Environmental Must-Reads – August 19, 2013


President Obama to be Greeted by Anti-Fracking Protesters

President Obama is planning on visiting upstate New York this week to promote an education plan. But whenever a major politician visits the region, the issue of fracking is often on the agenda, whether they like it or not.

Obama Administration Rushes To Expand Fracking On Public Lands, Despite Frightening Evidence

A significant milestone in the future of fracking in the United States is fast approaching, as the public comment period closes next week for industry-approved plans to open 600 million acres of public lands to the controversial drilling practice.

4 lessons from the US for countries about to be fracked

The United States has blessed the world with many wondrous things: atomic bombs and peanut butter; assembly lines and CocaCola. And now there is another American invention posed to spread past our borders and possibly into your water supply: fracking. Fracking is a technique that blasts apart underground shale rock layers using water and chemicals at high pressure. The process has allowed the oil and gas industry to reach previously un-reachable deposits of fossil fuels, and has ignited a massive increase in drilling across the US. It has also exposed and exacerbated the problems of fossil fuel exploitation, from pollution and environmental degradation to the social ills associated with an economy based on resource extraction. Here are some lessons we in the US have learned about fracking and the companies that frack us.

Anti-fracking campaigners target Cuadrilla HQ

Twenty protesters have targeted the headquarters of energy company Cuadrilla by blockading it with their bodies. There are two people inside the building in Lichfield, Staffordshire, and they are hanging banners off it saying “Reclaim the Power” and “Power to the People”

Fracking protesters march in British rural idyll

British opposition to shale gas extraction flared up in the tiny village of Balcombe on Sunday as hundreds marched on an oil exploration site in protest at the drilling process known as ‘fracking’.

Oil-drilling project under Whittier nature preserve rankles opponents

The city of Whittier and a conservation group have reached an agreement to allow a controversial oil-drilling project under a nature preserve, a proposal that immediately drew fire from opponents.

Fracking Blamed In Lawsuit Filed By Families In Johnson County

Two families in Johnson County are blaming fracking and earthquakes for damage to their homes. They have filed a lawsuit naming the controversial natural gas drilling process as the cause for cracking walls and shifting floors in their homes.

Nuns Against Fracking: The ‘Sisters Of Loretto’ Oppose Pipeline

What would Jesus frack?

That’s a question you might ask a group of nuns in rural Kentucky who are fighting a fracking pipeline proposed on their land.

The 200-year-old Sisters of Loretto has refused to allow energy companies to survey their 780 acres in order to build a natural gas pipeline that would connect fracking operations in Pennsylvania with an existing pipeline that runs from Kentucky to the Gulf Coast.

BLACKFEET Continue Protest, Protect Sacred Chief Mountain from Fracking

The Save Our Last Sacred Chief gathering will continue as planned on Saturday despite  a press release put out by the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council on Wednesday. Organizers feel their concerns were not addressed and the gathering is an important show of solidarity against future hydraulic fracking on the reservation.

Fracking’s Contribution to Greenhouse Gases Worse than Estimated

The argument for burning gas instead of coal goes something like this: burning gas is “cleaner” because it emits less carbon dioxide than oil or coal – even though methane is a much more potent greenhouse gas.

So if you can keep the gas you drill from escaping before it is burned as fuel, you might have an advantage. The problem is that gas escapes – from wells, pipelines, compressors. A couple years ago the federal Environmental Protection Agency had estimated that 0.8 percent to 1.6 percent of natural gas production escapes, on a national average.

Colbert slams oil industry for gag order on children (video)

Late-night satirical newsman Stephen Colbert took aim at Range Resources and the hydraulic fracturing business Thursday, calling out a gag order placed on two children whose parents had claimed the family suffered health problems from shale gas activity next to their farm.

Experts clash on estimates of oil spilled into Gulf

A sparring match between some of the world’s top scientists over how much oil spewed into the sea following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico disaster is heating up as a civil trial is set to resume next month.

The high-stakes battle of the experts is taking shape in BP’s quest to cut the Clean Water Act fines it will have to pay for the worst U.S. offshore oil spill ever.

Effects of Deepwater Horizon oil spill likely to last for decades

The catastrophic explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform allowed five million barrels of oil to gush into the Gulf of Mexico between April and July 2010. Since then, remediation and restoration efforts have helped to remove obvious signs of the disaster and return affected coastal communities to their pre-spill condition. But according to a recent study published in the academic journal PLoS ONE, the benthic, or sea-floor, environment around the disaster area still may require years to make a full recovery.

Government Recklessly Reopened Fisheries in the Gulf

You know how it is with almost anything the US Federal Government touches?

The further one gets away from the scene of the crime – in this case the Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) – the more reality comes spilling out. Concerning the BP oil spill, it was only a matter of time that the verified facts would start to seep out from those scientific research institutions whose only purpose was to unravel the truth.

Ark. agencies considering fish testing after spill

Two Arkansas state agencies have discussed whether testing is needed on fish in Lake Conway after a spring oil spill near its banks.

EPA says ‘No’ to Enbridge oil spill cleanup extension request

The Environmental Protection Agency has rejected Enbridge’s request to extend the deadline to cleanup up part of an oil spill in the Kalamazoo River.

Building Keystone XL could damage US parks, Interior Dept. says

Building the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to more manmade light and noise in sparsely populated regions, which may harm natural resources, wildlife and visitors to national parks, the U.S. Interior Department said.

Rayong fishermen demand compensation for damage caused by oil spill

A group of thousand of small-scale fishermen on Monday petitioned to the Rayong province’s governor and PTT Glocal Chemical Plc (PTTGC), who caused the oil spill, to pay the fair compensation for the damages from the oil accident.

Oil spill from sunken ship in Philippines affects 7,413 coastal acres

Oil from a sunken ship in the central Philippines reached the shorelines of Cordova Sunday, affecting 7,413 acres of the town’s coastal area, officials said.

Oil spill reaches Mactan shoreline

Authorities have reported that the oil spill believed to have come from sunken vessel MV St. Thomas Aquinas reached Lapu-Lapu City and Cordova town on Mactan Island, Cebu.

Cebu Coast Guard Station commander Weniel Ascuna told a press briefing that the leak reached the shoreline of Lapu-Lapu City.

Chemical used for reef oil spill allegedly causes illness

CHEMICALS used for cleaning up oil spills that have been linked to deaths in the United States are still being stored in Gladstone – but the authority assigned with managing it won’t say where.

Seeping Alberta Oil Sands Spill Covers 40 Hectares, Still Leaking

As debate rages south of the 49th Parallel over developments such as the Keystone XL pipeline, bitumen from four underground oil spills is quietly seeping into wetlands and soils in the oil sands in northern Alberta—and has been for at least three months, if not longer.

MM&A says its sale depends on construction of new line through Lac-Mégantic

The head of the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway says his firm’s assets could be sold to raise funds to pay for rebuilding devastated Lac-Mégantic, but such a deal is only possible if a bypass rail line is built for a new operator.

MM&A chairman Edward Burkhardt said emotions are still running high in the town, making it difficult to reach an arrangement for building the needed new line.

CNRL Cold Lake Bitumen Seepage Hits 1.2 Million Litres, Reports AER

The ongoing trouble on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in North Eastern Alberta, where oil company Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) has numerous in situ oil recovery sites, has yet to show signs of abatement.

Underground oil spills on CNRL’s Primrose facility have been leaking bitumen emulsion into the muskeg, waterways and forest that surround the site for nearly three months.

Keystone XL will damage ‘quality night skies’ near parks: U.S. Interior Department

Building the Keystone XL pipeline would lead to more manmade light and noise in sparsely populated regions, which may harm natural resources, wildlife and visitors to national parks, the U.S. Interior Department said.

Ecuador Exposes Rain Forest and its Inhabitants to Oil Extraction Effort

And we turn now to Ecuador, where one of the world’s most biodiverse places is under new threat. The nation’s president announced last night that he will allow oil drilling in the country’s Yasuni National Park.

Hari Sreenivasan has the story behind the decision. Our report was produced in partnership with The Miami Herald.

Coast Guard to Test Arctic Oil Spill Technologies

The U.S. Coast Guard Research and Development Center (RDC) plans to test and evaluate oil spill detection and recovery technologies in the Arctic Ocean as part of Operation Arctic Shield 2013.

More Than Two Years After Meltdown, Doubt and Fear Remain Over Fukushima’s Safety

Two-and-a-half years after an earthquake and tsunami rocked the Fukushima plant and spewed radioactive waste across the region, tens of thousands of evacuees still live in a fugue of fear and confusion.

Fukushima operator says workers dusted with radioactive particles

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Monday two workers were found to be contaminated with radioactive particles, the second such incident in a week involving staff outside the site’s main operations centre.

Fukushima apocalypse: Years of ‘duct tape fixes’ could result in ‘millions of deaths’

Even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT.

Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant to become tourist attraction

Despite the land and ocean around Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant being contaminated by dangerous levels of radiation, plans are being drawn up to turn the no-go zone into a tourist attraction.

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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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