Environmental Must-Reads – December 13, 2012


Britain Approves Fracking for Shale Gas Exploration

The British government gave the go-ahead Thursday for exploratory hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for shale gas, subject to stringent controls — a decision that potentially opens the way for a shale gas industry to begin developing in Western Europe.

Ban on ‘fracking’ to be lifted despite earthquakes

It is surrounded by rolling hills, sunken country lanes and ancient woods in one of the most sought after corners of the South East. Now, the residents of Balcombe, in West Sussex, are about to become unwilling hosts to the next fracking hotspot.

Fracking Green Light Sends Shockwaves Across UK

Today the Britain’s government lifted its ban on fracking allowing companies to continue their exploration of shale gas reserves. Energy Secretary Edward Davey said the decision was subject to new controls to limit the risks of seismic activity.

Fracking Communities—Now Add Crime to the Laundry List of Problems Drilling Brings to Your Town

The fracking boom that is remaking the face of North Dakota has attracted thousands of workers to the state as people who cannot find jobs elsewhere pursue the lucrative wages in the new northern oil path. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state gained more than 11,000 residents between 2010 and 2011, putting North Dakota’s population at an all-time high of 684,000 people. While some people celebrate the boom, with the increased population has come a problem that no one likes: an increase in crime.

Long Road, Continued: Fracking in N.Y.

As the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo inches toward a decision on whether to allow fracking in New York State, it has opened a 30-day period for public comment on proposed regulations that would govern fracking.

Boulder County sheriff to provide security for commissioners’ fracking vote

After anti-fracking protesters loudly disrupted a Boulder County commissioners’ hearing last week, sheriff’s officials say they’ll provide security Thursday afternoon when the elected leaders reconvene to make a decision on whether to allow oil and gas drilling on county lands.

Fracking Pioneer Encourages More Regulation

The public radio show Marketplace, recently aired an interview with the Godfather of fracking, George Mitchell. Mitchell talks about how the birth of modern hydraulic fracturing for shale gas began with an act of desperation. But perhaps even more significant is what Mitchell says about his fracking colleagues at the very end of the piece.

The Oklahoman Disregards Mounting Evidence Linking Fracking To Earthquakes

The Oklahoman relied on the “absence of compelling evidence” and the comments of a single geologist to conclude that the largest recorded earthquake in Oklahoma’s history was not tied to fracking, despite mounting evidence that indicates otherwise. In doing so, the paper dismissed mounting evidence linking underground injection of wastewater to earthquakes at large, continuing its attempt to cast doubt on science and shut down policy debates that could affect the paper’s owner, billionaire oil and gas tycoon Philip Anschutz.

Fracking fights back

Most of the legal news about Colorado these days revolves around whether or not the federal government will try to use the courts to prevent the state from implementing its new marijuana law. That’s certainly an important story, but arguably just as important is the impending — and possibly precedent setting — legal battle here over the future of oil and gas drilling after the city of Longmont voted to ban hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) within its boundaries.

Neither side happy with draft fracking rules

Hydro fracking in New York was first put on hold in 2008. Since then, the state’s environmental regulators have been crafting regulations to oversee the controversial drilling practice.

Maryland Residents Call for Moratorium on Hydraulic Fracturing of Natural Gas

Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN), greeted a roomful of concerned citizens at the University of Baltimore.  The event they were attending was called Drilling Down: A Conference on Fracking Risks and Action in Maryland.  In the school’s Langsdale Auditorium, residents from all over Maryland and parts of Pennsylvania participated for a full day of education on what’s at stake with the introduction of hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for the extraction of natural gas to the state of Maryland

A Red Flag On Disclosure Of Hydraulic Fracturing Chemicals

It’s not often that a new regulatory idea becomes so popular that one or more states per month climb on the bandwagon. But that is precisely what has happened with the push to disclose which chemicals are pumped into the ground to stimulate oil and natural gas production during the process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

West Virginia gas pipeline explosion – just a drop in the disaster bucket

The fireball explosion Tuesday of an interstate natural gas transmission line in West Virginia, which left behind a huge jet of flame that burned for more an hour and melted four lanes of I-77, is just one of scores of accidents and explosions involving natural gas lines this year, federal data show.

Giant Louisiana sinkhole swallows more land

Texas-Brine, the company that owns the cavern that is suspected of being the cause of the sinkhole in Assumption Parish, reports that a small slough-in happened Tuesday night on the Southwest side of the sinkhole.

The Bayou Corne Sinkhole: A massive oil and gas disaster you’ve probably never heard of

Earlier this spring, residents of a rural community in Louisiana’s Assumption Parish noticed mysterious bubbles rising to the surface in some bayous. Shortly thereafter, a series of small earthquakes shook the area, prompting state officials to investigate. But in Early August, the ground suddenly opened up and gave way — swallowing up acres of swamp forest. In its place there is now a gaping sinkhole filled with water, underground brines, oil, and natural gas. But this was no natural disaster, say geologists. It was the consequence of mining activities conducted by the oil and gas service company, Texas Brine.

Texas Brine tackles hydrogen sulfide issue

Texas Brine Co. LLC installed equipment Wednesday designed to restart collection of crude oil and gas from a failed company salt cavern in the Bayou Corne area and to prevent the release of potentially dangerous hydrogen sulfide gas in the process, company officials said.

Restoration Panel Plans to Split BP Settlement

The Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council has announced plans to split civil penalties from BP’s upcoming federal court trial.

Al.com reports the council is unsure of how much money they’ll have to work with. Officials say 80 percent of civil penalties from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill will be split among five Gulf Coast states.

Some rig workers’ kin to oppose BP plea deal in Gulf disaster

Relatives of some of the 11 men killed in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion want a federal judge to reject British oil giant BP’s multibillion-dollar settlement of criminal charges stemming from the disaster.

The dissent is unlikely to block the deal, but it could prompt the judge to modify the terms, a legal expert says.

Gulf oil spill: BP rig supervisors seek trial delay

Two BP rig supervisors have asked a federal judge to postpone their trial on manslaughter charges in the April 2010 deaths of 11 workers.

Their trial is set to begin Feb. 5. In a court filing Tuesday, attorneys for BP well site leaders Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine ask for more time to prepare. The defense lawyers say Justice Department prosecutors aren’t opposed to a delay.

BP cleanup at Seashore winding down

Dan Brown, Gulf Islands National Seashore superintendent, says BP oil spill cleanup could wrap up in the seashore by spring, nearly three years after the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster.

NOAA chief says she will leave in February

The woman who was a key figure in the federal government’s response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 said Wednesday she will leave her post at the end of February.

West Coast oil tanker spill clean-up could cost $9.6B

A new study says the cost of cleaning up a major oil spill on the North Coast of B.C. could hit $9.6 billion, wiping out any economic benefits from the Northern Gateway Pipeline project for the region.

Nantucket Company Faces Penalty for Violations of Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations

Harbor Fuel Oil Corp., a fuel storage and distribution company on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts faces penalties of potentially up to $177,500 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

Long, uncertain path ahead for Gulf restoration after oil spill

In the coming years, unprecedented billions will be spent on restoration in the Gulf of Mexico, a vital American ecosystem damaged by the most catastrophic oil spill in U.S. history.

Gulf states, especially Louisiana, will see billions of dollars devoted to restoring habitat and coastline hurt not just by the 2010 BP oil spill, but also by decades of oil and gas exploration, U.S. agricultural practices and the management of the Mississippi and the rivers that drain into it on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Coast Guard conducts oil spill response exercise near Honolulu

The Coast Guard did an oil spill response exercise offshore of Oahu Wednesday.

Members from the 14th District Response Advisory Team and the Coast Guard’s Deployable Operations Group worked with crewmembers aboard of the Coast Guard Cutter Walnut to test the Spilled Oil Recovery System.

Keystone’s ‘dilbit’ problem

“Dilbit” — drop the word in casual conversation and listeners might think you’re talking about the comic strip engineer who can’t get a date. But dilbit actually stands for “diluted bitumen,” a heretofore obscure oil industry term that may soon be trending on your search engine as controversy deepens over the Keystone XL pipeline, a project to carry oil from the Alberta tar sands to refineries in Texas that has become the nation’s most contentious battle between conservative fossil fuel backers and liberal environmentalists.

Judge holds hearing on TransCanada pipeline halt

An East Texas judge is to hear arguments from the Keystone XL oil pipeline developer to lift a temporary halt on construction on a private property.

Feds auction prime Calif land for oil development

The federal government auctioned off nearly 18,000 acres of oil leases on prime public lands on Wednesday in Central California, home to prized vineyards, several endangered species and one of the largest deposits of shale oil in the country.

5 major issues that the Keystone XL environmental review must include

It’s deja vu all over again. The State Department is gearing up to release its analysis of the environmental impacts of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The first one, you might remember, didn’t include a substantive evaluation of the huge climate impacts of the pipeline; and State contracted with Cardno Entrix, a company that had ties to TransCanada, the company seeking a permit for the 1,700-mile project.

Why Do American Taxpayers Give Away Minerals to Mining Companies?

As Washington struggles to address the country’s growing deficit, a new report released today finds that the federal government has lost its grip on finances in a different way.

1 comment

  • Question, not a comment.

    If it is discovered that the Macondo Well is producing the oil slicks from September 2012 to present, is that a separate occurance or a continuation of the 2010 disaster?

    The four new wells that BP received permits for yesterday could be argued as a new occurence if they explode or leak oil. Engineer friends of mine beleive the four new “relief” wells are a bad idea and the situation would be devastating with more drilling and cracking between wells.
    Thanks from Jupiter, Florida

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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