Environmental Must-Reads – April 30, 2014


The dark side of the oil boom: Human trafficking in the heartland

When he took office 20 years ago, Mayor Ward Koeser’s town was struggling. But thanks to a huge influx of oil jobs and money over the past five years, Williston now calls itself Boomtown, USA.

“It’s growing faster than any place else in the country,” the mayor said with a smile. “It’s exciting. It’s amazing what oil can do for you. Black gold.”

Fracking Boom in Northeast Causes Pipeline Backlog

A plumber can’t fix these clogs.

Booming natural gas production in the Northeast has far outpaced pipeline construction, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says, causing a backlog that’s pushed the region’s gas prices especially low.

Escalante oil spill raises questions about remote clean-ups

After four dusty days spent slithering through slot canyons and scrambling over boulders in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this morning’s walk is notably refreshing. Steve Defa, a 59-year-old psychotherapist from Escalante, Utah, is leading me up a sandy wash shaded by big ponderosa pines and smaller pinyons. The air is fragrant with pine needles and sage after last night’s rain; the air pleasantly cool.

NY Senate committee blocks effort to keep fracking waste out of state

A state Senate committee on Tuesday killed a bill that would have banned the import of hydrofracking waste into New York, with the sponsor, Cecilia Tkaczyk, blaming Senate Republicans for blocking it as a favor to the oil and gas industry.

Carson City Council to vote on oil drilling ban

The Carson City Council will consider extending a temporary moratorium on oil drilling in the city Tuesday evening, as it seeks more time to study the potential effects of oil extraction techniques such as fracking and acidization.

The ban, which halts all new drilling in the city, is set to expire Friday unless council members extend it by a 4/5 vote.

Developers suspend investment in Bluegrass Pipeline

In what could be described as a defeat for the developers of the Bluegrass Pipeline, they announced today they were suspending all capital investment in the controversial project due to a lack of customers agreeing to buy the natural gas liquids the pipeline promised to carry.

Lancaster County residents criticize pipeline proposal

A proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through Lancaster County is angering many residents.

It was standing room only as concerned residents packed a public meeting this morning between the county commissioners and the pipeline company, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners.

WSJ: Cheniere Energy head paid more than top five Exxon executives

The head of Cheniere Energy Inc., which is developing a liquefied natural gas export facility in Cameron Parish, received a compensation package valued at $142 million in 2013, an amount nearly double the combined pay of Exxon Mobil’s top five executives, according to The Wall Street Journal.

BP oil spill claimant must return $357,000 payment, judge rules

A federal judge has ordered a claimant at the center of an investigation into alleged fraud in the BP oil spill settlement program to return a $357,000 payment.

The ruling comes after a months-long investigation into settlement payments to Casey C. Thonn and lawyers who represented him in a shrimping claim.

BP intent on fighting disputed oil spill payment claims from businesses

BP PLC told investors Tuesday (April 29) that it will continue to fight compensation payments to businesses it believes did not suffer economic losses tied to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The British oil giant did not go so far as to estimate what the remaining claims could cost, though it shed some light on what has been spent so far.

BP’s Earnings Fall as It Continues to Sell Assets

The British oil giant BP reported on Tuesday that its first-quarter earnings, excluding extraordinary items, fell 23.5 percent compared with the period a year earlier, as production slipped and it continued to sell assets.

The earnings of $3.2 billion were slightly above analysts’ forecasts for $3.1 billion, but significantly lower than the $4.2 billion the company posted in the first three months of 2013.

Broken pipe sprays oily plume across snowy tundra at Prudhoe Bay

Environmental officers with the state of Alaska are investigating an oil spill at Prudhoe Bay, after an unknown quantity of natural gas, crude oil and water escaped from a flow line operated by BP Exploration Alaska on Monday, spraying 27 acres of snow-covered tundra with an oily mist.

The release from the line at H Pad, Well 8 in Western Prudhoe Bay began at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, but stopped in two hours after the line was isolated and depressurized, according to a statement from the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Bird reproduction collapsed after oil spill

Oil spills kill a lot of wildlife quickly, but their long-term effects are hard to establish because to compare the situation before and after a disaster, a study would need to have been already up and running before the disaster occurred. Fortunately, this was precisely the case for a Spanish team of researchers.

Fears about crude oil facility in St. James aired at hearing

Wolverine Terminals Corp. officials sought to reassure worried St. James Parish residents at a public hearing Tuesday that its plans for a crude oil facility in Paulina will be safe and do not pose a threat.

About 50 parish residents attended the state Department of Environmental Quality public hearing at the parish courthouse in Convent on Wolverine Terminals Corp.’s application for a minor air operating permit.

U.S. Senator Reid leaves door open to Keystone pipeline vote

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday left open the possibility of voting on legislation forcing the approval of the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline that would link Canada’s oil sands to refineries in Texas.

“I’m open to anything that will move energy efficiency,” Reid said in response to a reporter’s question, referring to a bipartisan bill on promoting energy savings through revised building codes.

Officials Seek Assurances on Pipeline

Michigan’s attorney general and chief environmental regulator have asked the company that owns two oil pipelines stretched beneath an ecologically sensitive area of the Great Lakes for evidence that the 61-year-old lines are properly maintained and in good condition.

Daryl Hannah on Why She Is Against Keystone Pipeline

Actress Daryl Hannah and FBN’s Stuart Varney got into a heated debate on Tuesday over the Keystone pipeline.

Off the bat, Hannah expressed support for President Obama’s decision to delay the final ruling on Keystone XL – but said he didn’t go far enough.

Keystone supporters push for swift Senate vote

Supporters of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal are requesting a quick Senate vote on legislation to approve construction of the project delayed indefinitely by the Obama administration and vehemently opposed by environmentalists.

Canada’s ambassador to U.S. touts Keystone XL pipeline in Denver speech

Gary Doer, Canada’s ambassador to the United States, says he is flummoxed by the latest delay to allow more time, more thought, more study of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.

“There are 84 pipelines that cross the border between our two countries,” Doer told a crowd of more than 200 people at a speech to the Denver Petroleum Club Tuesday.

Photos: Final Day Of Keystone XL ‘Reject And Protect’ Rally Draws Thousands

On a weekend where some were expecting rain, the final day of the week-long ‘Reject and Protect‘ rally against the Keystone XL pipeline brought clear skies, warm sun and thousands of people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The protest was organized by the Sierra Club, 350.org, Bold Nebraska and the Cowboy and Indian Alliance, an organization of cowboys, ranchers, farmers, land owners, and Native Americans from the regions that will be affected by the construction of the pipeline.

Russia Ships First Arctic Oil, Fortifies Oil Defenses

Riding on his pride in the first export of Russian Arctic oil earlier this month, President Vladimir Putin has signed a law that allows oil and gas corporations to establish private armed security forces to defend their infrastructure, upping the ante for protestors.

On the same day, April 22, Earth Day, Putin also met with the Russian Security Council. There he said, “Oil and gas production facilities, loading terminals and pipelines should be reliably protected from terrorists and other potential threats. Nothing can be treated as trivia here.”

Total’s purchase of Arctic oil shipment sparks row over offshore exploration

Total has purchased a shipment of Arctic oil from Gazprom, the Russian energy giant, in apparent contradiction to earlier statements made by the French company’s chief executive about the potential dangers of offshore oil exploration in the region.

A spokesperson for Total said: “Total has bought this cargo to feed its European refining and trading system. Crude oil is an open international market and for many years we [have bought] crude oil from Russia.”

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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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