Environmental Must-Reads – August 27, 2013


Battles Escalate Over Community Efforts to Ban Fracking

As President Obama visits upstate New York and northeastern Pennsylvania this week to discuss his education agenda, a separate issue looms large in the background: fracking, a practice that has transformed Pennsylvania’s economy and divided New York, where a moratorium is in place.

Protesters on both sides of the issue are expected to greet the President. And while his trip highlights many unresolved issues related to America’s new wealth of natural gas and oil, a growing number of communities are taking matters into their own hands.

Obama flooded with 1M comments slamming fracking

The public comment period for the Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) second version of its Proposed “Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands” rule, which apply to more than 750 million acres of public lands and minerals, is now closed and the Obama Administration has received nearly 1 million comments from passionate people across the country — the bulk of which ask Obama to stop fracking on public lands.

One Million ask the BLM to Protect Public Lands from Fracking

Friday marked the final day to comment on the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed rules to govern fracking on public lands.  And as the comments closed, NRDC joined other environmental and public interest groups in delivering a combined total of over one million comments from members of the public asking the BLM to reverse course and rethink its weak proposal.  While there was a range of opinions amongst the commenters, all called on the Obama Administration to do more to put a stop to the dangerous fracking that threatens our environment, clean air and clean water, our health, and our public lands.

More Than Flaming Water: New Report Tracks Health Impacts of Fracking on Pennsylvania Residents’ Health

Is fracking dangerous for your health? Preliminary results from a new report suggest that flammable water isn’t the only thing the watch out for when living near natural gas operations.

Acidizing could rival fracking in Monterey Shale

Fracking hasn’t unleashed an oil production boom in California, at least not yet.

Could acid?

Companies trying to pry oil from a vast shale formation beneath Central California have been pumping powerful acids underground to dissolve the rock and free the petroleum within.

Britain’s Furor Over Fracking

The lovely green hills of the High Weald are Tory country, a corner of West Sussex full of affluent residents who commute to London and like their golf and ambles and thatched cottages. So it is a surprise, in this conservative heartland, to stumble on an encampment of hundreds of activists, foraging in the hedgerows for edible greens, sawing wood for fires, playing flutes and generally enacting a kind of mini-Woodstock.

But peace and love are not the story. This is the heavily policed front line of Britain’s fracking war. A conflict has erupted over Prime Minister David Cameron’s vision of turning the English countryside into hydraulic-fracturing central, a place where West Sussex would release its inner West Texas.

Senior ministerial aide hits out at consequences of fracking

George Hollingbery, a parliamentary private secretary to Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has warned that he will be “manning the barricades” if there is any danger posed to water supplies by shale gas exploration.

Mr Hollingbery, the MP for Meon Valley in Hampshire, warned that gas fracking could be “disastrous” in his county because of the area’s fragile water supply.

Fracking Hits Property Values

Why is the hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, method of drilling for natural gas and oil seemingly exempt from unintended consequences such as soil, water and air pollution, water waste and earthquakes, among other really bad things?

No need to answer that, but here’s another alarming outcome of fracking that could hit close to home, especially if your home is in Bradford County, PA, where 93 percent of the acreage is under lease to a gas company.

What you need to know about fracking

With a recent study documenting public health impacts from fracking in Pennsylvania and revelations about fracking’s impact on our national parks, the topic is certainly bubbling into a national conversation. Here is everything you need to know about fracking from its impact on climate change to an increase in earthquakes.

Ohio State to Conduct Wide Range of Shale-Related Research

Ohio State University researchers have begun focusing their expertise on the shale energy industry in Ohio.

With the industry growing at a rapid pace in Ohio and around the country, Ohio State aims to produce research that can help inform policymakers, industry leaders and the public.

Health Project Finds Air Pollution Could Pose More Threat Than Water Contamination

A nonprofit health project examining the long-term impacts of natural gas drilling in Washington County has released preliminary findings that shows air pollution may be more damaging than water pollution, according to the Associated Press.

Gulf oil spill settlement claims administrator says BP’s allegations of fraud are ‘spurious,’ “unfounded’

Patrick Juneau, court-appointed administrator of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill claims settlement program, came out swinging in a response to BP allegations that his payment program is rife with fraud, charging the company with making “spurious allegations of breaches of duty” and “broad, unfounded criticisms of the program’s internal controls and fraud detection processes.”

BP Launches Massive PR Campaign To Demonize Oil Spill Victims

BP, the oil giant that, along with Halliburton and Transocean, was responsible for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, is crying foul in the claims process of settlements for the victims of the spill.  The company has launched a massive public relations offensive to paint themselves as the victims in this situation.

Victims’ attorneys attack BP’s effort to block spill payments

Attorneys for victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill say a judge should deny BP’s latest effort to halt payments from its multibillion-dollar class action settlement because the company has failed to show that any claim has been improperly calculated or paid.

BP Misconduct Claims on Payments Unfounded, Official Says

BP Plc (BP/)’s allegations of misconduct in the program set up to pay claims in the settlement over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill are unfounded, the administrator of the program said.

Genesis plans $75 million crude oil rail facility in Raceland

Houston-based Genesis Energy L.P. said Monday it plans to build a crude oil train unloading facility in Raceland that will connect to pipelines serving Baton Rouge- and St. James-area refineries

Louisiana sinkhole swallows more trees

Several more trees fell into the Bayou Corne sinkhole Monday, suspending work at the site.

Exxon agrees to $2.4M Louisiana settlement; wants Arkansas suit dismissed

Irving-based Exxon Mobil Corp. has agreed to pay $2.4 million in fines, improvements and other payments to settle violations at Baton Rouge, La.-area plants.

The settlement is with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. Roughly $2.3 million will resolve violations from 2008 to this year at four plants, including Exxon’s Baton Rouge refinery. The agency said that $61,912 is for the release of naptha in June 2012 at the Baton Rouge Complex.

Rep. Griffin questions Exxon leaders on Mayflower oil spill

It could take several more months for Exxon officials to determine why the Pegasus Pipeline was cracked before it ruptured in Mayflower.

Company representatives met with local leaders and the media Monday to take questions and concerns about their investigation into the massive oil spill that shook the small central Arkansas town in March.

Health Problems Still Plague Arkansas Residents Near ExxonMobil Tar Sands Spill

It’s been a warm, rain-soaked summer in the small lakeside community of Mayflower, a sleepy residential town north of Little Rock famous for its bluegill and bass fishing in nearby Lake Conway.

But for some folks here, the rain has brought an unpleasant reminder that Mayflower is not the same picture-postcard community it once was. Instead, its residents say they are still suffering health effects from an estimated 5,000 barrels of tar sands crude that burst from an ExxonMobil pipeline on March 29th and poured through a residential neighborhood.

Exxon Officials: Unclear Why Pipeline Ruptured Despite Passing 2010 Inspection

ExxonMobil officials on Monday defended the safety of pipelines as a means of transporting oil and said it is too soon to say why a pipeline that had passed inspections as recently as 2010 ruptured in Mayflower earlier this year.

“If you look at our country, we have a large infrastructure of pipelines and we enjoy a standard of living and affordable energy as a population in America,” ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. Vice President Karen Tyrone said in an informal meeting with reporters at the state Capitol.

More oil carried by trains, trucks as lawmakers fight over pipelines

While Washington fights over the Keystone pipeline and some states dither on fracking, newly pumped fossil fuels are increasingly finding their way to refineries via rail, trucks and barges.

Keystone XL Decision Likely Delayed Until 2014

A decision on the fate of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will likely be delayed until after the release of an inspector general investigation into conflict of interest complaints, a process that will take at least until early 2014, The Hill reported Friday.

Mobile County officials want U.S. Corps of Engineers to scrap oil pipeline permits and start from scratch

Let’s try this again from the top, OK?

That was basically the message the Mobile County Commission agreed to send via letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday, Aug. 26, regarding its issuance of permits to Plains Southcap for the company’s crude-oil pipeline from west Mobile to the Chevron refinery in Pascagoula, Miss.

Pipeline That Would Send Crude Oil To Superior Still In Planning Phase

The Bakken shale fields in North Dakota are producing a lot of light sweet crude oil, and Enbridge, Inc. wants to pipe more of the material 600 hundred miles to Superior for later re-routing around the nation.

Russian Coast Guard members board Greenpeace ship protesting Arctic oil drilling

Russian coast guards on Monday boarded and inspected a Greenpeace icebreaker after it refused to leave the site of a planned protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.

On Saturday, the Dutch-flagged vessel entered without permission the Northern Sea Route in order to call attention to plans by Russian top oil firm Rosneft and its US partner ExxonMobil to drill in a remote nature reserve.

Greenpeace says its ship will leave Arctic after threats from Russia

Greenepeace said its Arctic Sunrise icebreaker would leave Russia’s Arctic seas after being threatened with gunfire Monday.

Russian Arctic: Wildlife at risk from oil drilling

Russia is planning huge oil and gas developments in the Arctic Ocean off its northern coast – drilling that could threaten pristine wildlife habitats.

Tepco sidelined by Japanese government as Fukushima reactors leak radioactive water

The Japanese government has lost patience with the efforts of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to get the crippled reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant under control

Fukushima water handling ‘like whack-a-mole’: minister

TEPCO’s handling of radioactive water at Fukushima has been like “whack-a-mole”, a minister said Monday after visiting the battered plant, pledging Japan’s government would step up its involvement at the site.

Ukraine and Japan to monitor Chernobyl, Fukushima from space

Ukraine and Japan on Monday agreed to launch a joint satellite project to track the state of crippled Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear plants, sites of the world’s greatest nuclear disasters.

Area near Fukushima remains a radiological ghost town

When home is located inside a nuclear danger zone, returning there becomes about checkpoints, equipment and protective suits

Only residents are allowed in, so CBS News asked Akira Okawara to be a guide. Homeowners can make just 10 trips a year — no more than five hours each.

Fukushima’s Legacy Is Just Beginning

The discovery at the plant of a leak of radioactive caesium eight times more dangerous than the levels immediately after the Fukushima accident in March 2011 has aroused international concern that Japan is incapable of containing the aftermath of the accident.

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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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