could become a pivotal moment for the project.

Despite a spring storm that brought sleet and snow to Nebraska, the U.S. State Department hearing in Grand Island was expected to draw at least several hundred people from the state as well as activists from outside the region who consider the state a key battleground over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Yet More Proof That Keystone XL Won’t Reduce Gas Prices

There are four days left to submit a public comment to the State Department on the Keystone XL pipeline. As we’ve reported time and time again here on DeSmogBlog, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would not improve America’s energy security as proponents of the pipeline insist. Nor would completion of the pipeline reduce gas prices here in America, another common claim.

Feds: Emergency containment equipment a must for Arctic

Oil companies seeking to drill in Arctic waters must have emergency equipment capable of reining in runaway subsea wells, a top Obama administration official said Wednesday.

The declaration by Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes appears to answer a major question facing ConocoPhillips and other oil companies that have wondered whether they must follow Shell’s lead in building specialized emergency equipment before drilling in the area.

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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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