Environmental Must-Reads – January 17, 2013


EPA halted ‘fracking’ case after gas company protested

When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family’s drinking water had begun bubbling like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: A company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

Obama EPA Shut Down Weatherford, TX Shale Gas Water Contamination Study

The Associated Press (AP) has a breaking investigative story out today revealing that the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) censored a smoking gun scientific report in March 2012 that it had contracted out to a scientist who did field data on 32 water samples in Weatherford, TX.

EPA study showed possible link between water contamination and Range well

The Environmental Protection Agency had scientific evidence related to charges of water contamination against Fort Worth-based Range Resources, but changed course after Range threatened not to cooperate with a national study into hydraulic fracturing, according to a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with Range officials.

North Frackota’s population boom means more young men — and more problems

Last year, the North Dakota division of tourism unveiled an ad as part of a series that it hoped would lure people to the state. “Drinks, dinner, decisions,” the ad copy read. “Arrive a guest. Leave a legend.” Reaction to the ad (which you can see at right) was fast and strongly negative. The image of two men leering out a window at a group of women in short skirts struck many as sexist, tone-deaf, and worse.

Yoko Ono on Anti-Fracking Bus Ahead of Cuomo Decision

Yoko Ono, who opposes hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, looks to Pennsylvania and sees her worst fears realized. New York landowners, eager for the cash energy development can bring, see a promised land.

Vitter: ‘Political purposes’ behind EPA fracking study

Political motives and shoddy science marred a controversial Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study that first linked hydraulic fracturing to water pollution, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) wrote in a Thursday letter obtained by The Hill.

New Report Suggests Reducing Fracking Tax Exemptions

A Legislative Budget Board (LBB) report on how government can be more efficient and effective has recommended that the state reduce its gas tax exemption for hydraulic fracturing.

The expansive report released Wednesday by the LBB, a state body that offers budget and policy recommendations for legislators, recommended that the state change the method it uses to calculate the tax. That change would have the practical effect of increasing tax rates on gas produced through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Obama’s EPA Shuts Down Damning Fracking Study

The Associated Press has a breaking investigative story out today revealing that the Obama Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) censored a smoking gun scientific report in March 2012 that it had contracted out to a scientist who conducted field data on 32 water samples in Weatherford, TX.

CU-Boulder, NOAA study uncovers oil and gas emission’s ‘chemical signature’

Emissions from oil and natural gas operations account for more than half of the pollutants — such as propane and butane — that contribute to ozone formation in Erie, according to a new scientific study published this week.

AP: EPA Buried Fracking Evidence at Drilling Company’s Behest

The Environmental Protection Agency may be making evidence of water contamination caused by hydraulic fracturing disappear to satisfy the drilling industry and lawmakers.

The Associated Press has learned of at least two cases in which the agency decided to re-evaluate its toxic findings after receiving outside pressure.

EPA study showed possible link between water contamination, Range Resources well

The Environmental Protection Agency had scientific evidence regarding water contamination against Fort Worth-based Range Resources but changed course after Range threatened not to cooperate with a national study into hydraulic fracturing, according to a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with Range officials.

Gulf oil spill victims get more time to rejoin BP class action suit

The federal judge overseeing the massive litigation over the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico ordered Wednesday those who opted-out of BP’s economic and property damage settlement be offered a chance to get back in. The judge also ordered the court-appointed claims administrator to remind registered oyster leaseholders who did not opt-out of the settlement that the deadline to file a claim is approaching.

Departing EPA chief: Delivering BP spill fines to Gulf states a proud moment

Outgoing Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Lisa Jackson said working on the legislation that will deliver Clean Water Act fines from BP’s 2010 oil spill to Gulf Coast states was a high point of her four-year term.

Jackson told the New Orleans Times-Picayune that working with President Obama on the Restore Act was a highlight of her tenure. That law ensures at least 80 percent of Clean Water Act fines from the Gulf of Mexico disaster would go to Gulf states for habitat, conservation and coastal restoration.

S.Korea sets $694 mln payout for 2007 oil spill

A South Korean court has ordered a $694-million compensation payout to victims of the country’s worst oil spill, which fouled miles of coastland in 2007, decimating local fishing and tourism industries.

Report Fails to Settle Concerns Over Oil Spill Risk to Ogallala Aquifer

A thorough and adequate study of the impacts has not been done, a scientist says; it’s a rigorous and comprehensive review, says TransCanada’s CEO.

OSEI Says “Shame on the EPA Their ‘Science’ Endorses Toxic Oil Spill Response”; CEO Will Discuss Non Toxic Solution to Oil Spills Globally on CNBC January 16-17th 2013

This series on CNBC Features Non-Toxic Oil Spill Cleanup Method OSE II, an alternative to the EPA’s current response. OSEI CEO Steven Pedigo says “The US EPA has forced toxic antiquated spill response on the US environment for 23 years.” Oil Spill Eater II is the safe non toxic oil spill clean up product that can remove 100% of a spill by converting it to a safe end point of CO2 and water, which other countries are utilizing to protect their environments.

Giant Sinkhole Is Swallowing Up a Louisiana Bayou Community

Last spring, residents in Louisiana’s Assumption Parish noticed peculiar bubbles rising to the surface in some bayous. Soon after, small earthquakes shook the towns and raised some eyebrows. In August, i09 writes, the earth suddenly yawned open, swallowing several acres of swampy forest and forming a massive sinkhole full of water, brines, oil and natural gas. Geologists say nature did not cause the hole. Rather, mining activities conducted by the oil and gas service company Texas Brine opened up this apparent pit to hell.

Louisiana governor continues to ignore growing bayou sinkhole

Over five months since the Texas Brine sinkhole first appeared over the Napoleonville Salt Dome, residents of Bayou Corne, Louisiana continue to struggle to be heard — particularly by Governor Bobby Jindal.

As the 8.5 acre sinkhole continues to expand, a handful of evacuees recently attempted to remedy that situation by displaying signs along the Governor’s route to a nearby press conference. Unfortunately that request, like previous emails, phone calls and appointment appeals, went unanswered.

Texas Brine, Louisiana Agree on Plan to Assess Sinkhole

The Louisiana Office of Conservation has modified orders requiring Texas Brine Co. LLC to assess the status of sediments under an 8.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, prompting the company to withdraw a lawsuit filed in December 2012 against the state.

The Advocate reports the state agency and the Houston-based company were set for a hearing at 9 a.m. on Jan. 15  before state District Judge Wilson Fields in Baton Rouge. Texas Brine spokesman Sonny Cranch says the company’s Dec. 28 lawsuit was withdrawn as a result of the amended order released Jan. 14.

Cell Phones and Brain Cancer: Group Warns RF Radiation Exposure Poses Health Risks to Cell Phone Users, Bernstein Liebhard LLP Reports

Amid growing concerns of a possible connection between cell phones and brain cancer, a group of scientists is warning that exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation emitted by wireless devices may pose serious health risks to cell phone users, as well as pregnant women and young children. According to a report issued by the BioInitiative Working Group 2012, there is a consistent pattern of increased risk for glioma (a malignant brain tumor) associated with the use of mobile and cordless phones. The authors of the report call for new safety standards for wireless exposure, including the classification of RF radiation as a human carcinogen. The BioInitiative 2012 Report was prepared by 29 independent scientists from 10 countries and reviewed more than 1,800 new scientific studies.*

Fukushima: Fallout of fear

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan kept people safe from the physical effects of radiation — but not from the psychological impacts.

Farmers still suffering from radiation fears

Mayumi Kurasawa’s seaweed company saw seven of its factories swept away by the 2011 tsunami. Nearly two years later, sales continue to be eroded by consumer fears over nuclear contamination from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Tepco Completes First Tier of Fukushima Frame

Fukushima Frame CompTokyo Electric Power Company has completed the first layer of a five-story steel frame for a cover that will allow removal of used fuel from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi unit 4.

House Energy Committee tells NRC to rethink post-Fukushima nuclear regs

The members of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee have written an open letter to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), asking the agency to move carefully in issuing a slew of new regulations concocted in response to the Fukushima incident. The members highlight key regulatory differences that existed between the US and Japan even before Fukushima – like the Japanese regulator’s failure to mandate a defense-in-depth safety strategy – that, they argue, should be considered before additional requirements are made of nuclear plant operators.

ASU and Life Technologies Partner to Develop Nuclear Radiation Exposure Device

Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute has announced a partnership with Life Technologies Corporation as it enters the next phase of a multi-million-dollar, multi-institutional research project to develop a medical device to rapidly assess an individual’s exposure to radiation in the event of a nuclear incident.

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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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