Environmental Must-Reads – August 22, 2013


Fracking war: Sierra Club says bill not good enough

Environmental and liberal activist groups are split over a pending pioneering bill that would regulate the controversial oil-extraction technique known as fracking.

Legislation by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) would, for the first time in the nation, require oil companies to disclose details of the chemicals, locations and procedures involved with hydraulic fracturing and related “well-stimulation” activities. The bill also would require that well sites be permitted and that the state conduct a scientific study of hydraulic fracturing, among other things.

Obama to face heat on fracking on New York trip

President Obama plans to use his visit to upstate New York later this week to talk up his new initiative to make college more affordable.

But he’s also stepping into the epicenter of the nationwide debate over fracking, the controversial drilling method loathed by environmentalists yet responsible for huge increases in American oil and natural gas production.

Thousands weigh in on proposed fracking rule

The Obama administration has received more than 5,000 comments on its proposed regulation for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, on public and Native American lands.

The wealth of responses from the public shows a heated interest in the government’s effort to expand its oversight of oil and gas development.

Shooting the Well: The Petroleum Torpedoes of the Early Oil Fields

Before the fracked gas boom of the last 10 years, before the rise of mega oil companies, before the entire 20th century, actually, humans figured out how to increase the flow of fossil fuels from a well. It was simple: take an iron container about the size of a large thermos, stick some black powder or other explosives into it, stick a blasting cap on it, send it down the well, and then send a weight down to detonate it. BOOM. They called this, “Shooting the well!” And I believe the “!” is required, as in Yahoo!

Fracking faces a little local difficulty

The Balcombe protest may be annoying but it has also been pretty effective. The brouhaha over Cuadrilla’s attempts to explore local oil deposits has included celebrities, guitars, bongos, compost toilets and a vegan snack bar. It even involved the arrest of the Green MP, Caroline Lucas. It has shattered the tranquillity of the pretty Sussex village – and raised concerns about fracking. But no matter how much noise these visiting activists make, they aren’t the ones who could really wreck the Government’s dream for a shale gas revolution.

David Cameron has become fracking’s biggest cheerleader

Any new technology has a short honeymoon period where its attractions loom large before practicalities intervene to burst the bubble and a more realistic picture of its costs and benefits emerges. I should know, I helped to raise expectations about the future of UK wave power in the early 2000s. Our hope that large wave farms would be up and running within the decade proved distinctly optimistic.

The radioactive risks of fracking

It’s been a week of activity for the Balcombe anti-fracking activists brandishing their banners “For a frack-free future.”

The campaigners have highlighted numerous concerns over the controversial process of extracting gas, including water table contamination, potential emissions of climate-changing methane and worries over community disruption from many lorries that will have to come to areas hosting fracking platforms with toxic liquids used to flush out shale gas.

Fracking concerns and ownership fears after Lord of the Manor stakes claim to minerals and mines beneath 7,000 properties

THOUSANDS of homeowners were shocked to receive a “surreal” letter from a Lord of the Manor they had no idea even existed staking a claim to their land yesterday.

A total of 7,000 residents were baffled, when they opened their mail on Tuesday 20, to find a notice from the Land Registry on behalf of Tim Shorland, the Lord of the Manor of Hempton and Northwick, enforcing his manorial privileges and interests.

Time for the BLM to switch paths on the forked road to fracked oil and gas

The Bureau of Land Management is at a fork in the road to America’s public lands. One path offers outdated, inadequate rules – the path that the agency has been following to regulate oil and gas drilling for more than three decades. The BLM itself has said its current rules don’t address the real environmental and public health risks from technologies like hydraulic fracturing. Down the other path are requirements for oil and gas producers to use today’s best available practices to protect America’s clean air, clean water, wildlands, and human health – leading toward a future where oil and gas resources are more responsibly developed in ways that reduce threats to public health and the environment and that respect the quality of life in local communities.

BLM Must Reverse Course on Weak Fracking Rule

This Friday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will close the official comment period for its proposed rule to govern fracking on public and Indian lands across the US.  The BLM is faced with a choice: whether to capitulate to the oil and gas industry’s demands and finalize the current weak rules, or to heed the call of hundreds of thousands of Americans who have written in to ask the Bureau to institute stronger protections for our health and environment.

The Natural Gas Boom: Processes, Production, and Problems

The key technologies behind the U.S. natural gas boom are “hydraulic fracturing” (fracking), and “horizontal drilling”. For a good look at the way these processes are used to access shale deposits, check out this interactive info-graphic from National Geographic.

Fracking complaint by Boulder Rep. Jared Polis triggers proposed $26,000 state penalty

State regulators have proposed $26,000 in penalties against the company that launched a drilling and extraction operation directly across the road from a Weld County property owned by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder, and used as his weekend getaway.

US shuffles prosecution team in Gulf spill case against ex-BP engineer

The Justice Department asked Wednesday that three  federal prosecutors handling the case against a former BP engineer charged with obstructing the government’s investigation of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill be withdrawn from the case.

BP not a victim: Opposing view

Three years ago, the Gulf Coast was devastated by the worst man-made environmental disaster in American history. Eleven men lost their lives on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, and millions of gallons of oil destroyed countless wildlife. The region’s economic backbone was shattered.

Congressmen spar over BP money

U.S. Reps. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, and Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, sent a letter Wednesday criticizing the Senate Appropriations Committee for proposing to take $10.2 million out of the Gulf Coast recovery pool from the BP oil disaster.

New BP ads say people without losses seeking money for 2010 oil spill

BP is back with new newspaper ads, this time aimed at what are billed as unscrupulous trial lawyers seeking a big pay day gaining compensation for people who didn’t suffer any losses from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

U.S. Coast Guard Releases Report on Remaining BP Oil Spill Cleanup Work

The U.S. Coast Guard recently released a report stating that only 95 miles of coastline remains to be cleaned three years after the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. According to an article published by The Christian Science Monitor, some environmental groups and others have expressed fears that recovery efforts may end too soon, stating there is ongoing damage that continues to warrant attention, and will continue to require response efforts even after the 95 miles have been combed.

Fireworks continue over lawsuit against oil and gas industry

The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority voted Wednesday to oppose a lawsuit that the Southeast Flood Protection Authority — East filed last month against about 100 oil and gas companies for wetland destruction.

State coastal authority votes to demand that East Bank levee authority drop its oil, gas, pipeline lawsuit

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on Wednesday voted to ask the East Bank levee authority to drop its lawsuit against 97 oil, gas and pipeline companies that is aimed at getting the energy firms to repair damage done to wetlands and land, or to pay for unrepairable damages, with the money to be used to improve levees.

Black Elk-funded investigation blames contractors for fatal platform explosion

The fatal explosion of a Gulf of Mexico production platform last November was triggered by contractors conducting maintenance work at the site, according to an investigation commissioned by the Houston-based company that owned the facility.

2012 Gulf Of Mexico Explosion Was A Result Of Unsafe Welding Practices, Report Finds

A report for a Texas-based company says a deadly 2012 explosion on its Gulf of Mexico oil platform off the Louisiana coast happened when workers for a subcontractor used unsafe welding practices.

Giant Louisiana sinkhole burps again, work ceased

Work at the giant Louisiana sinkhole in Assumption Parish has ceased once again after another burp occurred. A burp is when air and gas from deep in the sinkhole bubbles up. It can cause debris to float to the top and, in the past, has caused more trees to be swallowed into the slurry.

Assumption sinkhole renews activity, swallows more trees (Video)

The Assumption Parish sinkhole swallowed a sizeable clump of tall cypress in less than a minute Wednesday evening, pulling them down in a frothy swirl that roiled the usually placid surface of the year-old, 24-acre opening in the earth near Bayou Corne.

Homeowner Affected by Oil Spill: “It’ll never be fixed”

A homeowner affected by the Mayflower oil spill sold his home and said he was left with no other option.

It’s been nearly five months since the oil spill that forced dozens of residents to evacuate but one homeowner said he would rather give up his home than to go back.

How much oil spilled in Mayflower?

Homeowners whose lives are still in limbo after thousands of gallons of oil streamed into their neighborhood from a ruptured pipeline on March 29 might never know precisely how much of the sticky black goo actually spilled.

Oil spill makes an unlikely gadfly out of famous conservative

After a Michigan pipeline leak in 2010, a House Democrat led the local push for safety reforms. When a Montana pipeline spilled in 2011, a Democratic senator took federal regulators to task.

Decades-old oil spill re-emerges on banks of West River

A nearly forgotten, decades old oil spill in Bonshaw, P.E.I. has prompted a call for the cleanup of the West River.

Exactly how the oil and how much of it got into the river is not clear.

But Sheldon McNevin said he remembers what happened, steps from his home, one night in 1978.

Greenpeace: Russia denies us access to Arctic to hide oil drilling exploration

Greenpeace said Wednesday that Russia had denied its ship access to Russian Arctic waters to hide the extent of its lucrative energy exploration work in the fragile ecosystem.

The global environmental lobby group said its Arctic Sunrise icebreaker intended to enter the Northern Sea Route to protest at work being conducted jointly by Russia’s Rosneft energy giant and its US partner ExxonMobil.

Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise set to defy Russia polar ban

Greenpeace will consider sailing down the Northern Sea Route to protest oil exploration this Friday, defying the Russian authorities who have refused them access to the area.

Trainwreck: Trainloads of oil and toxics in town

Trains smack of progress, freedom and adventure. It’s said that railroads revolutionized America. The Association of American Railroads (AAR) touts the safety record of the rails: “In 2012, North American railroads safely delivered more than 2.47 million carloads of hazardous materials.” But sometimes trains leak, derail or just plain explode.

Latest Radioactive Leak at Fukushima: How Is It Different?

In the latest crisis to strike the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) has discovered that 300 tons (nearly 72,000 gallons) of highly radioactive water has leaked from a holding tank into the ground over the past month.

The development comes on top of TEPCO’s admission last month that an estimated 300 tons of radioactive groundwater, which picks up small amounts of contamination when it flows through the damaged reactor buildings, has been leaking into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Leaky Fukushima nuclear plant raises seafood poisoning concerns

The 300 tons of radioactive water leaked to date from a storage tank at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan is raising new concerns about the safety of seafood from the region, according to scientists.

Japan to issue gravest warning since quake on Fukushima nuclear plant leaks

Japan is poised to declare a toxic water leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant a level 3 “serious incident,” its gravest warning since the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami that sent three reactors into meltdown.

Fukushima: Radioactive water leak explained

Japan’s nuclear agency wants to raise the severity level of a radioactive water leak at the Fukushima plant from one to three on an international scale.

Japanese nuclear watchdog sounds new alarm over Fukushima

Japan’s nuclear watchdog on Wednesday said a leakage of highly radioactive water at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant could be the beginning of a new disaster – a series of leaks of contaminated water from storage tanks.

Fukushima: the global fallout

The long, dark shadow cast by the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station grew longer and darker on Wednesday as the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tepco, admitted that 3,000 tonnes of highly toxic water had leaked from purpose-built storage tanks. The disaster, caused when the tsunami that followed the devastating earthquake in 2011 knocked out backup generators pumping water to cool the fuel rods, has cost more than $200bn (£128bn) and is now expected to cost billions more. The human cost, so slow is the impact of radiation, won’t be measurable for a generation. It has profoundly shaken confidence in the future of nuclear power, from Taiwan – where earlier this month MPs resorted to fisticuffs as they debated a referendum on a new nuclear power station – to Berlin, and it’s changing the landscape of new nuclear here in Britain.

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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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