Environmental Must-Reads – December 14, 2012


7 states want to sue for fracking-related air quality

As many states reap the benefits of fracking, others increasingly are lining up against it.

Led by New York, seven Atlantic states this week threatened to sue the Environmental Protection Agency, seeking harsher air quality rules on the oil and gas industry and its most effective drilling method.

Seven states, led by New York, sue EPA over methane from oil and gas drilling

One of the benefits of being an elected official in a bright blue state, a state so blue that it casts a pale blue glow over its neighbors, is that you can be pretty aggressively liberal. New York state has a proud tradition of such politicians (as well as some less aggressive ones) — particularly those politicians ensconced as state attorney general.

Frack Waste Fears

New York State’s cautious approach to permitting hydraulic fracturing of the Marcellus shale for natural gas, and the disposal of potentially hazardous waste from such operations, is of little comfort to residents of this Chautauqua County community.

Fracking battle continues to brew

The battle lines are being drawn.  One side says fracking could create 47 thousand jobs just in Illinois, most of those in the south, and nearly 10 billion dollars.

But another group says it’s not worth the risk to the environment and banned hydraulic fracturing from their village.

With Controls, Britain Allows Hydraulic Fracturing to Explore for Gas

The British government gave the go-ahead Thursday for exploratory hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to extract natural gas from shale-rock deposits.

Because of the environmental concerns about the controversial technique, which include the risk of water pollution, the government called for stringent controls on fracking. But the decision nonetheless potentially opens the door for a shale gas industry to begin developing in Western Europe, even though many governments on the Continent remain wary. Poland has already allowed big energy companies to do exploratory drilling.

The Boom And Bust Of Fracking

Some places have banned fracking, a controversial type of natural gas drilling. Critics say the process contaminates groundwater. But proponents say it creates jobs and energy independence. Host Michel Martin is joined by NPR’s Jeff Brady and reporter Scott Detrow from NPR’s StateImpact project in Pennsylvania. They discuss the boom and bust of fracking.

Solving fracking’s biggest problem

A Georgia company called Ecologix thinks it has found a way to reduce the amount of water used to extract gas.

German Lawmakers Reject Ban on Shale-Gas Fracking in Parliament

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government won votes that will permit fracking to continue in Germany, saying the technique may help the country’s energy supply security.

Merkel’s coalition government defeated motions from the Green Party and Left Party that called for banning hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, after the opposition argued the technique is harmful to the environment. The vote was 309 against the Green Party’s motion, 259 in favor and two abstentions. There was no count for the second motion.

Boulder County adopts new fracking guidelines

Boulder County Commissioners unanimously adopted controversial new oil and gas guidelines Thursday, which will allow fracking on county land.

Boulder County says a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will eventually be lifted, but it will most likely be extended first so the regulations can be put in place.

PA Agency Fails to Share Fracking and Drinking Water Info with Homeowners

This fall I spoke to people in Pennsylvania who live next door to fracking operations. The question on nearly everyone’s mind was what fracking was doing to their drinking water. People have industrial drill pads and massive wastewater pits near their homes, and some have watched their tap water turn brown or catch fire. It’s not surprising they are concerned about the health and safety of their families.

Look out for fracking (and how to stop it)

There’s enough oil (maybe) under Central California to make petro companies vastly rich, and to keep people driving around in their carbon-spewing private cars for many years to come. Only problem is you have to use hydrofracking to bust up the shale deposits to get at it. And that involves toxic chemicals and possible contamination of water supplies.

No Alarm Sounded When The West Virginia Pipeline Exploded

When the 20-inch gas pipeline next to Interstate 77 in West Virginia first ruptured on Tuesday, nobody at pipeline operator, Columbia Gas Transmission, knew it.

Now, the National Transportation Safety Board is trying to find out why. NTSB member Robert Sumwalt says no warning went off in the operating company’s control center in nearby Charleston, so investigators are going there to interview staffers and review data.

Millions of Acres of Public Lands at Risk from Fracking

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is currently considering regulations and guidelines for unconventional oil and gas development on millions of acres of public land, and SkyTruth believes that public disclosure must be an integral part of these new rules. The BLM has already indicated that they are strongly considering FracFocus.org as the platform for disclosure, however, there are a number of transparency issues which are not currently addressed by the industry-funded website.

Don’t Frack Denver’s Water

What has separated the fracking wars in the Eastern U.S. from the Western U.S. is that New York City’s and Pittsburgh’s watershed—the place where these cities get their drinking water—is proposed to be fracked. As you can expect, when millions of people learn that potentially cancer-causing chemicals are going to be injected into the ground near their drinking water, they get very riled up.

Sinkhole health fears discussed

Louisiana’s state epidemiologist said Thursday that, in his view, the air in Bayou Corne is better than the air in Baton Rouge.

Texas judge lifts order on TransCanada pipeline

TransCanada can resume oil pipeline work on a private Texas property for now, a judge said Thursday, at least until a hearing next week meant to determine whether the product the company wants to transport is in fact crude oil.

Landowner’s Temporary Restraining Order Against Keystone Pipeline Dissolved By Nacogdoches County Judge

Two days after a Nacogdoches County man won a temporary restraining order against TransCanada, halting construction of the controversial, 1,200-mile Keystone XL pipeline across his land, the judge threw it out, citing a dearth of evidence indicating the company had defrauded him.

Texas Judge Changes Course, Allows Keystone XL Construction to Move Forward

In a blow to landowner’s rights, Texas communities’ waterways and the climate, a county judge in Texas this morning ruled to allow construction of the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to continue on a landowner’s property until a hearing on Dec. 19. Nacogdoches County Court at Law Judge Jack Sinz reversed the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) he granted to landowner Michael Bishop from Douglass, TX earlier this week by dissolving the TRO at the behest of TransCanada.

KeyStone-XL Pipeline’s Fate Could Be Shortly Decided By Regulators

Starting Tuesday, U.S. regulators will hold regular meetings on oil and natural gas pipeline safety standards. A series of pipeline issues, ranging from a deadly gas pipeline explosion in California, to a massive oil spill in Michigan, have brought pipeline safety to the forefront of the American energy debate. The safety meetings, scheduled in Virginia, come days after environmental regulators in Nebraska end a public comment period for Keystone-XL, one of the most contentious U.S. pipeline issues.

David Vitter Says BP Should Hire Louisiana Firms For Oil Company’s Contracts

BP Plc should hire more Louisiana companies to work on its project to expand an oil platform to show the oil company meant what it said in advertisements pledging to “make this right” for the state after the 2010 Gulf oil spill, U.S. Senator David Vitter said on Thursday.

Vitter accuses BP of creating image in ads that doesn’t match reality

Noting that BP continues to spend lots of money on advertising about its post-2010 oil spill commitment to “make things right,” Sen. David Vitter, R-La., Thursday said the company is doing more to help Europe than Louisiana. In a sarcastic letter to Lamar McCay, chairman and president of BP America Inc., Vitter suggests the image the company presents in ads isn’t consistent with its record.

Oil may be seeping from Deepwater Horizon site

CBS News has learned that BP is set to embark Thursday on the fifth day of a little-known subsea mission under Coast Guard supervision to look for any new oil leaking from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Report: Oil may be seeping from Deepwater Horizon site

BP is conducting undersea tests in the Gulf of Mexico to determine if more oil is leaking from the site of the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, according to CBS News.

The network said today is the fifth day that BP, under supervision by the U.S. Coast Guard, was using submersible vehicles to look for oil around the containment dome at the Macondo well site.

Report: Judge approves BP’s $525M settlement with SEC

A federal court finalized BP’s $525 million settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for low-balling the amount of oil spilled during its 2010 Gulf of Mexico explosion.

Judge approves $525M oil spill securities deal

A federal judge has approved a $525 million settlement between BP PLC and the Securities and Exchange Commission over statements the company made during the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

In documents signed Monday, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans approved the deal, which was tied to BP claims about the volume of oil spewing from its busted Macondo well.

Oil company to plead guilty to lying about amount of oil spilled in Gulf

Another oil company is poised to plead guilty to falsifying the amount of oil it spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s nothing on the order of the 2010 BP spill, in which BP admitted to lying about how much oil was spilling, but the charges against W&T Offshore show there are others trying to pull one over on the pollution police.

New JIP Seeks to Explores Arctic Oil Spill Response Technology

A number of research projects into Arctic oil spill response technology are underway thanks to a joint industry program (JIP) that officially launched in January of this year.

The Arctic Oil Spill Response JIP, under the auspices of the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers, will conduct research over a four-year period in six areas related to oil spill response preparedness, including dispersants, environmental effects, trajectory modeling, remote sensing, mechanical recovery and in-situ burning. Research projects being conducted under the JIP include the fate of dispersed oil under ice, dispersant testing under realistic conditions, and oil spill detection and mapping in low visibility and ice.

Minister: Oil spill probe continues

The probe into the oil spill at Lucayan Harbour last week is ongoing and the relevant officials continue to monitor the shoreline for contamination, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin confirmed yesterday in the House of Assembly.

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.

Fukushima operator Tepco admits culpability

Japanese nuclear plant accepts lack of safety culture and bad habits contributed to world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years

Insight: Japan largely excludes foreign firms in Fukushima clean-up

Nearly two years after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan is failing to keep a pledge to tap global expertise to decommission its crippled reactors, executives at nuclear contractors from the United States and Europe say.

Japan to host nuclear safety conference in Fukushima

An international conference will be held in Japan’s Fukushima region over the weekend to discuss nuclear safety following last year’s atomic crisis, Tokyo said Thursday.

Mistakes found in all radiation projections

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said Thursday a thorough review of its mistake-plagued projections for the spread of radiation turned up errors in the data for every atomic power plant in Japan.

Tougher rules due for nuclear evacuations

A panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority reached broad agreement Thursday to set standards tougher than international guidelines for triggering an evacuation order in the event of a nuclear disaster.

EPA Finds Excessive Radiation at Boeing Site

The site of a nuclear reactor in the Santa Susana Mountains that partially melted down more than 50 years ago has soil radiation that exceeds standard limits, according to new data released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

American Academy of Pediatricians Endorses Cell Phone Safety Legislation

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) which represents “60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists, and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents, and young adults” has endorsed H.R. 6358, the Cell Phone Right to Know Act.

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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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