Environmental Must-Reads – August 7, 2015


Fracking opponents declare Colorado Oil and Gas Commission illegitimate

Anne Harper and her neighbors feel powerless to stop the Encana Corporation from adding 12 gas wells within a half mile of their homes in Pleasant View Ridge – a rural community that straddles unincorporated Boulder and Weld counties.

Harper doesn’t own mineral rights on the land, so she would have no legal recourse should there be any underground chemical leaching, blocked roads, spillage, explosions, noise pollution or any other infringement on her quality of life often associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Enviro groups appeal air permit for Shell’s ethane cracker

Environmental groups are appealing the air quality permit state regulators gave Shell for its proposed ethane cracker petrochemical plant in Beaver County.

The appeal is before the state’s Environmental Hearing Board. A hearing date has not been set.

The groups are arguing the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) should have required more stringent monitoring requirements for fugitive air emissions from Shell for its proposed facility. The plant would take natural gas from the Marcellus and Utica shales and convert it into the building blocks of plastics.

Sewage flow becomes Williston’s oil bust indicator

The population of a U.S. oil boomtown that became a symbol of the fracking revolution is dropping fast because of the collapse in crude oil prices, according to an unusual metric: the amount of sewage produced.

Williston, North Dakota, has seen its population drop about 6 percent since last summer, according to wastewater data relied upon heavily by city planning officials.

They turned to measuring effluent because it was a much faster and more accurate way to track population than alternatives such as construction permits, school enrollment, tax receipts or airport boardings.

Anti-fracking group seeks review over Roseacre monitoring

In June, Lancashire County Council rejected Cuadrilla’s fracking application at Roseacre Wood but backed the firm’s bid for a monitoring array.

Roseacre Awareness Group (RAG) said the fracking refusal removed the need for monitoring and is lodging papers at the High Court.

The council is yet to respond.

91 Summit County residents sued by Nexus pipeline proponent

Jane Carl of New Franklin says she is convinced that natural gas pipelines are a risk and are dangerous.

Tim Samples says he doesn’t want a large pipeline on his 31 acres in New Franklin.

Judy Knapp and Bobby Geer of Green twice allowed surveyors for the Nexus Pipeline on one parcel they own off South Arlington Road but denied access to parcels they own off Koons and Thursby roads.

Gas pipeline work more disruptive than expected

As workers dug a trench for a gas pipeline in Butler Township this month, they unearthed a communication gap that the township supervisors will try to fill.

The pipeline to provide natural gas for customers of UGI Utilities required more disruption than the supervisors expected. Some residents were unprepared when workers dug in front of their homes, where they landscaped the right-of-way.

“Hopefully in the future we can notice something and notify the public,” Supervisor Charles Altmiller said at a work session Thursday.

Judge Bars Pipeline Surveyors from Couple’s Property

A judge has ruled that the developer of a proposed natural gas pipeline can’t survey a West Virginia couple’s property without their permission.

Monroe County Circuit Court Judge Robert Irons said Mountain Valley Pipeline failed to show that the project would provide sufficient public use to justify entering private property without an owner’s permission.

Work begins on Paiute Pipeline project

Paiute Pipeline Co. has begun construction on a pipeline expansion project in the Elko area.

The project will bring additional natural gas supply into the Elko area to meet the growing demand for natural gas that is being driven by increased residential and business customers, as well as the energy needs of local mining operations.

The pipeline expansion will allow Southwest Gas to enhance the reliability of natural gas service to current and future Southwest Gas customers in the Elko area.

Voices raised against gas-pipeline plan

Residents and elected officials took the opportunity to voice their displeasure with the proposed Northeast Energy Direct Project, an initiative of Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co., at the Energy Facilities Siting Board public comment hearing Thursday night.

The hearing, at Lunenburg High School, gave the Siting Board, a Massachusetts administrative agency, the chance to collect comments and concerns about the project, which is in its pre-filing phase. The proposed natural gas pipeline would cross through the region.

Around The Bend Of The Rio Grande, A Proposed Pipeline Stirs Turmoil

Oil and gas are part of the Texas’ DNA. But a proposal to build a natural gas pipeline in far West Texas has roiled residents and galvanized deep community opposition.

Pumpjacks on the horizon, pipelines snaking across the landscape – the energy industry is a big part of the state of Texas. But there’s a corner of the state where there’s little evidence of oil and gas, and as Marfa Public Radio’s Travis Bubenik reports, some people who live there are worried that could soon change.

EPA Clean Water Rule Meets Political Pushback

In an era of fierce and frustrating political division, legislative collaboration is exceedingly rare. In few arenas of government is the stalemate more clear than in legislative oversight of the nation’s land, air, and especially of water.

Though toxic spills, sewage overflows, salts, contaminated stormwater, and nutrient-rich wastes from big confined animal production facilities and farmland runoff are pouring into the nation’s coastal areas and freshwater reserves, Congress emphatically resists updating the Clean Water Act, one of the nation’s landmark environmental laws.

2 California firms to improve oil spill prevention plans

Two California firms will pay penalties and upgrade their oil spill prevention plans as part of a settlement with federal officials under the Clean Water Act.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday that Safety-Kleen Systems and Cargill Corporation each failed to provide adequate oil containment, among other violations of federal rules.

Each firm stores large amounts of oil at their facilities.

Animas River fouled by 1 million gallons of contaminated mine water

A spill that sent 1 million gallons of wastewater from an abandoned mine into the Animas River, turning the river orange, set off warnings Thursday that contaminants threaten water quality for those downstream.

The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed it triggered the spill while using heavy machinery to investigate pollutants at the Gold King Mine, north of Silverton.

Sludge From Colorado Mine Spill Heads Down River to NM

A plume of orange-ish muck from million-gallon mine waste spill in Colorado was headed down river to New Mexico, prompting communities along the water route to take precautions until the sludge passes.

Officials emphasized that there was no threat to drinking water from the spill. But downstream water agencies were warned to avoid Animas River water until the plume passes, said David Ostrander, director of the EPA’s emergency response program in Denver.

Coast guard and tug crew avert major oil spill off Vancouver Island

Canadian Coast Guard officials and the crew of a tug had to work fast Wednesday night to prevent what could have been a major spill off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island.

A barge loaded with 60,000 litres of diesel and gasoline hit rocks and began taking on water in Surge Narrows near Campbell River.

Rights campaigners blast inaction on Nigeria oil pollution

Shell’s efforts to deal with oil pollution in the Niger Delta remain “utterly ineffective” four years after a landmark UN report called for a $1 billion clean-up, rights campaigners said Thursday.

Amnesty International accused the company of failing to match the Nigerian government’s commitment to tackle spills in the Ogoniland area of the delta and urged the company to “dramatically” improve its clean-up operation.

U.S. agencies petitioned to inspect offshore California pipelines

An environmental group petitioned the federal government on Thursday to immediately inspect more than 200 miles (320 km) of undersea oil pipelines off California’s coast.

The Center for Biological Diversity cited extensive corrosion that is believed to have caused an onshore pipeline to burst in May west of Santa Barbara, unleashing the biggest oil spill to hit that region in more than four decades.

Alaska Senator Doesn’t See Obama Saying Yes to Keystone Pipeline

The chairman of the Senate energy committee said she thinks President Barack Obama will reject the Keystone XL pipeline to protect his legacy on climate change.

Senator Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican, said Keystone has become a symbol of the administration’s commitment to addressing global warming, and she doesn’t think Obama will approve the pipeline in advance of global climate talks in Paris later this year.

“I don’t see a scenario where the president would sign off on Keystone,” Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, told Bloomberg editors and reporters Thursday in Washington.

Sunoco Logistics plans hydrotest work on Permian pipeline in third-quarter

Sunoco Logistics Partners LP said on Thursday that it will execute the final phase of integrity hydrotest work on its 280,000 barrel-per-day Mid-Valley pipeline system in the third quarter to restore the crude line to full capability.

The pipeline, which originates in Longview, Texas, passes through Louisiana and terminates in the Midwest, had the first phase of work on Mid-Valley, along with the 300,000 bpd West Texas Gulf pipeline, in mid May.

Enbridge storage at ECHO may lead to more Canadian crude in USGC: sources

Enbridge has subleased crude storage at Enterprise Product Partners’ ECHO terminal in Houston, which may result in increased flows of Canadian crudes to the US Gulf Coast, according to a source familiar with the situation.

The Calgary-based midstream company has subleased 1 million barrels worth of storage at the 1.65 million-barrel capacity terminal, which has become a pricing point for Canadian crude in Houston following the Enterprise/Enbridge Seaway twin line beginning service in December and brought the line’s capacity to 850,000 b/d. The crude terminal is slated to have 6.5 million barrels of storage available by late this year.

B.C. residents narrowly opposed to Kinder Morgan, Enbridge pipelines: poll

While the pipeline debate is still an abstract discussion for most British Columbians, it’s very real to Ian Sparkes.

“I’m not against pipelines, I’m not a pipeline activist, we all need gas, but it needs to be done properly,” says the Chilliwack farmer.

He’s one of twenty landowners that have been in a years-long legal dispute with Spectra Energy. They’re required by the Nation Energy Board to replace a 2.4-kilometre section of their pipeline due to population growth.

To boost the safety of moving oil by rail, focus on the tracks, paper argues

More can be done to boost the safety of moving oil by rail by focusing on the tracks themselves, according to a white paper released Thursday by a group promoting infrastructure investments.

New rules requiring more resilient tank cars are an important step, the Alliance for Innovation and Infrastructure said, but regulators, railroads and shippers now need to do more to combat the leading cause of derailments, including broken rails and human error.

As the Arctic Thaws, New Temptations

Russia made a formal claim to a vast stretch of Arctic territory on Tuesday before the United Nations committee that oversees sea boundaries. The move is, in itself, neither surprising nor threatening.

As the Arctic rapidly thaws and surrenders access to its awesome wealth of energy and precious minerals, it is inevitable that nations in the far north will stake claims over huge exclusive economic zones beyond their northern shores, while powers like the European Union or China will demand a say in how the riches and shipping routes are apportioned.

Indigenous Canadians Resist Pipeline Developers And Oil Companies Since 2009

In central British Columbia, a band of First Nations people has maintained a remarkable resistance against big oil for the last six years.

The Wet’suwet’en, a band of about 140 indigenous members, maintain the Unist’ot’en Camp, a checkpoint blocking the only bridge entering their land. It’s a direct challenge to the Canadian status quo because the Wet’suwet’en say they won’t let pipeline crews, oil company developers, or even Canadian police onto their land. A website for the Idle No More movement, which seeks equality and civil liberties for Indigenous people, describes the purpose of the camp

Greenpeace: why we’re asking Shell staff to face the music over Arctic drilling

On Monday 3 August, Greenpeace began a musical marathon: daily performances outside Shell’s London HQ of a Requiem for Arctic Ice, created to highlight the company’s reckless attempts to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic this summer.

Inspired by the brave string quartet that played as the Titanic sank, a huge range of musicians from string quartets to brass bands will join the movement calling on Shell to get out of the Arctic. We’re also calling on staff in the company to blow the whistle on Arctic drilling before it’s too late.

Seventy Years Later, Atomic Bombs Still Influence Health Research

On August 6, 1945, American pilots dropped the Little Boy bomb, obliterating Hiroshima, Japan. The bomb exploded around 600 meters above a hospital with a force of around 12,500 tons of TNT. Three days later, the Americans dropped a second, more powerful bomb, Fat Man, on the port city of Nagasaki.

More than 100,000 people died from the sheer force of the explosions and the searing temperatures, which reached nearly 4,000 degrees Celsius, hot enough to boil tiles and vaporize people unlucky enough to be in the immediate vicinity. Then there was the radiation: intense bursts of high-energy gamma rays that swept outward spherically from the exploding bombs ahead of the physical force. Those near the hypocenters — the points on Earth above which the bombs exploded — absorbed some of the highest doses of radiation ever delivered to humans before or since. The radiation burned images of people’s clothing into their skin, and thousands more died of acute radiation poisoning in the months after the explosions.

They know: Hiroshima survivors help those in Fukushima overcome fear, discrimination

Hiroshima and Nagasaki survivors know their experience was unique. Their ability to convey its magnitude compounds their trauma. Many say this.

Living through the atomic bomb may be best thought of not as a single experience, but a series of experiences: the blast itself, flattening buildings for miles around; the radiation exposure; the anticipation of radiation sickness; and the discrimination from others who kept their distance fearing contagion.

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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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