Environmental Must-Reads – December 27, 2012


Restoring Democracy in the Fight Against Fracking

Same story. Different day.

People are threatened by an activity that will injure them, and they work overtime to pass a law that bans the activity.

An affected corporation—or industry association—then sues the municipality, contending that the community can’t prohibit what the state allows, and that the ban violates the “rights” of the corporation.

The BLM makes the case for banning pits, but doesn’t ban them

The BLM recently issued a new Instruction Memorandum to its field offices. This IM establishes policy for reducing preventable wildlife mortality, increasing protection of livestock, and increasing human health and safety around oil and gas facilities.

State issues first fracking rules

Long-awaited draft regulations on fracking were recently issued by state oil regulators, following a series of public workshops, including one in Santa Maria last summer.

California’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) said the draft rules are “a starting point for discussion” by the industry, the environmental community, other regulators, and the public.

Major EPA Fracking Study Will Tap Into Pennsylvania Data

A major Environmental Protection Agency report on natural gas drilling will include a lot of information from Pennsylvania.

The federal study won’t be released until 2014, but the agency recently published a progress report. The EPA is examining five stages of hydraulic fracturing, and assessing each step’s risk of contaminating drinking water. That includes everything from where drillers withdraw their water, to what chemicals they mix in, to how fracking fluid is stored on drilling sites. The study will also probe well construction standards and waste disposal methods.

Commission to consider disclosure of fracking chemicals

Welcome to Lycoming County, Pa., where energy companies searching for natural gas blast pressurized chemicals through underground shale rock.

In this particular fracking site—somewhere near the county seat of Williamsport—there’s nothing particularly unique about the chemical stews, composed of 87 percent water and 11 percent sand.

Yoko Ono Claims Fracking Can’t Be Safe

Yoko Ono added her voice to the outcry against fracking, claiming the complex process that uses masses of groundwater to extract oil and gas can’t be safe anywhere.

Ono wrote in the Dec. 26 edition of the New York Times that “no amount of regulation can make fracking safe.”

Oil field company gets well under control near Watford City

An oil well that went out of control late Friday night five miles west of Watford City was plugged early Sunday evening.

Keith Schmidt, spokesman for well owner Newfield Exploration Co., said a crew from Wild Well Control was able to install a temporary plug at the well and all flow of fluids was stopped.

Lafourche president faces ethics charges for renting camp to BP post-oil spill

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

Bayonne official says massive oil spill from barge isn’t a health threat

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

Oil spill threatens desalination plants

KUWAIT: A local environmental group issued a warning yesterday about discovery of an oil spill recently along the country’s southern shores which was moving towards water desalination plants and could raise serious concerns about the state’s water security strategies.

Watchdogs: US Regulators Are Not Prepared to Prevent Arctic Spill, Sue for Access to Info on Shell Oil Drilling Plan

Royal Dutch Shell plans to drill for oil this spring in the arctic Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the northern coasts of Alaska, but watchdogs and environmentalists are not yet convinced that Shell and federal regulators have taken enough steps to prevent or contain a potential oil spill in the treacherous and icy waters.

Seattle mayor calls for city’s pension funds to dump oil stocks

Student groups at 192 colleges and universities are calling on their schools’ endowments to sell off stocks in fossil-fuel companies, inspired by a 350.org campaign that we’ve reported on before.

Shell’s Ursa makes waves in offshore industry

ABOARD THE URSA TENSION LEG PLATFORM: When the Guinness Book of Records was looking for the tallest structure in the world in 2009, it selected Shell’s Ursa platform, located about 130 miles southeast of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico.

MRI maps heat from cellphone radiation in jarred cow brains

Plastic containers of cow brains could help further a consensus on cellphone radiation and brain tumors – with an imaging technique that shows what happens to radiation when absorbed by the brain. IEEE Spectrum reports.

Worth Electronic Debris but Radiation Risk Exist

The noise over whether the human race is at risk of radiation from cell phone use is as divisive as it is elusive, but lately, some countries like Kenya appear to be taking notice.

Detrimental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Continue

As 2012 draws to a close, evaluating the ongoing effects of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on the people of Japan is a difficult and depressing task. After having fled their homes due to the tsunami and resulting triple nuclear meltdown, 21 months later an estimated 160,000 citizens still have not returned home.

Los Angeles prepares to fight Fukushima debris

Nearly two years after the Fukushima nuclear plant suffered a massive meltdown in Japan, some Americans could be just now seeing first-hand evidence of the disaster — and right in their backyards.

Fukushima operator seeks yet more money

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant on Thursday sought yet more money to pay ballooning bills for compensating victims of last year’s disaster.

US Navy sailors sue Japan for lying about Fukushima radiation

American sailors have filed a lawsuit against the Japanese government for allegedly lying about the health risks they faced while assisting in rescue efforts after last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Fukushima Debris to Keep Hitting the Pacific Coast This Winter

Authorities expect more debris from the March 2011 Japanese Tsunami to wash up on the Pacific Coast this winter. Seasonal changes in ocean currents and North Pacific winds will push the 1.5 million tons of debris still out there towards our shores.

Tokyo Electric sued by U.S. sailors exposed to radiation

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501), owner of the power plant which had the world’s biggest nuclear disaster since 1986, was sued by eight U.S. sailors claiming they were exposed to radiation and the utility lied about the dangers.

Tribe to get hearing on Prairie Island nuclear waste concerns

Xcel Energy Inc. faces more scrutiny from a federal panel reviewing the utility’s requested 40-year extension of its license to store high-level nuclear waste at its power plant in Red Wing, Minn.

Feds want more data on possible tube wear at ailing California nuclear power plant

Federal regulators Wednesday pressed the operator of the San Onofre nuclear power plant for more analysis on its damaged steam generators, as the government considers when, or if, one of the seaside reactors can be restarted safely.

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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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