Environmental Must-Reads – December 6, 2012


Fracking will drive oil boom, federal report says

As oil regulators draft rules for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in California, a new federal report underscores the critical role the controversial procedure will play in what energy authorities predict will be a national oil boom.

Boulder fracking opponents demand county ban

Passion turned to intimidation during public testimony at the Boulder County Commissioner meeting Tuesday night.

Opponents of the process of Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,’ made their voices heard as the county debates new regulations for the oil and gas industry.

It will take more than Matt Damon to make fracking sexy

In the hierarchy of sexy environmental issues, fracking ranks pretty low.

The process by which natural gas is extracted from shale deposits miles below the surface has none of the adorable pandas of the endangered species movement, no oil-covered birds and no picturesque glaciers disappearing before our very eyes.

ALEC, CSG, ExxonMobil Fracking Fluid “Disclosure” Model Bill Failing By Design

Last year, a hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) chemical fluid disclosure “model bill” was passed by both the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). It proceeded to pass in multiple states across the country soon thereafter, but as Bloomberg recently reported, the bill has been an abject failure with regards to “disclosure.”

Ohio once again approving injection wells for fracking waste after earthquake scare

Following a moratorium sparked by an earthquake, The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is once again approving permits for injection wells for fracking wastewater.

Fracturing can cause small quakes, Oklahoma researcher says

Hydraulic fracturing, not just wastewater injection wells, has likely caused small earthquakes in Oklahoma, a research scientist with the state said Wednesday. Austin Holland, speaking at the American Geophysical Union annual meeting in San Francisco, said his studies suggest that about 2 percent of the oil and gas wells hydraulically fractured in that state in the past 2 1/2 years were followed within 21 days by a quake within eight kilometers, or about five miles, of the well. While some likely were coincidental, not all were, concluded Holland, who is with the Oklahoma Geological Survey.

Portage County: Fracking blamed for home damage

A homeowner says cracking walls and crumbling mortar are being caused by a nearby fracking well.

Beckie Dean blames the “enormous” damage to her 11-year-old house on the drilling operation just across the street, about 1,000 feet away.

Feds linking fracking, earthquakes

Recent earthquakes in Colorado and elsewhere were induced by a drilling procedure to dispose of wastewater, federal geologists planned to argue in a report announced Wednesday.

Researchers Find Surprises When Analyzing DNA From Fracking Site

Researchers making a genetic analysis of microbes living at a fracking site have uncovered some surprises.

The scientists reported that they found very few genetic biomarkers for archaea, a domain of single-celled species found in high-salt environments and hot springs. Instead, they found many more for species that derive from bacteria.

Big Oil threatens Everglades with fracking

Big oil and gas companies are pushing forward with plans to begin “fracking” in Florida on land just outside the Big Cypress National Preserve—the gateway to the Florida Everglades—just 45 miles west of Miami. The Everglades are part of a water system of subtropical wetlands in Florida that extends throughout the southern part of the state.

Protect rare bird? Move by US has energy backers crying foul

A move by U.S. authorities to consider placing a small grassland bird native to parts of the oil and gas belt on the Endangered Species List has drawn the ire of some Western lawmakers.

Fracking North Dakota

In 1979, Brenda and Richard Jorgenson built a split level home in the midst of a large ranch outside the tiny town of White Earth, North Dakota. Richard’s family is from the area—his grandfather started homesteading on the plains in 1915—and the couple’s affinity for the area runs deep. They love the land they live on: the epic sky and seemingly endless grasses of the prairie, the White Earth River meandering through a tree-lined valley. For most of their lives the landscape of the region has been dominated by agriculture—wheat, alfalfa, oats, canola, flax and corn. The Jorgensons always figured they would leave the property to their three children to pursue the same good life they have enjoyed.

Shale Oil Boom in North Dakota is Impacting Native Americans Especially Hard

In just five years North Dakota (Read our Winter cover story, “Boom!”) has gone from a quiet agricultural state to a rapidly industrializing energy powerhouse. By the middle of 2012 North Dakota was producing about 660,000 barrels of oil a day, more than twice as much as just two years before. That number makes North Dakota the second largest oil producing state in the United States, after Texas.

Exxon Hates Your Children

As Congress debates what actions to take to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” perhaps no programs are less worthy of government support than those which subsidize Big Oil, Gas and Coal.

The New Threat to Organics

Fracking the food supply is creating contamination problems, farmers and researchers suggest.

Water Wars Pit Dakotas Against Barges for Missouri Flow

The Missouri River has blessed and cursed Kevin Schmidt, alternately nourishing or overrunning his farmland. This year its water saved his cows, and it may do so again next year if a lack of rain dries out his soil.

Water Fight: Drought, Farming, Fracking And The Midwest’s Tense Shipping Situation

Politicians across the Midwest are continuing to press the President to declare a state of emergency on the Mississippi River to allow barge traffic to keep flowing.

Fracking is the new gold rush

Tim Karle, the park ranger at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park, wonders whether today’s oil and gas boom in the Midwest will turn into yet another American stampede for precious resources. And he says this as someone who lived in Alaska four decades ago as his brother worked on the oil pipeline.

Imperial Oil preparing application for drilling in the Arctic

Imperial Oil Ltd. is preparing an application to drill in the Canadian Arctic that stands to renew the debate about how the energy industry will tap high-latitude resources.

New judge assigned to case against BP supervisors

A new judge was assigned Wednesday to the case against two BP supervisors charged in the deaths of 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in 2010, after the previous judge disclosed his wife owns stock in one of the contractors.

New judge assigned to hear case against BP supervisors in oil spill

A new judge has been assigned to the case against two BP supervisors charged in the deaths of 11 workers aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in 2010.

Feds funnel millions into Gulf Coast

Days before a newly formed council focuses on long-term Gulf of Mexico cleanup, a report released to The Associated Press shows that one federal agency has committed more than a half-billion dollars to the region in the past two years, nearly one-fifth of it on projects directly linked to recovery from the 2010 oil spill.

On Our Radar: Shell’s Oil-Spill Sea Trials

A release of e-mails in response to a Freedom of Information Act request yields more details on a debacle involving the containment dome that Shell aimed to deploy in the event of an oil spill in the Arctic.

APNewsBreak: Federal report shows conservation agency spending millions on Gulf Coast recovery

Days before a newly formed council focuses on long-term Gulf of Mexico cleanup, a report released to The Associated Press shows that one federal agency has committed more than a half-billion dollars to the region in the past two years, nearly one-fifth of it on projects directly linked to recovery from the 2010 oil spill.

Ecology, Army Corps investigate oil spill

The Washington state Department of Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers are investigating the source of an oil spill on the Snake River near Lower Granite Dam in southeast Washington.

Louisiana Company Fined Over Sinkhole Tries to Resolve Problems

The owners of a failed Louisiana brine storage cavern are doing their best to comply with a state order to quickly resolve problems created by an eight-acre sinkhole in Assumption Parish spokesman Sonny Cranch said Sunday.

Texas Brine: Sinkhole gas flow diminishing

Vent wells burning off gas trapped in an aquifer under homes and swamps in northern Assumption Parish have removed slightly more than 2.7 million cubic feet of gas since flaring began, parish officials said.

Susan Rice’s Environmental Stances: Keystone XL And Climate Change In The Spotlight

Susan Rice, rumored to be a top candidate to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, has received mixed reviews from environmentalists.l

Hundreds of Nebraskans speak out against Keystone XL pipeline

For eight hours last night, Nebraskans at a public meeting in Albion shared their views on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline — most of which were unfavorable.

AP Exclusive: Japan scientists took utility money

Influential Japanese scientists who help set national radiation exposure limits have for years had trips paid for by the country’s nuclear plant operators to attend overseas meetings of the world’s top academic group on radiation safety.

Carbon emissions up 3.9% amid reactor halt

Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions for the year that ended March 31 rose 3.9 percent from the year before on increased use of fossil fuels by power utilities after the Fukushima meltdowns effectively led to the shutdown of all but two atomic reactors

Nuclear scientists found to have accepted travel money from Japan’s utilities

A handful of scientists in Japan who were tasked with setting the country’s nuclear radiation exposure limits were found to have accepted money for years from utility companies in order to cover travel expenses. While not paying for personal vacations, but rather overseas meetings on nuclear safety, the conflict of interest is more than enough to raise red flags over the future independence of Japan’s energy policy.

Novato’s Green Swan promotes cellphone safety

Lawyer invents application to remind users to keep device away from head and vital organs

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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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