Environmental Must-Reads – August 15, 2014


Fracking Disclosures Erased From Website, Group Says

The oil and gas industry is ignoring a requirement to get permits before using diesel in hydraulic fracturing, putting at risk drinking water supplies near wells, an environmental watchdog group reported.

The Environmental Integrity Project combed through data on an industry-backed website and found 351 wells since 2010 that were fracked with chemicals that match the Environmental Protection Agency’s definition of diesel. In 143 cases, the operator later erased the disclosure from the FracFocus site, the group said in the report released today.

Pennsylvania Town Votes To Allow 6 Fracking Wells Within 3,000 Feet Of School Buildings

If you stand beside Bob and Kim Geyer’s farm on Denny Road at 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, it is mostly quiet, except for the faint sounds of the local high school’s flag team band practicing in the distance.

That’s because the farm, where as many as six unconventional gas wells are waiting to be placed by Rex Energy, sits just half a mile from the Mars School District, a campus of 3,200 children. If Rex Energy’s permits for the wells are approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, residents say the school buildings could be within the radius of a possible explosion.

Why the Scientific Case Against Fracking Keeps Getting Stronger

On the political right, it’s pretty popular these days to claim that the left exaggerates scientific worries about hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” In a recent National Review article, for instance, a Hoover Institution researcher complains that 53 percent of Democrats in California support a fracking ban “despite the existence of little if any credible scientific evidence of fracking’s feared harms and overwhelming scientific evidence of its environmental benefits, including substantial reductions in both local and global pollutants.”

Fracking probe finds oil and gas companies illegally injected diesel

Oil and gas companies illegally injected 9,173 gallons of diesel while fracking wells in Colorado, and 32,950 gallons nationwide, according to a report unveiled Wednesday by an attorneys’ environmental group.

Fracking with diesel without a permit has been illegal since at least 1997, and industry groups have said companies no longer do it.

Report: Four fracking wells in Kansas injected kerosene, oil

Companies engaged in fracking in Kansas used chemicals that can cause cancer to extract gas in four wells, the Environmental Integrity Project alleged in a report that has been disputed by industry officials.

The report, released Wednesday, examined the use of diesel, kerosene and similar hydrocarbons in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Industry representatives questioned the report’s premise and said it showed no evidence of harm to human health.

Environmental Group Says Illegal Diesel Fracking Used in Texas

An environmental group says it’s found over a hundred oil or gas wells being drilled in Texas using techniques that the group says are illegal. At issue is “fracking” which injects huge quantities of water and chemicals deep underground.

Fracking is what’s revolutionized drilling in Texas. The technique uses all sorts of chemicals including acids that are injected by the thousands of gallons down into wells to break up rock so gas and oil can escape.

Oil & Gas Commission balks at report alleging illegal fracking practices

A new report raises concerns about fracking in the Natural State. The report conducted by the Environmental Integrity Project claims that dozens of hydraulic fracturing wells in Arkansas are drilling with diesel illegally. The state Oil and Gas Commission said the report is flawed and there’s no reason for concern.

Fracking is big business in Arkansas, but a report entitled, Fracking Beyond the Law, alleges that some companies are cutting corners when it comes to hydraulic fracturing.

‘Fracking’ Opponents Renew Calls For Moratorium Amid Drought

Southland activists and California climate and water experts Wednesday called for officials to impose a moratorium on a controversial natural gas extraction method due to the statewide drought.

KNX 1070’s Megan Goldsby reports the effort follows the release of a study by climate scientists and environmental groups claiming the oil industry is wasting two million gallons of water every day using the “fracking” process.

Mixed Review For Fracking Chemicals

A new study exploring the scope of use and the safety of hydraulic fracturing chemicals used for enhanced oil and natural gas production has concluded that few of the roughly 90 commonly used compounds are toxic to people.

But there’s still insufficient information from the oil and gas industry to fully evaluate the safety of the chemical additives, according to the study’s lead author, environmental engineer William T. Stringfellow of the University of the Pacific and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Advocates of fracking-waste ban mount NJ campaign

In an effort to override Gov. Chris Christie‘s veto of the fracking waste bill, a coalition of environmental, community, labor and faith-based groups have launched a campaign that calls on the Legislature to take action.

America’s fracking dilemma: Not in my backyard

Fracking isn’t only fueling the current energy boom in the U.S., it’s also firing up concerns about whether it can be used successfully without creating a long-term environmental and economic threat to the communities and regions where it takes place.

Frackging, short for hydraulic fracturing, involves injecting water, gas and chemicals underground to break up — or fracture — rock deposits and release the oil and natural gas trapped there.

Stop Fracking Our Oceans, Californians Say

Contaminated water, polluted air, increased earthquake risk: As fracking has expanded across America, this dangerous form of oil and gas production has caused massive harm to our environment and public health.

Now the oil industry is ramping up fracking offshore, in our delicate coastal ecosystems.

‘Fracking’ procedure accused of polluting California groundwater

There has been a lot of controversy about the oil-extraction procedure known as “fracking.” Now more questions are being raised about how much water is used for fracking, and whether it’s polluting groundwater.

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been used for nearly 60 years to get oil out of the ground using water pressure to fracture rock underground. Then the oil and gas that’s trapped in the rock escapes and comes out of a well.

Oil clean-up workers may lose claims to BP checks

Thousands of Gulf oil spill cleanup workers could lose the right to collect medical claims checks of up to $60,700 from BP, thanks to yet another latter-day interpretation of the oil giant’s promises to compensate victims of the 2010 spill.

Last month, BP quietly won a ruling that could save it tens of millions of dollars and severely reduce what Gulf residents can collect for chronic illnesses they developed after helping clean up the company’s mess.

Judge backs BP’s subpoena of federal documents for now

A federal judge is allowing BP to negotiate the scope of a subpoena aimed at gathering government documents related to the temporary moratorium on deep-water drilling that followed the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The order this week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan sets aside for now a legal bout over BP’s right to blame the government for other companies’ financial losses in the wake of the spill, which resulted from the blowout of a BP well.

Researchers find way to track invisible, underwater oil

Researchers have discovered a new way to track the presence of oil in water even after visible slicks have vanished, a tool that could help give scientists a better idea of how oil spills impact the environment.

The method involves tracking the levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen released by underwater marine microbes in order to tell how much oil is still present after a spill.

400-Gallon Oil Spill Reaches Rockaway River in New Jersey

Authorities in northern New Jersey are cleaning up an oil spill that has affected about two miles of the Rockaway River.

Morris County’s office of emergency management says the spill occurred Tuesday afternoon in Montville when a delivery truck was bringing diesel fuel to the town fuel station’s underground storage tank.

Exxon slapped with class action suit over Arkansas pipeline spill

Exxon Mobil Corp. faces a class action lawsuit from homeowners who own property crossed by the Pegasus pipeline, which ruptured in 2013, the Associated Press reported.

A judge ruled in favor of Arnez and Charletha Harper, who can now represent plaintiffs who own property that has pipeline easements or is physically crossed by the pipeline.

Texas messes with Texas, pits landowners against pipeline-builders

Texas has a complicated relationship with oil. On the one hand, it’s a state that’s really into private property. More than 95 percent of land in the Lone Star State is privately owned. On the other hand, Texas is really into oil — both digging it up and moving it around.

Basic physics suggests that, eventually, someone would want to move their oil through a space that belonged to someone who didn’t want it there. Lo, when the Keystone pipeline came on the scene, that came to pass in Texas. And how. Now, a new set of regulations under works at an obscure state commission could have big implications for eminent domain and future pipeline battles in the Lone Star State.

Enbridge says Line 2a back up after longer-than-planned maintenance

Enbridge Inc’s 442,000 barrel-per-day Line 2a was back to normal capacity on Thursday morning after going offline for maintenance that took longer than originally planned, a company spokesman said on Thursday.

“During assessment at the existing integrity work site on 2A yesterday it was determined additional maintenance was required delaying the resumption of service to this line. The maintenance is now complete and regular service commenced this morning at approximately 9 a.m. MT,” Enbridge spokesman Graham White said.

Enbridge conducts training exercise

About sixty men in the typical garb of the oil and gas industry descended on Capilano Park in Edmonton on Wednesday, September 12, but not because there had been an actual oil leak into the North Saskatchewan River.

It was just a routine training exercise for thirty pipeline integrity, operations, emergency response, liquid pipelines, regulatory, environmental management and facilities personnel from Enbridge Pipelines, and thirty additional personnel from Pembina Pipeline Corporation.

Rail oil tankers, victim of U.S. safety rules, also unwanted in Canada

Thousands of oil train tankers soon to be deemed obsolete in the United States are unlikely get a second life in Canada’s oil sands industry, undercutting a U.S. government forecast that the costly cars will continue in use in the energy sector.

If thousands of obsolete tank cars are scrapped, it could add hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of the proposal, industry officials said – unwelcome news for regulators trying to craft a safety plan that does not add crippling costs to industry.

Oil-Laden Freight Trains Delaying Amtrak, Commuter Trains Across U.S.

Oil production is booming across North America, as new technologies make it possible to extract liquid crude oil from sources like the Bakken shale oil field in North Dakota and Montana, or Alberta’s tar sands. The ever-increasing volume of crude oil mined in remote Great Plains locations often finds its way to refineries via ”rolling pipelines” – freight trains that tow a million barrels of oil around the United States every day. Production of Bakken crude has tripled over the past three years, and 79 percent of it is shipped out by rail.

The Crushing Effects Of Radiation From The Fukushima Disaster On The Ecosystem Are Being Slowly Revealed

A range of scientific studies at Fukushima have begun to reveal the impact on the natural world from the radiation leaks at the power station in Japan caused by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Biological samples were obtained only after extensive delays following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown, limiting the information which could be gained about the impact of that disaster.

Scientists detect genetic abnormalities in Fukushima birds, insects

In a set of papers published Thursday in the Journal of Heredity, a U.S. publication, Japanese and U.S. scientists warned that radioactive materials released from by the core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant could have caused abnormalities in the genes of nearby birds and insects.

One of the experts, Timothy Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, called for wide-ranging and long-term research on ecosystems, such as a genetic-level analysis, drawing a comparison with what happened to such species after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in present-day Ukraine.

Hong Kong negative on easing import curbs on food from Fukushima-area prefectures

A senior Hong Kong official on Wednesday sounded negative about easing the import curbs the region imposed on some food from five Japanese prefectures following the severe nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Visiting Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi called on Hong Kong to relax the import restrictions during his meeting with Hong Kong’s Food and Health Secretary Ko Wing-man the same day.

As Radioactive Water Accumulates, TEPCO Eyes Pacific Ocean As Dumping Ground

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the embattled owner of Japan’s crippled nuclear reactors, has said it is running out of space to store water contaminated with radioactive materials and is proposing to treat the water and dump it in the Pacific Ocean.

Up until now, TEPCO has been storing radioactive water in giant storage tanks on the site of its Fukushima reactor. But groundwater continually flowing into the reactor site becomes contaminated as it does so. Containing and storing an ever-increasing volume of contaminated water is a bit like running on a treadmill – new groundwater becomes contaminated just as TEPCO succeeds in removing previously contaminated water. Meanwhile, the storage tanks multiply around the reactor complex.

Fukushima Report Questions US Nuclear Safety Culture

It wasn’t explicitly tasked by Congress with assessing the safety culture of nuclear facilities.

Nevertheless, an extensive new report written by the Committee on Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants devoted an entire chapter to the issue.

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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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