Environmental Must-Reads – August 5, 2013


The first rule of fracking is: Don’t talk about fracking

The Hallowich children were just 7 and 10 years old when their family received a $750,000 settlement to relocate away from their home in Mount Pleasant, Penn., which was next door to a shale-gas drilling site. By the time they’re grown up, they may not remember much about what it was like to live there — the burning eyes, sore throats, headaches, and earaches they experienced thanks to contaminated air and water. And maybe it’s better if they don’t remember, since they’re prohibited from talking about the experience for the rest of their lives.

Oil companies fracking off California coast

Companies prospecting for oil off the California coast have used hydraulic fracturing on at least a dozen occasions to force open cracks beneath the seabed, and now regulators are investigating whether the practice should require a separate permit and be subject to stricter environmental review.

Oil Companies Are Quietly Fracking the Seabed Off the California Coast

When we talk about fracking and its impacts on human health and the environment, we very often talk about groundwater. Can we somehow drill holes deep underground and blast apart bedrock with high pressure water—in solution with a long list of “bonus” chemicals—without contaminating the water table? It seems unlikely. And testing currently being performed off California’s coast adds another layer to the contamination query—what if the entire operation takes place underwater, on the seabed, perhaps right near the site of a 1969 oil spill that unleashed 3 million barrels of crude into the ocean?

Offshore…Fracking: Far More Common Than Previously Known

Hundreds of pages of federal documents released by the U.S. government to the Associated Press this week show that the controversial and toxic practice of hydraulic fracturing has moved offshore to an extent far greater than previously known.

Sand mines in Wisconsin unearth environmental problems

The fast-growing sand mining industry is grappling with a rising number of environmental problems across western Wisconsin.

Many of the cases involve water pollution — where vast piles of sand, sediment and dirt have washed off properties, often after heavy rains, and contaminated waterways.

Fracking Gas Flares Double In Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota

The tremendous growth of unconventional oil production in North Dakota has also led to a rapid rise in the production of associated natural gas and natural gas liquids. A new Ceres report reveals that large and growing volumes of this gas are being burned off rather than sold, creating significant economic and environmental impacts.

The False Promise of Fracking

Richard Heinberg and the Post Carbon Institute are on a mission to debunk the benefits of the hydraulic fracturing method of gas and oil extraction, or fracking, which many contend outweigh its disadvantages.

In his latest book, SNAKE OIL: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future, Heinberg—journalist, author and senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute—says the “false hype” surrounding shale gas and oil production “has hijacked America’s energy conversation.”

Group Turns In Petitions On Broomfield Fracking

A group seeking a five-year ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in Broomfield has submitted petitions with 3,382 names.

Ask Umbra: What’s so bad about fracking?

Dear Umbra,

I informed a friend that fracking is harmful to the earth, can contaminate groundwater, and can cause deep structural imbalances that may result in increased seismological activity, i.e. earthquakes. He is employed in the industry and insists that this is not true. Furthermore, he justifies fracking by saying using natural gas for travel, etc., is better than traditional gasoline. He does not want to look at longer-term future alternatives and new methodologies. Can you help me to answer his defense?

Fracking fury hits idyllic British village

Louisa Delpy had never protested before, but when she heard that shale gas extraction might begin in her leafy part of the English countryside, she was so furious that she took to the streets.

Fracking ‘biggest threat to countryside after housing’, says ex-minister

Nick Herbert, who resigned from his job in the Ministry of Justice in last September’s reshuffle, said a “fear of the unknown” was fuelling the concern. He has raised the alarm about possible shale oil and gas fracking in his Arundel and South Downs constituency.

Ignore fracking protests, government tells planners

Planning authorities have been banned from considering whether renewable energy plants would be a better fit for their communities, if they receive an application for a fracking mine.

Derailed train in Louisiana carrying highly toxic substances, Jindal says

A train carrying highly flammable and corrosive materials derailed in Louisiana on Sunday. Over 100 homes have been evacuated as a precaution, Gov. Bobby Jindal said, adding there were no fatalities or injuries and air monitors have not picked up anything to cause concern.

BP Says Rejection of Oil Spill Claims Appeals Could Scuttle Settlement

The settlement BP Plc reached last year with most private parties over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill could be scuttled if a U.S. appeals court doesn’t throw out the interpretation of payments being used by the claims administrator, the company said.

Better Left Alone: Flesh-eating Bacteria Thrive in Tarballs

Dr. Cova Arias, professor of Aquatic Microbiology at Auburn University, and two of her lab members had rather disturbing results published in the journal EcoHealth last December, 2011, on their discovery of high concentrations of Vibrio vulni?cus, also known as a type of flesh-eating bacteria, in tarballs.

Accidents show depth of danger in shallow waters

The 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill focused attention on the hazards of drilling for oil a mile below the surface of the sea, but recent incidents have brought new attention to dangers that still lurk on the shallow continental shelf, where companies rely on decades-old pipes and platforms to tap aging fields.

Louisiana sues Texas Brine for damage caused by Bayou Corne sinkhole

The state of Louisiana sued Texas Brine LLC on Friday for the environmental damage and massive sinkhole that officials say was caused by the collapse of a salt dome cavern operated by the company.

Louisiana suing Texas Brine over Assumption sinkhole

The state of Louisiana and Assumption Parish’s Police Jury and Sheriff’s Office raced against a looming legal deadline Friday to file a lawsuit against Texas Brine Co. and a Dallas subsidiary of oil giant Occidental Petroleum over the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole that emerged a year ago Saturday.

Sinkhole approaches 1 year anniversary

It’s been about a year since a giant sinkhole began swallowing acres in southeast Louisiana.

Many people living near Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou remain out of their homes, as the sinkhole has grown since it first formed. The sinkhole has now grown to about 15 acres.

A way of life on the brink of extinction in the Louisiana bayous

“It used to be the most beautiful place on Earth. I thought that I’d die down there.” The wistful words of Mike Schaff crackle through the co-pilot headphones as he banks his single-propeller plane to make one last circle over the small jumble of homes and canals deep in the verdant bayou country of Louisiana that he has called home all his life.

Oil spill drill conducted in Bering Strait by U.S. and Canadian coast guard vessels

In a signal of increasing concerns over Arctic shipping, U.S. and Canadian coast guard vessels have conducted their first joint Arctic offshore oil spill drill near the Bering Strait.

Greenpeace visits site of Thai oil spill

Environmental group Greenpeace said state-owned energy company PTT is not providing a truthful narrative about last month’s oil spill.

PTT Global Chemical PCL reported a spill of about 300 barrels of oil from a faulty pipe last month.

Tests conducted on seafood from areas near oil spill

A PUBLIC Health Ministry inspection of seafood collected from areas near Ban Phe on the coast in Rayong – near sites hit by a crude oil spill in the Gulf – has found no mercury or heavy metal in excess of safe levels.

State Oceanic Administration sued over oil production in spill-hit Bohai Bay

China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA) is being sued for allowing US oil major ConocoPhillips to resume production after spills off northern China in 2011, state media reported on Monday.

Oil spill sparks high alert

BAHRAIN is on high alert following a massive oil spill in the Arabian Gulf, which was deliberately caused by an Indian ship.

Desh Shanti was caught dumping oil near Iranian waters on Tuesday after ignoring official communications from concerned authorities.

Senegal fears oil spill disaster from sinking tanker

Senegalese authorities have expressed fear over an imminent environmental disaster likely to be caused by a Spanish oil tanker that is sinking off the coast of Dakar, sources said Sunday.

Map: Little-Known Pipeline Nearly as Big as Keystone Could Win Race to Gulf

The Enbridge pipeline, converted from natural gas, would carry tar sands crude like the Keystone XL but is expected to easily win regulatory approval.

Nebraska trial could delay Keystone XL pipeline

While environmentalists, energy executives and elected officials across North America await the State Department’s critical decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, a little-noticed trial scheduled for next month in Nebraska could spell problems for the $5.3 billion project.

Analysis: TransCanada’s East Coast oil pipeline to change trade dynamics

TransCanada Corp’s (TRP.TO) plan to build one of the world’s longest oil pipelines has reverberations far beyond Canadian shores.

The planned 2,700 mile pipeline, which will bring crude from Canada’s energy capital of Alberta to refineries and ports on the East Coast, has the potential to upturn the dynamics of the North Atlantic oil trade squeezing out some imported crude to North America and revitalizing once-ailing refineries.

Keystone conflict: US State Dept launches inquiry into pipeline environmental report

The US State Department has launched an inquiry to review whether the assessment of the Keystone XL pipeline’s environmental impact was tainted by Foggy Bottom, the contractor hired to complete the analysis that may have had a conflict of interest.

Fukushima radioactive water likely breached barrier -panel head

Radioactive groundwater at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has likely risen above an underground barrier meant to contain it, presenting an “emergency” that the plant’s operator is not sufficiently addressing, a regulatory watchdog official said on Monday.

Japan nuclear body says radioactive water at Fukushima an ‘emergency’

Highly radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is creating an “emergency” that the operator is struggling to contain, an official from the country’s nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

Huge leak of tritium feared in Fukushima

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday that an estimated 20 trillion to 40 trillion becquerels of tritium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have flowed into the Pacific Ocean since May 2011.

Fukushima shaken by 6.0 magnitude quake

A strong undersea earthquake has hit the same northeastern region of Japan that was devastated by a deadly 2011 tsunami. No damage or injuries have been reported in the affected area, including the Fukushima prefecture.

Fukushima Watch: Russia Claims Continued Used Car Contamination

The fallout from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster is still being felt in Russia, where customs officials say they continue to detect radiation on second-hand Japanese cars and auto parts being shipped in for sale in Russia’s Far East.

Mystery radioactive objects found near Fukushima plant

Scientists in Japan said they were trying to identify four objects, all highly radioactive, found in an area evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

9,640 Fukushima plant workers reach radiation level for leukemia compensation

Nearly 10,000 people who worked at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are eligible for workers’ compensation if they develop leukemia, but few are aware of this and other cancer redress programs.

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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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