Environmental Must-Reads – January 11, 2013


Gas fracking critics storm hearing

State lawmakers got an earful from opponents of natural gas hydrofracking during a marathon hearing Thursday in the Capitol, with many directing fire toward state environmental and health officials who had declined to attend.

Protestors Oppose New Life For Dallas Fracking Project

Angry shouts disrupted a Dallas City Plan Commission meeting today when a controversial natural gas fracking project killed weeks ago was reintroduced. The protests actually forced a recess of the meeting. The coalition of environmental and homeowner groups felt they had no say in the matter and felt they were undone by a legal trick.

Cuomo says omission of fracking in speech no big deal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday said no one should read into his decision not to address shale-gas drilling in his State of the State speech, pointing to the ongoing review of the technique.

Fracking the Amish

In a community that shuns technology and conflict, the intrusion of gas wells shatters tranquility and brings unexpected schisms

Mine Reclamation Group Seeks Allies in Natural Gas Industry

Andy McAllister is a pragmatic man, who has been working for years to help clean up one of Pennsylvania’s most tenacious environmental problems, acid mine drainage resulting from decades of coal mining. But he’s also a risk taker. In his spare time, the 50-year-old organizer for the Western Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation, rides bulls on the rodeo circuit. His church community prays for him, and scratch their heads at his enthusiasm for getting back on a bull after breaking several ribs. It’s not what you think. McAllister says he’s not macho, he rides bulls as part of his spiritual practice. He’s one of those rare people comfortable with his mortality, and has an almost Buddhist approach to the rodeo life.

Now he’s encouraging the gas industry to perform an environmental mitzvah. He wants Marcellus Shale drillers to help clean up the state’s multi-billion dollar problem —  4,000 miles of dead rivers and streams unable to support any life.

EPA under fire for thrice-delayed Pavillion investigation

Federal environmental regulators have once again lengthened their investigation into potential groundwater contamination at a west-central Wyoming natural gas field, riling the operator in the field and area landowners, who are both fed up with the delays.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday stretched to Sept. 30 the public comment period on its investigation of the natural gas field near Pavillion, its third such extension.

Ohio Communities Move To Protect Water Supplies From Drilling

Ohio has a long history of drilling in shallow, vertical oil and gas wells. But the rapid expansion of horizontal, deep shale drilling has raised many questions about how well ground water resources are insulated from potential contamination from the drilling process.

Now, several Ohio communities are taking steps to protect water supplies before drilling begins.

VIDEO: Pennsylvanians Opposed to Fracking Speak Out to Gov. Corbett

On Jan. 8, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) presented Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett with more than 35 video messages from Pennsylvania residents opposed to shale gas drilling. The videos were collected and assembled by the DRN, and shown to Gov. Corbett by Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum during a State House meeting in Harrisburg, PA.

Tell Obama to Enact Immediate Moratorium on Fracking

Sign this petition to tell the Obama administration to enact an immediate national moratorium on high-volume, horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and independent scientific studies are completed on the impacts of fracking to the environment, climate and human health.

Settlement payments for BP oil spill claims reach $1 billion

Settlement payments to those who suffered losses as a result of BP’s tragic oil spill  have surpassed the $1 billion mark, according to the Lafayette lawyer in charge of the economic and property claims process. Patrick Juneau, the court-appointed claims supervisor, said in a year-end report released Wednesday that settlement offers have been accepted by about 95 percent of businesses and individuals who filed a claim.

Transocean Appears in Court After $1.4 Billion Spill Pact

Transocean Ltd. (RIG) appeared in federal court in New Orleans after reaching a $1.4 billion settlement with the U.S. over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Transocean didn’t enter a plea today in its first court appearance following announcement of the settlement. It will enter a guilty plea at a later hearing Feb. 14. U.S. prosecutor Derek Cohen read the charge against the Vernier, Switzerland- based company at the hearing

BP’s Oil and Especially Dispersant Toxic to Baby Corals

Results are in from the first controlled laboratory tests on how Deepwater Horizon oil and the dispersant Corexit® 9500 affect coral larvae. Conclusion: Baby corals of at least some species are likely to be killed when exposed to oil and are especially likely to die when exposed to dispersants. The results have just been published in the science journal PLOS ONE.

Conservation groups request Arctic drilling moratorium

Citing huge data gaps about the basic ecology of the Arctic Ocean, as well as a string of recent accidents and near-misses in Royal Dutch Shell’s ongoing efforts to drill in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, a coalition of environmental groups this week asked the Obama administration to suspend fossil fuel development in the region.

Markey Challenges Shell’s Claims on Weather, Taxes in Kulluk Rig Accident

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is challenging claims by Shell Oil that they moved an Arctic drilling rig due to weather reports indicating a prolonged period of good weather, citing inconsistencies with reports from the National Weather Service and tax concerns that could have spurred Shell to attempt to rush their rig across state lines. In a letter sent late yesterday to Shell President Marvin Odum, Rep. Markey disputes claims by Shell Oil that they were moving the rig primarily because of expected good weather in Alaska, but rather that the decision “may have been driven, in part, by a desire to avoid…tax liability on the rig.”

The Wicked Brew That Would Be Transported in the Keystone XL Pipeline

The pipeline isn’t for oil, it’s for a toxic fossil fuel cocktail called “DilBit.”

Keystone Pipeline Rolls Over Opponents, But Resistance Grows

The Canadian pipeline corporation has faced and overcome opposition all along the way – from protestors, blockaders, and court challenges. But the biggest hurdle remains in Washington DC.

Cyberstalkers Threaten Pipeline Security

In a recent  annual review, a team at the Department of Homeland Security that works to counter  the threat of attacks  on critical computer infrastructure counted 198 incidents in fiscal 2012. The events reported ranged from the use of malware to sabotage systems to phishing attacks for retrieving  sensitive information. In roughly 40 percent of those cases, the target was the energy sector – “an alarming rate,” the report said.

Colorado to scrutinize oil and gas pollution

Colorado suddenly got pretty cool, guys. I’m not talking about the weed thing; that joke is beyond played out. I’m not even talking about the wind energy thing, although I’m kind of talking about that, in a way.

I’m talking about how the state has decided to do more testing to track pollution from oil and gas drilling.

Shell probably spilled fuel in an important Arctic bird habitat, of course

We’ll start with the good news: Shell’s Kulluk rig hasn’t spontaneously exploded. It has not escaped the shackles of servitude to roam the Pacific for eternity, earning its keep aboard fishing vessels. Shell has not inadvertently poked a hole in the ocean floor, releasing oil and magma and the souls of the doomed into our atmosphere.

Bearing in mind that none of those horrible things has happened, one quick little update from the highly competent Shell team.

Oklahomans March Onto TransCanada Easement to Protest Keystone XL Pipeline

Oklahomans from across the state, and indigenous and environmental activists came together and walked onto an easement where pipe for the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline was being laid through Sac & Fox land. In solidarity with the international Idle No More movement, the Unis’tot’en Camp, impacted communities throughout the pipeline route and an Oklahoma branch of Tar Sands Blockade have come together to take nonviolent action against the dangerous pipeline and demand that tribal sovereignty, native burial lands and property rights be respected by TransCanada.

The Pipeline President: Obama’s Keystone XL

Note to President Obama: You approved it. You own it.

By now, most people following the Keystone XL saga know that last spring, President Obama made a special trip on Air Force One to the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World” to call for fast-track approval of the southern (OK-TX) leg of TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Obama, Suspend Arctic Ocean Drilling

Today CEOs from Alaska Wilderness League, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Environment America, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, League of Conservation Voters, National Audubon Society, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, Pacific Environment, Sierra Club and The Wilderness Society called on Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to suspend offshore oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean.

Fukushima 50: ‘We felt like kamikaze pilots ready to sacrifice everything’

Nuclear plant staff live unseen in the shadow of the disaster, says worker Atsufumi Yoshizawa, as Japan grapples with the fallout from the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl

Death rates spike among elderly evacuees from Fukushima

Former residents of nursing homes near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant died at a higher rate than usual in 2011, a study has shown, likely because of the stress of evacuation and having to live in temporary accommodations such as draughty school gyms.

Japan seeks to reverse commitment to phase out nuclear power

The Fukushima Daiich meltdown prompted the previous government to pledge a phaseout of all 50 reactors in Japan

Court Victory on Nukes Creates Transparency on Safety Exemptions at Indian Point

Brodsky v. NRC is the federal litigation challenging the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) practice of issuing “exemptions” to its own health and safety regulations at Indian Point, and to do so in complete secrecy. The plaintiffs argued that Federal law requires the NRC to notify and involve the public before it allows Entergy to violate NRC health and safety requirements.

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