Environmental Must-Reads – August 7, 2013


Exclusive: Chesapeake drops energy leases in fracking-shy New York

Chesapeake Energy has given up a two-year legal fight to retain thousands of acres of natural gas drilling leases in New York state, landowner and legal sources told Reuters.

Anti-Frackers Win – Chesapeake Gives Up New York Gas Leases

If the people of a state don’t want the royalties and economic growth and jobs and truck traffic that come with oil and gas development, you can’t force it on them.

That’s the conclusion made by Chesapeake Energy . According to this new story by Reuters, Chesapeake has given up trying to fight against New York’s ban on high-volume fracking and is allowing its leases in the state to expire.

Fears of quakes and flammable tap water hit Britain as fracking looms

The fear of fracking has come to Britain, replete with worries about potential earthquakes and tap water tainted with natural gas that bursts into flames at the strike of a match.

Trouble in fracking paradise

The shale revolution is “a little bit overhyped,” Shell CEO Peter Voser said last week as his company announced a $2.1 billion write-down, mostly owing to the poor performance of its fracking adventures in U.S. “liquids-rich shales.” Which of its shale properties have underperformed, Shell didn’t say, but CFO Simon Henry admitted that “the production curve is less positive than we originally expected.”

How Big a Problem is Methane Leakage from Natural Gas Fracking?

By now it should be evident to all that hydraulic fracturing is a disruptive technology in every sense. With natural gas prices still in free-fall because of fracking, competition from gas-fired generation continues to lay waste to plans for new nuclear power—the most recent casualty being Duke’s Levy project in Florida—while threatening investment in futuristic green and clean tech. Fracking is the most important single element in the dramatically improved energy position of the United States, and the main factor in the country’s much lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Ground Water Near Natural Gas Wells Has Higher Concentrations of Heavy Metals

A new study by the University of Texas at Arlington has found higher concentrations of heavy metals in ground water near natural gas wells.

Associate Professor Kevin Schug of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry became interested in fracking when the University of Texas at Arlington leased some land for natural gas drilling. His team used ground water records from 1988-1998 to establish the historical baseline for the Barnett Shale in North Texas.

Gas Country Newspaper Calls On EPA To Reopen Water Contamination Probe

Last summer, the Environmental Protection Agency [EPA] ended an investigation into the potential contamination of water near natural gas wells in the town of Dimock, Penn. and determined the water was safe.

Now, the Scranton Times-Tribune is calling on the EPA to reopen the investigation.

Fort Collins Fracking Opponents Gather Twice The Needed Signatures

Some people living in Fort Collins are looking to ban fracking for 5 years. The group’s first move is to try and restrict fracking within city limits.

Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins turned in more than 8,000 signatures, twice the number needed to put a 5-year fracking moratorium initiative on the November ballot.

Inside the Censored EPA Fracking Water Study

DeSmogBlog has obtained a copy of an Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) fracking groundwater contamination PowerPoint presentation describing a then-forthcoming study’s findings in Dimock, Pennsylvania.

Judge to hold hearing on BP’s refusal to pay $130M to Gulf oil spill claims administrator

A court hearing is set for BP to justify why it has balked at paying more than $130 million in fees to the administrator of its multi-billion dollar settlement with Gulf Coast businesses and residents after the company’s 2010 oil spill.

Judge orders BP to explain its refusal to pay $130 million cost of operating oil spill settlement claims center

A U.S. magistrate judge has ordered BP to appear in federal court on Wednesday to explain why the company should not be directed to pay a $130 million bill it was sent to underwrite the cost of operating the center that is processing billions of dollars in economic claims covered by a settlement between BP and private claimants last year.

Mich. man convicted of fraud in oil spill claim

A man who ran for Congress and Detroit mayor has been convicted of fraud charges related to the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Deepwater Horizon, Three Years Later

BP-funded research aims to understand and mitigate impacts of hydrocarbon pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere.

Gliders Give Key Ocean Data From Gulf

After tests about 40 miles offshore Galveston, Texas A&M University oceanographers say two new Slocum gliders – missile-shaped underwater devices that can be controlled from land-based computers – are ready to deploy for research in the Gulf of Mexico.

Meet the Town That’s Being Swallowed by a Sinkhole

About once a month, the residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana, meet at the Assumption Parish library in the early evening to talk about the hole in their lives. “It was just like going through cancer all over again,” says one. “You fight and you fight and you fight and you think, ‘Doggone it, I’ve beaten this thing,’ and then it’s back.” Another spent last Thanksgiving at a 24-hour washateria because she and her disabled husband had nowhere else to go. As the box of tissues circulates, a third woman confesses that after 20 years of sobriety she recently testified at a public meeting under the influence.

Synthetic Cactus Needles Could Clean Up Oil Spills

Researchers looking for a better way to clean up oil spills are taking a cue from the humble cactus. A new study shows that synthetic needles based on those of the desert plant can take up oil droplets from the ocean much as the cactus takes up water from the air.

The forgotten in Mayflower

People who live within sight of the ruptured Pegasus pipeline say they’ve been ignored by ExxonMobil and government officials.

Mayflower Residents Hope to Keep Oil Spill Lawsuit Going

Mayflower residents pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. and a subsidiary said in a court filing Monday that it would be wrong for a judge to dismiss their claims.

Probe of Keystone Contractor Energizes Pipeline Opponents

An ethics probe of the contractor assessing the environmental impact of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline has energized critics who say it should be grounds for the project to be delayed.

Putting Keystone XL tar sands pipeline’s jobs numbers in context

Last week, the President’s comments concerning the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline’s limited job creation potential generated a response from the media and project backers which obscured the President’s point. Supporters of the Keystone XL pipeline continue to pitch the project as a national jobs creator. President Obama has countered that in an economy of 150 million people, the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would be a “blip relative to the need.”

Groups Block Megaload Delivery of Tar Sands Equipment in Idaho

Nearly 150 members of the Nez Perce Nation were joined by Idle No More, Wild Idaho Rising Tide (WIRT) and others in a blockade of Highway 12 in Idaho late last night to stop a megaload carrying tar sands equipment.

Sailing together to save the Arctic

On the northern coast of Norway, just above the Arctic Circle, lies a small archipelago where big things are happening. The famously scenic Lofoten islands are best known as a cod-rich fishery and eco-tourism destination.

But now that the government of Norway is eager to get its hands on the dirty oil in its Arctic waters, Lofoten has become a key battleground in the politics surrounding Arctic protection in Norway.

Greenpeace frustrated by arctic drilling

Greenpeace said Wednesday it will not rest until Shell is prohibited from drilling for oil and natural gas in arctic waters.

Judge Upholds Approval of Arctic Spill Plans

Interior Department approval of oil spill response plans for an Arctic drilling program off the Alaska coast did not violate environmental laws and policies, a federal judge has ruled.

What Is the Current State of Arctic Sea Ice and What’s in Store?

A look at the Arctic region uncovers many hot-button issues: climate change, energy extraction, and cultural impacts, just to name a few—all in a remote area with a harsh environment. Recently, I received a crash course and status update on the Arctic’s disappearing sea ice at the 5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations. Co-hosted by the United States National/Naval Ice Center and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, the conference brought together key stakeholders for information sharing and discussion.

Railway Said to Stop Transporting Oil After Quebec Crash

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. plans to cease transporting oil, about a month after a crude-carrying train derailed and exploded in a Quebec town, the Montreal Gazette reported.

Japanese Government to Help Stabilize Nuclear Plant After Leaks

The Japanese prime minister directed his government on Wednesday to step in to help stabilize the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, after continuing radiation leaks exposed the failure of the plant’s operator to contain the problem more than two years after a triple meltdown.

Tons of tainted water leaking into ocean from Fukushima

A Japanese government official said Wednesday approximately 300 tons of contaminated water is leaking into the Pacific Ocean each day from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the Reuters news agency reports.

Fukushima drainage has 20,000 tons of water with radioactive substance – TEPCO

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) said on Tuesday that the drainage system of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant contains more than 20,000 tons of water with high levels of radioactive substances.

Japan must support Tepco in containing Fukushima water problem: Suga

Japan’s government must support the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in its efforts to contain buildups and leaks of radioactive water at the facility, the top government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Abe Pledges Government Help to Stem Fukushima Water Leaks

Japan’s government will step in to help the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant deal with the tons of radioactive groundwater spilling into the Pacific Ocean.

The government isn’t content to leave the matter to Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. and will draw up its own strategy to tackle the problem, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a ministerial meeting in Tokyo today.

French nuclear tests ‘showered vast area of Polynesia with radioactivity’

French nuclear tests in the South Pacific in the 1960s and 1970s were far more toxic than has been previously acknowledged and hit a vast swath of Polynesia with radioactive fallout, according to newly declassified Ministry of Defence documents which have angered veterans and civilians’ groups.

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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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