Environmental Must-Reads – August 28, 2013


Here Are 2 Ways We Now Know the Fracking Boom Is Causing Earthquakes

Hyrdaulic fracking has handed the United States a remarkable (and remarkably lucrative) oil and gas boom. In some corners of the country, though, it also seems to have led to something of an earthquake boom.

Insight: Arkansas lawsuits test fracking wastewater link to quakes

Tony Davis, a 54-year-old construction worker in central Arkansas, said he welcomed the boom in natural gas drilling that brought jobs and new businesses to his hometown starting about a decade ago. But that was before the earth shook.

Fracking success declared in Ukraine

Only one of the 10 hydraulic fracturing operations carried out in Ukraine was unsuccessful, British exploration company JKX Oil & Gas said Wednesday.

JKX said Wednesday it was “pleased to report” it finished its 10-stage hydraulic fracturing campaign in Ukraine.

UTSA, Southwest Research Institute To Develop Low-Cost Method To Treat Fracking Water

Researchers at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) jointly announce they are investing $200,000 in new research to develop a low-cost method to treat flow-back water following hydraulic fracturing. Over the next year, the researchers will optimize an inexpensive charcoal product called biochar for the water treatment solution. It will be tested on water samples from the Eagle Ford Shale.

On Fracking Rules, It’s States vs. Feds

How can you be in a relationship with someone who doesn’t want to be in a relationship with you? That’s the challenge facing Interior Secretary Sally Jewell when she recently visited with oil executives here and sought to explain why the federal government thinks it’s necessary to regulate drilling operations.

OSHA Proposes Silica Worker Exposure Hazards Rule

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has just proposed a rule that is intended to lower worker exposure to crystalline silica, which it claims “kills hundreds of workers and sickens thousands more each year.” The proposal is aimed at curbing lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease in America’s workers.

SkyTruth Tracks Fracking From the Edge of Space

For the past year, our satellite monitoring of infrared data from around the world has detected immense amounts of light and heat coming from natural gas flares in North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. A recent study concluded that 30 percent of the natural gas produced in North Dakota is being wasted by a process called flaring, and the carbon dioxide emissions alone are equivalent to the annual emissions of 1 million automobiles.

Frackers Sued for Causing Earthquakes

It’s become something of a pattern: A quiet town with no history of fault line activity signs a contract with natural gas drillers. Suddenly, it’s beset by minor earthquakes. In Youngstown, Ohio, a recent study  linked a spate of over 100 earthquakes to the process used to dispose of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

MoveOn members joined Americans Against Fracking—and actress and activist Daryl Hannah—at the White House to deliver 650,000 public comments

Last week, MoveOn members joined Americans Against Fracking—and actress and activist Daryl Hannah—at the White House to deliver 650,000 public comments to the Bureau of Land Management demanding a ban on fracking on public and Native American lands. All told, concerned Americans submitted more than 1 million comments—the largest unified outpouring ever from Americans calling for a change in course on fracking

PA Public Health Assessment Finds Fracking Makes People Sick

Early results from an on-the-ground, public health assessment in Washington County, PA, indicate that environmental contamination is occurring near natural gas drilling sites and is the likely cause of associated illnesses. We are alarmed by these preliminary findings. They show that—after only six years of drilling—human exposure is occurring and people are getting sick. The presence of any sick people gives lie to industry claims that high volume hydraulic fracturing—fracking—is “safe.”

A Dozen Offshore Oil Rigs in California Fracking Without Legally Mandated Review

At least a dozen offshore oil wells in California state waters have been fracked in the past three years, apparently without legally mandated review under the California Environmental Quality Act, according to new research. This new revelation doubles the number of known offshore frack jobs, putting additional pressure on the California Coastal Commission to take strong action to control offshore fracking when it meets Thursday in Santa Cruz.

Officials Say Airport Drilling Won’t Interfere With Flights

The planes will continue to take off and land at Pittsburgh International Airport — but they’ll have company.

Dotted about the property in the coming years will be six well pads — with a total of 47 Marcellus wells. But CONSOL Energy says they won’t interfere with airport operations.

Federal judge asked to order BP oil spill claims administrator to set payment rules for oil and gas service companies also hurt by federal drilling moratoria

Lawyers representing private claimants in the settlement with BP of economic claims stemming from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill signaled late Tuesday that another disagreement has arisen between the two sides, this time over the payment of claims for oil and gas companies that also were hurt by federal moratoria on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the spill.

Ex-BP engineer charged with deleting texts after Gulf oil spill seeks dismissal of indictment

A former BP engineer claims there were “serious, recurring defects” in the grand jury proceedings that led to his indictment on charges he deleted text messages about the company’s response to its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Judge asked to dismiss ex-BP engineer’s indictment

A former BP engineer claims newly disclosed transcripts show “serious, recurring defects” in the grand jury proceedings that led to his indictment on charges he deleted text messages and voicemails about the company’s response to its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP, Anadarko tell appeals court they shouldn’t be fined for Deepwater Horizon oil spill

BP and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., which held a 25 percent interest in BP’s ill-fated Macondo oil and gas well, told the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last week that they should not be fined under the Clean Water Act for the oil spill resulting from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and sinking.

7 charged with filing false oil spill claims

Federal prosecutors are charging seven people with mail fraud and false claims related to the BP oil spill.

U.S. Attorney Pamela Marsh announced that five of those charged had been employees at a Pensacola Beach restaurant during the time of the 2010 oil spill. Prosecutors allege they asked for compensation from the claims fund set up by BP but inflated the amount of their lost income.

Alert level raised at Assumption Parish sinkhole

Work has stopped at the Assumption Parish sinkhole after more trees were sucked underwater Monday.

Assumption Parish officials posted an update on their website at 3:30 p.m. Monday saying response activity at Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou is at a “code 3,” which is the highest alert level.

Lines drawn at landfill hearing in north Baton Rouge

Nearly the first hour and a half of a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed landfill permit application for north Baton Rouge was taken up by elected officials voicing their opposition to the permit.

Dow plans $1 billion investment in Plaquemine

Dow Chemical Co. announced Tuesday it will invest $1.06 billion to build two new polyolefins plants and upgrade its ethylene capacity at the company’s 3,300-acre site in Plaquemine — a move that will create 71 new jobs at the facility and an additional 470 indirect jobs.

Miss. women say gasoline fumes harmed children

Texaco Inc. has settled a lawsuit with five women who alleged the oil company was responsible for ailments of children born after they were exposed to leaded gasoline fumes.

Arkansans Still Suffering Effects from Seeping Oil Months After Mayflower Spill (Op-Ed)

It’s been a warm, rain-soaked summer in the small lakeside community of Mayflower, a sleepy residential town north of Little Rock, Ark., famous 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 oil that burst from an ExxonMobil pipeline on March 29th and poured through a residential neighborhood. The black, viscous oil then flowed into culverts and a creek by the town shopping center, finally draining into a marshy area of the lake where much of it remains buried in sediment. Residents say heavy rains cause the oil to leak out into a cove that drains into Lake Conway.

Boat sinks in Columbia River, spills oil

A large boat sank about five miles west of Longview Tuesday, causing a significant oil spill in the Columbia River.

Rachel Maddow Exposes Climate Deniers and Discusses Keystone XL Delay

The Rachel Maddow Show devoted a portion of its program on Friday to exposing climate change deniers and highlighting Keystone XL pipeline opposition. Maddow points to the success opponents have had attaching a serious political cost to the approval of the pipeline.

TransCanada Keystone XL Defeats Obstacle to Pipeline Leg

TransCanada Corp. (TRP) won a state appeals court ruling allowing it to lay the Keystone XL pipeline across a family farm in northeastern Texas, eliminating one of the last obstacles to completion of the southern leg of the Canadian tar-sands line.

Julia Trigg Crawford claimed TransCanada lacked the right to use state eminent domain laws to cross her 600-acre family farm near the Oklahoma border without her permission.

Former Romney adviser Hamm: Keystone isn’t needed for US oil

An oilman who advised Mitt Romney’s White House campaign said part of the Keystone XL pipeline’s mission — to carry oil from fields in North Dakota and Montana — has become obsolete.

CNBC Host Believes Animals Will “Snuggle” Under Keystone Pipeline

CNBC host Larry Kudlow believes the Keystone XL pipeline will be good for wildlife because animals will “snuggle” underneath it for warmth, even though the Interior Department found Keystone XL would have “permanent impacts” on wildlife, including threats to several endangered species.

Drones handle all kinds of work in Arctic — and there’s lots more to do

Small drones may soon take to the skies above Earth’s top with the aim of making survival there easier for both humans and wild animals. Such unmanned aircraft represent the first in a coming wave of Arctic drones that could watch out for oil spills, track ice floes and migrating whales, or help the U.S. Coast Guard in search-and-rescue operations.

Statoil makes key oil discovery off Newfoundland

Norwegian oil and gas company Statoil announced Tuesday that it made a third crude oil discovery in the Flemish Pass Basin, on its Bay du Nord prospect, located approximately 300 miles northeast of St. John’s, Newfoundland in Canada.

San Francisco invoked law for cell phone radiation

The cell phone industry has grown tremendously over a decade or so.  I still remember when I was in undergraduate, back in India, cell phone was status symbol and now it has become a commodity. Almost everyone has it.  There has been an ongoing debate about the use of cell phones and its harmful effects on human health.  Well, San Francisco has taken a lead in passing a regulation that requires mobile phone manufacturers to write radiation levels next to the handsets.

Japan: Nuke plant operator found leak too slowly

Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday upgraded the rating of a leak of radiation-contaminated water from a tank at its tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant to a “serious incident” on an international scale, and it castigated the plant operator for failing to catch the problem earlier.

Japan Fukushima toxic water leak a Level 3 ‘serious incident’

Japan’s nuclear watchdog on Wednesday said a toxic water leak at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant has been classified as a level 3 “serious incident” on an international scale.

Japan formally raises Fukushima water leak to INES Level 3 incident

Japan’s nuclear regulator said on Wednesday it has officially raised the severity rating of the latest radioactive water leak at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to Level 3 on an international scale for radiological releases.

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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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