Environmental Must-Reads – April 28, 2015


Fracking bill clears House

A bill passed Monday in the House would allow fracking to continue in Florida, though it would put a moratorium in place until a study and agency rule-making is done.

The bill (HB 1205) passed 82-37. House members temporarily postponed companion legislation (HB 1209) allowing exemptions in public-records laws for chemicals used in the controversial process, though they’re scheduled to take it up again today. Senators are set to hear their version of the legislation today.

Giant Gas Pipeline to Flank NY Nuclear Plant

A very large gas pipeline will soon skirt the Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC), an aging nuclear power plant that stands in the town of Cortlandt in Westchester County, New York, 30 miles north of Manhattan. The federal agencies that have permitted the project have bowed to two corporations — the pipeline’s owner, Spectra Energy, and Entergy, which bought the Indian Point complex in 2001 from its former owner.

A hazards assessment by a former employee of one of the plant’s prior owners, replete with errors, was the basis for the go-ahead. A dearth of mainstream press coverage leaves ignorant the New York metropolitan region’s population of 20 million people, which stands to be impacted by a nuclear catastrophe. Experts say a disaster as great as or greater than Fukushima could be triggered by a potential gas explosion at the nuclear complex.

Okla. scientists suspected quakes linked to oil 8 years ago

The Oklahoma Geological Survey jolted the national drilling debate last week when it announced oil and gas activity was “very likely” causing the earthquakes plaguing the state.

But many scientists at the survey had suspected as much since 2007, when earthquakes rattled an area near an oil and gas operation in southeast Oklahoma City.

Jon Stewart is shocked Oklahoma finally accepted scientific evidence that fracking causes earthquakes

Human activity isn’t just warming the planet. We’re also causing earthquakes, and have been for decades.

Scientific evidence points to fracking as the cause of dramatically more frequent earthquakes in Oklahoma and other high fracking areas of the US, including Texas.

Fracking is not the cause of quakes. The real problem is fracking’s wastewater

New earthquake hazard maps show that fracking’s byproducts are clearly to blame for recent swarms of earthquakes plaguing several states.

The maps highlight 17 hot spots where communities face a significantly increased risk of earthquakes, and the accompanying report links the earthquakes to injection wells used to dispose of fracking wastewater. Previous maps did not include earthquakes that are induced by human activities.

Dame Vivienne Westwood: Fracking is ‘a crime against humanity’

British fashion designer Vivienne Westwood took to the streets of London on Monday 27 April, cradling a “fracked baby of the future” in her latest show of opposition to hydraulic fracturing.

The 74 year old, known for her environmental campaigning as well as her bold designs, held a doll covered in bloodstains and with a missing hand, which initiative Talk Fracking called a “limbless, radiation-scabbed fracked baby of the future”.

Review: ‘Boomtowners’ Visits a North American Fracking Zone

You expect a certain tone from a workplace reality show, whether it’s about long-haul truckers or tuna fishermen or microbrewers. The underlying sensibility is that the job, however quirky or unheralded, is important and interesting and that the people doing it deserve respect.

Now imagine that sensibility applied to one of the most controversial practices in the United States today: hydraulic fracturing, the petroleum-extraction technique commonly called fracking. “Boomtowners,” a series that begins Sunday on the Smithsonian Channel, is about the oil boom in the Bakken shale formation, which covers parts of Montana, North Dakota and Canada.

Gas company’s pipeline maintenance leads to calls, concerns

WYFF News 4 received many calls Monday about flames and explosive sounds near a gas pipeline in Greenville County.

Piedmont Natural Gas explained that the flame was the result of a procedure used to test pipeline integrity. The pipeline near White Horse Road and Grove Road was being checked.

Natural gas to existing Princeton-Montgomery pipeline to be shut off Friday

Natural gas to the existing 36-inch pipeline passing through Princeton and Montgomery will be shut off Friday as crews prepare to install a new line.

Princeton Engineering Director Bob Kiser said construction of a 42-inch natural gas pipeline through the environmentally sensitive Princeton Ridge will begin during the middle of next month.

Big Bend Pipeline? Conservation Alliance opposes international gas project

The Big Bend Conservation Alliance has launched a presidential petition drive to oppose the Trans Pecos Pipeline, a project still in development that would transport natural gas from a hub near Coyanosa in Pecos County to Presidio, thence to another pipeline in Ojinaga, Mexico, and eventually provide natural gas into Mexico’s interior.

Derailed oil train’s crew told investigators they had seconds to escape

The engineer and conductor on a BNSF oil train that derailed in North Dakota in December 2013 had seconds to escape their locomotive before it was engulfed by fire, according to interview transcripts made available Monday by federal accident investigators.

The interviews, conducted in January 2014 by the National Transportation Safety Board, show the occupational risks railroad workers face, especially with trains carrying hazardous materials. The train’s engineer is suing BNSF, and says the wreck left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Elmwood, Louisiana Derailment Stokes Fears About Oil Train Blast Zone

Nearly a dozen Union Pacific railway cars were blown off an elevated trestle in Elmwood, Louisiana, on Monday during a strong wind storm.

No injuries were reported in the incident near the Huey P. Long Bridge. The cars did not contain any hazardous materials, although such materials are transported on the route.

Oil train inspections uncover 84 defects, some critical

Another round of crude oil tank car and rail inspections has ended, with more than 80 defects found.

State and federal investigators from the New York state Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration checked 855 crude oil tank cars and about 30 miles of track in the latest round of inspections which took place between April 13 and 17.

BP says oil spill bill over $2 billion would be “severe”

Any fine above $2 billion against BP for the Deepwater Horizon disaster would be “extraordinary and severe,” double the highest-ever U.S. water-pollution fine and potentially crippling its American oil business, BP said in court documents.

Five years after the catastrophic oil spill, BP’s court filing late Friday marked the final legal argument it can make before a federal judge is clear to render environmental fines as high as $13.7 billion for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP oil spill: Judge OKs jury trials for medical lawsuits

A federal judge in New Orleans has ruled oil spill cleanup workers who sue BP for medical problems that surface later in life have the right to make their case before a jury of peers. The ruling has the potential to impact hundreds of medical claims that could land in court over coming years.

The BP oil spill medical settlement reached in 2012 was set up to pay cleanup workers and other individuals who experienced certain illnesses — including breathing problems, skin rashes and vision problems — during the immediate aftermath of the April 2010 disaster.

BP’s Oil Hunt Off the Australia Coast is Causing Fear of Another ‘Deepwater Horizon’

Five years after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill poured millions of barrels of crude into the sea, BP Plc is being challenged over its hunt for oil in the pristine waters off southern Australia.

Just over a year before the U.K.-based company has said it expects to start drilling, environmentalists say the company hasn’t yet disclosed its full emergency-response plans for a potential spill in the Great Australian Bight, home to about 18 threatened species from whales to turtles.

Deadline looms to submit BP claims

With the 5-year anniversary of the BP oil spill recently passed, the energy conglomerate will soon end its claims process for businesses and individuals under the class action settlement agreement.

The process is open to those seeking to file claims for economic loss or property damage resulting from the spill but does not include businesses in the seafood industry, which were part of a separate settlement process.

A risky cargo on the Hudson River

A pair of oil barges idling at the Port of Albany loomed over the waterfront recently, dwarfing two tugboats and a flock of seagulls that floated by on the Hudson River.

The barges, both 116 feet long and tethered to tugboats, were preparing for their trip south on the river, laden with oil. The tugboats that would guide them — the Dean Reinauer and the Reinauer Twins — are two of 14 tugboats that ferried crude oil barges down the Hudson River last year, according to ClipperData, a company that tracks the shipping industry.

Vienna company blamed for oil spill implements changes

The company responsible for an oil spill in Vienna Township earlier this month said it has implemented some changes requested by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Company officials with Kleese Development Associates said ODNR requested the addition of equipment that will regulate record keeping at two wells in Warren Township, located off U.S. Route 422. According to a KDA company spokesman, it complied within hours of the request at that particular well site, and is in the process of voluntarily adding the equipment at its other wells in Vienna.

U.S. worried about Canada’s ability to respond to oil spills, records reveal

Newly released U.S. documents show American authorities are nervously eyeing Canadian proposals to triple the number of oil tanker voyages through the shared waters off B.C.’s coast, saying among themselves that Canadian standards to clean up a major spill are decades behind those of the U.S. and leave states vulnerable to environmental damage and costs.

South Dakota hearing on Keystone XL pipeline delayed

A key hearing to determine whether the state Public Utilities Commission will allow construction of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline to move forward through South Dakota won’t be held next week, the commission voted on Monday.

The regulatory body met in Pierre and voted 3-0 to delay final arguments to ensure adequate time for parties to examine documents involved in the case, and the hearing will likely be held later this summer. The state initially authorized TransCanada Corp. to construct the Keystone XL pipeline project in 2010, but state rules dictate permits must be re-authorized if the construction of the project doesn’t start within four years of their issuance.

Groups want review of Shell’s Arctic regulatory filings

Two groups petitioned the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday for an investigation of Royal Dutch Shell PLC and what the groups call misstatements in regulatory filings regarding the risk of a catastrophic oil spill from Arctic offshore drilling.

The petition was filed Monday by Oceana and the Abrams Environmental Law Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.

BOEM Explains 75% Chance of Arctic Oil Spill

Inside a thick government report on the impact of off-shore oil leasing in the Chukchi Sea is a phrase that grabs the attention. It says there’s “75% chance of one or more large spills.”

The figure shows up often in the arguments of those trying to stop Shell from resuming its Arctic exploration program this summer in the Chukchi Sea, in part of what’s known as Lease Sale 193. Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management put out a fact sheet to clarify what it means by that 75 percent figure.

Russia To Power Arctic Drilling With Floating Nuclear Reactors

It would sit in the icy waters of the Arctic, and provide a constant supply of electricity to a massive rig drilling for oil. They could be mass produced, potentially cutting the cost of drilling projects. The twist? The electricity on these floating power plants would come from a nuclear reactor.

Russia is looking to deploy a floating nuclear reactor that could help power ports, industries, and also offshore oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. In what sounds like a horrible nightmare for environmentalists, floating nuclear reactors could help produce more oil in the Arctic.

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