Environmental Must-Reads – August 30, 2013


Top N.Y. Court to Decide Whether Towns Can Ban Fracking

New York’s highest court agreed to decide whether towns and cities have the power to pass anti-fracking laws.

The Court of Appeals in Albany today said it will hear arguments in lawsuits seeking to block drilling bans passed by the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield aimed at stopping the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which millions of gallons of chemically treated water is forced underground to break up rock and free trapped natural gas.

N.Y.’s highest court to hear anti-fracking case

New York’s highest court agreed Thursday to hear appeals from a drilling company and a farmer challenging municipal bans on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Fracking fluid linked to fish die-off

A new government study found that a 2007 fracking fluid spill in Kentucky killed off several species of fish, including two that were classified as “threatened.” Some of the surviving fish developed gill lesions, liver damage and spleen damage.

Poland first to get gas from ‘fracking’ in Europe

Poland has begun a test extraction of shale gas in amounts not seen in Europe before. Eager to reduce energy dependency on Russia, Poland has succeeded after three international firms quit drilling in the country.

Youngstown man admits dumping toxic fracking waste into Mahoning River

An employee of a Youngstown company that stored, treated and disposed of oil and gas drilling liquids admitted this morning to dumping tens of thousands of gallons of fracking waste on at least 24 occasions into a tributary of the Mahoning River.

See What 1,000 Tiny, Fracking-Caused Earthquakes Can Do to a Home

In 2010 and 2011, there were as many as 1,000 minor earthquakes in Arkansas. And scientists believe they were caused by fracking.

Seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey say the disposal of millions of gallons of wastewater flowback as part of the fracking process can create “micro earthquakes,” which are rarely felt, and also the rare larger seismic disruption. Scientists say that’s what happened in Greenbrier, Arkansas, where the quakes damaged homes.

4 states’ attorneys general dispute fracking rules

Attorney General Tim Fox said Thursday that Montana is joining Alabama, Alaska and Oklahoma in protesting Bureau of Land Management plans to regulate hydraulic fracturing on federal land.

House Dems to Interior: Fracking rule is too weak

Senior Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee say the Interior Department’s draft plan to regulate oil and gas fracking is too weak and even worse than an earlier proposal.

Burning Ice Creates Drinkable Water from Fracking Wastewater

While our natural resources dwindle, there’s one valuable resource that many forget to account for: water. Although much of our planet is covered by this liquid, our world is in the midst of an intensifying global water crisis. Now, though, researchers have developed a method to use one form of the “ice that burns” to turn salty wastewater from fracking and other oil and gas production methods into water for drinking and irrigation.

This Spy Balloon Will Soon Float Over the Fracking Fields of North Dakota

If you work in the fracklands of North Dakota, keep an eye to the sky: A data-thirsty DIY balloon rig may soon be soaring over your head.

See, the great American fracking boom is underway. Oil and gas companies are in full-throttle drillmania, natural gas prices are plunging, and a whole lot of rural countryside is lit up like a Christmas tree. North Dakota’s Bakken Shale is probably the best exemplar of the bonanza: Once an unpopulated wilderness expanse, now it’s a giant industrial operation that’s as visible from space as a major city.

Pipeline will run under Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve

An agreement reached last week between Enterprise Products Partners and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources will allow drilling for a natural-gas pipeline to continue through the Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve.

Industry Expert Anthony Ingraffea: Fracking is Frankensteinian

In this Shale Truth interview segment, Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, speaks to Cornell University Professor Anthony Ingraffea about issues related to the fracking process.

Dr. Ingraffea discusses how his connection to the Delaware River watershed led him to investigate and speak out about the environmental damage caused by gas extraction from impermeable shale rock. Dr. Ingraffea calls fracking for shale gas a “last ditch effort” by the oil and gas industry as they are running out of readily available product to sell.

Bacteria supplemented their diet to clean up after Deep Water Horizon oil spill

Bacteria living in the Gulf of Mexico beaches were able to ‘eat up’ the contamination from the Deep Water Horizon oil spill by supplementing their diet with nitrogen, delegates at the Goldschmidt conference will be told today, Friday 30th August.

Study examines heavy metal pollutants in fish at oil platforms and natural sites

A recent study by UC Santa Barbara scientists analyzed whole-body fish samples taken from oil-and-gas production platforms and natural sites for heavy metal pollutants. The results showed all but four elements were relatively consistent at both types of location. The findings were published in the Bulletin of Marine Science.

BP: Jindal administration ‘misrepresents’ company’s record regarding 2010 oil spill

BP PLC says the Jindal administration has misrepresented its record in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, including how much it has spent on cleanup.

Oil money fuels Jindal’s opposition to lawsuit, groups say

Environmental groups slammed “Million Dollar Man” Gov. Bobby Jindal for what they call his “aggressive stance” against the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East lawsuit, which targets 97 oil and gas companies for their role in wetlands loss. The groups — Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Global Green, League of Women Voters, Levees.org, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, Sierra Club and Vietnamese American Young Leaders Association of New Orleans — revealed on Aug. 28 more than $1 million in campaign contributions that Jindal received from oil and gas companies.

Bobby Jindal doesn’t think Big Oil should have to clean up its mess

Oil and gas companies have ruined coastal wetlands that formerly helped protect Louisiana from storms and floods, but Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) doesn’t believe they should have to pay to repair the damage.

Fudging the Numbers: BP’s History of Lying about the Spill

Exactly how much oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico during the BP disaster? Billions of dollars of Clean Water Act penalties are at stake—and a large portion of the money available for restoration. Perhaps it comes as no surprise that BP is claiming the amount of oil spilled is far less than we’ve all heard.

Gulf Restoration Plan Is Step Forward for Recovery, but More Work Remains

If we hope to meet the future resource demands of a growing global population without destroying the natural systems that sustain us, we must put the ocean at the center of what we do. The ocean provides us with food, energy, transportation, carbon storage and more—it is truly our greatest natural resource.

Nowhere is this more true than in the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf is a national treasure and a significant driver of the U.S. economy, providing resources for food, recreation and livelihoods.

BP, Louisiana Officials at Odds over Restoring Coastline

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council held a meeting Wednesday discussing the current status of coastal restoration projects, which are being funded by civil penalties in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon incident.

BP loses second chance of halting oil spill payouts

The British oil and gas giant BP has lost a second chance to halt compensation payments for the victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion that killed 11 workers and leaked about four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Win on Spill Insurance Withdrawn by U.S. Appeals Court

A U.S. appeals court withdrew its decision finding BP Plc (BP/) had access to $750 million in Transocean Ltd. (RIG)’s insurance to pay costs from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, in order to ask the Texas Supreme Court a question on coverage.

Oil explodes in Texas and spills in Massachusetts

A drilling rig in rural South Texas is expected to continue burning for days after exploding late Wednesday night. No one was injured in the accident, and the cause of the blaze remains unknown.

Meanwhile, New Bedford, Mass., woke up to a minor oil spill. By 11 a.m., the Coast Guard reported that it had been contained. The source of the 100 to 200 gallon spill also remains unknown.

New Bedford Oil Spill Cleanup Underway After Diesel Fuel Coats Massachusetts Harbor (VIDEO)

Coast Guard officials are responding to a diesel spill in the New Bedford, Mass. harbor.

Arkansas to Provide Health Assessments for Mayflower Residents Affected By Oil Spill

Arkansas has announced it will provide health assessments for Mayflower residents who have health concerns related to the oil spill of March 29.

The health assessments will be available to affected residents at the Faulkner County Health Unit in Conway beginning Sept. 3.

Federal Judge Sets Trial for State of Arkansas vs. ExxonMobil

A federal judge has set a trial date for the State of Arkansas vs Exxon.

The trial, set for the week of June 16, will aim to resolve claims of how Exxon handled and stored waste for too long at a site in Faulkner County, among other claims.

Kalamazoo pipeline protester could get two years in jail

One oil spill in his community was more than enough for Kalamazoo resident Christopher Wahmhoff.

To protest Enbridge’s replacement of the pipeline that burst along a Michigan riverbank in 2010, Wahmhoff spent 10 hours of his 35th birthday inside the new pipe, slowing construction for a single day in June.

Enbridge oil pipeline protestors gather at Mason courthouse to support four charged with felony

Charged with a felony for her part in protesting an oil pipeline project, Vicci Hamlin seems as determined to fight her criminal case as she was to remain attached to a piece of construction equipment.

“I am willing to go to prison if I have to,” Hamlin said Thursday, Aug. 29, outside Ingham County District Court in Mason, where she and about 30 supporters gathered for a preliminary examination.

Keystone XL Pipeline “Flunks Climate Test,” New Report

Environmental advocates delivered a report on the climate effects of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to President Barack Obama today, with the intention of giving the President all the information he needs to reject the pipeline.

Three Arrests as Maine Earth First!, 350.org Protest Oil Trains

The way Jessie Dowling sees it, getting arrested is the very least she can do.

“We need to put our bodies on the line,” the 32-year-old Unity woman said, just before being led into a police van for the short ride to jail. “We don’t want another Lac-Megantic.”

And there, in one simple sentence, was the thrust of the event.

Fukushima Fishermen Ruined by Tepco Now Key in Radiation Fight

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) ruined the livelihoods of the commercial fishermen that trawled the seas off Fukushima prefecture when its leaking reactors poisoned the fishing grounds. The utility now needs their help.

Fukushima Leak’s ‘Level 3’ Rating: What It Means

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority announced Wednesday that it officially is reclassifying the radioactive water leak at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from Level 1 to Level 3 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), denoting it as a “serious incident.”

That rating sounds ominous, to be sure. But its real meaning—and the significance of Japanese officials’ decision to make a more dire assessment of the crisis—are, like many other ramifications of the ongoing crisis at Fukushima, frustratingly unclear.

Just say no to nuclear power – from Fukushima to Vermont

Welcome to the nuclear renaissance.

Entergy Corp, one of the largest nuclear-power producers in the US, issued a surprise press release Tuesday, saying it plans “to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014.” Although the press release came from the corporation, it was years of people’s protests and state legislative action that forced its closure. At the same time that activists celebrate this key defeat of nuclear power, officials in Japan admitted that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe are far worse than previously acknowledged.

“White spots” on Fukushima cattle ignored by Japanese officials

Two years ago, Channel NewsAsia obtained footage from within Japan’s 20 km Fukushima exclusion zone featuring a farmer who defied government orders to exterminate his cattle. While residents are now being allowed to return, nothing has been said about the changes now seen on the cattle.

Water leak in Fukushima suspected to have begun earlier than discovered

After it was discovered that one of the storage tanks in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has leaked 300 tons of contaminated water, further evaluation suggests that the leak might have begun more than a month prior to Tokyo Electric Power’s (TEPCO) knowledge and admission. According to a representative of the company during a Nuclear Regulation Authority sub-committee meeting on Tuesday, a study on beta-ray doses acquired by the workers assigned for patrolling in the facility supports the suspicion.

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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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