Environmental Must-Reads – February 21, 2014


Exxon CEO Joins Suit Citing Fracking Concerns

One evening last November, a tall, white-haired man turned up at a Town Council meeting to protest construction of a water tower near his home in this wealthy community outside Dallas.

The man was Rex Tillerson, chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil Corp.

Doctors Call On President Obama For More Regulation On Fracking

More than 1,000 doctors and other health care professionals are calling on President Obama to take steps to protect Americans from the risks posed by fracking.

On Thursday, Environment America delivered a letter with more than 1,000 signatures from health care professionals that asked Obama to declare certain areas in the U.S. off-limits to fracking and to ensure that fracking is no longer exempt from environmental laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. The letter outlined the dangers fracking poses to health and the environment, including drinking water contamination, carcinogenic air pollution, acute and chronic health effects, and greenhouse gas emissions.

James Taylor Appears in Anti-Fracking TV Ad

James Taylor still has Carolina in his mind these days.

The singer-songwriter is starring in a television ad for an environmental group urging North Carolinians to challenge efforts to allow natural gas exploration through hydraulic fracturing in the state where he grew up.

Safety issues raised on drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport

About an hour into a public hearing in Findlay on drilling at Pittsburgh International Airport, Thomas Gallant interrupted a presentation by representatives from Consol Energy.

“Obviously, the … elephant in this room is the Greene County fire,” said Mr. Gallant, the chairman of the township’s board of supervisors, who said he wanted to hear more from Consol representatives on safety provisions for drilling plans.

Hundreds rally to oppose Cove Point project

An estimated 500 people rallied Thursday in Baltimore against plans to export liquefied natural gas from a Southern Maryland facility, chanting and carrying signs past the office tower where state regulators were considering one aspect of that proposal.

The authority to approve or reject the project lies with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. But Maryland’s Public Service Commission has the say over a 130-megawatt power plant that energy company Dominion says it needs for the export operation.

Drilling-heavy Okla. ranked 2nd last year for quakes in U.S.

Oklahoma ranked No. 2 among the lower 48 states for earthquakes in 2013 amid a seismic swarm that many scientists attribute to increased oil and gas waste disposal.

There were 99 earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater in Oklahoma last year, according to an EnergyWire review of U.S. Geological Survey data. That puts it far behind California’s 236.

Fracking-caused quakes in Oklahoma?

As Rachel noted on the show the other day, it’s not unusual for Oklahoma to experience some seismic activity. Looking back over the last several years, the state has seen between 40 and 100 meaningful earthquakes – quakes with a magnitude of 2.5 or more – per year. Last year, that figure more than doubled to over 200 earthquakes.

Sen. Mitchell’s Fracking Moratorium Bill Would Protect California From Air, Water Pollution As State Struggles With Crippling Drought

A new bill from state Sen. Holly Mitchell that would impose a moratorium on fracking would protect California’s air, water and climate from pollution caused by this dangerous form of oil and gas extraction.

Senate Bill 1132 seeks to safeguard California’s water supply from overuse and contamination by fracking as the state struggles with a devastating drought.

Judge delays trial for two BP well site leaders

The trial for two BP employees charged in the deadly 2010 explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig has been put on hold while a federal appeals court considers the dismissal of some of the manslaughter charges filed against them.

Feds ask judge to streamline BP trial penalty proceedings, order oil spill harmful

U.S. authorities asked a federal judge Thursday to streamline the “penalty phase” of the BP oil spill trial by ordering that the 2010 disaster caused serious harm to the environment, residents and businesses around the Gulf of Mexico.

Attorneys for the federal government also asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to order that no party be permitted to introduce additional evidence related to environmental harm, human health impacts or economic loss in the key trial phase that will determine how much BP owes in environmental fines.

N.D. pipeline rupture spews 75 barrels of crude

Tesoro Corp. says an excavator struck an oil pipeline in western North Dakota, spilling about 75 barrels of crude, or about 3,150 gallons.

The company says it happened Wednesday afternoon near Cartwright, which is west of Watford City near the Montana border.

Hudson oil spill cleanup plan: Environmental group plans lawsuit

A national environmental group says it plans to sue the Coast Guard and federal Environmental Protection Agency, contending an oil spill cleanup plan for the Hudson River fails to protect Atlantic sturgeon and other endangered species in the river.

Bluegrass Pipeline to be delayed a year

Wednesday’s announcement that the proposed Bluegrass Pipeline will be delayed a year is a victory in “round one” for Kentuckians, a leading opponent to the project said.

Chris Schimmoeller, president of Envision Franklin County, said the company’s decision gives respite to landowners.

Former USGS head endorses Keystone pipeline

A former head of the U.S. Geological Survey endorsed the idea of building the Keystone XL pipeline Thursday in an editorial contending that the pipeline would be less damaging to the environment than the “viable alternatives” of transporting oil by rail and truck .

Marcia McNutt, who headed the USGS from 2009 to 2013 and now serves as editor in chief of the journal Science, wrote in the editorial, “I believe it is time to move forward on the Keystone XL pipeline.” She said approval of the project could be made conditional on Canada’s agreeing to reduce its oil industry’s carbon emissions.

Nebraska To Appeal Ruling That Blocks Keystone Pipeline In State

The company in charge of the Keystone XL extension said Thursday that it is considering its next move now that a Nebraska judge has struck down a law that allowed the pipeline to be routed through that state.

Keystone XL pipeline opponents score victory in court

Nebraska landowners fighting TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline won a victory in state court Wednesday with a Lincoln judge’s finding that the state’s pipeline siting law is unconstitutional.

Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled that LB1161 –passed by lawmakers in 2012 — violates the Nebraska constitution by shifting control over routing decisions of oil pipelines from the Public Service Commission to the governor and Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.

Keystone Greens See Pipeline As Crucial Test For Obama

This week’s North American Summit is refocusing attention on the proposal to build the Keystone XL pipeline. The issue’s proved to be complicated for President Obama to navigate among green activists.

TransCanada firm on Keystone XL plans as obstacles mount

TransCanada Corp said on Thursday that it will not back away from the controversial Keystone XL pipeline despite an unfavorable Nebraska court ruling and more than five years of political wrangling in Washington over the project.

Russ Girling, chief executive of Canada’s No.2 pipeline operator, said there is a clear need for the $5.4 billion project to move rising oil sands and shale oil production to Gulf Coast refineries.

TransCanada weighs next steps after U.S. court’s Keystone ruling

TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) said on Thursday it is considering how to proceed with its Keystone XL pipeline, a day after a court overruled the Nebraska governor’s decision to allow the controversial line to pass through the Midwestern state.

“We are disappointed and disagree with the decision of the Nebraska district court and will now analyze the judgment and decide what next steps may be taken,” the company said in a statement. “Nebraska’s attorney general has filed an appeal.”

Exclusive: BNSF to move into tank car ownership with safer oil fleet

BNSF Railway Co plans to move into tank car ownership and buy its own fleet of up to 5,000 new crude oil tank cars with safety features that exceed the latest industry standards, the unit of investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc (BRKa.N) said on Thursday.

The unusual step by one of the largest U.S. railroads aims to reduce the risks of moving crude by rail after several recent accidents, including one involving a BNSF train in North Dakota in December.

BNSF Railway Boosts Safety Efforts

BNSF Railway said it plans to buy as many as 5,000 new tank cars to transport crude oil, an unusual move that marks the latest effort by the rail industry to improve safety after a spate of accidents.

Railroads typically own engines and track but not the tank cars that run on their networks, 99% of which are owned by leasing companies, shippers and railcar manufacturers. BNSF, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., BRKB -0.23% said it has requested bids from major railcar manufacturers for 5,000 “next generation” tank cars that are more accident-resistant in order to help improve industry safety.

Canada eyes Arctic reindeer reserve for oil and gas

Tracts of land that had been set aside for reindeer grazing in Canada’s North have instead been offered up by the Conservative government for oil and gas exploration, newly released documents show.

Companies interested in obtaining petroleum exploration rights in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea region of the Northwest Territories were asked last year to nominate blocks of land that they wanted to see included in a subsequent call for bids.

Add comment

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This