Environmental Must-Reads – December 28, 2012


Matt Damon tackles “fracking” issue in the “Promised Land”

The hot-button topic of “fracking” has finally made its way to Hollywood in the new movie “Promised Land,” out in U.S. theaters on Friday, with actors Matt Damon and John Krasinski teaming up to further the debate on the energy drilling technique.

State assemblyman introduces fracking ban extension bill

State Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R – 13th Dist.) has introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would establish a freeze on hydraulic fracturing, also known as “fracking,” for the purpose of natural gas exploration or production until certain conditions are met.

Jackson Quitting EPA Hands Successor Fracking Fight

isa Jackson’s exit as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency leaves her successor to combat global warming and set rules for hydraulic fracturing over the objections of businesses and Republican lawmakers.

New Orleans native Lisa Jackson leaving EPA after pushing to send BP fines to Gulf states

Washington — Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, said he has had some “heated arguments” with outgoing EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, including sharp questioning at a House hearing in which he challenged her view that reducing carbon emissions would increase jobs by producing green technologies.

EPA chief Lisa Jackson resigns after tenure marked by friction with GOP

The most prominent member of Barack Obama’s environmental team announced she was stepping down on Thursday, after four years of running battles with industry and Republicans in Congress opposed to stricter pollution controls.

After Jackson, EPA faces big decisions on U.S. fracking boom

The past four years of U.S. environmental regulation was marked by a crackdown on emissions that angered coal miners and power companies. Over the next four, the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency will have to decide whether to take on an even larger industry: Big Oil.

California Fracking Disclosure Rules Leave Some Environmentalists Unsatisfied

Underneath much of Central and southern California sits the single largest deposit of shale oil in the United States, boasting a motherlode of some 15 billion barrels of oil.

While the Monterey Shale’s unique geology has prevented energy companies from unleashing a new West Coast energy boom, California regulators have begun to take the first steps in regulating hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), a controversial practice decried by environmentalists and the most promising solution for retrieving said oil.

Fracking opponents prep for comments fight

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation released a draft set of regulations for hydraulic fracturing in November. Those proposed rules are open for public comment until Jan. 11, 2013.

Anti-fracking rally is Friday on Youngstown’s North Side

Frackfree Mahoning is having a march Friday on the city’s North Side that will include former Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields as featured speaker. Shields was council president when Pittsburgh passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing within city limits.

Fracking decisions loom as study declaring it safe is withdrawn

A study hailed as clearing the reputation of the oil-extraction method known as fracking has ended up muddying the reputation of the scientist who oversaw it, and thrown a shadow on optimistic forecasts about the nation’s energy prospects.

Plan to mine gas under homes

LARGE-SCALE coal seam gas drilling would take place directly under suburban streets and backyards in Sydney under a proposal being assessed by the state’s planning and infrastructure department.

But the gas company AGL has ruled out using the controversial fracking technique at its proposed 66-well gasfield between Liverpool and Campbelltown.

Sinkhole belches organic material

The 8.5-acre Assumption Parish sinkhole, located between the Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou communities, burped this week for the second time in a month, the company cleaning up the site reported Thursday.

Sonny Cranch, a spokesman for Texas Brine Co. LLC, said the burp happened either Christmas night or early Wednesday.

Noble Discoverer Investigation: Arctic Drill Ship Used By Shell Ordered To Stay In Alaska

A drill ship used by Shell Oil in Arctic waters off Alaska’s coast is under investigation by the Coast Guard for issues with pollution control equipment and crew safety.

Judge Recuses Himself From Keystone XL Protesters’ Cases Over Conflict of Interest

A $65,000 bond for three young people arrested on misdemeanor charges sounded unusually high to us when we wrote about the Keystone XL protesters locked up in Smith County a week ago. Bail was halved Wednesday, but that was only after the presiding judge recused himself from the case over a conflict of interest. TransCanada, the pipeline company, paid Smith County Court at Law Judge Thomas Dunn some $40,000 for an easement across land he recently sold, according to a local criminal defense attorney who isn’t involved in the case.

Environment: More Gulf restoration projects coming online

More restoration projects — valued at about $9 million — to repair damage from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster are set to begin in the next months along the beaches of the Florida panhandle, Mississippi and Alabama, including habitat improvements for nesting sea turtles and seabirds.

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.

LSU AgCenter researchers testing oil cleanup chemical toxicity

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

Deepwater Horizon NRDA Trustees Approve Two More Early Restoration Projects in GoM

Additional early restoration projects totaling about $9 million will begin along the Gulf Coast in 2013, according to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) trustees.

Fishermen decry frequent spills at Qua Iboe oil fields

Residents along the Atlantic coast in Akwa Ibom have decried frequent spills at the Qua Iboe Oil Fields, operated by Mobil Producing Nigeria, MPN), a local arm of ExxonMobil Corporation.

Hunger Strike Continues as Community Demands Transparency of Petrochemical Giant

Residents of the Houston neighborhood of Manchester are demanding today that the Valero refinery, which has been polluting the air surrounding their homes for decades, reveal exactly what toxins it is forcing residents to breathe. Community members were joined by Gulf Coast activists Diane Wilson and Bob Lindsey Jr., who have committed to an indefinite hunger strike until Valero agrees to divest from the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which is linked to environmental destruction and human rights abuses in Canada. Today marks the 29th day of their sustained strike.

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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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