Environmental Must-Reads – April 26, 2013


U.K. Fracking May Fail to Cut Local Gas Prices, Report Shows

Developing U.K. shale gas may fail to follow U.S. precedent and cut local prices due to differences in geography, population density and environmental controls and as world fuel demand grows, according to a parliamentary report.

Fracking list generates more heat

Natural gas hydrofracking opponents turned up the heat Thursday, pointing out two more companies working on the state’s hydrofracking environmental review that also appeared on a list of members of a statewide gas lobbying group that chided Gov. Andrew Cuomo for undue delays.

Report: Wyoming, other states must track water used for fracking

Wyoming and other Western states need to better track the amount of groundwater that’s depleted by hydraulic fracturing, according to a new report by a regional land-use organization.

If the states don’t do so, there may not be water left for municipal and agricultural uses, according to the report by the Billings, Mont.-based Western Organization of Resource Councils, which represents smaller, grass-roots land-use groups.

Fight over fracking moves to Virginia

It’s the fight over fracking.

The United States Forest Service is considering opening up one of Virginia’s most prized possessions to natural gas drilling.

We’re talking about the George Washington National Park.

Now, groups across Virginia are speaking out about the negative impacts it could have, including right here in our area.

Fracking brine nixed for de-icing roads

The ingredients that make up fracking brine, which is sometimes used as a cheap alternative to road salt, are mysterious to many. But Legislator Jeffrey Berkman of Middletown said, “We know for sure that it has chemicals.”

Grand Teton National Park Showcased in Fracking Report

Tread carefully when it comes to Grand Teton National Park.

That’s the gist of a new report from the National Parks Conservation Association that looks at how the hydraulic fracturing boom is creeping closer to park boundaries.

Jailed Members of Anti-Fracking “Seneca 12” Freed

The Seneca 12 blocked the entrance to a natural gas storage facility in Reading on March 18.

The peaceful protesters were demonstrating against what they see as a plan by Inergy Midstream to turn salt caverns near Seneca Lake into a regional storage hub for fracked gases from Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Fracking Debris Ten Times Too Radioactive for Hazardous Waste Landfill

A truck carrying cuttings from a Pennsylvania fracking site was quarantined at a hazardous-waste landfill and sent back after its contents triggered a radiation alarm showing the load was emitting 96 microrem of radiation per hour; the landfill rejects waste with levels above 10 microrems. The radioactive material from a site in the Marcellus Shale formation was radium 226, a common contaminant from the decay of uranium-238 that tends to accumulate in bone and can get into water. Officials said “everything was by the book in this case” because the alarm went off as designed; the fracking operators can now either re-apply at that landfill or take their deadly waste to an out-of-state facility that accepts it – and yes, they exist. The scariest thing here: Pennsylvania, which is currently studying radiation contamination associated with fracking wells, claims to be the only state that even requires landfills to monitor radiation levels.

Colorado: New rules for sampling groundwater near oil and gas wells wins committee test

A new measure to protect Colorado water quality from fracking impacts narrowly passed a House committee on a 6-5 vote. HB 1316 requires state regulators to adopt uniform statewide groundwater sampling rules and ends an exemption for the largest oil and gas field in Colorado in the Greater Wattenberg area.

Corporate Profit Trumps Public Health in Colorado Fracking Vote

What is the common curse of mankind? Folly and ignorance, observed an old English playwright. The curse was on uncommon display two weeks ago at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.

I went there to testify in favor of a bill, House Bill 1275. It was a modest bill. It simply asked that data on Front-Range citizen complaints about fracking be collected and examined by an independent body of scientists and health professionals. A preliminary report on their findings was to be issued within a year. Presumably, this report would lead to an evaluation of the need for follow up studies to protect the public’s health and well being, as it almost certainly would have, for the air is leaden with unexamined citizen complaints of ill health from living near fracking sites. The cost was earmarked at around $300,000.

Governor Snyder: Michigan Should Double Down on Energy Efficiency

Today is the deadline to  offer Michigan’s governor advice on the state’s energy future and the record shows that energy efficiency – our cheapest, cleanest energy resource – already has saved Michigan electricity customers millions and should be expanded.

New Report Highlights Threats to National Parks from Fracking

A new report released today by the National Parks Conservation Association details the growing dangers that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas poses to some of America’s most treasured and iconic places.

Fracking is increasingly happening just outside the borders of national parks.  But air and water pollution do not respect park boundaries, and the industrialization of the landscape around these parks threatens the clean air and water inside them.

Harvard Study: FracFocus Fails to Provide Adequate Disclosure for Fracking Chemicals

Thanks to two great stories by E&E’s Mike Soraghan, we know that the Harvard Law School has evaluated FracFocus.org and found government (and the public) shouldn’t rely upon it.

A Deadly Paradox: Scientists Discover the Agent Used in Gulf Spill Cleanup Is Destroying Marine Life

Three years ago, when BP’s Deepwater Horizon began leaking some 210 million gallons of Louisiana Crude into the Gulf of Mexico, the U.S. government allowed the company to apply chemical “dispersants” to the blossoming oil slick to prevent toxic gunk from reaching the fragile bays, beaches, and mangroves of the coast, where so much marine life originates. But a number of recent studies show that BP and the feds may have made a huge mistake, for which everything from microscopic organisms to bottlenose dolphins are now paying the highest price.

Sarasota suing BP for $15 million dollars

Even though the BP oil spill never washed up on the shores of Sarasota beaches, the city is still asking BP for $15 million dollars in damages.

Even though the oil never appeared here, the city says the threat of it still kept lots of tourists away.

Oil spill judge: What is gross negligence?

The judge who will allocate responsibility for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill has told lawyers to give him their views about whether a series of negligent acts can add up to gross negligence.

The Justice Department and private plaintiffs’ attorneys contend that BP PLC acted with gross negligence before the blowout on April 20, 2010. If U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier agrees, BP’s civil penalties could soar.

Exxon Earns $9.5 Billion Q1 Profit One Month After Arkansas Oil Spill That It Pays No Taxes To Help Clean Up

One month after dumping 500,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil from a ruptured pipeline in Arkansas, the most valuable and profitable corporation in the world ExxonMobil announced higher first quarter profits. Exxon earned $9.5 billion in the first quarter, compared to $9.45 billion last year, and Exxon’s total oil and natural gas production declined 3.5 percent.

Exxon Soaks Up Recent Oil Spill With Cash

The recent Pegasus Pipeline spill in Arkansas has put the energy sector on the edge a little, and so ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM  ) is trying hard to make this story go away by offering compensation to residents of the area where the spill took place. With the fate of TransCanada’s (NYSE: TRP  ) pipeline still hanging in the balance, the energy industry wants this story to go away, fast.

Enbridge Investigates Small Oil Spill In NW Minn.

Enbridge Energy Partners says it’s investigating the cause of a crude oil leak at its pumping station in the northwestern Minnesota town of Viking.

Jindal warns against premature sinkhole conclusions

Gov. Bobby Jindal said Thursday said it is premature to draw conclusions from Texas Brine Co.’s new seismic report on the stability of Assumption Parish’s sinkhole underpinnings until independent experts and a special panel have had a chance to review the data.

Bills aimed at preventing sinkholes pass out of committee

Nearly nine months after a massive sinkhole was discovered in southeast Louisiana, lawmakers are taking steps to make sure a similar scenario doesn’t happen again.

Sinkhole bills clear Louisiana Natural Resources committee

Two bills aimed at protecting residents living near the state’s 29 salt domes, written after the appearance of a 13-acre sinkhole in the idyllic bayous of Assumption Parish, cleared the House Committee on Natural Resources Wednesday.

Oil from proposed Keystone pipeline could end up exported

Whether the proposed Keystone XL pipeline would boost American energy independence is a key part of the debate over the pipeline, the biggest environmental battle in recent history. Keystone promoters say the $7 billion project is vital for the nation – but there are signs much of the oil coming through it would be exported.

Greenpeace protesting arctic oil plans

Protesters chained themselves to oil barrels in front of the Moscow offices of Norwegian major Statoil because of arctic exploration plans, Greenpeace said.

Activists wearing polar bear costumes protested arctic oil plans.

Three Oil Giants Suspend Chukchi and Beaufort Sea Drilling Plans

Three major oil companies have abandoned drilling plans off Alaska for the time being, either suspending exploratory efforts indefinitely or scuttling them completely after further study.

Offshore workers 7 times more likely to die than any other worker in U.S., study says

The chance of getting killed while working in the offshore oil and gas industry is seven times higher than for all workers in the United States, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of offshore fatal injuries between 2003 and 2010.

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

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