Environmental Must-Reads – December 9, 2013


West Virginia Landfills Will Now Accept Unlimited Amounts Of Often Radioactive Fracking Waste

A memo released earlier this year in West Virginia gives the state’s landfills the ability to accept unlimited amounts of fracking waste, the AP reports.

The memo will create an exception for the state’s natural gas industry to longstanding laws on landfill waste, which stipulate that landfills can only take 10,000 or 30,000 tons of solid waste each month, depending on their classification. Now, fracking operations can send unlimited amounts of their solid waste — known as “drill cuttings” and composed of dirt, water, sand and chemicals — to landfills each month.

State fracking commission considers putting chemical data in ‘electronic lock box’

The N.C. Mining and Energy Commission has come up with yet another potential solution to the thorny problem of how to deal with chemicals that will be used in fracking. The commissioners want the chemical data to be safeguarded in an “electronic lock box” that could be accessed digitally in the event of a chemical spill or other accident.

Americans uninformed about fracking, says new study

Most Americans have heard little or nothing of the oil and gas production process called hydraulic fracturing, and many don’t know if they support or oppose it, according to a new paper by researchers from Oregon State, George Mason and Yale universities.

The research, published this week, is based on questions about fracking included in the 2012 biennial Climate Change in the American Mind survey, which gauges the public’s understanding of issues associated with climate change.

A disconnect on fracking among some in Colorado

Right on cue, the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) last week sued Fort Collins and Lafayette over passage of measures banning hydraulic fracturing within city limits — in Fort Collins’ case, for five years, and in Lafayette’s case, for good.

Given the legal precedents, COGA has a very good chance of prevailing. If so, a lot of public resources will be spent defending measures that were patently beyond the scope of municipal authority from the outset.

Energy firm threatens suit over Cuomo fracking moratorium

Maybe the courts will finally force Gov. Cuomo to do something he should have done five years ago: make a decision one way or the other on fracking.

It never should have come to this. People elect governors to make decisions, not kick them down the road until elections (or presidential primaries) are safely passed.

Fracking waste fills WV landfills under new rule

A memo released quietly by regulators earlier this year has carved a major loophole in West Virginia’s rules restricting the amount of waste that can be accepted by the state’s landfills, all with the intent to ease a burgeoning problem caused by the boom in gas drilling, environmentalists say.

Chevron resumes shale work in Romania despite protests

Pungesti, Romania: Chevron on Sunday said it has resumed activities to build its first shale gas exploration well in Romania, a day after protests forced the US energy giant to suspend work.

“Chevron can confirm that it has resumed activities in Pungesti commune,” in northeastern Romania, the company said in a statement.

Researchers Link Earthquakes In Texas To Fracking Process

Researchers at Southern Methodist University have linked a string of 2009 and 2010 earthquakes in Texas to the injection of fracking wastewater into the ground, according to a new study.

The researchers examined the group of more than 50 earthquakes that hit the area of Cleburne, Texas in 2009 and 2010, and found that they could have happened because of wastewater injection wells associated with fracking operations. Before 2008, the Fort Worth Basin of Texas had never experienced an earthquake.

Environmentalists, unions, industry seek to fix expensive natural gas pipeline leaks

Unions and environmentalists have found one point of agreement in the bitter debate over the natural gas drilling boom: fixing leaky old pipelines that threaten public health and the environment. It’s a huge national effort that could cost $82 billion.

The leaks are a problem because methane, the primary component of natural gas, is explosive in high concentrations and is also a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

New report sheds light on damage from BP oil spill

A new federal proposal on remedies to damage stemming from the 2010 BP oil spill shed light on the environmental impact of the spill, and caused controversy among environmentalists when it was presented Friday.

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell presented the plan of 44 restoration projects at a national park outside New Orleans.

First Gulf oil spill natural resource study reveals extensive damage in shoreline, deepwater habitats

The extensive damage caused by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the ensuing cleanup efforts to natural resources along the shoreline and in deepwater habitats of the Gulf of Mexico were outlined for the first time Friday (Dec. 6) in a comprehensive environmental assessment.

BP investors lose bid for class status in Gulf spill case

A U.S. federal judge has refused to allow investors to proceed as a group in a lawsuit accusing BP Plc of fraud by misleading them – before and after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill – about the company’s ability to respond to an accident.

U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison in Houston denied a request on Friday to certify a class action of holders of BP’s American depository shares (ADSs) who were allegedly injured by the energy giant.

NOAA Seeks Comment on Proposed Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Restoration Plan

NOAA and its federal and state trustee partners urged the public to provide comments on a draft plan to restore the Gulf after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The plan outlines and describes 44 proposed restoration projects, totaling approximately $627 million.

The plan was released by the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, nine federal and state agencies that act on behalf of the public to restore resources directly or indirectly harmed by oil released into the environment following the spill.

Secretary Jewell Praises Major Milestone in Gulf Coast Recovery and Restoration During Visit to Louisiana

In a visit to the Gulf region today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell helped announce the third and largest phase of early restoration projects proposed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill Natural Resource Trustees. The Trustees today released a draft plan for public review that dedicates $627 million to 44 early restoration projects across Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and Texas – including restoration efforts at Breton Island National Wildlife Refuge and Gulf Island National Seashore.

How an Escort Agency Got $173,000 After the Gulf Oil Spill

BP has complained for months it has been forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses that filed damage claims after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster – even though they weren’t really affected. Now, the court-appointed lawyer supervising those payments has confirmed he approved a $173,000 payout to an “adult escort service” that BP said was filed with unsigned and undated financial documents.

Lessons From the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

On a cold March night in 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez ran aground off the coast of Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of crude oil into the waters of Prince William Sound and creating one of the worst oil spills in American history. This week’s Retro Report examines how that spill happened and follows its impact over the past twenty-five years. Watch the video above for the complete story. Below, a Times reporter who covered the BP oil disaster of 2010 writes about how containment and cleanup evolved.

As Keystone ruling nears, Canada short on time for climate plan

Canada is running out of time to offer U.S. President Barack Obama a climate change concession that might clinch the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline, as the country’s energy industry continues to resist costly curbs on greenhouse gas emissions.

Two years of negotiations between the Canadian government and the energy sector to curtail carbon pollution have not produced an agreement. Oil producers have balked at anything more than the 10-cents-a-barrel carbon tax imposed by the province of Alberta.

As clock ticks on Keystone XL, Canada okays oil-sands expansion

Reuters reports time is running out for Canada to offer a climate change concession that may help it seal a deal on the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline with the U.S.

The Canadian government has failed to produce an agreement with its energy sector after two years of negotiating on ways to curb carbon pollution.

Survey: Families in Fukushima Prefecture still apart after nuclear disaster

Evacuees from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster are still being forced to live apart from their families more than two and a half years later due to cramped temporary housing and for other reasons, an Asahi Shimbun survey showed.

Three years on from Japan’s nuclear emergency, the fallout continues to spread

WELCOME to Fukushima, where the radiation’s so bad it can be fatal within 20 minutes. The tsunami may have happened some 33 months ago, but the fallout just keeps getting worse.

Japanese media is reporting that the intensity of radiation levels in the nuclear powerplant devastated by the earthquake – and subsequent tidal waves – of March 2011 is now at its highest levels ever.

Record outdoor radiation level at Fukushima

Outdoor radiation levels have reached their highest at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant,warns the operator company.Radiation found in an area near a steel pipe that connects reactor buildings could kill an exposed person in 20 minutes,local media reported.

Fukushima fallout: Radiation could kill in 20 minutes

If there was any question about the deadly nature of the Fukushima nuclear plant’s meltdown three years ago, it is pretty clear now.

The levels of radiation in the area have set a new record for outdoor exposure, Japanese media reported.

It is so bad that in some areas just 20 minutes of exposure is fatal.

Japan gov’t to seek consent for Fukushima waste storage facilities

Two Japanese ministers will visit Fukushima on Saturday to seek consent from local authorities for the construction of facilities to store radioactive and other waste created by decontamination work around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

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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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