Environmental Must-Reads – April 24, 2013


Legislators prepare for potential ‘fracking’ in Florida

No one knows if Florida is going to be the next frontier for the new generation of oil and gas drilling known as fracking, but state legislators say — just in case — it’s time to write rules to require disclosure of the controversial technology.

Yoko Ono Comes Together With Musicians–Including Paul McCartney–Over Fracking

Yoko Ono and Paul McCartney’s relationship dates back about half a century. Famously, John Lennon’s widow and his former bandmate have had their share of differences over the years.

But in recent months, they’ve found something to agree on: That the drilling practice of hydraulic fracturing, better known as “fracking,” shouldn’t be allowed in New York State.

Fracking disclosure site has ‘serious deficiencies,’ study says

A government-mandated website on which oil and gas companies list chemicals they pump into the ground at hydraulic fracturing sites has “serious deficiencies,” according to a study by Harvard Law School released Tuesday.

The study found FracFocus.org lacked transparency and gave companies “overly broad” authority to determine what they can

Colorado fracking database questioned by Harvard study

The online database that Colorado employs for disclosing the ingredients in fracking fluids used in drilling oil and gas wells is seriously flawed, according to a Harvard Law School study.

The analysis, done by the school’s environmental policy initiative, found reporting errors and gaps in the independent database FracFocus.

Q&A: ‘Gasland Part II’ Director Josh Fox on the Fight Against Fracking

Three years after the Oscar-nominated documentary Gasland secured fracking a place in the global lexicon, director Josh Fox returns with Gasland Part II, which premiered this weekend at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival. The sequel opens with quick cuts of Republicans and Democrats extolling the virtues of natural gas drilling, setting viewers up for a rollercoaster ride through government and corporate accountability. Like his first film, Fox spotlights the various health problems and water contamination issues facing individuals that live near gas wells. Part II, which will premiere on HBO this summer, also charts the EPA’s progress and interviews members of the the scientific community. Rolling Stone spoke with Fox about gas infrastructure and what it’s like to get kicked off Capitol Hill.

Fort Collins City Council postpones action on fracking ban

The City Council on Tuesday again delayed a decision on how a ban on fracking in Fort Collins would impact the lone oil and gas development company operating in the city.

Council members voted unanimously to delay a decision on lifting a citywide moratorium on oil and gas operations as it applies to Prospect Energy LLC, which works in the Fort Collins Field on the northeast side of the city.

Mineral rights pose challenge for some Lee County landowners who may be forced to allow drilling

Larry Blakley didn’t mind that he wasn’t getting mineral rights when he bought 73 acres in western Lee County at an auction more than 15 years ago.

“Fracking wasn’t around at that time,” he said. “We knew the mineral rights were severed. I’m pretty sure they announced it at the auction.”

The property off Horseman’s Ridge Lane is in the heart of an area considered a primary target for the controversial method of natural gas exploration. Scientists say a large amount of natural gas may be trapped in underground rock in Lee and nearby counties.

Fracking Moratorium Bill Attracts Support From Nurses, Farmers, Cancer Group

A state assembly bill that would halt hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in California has won support from the California Nurses Association, Breast Cancer Action, Family Farm Defenders, Aromas Cares for Our Environment, Frack-Free Culver City, Baldwin Hills Oil Watch and more than 100 other organizations representing labor, farmers, public health professionals and local residents concerned about fracking pollution in their communities.

Get Ready for Higher Prices and Less Energy Security: Our Natural Gas Reserves Are Being Plundered For Export

A deeply flawed study that ignores the harmful environmental and health impacts of gas drilling is being used to rally for exports.

Insects fall silent in oiled coastal marshes

Louisiana’s coastal marshes can be noisy places with insects buzzing and chirping constantly, but that’s no longer the case in some places.

“What happened after the Deepwater Horizon is when we came to marsh impacted by the oil, they were relatively silent,” said Linda Hooper-Bui, associate professor in the Department of Entomology at LSU.

The worst part about BP’s oil-spill cover-up: It worked

“It’s as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid.” That’s what Jamie Griffin says the BP man told her about the smelly, rainbow-streaked gunk coating the floor of the “floating hotel” where Griffin was feeding hundreds of cleanup workers during the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently, the workers were tracking the gunk inside on their boots. Griffin, as chief cook and maid, was trying to clean it. But even boiling water didn’t work.

Bondi wants $5.4 billion from BP in oil spill lawsuit

Florida is seeking $5.48 billion in economic damages over the oil spill three years ago, Attorney General Pam Bondi revealed Tuesday at a news conference highlighting her lawsuit against BP and Halliburton.

How’d she get that number? She wouldn’t elaborate because of the litigation. The total includes current, past and future damages, she said, “because we all know there is a large amount of oil on the floor of the Gulf.”

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.

Jefferson County trying to recoup money from BP oil spill

Jefferson County is joining the many municipalities that have filed suit against oil giant BP.

Commissioners say the 2010 oil spill cost the county tax revenue. The argument centers on traffic. The lawsuit will claim people who would have passed through the county didn’t because they cancelled trips to the Gulf. Commissioners say that meant a drop in revenue for businesses and, in turn, a decrease in county tax revenue. The specific amount being sought is not finalized.

AG Hood Sues BP Over 2010 Oil Spill

Mississippi is pursuing millions of dollars in damages from BP after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill 3 years ago devastated the coast. MPB’s Daniel Cherry reports, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is taking the case to the courts.

Attorney General Jim Hood says he filed lawsuits in federal and state courts because BP wouldn’t negotiate and the deadline to seek damages was fast approaching.

U.S. appeals court expedites BP spill claims case

A federal appeals court has agreed to speed up the process of determining whether BP Plc’s settlement with class-action plaintiffs over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is being handled properly.

BP had asked for the case to be heard as early as late May, and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans agreed late on Monday to an expedited appeal, but denied BP’s request that payments be suspended until the appeal outcome is known.

Spilled tar sands oil could be creeping toward the Arkansas River

Rocker Neil Young wanted to see for himself the damage from ExxonMobil’s ruptured Pegasus oil pipeline, which recently spewed reeking, black goo into small-town Mayflower, Ark. So Young, a stalwart environmentalist, drove his revamped, super fuel-efficient hybrid 1959 Lincoln Continental into Mayflower on Monday, unannounced.

New phase for Arkansas oil spill cleanup

The cleanup from a March oil spill in Mayflower, Ark., has moved from the emergency to the long-term remediation phase, Exxon Mobil said.

About 5,000 barrels of oil spilled from a 22-foot rupture on the Pegasus pipeline in late March. The pipeline, installed in the 1940s, was carrying diluted tar sands oil from Canada.

Strata beneath sinkhole ‘stable’

New results from a 3-dimensional seismic survey around the Assumption Parish sinkhole suggest the subsurface is “stable” and natural gas under two evacuated communities appears to have come from a single source now essentially empty, Texas Brine Co. officials said Tuesday.

Former Obama Staffer Leads White House Protests Against Pipeline

Environmental activists are turning up the heat on President Obama as he faces what could be the trickiest decision of his second term: whether or not to approve the controversial proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which could reach his desk this summer.

The project, which would transport oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico, promises jobs and energy. But critics say it will ravage the environment and send oil overseas.

EPA Schools State Department On Keystone XL Pipeline

The deadline for public comments on the State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline passed on Monday, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came in just under the wire with a scathing review of the review. The failing grade won’t surprise opponents and reporters covering the project, who traced the authorship of the review back to a consulting firm paid by TransCanada, the Canadian company behind Keystone XL.

Keystone XL future uncertain, Canadians explore new Arctic pipeline options

The government of Canada’s province of Alberta is looking at yet another pipeline option to get its oil to market should the Keystone XL or Northern Gateway pipeline proposals not come to fruition. Calgary consulting firm Canatec Associates International Ltd. has been hired by the province to study the feasibility of moving crude from the oilsands up to a port in the Northwest Territories.

Greenpeace launches Arctic “whistleblower” site for oil workers

Environmental group Greenpeace launched a website on Wednesday seeking to attract whistleblowers from within oil companies to reveal risks with drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic.

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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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