Environmental Must-Reads – August 21, 2014


Re-fracking boom starts in Haynesville Shale, website reports

A re-fracking boom is starting to sweep the country as oil and gas companies attempt to restart production at older wells in the Haynesville Shale and other shale basins, Reuters reports.

The report says the nationwide fracking boom has led to a 25-year high in U.S. oil production and historically low gas prices, but it remains plagued by wells that have rapid declines in oil and gas output.

Brine Firm Sues Over Biblical Fracking Billboard

An Ohio man who uses a biblical reference and a statement against “poisoned waters” on billboards opposing wells for disposal of gas-drilling wastewater is fighting a legal threat from the Texas well owner on free-speech grounds.

Austin, Texas-based Buckeye Brine alleges in a July lawsuit that the billboards paid for by Michael Boals, of Coshocton in eastern Ohio, contain false and defamatory attacks against its two wells, which dispose of contaminated wastewater from oil and gas drilling.

Despite Compromise, Colorado’s Fracking Fight Rages On

An 11th-hour compromise brokered by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) to keep contentious oil and gas measures off the November election ballot may simply delay the day of reckoning for both sides in the battle over how tightly the booming industry is regulated.

That epic battle, pitting the oil and gas industry and Colorado’s mainstream political establishment against activists concerned that drilling and fracking have gotten out of hand in Colorado, had been building for months, with the airwaves awash in pro-industry advertising seeking to characterize the industry as benign and economically valuable. One prominent pollster predicted that industry spending on the issue through the November election would be in the range of $30 to $40 million, three times what oil and gas interests spent to defeat a 2008 ballot question that would have raised their taxes.

Michigan Is Taking The Radioactive Fracking Waste That Other States Rejected

Michigan is accepting the radioactive fracking waste that other states’ regulations prevent them from keeping.

Up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from fracking operations in Pennsylvania were scheduled to arrive in Michigan last week. The waste was collected from Range Resources drilling operations, and the waste was already rejected by a landfill in Pennsylvania due to its radiation content. It was then slated to go to a landfill in West Virginia, a state that used to be able to accept unlimited amounts of radioactive fracking waste in its landfills, but the waste wasn’t accepted there either, since West Virginia is in the process of strengthening its rules on radioactive waste disposal.

Denton, Texas City Council Rejects Fracking Ban

The city council of Denton, Texas rejected a proposed citywide ban on producing oil and natural gas through hydraulic fracturing techniques. Hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, entails injecting water, sand, and small amounts of other chemicals deep underground under high pressure to open seams in rock formations, thereby releasing oil and gas deposits for production.

Denton sits atop the Barnett shale formation, one of the most productive natural gas deposits in the nation.

Hundreds gather to debate fracking

Nearly 600 people on Wednesday showed up at North Carolina State’s McKimmon Center to voice their opinions about fracking to the state’s Mining and Energy Commission for the first time since Gov. Pat McCrory signed the “fracking bill” into law in January.

The day started with a peaceful protest outside the center, where more than 100 people spoke and sang out against fracking in North Carolina.

Critics: Ohio case fits wider pattern of quieting fracking foes

A lawsuit filed by an Ohio company last month seeks to remove two anti-fracking billboards near a wastewater site it operates.

While the case is a test of free speech, critics say it also reflects a broader reluctance for businesses and regulatory agencies in the state to adequately inform citizens about shale gas activities and address their concerns.

Health Advocates Call For More Information About Marcellus Shale Fracking

A coalition of public health advocates is calling on the state to provide more information about the impact of the gas drilling technique known as “fracking.”

Fracking uses water, sand, and chemicals to crack through shale so energy companies can get to the natural gas beneath.

Faster action sought on drilling-related health questions

A coalition of doctors, nurses, and environmental groups is calling on the Corbett administration to address citizen complaints more comprehensively and better track potential health effects related to natural-gas drilling.

With the rapid rise of drilling and related industrial activity in the Marcellus Shale region, the state is abrogating its responsibility to protect public health, health professionals said at a news conference at the Capitol on Tuesday.

A Whale of a good idea for the oil patch

Wheeling down the highway, The Whale rolls along like a very expensive toy, the kind that would make a four-year-old’s eyes pop – a massive, rectangle-shaped, 230-cubic-metre tanker trailer painted black with bright green trim.

Yet for Alberta businessman Lonny Thiessen, it’s serious, save for the name.

The Whale is designed to double the hauling and heating efficiency of mobile tanks used in the energy sector, mainly for fracking.

Fracking wastewater proposal for Dieppe will see public input

The New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government says public consultations will be held soon about a proposal to dispose of fracking wastewater in Dieppe’s sewage system.

Atlantic Industrial Services, a company that takes wastewater from other companies and treats it,  would like to ship 30 million litres of the water currently being held in Debert, N.S.

Well drilling permit in Slaughterville protested

Along with general business conducted at the Slaughterville Town Hall board meeting Tuesday night, one issue stood out. An assembled crowd of about 40 people gathered to discuss an application to drill an original well in Slaughterville.

Some residents expressed concerns with Xanadu Exploration’s application to drill a well in the quarter section south of Slaughterville Road and East of 60th Street.

US government sells 400,000 acres offshore Texas

The federal government has sold more than 400,000 acres in the Gulf of Mexico off the Texas coast for oil and gas exploration and development, an official with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said Wednesday.

The acreage represents a fraction of the 21.6 million acres the agency had offered as part of the Obama administration’s five-year program to aggressively develop resources on the Outer Continental Shelf. Offerings since 2012 in the western Gulf attracted buyers for about 60 million offshore acres, adding about $2.3 billion to the U.S. Treasury.

General Honoré, Enviro Groups Call for Strengthening EPA’s Proposed Refinery Pollution Standards

Millions of people living near refineries will be directly affected by a long awaited updates to regulations the Environmental Protection Agency has proposed for oil refineries. Their new proposed rule includes a reduction of flaring, monitoring benzene emissions, and upgrading emission controls during the crude oil refining process.

“We need 21st century monitoring devices for fenceline communities,” former General Russel Honoré, founder of the Green Army, a coalition of environmental groups and concerned citizens fighting against pollution, told DeSmogBlog. “The new rules the EPA has put forth still don’t require that. Industry’s objective is to reduce liability, because they want to avoid liability. They don’t want good monitoring,” he says.

The BP oil spill comes to movie theaters

Working-class heroes and a five-year gestation period are among the axioms for making a fact-based movie in Hollywood. Both appear to be playing out for “Deepwater Horizon,” a long-developing, newly resurgent project based on the 2010 BP oil-rig disaster.

On Tuesday, Deadline reported that Mark Wahlberg could join the film, which already has “All Is Lost” helmer J.C. Chandor returning to the nautical disaster realm. Produced by Lionsgate’s Summit and based on a New York Times article, the film looks at men on the infamous rig in the hours leading up to the disaster. The film has had several iterations — an earlier version with action director Ric Roman Waugh didn’t get off the ground — but appears to now be moving forward.

Drinking water safe after diesel fuel spill on Ohio

Officials say Greater Cincinnati’s drinking water is safe after 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of diesel spilled into the Ohio River on Monday during a routine transfer at Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord Station in New Richmond.

Cleanup crews have set up three stations between the plant and Coney Island, where they are sucking oil off the water, said Steve Renninger, an on-scene coordinator of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 5.

Ohio River oil spill cleanup may stretch into third day

The cleanup of a 5,000-gallon fuel oil spill from a Duke Energy Corp power plant into the Ohio River could stretch into Thursday, Duke said on Wednesday, as the U.S. Coast Guard reopened a 15-mile section of the river to limited traffic.

The Coast Guard closed a stretch of the river between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Dayton, Kentucky, on Tuesday after late Monday’s spill. The incident occurred during what Duke called a “routine transfer of fuel oil” at the company’s 60-year-old W.C. Beckjord Station power plant, 20 miles east of Cincinnati.

Oil Spill at The Port of Albany

There was an oil spill Wednesday afternoon, at the Port of Albany at the Global property.

The Department of Environmental Conservation confirms that the spill is about 100 gallons of oil that is about 10-feet in diameter.

Three barrels of oil spill into slough near Westhope

State officials are monitoring cleanup of an oil spill in a slough six miles southeast of Westhope, in north central North Dakota.

The state Health Department said Wednesday that three barrels of oil and a small amount of saltwater spilled from a broken pipe at a well owned by Enduro Operating. A barrel holds 42 gallons.

Business Owners Sue Over 2010 Oil Spill

A trial is underway in a lawsuit brought by two men who say a 2010 Michigan oil spill destroyed their business.

Charles Blakeman Jr. of Bellevue and Robert Patterson of Mason say they were prevented from guiding disabled veterans on deer hunts in Fort Custer Recreation Area because of the spill.

Governors love this pipeline in the Northeast, residents not so much

For months now, I’ve been reading about the 180 miles of gas pipeline that energy giant Kinder Morgan is planning on running between Boston and New York state. First called the Tennessee Gas Pipeline (TGP) Northeast Expansion Project, then renamed the TGP Northeast Energy Direct Project, the pipeline was originally touted by New England’s governors as part of the area’s transition to clean energy. They wanted it so much that they proposed passing an extra tax on electricity users to pay for it.

Pipeline changes will send more Canadian oil into Minnesota

More Canadian crude oil soon will be flowing into Minnesota in an expanded pipeline that is still undergoing environmental review.

Enbridge Energy is spending $200 million in Minnesota to add pumps and boost the capacity of its 1,000-mile Alberta Clipper pipeline. But the company says a yearlong delay in a U.S. State Department environment review has held up a presidential permit to ship more oil across the U.S. border.

U.S. House majority leader says Keystone pipeline shows contrast in 2nd District race

U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Wednesday the Keystone pipeline project highlights the differences between Arkansas’ Republican and Democratic 2nd District congressional candidates.

McCarthy joined Republican candidate French Hill in a news conference at the Welspun pipe manufacturing plant in Little Rock, which laid off some of it workers in 2011 because of delays in the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, which faces opposition from environmentalists.

$24M ad campaign for Keystone pipeline had little impact: survey

America and Canada are friends. That’s the main message Americans got from phase one of the federal government’s multimillion-dollar advertising campaign to promote Canadian oil in Washington and drum up support for the Keystone XL pipeline.

That’s no surprise to some Washington-based Canada-U.S. relations experts who say the first leg of the campaign was too polite and, well, too Canadian to have any real effect.

Russia’s Gazprom Neft begins seaborne oil shipments from Arctic field

Russia’s Gazprom Neft said on Thursday it had started seaborne shipments of oil to Europe from its Novoportovskoye field in the Arctic.

The oil arm of Russian gas producer Gazprom said a sea tanker would deliver oil to Europe in September.

Public Data Reveal Secret Rail Movements of Crude Oil

It’s been almost four months since the Obama Administration ordered railroads to start giving state emergency officials details about their shipments of crude oil. The idea was that since these trains have a tendency to explode, and since they’re often rolling right through the middle of towns and cities, the least they could do would be to tell local firefighters when they’re coming. Not that municipal departments necessarily have the tools or resources to deal with 400-foot fireballs—but hey, knowing’s half the battle. Right, kids?

Mayors Call For Improved Safety Measures For Oil Trains

Federal railroad officials got an earful Wednesday from the mayors of several Chicago area towns that have been affected by a growing number of increasingly long trains hauling crude oil and other volatile materials.

WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports the mayors expressed concerns about traffic congestion and public safety from freight trains that they said have been getting longer and more dangerous, due to larger amounts of flammable crude oil they haul in outdated tanker cars.

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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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