Environmental Must-Reads – December 10, 2013


Urban Fracking Bonanza Threatens Dallas Suburbs

When a representative from Chesapeake Energy knocked on Phyllis Allen’s door in 2003 and offered $300 for her mineral rights and an invitation to a lease-signing pizza party, she turned them down.

Allen’s home is in the United Riverside neighborhood, predominately poor and working class African American, the place where fracking first took hold in the city. She’d like to say she didn’t sign because of her concerns for environmental issues but, at the time, she hadn’t heard of fracking.

Fracking protest leads to bigger debate over indigenous rights in Canada

It’s a single shale gas exploration project in one of Canada’s smallest provinces, but it has become a flashpoint in the debate over indigenous land rights in the country.

What began this summer in a small encampment near the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick has triggered a broader movement with a groundswell of support across the country.

New shale gas drilling areas to be revealed as communities promised £100,000 benefits for fracking

Large swathes of Britain will be opened up for shale gas drilling under plans due to be announced next week, with local communities promised £100,000 in benefits for every well subjected to fracking – even if no gas is produced.

Ministers are preparing to identify thousands of square miles of land across the country that they believe are rich in shale and should be explored by gas companies.

The U.K. government really, really wants to encourage fracking

The past week was a topsy-turvy one for the fracking industry in Europe, where leaders and residents are sharply split over whether frackers should be allowed to tap shale reserves for natural gas.

The U.K. government is so anxious to see fracking companies get to work that it confirmed it will offer big tax breaks to help encourage the sector. The country’s chief finance minister, George Osborne — whimsically dubbed the chancellor of the Exchequer — confirmed during his autumn budget update that the tax breaks would be put in place. He claimed a fracking boom would bring “thousands of jobs” and “billions of pounds of investment.” (Memo to the chancellor: Frackers have been known to lie about these things.)

Mining and Fracking Public Lands Creates 4.5 Times More Carbon Than They Can Absorb

Public lands generate about 4.5 times more atmospheric carbon than they are currently able to absorb, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress. In short, oil and gas drilling is outpacing the capacity of our forests and grasslands to capture the carbon that is being emitted.

Unions, environmentalists advocate to fix leaky gas pipelines

This week in strange bedfellows, the Associated Press reports workers’ unions and environmental groups are teaming up to advocate for repairs to the nation’s aging, leaky natural gas pipelines.

The effort is common ground for groups that are typically on opposing sides in the debate over fracking like the Sierra Club and the American Public Gas Association. The groups say it’s a win-win: fixing old pipelines will keep methane out of the atmosphere, protect public health and employ more workers.

10 Most Toxic Ingredients Used In Coal, Oil and Gas Production

There are many reasons to reject fossil fuels now, after 200 years of their reign as society’s primary energy source.

History will articulate both the benefits provided to human society derived from fossil fuel energy technologies from 1750 to the present—and the extensive costs.

In addition to transportation, electricity, industrial power, military and medical applications; fossil fuel technologies are also a core element behind war, political unrest, human rights abuses, extreme and permanent environmental degradation and human disease.

Hydraulic Fracturing Protesters Targeted By Texan Company

Despite the fact that Eagle Ridge Energy still hasn’t answered questions surrounding a fracking fluid spill in Denton, Texas earlier this year, indictments about illegal dumping, and a number of OSHA complaints from Eagle Ridge workers, they’re still the good guys, according to the government. At least, that’s what Eagle Ridge Energy‘s COO Mark Grawe implied when he allegedly showed up with an armed police escort to a November 13th homeowner’s association meeting in Mansfield, TX and told residents of the town that anyone who protested his company’s gas wells (many of which are located less than 200 feet from homes, schools and playgrounds) would find themselves on a federal terrorist watchlist.

BP oil spill claims system shut down

A federal appeals court has halted BP settlement payments for oil spill damages to businesses “whose injuries are not traceable to the spill.”

The ruling by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals basically instituted a stay on payments by Patrick Juneau, the court-appointed settlement claims administrator, and follows many legal maneuvers by BP to change the way claims are being paid.

Most of deleted messages were not relevant to oil-spill probe, recipient says

A few days after federal prosecutors read in open court many of the recovered text messages that former BP engineer Kurt Mix is accused of deleting to hamper investigators in the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the BP contractor who received many of the messages testified Monday that he didn’t believe most of them were relevant to the oil-spill response.

New York Environmental Cleanup Chief On Potential Oil Spills: ‘I Don’t Know’ If We’re Ready

In early spring of this year, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation quietly approved a request from a Texas oil company to double the amount of crude oil and ethanol it ships through the Port of Albany down the Hudson River every year. The company’s proposal for the permits received no public comments, allowing Buckeye Partners to ship 1 billion gallons of crude and 780 million gallons of ethanol through the Port annually.

North Dakota oil spill reaches Little Missouri River tributary

State health officials say a spill of oil and saltwater in western North Dakota’s Billings County has been contained but that some of the brine and oil reached a tributary of the Little Missouri River.

The state Health Department says the spill about 15 miles northwest of Medora was reported Sunday by BTA Oil Producers. Officials estimate the size at 650 barrels, or more than 27,000 gallons.

Spill, fire reported at well sites

The North Dakota Department of Health said Monday that it is monitoring a spill of saltwater and oil in Billings County, of which some reached a small tributary of the Little Missouri River.

According to a Health Department statement, the amount of material spilled is estimated at 650 barrels of saltwater and 20 barrels of crude oil.

TransCanada begins injecting oil into Keystone pipeline

TransCanada on Saturday began injecting crude oil into its $2.3 billion pipeline between Cushing and the Gulf Coast.

The company said the move means the 485-mile pipeline is another step closer to the start of commercial operation.

Through Keystone’s southern leg, new oil adds to Gulf’s glut

TransCanada Corp. is filling its Gulf Coast pipeline to deliver crude from Cushing, Okla., to Texas, but it will be feeding a market already absorbing a growing abundance of domestic oil.

The Calgary-based company began supplying some 3 million barrels of crude into the pipeline as part of its initial startup.

Plains pipeline company plans southern U.S. overhaul

Plains All American Pipeline said Tuesday it was overhauling pipeline infrastructure in the southern United States to accommodate future oil deliveries.

Plains announced plans to build 45 miles of new crude oil pipeline to complement its existing pipeline infrastructure for the Mississippian Lime reserve area. The project, which includes the construction of 150,000 barrels of new storage capacity, will extend to an oil terminal in Cushing, Okla.

As Keystone ruling nears, Canada short on time for climate plan

Canada is running out of time to offer U.S. President Barack Obama a climate change concession that might clinch the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, as the country’s energy industry continues to resist costly curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.

Two years of negotiations between the Canadian government and the energy sector to curtail carbon pollution have not produced an agreement. Oil producers have balked at anything more than the 10-cents-a-barrel carbon tax imposed by the province of Alberta.

Oil groups in rush for US crude export licences

Oil companies are securing licences to export US crude at the fastest rate since records began, as the shale boom leads to swelling supplies along the Gulf of Mexico.

The US government granted 103 licences to ship crude oil abroad in its latest fiscal year, up by more than half from the 66 approved in fiscal 2012 and the highest since at least 2006, according to data obtained by the Financial Times.

Fukushima Investigator Says Atomic Power Needs Global Black Box

The global atomic power industry needs to share cross-border information to prevent nuclear accidents, replicating the transparency of international air-traffic control, said the head of the investigation into Japan’s Fukushima disaster.

Nuclear plant operators and regulators need an international common language and standard for investigating and preventing disasters, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, who headed the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said in an interview on Dec. 5 in Tokyo.

Fukushima plant record radiation fatal in 20 minutes

Fukushima’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), on Friday detected record radiation levels in a duct that connects reactor buildings and an external ventilation pipe. Radiation found near the steel pipe connecting reactor buildings could kill anyone exposed to it in 20 minutes, local media reported.

Magnitude 5 quake near damaged Fukushima nuclear facility

A MAGNITUDE 5.1 earthquake has been registered near the damaged Fukushima nuclear facility.

The epicentre was initially reported as being 102km east-north-east of the tsunami-wracked nuclear power station currently undergoing delicate uranium fuel rod extraction procedures.

Fukushima contractor denies claims its staff concealed work terms

A construction firm involved in the clean-up at the Fukushima nuclear plant said it employed a worker who brought a complaint to labour regulators, but never instructed its staff to conceal the terms of their work arrangements, as he claimed.

Tec, a privately-held company based in Chiba near Tokyo, said it employed Yoshitatsu Uechi, a mechanic and former bus driver, who was one of 17 workers who went to work in Fukushima in June 2012.

‘Fukushima tragedy solution needs international involvement’ – expert

Record radiation levels have been detected at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Its operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says radiation was measured inside a duct connecting reactor buildings to an outside ventilation pipe. The highest radiation estimates could kill an exposed person in 20 minutes, according to local media. This is the highest radiation level ever detected outside Fukushima reactor buildings. Earlier, TEPCO measured radiation of at least 10 sieverts around the same pipe. The new measurements show radiation levels that are twice as high. TEPCO stressed that it is highly likely that the ventilation pipe still contains radioactive substances. In an interview to Voice of Russia, Mycle Schneider, an independent analyst on energy and nuclear policy, talked in detail about the situation.

Panel sets limit on compensation to Fukushima evacuees

A government screening panel has compiled a plan to set a cap on compensation to residents who face prolonged evacuation from their homes due to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, angering evacuees and a mayor from the affected towns.

The panel on disputes for nuclear damage compensation wants to set the limit on compensation payments to evacuees in amounts ranging from 10 million yen to 14 million yen ($96,820 to $135,548).

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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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