Environmental Must-Reads – December 26, 2013


EPA report on fracking in Texas raises new concerns

The Environmental Protection Agency was justified in intervening to examine possible risks of gas drilling to Texas drinking water, the agency’s internal watchdog reported Tuesday.

But environmentalists say the report raises fresh concerns about the EPA’s 2012 decision to halt its investigation into possible well-water contamination in Parker County, Texas.

EPA’s Fracking Probe of Range Resources Met Rules, Review Says

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency followed legal requirements in issuing an emergency order against Range Resources Corp. (RRC) for water contamination in Texas, the agency’s independent investigation arm said yesterday.

The Office of Inspector General said in a report the EPA has agreed to take a new look at whether dangerous levels of explosive methane or other toxins persist in the local homeowners’ water wells, as investigators turned aside complaints from Republicans that the agency over-reached.

Inspector General Finds EPA Justified in Intervening to Protect Drinking Water from Fracking

Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General found EPA Region 6 was justified in legally intervening to protect Parker County, TX residents’ drinking water from drilling impacts. At Sen. Inhofe’s (R-OK) request, the Inspector General investigated to determine if Region 6’s intervention against Range Resources was due to political influence by the Obama administration.

Well leak spews fluid; Is fracking to blame?

Authorities are still awaiting test results that could help determine the cause of a leak at a 32-year-old, nonproducing oil and gas well seven miles southwest of De Beque.

The Maralex Resources well is now producing about 100 barrels, or 4,200 gallons, of fluids a day into a containment pit, about a week and a half after the discovery of gas and fluids leaking from and around the well. Part of the leak investigation is focused on whether recent hydraulic fracturing of a nearby Black Hills Exploration & Production well could have caused the leak.

Marcellus health impact document released for public comment

The impact of possible Marcellus shale drilling for natural gas on the rural way of life and water were among the issues raised by people in Allegany and Garrett counties, according to a draft health impact document released by the state Monday. Many residents, referred to in the study as stakeholders, also expressed thoughts on the economic impact of drilling.

Md. Study To Assess The Health Effects Of Gas Drilling

A state study of the possible public health effects of natural gas drilling in far western Maryland will be broad in scope but won’t recommend for or against hydraulic fracturing, the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Tuesday.

The study will assess the prospective impact of hydraulic fracturing on water and air quality, noise and public safety if gas drilling is allowed in Garrett and far western Allegany counties, the agency said. The drilling technique has raised environmental concerns in other states.

Fracking company finds new way to screw over the environment

Props are in order for Chesapeake Energy Corp., one of the country’s biggest natural gas producers, for finding yet another way to make a big mess with fracking. This time, it was irresponsible construction practices.

Company subsidiary Chesapeake Appalachia will pay a near-record $3.2 million in federal penalties for clean water violations at fracking facilities in West Virginia. It will also spend $6.5 million more to restore 27 sites that it damaged with construction activities and pollution.

Fracking debate: light on oil, heavy on gas

One of several paradoxes in the UK and European shale debate has been how it’s been entirely about shale gas. In that respect it mirrors the debate in the US, where the Gasland anti-fracker movement has been almost exclusively against natural gas. Why aren’t people protesting about oil?

In the UK,  the Great Gas Gala had two incongruities, the first being one of how effective a contribution does a demonstration, of up to 2,000 people, make against the chief residents’ concern of increased traffic.

U.S. court rejects BP bid to require proof of Gulf oil spill losses

BP Plc has failed to persuade a U.S. federal judge to require businesses seeking to recover money over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to provide proof that their economic losses were caused by the disaster.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier in New Orleans said the British oil company would have to live with its earlier interpretation of a settlement agreement over the spill, in which certain businesses could be presumed to have suffered harm if their losses reflected certain patterns.

BP oil spill claims office sees new leadership

The BP Claims Administration Office, which is in charge of administering payments to victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, recently changed up its leadership.

The Houston Chronicle reports that David Odom, the CEO of the BP Claims Administration Office, and Kirk Fisher, the office’s COO, resigned from their positions.

Ex-official rejects BP ad’s ‘distorted’ claims

Two former top officials at the settlement program for compensating victims of BP’s 2010 Gulf oil spill say their recent resignations had nothing to do with the company’s allegations that they frequented a New Orleans strip club that received a settlement award.

Kirk Fisher, the settlement program’s former chief operating officer, said in an email to The Associated Press late Monday that he and former program CEO David Odom left last week to pursue “other opportunities.”

Mystery Oil Spill Turns Miles of Trinidad’s Beaches Black

Whether it is a case of sabotage or simply poor management practices by the state-owned PETROTRIN, as the union claims, a mysterious oil spill in south Trinidad is wreaking havoc on homes and wildlife in the area.

PETROTRIN claims it has no idea as to the source of the spills, and Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine, who toured La Brea and other affected areas on Sunday, said “the mystery remains where this oil is coming from.”

In 2013, Exxon Spill Showed Dangers of Pipelines Buried Under Backyards

When a 65-year-old ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured on March 29 and spilled 210,000 gallons of oil in Mayflower, Ark., it opened the nation’s eyes to the potential dangers lurking in the thousands of miles of aging and overlooked pipelines buried beneath neighborhoods and farms.

The spill also brought fresh attention to the debate over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and the inherent risks of transporting Canadian tar sands across America’s heartland. Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline was carrying dilbit when it split open on Good Friday, the same type of tar sands oil that would run through the Keystone. A separate, much larger dilbit spill in Michigan is still being cleaned up more than three years later.

Workers find another crack near giant sinkhole

Work is once again on hold at the giant Louisiana sinkhole after workers found another crack in the levee.

The new cracks are in the same spot where previous cracks were repaired in the lowest part of the south berm near the massive sinkhole in Assumption Parish.

Authorities also report an increase in the micro-earthquakes in the area.

N.D. requires companies to report pipeline locations

Thousands of miles of underground gathering pipelines in North Dakota are being mapped under new rules that require companies to report the locations to the state, a change that is being hailed by regulators, industry and the state’s biggest landowner group.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration monitors pipelines that move crude oil to market, while large natural gas pipelines are overseen the state’s Public Service Commission. But until this year, the network of pipelines that crisscross the state gathering oil, natural gas, drilling byproducts and other liquids went unmonitored by state and federal regulators.

Map: Little-Known Pipeline Nearly as Big as Keystone Could Win Race to Gulf

A little-known pipeline could win the race to ship heavy Canadian crude oil from the Midwest to the U.S. Gulf Coast if it comes online as planned in 2015.

Called the Eastern Gulf Crude Access Pipeline Project, the 774-mile line would be capable of carrying almost as much oil as the Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline mired in its fifth year of federal review.

Canadian Greenpeace activists granted amnesty by Russia could be home by weekend

The mother of a Greenpeace activist in Russia says her son’s airline ticket is booked and he could be home as early as Friday, nearly 100 days after he and another Canadian were first picked up by Russian authorities.

Nicole Paul says she spoke to her son, Alexandre Paul, from St. Petersburg on Wednesday. The 36-year-old was in good health and had reserved a flight that could land him back in Montreal on Friday afternoon.

In Alberta, Environmental Regulators Now Funded by Fossil Fuel Industry

Alberta, home to massive tar sands reserves, has a new environmental regulator in town.

Only this one is funded entirely by the fossil fuel industry, the Edmonton Journal reports Monday.

Roughly 150 publicly funded environment department staff including fish and wildlife officers, forestry officers, biologists, rangers and others who watch over the oil industry’s activities in the province are expected to move over to the new, industry-funded, Alberta Energy Regulator—a shift initiated by the government’s environmental department as it shuts down its Energy Resources Conservation Board.

Add comment

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This