Environmental Must-Reads – December 5, 2012


Highlights from a Fracking Flyover

For all that we do working on satellite and aerial images, it’s extremely refreshing to actually get a chance to go up in the air ourselves. Last month we had the opportunity when we were asked by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) if we could put together an aerial tour of active gas fields. Enabled by our partners at LightHawk, we arranged a flyover of one of the most heavily drilled regions in West Virginia—Wetzel County.

Are Earthquakes and Fracking Wastewater Injection Wells Related?

Two new papers tie a recent increase in significant earthquakes to reinjection of wastewater fluids from unconventional oil and gas drilling. The first study notes “significant earthquakes are increasingly occurring within the United States midcontinent.” In the specific case of Oklahoma, a Magnitude “5.7 earthquake and a prolific sequence of related events … were likely triggered by fluid injection.”

Fracking in the U.K.: Britain Looks to Boost Shale Gas

Could a European shale-gas revolution start in Britain? While efforts to drill gas from shale deposits have stalled on the Continent, the British government could soon give the go-ahead to drilling and provide tax breaks to encourage it.

Anti-fracking demonstrators disrupt, delay Boulder County oil and gas hearing

Anti-fracking activists delayed the start of the Boulder County commissioners’ Tuesday afternoon meeting on oil and gas regulations for nearly half an hour, chanting their opposition to that drilling technique and demanding the commissioners resign if they won’t ban hydraulic fracturing in unincorporated Boulder County.

Fracking: Coming Soon to a Campus Near You

Fracking rigs reared their ugly heads at schools across the country, making the student-led push for universities and colleges to divest their endowments from the top 200 oil-and-gas companies tougher at some campuses.

Federal scientists link fracking-waste disposal to earthquakes

The increasingly common practice of disposing of oil and gas drilling wastewater by injecting it underground can trigger earthquakes, according to federal scientists who studied quakes since 1970 in Colorado and neighboring states.

Race Is On to Clean Up Hydraulic Fracturing

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has raised fears around the world that the procedure needed to coax shale oil and gas out of tightly packed rock could cause pollution damaging to human health.

Petition the BLM to issue strong fracking rules

EcoWatch, an online news service in partnership with the Waterkeeper Alliance, has posted an online petition asking the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue strong rules for fracking under federal oil and gas leases, including leasing on both public and private land.

Fracking Update: Protestors Cause Hullaballoo In West Village

Last Saturday, hundreds of people gathered on Hudson Street to protest the Spectra Pipeline construction slated to bring natural gas to the West Village. The project, which is already under construction, has drawn ire from activists and environmentalists who argue that it’s unsafe and will bring fracked gas into Manhattan.

Homeowners suing over Wis. gas pipeline spill

Homeowners sued Monday over a massive gasoline spill in southeastern Wisconsin this summer that has contaminated many of their wells, their attorneys said.

Latest News on Earthquakes Caused by Oil and Gas Production Activities, 12.04.12

The American Geophysical Union is holding its Fall Meeting in San Francisco this week. The program includes multiple presentations on induced seismicity (a.k.a. earthquakes) caused by oil and gas production activities.

Nebraskans gather for final public hearing on Keystone pipeline

Nebraskans will make their voices heard at a public hearing tonight in Albion. The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality is holding a final hearing on a proposed new route of the Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Gulf oil spill remains an enigma

The Deepwater Horizon disaster happened in one of the worst places in the world for an oil spill ? 5,000 feet below the surface in a body of water that scientists admitted they knew little about, where it could potentially ruin both the seafood and tourism industries that depended on it.

Federal judge dismisses claims against dispersant maker over Gulf oil spill

A federal judge presiding over litigation spawned by the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill has dismissed all claims against the manufacturer of a chemical dispersant that was used to break up crude gushing from BP’s blown-out well.

Claims against dispersant company used in BP oil spill dismissed

Even as the National Academy of Sciences warns about the dangers of chemical dispersants to clean oil spills, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has dismissed all claims in the BP oil spill case against Nalco, the maker of the dispersant that was used in unprecedented quantities to combat the 2010 BP spill.

Shell’s Arctic Oil Spill Gear “Crushed Like a Beer Can” in Simple Test

Royal Dutch Shell, the massive multinational oil company, badly wants to be ready to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean next summer. This year, the company’s plans to begin drilling in the treacherous seas of the Arctic were thwarted by its late start and repeated failures to get even basic oil spill response equipment into place.

Oil Spill off Grand Bahama “Not Likely to Threaten Bahamian Environment”

The oil spill off Grand Bahama on Monday is not likely to threaten the Bahamian environment, Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin said at a press conference.

After the Spill: Oysters and Oil Consumption

Oysters are a benchmark commercial species harvested along the shores of lower Alabama’s Gulf Coast. After the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill of 2010 dumped almost half a million tons of crude oil into Gulf of Mexico waters, fishermen and consumers were concerned about the status of local oyster beds.

Villagers struggle as oil spill destroys food source

IT will not be such a merry Christmas for locals of Waiqanake Village after damage caused by a recent oil spill affected one of their main food sources.

Concerned villager and chairperson of the qoliqoli, or fishing grounds, Asakaia Balawa told this newspaper the amount of small fish, crabs and food sources had depleted over the course of the year and it was not getting any better.

Numerical study suggests subsea injection of chemicals didn’t prevent oil from rising to sea surface

The 2010 blowout of the Macondo well in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico resulted in the region’s largest oil spill in U.S. history. As the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) incident unfolded, in an effort to prevent the oil from coming to the surface and reaching coastal and marsh ecosystems, chemical dispersants were injected at the wellhead. These powerful dispersants, typically used to break up oil slicks at the sea surface had never been used in such large quantities and over such a prolonged period of time in the deep ocean.

Experts discuss ways to cleanup oil spills in Arctic waters

As oil drilling experts considered the most outlandish of Arctic challenges, involving icebergs and whaling routes, the more fundamental issue of spill cleanup remained the main concern at a Houston conference Tuesday.

TEPCO: Half of contract workers at Fukushima work under dodgy conditions

Nearly half of contract workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the disaster there last year toiled in conditions that apparently breached labor laws, according to a survey by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator.

More than 80% of Fukushima homes still awaiting decontamination

It has been well over a year and half since the March 11th, 2011 tsunami struck the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing the worst meltdown crisis in more than 20 years. But more than 80% of people’s homes located in the surrounding area, which reaches as many as seven prefectures, are still waiting to be cleared of the radioactive particles that were released, and be safe for their owners to return once more.

Nuclear disaster evacuee feels discrimination as ‘refugee’

Natsumi Takakura cannot cast her vote in the Dec. 16 Lower House election in her hometown. Nor can she find a polling station near her new home–her family’s seventh in less than two years.

It is just one of the many inconveniences–some minor, others aggravating–that continue to plague residents who evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year.

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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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