Environmental Must-Reads – August 22, 2014


At Least 10 Percent Of Fracking Fluid Is Toxic

At least 10 percent of the contents of fracking fluid injected into the earth is toxic. For another third we have no idea. And that’s only from the list of chemicals the fracking industry provided voluntarily. That’s according to an analysis by William Stringfellow of Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, reported in Chemistry World.

Maryland Fracking Study Cites Toxic Air Emissions as Top Concern

A state-commissioned report found that air emissions trump water pollution and drilling-induced earthquakes as a top public health threat posed by future fracking projects in Maryland.

For nearly a year, experts at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health examined past research into the link between oil and gas activity and health. The findings, released Monday, stand in stark contrast to public concern in heavy-drilling states such as Maryland’s neighbor Pennsylvania. Those concerns have tended to focus on tainted water, not air.

Earthquakes near deep-earth wells raise concerns

A series of small but unusual earthquakes near a well being pumped full of liquid drilling waste north of Denver has reignited a debate about the impacts of oil and gas development near homes.

Colorado isn’t normally earthquake territory, but aggressive drilling and pumping here and across the country may be changing that, contributing to the debate about what costs we’re willing to bear to achieve energy independence.

Fracking fight advances in North Carolina

North Carolina is down to the final weeks of a fracking battle that has consumed the state government for nearly two years.

The state’s Mining and Energy Commission will kick off public hearings this week on the controversial drilling practice, which Gov. Pat McCrory (R) legalized in June.

EPA Testing Methods To Detect Fracking Chemical Contamination

Residents living in the midst of the oil and gas boom often wonder if their drinking water may be contaminated by the drilling process.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working on improving ways to test for that. Agency scientists recently published results of a method to test for five chemicals that often appear in fracturing fluid.

Hundreds turn out for fracking hearing in Raleigh

The first of four public hearings on the future of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) got going Wednesday morning in Raleigh with cheers and jeers. A demonstration outside the N.C. State McKimmon Center drew almost 100 protesters and a handful of fracking supporters.

However, the real conversation kicked off inside in a room filled with more than 400 people listening to speaker after speaker talk about hydraulic fracturing. Their comments are summarized below. They are weighted heavily against fracking but only because the speakers were overwhelmingly critics. One spokesperson for an energy industry group estimated they were outnumbered 10 to 1. It might have been more.

Trempealeau County frac sand moratorium ending

Trempealeau County’s year-long frac sand moratorium is set to expire at the end of August.

The Trempealeau County Board of Supervisors, in the latest tight vote on frac sand issues, voted 8-7 against extending the moratorium at a packed meeting this week.

The extension request came from the county’s Board of Health committee, which had initially requested the moratorium in August 2013 a few months after the board narrowly rejected a previous moratorium request.

Drinking Water Will Not Be Used in Gas Production, Mexican Government Says

The water used to produce natural gas in Mexico via hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” will not come from aquifers, federal officials said.

Concerns have been raised about the use of fracking in Mexico, with environmentalists and leftist politicians contending that the technique harms the environment and people’s health.

Anti-fracking activists rally at New York State Fair, ask Cuomo for statewide ban

About 100 anti-fracking activists rallied outside the New York State Fair today on the fair’s Governor’s Day, calling upon Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ban the drilling.

“Ban fracking now and let’s build an energy system that protects the things we love,” said activist Jessica Azulay. “We are not trying to kill jobs or economic development — we are saying yes to renewable energy and the thousands of jobs it will create.”

Feds ordered to pay nearly $1 million in BP oil spill trial costs

The federal government must help pay nearly $1 million in court costs related to the ongoing civil trial of BP and its role in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon rig explosion and Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a federal judge in New Orleans ordered this week.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Sally Shushan ruled Monday (Aug. 18) that the government must cover $839,581 in costs from the first and second phases of the civil trial.

BP could save $1.2 billion if medical settlement decision not reversed

A group of plaintiffs’ law firms is asking U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to reverse his decision and allow oil spill cleanup workers to collect medical settlement payments of up to $60,700 if they suffered skin or respiratory ailments from chemical exposure, but didn’t get diagnosed until after the settlement was reached in 2012.

Texas Buys Conservation Land With Oil Spill Money

A deal that was decades in the making has finally closed on the largest conservation land purchase in Texas history: just over 17,000 acres of undisturbed coastal prairie in Calhoun County for $50 million.

A large portion of that funding, $34.5 million, will come from criminal penalties paid by BP and Transocean after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster — welcome news for state officials amid frustration that Texas has lagged behind in taking advantage of hundreds of millions of dollars that became available in the wake of the oil spill.

Oil thieves cause pipeline leak, pollute Mexico river

Thieves who tapped an oil pipeline in northern Mexico caused a spill that contaminated the San Juan River, a key irrigation source for farmers, authorities said Thursday.

The crude from the Madero-Cadereyta pipeline polluted a 23-kilometer (14-mile) stretch of the river in Nuevo Leon state, said federal environmental protection agency Profepa.

“We are asking people in these areas to avoid drinking local water and also to avoid eating fish from the affected area,” said Profepa’s Victor Cabrera.

Oil spill that fouled Mexican river will take months to clean up

An oil pipeline spill that contaminated a river in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon will take months to clean up, the country’s top water authority said on Thursday.

The 24-inch Madero-Cadereyta pipeline, owned by national oil company Pemex, was ruptured when thieves attempted to tap into it, the company said on Sunday.

First Enbridge trial begins

Two Michigan men testified Wednesday that a 2010 oil spill into the Kalamazoo River destroyed their business and they want Enbridge Inc. to pay for it.

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

Calhoun County jury rejects claim against Enbridge over 2010 oil spill

A jury rejected a damage claim against Enbridge Energy Thursday in the first civil trial rising from the 2010 oil spill into the Kalamazoo River.

After 20 minutes of deliberations, a jury of four women and two men found Enbridge was not responsible for losses to a nonprofit start-up company providing deer hunting opportunities to people with disabilities.

Enbridge Avoids U.S. Review With Plan to Boost Oil Sands

Enbridge Inc. (ENB) said it found a way to ship more Alberta oil to the U.S. that doesn’t require a Keystone XL-like review: switching crude from one pipeline to another before it crosses the border.

The State Department, responsible for approving cross-border energy projects like the Alberta Clipper and the proposed Keystone XL line to the U.S. Gulf Coast, said in a statement that Enbridge can go forward with its plan under authority granted by previously issued permits.

No more sinkholes, please

It’s impossible for anyone but the roughly 300 residents of Bayou Corne forced to evacuate after a massive sinkhole opened and threatened their homes to understand the anguish they continue to suffer.

But it does offer some solace to those who watch from the outside that 269 people who filed suit have finally won a $48.1 million judgment that will at least help them get on with their lives.

Why Are There So Many Sinkholes in Florida?

The state that’s well known for hurricanes and alligators has another high-profile natural worry on its list: the possibility that the Earth could, at any moment, gobble up a whole neighborhood.

Yes, Florida has more sinkholes than any other state in the nation, according to the local agency that oversees insurance regulations and compliance. Sinkholes have been spotted at least three times in as many months—May in Winter Haven, June in Jonesville, and July in Spring Hill.

Should farmers make way for Bakken pipeline?

Construction of an 1,100-mile crude oil pipeline slicing diagonally through 17 Iowa counties would generate millions of dollars for the state’s economy, but it’s creating worries among Iowa farmers asked to provide easements on their land.

Energy Transfer Partners of Dallas, Texas, has proposed building the 30-inch-diameter pipeline, which would initially carry 320,000 barrels of crude oil daily — with a capability for 420,000 barrels. The oil would be transported from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields, where production has been booming, to Patoka, Ill., about 75 miles east of St. Louis, Mo., while passing through South Dakota and Iowa.

Company Plans $900M, 440-Mile Crude Oil Pipeline Across Arkansas

Plains All American Pipeline L.P. said Thursday that it will build a 440-mile crude oil pipeline to connect its Plains Cushing, Okla. terminal to the Valero Memphis Refinery.

The $900 million project, called the Diamond Pipeline, is expected to be complete in “late 2016,” the publicly traded firm (NYSE: PAA) said in a news release.

Update: Two people burned after fire at Oklahoma gas pipeline

Emergency crews rushed to Garvin County on Thursday afternoon after a fire at a gas pipeline.

Initial reports indicate that crews are being sent to the area of County Rd. 1590, just a few miles south of Lindsay, Okla.

Businesses join fight against pipeline

Businesses are taking a stand against a proposed natural-gas pipeline planned to run through neighboring towns in the Nashoba Valley.

Ayer has dodged the potential path of the Kinder Morgan pipeline, which has stirred up a backlash in nearby Groton, Pepperell and Townsend — towns through which the pipeline would run.

Nigeria Records 34,047 Cases of Pipeline Breaks

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has disclosed that about 34,047 cases of pipeline vandalism were recorded in parts of the country between 1999 and 2013. Also, about 1.3 million metric tonnes of crude oil was said to have been lost to the illicit act between 2009 and 2012.

The Group Managing Director (GMD) of the NNPC, Dr. Joseph Dawha, stated this yesterday at the annual NAEC conference with a theme: ‘Pipeline Vandalism and its Socio economic Impact on the Nation.’

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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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