Environmental Must-Reads – December 21, 2012


Louisiana Governor Jindal, Bayou Corne Sinkhole and Santa

Ever-so-busy Governor Bobby Jindal, where are you?

For months, political watchers in Louisiana have wondered why Governor Jindal has failed to visit or speak out about a peculiar sinkhole in Bayou Corne which has received national attention for a variety of reasons including the evacuation of over 150 families.

Mystery Sheen Recurs Near Deepwater Horizon Oil Well

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard and petroleum giant BP are baffled by a mysterious sheen that keeps appearing on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Burning Pipeline Fire Sign of Nigeria’s Woes

The gasoline pipeline burns unstopped near a village close to Nigeria’s sprawling megacity of Lagos, shooting flames into the air as leaking fuel muddies the ground. All around it, the ground is littered with plastic jerry-cans, used by those who hacked into the line to steal the fuel within.

Keystone XL Pipeline Protesters Stuck in Texas Jail

Protesters sitting in trees or blocking equipment used to build TransCanada’s (TRP) Keystone XL oil pipeline are learning that environmental activism in East Texas sometimes has big consequences. Matthew Almonte, Glen Collins, and Isabel Brooks landed in jail in Tyler on Dec. 3, charged with misdemeanor criminal trespass, resisting arrest, and illegal dumping after they entered an unlaid pipe at a construction site near Winona, Tex., and tried to stop work on the $7.6 billion project. Once completed, the pipeline will bring products of the Alberta tar sands to Houston-area refineries.

Judge delays hearing with Texas landowner,TransCanada on Keystone pipeline

A Texas landowner battling TransCanada Corp. says a judge has declined for now to hear arguments on whether to temporarily stop work on the property.

Michael Bishop says a Nacogdoches County judge put off a hearing scheduled for Wednesday until he can determine whether the matter should be in state court.

Keystone falling short of strictest safety standards

The Keystone XL pipeline sparked a political firestorm late in 2011 and into this year, after environmental groups and concerned local residents started a campaign to prevent its approval. As TransCanada, the company constructing the pipeline, continues forward with what parts of the project that it can, more objections are being raised about potential safety and environmental concerns.

ExxonMobil, DEQ still argue rulings

The state Department of Environmental Quality and ExxonMobil Corp. are in the process of dispute resolution discussions involving a June 14 naphtha release at the Baton Rouge chemical plant.

Shrimp season brings challenges for fishermen

Although the shrimp catch has improved in many state waters, problems from the 2010 BP oil spill still linger, shrimpers said.

The market for Gulf shrimp outside of Louisiana is still down since the spill. And shrimp are still scarce in parts of the Barataria Basin near Grand Isle, which was hit hard by the spill, shrimp processors and dealers said.

Burlington City Council passes resolutions opposing tar sands oil: the beginning of a groundswell against tar sands in New England

Big Oil has a plan that will put communities at risk in New England and Eastern Canada. The Portland-Montreal Pipeline – a very old oil pipeline owned mostly by ExxonMobil – may be reversed to enable dirty corrosive tar sands oil to be pumped through Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom en route to Portland, Maine, part of a broader project including the reversal of an Enbridge pipeline through Eastern Canada. But not if Vermont communities have a say. On Monday night, Burlington, Vermont took a bold and important step toward taking Vermont – and New England – on the path to being “tar sands free.”

Tiny Armies of Microsubmarines Could Clean Up Oil Spills

Back in May, we covered a cool new technology looking into how microsubmarines could be the future of cleaning up oil spills in the ocean. Megan wrote, “The tiny machines are able to absorb and transport oil droplets in water, meaning they could be our next go-to solution for cleaning up oil spills…[T]he microsubmarines were based on microtube engines that were created to deliver medicine through the bloodstream of the human body. The submarines are eight micrometers long — ten times smaller than the width of a human hair — and are propelled by an inner layer of hydrogen peroxide that reacts with the liquid they’re submerged in to produce bubbles and shoot them forward.”

Next In Line For A Fracking Boom, California Looks At The Rules

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country. In states like Texas, Pennsylvania and Colorado, there’s been heated debate about rules that protect groundwater and public health.

California Fracking Rules Slammed By Environmentalists As Shale Oil Boom Threatens To Remake State

Just below California’s surface lies enough shale oil to fundamentally transform the state’s entire economy.

And for the first time in the state’s history, California regulators have seriously started to grapple with how the state deals with the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in order to retrieve that oil.

Fracking industry worried Matt Damon’s ‘Promised Land’ will be hatchet job

Matt Damon is throwing his two cents into the debate about fracking with his upcoming film “Promised Land,” but critics are worried it will be nothing more than a hatchet job on the entire fracking industry.

“Promised Land,” which Damon co-wrote with “The Office’s” John Krasinski, explores the much-debated gas extraction method.

Canadian authorities: Fracking operation contaminated groundwater

Today the Canadian Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB) released a report on its investigation into a September, 2011 hydraulic fracturing incident that led to groundwater contamination. The ERCB is an independent quasi-judicial agency that regulates all energy development in the province of Alberta.

Wawarsing passes fracking ban

The Wawarsing Town Board is the latest to adopt a ban on hydro-fracking to extract natural gas from shale formations.

The unanimous vote came Thursday night. A public hearing was held prior to the vote with no one supporting the process.

Upstate Community Continues Fracking Court Fight

An Upstate New York town is continuing its legal battle to preserve its way of life, filing a brief today in a court case over whether an oil and gas company should be allowed to overturn local zoning laws limiting industrial oil and gas development.

California’s fracking regulations found lacking

The California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has released a preliminary draft of regulations that for the first time would require oil and gas drilling companies in the state to report where they are using hydraulic fracturing technology and disclose what chemicals they are using.

American Academy of Pediatrics Endorses Cell Phone Safety Bill

The Environmental Working Group applauds the decision by the influential American Academy of Pediatrics to support pending legislation that would require new research into the safety of cell phone radiation, especially for children, require safety standards that protect children and other vulnerable populations, and impose new labeling requirements for the ubiquitous devices.

MRI Could Solve Cellphone Radiation Problems

Years of studies to determine whether cellphones can cause brain tumors have yielded one popular consensus: More studies are needed. One important piece that has been missing from researchers’ arsenals is a way to see what happens to cellphone radiation that is absorbed by the human brain. Two scientists have now developed a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that they say could solve that problem. This could be an important tool for researchers who are trying to discover whether extensive cellphone use can cause brain tumors or other health problems.

NRA says fault lines under third nuclear plant most likely active

A panel of scientists from Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) stated on Thursday that the just discovered fault lines found under the Higashidori nuclear plant in Aomori Prefecture are most likely active. This goes against the argument from the plant’s operator, Tohoku Electric Power Co., who claimed, to no surprise, that the facility was safe.

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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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