Environmental Must-Reads – February 19, 2013


OSHA Issues Alert for Silica Dust in Hydraulic Fracturing

A federal study of the use of silica in hydraulic fracturing found that workers are sometimes overexposed to silica dust – which can lead to silicosis. It’s a disease that reduces the lungs’ ability to take in oxygen. Silica can also cause lung cancer, according to a new “hazard alert” issued by OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor at OSHA, says hazardous silica dust exposure has to be prevented.

Shale Fracking Study To Research Natural Gas Drilling Health Effects

A Pennsylvania health company says it has gotten a $1 million grant to study possible health impacts of natural gas drilling on the Marcellus shale.

Geisinger Health System said Monday that the Degenstein Foundation had awarded the money to help underwrite what it called a “large-scale, scientifically rigorous assessment” of the drilling.

Geisinger Health System To Study Fracking Health Risks

A Pennsylvania health company says they’re going to conduct a $1 million study on the possible health risks of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus shale.

Geisinger Health System announced Monday that they’ve been awarded the money to conduct what they’re calling a large scale scientifically rigorous assessment of drilling for natural gas.

Safety of fracking questioned

A move to fast-track the controversial drilling method known as “fracking” in the state to reap potential economic benefits has raised concerns among groups who question the safety of the practice.

An N.C. Senate bill filed last week would enable the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources to issue fracking permits to companies starting in March 2015.

Fort Collins City Council to consider ban on fracking at Tuesday evening meeting

The Fort Collins City Council could vote Tuesday to ban hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, within the city limits.

The resolution was proposed by City Council Member Gerry Horak. It would exempt wells that are already operational as long as the company comes to an agreement with the city about how it would work.

Fracking rules workshop set for downtown LA Tuesday

State officials want to hear from the public about proposed rules for an oil and gas extraction method known as fracking.

California’s Department of Conservation will host a public workshop on the issue Tuesday in Los Angeles. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the downtown LA Doubletree Hotel.

B.C. Oil and Gas Commission lacks ‘transparency’ on fracking violations

Hundreds of deficiencies were discovered during the course of 4,223 inspections conducted in the oil and gas sector last year, according to statistics provided to The Vancouver Sun by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.

But it’s not possible to find details of the violations, or which company is responsible, because the commission will not provide that information.

California’s fracked up oil: nearly as bad for the climate as Keystone XL?

The Keystone XL pipeline has birthed a movement, massive rallies, and even the Keystone Principle – “Specifically and categorically, we must cease making large, long-term capital investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure that “locks in” dangerous emission levels for many decades.” Keystone is a carbon bomb.

Very nearly as explosive, yet virtually ignored: California’s oil awaiting fracking. The state’s oil reserves – 400 billion barrels – were long considered dwindling, until fracking the oil has promised to liberate, or something, 15 billion barrels.

Germany may ban fracking over environmental concerns

Germany could join other European countries and ban the fracking method of shale gas extraction, according to Germany’s Environment Minister Peter Altmaier.

­Altmaier says he wants a ban on fracking in all areas where drinking water is protected, noting that a fracking ban is nothing to be afraid of if it is recommended by some scientific research, Welt am Sonntag reports. As the research hasn’t been completed, it’s too early to put a veto on this natural gas extraction technology, the politician stressed. Altmaier said he would like to introduce legislation on fracking by September, Reuters reports.

Direct Action Under Way Protesting Fracking Pipeline

Early this morning, two local youth engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience by locking themselves to the entrance gate of the Delaware State Forest in eastern Pennsylvania which is being used for access by pipeline workers to clearcut trees for the construction of the Northeast Upgrade Project of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.

Confirmed: Tar Sands Toxic Liquid Waste Contaminating Local Waterways

As tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington, D.C. yesterday to urge President Obama to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, more evidence emerged that the public isn’t getting the full story of the environmental impacts of tar sands.

Media yesterday reported on an internal government memo revealing a Canadian government study on a tar sands tailings pond that found that toxic liquid ponds do leak toxic chemicals into the environment—despite repeated denials of officials.

35,000+ March at Forward on Climate Rally

Today, during President’s Day weekend, more than 35,000 people marched to the President’s doorstep to support immediate action to contain climate change. People from more than 30 states across the country whose land, homes and health is being threatened by the climate crisis, as well as students, scientists, indigenous community members and many others are participating in this largest climate rally in U.S. history.

BP declares it is ready to defend itself in Gulf oil spill trial

BP is launching an all-out public relations offensive as it prepares to defend itself next week at a civil trial in a federal court in New Orleans that could ultimately result in the company having to pay billions of dollars more in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The British oil giant said in a statement Tuesday that it has been open to a settlement during protracted negotiations with the U.S. government, but the company has been unable to reach a deal on terms BP believes are reasonable. It seems to suggest in the statement that there won’t be a deal before the trial begins Monday.

BP To Fight US Government Over Size Of Oil Spill Fine

U.K.-listed oil and gas giant BP PLC (BP) said Tuesday it will defend itself vigorously in court next week against claims from the U.S. government for fines related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which the company described as “excessive and not based on reality.”

BP attorney argues company was not grossly negligent, won’t see maximum fines

With the start of the civil trial against global oil giant BP only a week away, the company’s senior trial lawyer said Monday that he doesn’t expect his client to be declared grossly negligent for the 2010 Gulf oil spill, a finding that would result in a four-fold increase in the fines BP would have to pay.

Rupert Bondy, BP’s general counsel, also said he’s confident the company will pay much less than the maximum $5 billion to $22 billion in Clean Water Act fines often cited by the media.

Coast Guard responds to oil spill near Baton Rouge

The United States Coast Guard is responding to a report of an oil discharge on the Mississippi River near the Interstate 10 bridge in Baton Rouge, a news release said Monday evening.

DNR seeks salt dome answers

The state Office of Conservation has ordered all of the state’s 34 salt dome operators to show how close their caverns are to the outer edges of the subterranean salt domes containing them and, for caverns closest to the salt edge, also to prove they are structurally sound.

The directive, issued Jan. 30, is in response to the failure of a Texas Brine Co. LLC cavern in the Napoleonville Dome that is believed to be the cause of an 8.6-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, officials said.

Texas rancher won’t budge for Keystone pipeline

The Keystone XL pipeline is a massive, controversial oil delivery project cutting through America’s heartland. The company behind the project says, if it’s completed, it could help reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil.

That pipeline would carry oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico. The northern part has not been approved, but the southern stretch is already under construction – except where a few Texas ranchers are standing in the way.

The Keystone XL Pipeline extends two miles a day into Texas, but it can’t get past Julia Trigg Crawford.

I-Team: Pipeline Safety Problems Worry West Village Residents

New York City residents are growing concerned about the installation of a new natural gas pipeline in a densely populated section of Manhattan.

A 16-mile pipeline coming to the West Village will be 30 to 42 inches in diameter and carry 800 million cubic feet of hydro-fracked natural gas per day. The pipeline, called the New Jersey-New York Expansion but more often referred to as the Spectra pipeline because it is owned by Texas-based Spectra energy, has neighbors in the West Village, Staten Island and Jersey City worried over the potential for catastrophe.

Tens of Thousands Rally to Stop Keystone XL Pipeline & Urge Obama to Move “Forward on Climate”

We play highlights from the “Forward on Climate” rally that drew tens of thousands to Washington D.C.’s National Mall Sunday. Protesters from across the United States and Canada urged President Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, which would deliver tar sands oil from Alberta to refineries along the Gulf Coast. Organizers described Sunday’s protest as “the largest climate rally in history,” and Reverend Lennox Yearwood compared it to Martin Luther King’s 1963 March on Washington for civil rights. We hear from speakers including Van Jones, Obama’s former Green Jobs advisor, Canadian indigeous leader Chief Jacqueline Thomas of the Saik’uz First Nation, and Bill McKibben of 350.org

Biggest US Climate Rally Ever Pushes Obama to Reject Keystone Pipeline

Tens of thousands of protesters descended on Washington DC on Sunday demanding Barack Obama shut down the Keystone XL pipeline project to show he is serious about taking action on climate change.

Obama Faces Risks in Pipeline Decision

In deciding whether to approve the Keystone oil pipeline, President Obama faces a choice between alienating environmental advocates or causing a deep rift with Canada.

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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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