Environmental Must-Reads – April 23, 2013


New York’s fracking consultant belongs to gas-industry trade group

A consultant hired by the state to assess the impacts of shale-gas drilling is a member of one of New York’s largest gas-industry groups, according to a letter posted by the trade organization Monday.

Fracking in northern states could impact Del. Water

Fracking in Pennsylvania and upstate New York could potentially affect water in the Delaware River Basin, a watershed that provides Delaware with most of its drinking water, according to environmental activists.

Fracking fight returns to City Council

Fort Collins’ ban on fracking and what it means to the single oil and gas development company that operates in the city is returning to the City Council.

Council members are scheduled Tuesday to discuss and possibly vote on an ordinance that would lift a citywide moratorium on oil and gas operations as it applies to Prospect Energy LLC, which operates in the Fort Collins Field on the northeast edge of the city. The ordinance is up for a second and final reading.

Sasol Ltd to Add Chemicals & Plastics in Louisiana

Sasol Ltd., the largest world-wide producer of motor fuel from coal, will profit from its investment of as much as $21 billion in two new Louisiana plants by producing plastics and chemicals, Chief Executive Officer David Constable said.

All Eyes on Fort Collins Fracking Ban Vote

On April 23, the Fort Collins City Council will once again discuss, and potentially vote on, the extremely controversial issue of banning fracking in Fort Collins. In March, the city council passed a ban on fracking that grandfathered in the one driller that currently operates on eight well pads in northern Fort Collins. But three weeks later, in a quiet vote with no public input by citizens or the city’s boards and commissions, the city council passed an “agreement” with that driller allowing the company to drill and frack on two new square miles of land surrounding the Budweiser brewery in North Fort Collins.

Josh Fox’s ‘Gasland’ Sequel Opens, a Tour Through a Land of Abandoned Homes and Broken Promises

Gasland Part II, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, takes us deep into the heartland of America, a land overtaken by gas extraction via fracking. The iconic and recurring depictions of water-on-fire seen in the first Gasland, in the new film serve as postcards from a travelogue through a land of broken promises, abandoned homes, and extinguished rights.

Josh Fox’s Gasland Part II Faces Aggressive Oil and Gas Public Relations Campaign

“It’s coming,” a baritone voice warns as images of a fiery hellscape flash across the screen. “Lies. Deception,” someone whispers, just before the narrator launches into a diatribe about Josh Fox’s new documentary, Gasland Part II, in a youtube clip whose esthetic falls somewhere between b-horror movie and election season attack ad. It’s the sort of video that might be campy if it wasn’t made with an actual budget.

BP oil spill settlement claims can be paid while BP appeals judge’s decision

A court-appointed claims administrator can continue making payments to businesses affected by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico while BP appeals a judge’s decision in a dispute over the payouts.

BP oil spill continues to affect Louisiana coast

Three years ago, we watched in disgust as oil from a flaming BP drilling platform spewed into the Gulf of Mexico, making an ever-growing black splotch on the surface and untold underwater damage.

Corexit: An Oil Spill Solution Worse Than the Problem?

Every three to four weeks, a cycle of horror repeats itself across Steve Kolian’s face. First it becomes itchy. Then the bumps appear. Then a raw, irritating redness sets in before the skin peels away in patches. Finally, it all disappears for a while.

State becomes third to sue BP over 2010 oil spill

Mississippi has become the third state to sue BP PLC over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Attorney General Jim Hood announced the state had filed lawsuits in federal and state court. The move comes one day before the three-year statute of limitations expires for claims related to the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon that killed 11 and the oil spill that followed.

Halliburton Seeking Settlement Over Gulf Oil Spill

BP’s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 announced Monday that it is trying to negotiate a settlement over its role in the disaster, a focus of trial testimony that ended last week.

Halliburton Seeks a Deal Over Oil Spill

Halliburton is in advanced talks to settle claims against it in a trial over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the company said on Monday, when it booked a $637 million charge for a possible deal.

Appellate court denies BP’s request to stop oil spill settlement payments

A U.S. appeals court panel has denied BP’s request to stop oil spill settlement payments and block the claims administrator from determining those payments while the oil giant appeals a lower court’s ruling.

Three years later, coastal communities still struggling with impacts of oil spill: Telley Madina

Three years ago, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig kicked off the largest offshore oil spill in history, as nearly five million barrels of oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico over the course of several months. Most of the oil is still there today. And it will be there three years from now. We are still trying to measure its impact – not only on the land and water, and the flora and fauna – but also on the people who live in the communities along the coast. These are the folks who have lost livelihoods, well-being and possibly a way of life that endured for generations.

Chemist in Mayflower: Population made sick by emissions from ExxonMobil oil spill

The Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group hosted a town hall meeting in Mayflower Monday, when people across the state and country celebrated Earth Day. In response to the ExxonMobil oil spill that occurred on March 29, the group members said they conducted independent tests on the air and water from Lake Conway.

Ark. Oil Spill Probe Falls to Understaffed Agency With Close Industry Ties

Just a day after roughly one million gallons of heavy Canadian crude oil spilled into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010, the National Transportation Safety Board announced it was launching a formal investigation into the incident. It quickly set up shop in a local hotel and conducted dozens of interviews with pipeline workers, local officials and residents. It did field and laboratory analysis of the ruptured pipeline in its own labs. And its investigators pored over the responsible company’s records to recreate what happened.

Oil, money and politics; EPA snags Keystone XL pipeline

The politics of oil and ecology have put President Obama between a rock and hard place, as he faces a decision on whether or not to permit construction of a new pipeline. The squeeze just got tighter with a new, negative environmental assessment.

EPA criticizes environmental review of Keystone XL pipeline

The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday criticized the State Department’s environmental impact review of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying there was not enough evidence to back up key conclusions on gas emissions, safety and alternative routes.

US environment regulator slams Keystone pipeline review

The U.S. environment regulator on Monday said the State Department must take a harder look at climate and other impacts of the Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil sands pipeline before the Obama administration issues a final decision on the project.

Greens: Massive civil disobedience if Obama OKs Keystone pipeline

As the White House creeps toward a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, some environmental groups used Monday — the 43rd annual Earth Day — to warn President Obama again that approval of the massive project would carry very real consequences.

More Than One Million Comments Urge Obama Administration to Reject Keystone XL

Opponents of Keystone XL have submitted more than one million comments urging President Obama, Secretary Kerry and the State Department to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, following the publication of the latest deficient environmental review. There is a common message among the opponents of the pipeline: Keystone XL is all risk and no reward.

Fukushima Leaks Won’t Seep Beyond Plant for Decades, IAEA Says

Radioactive water leaks at the Fukushima atomic station won’t seep beyond the plant for decades, the International Atomic Energy Agency said, citing data provided by operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501)

The estimate is based on the properties of the soil and other factors, Juan Carlos Lentijo, who directs the IAEA’s nuclear fuel cycle and waste-technology division, said at a press conference in Tokyo. He didn’t give details, nor did he say if the IAEA had ran its own seepage tests at the wrecked plant.

Fukushima, Two Years On

Two years on from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Roger Pulvers, a regular visitor to Japan, describes the secrecy over personal losses, damage to the environment, decontamination costs and harm to the health of maintenance workers.

Radioactive mud in Fukushima school pools tops 100,000 becquerels

Radioactive cesium levels exceeding 100,000 becquerels per kilogram were measured in mud accumulated at the bottom of swimming pools at two high schools in and around Fukushima city.

Fukushima plagued by rats

Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant halted cooling of a spent fuel pool at the site on Monday to remove two dead rats, the third time cooling equipment has gone offline in five weeks because of rodents.

Fukushima decommissioning to last for up to 40 years – IAEA

It could take 30 to 40 years to fully decommission the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant due to complexity of the task, UN nuclear watchdog IAEA has reported. However, the plant’s infrastructure may not last that long.

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspection last week of the ruined Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma has exposed certain bottlenecks in the plan to clean up the nuclear disaster. A statement by the IAEA released Monday criticized TEPCO’s progress on the cleanup.

SF takes first step to approve watered-down cellphone radiation settlement

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors approves a proposed settlement with the wireless industry over the “Right to Know” ordinance. Health care advocates wanted a tougher measure.

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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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