Environmental Must-Reads – February 12, 2013


New Website Exposes NY Fracking Scandal

New Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) documents indicate that Larry Schwartz, Secretary to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and one of the governor’s closest advisors, has a conflict of interest due to his stock investments over his role in New York’s decision on whether to allow fracking. Documents also indicate that New York Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment Robert Hallman has failed to make specific financial disclosures. Groups including Public Citizen, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy released a letter to Albany County District Attorney David Soares that details concerns and calls on DA Soares to investigate.

New York’s Fracking Scandal

New York could soon become the newest state in the union to allow hydraulic fracturing (fracking), the controversial technique used to enable shale oil and gas extraction. The green light from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo could transpire in as little as “a couple of weeks,” according to journalist and author Tom Wilber.

That timeline, of course, assumes things don’t take any crazy twists or turns.

Anti-fracking campaign ads drill Governor Cuomo

Activists opposed to a controversial gas drilling process are going after Gov. Cuomo’s presidential ambitions, taking out ads against him in a key presidential battleground state.

The coalition of more than 135 groups will run an anti-hydrofracking ad Tuesday in an Iowa newspaper. Iowa is the home of the first presidential caucuses. The ads in The Des Moines Register tell Cuomo that “America is looking to you” and demanding that “not one well” be drilled.

In Iowa ad, enviros warn Andrew Cuomo on fracking

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s critics who want him to stop fracking in his state are hitting him where it could hurt — Iowa.

More than 135 groups are banding together to take out a full-page ad in the Des Moines Register tomorrow, slamming Cuomo in advance of his decision in the coming days about whether to approve fracking regulations in the Empire State.

New York Fracking: Towns Defend Bans As Gov. Cuomo Considers Lifting Moratorium

Brewery Ommegang of upstate New York fills more than 30,000 barrels with beer every year. The primary component of the popular Belgian, wheat and amber ales: water.

That fact, according to Larry Bennett, is why the brewery is part of a fight to keep natural gas fracking out of the town of Middlefield, N.Y.

Why ‘Safe’ Regulation of Fracking in New York Is a Fiction

When industry has blocked the EPA from studying or regulating 70,000 chemicals, (from BPA and flame retardants to potent neurotoxins), since 1975, why would regulating fracking be possible?

Leaked Draft Indicates BLM May Give the Fracking Industry Free Reign to Keep Secrets

On Friday, an EnergyWire article published a leaked draft of a new proposed Bureau of Land Management rule on hydraulic fracturing.  If enacted, the revisions contained in the draft would represent a major capitulation to the oil and gas industry – and an abdication of the BLM’s responsibility to protect public lands and public health.

New Jersey State Legislators Send Letter to NY Gov. Cuomo Urging Him to Ban Fracking

Fifteen New Jersey state legislators sent a letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo today urging him to ban the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing or fracking in his state for the sake of public health and environmental protection throughout the region. In the letter, they state that they have “deep concerns about the prospect of shale gas development in the region and believe opening up New York State to fracking would threaten the entire region, including New Jersey.”

Lawmakers Look to Ban Fracking in NJ and Neighboring States

With a moratorium on using hydraulic fracturing to extract natural gas due to expire this week in New York, New Jersey legislators stepped up efforts to ban the practice not only in their home state, but also elsewhere in the region.

A letter signed by 15 New Jersey legislators urged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo not to lift the moratorium on fracking, a process they argue that could imperil the drinking water of more than 3 million residents in the region.

Environmentalists Call on EPA to Revisit Range Contamination Case

Dozens of environmental groups have written to the EPA’s inspector general, asking him to investigate how and why the EPA dropped its legal action against Range Resources in a Texas water contamination case. Last week, EnergyWire reported that former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell had intervened on the company’s behalf. Last month, a report by the Associated Press revealed the agency ignored a report by an independent researcher, which said the contamination may have been caused by gas drilling. The AP also reported that Range Resources pressured the EPA to drop their case against the company, or face no cooperation on its national fracking study.

Fracking Could Release Radiation from Old Nuclear Tests

“Nuclear explosives” versus “nuclear power.” The former raises images of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan, or the atomic tests held in the Pacific Ocean or at the Nevada Test Site (NTS). The latter is suggestive of civilian applications of the atom, specifically, atomic power plants that generate electricity. Yet the idea of using nuclear devices to find a way to meet Americans’ demand for energy received serious consideration during the Cold War. Indeed, tests conducted decades ago to stimulate natural gas production are once again making news.

Toxic Fracking Wastewater Dumped into Sewer, Why No Arrest?

Do we have two different systems of justice—one for the wealthy businessperson and another for the common folk?

Well it sure seems so, as the Ohio governor and business interests joined hands in the latest incident where at least 20,000 gallons of toxic and potentially radioactive fracking wastewater was dumped into a storm drain that empties into a tributary of the Mahoning River in Youngstown, Ohio. The governor got his enforcers to overlook the violations as the poisonous brine seeped into our valley and flowed to other communities downstream.

Billionaire fracking brothers top political donors

Two billionaire brothers who made a fortune in the fracking industry and have begun buying up eastern Montana land were the top donors to successful 2012 legislative candidates, according to a new report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

Houston company sued over oil discharged in Gulf

The Justice Department on Monday sued a Houston-based company it accuses of illegally discharging oil from a platform in the Gulf of Mexico.

The federal lawsuit says ATP Oil & Gas Corp.’s alleged Clean Water Act violations were discovered during an Interior Department inspection in March 2012.

Ship captain seeks license after oil spill

Ship captain John Cota, blamed for a 2007 oil spill in San Francisco Bay, is suing the U.S. Coast Guard to get his mariner’s license reinstated.

Cota, 65, served 10 months in prison for water-pollution violations after investigators determined he was impaired by prescription drugs, ignored safety precautions and sailed his ship too fast for weather conditions when the cargo ship Cosco Busan crashed into a tower of the Bay Bridge.

Shell to tow Arctic drilling vessels to Asia for repairs

In another costly setback for Royal Dutch Shell’s controversial Alaska Arctic endeavor, both drilling rigs used offshore during last year’s oil exploration season will be towed out of the water on massive vessels to Asia for further inspection and repair, Shell announced Monday.

Damaged Shell drilling rigs to be shipped to Asia — not Seattle — for repairs

It isn’t clear whether the damaged rigs can be repaired in time to drill this summer off Alaska’s North Slope, where Shell has been involved in a seven-year, $4.5 billion quest to open a new oil frontier.

Triche denies role in family hauling business with Texas Brine

A small Plattenville dirt hauling company owned by the nephew and widowed sister-in-law of Assumption Parish Police Jury President Martin “Marty” Triche has been subcontracted to work on the Texas Brine Co. LLC response to a large sinkhole in the parish — a situation that led to an angry outburst at a meeting Wednesday in Napoleonville.

Triche Hauling and Materials Co. LLC is one of at least 25 independent dirt haulers hired to deliver tens of thousands of yards of fill to Texas Brine’s site on La. 70 South in Grand Bayou and at a nearby work area, hauling company and Texas Brine officials said.

Oklahoma sheriff arrests 8 protestors at Keystone pipeline site

Oklahoma authorities say they arrested eight people at a construction site for the Keystone XL oil pipeline, including one man who locked himself to a piece of machinery.

Seminole County Sheriff’s Deputy Chris Conn says two women and six men were arrested Monday morning on trespassing complaints at the site near the town of Schoolton.

John Kerry mum on Keystone XL pipeline

Secretary of State John Kerry and his Canadian counterpart refused to offer hints Friday about the biggest economic decision facing their countries: the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline.

But they stressed that the U.S. and Canada agree on a host of economic and environmental causes — including climate change, the same issue that has motivated many of Keystone’s green opponents to try to kill the project.

Huge Climate Change Rally Targets Keystone XL Pipeline

The environmental organizations Sierra Club and 350.org, along with about 120 partner organizations are planning “the largest climate-related rally in U.S. history” on Sunday in front of the White House. The goal of the rally, according to a post by the Sierra Club, is to demand that President Barack Obama move forward on climate measures including rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, phasing out fossil fuels and promoting energy efficiency and clean-energy sources. Here are the details.

Appeals court to determine eminent domain powers of TransCanada Keystone Pipeline

In a few weeks, an appeals court will hear arguments on whether a Beaumont judge erred by granting a foreign company’s petition to condemn land for the construction of a crude oil pipeline.

Valero refinery release causes sulphur dioxide levels to spike in St. Bernard

A release at Valero Energy Corporation’s Meraux refinery caused sulphur dioxide levels in St. Bernard Parish to spike on five occasions Sunday, exceeding the hourly standard set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, tests show.

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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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