Environmental Must-Reads – December 30, 2014


Delaware-sized gas plume over West illustrates the cost of leaking methane

The methane that leaks from 40,000 gas wells near this desert trading post may be colorless and odorless, but it’s not invisible. It can be seen from space.

Satellites that sweep over energy-rich northern New Mexico can spot the gas as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and miles of pipeline snaking across the badlands. In the air it forms a giant plume: a permanent, Delaware-sized methane cloud, so vast that scientists questioned their own data when they first studied it three years ago. “We couldn’t be sure that the signal was real,” said NASA researcher Christian Frankenberg.

Atlantic Coast Pipeline opponents propose study in western Virginia

Opponents of the proposed 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline want Nelson County to study the impact of the line’s 35-mile route through the Virginia county, offering to provide information and expertise to help perform it.

The proposed pipeline would run from West Virginia to coastal Virginia and the through southeastern North Carolina. It is a joint venture of Virginia-based Dominion Resources (its builder), Georgia-based AGL Resources and Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) and Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE:PNY), both based in Charlotte.

Company still seeks easements for pipeline

Conversion of the Avon Lake plant from coal to natural gas will require easements on 155 parcels of land and eminent domain may be necessary on 63 of those.

NRG Energy Inc. recently filed a letter of notification with the Ohio Power Siting Board seeking approval for the construction of a 24-inch, underground natural gas pipeline. The pipeline will run 20 miles from a tap-in point south of Grafton to the power plant.

Dakota Access Pipeline likely to stir debate

The permitting process has begun for a massive multistate pipeline meant to carry crude from the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota to Illinois, cutting through Eastern South Dakota along the way.

The Dakota Access Pipeline doesn’t carry the controversial baggage and national recognition of the Keystone XL Pipeline, but its intended path through heavily-populated eastern South Dakota and its connection to the oil trade promise to ignite similar debate.

Opposition grows in Kentucky for Ohio-to-Gulf NGL pipeline

Residents and local officials are seeking answers about a plan to reuse an existing Kentucky pipeline to transport highly flammable liquids to the Gulf of Mexico.

Federal regulators are considering the proposal to repurpose a 1,000-mile pipeline owned by Kinder-Morgan Energy Partners and MarkWest that runs from Ohio to the Gulf Coast. The pipeline would convert from carrying oil and natural gas to natural gas liquids.

New Meritage pipeline to begin production soon

Denver-based Meritage Midstream Services has announced the company will be expanding beginning in January, according to the Denver Business Journal. Meritage Midstream is a natural gas and crude oil treatment, gathering and transportation company. Their expansion will be coming via a 108-mile segment of new Wyoming pipeline that will carry natural gas liquids.

In August 2013, Meritage acquired a natural gas gathering, treating and processing company Thunder Creek Gas Services from Devon Energy Corporation. The Thunder Creek system is one of the essential natural gas outlets that operate in Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin. Meritage’s new 108-mile pipeline will be in correlation with the Thunder Creek system. Pipeline operations will begin in January, with the pipeline carrying natural gas liquids out of the Powder River Basin.

NY sets hearing dates for natural gas pipeline

New York regulators have scheduled three public hearings on state permits for the planned Constitution Pipeline, a 124-mile-long natural gas transmission line from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County.

The pipeline is intended to help meet growing natural gas demand in New York and New England.

The Cartel: How BP Used a Secret Chat Room for Insider Tips

Halfway down a muddy, secluded road on marshland in suburban Essex sits Wharf Pool, a lake stocked with some of the biggest freshwater fish you will ever see.

A white sign with red lettering reads: “Private Syndicate: Strictly Members Only.” A metal gate, a barbed-wire fence and two CCTV cameras bar the way. Anglers hoping to spend time on the lake’s carefully tended banks must join a waiting list. Those who make it to the top pay a membership fee that buys them the chance to catch a carp that weighs more than a Jack Russell. There are hundreds of them swimming beneath the surface. It’s close to shooting fish in a barrel.

Don’t dismiss dispersants in fighting oil spills, key scientists say

Two scientists who tracked the movement and breakdown of oil in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill have written an opinion piece for CNN that urges the public not to dismiss the use of dispersants in future spills.

Dispersants are chemicals similar to dishwater detergent that break down oil into tiny droplets that are either more likely to sink or more likely to be eaten by tiny organisms in the sea before they can reach the shoreline.

BP oil spill dispersants concern Nova Scotia environmentalist

A Shelburne County environmentalist is raising concerns about a toxic chemical that could be used off Nova Scotia in the future.

When the Deepwater Horizon oil platform erupted in flames in 2010, it spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but some research says the cleanup was worse because about 6.8 million litres of the chemical Corexit 9500A was used to disperse the oil.

Father and son fight pipeline operator over land condemnation near Farmersville

Last year, Freddy Davenport and his son decided to fight the operator of a pipeline system that declared eminent domain to use his land near Farmersville.

The operator doesn’t have the right, father and son said.

A judge disagreed.

Flashpoint Issue 2015: Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

A renewed battle over the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is shaping up for the new year in North America.

The Republicans, who favor the Alberta-Gulf Coast pipeline because of the jobs and energy security they say it will create, will have a majority in both houses of Congress for the first time since TransCanada Corp. filed an application for the pipeline six years ago.

Russian pipeline disaster spills oil into the Black Sea

Last week, a pipeline outside the Russian town of Tuapse burst, sending a flood of oil into the Black Sea. Cleanup efforts have been slow due to severe storms and unsafe water conditions, and the local government has declared a state of emergency. The severity of the spill and the full extent of the damage are still in question.

Arctic Drilling Co. Pleads Guilty to Environmental Crimes

The Shell Oil contractor whose ship ran aground while attempting to drill in the Chukchi Sea in 2012 has pleaded guilty to eight environmental felonies, fined copy2.2 million and been put on probation for four years.

In addition the parent company of Noble Drilling LLC, which was charged in connection with incidents involving the drill ship Noble Discoverer and the drilling unit Kulluk that it was towing, must create an environmental management system for its mobile offshore drilling units, the U.S. Department of Justice announced on December 9.

Russia is sending drones to the Arctic in the beginning of 2015

Russia’s military press service has confirmed the country will be sending drones to the Arctic in early 2015.

“Before the end of the current year specialists with several Orlan-10 sets will arrive at the permanent service base,” the press service told Russian news agency Tass. Test flight will begin in the next few months.

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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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