Environmental Must-Reads – December 26, 2012


‘Fracking’ overtakes ‘climate change’ in Google searches

Not so long ago, fracking was a technical term little known beyond the energy industry. Now it’s coming to Hollywood, as the fierce battle between environmentalists and oil firms is played out in several forthcoming films.

Pay in Oil Fields, Not College, Is Luring Youths in Montana

For most high school seniors, a college degree is the surest path to a decent job and a stable future. But here in oil country, some teenagers are choosing the oil fields over universities, forgoing higher education for jobs with salaries that can start at $50,000 a year.

Wabasha fracking sand processing plant approved

Wabasha’s planning commission has unanimously approved a permit for a permanent facility to process Wisconsin sand.

The Superior Sand System plant will be used to store silica sand and load it onto rail cars, according to a report from the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

Minister ‘misleads’ over fracking

Energy Minister John Hayes has been accused of misrepresenting a Durham University study after he claimed it concluded fracking could not contaminate drinking water.

Impact of fracking on air pollution still debated

The amount of air pollution associated with hydraulic fracturing continues to be a point of contention among environmentalists, industry leaders and scientists.

Scientists have been divided about the potential air-quality benefits of natural gas compared with coal when fugitive emissions — gas that escapes from drilling operations — are included. Industry officials state that natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel available, while environmentalists have focused on methane being a greenhouse gas that, if unburned, has a greater impact on global warming than carbon dioxide.

Shrub Willow Biofuel Heats Up New York Fracking Wars

Wow, that was fast. Just last summer, we noticed that scientists at Cornell University were developing shrub willow biofuel as a means of helping New York farmers to squeeze extra income from marginal land, and before the ink has dried on the research papers, we’re getting news of a 1,100 acre shrub willow biofuel operation that is already providing biomass for power plants in the state. If shrub willow energy really does catch on, it could provide farmers in New York and elsewhere with a more sustainable source of extra income than natural gas fracking, despite mounting pressure from the drilling industry.

Even with Cuomo’s blessing, shale gas rush unlikely in 2013

After more than four years of environmental review marked by escalating battles between industry and anti-drilling protesters, New York regulators appear likely to complete strict new regulations for shale gas development by the end of February.

But it remains to be seen if drilling actually begins. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Department of Environmental Conservation have refused to say whether a 4½-year moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be lifted when regulations are completed. Industry insiders say development will happen slowly if the ban is lifted. And opponents have vowed to escalate protests.

Pipeline blast, quake strike 2014 Olympics Russian host Sochi

Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi, which will host the 2014 Winter Olympics, has been hit by a gas pipeline blast and a mild earthquake, a government spokeswoman said on Wednesday.

Researchers focus on oil dispersant for spills

LSU AgCenter scientists are partnering with researchers at Columbia University and Iowa State University on development of an environmentally friendly substance that could be used to clean up oil spills.

Lafourche Parish president faces ethics probe on camp rental after Gulf oil spill

The state ethics board has scheduled a March 7 hearing for Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph.

The Daily Comet reports she’s accused of breaking state ethics law by renting her camp on Grand Isle to BP PLC after the company paid the parish $1 million for expenses related to the 2010 oil spill.

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.

Ecology has calculated that a major spill could cost Washington’s economy $10.8 billion and adversely affect 165,000 jobs due to disruptions to maritime shipping and public port activities, recreation and tourism, and injuries to state fish, shellfish and wildlife.

NOAA warns large ships to avoid sanctuary

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is asking ships of 400 gross tons or greater to stay farther away voluntarily from part of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary when traveling along the coast to protect the area from possible oil spills.

Montana senators want feds to finish pipeline spill study

Two U.S. senators from Montana are urging federal safety regulators to wrap up a yearlong study into whether oil spills into rivers, lakes and other water bodies across the U.S. have resulted from inadequately buried pipelines.

Oil Spill: Senate Committee on environment demands answers

The Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology has demanded from NOSDRA, Ministry of Environment and Exxon Mobil Oil Company to immediately furnish it and the general public with up-to-date information about previous Oil Spills incidences and in particular the two most recent Oil Spills that occurred in Ibeno and Idoho areas of Akwa Ibom State.

Ethics hearing for Lafourche Parish president scheduled March 7

Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolph will appear before the Ethics Adjudicatory Board this spring regarding ethics charges against her.

The hearing is set for March 7.

NJ Transit, nonprofit reflect on Grenloch Lake oil spill one year later

It’s been nearly a year since 26,000 gallons of diesel fuel leaked out of underground storage tanks at NJ Transit’s bus facility on Route 42 in Washington Township, contaminating local waterways, streams and lakes.

Texas Man Takes Last Stand Against Keystone XL Pipeline

An east Texas landowner was so determined to block the Keystone XL pipeline from coming through his forest that he took to his trees and built an elaborate network of treehouses eight stories above the ground.

“It popped into my head a long time ago, actually,” says 45-year-old David Daniel. “If I had to climb my butt on top of a tree and sit there, I would. It started with that.”

Hiker, blogger researching the Keystone trail

Ken Ilgunas had reached a point in his life when he was searching for adventure. He found it with the Keystone XL.

The Niagara Falls, N.Y., native is walking the 1,700-mile proposed route for the extension to the Keystone Pipeline that was built in 2010. The extension will begin at Hardesty, Alberta, and end at Cushing, Okla., if Presi­dent Obama approves the project.

Fukushima farmers return to the land

The fields around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant were contaminated with radioactive material following a meltdown in March 2011. Farmer Yoko Sudo is experimenting with new farming methods in the post-nuclear landscape.

Inactivity amid nuclear crisis leaving Fukushima children out of shape

Children in nuclear disaster-hit Fukushima Prefecture are getting fatter due to lack of outdoor exercise amid daily radiation exposure limitations, the government said Tuesday in its school health report.

Stuck indoors, Fukushima children have highest obesity rates

Children in Fukushima Prefecture have the highest obesity rates in Japan in seven age groups, education ministry statistics showed, a possible result of the restrictions on outdoor activities due to lingering fears of radiation.

The facts on Fukushima’s fish

The catastrophe at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant not only affected people directly in Fukushima Prefecture but also harmed the local economy. Sales of products from the prefecture have suffered, and tourist spots have lost business, because of rumors or misinformation about radioactive contamination.

Flimsy waste tanks cause new delay in Fukushima plant decontamination

Tanks designed to hold radioactive filtrate at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are proving too fragile to be used, and the operator has announced a further delay in starting up machinery that cleans contaminated water.

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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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