Environmental Must-Reads – April 30, 2013


Shrouded in Secrecy: Industry Buries Fracking’s True Dangers

Author and journalist Tom Wilber doesn’t take sides on whether the risks of fracking outweigh its rewards. But as a reporter, he does have strong feelings about the issue of transparency. “And often, this puts me on the same side of the fence as the anti-fracking activists,” Wilber said in an April 23 speech at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

California Proposal for Fracking Moratorium Clears Panel

A California Assembly panel approved a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing by oil and natural-gas producers until the most populous U.S. state assesses health and environmental concerns.

The bill by Adrin Nazarian, a Los Angeles Democrat, is opposed by the oil industry through the Western States Petroleum Association, which says hydraulic fracturing has been used safely for more than 60 years. Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee approved the measure 5-3 on a party-line vote late yesterday. Democrats control the Legislature.

Fracking Ruled Out by Pennsylvania in Town’s Water Case

Methane in the water wells of a Pennsylvania town visited by Yoko Ono in her campaign against hydraulic fracturing wasn’t caused by drilling for natural gas nearby, the state environmental regulator said.

The EPA Just Shook Up the Debate Over Fracking

New estimates from the EPA indicate that methane leakage from natural gas production is substantially lower than previously believed. Or, translated to English: Natural gas may be a better solution to rampant global warming than anyone believed.

Many Stressors Associated With Fracking Due to Perceived Lack of Trust

Pennsylvania residents living near unconventional natural gas developments using hydraulic fracturing, known by the slang term “fracking,” attribute several dozen health concerns and stressors to the Marcellus Shale developments in their area, according to a long-term analysis by University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health researchers.

Elmira faces ups and downs of gas business

The City of Elmira is just seven miles from the Pennsylvania border. And for four years, the natural gas boom in Pennsylvania’s Northern Tier crossed over the border and boosted Elmira’s economy. But that boom has slowed down.

Concern About Health Effects Of Hydrofracking

Residents living in areas near natural gas operations, also known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are concerned their illnesses may be a result of nearby drilling operations. Twenty-two percent of the participants in a small pilot study surmise that hydrofracking may be the cause of such health concerns as sinus problems, sleeping difficulties, and gastrointestinal problems.

DEP Says Gas Drilling Did Not Contaminate Susquehanna County Well Water

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection says a 16-month long investigation concluded that gas drilling did not cause nearby residential water wells to contain high levels of methane in Franklin Township, Susquehanna County.

Faster Drilling, Diminishing Returns in Shale Plays Nationwide?

Today’s shale gas boom has brought a surge of drilling across the US, driving natural gas prices to historic lows over the past couple of years. But, according to David Hughes, geoscientist and fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, in the future, we can expect at least the same frenzied rate of drilling – but less and less oil and gas from each well on average.

Mark Ruffalo and Greenpeace US Executive Director team up to say no to fracking

Even the heads of fossil fuel companies read the polls.They know the majority of Americans see global warming as an imminent threat and a clear sign that the way we use energy must change. But instead of offering the solar and wind choices America wants, fossil fuel companies like Shell, Exxon and Duke are offering what might be their most disastrous bait and switch yet: natural gas.

Gasland II: From Broken Promises to Renewable Solutions

Sometimes people tell me, “If you cover fracking, you really need to see that film—that film, what’s it called?”

“Gasland?” I’ll offer helpfully.

“Yes, that’s it.”

FracFocus not 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 . . . as a database listing actual fracking chemicals used on specific wells.

Louisiana Senate kills a bill that tried to rein in dispersants

Oil companies can keep on spraying toxic oil dispersants willy-nilly over toxic oil spills in Louisiana waters.

An effort to encourage — not to require, just to encourage — oil companies to use nontoxic alternatives to dispersants when cleaning up their spills was killed amid oil industry opposition in the Louisiana state Senate.

Practice of workers covering-up Gulf oil spills widespread, whistleblower says

It was something of an eye-opener when an oil company pleaded guilty to two environmental crimes in January.

Not because the pollution reported was anything on the scale of the BP spill, but because of the brazen cover-up involved.

Deepwater Horizon damages weigh on BP’s profits

BP’s profits slipped in the first quarter as it emerged that the oil company had paid out more than half of the cash it had set aside to cover the cost of damages caused by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Counting Fallout Costs

April marks the three year anniversary of BP’s Gulf of Mexico oil spill which resulted in the worst environmental disaster in recent history.

In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the BP-owned Macondo Prospect, which spilled millions of barrels of oil into the surrounding waters, over a three month period.

Citizen group sees ‘toxic’ oil soup in Arkansas

There’s been a “toxic soup” hanging over residents in Mayflower, Ark., as a result of an Exxon Mobil oil pipeline accident, a citizen’s group said.

Exxon said about 5,000 barrels of oil was released last month from a 22-foot rupture on its Pegasus pipeline in Mayflower. The pipeline, built in the 1940s, was carrying a diluted form of Canadian crude oil, dubbed oil sands, at the time of the spill.

Sen. Mark Pryor Pryor tours Pegasus Pipeline site in Mayflower, Arkansas after oil spill

-Senator Mark Pryor made a visit to Arkansas Monday and toured the site of the Pegasus Pipeline oil spill in Mayflower. It was the Senator’s first visit to the site since the Exxon-owned pipe ruptured a month ago, spilling a type of crude oil into a nearby neighborhood.

Tar Sands Will Be Piped to the Gulf Coast, With or Without the Northern Segment of Keystone XL

One of the only remaining spaces keeping TransCanada from connecting a series of pipelines that would send tar sands crude from their source in Canada to refineries along the Gulf coast is Julia Trigg Crawford’s fields of corn and wheat in Direct, Texas.

Crawford is a woman who stands tall, much like the squeaky old windmill that sits atop a hill on the 600-acre farm her grandfather first bought in 1948. While the Crawford family has been able to keep many pipelines at bay in the past, TransCanada, the company behind the notorious Keystone XL pipeline project, threatened her with imposition of eminent domain if she refused to allow an easement across her land for an offer of $21,626.

Keystone XL oil would be processed in sick East Texas community

For many, the battle over the Keystone XL pipeline is about national energy strategy and global climate change.

For residents of the Manchester neighborhood in Houston, it’s also about what will be processed and spewed into the air in their backyards.

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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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