Environmental Must-Reads – December 23, 2013


Study Links Fracking to Sex Change in Animals

The debate about the rights and wrongs of hydraulic fracturing – “fracking” – to extract natural gas from shale rock looks set to become even more heated. Scentists in the United States have published a study claiming that many of the chemicals used in the process are “known or suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals” (EDCs).

EDCs have been linked with a number of conditions, including sex change in some animals. The study found that over 100 of the 750 chemicals used in fracking are EDCs and the quantity of EDCs found in water near “fracking” sites are higher than elsewhere.

Fracking Pipeline Stirs Controversy in Bluegrass State

The land agent first came knocking on Vivian and Dean House’s door in July. They sat on the patio of the retired couple’s 85-acre farm in this Central Kentucky town and chatted.

The guy was friendly, the kind of guy Dean could talk to about fishing.

He put the couple at ease and told them his company was interested in running a pipeline through their land. They were later offered more than $165,000 to sign easements.

Geological Society: Kansas Earthquake, Oil Production Might Be Related

The Kansas Geological Society is investigating whether a recent earthquake in southern Kansas might have been caused by oil production practices in the area.

But KGS interim director Rex Buchanan said it might be difficult to determine if the 3.8 earthquake on Dec. 16 near Caldwell was man-made or caused by natural forces.

Environmental Avocates Hail Court Ruling on PA Oil and Gas Act

A law promoted by Governor Tom Corbett and the natural gas industry as a way to regulate oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania has been ruled unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court. Act 13 created uniform standards for drilling to be applied anywhere in the state. The court’s 4-2 decision keeps more of the control in that decision-making process with municipalities, according to Adam Garber, field director for PennnEnvironment.

What Pa. court’s ruling on gas-drilling law means

Viewed narrowly, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s momentous decision Thursday to strike down key provisions of the law that regulates natural gas drilling doesn’t change anything at all.

The court’s 4-2 decision restores local zoning control of drilling activity, which was in effect before the law known as Act 13 was passed last year. Despite having to navigate an uneven landscape of local zoning laws, Marcellus Shale gas producers flourished under the old rules.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Says It’s Unconstitutional For Gas Companies to Frack Wherever They Want

Some major parts of Pennsylvania’s two-year-old Marcellus Shale drilling law are unconstitutional, the state’s Supreme Court decided Thursday.

As the  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports, the court voted 4 – 2 that a provision that allowing natural gas companies to drill anywhere, regardless of local zoning laws, was unconstitutional. Seven municipalities had challenged the shale drilling law, known as Act 13, that  required “drilling, waste pits and pipelines be allowed in every zoning district, including residential districts, as long as certain buffers are observed.”

Water recycling minimal but growing on Texas oil fields

Standing on a sprawling ranch where drilling rigs, cranes and bobbing stripper wells form a makeshift skyline, Jimmy Davis is not thinking solely about sucking up oil. It is not the only precious liquid that is pumped from under the land that he manages.

“We’re trying to preserve what we have for future generations,” Davis, the operations manager for Fasken Oil and Ranch, said about collecting clean water. Though required in abundance for oil and gas production, it is increasingly hard to find in drought-scorched Texas, where water use by drillers has come under increasing scrutiny.

Chesapeake subsidiary agrees to $3.2 million fine for fracking operations that polluted W.Va. water

A subsidiary of the nation’s second-largest natural gas producer will pay a civil penalty of $3.2 million for clean water violations in West Virginia, two federal agencies said on Thursday.

The penalty against Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp., is one of the largest by the federal government for violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, according to the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’

A former British Petroleum (BP) geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.

At a lecture on ‘Geohazards’ earlier this month as part of the postgraduate Natural Hazards for Insurers course at University College London (UCL), Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), US Energy Information Administration (EIA), International Monetary Fund (IMF), among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008.

2 top officials leave BP oil spill claims office

Two top officials of a fund that pays compensation in connection with the 2010 BP oil spill have resigned, just months after the two were accused of engaging in improper conduct.

Program head Patrick Juneau confirmed CEO David Odom and Chief Operating Officer Kirk Fisher have resigned.

More massive tar mats from BP oil spill discovered on Louisiana beaches

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster was just a month old and BP’s crude oil was still gushing from the Gulf floor when state officials began to grasp the true scope of the insult to Louisiana’s coast: Beaches, estuaries and wetlands would be under assault for decades.

Editorial: BP oil spill conviction — one down, more to go

Former BP engineer Kurt Mix was found guilty of obstructing justice for destroying evidence that would have shown the spill was far worse than BP executives were saying. Other BP employees should have their day in court.

Study Reveals Link Between Oil Spill Exposure and Hematologic and Hepatic Toxicity

A new study reports that workers exposed to crude oil and dispersants used during the Gulf oil spill cleanup display significantly altered blood profiles, liver enzymes, and somatic symptoms compared to an unexposed control group. Investigators found that platelet counts were significantly decreased in the exposed group, while both hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were notably increased. Their findings, reported in The American Journal of Medicine, suggest that oil spill cleanup workers are at risk for developing hepatic or blood-related disorders.

U.S. Won’t Tighten Pipeline Rules

The U.S. Transportation Department doesn’t plan to change regulations to better protect underground pipelines from riverbed erosion, a year after Congress ordered it to evaluate its policies in the wake of pipeline breaks that spilled hazardous liquids into waterways.

The department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said its review found that over the past two decades, riverbed erosion contributed to just one in every 200 significant hazardous-liquid incidents involving pipelines.

Obama will approve Keystone XL pipeline, CEO says (video)

Rejecting TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s $5.4 billion Keystone XL pipeline due to carbon emissions in the oil sands would set a precedent for all U.S. infrastructure projects, Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said.

It would be harder to build car plants and T-shirt factories, as well as other cross-border pipelines, if President Barack Obama makes a decision on the proposed 830,000-barrel-a-day line based primarily on emissions from oil-sands development, Girling said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg’s Toronto office. New factories may face reviews based on their energy sources, he said.

Emotions high in debate over Pinelands gas pipeline plan

This is the other New Jersey.

Far from the gas tanks, chemical plants and toll booths that have come to define the state in the minds of many, the Pinelands consist of more than a million acres of dense forest, wildlife and wetlands.

A flight over the region would reveal a canopy of lush green foliage as far as the eye can see, in a part of the state sometimes referred to as “the lungs of New Jersey.” Endangered or threatened wildlife ranging from tree frogs and salamanders to bobcats, eagles and butterflies call its gnarly pine trees and sandy soil home.

Dozens of NM landowners battle proposed pipeline

More than a dozen landowners in New Mexico have begun to organize an effort to stop the construction of a proposed pipeline.

Kinder Morgan, a large energy company based in Houston, would like to transport liquid carbon dioxide from Apache County, Ariz. to Torrance County, N.M.

The pipeline, which would be known as the Lobos Pipeline, would stretch roughly 214 miles.

Company won’t be fined for pipeline without permit

n two years without a permit will not be fined by the state Public Service Commission.

The pipeline by Hiland Operating LLC of Enid, Okla., was completed in 2010. The company told the commission in May 2012 that it did not have a permit.

Russia begins oil production in the Arctic

Russia has announced the start of offshore oil production in the Arctic, upstaging its Western rivals in the rush for the region’s energy riches.

Russia’s natural gas monopoly Gazprom said Friday it had begun pumping oil at its first Arctic offshore platform at the Prirazlomnoye field in the Pechora Sea.

Japanese energy firms to explore for oil in ArcticMajor

Japanese energy developers will participate in an oil exploration project in the Arctic for the first time, a leading business daily here reported Monday.
Japan’s largest oil explorer Inpex Corp. and the upstream subsidiary of the country’s top oil firm JX Holdings have set up a joint venture with three other energy developers, including the government-affiliated Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp. (Jogmec), the Nikkei Shimbun said.

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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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