Environmental Must-Reads – December 19, 2012


Fracking Health Impact Study Details Requested By New York Environmental Groups

A coalition of environmental groups called on New York state officials Tuesday to release details of a health impact study for shale gas drilling and high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Representatives of a dozen prominent organizations signed a letter to Health Commissioner Nirav Shah and Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens. They asked them to make public the health impact study being evaluated by a scientific panel, and called for public hearings and a 60-day public comment period on the health study.

California oil regulators release draft of fracking rules

Under pressure from state lawmakers and environmentalists, Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration on Tuesday released draft regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” the controversial drilling process driving a national oil and gas boom.

Brown administration proposes rules for hydraulic fracturing

The Brown administration today released draft regulations that would require oil companies for the first time to disclose where in California they use hydraulic fracturing, a controversial but little regulated method of oil extraction.

California releases draft fracking regulations

After decades of oil drilling, California has released draft regulations for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The proposed rules were posted online Tuesday by the state’s oil regulators. California currently oversees oil well construction but it has not required disclosure of fracking practices.

City in Colorado Is Sued Over a Drilling Ban

A group representing oil and gas companies says that the city of Longmont, Colo. had no right to ban hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking Fudged: Looking at Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Job and Economic Numbers

On Thursday, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce released a pretty, remarkably rosy sounding report, speculating on the potential impacts that fracking might have on Illinois’ economy. It is, as I say, remarkable stuff. Natural gas development could create more than 45,000 jobs according to the “first comprehensive look at Illinois jobs” that could be created when fracking comes.

Shell Abandons Fracking Plans For BC’s Sacred Headwaters

Shell Canada announced that the company will immediately abandon plans to frack for natural gas in an area of British Columbia known as the Sacred Headwaters on Tahltan Nation traditional territory. The province of BC says it will issue a permanent moratorium on oil and gas tenures in the area.

Poll purporting fracking support is flawed

The headline reading “Polls find unexpected fracking support” on the Dec. 10 article regarding a Siena College poll with a sample size of only 822 people is misleading.

New York State Opens Public Comment Period for Fracking Regulations

A few months ago, we detailed the fracked up process underway in New York State to determine the health impacts from fracking. Since the results of the health study are not ready for release, the state had to open a public commenting period to extend the rule-making process. Until January 11th at 5pm, the general public can submit their comments on the proposed regulations. The DEC insists that it will not take any final decision on fracking until the health review is complete and it can guarantee that fracking can be done safely in New York State.

Fracking at what cost to the public?

An article in the Nov. 28, 2012 online edition of Crain’s Detroit Business “Natural Gas is key to Snyder’s energy policy” sounds good for Michigan in terms of economic growth and meeting green energy, but I find it lacking in real protection for Michigan citizens.

5 Fatal Flaws in California’s New Fracking Regulations

Proposed regulations meant to govern fracking in California would do little to protect the state’s environment, wildlife, climate and public health, according to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity. Fracking—currently unmonitored in California—uses huge volumes of water mixed with dangerous chemicals to blast open rock formations and extract oil and gas. Hundreds of wells have been fracked in California in recent years. Today’s draft proposal by California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources was supposed to be the first step in explicitly regulating this controversial practice.

Will Toxic Fracking Wastewater Be Transported by Barge?

The shale gas drilling industry wants to move its wastewater by barge on rivers and lakes across the country. But the U.S. Coast Guard, which regulates the nation’s waterways, must first decide whether it’s safe.

Two Arrested at Fracking Protest in North Carolina

North Carolinians, with the grassroots group Croatan Earth First!, organized a mobile protest this morning at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Headquarters—217 W. Jones St. in Raleigh, NC—and marched to the Archdale building—512 N. Salisbury St.—where the NC Mining and Energy Commission is holding a meeting. Protestors carrying banners, signs and drums led chants to vocalize their opposition to the dangerous energy extraction process known as fracking. Two local North Carolinians have locked themselves to the front of the Archdale building’s front doors in protest of the state’s continued movement towards legalizing hydraulic fracturing. There have been two arrests so far this morning, neither in connection with the lockdown.

Over a dozen groups join NRDC in calling on NYS to open fracking health review to public input

Earlier today, NRDC, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. on behalf of the Waterkeeper Alliance, and a dozen other national and statewide groups sent a letter to the Cuomo Administration calling on it to open the on-going review of the potential health risks of proposed new fracking to public review and comment.

BP set to join shale drilling rush in eastern Ohio

BP Plc (NYSE:BP) has started moving into its new operations center in the Youngstown area, signaling that the world’s mega-oil companies are coming to Ohio to drill for oil and natural gas in the Utica shale play.

Monitoring projections of sinkhole draw outbursts

Emotions flared Tuesday during a community meeting on an 8.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish as people in the audience realized that attempts by experts to understand the sinkhole’s cause and deal with its long-term aftermath would likely extend into the middle of 2013 or beyond.

LA office fines company again over sinkhole

Louisiana officials said an additional $160,000 in fines have been issued to the company that owns the salt dome near the site of a giant sinkhole.

BP, Coast Guard say 4-day inspection of Macondo well, Deepwater Horizon debris turns up no oil

A fourth underwater inspection of the BP Macondo well and the underwater debris field from the Deepwater Horizon explosion and fire found no signs of oil, news releases issued Tuesday by BP and the U.S. Coast Guard say. The four-day survey by remotely operated vehicles of the sea floor, triggered by repeated sightings of oil sheen on the surface at the well site 50 miles southeast of Venice, was conducted by contractors for BP and Transocean, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon drillship, under a plan approved by the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard: “Unidentified substance” leaking from BP’s Deepwater Horizon

An “unidentified substance inconsistent with oil” is emitting from several areas of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig wreckage, but no sources of leaking oil were identified. That’s according to the Coast Guard, which oversaw BP’s recent week-long mission to inspect the undersea wells and wreckage from the 2010 explosion.

Gulf Oil Spill: Two Years Later, Scientists Still Unsure of Eco-Impact

Newly published paper concludes a variety of mistakes compounded health impacts—with much left to learn.

Source of persistent Gulf sheen remains a mystery

Officials say underwater inspections at the site of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig disaster have failed to identify the source of a persistent sheen on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico.

Judge delays BP manslaughter trial

Two BP rig supervisors charged with manslaughter over the death of 11 workers on the Deepwater Horizon will not go on trial until 2014.

US District Judge Stanwood Duval put off the trial of Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine until January 13, 2014.

Rig worker’s dad says BP should pay $45 billion fine for Gulf blast

The father of one of the 11 drilling rig workers killed in the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 tells a federal judge that British oil giant BP should be forced to pay at least $45 billion to resolve manslaughter and other criminal charges stemming from the disaster.

Baton Rouge ExxonMobil seeks expansion permit that would increase emissions

The Baton Rouge ExxonMobil chemical plant is requesting permission to perform expansion projects that will ultimately lead to higher emissions levels, according to a public notice released Monday from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

Federal judge to consider BP plea agreement in Gulf oil spill

A federal judge on Tuesday scheduled a hearing for Jan. 29 in New Orleans to consider a plea agreement by BP Exploration and Production Inc. in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in which the company will plead guilty to 14 felony counts, including manslaughter and obstruction of Congress, and pay a record fine.

More than 150,000 gallons of oil and water recovered since oil spill in Kill Van Kull, Coast Guard says

More 156,000 gallons of oil and water mixture have been recovered since the Friday night spill that dumped oil from a barge into the Kill Van Kull and washed up on Bayonne and Staten Island shores, according to officials.

15 Birds Stained By Oil Spill Off Staten Island As Clean Up Continues

An oil spill off the coast of Staten Island has affected at least 15 birds, but authorities say the damage has largely been contained. “Tri-state bird and wildlife experts are walking the beaches on Shooters Island to survey the birds that have been impacted, and so far only 15 out of the nearly 3,000 birds that have been sighted have been stained by oil,” Coast Guard spokesman Mike Hanson said this morning. “The oil might stain the bird, but it has no significant impact on its life.

ConocoPhillps Settles With State and Federal Government Over Oil Spills

U.S. and Alaska environmental officials have reached an agreement with ConocoPhillips to settle environmental claims in the state from spills in 2006 and 2007.

Both spills were from corroded flow lines in the Kuparuk Unit petroleum facility.

Ecology adopts new rules enhancing protection from major oil spills

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has formally adopted changes to two state rules that will enhance protection of the state’s environment, economy and cultural resources from the impacts of a potential major spill.

Keystone Pipeline: Secretary Of State Pick Shouldn’t Affect Decision, TransCanada CEO Claims

The prospect of a new U.S. secretary of state favoring tougher carbon policy should not worsen the odds of the Keystone XL oil pipeline being approved, the chief executive of TransCanada Corp, the contentious project’s proponent, said on Monday.

Keystone pipeline condemnation ruling appealed

A group of Southeast Texas property owners are appealing a ruling to the Texas Supreme Court a ruling allowing condemnation of private land for a planned Canada-to-Gulf Coast oil pipeline.

TransCanada outmaneuvers Keystone XL pipeline blockaders

A bit of bummer news from East Texas, and this time there’s no pepper spray involved. Protesters are still tweeting and blogging per usual, but it appears the Keystone XL pipeline blockade may actually be over. TransCanada apparently realized back in October that while it might not be able to go through the tree-sitters, it could easily go around them.

Fukushima conference wraps up on a positive note

International nuclear experts want to learn lessons from the Fukushima disaster but there is still a long way to safety.

Video: Toshiba Develops Fukushima Robot

After the March 2011 tsunami and earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear power disaster, the Japanese government was embarrassed to have to ask for robots from other countries to help assess the damage. Japan is well known for its advances in robot technology, but not for these types of applications.

Now Toshiba has designed and built a four-legged robot to conduct investigative and recovery work in a number of locations that are too dangerous for humans, such as the reactor buildings of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 1 nuclear plant.

Calif. Utility, NRC Spar on Nuke Monitors

The utility that runs California’s idled San Onofre nuclear power plant faced sharp questions Tuesday from federal regulators about a retooled monitoring system for its damaged steam generators.

Southern California Edison said in its October proposal to restart the Unit 2 reactor that the redesigned system, which relies on sensitive monitors to detect unusual vibrations, could help operators learn if any parts broke loose in the huge generators.

Fukushima Watch: Getting Political Traction for the Anti-Nuke Movement

Even before the results of Sunday’s national election rolled in, many anti-nuclear activists were already doing some soul-searching about what went wrong.

Fukushima Accident Updates

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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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