Environmental Must-Reads – December 18, 2012


Republican Groups Tell Obama To Back Off Fracking Rules

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) along with the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) sent a letter to President Obama today [PDF], telling him that the federal government should abandon a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposal to create more transparency for natural gas fracking operations.

Industry sues to stop Longmont fracking ban

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association is seeking to overturn a fracking ban that was approved by voters in November.

The Denver Post reports the industry filed a lawsuit Monday in Weld County district court to overturn the ban. Voters on Nov. 6 approved changes to the city’s charter to prohibit fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, and the storage of fracking waste within city limits.

Will expanded fracking drain much water from the Missouri River?

Nationwide, the hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – process for capturing oil and gas is now using billions of gallons of water a year – by one estimate, the equivalent of what a million Americans consume annually.

Protesters rally against fracking as oil industry claims it is ‘safe’

Just two days after a big oil lobbyist and former “marine guardian” proclaimed in the Sacramento Bee that hydrofracking in California is “safe,” dozens of protesters rallied outside a federal auction in Sacramento against plans to lease more than 17,000 acres of California public land to oil companies for drilling and fracking.

Fracking lobbyists prepare case against Matt Damon’s Promised Land

Energy in Depth prepares ‘cheat sheet’ of pro-fracking talking points before release of Gus Van Sant drilling-rights drama

Fracking Deadline Looms for British Columbia’s Sacred Headwaters

Energy developers, environmental groups, First Nations, local businesses and sportsmen are all anxiously watching and waiting as last-minute negotiations continue before the December 18, 2012 expiration of a four-year-long fracking ban for the Klappen Coalbed Methane project in northern British Columbia, Canada.

University of Tennessee Wants To Start Fracking

The University of Tennessee wants to get into the fracking business.

It hopes to lease thousands of acres of University-owned forest land to an oil and gas company so it can drill for natural gas.

U.T. says it’s a research project, that will help the state, but some environmental groups question whether money is motivating factor.

Wyoming considers adding fossil fuels to school curriculum — with the industry’s help

The state of Wyoming likes the fossil fuel industry. A lot. So much so that it wants to make sure its kids know everything there is to know about energy development.

Fracking companies want to ship wastewater by barge, since boats never spill

Over the summer, ProPublica revealed that the wastewater produced through the fracking process — primarily water mixed with salt and who-knows-what chemicals — was often stuffed into over-pressure wells, and that an unknown number of those wells are leaking. Fracking companies stroked their chins and said, “Hm,” and came up with a proposal: Well then, why don’t we ship the wastewater in barges on rivers before we stuff it into the ground?

Huge Flaws Exposed in Natural Gas Export Report

According to a press release from U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a report submitted to the Department of Energy on the impacts of natural gas exports uses two-year-old data and makes other key missteps. Rep. Markey, Ranking Member of the Natural Resources Committee, pointed this out in a comprehensive critique of the study sent to DOE Secretary Steven Chu.

Drinking water for Denver also threatened by nearby fracking

In a recent post I blogged about the risks to drinking water sources for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, western Colorado communities, and Athens, Ohio. We think these and other important watersheds should be off limits to fracking for oil and gas. But if any oil and gas development is allowed, it should be regulated under the strongest possible rules. The watersheds at risk are subject to federal oil and gas leases, with rules set out by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The BLM is in the process of updating its rules, which is a good thing. But the agency’s proposal is too weak, and needs to go farther to protect essential drinking water sources.

Fracking offers a risky salvation for America’s hard-pressed heartlands

For those living above fuel deposits and prepared to live with fears over gas leakage and water pollution, the prospect of jobs and money is very real.

State levies more fines against Texas Brine

The Louisiana Office of Conservation commissioner levied another $160,000 in fines against Texas Brine Co. LLC on Monday for continued failure to comply with his directives for an 8-acre sinkhole and oil and methane releases in northern Assumption Parish

Sinkhole prompts study for alternative road

State highway officials say they’ll start a six-month study early next year into the feasibility of an alternative route around an eight-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish.

Technip to build pipe in Gulf of Mexico

Engineering company Technip announced Tuesday it secured a contract to build two pipelines in Gulf of Mexico.

The French company said it secured the deal from U.S. venture Discovery System for management, engineering, transport and installation of a 9-mile, 12-inch pipeline and an 8-mile, 30-inch pipeline. The pipelines are slated for construction between installations in the South Timbalier block of the Gulf of Mexico in waters depths of 272-800 feet.

BP finishes latest search for Gulf oil leaks

The subsea mission to see if BP’s Deepwater Horizon site is leaking oil ended on Saturday, but no results have yet been announced.

Sarasota County makes BP oil money wish list

A nearly $2 million proposal to buy land along Lemon Bay for environmental preservation and restoration is at the top of the county’s wish list for projects that be paid for as a result of a settlement from the Gulf oil spill.

Louisiana farmer featured in USDA video about BP Deepwater Horizon-spurred initiative

A Louisiana farmer is featured in a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service video highlighting one of many conservation programs spurred by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster. The video focuses on conserving, or “recycling,” water to help control sediment and nutrient runoff into the Gulf of Mexico.

Scientists, Coastians to share knowledge on oil spill

Scientists and locals are teaming up to learn and share information about the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on Gulf seafood.

Recruitment will begin by the new year for COAST team members. The Community Outreach for Accurate Science Translation project will allow Coastal residents to review scientific research and even run their own experiments to learn about how oil affects blue crab and shrimp.

Massive Oil Spill Off Staten Island “Confined,” But Threat To Bird Sanctuary Unknown

The Coast Guard believes the oil spill that started in the waters between Staten Island and New Jersey on Friday morning has largely been contained, but it’s still unclear how much oil leaked out. The spill began as a leaky barge owned by Boston Marine Transport carrying 147,000 gallons of fuel transferred its oil to another barge, and “tens of thousands of gallons” of oil gushed out, causing visible slicks as many as 11 miles away. While a Coast Guard spokesman told the AP that the bulk of the oil is “pretty much confined” to the Kill Van Kull, which connects the Newark Bay to the Upper New York Bay, the Times reported that the oil has reached the Shooters Island bird sanctuary.

Coast Guard identifies source of fuel oil spill in the Kill Van Kull, which separates Bayonne and Staten Island

The Coast Guard has identified the source of a fuel oil spill in the Kill Van Kull, according to a news release it issued this evening.

The Kill Van Kull is the body of water that separates Bayonne and Staten Island.

ConocoPhillips agrees to fines for Kuparuk oil spills on Alaska’s North Slope

ConocoPhillips has agreed to pay state and federal environmental regulators $312,000 in penalties and other costs related to a pair of oil spills at the Kuparuk Unit facility on Alaska’s North Slope.

Chevron offers to $150 million to settle Brazil oil spill lawsuits

Brazilian prosecutors say Chevron Corp. has offered to pay $150 million to settle two civil lawsuits stemming from an offshore oil spill.

The lawsuits seek $20 billion in damages.

Mont. land board approves Keystone pipeline lease

Montana on Monday approved easements to let the Keystone XL pipeline cross state-owned land, including the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers.

Keystone XL will not use advanced spill protection tech

In 1998, activists in Austin, Texas filed a lawsuit to protect their local aquifer from a proposed gasoline pipeline. By the time the project was built, the operator had been forced to add $60 million in safety features, including sensor cables that could detect leaks as small as three gallons a day. Some say the Longhorn pipeline is the safest pipeline in Texas, or perhaps the nation.

Judge refuses Keystone hearing due to paperwork problem

A federal judge declined Monday to hear testimony in a landowner’s bid to stop construction of part of TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline because the property owner didn’t correctly file legal papers.

A Big, and Risky, Energy Bet

Sasol, a South African company, plans to take advantage of a glut of cheap gas to make diesel and other refined products at competitive prices in Louisiana.

A new way to measure mobile phone ‘hot spots’ in the brain

Researchers have found a novel, non-invasive technique for measuring brain hot spots caused by electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones, according to a study published today.

UN atomic agency and Japan’s Fukushima prefecture to cooperate on nuclear safety

An agreement between the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and administrators from Japan’s Fukushima prefecture was signed over the weekend, ushering in a new era of emergency preparedness and radiation monitoring for the beleaguered Japanese prefecture.

Fukushima plant situation ‘volatile,’ a year after cold shutdown declared

Workers are nowhere close to determining the state of melted fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, a year after the government declared the damaged reactors were in a “cold shutdown” state.

Radiation no respecter of borders — Fukushima conference

AN independent, effective and expert regulator must be heard in case of a nuclear emergency, delegates at the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety heard on Monday.

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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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