Environmental Must-Reads – February 6, 2013


New York Hires Fracking Geologist With Ties to Industry

New York’s selection of a university geologist and gas-industry consultant to study hydraulic fracturing and earthquakes prompted a drilling opponent to say conclusions of a state agency may be tainted.

Robert Jacobi was picked by the Department of Environmental Conservation for a seismology study as part of its environmental review of the drilling process known as fracking, Lisa King, an agency spokeswoman, said in an e-mail this week. Jacobi is a University at Buffalo professor and has advised drillers for two decades.

NY lawmakers want public input on fracking review

A coalition of 65 state lawmakers is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to release the Department of Environmental Conservation’s review of potential health impacts of shale gas drilling for public comment before deciding whether to allow drilling to begin.

Grilling over fracking

An appearance before state lawmakers by Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens on his agency’s proposed 2013-14 budget Monday turned into a three-hour grilling dominated by the issue of natural gas hydrofracking.

Councilman Horak proposes ordinance to ban fracking, bypassing ballot

City Council’s swing vote on a proposed hydraulic fracturing ban in Fort Collins picked a side on Tuesday.

City Councilman Gerry Horak proposed an ordinance to enact a ban on the practice known as fracking through City Council action that would bypass a popular vote.

New tech said to clean up fracking water

A new water desalination technology may prove a savior for the oil and natural gas industries confronting growing concerns about the wastewater that flows to the surface in the months and years after a well is fracked.

In fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, operations 3 million to 5 million gallons of water are injected deep underground, along with sand and a chemical cocktail, to fracture shale rock and extract the embedded natural gas.

NY comptroller: Cabot to reduce fracking risk

The trustee of New York’s $150.1 billion pension fund has reached an agreement with Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. to disclose what it’s doing to reduce risks of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says Tuesday that Cabot has agreed to publicly disclose its policy and procedures for eliminating or minimizing the use of toxic substances in fracking fluids. In turn, DiNapoli has withdrawn his shareholder proposal submitted for the company’s 2013 proxy statement to demand such disclosure.

Genesee County company’s suit could affect fracking debate

A legal case involving a Genesee County company could have an impact on the statewide debate over hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

The lawsuit pits Lenape Resources, an Alexander gas drilling company, against the Town of Avon and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, according to the Batavia Daily News.

Councilman Horak proposes ordinance to ban fracking, bypassing ballot

City Council’s swing vote on a proposed hydraulic fracturing ban in Fort Collins picked a side on Tuesday.

City Councilman Gerry Horak proposed an ordinance to enact a ban on the practice known as fracking through City Council action that would bypass a popular vote.

Shale Industry Moves to Ship Fracking Waste via Barge, Threatening Drinking Water Supplies

It was meant to go unnoticed. A small announcement out of a commissioners’ meeting signaled plans to transport fracking wastewater by barge down the Ohio River. But it caught the eye of locals and offers a further reminder of why handling and disposal of the wastewater is truly one of the shale drilling industry’s most important and overlooked concerns.

US Breweries go to War against Fracking Industry

US brewers have now taken up their case against fracking, worried that any potential contamination of ground water supplies would ruin their business. The process of brewing beer requires clean water, with many breweries being built at the sites they are specifically for the mineral composition of the water.

Simon Thorpe, the CEO of the Ommegang Brewery explained to NBC that “it’s all about the quality of the water. The technology surrounding fracking is still not fully developed. Accidents are happening. Places are getting polluted.” His brewery was built in Cooperstown, NY, due to the ready access to fresh water, but “if that water supply is threatened by pollution, it makes it very difficult for us to produce world-class beer here.”

State investigates fracking waste spill

State officials are investigating an “intentional” dumping of thousands of gallons of “fracking” wastes and oil into a Youngstown area stream.

Details on what happened the evening of Jan 31 at D&L Energy at 2761 Salt Springs Road are hard to come by. A National Spill Response Center report, which you can see here, includes this description.

Fracking, old wells have local farmer worried

To a civilization that is accustomed to supermarkets rather than farmers markets, an egg is an egg.

Maggie Henry begs to differ.

She claims the eggs produced by her grass-fed, soy-free and hormone-free chickens are the best around. Henry said she has heard the doubters before and proved them wrong.

“I have so many people tell me that my eggs are the best they’ve ever eaten,” Henry said.

But these days, Henry is worried about her eggs.

And her chickens, pigs and crops.

She has taken a place on the front line in opposition to shale gas drilling, which has come almost to the back yard of her 88-acre farm in North Beaver Township.

Siena Poll Finds New Yorkers Split on Fracking Debate

New Yorkers remain divided on the issue of hydrofracking and southern tier residents are just as split, according to a new Siena College Research Institute poll of New York voters released Tuesday.

Rally urges fracking ban, supports home rule

Dozens of regional activists and community leaders gathered outside Livingston County Courthouse on Monday to rally against fracking and to support the Town of Avon’s moratorium on hydraulic fracking.

Inside, lawyers for Lenape Resources, a gas drilling company in Alexander, Genesee County, the town and state Department of Environmental Conservation presented arguments in a $50 million lawsuit in which Lenape is seeking to overturn the moratorium.

Court test begins for Avon fracking moratorium

Lenape Resources’ high profile lawsuit versus the Town of Avon was heard by New York State Supreme Court Judge Robert Wiggins in Geneseo on Monday.

Lenape, a local producer of natural gas, has challenged the legal right of the Town of Avon to regulate drilling and recovery of natural gas within the township. On June 28, 2012, in a split 3-to-2 vote, the Avon Town Board enacted a one-year moratorium which temporarily banned the production of natural gas by methods utilizing high volume hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, of rock sediment.

Ed Rendell Intervened For Oil Company to Stop EPA Contamination Case Against Range Resources

A breaking investigation by EnergyWire appears to connect the dots between shadowy lobbying efforts by shale gas fracking company Range Resources, and the Obama EPA’s decision to shut down its high-profile lawsuit against Range for allegedly contaminating groundwater in Weatherford, TX.

Michigan’s 21 Million Gallon Frack Job: A National Record?

The destruction of the world’s fresh water due to fracking is at the uppermost of our minds, as we live and drink the water in the Great Lakes state. How much water is being used for Michigan’s frack industry is now proven to be obscenely underestimated. Michigan may have set a national record for allowing Encana Oil & Gas USA to frack a natural gas well with more than 21 million gallons of water.

Southern Tier Residents: Don’t Frack Our Health!

Southern Tier residents held a rally and press conference today raising grave concerns about the health impacts of fracking. Recent scientific studies cause major alarm about health impacts from the air pollution, water contamination and community impacts of fracking. Speakers included Kathy Nolan, MD, residents from across the Southern Tier and Pennsylvania residents familiar with the impacts of fracking.

Residents: Insurance policies canceled

BAYOU CORNE — Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon said Tuesday his office is making a general inquiry into allegations that insurers are not renewing homeowner’s policies of residents evacuated due to the large sinkhole in Assumption Parish.

Donelon cautioned that his office has not received a formal complaint but has been asked by the parish Police Jury to look into the matter and more recently was informed by the Independent Insurance Agents of Louisiana about alleged non-renewal of policies.

BP objects to $34 billion oil spill claims sought by states

BP Plc has tallied up claims made by states and local governments on the U.S. Gulf Coast for economic and property damages from the Macondo oil spill, and come up with a figure of $34 billion, which it deems “substantially” overstated.

Four Pinellas beach cities sue BP for gulf oil spill

Four Pinellas County beach cities are seeking more than $12 million in damages from BP for lost tax revenue and costs associated with the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

So far, BP says it has paid more than $83 million to Florida and $1.38 billion to cities and towns along the Gulf of Mexico.

Canada considers oil spill legislation. Repercussions for Keystone XL?

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet is reportedly considering offshore oil and pipeline legislation that would appease environmentalists, Alic writes. While environmentalists focus on the new pipelines like Keystone XL, Alic adds, the real threat is the older pipelines.

Watchdog: Canada lacks oil spill response

Provincial governments along Canada’s eastern coast and their federal partners aren’t prepared should a major oil spill occur, a government watchdog said.

Canadian Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan testified that oil spills from offshore platforms in the region may present a risk to the marine environment.

Oil spills and Nigeria, where the law doesn’t rule

OIL spillage is a phenomenon common to oil producing areas around the globe. The total spillage of petroleum into the oceans, seas and rrivers through human activities is estimated between 0.7 to 1.7 million tonnes per year.

Nigeria’s economy is heavily dependent on earnings from the oil sector, which provides 20 per cent of GDP, 95 per cent of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65 per cent of budgetary revenues.

Groups seek tough conditions on Enbridge pipeline

A coalition of environmental groups has pressed Indiana regulators to impose tough conditions on Enbridge Energy’s plans to replace 50 miles of crude oil pipeline near Lake Michigan, warning the company’s history of oil spills and other problems requires strong steps to protect the lake’s ecosystem.

The new pipeline will run underground through four northern Indiana counties, skirting the lake’s southern shoreline, and carry twice the volume of oil as the decades-old pipeline it will replace.

A new proposal for shipping tar-sands oil: Use the thawed Arctic!

Oil companies in Alberta have learned a key lesson about the tar-sands business. Namely: Extracting tar-sands oil is one thing. Getting it refined and sold is another.

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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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